Rabbi’s Messages

Rabbi Dror’s “Tidbits of Torah”

Shabbat Rosh HaShanah Shana Tova!!!

2020-09-18 12:26:40 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us on Zoom for Rosh HaShanah services on Friday evening at 8 pm, as well as on Saturday morning at 9:30 am. Cantor Ruth Ross will be with us for both of these services, lending her unique warmth and soothing sound to our High Holy Day prayers.

On Saturday evening at 5 pm we will gather once again on Zoom for the Family Rosh HaShana Seder, led by our Education Director, Gavrielle Bargash, and Cantor Ross. This promises to be a wonderful event.

And…on Sunday morning at 10:30 am, we will gather in our cars, in the RST parking lot for the Shofar Service.

I look forward to sharing these wonderful services and events with you!

In the meantime, I am happy to share with you some Rosh HaShanah thoughts:

We are all looking for “signs” that the new Jewish Year of 5781 will be a year of blessing, of healing, of health and of happiness. Even if we don’t see any “signs”, our tradition encourages us to never lose hope for the future. Hope is a basic concept that we repeat over and over in the month of Elul and throughout the entire High Holy Day season, as we recite Psalm 27 daily during this time. Psalm 27 ends with the words: Kaveh el Adonai, which translate to “Place your hope in Adonai.”

I believe that we need all of these “reminders” about having hope because sometimes it becomes difficult to hold onto hope!

Here is where I found my personal “sign” of hope….This week, when I watched the signing of the Peace Accord and Declaration of Peace between the United Arab Emerites and Bahrain and Israel at the White House, and when I heard their leaders speak of a new “official” relationship with the State of Israel, I felt that I was seeing a “sign” of hope for our times. Although this is a far cry from an all encompassing peace in the Middle East, and despite the fact that these two Arab countries were not actually at war with Israel, I felt that this is a step toward peace. The UAE and Bahrain will now, for the first time ever, have embassies in Israel and will “normalize” their relations with Israel.

I remember seeing Anwar Saadat making peace with Israel many years ago. That was truly momentous, especially since Egypt had been at war with Israel for such a long time. That was amazing. Nevertheless, the new recognition of Israel by two Arab nations that had not previously officially had ties with Israel, seemed to me to be a “sign” of potential blessing in this world.

I try my best to hold onto the sentiment of Psalm 27: “Place your hope in Adonai” at all times. But, in the midst of all the difficulties we are facing in our country and in the world at large at this time, I must say that seeing something concrete that actually points to possible avenues for peace in our world is helpful.

“Hopefully”, we will see more and more “signs” of peace, of healing, and of blessing as we move into the new Jewish year of 5781!

That is my prayer!

And now, please enjoy some tips on traditional observance of Rosh HaShanah:

Candle lighting on the first night of Rosh Hashanah should be at least 18 minutes before sunset. We recite two blessings as we light the candles: Baruch atta Adonai, eloheynu melech haOlam, asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbbat v’shel Yom Tov.

Baruch atta Adonai, eloheynu melech haOlam, sh’heh’cheyanu v’kiyyemanu v’higianu lazeman hazeh.

On Saturday night, the second day of Rosh HaShanah begins and we light the candles (from a pre-existing flame) on Saturday night at least 25 minutes after sunset.

The blessings on the second night of Rosh HaShana are as follows:

Baruch atta Adonai, eloheynu melech haOlam, asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Yom Tov.

Baruch atta Adonai, eloheynu melech haOlam, sh’heh’cheyanu v’kiyyemanu v’higianu lazeman hazeh.

It is customary to have either a new fruit (first time you eat it this season), or to wear new clothing on this night and have them in mind when we recite the Sh’he’cheyanu blessing on the second night of Rosh HaShana.

I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones all the best for the new Jewish year of 5781.

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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Conservative Movement Stands with San Diego

2019-04-30 13:44:26 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

We are all appalled by the most recent attack on a synagogue in California.

