Thoughts & Teachings

Lessons from our synagogue
  • Rabbi Ron Shulman · New Shabbat AM - October 25, 2014

    New Shabbat AM is a joyous and reflective Shabbat morning celebration of prayer, song accompanied by musical instruments with Charlee Sterling and Ayal Yariv. Our prayer, exploration, and learning is guided by Rabbi Ron Shulman. Using a special prayer book that includes Hebrew transliteration and English reflection, New Shabbat AM seeks to facilitate personal prayer and communal celebration in a concise hour and one-half user-friendly ShabbatMorning Service... Read More

  • Rabbi Ron Shulman · Sukkot Tribute

    Sukkot is a tribute to simplicity. On Sukkot we pause for moments of living without all of the “stuff” we accumulate. Building a Sukkah, and dwelling in it for meals or more, focuses us on the basic needs of our lives: shelter, nourishment, and the company of others. Though to be honest, it never quite works out that way. We always find ways to be extravagant in our simplicity. We decorate, we embellish, and we adorn our Sukkot. We fulfill the imperative of... Read More

  • Rabbi Ron Shulman · Reminder Before Yom Kippur

    Religion isn’t only about ritual and faith, worship and congregation. Real religion views the forms and symbols of our beliefs as reminders for the purpose of what we believe. Religious essence is to recognize that there’s something about each and every one of us present upon which the world depends. It is present when we express our compassion and caring for humanity and our support for the needy. Concern for our neighbors is vital. Personal humility and... Read More

  • Rabbi Ron Shulman · An American Yahrzeit

    This week we observe in our land a yahrzeit, the thirteenth sobering and sad anniversary of September 11, 2001. Back then none of us understood how our world, our nation, and our people would change. We remember the horror of 9/11 today conscious about our security and engaged in battles against new terror threats from ISIS, Hamas, and their horrific ilk. The horrors of 9/11 felt by all Americans reverberated within the Jewish community not only due to grief... Read More

  • Elul · Rabbi Debi Wechsler

    So it begins.  With a plaintive melody and a nostalgic blast Elul enters once again.  It has been a year since we last heard the mournful melodies of the High Holidays and the piercing blast of the shofar.  On Wednesday August 27th  the new month of Elul began and with it our intensive preparation for the High Holidays.  The Maharal of Prague (Rabbi Judah Loew 1520 – 1609) used to say, “All the month of Elul, before eating and sleeping, a person should look... Read More

  • A Prayer for the State of Israel · June 30, 2014

    As we mourn the grievous loss of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, we pray that the State of Israel, the dawn of our people's redemption, experience security and peace. May the light of our tradition's ideals guide Israel's people and leaders. Let the words of the Torah be made manifest, “Adonai oz le amo yiten Adonai yevarekh et amo ba shalom.” May those who defend our people's historic homeland find strength, courage, and humanity in their... Read More

  • Rabbi Deborah Wechsler · Blessings of Naso

    Last week the sanctuary hosted two graduations in less than 24 hours, and in the past month there have been at least four other graduations that took place. Teachers are coming to school in t-shirts and jeans for their meetings, boxes are in the hallway, and classrooms are dark. There is no escaping that this is a time for leave takings, endings, and looking ahead to new beginnings. It is the most popular time of the year for moving and changing jobs, and there... Read More

  • Rabbi Deborah Wechsler · Chizuk Amuno Congregation

    On the first day of Shavuot, Akdamut is chanted as part of the Torah service as an introduction to the Torah reading. The first words of the poem describe its purpose – akdamut milin, which means introductory words – to introduce the Ten Commandments.  Akdamut was written by Rabbi Meir ben Isaac in the 11th century in Germany. It is a 90 line poem which praises God as creator of the world, and it concludes that we can enjoy God’s splendor by fulfilling the... Read More

  • Rabbi Ron Shulman · Yom Ha'Atzmaut

    In Tel Aviv back in May 1948, wanting a Declaration of Independence to present to his people and to the world, David Ben Gurion had two immediate problems. Getting the formal document written, it wasn't actually completed on time, and deciding whether or not to mention God.  Three years after World War II, was the soon to be announced state of uncertain fate a demonstration of God's involvement in human history or only the political accomplishment of the Zionist... Read More

  • Rabbi Ron Shulman · Yahatz - Breaking the Middle Matzah

    Early in the Seder ritual, we break a piece of matzah, wrap it in a cloth, and hide the larger portion of it for after our meal. In some of our homes, children steal the wrapped matzah from the Seder leader and wait for a good “price” to return it. In other homes, the leader hides the matzah and the children search the house seeking it and then return it only after receiving their prize. Everyone knows the Seder can’t conclude until we eat this hidden matzah... Read More

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October 26 2 Heshvan

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5:48 PM Candle Lighting

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9:15 AM Shabbat Morning Service

5:00 PM Shabbat Afternoon Study

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October 7, 2014

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Prayer & Reflection

A community generated wall of prayers
  • Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches and I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no...

