Category Archives: Rav

Items of interest to those who follow the ‘Rav’ side

Great Life Lessons Learned From Noah!

A friend sent this and it’s just so perfect for me today.  Ahh, life lessons.

That Woodpecker Might Have to Go!

Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah’s Ark…

  • One: Don’t miss the boat.
  • Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat.
  • Three: Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
  • Four: Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
  • Five: Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
  • Six: Build your future on high ground.
  • Seven: For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
  • Eight: Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
  • Nine: When you’re stressed, float a while.
  • Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
  • Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

~Author Unknown

Why We Remember – Reflections on Yom HaShoah

The following is the reflection and prayer I shared at the Chapman Holocaust Memorial Program:

I stood before a group of parents and students in a Junior High School in the mountains outside of Denver, Colorado.  There I stood presenting my part of our group History project about the Holocaust.  I used a film strip to illustrate the stories of terror, pain, and courage.  I shared personal accounts from two survivors I interviewed along with personal artifacts Leo and Samuel gave me to share with the class.  By the end of my presentation, the room was silent.  No one moved, no one said anything.

At the end of the evening I was astounded by what the parents said to me:  “we never knew!”

You never knew?  You, the parents, the adults, never knew! How could that be.  The students, I could understand, but you?

It was that indelible moment that I realized I needed to be an integral part of the network to ensure that no one could say, “we never knew.”

Tonight, we gather here as witnesses to a part of our history that can never be forgotten.  We are surrounded by those who personally experienced the atrocities that leave this indelible mark on our souls.  Each of you, like the two first survivors whom I met, Leo and Samuel, bear eloquent witness for each of us that these moments should never be forgotten.

We read in the Gates of Prayer:

The universe whispers that all things are intertwined.  Yet at times we hear the loud cry of discord.  To which voice shall we listen?  Although we long for harmony, we cannot close our ears to the noise of war, the rasp of hate.  How dare we speak of concord, when the fact and symbol of our age is Auschwitz?

The intelligent heart does not deny reality.  We must not forget the grief of yesterday, nor ignore the pain of today.  But yesterday is past.  It cannot tell us what tomorrow will bring.  If there is goodness at the heart of life, then its power, like the power of evil, is real.  Which shall prevail?  Moment by moment, we choose rightly, and often enough, the broken fragments of our world will be restored to wholeness.

For this we need strength and help.

It is imperative on each of us to listen to the stories, remember the history and then become the transmitters to future generations.  From the ashes, from the flames we hear the voices of our past.  They call out to us to remember.  They remind us that we must be the ones to tell their story.  We must be the ones to never forget so that they should never be forgotten.

Elie Wiesel, wrote in 1979,

The survivors advocated hope, not despair.  Their testimony contains neither rancor nor bitterness.  They knew too well that hate is self-debasing and vengeance self-defeating.  Instead of nihilism and anarchy, they chose to opt for man.  Instead of setting cities on fire, they enriched them.  Many went to rebuild an ancient dream of Israel in Israel; they all chose to remain human in an inhuman society to fight for human rights everywhere, against poverty everywhere and discrimination, for humankind always.

For we have learned certain lessons.  We have learned not to be neutral in times of crisis, for neutrality always helps the aggressor, never the victim.  We have learned that silence is never the answer.  We have learned that the opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference.  What is memory if not a response to and against indifference?

So let us remember, let us remember for their sake, and ours: memory may perhaps be our only answer, our only hope to save the world….

Together, we will remember and together, we will never let this happen again to any people.  Together, we will be strengthened because we carry in our hearts and souls the memory of all those we hold on to tonight.

May I ask that the candle lighters and the students accompanying them now join me on stage?

