Friday, September 23, 2011

Just One Shabbos... to go

It's hard to believe that in less than a week Jews all over the world will gather together for an awe inspiring Rosh Hashana experience. It doesn't make a difference how far away someone feels from Judaism, because there is something about this time of year that draws everyone back home. However, I often hear from people that decided to attend a High Holiday service that they expected to walk away feeling energized but to their dismay they feel exhausted. In a traditional service, the Machzor (Rosh Hashana prayer book) has hundreds of pages. All of the prayers are said in a language that we are not that familiar with and if you actually make it through to the end you barely have enough energy to get back home. So what happened to the energy and inspiration?

For the most part its due to a lack of preparation. Judaism always insists that we work hard for something if we truly want it to have a real impact. Now that our Rosh Hashana Beginner service is completely full, I hope that those of you that have signed up or even those of you that are attending another service will make the effort to enhance your synagogue experience this year, with a special Rosh Hashana Workshop, or what I'd call a pump up session. The service we are running will be very easy to follow, with discussions are all in English and all of the Hebrew texts will be transliterated to make it easier to follow. With that said, we will be starting promptly at 6:45pm with the service. But I want you to think for a moment how great it would be if after attending a simple one hour class on Monday night you would be able to enter the Rosh Hashana experience with a clear focus and direction. That's what we are trying to accomplish with our special Rosh Hashana Workshop on Monday night. I want to make sure that this year's experience will be the best one you have ever had. But I need your help to put in the effort to show up. Please see below for more information about this important class.

Please take a moment to read about all of the new programs that have just been announced. There are also links to all of the interviews that I conducted on Jewish Pride Radio that includes two shows on the ABC's of Rosh Hashana, great interviews and live coverage of the Rally for Israel in NYC. Links to a couple of new videos are all over the email as well. I hope to see you this Shabbat at Friday Night Live at 6:00pm and at the Lome Family Explanatory Service at 10:00am. Even if you have never attended before come and see why everyone keeps coming back for more. Thanks for voting in the Jewish Community Heroes Contest and please remember that you can vote every 24 hours. Stay tuned for the details about a special Sukkot dinner in the Boca Raton Synagogue Sukkah and so much more.

Have an amazing Shabbat and I really hope to see you soon!

Inspire yourself to inspire others...
Rabbi Josh Broide
Boca Raton Jewish Experience
(561) 702-3864

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Live Broadcast of Rally for Israel in NYC

There is a major rally for Israel taking place in NYC on Wednesday (9/21). For those of you that are joining me I look forward to seeing you in in person in New York City for this important event. For those of you that can't make it, there will be an exclusive live feed on Jewish Pride Radio at noon. Just click here.
It's a major event that will be calling upon the United Nations to denounce and desist from the relentless condemnation of Israel, and restore the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance to its rightful purpose of addressing this great evil in our day.
Please watch these important videos and learn about the important issue.
Please see the urgent Invitation from Israel's Members of Knesset - Durban 3

Understanding UN Bias Against Israel -- Invite to Durban 3 Protest, NYC, Sept 21
Finally if you haven't voted today in the Jewish Community Heroes contest, please click here

Thank you and please tune into Jewish Pride Radio at noon for the live broadcast.
Rabbi Josh Broide
Join us Wednesday, September 21 at 12PM as we Protest at the United Nations.

***NOTE the program will start at 12PM but due to the traffic and the large amount of people coming, we strongly recommend that people arrive around 11AM. ***

Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 47th Street between 1st & 2nd Avenue, New York, United States

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Rosh Hashana Gift

Rabbi Josh Broide
Boca Raton Jewish Experience
I spend so much time promoting all of the upcoming programs and classes at the Boca Raton Jewish Experience and all of you know about them well in advance. But sometimes we are all surprised when a special guest shows up unannounced. You can’t plan it and you never know when it’s going to happen, but that’s exactly what happened at Friday Night Live this past Friday night. It was a packed room and standing room only when Rabbi Avi Weiss of Riverdale, New York walked into the room.  In 2011, Newsweek ranked him the 12th most prominent Rabbi in the United States and he is such a warm and special individual. After introducing himself he picked up my guitar taught us some new songs, told us all a special story and left us with a beautiful message about Shabbat. My friends the lesson is simple, as Woody Allen once said “ninety percent of life is just showing up”.

In addition, now that Rosh Hashana is just around the corner I hope that you have either signed up for our free beginner service or told a friend about it. I spent some time last week with Cantor Daniel Adler, going over the tunes and songs that we are going to be using and I can tell you that you are in for a special treat. For those of you that know someone in our community that is not knowledgeable about Rosh Hashana, I urge you to click on the following link and buy them an Easy Outreach Gift. It’s only $4 and it comes with a small jar of honey, some honey cake and a card that contains an explanation of Rosh Hashana. Just think of the incredible opportunity that you have to help someone else experience a sweet new year with such a small and easy gesture.

On Wednesday I will be traveling to New York City to participate in an important rally against the United Nations Durban 3 conference. If you plan on being in the city and would like to join the Boca Raton Jewish Experience, please let me know and I will let you know where we will be meeting. Below you will find the newest video in our “Minute of Inspiration” film series. After viewing it please send this email or send the youtube link to a friend. Finally, please help support my work at the BRJE by voting for me in the Jewish Community Heroes competition that is being sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America by clicking here. Remember to make a note to vote every day, you might be the one that helps us win the $25,000 award for more incredible Jewish outreach programs in Boca Raton.

