RAB Spot

Hope Amidst Pain

As I filled out my ballot this morning I felt a tremendous sense of pride. I am the first of my family on both sides to be born in this country at a time when others like me whose families have come to this country from around the world are running for office. Maital and I stood next to our children as we voted, 100 years after women were given the right to vote, with an acknowledgement that we are both very fortunate to be voting in America today. And at the same time it is a painful time for America. There is real fear and distrust, rhetoric and actions from our leaders which defy our country’s core values.

This moment is painful. As Americans go out to the polls and we wait to see the results of the election I am reminded of Rebecca, who in this week’s parashah is pregnant with twins, and experiencing tremendous pain. God’s explanation to her is that there are warring factions, separate nations in her womb. And ultimately one will dominate the other. The Torah describes that responding to the pain, Rebecca cries out- “Im ken, lama ze anochi?” “If so why do I exist?” She cannot understand why life must be so painful. Is it really worth it?

Each election feels like that painful experience of birthing Jacob and Esau. Our nation feels pain and asks the question- is it really supposed to be like this?

Do we see this as the new normal? Of a country at odds with itself that feels like two separate nations? Like Rebecca, can our system sustain the birth pains of the present?

Despite these questions it felt good to put the ballot through the machine I prayed that this pregnant moment leads to more peace, to a return to our core values, and to a confidence in our country’s ability to bare the pain of the current with hope for the future.

With a Little Help from My Friends

Whether you hear it sung by the Beatles or Joe Cocker, the importance of getting by with a little help from a friend is central to the opening story of this week’s parashah, Vayera. The scene opens with Abraham sitting at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day, healing from his… Read more

Gratitude Amidst Loss

There is a Jewish value called hakarat hatov, which I believe to be an important discipline for my life. Hakarat hatov means recognizing the good. There are some moments when I find it more challenging to recall good things happening around me and there are other moments when it is easy to do so. No… Read more

Religious School Highlights


Tzedakah: Is it just about giving?

Our students engaged in a brief conversation about tzedekah, the Jewish Value of giving after viewing a video to set the stage (Click here to watch). As you may recall, tzedek (צֶדֶק), which can be defined as justice or righteousness, is the overarching theme for our year. Tzedakah (צְדָקָה) comes from this root. So, when we think of the action of “giving tzedakah,” we are in essence bringing about justice and/or behaving righteously. After viewing the clip, we discussed the idea that our intention when we give is much more important than the amount we give.

In a similar teaching to what the video offers, we learn:

Pirkei Avot 5:13

There are four kinds [of] givers of tzedakah (charity). [One who] wishes to give, but does not [wish for] others to give — he has an evil eye with respect to others; [one who] wishes for others to give, and he [himself] does not give — he has an evil eye with respect to himself; [one who] gives and [wishes that] others will give — [that’s a] chasid (righteous person); [one who] does not give and does not [wish that] others will give — [that’s a] rasha (wicked person).

משנה אבות ה׳:י״ג

(יג) אַרְבַּע מִדּוֹת בְּנוֹתְנֵי צְדְקָה. הָרוֹצֶה שֶׁיִּתֵּן וְלֹא יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים, עֵינוֹ רָעָה בְּשֶׁל אֲחֵרִים. יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים וְהוּא לֹא יִתֵּן, עֵינוֹ רָעָה בְשֶׁלּוֹ. יִתֵּן וְיִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים – חָסִיד. לֹא יִתֵּן וְלֹא יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים – רָשָׁע:

Questions to consider:

  • What does each of these “givers” of tzedakah teach us about Judaism’s approach to giving?

  • How, if at all, does this text shift how you previously thought about giving tzedakah?

Throughout the year, your child(ren) will be putting their learning into action! Each week, we will be collecting tzedekah, (remember, the amount each child gives is not important). We also want our students to feel empowered to decide where their money will go. Toward this end, on the Monday before Rosh Hodesh, the start of the Jewish month, each class will vote on the charity towards which they wish to donate. Perhaps discuss what charities are important to your family and create a list for your child(ren) to share with their classmates and teachers.

Calendar of Events

Week of November 16 - 22

Friday services 6:00pm
Saturday services 9:18am

Friday candle lighting 4:19pm
Saturday havdalah 5:20pm
Sun. minyan 9:00am "Thanksgiving at my House" Minyan
Mon minyan 7:00am
Thur. minyan 9:00am (Thanksgiving Day)


Triennial Genesis 31:17-32:3 (Etz Hayim pg. 181-187)
Haftarah - Hosea: 12:13-14:10 (Etz Hayim pg. 188-193)

As he begins his journey, Jacob dreams of angels, ascending and descending. Awed, he vows to return from this journey and follow God’s ways. After reaching Haran, he marries Laban’s daughters, Leah and Rachel, sires
children, and prospers while raising cattle for Laban. After twenty years, Jacob finally fulfills his pledge to
return to Canaan.

Calendar of Events

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