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L'Shanah Tovah! greeting from the board and staff of BJE (apples and honey)

At the Start of the New Year

Aug 30, 2021

By Dr. Gil Graff

The approach of Rosh HaShanah is marked by daily shofar blasts throughout the Hebrew month of Elul that precedes it, summoning listeners to reflect on the year past and to build bridges between the “is” and the “ought.” Rosh HaShanah, a time of introspection, is also described as the day of the birth of the world. Not long after Rosh HaShanah – on Simchat Torah – Jews throughout the world begin, anew, the cycle of weekly Torah study starting with a narrative of world creation.  

Israel: The Ever-dying People

Jul 08, 2021

In an essay titled “Israel: The Ever-dying People,” the twentieth century Jewish thinker Simon Rawidowicz observes that Israel (the Jewish people) has, throughout history, viewed itself as “constantly on the verge of ceasing to be, of disappearing.”  This is by no means limited to such times as the destruction of the First and Second Temple in Jerusalem, commemorated on the 9th of Av (this year, Saturday night/Sunday, July 17-18).  One can hardly find a generation, writes Rawidowicz, “which did not consider itself the final link in Israel’s chain.”

Of Pesach, Generations, and Memory

Mar 25, 2021

Shortly before Pesach, my wife and I will celebrate the first birthday of a grandson whom we have yet to meet in person.  Since his birth in New York City, during the early weeks of the pandemic (at a time when his father could not enter the hospital because of prevailing COVID-19 restrictions), we have watched his considerable growth via FaceTime.  The availability of such technology is truly a gift. 

Why Jewish Education?

Mar 09, 2021

Recently, I read a book co-authored by two very distinguished Jewish educators, Dr. Bruce Powell and Dr. Ron Wolfson, titled: Raising A+ Human Beings.  In his preface to this very worthwhile and accessible work, Rabbi Ed Feinstein recounts the following:
“I remember my first Parents Night as a head of school: ‘Your job is to get my kid into a good college!’ a parent informed me.  ‘All we ask is that you give our kids the tools to be successful!’ offered another.”

Of Purim and the Pandemic

Feb 23, 2021

As Purim and the one year anniversary of the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic draw near, there is cause for cautious optimism.  The L.A. area COVID-19 surge has declined.  Effective vaccines have been developed and are – despite “roll out” challenges – being administered to increasing numbers of people.   

Of Gratitude, Resilience and Hanukkah

Dec 08, 2020

Each year, at Hanukkah, I reflect on the story beyond the story.  In the face of the pervasive power of Hellenism, a popular uprising in Judea, led by the Maccabees, succeeded in pushing back Syrian-Greek forces, rededicating the Temple and establishing a dynasty that governed Judea for a century.  Yet, self-rule – much of the time characterized by internal conflict -- under that dynasty lasted only a century and, a century beyond that, the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. 


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