Tag Archive | "Craig Ezring"

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CLERGY CORNER: A Sukkah of peace a year of joy

Posted on 16 October 2014 by LeslieM

By Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

I don’t know about you, but I love to people watch. In between the holidays, I had to take a trip to Whole Foods. Whole foods is all about things that are healthy for you and I love shopping there, but, I know people who will not keep kosher because they say it’s too expensive, and yet, I see them shopping at Whole Foods regularly, and in case you don’t know it, the foods there are not exactly cheap.

While there, three different people, not employees, just fellow shoppers, approached me to tell me why I shouldn’t buy this or that product that I had in my cart. One of the three was massively obese, another was so thin that I expect she was anorexic and the third ran through a litany of medical conditions that they suffer from. Yet, there they all were, telling me what I should and should not be eating in order to stay healthy.

I’ve been dealing with a bad back, but, even bent over, I looked more robust than all three of them combined.

It is so easy for us to look at someone else and decide what’s good for them. We are so sure of ourselves when deciding what’s right for someone else.

We are in the midst of the Festival of Sukkot where we build a Sukkah. Our sages teach us that Chupah rhymes with Sukkah. A Chupah is a wedding canopy. On Friday evenings, we chant prayer that tells us to greet the Sabbath bride. With this being Sukkot, I want to teach you something about this particular prayer.

You see, I run into a lot of people contemplating marriage. As I meet with them, especially during individual counsel, one partner may go over a series of reasons why they are concerned that the person they are thinking of getting married to may not be good enough for them. They are concerned that they might just be settling.

I worry about such fears. But imagine this — imagine if, instead of focusing on whether the person you’re with is good enough for you, what if you spend some time reversing the question. Maybe what you should be concerned about is … are you good enough for them?

After all, if you really love them, you don’t want them to just settle? You wouldn’t want that for yourself; so why on earth would you want that for them? There is an old saying among our people; when love is strong, a couple can sleep on the edge of the sword, but when love is soured even a bit of 60 miles does not give enough room.

I am a big fan of small Sukkot. If the family can eat together in peace, in a small flimsy hut in the backyard, if the family can invite guests to join them and break bread together in peace in that very same hut, there must be an awful lot of love there.

Each one there has to take the time to make sure that they are not infringing on another person’s space. Each person there must be careful with the words they speak. Each person there must think of what they can do to add to everyone else’s joy.

And that is my wish for each and every one of you dear readers; in the midst of Sukkot, may we all be blessed to live together in peace with ourselves, with our family and with each other; and, with that, we will indeed be filled with much joy in the year ahead.

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach, which is inviting Community Leaders and Residents to join on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. to help them “Think Out of The Box” as they plan for the next 5 years of programs and projects that will enable them to continue to be part of the very heart and soul of our beloved Deerfield Beach. All Are Welcome! They need your creativity, wisdom and originality. They need the gift of your presence.

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CLERGY CORNER: First impressions, second chances

Posted on 02 October 2014 by LeslieM

Just as we were approaching the Jewish New Year, a report came out that showed the two biggest reasons that those looking for employment have their resumes thrown out. One of the reasons had to do with grammatical mistakes. And the other had to do with typos.

Now, if I were the head of human resources, I could make a good argument for immediately throwing out such things. I could say to myself, this person doesn’t even take the time nor have the education to get their grammar “down to a T.” And I could think to myself, hey, if they won’t even take the time to proof their own resume and to correct any spelling errors, typos or grammatical errors, I sure don’t want them working for this company.

But, as I thought about this, I looked back on some of my own writing and I have to tell you something, I don’t think there is anything I have ever written, anything I have ever sent in for publication, that I wouldn’t tweak, that I wouldn’t change at least a little bit, if only I had a second chance.

