שירת שלום

Song of Peace

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  • 28 Mar 2016 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    The Five Aspects of Passover

    I recently read an interesting article written by Rabbi Benjamin Blech, one of today's truly outstanding modern Jewish thinkers, a professor for Talmud studies at Yeshiva  University. Rabbi Blech names five major aspects to the survivability of the Jewish people which were created during the saga of the Exodus from Egypt.

    Memory   The first aspect is Memory. History  prevents  us from living in a cosmic vacuum. Knowing who we are and from whence we came enables us to recognize ourselves as a nation and separate religious group. As ancient Hebrews this gave us a sense of our destiny with a mission to improve the world. (hence the concept of repairing  the world). This is why remembering the Exodus  from Egypt is a commandment mentioned numerous times in  the bible. This remembrance has allowed us to fashion ourselves as a nation of freedom lovers and to introduce this concept to an oppressive world.  

    Optimism     The second aspect is Optimism. This  powerful psychological state of mind brings with it the  innate belief that all oppressive power in the world, all tyranny, all powerful evil empires will be defeated and toppled especially at the times when tyranny is in complete control. As Hebrew slaves with no hope for deliverance from our suffering, Moses actually had quite a difficult time bringing us to this state of mind to allow us to see the coming redemption.     

    Faith  The third  aspect is Faith. When the Jewish nation was born out of the event of Exodus the concept of G-D's direct role in human life  was created with it. Both in the bible as well as in later writings (such as the writings of the Rambam, one of the greatest Jewish philosophers)  a common description of G-D is not an adjective but, in fact, a verb. "I am your G-D who took you out of Egypt", meaning there is direct divine intervention in our lives. G-D is not aloof but rather compassionate and open for our prayers and wishes.

    Although G-D is all powerful, our relationship with him is direct and personal. He is the king but he is also our father (remember "Avinu Malkenu" Our Father our King from our High Holy Days liturgy) He acts when things need to get done for the benefit of humans, even if sometimes we don't see it that way. Like all other events in human life, the story of  the Hebrews in Egypt is part of the divine plan with reasons not always clear to us.      

     Family Unit   The fourth aspect of the Passover story according to Rabbi Blech is the Family Unit. In order to strengthen  and insure the perpetual existence of the Jewish people as a separate  and distinguished entity the family unit becomes vital. As we see in our own modern life  the family unit ensures  the functionality  of our society.

    In fact most of  the seder's rituals are acts to stimulate questions from our children as well  a time for a history lesson of who we are and what we are celebrating. This strong family direction enables us to overcome outside negative influences while instilling in our children an inner guide for decency, the love of freedom and Judaism.

    Responsibility for Each Other   Rabbi Blech mentions the Responsibility for Each Other as the last important aspect of the Exodus story. Our forefathers' long and intense suffering under the yoke of the Egyptians  was not without purpose. It created in our "Jewish DNA" the ingrained sense of responsibility  not only to repair G-D's world in general but for the betterment of our fellow human beings in particular. It is who we Jewish people are and what we do.

    Remembering our ancestors' centuries of suffering , slavery  and the denial of human rights obligates us to do our best to help others out of their own personal bondage, whatever that might be.  Our ancestors' bondage qualifies and obligates us to be the leaders of the struggle against all which is wrong, to be the world's repairing crew. 

    May We All Remember   In a few weeks, when we gather around  the Passover seder table may we all remember how profound and fundamental the recitation of the story of Exodus is to our existence as Jewish people, as a nation, as human beings.        

    B'Shalom

    Rabbi David


  • 17 Mar 2016 2:40 PM | Anonymous

    A Doggy Purim Megillah

    This is  the story of Purim according to the secret, untold, uncensored  and unrealistic book of  Raf Raf Purim.

    The Raf Raf megillah was accidentally discovered by Ganef  the Dog  who was routinely hiding his stolen shoes in the yard  only to discover this sacred book in one of his digs.


    And we all dig that!

