Archive by Author

Chance Encounters on Shabbat



Shabbat is a special time for me. It begins around 4:00 on a Friday afternoon, when I retreat to a Starbucks for an hour or two of study and Jewish writing. And then it’s off to temple for the Friday night service, and Shabbat dinner at home. On Shabbat morning, my Rabbi and I take […]

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The Closeness of God



Since we started reading Vayikra, I’ve been waiting for a chance to argue with my friend and teacher, Rabbi Billy Dreskin. We’ve worked together for years, and we often disagree. But we always learn from each other. His recent d’var torah is a perfect example. Billy is absolutely right in saying that many of us […]

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Counting Our Blessings



by Art Grand Last week’s Torah portion contains an amazing verse, “Abraham was old, and he was blessed in all things”.  Perhaps, that’s what all of us hope for: that someday, we will be able to look back on our lives and say “I was blessed in all things”. In a sense, the verse isn’t […]

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Finding God, Finding Community, Finding Meaning



I had a difficult childhood. I joined a synagogue when I was 30, and I attended services fairly regularly, but I hated God. For me, God was the Old Man in the Sky, distant and remote, and constantly demanding praise. How could I pray? How could I thank a God who had given me my […]

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How Do We Prepare for Rosh HaShanah?



by Art Grand The Chassid master Sefat Emet says that this week’s Torah portion gives us the answer. The Torah portion describes the offering of the first fruits on Shevuot.  Every spring, our ancestors would gather the first fruits of their crop and carry them to Jerusalem, where they would say a prayer and offer […]

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A Day Like Purim



by Art Grand In forty days, Jews around the world will observe Yom Kippur – a solemn day for recounting our sins and thinking about our own mortality. We remember all the mistakes we have made, and remind ourselves that ultimately, all of us are called to judgment. Faced with our mortality, we determine to […]

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The Essence of Teshuvah



by Art Grand I have a friend – a wonderful,kind person – who suffered a nervous breakdown a decade ago. For years, my friend has been hearing voices- scolding at him, insulting him, telling him that he’s a horrible person. Slowly but surely, my friend is returning tothe person he used to be – or […]

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The Other Six Days



by Art Grand I loved Debbie’s piece.  But for me, Jewish time is also about the six days of the week.  Rabbis and cantors spend six days a week doing sacred work, with Shabbat as the crowning day of the week.  But what about the rest of us?  How are we meant to spend our […]

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Finding God in a Stranger’s Question



by Art Grand There are questions that are so profound that they change our lives forever. And there are times when we hear a total stranger asking the same questions, and we realize that God is present – in our shared humanity and in our struggle to find answers. That’s what happened to me this […]

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A Rosh Hashanah Miracle



by Art Grand Years ago, there was a young man in our congregation who had a terrible accident. He had extensive brain damage, and it was weeks before we know whether he would ever regain consciousness. He went through months of grueling therapy in the hope that someday he would fully recover. Every few weeks […]

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Making Shabbat Your Own



by Art GrandDuring Shabbat morning services at the URJ Board meeting in mid December three Board members were asked to share their personal Shabbat journeys, to speak about how they celebrated Shabbat and how they have thought about Shabbat observance as part of their lives. Art Grand is a member of Temple Or Rishon, Orangevale, […]

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Changing the Image



By Art Grand Growing up, my image of God was based primarily on my father’s memories of being forced to attend an Orthodox cheder where his teachers refused to answer his questions and hit him with a ruler whenever he had trouble reciting prayers he didn’t understand. When my own son was born, my wife […]

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