As we all begin a new week, please take the time to start preparing for Rosh Hashana, if you haven’t already begun to do so.  Judaism is not a religion that believes that we take a magic pill and all of a sudden we will be forgiven for all of our wrongdoings and will automatically experience a happy new year. On the contrary, we believe that we have to work for it and we have to work hard. If there is someone out there who you might of hurt or something that you need to be forgiven for, now is the time to find those people and ask them for forgiveness. It’s certainly not easy and we have to hope that those people understand that we are sincere and regret having wronged them. If you put in the effort now, I can guarantee you that you will have a much more meaningful High Holiday experience and then you can truly look forward to a happy and sweet new year.
Have a fantastic week!

Inspire yourself to inspire others…

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Have You Shown Love and Affection To Someone Today?

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg
The following sermon was delivered by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of the Boca Raton Synagogue this past Shabbat
A few summers ago, I was walking down Ben Yehuda St. and I saw something startling. There were young men and young women holding up signs that said two words on them - free hugs. They had big smiles, positive demeanors and an upbeat attitude and they were literally promoting themselves as available to give free hugs to anyone who wanted. Even more remarkable to me, was that people were actually taking them up on it. I watched as someone would walk by, pause to read the sign and actually go up for their free hug before continuing on their way.

As it turns out, these individuals are part of a worldwide campaign to offer free hugs. What I saw that day on Ben Yehudah is taking place in cities around the world. On the website, the initiator of this campaign tells how it all began:

"I'd been living in London when my world turned upside down and I'd had to come home. By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry-on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home. I was a tourist in my hometown.

Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.
So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, with the words "Free Hugs" on both sides.

And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.

Everyone has problems and for sure mine haven't compared. But to see someone who was once frowning, smile even for a moment, is worth it every time."

Don't worry, I am not suggesting this be the newest campaign for BRS, but the relative success of this initiative reveals something very insightful - people are so desperate for a display of affection that they will even take it from a complete stranger.

"V'haya ki savo el ha'aretz asher Hashem Elokecha nosein lecha nachala..." Our parsha begins with the commandment of bikkurim, obligating the farmer in Israel to bring his first fruits each year to Yerushalayim to be given to the Kohen. Part of the ceremony is the recitation of what we call the mikra bikkurim, a declaration that accompanies the giving of the fruit. In it the farmer reflects on Jewish history, particularly how our forefathers were persecuted, we ended up as slaves in Egypt, but ultimately, Hashem emancipated us, brought us into Israel to settle our homeland in fulfillment of His promise to our patriarchs, and here I am to now, concludes the farmer, to offer my first fruit.

While we traditionally refer to this recitation as mikrah bikkurim, the Rambam, curiously, has a different name for it. In his introduction to the mitzvah of bikkurim, the Rambam writes: "mitzvas asei l'hisvados b'mikdash al ha'bikkurim;" There is a positive commandment to confess in the Temple regarding the first fruit. The Rambam peculiarly calls it vidui, confession, but all we do is mention some aspects of Jewish History and thank the Almighty for providing our sustenance.

When we think of confession, we normally think of a different statement of the Rambam in the laws of teshuva. There, the Rambam tells us that verbal, explicitly articulated confession is a critical component of repentance. The term vidui in the context of admitting one's mistakes and setting out to repair them makes complete sense. But why use the same term to describe a declaration about Jewish history and appreciation of sustenance that includes no admission of wrongdoing or expression of remorse?

The question is bolstered when you keep reading our parsha. The very next section deals with the process of taking tithes from our produce and includes a declaration the farmer recites when he has appropriately and accurately completed his tithing. He states - "I have done everything correctly and not omitted even one detail." Our Rabbis call this statement - vidui ma'aser, the confession of the tithes, though the term confession once again seems entirely inapplicable.

What then does vidui really mean? Vidui does indeed mean confession, but confession does not necessarily mean an admission of wrongdoing or error. Even in our vernacular, when we want to be honest about something we are feeling inside, we may say "I must confess to you what is in my heart." Chazal saw confession as the revelation of what someone is truly and honestly feeling. The statement of appreciation when bringing bikkurim is called confession, because we are obligated to use our words to express the appreciation and gratitude that we are supposed to genuinely feel. When we properly tithe, we recite vidui ma'aser to verbally affirm our deep commitment to share generously and be charitable with our income. And of course, when we are sincerely remorseful, we recite vidui, we admit out loud what we did wrong and affirm our commitment to improve.

The Sefer Ha'Chinuch explains that vidui must be fulfilled verbally, because in order to validate what is in your heart, you must be able and willing to put it into words. The formula and its words are not for God, but rather the declaration helps us actualize the feelings that are to be in our heart. It isn't enough for the farmer to say listen, in my heart I am grateful. The Torah asks him to put it into words and in that way concretize and actualize those feelings.

Just as it isn't enough to feel love and affection for God in our hearts, but we must display those emotions through words and deeds, the same is true in our relationships with those around us.

This morning, in the third installment in our series on "Giving is Getting," I would like to focus on the critical importance of giving love and affection through words and through deeds and all that we get in return when we do.

Last month the British heart foundation shared a fascinating study which revealed that 18% of people kiss their spouse less than once a week. That means 1 in 5 couples can go an entire week without a kiss hello, a kiss goodbye, or a kiss goodnight. As life has gotten more chaotic, busier and pressure filled, many people are forgetting to provide and to fulfill a very basic human need - the need for affection and for love. We are too satisfied feeling love only in our heart and we forget that to actualize that love and make it more real, we must communicate it through words and other expressions of affection.