    The  book was authenticated  by  Dr. Beauty the Dog who is  the curator of the Canine Institute of Biblical and Bone Treat Studies.


    So it's like this:  In a faraway place called Purr..sia lived a king by the name of Achashve-Dog. He has just married a new Jewish princess from Boca  who is known as Queen Esta-Dog.


    Things would have been  just nice and dandy except that there was also a very poor and sick dog called  Hey-Man. But since he was a dog - we call him Hey-Dog.


    Since Hey-Dog wanted to be  the head honcho, the big cheese, the big shot, he used to cruise the city on his fancy shmancy motorcycle like all leaders of the packs do.

    He demanded that all the dogs pay tribute  to him  by giving them their bones. No more Jewish bone sharing and bone donations to needy dogs, no more believing  in the one holy DOG spelled backwards.

    Mordechai the dog  who is known as  Morti-Dog and who is also known for creating  the morti-gra in Rio Brazil and in Boca Raton, Florida refused  to give Hey-Dog his Jewish bones and  declared that all Jewish dogs who, of course, all go to heaven, should never give up their holy scriptures  and their bones.

    Well, let me tell you. Hey-Man aka Hey-Dog was furious!

    He went to Achashve-Dog and demanded to eliminate all these Jewish undocumented or should we say illegal immigrants.

    Since it was an election year Achashve-Dog did not want to cause  barking fits in his kingdom. He removed his royal collar and gave it to Hey-Dog to sign his terrible  decree to eliminate all the Jewish doggies and to confiscate all their treats. 

    This is when Esta-Dog, queen of the dogs of Purrr...sia swings into action. She invites her husband Achashve-Dog the King along with Hey-Man the Hey-Dog who was the leader-of-the-pack-want-to-be  with his fancy Harley bike to a special feast at the Boca  Raton garbage collection center.

    All three of them really enjoyed the best garbage that the state of Florida can offer, along with the smell.

    Florida, as we all know is a small province of the Kingdom of Purr...sia better known today as the dog house of the world.

    Suddenly Esta-Dog the Queen reveals to her husband exactly what Hey-Man  the Hey-Dog is planning  for the Jews.

    Since Esta-Dog is Jewish, Achashve-Dog is getting really super upset with Hey-Man, the Hey-Dog. He gets into a barking fit, running around like crazy knocking down trash cans with all of the goodies inside.

    Finally, he decrees that Hey-Dog should be banished from his kingdom. He is to return all the bones and all the treats he had taken from everyone around him.


    Hey-Man the Hey-Dog is leaving on the midnight train to Georgia and from there he is leaving on a jetplane and he does not know when he will be back again.   

    Needless to say, Achashve-dog and all the Jews of Persia  were very happy and marched in a Barknival Carnival through the streets of Purrr...sia. 

    And that's the way it was.

    Hey-Man!... I mean Amen!


    Dogs, bring your humans to Doggy Purim when we retell the story of Esta-Dog who saved the Jews! March 11th, 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

    Doggy Purim Details

  • 28 Feb 2016 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    One of our most spiritual commandments written in the Torah is the obligation to wear a special garment  called a tallit. When our children become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah they are presented with a tallit, a prayer shawl which they wear for the first time during the service. What is it about seeing our children wearing a tallit that touches us all?    

    In the original commandment the Torah commands us to wear fringes around the four corners of our clothing,  two in front  and two in back. These fringes are part of an undergarment which today is called the  "Tallit Katan"  or small Tallit which is worn under the shirt. It is basically a small poncho, rectangular in shape which has four holes on its four corners. Four strings are inserted through each hole on each corner.  They are then folded to create a cluster of eight strings which are tied together by looping one string around the other seven, in a prescribed way to remind us of the 613 biblical commandments. These strings are called "Tzitzit." Those who wear the tallit katan usually have the tzizit visible hanging on their clothing.

