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Shabbat Hazon, Devarim, Tisha B'Av, Tu B'Av 5778

07/20/2018 12:35:46 PM

Jul20

The Comfort of DisComfort
by Abigail Leibowitz
Featured in this week's WJW!

If you Google “Jamaica images” you get sparkling beaches, white sRead more...

In Pursuit of Peace

07/06/2018 02:31:20 PM

Jul6

Rabbi Steven Suson

A kosher Torah must be written and maintained with great care. If even one letter is missing or so much as blemished to the point that the meaning of the word has changed, the Torah scroll is not considered kosher for use in a religious service. Yet, in a tiny number of instances, oral tradition conveys small but significant deviations in the writing of a Torah scroll. We find one example of this phenomenon at the beginning of this week’s...Read more...

06/08/2018 12:06:16 PM

Jun8

Have you ever wondered why a quorum for a minyan consists of 10? Why not 9 or 11? After all, it only took 6 teammates on the ice last night to win the Stanley Cup.

The answer lies in this week’s Torah reading. Each of the 12 tribes selected a chief to perform reconnaissance on the Land of Israel and its inhabitants, ahead of their impending invasion. 2 spies, Caleb and Joshua, reported that the land was “very very good.”...Read more...

Chag Hasemicha

06/01/2018 10:04:53 AM

Jun1

Rabbi Steven Suson


This week, I was very fortunate to attend a Chag Hasemicha, a rabbinical ordination ceremony for a dear friend and study partner, Rabbi Gerry Gilstrop (pictured right).

The event took place in Baltimore at the beautiful Bnai Israel Synagogue. My...Read more...

The Torah reading this week presents a mathematical inconsistency that  seems illogical.  In describing the blessings that will be showered upon those who follow God's laws, the Torah describes the following scenarios

05/11/2018 01:05:32 PM

May11

Rabbi Steven Suson

The Torah reading this week presents a mathematical inconsistency that seems illogical. In describing the blessings that will be showered upon those who follow God's laws, the Torah describes the following scenarios: "Five of you will pursue a hundred, and a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand." (Lev. 26:8)

Even middle school math students will notice that if five Jews can chase off one hundred enemies, then one hundred...Read more...

Shabbat Shalom! Brandriss Scholar-in-Residence Weekend 

05/04/2018 10:11:02 AM

May4

Rabbi Steve Suson

This past Tuesday, we counted the 33rd day of the Omer, leading up to the Festival of Shavuot. Lag B’Omer is marked by parties, weddings, BBQs and celebration and is significant because of an incident that occurred early in the 2nd Century.

the Talmud teaches that during the few weeks after Passover, all 24,000 students of the great sage, Rabbi Akiva, died in a plague. A massive blow to the continuity of Torah scholarship, it is...Read more...

Passover 5778

04/02/2018 10:22:55 PM

Apr2

Rabbi Steven Suson

Watch my video blog here! Rabbi Suson Read more...

Shabbat HaGadol

03/23/2018 12:38:21 PM

Mar23

Rabbi Steven Suson

This Shabbat goes by a special name, Shabbat Hagadol, and precedes the Festial of Passover. It reminds us to go through our checklist to make sure our preparations are complete. Here is some useful information and links to help you out. Many helpful links can be found at www.htaa.org/passover . 
Read more...

Shabbat Zachor

02/23/2018 11:12:50 AM

Feb23

Rabbi Steven Suson

This Shabbat goes by a special name: Shabbat Zachor - the Sabbath of Remembrance. In addition to the regularly scheduled Torah portion of Tetzaveh in the book of Exodus, we take out an additional Torah and read a special selection from Parashat Ki Teitzei in the book of Deuteronomy. This special reading contains the commandment to "remember" what Amalek did to the Children of Israel as we travelled out of Egypt...Read more...

The More You Give, the More You  Get

02/16/2018 11:03:57 AM

Feb16

Rabbi Steven Suson

Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B'simcha
"When Adar comes, we increase our happiness!" (Taanit 29a)

Today, we celebrate Rosh Chodesh and joyously welcome the Hebrew month of Adar. When this time comes around, the Talmud instructs us to increase our happiness level. In fact, this is one of the few seasons that we are actually commanded to be in a positive, even happy, mood. Although it seems strange that our tradition...Read more...

TERRORISM EXPERT SHEDS LIGHT ON US-ISRAEL COLLABORATION

02/08/2018 09:00:07 AM

Feb8

Frank Solomon

Did you know the U.S. government’s first official counterterrorism office was created in response to an attack on Israelis? In fact, many of the components of the U.S. responses to terrorism were prompted by developments affecting Israel.