This is what I posted in Facebook in response to the news:

“The message of Passover is “never lose hope” of attaining freedom, of valuing human life, of caring about our lives and about the lives of those around us. The news about today’s attack on the synagogue in Poway, Calif. reminds us that we still have work to do to combat hatred and to bring peace, comfort, blessing, and greater understanding to our world.”

I share with you also, below, the official statement of the entire Conservative Movement, as posted today.

And, following that, I share with you the Secure Communities Network’s practical security recommendations for congregations, as forwarded to our president, Steve Shapiro, by USCJ.

May we see a  more peaceful world, speedily, in our time!

Conservative/Masorti Movement Appalled by Chabad of Poway Shooting

Posted on: Sunday April 28, 2019

At our Seder tables, we retell the Exodus story of the liberation from bondage of the Jewish people. Throughout the Passover holiday, we read of the power of redemption. Sadly, at the very same time when we celebrate the gift of freedom, we also recall the history of anti-semitism which weighs so heavily on us today.

We are deeply saddened and outraged at yet another senseless shooting of worshippers at prayer. This time, at the Chabad synagogue of Poway in San Diego County, one innocent woman has been murdered and three injured, including a child and the synagogue’s rabbi. It is not lost on us that this violence came both on Shabbat and the end of Passover, exactly six months to the day after the deadly shooting of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community.

Jews and all people of faith should be able to enter their houses of worship and live out the lives of their faith without fear, whether in Paris, Oak Creek, Charleston, Pittsburgh, Christchurch, Opelousas, Sri Lanka, Sunnyvale or Poway.

Deeply angered that modern-day anti-semitism has led to the increasing number of attacks on synagogues and Jewish institutions in the United States, we must stand together and condemn all hatred and bigotry. We need to be among the voices that oppose the rising tide of white nationalism and racism, as well as anti-semitism. We must be clear that language matters and indifference to it breeds violence.

The Jewish Community has kept the promise of redemption alive for thousands of years. We will not be deterred as we, along with people of all faiths, continue to work for the day when “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree and no one will make them afraid. (Micah 4:4)

Rabbinical Assembly


Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs

Jewish Educators Assembly

Jewish Theological Seminary

Jewish Youth Director’s Association

Masorti Movement in Israel

Mercaz Olami


The Schechter Institutes, Inc.

Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

The Zacharias Frankel College

Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies

Secure Community Network recommendations for security, as forwarded to our president, Steve Shapiro, by USCJ:

Please note that our partner SCN (Secure Community Network) is recommending that congregations maintain heightened awareness and vigilance and has provided the following suggested security guidance and protective measures for review and consideration:

  • Encourage all members of the community – professional and lay leadership, staff, faculty, students and community members – to exercise heightened situational awareness
  • Convene your Security Committee or Crisis Management Team to review current security program, policies, and procedures, discussing appropriate measures for your facility, organization and community
  • Focus on access control: monitor and control who is coming into your facility. Keep access points to a minimum, preferably single entry/egress points when practical
  • Establish or renew contact with your local law enforcement to ensure they are familiar with your facility, current security concerns and are aware of any services or special events
  • Ensure all individuals, particularly greeters, ushers and other staff, are trained to observe & report suspicious activity and are familiar with emergency procedures (i.e. evacuations)
  • Announce to attendees, prior to the start of the event, any relevant emergency procedures and/or policies
  • Establish a crisis communications plan and capability to include both internal and external communications and messaging
  • Consider the use of off-duty police as deemed necessary for the scope, size and location of services or events at your facility
  • Conduct internet and social media searches on any events to determine if anyone is actively discussing it, including any discussions calling unwanted attention toward your facility or promoting protests or violence

Thank you,

Leslie Lichter                                                   Ned Gladstein
COO                                                                   President



Rabbi Gilah Dror

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A Message from Rabbi in The Messenger Newsletter

2018-01-02 15:33:57 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

Humility (in Hebrew: anavah) is a gateway to growth.

