Synagogue Politics

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Synagogue Politics.”

Clearly, the mobile sanctuary and later the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and now our synagogues are “Houses of G-d,” where we go to pray, learn Torah, and worship Him, and where He resides among us.  Sure, G-d is everywhere, but the synagogue/Temple is a unique, special, and spiritual place where we as community dedicate ourselves to G-d and worship Him. It should go without saying that the synagogue is not a place for petty politics, protests, or other antics.

As Jews, we are supposed to make a “Kiddush Hashem” (sanctification of G-d’s name) and not Chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d), and so my hope and prayer is that people in this synagogue and in every synagogue, can “let go” and instead “let G-d.”

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal, Image for Illustration Only)

Not Terror But Hugs

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Not Terror But Hugs.”

While standing up for the Torah to be brought back to the ark, a little boy comes up to me and just gives me a big hug. I learned afterwards that the boy “makes the rounds” in shul giving everyone a beautiful Shabbat embrace. This simple symbolic act of caring and loving others, mainly many older people in synagogue, by this innocent child gave people an uncommon sense of happiness and even hope in our future despite the anti-Semitism and hate of too many others outside.

The love of G-d is our secret for life and for our perseverance throughout history. G-d loves us as His children, but also punishes us as His children. As children, we are always learning and growing, but as adults we have to act in a way of righteousness and holiness, so that we will merit the former, and not the latter. With G-d’s mercy and blessings, hopefully, we will have peace in our synagogues and our lives, wherever we reside in the world, to worship and live as Jewish people free of bigotry, hate, and terror, once and for all.


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal, Adapted from L. Krestin)

“Rock and Roll” With Chabad

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Rock and Roll With Chabad.”

People are often blocked from moving forward by uncertainty, indecision, insecurity, self-doubt, hesitancy, worry, and fear, yet one man, such as Jacob, can stand up and move that big rock off the well if he just sets his mind to it and tries!

The bottom line is that when people say it can’t be done or to wait because it will take an entire village of shepherds to simply move the rock from the well, instead we can see that even one determined person can “rock and roll,” make a difference, and start to make something special and meaningful happen.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

If G-d Wouldn’t Let Moshe In, Who Am I?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “If G-d Wouldn’t Let Moshe In, Who Am I?”

Sure, we may not fully understand G-d’s decision on not letting Moshe into the land of Israel (or decisions that affect our lives today), still we can affirm our faith that G-d is a just and merciful Judge.

In the end, none of us are the level of Moshe Rabbeinu, and if G-d didn’t let him in, well who are we? This is a frightening thought to me. Yet at the same time, I believe that if we as the Jewish people collectively put our heartfelt yearnings and prayers together to be able to go and settle the land of Israel then perhaps G-d will answer us in the affirmative!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Tefillin and Talit Bag

This is my new Tefillin and Talit bag for daily morning prayers. 

It even has a beautiful siddur (prayer book) inside and my Hebrew name on the outside. 

I just wanted to thank my wonderful family for this and especially, my son-in-law, Itzchak for ordering this for me from Israel. 

I love it, and thank you guys so much! 

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sheep No More

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, Sheep No More

In thinking about sacrifices as animal substitution for consequences to man, we can also reverse this logic to explore what sacrifices can teach us about consequences to man in their relationship to the Jewish people. In this particular case, I am thinking about Jewish responses to those who desire to be our friends and want to build kind and productive relationships with us or the opposite, to our enemies, who seek to persecute, attack us, and make the Jews their korban, victims.

In short, traditional korbanot in the Temple can teach us not only about how animals can substitute for people in our sacrifices to G-d for thanksgiving, communion, and acknowledging of consequences and teshuva (repentance) for our wrongdoing, but also how the Jewish people can relate to the nations of the world in everything from full peace, positive engagement, acts of guilt and sin against us, and even full-fledged war. Sacrifices teach us that while peace is always the desired state and fiery war a last resort in our self-defense and preservation, we know that after thousands of years of anti-Semitism, persecution, and Holocaust, we are no longer the sacrificial lamb on anyone’s Temple altar.
(Source Photo: Pixabay Free Image)

Faith and Fight in Defense of Israel

 Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called “Faith and Fight in Defense of Israel.”

From Amalek to Iran, Israel can never be caught off-guard again and this means both operationally as well as from mistaken assumptions and thinking. Operationally, we need to always have the best technology, intelligence, planning, and training, as well as continually test those with Red Teaming to simulate enemy attacks and our readiness to counter with winning defensive and offensive operations. Moreover, we need to be on our guard in our thinking, as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak says in his book, My Country, My Life, that when he became head of Aman (Defense Intelligence), he sought to address the problem of misperceptions, overconfidence, and groupthink by strengthening “a unit whose sole function was to play devil’s advocate.” They would begin “with the opposite conclusion, and through a competing analysis of data and logical argument, try to prove it.”

Just as when we left Egyptian servitude, we defeated Amalek through a combination of our faith and fight, so too we will be successful in defeating those that threaten the modern State of Israel. Like Moses we all must turn to Hashem, and like Joshua, the Israel Defense Forces must stand ready to defeat all our enemies, as many times as it takes, to achieve a secure and lasting peace.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)