Author Archives: Rabbi Joshua

About Rabbi Joshua

I’m a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband … not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I’m just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Ahavat Zion Synagogue in Santa Monica, CA, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin’ hot human rights attorney… and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.

Sukkot: A Festival of Joy, Gladness and Redemption

The festival of Sukkot begins tonight, Wednesday, October 4th. Sukkot is one of the most joyous occasions on the Jewish calendar. It is deeply connected to the earlier High Holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, and is the culmination … Continue reading

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Kol Nidrei: Tensions and Paradoxes of Yom Kippur

“All vows, obligations, oaths, and anathemas, whether called ‘ḳonam,’ ‘ḳonas,’ or by any other name, which we may vow, or swear, or pledge, or whereby we may be bound, from this Day of Atonement until the next (whose happy coming … Continue reading

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Holiness, Justice and Reaching Out to Others

Parashat Mishpatim What can this week’s parasha, and the Torah as a whole, teach us about reaching out to others and drawing them close? Our Torah portion begins: Exodus 21:1 א  וְאֵלֶּה הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים, אֲשֶׁר תָּשִׂים לִפְנֵיהֶם. 1 These are the ordinances which … Continue reading

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“Get Out!”

Parashat Lekh Lekha “GET OUT!” – G-d makes it very clear to Avram that only through self-imposed exile can he attain his ultimate spiritual potential. Parashat Lekh Lekha, unlike our first two portions in Genesis, emphasizes this convergence between G-d … Continue reading

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Veterans Day

My paternal grandfather (pictured at left with my grandmother) served during WWII in the South Pacific in the Army’s searchlight and radar units. My maternal grandfather served in the Army in the Pacific during the Korean War. My Dad also … Continue reading

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Kristallnacht

Tonight, November 9-10, marks the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht – the Night of Broken Glass. It is called the “Night of Broken Glass” because on this night, in 1938, thousands of rioters stormed Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues causing enormous … Continue reading

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Creation and the Hidden Light

Parashat Breishit The Torah relates the story of the six days of creation in order to refute other theories that claim that the universe came into being through some cosmic accident or coincidence. As such, the story of creation speaks … Continue reading

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Are You Listening?

  Parashat Ha’azinu The Hebrew word Ha’azinu means “listen.” It is a command to pay attention to the words of the song Moshe recounts to the Jewish people before his passing. The verbs to “listen,” “hear,” and “pay attention to” … Continue reading

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Yom Kippur: Life, Death and Proper Protocol

Tonight begins Yom Kippur – the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Traditionally, Leviticus 16, which deals with the proper protocol for the High Priest during the special Yom Kippur service, is read in the synagogue on the morning of … Continue reading

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Rosh HaShanah

HaShem spoke unto Moshe, saying: “Tell the people of Israel, ‘In the seventh month, the first day of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts of the … Continue reading

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