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06/07/2019 02:29:57 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

Tomorrow, at the close of Shabbat, begins the two-day festival of Shavuot. Shavuot celebrates the gift of the Torah in the world and in our lives. Some even have the custom to stay up all night studying to commemorate this glorious event. 

AT HTAA, are holding a special study session to conclude Shabbat and begin the holiday (complete with cheese cake, of course).
The study session, sponsored by Lew Strudler and family, will...Read more...

Conclusion of The Book of Leviticus

05/31/2019 02:37:33 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

This week, congregations across the world will conclude the book of Leviticus (except in Israel, where Parashat Bechukotai was read last Shabbat). God promises blessings to B’nai Yisrael when they walk in His path and keep His statutes. Conversely, if we stray and don’t follow the laws, the Torah lists 49 punishment that will be meted. Heavy stuff for a Saturday morning...

It is customary in many synagogues (including ours)...

We Stand with Poway 

05/03/2019 02:29:41 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

The horror of last weeks events is still in the forefront of our minds. The tragic murder of Lori Gilbert Kaye z"l and the incident at the Chabad of Poway has sent shockwaves through the Jewish community. So many people and communities bear emotional trauma as we stand speechless about how such atrocities occur.

On one level is our concern with the state of humanity. That a person can walk into a crowd of...Read more...

Rabbi and Kids Prepare for Passover Seder

04/19/2019 11:01:58 AM


I Often Wonder...

04/05/2019 01:48:01 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

I often wonder what makes people want to be a part of HTAA. How do unfamiliar people feel when they walk through our doors? Often they find friends, community, edcuational and religious opportunities for themselves and their children. But what is so unique about our synagogue is how close and family-like we behave in our interactions and cooperation and how diverse, interesting, and amazing are our individual...Read more...


03/29/2019 01:52:16 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

This past week, more than 18,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C., for the annual AIPAC Policy Conference. I was one of them. In these days of deep partisan bickering and societal divisiveness, the message of unity that emanated from the conference was inspiring and powerful.

Parashat Shemini describes the ceremonial sacrifices that were offered at the inauguration of the Tabernacle. Aaron was commanded to offer “a bull-calf for...Read more...

In Memory of My Father, David Suson, z'l. 

03/15/2019 01:55:01 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

My father, David Suson, of blessed memory, loved three things deeply: bowling, his family and friends, and learning Torah. Potentially, in that order. I can only hope to be a fraction of the man he was in life, and perpetuate the legacy that he leaves. I have nothing to contribute to the world of bowling. But I can resolve to demonstrate love for my family, as he did, and learn as much as I can, in his memory.

Dad studied daf...

A Special Shabbat Message from Adrienne 'Auntie A'  & Rabbi Suson 

03/01/2019 01:57:17 PM


Adrienne Suson

As most know, Rabbi and I lost our dear father, David Suson, z’l at the beginning of the week. While this has shaken our family to the core, I felt compelled to share the words I spoke here in Denver, with my HTAA family. 

Out of the three of us, Dad used to say, I was the son he never had. Sharing the love of sports became a bonding experience. Going to baseball games and other sporting events were some of the best times...Read more...

Jewish Pass Interference 

01/25/2019 11:52:53 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

To be clear: I am not a sports fan and can scarcely have an informed conversation on the subject. But what happened in this week’s playoff game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints caused even this football outsider to say…wow. In my ignorance about the game, I do understand that if a player is reaching to catch a pass, he is considered defenseless to an oncoming attack and he may not be tackled. To do so would...Read more...

A Bedside Blog 

12/21/2018 02:42:30 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

As I type this message on my iPhone (sorry for typos), I sit at the bedside of my father-in-law in NJ, whose health is declining. The time I have spent in the hospital with him for the past two days have been some of the best moments we have ever shared. We discussed serious matters of life and death. We faced fears together. We have cried together but also laughed and joked. We talked about how his wife...Read more...

The Miracle of Minyan

12/07/2018 02:57:31 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

Chanukah celebrates the season of miracles and we acknowledge all of the wondrous turns of events that culminated with the rededication of the Holy Temple.  The Chanukah lights are a symbol that when things seem dark and hopeless, if we can keep faith, extraordinary things do happen.

You might have noticed attendance at or daily minyanim is less than encouraging. Over the past couple of years, we have lost many of our...Read more...

Hodu L’Hashem Ki Tov

11/23/2018 10:33:34 AM


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. First, it is the only holiday that, as a rabbi, I don’t have to “work.” But most importantly, Thanksgiving is like every American standing up and reciting...Read more...

