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Passover Plea

03/17/2021 08:37:09 AM

Mar17

OK, so I’m in the Ozarks. I’m on “vacation” this week with Natalie as she and the Woods Project Team scout out a new site.  So it’s kind of like vacation because I’m not working, at least officially, and she is. But it isn’t bad in the least. I’m in the middle of nature, hiking and camping with lovely weather and Wi-Fi. Who could ask for more?

Well I could, because...Passover is around the...Read more...

The Usual Excuses

03/10/2021 08:10:17 AM

Mar10

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.  And like that – poof – he’s gone.”  Thus spoke the character, Verbal Klint, about the mastermind, super criminal Keyser Soce, as credits begin to roll in the movie, The Usual Suspects.  This line arose to my mind today and quite a few other times recently, as I listen to those who seek to re-write the history of the hours-long...Read more...

Marshmallows and Golden Calfs

03/04/2021 09:13:17 AM

Mar4

Many of you have heard about, read about or even studied a famous psychological test called “The Marshmallow Test,” performed at Stanford University in the 1970’s by Walter Mischel.  Simply put, “The Marshmallow Test” studies delayed gratification in children.  A child is brought into a room with a table and a marshmallow sitting on a plate.  The child is told that she is going to be left alone for a few minutes, and...Read more...

A Very Meaning-Filled Purim

02/25/2021 08:30:26 AM

Feb25

You can still join us tonight to Laugh over our people's ways of coping and Learn about heroes in our community helping so many others do the same in the wake of the recent Texas winter storm crises..

Exactly a year ago (according to the Jewish calendar) was the last time Shma Koleinu officially gathered in person for an event.  Our “Motown Megillah” performance directed and organized by Jerry Peperone...Read more...

...Therefore We Pray, O God, ...

02/18/2021 08:58:14 AM

Feb18

Hello friends, I know that most all of us find ourselves in the midst of this weather emergency and I pray that you are remaining safe and warm.  In the absence of my own words at the moment, I offer you these words of prayer and solace. May we go from strength to strength.  

Rabbi Scott 

 

We Cannot Pray to You

We cannot pray to You, O God,
to banish war,
for You have filled the...Read more...

"Hayom"

02/11/2021 08:10:28 AM

Feb11

Imagine for a moment that the Torah indeed is born of the Divine.  That Moses does dwell with God at the top of Mt Sinai, receives the Divine instruction, and then writes it into a text.  And imagine the Creator, infinite, immeasurable, and unknowable, desiring to share the wisdom of eternity with these beings born of love, who are necessarily finite.  It is not difficult to understand the Rabbis’ imagination that God...Read more...

Hag Purim

02/03/2021 04:55:52 PM

Feb3

Do you know why the holiday of Purim is called, “Purim?”  Because pur means “lot,” thus meaning the “casting of lots.”  For this is how Haman determined the day on which the Jews of Persia were to be slaughtered.  Not who should be slaughtered, and not if the Jews should be slaughtered, but when.  And just how, according to the Book of Esther, are the Jewish people saved?  By a Jewish girl, debasing...Read more...

Life Goes On

01/27/2021 02:16:59 PM

Jan27

Said sometimes with hope and more often with muted acceptance, “life goes on” is a phrase that leaves so much to be desired.  In the midst of COVID, life goes on.  In the face of cancer and treatment, life goes on.  In the wake of biting and striking political winds, life goes on.  In the face of mysterious symptoms but no obvious diagnosis, endless tests, and doctors who employ the reminder that, “it is called...Read more...

A Broken Pane

01/21/2021 09:00:31 AM

Jan21

There’s a window pane in one of the doors entering the Capitol Rotunda that remains broken  from the insurrection on January 6th.  Well, not exactly broken perhaps, but riddled with spider cracks fissuring through the pane.  So much pain.  There’s been so much pain and suffering, and I know it didn’t start 4 years ago.  And I pray that we all come to understand that the hateful rhetoric that has become far too...Read more...

But what can I do now?

01/14/2021 10:06:19 AM

Jan14

There’s a very famous teaching from Rabbi Hillel that goes like this:

 

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

If I am only for myself, what am I?

And if not now, when?

 

The news is disturbing and frightening, the quality of our political leadership...Read more...

Prayer for our Country

01/07/2021 09:07:36 AM

Jan7

On Yom Kippur, we offered this Prayer for our Country.  May our leaders and us hear its call and rise to this moment.

