Friday, September 16, 2011

Blogging Elul - Day 17 of Disappointment and Forgiveness

As I am in the middle of preparing any number of materials for the High Holy Days, I took a few minutes to excitedly open up my latest copy of the Baltimore Jewish Times. In particular I was very much looking forward to reading the article about the 9/11 Commemoration I had the honor of participating in that I blogged about in my previous post.

Needless to say, much to my disappointment, within the coverage of this event attended by an estimated 750 individuals, my participation as the representative of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis and Rabbi of Har Sinai Congregation was not mentioned in the article. I was and am greatly hurt by this oversight.

This discovery ground my sermon writing to a halt as I began focusing all my energy towards the BJT. But why should it matter so much to me? Wasn't it enough of an honor to have participated in such a significant event with or without media mention?

Of course, but at the same time, I will admit I did look forward to getting the article framed and hanging it on my wall. And hopefully the BJT will run a correction, but its not the same.

At the same time, it was just an oversight. And this was a humbling reminder to me that oversights do happen, and the best lesson I can learn is to be very careful with how I choose to mention people. And in the meantime, I will work to forgive the oversight in my own heart, for the BJT is a great resource to the Baltimore Jewish Community.

In the meantime here are two articles on the event:

9/11 Ten Years Later: An Evening to Remember

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blogging Elul - Day 13 a 9/11 Commemoration

I was honored to participate in a Baltimore Community Interfaith 9/11 Commemoration as the representative for the Baltimore Board of Rabbis. Joining me that evening were Maryland Senators Ben Cardin, whom I met for the first time earlier in the day at our welcome back picnic as well as Senator Barbara Mikulski. Governor Martin O'Malley spoke as well. There were many distinguished elected officials present including Baltimore's Mayor Stephanie Rowlings-Blake and members of Maryland's General Assembly. And of course there were many of my wonderful colleagues of faith in attendance as well.

I would especially like to thank Rabbi Ron Shulman of Congregation Chizuk Amuno Congregation for inviting me to participate. I was truly honored and humbled.

The month of Elul is both about reflecting and looking forward. This seems appropriate especially tied to our 10th Anniversary 9/11 commemoration. Earlier in the day I was with the Har Sinai Congregation's religious school. One of the interesting things I have come to realize is that the members of our religious school were three or younger when the Twin Towers fell. For most of them, they have never known a world when the Twin Towers stood.

Thus even as we commemorated the solemn and tragic events, I feel we must strive to find new meaning in 9/11 lest it become a historical mention like December 7, 1941 or November 22, 1963 or January 28, 1986. Whereby those who witnessed still feel the pain of those events to this day, but those who were not yet conscious of it or in existence, do not have the same emotional connection.

Thus 9/11 needs to continue to be a rallying cry. As Rabbi Shulman mentioned, it should remind us if nothing else, to be kind. Or as I spoke about, if we are to take a lesson away, it is to fight the evil in our own hearts.

So even though we will never make sense of 9/11, we do have the capacity to rise above the horrors of our past. They do define our history and they will forever be a part of the American soul. But they are not the entirety of the American soul. Life does continue on. In a sense we are all 9/11 survivors who can testify to the notion that love between neighbors is possible, not easy, but possible.

And in this way, the memory, the legacy of those whose lives were lost, will continue to live on.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blogging Elul - Day 10 Elul on the Web Part 2

This is from a note I received in response to my posting on Elul on the web:

"Dear Rabbi - there are apps for Elul in the AppStore. At least Selichot (both for Sefardim and Ashkenazim) and a bunch of Shofar apps (just for training and fun). There are also podcasts and other stuff in the iTunes. Check out and follow @Jewish_iPhone on Twitter for even more."

One of the great things about Elul is we can apologize for mistakes of the past. My apologies for missing out on all of these great sources in my blog mention. Feel free to check them out.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blogging Elul 5771 - Day 9 Elul on the Web

A recent magazine article in moment magazine lists the Top 10 Jewish apps. Initially I thought these were a joke, but then I went to the app store on my phone and found many of them available for the standard fare of 99 cents.

Top Ten Jewish Apps

I think one of my favorites is from Jewish Mother, "This phone could also be used to call me, you know."

According to Nielson wire, nearly 50% of all phones sold in the U.S. by the 3Q will be smart phones. And American Jews probably make up an even higher percentage of smartphone users. This means we are becoming not only increasingly dependent upon our smart phones, but also increasingly invested in our apps.

Alas, there is not an Elul app as far as I can tell. In the meantime, we'll just have to keep doing it the old fashioned way. With day by day focus on teshuvah. But first, a round of Judoku.

Smartphones to Overtake Feature Phones in U.S. by 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Blogging Elul 5771 - Day 8 The Shofar and You

One of the great traditions of Elul is to sound the shofar each morning. Actually the mitzvah is to hear it being blown. But in case you want to learn, below is a video instruction for sounding the shofar.

Blogging Elul 5771 - Day 4

As you can tell by the numbering, I skipped day 3. I am usually off on Wednesdays and I try my best to make it a priority day for time with my family. I don't always succeed in that regard, but this week, I am pleased to report, was a great day with my family.

In other news, the area I still very much struggle with is in taking care of myself. This seems to be an ongoing issue I unfortunately revisit every Elul.

As I remind myself often, if we do not take care of ourselves first, how can we hope to help repair the community or the greater world? Or as the old Yiddish saying goes, "A BI GEZUNT: So long as you're healthy." For if you are not healthy ...

I am setting some goals forth (again) to get myself on a better path of life, which will I hope, in turn, make me a better husband, father, friend, and rabbi. These include healthier living, being a better listener, and dedicating myself to at least one personal endeavor per day.

As Hillel said in Pirkei Avot 1:14 "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?"

This I think is one of the best themes for this Elul, for any Elul, and for any time of year.

What goals do you have for yourself in this coming year?