Even when my articles and sermons get to the publishers, the editors, those whose job it is to make sure that the spelling, the grammar and the content are without blemish, well, they miss things too. They are human. And I have to tell you, using the voice dictation on my computer, maybe my computer is human too (LOL) because some of the mistakes it makes our hysterical. (And for those of you who are paying attention, yes, the computer just goofed again, as, instead of typing “are” before hysterical, it typed “our”.) Then again, maybe my computer needs to have its hearing tested. Does anyone out there have a practice that prescribes hearing aids for Apples?

Over the years, I have met many human resource directors, wonderful people who have the privilege and responsibility of choosing employees for their company. While many are often frightened to meet them, I have found the vast majority of them to be sweet as a button.

Then again, I’m not sure I would feel the same way if I had to sit across the desk from them, hoping and praying that I would get the job I seek.

I applaud those seeking a great resume, but a perfect resume … if there really is such a thing … it just might have been put together, not by a job seeker, but by a resume professional, who is paid to make a person look great on paper.

As we are in the midst of the Days of Awe, let me share a little secret with you, I am not perfect, and neither are you. I’m not even the best I can be yet, I’m still working on it, and I hope you are too.

Too many of us spend far too many hours looking for perfection in others. And so often the first thing we notice is a typo, a small error, a little something that immediately causes us to just throw that person’s paper away, or worse, to throw the person away, to not give them a chance at all.

During this season of repentance, as we pray to G-d to give us another chance, let us do the same for others that we ask of G-d. If you meet someone and the first impression is not a good one, don’t rush to toss them aside, rather do what you want G-d to do for you and what you would want others to do for you … Let’s give each other a second chance!

Shalom, my friend

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach, which is inviting community leaders and residents to join us on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. to help us “Think Out of The Box,” as we plan for the next 5 years of programs and projects that will enable us to continue to be part of the very heart and soul of our beloved Deerfield Beach. All are welcome! We need your creativity, your wisdom and your originality. We need the gift of your presence.

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CLERGY CORNER: “Ought” and “Ought Not”

Posted on 17 September 2014 by LeslieM

Someone who comes to services voiced her upset because during my sermon I said that we are SUPPOSED to live our lives a certain way and I went on to say that we OUGHT to do as many mitzvot as possible.

She told me she couldn’t stand when somebody tells her that she is “supposed to do something.” You see her idea of freedom is the ability to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants, no matter how much it may hurt another.

Rabbi Bradley Artson, wrote about a conference organized by Elie Weisel. Weisel had seen so much hate in his life, and having survived the Holocaust he knew what hate could lead to. The main questions that arose during this conference had to do with why people hate and why people band together to express hatred. But there was another question that arose that I wanted to pose to you today.

Many people have historically criticized Judaism as being a religion of law instead of faith and love.

And yet, when Nobel Lauriet Elie Weisel held a conference on hate, the question was posed — what is the opposite of hate? You might think that the great minds at the conference immediately thought that the opposite of hate is love. But I have a surprise for you. These amazing minds felt that only a belief in an execution of the law can defeat hatred.

Rabbi Artson notes that this confirms the Jewish conviction that law is the indispensable expression of love and decency. And, when people abandon law, it is at the peril of their own character, justice and survival.

The mitzvot that are given in the Torah are a list of laws, a list of the things we are supposed to strive to do. They are a list of oughts. So, today, I am dubbing The Commandments and The Golden Rule as “OUGHTISMS.” If you look up the word “ought” in the dictionary, you will find that it refers to obligations; it refers to things we owe to G-d, to others and to ourselves.

It is also defined not only as a duty or moral obligation, but as a natural expectation. And we certainly have natural expectations of others and of ourselves. For instance, we ought to honor our parents, we ought to avoid stealing, we ought not murder and we ought to find ways to help others.

Someone came up with a very clever idea for helping others. They came up with this idea of raising money through a bucket challenge, not a bucket list; but a bucket challenge, where one would use a bucket full of ice and have it dumped on them to raise money for the Amyotrophic Lateral Schlerosis (ALS) foundation.

