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To be alone

10/18/2020 02:37:08 PM


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


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


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


.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


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


Sylvana Trabout


06/19/2020 03:43:19 PM


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


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


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


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...

A Message to our Nurturers

05/08/2020 08:38:19 AM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

What Israel gets right (Happy Birthday!)

04/26/2020 05:55:02 PM


Twenty years ago, when I was a rabbinical student living in Jerusalem, I came down with a terrible case of strep throat.  I had had strep throat a few times before, and I recognized the symptoms, but this felt far worse than I remembered. Maybe it felt so bad because I was so far away from home.  Or maybe it felt so bad because the strain of bacteria in Israel was different than what my body had ever encountered before. ...Read more...

Wisdom of the Generations

04/20/2020 06:21:48 PM


How are we measuring up in these difficult times?  How do we compare to previous generations? Are we as strong, as meritorious, as righteous as the generations that came before us?

If you look at Jewish tradition, one answer is no.

There is a longstanding theme in our tradition that the present generation cannot live up to the generations that came before us.

I have absorbed this message.

For example, when...

For we who are suffering

04/13/2020 02:12:45 PM


My dear Temple family:  I miss seeing you.

Yet it has been a comfort to see many of your faces in Zoom sessions, to hear your voices on the phone, and to know that so many are watching our Shabbat services stream live from the sanctuary.

Many of us are suffering now.  We miss the presence of friends and family. We worry about our health and the health of our loved ones.  We are grieving for those we have...Read more...

the perfect seder

04/05/2020 02:04:21 PM


This year, our Passover Seders just won’t be the same. We cannot gather with all our family members and friends around our seder table (though if we are lucky, we may be able to see their faces on a screen).  And the Passover dishes we are used to making?  This year we may not be able to find all the ingredients we need.  Or maybe we just won’t have the energy to cook so extensively. 

That’s...


03/29/2020 02:02:53 PM


Wisdom can be found in unexpected places.  I have watched some of Governor Cuomo’s press briefings because I trust the information that he gives us about how New Yorkers are managing this crisis and what we can do to help. Along with this good information, I’ve noticed that the governor offers insights of a different sort.

During one briefing, he said that we must be “Physically distant, but spiritually connected.” And in...Read more...

A daily prayer for these times

03/23/2020 04:04:41 PM


The coronavirus pandemic has forced us into separation from each other.  It is even more important to nurture our spiritual life and remember our connection to each other. Prayer and meditation can help us stay grounded, whether or not we believe in a traditional conception of God. 

The traditional prayers for the morning include a passage called “Nisim B’chol Yom” (A prayer for daily miracles).   Amy Asin...Read more...


03/15/2020 05:19:45 PM


This post includes content from my words to the congregation at the Shabbat service on March 13, 2020.

Uncertainty is unsettling. When we don’t know what’s going on, it’s easy to get nervous, upset, frightened. We are living though such a time right now. We don’t know exactly where this new virus is.  We do know that it is disrupting our routines and claiming lives all around the world. 

These past few days,...

Our teens speak about gun violence, mental health, and reproductive rights

02/14/2020 03:51:42 PM


This week, six of our confirmation (10th grade) students traveled to Washington, D.C. with me, where they wrote and delivered impressive presentations to congressional staff.  They spoke about gun violence prevention, mental health funding in schools, and reproductive rights.  With their permission, I share their presentations with you. 

Delivered to Senator Schumer's aide:  Gun Violence Prevention

My...

Our Teens Go to Washington

02/06/2020 12:26:30 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

On February 7, 2020 I will travel with the teens from our confirmation class to spend four days in Washington, D.C.  We will join teens from congregations around the nation to learn about how Jewish values intersect with the most important public...Read more...

The Short-lived victory of the Maccabees

12/24/2019 07:57:56 AM


On Hanukkah we tell the story of the Maccabees’ victory.  But ultimately, the victory was short-lived.   Just over two centuries after the Maccabees rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem, the Temple lay in ruins, destroyed by the Romans.  Jews never mounted a serious attempt to rebuild it.  What had been the center of Jewish religious life had become obsolete. 

