Rabbi’s page

From the Rabbi’s Desk…

From the Rabbi’s Desk…

The chagim (festivals) are over, the regular year is moving full steam ahead. The building is buzzing with learning: kids in Hebrew school, adults in Mishnah class and iEngage series, committee meetings, Men’s club, Sisterhood – TE is full of energy this fall!   This year’s Shir Magic will span an entire weekend of music with … Continue reading “From the Rabbi’s Desk…”

Shanah Tovah! May the New Year be filled with learning!

Shanah Tovah! May the New Year be filled with learning!

What a whirlwind of a summer it has been! I was privileged to attend the Rabbinic Torah Seminar at Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and engage in 10 days of profoundly impactful learning, together with some 150 colleagues from the United States, Israel, and Europe. We explored the last 100 years of Jewish history, based … Continue reading “Shanah Tovah! May the New Year be filled with learning!”

Yerushalaim shel zahav: Jerusalem of gold…

Yerushalaim shel zahav: Jerusalem of gold…

Every year that I have served Temple Emanuel, my summer begins in a similar way: I find myself sitting in a chair in the faculty residence at Camp Eisner, writing the Shofar article for the summer edition. Every year I strive to have it all finished before I go to camp, but alas this little … Continue reading “Yerushalaim shel zahav: Jerusalem of gold…”

Counting the Omer…

Counting the Omer…

There is no doubt that the Jewish calendar is designed in a way that can easily confuse just about anyone! I was always absolutely certain of that! J What, with the new year in September (or thereabout – only proving the original statement!) and Chanukah and Passover that fall all over the place… no one … Continue reading “Counting the Omer…”

Spring is in the air…

Spring is in the air; the month of Adar is here – and it can only mean one thing: Purim is coming! Got your costumes? Ready to party? We got big plans on Sunday morning (March 12), so bring your family and friends! However, Purim is not just for children at TE – the Saturday … Continue reading “Spring is in the air…”

A Strong Community

A Strong Community

Community is an interesting word. I encounter it in many different places, and often I find myself feeling that the word is overused, if not misused. A quick search provides the following two main descriptions for community: 1) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common, and … Continue reading “A Strong Community”

Shalom, chaver…

Shalom, chaver…

עֲשֵׂה לְךָ רַב, וּקְנֵה לְךָ חָבֵר Aseh lekha rav, u’kneh lechah chaver… Pirkei Avot 1:6 Make for yourself a mentor (rabbi), acquire for yourself a friend… This rabbinic dictum directs each of us to build the relationships that go both horizontally and vertically. When Mishnah urges us to ‘acquire a friend,’ it suggests that we … Continue reading “Shalom, chaver…”

Enhancing our High Holy Day experiences…

Enhancing our High Holy Day experiences…

A number of years ago, we were discussing the need to review and edit the beloved TE ‘blue’ prayerbook, and the ritual committee made a decision to adopt an existing prayerbook that would fit the needs of our community, in addition to the TE’s own siddur. I was able to temporarily secure (from Camp Eisner) … Continue reading “Enhancing our High Holy Day experiences…”

Statement by the Clergy of Orange on the Massacre in Orlando, FL

Statement by the Clergy of Orange on the Massacre in Orlando, FL

With sadness in our hearts, we condemn with one voice the senseless violence that took place in Orlando, Florida last Saturday night. The heinous acts committed by a single gunman on Saturday night were an attack on all civilized people. They were an attack on fundamental American values. They were an attack on our shared … Continue reading “Statement by the Clergy of Orange on the Massacre in Orlando, FL”

Goodbye, old house….

Goodbye, old house….

  And so the time has come to say goodbye to the old house. For many of us this is a moment tinged with sadness. For over 40 years this house has been the center of Temple Emanuel’s universe – religious school classes, the office, committee meetings, book clubs, meals, parties, learning, and praying – … Continue reading “Goodbye, old house….”

