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The backpack blessing

08/15/2019 12:57:40 PM

Aug15

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

I couldn’t help but notice signs last week advertising LCI’s (our next door neighbor) “Blessing of the Backpack.”   I have no idea what in the Lutheran Tradition such a blessing over a backpack would look like. But as we send our kids off to school, I’ve been wondering: is there a Jewish equivalent?   You might think that the Shehechiyanu would be appropriate. It’s become the Jewish “catch-all” blessing for...Read more...

The Midrash of Mice and Man

08/15/2019 12:51:02 PM

Aug15

Rabbi Shalom Lewis, Emeritus

There is a midrash of a king who would put to death receivers of stolen property but allowed the thieves to go free. He was criticized for his odd behavior. And so, to explain the rational for his actions, he commanded his subjects gather in the arena. Next, he placed mice in front of piles of food. The mice took the food and scampered into their holes. The next day he ordered his people to...Read more...

our american temple is on fire

08/07/2019 02:24:58 PM

Aug7

Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

 

Our American Temple is on fire.  

A growing crisis in mental health.  The growing feeling of subjectivity when it comes to truth.  Deranged individuals abusing firearms.  You could argue any number of these reasons and more were responsible for the heartbreaking tragedies in Dayton and El Paso that have gripped our country this week.

On Tisha B’av we remember a time in Jewish history...Read more...

We walk a fragile, bewildering path

08/07/2019 02:20:56 PM

Aug7

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

We walk a fragile, bewildering path between security and freedom. Ben Franklin cautioned years ago that…’those who give up essential freedom, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety’. I recall a visit to the Soviet Union many years ago and traveling on the metro in the wee hours. I experienced no fear nor angst as the subway whisked me from station to station in the cold, dark Russian night....Read more...

08/07/2019 02:20:26 PM

Aug7

Update this content.

To get a babysitter, or not to get a babysitter: that is the question.

08/01/2019 12:19:47 PM

Aug1

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

This week, Amy and I found ourselves at the same venue twice, The Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, for completely different reasons.   The first reason was for the Dave Matthews Band Concert last Tuesday.   Yes, even rabbis occasionally need a night out.   The weather for the concert was picture perfect. As we sat on our own lawn chairs on the lawn on a rare, cool evening, you could not have picked a better night...Read more...

farewell to The gray lady

08/01/2019 12:12:39 PM

Aug1

Rabbi Emeritus, Shalom Lewis

She would visit every Sunday morning. Three pounds on our front stoop of all the news that’s fit to print. The Gray Lady was loved by my parents. Powerful. Stylishly written. Pulitzer plump. As a child I was in awe. It had no Sunday comics but somehow it possessed a peerless nobility that I sensed even in my youth. I was a fan but didn’t quite understand why.

As I grew up I...Read more...

Jewish Tradition has it all wrong

07/25/2019 03:14:53 PM

Jul25

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

I think Jewish tradition has it all wrong.   We pray that God should be like a parent who forgives his or her child.   Instead, I believe that we should be praying that God be like a young child who forgives his or her parent.   Our young children love us unconditionally, and on occasion, throw a tantrum. These bring us to our limits. But calm inevitably follows the storm. “Weeping may stay the night, but rejoicing...Read more...

Blending Tradition and change

07/25/2019 02:09:24 PM

Jul25

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

We are a nation of kvetches. Going back thousands of years we have always complained that Judaism was too strict. Too legalistic. Too restrictive. We moaned that our faith limited our enjoyment of life at every juncture, imposing prohibitions and rules that promoted resentment, infidelity and defection. We got one shot at life so why can’t we suck the marrow out of our three score and ten?   To make the point in the extremist, many of...Read more...

"Gone Fishing"

07/18/2019 03:15:18 PM

Jul18

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Rabbi Dorsch is currently out of town. 

My Take on this weeks torah portion Balak

07/18/2019 03:00:41 PM

Jul18

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

In the opening chapter of this week’s parsha, the Moabite king cries out in a familiar, Catskillian trope, ‘The Yiddish are coming. The Yiddish are coming’. Indeed, the Israelites were approaching Balak’s kingdom and he trembled at the sight of the Jewish warriors. And so, what does he do in defense of his land? He hires Bilaam, a local shaman, who will curse the Jews and bring them down.

The story is entertaining, introducing...Read more...

technology and the Middle east

07/11/2019 03:16:14 PM

Jul11

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

After morning minyan, I caught up with a congregant whose daughter is attending a summer program in Israel. Through the Life360 iPhone application, each day he could literally watch where she was traveling. The app gives new meaning to “living vicariously.”

One day, he told me, he started to get some odd cell phone roaming charges from Lebanon. Slightly concerned (the...Read more...

Amazon and Censorship

07/11/2019 03:08:11 PM

Jul11

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

Ever hear of Joseph Nicolosi? He was a Catholic psychologist who wrote a number of books on ‘conversion therapy’. Nicolosi claimed that with an assortment of treatments, strategies and medications same sex attraction can be rerouted into heterosexuality. He had believers from reluctant gays to Christian fundamentalists. But for those of us who live in the world of authentic science and sexual reality, his...Read more...

houses -vs- homes

07/03/2019 10:06:35 AM

Jul3

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

One of the more interesting parts of being a rabbi they don’t put on the job description is that you get to see the insides of a great many houses. Shiva visits. Baby namings. Brises. It’s probably why I’ve lost interest in watching HGTV.

Over these visits, a critical life lesson has been reinforced for me: and that is, that there is a great difference between houses and...Read more...

Independence Day - america and judaism intersect

07/03/2019 09:55:44 AM

Jul3

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

As we celebrate the Fourth of July, I thought I would share some fascinating, little-known facts and history where early America and Judaism intersected.

The Puritans and early leaders of the colonies saw themselves as following in the footsteps of the Israelites in leaving tyranny for a promised land. England was Egypt. The King was Pharaoh. The Atlantic was the Red Sea. Many...Read more...

vacation

06/27/2019 02:32:14 PM

Jun27

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Drashing with Dorsch will return soon.

Are we alone on earth

06/27/2019 11:14:25 AM

Jun27

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

A space ship landed and a delegation from Earth welcomed the aliens. The interstellar visitors were lanky, green skinned, antennae flopping about with a skullcap perched atop each smooth, bulbous head. ”Does everyone on your planet wear a skull cap?” asked the terrestrial spokesman. “No”, replied the leader of the space creatures, “ Only those who are Orthodox”.

The...Read more...

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...

Thu, August 22 2019 21 Av 5779