HaKarat HaTov: Jewish Thanksgiving and Jewish Living

November 24, 2016

Discover more Jewish values on raising kids who are responsible, grateful and menschy with money on Tues., Nov 29, when NY Times money columnist Ron Lieber speaks.

When this year’s Slichot speaker, Dr. Dan Gottleib of WHYY hosted his final weekly Voices in the Family last year, he focused the show on gratitude.  As callers thanked Dr. Dan for giving them something– courage or patience or thanks…  he responded (paraphrased) “I don’t give anyone anything that isn’t already there.  It’s about seeing what’s already there.”

Seeing what’s already there– this is Judaism’s approach to Thanksgiving.  One Hebrew term for gratitude is “hakarat hatov.” Read the rest of this entry »

Refugee Resettlement: What You Can Do Today

December 18, 2015

At the foot of RS’ new Klehr Stairway we now have a bin where you can donate personal items and household goods to help the HIAS PA refugee resettlement.

Please bring gently used household items, such as pots and pans, silverware, sheets, blankets, etc.  NO CLOTHING, except winter coats, hats and scarves for children or adults (small or medium).  Currently, there is also particular need for alarm clocks, manual (non-electric) can openers, and laundry detergent.  Here is a link to the complete list of items needed: http://hiaspa.org/sites/hiaspa.org/files/attachments/hias_pa_donation_full_wish_list_-_2013-24-7.pdf

Thank you to Carole Wilder for bringing this mitzvah to us and thank you to HIAS for doing such important work!


August 20, 2014

Shabbat Sermon by Rabbi Kuhn, August 15, 2014

geroge carlinThe late, great comedian George Carlin had a great bit about aging. He said when you’re young, you can’t wait to get older. You become 21. But then you turn 30. Sounds like bad milk. He turned, we had to throw him out. You become 21, you turn 30, then you’re pushing 40. Whoa!! Put on the brakes, it’s all slipping away. Before you know it, you reach 50, and your dreams are gone. But wait! You make it to 60. You didn’t think you would.

Then you build up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that, it’s a day by day thing. You HIT Wednesday.

You get into your 80’s, and every day is a complete cycle. You HIT lunch; you turn 4:30; you reach bedtime.

And it doesn’t end there. Into the 90’s you start going backwards. I was just 92!

And so it goes. In our society that idolizes youth, it may be difficult to deal with the fact that everyone ages, if you’re lucky that is.

And of course, Judaism has a lot to say about aging with dignity, and finding meaning and purpose in your life as you grow older.

Read the rest of this entry »

Counting the Omer: Our Kids Leading

May 18, 2014

Ever seen a young boy stand up to lead, and then a second child stand with him, starting a small movement? At today’s service for this year’s last day of Berkman Mercaz Limud, when Rabbi Freedman was about to announce the year’s total in collected tzedakah (righteous giving), one boy stood up, held a dollar high in his hand, and brought it to the front of the sanctuary.  A second child then stood with him and brought tzedakah to the front of the room.  Child by child, then adults too, brought more money to add to the collection to go to people in need.  Our year’s tzedakah total was increased by over $100 in just one morning, because one kid stood up, and then another.

“Teach them to your children,” Rabbi Kuhn reminded us this morning, the Torah teaches us to teach the words of Torah to the next generation.  And yet, Rabbi Kuhn said, so often it’s the children who teach us!  When was the last time a child taught something to you? Read the rest of this entry »

Counting the Omer: Destiny and Free Will

April 20, 2014

When we consider the meaning of our actions and of our days, many wonder: Destiny or free will?  Judaism says both!

A story is told about Rabbi Akiva’s daughter.  When she was born, astrologers told Rabbi Akiva that on her wedding day, she would be killed by a poisonous snake and die.  Years pass and the evening before the daughter’s wedding day arrives.  Exhausted after the rehearsal dinner, she climbs into bed, pulls her hairpin from her head, and sticks it in the wall for the next day.

The next morning, as Rabbi Akiva’s daughter is getting ready for her wedding, she pulls her hairpin from the wall and sees a poisonous snake impaled on the end!  She shrieks as she realizes how close the snake Read the rest of this entry »

Counting the Omer: Loving the Vulnerable in the Ukraine and Beyond

April 18, 2014

As we explore hesed in this first week of the Omer, stories of loving-kindness can inspire our own.  For 100 years, the JDC has extended loving-kindness across the globe, in its relief work for the most vulnerable.  On behalf of the Jewish community, they serve people of all backgrounds, bringing aid and building bridges.  An archive of images of their work includes this photograph, depicting the JDC-financed the 1929 “Drop of Milk” initiative which provided milk for infants in need in the Ukraine.  And relief efforts in the Ukraine continue to our day.  Dov Ben-Shimon from the JDC will speak on “Hunger and Thirst in the Jewish World: Poverty, Food Insecurity and the Search for Community” at RS Wednesday, April 30, 7:00 pm to paint a picture of the important work they are doing today.

What can you do to extend hesed to the most vulnerable in our society? Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Had a “Good” Year?: End of the Year Giving

December 29, 2013

As the-end-of-the-year solicitations flood the inbox, this season offers an opportunity for us to consider the Jewish values behind the righteous giving–the tzedakah–we choose to do.

A Yiddush story:  A wealthy Jewish citizen named Reb Yitzchak is preparing his daughter’s wedding.  Reflecting the ethos of the shtetl, all the poorest members of the community, including those who beg for tzedakah in the marketplace, are to be honored guests at the celebration.

However, this time the poor are tired of being taken for granted.  This group of shnorrers (not a nice word—story’s word, not mine) will not be paid off by one hot meal and lip service about how beloved they are.  These men and women take a stand—by going on strike! Read the rest of this entry »