Sign In Forgot Password

EREV SHABBAT MESSAGES

November 9, 2017   I  Burning Scrolls 

While in New York this past week for Rabbinical Assembly meetings, I had the privilege of hearing my colleague, Rabbi Phil Scheim, speak about a member of his congregation in Toronto, a 97-year old survivor of Nazi Germany.  One of this gentleman’s strongest memories of the Holocaust was of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass that we commemorated just yesterday, where he witnessed German soldiers brazenly toss Torah scrolls out the window of a high apartment building only to be trampled and burned on the street below.  Many years later, long settled in a new country across the ocean, this man had the honor of having a Torah at his beloved synagogue, Beth David, dedicated in his name.  In his words that special day he said, “This Torah at least makes up for one of those that was destroyed so long ago.” Continue reading →

October 30, 2017   I  Me Too. 

Over the last few weeks, these two simple words have launched an incredible campaign of solidarity across social media, as thousands upon thousands of women have come forward as having been the victims of sexual harassment or assault. The sheer number of testimonials, along with the terrible range of experiences which they describe, is staggering as is the fact that so many women are sharing their stories for the very first time, having long since buried them out of shame or fear or concern that they would not be believed. Continue reading →

September 19, 2017   I  Laugavegur Street    

Since my trip to Reykjavik this past summer, I have become enamored with all things Iceland which is how I came upon the story of Noel Santillan, a 29-year old New Jersey man who became an overnight celebrity in the Land of Fire and Ice all because of a very small spelling error. You see, Santillan arrived at Keflavik Airport one February after a long international flight, eager to reach his hotel in the country’s capital, and thus typed “Laugarvegur” Street into his rental car’s GPS. Continue reading →

September 12, 2017   I  No Questions No Class    

A story is told of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, the legendary teacher at Yeshiva University – a great philosopher and Talmudist – who demanded that his students prepare rigorously for each class. Often he began his class by asking if any of the hundreds of students crowding his lecture hall had any questions on the assigned text. Many of the students had reviewed the material and yet they feared to ask, lest the questions reveal their ignorance to their teacher. Once, when not one of the hundreds of students dared ask a question, Rav Soloveitchik demonstratively slammed his Talmud closed and walked out saying, “No questions? No class.” Learning begins with questions. Continue reading →

September 5, 2017    I  Welcome Back    

Happy Labor Day!  While the unofficial end of summer is definitely bittersweet, it’s nice to see the synagogue begin to fill up again as families return from vacation, children come back to the Academy, and our programming year kicks off in earnest starting with last Friday’s fabulous Shabbat in the Shade BBQ and block party.  We hope that the last few months have been relaxing and fun for everyone and look forward to hearing about adventures near and far.  If you have a minute, please stop by and say hello next time you’re in the building! Continue reading →

June 27, 2017    I Scream, You Scream    

Ruggelach. Apples and honey. Chocolate gelt. Believe it or not, these are real ice-cream flavors developed by the kosher brand Chozen, a New York-based creamery created in 2009 by mother and daughter entrepreneurs Meredith and Ronne Fisher. Indeed, the Fishers may be the most creative purveyors of frozen treats around, but there is a long and proud history of Jewish involvement in the ice-cream industry whether it be Haagen-Dazs Continue reading →

June 20, 2017    Let’s March for Pride!    

Marching in the Chicago Pride Parade last June as part of BHCBE’s first ever delegation to this event was one of my favorite days of the entire programming year! Coming just weeks after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, the walk afforded many of us the opportunity to actually do something about the difficult state of our world and speak out for our values in a tangible way. Many of us felt motivated to take part in the march out of love for a particular LGBTQ individual (or individuals) in our lives while others were inspired by a broader sense of commitment to civil rights and social justice. Continue reading →

May 31, 2017    Safe Travels    

When I was in rabbinical school I spent two summers working as a hospital chaplain at Beth Israel Singer Division under the wonderful direction of Reverend Trudi Jinpu Hirsch, a Buddhist monk and CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) supervisor. Of all the many amazing rabbis and teachers I have had in my life, Trudi is amongst the very most influential, helping me to learn about holy listening and conquering fear, speaking one’s truth and the sacred power of presence. She also taught me a great deal about gratitude. Continue reading →

May 24, 2017    Lighting Up the Eyes    

I’ve always been a terrible liar. When I was a little girl, it was my body that would give me away. I would fidget or blush or avert my face, and my parents would always know that I wasn’t being honest with them. Even as I got older, however, and learned to hide my fibs in more sophisticated ways, my parents were never fooled by my small acts of deceit. My eyes always gave it away. Continue reading →

May 9, 2017    Counting Up    

These days you can do just about anything on a smart phone! And this includes, evidently, creating a customizable count-down clock which will tick off the seconds, minutes, hours, and days until an occasion of your choosing. Not surprisingly, lifecycle events such as weddings or the birth of a child tend to be most popular for this kind of treatment along with peak moments like retirement, although some of the online count-down clocks I saw marked time until baseball season or Thanksgiving or even tax day (presumably for planning purposes rather than out of sheer joy for April 15). Continue reading →

May 2, 2017    More Exciting Than the Moon    

Thomas Friedman tells the story of the late Neil Armstrong, a devout Christian, who visited Israel after his trip to the moon and was taken on a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem by Israeli archeologist Meir Ben-Dov. When they got to the Hulda Gate, atop the stairs leading to the Temple Mount, Armstrong asked Ben-Dov whether Jesus had stepped anywhere near where they were now standing. “Jesus was a Jew,” Ben-Dov replied. Continue reading →

Apr 14, 2017    A Band-Aid on the Seder Plate    

My teacher, Dr. David  Kraemer, tells the following story about a Passover he celebrated many years ago when his daughter was little. On seder night, the Kraemer family gathered together for candle-lighting and recited the blessing, finishing with the words l’hadlik ner shel Yom Tov – Praised are You, God, who commands us to light the holiday candles. Continue reading →

Mar 31, 2017    Four Cups of Milk    

Once, before Pesach, a man entered the home of Rabbi Yossi Ber, and asked him a question: “Tell me, Rabbi, can I fulfill the commandment of the four cups with milk instead of wine?” The rabbi asked him, “Are you – God forbid – ill?” The man answered him, “No, thank God, I am quite healthy, but I cannot afford to buy wine this year.” Rabbi Yossi turned to his wife and said,” Give this man twenty-five rubles.” Continue reading →

Mar 24, 2017    How Free is Free Will    

What does a California home-maker have in common with Egypt’s great Pharaoh? To answer this question we begin with a 1960’s psychology experiment conducted by Drs. Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser. In this study, a team of researchers telephoned California housewives and asked the women if they would be willing to answer a few questions – a relatively simple request with which most subjects complied. Continue reading →

Mar 21, 2017    In Vogue

Suddenly Shabbat has become very trendy. Or so it would seem from this week’s latest edition of Vogue which featured an article entitled “How to Host a Shabbat Dinner and Why You should – Even if You  Aren’t Celebrating.” I will admit that I approached this piece of journalism with more than a little bit of skepticism, wondering what of significance a women’s fashion and lifestyle magazine could possibly have to say about the holiest day of the Jewish week. Continue reading →

Fri, November 17 2017 28 Cheshvan 5778