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Welcome to CyberTorah

 Torah Commentary by Rabbi David Booth

CyberTorah is a weekly commentary by Rabbi David Booth, spiritual leader of Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, California.

Rabbi Booth was educated at the University of Judaism in...Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] Passover Supplement for Ukrainian Refugees

Passover has alway been a celebration that has both the bitter and the sweet. We remember persecution and violence and the possibility of redemption. We hid the afikomen because we have to actively pursue freedom. We are partners with God in bringing light and hope into the world. I offer you these two additions for this years' Seder to help our ritual open our eyes to how we can bring light into the world...Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat

At the beginning of the Seder we open our doors and invite all who are hungry to come and eat. At this time of year as we celebrate freedom and remember a time of deprivation and slavery, we make a special effort to feed the hungry and to house the homeless. We were slaves in Egypt, starving and eating little but unleavened bread. We remember and we reach out today to those in need...Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] A Guide for the Passover Perplexed

As Passover draws near, it is time to get our homes and kitchens ready for this special Holiday.  This guide offers an overview of home preparation...Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] Upside Down

The world is a topsy turvy place.  Who would have thought that Ukraine, one of the most antisemitic places during the Holocaust, would have a Jewish president in 2022? And who would think that same President would have started his career as an actor playing a character who shockingly becomes President of Ukraine? Or that he would then become such an inspiring world leader? The world surprises us again and again. Surprises happen on the world stage and in our personal lives. We can think we are strong and healthy and then discover that our bodies are more vulnerable than we thought. Those physical limitations then require a new understanding of who we are as people....Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] Special Afghan Edition

Special Afghan Edition: As many of you know, Dr. Sedique Popal came to Kol Emeth to talk about his efforts in helping Afghan refugees settle in the Bay Area. As part of a lay-led Afghan Mosque, the community has become a sort of default community and support agency similar to the old landsmenhachft shuls in New York. As a result of his visit, I am so proud of the way Kol Emeth has stepped up. People have ordered blankets and clothing to help people through the winter. We have ordered diapers so babies can be cared for.  And, several of our members have stepped forward to be sponsors of Afghan refugees to help move them more quickly through the immigration process....Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] Sabbatical

I will be away on sabbatical from Dec 28th-March 14th. This is the second half of a five month sabbatical the congregation has so generously offered me from my previous contract. I had put it off until after we entered the new building because it didn’t seem feasible to be away while we were in transition....Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] Hanukkat HaBayit

Long ago, the Maccabees succeeded in rededicating the Temple in Jerusalem. They rejoiced with palms, sang and circled the Temple precincts. The moment was of such amazing joy that the community called for the Jewish people to observe these festive days for all time. And so the festival of Hanukkah was born as a Jewish time of celebration. This Hanukkah, we too are dedicating our new Synagogue....Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] MOVE Mountain View

Give generously this Thanksgiving to MOVE Mountain View, a charity dedicated to serving those in cars, RVs and other vehicles to find safe parking and more permanent housing. Driving along El Camino, I see dozens of RVs parked. There are families living there. People with young children who have no other housing options in this area. They live out of a vehicle that may have beds, but lacks water and power hookups. The conditions fail the most basic sanitation and plumbing needs that we all take for granted in our homes, condos, and apartments.Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] Make These Lights Bright

Make These Lights BrightLast Friday marked the beginning of the month of Kislev. We are at the point where each day gets a little darker, where everyRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] A Passionate Conservative Jew

A Passionate Conservative JewI am drawn passionately to being a Conservative Jew because we engage the world on a spiritual level that is open to newRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] The Meaning Behind Separation

The Meaning Behind SeparationGod’s speech in the Creation story begins with terse powerful words. Let there be light – two words only in the HebrRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] Israel and Sukkot

Israel and SukkotAt this festival of Sukkot, with its deep roots in the land of Israel, I am unabashedly pro-Israel and Zionist.Sukkot is all abouRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] Everything Is Breath

Everything Is BreathEverything is breath and hot air. So says the writer of Kohelet. All our striving and effort under the sun counts for nothing. LRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] To Be A Sukkah

