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Yom Chamishi, 26 Tammuz 5774

Note: The opinions expressed here are solely those of each individual blogger and do not necessarily represent the views of TRT.

My Rabbi Died This Week

June 2014

I have been fortunate – blessed, actually – to have had many rabbis in my life. I don’t just mean someone who is a rabbi, but someone who has been rabi u-mori, my rabbi and my teacher. That’s actually the highest compliment I can give someone, and I count at least a half-dozen people whom I think about that way, including Shira. Each of them has changed my life, helped me to grow and helped me to understand – not just once, but time and time again.

"Kadima" ("Onward")

June 2014


In June, 1984, I became the rabbi of Temple Rodeph Torah. At the time we were meeting in the “cafetorium” of the Asher Holmes School in Morganville, Bar and Bat Mitzvah services were held wherever we could find a place, and 66 families made up the entire TRT community. Temple leaders, unable to figure out how to budget for a rabbi’s salary, put out a request for a rabbi to work “two-thirds time.”


At my first interview I shared my suspicion that “two-thirds time” probably meant full-time work at two-thirds pay – unless they thought it would be a good idea for me to work part-time at Pathmark on the side (remember Pathmark?). Sheepishly, they admitted I was right. And I took the offer.

The Son Who Doesn't Know Enough to Ask

April 2014


From Rabbi Weber

Here’s a bad, old Jewish joke:

 Eleven-year old David comes home from school and says, “Guess what, mom – I got a role in the school play!”

 “That’s wonderful!” his mother says. “What part did they give you?

“I’m the Jewish husband,” answers David.

“Young man, you march right back there and tell them that’s no good – you want a speaking part!”

Say NO to Academic Boycott of Israel

January 2014

Newsletter Article February/March 2014

NOTE:  For the list of colleges and universities that have publically rejected the ASA boycott, click here.


 Not everything bad that happens to Jews is anti-Semitic. But some things are.

 In December, the American Studies Association called for an academic boycott of Israel, asking universities to cut off relations with Israeli scholars and universities to protest the Palestinian situation.

 According to the New York Times:

The American Studies Association has never before called for an academic boycott of any nation’s universities, said Curtis Marez, the group’s president… He did not dispute that many nations, including many of Israel’s neighbors, are generally judged to have human rights records that are worse than Israel’s, or comparable, but he said, “one has to start somewhere.”

Know When to Hold 'Em, Know When to Fold 'Em

December 2013

Benayim, January 2014

From Rabbi Weber

Once a year, for our anniversary, Shira and I go to Atlantic City. Since our anniversary is in March and our day off is Tuesday, we get a very nice hotel room for almost nothing. We make up for the discount room with a dinner for two in one of the really excellent restaurants which dot the casino hotels.


After dinner, we head to Shira’s favorite: the video poker machines. Big spenders that we are, we go for the quarter-slots. Even there, we set out a specific amount of money we are going to play with. Most often that sum lasts long enough to provide our entertainment for the evening. Once in a while we agree to put in a little more because the money disappeared more quickly than expected. Even more rarely we walk away with enough to cover our dinner. Bottom line, if Atlantic City is depending on us to stay solvent, it’s in deep trouble.

Even More Passion & Joy

December 2013

Newsletter Article December 2013/January 2014

From Rabbi Weber


I had a wonderful time this fall, meeting with so many people – members and non-members – who wanted to explore their “passion and joy” in Jewish life. Some of you have started projects at TRT, others are now out working in the community. In every case I was moved by the emotional attachment you have to Jewish life, even if they do not yet know how to turn their passion into joyful action. If you haven’t yet called to talk with me, I hope you will; the invitation is still good!

Thanksgivukkah, Christmas and the Jews

November 2013

Benayim, November 2013



By now you have heard that Hanukkah comes very, VERY early this year – as in, it overlaps with Thanksgiving for the first time. Don’t get used to it; it won’t happen again for over 70,000 years (yes, that number is correct).


As I write this in early October, the first “Thanksgivukkah” web sites are already popping up, so I’ll leave it to the comedians to explore the joy of eating stuffing and latkes on the same day. What I want to talk about is what happens later – when Hanukkah is over.

A Passionate Plea for Gun Control

November 2013

Note from Rabbi Weber: Dana Starfield (Chodos), who grew up at Temple Rodeph Torah, was at the security checkpoint in the same terminal at LAX when the gunman killed the TSA agent and injured others.  Her thoughts are worth reading and taking to heart.