 

God of holiness, we hear Your message: Justice, Justice you shall pursue. God of freedom, we hear your charge: Proclaim liberty throughout the land. Inspire us through your teachings and commandments to love and uphold our precious democracy. Let every citizen take...Read more...

Made This Way

12/31/2020 09:01:49 AM

Dec31

My dearest Shma Koleinu,

For all of its spiritual teachings, Judaism is an extremely “this-worldly-oriented” tradition.  We certainly pray for peace and contentment, but we also pray for parnassah (a good living), achalta, v’savata uverachta (you shall eat, then you shall be satisfied and then you shall offer thanks), and for a refuah shleimah (a complete and total recovery of our bodies). 

Jewish tradition...Read more...

A Poem for Those Still Here, by Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss

12/24/2020 06:52:27 AM

Dec24

 

(Click HERE to Listen to this Poem.)

 

There are no acceptable casualties

Not as far as God is concerned.

There is no body count that will ever be OK.

In God’s place, you are the most important you that is.

 

The interrupted arc of any soul is not part of a greater plan

And no poetry or eulogy or elegy will suffice.

For God weeps when we, you,...Read more...

God and Moses Walk into a Bar

12/17/2020 06:59:55 AM

Dec17

Scene: A Random Bar

Characters: God and Moses

Setting: Moses initiates the first fundraising campaign, with God serving as Moses’ fundraising consultant:

 

God: Moses, you know this Tabernacle is gonna cost a few shekels.

Moses: Well, it was Your idea to make it light and portable, yet dynamic and beautiful enough to do You proud.

God: Now, don’t blame me. These people have the pyramids...Read more...

Writing our Lives

12/02/2020 05:17:17 PM

Dec2

This time of year, even and especially during this age of COVID, I find that people become a bit more nostalgic, perhaps a bit softer, reminiscing, observers of their lives. 

Ki hem chayeinu v’orech yameinu uvahem nehegeh yomam valailah.

For they are our life and the length of our days and we shall rejoice upon them each and every day and night. 

These...Read more...

"Giving Thanks this Thanksgiving"

11/25/2020 02:29:17 PM

Nov25

Dear Shma Koleinu,

Thank you.  Thank you 1000 times, thank you. You have made this possible.  You didn’t inherit this congregation from your parents or grandparents, or the many anonymous founders who came before.  Houston didn’t “need” another Reform congregation but you decided it needed something new.  We are not funded by a long accruing endowment or generational gravity.  We are the Mishkan, the...Read more...

"...so put on a happy face"

11/20/2020 11:13:36 AM

Nov20

I’m not sure that I’ve been very good company this week. I’ve been a bit prone to getting lost in a few too many hours of TV news. I put on a good face because I want no one to feel a sense of desolation, at least on my watch. But that doesn’t mean Natalie gets that good face all the time. COVID and our ever-discombobulating culture have, for the most part, presented someone like me, who generally relishes leaning into uneven ground,...Read more...

"Which Way to a Better World?"

11/18/2020 03:04:03 PM

Nov18

The Torah portion this week, called “Toldot,” revisits the story of the seeds of sibling rivalry. This oft-repeated theme in Torah and some of the greatest literature ever written, is laid out this week in a matter of verses. First, Rebecca struggles to become pregnant and even rails against the heavens over her deep distress from being unable to bring a child into the world.  Next, we no sooner learn that she is pregnant with twins...Read more...

"Memories of Jerusalem"

11/04/2020 12:44:04 PM

Nov4

I was a brand-new rabbinic student, sitting at a Jerusalem café with my professor, Rabbi Ben Hollander, z.l., who had been charged with providing me a primer on teaching prayer to high school students. It would be my job, as madrich, counselor for NFTY’s high school in Israel program, to meet daily with the students and teach and lead some version of prayer. I was an uber-novice in this area, having been inspired by visions of serving as a...Read more...

Connection - 101

10/27/2020 08:40:10 AM

Oct27

Monday, I introduced a new theme for 10@Noon, “Shame and Vulnerability.”  This is our third “theme” since we embarked on this venture of a 10-12 minute online gathering of those seeking some spiritual solace, and perhaps inspiration, on a weekday basis. 

We started with two of the middot, characteristics taught by our Musar tradition: “Humility,” Anavah and “Patience,” Savlanut.  One leads into the...Read more...

Mon, September 27 2021 21 Tishrei 5782