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Lag B'Omer and Respect

05/19/2022 02:48:25 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

We know the song RESPECT originally recorded by Otis Redding and made even more famous by Aretha Franklin.

On Lag B'Omer we remember that the plague which afflicted Rabbi Akiba's students ended. We know they were plagued by a lack of respect for each other.  (See link below for more information about Lag B'Omer).

As we wrestle with the world around us, how do we deal with issues about which we...Read more...

Holiness in Our Everyday Lives

05/12/2022 02:53:44 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

We are celebrating Shabbat with family at a family Bar Mitzvah this weekend north of LA.

As a congregational rabbi over the years, I have not had many opportunities to experience the holiness of Shabbat with family

In a posting about this week's Torah portion, Emor, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes about the opportunities that human beings have to experience the realm of holiness which we sometimes think is...Read more...

Yom HaAtzmaut & Mother's Day

05/05/2022 03:08:15 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

First of all, let's start with the sadness...we have surpassed one million deaths due to COVID-19, and our thoughts and prayers are with all who have been impacted by the pandemic. There really are no words to express how much the pandemic has influenced all of us. Please be careful and safe as we continue to watch the number of COVID cases rising again.

On a happier note, we join our Israeli brothers...

Israel's Memorial Day

05/04/2022 12:02:59 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

As we commemorate Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day, I want to share one of the most inspirational moments of my rabbinic career.  

I was in Israel with a group of teenagers and the siren sounded.  Please note the Israeli custom for Israel's Memorial Day in the link below.

We got out of the bus and were invited to join a group of Israel soldiers who were having a private ceremony.  At...Read more...

Yom HaShoah

04/27/2022 12:14:19 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

As we commemorate Yom HaShoah, the day set aside to commemorate the Holocaust, I hope you will look at the link below.  

As I try to deal with the challenges of what the Shoah means, I personally turn to Viktor Frankl. Please check the link below.

Here is a quote that inspires me to think about the role we as human beings have, to be sure that "never again" is more than an empty slogan.


Counting the Omer

04/26/2022 01:03:33 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

During this time of the year we count the Omer.  As you  will see from the following links, counting the omer reminds us of the grain offering that was brought to the Temple.

Once again, we see the agricultural, spiritual, and historical reasons for our Holidays.

Please note that another explanation for the period of mourning is due to the plague which impacted upon Rabbi Akiba's students...Read more...

Love and Renewal

04/21/2022 01:18:54 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

As we complete Passover this weekend, I hope that you have found your personal journey during the Festival to be meaningful.

When we asked what makes this night different from all other nights, we all are mindful that we could be asking what makes this year different from all other years?

We continue to watch the war in Ukraine and realize that now over 5 million refugees have embarked on their own...Read more...

How is This Year Different?

04/11/2022 04:40:35 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

As we celebrate our Passover seder this year, what makes this year different from all other years?

We are watching the horrors in Ukraine and I hope that in fulfillment of the mitzvah of maot chittin (see link below), that we will donate whatever we would have given or received for an afikomen prize to the humanitarian aid being provided for the victims of the war.  

We have just seen the...

Partners in Creation

04/07/2022 05:04:36 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

I am including a link to  an article that I hope you will read. Since this is Shabbat HaGadol, the great Shabbat, I wanted to share some Pesach information with you which you might want to include as you plan your seder, and discuss the meaning of freedom in our world today (see link below).

I am tremendously excited to write this column and welcome Rabbi Warner Ferratier (aka "Rabbi Warner") to...Read more...

Special Message from Rabbi Aft

04/01/2022 09:04:00 AM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

As I enter the final three months of my tenure as your interim rabbi, I feel it is important for me to share some observations and some information about myself.

I am not really a rabbi. I am a Catholic Priest and the person who wishes she had known this almost 46 years ago (my wife) is very upset with my lack of transparency. When I told her this recently, she said "free at last, free at last, thank G-d almighty,...Read more...

Lashon HaTov-Praise

03/31/2022 12:10:07 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

In what is not my favorite portion of the Torah, Tazria, which among other things deals with leprosy, I wanted to share the following which we discussed at the weekly Torah study yesterday.

Many commentators suggest that the references to leprosy are a reference to lashon hara or negative speech.  We talked about trying to say nice things and the power of lashon ha tov, or good speech, to make a difference...Read more...

Passover & the Pursuit of Peace

03/30/2022 02:45:43 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

In every generation we are to remember that we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. As we prepare to celebrate Passover this year, we have watched and may still be watching the devastation occurring in Ukraine.

I hope that each of us will continue to support those in need. Please read the item below about the custom of Maot Chitin where we learn about helping those in need at...Read more...

Female Firsthood

03/24/2022 11:02:01 AM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

As we approach the milestone of the 100th anniversary of Judith Kaplan Eisentein's Bat Mitzvah, I wanted to share the article below from the Jewish Forward. Thanks to Gwen Sloan for forwarding this to me.

On Friday night by Zoom I will be speaking about my meeting with Judith Kaplan Eisenstein when our daughter became Bat Mitzvah. I hope you will join us by Zoom on Friday night to hear the story and its...Read more...

A Family Affair

03/17/2022 06:50:11 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

I wanted to share a very  special moment that occurred last night at the Megillah reading for Purim.

As we were reading the Megillah, Dan and Sarah Moldover acted out one of the chapters. Although they may never win an academy award for their acting smiley, it...Read more...

Important Message from Gil Preuss

03/14/2022 02:19:37 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Rabbi Aft asked that this important message from Gil Preuss, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, be shared with the Beth Emeth community.

From: Gil Preuss  
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2022 2:02 PM
Subject: Our Impact in Ukraine: A Message from Gil Preuss

March 11, 2022

This Sunday, I am honored to be traveling to Poland and the border of Ukraine with The Jewish...Read more...

