Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Day After S'lichot ... Renewing Ourselves Through New Connections ...

Last night was beautiful.  So many people came to our early dinner at Cafe Centro, located in our own neighborhood of Northwood.  It was wonderful to watch long-time members catching up with old friends but, more importantly, it was nice to see so many new members getting to know new friends.  : )

Becoming part of a spiritual community is difficult, particularly in today's busy times.  Often, when asked why people join a synagogue, they will say it is to make new friends, but integration can be challenging.  People unintentionally form cliques because we are comfortable with people we already know -- and because we share a history with them.  When we are already so busy trying to keep up with the friends we have, it is difficult to justify lunch, or even coffee, with someone we just met, especially when every hour is precious.

But what might we missing out on?  An hour to welcome someone to the community might be the hour they needed to feel connected, and it might be the gift of a new friend we give to ourelves.  So, as we have many people joining our community recently, this might be the time to reach out and set up a time to meet away from the synagogue, outside of our comfort zones.  In this season of renewal, perhaps it might be a time to connect to someone new.  : )

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Setting Realistic Expectations Helps Create Happiness ...

I'm met lots of young people who are unhappy with their place in life ... which has caused me to reflect back on my life.  A long time ago, a very smart young woman (Susanne Sliwa) taught me a phrase I repeat often: "Low expectations are the key to a happy life." This article defines "happiness" as "reality minus expectations." I think both are brilliant, and true: 

Click here to read: "Why Generation Y is Unhappy"

I (and my classmates) graduated from law school in 1992 (I fall in Gen X) with $85K in school loans when law firms were laying off 3rd and 4th year attorneys because of a lousy legal economy. (Lots of my classmates had more loans than I did, since I had an undergrad scholarship covering all of my tuition.) 

At the time, because I would have a significant amount of debt when I finished, I was criticized for choosing private schools over cheaper public education, but it was the right choice at the time for me ... knowing that, however, I do believe it was a fair criticism both then and now with respect to a graduate's debt load since there were cheaper options available that I could have helped me "launch" with much less debt. 

(As an aside, today's grads have many more options for lengthening repayment and wonderful loan forgiveness programs for public service -- I do believe these programs should be expanded and better publicized, and would like to see current student loan interest rates lowered to current market rates). 

To the point of the article, though, it seems that most of my parents' generation, and to some extent my generation, understood that a tiny apartment with hand-me-down furnishings, a used car (or a bus pass), and Mac and Cheese were just part of starting out. Today, I'm not sure those expectations exist. Then again, I might just be an "old fart" already and not even realize it ... and I must remember that conversations of one generation judging the next (one or two) are as old as time ... Lol. : )

PS ... I do not think this is exclusive to Gen Y ... unrealistic expectations affect every age group. Also, check out the commentary to the article.  (Also, it's interesting to read how valued technology knowledge is by some of the younger commenters ... I think it naively discounts so many more skills that come with age and experience.)  What do you think? : )

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Patience Really is a Virtue ...

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was first introduced in 1878.  It took 42 years to become law in the United States (today is its 95th anniversary).  

The text says:  "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.  Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

Apparently, it was controversial that women be allowed the right to vote.  42 years.  Seriously?

Sometimes, things that are most obviously wrong take a really long time to change.  Thankfully, people didn't give up the fight.  Patience really is a virtue.  : )

Friday, August 21, 2015

Trying (Again) to Come Back ... Old Habits are Hard to Break ...

Well, it looks like I tried again last year to get back to blogging during the month of Elul ... and so it has been just shy of a year since I added anything to my little corner of the internet.  This is very Jewish, to try again, especially as we prepare ourselves for the High Holy Days.  Let's see if I can do better this year. I'm jumping back in to see what happens.  :) I'm on a Shabbat high tonight.ticonIt was wonderful to see so many people celebrating Shabbat with Temple Israel, West Palm Beach this week (I'm guessing that serving ice cream following services didn't hurt ... lol). I'm attaching some of the photos I showed during services from our time this morning at the WPB Food Pantry, as well as a couple of photos taken at Roosevelt Elementary School, where I was able to drop off our school supply donations this afternoon. grin emoticonsmile emoticongrin emoticonsmile emoticonsmile emo

If you have a second, please take a close look at the Food Pantry pictures and you will notice that there are fresh herbs and some fresh fruit from our members' gardens/yards. I want to thank some special people for acting on my sermon from 3 weeks ago where I talked about "food deserts" and reducing waste from our backyard trees and patio plants by donating them to people in need. The organic basil came from my little living room garden (I've been working hard trying to turn my perpetual "Black Thumb" into a "Grey Thumb," and it's finally working) ... Carol Garrett, Jim Garrett, Valerie Eaton, and Charles Eaton also shared from their backyards as well. 

So, if you have backyard edibles that would otherwise go to waste, please consider dropping them off at Temple Israel on Thursday, 9/17, and we will take them with us to our next visit to the WPB Food Pantry on Friday, 9/18 (we stock the Pantry and volunteer there the 3rd Friday of every month). Also, if you ever want to volunteer with us, please contact the fabulous Ellen Flaum, who coordinates TIWPB's efforts with the Pantry. 

Finally, the other photos also make me proud. We intentionally donate the school supplies we collect to a school right here in our neighborhood, where so many families struggle so much ... 97% of the kids at Roosevelt are on free or reduced lunch. 

Some of the kids don't have proper clothes for school and do receive donations from a local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women (a wonderful organization you should check out if you don't know them already), but we are proud to be one of Roosevelt's partners for school supplies. 

Imagine being "that little kid" who doesn't have a backpack, like all the other kids. Or, imagine being "that little kid" who doesn't have notebooks or pencils or markers or folders or crayons. I can't imagine the pain "that little kid" must feel, and am so proud to be able to facilitate the mitzvah of so many generous Temple Israel families.
Thank you for allowing me to be your representative in this important work of taking care of those, in our neighborhood, who need our help. It was a spectacular Shabbat. To all the members of Temple Israel, thank you for allowing me to be your Rabbi. 

Shabbat shalom. 

PS ... It was great to introduce our new Religious School Director, Iris Koller, to our community tonight ... she is going to be a great asset to Temple Israel, so make sure to introduce yourself the next time you see her!