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Special Shabbat June 11th

06/04/2022 11:54:35 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

We are privileged to benefit from each other's scholarship and wisdom. We have such an opportunity over the next couple of weeks, as congregant Dr. Steve Parker will teach material from his wealth of study and writing.

The first opportunity will be this Saturday evening. Steve will join me and Cantor Gale in leading our annual Tikkun Leil Shavuot. See additional information in this Byte message.

The...

May We Finally Act

05/31/2022 10:53:06 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

In this week's Torah portion, God threatens myriad awful curses upon the Israelites. The connection of those ancient curses to the contemporary curse of violence is painfully real. 

So, yes, I am once again speaking about gun violence. But my words are not enough. Neither are our prayers. May we finally act, seizing the moment and momentum to help promote reasonable gun safety measures throughout our ashamed...Read more...

Where All Of The Children Are Above Average

05/18/2022 03:29:19 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Garrison Keillor would cap off each episode of A Prairie Home Companion by stating that Lake Wobegon is a place “Where … all the children are above average.”

I love the phrase, for how can “all” of anything within a specific set be “above average”? Still, I would apply that ironic line to the children in our own religious school. I have had the distinct pleasure of teaching and just spending time...Read more...

Values In Action

05/01/2022 03:49:41 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

We often express our values and our opinions about pressing issues of the day through emails and conversations. Some of those exchanges can be aggravating; some are fruitful. But it is certainly fruitful when we express our values through our deeds. We have been doing exactly that in recent weeks at EHNTJC.

On Wednesday, April 20,...

Chag Sameach

04/15/2022 10:44:34 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

On Passover we gather together to celebrate this ancient biblical holiday. To that end, all are welcome to log on to Zoom In and Zoom Out of Egypt on Friday night – first seder – at 7:30 pm.  Cantor Gale and I will lead a maariv service and focus on moments of high drama and great meaning in the Haggadah. It will last approximately 75 minutes.

On Passover we are also keenly attuned to those who suffer...Read more...

Standing With Israel In The Face Of Terror

04/08/2022 02:23:38 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Foreign ministers of four Arab nations – Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates – met with their Israeli counterparts in the south of Israel. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken joined them for this historic “Negev Summit.”

And then came the knifings and the shootings. Instead of viewing this historic summit as a possibility of what might be, Palestinian leaders find it threatening. So they...Read more...

Help For Ukraine

03/25/2022 03:07:57 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The core of the Jewish mitzvah system is the imperative to help the vulnerable. There are, sadly and undeniably, no end of vulnerable people in the world. The Ukrainians have caught our attention for their sad plight, as well as for their bravery. We also understand that the security structure that has obtained in the western world is shaken by Russia's invasion. So, Ukraine is very much on our minds. 

We at...

On Purim

03/18/2022 12:44:42 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Today has been a good day; it’s Purim. I’ve had fun singing and chatting with the toddlers in Schechter’s Early Childhood Center, housed downstairs in our education wing; dancing, singing and drumming in the midst of a very well-attended service last night, featuring young and not-so-young in costumes; and hearing the entire megillah this morning. Purim actually felt like it began much earlier this year, as our...Read more...

Building the Mishkan: An Epic Accomplishment

02/24/2022 07:13:24 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

One of humanity’s greatest accomplishments was…

Well, you might conclude that sentence in any number of ways: the pyramids, the moon-landing, the personal computer.

But I’ll vote for the Mishkan, the portable tabernacle the Israelites constructed and transported through the desert, en route to the...Read more...

Solidarity In The Face Of Hatred

02/09/2022 05:23:47 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Our nation has witnessed recently a cluster of hate-fueled incidents, both against Jewish institutions and against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s). Meanwhile, neo-Nazis gathered publicly this past week in Boston and in Orlando.

While we ought to be vigilant, we should also maintain perspective. These incidents are...Read more...


01/27/2022 05:50:43 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The United Nations' General Assembly designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day; it is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945. 

On this day, the UN urges its members states to honor the memory of the six million and to commit to the complete abolishment of genocide. May it only be so!

