Water From the Well: Rabbi’s Blog

Words of Torah by Rabba Kaya

Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman

Wisdom from Strangers

Parashat Yitro
Posted on February 12, 2023

Dear friends, Listen, Sh’ma!  Our Torah portion begins with Yitro, Moses’ father-in-law, who listens and hears. Jethro, Priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people, how the Lord had brought Israel out from Egypt. (Ex. 18:1) He hears of the Exodus, of the wonders that God performed Continue Reading »

Water from the Well: Tefillah

Parashat Shemot
Posted on January 12, 2023

Dear Friends, As we move into a new secular year, we turn the page into a new book of Torah this week. The book of Exodus/Shemot takes us on a journey from degradation to liberation, from servitude to sacred service. It is a transformational story that begins with pain and suffering, but whose generational patterns Continue Reading »

hanukkah doughnuts menorah

A Bridge of Light – A Chanukah Message

Posted on December 16, 2022

The root of the word Chanukah, Chet-Nun-Khaf (ח–נ–כ), means dedication, but the root of this root is Chen, Grace (חן). The light we celebrate at Chanukah expresses grace in two ways. First, there is the miracle of the light that lasted for eight days, that is, the gift of grace by God that allowed the Continue Reading »

2 people embrace collage

Our True Inheritance

Parashat Vayishlach
Posted on December 9, 2022

It’s a story as old as time. Two brothers, one inheritance. How many times have I sat with either sibling, both aggrieved, suffering and angry over the settlement of the parents’ estate. How often have I heard the voice that claims, it was unjust! I was denied my due. I was cheated by my sibling. Continue Reading »

water drop

Seeking Kindness

Parashat Chayei Sarah
Posted on November 18, 2022

This week’s Torah portion opens just after the trauma of the Akeida, that is, the binding of Isaac on the altar by his father Abraham. It is very difficult to imagine the effect of such an experience upon Isaac who, while tied down upon an altar, watches his father lift the knife above him. Of Continue Reading »

Love fear choice

The Ground of Choice

Parashat Ki Tavo
Posted on September 16, 2022

In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, we are witness to a grand ritual; a dramatization depicting the landscape of choices within which we all reside at all times.  One half of the Israelite tribes are told to stand on Mt. Gerizim while the other half of the tribes are to stand on Mt. Ebal. Continue Reading »

Spiritual Resources for Elul

Posted on September 7, 2022

Dear friends, Elul is the name of the Hebrew month that precedes Rosh Hashanah. It is a time for cheshbon ha-nefesh or “soul accounting” – looking inward and reflecting on the year that has passed. Our tradition offers us this intentional time to prepare for the new year, so that we may enter fully into Continue Reading »

July 29 service strawbery banke

Thank you!

Parashat D'varim
Posted on August 4, 2022

This last Friday night was inspiring and uplifting. Thank you to all who came out to the Kabbalat Shabbat service at Strawbery Banke, and all who shared their appreciation, both in person and from afar. I felt so lifted up. It is hard to find the words to express how profoundly moving it was to Continue Reading »

earth swallows Korach

An Attempted Coup

Parashat Korach
Posted on July 1, 2022

In this week’s Torah portion a man named Korach, from the tribe of Levi, a first cousin to Aaron and Moses, leads a rebellion against their authority and rouses 250 men to join him. Korach challenges Aaron and Moses, saying, “You take too much upon yourself, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of Continue Reading »

person in tallit

Building the Inner Temple

Parashat Beha'alotekha
Posted on June 17, 2022

With gratitude to Rabbi Enid Lader for pointing me to these teachings. On the day that the Mishkan [portable Tabernacle/Temple] was set up, the cloud covered the Mishkan, the Tent of the Pact; and in the evening it rested over the Mishkan with the likeness of fire until morning. It was always so: the cloud Continue Reading »