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Trust Your Gut  - Except When You're Wrong - Humility  implores us to accept that we are wrong  much of the time

03/18/2020 05:27:03 PM

Mar18

The word shanah in Hebrew means, “year.”  Thus Rosh Hashanah, of course, literally means, “Head of the year.” However, when we look deeper into the word, shanah, we find that at its root, it means, “change.”  And that in essence, more than “head,” rosh can refer to what is in the head, wisdom.  “Rosh Hashanah” can thus come to mean, “The wisdom to change.”  We find this same theme in the Hebrew word...Read more...

Pure-El

03/05/2020 09:02:19 AM

Mar5

“Wash your hands after going to the bathroom

Wash your hands after changing baby too

Cause you don’t want to spread hepatitis

And we don’t want hepatitis to get you”

 

I had never heard, or even heard of, this jingle until I heard Natalie sing it aloud, right about the time we had babies in diapers.  I think it was her subtle way of reminding parents, siblings, our nannies, of the...Read more...

Rorschach Test

02/26/2020 07:01:10 AM

Feb26

“When I was a professor at a right-leaning college, I was accused of being a self-hating leftist Jew.  Now that I am a professor at a left-leaning college, I am accused of being a Zionist conspirator.”  These words from our fantastic Scholar in Residence last weekend, Dr. Marc Dollinger, have rung in my ears ever since I heard them articulated. 

For so much of our modern history, Jews and Judaism have served as the...Read more...

Unity Prayer for the Johnson Rayburn Richards Harris County Democratic Party Dinner 2020

02/18/2020 09:36:23 AM

Feb18

Rabbi Scott

God, Divine One, Force that animates us all, You are the One who calls upon us, your human partners in repairing the world, declaring to us, “Chazak v’amatz!”  “Be strong and resolute” that in our convictions, we are able to muster both the energy to call out the ills of our society, our communities, and ourselves, as well as the conviction, that even when facing harsh critique, we stand firm.  God, Source of all life, the...Read more...

"Scotty" with Moshe at Camp Swig

02/12/2020 02:10:54 PM

Feb12

Timeframe: July c. 1985

Location: Camp Swig, Saratoga, CA

Milieu: a hot summer camp cabin with no A.C., a bunch of teenagers sitting and lying on their bunks, waiting for “Menuchah” (rest hour) to be over

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

 Read more...

Vote Your Conscience

02/05/2020 09:05:58 AM

Feb5

For far too many Jews, Jewish families and those who love them, “Israel” has become a highly polarizing issue.  Positions driven by “survival instincts” set against the horrific history of anti-Semitism weigh heavily against positions driven by the “Prophetic vision” mapped out by Israel’s Declaration of Independence.  While the two shouldn’t have to be set against each other, too often politics favors the...Read more...

A Minor Distraction

01/29/2020 12:33:33 PM

Jan29

Dear Houston,

Some of you may have received (or at least heard about) a survey sent to all HISD parents, asking folks to vote on the date of the 2020 Fall holiday.  Since I moved to Houston in 2011, I have understood that this day has purposefully been scheduled for either Rosh Hashanah day or Yom Kippur day.  From this Rabbi’s perspective, it had always struck me as quite sensitive and endearing that this was the process...Read more...

Indigenous Post Astros Depression - "IPAD"

01/22/2020 12:28:51 PM

Jan22

Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss

Dateline: Houston, TX

Indigenous Post Astros Depression or “IPAD” for short is striking a growing number of Houstonians. This is a disease quite different from the “Clutch-City; Choke-City Personality Disorder” that has often led to an overconsumption of ballpark peanuts.  “CCCCPD” causes those infected and often times, those in his/her proximity, to experience a feeling of instability, akin to seasickness.  One...Read more...

Shining a Light on Things "Unlit"

01/14/2020 05:31:57 PM

Jan14

Rabbi Scott

35 years ago, I had an amazing and most memorable summer camp counselor.  The funny thing is that I don’t remember much of anything he said, but I do completely remember the way he made me feel.  “Moshe” made me feel proud and he made me feel smart and he made me feel interesting.  I do remember one thing he said, as vividly as if I heard him say it today.  On a campout, following our kumzitz (camp fire), he led us...Read more...

