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the people in my neighborhood

06/20/2019 04:06:16 PM

Jun20

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

A little before 9:15 on Shabbat morning, Stu Ashenberg and I would pass each other and stop to wish each other a “Good Shabbos.” In Livingston’s Temple Beth Shalom,  services started at 9:15. The Orthodox synagogue, Suburban Torah, started around 9. Attempting to be on time, I would be in the midst of a Shabbat powerwalk. Stu, on the other hand, already knew he was more than a little late to...Read more...

The way we were, the way we are

06/20/2019 03:52:33 PM

Jun20

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

I recall stories shared by friends who grew up in the dense urban neighborhoods of The Bronx, Lincoln Park, Miami Beach, South Philly and the like. Their memories, for those of us who crave nostalgia, were heartwarming and told tales of Jewish city life that sounded like fables, but were, in fact, rich, truthful biographies.

Somehow today, the suburbs, even those packed with...Read more...

Rejoicing in the downfall of your enemy in the NBA finals

06/13/2019 11:50:32 AM

Jun13

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

As Jews, we historically rejoice at the downfall of our enemies. We boo Haman on Purim. The very prayer our rabbis tell us in the Talmud to recite twice daily, Az Yashir, the Song of the Sea, taunts the supposed might of the fallen Egyptians after the Israelites cross the Red Sea.

But is it acceptable to rejoice at the pain of our enemies when they fall on the basketball court?

In Game 5 of this week’s NBA Finals, Kevin...Read more...

"Gone Fishing"

06/13/2019 11:48:50 AM

Jun13

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

Rabbi Lewis has gone fishing. 

Scroll down to read some of his previous blog posts.

D-Day and the Four children

06/06/2019 09:36:29 AM

Jun6

Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

As I watched the retrospectives of D-Day on television with Zev, he had more questions than I could properly answer. “What are those people doing?” he asked. I explained that these were American soldiers who 75 years ago, stormed the beach in a far away place to free to the people of France. “Why would they want to do that?” he asked. “To save the world from bad people,” I explained.

Over time, I’ve come to accept as...Read more...

The Mysterious Box

06/06/2019 09:33:38 AM

Jun6

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

While the credits are running at the end of a movie there are often out takes that for one reason or another didn’t make it into the film. My farewell to the shul this past Sunday evening was a bit long and as promised, one minute for each year I was the rabbi of Etz Chaim. It could have been longer, but much ended up on the cutting floor. One cute piece didn’t make the final version, but I share it as a...Read more...

Happy Anniversary

05/30/2019 04:53:49 PM

May30

Administrator

Rabbi and Amy are busy celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary.

Mazal tov.

Read more...

Democracy and freedom

05/30/2019 04:31:31 PM

May30

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

It's remarkable how the past is a reflection of the present and the present is a reflection of the past.

In the olden days, ancient Israel was governed in a way that feels oddly familiar. It was a three branched system with checks and balances that prevented abuse of leadership. The monarchy. The prophets. The priesthood. None had absolute power, nor ultimate authority over the other. They coexisted. Experienced the infrequent...Read more...

you can never get enough simchas

05/23/2019 10:31:24 AM

May23

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

In tenth grade, I dropped out of my synagogue’s confirmation class. There were a slew of reasons--including a lucrative $5.25 an hour JCC lifeguard slot at the same time--but in the end, I felt that I didn’t need confirmation to confirm that I was going to be Jewish. I was committed to my USY chapter. I knew then I wanted to be a rabbi. I suggested to my parents that this was “confirmation” enough without...Read more...

Thoughts for the Memorial Day HOliday

05/23/2019 10:29:24 AM

May23

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

As we enter the Memorial Day weekend, we will see the occasional flag flapping in the breeze or planted in the ground. Unfortunately, this season of reflection and appreciation is known less for its human sacrifice and more for barbeques, white shoes and pool openings.

Though Judaism is a faith that proclaims the glory of peace, as a people we were forged in the furnace of war....Read more...

Tiny Houses

05/16/2019 01:30:20 PM

May16

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

On Mother’s Day, our family braved the rain and attended the Tiny House festival at the Atlantic Station. As HGTV enthusiasts, we were excited to explore the minimalist dream. As you can imagine, the creativity that comes from tiny house living is impressive. We toured through nearly two dozen homes smaller than my office that all came fully equipped with nearly fully-equipped kitchens, bathrooms, and several...Read more...

