Rabbi’s Blog

Recent Posts

  • Rabbi’s Blog | WORKING for Blessings
    August 30, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, I spent 36 hours this week on quick trip to our nation’s capital for an AIPAC rabbinic conference. Before it started, I had a couple of hours free and so I started meandering my way over to the National Mall with no particular destination in mind. Suddenly, I encountered
  • Rabbi’s Blog | The Jewish Recipe
    August 16, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, At times, the simple act of existence seems difficult. Sometimes, it feels as if stumbling blocks lurk in every corner, impeding our speech and our progress. The many good things we do in a day become overshadowed by the one mistake. An absent-minded statement to a friend, family
  • Rabbi’s Blog | Join Me in Chicago
    August 2, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, As you know, our synagogue is a proud member of the URJ, the Union for Reform Judaism. Yes, we incline more toward ”traditional” ritual and practice, but our worldview and vision firmly coincide with that of the URJ. Every other year, thousands of Jews from across
  • Rabbi’s Blog | Reflection into Action
    July 19, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, After much hype and days of preparation, the storm’s fury mercifully spared us in Baton Rouge and throughout Louisiana. With so many of us still scarred from the Tisha b’Av flood three years ago, Barry’s weakening was a relief of the highest order. Of course,
  • Rabbi’s Blog | The plate that breaks, the tie that binds
    July 5, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, A momentous life cycle event rapidly approaches for my extended family. Sam’s sister, my sister-in-law, is getting married in a couple of days. With great joy, Sam and I will stand together under the chuppah and officiate the ceremony in upstate New York. The man that my
  • Rabbi’s Blog | Blessing Bread, Prayer, and Sustenance
    June 21, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, What does it mean to stand together as a community? For Jews, we have often expressed our solidarity through our stomachs. The community that blesses bread together stays together! For the past couple of years, in addition to our festival feasts and monthly potlucks, we have had
  • Rabbi’s Blog | Finding What to Say
    June 14, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, I had a hard time finding a worthy topic to address in this week’s email. I went through the past week, combing the days for something exciting to share or teach. As we have just finished marking the holiday of Shavuot, there are no other holidays to speak of for a while.
  • Rabbi’s Blog | Stepping Up
    May 31, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, In a couple days (Sunday), Jews around the world will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day. It is a minor holiday, packed with major significance. The unification of Jerusalem in 1967 marked a euphoric moment in Jewish history as Jews reveled in our new-found access to our
  • Rabbi’s Blog | From Holocaust to Rebirth
    May 3, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, Last Sunday, we marked Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) as a Baton Rouge community. I hope that many of you were also able to mark yesterday as the actual day. Whether you stood in silence for two minutes as Israelis do, or listened to one of the harrowing stories of
  • Rabbi’s Blog | An Israeli flag on the moon!
    April 12, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, Ok, so it was not the soft lunar landing for which the project had hoped and planned for more than 8 years. It was a crash landing of sorts after Israel had become the 7th country in the world to enter the moon’s orbit. BUT…make no mistake, there is now an Israeli flag
  • Rabbi’s Blog | Any bacon lovers out there?
    March 29, 2019
    Haha, I thought I would get your attention with that subject line! 🙂 Our tradition gives us a fascinating insight into human reality by way of this often-maligned, tasty (so I’m told!) animal. This week, we get a detailed list of the animals considered kosher and those that are not. As you
  • Rabbi’s Blog | Join us: Candle Light Vigil
    March 20, 2019
    Chaverim Shalom, Tonight begins the holiday of Purim, a time when forces of darkness conspired to take over the world. Yet the Jewish People, led by Esther and Mordechai, summon up the courage to defeat the overwhelming evil. Is this not a story that continually repeats itself?? As you all know, a
  • Rabbi’s Blog | Remember
    March 14, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, While we Jews excel at many things, I believe that memory must occupy the top of that list. Throughout history, we have elevated the act of remembering to an art form, as a way of eternalizing fleeting existence. Think of all the examples: The Jewish State, Israel, has the most
  • Rabbi’s Blog | 2 Milestones in 1 Week
    February 22, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, My wife had a couple of significant milestones in her life as this week comes to a close. She officially changed her name from Samantha Ashley Shabman to Samantha Shabman Trief. Yes, it turns out I am no longer the only rabbi with the unusual last name of Trief. Of course, though
  • Rabbi’s Blog | The First Jewish Building?
    February 8, 2019
    Chaverim Shalom, We Jews don’t rely on a physical space for prayer or to facilitate God’s presence. We believe that prayer and God can be found anywhere. For this reason, unlike so many cathedrals and mosques around the world, it is rare to see very elaborate and ornate synagogues. And
  • Rabbi’s Blog | March 16, 2018 | Vayikra: The Singular Power of Corned Beef
    February 1, 2019
    A sermon delivered at Beth Shalom Synagogue on March 16, 2018 When my unit underwent field-training in the IDF, there were some tough conditions to which we had to accustom ourselves. Carrying heavy weights, digging a hole in which to sleep, barely getting to use it, the intense discipline. But
  • Rabbi’s Blog | Does God talk to us?
    January 25, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, There’s a Jewish dating service cleverly named SawYouAtSinai, playing on the traditional idea that all Jewish souls, past and present (all 600,000 types) stood at Sinai for God’s revelation thousands of years ago. There’s something really comforting and
  • Rabbi’s Blog | Feb. 16, 2018 | Terumah, Valentine’s Day, Stubbornness and God
    January 18, 2019
    A sermon delivered at Beth Shalom Synagogue on Feb. 16, 2018 I’ve been accused frequently of being stubborn, mostly by my wife, sometimes by others, and yet I’ve always taken it as somewhat of a compliment, as a badge of honor. After all, aren’t us Jews am kshey oref, a stiff necked,
  • Rabbi’s Blog | Coming to Your Pharaoh
    January 11, 2019
    Chaverim Yekarim, What if Pharoah were part of us? We often think of Pharaoh as this cruel and unrelenting villain in Jewish history, refusing to let the Israelites out of slavery despite the calls from Moses and the ensuing plagues. And, indeed, he was this villain. But our Jewish tradition always
  • Rabbi’s Blog | July 14, 2017 |  Parshat Pinchas: Pinchas and True Peach
    January 4, 2019
    A sermon delivered at Beth Shalom Synagogue on July 14, 2017 Something very strange happens at the beginning of this week’s Torah portion based on what happened at the end of last week’s. For an act of extreme violence, Pinchas is rewarded by God with a brit shalom / a covenant of peace. As