    The Tallit we use in the Synagogue is the "Tallit Gadol" or the large Tallit which is the prayer shawl used during prayer time. It too has a rectangular shape with eight stings tied together in each of its four corners. Here too the strings are tied in a way which remind us of the number 613. The Tallit Gadol is worn only during prayer times. It  could be made from  any type of kosher material as long as it is not a blend of different materials.

    The Tallit Katan which is worn everyday is meant to be a constant reminder of our unique  obligation to make this world a better place for all mankind  by observing the biblical commandments and precepts. This obligation  is called Tikun Olam, literally repairing the world for the benefit of all.

    The Tallit Gadol which we put on in the beginning of services has a slightly different purpose. It also involves a particular ritual. Before wrapping oneself it is customary to check  the fringes in order to make sure none are missing or torn. While doing that the Light of G-d, the Shechina,  is invited to descend upon us. Then the Tallit is wrapped around the head and a specific blessing is recited.  It is then "lowered" to wrap the shoulders.

    This act of covering the head and the shoulders with the Tallit and its fringes representing the 613 commandments is meant to help our body and soul concentrate solely on the prayers we about to offer. It is a powerful spiritual ritual of devotion and meditation which connects us to our ancestors of many centuries ago.

    Although wearing the tallit has traditionally been reserved for males, females also may now  choose to wear a tallit during services. Often the tallit for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah child is a gift from grandparents, parents or another close relative. It then becomes a treasured gift that forever links the child to the love of family and the Jewish People.  

    B'Shalom, 

    Rabbi David

    Hebrew School Children Learn to Tie Tzizit



  • 31 Jan 2016 8:30 AM | Anonymous

    This year in the secular calendar of 2016 we have a leap year and add an additional day to the month of February. It also turns out that we  have a leap year in the Jewish calendar as well! But instead of adding a day we add an entire month! That means this year there will be 13 Hebrew months rather than 12. This  occurs every few years according to a specific calculation and it is always added to the sixth month of the Jewish year, the month of Adar, creating Adar Alef  (Adar I) and Adar Bet (Adar II.)

    So why add a whole month? The Hebrew calendar is  based on the lunar cycle which means the Jewish year lags behind the solar year by 11 days each year. If this isn't adjusted our Jewish holidays would end up being celebrated in unusual times of the year. Just imagine if Passover which celebrates the spring harvest/freedom would be celebrated in winter rather than spring and then eventually in the summer!

    Or if the holiday of Sukkot which celebrates the fall harvest/remembrance of wandering in the desert drifts back to the summer and then spring. Tu B'shvat which celebrates nature's renewal/thanksgiving at the end of the winter would be moved back to early winter and then to fall. Shavuot which celebrates  the summer's harvest/receiving the Torah is moved from early summer to spring and then winter. You get the idea...  

    Since this  year in the secular calendar of 2016 we have a leap year and add an additional day to the month of February. It also turns out that we  have a leap year in the Jewish calendar as well! But instead of adding a day we add an entire month! That means this year there will be 13 Hebrew months rather than 12. This  occurs every few years according to a specific calculation and it is always added to the sixth month of the Jewish year, the month of Adar, creating Adar Alef  (Adar I) and Adar Bet (Adar II.)

    So why add a whole month? The Hebrew calendar is  based on the lunar cycle which means the Jewish year lags behind the solar year by 11 days each year. If this isn't adjusted our Jewish holidays would end up being celebrated in unusual times of the year. Just imagine if Passover which celebrates the spring harvest/freedom would be celebrated in winter rather than spring and then eventually in the summer!

    Or if the holiday of Sukkot which celebrates the fall harvest/remembrance of wandering in the desert drifts back to the summer and then spring. Tu B'shvat which celebrates nature's renewal/thanksgiving at the end of the winter would be moved back to early winter and then to fall. Shavuot which celebrates  the summer's harvest/receiving the Torah is moved from early summer to spring and then winter. You get the idea...

     Since the agricultural aspect of these holidays  is just as important  as the religious ones, they all need to be celebrated at a specific times of the year. Adding a second month of Adar  keeps our holidays in the right time of year!