Let Us Strengthen Each Other

03/03/2022 07:13:28 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

The following note has been written by Dave Schreiber who has actively worked on the following project. His devotion and care are making a tremendous impact on our caring community. Thank you, Dave, for writing this article that I have edited and for all your dedication to this project. We are grateful.

*   *   *   *   *   * ...

Whom shall I fear?

02/24/2022 04:49:18 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

As I write this column we are all watching the events  occuring in the Ukraine. Our thoughts and prayers are for peace, but right now, those prayers do not seem to be working.

During a week in which we read Parshat VaYakhel and we talk about what helps build a community, I ask myself, "what should our community do at a time like this?"

Honestly, I reflect upon the commentaries that are suggesting...

Dear Fellow Sinners

02/17/2022 03:12:16 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Fellow Sinners,

Wow...what is this interim rabbi thinking?  He called us sinners....

Well, this is the week we read about the Golden Calf in the Torah. We know that this is considered a grave sin and yet, is it?

We are taught to not make any graven images to worship. And yet....all we knew up until that time in our history we were surrounded by the ancient near eastern custom of idol worship. We were the...Read more...

Clothed in Good Deeds

02/10/2022 03:32:39 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

How many of us have heard, "dress for success" when we have been scheduling something important?  How important are our clothes?

Our Torah reading this week speaks about sacred clothing and how our ancient holy people would dress up. Today we are far less formal and although rabbis used to wear robes, that doesn't happen much anymore (except white robes or a kittel on the High Holidays and Three Major...Read more...

Ask Not...

02/03/2022 03:55:16 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

It was an influential quote in my lifetime...I was a six year old child and it made a significant impression on me. I often wonder if I have just heard about it, or whether I really remember the actual quote.  In any event, I want to share it with you.

John Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Why am I writing about that today? In this week's...Read more...

Holocaust Remembrance Day

01/27/2022 11:04:05 AM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

I hope you will take a few minutes to reflect upon the issues we are facing in today's world. (See below)

In this week's Torah portion, we read about the "stranger."  We have been strangers in many places at many times and hopefully today's commemoration will remind us to be diligent in trying to reach out to those who are oppressed. We need to be...Read more...

Ten Commandments

01/20/2022 12:16:25 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Since we read the10 Commandments this Shabbat I thought I would share them with you.

When I was 10 years old, my Dad found these at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY and copied them down. He presented me with this typed version which has always been an inspiration to me.

Thou shalt not quit. Thou shalt not alibi. Thou shalt not gloat over winning. Thou shalt not sulk...Read more...

"Ya Got to Have a Dream"

01/13/2022 11:35:03 AM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

Can you imagine the stress that our ancestors faced as they escaped slavery and journeyed toward freedom?

And front of them was the Sea of Reeds (the Red Sea) and they had to decide what to do.

As you would expect, there wasn't agreement among the Israelites. According to our rabbinic midrash, there were at least four groups of people. As we cried out, there was the group of people who sat down...Read more...

Tzedek Tzedek, Tirdof

01/06/2022 03:05:07 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

This is a tough column to write as we commemorate the first anniversary of the attack on the Capitol.

As we all watched events unfold last year, we seemed to be united in our hopes that our democracy could continue to function and that this horrible event would never be repeated.

A year later, we know that there are many different views about what occurred a year ago.  My role is NOT to engage in a...Read more...

Do You Hear What I Hear?

12/30/2021 03:47:54 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

First of all, Happy 2022.  This past secular year has challenged all of us and I hope that the new year will give us renewed energy to deal with the challenges of covid and whatever else comes our way in the new year.  It will be an exciting year for CBE since the congregation will be starting a new journey with a new rabbi this summer.  What a special time....I hope everyone will try to interact with the...Read more...

Somebody's Son

12/09/2021 02:29:49 PM


Dear Friends,

In preparation for this week's Torah study class which I teach on Wednesday at noon by  zoom (You should join us! Here's the schedule & info for the rest of December, and for the following 6 months), I shared the following story which was part of a posting by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, of blessed memory.

The following is a short story based on “Somebody’s Son” by Richard Pindell.

As David...

Pearl Harbor Day

12/07/2021 04:31:21 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends, 

I found this article online.  Although it was written five years ago, I believe that it serves as an important reminder of December 7, 1941 on the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

May the families of  those who lost their lives that day find comfort in our support and remembrance of the sacrifice that all our military members and their families make.

Zichronam...

Let's Not Let the Light Go Out

12/02/2021 03:47:52 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

As we continue our celebration of Chanukah I want to reiterate something I said last night at the special Chanukah celebration.

In the Talmud, regarding the lighting of the Chanukiah (Chanukah Menorah), Rabbis Hillel and Shammai debate whether one lights one candle the first night and adds a candle each night or whether one should light all eight candles the first night and then subtracts one each...Read more...

Making a Difference

11/23/2021 06:23:52 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

It was the first time I saw my Mom cry.  The date was November 22, 1963 and Monday we commemorated the 58th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy.

Whatever our political affiliation, we all recall the days of "Camelot."  Whether our nostalgic recollection is accurate or not, I am inspired by the memory of JFK's comment, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for...Read more...

What's Jewish About Thanksgiving?

11/18/2021 03:42:52 PM


Rabbi Bruce Aft

Dear Friends,

I hope you find this article will inspire meaningful Thanksgiving celebrations.

Please be safe and enjoy time with people you love over Thanksgiving.  After being alone last year, we are treasuring our opportunity to be with our children and one of our grandchildren.

My column will resume after...

Tue, May 24 2022 23 Iyyar 5782