A Pondering Jew's Blog

with Rabbi Berkman

A place to explore our changing world, through the lens of our Jewish values

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This week, an American icon is laid to rest. JoPa. Penn State’s legendary foot ball coach Joe Paterno. There is plenty of room to ponder here. I...
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Earlier in the week, we pondered about how we feel about Tim Tebow’s expression of his faith and the phenomena of “Tebowing” in gene...
If you haven’t heard, where have you been? America has come down with a severe case of Tebow Mania.  Denver Bronco’s quarterback, Tim...
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Throughout the high holidays, towards the end of each day’s service, Mesorah DC added a prayer for the releases of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The response was overwhelming.  Many of our participants approached myself and the other Mesorah Rabbis to thank us for adding the prayer and to express how important the felt it was.

The response is again overwhelming. Less than two weeks later Gilad Shalit is free.

No matter how we may feel, politically or strategically, about the deal that has led to Gilad’s release, our brother is free.

This is what we and Jews around the world have been praying for. What an incredible response to all of our prayers.


A gentleman was sitting home with his wife on Rosh Hashanah morning when suddenly his wife took ill.  The fellow quickly dialed the doctor and was greeted by a friendly answering service operator who told him that the Doctor was not in the office today but, if he wished, he could leave a message and be called back by the physician on call.

“Of course the Doctor is not available” he thought “our doctor is Jewish and today is Rosh Hashanah”

The fellow insisted that the on call physician would not do. His wife had to be seen by her doctor, and seen today!

Just then the man remembered that this doctor was a member of a congregation across town and could certainly be found there.

The couple quickly made their way across town to the Synagogue. The wife waited in the car as her husband ran in to fetch the doctor.

As he approached the door to the synagogue, the gentleman was met by a rather large, yet friendly, security guard who kindly asked: “may I please see your ticket?”

“I don’t have a ticket” replied the man.

“I’m sorry sir” said the guard “but if you don’t have a ticket, you can’t come in!”

The fellow told the security guard that he didn’t want to stay, and that he just wanted to go in for a minute.

The guard began to grow annoyed and remained firm: “if you don’t have a ticket, you can’t go in.”

Finally the desperate man broke down and told the guard the whole story. “My wife is ill, she needs the doctor, and she needs him now!”  

The guard looked at the poor man and said: “I really shouldn’t do this, and I could lose my job but I’m going to give you one minute. Go in, get the doctor and get out!”

The man profusely thanked the guard and began to enter the synagogue, but before he could get through the threshold of the door he felt the guard grab him by his collar. The security guard pulled the man close, stared him in the eyes and told him: “Sir, I had better not catch you praying!”

Ha-okay maybe it’s in the delivery.

Rumor has it that it’s tough to get a High Holiday seat in D.C. this year, and that some places are “sold out.”

If you don’t have a place please let us know. Mesorah D.C. would be happy to make room for you.

By the way, should you need a ticket to attend High Holiday services anyway? Just pondering!


"If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one per cent. of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star-dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers.

He has made a marvellous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.

The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"

What do you think? Are Twain’s words true? If so, what is our secret? Are we unique and what makes us so? Please share your thoughts, and check back later in the week for mine!

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