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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...

“Jacob encountered the place….”

“Jacob encountered the place….”

As Jacob flees Esau, the Bible relates that he “encountered” or, more literally, “struck” a place. The Midrash imagines the place is none other than the place of Isaac’s almost sacrifice. At the very moment of leaving, Jacob encounters the most profound of family dramas, the binding of his father, the man who taught him to think of God as “the fear of...Read more...

Welcoming the Stranger


 

Kol Emeth has been fortunate to be thriving the last few years. The pandemic, for all the damage it did, also reminded people how much they need Shabbat and a spiritual community. Further, our new building appeals in a new way that complements our amazing team and congregation. I want to share with you a few ideas that have been powering that growth.

First: Kol Emeth is a serious...Read more...

Yep, He Really Said That

 

In recent weeks, there have been several disturbing expressions of antisemitism. Two people spoke from unbelievable depths of ignorance. One of whom should have known better, and pretended he was “only joking.” In none of these cases have the people involved apologized in a meaningful way or...Read more...

Elections, Elections, Elections, Elections, Elections

I believe in democracy as a system. I don’t always like the results, and the nature of democracy is to careen around in sometimes frightening and worrisome ways. And though it consistently works badly, it's also consistently better than anything else.

I don’t like the outcome of the recent Israeli elections. I am concerned that Netanyahu’s continued involvement in Israeli political life has become...Read more...

CyberTorah: The Sukkah as a Gateway to noticing the good.

Criticism of others is hard wired into the human psyche. When something goes poorly, especially
something that matters to us, we react as though the difficulty or failing is a threat. This floods the body
with all kinds of hormones that narrow our cognition and focus us on the threat. While this made sense
your friend has just foolishly thrown away his spear, it limits our response to today’s challenges.


As a...Read more...

From Fear to Joy


Fear is important. Let’s be honest: being afraid motivates. I can move surprisingly fast when I think
someone I love is in trouble. I avoid walking in certain areas with large frightening dogs. There are times
with family and friends when I am afraid of hurting someone and I act out of worry and anxiety. Fear
matters and motivates.


Yet, fear is only a tool to recognize what matters to me. I am afraid of that...Read more...

May we enter Yom Kippur whole and take our leave from Yom Kippur whole

Yom Kippur is both the most hopeful and most difficult Jewish day of the year. On the one hand, it rings
out and is filled with hope because it asserts we can change. The whole idea of Teshuvah, of repentance,
is that we are not prisoners of our past, of the scripts that we and our parents and families have written
for us. We are capable of writing our own entries in the Book of Life. With introspection and prayer, we
are...Read more...

A Guide to Surviving Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur  Or – Seven Tips to a Meaning – Filled Days of Awe

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are overwhelming and liturgically dense.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the experience.  Worse, since we do it every year, it’s easy to let it all pass over us and get bored.  Here follow seven tips to having a meaningful, spiritual, experience during the Holidays.

 

Make the experience personal.   Rosh Hashanah and Yom...Read more...

 Writing Scripts of Hope


 Writing Scripts of Hope

People often say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” or “God only sends us what we can handle.” I believe these related sentiments are almost entirely untrue. Certain challenges do strengthen us and teach us how to handle adversity. And I suppose by definition anything we survive we can handle. And yet, I believe losses and challenges wound us...Read more...

From Where Does Our Comfort Come?

When our hearts are broken , we seek comfort. The sources of heart break are many and varied. We may lose a loved one, even after a full and rich life, and stand bereft. People expect us to heal quickly;  after all, he lived to a ripe old age. And: my partner of 60 years is no longer in my bed.  And my parent who raised me and whom I called every Sunday morning for my entire adult life can no longer take my call.We wait and crave comfort...Read more...

CyberTorah: Clean Air

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Please join me Tuesday morning at 10:30am for the Kol Emeth Institute for MeaningfuRead 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...
Fri, December 9 2022 15 Kislev 5783