For a beach resort, the Bulgarian town of Balchik is a bit of a letdown. The setting is indeed beautiful — thickly forested cliffs that slope down to a wide turquoise sea — but try as I might, I could not find any sand.
Sweating gold, the sun had risen on the last morning of a long, hot summer at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, where my wife serves on staff and our children go to camp. The campers were in the Hadar Ochel (Dining Room), preparing to say an impossible, unimaginable good-bye to friends. The staff guarded the doors, to keep the campers from fleeing. As the bus to Maryland pulled up in the drive, the show tune “Good Morning, Baltimore” blasted from the PA system. The cheeky anthem from “Hairspray” instantly reduced everyone to tears. Just a month after Tisha b’Av, when the campers had mourned the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, now regret and lamentation were surging like a river.
That I spend a lot of time thinking about community should hardly come as a surprise, since being a congregational rabbi is all about fostering a sense of community. I want the members of my congregation to feel that their synagogue is a second home for them. And, of course, the synagogue itself needs to relate to the larger community as a whole.
When all is said and done, this is my work– my professional responsibility. Yes, of course I teach, and preach, officiate at weddings and funerals, and do all the other things that pulpit rabbis do. That, too, is my work. But it all flows from a larger sense of “belonging” that hopefully is what binds my members to our particular synagogue setting.
Most men don't make their privates public, but they get awfully cheeky, awfully fast.
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The ongoing controversy about Anthony Weiner’s lewd sexting raises political questions about whether the man is fit to govern. But as a single woman living in New York, there’s something else, on a personal level, that bugs me about it: Weiner’s creepy ways are reminiscent of those of certain men with whom women in my circle and I have crossed paths lately.
Dr. Mehmet Oz sat down to talk with JTA on the Tel Aviv coast last week, but what he really wanted to do was go to the beach. Oz, the surgeon and well-known TV personality, was in Israel for the first time and had a packed itinerary. He traversed the country from the Red Sea to the Golan, lectured Israeli physicians in a northern Israeli hospital and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
I’d known Joel since I was 14, when we bonded over golf, skiing and baseball. Over the years while he was married to my sister, our relationship ebbed and flowed, as is often the case with brothers-in-law. Since their divorce I ran into him once at a local golf course where I ended up playing with him, and saw him once again at my niece’s wedding.