Elul, Again.

Elul is upon us.  Rosh Hashanah is a month away.  Rabbis are frantic.  Cantors are frantic.  What about you?

What does this time mean for you?  Is it a time when you reflect on the year that has been?  Or is it just another month?

Do you plan for the future?  Do Chesbon hanefesh/an accounting of your soul?

Today is my anniversary.  I think of the last eight years and am grateful for each day–or at least that’s what I say.  Like everyone we have amazing days and lousy ones.  Sometimes I’m rude, can’t agree on what to make for dinner, or ignore the children or the stinky diaper.  This time of year reminds me that I can’t ask the Holy One for forgiveness for the mistakes I’ve made with my wife.  First I have to talk to her.  If she can forgive the dirty diaper, then I can talk to G-d that I did not see the Divinity in her in that moment.  I can pledge to do a little bit better this year.  On the wall in our bedroom is a beautiful painting, of a candle.  The flame is written in Hebrew and shows the Hebrew words for fire, God, man and woman, depending on the direction it is read.  It shows that without God, a couple have only fire, but together, they can build a sacred life.

Together we can build a home of Torah, of love, of laughter.  Thank you!

” Marci Wiesel was influenced by the Midrash, the Talmudic legend based on a biblical verse 2:18 of Genesis: And the Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be by himself: I will make one like himself as a help to him. In the flame appear the Hebrew letters that form the words Ish, man, and Isha, woman. The two letters Yud and Heh are shared by both words and make up the name of G-d. Without His name Ish and Isha become only Aish meaning fire. The verse in the candle whose explanation appears in the profile on either side and below the paper cut were taken from the Midrash while the Hebrew and English passage inscribed along the outer edge is taken from the Zohar.” Image and text from:(

As we enter this new month, as we count down the days to Rosh Hashanah, I think of the messages that I share, the hope that I have and the love of family, of the Holy One, and of our community that keeps me going every day.  May my accounting of my successes and failures, my deeds, my thoughts and my prayers help me to better serve them all.


Working and celebrating together

This past Friday night we celebrated Aloha Shabbat together.

With the support of the Jewish Federation of Orange County, the Newburgh JCC organized a beautiful Shabbat dinner. Grilled chicken skewers, salads and more helped bring TBJ and CAI together. Beautiful music from Ross Levy inspired us all.

Rabbi Freedman reminded us what a blessing it is to work together. Too often we live in a society divided. Politics, religion and stubbornness push us apart. We forget our shared values-even among Am Yisrael-among the Jewish people.

Yet here in Newburgh, we find ways to work together. We celebrate our differences and even find time to pray together!

Across our denominational lines, we made beautiful music. We recognized the unity of the Holy One. We sang; we danced; we ate!

Thanks to the blessing of all coming together, finding a moment of unity in a seemingly discordant world. These are the moments that will help us build a peaceful future. When we can come together under one tent, we can find beauty and love.

The world really does change in a moment-and you are a part of it!