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Rabbi Spitz’s Blog

Responding to Uncertainty

                                This moment calls for calm and caution for this moment is dangerous. We are facing an unprecedented challenge in our lifetimes. No other illness has caused so much uncertainty. With a shudder I watch the spread of COVID-19 and feel great concern for those with the coronavirus and for all of us trying to…

Message from Rabbi Spitz

A State Of National Emergency Our country is now in a “State of National Emergency.” In that light, let me follow-up on my email yesterday with some questions and answers. How is COVID-19 different than the flu?         First and foremost it is far more deadly. The rate of death from the common…

Sweet Smells

The sweet smells of challah baking prompts anticipation of Shabbat. The delicious and beautiful braided egg bread sets the meal apart from the rest of the week, as do the candles and the blessings over wine. The recent “Mega-Challah Bake” drew over 1,200 women from our Orange County to our JCC. What a wonderful celebration…

The Zohar

We are naturally drawn to mystery. And there is no greater mystery than uncovering the pulse and purpose of life, which is the essence of Jewish mysticism. And yet, to read the Zohar, the classical mystical commentary to the Torah, is to become aware that illumination, the meaning of the word Zohar, requires patience, imagination…

Cultivating Memory Despite Pain

Neurologist Oliver Sacks described a patient with absolutely no memory and asked, “Does this person have a soul?” Underneath his question was the awareness that our identity, our relationships, our life’s journey depend on our recollections. To cultivate memory is to honor an essential ingredient of life. Hebrew Scripture is obsessed with remembering and commands…

With Grace

A humble person sees the essential dignity and value of others. In religious terms, humility stems from an awareness of the unmet personal potential for each person who is created in the image of G-d. Rabbi Israel Salanter, the master teacher of Mussar, Jewish ethics, taught that a person should look up to see needed…

To BE A MENSCH

My mother, a native Yiddish speaker, would repeatedly emphasize: “Just be a mensch!” My siblings and I understood that she did not expect perfection, but rather that we behave as good people despite inconvenience or adversity. For my mother, being a mensch was much more than being well behaved. A mensch would include the shy classmate during recess activity, would…

Welcoming the New Year

A family reunion offers the gift of belonging. On Rosh Hashanah we gather as members of an extended family, whether born into the Jewish people or adopted by our choosing. We link ourselves to those in the room and to generations before us. The celebration is a Hi Holiday, as we meet and greet those…

SUMMERTIME TRAVEL

Summer is a time for travel. While I welcome relaxation offered by a change of scenery, less responsibility, and rest, when given a canvas of time I am driven by curiosity. I am eager to see how other people live in order to understand their lives. This requires background reading of history, demography, and politics…