Writings from the Rabbis

Rav Baruch's 'Path of Abraham' Tour Blog - Day 2 (March 6)
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Mar 10th 2014
Thursday was an early day, but instead of awakening at 5.30 a.m., I had mistakenly set my alarm for 5.30 p.m. Thankfully, we had last-minute wake up calls. I quickly said my morning prayers, ate a few bites and boarded the bus. Imam Patel had returned from early prayers at the Haram al-Sharif, but was not on the bus. I descended near the Damascus Gate, grabbed a taxi and returned to the...
Rav Baruch's 'Path of Abraham' Tour Blog - Day 1 (March 5-afternoon and evening)
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Mar 6th 2014
We traveled from Ben Gurion airport and plunged directly into some of the critical and conflictual issues of contemporary Israel.In Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, we had an introduction to civic issues that animate Israeli life. Rabin Square was the site of the famous rally for peace at which Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in October, 1995. Ophir Yarden of the Interreligious...
Rav Baruch's 'Path of Abraham' Tour Blog - Day 1 (March 5)
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Mar 5th 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 I am waiting in Ben Gurion airport for the flight from Toronto to arrive and am reflecting on the past few days in Israel. I arrived ahead of the Path of Abraham group so that I could visit my son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren. My flight from Toronto began with a security discussion–perhaps more extended than usual after I told the security agent that I was...
Bageling: Nuisance or Delight?
By: Rabbi Adam Cutler
Jan 1st 2014
I'm in the airport. in the midst of discussing the Maple Leafs’ latest folly, the guy in the chair beside me slyly mentions his membership in the Jewish fraternity AEPi. I'm in the waiting room. The gentleman sitting across from me scratches his chest conspicuously, obliging his magen david necklace to suddenly appear. I’m in the community indoor play area. The grandmother of one of the kids...
Tu B’Shevat: Weather and Israel
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Jan 1st 2014
The winter snow in Jerusalem and the ice storm in Toronto made me yearn for Tu B’Shevat (15 Shevat= טבשב ו”ט), the holiday that is the harbinger of spring. As it approaches, I am reminded of the song familiar to Jewish children around the world:     The almond tree is blooming    and the golden sun is shining,    birds...
Remarks From the Heart
By: Rabbi Adam Cutler
Nov 22nd 2013
Good evening. On behalf of the lay leadership, professional staff, and clergy of Beth Tzedec Congregation, ברוכים הבאים, welcome to our synagogue and to this exciting Gala event. Tonight we bring together two organizations whose names are rooted in the words of the שמע. Recited twice daily, we remind ourselves of the words: וּכְתַבְתָּם עַל-מְזֻזוֹת...
Demographics, Decision and Destiny
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Nov 6th 2013
The recently released Pew Report on Jewish Identity described a statistical disaster engulfing America Jewry like the waters of Noah. Canadian Jewry faces comparable challenges; looking at American trends gives us a lens to see what is ahead. In reflecting on the Flood, it is important to recall that Abraham was a source of hope, despite demography. The Pew Report suggests that...
Signal and Noise
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 9th 2013
As we approach the Days of Awe, we are more conscious of the din of daily and the omperative to screen out noise. As i watch my granddaughter move from babble to speech, I am again entranced by the way we humans acquire language. What begins as goo and ga, moo and ma will become more developed sounds, distinct words,short sentences and full conversations. Linguistic research indicates that...
Leaving Room for Sinai
By: Rabbi Adam Cutler
Sep 9th 2013
My friend caused quite a stir. We are usually a pretty staid crowd; yet, when Aaron Levy, Founding Director and Rabbi of Makom, a creative Jewish community in downtown Toronto, spoke at the second installment of the Beth Tzedec sponsored “The End of the Shul as We Know It?” the audience’s seething was audible. Rabbi Levy challenged what he perceives to be a communal overemphasis on...
Variations on a Theme
By: Rabbi Adam Cutler
May 15th 2013
A remarkable yet subtle shift happens somewhere between Exodus and Deuteronomy. As the Israelites make their way out of Egypt, God commands the annual paschal offering. Exodus dictates that a flock animal (sheep or goat) be killed,roasted and eaten by individual households at home. Deuteronomy, however, instructs that a herd animal (cattle) or flock animal is sacrificed, boiled...
Investing in Futures: Synagogues are Nimble Institutions
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
May 15th 2013
Universities are not usually interested in the future of religious institutions, and large synagogues are not usually the places where conversations about transformative change for religious communities take place. Yet the two largest congregations in Canada, Beth Tzedec and Holy Blossom, joined with the Centre for Jewish Studies of the University of Toronto to present a two-part series to...
A New Siddur for Beth Tzedec: Mah Nishtanah?
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Mar 12th 2013
Tefillah, classical Jewish prayer, is one of the most challenging acts of our tradition for Jews of our century. To speak the traditional words of the siddur, to direct the heart to God and to feel some sense of attunement or response has become increasingly difficult. Our amazement has atrophied. We are inhibited by intellectual doubts, haunted by the Holocaust, and limited in our linguistic...
Judaism in the Hallways of Democracy
By: Rabbi Adam Cutler
Mar 12th 2013
Look closely and you’ll see me cringe ever so slightly when religious leaders speak on issues of public policy. My face reveals what my heart conceals. What gives them the right to tell our political leaders how to vote? Why should a priest or imam have sway on legislation that affects my rights or pocket book?As a Jew, I don’t want the doctrines of other...
Wow! This Night is Different!
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 1st 2011
This Passover, when we say “Mah nishtanah halaylah hazeh” (best translated as “Wow! This night is different!”), we know that the four questions that follow are not only about the organization of the Seder. They are challenges that come to us from life, from events that we see on You Tube and read in the newspaper.  As we watch the revolutions that are rupturing, restructuring and...
Sukkahville: Stepping Out and Stepping Up
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 1st 2011
Lecture delivered on Sukkahville Award Night Sukkot is a holiday when Jews step outside ourselves.  We go from fast to feast, from people unsure about how to use a hammer to spiritual Home Depot experts. We tell jokes about our lack of expertise. Jackie Mason jokes about Jews who use butter knives as screwdrivers. Some of you know that Rashi is a great medieval French...