End of Year Angst

05/16/2019 01:20:43 PM

May16

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

In this season of finals and end of year angst for many of our youngsters I was drawn back to my university days. To blue books and exams. To ‘all-nighters’. To NoDoz. To cramming. To nail biting, palm sweating, floor pacing anticipation of grades.

Decades have passed, but the panic and pressure is the same for a new generation of college students. I am empathetic but happy...Read more...

Focusing on what is important

05/09/2019 09:54:54 AM

May9

Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

In the midst of the widespread news of a Jewish congressman with the last name of Cohen eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on the floor of Congress, you might have missed the news that a 21-year old American citizen, Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, was killed in Israel this past week by Hamas rocket fire. Three other Israelis were killed in related rocket attacks while at work in a factory or driving in the car. One of those three casualties was a...Read more...

And the Beat Goes On

05/09/2019 09:53:30 AM

May9

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

And the beat goes on. This time it’s the STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Eight students shot. One fatality. The scene is familiar. Shock. Sobbing. First responders running about. Kids fleeing the crime scene with hands in the air. Press conferences. A community in mourning. We are all too familiar with the excruciating sorrow of young death and the vulnerability of soft venues. In our heartbreak we have come to accept that this...Read more...

Rabbi Dorsch's Statement on san diego

05/02/2019 02:36:52 PM

May2

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Dear Friends,

The Talmud teaches us that when a Jew hears about a fire breaking out in a home in his or her neighborhood, that one is not allowed to pray "may it not be my home." Why?

First, because we cannot pray for things that have already come to fruition. But second, because even if the fire did not occur in your...Read more...

Look both ways when crossing the street

05/02/2019 02:20:17 PM

May2

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

On a recent trip to London, when crossing the street, I noticed some assistance for the bewildered pedestrian. Stenciled on the road surface, just beyond the curb where one steps off, were stenciled the words ‘Look to your right’ or, depending on the traffic pattern, ‘Look to your left’. As a tourist hoping to make it across the street alive, it was a helpful reminder that the red Double Deckers, the Land...Read more...

From Egypt to East Cobb

04/24/2019 02:42:20 PM

Apr24

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

One of the charming little facets of living in East Cobb is you still can find remnants of when this place was mostly farmland. Take the name of the plaza where we shop at Trader Joe’s. It’s called “Pinestraw Plaza.” It gets its name because years ago it was an empty lot on the corner of Roswell Road and Johnson Ferry where a man would sell pine straw out of the back of his truck. The Parkaire Landing...Read more...

A Day in the life of a Zayde

04/24/2019 02:34:19 PM

Apr24

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

There’s an old rabbinic maxim that teaches ‘…only when we act like a child do we truly know we are an adult.’ When we descend from our lofty perch of stuffy groaning, entering the world of toys, imagination and silliness, only then do the sages acknowledge have we discovered our maturity. There is wisdom in their insight, for those playful moments with children and grandchildren, when we abandon our...Read more...

Israel's Election - Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah

04/18/2019 11:27:32 AM

Apr18

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

In the days following the Israeli election, news media outlets reported that three organizations within the conservative movement, along with its reform counterparts, lobbied President Trump to ask him to prevent the Prime Minister from annexing the West Bank.

Admittedly, there are a wide variety of Jewish beliefs on the issue of a unilateral annexing of the West Bank. I’m...Read more...

Netflix and the Shtisel Family

04/18/2019 11:22:22 AM

Apr18

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

Who’d have imagined that a Netflix show about an ultra-Orthodox family living in Jerusalem would become an international hit? Who’d have imagined that we suburban TV bingers would be enthralled by a bearded rosh yehivah, Shulem? A young chassid, Kivi, on the prowl looking for love? A ninety year-old bubbie who loves soap operas and the beach? Who’d have imagined we would be mesmerized by the ‘gansa...Read more...

An Insightful tour

04/11/2019 02:39:34 PM

Apr11

Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

A KSU student whose name I ask her to repeat several times calls about taking a tour of the synagogue for a class project. It’s a pretty routine request for us: so of course, I agree.

