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Of Purim and the Pandemic

Feb 23, 2021

As Purim and the one year anniversary of the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic draw near, there is cause for cautious optimism.  The L.A. area COVID-19 surge has declined.  Effective vaccines have been developed and are – despite “roll out” challenges – being administered to increasing numbers of people.   
 

Of Gratitude, Resilience and Hanukkah

Dec 08, 2020

Each year, at Hanukkah, I reflect on the story beyond the story.  In the face of the pervasive power of Hellenism, a popular uprising in Judea, led by the Maccabees, succeeded in pushing back Syrian-Greek forces, rededicating the Temple and establishing a dynasty that governed Judea for a century.  Yet, self-rule – much of the time characterized by internal conflict -- under that dynasty lasted only a century and, a century beyond that, the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. 

Mountains near Mt Sinai with the sun shining out from behind the side of a mountain

Living in the Present, toward the Future

Sep 25, 2020

The American philosopher and psychologist William James (1842-1910) observed that “the great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.”  There is no greater exemplar of this ideal than the Biblical Moses.  Moses devotes forty years to guiding the Israelites through an extraordinary journey; though he doesn’t enter the promised land, the legacy of Moshe Rabbeinu, Moses our teacher, is the enduring “heritage of the congregation of Jacob” (Deuteronomy 33:4, describing the Torah).

As a New Year Approaches

Sep 14, 2020

While Jewish tradition actually knows of multiple New Years, the first of Tishrei is commemorated as Rosh Hashanah, literally “head of the year.” Rosh Hashanah is associated with the creation of the world; “today is the birthday of the world” is a refrain within the traditional Rosh Hashanah liturgy.
 

The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture, Jewish Education and the Month of Elul

Aug 19, 2020

A number of years ago (2008), a book titled, "The Last Lecture" was published.  This best-seller was an expanded version of a lecture by Professor (of computer science) Randy Pausch, who – knowing that he had but a few months to live – delivered a last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University.  The father of three young children, Randy Pausch’s talk, replete with advice on how to lead life, was not only targeted to his immediate listeners, but to his children as well.  

In Pursuit of the Right and the Good

Aug 14, 2020

As parents of school-aged children are very well aware, the Governor and the L.A. County Department of Public Health have determined that waivers for in-person school operations will not, currently, be considered, in the face of the COVID-19 case rate in Los Angeles. In addition to early childhood education centers, camps and day care programs can, under certain conditions, operate. School boards and educators – and, of course, parents and students -- are faced with difficult decisions. 
 

A Renaissance of Jewish Learning

Jul 23, 2020

The year 2020 marks the centennial of a remarkable Jewish educational initiative.  In October 1920, Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929) opened the Freies Judisches Lehrhaus (The Jewish House of Free Study), in Frankfurt.  This adult education institute was designed to share Jewish learning with a generation not well versed in Jewish texts, serving as a modern “beit midrash” (house of study).
 

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