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The uncomfortable middle

03/12/2024 03:34:51 PM

Mar12

“I can’t talk with my adult kids about what’s happening in Israel and Gaza. We will just end up in a fight.” 

“I was afraid to ask my cousin what she thinks about the war. This topic can be so polarizing.”

“I worry about what will happen when we get together for the upcoming seder. I don’t know if we will be able to avoid the subject altogether.” 

Do these fears sound familiar?   I hear...Read more...

The gift of laryngitis in a time of distress

10/22/2023 01:44:18 PM

Oct22

Last week I came down with a nasty virus that quickly progressed to laryngitis.  It hurt to speak, and people could barely hear me when I tried to talk. I decided to refrain from speaking except when necessary. When I needed to communicate, I did so via text or by using the chat feature in Zoom meetings.

This was an adjustment. Most of us are used to having our voice ready to...Read more...

A Glimpse of our jewish future

05/30/2023 01:30:07 PM

May30

This past Friday evening, five outstanding high school seniors celebrated their confirmation at Temple Israel.  As part of the ceremony, they each offered a personal statement that reflected their thoughts about their Jewish identity. I am inspired by what they wrote.  Their words offer us a glimpse of our Jewish future and give us every reason to face that future with hope. 

 Rachel Cofsky

Being...Read more...

An oasis in a troubled world

02/22/2023 01:09:33 PM

Feb22

We had an hour before we needed to meet our bus and begin the journey back to Croton.  Ten teens from Temple Israel had just made presentations in the office of Representative Mike Lawler on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.  Our teens spoke about gun violence prevention, reproductive rights, and the mental health crisis among young people.

The presentations culminated an...Read more...

Holy Lights

12/21/2022 10:33:14 AM

Dec21

The lights of Hanukkah are beautiful. Yet they are more than a festive adornment for the holiday. Our tradition considers the lights of Hanukkah to be holy.  As such, they are not to be used for an ordinary purpose, such as a source of light for reading a book or doing a crossword puzzle.

One of my teachers, Rabbi Larry Hoffman, wrote of the Hanukkah lights, “their inherent...Read more...

Lorna Doones and the gift of life

10/23/2022 12:14:51 PM

Oct23

When I was an undergraduate (a long, long time ago), one day I walked to the campus library and noticed that tables had been set up for a blood drive. The signs encouraging people to donate blood read: “Give the gift of life.”

To be honest, it was not the inspiring suggestion to “give the gift of life” that caught my attention.  I was drawn to the table set up for...Read more...

Packing for the journey

08/28/2022 01:48:00 PM

Aug28

For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, many people decided to travel on vacation this summer.

I like to travel, but I hate to pack.  Putting stuff in suitcases is the easy part.  Having to decide what I should pack is considerably more difficult.

I have read that most people tend to over-pack for their travels. How...Read more...

I am Still smiling!

06/08/2022 11:25:04 AM

Jun8

When I watched our seven confirmation students rehearse for their service last week, their personal statements moved me to tears. Their words uplifted and inspired me. I heard the same reaction from those who watched our students lead their service on June 3, as we celebrated their confirmation (and high school graduation).  These outstanding teens gave me permission to publish their statements.  Even if...Read more...

are you seeing what is going on in colleyville?

01/23/2022 03:01:10 PM

Jan23

My message from last Shabbat evening, January 21, 2022.

“Are you seeing what is going on in Colleyville?” 

I was out for a walk last Shabbat afternoon when I read that text message from a friend.  I did not know what it meant.  Frankly, I had never heard of Colleyville. 

Once back home, I caught up with the unfolding horrific event. 

A rabbi and three of his congregants were held...Read more...

extending the circle of forgiveness

12/12/2021 11:17:41 AM

Dec12

This is the d'var Torah I gave at Shabbat Services on Friday, December 10.  During that service, the streaming was interrupted periodically.  People asked me to post my d'var Torah, so here it is!

My husband David’s mother, Dorothy, was close friends with her cousin Dottie when they were both children. That all changed when Dorothy’s parents took offense at...Read more...

