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11/10/2020 08:17:12 PM

Nov10

וַיִּהְיוּ בְעֵינָיו כְּיָמִים אֲחָדִים בְּאַהֲבָתוֹ אֹתָהּAnd they seemed to him but a few days (Genesis 29:20)

12/06/2019 12:49:22 PM

Dec6

We read that the seven years that Jacob worked for the right to marry Rachel “seemed to him but a few days in his love for her” (29:20). Logic, one might assume, should provoke the exact opposite sentiment. Why, then, did it only seem like a short time? Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel of Apt explained that in reality there are two types of love. The first kind of love cleaves the lover to the beloved in the yearning for the positive feelings...Read more...

In Memory Of...

11/22/2019 08:34:23 PM

Nov22

As I was preparing this email, I received the most unfortunate news. Our dear member, Mark Olkon, has suddenly passed away. Mark was the son of our late Cantor Elijah & Anna Olkon z"l and sister of Naomi Judith Olkon (Robert Cohen), of California.
Mark was a regular and active in our daily minyanim, often leading daily and Shabbat services. He read Torah on the high holidays for many years...Read more...

In Memory of Mark Olkon, z'l & Lillian Goldberg, z'l

11/22/2019 12:47:00 PM

Nov22

As I was preparing this email, I received the most unfortunate news. Our dear member, Mark Olkon, has suddenly passed away. Mark was the son of our late Cantor Elijah & Anna Olkon z"l and sister of Naomi Judith Olkon (Robert Cohen), of California.

Mark was a regular and active in our daily minyanim, often leading daily and Shabbat services. He read Torah on the high holidays for many...Read more...

Parashat Vayera

11/15/2019 08:35:50 PM

Nov15

The most confusing message a child can hear is that of: “Do as I say, not as I do.” Researchers conducted a recent survey of teen drivers who related that while parents often remind them not to text and drive, they regularly see their parents using their own smartphones while driving.

Despite well-intended instruction, some values may only be instilled by proper example. According to the research, young drivers only...Read more...

Security Update, Community Vigil, Pastoral Support

10/27/2019 03:36:16 PM

Oct27

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...Read more...

ועתה כתבו לכם את השירה הזאת

10/04/2019 11:37:30 AM

Oct4

In Moses’ final address he instructs the people to go and write this shira (lit. song). The stated purpose of the writing is so that it is instilled in the mouths of future generations of Israelite children. Thus, a perpetual relationship would be established between Israelites and God. The language of communication is the “song.”

The Talmud understands the “song” to be referring to the Torah. The command is to go and write...Read more...

Shana Tova 5780

09/27/2019 02:39:35 PM

Sep27

Rosh Hashanah represets a new opportunity to change the trajectory of our lives. It's true, we do not need to wait for these Days of Awe to do teshuva or to re-evaluate the direction our choices are taking us. However, this season does create an atmosphere which helps make soul-searching easier to achieve. During these days, we make a mental review of the chains of decisions that have led us to where we are today....Read more...

To Life!

09/13/2019 01:40:59 PM

Sep13

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...Read more...

Symbolism

08/23/2019 02:42:30 PM

Aug23

This week’s Torah portion opens as follows:
והיה עקב תשמעון את המשפטים האלה
(Ekev) you hearken to these laws and do them, Adonai your God will keep the Covenant and kindness that he promised to your ancestors.

The word Ekev, at the beginning of the verse literally means “heel” but is understood differently by various commentators.

Targum Onkelos translates Ekev as...Read more...

The Priestly Blessing

06/14/2019 10:56:13 AM

Jun14

I always look forward to Fridays. I suppose I'm not alone - most of us do. 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. 

As I child, I anticipated Erev Shabbat and our regular Friday night meals with friends and family crowded around the dining room table. Just before reciting...Read more...

Shavuot

06/07/2019 01:58:19 PM

Jun7

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 10:59:54 AM

May31

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)...Read more...

We Stand with Poway 

05/03/2019 11:01:10 PM

May3

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...

I Often Wonder...

04/05/2019 11:03:10 AM

Apr5

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...

AIPAC

03/29/2019 11:05:01 AM

Mar29

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 01:06:18 PM

Mar15

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...Read more...

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

03/01/2019 11:15:23 PM

Mar1

Adrienne Suson & Rabbi 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...

Shabbat Yitro

02/18/2019 11:26:31 AM

Feb18

Moses has a reputation, according to the Torah, of being the “most humble man of the face of the earth.” But when his father-in-law comes for a visit, the extent of his immense patience and grace speaks for itself. When Yitro arrived in town, he observed his son-in-law, Moses, doing what he did every day:

And Moshe sat down to judge the people; and the people waited [to see] Moshe from morning till night.

Yitro...Read more...

Jewish Pass Interference 

01/25/2019 02:19:29 PM

Jan25

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 11:29:14 PM

Dec21

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  a Minyan

12/07/2018 11:30:07 AM

Dec7

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 02:31:34 PM

Nov23

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 02:32:38 PM

Nov16

"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 04:33:47 PM

Nov9

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...

Solidarity Shabbat  #ShowUpForShabbat 

11/02/2018 01:35:13 PM

Nov2

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...

Vayeira

10/26/2018 11:36:24 AM

Oct26

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 10:38:58 AM

Oct12

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 02:39:56 PM

Sep14

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 04:41:18 PM

Sep7

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 10:42:38 AM

Aug24

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...

Wed, April 14 2021 2 Iyyar 5781