The student walks into my office a few days later. Trying my best to establish a frame of reference to best help her understand our customs, I always ask students if they come from a particular...Read more...

Berashis - to the moon

04/11/2019 09:56:58 AM

Apr11

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

On April 11 an astonishing event will occur that will call for rousing toasts of Manishewitz accompanied by chest pounding cries of ‘mazel tov’. It will occur 1000’s of miles away, an historic milestone for our people. An Israeli space craft, Berashis, that left Earth on February 22, atop a Falcon 9 Rocket, technology permitting, will land in the Sea of Serenity on the moon. This $100,000,000 project,...Read more...

What a shame

04/04/2019 09:35:16 AM

Apr4

Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable with how ubiquitous the public shaming of people has become in our society: So much so, that I’m afraid we are growing desensitized to it.

People who act inappropriately should absolutely be held accountable for their behavior. Certainly, egregious cases may make their way into the public discourse. Remaining silent when another truly...Read more...

choice is authentic freedom

04/03/2019 10:39:11 AM

Apr3

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

This is not a definitive, halachic piece on a very contentious, emotionally explosive issue but I hope it offers some guidance. I am irreversibly pro-choice. Having seen my grandson in utero on the ultra sound was stunning and incredibly gorgeous, nevertheless, my position remains unaltered. Our Georgia Legislature has acted with moral pomposity and misogynistic arrogance in approving the ‘Fetal Heart Beat...Read more...

Purim 5779: Anti-Semitism

03/28/2019 02:07:00 PM

Mar28

Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

For one reason alone--and that reason is anti-Semitism--more than any other year, Purim seemed a lot more real to me than it has in a long time.

Perhaps, each year that we read the story of Esther, we tend to think of it as a tale that took place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away. We relegate Purim into a children’s holiday, or a bedtime story. There was a bad man a long time ago. But don’t worry, I tell my kids, he...Read more...

Theology of a Cupcake

03/27/2019 10:03:31 AM

Mar27

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

I wandered into the office in search of a late afternoon nosh and to my pleasant surprise there was a tray of cupcakes. I took one with white icing and sprinkles but as a waist line compromise, decided to eat only the cake and not the gooey, sugary topping. And so, I stood over a nearby trashcan attempting to slide off the offending icing with one finger while gripping the bottom of the pastry. In my attempt to be respectful of both arteries...Read more...

The Loss of a Patriarch

03/21/2019 11:52:10 AM

Mar21

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

This past week the Bernstein family of Winnipeg said farewell to its patriarch, Lou Bernstein of blessed memory.  I met Amy’s grandfather, my Zaida Louie, on my first trip to Winnipeg to meet Amy’s family. You’ll appreciate that I was under a considerable amount of stress during that trip. Amy’s family was long distance, and so that weekend I met scores of aunts, uncles, and cousins in “a single bound.” Never before had...Read more...

Bread of Shame

03/20/2019 10:29:46 AM

Mar20

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

With the official end of my sabbatical I return to writing a weekly blog. My absence was self-imposed, but I am happy to be back. Your thoughts and reactions are always invited.     When I was 10 years old the hottest jewelry for one my age was an ID bracelet. I pleaded with my parents to buy me one. I even offered to have my name engraved in Hebrew, admittedly, as a manipulative fiscal ploy. Their proper response was for me to get...Read more...

Pekudei 5779: Women of the Wall

03/14/2019 03:51:28 PM

Mar14

Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

I can’t help but think about how appropriate, and perhaps more than a little ironic, that on a Shabbat where we read and celebrate the completion of the Mishkan we also mark the 30th anniversary of Women of the Wall.   Why do I say this Shabbat it is appropriate and ironic? It is because in its vision, the Tabernacle and its successor, the Beit Mikdash and today, the Western Wall, the last part of that Temple, were intended to be a...Read more...

Why do we say the Mourner’s Kaddish?

03/07/2019 02:59:16 PM

Mar7

Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

Typically, there are two schools of thought in Judaism that attempt to answer this question: one approach is mystical, the other is psychological.   The mystical approach argues that we say Kaddish because it helps to elevate the soul of our loved ones toward communion with God. It is clearly a deceased centered approach. Specifically, this theory goes, we say Kaddish for eleven months because that is the time that it takes the soul of a...Read more...
Tue, June 25 2019 22 Sivan 5779