January 2003

Will America go to war? This question, which is the talk of the day, is really beyond our control, but perhaps this can serve as a reminder that there is another war going on right now, where we are the prime players.

This is the war between the forces of good and evil that exists deep within us, with a battlefield that continuously changes. As long as we are alive, this war will go on. Even though we sometimes lose a battle,

G‑d, the Commander in Chief expects us to put up a good fight each and every time and certainly never to give up.

State of the Union
Last week we heard the State of the Union address from President Bush. Two weeks ago Governor Taft spoke about the State of the State. And if you are really into it, you may have heard your mayor's comments on the State of your City.

Would you like to hear what the State of the Nation is; that is, the Jewish nation? Tune in, for G‑d gives a weekly State of the Nation Address; it's called the Parsha of the Week. According to Chassidic philosophy, the weekly Torah Portion has special relevance to our lives. Study the text, read G‑d's words, and you will find inspiration and application to your day-to-day challenges. Give it a try!


What is it about Ilan Ramon that we all mourn him? We don't know him personally, we never even met him, and yet each of us feels the loss of a close friend.

Ilan Ramon was a Jew that chose to turn a scientific adventure into a Jewish experience. When he made kiddush in space and when he recited the Shma over Jerusalem , he connected with each one of us, and suddenly the whole Jewish nation was on board.

When we reflect on this loss, we realize that he taught us all a great lesson. No matter what you do, or where you are, bring your Judaism with you. In this way, you are never alone!


We are all tuned in to the news from Iraq . For many of us, this is the first time that we are so exposed to the mentality of the army, to the life of a soldier. And we learn more and more how the success of the war depends on each and every soldier.

According to the Torah, each one of us is a soldier too. In the Book of Exodus, the Jewish nation is called “The Army of G‑d.” We were chosen to fight the battle for spirituality and morality in the world.

We can't make a difference in the war with Iraq , but we can “serve” honorably in G‑d's army. And remember, each soldier makes a difference!


SARS is contagious. The world is panicking. Thousands of people in China are quarantined because they are suspected to be SARS carriers.

Can you fathom the concept of a virus that is good ? A virus that we would want to spread?

Judaism is surely contagious; the only way to give over the love and excitement to our children, is when we are the carriers of the “spiritual germs”. Books give the information, but the spice and spirit of our heritage must be given over with a human touch – parent to child, teacher to student.

Hang around! This is one virus you want to catch.


Road Map
Have you heard the latest news? The Israelis have accepted the road map that was presented by President Bush. But over 3,000 years ago, on the holiday of Shavuot, the Israelites already accepted a road map presented by G‑d.

Whether the Israeli– Palestinian road map will lead to peace is yet to be seen, but the road map of Torah has withstood the trial of time and brings peace of mind to all those who travel along its path. As a result, the Jewish nation has emerged as a peace loving people, and only when one finds peace within himself can he attempt to make peace with his enemies.


When does the digging begin? is a question I have heard countless times in the last few weeks.

The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, once compared the Jewish people to a very fruitful land. Just as deep in the land there are hidden treasures, so too within each and every Jew there are hidden spiritual treasures; love of G‑d and a desire to be connected to our heritage.

We broke ground on June 29 th for the new Synagogue. But the digging started 12 years ago when Miriam and I moved to Solon. And the treasures we have found within the Jewish community in the Solon area are too numerous to count!


Security Fence
The Israeli Government is in the middle of building a fence to separate the Palestinians from mainland Israel . President Bush calls it a “problem” but what he fails to realize is that the Jewish people have been busy building “fences” since Biblical times.

The Torah provides us with specific commandments that serve as fences to protect us from deviating off the path of G‑d. Lighting Shabbat candles 18 minutes BEFORE sunset ensures that by the time the sun sets, the candles will be lit. We too should follow suit by placing boundaries on ourselves to keep us growing on the path of Judaism. Extra caution can never hurt !


Black Out
So whose fault is it that half of America went dark? The real question is how is it that the most advanced country in the world does not have a good back up system!

In life, one needs to have a good spiritual back up system that will support us in times of crisis and tragedy.

There are times when we don't see the hand of G‑d and feel left out in the dark. This is when a strong back up system of faith in G‑d and unconditional commitment to Judaism will kick in to support our relationship with the Almighty in these challenging moments.

With the approach of the High Holidays, it is the right time to provide yourself with a high quality “generator.”


National Survey
The recent statistics released by the UJC National study are quite alarming. In 1990 there were 5.5 million Jews and today we have decreased to 5.2 million. Shouldn't we be concerned about Jewish survival?

Throughout our history many factors led to the decrease of our numbers and many forces tried to eliminate us altogether. And yet, we are still a thriving nation – not merely because of our own efforts, but mainly because the survival and existence of the Jewish people are guaranteed and protected by G‑d Himself. So, in 100 years from now, the Jewish nation is going to continue to exist, the only question is – will OUR children be there?


California is engulfed in flames. Communities are being destroyed and lives have been forever altered. As we go about our daily lives on this side of the country, how are we supposed to be feeling?

In the dawn of history, the opposite tragedy was unfolding. The whole world was engulfed in water and only Noah and his family survived on the Ark. Instead of celebrating his salvation, G‑d directed Noah to restrain from pleasures so as to feel the pain of those suffering. Jewish tradition has repeatedly taught us to empathize with ones who suffer, by restraining ourselves from enjoying luxuries during troubling times.

When it's burning in S. Diego, we in Solon should also feel the heat!


This week family and friends joined us as we celebrated the Bris of our son, Mayer.

As I looked around to savor the preciousness of the moment, I realized that there is something unique about a Bris that is different from any other ritual.

It is such a time-honored tradition that transcends the differences in observances and background. This is a Mitzvah that unites us all.

It dawned on me that not only is this a link in a 4,000 year old tradition, but it's a link that unites all the Jews in the world today. Not only is it a covenant with G‑d; it is also a covenant with the rest of the Jewish people.