Refugees welcome

Refugees welcome

In the recent weeks there has been much talk about refugees coming into this country. There has been no shortage of opinions offered, including some pretty offensive statements from politicians running for the highest office in the land. Some very real fears were expressed by the American public in light of the Paris terror attacks, … Continue reading “Refugees welcome”

Shalom, Salaam, Peace…

Shalom, Salaam, Peace…

When I was a rabbinical student back in the 1990s, I missed out on one of the most important elements of rabbinic training. Due to circumstances completely beyond my control, I found myself without a valid passport and was forced to give up one of the key elements of my education – a year spent … Continue reading “Shalom, Salaam, Peace…”

The door is open, walk right in…

The door is open, walk right in…

New Year is upon us! Rosh Hashanah is coming! The cycle of Jewish life is about to be renewed once again, with ritual, prayers, solemn and uplifting community gatherings, family reunions – and, of course, lots and lots of food. Food for the body, food for the soul. The spirit of renewal is very much … Continue reading “The door is open, walk right in…”

Am Israel Chai…

Am Israel Chai…

In just over a month I will be celebrating 14 years since my rabbinic ordination. It has been an incredible experience, and I am grateful every day for the opportunity to do what I love – to spend my days taking care of the Jewish people and my beloved community, Temple Emanuel. Early in my … Continue reading “Am Israel Chai…”

on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII…

on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII…

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the WWII. This symbolic date is marked on different days in different parts of the world. It is a date that is recorded differently in the psyche of the nations that see themselves as participants of that massive conflict. Most likely there will be little … Continue reading “on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII…”

Shehecheyanu, or how to celebrate the moments of transition.

Shehecheyanu, or how to celebrate the moments of transition.

Judaism is all about the sacred time. To be sure, space matters too, but time – now that’s really important. Minutes, days, weeks – all of it matters tremendously – just take a look at the Jewish calendar, its’ beautiful, complicated precision. Just look at how carefully we monitor time – on March 6 Shabbat … Continue reading “Shehecheyanu, or how to celebrate the moments of transition.”

Walking in someone else’s shoes…

Walking in someone else’s shoes…

Last week together with a team of TE volunteers I participated in a poverty simulation organized by United Way and Jewish Federation as part of the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Lifeline campaign. I was assigned a role of a nine-year old boy, Roland, who lives with his father (who has a full time job and a paid off … Continue reading “Walking in someone else’s shoes…”

The power of music and the legacy of Debbie Friedman

The power of music and the legacy of Debbie Friedman

Music stirs our souls in a way that words often cannot, activating emotions within us that we did not know existed… Music is such a strong presence in Temple Emanuel worship style that it is almost unimaginable without it! Yet music in worship (especially instrumental music) has a complicated history in Judaism. Following the destruction … Continue reading “The power of music and the legacy of Debbie Friedman”

And the Youth Shall see visions…

And the Youth Shall see visions…

I hope your first post-Thanksgivukkah Thanksgiving was a wonderful time to reconnect with family and friends. If you missed the latkes at your table, no need to panic – Chanukah is almost here! Over the last few years we have spent a lot of time and effort building up the TE programs for our post … Continue reading “And the Youth Shall see visions…”

Vote, Vote, Vote!

Vote, Vote, Vote!

What a Holy Day season we had this year! A huge thank you to all the volunteers who have helped make this year the best yet! (We are blessed with so many, that I would not be able to thank everyone by name here – but that’s a good problem to have, I’m sure you … Continue reading “Vote, Vote, Vote!”

Chag Sukkot Sameach!

Chag Sukkot Sameach!

ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון פרי עץ הדר כפת תמרים וענף עץ עבת וערבי נחל ושמחתם לפני ה׳ אלקיכם שבעת ימים “On the first day, you must take for yourself a fruit of the citron tree, an unopened palm frond (lulav), myrtle branches, and willows [that grow near] the brook. You shall rejoice before God for … Continue reading “Chag Sukkot Sameach!”

Havdalah at the Lincoln Memorial

Havdalah at the Lincoln Memorial

I just returned from a long weekend in Washington, D.C. where I accompanied two TE teens (Noah Simon and Anne Ryack) who attended the L’taken seminar of the Religious Action Center (RAC) of the Reform Movement. They were part of a 12-strong group from New Haven area, bringing together teens from Temple Emanuel, Congregation Mishkan … Continue reading “Havdalah at the Lincoln Memorial”

On Legacies, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Future Generation of Jews

On Legacies, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Future Generation of Jews

I am writing this column at the end of a very long Sunday.  This morning our Hebrew School marked Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and engaged in a series of projects to make the world a better place. The students shared their dreams and prepared gifts for those in need. It was a perfect way … Continue reading “On Legacies, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Future Generation of Jews”

Happy Thanksgivukkah?