Sonia Berson accompanied by Andrew Paull
Harry Eisen accompanied by Erin Beyrooty
Mary Hoovestol accompanied by Case Takata
Goldie Sack accompanied by Roger Mendoza
Leon Weinstein accompanied by Porter Hahn
Mike Zelon accompanied by Angel Chang

Please Rise

We take a moment for silent meditation

Join together in singing Eli Eli

May these lights illuminate the stories of those not hear to speak them, yet may we carry their blessings and share them with the world.  Tonight, may we never forget.  Tonight let us remember and therefore, allow us to live as they live through us. May these lights inspire us and enlighten us.  And let us say…Amen

Went for a Shabbat Hike – Climbed Sinai!?!?

Shabbat morning started off as any Shabbat morning with a TBS Shabbat hike – in the parking lot of a local park in Orange County.  I was very excited because we were hiking in Santiago Oaks Regional Park.  It was looking like we were going to explore another hidden gem that many of us never knew existed in Orange County.

Usually, going to a new place, I like to hike it ahead of time, but this week, I lost all track of time and did not have a moment to hike.  But that’s OK, I thought, the other two hikes went off without a hitch, this will be just fine! (she says with sarcasm!)

A nice crowd showed up and I joked, “I can’t get you all in the sanctuary for Shabbat morning but at least I can get you into THIS sanctuary!”

And so it began.  I should have known that this might not go as smoothly when I couldn’t find the trail head and made them walk around the turn-around.  But I reassured them, “I won’t actually make you walk through the desert for 40 days and nights!” (Famous last words!)

Now, on the right trail and walking through the beautiful woods, we see our signs for Santiago Creek Trail! Whew! All is right in the world! Until, no more signs.  Great, here’s a fork in the road! At least there seems to be a nice man sitting on the bench who looks like he knows what’s what. “Excuse me sir, which way to Santiago Creek Trail?” He looks at our group and says, “that way” pointing to our left.  “Thank you!” and we’re on our way.  (Did I just see a puff of smoke as he disappeared from view?)

Off we walk noticing a slight incline in our step.  “Hey Rabbi! Will there be many hills.”

“No, according to my description and maps, this should be a nice walk today.” (more famous last words!)

The hill is getting steeper.  Some decide that this is a great time to show off their well trained legs as they decide it’s time to RUN ahead.  Yes, run up the hill! Have fun girls! Everyone else, please feel free to go at your pace. It’s not a race…this is Shabbat.

We get to the top of the hill and wait…there’s another hill! Really!?!? this was not in the description.  Ah sugar (really, that’s what I say!), I think I turned the wrong way!  Keep smiling Heidi, keep up the face that I really know which way I’m going.  Nuts, I don’t!

Just one more hill and we’re at the top. We’ve make it and are grateful to the Rangers who come up to help one of our hikers down.  But as the Rangers and I are loading her into the truck, I look over to the other hill where the group is making their way down and I notice they are going VERY slow!  I call Marla on her cell and ask, “is everything OK over there?”

“Sure, we’re doing fine.  Just don’t come this way!  It’s really steep and some of us are going down on her tushes! I have to go so I don’t fall.”

Great!  I am so in trouble when I get off this hill and they get their hands on me!

I get a text message that everyone is down, the Ranger is leaving and I’m heading down the hill.  At the bottom are – I kid you not – three deer! Haven’t I heard this story before? Maybe they are there to tell me that everything’s fine or they’re there to mock me some more.

I meet up with the group in the parking lot and I start apologizing profusely.  This is going to be a major al cheit at Yom Kippur.  But everyone really does seem fine.  They all said they had a great time and are glad that our one rescue is OK.  Marla and Juliet offer to go on early morning walks with me to check out new trails so we really know which way to turn.  And I’m on Marilyn’s list – but that’s OK, I’m practically family and everyone in the family is usually on the list at some point.

I never did see that man from the fork in the road again…

Where is the Pace Car?

Life moves at a very fast pace.  There are meetings to be had. People to see in the hospital. Students to study with. And sermons or articles to write. There are those moments where there seems to be too much on the to-do list and I wonder how I will ever get it all done. This weekend was one of those weekends during which there was something going on almost every minute of all three days.  I knew it would be a challenge to get it all done, but I knew I could if I just kept myself focused.