As our new Temple building takes shape, we are gearing up to enter a new space, a new era, and… a new adventure! We look forward to getting to know our new physical space better. We look forward to getting to know one another better. And we look forward to greeting new faces in our new Temple. In short, we look forward to growth, in more ways than one….

What spiritual tools will we take with us?

I share with you here some thoughts on the importance of humility as a spiritual tool and, particularly, as a gateway to growth.

In truth, humility is one of the most illusive human characteristics. It is as hard to define as it is to develop and to maintain.

The Torah tells us that Moses, at the height of his “career,” was the most humble (in Hebrew: anav) of all people. Some Biblical translations use the word “meek” as a translation of the Hebrew word anav. Certainly, Moses was not meek. He was strong – stronger than most of us. Other Biblical translations use the word “humble.” Perhaps they chose this translation, rather than “meek,” because we know that Moses’ brand of anavah was a combination of humility along with strength, along with resolve, along with dedication and along with love.

As I see it, humility is a gateway to growth, because in order for us to grow as individuals and as a community, we must be open to absorbing the significance of new information and of new ideas. We need to be humble enough to know that despite our strengths and abilities, we don’t have all the answers ourselves. That is the nature of humility – the kind of humility that opens a gateway to growth.

A story is told about a king who wanted to demonstrate his humility. So, in a royal procession, the king took care to walk on foot behind his empty royal carriage. This king missed the point that our tradition teaches. He missed the point that humility, as exhibited by Moses in the Bible, is not what shows on the outside. Humility is what is felt in our hearts.

As Moses led our people on a journey toward The Promised Land, Moses never lost sight of the goals of our people. He never lost sight of his quest to “know God.” Yet he accepted that, despite the fact that he was chosen by God to lead our
people from Egypt and from slavery to The Promised Land and to freedom, even he could not know everything about God. Moses accepted the fact that neither he nor any other human being could have all the answers. That is the kind of humility that leads to growth – to the appreciation of new opportunities both physical and spiritual, and to greater connection and love in our relationships with God and with our fellow human beings!

Which spiritual tools would you have us take with us as we look forward toward our future? I welcome your thoughts and comments on this question.

I take this opportunity to with us all a wonderful winter and a very happy Purim!!!! May our joy and our humility move us forward and connect us better to one another, day in and day out.

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Rabbi's Column in Bi-Monthly "Messenger"

2016-08-31 14:02:27 RST Web Admin

Relocation is a blessing!
Dear Friends,
There is a popular modern Hebrew phrase: “Meshaneh makom, meshaneh mazal.”  Freely translated, this phrase means: “Relocation is a blessing!”  More literally, the phrase means:  “When a person moves to a new place, their luck changes (for the good).”  And so, even as we feel the stress of moving to a new location, folk wisdom reassures us that ultimately change will be for the good.
The tradition upon which this modern folk wisdom is based is found in the following passage of the Babylonian Talmud (Rosh HaShana 16b):  “Rabbi Yitzhak taught: Four things cancel one’s doom, namely; charity, heartfelt prayer, changing one’s name and changing one’s actions….Some say that change of place [also avails].”
Various explanations of this Talmudic passage have been offered.  Some say that our Sages were keenly aware of the role that environment plays in our lives.  Their way of describing this environmental affect on our lives was to say that each land, or territory, was ruled by the edicts of its own particular angel.  When a person moves from one land to another, from one city to another, from one territory to another, that person is moving out of the realm of one angel and into the realm of an entirely different angel. What a wonderful way to describe the adjustments that become necessary when one relocates!  Our Sages understood that each place has a unique “physical climate” which in turn affects its “spiritual climate.”  And when we move, we must adjust accordingly.   The same is true of a congregation that moves….
There is a more mystical explanation of the idea that change of makom [place] helps change our destiny for the good.  In Hebrew, traditionally, one of God’s names is haMakom.  God is “the place” that “contains” us all.   God is everywhere.  In a mystical sense, Meshaneh Makom, meshaneh mazal means: “One who changes God, changes one’s destiny [for the good].”  Now, how do we, mere humans, “change God?”  By performing mitzvoth!   In other words, according to the mystics: When we perform mitzvoth, God is pleased, and as a result we succeed in affecting our destiny for the good!
With the High Holy Days right around the corner, relocation takes on an added dimension.  When we move, we realize that we know ourselves in our former environment.  But, what hidden potential might be unearthed in our new environment?  Will we be able to see ourselves in a new light?  Will we discover new avenues in which we may shine?   Will we be renewed?  Folk wisdom, based on the Talmudic teaching of Rosh HaShana from ancient times, assures us that there is a silver lining to relocation.  In fact, the theme of the High Holy Days, teshuva, is a spiritual form of relocation!
Each year, we change.  As the High Holy Days approach we try to discern the import of the changes we have undergone and to realign ourselves with an eye toward the future.  But, this year, the physical change we have made as a congregation will make the process of discerning who we are and who we want to be going forward that much more tangible.
May our relocation be for a blessing!  May we embrace the New Year of 5777 with open hearts and minds,  and with love and appreciation of our rich and powerful tradition.
I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Shana Tova u’metukah – a good year and a sweet year filled with blessing and with joy!