    Adar is the month when we celebrate Purim so which month of Adar do we celebrate it, Adar I or II? It is actually celebrated in Adar II during a leap year . Adar is traditionally a time to focus on being joyful. There is even a traditional saying for the month, "Be Happy it is Adar!"

    During a leap year we focus on being joyful double the time! Adar begins on sundown Feb. 9th this year.  So be Happy, It is Adar!! So be Happy, It is Adar!!

    May we all be blessed with double Joy!  

     Rabbi David


  • 24 Jan 2016 2:26 PM | Anonymous

    Yes, it's true! The sixth and seventh graders ate real carob pods and made carob fudge in Hebrew School to celebrate Tu B'Shvat, Birthday of the Trees!

    There are many stories in our tradition about carob trees including Choni and the Carob Tree that is associated with Tu B'Shvat. 

    Here is one version of the story: Choni, a pious person, sees an old man planting a carob tree and questions how long it will take for the carob tree to bear fruit. When the man answers 70 years, Choni questions why he is doing this as the man certainly won't live another 70 years. The old man replies, "when I was born in this world, I found many carob trees planted by my father and grandfather. Just as they planted trees for me, I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat the fruit of these trees. Choni falls asleep for 70 years and when he wakes up he sees the grandson of the man also planting a carob tree.

    Yes, a beautiful lesson for our children and for us! And along with telling this story a beautiful custom has developed to eat carob on Tu B'Shvat!  But will the children actually try the the real carob pods Rabbi David bought for them? Watch and see in this student made and produced video!


    Happy Tu B'Shvat!! And Happy Birthday to the Trees! 

    Cantor Lee


  • 19 Jan 2016 1:36 PM | Anonymous

    Tu B'Shvat  

    On the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat we celebrate  Tu B'Shvat, a holiday that honors trees and nature. Since Rabbi David and I love to garden, planting something special in our backyard in honor Tu B'Shavat is not only a gift for Mother Earth but a gift for us as well! And as I wrote last year  anything we do in nature helps to balance us! 

    And to help balance us, we are asked to eat fruits, especially those grown in Israel! Yes, another holiday for eating!! Each fruit also has its own special gift to give us. Participating in a Tu B'Shvat seder as the Kabbalists used to do helps us to further delve into these gifts which connect us to different spiritual realms. But even if we don't have the opportunity to participate in a seder we can still delight in the different fruits!  Yum! 

    Delighting in our meals is a theme throughout Judaism. In fact our table at a meal becomes a mini altar. We are first asked to say a blessing and then eat with awareness that we are partnering with G-d as we eat. Through our senses of sight, smell, taste we are actually giving G-d the experience of eating! With this en-joyment of our food we are bringing ourselves to a higher state. And we then affect the whole! Pretty awesome how it is all set up!  

    Here are the different levels of fruit we eat at a Tu B'Shvat seder:                             

    Level I - fruits and nuts with a tough outer shell and soft inside reminding us that G-d protects our bodies(outside) and souls(inside.) This is the Kabbalistic world of Assyiah - Doing, Actions, our physical world. Earth is the symbol. We drink white wine for winter when nature is asleep.

    Level II - fruits with soft outer shells and hard insides (pits) reminding us that if we have strong inner energy, we don't need to be hard on the outside. This is the world of Ytzirah - Formation, energy and feelings. Water is the symbol. We drink  white wine with a few drops of red for the beginning of spring when the sun begins to warm the earth.

    Level III - fruits that are soft throughout so whole fruit can be eaten. There is no difference between our inner feelings and outer selves. This is the world of  Briyah - Creation, ideas, hopes, natural laws and patterns of the universe. Wind is the symbol. We drink white wine with more red mixed in for the summer harvest and the richness of life.

    Level IV - we do not eat any fruits as we are so close to G-d in this level who is timeless and infinite. This is the world of Atzilute - Nobility, oneness, harmony. The  symbol is fire. We drink red wine for the end of summer and beginning of the fall season, to once again prepare for a new cycle.  We light a candle to remember each one is responsible for bringing our Light into the world.


