How to Love Your Critics: 5 Ways to Deal with Criticism

By Rabbi Evan / May 31, 2018
A mentor once advised me that a good rabbi needs a strong ego. We deal with much criticism because clergy often become the target of people’s frustration with God, life and the inevitable experiences of pain and suffering. But I’ve learned that criticism is inevitable. Dealing with it takes effort. The same is true for everyone. While I am fortunate to serve a loving and supportive community, I, like everyone, face occasional hostility. It could be a sermon, a decision, something said in passing. How do we survive it? How do we deal with it? Here are five responses that work. Continue reading

How To Write a Eulogy: 7 Guidelines

By Rabbi Evan / May 14, 2018
how to write a eulogy

I have a strange obsession with eulogies. It might be an occupational hazard. I have to deliver at least one eulogy a week.

I’ve also heard hundreds of eulogies from family members and friends. Many inspired me and made me look at my own life differently. And learning from good example eulogies helps sharpen my writing. Continue reading

Mahmoud Abbas Reveals the 3 Elements of Modern Anti-Semitism

By Rabbi Evan / May 7, 2018

Mahmoud Abbas, the dictator/president of the Palestinian Authority, wrote his doctoral dissertation blaming Jews for the Holocaust. He gave full public expression to this awful view in a speech last week. It is worth reading because it crystallizes the beliefs of modern antisemitism.

As I just completed the draft of an upcoming book on antisemitism, I read it with great interest. He expressed what I have always suspected many anti-Semites believe but do not say publicly. Continue reading

What Happens at a Jewish Funeral?

By Rabbi Evan / May 4, 2018

Funerals can be painful. But they can also bring us comfort and guidance. A Jewish funeral has one core purpose: to comfort the bereaved.

Jewish funeral customs follow a set order. Not all Jews observe all these customs. But most follow at least a few of them. They originate largely in the Bible. Continue reading

3 Revealing Differences Between Moses and Aaron

By Rabbi Evan / April 30, 2018
Moses and Aaron Moses and Aaron are the two brothers who lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But they are much more. They are the first set of siblings in the Bible to get along. Remember Cain and Abel, or Jacob and Esau? Or perhaps you recall when Joseph’s brothers tried to murder him? The closeness between Moses and Aaron is even more remarkable because Aaron was the older brother. He would have been the natural leader. Yet, Moses is the one chosen by God. He leads the Israelites out of Egypt and receives the Ten Commandments. Was Aaron jealous? Continue reading

How Jews Pray: Discover The 3 Practices

By Rabbi Evan / April 23, 2018
When people ask me how Jews pray, I begin with a story. It comes from a great nineteenth-century rabbi. 

An old man enters the sanctuary for the first time.

His face is dirty and his clothes are too big. He stands out among the well-dressed crowd.

Then he picks up the prayerbook and opens it. He is, however, holding it upside down.

Nevertheless, he tries to start singing along. His words are mumbled and incorrect. After a while, he gives up trying to keep up with the crowd.

He just lifts up his eyes towards heaven and repeats the same Hebrew word over and over again.

After a while, the other people in the sanctuary start to get annoyed. They point at him. They shake their heads. One of them goes to the rabbi and suggests he ask the man to leave. Continue reading

Israel’s 70th Anniversary: 10 Reasons for You to Celebrate

By Rabbi Evan / April 19, 2018
Israel's 70th Anniversary This month begins the state of Israel’s 70th anniversary. Why does this anniversary matter? Well, the number 70 frequently recurs in the Bible and Jewish tradition. Moses has 70 elders. Jerusalem has 70 names. 70 years was considered a full life. The number also spans multiple generations. Israel’s 70th anniversary feels much more significant than 50 or 60. But most importantly, 70 represents success. A Close Call Israel almost didn’t make it to her first anniversary. On the announcement of the creation of the state, half a dozen neighboring Arab countries invaded. One percent of Israel’s fragile population was lost during this war for independence. In the ensuing decades, Israel has faced other wars and terrorism. No other country has had to fight so hard for its survival. Continue reading
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