The weekend has ended and it was awesome! Shabbat was beautiful. Purim was a kick – both for the adults and the children. And we even managed to have dinner with friends.  Now here it is the middle of the week and I feel like I am stalled!

Jennifer im’d me and asked how it was going and I said, I felt like I was in a holding pattern. That’s when she told me of days without a pace car. So true! Today, just feels like a day without a pace car.

There is much to do, but honestly, I can’t get my head wrapped around it. Is this so bad? No not really. Just a little frustrating because when we are racing with the pace car, there is that momentum that we have to keep. But without it, it feels a little sluggish.

Maybe instead of trying to find the pace car right now, I should try to enjoy the more mellow moments.  After all, they are far and few between.

Pace car, come back when you’re fueled up – for now, I’m going to enjoy the meadow.

The Saga Continues at the Kotel

I was sad today when I read that Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center, was brought into the Jerusalem police station and interrogated for one hour for her role in the events of Rosh Chodesh Kislev.  In December, Nofrat Frenkel, an Israeli medical student and member of the Women of the Wall, was detained for wearing a talit at the Western Wall (Kotel) plaza.

The ultra Orthodox control the Kotel and plaza and are making it more difficult for women and other non-Orthodox groups to participate in any kind of activities.  Hoffman is told that she might be charged with a felony for violating the rules of conduct at this holy site.

Women have been gathering to pray together each Rosh Chodesh for the past 25 years with Women of the Wall.  And they have made concessions to not wear the traditional black and white talitot when they pray, rather, smaller and more colorful talitot that they wear under their coats so as not to create too much of a scene.  One month after the first incident, on Rosh Chodesh Tevet, 150 women came out in solidarity with Women of the Wall and to quietly pray together that morning.  While the rain prevented them from reading Torah, the energy they shared together lifted their spirits.

But today, with the announcement of Anat Hoffman’s interrogation, our hearts are downtrodden.  How is it, that this place that means so much to all of the Jewish people of the world has become a place for confrontation and anger.

I remember the first time I visited the Kotel when I was 16.  I was in awe at its size and the energy that emanated from the stones, the people, the place.  I was moved to tears when I reached for the stones for the first time and placed my lips against the wall.  I prayed that day like I never prayed before because I felt I was standing in a place where generations of Jews have stood before and were proud to be Jews.

But today, I am angered by the events of the Israeli police who bring in a distinguished woman like Anat to question her about why she wore a talit at the Wall.  Why have the police never brought in for questioning the many individuals who cursed and spit at the women, threw objects at the women, and even hurt some of the women physically?  Why are they not being taken into custody and told that they might be charged with a felony for assault?

And while Hoffman did not let this form of interrogation intimidate her, it was as she said, the act of being fingerprinted like a criminal that hurt the most.  She said, “The stains that are still on my fingers are actually a stain on the State of Israel.”

It is  these stains that will not be washed away until all Jews can be reunited in Jerusalem and throughout the world, to respect and live together as Am Echad, one people.

Read more at:
The Forward
News from the IRAC

Welcome to my new blog

I’ve been talking about doing this for a long time.  But talk is cheap and action is greater.  (OK, I have no idea what the real saying is but there are just some things that I like to create myself. :-))

There are so many times that I read something, do something, experience something that I want to share it with others.  I’ve already immersed myself greatly into the social networking world of Facebook and Twitter that this just seemed like the next perfect step.

I’m inspired by blogs such as Imabima and Or Am I.  And just recently, we started a TBS blog that will be written by not only myself and the incredible TBS staff, but also by TBS congregants and other guest bloggers.

So here it goes, diving into the blogging world.  I can’t say that I will post as often as some bloggers, but I’m hoping to use this space as a way to share more about what I’m thinking and experiencing.  Who knows, maybe it will even inspire.