    One more thing! Planting a tree in Israel is a beautiful mitzvah for this holiday! Hope you will do that too!  Plant a Tree in Israel! 

    Happy Tu B'Shvat!

    Cantor Lee   

    Here are some of the second level  fruits we eat at a Tu B'Shvat seder


  • 01 Jan 2016 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    As the secular new year begins, perhaps the topic most discussed is of course our resolutions!   We resolve to better ourselves in a variety of ways.

    Me too.  Except I heard on the radio this morning  that  more than 80% of resolutions never materialize at all! So this year I am going make a slight change to my resolutions.

    I resolve to turn each resolution  into a "Kavanah!" With this Jewish secret weapon behind me, my resolutions will be fortified enabling me to stick to them! 

    So what is this magic Hebrew word, Kavanah? It is actually a powerful Jewish practice which means to establish an extremely strong intention.

    There are numerous expressions of this concept of Kavanah  in Judaism. "Hineni" (Here I am) is one of them. When G-D called upon many in the bible such as Abraham,  Isaac, and some of the prophets their response was "Hineni," It translates as "Here I AM."  "Hineni" means I am ready physically and spiritually to perform this task asked by G-d with all my soul and might.

     This laser sharp intention which stops at nothing,  "Hineni"  is said before the performance of many of our prayers and mitzvot.  It actually raises our spiritual vibration into a higher plateau so that our prayers and mitzvot will truly be effective.

    Another concept stemming from "Kavanah," sacred intention,  is   "Leshem Shamayim" (For the Sake of Heaven.) Everything  we do,  every  thought we have, every word we utter should be for perpetuating the holiness of  G-D.  Being in this mindful state keeps us in a state of gratitude and from taking things for granted  throughout the day. Our thoughts and intentions remain strong and  sharp and our tasks are performed effectively.

    So G-d, as we begin 2016,  "Hineni," Here I am. For "Leshem Shamayim" the Sake of Heaven, I resolve to better myself, to perform Your mitzvot, to do good not only for others but for myself as well. And that includes making wise choices to stay healthy. 

    And while we are at it, G-d, may my actions radiate out into the world and help others to be happy and healthy! . After all, happy and healthy people make for a better world! And what can be a greater Mitzvah than that!  

    May we all be blessed with Health, Happiness, Prosperity and Peace in 2016!

    Rabbi David


  • 21 Dec 2015 8:00 PM | Anonymous

    Shirat Shalom, the name of our congregation translates as "Song of Peace." The  following song is based on the visions of Peace of our children. Won't you help them by sharing their message? And don't forget to add your vision of Peace as well!

    SONG OF PEACE

    CHORUS: We're the kids from Shirat Shalom

    And we're here to sing our song

    'Cause we see the way our world can be

    and it begins with you and me

    it begins with you and me


    VERSE: I see a world of Love and Light,

    I see a world where people don't fight,

    I see a world where animals are safe,

    Where everyone has a smile on their face!!

    CHORUS:

    VERSE: The air and the water is clean and pure,

    Every disease now has a cure,

    All the soldiers put down their guns,

    Home and food for everyone!

    CHORUS:

    VERSE: Do you have a dream that 's deep inside?

    Come now and sing it, don't let it hide!

    Every thought we have adds to the whole

    And that's how we bring to earth Love and Peace for all!

    CHORUS:

    We're the kids from Shirat Shalom

    with the grownups singing along

    'Cause we see the way our world can be

    With Love and Joy and Harmony

    A world of Peace for you and me

    It's a world that we can see

    It's a world that now can be!

    (Spoken)
    Child l: But wait a minute, we can't do a song without the dogs! Child 2: Right, what  do they have to say? Child 3: After all, what is dog spelled backwards?

    VERSE BY DOGS: We see a world where you're just like us

    If you make a mistake don't make a fuss

    No matter what you do, you're always loved

    And that 's how we bring to earth heaven from above!