Keepin' It Kosher 

11/16/2018 10:46:47 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

"People of the Book" is a nickname given to, and later embraced by, the Jewish people. It describes our strict adherence to the written Torah and the oral tradition. Consequently, we take seriously our responsibility to preserve the integrity of the the original message, as much as possible. Only a Torah that is considered "kosher" may be read publicly in the synagogue. A kosher scroll is made using parchment, nerves...Read more...

Concert Against Hate 

11/09/2018 01:53:38 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

Last night, I attended the ADL Concert Against Hate, at the Kennedy Center. The event honored seven brave individuals who have overcome hate and spread goodwill, in remarkable ways. They did so despite unthinkable personal circumstances, which might otherwise result in further hate and conflict. Instead, they have become inspiring stories of love conquering hate. Among them were:

Rais Bhuiyan, an American Muslim, who was shot by a...Read more...

The Taming of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Frank Solomon

11/05/2018 07:02:48 PM


Frank Solomon

Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain on the African continent and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. It contains almost every kind of ecological system on earth: cultivated land, rain forest, heath, moorland, alpine desert and an arctic summit. At a colossal 19,341 feet, Mt. Kilimanjaro is one of the largest volcanoes to ever break through the earth’s crust. Hemingway made the mountain a...Read more...

Solidarity Shabbat  #ShowUpForShabbat 

11/02/2018 10:51:18 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

Dear Friends,

This Shabbat we are responding to the worst act of anti-Semitism in North American history with our greatest show of solidarity. A continental Solidarity Shabbat with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. At synagogues, community centers and homes across North America, we will gather together in prayer and unity. We are one people, and we won’t be intimidated in our places of...Read more...

Security Update, Community Vigil, Pastoral Support

10/27/2018 10:30:47 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

We are in shock over the horrific incident that unfolded during Shabbat services in Pennsylvania this morning, resulting in many lost lives, shattered families, and traumatized communities. Our condolences and prayers go out to the members of the Tree of Life synagogue and the community of Pittsburgh - they and we should know of no further tragedies.

What We Are Doing To Ensure Your Safety

We are in constant...


10/26/2018 10:58:50 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

In the opening verses of Parashat Vayeira, read this week, we witness various acts of hesed, kindness toward fellow human beings.  Just as Abraham is recovering from his circumcision, Hashem Himself comes to pay a visit.  The Talmud describes this as an action bikkur holim, the jewish value of visiting a person to offer comfort when they are not well (Sota 14a).  The Talmud concludes that just as Hashem visited Abraham after...Read more...

Choosing Righteousness

10/12/2018 10:45:16 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

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...Read more...

The Hardest Word

09/14/2018 03:57:58 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

Every night, before bed, Mara and I read a book together and talk about our day. It is my most treasured time with my daughter, since we are both rushed in the mornings and busy most days. I suspect she enjoys it too because, during this time, she is candid and inquisitive. We sometimes use the stories to open discussions and share our feelings. My favorite book to read with her, this time of year, is The Hardest Word, illustrated...Read more...

Humble Pie Recipe

09/07/2018 10:30:12 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

In recent days, we have been blasting the shofar each morning, offering special Selichot prayers, preparing our tastiest recipes, and sending new years salutations. These, and other rituals, serve to communicate that Rosh Hashanah is coming - the most holy days of the year are upon us - and we have work to do. 

We acknowledge that it takes effort and time to repair relationships and correct bad habits. None of it can be...Read more...

The Month of Elul

08/24/2018 09:24:17 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

This month of Elul is spent preparing for the upcoming new year. Unlike the secular new year which is commonly welcomed with lavish parties and overindulgence, the Jewish method of marking the head of the year is much more reflective and personal. It is not about whom we are kissing at the moment the ball drops in Times Square. It is about taking steps to implement changes in our lives, to make next year better than the last. For that,...Read more...

Shabbat Shalom E-Lites Parashat Vaetchanan 5778

07/27/2018 08:01:40 AM


First Haftarah of Consolation (Shabbat Nachamu)
by Jan Uhrbach, Director of the Center for Spiritual Arts, JTS

This special haftarah, which begins n

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

07/20/2018 12:35:46 PM


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


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


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


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


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


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


Rabbi Steven Suson

Watch my video blog here! Rabbi Suson
Tue, July 14 2020 22 Tammuz 5780