Saturday, October 24, 2020


Making Good Even Better: A Rosh Hashanah Message

We generally think of Rosh Hashanah and the period of Aseret Yemei Teshuvah leading to Yom Kippur as a time to reflect on our present sins and determine to do fewer sins in the upcoming year. Indeed, this is an important part of the Yamim Noraim season. I want to suggest, however, that this period has a more positive spin as well that is


Even Before COVID-19, We Stood Alone on Rosh Hashanah

COVID-19 has made this Rosh Hashanah different, but can it also make it more meaningful? Will the events of the past seven months cause the Unetaneh Tokef and all of Rosh Hashanah to resonate more with us this year?

“[H]ow many shall pass away and how many shall come into existence; who will


Some Interesting High Holiday Words

Many interesting words come up in the context of the High Holidays. (Many of the paytannim enjoyed using rare words!) I will discuss a few of them.

דפי: Dibarnu dofi. This word appears only one time in Tanach, at Psalms 50:20: “You sit and speak about your brother; regarding the son of your mother


Who By Plague?

For many folks, the most dramatic portion of the High Holiday liturgy is the Unetaneh Tokef prayer. And the most emotional part of the prayer—at least for me—is the very graphic description of who shall live and who shall die.

For more than 40 years I have been leading the Rosh Hashanah and Yom


Rosh Hashanah Rescue, 1943

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah 1943, an entire Jewish community was hidden by their neighbors from those who sought their annihilation. When Yom Kippur arrived, members of that community were safe, at arm’s length from danger.

Adolf Hitler claimed he had a kinship with the people of Denmark on account of


A 2020 Vision for Communal Teshuva

The High Holiday season is a time for teshuva and reflection, to consider where we are and where we ought to be. And while we may be accustomed to understanding the teshuva process as an individual experience, there certainly is room for us to engage in teshuva as a community, particularly this year.



Combatting Anxiety and Depression Through Emunah

Part II

As I noted in the previous article in this series, anxiety is an emotion that is deeply rooted in the uncertainty that so many are suffering with during the challenging time of COVID-19. Yet, there is a positive side to anxiety, as a motivational force. For example, we imbue a healthy dose of


The Captain’s Shocking Rebuke of Yonah

“Why did the captain (rav hachoveil) abandon his sailors on deck and reach out to Yonah to pray?” asked my Torah Academy of Bergen County students. Couldn’t the captain have sent a subordinate to try to convince Yonah to pray? A captain abandoning his sailors during a severe crisis is most unusual at best and egregiously irresponsible


COVID-19’s Impact on the College Admissions Process

Like so many other facets of life in 2020, the college admissions process is going to be very different this year. Since the pandemic shut down the spring semester, many high school students missed the opportunity to take their SATs or ACTs at the usual time, leaving thousands of students scrambling for testing dates in the fall.


The Perfect Storm

Imagine you are in a batting cage without a bat and hard balls are being fired at you in rapid sequence. That’s where we are today, locally, nationally, and internationally. I cannot focus on all of the world’s problems, but I want to draw attention to an important issue facing our local day schools, and by extension all of us.


My Top Five Books of 5780

The oft used term “People of the Book,” which sounds much better in Hebrew, Am HaSefer, is an apt term. Walk into any Jewish book store and new titles are arriving almost daily. And that says a lot.

The year 5780 is coming to a close, and it was a year


Englewood & Teaneck Oleh Ziv Mendelsohn Publishes Sefer - 'Melaim Ziv’

Ziv Mendelsohn, 47, formerly of Los Angeles, Englewood and Teaneck, hopes that the Torah directive that every man should write for himself a sefer Torah can be fulfilled through writing one’s own sefer of divrei Torah. The greatest zechut is being able to publish these divrei Torah from Eretz Yisrael,