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The Torah: our tree of life, especially in difficult times

11/01/2018 01:04:18 PM


Rabbi Allison Berry

These are dark and difficult days for the Jewish community. And yet, in Psalm 126 we are taught, “those who sow in tears, will reap in joy.” We are a people who are ever resilient. As we take our next steps together, let’s join the greater Jewish community this Friday evening and...Read more...

Parents, children starting on the path

10/24/2018 01:07:58 PM


Kim Bodemer

Thirty-five years ago last Shabbat, I celebrated my Bat Mitzvah by chanting from parashat Lech Lecha. To this day, Lech Lecha remains one of my favorite Torah portions. I remember thinking how brave our ancestor Abraham was for answering God’s call to leave his home and go to an unknown land for an...Read more...

10/17/2018 02:35:29 PM


Rabbi Laura J. Abrasley

Lech lecha m’artzecha – Go forth from your land … to a land I will show you.
This week’s Torah portion of Lech Lecha is the ultimate travel narrative. God commands Abraham to leave the comfort of his parents’ home and start traveling. But not necessarily to a particular place, at least not yet....Read more...

Being counted among the righteous

10/10/2018 02:39:40 PM


Cantor Peter Halpern

Last week in Bereshit, Adam and Eve’s first child, Cain, kills his brother Abel, who alone finds favor in the sight of God. The next chapter is genealogy, tracing the generations between the first murder, by Cain, and the virtual destruction of the world as it was.
This Shabbat’s parasha, Noach, opens...

Appreciating the elegant structure of our world

10/03/2018 02:39:44 PM


Paul Rezendes

When you wake up in the morning, what world do you see, and what relationship do you have with it?
The sun rises and the birds sing. Do you see mechanisms and clockwork? Perhaps a brew of chemicals that has evolved into complex organisms? Selfish DNA seeking only to replicate? And, perhaps,...Read more...

The (sometimes surprising) beauty of the (green!) etrog

09/28/2018 11:20:40 AM


Rabbi Allison Berry

Sukkot is a holiday that celebrates the beauty and abundance of nature. As we enter the Sukkah, we reflect on the wandering of our ancestors in the desert and are reminded that this flimsy space is not only held up by wood and often tarp, but by the stories and memories of people we love who we...Read more...

The fullness and brightness of Sukkot

09/20/2018 03:54:22 PM


Ellie Goldman

Driving home on Erev Rosh Hashanah, I took specific note of the moon. It was only a sliver really, as the new month had just begun. I thought about the clean slate that these weeks allow us all and the moon, too, was just beginning to start its growth again.
On Tuesday night...

Turn, return and renew on Shabbat Shuvah

09/13/2018 09:13:35 AM


Renee Brant

The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah, Shabbat of Return, because its special haftorah begins with the words “Shuvah Yisrael”: "Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, For you have fallen because of your sin.”...Read more...

Returning to the right path and prospering

09/05/2018 09:18:28 AM


Lynda Schwartz

In this week’s portion of Nitzavim, Moses lays out endless blessings if we adhere to the covenant and utter destruction if we do not. At first, it seems like a simple, harsh contract: “Keep My commandments or else.” Underlying, however, is a monumental relationship imbued with love....Read more...

The journey is more important than the destination

08/29/2018 03:07:06 PM


Josh Conescu

The summer of 2018 is rapidly drawing to a close. We are in the transitional period between summer and fall. During this month of Elul, we reflect on our journey of the past year, as we approach the 10 Days of Awe. Our Torah portion, Ki Tavo, speaks to an Israelite community...Read more...

The annual surprise of Elul

08/22/2018 09:06:58 PM


Rabbi Laura J. Abrasley

The Hebrew month of Elul always takes me by surprise. Every year. You would think that the rabbi in me would anticipate this intentional month of introspection, of turning inward to what was, to plan for what can be. But somehow the heavy heat of summer rocks me into a peaceful, slower space where I...Read more...

Addressing fundamental issues for functional society

08/15/2018 10:56:38 AM


David Harris

This week’s parsha, Shoftim, with its outstanding rhetoric, addresses fundamental issues for a functional society. Conflicts arise at all levels, and there must be an equitable mechanism to resolve them. The regulations and the underlying ethical principles apply to all persons of the society: the people,...Read more...

Introspection, searching as the calendar changes

08/08/2018 10:01:40 AM


Cantor Peter Halpern

This weekend, we turn the page to the Hebrew month of Elul, traditionally a month of introspective preparation for the High Holy Days. In the midst of a warm and beautiful summer, I wouldn’t expect most of us to be ready for that internal shift. I have noticed over the years though,...Read more...

Many moments of marvel, wonder and awe

08/01/2018 03:45:43 PM


By Mary Jane Suzman

In our Torah portion this week, Ekev, God promises to bring the Israelites to a good land, “a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey.” He adds “you shall eat and be satisfied and bless the Lord your God for the good...Read more...

Repairing our messy, complicated world

07/26/2018 10:03:04 AM


Rabbi Allison Berry

This week marked a shift in the Jewish calendar. We ended the nine days of mourning leading up to our observance of Tisha B’av – the holiday marking the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and other tragic events throughout Jewish history. At this time of year, we recall...Read more...