Dana Starfield, November 2013

It was 9am on Friday and I’d just reached the TSA checkpoint at the top of the escalator when I congratulated myself for being on time for the first time in my life.  For the first time I had time to look around, admire the art installation in the terminal.  Was it new?  Why hadn’t I noticed it before?  Scores of sculpted papers gracefully suspended in air appeared to be a flock of doves ushering travelers off, inviting us to join them in flight.

Going to Israel? Some things to be afraid of

October 2013


From Rabbi Weber

You were in ISRAEL this summer? Weren’t you scared?


On the last day of our recent Rodeph Torah/Jewish Federation trip to Israel, I told our group that they would be asked this question again and again when they returned home. To prepare them for the inevitable, I asked everyone to tell me what they were scared about during our 11-day journey through the Galilee, the Golan Heights, Tel Aviv, the Negev, the Dead Sea, and of course, Jerusalem. Here are their responses:

  • I was scared I would run out of money on our shopping trips.
  • I was scared I would explode from over-eating.
  • I was scared my wife would insist on buying a condo here before we left.
  • I was scared I would be the first person not to float in the Dead Sea.
  • I was scared our luggage would never arrive (long story, but it did – eventually).
  • I was scared I wouldn’t survive the taxi ride in Jerusalem.
  • I was scared the trip would end.

Hobby Lobby and the Jews

September 2013

Freedom is messy. From the American Nazi Party marching in Skokie, Illinois, to the myriad web sites promoting hatred of [insert the name of any religious, racial or political group here], freedom is something we all cherish… until we are on the receiving end of someone else’s freedom.

Witness the flurry of discussion in and around Marlboro, where it was discovered that the newly-opened Hobby Lobby does not, out of principle, stock items relating to Jewish holidays or Judaism in general. Various callers to the store management and to the company’s headquarters have reported responses indicating that the company is a Christian-owned company, and “these are our values.”

Praying At The Wall

August 2013

Benayim, September 2013


JERUSALEM, August 7, 2013 – Elul 1, 5773

I prayed at the Kotel (the Western Wall) today. That may not seem like a big thing for someone who has spent over a year of his life in Jerusalem, but it was actually the first time I’ve ever prayed at the Wall.

I’ve been to the Wall many times. I appreciate its history, and I understand the sacred connection to the Temple which once stood on that spot. But I could never pray there, no matter how hard I tried.


We Are Passion & Joy

July 2013

Newletter Article August/September 2013

If you were part of our community last Yom Kippur, you witnessed something truly amazing: an entire congregation filled with the spirit of God.

On Yom Kippur morning I asked everyone to count our blessings, and to take the gratitude we feel and turn it into food for the hungry. I asked you to go out – on Yom Kippur Day! – and buy food for our food drive, even if you had already brought some. I asked you to buy lots of food; what I actually said was, “go buy too much food,” and bring it back before the day ends.


Your Opinion Matters

June 2013

Newsletter Article June/July 2013

When the President of the UCLA Health System began his job, his hospital had an 85% approval rating – the highest of any comparable hospital. But his take on that number was that 15% of UCLA patients had a bad experience, and he took no comfort in knowing that other hospitals fared worse. UCLA was, in his words, “the cream of the crap.”

Dr. Feinberg set out to fix the problem, and he did it by going into every one of hundreds of hospital rooms and asking two questions:

-          On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your entire experience in this hospital, and why?

-          Would you recommend this hospital to your family and friends? Why or why not?


Reform: Past, Present and Future

May 2013

Benayim, May 2013

What’s the difference between “Reformed” and “Reform”? It’s the difference between past and present – and future.

The Protestant Reformation happened in the 1500’s, when Christians turned away from the Catholic Church to follow Martin Luther and John Calvin and founded “Reformed” churches. For them, “reform” happened once, five hundred years ago.

Reform Judaism, on the other hand, began in the early 1800’s and has never stopped changing. Change happened yesterday, it happens today and without a doubt it will happen tomorrow. That’s not always easy to accept, but that is what it means to be Reform Jews.


The Truth Behind "Boycott, Divest, Sanction Israel"

March 2013


I had a professor who would shout “Anti-Semite!” at the elevator if the doors closed before he got on. This was at our rabbinic school, no less. His purpose was to remind us that not everything that happens is because we’re Jewish; some things just happen.


Because of that lesson, I’ve always been very cautious about charging someone with anti-Semitism. Sometimes people just have different ideas than I do, or than Jews do, and we have to respect those differences of opinion. But I believe the current BDS Movement (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) against Israel has genuine anti-Jewish sentiment at its foundation.


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