This ought to have been a wonderful way of raising money for this cause. And indeed a great deal of money has been raised. Even a young teen with Autism wanted to help. And when classmates approached him, he was delighted to get the chance. But these rotten kids did something that I simply can’t comprehend; instead of using ice, they dumped a bucket full of feces and urine onto that boy. They ought to have known better; they should have behaved differently, but they didn’t. It would seem that the laws of human kindness have no meaning to them.

I have been asking myself all week — if one of them was a child of mine, what on earth would I say? What would I do? How would I feel?

Dear readers, I hope you take some time this week to think about what you would do!

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Shalom of Deerfield Beach just South of Hillsboro Blvd. on Military Trail. You can come and hear his message of the week during regular Shabbat Morning Services (9 – 11:30 a.m.).

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CLERGY CORNER: “Labor Day” or “La-Bore Day?”

Posted on 04 September 2014 by LeslieM

Labor Day just came and went and many of us are right back where we were before, at work!

So, you might be wondering, what does Jewish tradition say about work? Let me give you just a few examples.

For those of you who are struggling, working overtime, working two jobs, for those of you who come home achy and exhausted from heavy labor, and for those of you who are under constant stress in the workplace, this line from the Talmud might be of interest to you. It says, “To earn a living can be as hard as to part the Red Sea.” (Talmud: Pesahim, 118a)

Also in the Talmud (Kiddushin), we read, “Not to teach your son to work is like teaching him to steal.”

And there is an old adage that says, “The hardest work is being idle.” And you will have to pardon the pun here, but I simply can’t resist telling you that if you disagree with this statement, you just might be an “idle worshipper.” (Feel free to groan … LOL).

I read a story many years ago from the works of Psychoanalyst Morris Mandel. As I recall, it tells of a young woman who has a most unusual job. She sits in a store window all day with one of those old potter wheels where one foot sits on a pedal that must keep a good and constant rhythm going up and down while the other foot rests flat on the floor throughout the work day.

A customer watches in fascination for a while and goes over to the woman at the potter’s wheel and says, “Your foot must get awfully tired having to move up and down so rapidly all day long.”

To which the laborer responds, “No, it’s not the foot that works that’s tired …it’s the foot that just sits there; it’s the foot that is idle.”

Indeed for some of us, idleness just might be, as my Christian Colleague would say, “The Devil’s Work.” And whenever I hear that, I can’t help but picture Flip Wilson using his famous comedic excuse, “The Devil made me do it.”

On Labor Day weekend, many of you may have gotten to travel. Many of you might also have to travel on business during the year. When I was growing up, United Airlines had a wonderful advertising slogan that said, “Fly the friendly skies of United.”

But nowadays, instead of being united in the skies, it seems that many just have too much idle time on their hands. And so it was that two passengers recently thought of themselves and of no one else and, in the midst of the idleness sitting on a plane for hours, they both lost their cool.

One was using a device, a knee defender that makes it impossible for the person sitting in front of you to lean their seat back. He refused to remove it when a complaint was made and that is when the other passenger lost it as well and threw a cup of water in the other’s face. Both will argue that they were in the right, but they both had too much time on their hands and they were both wrong. On top of that, their childish behavior led to everyone else being delayed.

Drink not from the bread of idleness,” lest it lead you to sin. Keep busy with your labor and with Mitzvoth and you will not become an “idle worshipper.”

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach. The Temple is located one block South of Hillsboro Blvd. on Military Trail. Come by and see how warm and haimishe this Congregational Family is. Better yet, become a part of our family!

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CLERGY CORNER: Time for a Tune-Up

Posted on 20 August 2014 by LeslieM

For the past several weeks, many of us have been complaining about the weather “conditions” here in sunny South Florida. We’ve complained about the heat; although it’s true some love that heat; and we have complained about the deluge of rain that we have had.

Then there’s the Middle East; everyday people ask about the “conditions” over there. Every day the news is filled with reports as to what conditions this side or that side is requiring just to sit down at the table together.