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Rabbi's Column in Bi-Monthly "Messenger"

2015-07-01 08:53:32 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,
In visiting my granddaughters recently, I came across a children’s book named Waiting Is Not Easy.  It is one of the “Elephant and Piggie” series of books by Mo Willens.  And, yes, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to engage a pre-school child in the art of reading and/or listening to storytelling.  However, I mention this book now because it got me thinking about the phenomenon of “waiting” in a Jewish context.

As I write these words, we are in the midst of the Jewish month of Tevet.  As you may know, this Jewish month is associated with one of the stages of the flood story that affected Noah and his family.  According to our tradition, it was in the month of Tevet that Noah first saw mountaintops appear from beneath the gradually receding floodwaters.  This sighting lifted Noah’s spirits and signaled the beginning of the eventual return of the ark to dry land!

Then and there, according to our tradition, Noah and his family praised God.  They expressed their gratitude immediately even though they understood full well that they would have to wait quite a while before they could actually leave the ark and begin a new chapter of life on dry land.

Since that time, the month of Tevet has been associated, in our tradition, with a sense of “hopeful waiting.”
More commonly known is the fact that we Jews are not strangers to “hopeful waiting” year-round.  We have a time-honored tradition of waiting for the Messiah!  True, we do not sit around and wait, twiddling our thumbs.  We actively seek to make the world a better place; a place that reflects the vision of our prophets for the Messianic era; a place in which justice, peace and mutual responsibility reign along with a deep understanding that all human beings are created in the image of God.

But, we wait, nevertheless….

And, although we often associate mitzvoth [commandments] with “good deeds,” and therefore with actions, rather than with waiting, many of our mitzvoth incorporate much of Jewish wisdom with the express purpose of helping us to craft meaningful waiting as part of our lives.
Take for instance, the mitzvoth associated with keeping kosher.  If we observe these mitzvoth, we wait between meat and dairy meals!  In doing so, we hone our capacity to eat “mindfully.”  We acknowledge the fact that our food comes to us thanks to God and thanks to many other people who have toiled so that we may provide food to our family, to our friends, to our community, and so that we ourselves may eat.  We remind ourselves that we are not entirely self-sufficient; that we are part of a tapestry of life that stems from God and includes the community of individuals who inhabit and who share this world with us.

Waiting is the backdrop of our lives in which mitzvoth, good deeds, are nourished and sustained; an essential part of that backdrop that allows us to thrive in “hopeful waiting” mode.Sometimes, waiting is not easy.  It is, in Jewish tradition, a deeply embedded spiritual exercise that grounds us in reality.  If we learn to incorporate it in our lives, waiting centers us; lifts our spirits; and keeps us hopeful, humble, and grateful!

As we wait with hopeful anticipation to see what blessings the new secular year will bring us…I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very happy and healthy 2016!

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