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Holy communities are built by people who count and are counted

06/14/2024 09:41:11 AM

Jun14

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

We just finished counting the Omer and now we find ourselves counting again as this week’s parashah, Nasso, opens with the Israelites being counted. God instructs Moses to continue the census of the...Read more...

Expressing our Responsibilities Toward Others

06/06/2024 10:20:38 AM

Jun6

Rabbi Micah Peltz

We begin the book of B’Midbar, the fourth book of the Torah, this Shabbat.  Those 40 years of wandering the desert you’ve heard about?  Thirty-eight of them happen here.  At the outset, the book sets the stage for the Israelite’s long journey (though they don’t know just yet how long it will be).  It does this by taking a census of the people and arranging the camp.  At the beginning of the second...Read more...

You'll Never Walk Alone

05/30/2024 01:44:35 PM

May30

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

This week, I have one of my favorite songs stuck in my head: “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” written by Oscar Hammerstein II, and composed by Richard Rogers. Perhaps, I have been singing this song all week in excitement and anticipation for tonight’s big TBS Spring Event: Souly Jazz with Hadar (here is a beautiful rendition of the song by famous Jazz musician, Louis Armstrong).  And perhaps I have been singing it all week because...Read more...

The View from the Mountaintop

05/23/2024 02:59:52 PM

May23

Rabbi Micah Peltz

This Shabbat we will read parashat Behar, which begins with the words, “The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai…”  The commentaries wonder: why does the Torah need to reiterate the fact that laws that follow were given on Mount Sinai?   The Israelites haven’t yet moved from the mountain, isn’t it obvious that they are still there?  The 11th-century French commentator Rashi answers this question by explaining that the...Read more...

Put Away Your To-Do List

05/16/2024 11:41:16 AM

May16

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

How do you organize your day? Personally, I try to make a list every morning of all the people I must reach, all the projects that need my attention, and all of the daily tasks that I need to do. I often feel it’s “been a good day” when I can check off most of the tasks I put down. I know it’s been an “awesome day” on the RARE occasion when I can check off everything. On the flip side, I feel disappointed and stressed when things...Read more...

Liberty and Justice for All: Reflections from My Civil Rights Tour

05/09/2024 11:14:26 AM

May9

Rabbi Steven Lindemann

I attended services at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, this past Sunday.  That’s where 40 of us from TBS began our Civil Rights tour, organized by our Social Advocacy Committee and flawlessly led by Zach and Terri Oppenheimer. 

It is...Read more...

We Have the Strength to Not Only Point Out What’s Wrong, But to do What’s Right.

05/02/2024 11:41:47 AM

May2

Rabbi Micah Peltz

In 1892, the early Zionist thinker Ahad Ha’am wrote an essay called Hatzi Nehama, “Half Comfort.”  He wrote it in response to the blood libel, the false and malicious claim that Jews were using the blood of Christian children for matzah, that was circulating in Europe during that time.  The “half comfort” that Ahad Ha’am took in this was that, since the Torah forbid the eating of blood, at least Jews themselves knew that...Read more...

At Passover, Working to Fight the Realities of Today.

04/25/2024 01:00:32 PM

Apr25

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

Moadim L’Simha—Happy Passover!  I hope you are having a meaningful holiday and are not yet too sick of all of the matzah! Each year, the days leading up to Passover are filled with hard work, and sometimes even stress.   But I have to admit, and I hope you have the same experience, each year during the seders I find myself looking around the Seder table at family, friends, and loved ones, and thinking to myself: “once again,...Read more...

From Darkness to Great Light

04/18/2024 11:30:12 AM

Apr18

Rabbi Micah Peltz

This Passover feels different from all other Passovers.  While we are four days away from the Festival of Freedom, we are also 194 days after October 7, and just 5 days after Iran’s attack on Israel.  In this moment, so many of the Seder’s words take on new meaning.  “Let my people go” becomes not only an ancient demand to leave Egypt but a contemporary plea to free the 134 Israeli hostages still in Gaza.  “In...Read more...

Taking positive action to create opportunities for nearness to God.

04/11/2024 11:42:02 AM

Apr11

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

As Jews around the world prepare for Shabbat, we are also either in the midst of, or making arrangements to remove the hametz (leaven products) from our homes. Though the manual labor can be intense as we prepare our homes and our souls for Passover, it is also particularly important as I believe we are also readying our souls to experience freedom anew.  Yes, the physical cleaning is important (and daunting).  But of equal if not...Read more...

