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Fighting back with kindness

08/21/2019 04:12:05 PM


Rabbi Laura Abrasley

“Fight back with kindness. Kindness towards your body. Kindness towards yourself. Kindness towards others.” 
I’m not sure if the instructor in my exercise class meant these words as a commentary on the world, or she was simply encouraging her students at the end of a tough workout. Perhaps her intent does not matter. Kindness is on my mind and maybe it is on yours as well. I find myself wondering what happened to this core Jewish value, this core human value. Where did it go? And how can we get it back? 
Judaism teaches chesed (kindness) as one of the core pillars of human behavior. This concept of kindness blankets our foundational texts. So much so that many Jewish thinkers suggest lovingkindness is Judaism’s primary ethical value. So, no matter how you understand the world we live in today, work to disarm the disagreement, the challenge, the unexpected with lovingkindness. It is the strongest and most vital tool in our toolbox of tikkun olam (repairing the world).
Wishing you a Shabbat of kindness and peace!
p.s. Want some extra inspiration? Listen to Rabbi Menachem Creditor’s beautiful song, Olam Chesed Yibaneh,  which he wrote for his daughter born shortly after 9/11.



A Taste of Life

08/21/2019 09:00:34 AM


The clergy and others in the Temple Shalom community offer their thoughts about Judaism and life in the weekly Taste of Life, a staple of the weekly newsletter.

Serving as a guiding promise for life ahead

08/15/2019 01:06:20 PM


Caroline Dorn

This week's Torah portion, Va-etchanan, takes us to the banks of the river Jordan. We are reminded of the commitments we made and commandments we were given millennia ago at Mount Sinai and implored to obey them exactly as written on the two tablets of stone - nothing more than the words God spoke, and nothing...Read more...

Tisha b'Av: the start of bettering ourselves

08/08/2019 10:47:21 AM


Cantor Leah Shafritz

Tisha b’Av, the ninth of the month of Av, will be observed by many Jews starting at sundown this Saturday evening. A day in the middle of the summer dedicated to fasting and mourning the ancient destruction of the Temple might not exactly feel relevant to us as Reform Jews today. As a progressive...Read more...

The greater good and reaching the Promised Lane

07/31/2019 11:08:26 AM


By Rabbi Allison Berry

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner was preparing for a hike in the mountains of Montana when he noticed signs warning about bears. He peppered the National Park Service employee with questions about which trails might be bear-free. Eventually, he got this response: “If I could tell you...Read more...

Blessings and challenges faced by teens today

07/24/2019 09:30:00 AM


Rabbi Laura Abrasley

On Tuesday night, I joined 50 or so Boston area Jewish professionals who work with teenagers at a performance of the Broadway hit Dear Evan Hansen. This excellent program, sponsored by CJP, was part of an ongoing initiative to support teens and teen education in our community. The show, without giving too much of...Read more...

Mah tovu and the collective transition

07/17/2019 11:03:20 AM


Kim Bodemer

In this week’s Torah portion, Balak, we read of the prophet Bilaam, who is hired by the king of Moab, Balak, to curse the Israelites. Bilaam stands on the mountain overlooking the Israelite camp, ready to issue a curse, but the words change in his mouth, offering a blessing instead. The words he spoke...Read more...

The power of water and music

07/10/2019 09:08:36 AM


Cantor Leah Shafritz

This Shabbat, in parashat Chukat, we read of the death of the prophetess Miriam. In the verse immediately following, we learn that the Israelites were without water. In order to explain this juxtaposition of verses, writers of Midrash imagine that Miriam’s presence in the community was linked to a well, which...Read more...

The true blessing of our dwelling place

07/03/2019 01:22:41 PM


Ellie Goldman

Later this month, we read the Torah portion of Balak, which includes the story of Baalam, who was sent by the enemies of the Israelites to find them in the desert and curse them. Baalam travels by donkey determined to find the Israelites and shower them with hateful words of destruction, but it...Read more...

Spies and the power of the individual

06/26/2019 02:00:56 PM


Rabbi Laura Abrasley

This week’s Torah portion, Sh’lach Lecha, begins with the story of the scouts or spies, representatives from the Israelite tribes sent to investigate the Promised Land before the people enter and settle there. Most of them return with challenging report: “We came to the land you sent us to; it does indeed...Read more...

Becoming the people they need to be

06/19/2019 01:34:01 PM


Kim Bodemer

The Israelites are at it again. In this week’s Torah portion, Behaalotcha, they complain, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember fish that we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and the garlic. Now our gullets are shriveled. There is nothing at all!...Read more...

The blessing of continuity

06/11/2019 09:56:24 AM


Scott Birnbaum

As my term as Temple Shalom’s president comes to an end, I have been thinking a lot about continuity. This week’s Torah portion, Naso, reinforces those feelings. In the middle of the parsha, we encounter among the most famous verses in Torah, the birchat ha-kohanim, the priestly blessing (“May G-d bless you...Read more...

Stopping and recognizing the blessings of Torah

06/05/2019 01:32:31 PM


Rabbi Allison Berry

The word תורה or “Torah” in English has a fascinating meaning and resonance. For Hebrew nerds (like me!), the word comes from the three-letter Hebrew root י ר ה  (yud, resh, hey). This root is surprisingly connected to the ancient practice of archery and can mean “to flow" or "to shoot...Read more...

Staying safe, while being warm and welcoming

05/29/2019 02:56:08 PM


Ellie Goldman

This week, I traveled to Baltimore for a day-long security training with the Secure Community Network (SCN). SCN is a non-profit organization founded in 2004 as a central address serving the American Jewish community concerning matters of communal...Read more...

