Category: President’s column



“Hazak Hazak V’nit Hazek” “Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened” This is the phrase we say when we reach the end of each book in the Torah. It is also this month’s Mussar trait. What is strength? Some definitions include: endurance, resistance, capacity for exertion, power, force, might, vigor, potency, energy or fire power. At this moment, the strength that concerns me is not the power to move mountains, but the strength one needs to overcome our greatest challenges. In Mussar thought, this would be an inward look at the self. But what does this mean for […] more



“If not now, when” —Pirkei Avot Now, anyone who knows me at all has likened me to the “Energizer Bunny” of battery fame. So, I believe I am in a good position to discuss this trait. Enthusiasm in Mussar tradition speaks to spiritual energy. It says that enthusiasm is the foundation of all the traits. This makes sense because your energy level can affect everything else in your life. How can one be generous if you lack the motivation to carry through on your intentions? Are acts of loving-kindness even possible without energy? The Hebrew term for enthusiasm is “zerizut,” […] more



“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” —Max Planck Discussing gratitude in November is really a “batting practice fastball” as they say in baseball. After all, it is the month of our most cherished national holiday, Thanksgiving. For Jews, gratitude isn’t something for just once a year; it’s a daily practice. The Hebrew term for gratitude means “recognizing the good.” The good is already there, and so it means recognizing the gifts we already have. It means focusing on the part of the glass which is full, rather than on the part […] more

Mussar and TE


Now, I am neither a Rabbi nor a scholar but I do try to think (contrary to what you may have heard about surgeons). A path suggested by our recent Scholar in Residence, Rabbi  Marcia Plumb struck a familiar chord in me. She discussed how Mussar teachings can be used to create a sense of wholeness in one’s life. Very, briefly the Mussar movement centered in Lithuania during the mid 1800’s and was led by Rabbi Yisrael Salanter. Much was lost during the Holocaust, but it has become a thriving movement in recent years.  Mussar teachers have sought to help […] more



It is hard to believe that fall is here and that the Holy Days are around the corner. This is a time of new beginnings and contemplating where we might have “missed the mark.” It is a time of reflecting what we might do better in the up-coming year. As we begin 5775, I am optimistic with our potential for growth and for bringing our congregation together. I believe we can have a thriving community. This will take dedication, volunteerism, and financial support. Previous TE President Jon Zonderman stated that to do this, it is important that we all agree […] more

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