I can’t believe that this is my last Simcha Tree article! Of all the many tasks the presidency required of me, coming up with something fresh and interesting every month has possibly been the most demanding. I remember chafing at a college requirement that I take one writing class. As an undergraduate engineering student, I could not imagine when I would ever be called upon to write on a regular basis. Little did I know!

I am still no Hemingway, but I do believe that my writing has improved at least a little over the past five years. Looking back, I realized that this position has helped me grow in other ways as well. I have developed greater confidence in my public speaking and eventually moved from trying to remember all the correct information to trying to entertain you a bit as well. I was not a stellar Hebrew school student as a kid, but my teachers would be proud of my increased familiarity with services and my upgraded synagogue skills.

The most fundamental aspect of the president...

As we approach Passover this year, I can’t stop thinking about the 10 plagues. Our students of course learn about the 10 plagues that G-d put upon the Egyptians when Pharaoh refused time and time again to let our people go. Today in the United States we struggle with plagues. I struggle as I think about what our generation has left our youth to solve. We have recently witnessed the strength and determination of high school students from Parkland, Florida and around the country to make a statement and fight for gun laws to save lives. Perhaps at your Passover Seder reflect on our modern day plagues and what we as a society need to “let go of” to redeem ourselves and our communities.

We had a very special school wide Friday night service in March, followed by a delicious potluck dinner. Our students prepared some different Shabbat melodies, as well as, a fun “get ready for” Passover play! We enjoyed drum playing and guitar from Rabbi Myers, dinner, followed by our TLC actors! It certainly...

On August 28, 2017, interfaith religious leaders from across our region gathered at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh to stand together for our common values of compassion and inclusion, rejecting hatred in all its forms.  I was privileged to attend this important event as your Rabbi, to engage in dialogue with other religious leaders, and to add my name to the following declaration:

A Declaration of Religious Leaders of Southwest Pennsylvania

 Standing in the midst of Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, we seek to be good neighbors, to love our neighbors, and to work for justice alongside our neighbors. Gathering today on the anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, we too sense the “fierce urgency of now.” As our nation’s divisions become ever more visible, we reaffirm our calling to the tasks of religious leadership: 

As religious leaders, we are called to interpret the scriptures.

In the Torah, we hear the commands

“love your neighbor...

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