Living Our Lives on the Side of Life

04/04/2024 09:46:25 AM

Apr4

Rabbi Micah Peltz

One of the many ways we find meaning in our texts and our world is through gematria, Jewish mystical math. Each Hebrew letter also represents a number, and sometimes those numbers can give us additional insights.  As we prepare for Shabbat this week, there are two numbers that are on my mind:  8 and 180.  8 because the name of our Torah portion is Shemini, which means “eighth.”  And 180 because yesterday marked the...Read more...

Am Yisrael Hai - How Will We Keep the Flame Burning? 

03/28/2024 11:35:15 AM

Mar28

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

The opening verses of this week’s Torah portion, Tzav, state: “This is the Torah of the burnt-offering… The fire on the altar shall be kept burning, not to go out: the priest shall burn wood upon it each morning, each morning … A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar, not to go out,” (Leviticus 6:1, 4, 6).

Three times in six verses there is a reference to the fire burning on the altar and not going out. What is...Read more...

Perhaps we are here for this very moment?

03/21/2024 11:24:03 AM

Mar21

Rabbi Micah Peltz

The past couple of weeks I’ve been listening to Yael and Ari practice the parts they will each read from Megillat Esther for Purim this Saturday night (proud Abba kvelling moment!).  There is one verse, from Yael’s reading of Chapter 4, that has jumped out at me this year.  It is in this chapter that Haman’s evil plan to destroy the Jews is announced.  Mordekhai rushes a message to Esther.  He encourages her to go to...Read more...

Seeking to Repair the Brokenness that Exists in our World

03/14/2024 12:04:48 PM

Mar14

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

In this week’s Torah portion, Pekudei, the construction of the Mishkan (the Tabernacle) is finally completed. We then read that Moses “took the Tablets and placed it in the Ark,” (Exodus 40:20). It is interesting to note that the word used for tablets in the verse “edut”...Read more...

How Community Sustains US

03/07/2024 09:40:31 AM

Mar7

Rabbi Micah Peltz

This Shabbat we read Parashat Vayakhel.  Vayakhel contains the root kahal, which means community.  The portion opens with Moshe gathering the whole community together to give them the final instructions for the building of the mishkan.  The 13th-century commentator...Read more...

Ten Takeaways From My Trip to Israel

02/29/2024 11:55:51 AM

Feb29

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

Shalom from Israel!  I have been in Israel since Monday and return to Cherry Hill overnight this evening.  It has been a quick but certainly important trip to Israel, probably the most important and impactful time I have ever spent here.  I am grateful to our Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey for planning this solidarity mission and I am grateful to my TBS family, all of you, for supporting my being on the mission and...Read more...

We are a Kingdom of Priests

02/22/2024 07:10:09 AM

Feb22

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

In this week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh, the role of the priests (kohanim) in the service of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) takes center stage. Tetzaveh serves as an instruction manual for how to operationalize the Mishkan as God details how to sanctify the priests and offer sacrifices during the seven days of inauguration in the Mishkan.  It also describes in detail the priestly uniform. 

One central...Read more...

Refugee Shabbat

02/08/2024 01:53:42 PM

Feb8

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

This Saturday is not only Shabbat, but also Rosh Hodesh, as we begin the new month of Adar I. That means that in shul on Saturday morning we will sing Hallel (Psalms and songs of praise) together! One of the lines that we will chant is from Psalm 118 (verse 5): “Min ha-maietzar karati Yah, anani va-merhav Yah—from a narrow place I cried out to God, and God answered me from a place of expansiveness.” Our siddur comments: “the...Read more...

What is the takeaway?

02/01/2024 04:14:04 PM

Feb1

Rabbi Micah Peltz

On my wall in my office is a cartoon that shows Moses holding up the 10 Commandments in front of all the people.  One person has his hand raised and asks, “What’s the takeaway on all this?”  Today we are quick to try and boil presentations and teachings down to their essential lessons.  That might be good for getting information, but is that how we really learn?  How we acquire knowledge?  This takes more time...Read more...

Recognizing and Celebrating Both the Potential and the Actual.  

01/25/2024 12:48:36 PM

Jan25

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

Happy Tu B’Shevat!  Yes, today is the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, which means it is the holiday of Tu B’Shevat.  Tu B’Shevat is the new year, or birthday, of the trees.  Today we celebrate the gift of nature, the beauty of our natural world, and our responsibility to protect it.  Tu B’Shevat can also be understood through the realm of metaphor.  In this light, Tu B’Shevat is not only a perfect...Read more...