    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches and I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends, so Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? I’m sure many here recognize the words of the late Janis Joplin on her iconic album, Pearl, released in 1971. Filled with memorable and wondrous songs such as Me and Bobby McGee, the Mercedes Benz cut was a mere 105 seconds long and was, in my mind, a riotous parody of prayer. Janis Joplin died before this album was released. Sometimes it is best to know what is not in order to know what is. For me prayer is not requesting of God a Mercedes Benz. Nor is it requesting of God a cure for an incurable disease. Realizing this helps me to know what prayer is to me, and, at the same time, what God is to me. I believe in God. But I believe very strongly that God is within me, within each person who allows God’s presence. God is unknowable. The internal God I have found is definitely unknowable, but somehow more approachable. I can commune with my internal God, and I can pray with that God. I pray to my God in abstract ways. I look to God to help me find ways to cope with life, with it’s inevitable trials and tribulations; with illness, death and tragedy. I rely on my relationship with God to help me deal with adversity and with conflict; to help me understand and confront life. In prayer I strive to forge relationships with others, with nature, with beauty and with abstraction. Martin Buber described the I-Thou relationship as a concept enabling communication with the world and people around us. I-Thou moments are fleeting, impossible to control and unpredictable, but they are incredibly intense and rich. They may occur at any time, but I have learned that certain environments and a certain state of mind may precipitate these moments. Prayer is one of these opportunities. Often, when at services at Chizuk Amuno,, stimulated by this beautiful space, surrounded by community and friends and moved by the inspiring melodies of the Hazzan and choir, I find myself flashing into an I-Thou moment. When these moments envelop me, I feel an intense relationship with my God. At these times, the compelling thoughts which overcome me are humanistic ideals. I hope to find goodness in these moments and to concentrate on the values of life that I know are paramount. Values such as kindness, positivity, sensitivity, love, generosity and extreme gratitude. When these feelings gush forth, I know I am in a state of supplication where the ultimate truth of such values is overwhelming. So my prayer is not about asking for goods, such as that Mercedes Benz, but about seeking goodness. Seeking these moments and hoping they guide my actions in everyday life is the essence of my prayer. Seeking my God and hoping to find the goodness that is God is my prayer; for me and for all of us.

    Read More -Stan Brull - Personal Prayer
  • We pray for peace. Short of peace, we pray for calm. We lament that the promise of peace for Israel and her neighbors is not yet fulfilled...

    We pray for peace. Short of peace, we pray for calm. We lament that the promise of peace for Israel and her neighbors is not yet fulfilled. We stand in solidarity and hope with the people of Israel, for we and they are family, their story ours. We pray, too, that our Diaspora lives provide support to all the citizens of Israel. With Israel, we grieve the loss, pain, and human suffering in this war. We feel it for each of the 64 Israel Defense Force soldiers killed and the many wounded, for their families, for the 3 Israelis civilians killed, and for all in Gaza who mourn their losses of children and loved ones. We regret the circumstances that compelled Israel to fight. The world sees suffering without a context of who’s who and why there’s a struggle. We do not. Still, we seek to uphold our vision of goodness overcoming terror’s evil and respect for people replacing hatred. God, our prayer seeks blessing for the State of Israel, and for the whole of the Jewish people. May the day soon come that the land will know peace and there will be fullness of joy for all who live there. If not yet peace, may this hope be our comfort. Amen.

    Read More -Prayer for Israel
  • Prayerful wonder: how could life in this grand and glorious world be worthy of its beauty and mystery if who we are is of little consequence?...

    Prayerful wonder: how could life in this grand and glorious world be worthy of its beauty and mystery if who we are is of little consequence? We need this awareness. Created in God's image, who we are matters. What we do matters. How we do it matters, too.

    Read More -Who We Are Matters