Looking back even as we move forward

07/19/2018 10:05:28 AM


Kim Bodemer

We are heading toward the end of the Torah reading cycle as we begin the final book, Devarim (Deuteronomy), this Shabbat. This week’s parasha begins with Moses giving a series of speeches imploring the Israelites to remember their history as they prepare to enter the...Read more...

Land and encountering unforseen issues

07/12/2018 11:12:51 AM


Ofer Ben-Gai

 In parashat Matot-Masei, we read this week the sequel to a legal ruling from the previous parasha, Pinchas. The first episode happens while still in the desert, when owning land is still a theoretical dream. Five sisters claim their inheritance rights and win a ruling in their favor. Not a small...Read more...

The Declaration of Independence, Hillel and wise words

07/05/2018 01:51:50 PM


Rabbi Laura J. Abrasley

Every year on the fourth of July, Americans celebrate Independence Day with cookouts, concerts and fireworks. This year, I took a brief respite from the revelry to re-read America’s founding document, The Declaration of Independence, which was signed on this day in history. I suspect that almost...Read more...

Taking the long way home

06/28/2018 10:29:35 AM


Sarah Ruderman Wilensky

There’s a sign at the end of my street that says “DO NOT ENTER BETWEEN 3 AND 5 PM”. For the first 18 months that we lived here, I ignored the sign. It was inconvenient. It was the end of the day. I had just picked up my kids from school, and they were hungry and tired, and I just wanted...Read more...

Connecting today to the mysterious red heifer

06/21/2018 10:13:08 AM


Ellie Goldman

Chukkat, this week’s Torah portion, contains the mysterious laws about the sacrifice of the red heifer, a specific process used in ancient purification rituals. None of the laws around the red heifer apply to us today. There is no priesthood. There is no Mishkan (tabernacle)....Read more...

Korach and what constitutes moral leadership

06/14/2018 11:28:14 AM


Rabbi Laura J. Abrasley

This week’s Torah portion, Korach, and its corresponding haftarah portion share stories of moral leadership. In the Torah portion, we learn of Korach, a man who challenges God’s choice of leaders. Korach decides he knows best and leads a rebellion against Moses and Aaron....Read more...

Caleb, Joshua, spies and standing up for the truth

06/07/2018 11:23:15 AM


Jeffrey B. Remz

This week’s Torah reading, Shelach Lecha (“Go forth”) is often remembered (thanks to Manischewitz wine and its logo of yesteryear) for two men carrying grapes. What were Joshua and Caleb doing with the grapes? On the directive of God via Moses, at the conclusion of their...Read more...

Freedom, equality and the November election

05/31/2018 09:16:54 AM


Rabbi Allison L. Berry

Jewish tradition teaches that all of us are created, b’tzelem Elohim,” in the image of God. We are created with a spark of the divine inside us. Since each of us are holy, sacred and unique beings, we are entitled to live lives of dignity, quality and respect. This November, the dignity and...Read more...

Making yourself at home at Temple Shalom

05/24/2018 10:28:10 AM


Carol Berlin

One of the rewards of belonging to a synagogue is the creation of community. As a teacher in the small group Hebrew program, I have watched friendships form, especially over three years teaching a magnificent group of girls who have made Tuesday afternoons magical. But what about their parents?
In response,...

Spring is in the air

05/17/2018 10:25:29 AM


Cantor Peter Halpern

Driving to Temple this morning and relishing the lush, colorful Newton scenery, I was thinking about the word “spring.” The Torah mentions the Hebrew word “Aviv” several times, often associated with Passover. It is an agricultural reference, literally meaning the stage in the growth of grain when the seeds...Read more...

Making memories for a lifetime

05/10/2018 02:56:31 PM


Lori Leiderman

After Passover, one of our second graders generously offered me a set of Passover finger puppets. It seems a guest brought them to his Seder, but he thought they might be better used with some of our younger children at Temple Shalom. I thanked him for his thoughtfulness, but explained that I wanted him...Read more...

The wisdom of Lag B'Omer

05/03/2018 02:52:40 PM


Rabbi Laura J. Abrasley

The 33rd day of the Omer, the period of counting 49 days between the spring liberation festival of Passover and the early summer revelation holiday of Shavuot, is Lag B'Omer. (“Lag” is a combination of Hebrew letters adding to 33.) This minor holiday often coincides with the arrival of spring. There...Read more...

Relationships and commandments

04/26/2018 03:42:05 PM


Student Rabbi Phil Bressler

A practical, if not necessarily accurate, distinction between different types of mitzvot (commandments) is that some govern relationships bein adam l'havero (between human beings) while others apply only bein adam l'akom (between human beings and God).
The reality, however, is that every commanded...

A Celebration and a Reflection: Israel at 70

04/19/2018 03:17:36 PM


Rabbi Allison Berry

This week, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel. As we mark this profound moment, we observe both Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’atz Ma’ut (the celebration of Israel becoming a state) and mingle great joy with our remembrance of...Read more...

Wanting more and living more wisely

04/15/2018 01:04:07 PM


By Cantor Peter Halpern

We usually open our Shabbat Halleilu services with a rousing melody for the text from Psalm 150 – “Kol Han’shama t’haleil Yah” (“Let every living being praise God”). Psalm 90 has a very different tone, perspective and message. It is one which clergy often draw from in...Read more...

Wed, June 19 2019 16 Sivan 5779