We will all go, our young and our old, our sons and our daughters, our flocks and our herds.

01/18/2024 01:11:20 PM

Jan18

Rabbi Micah Peltz

Our Torah portion this week is called Bo, which means “come.”  God tells Moshe to once again come before Pharoah to demand that the Israelites be set free.  This time, which is right before the 8th plague, Pharoah seems to waver for a moment.  He tells Moshe that the men can go worship...Read more...

Finding a Sense of Holiness Through Action

01/11/2024 11:59:55 AM

Jan11

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

Last Shabbat, we began reading the book of Shemot, Exodus.  This second book of the Torah tells the foundational story of our people; the Israelites’ journey from oppression to freedom. How appropriate to continue reading the Book of Exodus this...Read more...

Reaffirming our Commitment to Three Founding Pillars

01/04/2024 09:43:37 AM

Jan4

Rabbi Micah Peltz

While I hope that your new year is off to a great start, I imagine that, like me, you are feeling some ambivalence as we enter 2024.  Israel’s war against Hamas weighs heavily on us, as we continue to do what we can to...Read more...

Be Strong, Be Strong, and May We Strengthen One Another

12/28/2023 12:47:19 PM

Dec28

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

What do we do when we finish a book of the Torah? We rise and call out, “hazak hazak v’nithazek be strong, be strong, and may we strengthen one another.” We will recite this line at shul this Shabbat morning as we conclude the book of Bereshit (Genesis) and prepare to turn to the book of Shemot.  How appropriate that we will say this line specifically on Hazak Shabbat where members Hazak will lead the service. I hope you will join...Read more...

Welcome. We Surround You With Love.

12/20/2023 11:29:12 AM

Dec20

Rabbi Steven Lindemann

The title translates the Hebrew words written on a tent at the entrance to a respite center for IDF soldiers. They come here when...Read more...

This is Hanukkah

12/14/2023 09:58:35 AM

Dec14

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

Tonight, as we begin the eighth and final day of Hanukkah our Hanukiyot will be fully illuminated.  Did you know that the last day of Hanukkah has a special name in Hebrew: Zot Hanukkah?  It literally means “this is Hanukkah.” But what is the significance of this name, and in particular, the word, “zot?”

The Torah introduces the laws of Yom Kippur with these words:

“And God said to Moses: Speak to your...Read more...

Hanukkah in Israel: A Message from Rabbi Lindemann

12/08/2023 01:53:53 PM

Dec8

Rabbi Steven Lindemann

My friend Uri sent me this picture yesterday, as his family prepared to light the first candle of Hanukkah.

I replied: “How about if we light candles together on the last night?!”  

I’m leaving for...Read more...

May our Collective Lights Push Back the Darkness

12/07/2023 01:29:47 PM

Dec7

Rabbi Micah Peltz

Tonight begins the holiday of Hanukkah.  Last Sunday, at our Sisterhood’s Torah Fund Brunch, Rabbi Joel Seltzer referenced a halakhah of Hanukkah that caught my attention. He pointed out that normally we put our hanukkiyot , our Hanukkah...Read more...

Give me my women, (my men,) and my children…for we choose life.

11/30/2023 11:50:09 AM

Nov30

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

The Torah portion this week is Vayishlach, yet all week, I have been thinking about a verse that we read in last week’s parasha, Vayeitzei, in which Jacob (Israel) says: תְּנָ֞ה אֶת־נָשַׁ֣י וְאֶת־יְלָדַ֗י “Give me my women and my children,” (Gen. 30:26). Chilling words as we have watched the news with bated breath all week as now dozens of Israeli women and children hostages have been released by Hamas...Read more...

Together we implored: hear us, world.

11/16/2023 12:34:17 PM

Nov16

Rabbi Bryan Wexler

Tuesday was a powerful day. On Tuesday, Rabbi Peltz, Rabbi Lindemann, Cantor Cohen, Alex Weinberg, and many of our community joined our 450+ person South Jersey delegation to The March for Israel in Washington DC, the largest rally of Jewish people in modern history.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with more than 290,000 people, together we marched for our brothers and sisters in Israel. We marched for the safe return of the...Read more...

Thu, June 20 2024 14 Sivan 5784