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Community Blog

01/10/2020 11:28:41 AM


Welcome! Check out Rabbi Lizz's divrei Torah and other community updates here.

Women's Worthiness

05/07/2021 08:39:03 PM


Shabbat Shalom! Happy almost-Mother’s Day, and shout out to our Sisterhood for such a beautiful Friday night service. This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Behar-Behukotai, in which we read about the last of the priestly laws and close the Book of Leviticus. Toward the end of the parasha, we read the verses:


Violence, Vengeance, and Vindication

04/30/2021 01:38:43 PM


Shabbat Shalom! Tonight, we count day thirty-four of the omer, and honor a foundation of glory, Yesod she’beHod. Rabbi Jill Hammer’s Omer Calendar of Biblical women attributes this day and this point of the kabbalistic spiral of these days to Avigayil, one of David’s wives. In the book of Samuel, David is on the run from King Saul and encounters some difficulties with a landowner on whose land he is squatting....Read more...

Nibbles, Noshes, & Nachas

04/29/2021 01:36:38 PM


  Latkes and Lights

Holiness, Wholeness, and a Healthy Earth

04/23/2021 02:09:39 PM


          “You shall be holy, for I – the Lord Your God – am holy.” Three times this phrase is repeated in the second part of this week’s double Torah portion, Parashat Kedoshim. What does it mean to be holy because or in the way that God is holy? This Shabbat, immediately following Earth day, we find ourselves in the kabbalistic time of Splendor within...Read more...

Taste of Torah

04/09/2021 01:13:40 PM


  A D'var Torah from the Institute of Southern Jewish Life  

The alarm starts blaring at 7:00 am. You blindly flail your arm in the general direction of the alarm until you hit a button that makes the noise stop. You get out of bed and take a shower, choosing a bottle of shampoo off of a shelf with several half-empty bottles. After drying off, you go to your closet, pushing aside ill-fitting clothes to find that one...Read more...

Nibbles, Noshes, & Nachas

04/05/2021 04:02:26 PM


Latkes and Lights

Songs of Love and Freedom

04/02/2021 04:05:22 PM


            Shabbat Shalom. The Torah portion for this week is a reprise of Parashat Beshallach, which we read in our regular calendar readings just about two months ago, tells the story of the parting of the Sea of Reads, the Song of the Sea, and the final moments of redemption of the Israelites from Egypt. This holiday, we also read another sort of song - the Song of Songs. Every Jewish...Read more...

Urgency, Sustainability, and Constancy

03/26/2021 12:18:00 PM


          Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Tzav, in which more details of the various sacrifices introduced last week are described. There are a few choice lines and possible interpretations of this parasha, but this week the word “tzav” itself is really catching me. It is the same root as the word mitzvah, but in the imperative. There is...Read more...

Nibbles, Noshes, & Nachas

03/21/2021 04:17:55 PM


Latkes and Lights

Sacrifices, Disappointment, and Hope

03/19/2021 12:19:02 PM


Good news: I have been vaccinated! Perhaps I should make an offering to God in gratitude. What might that look like?    This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Vayikra, details several types of sacrifices that will be brought into the freshly-built Mishkan: the olah, or burnt offering; the shelamim, or peace/wholeness offering; five variations of minha offerings, ways to give meal for those who cannot afford the animals of the other...Read more...

Names and Nameless

02/26/2021 12:57:25 PM


      Shabbat Shalom and Chag Purim Sameach! This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Tetzaveh is the only parasha from Moses’s birth to his final addresses in Deuteronomy in which his name is not mentioned. The parasha is still about him, of course, the entirety spoken by God to Moses with lots of second person pronouns used to refer to him. But chazal didn’t feel we needed reminders of who the “you” is...Read more...

Semantics and Sanctuaries

02/19/2021 02:10:54 PM


          Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Terumah, consists of God describing to Moses how the Tabernacle, the moveable Sanctuary for the Israelites to commune with God while wandering in the desert, ought to be built. It also opens us up to one of my favorite eternal questions of scripture: WHAT THE HECK IS A TACHASH?! Several times throughout the Torah...Read more...

Choice, Freedom, and Justice

02/05/2021 11:18:08 AM


                       Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Yitro, which contains the Ten Commandments. The National Council of Jewish Women dubbed next week ReproShabbat, a time to for Jewish educators and clergy to speak out about reproductive justice, a serious issue currently under...Read more...

Nibbles, Noshes & Nachas

02/03/2021 10:27:26 AM


Latkes and Lights

Grieving, Growing, and Gaining Momentum

01/29/2021 01:15:49 PM


          Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Beshallach, in which the Israelites go forth from Egypt, from Mitzrayim, the narrow place, into freedom, into the great expanse of the wilderness. Just before Moses uses his miracle staff to part the Sea of Reeds, the Israelites angst over the encroaching Egyptian army and the barrier of the water ahead,...Read more...

Tableau of Haste   

01/22/2021 11:00:50 AM


          This year I have been randomly assigned a collection of parshiyot to write divrei Torah for my rabbinical school’s listserve. On the weeks that they are to be published, the first draft is due on Monday so that there is time for edits, and the final draft is due on Wednesday.

          This week in particular it felt near impossible to try to plan ahead remarks for Shabbat, when our country and democratic institutions seemed to be on unstable ground. Thankfully, Wednesday came and went with a relatively normal inauguration and the most social media worthy thing to come out of it seems to be the image of Bernie Sanders looking cold and disgruntled. But throughout the last two weeks, as the National Guard gathered in abundance just a few miles away from us, there truly was still a distinct possibility for further violence and attempts to overthrow democracy, a reprise of the events of January 6th. Of course, it was precisely because of the National Guard and our readiness for the worst that likely deterred any further action from extremists, so I implore you not to write off the concerns as hyperbolic or hysterical just because they did not come to pass. That sort of dismissal has allowed for escalating violence throughout history, and we must be open to learning from recent events. Read more...