There are even conditions in regard to marriage. In fact, if you look at a Ketuba, a Jewish marriage contract, you would find the “conditions,” the solemn obligations of marriage, including I will love, I will honor and cherish you; I will protect and support you, and I will faithfully care for your needs as prescribed by Jewish law and tradition. I pledge you all my love and devotion, and I take upon myself the fulfillment of all the duties incumbent upon me as your spouse.

So you see, marriage comes with “conditions.” In fact, pretty much every relationship I can think of comes with “conditions.” I know there is something we refer to as unconditional love, but that love can grow grossly awry if certain “conditions” aren’t met.

Even the Almighty puts “conditions” on us. The covenant we made at Mount Sinai has been likened to a wedding: G-d the groom, we the bride and the Torah as the wedding contract.

Of course, the secret to any relationship is communication and all too often we fail to communicate properly. And, before you know it, that union we have, that closeness, that warmth, suddenly turns cold. And, if it doesn’t turn cold suddenly, it sure as heck turns cold over time.

I often tell people that they should go to a counselor for a tune-up, that they should go to see what state their relationship is in. They should stop in to see what “condition” their “condition” is in. Oddly enough, it’s one of the reasons we pray to G-d; it’s one of the reasons we come to our House of Worship; we stop in to see what “condition” our “condition” is in, our “condition” with G-d.

I was talking to someone the other day. I tried to encourage them to come to join us at Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach. They said they didn’t need to join a temple or a community; they told me their faith was in their heart. Now, please don’t get me wrong. I hope each of you has faith in your heart, but I also hope that you have more of a commitment than that; I hope that you have faith in your head, in your hands, in your feet, in your home, in your business, in your community, and, yes, in your marriage.

A marriage can easily fall apart when one partner constantly says, “I love you,” but their actions never show it because they’re never there for you. The same is true in our contract with G-d. You can’t just say “I love you.” Your relationship requires actions, commitment and communication. Marriage is a continuing process, if you don’t grow with it, if you don’t regularly check in to see what “condition” your “condition” is in, you may be heading for a separation or a divorce.

The same is true with our faith and our relationship with G-d. Go to your House of Worship, communicate with G-d, communicate with your Congregational Family, contribute; and when you pray, take a good hard look inside yourself and see what “condition” your “condition” is in.

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

If you enjoy reading this column or are in need of a “Spiritual Tune-Up,” why not join us for a Shabbat Morning Service at Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach. We’d love to see you there. The Temple is located at 201 S. Military Trail.

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CLERGY CORNER: A Journal of our journey

Posted on 07 August 2014 by LeslieM

Satanyana taught, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Of course, we live in a day and age where people tend to rewrite history not through their own eyes, but through their own lies. It would seem that every news story we hear, no matter how much a station may claim to be unbiased, has its own spin to the story. And those stations that claim to give you the facts and only the facts … that does not mean that they necessarily give you all the facts, just the ones that help show their point of view.

I have been listening to the various sides of the story in regard to what is going on in the Middle East, and not only am I amazed at how different and biased the views are, but I am stunned when I hear different spokespeople give what they consider to be historical accounts of the situation’s origins. These voices want to explain how things went from point A to point B. They want to tell us what led us to this point in our journey. But what do you do when people can’t even agree on past history? What do you do when you have so-called historians who deny the Holocaust or those who deny a Jewish presence for ages in the Holy Land? How can people learn from history if the history they are being taught is a made up journey

The Torah has a list of 42 places that we journeyed along in our road to freedom and those who study such matters still know where the brunt of those places are.

They know what they were called in ancient days and they know what they are called in our modern world. But, in Numbers 33:19, we read, “They set out from Rithmah and encamped at Rimmon-perez.” Do you know what Rithmah and Rimmon-Perez are known by today? Do you know why you can only guess at the answer? Because we no longer know where those two areas are. Over the years of telling the story, we have forgotten some of the details.

