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So Proud of My SoKind Son


From the SoKind Registry Blog:

In the Real Celebrations series, SoKind asks registry users to share a bit about their celebrations. Read on for a collection of inspirational ideas as well as lessons learned!

The Celebrant: Emet Hirsch, a 13-year old interested in computers, philosophy, math, and improving the world

The Event: Emet’s Bar Mitzvah, the celebration of his coming of age in the Jewish community

Location and Date: Beit Shmeul Jerusalem, Israel on December 24, 2015

In Sherre’s (Emet’s mother) Words: Our intention was for each person to feel as if they were celebrating with us even if they could not travel to join us for the event. We created a SoKind registry as a way for each person to share in this experience by enabling them to participate virtually in an activity or service that inspired or had personal meaning for them.

Meaningful Moment: What we really loved and did not expect was that people selected items on the registry that had meaning for them. For example, my cousin is a huge hiker and she loved being able to sponsor a hike to David’s Waterfall, as it felt personally significant to her. It gave us a new connection to her that we had not known previously. She will forever be our cousin Marla, the hiker.

Emet4Popular Gifts: In our tradition, it is customary to say a particular prayer for the deceased, the Kaddish, as a way to acknowledge those whom we have lost. On the registry, we gave people several options to donate in memory of someone in our family and it was by far the most popular gift. Then, at the ceremony, we named the donors before we said the prayer and it had a tremendous effect on everyone, both present and far.

Lessons Learned: We were hugely surprised by the ways in which people used SoKind to express themselves through their gifts. In the past, when we have asked only for donations, many people felt conflicted as it felt more like an obligation. But, with SoKind, people had an opportunity to not only choose how and what they wanted to give, but also to participate in the event in their own way.

All About Rabbi Camp (Yes, there is Rabbi Camp…)

12469621_1204183842929317_9204729038082922566_oEvery January, 80 Conservative rabbis (including myself) gather in the freezing cold in rural-ish Baltimore at the The Pearlstone Center for four-and-a-half days of learning, spiritual development, and, most importantly, socializing. It is essentially a school reunion each year where you see some old friends, make some new ones and laugh a lot about the life of a rabbi.


As this was my fourth year, I was prepared and ready for the cold (I finally bought winter boots and a North Face puffy jacket) and I was prepared for the great learning. But I was not prepared for Soulful Education with Rabbi Aryeh Ben David.  The description of the class seemed a bit touchy-feely, so I was not sure what to expect – Rabbi Ben David is not only a scholar of the highest order, but also not exactly the “granola” type. But in that very first session, when Rabbi Ben David shared that his goal was not Jewish learning (which is like telling fish not to swim), but rather to give us a springboard for life, my curiosity was more than piqued.


With each day, we learned how to “Ayeka-size” our classes. Essentially we have to teach to the hearts, souls and lives of our students. We are not here to transmit information, but rather to help each student want to transform themselves by what they encounter through learning. 


Rabbi Ben David was speaking my language. As a teacher and a student of life my goal is to help you discover that Judaism can transform you from the inside and out, making your life better and richer. It can give you tools to deal with your frustrating boss, your mid-life marriage, your rebellious teenagers. It is the road map that will guide you, not just in life cycle moments, but in all of life.


I know it sounds lofty but the future of Judaism depends on how we grow our souls. I am in. Are you?

Going Home…

images-1The first time I landed in Israel (long before the security of today) the passengers erupted into applause, and then moments later we stepped right off the plane and kissed the ground. I was only 11 years old, yet I felt the enormity of that moment. I knew even then, not even bat mitzvah age, that my presence was helping to realize the dream that all Jews have a right to live as a free people in their land.

Now over thirty-five years later (and too many trips behind me to count) Jeff and I will take our children to fulfill their role in realizing the dream. (God willing it will be the first of many trips they take to return home.) But for this first one, we hope that they too will not only feel the holiness of the land, but the responsibility that comes with it. They must insure that each one of us in each generation makes it a reality for the following one.

It is a big charge.

But they are so ready.

We can not wait to tell you all about it when we come home from our home.

How to Make 8 Nights of Lighting Candles Meaningful

NovemberBlogFull5Here is a great article I was recently featured in from Jewish Food Hero.  Check out her Community Post about meaningful Chanukah traditions.

My family has been collecting hannukiot for over a century. When we invite people over we ask them to bring their own hannukiahs as well, and we light them all each night. Sometimes there are close to 50 menorahs. While we make sure there is no fire danger, the lights invoke memory, magic, and miracles.

What Chanukah traditions do you have?


JWI Women to Watch

Jewish_Women_International_-_JWIJoin Sherre as she is honored as one of JWI’s Women to Watch on Monday, December 7, 2015. For more information, or to find out how you can support JWI, click here.

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