    CHORUS:  'Cause we're the doggies from Shirat Shalom

    with the kids and grownups singing along!

    We see the way our world can be

    With Love and Joy and Harmony!

    A world of Peace for you and Me!

    It's a world that we can see,

    It's a world that now can be!


    Written by Cantor Lee Degani  based on visions of Peace of our children! 

    It is through our children that "Shirat Shalom," A Song of Peace, is being sung around the world!


  • 16 Nov 2015 4:30 PM | Anonymous

    Peace is a magical word.  I often wonder how an imaginary visitor from Mars or beyond who lands on Earth for a visit would react when he sees the way we  humans  interact  with each other. A few days after landing he would most likely  report to the mother ship that earthlings are the most strangely behaved creatures in the universe and that no universal logic applies here. 

    The Alien visitor, we'll call him "Alien Bob", (aka "ET Bob") will probably report  that  earthling are certainly on the right scientific trajectory. Their achievements are basically  in line  with their human evolution give or take a few hundred years.  He would probably assess that  "Humans as they call themselves  may one day solve much of their many  challenges." The report, however,  would  probably  include  a survivability  disclaimer: "that is if earthlings even make it to the next earth century"        

    ET Bob  would no doubt be perplexed with our existence paradox. Something that his solid  alien logic cannot settle.

      His report to the mother ship will include that: "Billions of valuables which  they call dollars are spent to improve and advance earth dwellers' lives. This includes those who walk on two legs, the ones that walk on four legs or those who move inside a liquid they call water. At the same time, hundreds of billions of these dollars are spent to destroy what  they themselves  are trying so desperately to preserve."

     The rest of Alien Bob's report  would not be too flattering to us either. "Earthlings live in groups called nations. In many parts of their small planet  they are not able to live next to each other without evoking  hostile behavior which humans call  war."

     ET Bob's analysis would be that perhaps this bizarre  behavior  has to do with certain abnormalities or an evolutionary  blunder. "Something in their brain chemistry compels them to erupt every so often for the purpose of hurting or even annihilating each other. The tools they use for this purpose are now capable of destroying their entire planet many times over."

    I was surprised to receive an invitation from Alien Bob to discuss his findings with me over breakfast. I accepted. We met at Einstein's Bagels a few Sundays ago. He seemed to be a nice alien, well spoken and polite.

    He opened the conversation: "I have been watching humans for quite some time.  I even abducted a few of them for closer examination but  the mystery remains. While your level of brain and emotional complexity is reasonable for this galaxy,  your inner need to destroy each other is perplexing. That's why I asked you to meet me , Rabbi David. My mother space ship asked for additional data clarifying this point. You, being a Rabbi and all, most likely will have all the answers."

    Little did he know....   

    "You see Alien Bob,"  I said, "Earth Dwellers' major problem is lack of parallel moral evolution. Human evolution of decency and  morality varies in different parts of our small world.  We have certain inner forces that seem to dictate our attitude towards each other, despite our growing scientific understanding of our world and ourselves. We call these  controlling forces nationalism and religion. These human controlling forces vary in intensity and goals in different parts of the world. These forces can be can be stirred up relatively easily and with great intensity. Like igniting a fire, some humans in fact stoke these differences in order to evoke strong emotional behavior. This, ET Bob, is what you have observed as hostility and hatred."   

    "But why such a strange behavior from fairly sophisticated Earth dwellers"? Alien Bob insisted.

    I thought for a while  and then said: "There is really nothing wrong with the forces of nationalism  and  religion as long as they are not getting out of hand and become exclusive, because then they become extremely destructive. This usually happens  when a nation or a religious group falls victim to brain altering, known  here on earth as brainwashing by their leaders. 

    "I don't understand any of this" Alien Bob answered.     