We in the Jewish world have our own sacred day of commemoration, Yom...Read more...


01/20/2022 05:45:01 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The heart of the Jewish community tanked and filled with dread as we learned last Shabbat that a gunman was holding four Jews hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX. Memories of the mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh flashed before us, in addition to the tragic violence at other houses of worship (and schools, street corners, nightclubs,...Read more...

I'll Stand By You

12/23/2021 11:51:37 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

This week, as we begin the book of Exodus, Moses feels woefully unqualified for the mission God places upon him: to be God's agent of redemption for the Israelites; to be the great teacher of Torah at Sinai; to lead the people through the wilderness. 

"Mi anochi?" Moses protests. Who am I to accomplish all of this? The Israelites will not believe me. Pharaoh will not speak to me. I have a speech impediment....Read more...

Mark Spitz and Munich 1972

12/21/2021 05:19:45 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Mark Spitz, the Jewish American Olympic swimmer, has been on my mind. In fact, I woke up this morning singing a made-up song about him.

Spitz won seven gold medals in the 1972 Olympics, held in Munich. His achievement was unparalleled -- until Michael Phelps came along.

Spitz’s ascent up the podium to receive his seventh gold medal occurred on the evening of September 4, 1972. Hours later, as he was...Read more...

Folk & Rock Torah

12/09/2021 04:03:57 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Introducing … “Folk & Rock Torah.”  Each week – for the time being – I will play a recording of a song that reflects a theme within that week’s Torah portion. I will do this immediately following our evening minyan – typically on Wednesdays.

This week I shared “Takin’ It to the Streets” by the Doobie Brothers. It begins, “You don’t know me, but I’m your brother. I was raised...Read more...

The Truth Of Chanukah

12/09/2021 04:02:47 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Chanukah’s history is more complicated than the story we teach our children. For instance, the glorious war of the Maccabees was as much a struggle against assimilated Jews as it was against the Seleucid Greek armies. Furthermore, the Maccabees themselves may have been good fighters, but they were deplorable rulers; one of them had hundreds of his Jewish opponents slaughtered. And the final defeat of the Hasmoneans (as...Read more...

Click and Learn

11/17/2021 11:42:19 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

As you know from our emails and fliers, EHNT offers frequent and fulfilling opportunities for learning. Cantor Gale teaches popular classes on Jewish music and liturgy. Dr. Esther Javetz and her Adult Education team organize a steady stream of creative programs. And I teach classes on Mondays (Torah This Week!), Tuesdays (Stories from Our Tradition) and Thursdays....Read more...


10/21/2021 02:09:47 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Kristallnacht – the two-day pogrom – occurred on November 9 and 10, 1938, in communities throughout Germany and Austria.

For us, this is no mere history. Congregations Ezra and Habonim were founded by German Jewish refugees in 1938, on the north and south sides respectively. Those congregations merged to form Ezra-Habonim in 1973. The merger between Niles Township Jewish Congregation and Ezra-Habonim require...Read more...

Think Different, Like Abraham

10/14/2021 07:46:07 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Abraham woke up on the right side of the bed and began believing in one God. Everyone else on the planet was still waking up on the idolatrous side of the bed. Abraham was the first – and for a time only – monotheist on the planet.

Torah does not explore how radical Abraham was. To stand here while the rest of the world stands there is difficult, a constant struggle. But Abraham was adamant; he believed in...Read more...

Optimism In 5782

09/09/2021 02:42:38 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The shocking ascension of the Taliban 20 years after 9/11 causes deep consternation. So many Afghanis and others have and will continue to suffer from the Taliban’s violent brand of Islamist extremism. In addition to our consternation, we may also feel a sense of dismaying futility, as in: After all that, they’re back?

The Taliban’s re-emergence feels like the realization of Ecclesiastes’ pessimistic...Read more...

Climbing the Tree and Sailing the Sea

08/27/2021 04:07:22 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Climbing a tree. Hanging from a vine. Sailing across the ocean. These are a few of the ways our sages – from ancient to modern times – pursued illicit desires, whether those desires were born from greed, lust, or the hunger for power. In some cases, the hapless sages went through with the deed. But in most cases, they managed to thwart the forward momentum of their desires.