Announcements:The only response to Jew-hatred is Ahavat Yisrael, love of Jews, Judaism, and Israel. Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjMuRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] Rewriting the Past and the Future

Rewriting the Past and the FutureFrom a certain vantage, the past is fixed. All that has formed a person to this point has already occurred and can nRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] Feeding the Hungry

Feeding the HungryOver the last few weeks, I have suggested two of four steps towards a Heshbon Hanefesh project. Heshbon Hanefesh is the weighing ofRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] Planting Gratitude

Planting GratitudeIn ancient Israel, farmers across the land would bring their first fruits to the Priests and declare their gratitude to God for thRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] Covid and Gatherings

Covid and GatheringsWe are living through a greatly challenging time which strikes at some of our deepest most human hopes. Masking saves lives andRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] Appoint Judges and Police

Appoint Judges and PoliceAppoint judges and police in all the places God is giving you…Justice, justice you shall pursue that you may thrive! (Dt.Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] The end of Masada

The end of MasadaFor many years, Masada was the driving myth of Israel. Israel is on the mountain, surrounded by enemies, making a last stand. IsraelRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] No, its not an apartheid state

No, it's not an apartheid state. I find myself in an odd position of needing to explain why Israel is not an apartheid state. I preface this essay with a full awareness that Israel’s control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is replete with ethical challenges. Israel has sometimes failed to live up to the highest ethical standards in its treatment of the Palestinians. Its occupation of the West Bank is more ethically nuanced than Gaza because the Palestinian Authority works with Israeli security to prevent attacks and because movement is so restricted, sometimes in arbitrary ways.Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] The Many Hued Garment of Anti-Semitism

The Many Hued Garment of Anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is real. It clothes itself in various ways and survives and metastasizes in surprising ways. We are used to – and in some ways inoculated against- neo-Nazi and white supremacist anti-Semitism. Our familiarity with its tropes and language means we can easily recognize it and be on guard against it. The risks of this flavor of anti-Semitism have increased in recent years, in part due to the ability of people to form micro communities of hate via social media, but at least we know it when we see it.Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] I Pray For Peace

I Pray For PeaceI mourn the loss of life and property over the last few weeks in Israel. The human suffering of Jews and Arabs has been immense. OnlyRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] Kol Emeth is (partly) back in person!

Kol Emeth is (partly) back in person!We are beginning the process of re-opening Kol Emeth to in person events. I am excited to  reconnect with peopRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] Change the Spirit, Change the World

Change the Spirit, Change the WorldBeing holy is expressed through how we treat one another. When God offers us instructions on holiness, God beginsRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] Living After

Announcements: We have a wonderful Covid task force, consisting of our Synagogue President, Marc Bader, staffed by our executive director, Risa BecRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] Israel and Hope

Rabbi Akiva lived in the generation after the destruction of the Temple. For him, the catastrophe was both spiritual and human. Over 30% of the Jewish people were slaughtered at that time with no hope of a sovereign future. God created something from nothing; Rabbi Akiva’s generation created hope from the deepest despair.Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] Resilience and Jewish Wisdom, or Great Insults of the Talmud

I believe our best selves can always get along with someone else’s best self. When we are curious, genuinely interested in the other, all sorts of bridges can be built, all types of gaps overcome. Yet I’m interested in exploring: what about when we DON’T bring our best selves? What happens when we are impatient, unwilling to listen, certain of our own position?...Read more...

[KE CyberTorah] God Who Redeems

Here we go again! I believe we are at the beginning of the end of the pandemic. There remains a lot of uncertainty and challenge in front of us. At the same time, the vaccine and declining case counts show us a light at the end of the tunnelRead more...

[KE CyberTorah] Here we go again!

The best tweet of Tuesday’s election in Israel came from the government itself. According to the government minister, “The official in charge of counting the votes has crashed and gone to sleep. More results in two hours.” Aside from the humorous human element to this tweet, it captures the exhaustion around repeated inconclusive elections.Read more...
Tue, June 28 2022 29 Sivan 5782