Ode to Mrs. Button (Prayers for Peace)

01/08/2020 09:32:53 AM

Jan8

Rabbi Scott

Whether or not it is your habit, tonight

Offer a prayer

For soldiers and families at the tip of the spear

On both sides of the fight

For never has there been a battle of souls, in which either side was bereft of innocence

Here we find ourselves again, rattling sabers, and pointing fingers

Who started it? Who drew the first blood? About choices and our apparent lack of them

Doesn’t...Read more...

Dry Humor

01/02/2020 09:24:39 AM

Jan2

A week, 10 days ago, Natalie and I were both working from home, when Natalie rushed upstairs with an announcement that over the years, I have learned to take seriously. “Fire!”, “I smell fire!” she exclaimed, which caused me to jump up and pay attention. We both walked around, trying to draw near to the source, and slowly but surely (well it was quicker than in my recollection), we both drew near to the laundry closet. Opening the...Read more...

An Interfaith Summit of Insignificant Proportions

12/17/2019 05:05:47 PM

Dec17

Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss

“Y’all ready for Christmas?” the repair man asked me the other day.  “Thanks for asking, we’re Jewish, so we celebrate Chanukah,” I replied.  A minute later, having ostensibly had to get up the nerve, the repair man asked me, “So, what is Chanukah?  I mean, is it like Christmas?  How is it different?”  “Well,” I began, “it’s really not like Christmas at all except if you think about it from a...Read more...

What Happens  Now that the "December Dilemma" Seems to be Less so  (a Dilemma)?

12/04/2019 08:43:10 AM

Dec4

Years ago (I can say that, now that I am 50!), Natalie and I were trained as facilitators by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism) for a series of “outreach” programs for interfaith families. A title of one of the most often quoted books for the programs was, “I’m Jewish, You’re Christian, What are the Kids?”  One of the most “heart-wrenching” sessions we were taught to teach and...Read more...

Make Thanksgiving Great Again

11/26/2019 12:56:24 PM

Nov26

(Click HERE to LISTEN to Rabbi Scott read this blog.)

There’s lots of talk of late regarding worries and concerns over the potential negative energy borne out of politics that might ruin our upcoming Thanksgiving meals and gatherings.  On one side, we have the “bleeding heart liberals” overwrought about the MAGA hats that might adorn the heads of family and guests, and on the other side, we have the...Read more...

No Surprise Thanksgiving

11/19/2019 01:19:41 PM

Nov19

Thanksgiving!  For most of us, it is a time to look forward, whether we are in or out of town, to gather with family and friends.  For many, this is an “official” time of year, not any less important than gathering for the High Holy Days or Passover.  It is historically for Jewish families, (at least as far as America is concerned), a very welcomed, secular holiday that doesn’t challenge notions of the “kosherness” of...Read more...

11/19/2019 01:11:18 PM

Nov19

Update this content.

“Keep Jews out of the News”

11/15/2019 03:09:43 PM

Nov15

For much of the 20th and so far in the 21st century, and let’s face it, for most of Jewish existence, the “Oy Gevalts” over our existence have been a constant of Jewish life.  From the new book, The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List, regarding Horseradish, “Let the WASPs have their Worcestershire; leave it to the Jews to turn suffering into a craving.” 

Sociologists and historians, genealogists and...Read more...

The Value of Downtime

11/05/2019 04:34:47 PM

Nov5

Take it from me, this is tough.  It is so much easier to teach than to do.  And when your very nature, is of an “entrepreneurial” design with no pre-existing barometers of success, limits, or boundaries, like so many are today, the concept of “downtime” is a tough one, even for someone who spends so much time thinking about, writing about, guiding others to practice it, as I do.  I want so desperately for you to know...Read more...

A Little Inspiration Never Hurts

10/30/2019 09:12:38 AM

Oct30

I’ll never forget when I heard Malat Wei call his new wheelchair basketball teammate, Abraham Hausman-Weiss, his “brother from another mother,” and even joked around claiming a new last name, “Hausman-Wei!”  Malat had contracted polio as a child when his family survived and barely escaped with their lives from Sudan. Eventually they made their way to Houston, and after few years, Malat joined and played for the Houston Hot...Read more...

 Why is Rabbi Scott in Puerto Rico this week if…

10/22/2019 06:11:33 PM

Oct22

it's not for a post HH days vacation and it's not to perform a wedding and it's not to dive deep into the history of the Jewish pirates of the Caribbean (more on that later…)

I am in Puerto Rico this week for an interfaith clergy service trip.  Our group of Rabbis, Ministers, an Imam, and reps from the Houston Jewish Federation and Islamic Relief have descended on Dorado, PR where we are continuing our post-hurricane relief work...Read more...