During his Shabbat morning guest lecture on Jan. 27, Michael Kraft, a 19-year veteran of the U.S. State Department’s counterterrorism office, shared these and many other insights about about...Read more...

Get Involved! 

02/02/2018 11:17:04 AM

Feb2

Rabbi Steven Suson

There is a Midrash, a rabbinic parable, taught on this week's Torah portion, about the place God chose to give the tablets containing the 10 Commandments. All the mountains assembled before God and explained why they should be the chosen place for God to reveal the Torah. The tall mountains contended that they are most deserving because of their height. The beautiful ones argued that their elegance qualifies them. Mount Sinai stood in the...Read more...

Of Darkness and Light

01/19/2018 09:19:37 AM

Jan19

Rabbi Steven Suson

The first acts of God, as described in the opening verses of the Torah, were to create light and to separate the light from the darkness.  Each Saturday night, when darkness falls and Shabbat ebbs away, we light an havdallah candle and praise God for distinguishing between light and dark.

Even in the parlance of our times, when one reveals information or puts a matter into perspective, we say they “shed light” on it, in...Read more...

A Special Shabbat Message From Rabbi Suson

01/12/2018 09:45:56 AM

Jan12

Rabbi Steven Suson

In this week’s Torah portion, the Exodus story is heating up. After a failed negotiation with Pharaoh, God instructs Moses to return to the palace with the demand, ”let my people go.” However, before Moses carries out this command, the Torah interrupts with a puzzling list of genealogies, concluding with Moses and Aaron.

Rashi explains the reason for the mention of their ancestry is to establish that the brothers descend from...Read more...

Blessing the Children

12/29/2017 09:11:11 AM

Dec29

Rabbi Steven Suson

Before I became a parent, someone explained to me that I could not possibly understand love. Since our daughter was born, I had many conversations with Rachel z”l, questioning whether Mara really is the most beautiful and amazing child in the world or if it is only because we are her parents that we think so. A parent's love for a child is unmatched by any other force in nature and children often thrive when given sufficient support,...Read more...

Sen. Cardin Urges Jews to Speak Up Against Bias and Injustice

12/17/2017 08:10:16 PM

Dec17

Frank Solomon

To help repair the world is in the DNA of Jews, according to U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin.   "Our upbringing and culture teach us to be concerned about the rest of human beings, to help correct the wrong, and to help repair the world," Maryland's senior senator said on Hanukah Shabbat at Har Tzeon Agudath-Achim. "This is our Jewish value. This is in our DNA as a people."   "We must not be afraid of speaking up when we see evil things....Read more...

Eight  are the Days Before a Bris

12/15/2017 12:10:29 PM

Dec15

Rabbi Steven Suson

Hanukkah is the only holiday that lasts 8 days, inside and outside of Israel. Even the holiday of Shemini Atzeret, we are taught, is considered a holiday unto itself and not the eighth day of Sukkoth. Our tradition is replete with explanations for why Hanukkah lasts eight days and what the celebration is all about.

Some say we celebrate the miracle of Rabim b’yad me’atim - “many given over to the few,” recalling the...Read more...

A World View Shaped from a Small Town Jewish Perspective

12/08/2017 02:11:22 PM

Dec8

Daniel S. Mariaschin, B'nai Brith Executive VP & HTAA Past President

A World View Shaped from a Small Town Jewish Perspective
by Daniel S. Mariaschin, B'nai Brith Executive VP & HTAA Past President

In 1955, just before I entered the first grade, we moved from Englewood, New Jersey, to Swanzey, New...Read more...

Hodu L’Hashem Ki Tov

11/24/2017 04:07:58 PM

Nov24

Rabbi Steven Suson

By now, your belly is probably full of hodu (= turkey) and your heart is filled with hodaya (= prayers of thanksgiving) at the delicious meal and the great company that you shared yesterday. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for two reasons. It is the only holiday that, as a rabbi, even I get the day off. But most importantly, Thanksgiving is like every American standing up and reciting the Shehecheyanu (prayer of thanksgiving)...Read more...

A TALE OF TWO COVENANTS

11/16/2017 04:44:58 PM

Nov16

Kami Troy - Kol HaBirah News

Silver Spring historian Professor David Rotenstein was the latest lecturer in Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim’s adult education series.

Today we think of Silver Spring, Maryland, as a very Jewish area, but this wasn’t always the case. In reality, Jews were banned from living in Silver Spring for decades as a result of restrictive residency covenants and land-use laws explicitly prohibiting the sale of property to specific...Read more...

  Choosing  Righteousness

10/20/2017 12:15:11 PM

Oct20

Rabbi Steven Suson - Kol HaBirah News

There is a popular Yiddish saying with similar versions in many languages, “Der mench tracht un Got lacht,” which translates to “Man plans and God laughs." I  have never much cared for that adage because it minimizes the burden of responsibility on people to prevail despite unforeseen and sometimes negative or unfair conditions. I don't believe we must always be victims of our circumstances. We do have choices about...Read more...