Planting seeds and watching them grow

05/22/2019 09:36:34 AM


Emily Kieval

In this week's Torah portion, Parashat Behar, we read about the mitzvah of shmita, the sabbatical year in the Torah's seven-year agricultural cycle. The Torah teaches us that in the land of Israel, there are six years of agricultural work - in which farmers can plow, plant, prune and...Read more...

Focusing on giving meaning to life

05/15/2019 01:37:31 PM


Jeff Remz

The passage of time is a key focus of this week’s Torah reading, Emor. The parshah lays out the Jewish calendar, starting with Shabbat as a day of rest apart from the other six days of the week, to Pesach/Passover, the festival of our freedom and redemption from Egypt and...Read more...

Standing strong in the wake of Poway

05/01/2019 12:05:01 PM


Rabbi Allison Berry

Last Saturday, we were devastated to learn of the shooting at the Poway Chabad Center. Coming just days before the commemoration of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), it is hard to fathom that such an act of unspeakable hate and violence could happen again. We hold the victims and their loved ones...Read more...

Freedom and God's withdrawal from the universe

04/24/2019 12:56:32 PM


We are coming to the close of Pesach, “the season of our freedom.” During last Saturday morning’s Pesach service, we shared thoughts about the meaning of freedom. Those of us who are or have been parents often wonder how much freedom is actually good for our children.
If it were possible, would we want...

The adventure of Passover awaits us

04/17/2019 09:20:26 AM


Rabbi Laura Abrasley

As a child, I loved reading “choose your own adventure” books. For those unfamiliar with this series of children’s gamebooks, these stories are written from a second-person point of view, with the reader assuming the role of protagonist in the story. At multiple points in the story, the reader makes choices...Read more...

Passover - a time for connection and reconnection 

04/10/2019 01:02:40 PM


Rabbi Allison Berry

Growing up, the grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who shared my family’s Passover Seder were always Jewish. Today, as our community continues to evolve, many of those who gather around our Seder tables will not be Jewish. The wonderful people who join us for Seder may be married to our sons and...Read more...

Important, hard work of creating caring community

04/04/2019 10:39:01 AM


Kim Bodemer

 This week’s Torah portion, Tazria, explores the ancient paradigm of what it means to be tamei and tahor – impure and pure. Our text goes into great detail about what to do when we suffer from a skin disease – including how long we must be separated from the community and ritual...Read more...

Gaining some perspective

03/27/2019 12:26:27 PM


Cantor Peter Halpern

When we examine the existence of animals, insects and the botanical world, we see the interdependence of creation. So too it is with humanity. At times, we would like to believe that we can function without a dependence on others and may even take pride in it. Sooner or later, though,...Read more...

Purim and the comfortable clothing of our own true selves

03/20/2019 09:25:18 AM


Rabbi Laura Abrasley

The story of Purim, which we celebrate this week, includes all the elements of a blockbuster movie. It begins with an over-the-top party quickly followed by a roller coaster satirical narrative filled with intrigue, deception, executions, decrees, war, royalty and multiple banquets.
The well-worn...

Tzedakah and creating a more just world

03/13/2019 10:49:29 AM


By Kim Bodemer

Tzedakah, often translated as “charity,” can more accurately be defined as “righteous giving.” The Hebrew word is comprised of the root letters tzadee, daled and koof, which translate to justice. Our tradition has a lot to say about when we should give and how we should...Read more...

The collision of camp and Temple Shalom

03/06/2019 02:00:36 PM


Ellie Goldman

My oldest children have been talking a lot about missing their summer camp and counting the days until they go back. Something about the cold winter months has them longing for the summer and the freedom and spirit of camp. I am blessed to be able to send Sam and Ada, who are almost nine, to the same...Read more...

Breaking down barriers and contributing

02/21/2019 12:07:50 PM


Emily Kieval

In the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tissa, we read that each of the Israelites was expected to give meaningfully toward the building of the sanctuary for the Tabernacle, the portable shrine that would be carried through the desert. Every one of the children of Israel, from age 20 and up, regardless...Read more...

Witnessing the best of the human spirit

02/13/2019 02:45:53 PM


Ilene Goodman

I knew Temple Shalom was special when I got exposed to the clergy and the Temple’s inclusive education model merging spirituality, STEM, Judaism and diversity. Never did I think I would find a temple mirroring all the key ingredients that I uphold in life, including my...Read more...

The definition of inclusivity

02/06/2019 02:21:42 PM


Sara Resnick

May 26, 2018 is a day I remember with the fondest memories. However, I spent two years stressing about Ryan’s Bat Mitzvah and that impending date. We knew Ryan could not sit through a conventional Shabbat morning service, much less lead a congregation in a “typical way.” How were we going to commemorate Ryan...Read more...

Mishpatim and taking care of the stranger

01/30/2019 01:57:45 PM


Kim Bodemeer

In last week’s Torah portion, we had the dramatic scene of the revelation at Mount Sinai. There was thunder. There was lightning. There was smoke. You couldn’t help but pay attention. This week’s portion, Mishpatim, is much less dramatic, but equally important in the formation of the Jewish people....Read more...

Tu B'Shevat and the fruits of our labor

01/23/2019 11:25:13 AM


Rabbi Laura J. Abrasley

On Monday, we celebrated Tu B’Shevat, a minor holiday in Jewish tradition celebrating the new year for trees. Drawn from our agrarian roots, Tu B’Shevat first appears in the Mishnah, a post-biblical collection of Jewish legal material. For our agrarian ancestors, this holiday marked...Read more...

Thu, August 22 2019 21 Av 5779