Affection and love are not necessarily romantic. Physical gestures serve to connect, to comfort and to uplift. Indeed, there are studies that correlate children's self-esteem with the amount of affection their parents shower on them. Are we sharing enough hugs and kisses with our children? Do we show them affection for no reason at all, just to communicate that we love them or do we only give them a hug when they bring home a good grade or help us do the dishes? When in the correct context, do we reach for our spouses hand as a way of saying I want to connect with you and I want you to know how much I love and appreciate you? Do we place a hand on a friend's shoulder as a way of saying I feel your pain and I am aware of your challenges?

But affection is not only communicated through physical contact, it can be expressed through thoughtful actions. Rav Reuven Feinstein, remembers how his father, one of the greatest Rabbis of the previous generation whose halachik opinions were universally sought out, would wake up early on cold winter mornings in NY City to lay out little Reuven's school clothing on the radiator in order to warm them up and remove the chill. This gesture of caring, this display of affection left an indelible impression of Rav Reuven so much so that he never forgot it.

What is the last affectionate gesture we have done for those around us? Simple things like making a cup of coffee for our spouse, without being asked, or picking up our kids favorite snack without needing to be nagged can communicate a message of love and devotion.

But as much as we must be more generous and magnanimous with affection and through physical contact and action, we must increase our gestures of affection and love through words as well.

Affection through words can mean asking how the day went and actually caring enough to pay attention to the details in the answer. Affection towards a friend could mean taking notice of something new about them and offering an unsolicited compliment. I have learned so much from my daughter Atara, who so naturally and intuitively is generous with her compliments. I have watched many of your faces light up when she approaches you on a Shabbos morning and says, "are those new shoes you're wearing, I love them," or "did you get a haircut, you look so pretty."

The gemara in berachos 6b says amar Rebbe Ashi, agra d'bei hilulei milei - the reward for attending a wedding comes from the generous and kind words one shares with the Chassan and Kallah endearing them to one another and bringing them great joy. The gemara bava basra 9b states, amar Rebbe Yitzchak, kol ha'noesin peruta l'ani misbareich b'sheish berachos, v'hamefyso bidvorim, misbareich b'yud berachos. While a check or some cash will certainly help put food on the poor person's table, it is encouraging words and reassuring gestures that can return dignity, self-esteem and hope to the indigent individual.

When one gives affection, comfort and love through words and deeds, one gets deep satisfaction, joy and personal fulfillment in return. A few years ago, there was a man in our community who lost his mother and I noticed he would only lead the davening for the very end. One day, he took over at yishtabach and after davening I went over to him and said, "you did a great job, you really should consider leading the whole davening every day, it would be a great merit." Frankly, I thought nothing of my comment and forget it immediately after saying it. That day, he sent me an email, listen to what it said:

"Rabbi - I really appreciated your kind words today. One never knows how a smile or a compliment at that right moment can change a person's day. I was quite apprehensive for months to lead davening. You have given me inspiration now to daven in the zechus (merit) of my mother."

It is so easy to share a compliment, a kind word, or a gesture of affection. It costs us nothing, but it can mean the world to our spouse, our children or our friends. The mishna in pirkei avos tells us to be a student of Avraham Avinu who is characterized as having an ayin tova, a generous eye. The Maharal says that elsewhere we are told to have a leiv tov, a generous heart, what is the difference? A leiv tov, says the Maharal, means display kindness and compassion when asked. An ayin tovah means see things in others that are worthy of compliments and share them. See the behavior and conduct in others that is worthy of love and be affectionate towards them.

Our spouses, children, parents and friends should never, ever, be so desperate for a hug, that they would accept one from a stranger. Don't allow one night to go bye without giving your kids a hug and kiss goodnight. Never go to sleep without telling your spouse you love and appreciate them. And make sure to compliment at least one person a day with no ulterior motive. You will find that as much as you give love and affection, you will get much more in return.

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg is the Sr. Rabbi of Boca Raton Synagogue. He is the Posek of the community Mikvah, the Co-Chair of the ORB Va'ad Ha'Kashrus (Kosher Commission), a member of the RCA South Florida Regional Beis Din (Rabbinic Court) for Conversion, Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America, and Chaiman of the Orthodox Union Legacy Group. Rabbi Goldberg serves on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Hillel Day School, Torah Academy of Boca Raton, and is a member of the AIPAC National Council. Rabbi Goldberg graduated from Yeshiva University with a B.A. in psychology and received Semicha from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, Yeshiva University, and completed the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management Advanced Executive Program. Rabbi Goldberg is married to Yocheved and has six daughters, Racheli, Atara, Leora, Tamar, Estee and Temima.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Final week to sign up

What a week it’s been and each and every day is bringing new opportunities to connect people with our Jewish community. If you just keep your eyes open and listen to the subtle messages that are being sent your way, you will find that God has many wonderful things in store for you right now.

Over the past few months one of the biggest complaints that I have been hearing from our guests that attend programs at Boca Raton Synagogue is feeling unwelcome. SO many people have finally built up the courage to step into a synagogue, one which they were not familiar with and when they arrive one of two things happen. Either they are lucky and find the class, program service right away or they end up getting lost and no one is available to help them. That’s all about to change with the introduction of our new Greeter and Usher committee that will begin greeting all of our guests this Saturday morning. We just had the first committee meeting and came up with so many ideas to implement right away.