Congressman Jaime Raskin's visit to HTAA!

10/18/2017 03:12:19 PM

Oct18

Frank Solomon

Mazal Tov to Frank Solomon  for his recent write-up in Kol HaBirah on Congressman Jaime Raskin's visit to HTAA! 

Click Here To Read The Article! 

Read more...

AT HAR TZEON-AGUDATH ACHIM, CONGRESSMAN SHARES INFLUENCE OF HIS JEWISH IDENTITY ON HIS PUBLIC LIFE

09/28/2017 01:35:01 PM

Sep28

Frank Solomon - Kol HaBirah News

Jews may be “People of the Book,” but Congressman Jamie Raskin (D – Md.) believes in putting words into action to help make the world a better place. That was one of the messages the new representative for Maryland’s 8th District had for the packed audience at Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Sept. 23, Shabbat Shuva.

The former American University law professor and veteran Maryland state legislator said...Read more...

THE RIGHTEOUS RAILWAY WORKERS OF LILLE, FRANCE: A LOCAL CONNECTION FROM ROSH HASHANAH, 1942

09/14/2017 01:37:02 PM

Sep14

Ira Brandriss - Kol HaBirah News

My mother, Perla Brandriss, often mentioned to us as children that it was Erev Rosh Hashanah, 1942, that the Nazis came to take her parents. They and their two youngest children were rounded up and taken to the railway station in their home town of Lille, France, together with many of the city’s other Polish Jews, to be sent to their deaths at Auschwitz.

Erev Rosh Hashanah that year fell on September 11, the date on which, 59 years...Read more...

Going All-In This Elul

09/14/2017 01:32:26 PM

Sep14

Rabbi Steven Suson

A group of more than 20 of my family members recently got together in Las Vegas to celebrate the 60th birthday of my dear aunt. While there, I found myself in the poker room at a hotel on the Strip. As I sat, I noticed I completed the “minyan” of 10 adult poker players at our table.

In poker, each player holds concealed cards. They are cards that no one can know but the player himself. As the game proceeds, players learn about the...Read more...

L’eila U’L’eila

09/08/2017 11:00:17 AM

Sep8

 “It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.” Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture.
 
Recently, more than twenty of my family members got together in Las Vegas to celebrate the 60th birthday of my dear aunt. There, I found myself in the poker room at a hotel on the Strip. As I sat, I noticed I completed the “minyan” of 10 adult poker players at our table.
 
In poker, each player...Read more...

Shabbat Chazon

07/28/2017 12:21:27 PM

Jul28

This Shabbat Chazon, we begin reading the book of Deuteronomy. Moses, who much earlier claimed not to be a man words (Ex. 4:10), now delivers a sermon lasting an exhausting 36 days and taking up almost the entire book. In fact, the book of Deuteronomy is nicknamed Mishneh Torah, the Second Torah, since it is essentially a summary of the previous four books. Over the course of his monologue, Moses reviewed the laws and traditions that were to...Read more...

The Untold Story of the Jewish Effort to Pass the G.I. Bill.  By our newest congregant,  Anna Selman

07/15/2017 01:00:33 AM

Jul15

On June 22nd, we celebrated the anniversary of the G.I. Bill, a historic act that was the first major piece of legislation dealing with the postwar era challenges to come.  With veterans coming home to already fully staffed factories, the G.I. Bill, officially known as the Service Member Readjustment Act of 1944, helped stop another recession by providing education and housing opportunities to...Read more...

Kiddush Hashem

06/30/2017 12:23:39 PM

Jun30

Did someone say Kiddush? My mouth is watering already... Ever wonder why the delicious reception after Shabbat morning services is called "sanctification" or Kiddush? Each week, we acknowledge the sanctity of Shabbat over wine and elaborate Sabbath meals. In this way, we bring additional holiness to the day that celebrates God's creation of the beautiful world which we humbly inhabit and trust in HIs desire to sustain us...Read more...

 Blessings and Responsibility

06/02/2017 11:30:51 AM

Jun2

Rabbi Steven Suson

I always look forward to Fridays. I suppose I'm not alone. Most of us look forward to Fridays. Friday reminds us that whatever happened during the work week to make us nervous, anxious, or frustrated has passed and before us lies a day dedicated to family, rest and showing gratitude God. Even when our week was consumed by holidays, as this week was, Shabbat still promises relief.

As I child, I anticipated Erev Shabbat and our regular...Read more...

Sat, July 21 2018 9 Av 5778