Let me give you my midrash on this list of 42. You see, when I go to get information for a funeral eulogy, I have certain questions I ask. The questions might seem very general in nature, but each is designed to stir a memory. For instance, when I ask a widow if they went on a honeymoon, they don’t just answer, “We honeymooned in Miami Beach.” No, just the naming of that place they journeyed to brings back wondrous memories. Like the other day when a widow told me that she and her husband honeymooned in Miami and they both got so burned on the first day that they spent the rest of their honeymoon rubbing calamine lotion on each other. I think that this list of 42 in the Torah is about our honeymoon with G-d. It is about our beginnings as a married couple. It is about our beginnings as a family, and each name of each encampment is there to stir a memory, and it is there for us to add in the details.

This week, let us think not just of our ancestor’s journey; let us think of the places we have been on our journey. Let the memories flow. Share them with your children and your children’s children so those stories will not disappear.

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach. While the kids are going back to School, we invite you to come back to Shul and join our warm and caring congregational family.

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CLERGY CORNER: We will rock you

Posted on 16 July 2014 by LeslieM

Moses descended from Mt. Sinai, but as he sees the children of Israel singing and dancing around a Golden Calf, he lets his temper get to him; and what does he do? He takes those stone tablets and throws them down and breaks them. The tablets are no longer stone; they are just a bunch of rocks.


Later, in the Torah, we read about Moses and rocks again.

The children of Israel cry out for water. Moses turns to G-d and He tells Moses to speak to a rock and water will fl ow. But it seems that Moses still has a problem because, instead of speaking to the rock, he hits it. In the JPS translation of the Torah, rather than saying, “speak to the rock,” it says, “… before their eyes, you shall order the rock …”

No matter which translation you use, it is pretty apparent that Moses was told not to hit the rock, but rather, to speak to the rock.

But, why does G-d tell Moses to speak to a rock? The Sages wisely asked, “Does a rock have ears with which to hear or eyes with which to see?”

So who was supposed to hear Moses’ words? In Numbers 20:7-8 we read that Moses is “to speak in front of their eyes…” That’s right, the children of Israel have eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear.

It is no secret that when we try to teach Torah to some people, it is like talking to a rock. They are not open to hearing the words. It gets frustrating and sometimes we have an urge to lash out. But let’s learn from the greatest of all teachers, from Moses himself, that lashing out at the people is not going to satisfy their thirst.

I don’t know if you remember studying rocks in school, but there are three different types:

The first is Igneous. The word igneous comes from the Latin root, ignis, which means fire. Igneous rocks are formed as they cool off after a great heat. If you look in the Thesaurus, you will find the synonyms quite interesting, as they include hot-headed and impulsive. Yet it also includes passionate and enthusiastic.

Moses was passionate; he was enthusiastic. He also could be rather impulsive. As human beings, we all have a bit of the igneous rock within us.

Then there is the Sedimentary rock, a layered rock that comes from many grains, including fossils of just about everything from the past including remnants of the dinosaur. As humans, we have many layers and come in many grains, and, we all carry remnants of our past.

And last, but certainly not least, there are the metamorphic rocks. These rocks change over the years, as the things they go through, all the pressure and all the heat, give them new shape.

Again, I turn to the Thesaurus and find that the synonyms for metamorphic include to age or to mature. Also included in the synonyms are to develop. As humans, we should be constantly trying to grow and mature, to develop ourselves.

We are rocks Igneous ,and, as such, we need to learn to be less hot headed and more passionate. We are the rocks Sedimentary, and, as such, we need to learn to handle the heat and play it cool. We are the rocks Metamorphic, may the changes we make in ourselves and in this world be for a blessing.

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is a member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and of the Association of Professional Chaplains. He works professionally in this capacity with a number of healthcare facilities in the area, and with hospice. He is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach.

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CLERGY CORNER: Come on baby, light my fire

Posted on 03 July 2014 by LeslieM

When I was a kid growing up in the Midwest, we played a lot of sports, but soccer sure wasn’t one of them.