    I continued: "Many of us around our world understand that we will have to find a way to live together or risk destroying  our earth.  We call this realization, "Peace". Unfortunately, many others have not arrived at this evolutionary stage yet. With more and more of us coming to this realization we are waiting for the rest of them to catch up with us."

    While Alien Bob nodded his strange looking blue head, I knew that indeed, there was no way he  understood any of it. I smiled:  "Don't worry if you don't understand what I said, none of us, on the side of peace really understands any of it either. We too are trying to figure out this strange behavior."

    Alien Bob was in a rush to get back to space to continue his journey of exploration. "You know", I said before we he left, "maybe next time  you are in our neighborhood in a few hundred years things will be different and our strange behavior  will be corrected.".

    "Maybe", he said.  "For your Earth's sake I hope you are right"

    After Alien  Bob left I could not help but feel that he was not just a space traveler  but perhaps a celestial  angel who came to plant hope for peace in our hearts. 

    I hope he will come  back very soon. 

    Rabbi David


  • 19 Oct 2015 1:28 PM | Anonymous
    From Cantor Lee

    Today one of our seventh graders became a Bar Mitzvah, a Son of the Commandments. In his speech this boy explained that he had been asked a very important  question by his parents a few years ago when he was ten. He didn't have to make a decision then but with no hesitation he did. Yes, he wanted to follow the faith of his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather.

    The boy grew up with many stories about his great-grandfather, of how as a teenager he saved his six siblings and parents during the Holocaust. Each night he would take one of his family members on his bicycle and ride miles and miles through much danger to bring them to safety. He managed to get to America and there like so many others worked and saved money in order to bring over his family, again, one by one.

    The great-grandfather and grandfather and rest of the family were overjoyed that the boy had made this decision! As it got closer to his Bar Mitzvah year, there was much excitement and planning that the great-grandfather would come from New York for the ceremony. But he passed away just a few months ago.

    The boy knew that his great-grandfather put on Tefillin each day and wanted to make sure he knew how to do this as well. He came to Hebrew School with his own pair and asked Rabbi David to teach him. He understood that Tefillin is not worn on Shabbat but since today was a weekday he would wear the Tefillin throughout the service. Rabbi David was especially proud that the boy knew exactly what to do as  he expertly put on the Tefillin, recited the blessings and unwrapped it at the end of the service.  Information about Tefillin

    The boy did a beautiful job chanting from the Torah although it was actually the first time he even actually read from the Torah! Yes he knew how to chant it from the paper but the handwritten letters without vowels in the Torah looks quite different. Although planned, he didn't have a chance to attend his rehearsals.  But that didn't phase him.  

    It didn't even phase the boy that he didn't even know what to expect. None of that mattered. He would not only be honoring his greatgrandfather but today he would be giving a gift to his grandfather. You see, this  grandfather who had been battling cancer, was determined to stay alive in order to see his grandson become a Bar Mitzvah. But in the last week it was clear that this was not to be.

    So with the family,  Rabbi David and I planned a last minute service to be held in the hospice facility. After the grandfather was brought into the chapel, the family members and dear friends gathered around  his bed. The boy stood right by his grandfather's side and led the prayers. When it came time for the reading of the Torah, the table was brought right in front of the bed.

    As did everyone else, I cried many tears during the service. And more came when the boy told his grandfather,  "Papa, it is not whether you lose or win the fight against cancer. What counts is the fight you give and you have fought courageously. You are My Hero!"

    Afterwards I said to the boy, "I know Justin,  that your Bar Mitzvah service is still a few weeks away, but today is the day that you truly became a Bar Mitzvah." We hugged for a long time and I continued to cry.

    After the grandfather was wheeled back to his room, Justin's father came over to Rabbi David and me to thank us. "My father said this was the happiest day of his life. What more could I ask for?"

    What more could Rabbi David and I ask for....We are truly blessed.

    Here is Justin learning to put on Tefillin at Hebrew School. He is now ready for the last step - wrapping his finger with three loops.


 Phone: 561.488.8079    P.O. Box 971142, Boca Raton, FL, 33497-1142

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