This is the final week to sign up for the free Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services. So if you would like to attend the amazing beginner service or if you know someone that might enjoy attending, even if they haven’t been to a synagogue in years, please tell them to visit right away. The Boca Raton Jewish Experience is also committed to being there for those unaffiliated members in our Jewish community that have nowhere else to turn. Maybe you know someone that just moved here from out of state or someone that is ill, please let us welcome them together.

This week I will be traveling to New York City to take part in a rally against the United Nation’s Durban 3. If you plan on being in the NYC on Wednesday, please contact me so we can meet at the rally. Jewish Pride Radio will be broadcasting live from the rally at noon, so if you can’t be there in person, you can follow the rally in real time at If you missed any of my live broadcasts this week, please see below for a link to each of them. I would like to point out that there were two great interviews that we did this week, one with the Hillel of UF and the other is Zehayom, a Jewish network for various addictions.

We are also putting the final touches on the November class schedule and the locations of the lunch and learns, please let me know if you have an office that would like to host one. Check out all of the video and links below and please pass them on to your friends!!

Thanks again for making outreach a priority in your life and if you haven’t voted today for us in the Jewish Federations of North America Jewish Community Hero competition, please click here right now.

I hope to see you on Shabbat at Boca Raton Synagogue and remember that Friday Night Live starts at 6:00pm and the Lome Family Explanatory Service begins on Saturday at 10:00am.

May God bless you with an amazing weekend and I hope that you have a chance to enjoy Shabbos with friends and family!

Shabbat Shalom


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Israel is Under Siege

The reports out of Israel the last few weeks have been frightening:

•On Sept. 9, violent mobs attacked Israel’s Embassy in Cairo, forcing Israel to evacuate its entire diplomatic mission in Egypt.

•On Sept. 8, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan threatened to use warships to escort the next flotilla attempting to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, deemed legal by a U.N. commission.

•On Sept. 4, the Palestinians rejected another U.S. appeal to resume peace talks with Israel and abandon their harmful bid at the U.N. to recognize a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders and with Jerusalem as its capital.

• On Sept. 3, the U.N.'s nuclear agency said it is "increasingly concerned" that Iran has conducted experimental work to develop nuclear weapons.

•And in August, more than 200 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel from Gaza, while eight Israelis were killed in a sophisticated terrorist attack that was launched from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula into southern Israel.

If you’re like many pro-Israel Americans, these events have you more scared for Israel’s existence then you’ve likely felt in many years. But as you watch these dangers continue to unfold, it is important to remember there is something you can do to help keep Israel safe. You can work with AIPAC, and help ensure that our leaders in Washington speak out clearly and unequivocally that the aggressions shown toward our ally Israel must immediately cease. Please act now to join AIPAC
and help ensure our leaders in Washington speak out for Israel At this dangerous time, the number one strategic answer to the threats facing Israel is for America to express – in every way it can – its unwavering, unshakable commitment to Israel.

We must ensure that Congress speaks out.

We must ensure that the administration speaks out. We must ensure that America stands by its full commitment to Israel’s security assistance for fiscal year 2012, which is vital for Israel to be able to defend herself.

And we must ensure that America continues to pledge 100% of its diplomatic support.

We must do all of this, so that we can send a strong and loud message that America stands by Israel. And that any attacks on Israel’s security can be considered an attack on America’s security. By joining AIPAC today you will provide the resources we need to work with Congress and the administration to stand with Israel at this critical moment as well as to stand with Israel as new issues arise in the weeks and months ahead.
Time is of the essence, so please don’t delay.

Thank you again for your support of AIPAC at this critical hour. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.

Howard Kohr
Executive Director

P.S. Please join AIPAC today and help to ensure AIPAC has the necessary resources to effectively help strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship in the coming year.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Create Your Future

What a Shabbat and what a weekend! It's hard to believe that ten years have actually passed since that fateful day on September the 11th. Although 9/11 was this past Sunday, our community started our "look back" before Shabbat even began at Friday Night Live. We had a meaningful program and after watching a short video there wasn't a dry eye in the room. In addition it was so nice to see our community gather together to hear Rabbi Goldberg deliver a sermons and being proud Americans followed by an ceremony to our fire marshal and sheriff for all they do to protect us every day. One of the challenges for all of us is that we all struggle to comprehend such a large number of victims. Although 9/11 is officially over, it's not over for all of the families that are still in pain. I urge you to watch the video below called Heaven, and listen to the impact that this event had on one young girl (Just make sure you have a box of tissues on hand).
I want to thank all of you that responded to the call to action to go and join me and attend the important rally in New York City against the United Nations meeting taking place at Durban 3. Just remember that at Durban 1 only Israel was singled out as a racist county (not Iran and Sudan) and at Durban 2 Achmadinjad said the holocaust never occurred and called for the destruction of the Jewish state. We here in Boca Raton need to make our voices heard on September 21st before Durban 3 begins, so if you can make it to New York City with the Boca Raton Jewish Experience, please let me know. Details are listed below. I would also like to let you know that if you are interested in attending this year's March of the Living with me, the details and deadlines are listed below as well.

Yesterday afternoon, following soccer practice at Hillel, I stopped at West Boca Hospital and visited Tziviah Leah. I had received a call from her father saying that was just admitted to the CCU (Critical Care Unit). Tziviah is a young lady with MS who just moved to Boca a week ago. She was home bound and just took a turn for the worse. She is an exceptional person with such a will to live. If you would like to do a mitzvah and visit her, please let me know and I will give you the details. In addition now that we are back for another BRS season, with another simcha celebration taking place almost every Shabbat, let me know if you would like to join our new VIP group of ushers, greeters and individuals that would like to sit next to a guest that isn't familiar with the traditional Shabbat service.