Nothing Goes Away But Us

10/03/2019 06:52:39 AM

Oct3

On Yom Kippur, we will be immersed in that idea.  Not because this year, Shma Koleinu is doing something new and different.  It’s not this year’s “Yom Kippur theme.”  It is THE THEME of Yom Kippur.  And in this moment, I really want to encourage you not to call it, “Yum Kipper.”   For a fast day, who really wants to wish each other a hearty and delicious...Read more...

10/03/2019 06:50:10 AM

Oct3

Update this content.

Three Things to Know About the High Holy Days!

09/25/2019 12:23:19 PM

Sep25

Sometimes You Got to Stand Up!  If you or your child wish to attend Rosh Hashanah and/or Yom Kippur services this year, neither your school nor your employer can legally penalize you or your child for your absence.  Yes, it might take a bit of bravery and courage to take your stand but isn’t it worth it?  Check out this very clarifying document from the Anti-Defamation League.

 

Gospel Anyone? On Rosh Hashanah...Read more...

“One Small Sheet of Paper”

09/18/2019 04:25:54 PM

Sep18

I had just sat down to write this blog entry when Sammy called me from school.  He wanted to get some information about the upcoming High Holy Days at Shma Koleinu, as he had just shared with his teacher, why she and her family needed to try us out!  Now, I don’t know about you but to me, this is the equivalent (not to be morose) of hearing one’s own eulogy! There are very few people whose opinions matter to me more than...Read more...

Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy and smooth set of nights and days.

09/11/2019 11:43:07 AM

Sep11

Who is invited to the High Holy Days at Shma Koleinu? (cont'd)

For the past two weeks, I have issued “invitations” to people stuck in different mind frames that might make the High Holy Days feel less “inviting.”  As my grandmother used to say, “Poppycock!” I echo her now, because if those who are feeling disconnected or those who are feeling a deep sense of dread aren’t “invited” to the High Holy Days, who...Read more...

The Dissipation of Dread

09/04/2019 10:03:37 AM

Sep4

Who is Invited to High Holy Days with Shma Koleinu? (cont'd)

As you know, everyone is invited.  However, sometimes, you’ve got to be more explicit. 

Last week, I wanted you to know that you are invited even if AND ESPECIALLY if you feel disconnected.  Disconnected from Judaism, disconnected from spirituality, from family, from yourself.  And that we want you to know that this...Read more...

Who is invited to Shma Koleinu for the High Holy Days?

08/27/2019 01:58:54 PM

Aug27

If you are a regular reader of this blog, or familiar with Shma Koleinu, you’ll probably know the obvious answer to this question.  “Everyone.”

However, sometimes “everyone” sounds too general to be meaningful, too “umbrellaish” to not get wet.  So, let’s talk about it.

Who is invited to Shma Koleinu for the High Holy Days?  The next several weeks of blogs are going to feature some special folks...Read more...

Will I Live 'til Next Year?

08/19/2019 03:56:02 PM

Aug19

If there is one question that undergirds the purpose of the High Holy Days, it is the asking and pondering and reflecting and maybe even, obsessing, over this one: “Will I live til next year?” 

Not at all because we have control over it.

And not at all because we can somehow pray our way out of death (as much as we’d like to believe otherwise).

Not at all because our deeds, whether good or bad, will...Read more...

What does it mean to be Jewish?

08/14/2019 08:50:41 PM

Aug14

This isn’t some existential question that only became germane to our lives because of our post-shtetl, assimilated, acculturated, reality.  It’s actually a question we have been asking for millennia.  The Book of Devarim (or Deuteronomy) is built upon this investigation.  Moses, Joshua and Caleb (the only Israelites alive at this point who had experienced slavery and the Exodus) stand before the Israelites (or should we...Read more...

Ode to the Mommas and the Poppas

08/02/2019 11:29:45 AM

Aug2

At times, Abraham was blinded by ambition

and Sarah by jealousy,

Isaac by fear and Rebecca by agency,

Jacob and Esau, could often only see each other’s back,

Rachel and Leah got stuck in minds full of lack. 

Each of them, our...Read more...

Sat, March 28 2020 3 Nisan 5780