Rav Amram the Pious is the hero of...

Planning Ahead

08/13/2021 06:30:27 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Moses – aware of his impending death – plans for the future. In this week’s Torah portion, Shoftim, he stands on Mt Nebo, at the precipice of the Promised Land, and counsels the Israelites about the parameters of leadership for priests, prophets, and kings. This process began in the book of Numbers when a new generation of leaders – Joshua, Pinchas, the daughters of Zelophechad, et al – asserted...Read more...

Learning Together

07/08/2021 03:32:22 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The pandemic ebbed and flowed; we despaired and hoped. And through it all, we continued learning. Our Adult Education program, under the leadership of Dr. Esther Javetz, churned out creative learning opportunities, drawing very impressive numbers. Cantor Gale has added his expertise and enthusiasm to the mix, 

A special pleasure for me are my three weekly classes: Torah This Week! (Mondays at 6); Stories...Read more...

Leadership Past, Present and Future

07/01/2021 01:13:10 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

A new generation ariseth in this week’s Torah portion, Pinchas. God establishes that the high priesthood will come from the line of Pinchas, Aaron’s grandson. Meanwhile, the daughters of Zelophechad successfully appeal directly to Moses for the right to inherit, even though they are female. Finally, Moses publicly ordains Joshua as his successor.

Pinchas is a Torah portion of succession.

Every...

Seek Peace

06/29/2021 10:10:13 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

A plague engulfs the Israelites during a massive act of apostasy at the end of last week’s Torah portion, Balak. More than 20,000 die!

But when Aaron’s grandson Pinchas kills a privileged Israelite man who is preparing to engage in idol-worship and more with a Midianite princess, the plague abruptly ends.

Pinchas’s double homicide ended their lives gruesomely. But it also saved hundreds more from...Read more...

Moses Falls And Rises

06/10/2021 01:00:51 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Moses falls on his face, once again, in this week’s Torah portion, Korach. Aaron does as well. Why? Because these leaders’ are experiencing – once again – a serious challenge to their leadership. But it’s not really their leadership that’s being challenged; it’s God’s leadership, for Moses and Aaron are indeed Gods appointed leaders of the people.

Incredibly, Moses raises himself up, collects...

Truth Even Unto Its Innermost Parts

06/02/2021 09:56:04 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

A few years ago I was engaged in a heated conversation with an old college friend, Bob. I was stridently expressing my position, until Bob completely disarmed me.

“So what you’re saying,” he said, “is that…”

I do not recall the topic of our conservation, but I do recall Bob’s willingness to patiently repeat my own thoughts back to me. Bob was not trying to trip me up in my own words. He was...Read more...

May Justice and Peace Prevail

05/21/2021 05:09:25 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Eighteen of us – Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant -- stood in a wide circle yesterday for the Niles Township Clergy Forum’s silent vigil for, as our battered sign reads, “Peace. Love. Kindness.”  It was a powerful experience.

Meanwhile, local Jewish leaders are contemplating how to demonstrate solidarity with Israel during this fraught time.

“Fraught” is too weak a word. What is...

Israel's Elections — The Negative Is Positive

04/29/2021 12:37:47 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Israel held its fourth election in two years this week and again the results are inconclusive! This may lead to a fifth election later this year. There is something fundamentally cockeyed and broken about an electoral system that repeatedly fails to yield decisive results.

On the other hand, let us bear in mind that Israel is, in fact, a democracy. It holds regular elections. Its Palestinian citizens participate...Read more...

I.B. Singer's New Duds -- and Dashed Hopes -- on Passover

03/31/2021 06:16:53 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Isaac Bashevis Singer’s childhood memoir, A Day of Pleasure, is a pleasure to read! The title implies Shabbat, but the passage below takes place as Passover nears. This chapter begins with an unexpected gift: A local tailor, as a favor to Singer’s father, a poor rabbi, fits the adolescent Signer for a suit the family could not otherwise afford.

"Everything went...

Thu, February 22 2024 13 Adar I 5784