The 19th century preacher, Theodore Parker, reports about a childhood incident. Walking home one day, he saw a lovely pond with rare flowers in bloom nearby. He stopped to enjoy it; and he saw basking in the sun a spotted tortoise. Parker writes:

“I lifted the stick I had in my hand to strike the harmless reptile, for though I had never killed any creature, I had seen other boys out of sport destroy birds, squirrels and the like; and I felt a disposition to follow their wicked example. But all at once something checked my little arm, and a voice within me said clear and loud 'It is wrong!'.  I held my uplifted stick in wonder at the new emotion."

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On Rosh Hashanah night, the Kazaks captured the rabbi, the cantor and the president of the synagogue, and granted them a final wish before they would be put to death.

The rabbi: All year round I prepare for my Rosh Hashanah sermon. You can’t kill me before you let me present this sermon and get it out of my system.

“Ok,” proclaimed the Kazaks. “We will allow you to give the sermon.” They turned to the cantor. “How about you? What is your final wish?”

“For 364 days a year, I prepare for my cantorial presentation on the High Holidays. For this year I composed many new brilliant and extraordinary compositions. You have to let me sing them before you kill me.”

“Granted,” said the Kazaks. “And you,” they said, turning to the president. “What is your final wish?”

“Kill me first,” he said.

With warmth and blessings,

Rabbi Sally

EVEN NOW - by Ralph Marston

There is serious conflict and trouble in the world today.
Yet as serious as that trouble is,
It cannot reach all the way into your heart.
The part of you that loves and desires peace
Is at peach even now.

Even now, when there is so much violence and turmoil
Even now, when there is so much uncertainty
Even now, there is far more love than hatred
And there always will be;
For hatred quickly consumes itself
While love just keeps on going and growing stronger in your heart.

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Count your blessings and begin to change your life.

Give thanks.  Once a day take quiet time to feel gratitude for what you have, not impatience for what you don’t have.  This alone will bring you halfway to happiness.  We already have most of the ingredients of a happy life.  It’s just that we tend to take these for granted and focus on unmet wants, unfulfilled desires.  Giving thanks is better than shopping – and cheaper too.

Praise.  Catch someone doing something right and say so.  Most people, most of the time, are unappreciated.  Being recognized, thanked and congratulated by someone else is one of the most empowering things that can happen to us.  So, don’t wait for someone to do it for you; do it for someone else.  You will make their day, and that will help to make yours.

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Life . . . without love is like spring without rain. Love without giving is like rain without clouds for life, love, giving…are as one.

Life . . . without faith is like the body without exercise. Faith without purpose is like exercise without movement for life, faith, purpose…are as one.

Life . . . without knowledge is like a tree without blossoms. Knowledge without understanding is like blossoms without seeds for life, knowledge, understanding…are as one.

Life . . . without discovery is like music without sound. Discovery without change is like sound with vibrations for life, discovery, change…are as one.

Universe . . . without life is like the flesh without soul. Life without people is like a soul without motion for universe, life, soul…are as one.



A few weeks ago, I was invited to New York to receive my Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the Jewish Theological Seminary.  When the letter came from the Chancellor of the Seminary, I was in a state of shock.  Of course I’ll be there, I wrote back!  I went a few days early to reminisce because my rabbinic studies began 30 years ago in New York.

As a rabbinic student, I always wondered what my life would be like as a rabbi; and here I was 30 years later as my career was slowing down.  It was an overwhelming feeling.  I felt so grateful as I have had the most fascinating and wonderful career.

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Ask For Help!

Most of the time we are thankful for all that life has given us; but there are times when the long road ahead seems extremely long.  Life puts some burdens on us – a loved one becomes ill or dies.  The days are bleak and dreary; our steps falter, and we become unsteady.

We know that God is with us; but sometimes God seems out of reach.  We need assurance, a living person to help us down the road.  Let me or someone know that you could use some help on your journey.


There is a wonderful story that may help you to understand that we all need help... 

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The Glass and The Mirror

Once there was a wealthy, but miserly, man who did not believe in contributing to the needs of others less fortunate than himself.  One day, his rabbi called on him and asked:  “Will you contribute to the assistance of a poor family greatly in need of food and medicine?”

“No,” replied the rich man.  “I have no desire to give away my riches.”

The rabbi walked to another part of the room and picked up a hand mirror, which was lying there.  He said to the rich man, “Look into this mirror and tell me what you see.”

The rich man laughed at this foolish idea.  After looking into the mirror he said, “I see the same thing I would see in any other mirror – a picture of myself.”

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Life Changes

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that life changes all the time and that the changes are not something to be afraid of, but something to be incorporated into the essence of your life.  Sometimes change seems terrifying, almost impossible; but if you can weather the storm, out of it invariably there is a gift.  Change can be a catalyst for something very life-affirming, exciting and special.  This opportunity is available to both you and to me.

With warmth and affection,

Rabbi Sally

Rabbi Sally - The People's Rabbi