Monday, September 29, 2008

613 Billion Dollars

That’s the official debt that Lehman Brothers filed, in the grand bankruptcy that got this whole downward spiral going.

Like 9/11, and the 2001 crash, it happened just two weeks before Rosh Hashana.

Just a coincidence, right?

A debt of 613

Something to think about.

Here’s Part 3, for you groupies out there:

If you want to rate it, add comments, or send out the link, use this:

As the late great Paul Newman said, Some people dream of doing something, others get up and do something.

But first you have to dream....

My family and I would like to wish you - and all of us - a year of upward spirals!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Spare some change?

Here’s a thought, a question, and a challenge.

The Thought

Don’t know about you, but I can hardly keep my head on straight, with all of the news.

Trying not to pay attention to it doesn’t help, because everyone else is talking about it.

The news should wake us up to a couple things:

1. A lot of people are hurting.
2. We are all connected

One of the best things I learned this year came from someone else, a local rabbi here in Baltimore. He told me that he always carries a small wad of $1 bills. You never know, he said, when you’re going to be standing in line somewhere, and someone is a little short, you can help them out.

That sounded like a great idea, so I started doing it. I’m not taking sides on the issue of whether or not to give to every pan-handler who approaches you. But maybe to end the year right, practicing a little extra generosity will help us get the message of the 2 wake-up calls I mentioned above.

The Question for your table – What’s the best thing you learned this year? Share your answers in the comments section below.

In the meantime, someone alerted me to 2 terrific Rosh Hashana – themed articles and one video that I’d like to share with you.

Article one is a perspective on the market turmoil by Rabbi Blech:

Article two is a practical guide to preparing for RH by Rabbi Friedman:

And the video is a great and funny example of what can be done if you have the budget to hire a good animator:

If you’re wondering about the third installment of my series, I need some feedback from you – did you watch the first 2, and did you forward them to anyone else?

The Challenge: This is the last Shabbat of the year. It is going to be very tempting to watch the debate tonight. Could you put it on Tivo and watch it Saturday night? Highlights? What do you think?

Wishing you a final Shabbat Shalom for 5768. Make it a good one.


Rosh Hashana for the Rest of Us Videos

Part 1
Part 2

Speaking schedule:
Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – Baltimore program - “High Holidays for the Rest of Us” - the Concise High Holidays Service!

If you're looking for something similar in another part of the country, let me know, they do exist if you know where to look!

For details, send an email.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Top 10

If you know someone (yourself included) who is on their own for Rosh Hashana and would enjoy an invite – anywhere in the country – please let me know.
If you know someone (yourself included) who would like an “alternative” Rosh Hashana program – anywhere in the country – please let me know.

OK, if you missed my debut youtube video last week, you can still catch it here:

Here's the link if you want to see it on youtube or send to anyone else:

Last week I said, “Don’t go to shul on Rosh Hashana.”

Question for this week: What do you I think I meant by that?

This week’s video, 10 ways NOT to prepare for Rosh Hashana, is now available:

Please send your feedback.... And if you want to send the link to anyone, use this:

Wishing you a great New Year,

and for now,

Shabbat Shalom

Speaking schedule:
Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – Baltimore program - “High Holidays for the Rest of Us”

For details, send an email.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rosh Hashana...for the rest of us

You are encouraged to print this short table talk for sharing at your Friday night dinner table.

It’s that time of year again – Rosh Hashana – Yom Kippur.

How would you like to hear a rabbi tell you NOT to go to synagogue on Rosh Hashana?

Take a look at this picture:

Does this pretty much sum up what you have to look forward to? Same-old, same-old?

If so, then take it from me – don’t go to shul.

But before you blow off the entire day, let’s clear up one myth of Rosh Hashana.

The first myth is that Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year.

It is not the Jewish New Year.

In fact, there is nothing in the Torah that says such a thing. Nor in the Talmud or anywhere else in Judaism.

So what’s Rosh Hashana?

What Judaism says is that Rosh Hashana is the day when our karma is set for the coming 12 months.

What that means is: the thoughts I think, the feelings I feel, and the actions that I do on the day of Rosh Hashana will set the course for my entire year.

It’s like a rocket ship taking off – if the initial trajectory is off by a fraction of a degree, after a few days or weeks, it will be off by millions of miles.

Therefore, the key to an amazing, life-changing Rosh Hashana – regardless of whether you’re in synagogue or not - is to spend the day thinking, feeling and doing according to how you want your new year to be.

In the next couple weeks, I’ll suggest some ways to make that happen.

In the meantime, please do me one favor – watch this new 3-minute video I made on the subject, and if you like it, forward it to all your friends.

Shabbat Shalom

Speaking schedule:
Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – Baltimore program - “High Holidays for the Rest of Us”

For details, send an email.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Back to School

In fond and loving memory of Harold Schwartz,
who taught those around him many things through example,
including not to be judgmental and to dare to be different.
To dedicate a future Table Talk, send an email.

Our four-year-old Yoseph started cheder this week. I love calling it cheder. It reminds me of my grandparents.

He was so excited on Tuesday morning, with his backpack and lunch. He didn’t fuss one bit when I dropped him off, but returning home to mommy was a bit traumatic and emotional.

On Wednesday, it got worse. I think riding with a strange mommy home is getting to him.

On Thursday, he came home happier, saying, “Mommy, I had a happy day today.”

This morning, he refused to get in the car, insisting on his mommy taking him. She had already left for work.

So for next week, he has a chart – if he goes to school nicely all week, he’ll get a can of soda for Shabbat. That’s a big deal when you have parents who never buy soda (OK, the truth comes out).

His sister Emuna (6) just started first grade. Every day last week we had this conversation:

“Abba, I’m starting first grade next week.”
“How exciting, first grade!”
“I’m scared.”
“What are you scared of?”
“My teacher is supposed to be strict.”

After the first day:

“How did it go? Was your teacher strict?”
“Yes, but if you listen and follow the rules it’s OK.”

Remember the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?

Question for your table: What’s the most important thing you learned in kindergarten? What’s the most important thing you didn’t learn?

can't leave you without a great video...:

Shabbat Shalom

Speaking schedule:

Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – Baltimore program - “High Holidays for the Rest of Us”