Finally it was a big honor to get the news that I was nominated as a 2011 Jewish Community Hero by the Jewish Federations of North America. It's very exciting, but I really need your help to make it to the top. Please click on the following link and vote: Every single vote counts and you are allowed to vote every day. So please make a note and help me and the Boca Raton Jewish Experience by copying the link and sending it to your friends with a small note.
Finally, as the new work week is about to begin, please take a minute to watch a new video in our "A Minute of Inspiration" video series. I hope you enjoy it and please forward the link to a friend. Just think how many people could use a shot of inspiration.
I hope that you have an amazing week and please read about the upcoming programs below.
Inspire yourself to inspire others...
Rabbi Josh Broide
Boca Raton Jewish Experience
(561) 702-3864

Friday, September 9, 2011

Join me in NYC

Did You Know? In 2001 the United Nations sponsored the “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” (called the Durban Conference) in Durban, South Africa. At this gathering out of 192 U.N. member states (including Sudan and Iran), only Israel was singled for racism. In 2009 at the second “Durban” Conference, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamadinejad was a keynote speaker, and as part of his speech he denied the holocaust and endorsed the genocide of the Jewish state. In 2011 the third Durban Conference is being held Wednesday, September 21st at the United Nations in New York City. The United States and Canada have already boycotted, but is that enough? Join me and participants from the Boca Raton Jewish Experience in mobilizing the global community to raise our voices and demand that this conference not take place. If you are not familiar wit the issue, please watch the video below.
This month Boca Raton Synagogue will be focusing on the theme of “Giving is Getting”. Last Shabbat Rabbi Efrem Goldberg spoke about the important topic of “Are You Giving Enough Time to Friends, Family and Community?” If you missed the speech, please CLICK HERE to read what he said. How many of us are so connected to technology that we have begun to neglect our friends and family, maybe it’s time to “Disconnect to Connect”. In addition, as I mentioned earlier in the week, this Sunday is the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. Below you will find a list of the important programs that are taking place at Boca Raton Synagogue over the weekend, including special awards to the Palm Beach Fire Department Chief and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Captain at Seudat Shlishiet. Also if you haven’t been to or told one of your friends about our amazing Friday night beginner service called Friday Night Live, please note that we will be having a special program in memory of the 3,000 people who lost their lives on 9/11. The details are listed below.
I also hope that you either registered or found someone to register for the free beginner service on Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur. This will certainly be a memorable High Holiday season and only a limited number of seats remain, please see below for more information. Finally one of the new additions to the Friday newsletter is “This Past Week on Jewish Pride Radio”. Each and every weekday morning I host a radio show called Jewish Pride Radio. It broadcasts live at 6:00am. If you missed any of the featured shows and interviews, just click on any of the Jewish Pride Radio links below and enjoy.
Shabbat is such a special gift and I can’t wait to for it to begin.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Are You Giving Enough Time to Friends, Family and Community?

The following is the sermon that Rabbi Efrem Goldberg's delivered at Boca Raton Synagogue this past Shabbos. Please watch the following video and sign up to disconnect.

Who loves who more - do parents love children more or do children love parents more? Anyone fortunate and blessed to have children will not hesitate to answer this question. Not only will parents unequivocally answer that parents love children more, I think that children if they are being honest will acknowledge that the love their parents have for them is deeper, more profound and unconditional than anything they could reciprocate.

If you think about it that makes no sense. Parents spend most of their lives giving to children and children, particularly young and adolescents make very good takers. From the moment of birth, parents wake up throughout the night, change soiled diapers, and progressively spend their time, energy and resources on their kids. Children, on the other hand, begin life taking and continue that pattern through childhood, adolescence and sometimes even adulthood.

And yet, after all that taking, parents love children more than children love parents. Why?

V'dibru ha'shotrim el ha'am lei'mor mi ha'ish asher banah vayis chadash v'lo chanacho yeileich v'yashov l'veiso...The Torah tells us in this morning's parsha that a man who has built a new house and not lived in it or has planted a vineyard and not enjoyed it or is engaged to a woman and has not married her, all three are exempt from participation in warfare.

Does the Torah mean to equate a woman with a house or a vineyard? Why should these three categories be equal in their exemption from army service? What do the house, the vineyard and the woman share in common?

Rav Eliyahu Dessler, who lived in the last century, first in England and then in Israel, wrote a well-known essay explaining the Jewish understanding of love. He suggests that very counter intuitively, love is the result of giving not of getting. True, a person who gets or receives should be appreciative and grateful, but getting doesn't generate love. Giving generates and cultivates love.

Love is the result of taking a piece of ourselves and investing it in another. When we sacrifice, toil, compromise, invest, and give to someone or something else, we create a bond and connection that is inseparable. Everyone naturally loves themselves. Some struggle to love themselves and others excel at this practice but all of us have a natural inclination to love ourselves. Therefore, when we take a piece of ourselves, represented by our time, energy or resources, and invest it in another, we love them, as an extension of ourselves.

Indeed, explains Rav Dessler, the Hebrew word for love is ahava. The root of the word is hav which means to give. Moreover, ahava is the same gematria, numerical value, as echad, one. When we connect with another by stretching ourselves into them, we become one and therefore feel a sense of love.

