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Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center

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Weekly Shabbat Message

Shabbat Mattot-Mae’ei 5779

  • Posted on August 1, 2019
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It’s a nice coincidence for me that right after we’ll read Parshat Mas’ei this Shabbat, I’ll embark on two road trips–one to visit my mother in Toronto, and the other a family excursion to Virginia. As a young child, I would sit in the back seat on drives to New York or Chicago, so road trips are Continue Reading »

Shabbat Pinhas 5779

  • Posted on July 25, 2019
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Realizing that he is nearing the end of his life and his tenure as the leader of the Israelites, Moshe turns to God to ask for a succession plan. “Let the LORD, source of the spirits of all flesh, appoint someone over the community who shall go out before them and come in before them, Continue Reading »

Shabbat Korah 5779

  • Posted on July 5, 2019
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The opening words of this Torah portion remind me of the grammar joke I always loved: “This sentence no verb.” In the case of our reading, Parshat Korah, we find the following: “Vayikah Korah…vayakumu lifnei Moshe–Korah [and Datan and Aviram took…and they arose.” This sentence has a verb, but its first verb has no object. Korah Continue Reading »

Shabbat Shelah-Lekha 5779

  • Posted on June 27, 2019
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It’s not easy to cope with conflicting opinions or contradictory information. That was the conundrum facing the Israelites when they heard the report of the scouts in this week’s Torah reading, Shelah-Lekha. On the one hand, they heard that the land which God has promised them is “eretz okhelet yoshveha–one that devours her settlers” (Numbers 13:32); on Continue Reading »

Shabbat Beha’alotekha 5779

  • Posted on June 20, 2019
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What gets you up and moving in the morning? For the Israelites, there were two signals that it was time for the camp to mobilize. One was the cloud (Numbers 9:15-23), and the other was the trumpets (10:1-10). Almost immediately after we learn of these signals in this week’s Torah reading, Beha’alotekha, there’s a travel crisis. Continue Reading »

Shabbat Naso 5779

  • Posted on June 14, 2019
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The most famous passage in this week’s Torah portion, Naso, is the priestly blessing, Birkat Kohanim. We use it liturgically in the repetition of the ‘Amidah, and it forms our regular blessing of children at Shabbat dinner. Its magnificent conclusion is the ultimate blessing–that of peace.   Thus, it is noteworthy and somewhat ironic that this blessing appears in Sefer Bemidbar, Numbers, Continue Reading »

Shabbat Bemidbar 5779

  • Posted on June 6, 2019
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As we prepare to enter Shabbat Bemidbar and Shavu’ot, we are attuned to the sounds of Revelation. The area I’d like us to consider this year is the pitch and tone of those sounds. Our theme for Saturday night’s Tikkun Leil Shavu’ot is “Women’s Voices in Torah.” In anticipation, I’d like us to consider how our gender might influence the Continue Reading »

Shabbat Behukotai 5779

  • Posted on May 31, 2019
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The great Bible scholar and translator Robert Alter, became famous decades ago with two classic books: The Art of Biblical Narrative and The Art of Biblical Poetry. He has never written a book called “The Art of Priestly Legal Minutiae.” And that is unfortunate.   As we come to the end of Sefer Vayikra, Leviticus, perhaps we should consider Continue Reading »

Shabbat Behar 5779

  • Posted on May 23, 2019
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If someone were to research every published sermon by American rabbis on this week’s Torah portion, Behar, I would be willing to wager that the most common verse cited in these sermons would be Leviticus 25:9. “You shall proclaim freedom throughout the land for all its inhabitants.” After all, that’s the Scriptural passage that appears on Continue Reading »

Shabbat Emor 5779

  • Posted on May 17, 2019
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At the end of this week’s Torah portion, Emor, we find a curious episode of blasphemy. A rare moment of narrative in a sea of ritual detail, the story goes like this: “There came out among the Israelites one whose mother was Israelite and whose father was Egyptian. And a fight broke out in the camp Continue Reading »