From the Rabbi

June 13, 2019 68 years ago, a pioneering group of families came together to found Temple Beth El of Northern Valley. They envisioned a Reform Jewish congregation that would be… read more

June 6, 2019 It is no small thing in the world today to know what you believe and be willing to stand up for it. Some public figures seem to… read more

May 16, 2019 “What is one thing you learned today?” It was the end of the first morning of Religious School. I was in 7th grade. And Mrs. Arnold wanted… read more

Happy birthday, Israel! Today on the Hebrew calendar is Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Across the country, there will be parades, cookouts, and celebrations of 71 years since the birth… read more

May 2, 2019 A friend of mine is the rabbi of a Jewish senior living community near San Diego. When word spread of the shooting at the synagogue in Poway,… read more

 At Passover seders, I’ve often heard people wonder about the ninth plague – the plague of darkness.  What’s so bad about darkness?  Couldn’t the Egyptians just light a candle… read more

April 11, 2019 “We are on the moon. But not in the way we wanted.” With great excitement, I have followed the journey of Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft as it headed… read more

March 15, 2019 To enter a house of worship to pray is an act of sanctity. It is an effort to enhance one’s relationship with God, in whatever way one… read more

February 28, 2019 I spent part of yesterday tuned into the hearing of the House Oversight Committee with Michael Cohen. I suspect that most viewers saw in the hearing exactly… read more

February 7, 2019 The old joke goes something like this:  A pastor stood before his flock one Sunday morning.  The church’s organ had been badly in need of repairs for… read more

January 24, 2019 As many of you know, my father died earlier this month.  He had suffered a major heart attack in July, complicated heart surgery in October, and a… read more

December 6, 2018 Happy Chanukkah! All week long we have been celebrating our Festival of Lights. Night by night, the number of candles kindled on the menorah increase, bringing more… read more

November 29, 2018 There’s a dispute in the Talmud about kindling the lights for Chanukkah. One side says we should start with all 8 candles lit, then each night decrease… read more

November 15, 2018 Rabbi Chaim Stern teaches a Chasidic story to illustrate the importance of gratitude: The Radziminer Rebbe once said: We cross an ocean and are rescued from a… read more

November 1, 2018 As the days pass since the murderous desecration of Shabbat, the Jewish community is still in shock and grief. The sinister merger of always-present-anti-Semitism, emboldened by the… read more

October 11, 2018 Are you registered to vote? Voting is a sacred Jewish act. It is an expression of our engagement in the community. It is one of the ways… read more

Yizkor 5779 Rabbi David S. Widzer When those who are dear to us depart this world, we feel a loss.  We miss their presence.  We miss their smile.  We miss… read more

Yom Kippur Morning Haftarah Drash 5779 Rabbi David S. Widzer In just a moment, we’ll hear the rousing words of the Prophet Isaiah.  He preached at a time of discord… read more

Kol Nidrei 5779 Rabbi David S. Widzer In 1971, Pastor Wilbur Rees published a book of meditations and essays entitled “Three Dollars Worth of God.”  The title comes from the… read more

Rosh HaShanah Morning 5779 Rabbi David S. Widzer Note: As a sermon about seeing things differently, there were graphics accompanying different sections of the sermon displayed on our sanctuary video… read more

September 13, 2018 Long ago, before there was Apple Pay, Venmo, PayPal, even before the wide use of credit cards, people used to pay with (gasp!) cash. And in some… read more

Erev Rosh HaShanah 5779 Rabbi David S. Widzer L’shanah tovah! A happy and healthy new year to you all. For most of the children in our community, this past week… read more

September 6, 2018 Rabbi Hillel Silverman tells one of my favorite anecdotes for this season of the year: A young man was sitting in a diner, talking on his cell… read more

August 30, 2018 The story is told of a pious rabbi in the old world, busily studying and preparing to lead services for the coming High Holy Days. On the… read more

September 20, 2018 What a wonderful start to our Temple year together! We’ve celebrated Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, complete with multiple services, inspiring music, thoughtful words, introspection and reflection,… read more

August 1, 2018 As I spend this week serving as faculty at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Eisner Camp, as part of the curriculum, I’ve been teaching campers about the… read more

July 12, 2018 I have been away from my children, on and off, for about two weeks. A quirk of our summer schedules, they’ve been at home in New Jersey,… read more

June 28, 2018 In the 1st century BCE, the world of Jewish thought and law was divided between those who followed the teachings of Rabbi Shammai and those who were… read more

June 21, 2018 There’s a rabbinic teaching that God has two thrones: a Throne of Justice and a Throne of Mercy. From the first, God dispenses strict judgments of our… read more

June 14, 2018 Education has always been a fundamental Jewish value.  Our Torah proclaims: “V’shinantam l’vanecha,”  “You shall teach [the words of Torah] diligently onto your children” (Deuteronomy 6:7).  Whether… read more

June 7, 2014 The work has been done. The votes have been held. The papers have been signed. After many years of positioning our congregation for the future, and several… read more

May 1, 2018 For the past several years, we have been a community in transition. We have been a community on a journey together to the next chapter of our… read more

April 3, 2018 Yesterday marked 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King was in that southern city… read more