Parents love children more than children love parents, specifically because parents have given to children more than children could ever give back to them. Of course a woman is not equated with a house or a vineyard. The common denominator of all three categories of exemptions, is the love generated by the man who worked, toiled, compromised and invested, and therefore he deserves to enjoy their benefit before going to war.

Ultimately, our parsha is teaching a critical lesson about love and about giving. Paradoxically, when we give, we get so much more in return like love, closeness and connection. As you know, "Giving is Getting" is our BRS theme for the month of Elul and we will be discussing different aspects of this important principle over the next 5 Shabbos mornings.

Today, I want to talk about the most precious commodity that we could and should be giving generously to the people we love the most - it is our time. Giving time is a gift that gives back and enriches our lives in an inestimable way. When we give our time to family, friends and community, we get back in return meaning, purpose, satisfaction and joy.

We all lead incredibly busy lives. The financial downturn has forced so many to work longer hours than ever. We have responsibilities, obligations, interests and hobbies. We have errands, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and doctors' appointments. Why should we carve out precious time that we don't seem to have? The answer is that giving is getting and therefore, whatever we have given up by allocating our time, we will more than gain by the satisfaction and fulfillment we will feel.

Allow me to suggest three areas that desperately need us to allocate more of our time:

Firstly, we need to find time to volunteer. There are opportunities all around us to give time and energy. Our Shul has countless committees and efforts that need help. Our schools could always use more people. Our local hospitals, bikur cholim, chevra kadisha and chesed are constantly in need of a few more good men or women. Israel, arguably more than ever, needs our advocacy and efforts. Give time to AIPAC, our Social Action Committee or by working for Israel on your own.

No matter how busy you are, I personally guarantee that if you carve out time to give, you will find that you will get so much more. Using Rav Dessler's formula, whatever cause we give time to, we will be giving a piece of ourselves to and therefore we will develop a true love for. If you don't feel like finding time to give to benefit others, find it to benefit yourself, for I am confident you will gain satisfaction, meaning and love in return.

Secondly, we need to find time for our spouses. The divorce rate in America is around 50%, meaning half of all marriages are ending in divorce. Assuming these statistics are lower in the Orthodox community, which they are, they are still way too high. Research shows that a big factor of divorce is the amount of time couples spend together. Researchers like Dr. John Gottman tell us that successful couples spend a minimum of 12 hours of non-sleep, non-TV time together.

We are typically cynical of the old shidduch system in which a boy and girl meet just a few times for a few minutes before entering into marriage. As sophisticated, advanced individuals we protest the system because everyone knows that to forge a healthy relationship you must spend time together. And yet, for some reason, so many of us, the further we get from the wedding, the less time we are spending together.

We must carve out meaningful time with our spouse. Go for a walk, share a cup of coffee, have a date night or simply commit to uninterrupted conversation before retiring to bed. Time together is what created any healthy relationship and it is the necessary ingredient to nurture its maintenance and improvement. How can we possibly connect if we are never together? Caring enough to find time to be together is in itself a critical expression of love and affection in a relationship. Finding excuses to avoid spending time together is a guaranteed indicator that the relationship is in distress. Place an egg timer next to bed and refuse to go to sleep until you have spoken a minimum amount of time each evening and it can't be about the kids, your job or the cost of tuition.

Thirdly, we must find time for our children. Dr. Meir Wikler, a noted psychotherapist tells the story of a young lady he was counseling. After a number of sessions he noticed that she never mentioned her parents. Dr. Wikler inquired about them and the young girl lowered her head and stared at the floor. When she looked up she had a tear in her eye and said I will tell you a story from when I was a little girl that summarizes my relationship with my parents. "When I was little," she said, "we were sitting at the Seder table on Pesach and I had taken the afikoman. My father looked for it and knowing I had hid, it asked me what I wanted as an afikoman gift so that I would bring it back. I looked up at him and I told him, 'all I want for my afikoman present is a few uninterrupted minutes of your time.'"

A year ago, a report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University came out with a shocking finding. It found that families that eat dinner together once a week have children with a lower risk for alcohol, tobacco and drug use than those that never do. With each increasing night that the family eats together, the risk goes down until if they eat together every night there is virtually no risk. Of course there are exceptions to every rule and having dinner together nightly offers no guarantees.

But, one thing is clear: Giving time to our kids is critical to getting children who will give us nachas, joy and pride. I understand as well as anyone the challenge of being home for dinner and of making time for each child. However, there are no excuses. There is simply way too much at stake. We work so hard to earn the income to pay for our kids to have the gadgets and clothing and comfort which they of course love and desire, but we must recognize that they cannot begin to compete with our kids' real need and desire, our time. Steal one on one time with your kids by taking them shopping, to shul, to run errands, or to grab a yogurt or ice cream. The return on spending time with children can be felt immediately leaving one with the undeniable feeling that when it comes to time with our kids, giving is truly getting.

Lastly, many of us are already spending significant time with our spouses and kids, but the question is what kind of time? When it comes to our time, the greatest gift we can give is not only a greater quantity of the time, but a greater quality of it.

This summer on the way to Israel we stopped in England for a few hours and spent time with our dear friends, the Marriotts. We went together to an outdoor mall called Covent Gardens. We were standing on the second floor and I looked down at the café on the first floor. All the tables were filled by couples, families, business meetings. We saw something that seemed remarkable and yet it has become the new normal. At every table someone was on their cell phone, texting, emailing or talking. All of these people thought they were spending time together when in truth they really weren't.

