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Dear Friends,

We all have our go-to sites to read interesting news stories. For me most of those sites are
related to the happenings in America, Israel, and the wider Jewish world. Each Shabbat I will
share with you something that I have read that week. I hope that you will find these pieces
as interesting as I do and learn more about the people and places that make up Judaism in
the 21st century.


          *Rabbi's Reflections is on hiatus and will resume after the High Holidays.


5.27.22 In the Talmud, Rabbi Yehuda Nesiah teaches that “the world only exists because of the breath of schoolchildren.”  As a parent of young children, I am amazed each day at how much love and care my children receive from their teachers in a place where they feel safe.  Like all parents, I would do anything to keep my children safe and happy in their schools.  Yet this week we again come face to face with the ways that we as a wider culture have failed as we watched the senseless slaughter of 19 children and two adults at their school in Uvalde, Texas.  We grieve for their devastated families and pray that they find some kind of peace, but we also know that “thoughts and prayers” will not be enough to prevent future tragedies.  None of us can solve the problems that allow mass shootings in schools to happen, but each of us can play a role.

If you are scared because of the prevalence of guns in our country, I encourage you to become familiar with the work of Sandy Hook Promise.  Founded by parents whose children were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut, this organization aims to unite all people who value the protection of children.  On their website you can learn how to advocate for legislation that advances school safety and mental health supports and prevents gun violence.  You can also learn about warning signs and how to respond to them.

If your first response to this shooting is to be concerned about mental illness, then please support the work of NAMI Charlotte.  Mental illness is more prevalent than most of assume, but it is treatable and there are organizations in every community that are there to help.

If you hear about a shooting and think that schools need more security, then do your part to help schools put security in place in a way that makes sense.  Temple Israel shares our beautiful campus with two schools and security is a major part of all the organizational budgets.  You can help Shalom Park keep our children safe by contributing to the Foundation of Shalom Park Security Fund.

I am sick of reading about mass shootings and the death of innocent children and adults and I am scared for my own children.  In Pirkei Avot, Rabbi Tarfon teaches, "you are not expected to complete the task, but neither are you free to avoid it.”  Do something, now, while the memory of the shooting in Texas is fresh in your mind.


5.20.22 - This week as we celebrate Lag B'Omer, I've found
myself reflecting on Rabbi Akiva, a leading Jewish scholar
symbolic for his willingness to learn something new, and
to start over again. Shabbat Shalom! Click here to watch.

5.13.22 - At Temple Israel, I really appreciate that we have some wonderful auxiliary groups that support Jewish life and cater to the different demographics of our congregation. They offer a variety of social, educational, and religious opportunities, and this coming week offers two examples of what some of our auxiliaries do. Click here to learn more.

5.06.22 - Yom Hazikaron, Yom Ha'atzmaut, and Israel.
Click here to watch Rabbi's reflection this week. 

4.28.22 - Yesterday was Yom HaShoah, the date chosen by the Israeli Keneset to mark Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day.  We are so used to saying the number Six Million that we can forget just how many lives that truly is. As we get farther away from that time period, their memories and their names are harder to remember. This Yom HaShoah, I encourage you to look through some of the records preserved by Yad Vashem in Israel (click here). With this site, you can learn just a little bit about some of the many people who lost their lives to the Nazis and their allies. It is our responsibility as Jewish people to honor them and fight to ensure that no Holocaust can ever again take place.

4.21.22 - Thank you to all the staff and congregants who made
the 2022 Temple Israel Second Night Seder a moving experience!
Even though the Seders are over, we spend the rest of the week
celebrating Passover. If you are like me, you have probably
looked in the grocery this week for extra Passover food and
wondered why there is Matza that is not actually Kosher for
Passover. In this article (click here), you can learn about
how Matza is made and what makes it specifically Kosher
for Passover.

4.15.22 - The Haggadah is an ancient, but also modern book. 
The earliest passages come from the Torah, but each generation
has added to it in order to better understand our exodus story
and to help connect the themes of the story to contemporary life. Each year new Haggadot are published that we can use to
make Passover more meaningful. Have a look at some of the
incredible options out there - click here


4.08.22 - As we get ready for Passover many of us engage in
cleaning all of the Hametz out of our houses, but we will also
use a famous Jewish legal loophole called Mechirat Hametz.
Learn about the practice of selling your Hametz and then
email me at that you would
like to sell your Hametz before Passover. Click to read.


4.01.22 - My grandfather Julius Wolk (OBM) used to tell me about growing up in the Bronx and playing baseball with Hank Greenberg, one of the most famous American Jewish athletes who refused to  play baseball on Yom Kippur. I dreamed about pitching for the NY Mets, but just could not figure out how to play for them and still keep Shabbat (also, I’m not actually a talented baseball player).
This week you can read about Jewish athletes who are pursuing
their dreams while still holding fast to their Jewish values.
Please click here.

3.25.22 - This week I want to share with you a story about
reading Torah. Chanting Torah is an ancient skill, but for years
clergy and students have used a remarkable program called
TropeTrainer to help them learn to read from the scroll. Then
suddenly TropeTrainer stopped working on one computer after
another. Few people understood why this beloved tool was
breaking until this article was published about Thomas Buchler, the brilliant man who created the program. Please 
Click here.

Thu, July 18 2024 12 Tammuz 5784