What a Year It's Been

A bat mitzvah, two surgeries, three hospital stays, no more diet coke, 65 pounds, too much press, one move and another coming up, and a new job. What a year it's been. I had heard about midlife crises but didn't think I would have one nor did I think it would come in my 45th year. 5776 has been tumultuous to say the least. Thank God, it began with a Simcha, the joyous celebration of my third daughter’s bat mitzvah. Ayelet is a driven, passionate, serious and determined young lady. She would not settle for anything less than perfection from her Torah reading to the tune she chose for Adon Olam to the red carpet Yelliwood party later that night - she wanted everything to be just right and beca

The Road Less Traveled By

How often have you made life choices that bring you closer to yourself? In the Torah portion Sh'lach L'cha, God tells Moses to send spies ahead to scout out the land of Canaan. Rather than just say "send spies" God adds the word "l'cha" which can mean "to you," "for yourself" or "for your own sake." God seems to be implying that this command is not meant to satisfy a need that God has but one that Moses and the people have. God doesn't need to scout out the land. God has no doubt about the path the people should take. Moses and the Israelites, on the other hand, don't have the same perspective that God does. They can't see the big picture and when faced with a choice to enter a new land inha

What Are We Afraid Of?

In my recent job search I have encountered so much fear. Fear that I will be too outspoken; fear that I won't be able to please everyone; fear of my abilities and capacities - that I'm overqualified for certain positions. Even before my search began I sensed almost paralyzing fears in the Jewish community: Fear of losing members, fear of competition from other Jewish organizations, fear of upsetting our constituents and supporters, fear of not being relevant anymore. It has always seems to me that fear is the beginning of death. When we operate from a place of fear we slowly begin our decline into oblivion. When we make choices out of concern for how it may offend others or make us look then

A Bimah of Business

Most people don't have an issue acting with respect and dignity on the bimah. It is understood that this is a holy space and it demands we be on our best behavior. On the bimah, everyone is greeted, acknowledged and honored. Joyous occasions are celebrated, candy is thrown, and handshakes and hugs abound. "Good Shabbos! Yishar Koach! Mazal Tov! I'm so glad to see you. Welcome!" Despite the occasional angry word or judgemental look, more often than not, we treat one another with respect and honor when we are on the bimah. Why doesn't that proper behavior always translate to the boardroom? Far too often, board meetings and board decisions lack the civility and dignity that we bring to religiou

If Not This...What?

A rabbi’s or cantor’s job description differs depending on whether he or she serves a congregation, Hillel, educational institution, Jewish communal organization the military or hospital. In all of these roles though, there are some tasks and responsibilities that all Jewish clergy should share. In rabbinical school we spend countless hours studying Jewish law and texts learning how to understand and interpret these texts for ourselves and our communities. While there is tremendous value in learning for its own sake (Torah lishmah) there is, in the back of every student’s mind, a nagging question - how will this text or teaching allow those, with whom I share it, come closer to the Divine an

A Rabbi's Voice

As a rabbi, one of the most powerful tools I have is my voice. For reasons I, to this day, don't fully understand, many people are willing to listen to me drone on and on in divrei Torah on Shabbat, bulletin articles, adult education classes, public forums and online. A rabbi's voice is perhaps the most important tool that we have as clergy to inform, teach, persuade, convince, question and debate. This past March, I chose to use my voice at the AIPAC conference. When it was announced that Donald Trump would be addressing the conference I used my voice to counter his. I raised my voice along with hundreds of other rabbis, cantors, Jewish professionals, AIPAC supporters and friends to counter

Raise the Bar

I can remember vividly the debates in the Jewish community about how many days children had to attend Hebrew School each week. In the Boston area where I served as rabbi, it was heated. Those in favor of two days a week argued that kids these days are over programed and we need to accommodate their busy schedules. Those against remembered their own Hebrew School experiences, attending five days each week, and suggested that real lasting learning required more time than two days a week would allow and demanded the continuity that only a three day a week program could provide. In many ways one could reduce the debate down to the question of whether we wanted to raise or lower the bar for our

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© 2016 by Rabbi David Paskin

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