Being consistently connected through technology, is disconnecting us from the most important people and moments in our lives. Indeed, it is growing increasingly clear that only by disconnecting can we ever really connect.

There is an amazing new website called Charlie Harary who is coming to speak at our shul this coming year, has started an effort with others to encourage people on Tzom Gedalya in just a few weeks from now, to disconnect and to be fully present in all that they do. They have an incredible video that literally shows the damage being technologically over-connected is doing to our lives. They are trying to raise pledges of over a million hours of disconnecting and I strongly encourage you to participate.

Disconnecting is not only necessary for the time we spend with our family and friends, it is critically important for the time we spend with our Creator. How often do we see people in Shul checking their cell phone to read their texts and emails during davening. I am embaressed and ashamed to admit that I myself was an addict. However, I can proudly stand here and say that I have now been clean from this practice for 66 days. I made the conscience decision a little over two months ago to turn off my cell phone or take it off my belt and put it down before shacharis, mincha and maariv each day. The results are amazing as I am getting much more out of my davening and so will you.

My friends, when it comes to our community, to our spouses, to our kids and to Hashem, giving is truly getting for when we give our time, we get love, meaning and genuine happiness.

Rabbi Goldberg is the Senior Rabbi of Boca Raton Synagogue. He graduated from Yeshiva University with a BA in Psychology and received his Rabbinic Ordination from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, Yeshiva University. Rabbi Goldberg came to Boca Raton as a member of the Boca Raton Community Kollel and was the first Rabbi of the Elinor Lome Explanatory Service z"l. Before moving to Boca Raton, Rabbi Goldberg and his wife, Yocheved, spent two years in Israel studying at the Gruss Kollel in post graduate advanced talmudic studies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Elijah's Song for Elijah Webberly - Matisyahu

Elijah's Song by SamaraPressHere

Elijah Webberly & Matisyahu
Excerpt from Moment Magazine article "Singing a New Song" by Steven Philp:

"Jewish hip-hop sensation Matisyahu uploaded a new single that serves as a reminder that the most profound inspiration can manifest in the most unexpected places. It started with an unlikely friendship, between Matisyahu and a young boy named Elijah. Although Elijah was battling cancer, his indefatigable spirit inspired the hip-hop artist prompting several years of after-concert visits and phone exchanges. When Matisyahu was on tour this year, Elijah came to his concert in Florida and asked if they could record a song together. The next morning the boy was admitted to intensive care. With his acoustic accompanist and recording equipment in tow, Matisyahu showed up at the hospital that evening. The result was "Elijah's Song." According to Matisyahu, most of the words and many of the lyrical decisions were made by the young boy."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Great Week Ahead

This week we are adding a new weekly special to the Boca Raton Jewish Experience. Its short and its sweet and you don't have to go anywhere to participate. It's called "A Minute of Inspiration" and what better way to begin your week, than focusing on something positive. The 1 minute video is right below, just click on the video image and I really hope that you enjoy.
It's also a very important week for the United States, since each day this week we will be getting closer to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. To mark this important occasion we will be having a number of events, and I encourage all of you not only participate, but to also let someone you know that doesn't attend a synagogue know about the programs as well. They are all free and as always no membership is required. A few days ago I let you know that registration is open for the free High Holiday service at Boca Raton Synagogue and more than a hundred people signed up already! Unfortunately, we have a limited capacity, so if you haven't signed up yet or you have a friend that is interested in a beginner service, please sign up today. All of the information about these events and so much is listed below. I hope you enjoy "A Minute of Inspiration" and please forward this email or a link to the video to a friend.

Together we can have a huge impact on the Boca Raton Jewish Community.

Have a great week!

Inspire yourself to inspire others...

Friday, September 2, 2011

You were created to excel

Thanks so much for the positive feedback about yesterday’s big announcement. I have been inspired by all of your enthusiasm and advice and with your help we will continue to expand our efforts in Boca Raton. This month there are two important programs that I want to let you know about. Both are extremely popular and I urge you to read about them below. For those of you that are new to the weekly email update, please take a look at the links in the right column for valuable and important resources. Click any of the pictures or logos and they will bring you to that organizations website.
As we approach the holidays, please remember that you were never created to be average. You were never created to reach a certain level and then plateau. You were created to excel. There’s no limit to how high you can go in life. There’s no limit to what you can accomplish, if you will just shake off the complacency and keep stretching to the next level.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Boca Raton Jewish Experience - The BIG Announcement

Ladies and gentleman, I would like to thank all of you for coming this afternoon, and especially thank the media for covering this important event. I have a big announcement to make; it’s a statement that will surely change the landscape of the Jewish community in Boca Raton.
 My family has lived in Boca Raton for more than a decade, a community with over 130,000 Jews living in South Palm Beach County and more than 600,000 Jews live in South Florida, second only to New York. But you know as well as I do, that the overwhelming majority of Jews in our community are unaffiliated, they are not Reform, Conservative or Orthodox.

With that in mind, I must say that it’s been an incredible year for outreach and engagement in Boca Raton. I publicly want to thank the Boca Raton Synagogue, the BRS Outreach Revolution, Project Inspire, Aish Hatorah and NJOP for recognizing the successful programs that we initiated this past year. I would like to thank my friends, Rabbi’s and mentors for their wisdom, support and insight; Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, Rabbi Phil Moskowitz, Dan Katz, Matthew Hocherman, Rabbi Yehoshua Liff, Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Rabbi Kenneth Brander and Rabbi Josh Fass. I especially want to thank my wife, Simone and my family and all of you that have been involved with this important project that began exactly two years ago, with our beginner service on Rosh Hashana. Special thanks to my friends at Project Inspire, especially Rabbi Tropp and Cecelia Fineman for inspiring me and of course NJOP, the National Jewish Outreach Programs, Rabbi Buchwald and Larry Greenman for everything you continue to do to support our work in Boca Raton.

