Vayekhi (Genesis 47:28-50:26)

07 Dec
December 7, 2014

A woman in our congregation whose son will soon be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah came to see me today with a heavy heart. She told me a sad but unfortunately all too familiar tale of enmity and anger, silence and deep-seated hurt between members of her immediate family. How her mother hasn’t spoken to her brother in years, and her father hasn’t spoken to her sister in years, and neither the father nor the mother (both divorced now) have spoken to each other for years either. With a kind of wry sense of humor she said, “So rabbi if you were planning on speaking at my son’s Bar Mitzvah about the service being a reflection of a loving, caring, Jewish family, you might want to reconsider.” Read more →

Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

01 Dec
December 1, 2014

When I was sixteen my family moved from Santa Monica to Sacramento. I had just finished my first year of high school and had been selected to play drums with the SAMOHI jazz band in the Hollywood Bowl (which I did the night before we moved). I was certainly not looking forward to leaving behind all my friends and everything I had grown up with to move to a strange new place where I knew no one. But my dad had a new job, so move we did. Read more →

Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17)

28 Nov
November 28, 2014

All dreams follow the interpreter.” Talmud, Berakhot 55b

Everyone has dreams. Some of us dream of heights we intend to scale, battles we intend to win, glories we intend to capture. Some of us dream of love, or riches, or fame, or the quenching of our deepest desires. Some dreams are vast, and deep, and dramatic, and others are simple, and quiet, and modest. But regardless of their size or nature, we all have had dreams that inspired our actions and gave a sense of urgency to our lives. Read more →

Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23)

21 Nov
November 21, 2014

There are moments when I suddenly glimpse the frightened, fragile child beneath the false bravado of an adult who has come to me for counseling, and my breaks with their pain and sadness. Indeed, there have been many moments when it seemed that the only response possible was to cry. This past week was one such moment. Read more →

The Importance of Travel With Children

14 Nov
November 14, 2014

““Are we there yet?” What parent has heard that little voice coming from the back seat of the car five minutes after driving out of the garage at the very beginning of a long trip and hasn’t sighed and asked themselves, “Is this all really worth it?” When it comes to taking your children along on trips, the answer is, absolutely. Read more →

Vayishlakh (Genesis 32:4-36:43)

14 Nov
November 14, 2014

Every morning when I wake up, the first thing that I do is offer a silent prayer of thanks for being alive. The traditional morning blessing (which I recite silently to myself in Hebrew while still lying in bed), says modeh ani lefanekha, melekh khai vekayam, she-he-khezarta bee nishmati bekhemla, rabba emunatekha – “I give thanks before You, Power-that-is-Eternal, who has returned my soul with compassion, great is Your faithfulness.” Read more →

Setting a Good Example

07 Nov
November 7, 2014

“If I could teach parents just one lesson from all the parenting books that I have read, and all the lectures I have heard and all the articles that I have either read or written, there is absolutely no question in my mind that what one lesson would be. It is the most important message I tried to convey in my last book, Children of Character (Canter & Associates, 1997), and it is simply this: be the kind of person you want your children to become. That’s it. That is the single most important parenting lesson that you can learn – the power of setting a good example, of acting as you would want your children to act when they become adults. Read more →

Vayetze2

07 Nov
November 7, 2014

Ever since September 11th, most people I know have had a hard time sleeping at night. I keep hearing stories over and over again from people of all ages about how hard it is to fall asleep in the first place and then about waking up at all hours of the night, about nightmares that keep recurring and dreams they can’t explain that disturb their sense of security and well-being. Read more →

Parents are the Most Important Teachers

01 Nov
November 1, 2014

“Even though “character education” has become fashionable only in the past few year, I have had the privilege of spending the last twenty years of my life teaching, lecturing, and giving workshops to parents about the challenges of raising children who are steeped in values and whose daily behavior is a reflection of good character. During all those years in community after community, I have asked audiences the same series of questions, and the answers they have given me teach the most important lessons of all about the role of parents as the primary teachers of our children. Read more →

Vayetze (Genesis 28:10-32:3)

01 Nov
November 1, 2014

I remember how foolish I felt at first. There we were, my wife Didi and I, creeping around at midnight, quietly threading our way through low shrubs and overhanging trees where the beach met the foliage about twenty yards from the water. It was nearly pitch dark with only the light from the stars and a sliver of a moon visible in a foreign sky. It was Herron Island off the coast of Australia on the Great Barrier Reef. Read more →

The Wisdom Of Moral Aphorisms

28 Oct
October 28, 2014

Human beings are always searching for simple, easy ways to grasp complex and important ideas. It’s not an accident that for thousands of years, in every culture and language in the world, people have been sharing short, pithy sayings that capture eternal truths in a few well-chosen words. In fact, one such saying has found its way into nearly every single religious tradition on earth. Read more →

Toldot (Genesis 32:4-36:43)

28 Oct
October 28, 2014

I have three sisters. Two older and one younger. My youngest sister, Debbie, was born when I was eight years old. In the months leading up to her birth I remember clearly the anxiety I felt over the possibility that it might turn out to be a boy, and I might end up with a brother. Read more →

Haye Sarah 2005 (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

21 Oct
October 21, 2014

One of the greatest blessings of being a rabbi is the privilege I so often have of being witness to the remarkable power of the human spirit. Being a rabbi, and particularly serving the unique community where I live and work given me the opportunity to be part of some of the most amazing collections of people in the world. Some of us achieve fame and renown in life and others go about their daily living quietly with little or no fanfare. Yet each of us has the opportunity every day to act in such a way as to transform the lives of others and bring untold joy, love, happiness and fulfillment into the world. Read more →

LekhLekha2 (Genesis 12:1-17:27)

21 Oct
October 21, 2014

I have often wondered, “Does a blessing have to be recognized as a blessing for it to count as a blessing?” Especially when I read this week’s Torah portion where we are introduced for the very first time to Abram and Sarah, the first Jewish family in history with the difficult challenge of finding out that what God wants us to do is be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Read more →

Simhat Torah 2006/5767

14 Oct
October 14, 2014

HOW WE HANDLE ADVERSITY

A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her. She didn’t know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time because it seemed that as soon as one problem was solved a new one arose. Read more →