Posts

Just met Dr. Freeman again

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I had a very sweet few moments recently.  It started nine years ago. Our first year here I was going office to office selling calendar ads.  While trying to get ahold of a Dr., I’m standing in the waiting room and someone says, “Shalom.”  We started talking and sure enough Dr. Neal Freeman is Jewish (he was a patient, not the Dr. I was looking for). We put on tefillin then and there, and I took his number.  He came for Shabbos dinner the next Friday, and while it was a nice interaction, he made it clear that he’s not really interested in getting involved in a synagogue, and as such, we kind of lost touch. As Covid came, volunteers started delivering holiday packages, we started generating more junk mail and the building campaign started making noise. I think it was last year that Dr. Freeman sent in a donation in response to one of our mailers. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t even reach out, but when he donated again this year, I made a point to call him.  We met for a coffee yest

Natanya is on Fire

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All the Chabad rebbetzins gather in New York every year for an extended weekend of gathering, workshops and recharging their batteries. At face value, taking over her duties while she’s at the convention pushes me to my limit. Besides for my regular work, last week I had a minyan to pull together for Friday night and then Shabbos morning, with guests, teaching, davening etc. On top of that, I also had the responsibility for four of our younger children.  It’s not easy to get anything done while caring for children.   The bright side is that I get quality “Tatty time” with my children.  The kids helped with the mailer you hopefully just received, and we went on a hike on Sunday.  Levi said, “This was the best day of my life!” Besides for the benefit of my relationship with my children, two things really stick out to me this year: I appreciate how much Natanya does.  I challenge anyone to care for all the children like she does and get anything done for the community.  She is amazing, a

Mazal Tov Sivan & Ram

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I had the pleasure of officiating the wedding of Sivan and Ram Malka.  They moved to Temecula during Covid and recently decided it was time to tie the knot and build a Jewish home. Mazal Tov Sivan & Ram! A Jewish wedding of locals is a big milestone for our community.   We had the honor of hosting a Sheva Brachos (post wedding celebration) for them. Sheva Brachos are actually the same blessings that are made under the Chuppah. For the week after the wedding, every time the bride and groom have a meal with a minyan, they can receive these blessings. It’s a beautiful way to start off their life together, being blessed by their family, friends and community.   There’s one rule though, that I didn’t really understand until last year. In order to recite all these blessings you need to have someone in attendance who was not at the wedding.  This is a way to increase the joy, by including more people. It always puzzled me.  Why is it so important to have a friend who missed the wedding?

Important Israel Message

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What's happening: What has happened is terrible and heartbreaking.  Israel just experienced its 9/11.  The scale of this terrorist attack in Israel is unprecedented.  Just before the holiday, I received a poster from a charity in Israel with names and faces of all  1,707 terror victims from the past 23 years .  Now,  in one day, over 700 of our brothers and sisters have been savagely murdered  and added to this list of Jewish terror victims in Israel, Hy"d.   In addition to the 700 murdered, there are over 100 hostages (men, women, children, elderly).  The situation is chaotic and everyone wants to know what they can do. What we can do: Every person has their place.  The soldiers need to fight, the strategists need to strategize and the diplomats need to diplomatize.  What about me and you? The easiest thing we can do is send money.  We can  support organizations  that buy blankets for terror victims, and that's a good thing, but I think they need something in addition to

Israel

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  I’ll be totally open with you.  It’s been a struggle to stay focused, productive and do what I know needs to be done more than ever.  Israel needs our spiritual ammunition, and Temecula needs our outreach, but paralysis is plaguing me. Every year we read in the Passover Hagaddah, “In every generation, [our enemies] stand up to annihilate us, and G-d saves us from their hands.” What’s happened this past week has been scary.  If it’s not enough that we’re mourning our butchered brothers and sisters, worried about our hostages, thinking about my sister Rivkah, this week added insult to injury. The bias in the news has been scary.  The overwhelming public support AGAINST the Jewish people has been harrowing. “But G-d saves us from their hands”.  And this will happen again, just like it has for the past 4,000 years. History has proven that despite the sinister efforts of mighty nations, they are gone and we stand strong.  The Torah is a “tree of life” to those who hold strong. As hard as

Israel & Antisemitism

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At first glance it seems like we’re in uncharted territory.  Domestically Israel is amazingly united at levels never seen before.  But outside of Israel the issue of Israel has unfortunately become subject to political teams and identities.  And we’re seeing the unmasking of overt antisemitism that has not been seen since the Holocaust.  Even people 80 years old have never seen this before.   What should we do?  What is my place?  How can I help? Every year, we read in the Hagaddah, “In every generation, they [the enemies of Israel] stand up to annihilate us, and G-d saves us from their hands.” Two immediate lessons from this passage are: Antisemitism is not new (every generation…) It will all end ok (G-d saves us from their hands…) Additionally, the Rebbe gave guidance both during the Holocaust and also spoke at great length about Israel. We cannot control what other people think about us.  Appeasing, explaining or hiding our Judaism will not change the minds and hearts of antisemites

10 Steps to Dismantle an Evil Society

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  For the past two weeks, the weekly Torah portion has been a story that I’ve read a thousand times, but for some reason I only understood what it means this year.  The story of the Exodus from Egypt.  Moses asks the Pharaoh to “Let me people go!” When the Pharaoh declines, Moses brings ten plagues upon Egypt.  I always, wondered what the purpose of the ten plagues was.  If the point was just to get us out, surely G-d has simpler and faster ways of redeeming the Jews from Egypt. Was it to “punish a wicked man or people”? Are we really that vindictive that we need “revenge” on the evildoers? What I realized this year is that G-d used these ten plagues as tools to dismantle the evil Egyptian society and reprogram them to reject their gods, priests and king.  To find the true G-d, develop a liking for the Jews and develop respect for Moses.  Over the past 5784 years, plenty of “evil societies” have come and gone, risen and fallen.  The ten plagues of Egypt are the prototype to dismantle s