Carrying Our Brokenness

My paternal grandfather, Shlomo Sessler, was a Holocaust refugee. I grew up listening to him recount the saga of his miraculous escape from the claws of Nazism time and again. In contrast to many other survivors, my grandfather found existential catharsis in incessantly retelling the story of his flight from the looming menace of genocide […]

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Shoshanah Ovitz passed away this month. She was 105 years old. Shoshanah was an Auschwitz survivor, and an observant Jewish woman. Last year, aged 104, Shoshanah took a photo with all her descendants at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. There are four hundred and one people in this picture. For the photo includes Shoshanah Ovitz […]

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To Live is To Give

The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea both receive water from the Jordan River. However, there is a striking difference between the two seas. The Sea of Galilee is replete with life, whereas the Dead Sea, as its name aptly intimates, is utterly devoid of life. Why is that? A contemporary sage argued that […]

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“Man is condemned to be free,” stated French philosopher Sartre. Judaism is in accord. For if we weren’t free agents, then we would have neither a moral footing to abhor serial murderers and rapists, nor the validity to praise the righteous and the just. Sadly, many people perpetrate what psychologist Fromm called “Escape From Freedom.” […]

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In the Torah, the book of  Exodus is essentially the “Book of Freedom.” Both that which philosopher Isaiah Berlin deemed as “Negative Liberty,” – freedom from external political coercion, and also “Positive Liberty,” – the freedom to grow in soul, and to lead an elevated life of growth and altruism. From all the manifold Biblical […]

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The Universality of Judaism

We read this week about the receiving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, and the corresponding election of our people as G-d’s vehicle, to proliferate monotheism and humanism throughout the world. Lest we err into thinking that this vocation entails a-priori privilege over others, our sages wisely named this week’s Torah portion after a […]

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Moses: The Supreme Pedagogue

As Rabbi Sacks of righteous memory observed, Moses had several oratory options on the threshold of the exodus from Egypt. Moses could have delivered a Churchill-like speech, and promise the newly emancipated nation nothing but “blood, toil, sweat and tears,” in the impending military campaigns against the Amalekites and other pernicious foes of the Jewish […]

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Moses: The Birth of Empathy

What brought about our eventual political emancipation from the shackles of dehumanization and servitude in Egypt? The answer lies with Moses. Moses was a supremely empathic being. He chose loyalty to his impoverished and subjugated biological family, over the prospect of a luxurious and pastorale existence in the despot’s (Pharaoh’s) palace. Moses did this, because […]

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Shabbat Shalom

Dear friends, This past week, we were blessed to virtually host the honorable David Suissa and the honorable Sam Yebri in our midst. Kudos and gratitude to our presidents Kamran & Raymond, and also – to our new Senior VP Roxy Eli, to Neda, Rita, Avi and Dan for making this happen (apologies if I […]

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Beginning Anew: Time for Introspection

The Torah teaches us that time and again when Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh to free the Israelites from bondage, he refused. Each time the brothers demanded for their brothers and sisters to be freed, Pharaoh’s heart hardened. A new plague cursed Egypt when Pharaoh refused to comply. The plagues became successively worse, and yet […]

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