Author: Ayala Wasser

More than just a handshake

There are different contexts in which a handshake can be used, different messages that this simple and common gesture communicates depending on content and context. Perhaps a handshake is a simple hello between friends, a “good game” at the end of a competition, a gesture symbolizing an agreement has been made, an act of respect. […]

Breishit and the Tree of Knowledge

Jewish tradition likes to speak of two different types of mitzvot, or commandments. On the one hand there are mishpatim, injunctions that make sense and are rooted in reason. Absent the gift of Torah, individuals and communities hopefully would have figured out that prohibitions against murder and theft are necessary to create a civil society. […]

Words of Torah: Sukkot

From the month of Elul through Yom Kippur, we undergo the process of teshuva, of self-reflection and repentance. For me, this time consists of checking in with myself by asking, “how can I repair my relationship with myself, or other people?” Much of this process is people focused. As I turn the corner from Yom […]

Dvar Torah: Nitzavim Vayelech

D’var Torah by Lilli Schvartsmann This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech, opens with a moment of urgency. Moshe is at the end of his life, passing off the last of 613 mitzvot to the Israelites, handing over his leadership duties to Joshua, and watching the people he led for the past forty years enter the […]

D’var Torah: Shoftim

Growing up, I remember thinking of two distinct times in a year where I felt my surroundings were “magical”: family trips to Disneyland or my three weeks every summer at my Jewish summer camp. Being around friends and community at camp was nothing short of pure magical bliss. Many friends and colleagues of mine also […]

D’var Torah Matot Masei

After a disappointing end to my 8th grade basketball season, I was determined to improve. The summer before entering high school, I set a goal to shoot at least 90% from the free-throw line and shoot at least 100 baskets a day. As athletes, we understand the importance of setting goals and putting in the […]