Believe People When They Tell You Who They Are

01/08/2021 04:30:59 PM


          Shabbat Shalom. This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Shemot, in which a new king arises over Egypt, “who knew not Joseph” and immediately made very clear his feelings and intentions toward the descendants of Joseph and his brothers. There appears to be no pushback when the king enslaves the Israelites for being too threatening in their very existence. The...Read more...

Nibbles, Noshes, and Nachas

01/04/2021 11:21:13 AM


Latkes and Lights

New Year, New Blessings, New Beginnings

01/01/2021 03:19:54 PM


          Shabbat Shalom! This week, we finish the book of Genesis, and we have closed out a calendar year. Our Torah portion, Parashat Vayechi tells of the deaths of Jacob and Joseph, as well as Jacob’s final death bed blessings for his children and his favorite grandchildren. Throughout the last few parshiyot, we’ve seen Joseph and his brothers grow up a lot, but in...Read more...

Reuniting, and Not

12/18/2020 02:06:17 PM


          Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Miketz, telling the story of the initial reunion between Joseph and his brothers, though the brothers do not recognize Joseph. We discussed during Torah study yesterday how Joseph tests his brothers, to see how they’ve changed and to decide whether to reveal himself to them. There seems to be some element...Read more...

Light, Life, and Love

12/11/2020 12:24:55 PM


Shabbat Shalom! This week's Torah portion is Parashat Vayeshev, in which we begin the narrative around Joseph, from his arrogant beginning to his faithful and humble days in slavery and in prison.

Something that always strikes me about Joseph, is his faith. He credits his dream interpretations to God, he is sure of Divine strength and salvation, and trusts in a better future despite his bad current circumstances. All the while, God...Read more...

Wrestling, Breathing, Blessing

12/03/2020 02:26:13 PM



In this week’s Torah Portion, Jacob wrestles with “a man”. There is a noticeable lack of details in the scene. Is this man some random assailant? An angel? A dream? Jacob’s inner turmoil? Some combination of the above?

These answers may be unknowable or only knowable through our own lens of understanding – whether we are struggling with our own psyche, whether we...Read more...

Nibbles, Noshes, & Nachas

12/02/2020 11:28:56 AM


Latkes and Lights

Transgender Day of Remembrance

11/20/2020 11:19:45 AM


          Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Toldot, in which we read about the birth of and struggle between the twin sons of Isaac and Rebecca: Jacob and Esau. There’s a lot going on in this parasha, a lot of ways to read the dynamics between the brothers and between each of them and their respective parents, and many midrashim, modern and...Read more...

Heartbreak and Narrow Bridges

11/12/2020 01:52:42 PM


          Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Chayei Sarah, in which Abraham buries Sarah, ensures Isaac marries Rebecca, and then is buried alongside his wife in the Cave of Machpelah. This week’s Torah portion is called “The Life of Sarah,” though in actuality Sarah plays a pretty small role in the parasha, seeing as the first line recounts her...Read more...

Nibbles, Noshes & Nachas

11/10/2020 01:27:01 PM


Nachas-A Yiddish word meaning that you are happy and proud, especially of the accomplishments of your childrenRead more...

Resurrection, Revitalization, Rejewvenation

11/06/2020 10:29:15 AM


          Shabbat Shalom. This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Vayera, which begins with Abraham welcoming in strangers who may or may not be messengers of God but in any case, foretell that barren Sarah will give birth to a son within a year. The parasha ends with Abraham nearly sacrificing that son. The haftarah for this week mirrors these two bookends as well. The...Read more...

And You Shall Be a Blessing

10/30/2020 12:03:42 PM


          Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Lech Lecha. Tomorrow, we will hear our Bar Mitzah chant from the Torah the parasha from his birthday weekend, Parashat Pinchas, but the rescheduled date for his ceremony and celebration also suits this momentous occasion.

          In Lech Lecha, God tells Abram to “Go forth, from the land of your birth to a new land that I will show you.” And Abram does. He takes his wife and nephew and some friends and workers and they leave Mesopotamia to settle in the Holy Land and start a new life, a new world built with a vision of monotheism and Divine Justice.   At thirteen, Preston certainly isn’t being kicked out of his parents’ house to a new land, especially not during a pandemic with quarantine suggestions, but he is being asked now to embrace the covenant set forth in this parasha. As they become “Children on the Commandment” (what “Bar Mitzvah” really means), we ask our young people to take up the cause for justice and living in the image of God, continuing the legacy of our father Abraham. Read more...

Lions and Tigers and Bears!

10/23/2020 02:03:10 PM


          Shabbat Shalom! As you know, this week’s Torah portion is Parashat Noah and we are celebrating the animals! There is so much we can learn from animal behavior, and opportunities to model ourselves after the pure nature of our furry loved ones. Talmud Bavli teaches, “Rabbi Yochanan said: ‘Had we not been given the Torah, we would have been able to learn...Read more...

Creation, Beginnings, and Imagining a New World

10/16/2020 12:28:53 PM


            Shabbat Shalom! This week we read Parashat Bereshit in its entirety. After weeks of holidays, and getting the teaser at Simchat Torah last Shabbat, now we are fully read to start reading the Torah anew, beginning with creation.

            Creation doesn’t...

Fri, May 7 2021 25 Iyyar 5781