Happy Thanksgivukkah?

  For the last few months I seem to have received the same article once a week on average – in emails from friends and congregants, on Facebook. and through every Jewish news outlet and magazine online. Haven’t you heard yet? This year’s Chanukah starts as early as the day before Thanksgiving!!! According to the … Continue reading “Happy Thanksgivukkah?”

Happy October!

Happy October!

On Sept 23rd I met with Laurel, our High Holy Day Cantorial Soloist, to go over the recent High Holy Day services while the memory is still fresh in our minds. We reviewed our notes and made some corrections and adjustments to the service to make it run a little smoother and to make sure … Continue reading “Happy October!”

True Heroes…

True Heroes…

Today I met Natan Sharansky. A legend. An icon. A man, who had the audacity to stand up to the entire Soviet machine and insist that Jews, even Russian Jews, even Soviet Jews, had a right to explore their Jewish identity by learning Hebrew and being Zionists and – shock and horror – move to … Continue reading “True Heroes…”

Ein li Eretz Acheret… Israel @ 65

Ein li Eretz Acheret… Israel @ 65

Yom HaAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, marks the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. It is observed on or near the 5th of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar, which usually falls in April. This year on April 15/16th we shall be marking the 65th anniversary of the creation of the modern State of … Continue reading “Ein li Eretz Acheret… Israel @ 65”

Chag Purim Sameach!

Chag Purim Sameach!

As I write this column, the music from our 2nd Annual Debbie Friedman z’l memorial concert is still ringing in my ears – what an incredible event it was! I want to take this opportunity to once again thank all our wonderful musicians who dedicate their time and talents to the TE band which, under … Continue reading “Chag Purim Sameach!”

Temple Emanuel goes to Israel!

Temple Emanuel goes to Israel!

Join Rabbi Michael Farbman and Temple Emanuel of Greater New Haven on a family friendly experience in ISRAEL July 27, 2013— Aug. 9, 2013 On This Outstanding Journey, together we will… Explore the many faces that make up Multicultural Israel Enrich our knowledge of Jewish and Ancient History Enjoy outdoor adventures and the beauty of the … Continue reading “Temple Emanuel goes to Israel!”

It is a Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it…

It is a Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it…

From its very inception, Reform Judaism has looked for new ways to engage with Jewish ritual. Jews all around the world have looked for ways to make the traditional prayers and customs inspiring and attractive to a modern Jew. Services were shortened (mainly through the removal of repetition of certain prayers that arose at various … Continue reading “It is a Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it…”

Praying for Peace…

Praying for Peace…

About a month ago I read about a phone app called “tzeva adom” (code red), an Israeli early-warning service. Intrigued, I installed it (it was free) and tried to see what information it could provide. All the menus were in Hebrew — and in small print at that—making it hard to read quickly. I almost … Continue reading “Praying for Peace…”

On Hurricanes and the Power of Community

On Hurricanes and the Power of Community

Recent hurricane-turned-tropical storm Sandy has disrupted most of our lives. This month’s Shofar arrives late as yet another reminder of what a loss of electric power for a week can do. I hope that by now everyone has had their power restored, allowing us all to greet the cold weather with warm houses. My heart … Continue reading “On Hurricanes and the Power of Community”

Affirming Life and Moving Forward…

Affirming Life and Moving Forward…

The Jewish month of Tishrei is filled with a variety of ways to engage with Judaism. It is often seen as a long marathon of holy days and holidays, but each and every occasion offers a different way to connect with our heritage. Rosh Hashanah is all about the New Year, the new beginnings, and … Continue reading “Affirming Life and Moving Forward…”

5773 on our doorstep.

5773 on our doorstep.

The summer feel is still in the air, yet we are busy with a brand new academic year and that can only mean one thing: fall is not far behind. The schools welcome the students back, older kids head back to college, and coaches are putting together schedules for fall/winter sports activities, games and meets. … Continue reading “5773 on our doorstep.”

Building the Future…

Back in December I attended the biennial conference of the Union for Reform Judaism in Washington, DC. Six thousand people, amazing atmosphere, learning, camaraderie… When I bumped into Eisner Camp’s director, he handed me a large button which had the Camp logo and the following phrase: ‘Because of Camp I…’ and invited me to come … Continue reading “Building the Future…”

Dayeinu – or What is Enough?