Then, one day, some young soccer star from out of the country appeared on one of the talk shows. And let me tell you something, I might have learned to shoot baskets in school, I might have learned to hit a ball with a bat, and I sure as shooting learned to duck from those games of dodge ball, but when I saw this soccer star doing what he was able to do using only his feet, well, it was miraculous.

You might not be aware of it, but the Torah talks about soccer, at least, sort of.

After all, do any of you remember the name of the man who brought soccer to America? That’s right, his name was Pele. The name Pele in Hebrew is Peli, or Peles, and means, “miracle.” And as we read about the rebellion against Moses that was led by Korach, we find the name of O’ne Ben Peles. Hmmm, could that have been who soccer legend Pele was named after?

O’ne Ben Peles is mentioned right along with Korach and Dasan, and Aviram. And, at the end of this horrific rebellion, Korach dies, Dasan dies, and Aviram dies. But O’ne son of Peles does not get consumed. How is it that the son of Peles survives when the others do not? Well, according to the Talmud, a good wife can literally be the difference between life and death.

You see, Korach’s wife kept hocking him a chinick, she kept pushing him with lines that in our modern day might go like this, “Why are you such a bum? Where is your ambition? Why aren’t you doing more to be in a higher position with higher pay, and more power? I would have been much better off if I had married Moses instead of you. You are nothing but a little grasshopper.”

But, O’ne Ben Peles’ wife does not make her husband feel small. She does not belittle him. She softly advises him, letting him know that if he continues to be involved in the Rebellion, he will gain nothing, because if Moses wins, Moses will be the leader, and, if Korach wins, Korach will be the leader. But, either way, you will not be the leader. You will be O’ne Ben Peles and I happen to love O’ne Ben Peles just as you are.

Korach probably had times that he had to listen to his wife kvetch and didn’t like it. But O’ne Ben Peles’ wife had a good goal in mind and she kept her eye on the ball and on her husband as well.

In the Talmud (Baba Metziah 59 b), we read, “Thy wife is short, so bend down and consult her.” O’ne Ben Peles was wise enough not only to bend down to consult with his wife,’ he was wise enough to take her advice.

Around the time we light the Sabbath candles, a husband recites an ode to his wife called “A Woman of Valor” (an Eishes Chayil). Fire in Hebrew is Aish. Wife in Hebrew is Eesha. For they light a fire within us. A fire can be used to warm someone or to prepare nourishment. A fire can also burn and be destructive.

On this Independence Day, let’s celebrate safely and may all our fires be warm and nourishing like those of an Eishes Chayil.

Shalom, my friends, and a very joyous 4th of July.

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is a member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and of the Association of Professional Chaplains, He works professionally in this capacity with a number of healthcare facilities in the area, and with hospice. He is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach.

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Posted on 19 June 2014 by LeslieM

I was at one particular health center recently where the lift was broken. For those of you who may be unaware, a lift is another name for an elevator. There happened to be a group of students in the building getting a little real life experience as they hoped to work in healthcare in the future, and they, like everyone else, had to wait for the lift to come.

After what seemed like forever, it finally arrived and, after those who were coming down got off, several of the students started to get on the lift. The only problem was that there were four people in wheelchairs who were residents of the facility who were also waiting to get on and go up to their various floors, and not only did the students not help them get on, but the students filed into the elevator so quickly that there was no room for the patients in the wheelchairs. I had to say something and I did as I called out, “My dear students, our job here is not to lift ourselves up. Our job is to lift others.”

We hear so much about those who pull others down that I thought it would be uplifting to hear a true story of brothers who literally and figuratively lift each other up. Hunter Gandee is only 14 years of age. He is not a huge lad, but he is a big brother. And I think maybe he is the kind of big brother that all of us would like to have or to be.

