All posts by rabbijosh

Matzah, Poland, and the Jewish Drive

Chicago YJP at Auschwitz Birkenau
Chicago YJP at Auschwitz Birkenau

While searching the empty Nazi barracks for food after the Nazis had fled Bergen-Belsen knowing their demise was imminent, Mr. Izzy Starck and some friends only found a bunch of rifles.  They were starving and it wasn’t what they were looking for.  Nonetheless, they decided to take them for safety’s sake.  While taking in their first breaths of freedom as they continued their search for food they saw a Nazi SS guard they recognized from the camp running with suitcases.  He was clearly planning to flee. Continue reading Matzah, Poland, and the Jewish Drive

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Reflections on Purim vs Halloween

2015-03-05 12.10.50My 5 year old son, all dressed up in his finest Purim costume, looked up at me and said, “Abba, I love Purim!  Let’s go do some more shalach manos!”  He was referring to the special candies and treats that are given out amongst friends throughout the community on Purim day.  He and his siblings along with all their friends prepared many days in advance, just like their parents were doing the same, to give out packaged treats to all their friends, neighbors, and community.  It is a special mitzvah on Purim called mishloach manot.  I smiled and thought it was cute how he was probably perceiving the “agreed exchange.”  Typical 5 year old kid, right? Continue reading Reflections on Purim vs Halloween

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Shed a Little Light into the World

lightWhen I was about 19 years old, studying many hours daily in college and yeshiva, I decided I needed a change of scenery.  I wanted to go do something exciting… something thrilling… but what?  I found out about an invitation from Sing-Sing, a maximum security prison in upstate New York, to come make a Chanuka event for the inmates.  I was in!  I packed up my guitar and went with some friends “directly to jail!” Continue reading Shed a Little Light into the World

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Rambo vs Romeo

Question Who is the 21st century male role model – Rambo or Romeo?  Let’s assume Rambo is not the Jewish mother’s dream come true mate for her princess.  Yet, if you talk to today’s parents and young adults, most of them say the major goal is independence (with the exception of a few diehard Jewish mothers who want their Bubbala around them forever).  Continue reading Rambo vs Romeo

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The Ingredients to a Relationship of Love

Love, Heart, Ingredients, JudaismAnyone else out there a foodie?  Food is a great metaphor for relationships.  If a person gets in to the habit of eating cakes, cookies, and candy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it will be very difficult for that person to create a new reality of healthy eating.  Relationships are no different!  If a person is dating in an unhealthy way, having “fast-food relationships”, when it comes time to be in a healthy relationship, they will have created deeply entrenched negative patterns that are difficult to break.  Just like eating healthfully requires knowing the rules of nutrition, so too, we need some guidelines for developing “healthy” relationships.  Dr. Sue Johnson, world renowned relationships expert (and one of my personal mentors), ascribes 3 pillars to a healthy relationship.  Let’s examine those three factors to see what a healthy relationship looks like, and we’ll look at how Judaism approaches the establishment of a healthy relationship. Continue reading The Ingredients to a Relationship of Love

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Secrets From the World’s Strongest Woman

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis is well under 5 feet tall and probably weighs close to 75 pounds.  Yet she towers over all of us.  She’s close to 80 years old, and she tells us in jest about the multiple bones in her body she has recently broken as she miraculously walks up to the podium to speak.  She is given everyone’s full attention as if she is the matriarch of our people.  And as a survivor with a heart full of golden love for all the Jewish people, her children, she is our nation’s Bubbe, our matriarch. Continue reading Secrets From the World’s Strongest Woman

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Reach Out

RedwoodAs a recent transplant to Chicago, I found myself thinking about our family trip to one of the Redwood Forests back in our old California stomping grounds. The experience of walking through the redwoods is truly breathtaking — it is among the most magnificent sights a person can see. Continue reading Reach Out

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When Kindness is Not Enough

Feeding the poor concept with dirty kid receiving slice of bread - on blackShe comes up to him at the bar, offers him and his buddies a drink, and immediately he knows… she’s the one, the woman of his dreams.  After immediately bedecking her with lots of jewelry, he takes her home to introduce her to his parents.  “Mom!  Dad!  I want you to meet my finance!  Her name is… um, what’s your name again?”  Dad whispers to Mom, “Honey, our son has lost his marbles!” Continue reading When Kindness is Not Enough

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True Therapy

Couple looking to each other during therapy session while therapist watchesOne of the most poignant moments in couples therapy work is the Reframe.  That’s the moment when they have an epiphany, in the midst of all their anger and frustration with each other, that they are both longing to be close to each other.  Behind all the painful words on the surface, underneath is a craving to be close.  All the hurtful comments are “reframed” as actually intense cries for help, love, and connection.  This deeper understanding of each other and their dynamic is a very powerful moment.  The Reframe is the beginning of the relationship healing. Continue reading True Therapy

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