Dayeinu – or What is Enough?

Passover is a time for getting in touch with our past. We look back at the history of our people; we remind ourselves where we came from – not just in one or two generations, but the very humble beginnings of our people. We remember slavery and its bitterness. We remember divine liberation and freedom. … Continue reading “Dayeinu – or What is Enough?”

Music to our ears…

Music to our ears…

“The individual may pray in prose or even in wordless silence; a congregation must sing or disband.” Israel Abrahams, Poetry and Religion (1920) Music has always been a part of Judaism. From the Levites who sang the Psalms and played instruments on the steps leading to the Temple in Jerusalem, to the ancient system of … Continue reading “Music to our ears…”

The joys of Purim… Adar is here!

The joys of Purim… Adar is here!

Mishenikhnas Adar, marbim b’simchah… From the moment the month of Adar begins, we increase the joy… This ancient rabbinic dictum reminds us that we are to celebrate Purim with much joy and happiness – not only on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar (when the festival occurs) but from the very beginning … Continue reading “The joys of Purim… Adar is here!”

The quiet months are over…

The quiet months are over…

‘Deep winter, still winter, but the days are visibly longer. The sun is visibly brighter. In the Land of Israel, it is still raining – but the rains are beginning to slacken. Already they have filled the deepest recesses of the earth. Far underground, the roots of trees are beginning to suck at earth’s replenished … Continue reading “The quiet months are over…”

Dreaming of camp…

Dreaming of camp…

Happy New year! May 2012 bring you all much joy and happiness – and a little fewer snow days than last year! 🙂 Together with Lew Shaffer and Bruce Spiewak I have recently attended the Union for Reform Judaism biennial in Washington, DC. The program was absolutely terrific, as always – with multiple engaging sessions, … Continue reading “Dreaming of camp…”

Prayer is for everyone…

Prayer is for everyone…

There is a wonderful Chasidic story about a boy who did not know how to pray – so the rabbi advised him to recite the letters of the Hebrew alef bet. When someone protested that this would not help, the rabbi suggested that as long as the boy said the letters and put his heart … Continue reading “Prayer is for everyone…”

Building the community…

Building the community…

If God does not build the house, the workers labor in vain… (Psalm 127). There is an ancient Jewish tradition: when building a house, to leave one corner, one tiny bit unfinished. To let a little bit of brick show through plaster in the corner, to have something left not fully painted. Our ancestors did … Continue reading “Building the community…”

Slach lanu… forgive us before the High Holy Days?

Slach lanu… forgive us before the High Holy Days?

In our tradition, the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the most awe-inspiring and powerful Holy Days. In our modern reality, the High Holy Days continue to serve as a draw for the Jews who rarely set foot in the synagogue during the year, but who nonetheless make big efforts to be a … Continue reading “Slach lanu… forgive us before the High Holy Days?”

Shiru l’Adonai Shir Chadash, Sing unto God a new song…

Shiru l’Adonai Shir Chadash, Sing unto God a new song…

If favorite books are like old friends, prayerbooks are like trusted and beloved family members. We turn to them in joy as well as in sorrow, in wonder and in confusion. While holding the prayerbook in our hands, we talk to God, it helps us find the right words when our own words fail us… … Continue reading “Shiru l’Adonai Shir Chadash, Sing unto God a new song…”

Chag Urim Sameach – a Happy Festival of Lights!

Chag Urim Sameach – a Happy Festival of Lights!

I could not honestly remember if I had ever experienced Chanukah begin on December 1st – but even if I did, this still feels very ‘early’! As the Jewish calendar tries to balance the lunar and the solar systems of counting months, our festivals travel slightly back and forth. This Hebrew year, 5771 is a … Continue reading “Chag Urim Sameach – a Happy Festival of Lights!”

Wonderful High Holiday Traditions

Rosh Hashanah comes early this year! It seems like Elul has come and almost gone and before we know it, it’s time for Rosh Hashanah celebrations, for ushering in the new year, for apples and honey and joy, as well as introspection and taking stock of our lives that follows the Rosh Hashanah and precedes … Continue reading “Wonderful High Holiday Traditions”