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Rabbi Jennifer Jaech's blog

Conversations for the Sake of Shalom

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 1:53am -- Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

In the past months, several people have spoken with me to express their dismay about living in divisive times.  Many feel alienated from family members and friends.  They are unsure about how to speak with people who hold political and personal views so different from their own.   As the holiday season approaches, some dread the thought of family gatherings for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, gatherings that may devolve into verbal sparring.  


We value “Shalom Bayit” – Peace in the House.  But these days, peace can be elusive.

Selichot Storytelling

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 12:00am -- Rabbi Jennifer Jaech


“As the summer ends, Americans get back to business, and for American Jews, there’s no bigger business than the High Holidays at your local synagogue.  I have some unconventional advice for you this year:  don’t go.”   Ouch.  So began an article written by Jay Michaelson and published in the Forward last year.   Further in the article, Michaelson wrote, “here we are again, listening to authority figures drone on…standing up, sitting down, praying to a deity we don’t believe in.”[1]

March/April Blog Entry

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 12:00am -- Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

My faith in our Temple community’s willingness to respond with compassion to help those in need has been affirmed.  Earlier this month, I asked for volunteers to help host and feed a small group of men who will sleep at Temple Israel for one week owing to an effort coordinated by the Briarcliff Ossining Ministerial Association.  I’m happy to say that Temple Israel’s leaders and members responded warmly and positively to this request. As I write this, we are preparing to welcome our guests for their week with us.  

It Will Be All Right

Mon, 01/02/2017 - 9:57am -- Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

This year’s theme for the annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis is “Being a Rabbi in Turbulent Times.”  Like many of my colleagues in the Reform rabbinate, I am alarmed at the rise of hate crimes directed against vulnerable people and by the news that the recent election has inspired white supremacist groups to feel newly emboldened.   On the one hand I want to believe that “it will all be all right” – and that is what I say to people who come to me for comfort.  But on the other hand, I know that the only way that “it will be all right” is if we

Dedication and Education

Mon, 11/28/2016 - 8:36am -- Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending time with our 8th graders in our Center for Jewish Learning (CJL).  We played a game that was a cross between “gaga” (a camp sport loosely based on dodgeball, but much gentler) and Jewish trivia.  One of the trivia questions I asked the 8th graders was “what is the literal meaning of the Hebrew word ḥanukkah?”  They knew the word ḥanukkah from the holiday of the same name, but they did not know that ḥanukkah means “dedication.”   The holiday gets its name from the story i

Lucy Braun

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 9:28am -- Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

The elderly woman is this photo is Lucy Braun.  She is standing with our Budapest guide, Ági Antal.   Lucy and Ági are two of the remarkable people we met on our congregational trip to Eastern Europe this past July.

Ági told our group the following story:  

A message from the Mental Health Support Group

Mon, 09/26/2016 - 2:05pm -- Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

In my Yom Kippur sermon last year, I spoke about how mental illness is stigmatized in our culture.  People whose family members are struggling with mental illness often do not receive the care and support that those suffering with a physical illness might receive.   The “Mental Health Support Group,” capably facilitated by one of our congregation’s members, is designed to provide that care and support.  Please see the message from the members of the group below, and know that you are welcome to join us in this New Year.


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