Torah Tidbits

Where Do We Go From Here?      featured-rabbi

Shabbat Parashat Vayikra

Rosh Chodesh Nisan

Shabbat HaChodesh

March 21, 2015 – 1 Nisan 5775

Dear Friends,

I have been asked all week what I think about the Israeli elections.  As I reflect on the election process we have just witnessed, I find it inspiring and amazing that over 70% of the eligible voters in Israel went to the polls and voted!  The citizens of Israel care deeply about Israel and about its future.  They care enough to turn out in huge numbers to cast their ballot.

Whether we are pleased with the results or not, it is important for us to remember that the electoral system in Israel is quite different than our own system here in the United States.  And, it is important to note that although the Likud party, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, garnered the most votes in this election, the majority of the voters in Israel actually voted for a panoply of other parties!

So, where do we go from here?  Now that the election is over, it is time for action!  The ultra-Orthodox parties have already said that they would join the coalition government if the laws favoring pluralism and inclusivity in Israel are rolled back.  It is up to those of us who champion pluralism and inclusivity make our voices heard.  Many of us have already voted for Mercaz (Slate #2) in the World Zionist Congress elections.  If we have not voted, there is still time until April 30th for us to cast our votes for pluralism in Israel.   I urge all of us to do our part and support not only Israel itself, but also the sacred values of pluralism in Israel.  We have many brothers and sisters in Israel who share those values with us.  And there are many Conservative kehillot in Israel where pluralism, inclusivity and Jewish life  come together in real expression of those values.  So, let us not forget to contribute to Masorti, the Conservative Movement in Israel,  in order to help bolster our sister Conservative/Masorti communities in Israel.

I know that Passover is on our minds as we usher in the Jewish month of Nisan this evening.  Let us remember that Passover is a holiday celebrating vision, action and hope.  In ancient times, our people voted with their feet.   They courageously followed God’s direction to move away from the binding strictures of enslavement and toward the Promised Land.  The journey was circuitous.  It was not easy.  But, on Passover we will celebrate their willingness to move forward toward a better future.

May we be blessed with that same strength of spirit, hope, and determination to move ourselves and our community forward toward the future we envision in our most sacred prayers and vision.

And please enjoy the Pesah Tips below…

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov – a Good Month!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Pesah [Passover] Tips 5775

Dear Friends,

Following are some tips on traditional Passover observances:

Thursday Evening, April 2-

Bedikat Hametz

– (Search for leaven): This is customarily done on the night before Passover immediately after sunset.


This ritual is especially effective and enjoyable for children…This is what we do:

a) Make sure all Hametz [leaven] has been removed or locked away, with the exception of what will be needed for the morning for early breakfast…

b)   Place several pieces of bread (of visible size) in various locations throughout the house.

c) Make the following blessing: Baruch ata Adonai, eloheynu melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al biur Hametz. Then, proceed (traditionally with lighted candle, feather or brush and a box or cloth for the bread collected) to look for any leaven that may be found in the house.

d) After all the bread pieces are found and gathered, make the following declaration: “All manner of leaven that is in my possession which I have not seen or have not removed, or have no knowledge of, shall be null and disowned as the dust of the earth.”

Friday Morning, April 3-

Ta’anit Bekhorim (Fast of the Firstborn) – This daytime fast applies to the firstborn of either a mother or father. If you participate in a siyyum, completion of study of a tractate of rabbinic literature, this may be followed by a se’udat mitzvah, a meal accompanying the performance of a mitzvah. Here, the performance of the mitzvah is the completion of study. All firstborn in attendance at a siyyum are then permitted to eat!

Biur Hametz -The container of hametz, gathered the evening before, is to be burned. The burning of the hamtez should be completed by the fifth hour after sunrise. No blessing is recited. However, a slightly modified version of the formula for nullification of hametz is recited, as follows: “Any leaven that may still be in the house, which I have or have not seen, which I have or have not removed, shall be as if it does not exist, and as the dust of the earth.”

Preparation for Yom Tov [Festival]:

On Yom Tov, kindling a new fire is not permitted; however, the use of an existing fire for cooking or other purposes is permitted. On Shabbat, neither kindling a new fire nor transferring an existing fire is permitted.

To allow you to light candles for the second day of Yom Tov (Saturday night) ensure you have a fire burning before the beginning of Shabbat that will continue to burn at least until after dark when Shabbat ends. A pilot light or a long-burning (25-hour-plus) candle may be used for this purpose. During Yom Tov, one can light successive candles by transferring the flame.

On both Friday night when lighting the candles, we recite the blessings: “Barukh Attah Adonai eloheynu melekh ha-olam asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat v’shel Yom Tov” and “…Shehecheyanu…”

On Saturday night, after dark, when lighting the candles, we recite the blessings: “Barukh Attah Adonai eloheynu melekh ha-olam asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Yom Tov” and “…Shehecheyanu…”

On Friday night the candles are lit before sundown. On Saturday night the candles are lit at least 25 minutes after sunset, by transferring the fire from an existing flame.

Most importantly, have a wonderful, happy, healthy and kosher Pesah and may this year be a year of true redemption and peace for us and for all of Israel and for all peoples everywhere!

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy and Kosher Passover!


Rodef Sholom Temple