January 2004

The photo showed the captured Saddam Hussein with an open mouth during the doctor's medical examination. The caption read, “What is America trying to find in Saddam's mouth? Weapons of Mass Destruction?”

This concept is not so far fetched. In fact, our mouths do have the potential to be weapons and can certainly do “mass destruction”! In contrast, words can also heal and even create; G‑d created the world with words (Let there be light” etc.). As we come from the days of Chanukah, let's use this G‑dly gift in ways that add light to the world. One word at a time!

Settlements on...the Moon?!
A settlement on the moon is what President Bush has recently proposed. Even if this dream does materialize, I believe that no matter how long people will live there, they will always call Earth, their home!

A Jew in a secular world is almost like a Man on the Moon! We may learn how to survive, how to balance ourselves in this atmosphere, and even acclimate ourselves quite well, yet this is not our Home. Home is around the Shabbos table. Home is in a Synagogue, as part of a Jewish community. This is not just where we should be, but this is where we belong. Before you embark on a journey to the Moon, stop off at Home.


Don't label children! Isn't that one of the most basic parenting ideas that we are taught? If you tell your child that he's a “bad boy”, it can turn into a self fulfilling prophecy!

Why it is that this simple concept is forgotten when it comes to larger community issues?

For months, the Jewish leadership is predicting the rise of anti-Semitism to take place as a result of Mel Gibson's new movie. Just like in parenting, perhaps a more positive approach would help everyone realize that we can and must aspire to a greater goodness.


Pass It Over
It's all for the children! They are the ones who say the Four Questions at the seder. They are the ones who find the Afikoman. Many Passover traditions were custom-made specifically to keep the interest of the children throughout the evening.

These all reflect the true theme of this holiday “Vihigadita Libincha” to tell it to your children . We have the responsibility to give over our Judaism to the next generation and in such an inspiring and hands on way that they will be proud to teach their children! Amidst all our Passover preparations, please make time to Pass It Over!


Line of Duty
As the nation mourns the loss of the former NFL player Pat Tillman, who turned down a promising and bright career to protect the country, it's an opportunity for us to reflect upon our religious ‘line of duty'.

Every Jew is enlisted in the Army of G‑d. In the past, the circumstances often required sacrificing our very lives for our beliefs, and thousands of our people chose that path. Fortunately, in our days, sacrificing does not necessitate dying for Judaism; it calls for living as a Jew.

Living Jewishly can be a daily struggle but as any good soldier, we do what needs to be done. We don't have to lose lucrative careers, but like Pat, we must prioritize our values and make Judaism number one in our lives.


The Rebbe
As the day of the 10 th yahrtzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe draws closer, I often find myself reflecting on special and inspiring experiences that occurred during the six years that I spent studying “by the Rebbe.”

Why, I sometimes wonder, did the Rebbe touch our hearts so deeply? Perhaps, in part, it is because when the Rebbe looked at us, we realized that he saw an elevated version of whom we might become. He reminds us, without saying a word, that we have the potential to become holy. He made us realize that it is possible for us to become what we are supposed to be – images of G‑d.


Should celebrities be learning Kabbalah?? There are some in the Jewish community that feel very strongly that Kabbalah has become cheapened when it was taken out to the general public.

Yet, you cannot deny that with one appearance on 20/20, the modern day Queen Esther made the study of Kabbala the “in” thing to do. Today in Hollywood , being Jewish is cool and wearing a red ribbon is trendy.

Perhaps it's just a matter of time until learning the weekly Torah portion will become fashionable!


Terror Alert
America sat riveted as the homeland Security Secretary raised the threat level to orange in response to intelligence about possible terror attacks.

As Jews, we can contribute to the fighting of this war on terror with spiritual weapons. In Hebrew, the word weapon is translated as Neshek which also stands for Neirot Shabbat Kodesh; the Holy Shabbat Candles!

By observing the mitzvah of kindling the Shabbat candles, we are able to channel additional lights of peace, protection and a stronger measure of security into the world.

Let's raise our level of connection to G‑d to “orange.”


Full-fledged City
Did you know that according to the Talmud, there are 10 criteria that a city should have before a Jew should call it home? These include a doctor, charitable organization, accessible water, bathhouse, a Melamed (one who teaches Torah to your children), and, of course, a Synagogue.

On September 5th, Solon will join the ranks of cities worldwide that are worthy of having Jews settle there. Although our community has been thriving for many years, yet our own building provides a sense of permanency - proclaiming that we are here to stay!

Now it is up to you to put it to good use!

No Column

It's not often that you get a message on your answering machine from the President, First Lady, John Kerry and many other top ranking politicians. It certainly helps that we live in Ohio , a hotly contested state, and that it's just days before elections! It really boosts our egos and creates a feeling of importance.

The Talmud tells us that a heavenly voice calls out each day reminding us of our Jewish obligations. It's as if G‑d leaves us messages on our spiritual answering machine telling us how significant each and every one of us is. And to G‑d, we are important every day – not just once in four years!


Ukraine is on the verge of a revolution. Hundreds of thousands of citizens are demonstrating in the streets, calling for change.

The holiday of Chanukah is also a result of a revolution - the Maccabean Revolt. Perhaps what Judaism needs today is the spirit and excitement of a revolution. By breaking away from our status quo and breathing a new life of enthusiasm into our rituals, Judaism will come alive for us and who knows - it could change our future.