Showing posts from 2013

Anniversary of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut (Sandy Hook Elementary)

Bless and Remember the Children of NewtownHuffington Post  · by Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin -Original link from Huffington Post: Hamal’ach Hago’el oti.The Angel who redeemed me from all harm-bless the lads. In them may my name be recalled, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac. And may they be teeming multitudes upon the earth. (Genesis 48:16) These words are part of the blessing that an elderly and ailing Jacob offered his favored son Joseph. They are found in the Torah portion Vayechi, which will be read on Saturday morning, December 14th. Jacob wanted to ensure that his progeny would be protected and that they would remember those who came before them. The words of this blessing have made their way into bedtime rituals for countless Jewish boys and girls. The blessing is often sung when a child is already in bed, face washed and teeth brushed, in the arms of a parent or guardian, a…

A Name Change - A New Journey

As a rabbi, I’m blessed to be invited to be a part of some of the most meaningful and holy moments of people’s lives.This week, I took part in a number of conversions as part of a Beit Din, (a Jewish ‘court’) a group of three rabbis who serve as witnesses and overseers to the conversions (the other two rabbis were my colleagues and friends Rabbi Michael Singer and Rabbi Leonard Zucker).This week, we supervised the conversion of one of our young congregants, Franki Nasetti.Let me wish a hearty mazal tov to Jon, Eve, and Danielle Nasetti as welcome Franki to the Tribe!
After the children underwent conversion, we sat with two women in their 20’s who wished to convert.As part of a conversion, we ask the conversion candidates to write essays about their journeys to Judaism, how the our tradition and way of life is more appropriate than their previous religion, how they identify to Israel, world Jewry, the local Jewish community, and their synagogue community, and more.Learning about their…

What Makes A Man/Woman?

What Makes A Man/Woman?

At our License to Chai (teen education) class on Wednesday night, we discussed the recent controversy regarding the Miami Dolphins, bullying/harassment (and the complexity of the situation), and being a bystander.

For background on this story, and please read this very interesting article and video on What Defines A Real Man In Sports

Ok, now that you have watched the video, and read the article, you can see that there are many issues at play here.  They revolve around dominating over the other, meeting violence with violence, and much more.

We see that the sports world is struggling with this issue, but what does our Jewish tradition have to say about what it means to be a 'Man'/'Woman'?

Here is a quote from the Ethics of our Fathers (2:6) that give us some insight:

ובמקום שאין אנשים, השתדל להיות איש In a place where there are no 'men', strive to be a 'man'/'woman'
Seems like a simple quote, but there's more than me…

Shabbat Message - Halloween and other musings

As a child, Halloween was never a big holiday for our family.  In fact, I don't remember donning a costume and trick or treating, but I do remember stocking up on candy for the kids (and adults) in our neighborhood who would come around in costumes looking to fill up their bags with delicious treats.  I know that many Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious leaders rail against the holiday every year, ordering their congregations to stay at home and turn off the lights to trick or treaters.  The main reason that many do not like this holiday is because the origin of Halloween is pagan (from a Celtic Harvest Festival).  But rather than list the reasons why a Jew should not celebrate Halloween (there are many reasons), I want to focus on how Halloween is similar to, and yet remarkably different than, another Jewish holiday:  Purim.  There are some remarkable parallels between these two holidays!  On both holidays, those celebrating dress up in costumes, and both holidays revolve ar…

Between Luz and Beit El, the World as It Is and the World as It Should Be©

Between Luz and Beit El, the World as It Is and the World as It Should Be© by Rabbi David Baum Delivered on November 28th, 2009 Parashat Vayetzei
While I was a fourth year student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, I was invited to something called a “house meeting”.I had no idea what this meeting would be, or what the organizers wanted me to say, but I went anyway.I sat around a table while one of my classmates asked us all a simple question:what keeps you up at night?Everyone around the room told a story, some were about healthcare, others about child care, and then it was my turn.I told a story about something I experienced as a student.Years before, the seminary had some financial difficulties and had to make money fast.The Seminary chose to sell a property that they owned on 103rd and Broadway which was supposed to be graduate student housing.No one was consulted about this, especially not the graduate students who had the most to lose.But I was most upset about the fact that my fe…

Shabbat Message - Hayyei Sarah 2013/5773

On Wednesday evening, I had the honor of sitting on a panel of rabbis in our community for theSPBC Jewish Federation's Young Adult Division "Courage to Remember" Event.  The event was held to show the Courage to Remember exhibit, a traveling Holocaust remembrance exhibit from the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Tolerance in Los Angeles.  I was one of four rabbis from our community who was asked how we personally kept our faith in God when we dealt with adversity in our lives.  Looking through my notes, I found the dvar torah I gave for this week's parashah, Hayyei Sarah four years ago.  As I read the dvar torah, I was instantly transported back in time to those moments.  That Shabbat in mid-November was the first shabbat that we came back to Shaarei Kodesh after our son Avi was in the hospital for over a week at the Pediatric ICU at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital.  I urge you all to read these wordsPLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE DVAR TORAH - "SOMETIMES, ALL YOU …

Hunger and The Heart©

Hunger and The Heart© By Rabbi David Baum Yom Kippur Day, 2013/5774
I want to begin by speaking about something that I probably shouldn’t be talking about today:food.
Before we go on, have you ever wondered, why do we fast on this day?I know that in the past, I have told you that it is to raise us to another level so that we can focus on atoneing for our sins, but it’s mid day, and I’m sure that some of you are more focused on the bagels and locks that you’ll be eating tonight than being angels!
After many years, I’ve realized something – maybe we fast today, so we are forced to think about food.
I’ll tell you how I got to this idea – it was from an experience I had in Washington DC.
When I was 21, I led a trip with our Ramah group of 15 year olds from Ramah Darom to our nation’s capital, DC, with a program called Panin al Panim – face to face.On the first night of the, the organizers brought a homeless woman come to tell them her story.It was a touching story, the woman was abused by her h…