Today is September 1st. We just celebrated the beginning of the new month of Elul and we are gearing up for an exciting new year. Everyone knows that The Boca Raton Synagogue always been synonymous with making people from different backgrounds feel warm and welcome in our community, and that’s the reason for its continued growth with more that 25 new families moving in this summer. But now it’s time that our community takes things to an even higher level. I have decided to formalize all of the outreach efforts and create the most ambitious outreach movement in the state of Florida. It’s not easy starting from scratch and building a new community organization, but I know with God’s help and your effort we will surely succeed. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great privilege and honor to be able to introduce you to the BRJE, the Boca Raton Jewish Experience.
The Boca Raton Jewish Experience (BRJE) is an aggregator of nationally-developed educational programs, offering a variety of free classes to Jews about their history and heritage, and offering ways that people can interact meaningfully in Jewish communal experiences. Now you can get connected in a way that allows you to partake at your own pace.

Knowing something about Judaism does not require an all or nothing commitment. It’s an individual journey to be pursued at one’s own pace and interest. The mitzvot, are our opportunities for personal growth, to be tried, examined, and understood. We search the Torah for the wisdom that can enrich our lives, and seek to share that knowledge with all humanity. Through a variety of exciting free programs, BRJE reaches out offering positive, joyous, and authentic Jewish experiences and meaningful educational opportunities to people of all ages and backgrounds. BRJE programs convey the vibrancy of Judaism and the importance of Jewish community and Jewish continuity.

What makes this initiative different from all other outreach programs is that the BRJE will not focus on expanding its employees, but instead will rely on the dedicated affiliated members of our Jewish community and partner organizations. Take for example the Boca Raton Synagogue with over 650 families, what other Jewish organization can say they have more than 650 employees on their staff!! No one can!! – In effect this makes us one of the largest outreach organizations in the world. But more importantly this is not wishful thinking or an experiment that we are attempting; we have tested our programs for two years and have had incredible success. One example is our Share One Shabbat, where more than 200 BRS families were inspired to host over 1,000 people for a Shabbat dinner. If each of our members goes out of their way to engage just one or two unaffiliated Jews, we will reach more than a thousand, and that’s without even one program!! With your help, we will increase the number of participants at our beginner services on Shabbat, enlist the help of the greatest educators in community, have regular lunch and learns at locations that touch every corner of Boca Raton, create more free learning opportunities either one on one or in formal classes, all in a effort to make sure that none of the unaffiliated Jews in our community will be able to say that they didn’t have a gateway to the Jewish community.

The best part is for those of you that are tuning in from other parts of the country, you can do it too. Since the Project Inspire movie “The Road Home” was broadcast this past Tisha b’Av, I have spoken to many people in many communities all over America and Israel about developing Synagogue based outreach initiatives. So as the founding Director of the Boca Raton Jewish Experience, I want to share a few personal thoughts.

I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was the Jewish Holiday of Tisha b’Av 2009 and I was watching a film called One Soul by Project Inspire. Rabbi Lau, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel introduced the film by saying that there was a research study that was done in the 90’s that said, if you have 100 Jews Secular Jews today, by the 4th Generation you will have 7 Jews. We also know that the overwhelming number of children of an intermarriage don’t keep their Jewish Heritage. 100,000 Jews a year are lost to assimilation, that’s 4 million Jews in the last 40 years, and that only in North America! – Its truly a silent Holocaust! They say there were 400,000 Jews on college campuses now there are 200,000, we’re shrinking! Ladies and gentleman, we don’t have the next 100 years to get our act together It’s do or die, the Jewish people are disappearing.

Rav Noach Weinberg would say “the Chofetz Chaim says in Chovos Hadas you go down the street and you see a guy drowning, you’ve gotta go in and save him – but you don’t know how to swim, poor guy, he drowns. But if every day you go and you see people drowning you have an obligation to learn how to swim.”

It’s not a matter if this is an opportune time, this is the only time! If we don’t act now, we’re not going to have another chance. This whole group of unaffiliated Jews isn’t going to wait until the next generation; studies have shown us that they’re not going to be Jews. This is the only time to do it.

Rav Noach would say – “We can’t fail, the almighty is with us, we have a Torah which is beautiful beyond compare, we just have to present it the right way, We are a people who are thirsty for meaning and are thirsty for truth, idealists in every way, the most charitable, active for the poor, they want truth, they want meaning, we have to do our job, we can’t fail if we just make that effort.”

We know the problems with assimilation and intermarriage, now it’s time that we make a difference and you can be a part of it. Just take a moment to think right now of someone, one person that might appreciate you reaching out to them, it might be a co-worker, a cousin, it could be someone living on your block, it could be anyone. But there is someone in your life, that you could call or email and invite to your home for Shabbos, a beginner class or a beginner service, or give them an easy outreach gift, just do something!

You don’t have to be a celebrity you just have to be yourself!! You can do something and it can really make a difference.

Ladies and gentleman welcome to the Boca Raton Jewish Experience

Inspire yourself to inspire others…


Rabbi Josh Broide

Boca Raton Jewish Experience

If you have any questions please contact me (561) 702-3864 or