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Willow Jews – Stories from Curacao and Rome

An oft-quoted Medrash classifies the diversity of the Lulav set into taste and smell. An Etrog has both taste and smell, a date palm has taste but no smell, myrtles are fragrant but have no taste, and the willow has … Read the rest

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A 13th Year Sukkah Anniversary

On the first night in the Sukkah 5776/2015 we shared this background to the sponsorship listed on the table-card.

13 years ago, on the first night of the Sukkot holiday, Dan E. walked into the Sukkah, it might have been … Read the rest

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“Like a Rope” Crimping the Cable

Parshat Haazinu compares Jacob’s heritage to a rope. The Alter Rebbe in Tanya uses the rope analogy to describe our multi-strand, intertwined and interconnected multifaceted connection to G-d (Igeret HaTeshuvah), and to our fellows (Tanya 32).

21st century technology takes … Read the rest

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Praying for a Marine before the Book of Jonah

This happened this year (2015) just before Yom-Kippur. We got one load of Schach greens (for Sukkah cover) from a tree-cutter, but it wasn’t quite enough. Then we got a call back from a very fine tree service that has helped us … Read the rest

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A Rabbi and a Priest in a Country Club

There was once a country club, WASPy upper-crust, a fancy place. It had an unwritten rule that no Jews were allowed. One day a Rabbi walks in to the lobby and sits down on a posh elegant Victorian-style sofa. He … Read the rest

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The Composite Shabbos Shuvah Drasha III (2015)

Its customary for Rabbis to give long sermons on the Shabbos between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, known as a Shabbos Shuvah Drasha. We’re not fans of long speeches, so we found a way around it. We ask everyone at … Read the rest

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The Akeidah Poem by Yehudah Samuel Abbas

Professor Herman Prins Salomon, usually away for the High Holidays, joined us for Rosh Hashanah this year (2015). In addition to his signature Haftorah readings in the Sephardic Spanish-Portuguese tradition, he read for us a dramatic poem “Eit Shaarei Ratzon” … Read the rest

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Loose Ends & Total Immersion

Each of the Tzitzit strings on the corners of a Tallit or Tzitzit garment have a series of twists and knots. My Tzitzit have a perpetual problem of unraveling and losing their grip, leaving me with loose ends. It seems … Read the rest

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Psalm 24: Mountain Climbing and Opening Doors

Psalm 24 “L’David Mizmor” is read on both nights of Rosh Hashanah, near the conclusion of the evening service. The ark is opened, it is read somberly, some congregations read it line by line. The main message is that to … Read the rest

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Collar Stays and Live TV

HeatherMendelGregWTENI got a call about a TV slot a few days before Rosh Hashanah, because Albany’s WTEN Channel 10 wanted to do a quick segment on Rosh Hashanah traditions in the morning show before the holiday. You can see the Read the rest

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