Why did this happen?  Worship...

"The Reason to Believe" Part two

11/26/2019 02:38:25 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

In the last blog, I wrote about accepting an invitation to speak at an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service because I assumed that the topic would be about gratitude.  When I discovered that the theme of the service was to be “The Reason to Believe,” I wasn’t sure what I would be able to say.  Here is what I said at the service:

The topic for today’s service is “The Reason to Believe.”   This topic is...Read more...

"The Reason to believe"

11/07/2019 02:36:47 PM


Jennifer Jaech

My cell phone rang as I was waiting for a funeral to begin.  On my way to the cemetery, I returned the call.  One of my colleagues from the Peekskill Area Pastor’s Association called to invite me to speak at PAPA’s Interfaith Thanksgiving service on Sunday, November 24th.   She ended her message with: “Please say yes!”

I said yes.  I admire and appreciate my colleague and wanted to help.  Also, I...Read more...

The Possibilities of one relationship

09/10/2019 01:10:26 PM


The problems of our world seem so large, and we are so small.  Where do we find the hope that the future can be better?  

I felt that hope when, at the end of June, Temple Israel hosted two speakers from an organization called Roots.  Roots is in the West Bank, in the state of Israel. This is an area long marked by distrust and marred by violence.  Jewish communities live in close physical proximity to their...Read more...

speaking up for our homeless neighbors

06/28/2019 01:28:33 PM


I live in Peekskill. In recent months I have watched a controversy about relocating the Jan Peek Shelter to a more suitable location lead to ugly and divisive attacks against the organization that runs both this shelter for homeless individuals and the food banks in Peekskill: CHHOP (Caring for the Hungry and Homeless of Peekskill).

At Temple Israel, we have embraced the Jewish mandate to care for the most vulnerable in our...Read more...

iftar at the mosque

05/30/2019 12:14:15 PM


During the month of Ramadan, observant Muslims fast from sun-up to sun-down, refraining from food and drink.  The evening meal that breaks the fast is called “iftar.” Last week, members of the Hudson Valley Islamic Community Center (HVICC) in Mohegan Lake invited me and other interfaith members to join them for iftar. 

The Torah tells a story of Abraham and his abundant hospitality to strangers.  Muslims view...Read more...

Amy Brings her guitar

05/01/2019 01:54:12 PM


“Hi Rabbi, it’s Amy Hersh! How are you? Would you like me to come over and sing a song for you?”

I said yes, of course. I had been in my office, remembering a conversation I had with fifth graders on Sunday. I had been talking with them about Yom HaShoah, and one of the students in the room brought up the synagogue shooting in California. Just thinking about that conversation drained me. Why should fifth graders know about such...Read more...

How Can we laugh?

03/19/2019 07:31:21 PM


As the silly and frivolous festival of Purim approaches, one of our members asked:  How can we laugh with all the terrible things happening in our world?  It is a good question.  How do we laugh after the racist murders in the mosques in New Zealand, the rockets flying towards Tel Aviv, or the floods that are devastating communities in the Midwest and in other areas around the world? 

I wonder if...

Cleaning the Schmutz

01/30/2019 12:04:50 PM


This was originally given at Shabbat services on January 12, 2019.  

In the high desert of eastern Washington where I grew up, we regularly had dust storms. Ferocious winds would lift dirt and sand from the ground and blot out the sun from the sky. 

One afternoon, a dust storm came when I was walking home from school.  The sky turned dark with dust, and the strong wind whipped the stinging dirt into my...Read more...

Happy 2019

12/28/2018 04:40:23 PM


It’s hard for me to wish people a Happy New Year.  It’s not because I don’t want people to be happy.  It’s because it doesn't feel like the right season for a new year. Nights are long, and nature is dormant. There is very little “new” reflected in the natural world. 

Spring is a better time for a new year. Green shoots push through the muddy ground, deer give birth to their fawns, and the peepers in the...Read more...

Fri, October 23 2020 5 Cheshvan 5781