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Israel's Election - Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah

04/18/2019 11:27:32 AM


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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...

when Did Our Family Begin

02/28/2019 03:16:09 PM


Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

Sometimes, I feel like I should rename this column Dumbfounding Questions that My Five-year old Asks Me.


“Daddy,” asked Zev, “when did our family begin?”



Films that make us laugh and cry

02/20/2019 05:46:31 PM


Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

How is it possible to laugh and cry from the same film?   For me, watching the 40th anniversary replay of the Frisco Kid at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival was a trip down memory lane. The last time I saw the Frisco Kid was as a recording off of my Zaydee’s VCR in Edison, New Jersey. Watching as an adult, I now realize just how many of the jokes went over my head in childhood. When the synagogue president announced the drinks to...Read more...

Diversity in the Jewish Community 

02/14/2019 09:53:19 AM


Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

This week, I filled out a form that required me to indicate my race: which as a Jew, always leaves me uneasy.   If you look at my profile, you’ll see that I am 96% Ashkenazi Jew and 4% Caucasian. Yes, that 4% of my genetic makeup does make me look similar to other people of Eastern European ancestry, making “Caucasian” or “white” perhaps the correct choice. There have also been a chorus of voices and articles in the...Read more...

Invocation - Georgia State Senate

02/06/2019 03:53:05 PM


Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

Thank you Senator Kirkpatrick. I want to begin this morning by thanking Dr. Kirkpatrick for her leadership and for the gracious invitation to be here with you this morning.   My dear Senators, it seems like it took place ages ago, but how soon we forget that it was only recently that we marked four months since a deranged individual, filled with hate in his heart, marched into a synagogue and killed eleven innocent souls in...Read more...


01/30/2019 01:25:19 PM


Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

“Dan,” called Amy on Sunday. “I can’t believe your son! He’s unbelievable.”   After an exhilarating evening of Yiddish music on Marietta Square (words that I am confident no one thought would ever be uttered until Etz Chaim finally did it) with our Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Hankus Netsky, Dr. Netsky worked with our Religious School students on Sunday. He taught them niggunim, melodies without words, as well as a few Yiddish...Read more...

Jewish Role in History

01/23/2019 09:23:08 AM


Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

I’m always wary of Jewish books that promote what I like to call the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” version of history. By this, I mean books that purport to promote a "new and previously unrecognized/significant historical role" that Jews played in a major historical event: as if to say that without Jews, the event would have never happened.   This is of course, surely not the way history is meant to be read nor understood. I...Read more...

Foundation of Law

01/17/2019 02:34:53 PM


Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Brexit. An ongoing government shutdown. What caused these crises, and how can we fix them?   The Talmud teaches in Masechet Taanit that Torah scrolls are written with quills made from reeds rather than cedar trees. Why? Because a person should always remember it is better to bend like a reed than be rigid like a cedar. Each time a scribe would pick up his quill, he would no doubt remember the foundation of law comes not from a place of...Read more...

"old Churches" and "YOung Churches"

01/10/2019 02:54:55 PM


Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

One of my Christian colleagues recently explained to me the difference between young and old churches. Main Line Protestant Churches, he explained, are mostly “old churches,” while Evangelical and Non-Denominational churches are “young churches.”   To understand the difference, kook arayn: come and look at the crowds that make up the two prayer communities that meet next door to our synagogue. The Lutheran church, led by my...Read more...

The Rabbi and Facebook

01/02/2019 02:26:47 PM


Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Following the Philadelphia Eagles’ reentry into the playoffs last Sunday, I posted on Facebook: “Those of you who know me, know that I am not a religious man, but say a prayer for Nick Foles.”   Most people, I expected, would understand the irony--coupled by no small degree of snark--behind that statement. I hope it goes without saying that I do in fact consider myself to be a fairly religious man. I daven with regularity, perform...Read more...

Shabbat Candle Sticks

12/27/2018 03:37:19 PM


Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

While shopping at the Traditions Judaica Shop at the Festival Marketplace in Pompano Beach, Amy’s attention was captivated by the “20% off” Chanukah decorations. My gaze was fixated on a rather strange set of Shabbat candles in the store window. Inscribed in Hebrew and English were the words famously attributed to Ahad HaAm (Asher Ginsburg), known as the father of cultural Zionism: “More than the Jews have...Read more...


12/20/2018 02:17:44 PM


Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

“Daddy, why don’t girls go to minyan?”   Some of you may know that I take Zev to morning services with me every Monday and Thursday morning. Needless to say, he’s become quite observant. With the notable exceptions of Arlene Manning and Delores Lazerson, and our admirable once monthly Rosh Chodesh group, minyan at Etz Chaim--despite our long history of egalitarianism--remains a “boy's thing.”   There are so many answers...Read more...

The Cracked Window

12/13/2018 02:50:05 PM


Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

I heard a cracking sound in the middle of the night. I didn’t make much of it, until I woke up in the morning to see several large cracks had formed in our faux stained glass front door. How had this happened?

Looking at the door, my heart immediately began to skip a beat. Had someone seen our Chanukkah candles lit in the window and thrown a rock at our home? If so, why hadn’t they thrown a rock at the window where the menorah...Read more...

How Do you Spell Chanukah?

12/06/2018 04:01:24 PM


Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

Each year when we come to December there is a singular debate that rages among the Jewish people. It is a debate divides households. It divides communities. It divides Jews from our non-Jewish neighbor. That debate, is of course, how you are supposed to spell the word חנוכה.   Fred Davis pointed out to me last Shabbat when he looked at my source sheet that I spelled חנוכה at least two different ways in English. Yet according to...Read more...

Memories of childhood thanksgivings

12/03/2018 11:52:58 AM


Growing up, my mother was the best driver I knew. We were carried from place to place seamlessly. Then, when I began to drive, I realized the horrible, God-awful, truth: that my mother’s driving skills did not exactly “live up” to her superb mothering skills. As children we were oblivious to her machinations; but as a driving adult sitting in the passenger seat I  constantly felt my right foot pushing for the brake that was never...Read more...

Mon, April 22 2019 17 Nisan 5779