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Which Day Defines Your Year? A HaYom Challenge for the Yamim Noraim
The theater has it right about the day. Whether it is Emily begging the stage manager to return to Grover’s Corners for one more day in Our Town, Billy getting one more day to visit his daughter Louise in Carousel or Mark in Rent talking about “single frames of one magic night forever flicker(ing) in close-up,” it is often one or two moments, one or two days in a year, a Yom, that teach us most about ourselves and what matters.
At Elli Kranzler’s annual slichot concert last night into this morning, the sole thread (and the soul thread) that weaved through his music and tefila was the day of his mother’s death this summer.  While every year’s concert is incredible, it was this one that stood out—as his words, his voice and his music, his lens on the slichot was shaped by one day where he lost his mother, his teacher and his nurturer.  As one who was blessed to be there last night, I would say that it was his Yom.
As I…
Discomfort and Responsibility in the Houses We Live In:  A Blessing for Elul and the Opening of School 

As we wind down the summer, many feel that at a certain point, we have had enough.  Enough of the travel, enough of being out and a feeling that it is time to go home.  

In Elul, as we prepare for the chagim, we long for a spiritual return home as we recite Tehilim 27. (27:4)
אַחַת, שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵאֵת-יְהוָה--    אוֹתָהּ אֲבַקֵּשׁ שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית-יְהוָה,    כָּל-יְמֵי חַיַּי One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:  that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life.
As we enter into another house, the schoolhouse in the coming days, we do so with the hope that it will be a space for us for dwell in and achieve continued growth and learning.  
As we enter this house in the month of Elul, I wanted to share three brief lessons from this month. 

Elul is not the month of history, it’s the month of responsibility

In this book about the holiday experience, Rabbi Al…

My 2018 Summer 12 Movie “Challenge” and 12 Short Lessons Learned

My 2018 Summer 12 Movie “Challenge” and 12 Short Lessons Learned

One of the most important lessons in life is to embrace the stage that you are in.  A few years ago, when my children were still very young, I looked at my friends who had older kids jealousy.  They would talk about inspirational beach books or meaningful summer movies and I would only have read Dr. Seuss and watched Disney with my young ones.  I used to ask myself, “Will I ever have time to read a book or watch a movie for pleasure?”

Now, this summer, I am embracing my stage and accepting what my friend calls the “Summer 12 Challenge.” Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, over that 14-15 week span, I have spent time on planes, in theaters and on Netflix with friends, family or on my own watching movies once a week or so.

Here are the 12 from this Summer and a 1-2 sentence thought on each one.  They are in no particular order…

Maktub-A fun movie that has everything-mafia, Israeli flavor, drama, humor, theology and religi…

How Summer Can Fool You- The Spinning Wheel of Tisha B’Av and Chanukkah

Chanukkah kept coming to my mind.  Even when the rabbi said that, “Tisha B’Av is a a fast day like Yom Kippur and a day of restrictions like shiva,” images of menorahs in the window were in my head.

Yes, in the midst of the most depressing holiday on the Jewish calendar, the concepts of Tisha B’Av’s timing and focus on space hearken me back to Chanukkah.

Time

In the middle of the winter, darkness pervades our lives.  Days are short and it is not unusual to experience some level of Seasonal Affective Disorder, where moodiness and depression emerge due to the sparse commodity of sunlight. LIke in many other religions, we, as Jews, celebrate a holiday to addresses those doldrums-- Chanukkah. Among the many lessons that Chanukkah, the Festival of Lights, teaches us is that even a little bit of light can chase away the darkness.  In the time of year where we can lose hope, comes Chanukkah to teach us that the spirit of positivity, of hope and of light is always present even when it seems fa…
To Follow the Ari’s Advice--In Conscience and in Direction


R. Isaac Luria, otherwise known as the Ari z’l, used to say that, even before tefila or ritual, every day should be started by accepting upon oneself the mitzvah of
 ואהבת לרעך כמוך -- the mitzvah of loving your neighbor as yourself.

As parents and as educators, we should remind our children -that all of our learning and actions should lead us to that goal of empathy. But how do we get there? What brings us to the realization of this mitzvah?

Sometimes that means to follow the heart and feelings.  Sometimes it means to follow the head and thoughts.  But it always means to follow our moral muscle, to follow our conscience.

Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he or she must take it because conscience tells her or him that it is right.”

The central path toward the goal of empathy is to follow the conscience --- it will for sure wil…
Makor MiMakor מקור ממקור  A New Lens on My Blog
Shvuot: To Swear on Seven:
A Shavuot Conversation with the Bronx Senior Center

This blog model is called “Makor MiMakor”--the source from the source.  Every month or so, I will share a piece of Torah or a quote or article (the Makor)  that I learned with a member of the Kinneret community-- either a group of students, teachers, parents or senior citizens from our school’s intergenerational learning program (A Makor). I will then share their thoughts and reactions and conclude with a brief takeaway from that conversation.  This blog’s subject is about the mitzvah of tochekah—of giving criticism.

The Makor:
R. Shimshon Refael Hirsch on Gen. 21:23-
'R. Hirsch points out that the word  הִשָּׁבְעָה “seems to be formed from הִשָּׁבְעָ meaning seven and in its reflexive form, would mean literally “to give oneself up to the seven.”  As the world was created in 6 days and on Shabbat, God rested, the number seven refers to God and the holy.  “N…
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A New Lens on the Blog : Makor MiMakor מקור ממקור   Tochekah: To Criticize or Be Criticized:  An 8th Grade Conversation in Room 108

I remember once sitting in a silent classroom, with nothing but  the Tanakah sitting at the front teacher’s desk.  “The Tanakh,” the Professor said half jokingly and half seriously, “says nothing.” This exercise was to teach us that our sources and our Torah speaks to us, only when we engage with them. 
It is in that spirit that I try a new blog model called “Makor MiMakor”--the source from the source.  Every month or so, I will share a piece of Torah or a quote or article (The Makor)  that I learned with a member of the Kinneret community-- either a group of students, teachers, parents or senior citizens from our school’s inter-generational learning program (A Makor). I will then share their thoughts and reactions and conclude with a brief takeaway from that conversation.  This blog’s subject is about the mitzvah of tochekah—of giving criticism.

The Makor:…