You see, Hunter has a 7-year-old kid brother named Braden and Braden has a G-d awful time lifting himself up. In fact, he has trouble controlling even the simplest of movements as he suffers from Cerebral Palsy. So how does this little one get around? Well, his favorite mode of transportation is his brother’s back as, since he was a toddler, his big brother Hunter would lift him piggy back style and take him wherever he wanted to go.

Hunter happens to be on his school’s wrestling team. In fact, he is the captain of the team and he is also the president of his junior high’s student council. While he wants to have the ref at each of his matches lift his arm up in victory, he also wants to make sure to lift his brother up and make him victorious.

And while Hunter is busy lifting up his little brother, don’t think that it is a one -way street. Hunter will be the first to tell you that when he is in the midst of one of his wrestling matches, his kid brother Bradon is always in the front row, and just knowing that he is there, rooting him on, lifts him up and gives him that extra boost. So there you are two brothers who lift each other up as one wrestles on the mat and the other wrestles with Cerebral Palsy.

We all wrestle with something. May we have the good sense to learn from these two most loving of brothers; may we lift each other up and, as we do, may we realize that in so doing, we also are lifted ever higher.

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is a member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and of the Association of Professional Chaplains, He works professionally in this capacity with a number of healthcare facilities in the area, and with hospice. He is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach.

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CLERGY CORNER: Did you get my message?

Posted on 05 June 2014 by LeslieM

About a month before Shavuot began, a Director of Therapeutic Recreation, wanting to make the festival special for the Jewish residence, asked me what things she should get for the holiday. In fact, she went further than that. We have been working together for some time now, and she said that she knew that, on Passover, we have a Seder. She knew that, on Chanukah, we have the Menorah. She knew that, on Rosh Hashana, we blow the Shofar. She knew that, on Sukkoth, we build a hut or booth. And then, she admitted to me that, for the life of her, she couldn’t remember what we do for Shavuot.

Many of you might be in the same boat as she was. Many of you might not remember what we have for Shavuot, and there is a good reason for that. There are no distinctive things like that for Shavuot.

So, of course, we switched to looking at special foods for the festival. She knew that Chanukah was a time for latkes or jelly donuts. She knew that Passover was a time for Matzah. She knew that Rosh Hashana was a time for apples and honey. And she knew that Yom Kippur was a time of fasting. But again, what about Shavuot?

And, come to think of it, why do we have this food or that food for the various holidays?

The latkes and jelly donuts that are eaten on Chanukah are fried in oil, thus reminding us of the miracle of the oil. The matza on Passover reminds us of how, in our haste to leave Egypt, we did not have time to wait for the bread to rise so we ate the unleavened bread. The apples and honey eaten on the New Year are a way of wishing one another a very fruitful and a sweet year ahead.

So what do we eat on Shavuot? On Shavuot, we traditionally eat dairy foods and, of all of them, there is one particular one that stands out. I am referring to a delectable little thing filled with “yumminess” (yes, I made up the word)… a blintz.

A blintz is a little crepe-like edible filled with cheese. (And for those of you who are lactose intolerant, you can now get them filled with Tofu). Oddly enough, if you take two blintzes and put them side by side, they take on the shape of the Torah, and Shavuot happens to be the time in which we celebrate the giving of the Torah.

The Rabbis have long asked those under their tutelage why we say the “giving” of the Torah, instead of the “acceptance” or the “receiving” of the Torah. And one of the answers given is that on each and every given day of our lives, at each and every moment, we have to decide if we accept the yoke of the Torah into our lives or not. I think that is why I like the term “receiving” of the Torah. So many times I have been asked, “Did you receive my message?”

Getting the message is important. Hearing the message is important. Reading the message is important. But in the end, after all is said and done, it is in the doing that we bring the Torah to life; and as they sang so beautifully in Fiddler on the Roof; “L’Chaim, L’Chaim, To Life!”

Shalom my friends, Chag Sameach,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is a member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and of the Association of Professional Chaplains, He works professionally in this capacity with a number of healthcare facilities in the area, and with hospice. He is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach.

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