Chaye Sarah: Virtues, Vision and a Mentor with a Tweed Coat --A Tribute to Paul Bolenbaugh This week’s parsha recalls the death of Sarah, but is strangely called Chaye Sarah, literally translated as “The Life of Sarah.”    While it certainly discusses her death and burial, it is Rashi, among others, who tell us that the unusual choice of titles for this parsha is purposeful, as death helps us understand life. Sarah, our matriarch, lived a life of energy, vigor and moral character. David Brooks, author  and columnist, echoes this age-old concept.  He writes, “..there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues…The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love.” While I do not know of Sarah’s resume virtues, the choice of title of the parsha, Chaye Sarah, reminds us of her eulogy virtues–the ones th
Increasing the Spiritual Thirst of Our Students Thank you to the staff at The Jewish Education Experience Podcast for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and philosophy on education and Jewish relevance.   Click here for Apple platform, here for Google and here for Spotify.    Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom and Chag sameach. 
 The Shofar’s Voice in Staples' Odd Back to School Campaign Staples is trying to undo a classic American phrase.  All over the radio and internet, Staples keeps telling us as they peddle folders, pens and notebooks, “Let's Go Forward 2 School. We're not going back to school”.    From our youngest years of life, the end of summer has always been “Back to School”–It’s Back to School sales, Back to School banners and even Back to School Night.   While this campaign rubs me the wrong way, I think Staples actually may be on to something.   The sounds of the shofar gives us a clue on how we should look not just at Back to School, but at all of our fall returns–returning to schedule, returning to the holidays and returning to more of a routine. And yes, each year we go forward and we also must do it by going back.  As we all know, the shofar has a three part structure,  tekiah, shevarim/truah, tekiah. It is through those notes where we can learn about the dynamics of our most sacr
Semikha Ceremony, June 1996 Up Close Snapshots of a Rebbe: Life Lessons from Rav David Weiss Halivni In the early 90’s, following college graduation, I was soul searching–looking for direction in the next chapter of my life,  It was in those years that I was blessed to learn from Rav David Weiss Halivni, both as a regular at the Finkelstein Minyan, later as member of Kehilat Orach Eliezer and also as a rabbinical student at his rabbinical school, the Metivta.   While I did learn about his passion for Talmud and scholarship, for me, the countless life lessons that I learned from this gadol, a man whom I had the privilege to watch with a front row seat, were most powerful.   Rav Halivni as a pluralist- In the 90’s, a major topic in our community was pluralism and squaring the challenge of being a person of faith while being open to the views of others. When I asked Rav Halivni how he navigated that challenge, he answered with enormous humility. I remember him telling me, “I will believe
For Each to Discover חובתו בעולמו  : A Hope for the Class of 2022   To the Dear Class of 2022, While each class is unique, you will always be special as not only a class that I have grown with here at KDS since you were in 3rd grade, but as the first that I had the pleasure of teaching in the classroom on a regular basis.  Through our time together every other day in Judaics this year and in so many other surroundings, I have been so impressed with you all.  You are a group of smart, inquisitive, caring and supportive young people.   While many principals tell their graduates that they have the whole world in front of them, I want to sharpen that blessing with two other ideas about the world for you to take going forward. The first message about the world comes from R. Moshe Chaim Luzatto as told in his  מסילת ישרים.   He tells us that the most important job of each person is to figure out חובתו בעולמו  their responsibility in their own world.   The outside world is out there for you t
 Were they All Really Holy?  Death, the Yoms and our Personal and National Legacy Each year as spring arrives, Jewish people memorialize.  From Yizkor on Pesach, to Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron, we say prayers that allow us to reflect on those whom we have lost, both in our personal lives and in our nation. Yet, this year, as I sat in Yizkor, one line gave me pause.  In some of the versions of the אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים Memorial Prayer for Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron, we say כלם קדושים, each and every person who died was holy.   But how is it that they are all holy?  Certainly some of those whom we think about on these days were unkind or inconsiderate or even cruel or dishonest.  Sometimes קדוש may not be the first or even the last word we use to describe them.   So why does everyone who died in these events get “bumped up” to the level of holiness? I spent some time discussing this question with our thoughtful KDS students, and we came up with a few answers that can teach us all impor
Dancing with Elijah:  Peace, Parenting and the Dialogue of Generations:  Lessons, Quotes and Questions for Your Pesach Seder If one were to think about the central “hero” of the Passover story, Moshe would most certainly come to mind. The man who rose up, saw injustice, led the people and challenged the authority of Pharaoh ushering the people to freedom—Moshe is the obvious choice to star at our Pesach tables.   Yet, Moshe probably would not win, as it is commonly known that his name is not even found in the Haggadah. So who is the next in line? To me, the Biblical character that is most fascinating at the Seder is Eliyahu HaNavi, Elijah the Prophet.  Eliyahu is central to introducing Pesach each year in the Haftarah of Shabbat HaGadol and we famously invite him in and sing his song each year toward the end of our Seders.    And I think it’s Eliyahu’s messages that are what we all need most right now.   Below are some key lessons on Eliyahu, some brief explanations, and sources and qu