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11/10/2020 08:17:12 PM


פרשת וארא

01/24/2020 12:29:07 PM


On the heels of one unsuccessful negotiation, God commands Moses and Aaron to return to Pharaoh’s palace and demand, “Let my people go!” However, before Moses carries out this command, the Torah interrupts with a puzzling list of ancestries, beginning with Jacob and concluding with the birth of Moses and Aaron. The Exodus story in this week’s reading was just heating up before tangentially relating the genealogical qualifications of the...Read more...


01/03/2020 11:30:47 AM


With all the partisan political maneuvering going on both in the U.S. and Israel right now, one thing remains clear: our country and the Jewish State are proudly bound together in so many ways—through shared military, security, economic, and technological cooperation that is crucial to both nations’ safety, well-being and prosperity. The funds that our country provides every year to Israel makes possible, among so many other things, the Iron...Read more...

"… If I am only for myself, what am I?"    (Avot 1:14)

12/27/2019 12:47:16 PM


I imagine that when Hillel originally posed this rhetorical question, it was around this time of year. I have no proof of this but certainly the lessons of Chanukah encourage generosity. Not in a gift giving  way but because Chanukah celebrates the miracle of light and sharing that warmth with others.

The very act of lighting the Chanukah candles demonstrates this idea. When the Shammash (helper candle) touches...Read more...

AIPAC 2020

12/13/2019 02:32:18 PM


I want to share a few things with you, as Shabbat approaches. First, I hope you will come to shul tomorrow to hear inspiring words of Torah from our own member, Ethan Halpern. The service will be entirely lay led, with two of our teens, Niv Leibowitz and Eric Curreri, officiating.

Second, I hope you enjoyed last week's presentation by Jason Pressman from AIPAC. Several congregants have inquired about discounted tickets to the AIPAC...Read more...

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

12/06/2019 12:49:22 PM


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


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


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


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


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...

ועתה כתבו לכם את השירה הזאת

10/04/2019 11:37:30 AM


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


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


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...


08/23/2019 02:42:30 PM


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...

The Priestly Blessing

06/14/2019 10:56:13 AM


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...


06/07/2019 01:58:19 PM


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


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 11:01:10 PM


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


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 11:05:01 AM


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


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


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


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...

Jewish Pass Interference 

01/25/2019 02:19:29 PM


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


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


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


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


"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


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


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...


10/26/2018 11:36:24 AM


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...

Sat, July 2 2022 3 Tammuz 5782