A Ride to the Airport

08/21/2021 10:42:21 AM

Aug21

Words offered at Shabbat Services on August 20

I have just returned from my summer sabbatical, a time in which I seek renewal and inspiration for the year ahead.

This year, I found some inspiration in a surprising place: on my ride to the airport.   A friendly, chatty Lyft driver drove us to JFK. As he drove, he told us a little bit about why he worked as a Lyft driver.

Read more...

Summer Sabbatical

06/29/2021 02:11:59 PM

Jun29

Summer is here. After fifteen long months of pandemic restrictions, many of us have plans to travel.  Some will travel to visit family and friends, and others will go places where we can soak up the beauty of mountains and beaches. I plan to spend much of my summer sabbatical in Seattle.  The Pacific Northwest is a place of sublime beauty and is home to many of my close family members and friends. 

I am used to feeling...Read more...

A community, not a commodity

04/25/2021 03:40:59 PM

Apr25

Newly ordained as a rabbi, the first wedding I officiated was on the island of Maui.  The couple planned their ceremony in a location that rarely received significant rainfall.   Yet on the day of the wedding – it rained! The wedding had to be moved inside.  Everyone was upset. 

Sensing the tension, my husband David encouraged me to begin the ceremony with a joke:
“A rabbi arrived for an elaborate outdoor...Read more...

one conversation at a time

03/25/2021 03:58:26 PM

Mar25

Five members of Temple Israel and I assembled in our Zoom room, preparing for our conversation with our New York State Assembly Member, Sandra Galef.  I was used to meeting with elected officials and their aides.  Before I entered rabbinical school, I worked in the Washington State Senate and then as a legislative liaison for a public college.  Since becoming a rabbi I kept up my advocacy. Every year I traveled with a group of...Read more...

One step towards racial justice in NY state

02/12/2021 04:29:49 PM

Feb12

Thank you to Carolyn Kunin for providing the content for this post.

RAC-NY, the Reform Movement’s New York State social justice advocacy group, in which TINW is active, is embarking on a campaign to reform the state’s current parole system, which re-incarcerates people for minor, technical parole violations.  Our state imprisons 7,500 individuals per year for violations such as missing an appointment, staying out beyond a...Read more...

Where do we get the strength?

01/17/2021 02:38:24 PM

Jan17


This blog post is adapted from a sermon delivered during Temple Israel’s Shabbat services on January 15.  During the service, someone informed me that our website was not functioning, and he was unable to view us on the live stream. Later we learned that our website had been affected as part of a cyber attack aimed at disrupting the Shabbat services at The Temple in Atlanta, where newly elected U.S. Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock...Read more...

The Welfare of our Country

01/07/2021 10:09:02 AM

Jan7

Every year I travel with teens in our confirmation class to Washington D.C.  The halls of the Capitol Building and the office buildings for the Senate and the House are familiar to me.  Each year, as I watch our teens meet with congressional officials, I am heartened by the fact that we live in a democracy in which citizens can make appointments with their elected representatives and advocate for the issues which they hold...Read more...

Seeing in the dark 

12/22/2020 02:30:56 PM

Dec22

As 2020 nears an end, public health experts have warned that the coming season will be a “dark winter,” and “the darkest days of the pandemic.”

Hearing that the days ahead will be dark signals danger to us. We associate darkness with danger, and that is natural.  

We humans are wired to be wary of the dark. We are not nocturnal...Read more...

Fear and the election

11/03/2020 10:25:52 AM

Nov3

Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

These days we are all too familiar with fear. Besides the fears that this pandemic stirs in us, I have heard many people express fear about the upcoming election.

Some people fear what will happen if the candidate they support does not win. Some fear that the election will be “stolen” by the other side. And some fear that there will be violence in the wake of this...Read more...

Fear and the election video with Cantor fogelman

11/03/2020 10:20:05 AM

Nov3

Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

To be alone

10/18/2020 02:37:08 PM

Oct18

Several months ago, while walking on a raw, gray afternoon, I passed by an old house with the porch light on.  Perhaps it was the weather, or my own dampened mood, but the sight of a porch light on in the middle of the day made me feel sad.

