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Showing posts from October, 2016

Sleepless in the Sukkah

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The first year we had a home of our own our oldest daughter was only a year old and we built a sukkah in our backyard. It started small and we added a bit to it every year. When our kids were little we used to read bedtime stories in the sukkah — taking out the air mattress and pillows and blankets and cuddling up together to read before carrying the kids upstairs to bed. As soon as the kids were old enough, we tried sleeping outside in the sukkah — and it was a huge hit with the kids. The dogs were confused; they could not figure out why we would all sleep outside when there was a perfectly good house right behind us, but they curled up with the kids and waited patiently for the humans to realize that we were supposed to sleep indoors.
And so a family tradition began: every year at Sukkot we picked a weekend night to sleep outside in our Sukkah. We didn’t manage to do it every year, because some years it was just too windy and the sukkah could barely stand, and there was a year or two…

No Regrets - Kol Nidre Sermon 5777

No RegretsSermon for Kol Nidrei 5777 Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik Temple Ahavat Shalom – Northridge, California

The Maggid of Dubnow was once passing through a town and came upon an old, abandoned barn. On the side of this barn were 100 targets. And in the center of each target, was an arrow.  100 targets, 100 bullseyes. He was amazed. Immediately he went to the town square  and asked the villagers who was the marksman that had such amazing skill. They pointed to a boy,  sitting off to the side with a bow and quiver next to him. “Young man,” he asked him,  “how is that you are so skilled to have accomplished this incredible feat with your bow and arrow?” “It’s really easy,” the boy replied, “I shoot the arrows first, and then I paint the targets around them.”
If you draw the bullseyes after you shoot the arrows, you never regret a single shot.
American culture celebrates this “No Regrets” attitude. We hear it all the time, as if living life without regrets is the secret to happiness. L…

Reshuffling Life - Erev Rosh Hashanah 5777

“Reshuffling Life” Sermon for Erev Rosh HaShanah 5777 Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik Temple Ahavat Shalom – Northridge, California

What if you could arrange the events of your life in another way? Perhaps you wonder how different your teenage years might have been if only you had the knowledge you have now… or maybe some of us wish we still possessed the optimism and energy of our youth. We might imagine reordering entire days or years of our life.
Author David Eagleman imagines a different way to organize the events of your life. In his vision of the afterlife you relive all of your experiences, but similar activities are grouped together. He writes:
You sleep for thirty years without opening your eyes. You take all your pain at once, all twenty-seven intense hours of it. Once you make it through, it's agony-free for the rest of your afterlife. But that doesn't mean it's always pleasant. Eighteen months waiting in line.  You can't take a shower until it's your time to t…