Rabbi's Blog

Rabbi Mendel's Blog

Rabbi Mendel's blog features his Dvar Torah (Torah lesson) column from the weekly E-TORAH, ocassional musings and other articles that he authors from time to time.
Your comments are welcome.

Becoming Jewish

According to a Pew Research Center study, there has been a steady decline in President Obama’s Jewish support. One blogger at the New York Times suggests that this may be due to questions about Obama’s support for Israel. Ultimately, the entire observation begs the question, is Judaism defined by support for Israel?

While it is safe to say that many American Jews consider Israel an important piece of their Jewish and political identity, from a Jewish perspective (politics aside), the debate rages. In other words, if G-d Forbid there was not a Jewish homeland, would that mean the demise of Jewish identity? This concern is not a debate of whether we should support Israel, but rather whether support for Israel is a resul…Read More »

Total Stranger

This Thursday afternoon I received a phone call from a Jewish businessman. He was visiting Boise and explained that he needed to say Kaddish for a yarzheit observance. I told him that we don’t usually have a minyan for Mincha on a regular Thursday, but we try to put one together for yarzheits and other needs. Due to the late hour, I was uncertain whether we would succeed (oh, how easy being Jewish is in Manhattan or Los Angeles…).   But we would do our best.

Within a short while, after emails and a flurry of phone calls (and thanks to great volunteers), ten Jews were gathered at the Chabad Jewish Center. It turns out that our visitor never made it to the minyan – but we still succeeded to pray Mincha … Read More »

Right of way


Driving along the back roads of Idaho can at times be challenging. I recently found myself on a windy dirt road with little room for error. Suddenly, a car appeared from the opposite direction and we both came to a sudden halt. After a quick stare-down, I realized that there was only room for one car at a time and  one of us would have to budge. So I reversed and went slightly off road to allow the other car to pass.

Who had the right of way I mused?

Sometimes, life is not so crystal clear. The moral choices with which we are faced can be murky at times. Without a strong moral compass, we can wander endlessly. But even with a solid guide we can be stuck, frozen in a moment of indecision.

This week’s Torah portion of Sh… Read More »

The Blame Game

This past Sunday Esther and I took the family to Sagehen Reservoir for a fabulous day trip. We ended up getting a late start, and subsequently, getting home late at night (for the kids). We figured the latter part of the day would be better than the earlier segment, as the weekend would be nearing its end, thus affording a less crowded outing. But, we underestimated the drive time and the fun we would have.

All too often I find myself playing the blame game. If I’m late for a meeting it’s because another meeting went overtime. If my kids are testing my patience, it’s their fault, not mine.

Here too, it was easily to fault getting the kids to bed so late on a number of factors that were “out… Read More »

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