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Converts provide fresh insight, stimulate reassessment of prevailing practices, and bring welcome energy to established Jewish groups and communities. Converts are the Aggadah that stimulates the priestly Halakha to be more responsive and grow. Converts inspire all Jews to feel more, be more committed, and more observant of the law. That is more of a contribution than you could ask of anyone born Jewish.    

The Torah refers to money as “damim”—blood!  Money represents human labor, time, and investment. It is not neutral. Each dollar represents a bit of our lives, the time and energy it took us to generate that dollar.

Some words get overused, misused and abused. The words become degraded so that they no longer can be taken at face value. Hyperbole tends to degrade...not to elevate.

Yom HaShoah--Holocaust Memorial Day--is observed this Thursday, April 28. While remembering the Holocaust is highly important, we need to address the ongoing dangers of demonization and dehumanization that infect our societies.

Responsible intellectual freedom is the hallmark of a healthy religious community. Diversity of opinion and freedom of expression are vital to our wellbeing as Jews—and as human beings. Those who attempt to serve as a coercive “thought police” are doing a vast disservice to our community and to the Torah itself.

Henry Adams, a 19th century American historian and author, distinguished between a politician and a statesman. A politician is someone who listens to what people are saying, and then molds his/her agenda accordingly. A statesman is someone who thinks carefully and arrives at intelligent conclusions—and then works to persuade the public to adopt his/her policies.

It is a pity that Presidents' Day is simply treated as a day off from school or work; or a day for special sales. Wouldn't it be far more valuable for children to stay in school and learn about Washington and Lincoln? Wouldn't it be more sensible for all Americans to use the day to learn about the Presidents who helped make the United States a bastion of liberty?

Many of our children and grandchildren spend a year or more studying in yeshivot in Israel. This is a wonderful phenomenon...as a rule. But it is becoming more common for students to be drawn into studying for shana bet and beyond. There's a tendency to glorify lifelong Torah study even if that means forgoing college or developing skills necessary for long term employment.

Hanukkah reminds us that the Jewish People have long faced enemies of all kinds…but that we have been able to prevail! With the help of the Almighty, and with our own personal commitment, we will continue to bring light, love and kindness to our world.

The Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting took place on October 27, 2018, at the Tree of Life – Or L'Simcha Congregation in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The congregation was attacked during Shabbat morning services. The shooter killed eleven people and wounded six. Three years later, we cannot forget this tragedy and its implications for our community...and society at large.