As I walked, I wondered what made me so sad about seeing a porch light on in the middle of the day.  Of course, the house could have...Read more...

Words from a recent bat mitzvah

09/08/2020 06:09:50 PM

Sep8

On August 29, 2020, Hanna Ranis celebrated her bat mitzvah at Temple Israel.  Hanna is older than most teens who become bar/bat mitzvah because her journey to that day was one that she herself initiated (with the support of her parents).  Hanna's ceremony was postponed from the spring due to COVID-19.  Hanna wrote and delivered a beautiful and meaningful d'var Torah that I share with you below.  You will be...Read more...

The Mother Bird and our Rightful place

08/30/2020 04:38:19 PM

Aug30

In the early days of the pandemic, grocery store shelves had empty spaces and rumors of ongoing food shortages abounded. We were also cautioned to limit our trips to the grocery store. So I resolved to keep my freezer stocked with essentials and my refrigerator full of food. I was grateful that I could afford to do so.

Earlier this month, on the third day after Hurricane Isaias, I...Read more...

Missing Pieces

08/23/2020 05:24:46 PM

Aug23

.Without so many of our familiar routines and activities these days, it can be easy to lose track of time.   But despite the pandemic, the earth continues to rotate and circle around the sun.  Ready or not, summer is on the wane and the High Holy Days approach. 

On the Jewish calendar, the month of Elul (the month prior to the High Holy Days) is meant to be a time of personal reflection and spiritual preparation. This...Read more...

the burden of patience

06/28/2020 03:03:24 PM

Jun28

The other day I walked along the Peekskill waterfront, sweating under my face mask. A young woman jogged past me. She was about two feet away, breathing heavily. She was not wearing a mask.

The sight startled me, though it probably shouldn’t have. This mask-less runner was not an anomaly.

I have heard similar experiences from others. Many of us have seen the footage and the photos of crowded beaches and pools, informal...Read more...

Sylvana speaks:  temple israel's pride shabbat

06/22/2020 02:11:21 PM

Jun22

Sylvana Trabout

SYLVANA SPEAKS: TEMPLE ISRAEL'S PRIDE SHABBAT

06/19/2020 03:43:19 PM

Jun19

Sylvana Trabout

Copy from D'var Torah 6/19/20  

Today is my father’s Yahrzeit. He died when he was the age I now am; I, his first born am the first of a generation born in the United States. My father was born and raised in North Africa, the son of Sephardic Jews from Turkey and Greece. He went as a young man to Palestine and to the birth of the State of Israel. A man of words, he was fluent in 7 languages, and a student of history,...Read more...

no justice, no peace

06/07/2020 12:55:37 PM

Jun7

I am not proud of my initial response to the image of George Floyd that appeared on Facebook: the image of Mr. Floyd pinned cruelly under the knee of the police officer; the image of Mr. Floyd gasping that he could not breathe. 

My reaction was, “This is terrible.  Another black man killed by the police.”  Then I scrolled on. 

There was so much else on my mind: COVID-19, the economic crisis, people who...Read more...

What about the high holy days?

05/24/2020 01:52:56 PM

May24

For weeks we have been following health protocols at Temple Israel to minimize the risk that the coronavirus poses to our sacred community. We followed the guidelines as they were released:  providing hand sanitizing stations around the building, disinfecting surfaces, and social distancing.  

Then we had to close our building for most of our activities.  We conducted services streamed from an empty...Read more...

How i sleep better at night

05/17/2020 03:34:09 PM

May17

During these days of coronavirus, it’s not only Clorox wipes and toilet paper that have seen a rise in demand. Gun sales are also at an all-time high. 

Some people are arming themselves because they are worried about shortages leading to civil unrest.
They fear that they won’t be able to rely on the police to protect them. A gun becomes a “self-help” defense mechanism if people try to take your stockpile of...Read more...

Fri, April 12 2024 4 Nisan 5784