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Regaining What Was Lost - A Rosh Hashanah Sermon - 5781

09/15/2020 12:13:41 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

I want to let you in on a personal struggle of mine. Sometimes I feel that I do not know where to turn. COVID-19 has created a new paradigm for our and every other community with so many new needs, concerns and objectives, that sometimes I feel that it is too much. 

I wonder if any of you are feeling this way or have felt this way over the course of the last six months.

What are we supposed to do about...

God Desires Our Heart. A Rosh Hashanah Sermon - 5781

09/15/2020 12:09:29 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

On Rosh Hashanah we celebrate the creation of the world. We declare it in the Rosh Hashana davening - Hayom Harat Olam - today the world was created. This year, this phrase takes on new meaning.  Looking around, it certainly feels like a new world. There is so much that is unrecognizable.


So much of what we experienced is not what we expected or what we had been prepared for...certainly not what...Read more...

Gathering In Spirit When We Can't Gather In Person

09/11/2020 12:02:49 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

It is more than a bit strange that while we are all experiencing various levels of isolation that  one of the two Mitzvot found in the second of this week’s Parshiyot, Parshat Vayeilech, is the Mitzvah of Hakel - the obligation of all of Bnei Yisrael to gather in Jerusalem once every seven years. 

Here is how the Sefer Hachinuch describe the Mitzvah:

להקהיל כל ישראל בחג...

Cultivating Joy In The Service of God

09/04/2020 01:04:28 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

How would you characterize the Jewish people? 

Rabbi Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg notes that the Jewish people have lots of labels - we are called “The People of the Book” - for example. But he proposes that the most authentic and descriptive title for us should be אומה עליזה - the joyful nation or the  happy nation. 
Whether we are a happy nation, or are supposed to be a happy nation, Rabbi...Read more...

Look Out Your Window And Be Thankful For Your Spork

08/27/2020 09:59:23 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

I have been thinking about gratitude lately. Mostly because our family is celebrating a simcha this weekend - Ami’s Bar Mitzvah -  and I am incredibly grateful for the many many blessings in my life.  But, I have also been thinking about gratitude because I do not think there is enough of it. 

This is why I have recently added a Hakarat HaTov - Gratitude -  section to my weekly erev Shabbat...Read more...

A Pinch of This and a Dash of That...Ingredients For The Perfect Community.

08/21/2020 09:38:43 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

 וְלֹֽא־תָקִ֥ים לְךָ֖ מַצֵּבָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר שָׂנֵ֖א יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ׃

Do not erect a stone pillar; for such the LORD your God detests.

Why does God hate a מַצֵּבָה - a stone pillar?

A number of commentators on the Torah explain this by comparing the usage and physical structure of a...Read more...

Pete and Repeat Were On A Boat

08/14/2020 11:34:38 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

I read a heartbreaking story about the the increased number of orphans left behind due to parents dying from Coronavirus. It is not an angle that I had considered.  It reminded me, yet again, about the ongoing cost of the pandemic and how new areas of concern and responsibility present themselves. 

This week’s parsha presents is with an approach the ever present needs that we encounter.


Inherit and Create

08/07/2020 10:00:37 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

As Bnei Yisrael are about to enter the Land of Israel, Moshe presents a biting critique of their spiritual state. 

שְׁמַ֣ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל אַתָּ֨ה עֹבֵ֤ר הַיּוֹם֙ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן לָבֹא֙ לָרֶ֣שֶׁת גּוֹיִ֔ם גְּדֹלִ֥ים וַעֲצֻמִ֖ים מִמֶּ֑ךָּ עָרִ֛ים גְּדֹלֹ֥ת...Read more...

Does God Have A Love Language?

07/31/2020 09:23:44 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Does the Torah have a Love Language?

וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ אֵ֖ת יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֥ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ֖ וּבְכָל־מְאֹדֶֽךָ׃

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Of course, loving God sounds great. The problem is that it is...Read more...

What's Next

07/24/2020 11:14:41 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

What’s Next?  

Made famous by President Jedd Bartlet, the fictional President of the West Wing, this quip is a good measure of how to view this period of time; the nine day and Tisha B’Av.

What does it mean to mourn? 

Let’s answer this question by comparing two different aspects of the Halacht of Mourning.

In general, when it comes to Halacha (Jewish Law) we teach our children how to observe...Read more...

Moving Into A New Home During The Three Weeks

07/19/2020 02:32:38 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

One of the questions he addresses regarding the Three Weeks is whether or not it is permitted to move into a new home during that period of time. This is the season when many people move, trying to get their family settled in time for the new school year. 

This question is addressed by many poskim. This post will focus mostly on the analysis on the Ya’alat Chen. 


Our Dual Burden

07/17/2020 10:02:53 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

This week, I had an interesting conversation with some colleagues on a question that seems to be on the minds of many people. I have been asked the same question by congregants. 

Basically, the question goes like this. How can Jews support efforts to bring justice to communities of color even as some members of that community have expressed anti-semetic and anti-Israel views? This question took on greater...Read more...

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

07/10/2020 11:01:48 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

This week’s Dvar Torah is dedicated by Sheila and Louis Train in memory of Sheila’s sister Ruth Kelman  z’l and her brother-in-law Rabbi Joseph Kelman z’l. 

You can't have your cake and eat it too...The popular phrase, traced back to 1538,  says Rabbi Francis Nataf, is an apt idiom to understand the events surrounding Mahlah, Noa, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah the daughters of...Read more...

Skip A Little - Serve God With Joy

07/03/2020 10:34:59 AM


This week’s Dvar Torah is sponsored by Sheila and Louis Train in memory of their daughter,  Carolynne Joy Guttman z ‘l.


As Bilam was on his way to attempt to curse the Jewish people, an angel God appeares and impedes the path of the donkey Bilam was riding on. On three different occasions Bilam strikes the donkey. Finally, a miracle occurs and the donkey speaks to Bilam, saying:


Divne Friendship

06/26/2020 09:38:55 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

The weekly Dvar Torah is sponsored by Sheila and Louis Train in memory of Sheila’s mother Yetta Friedman z’l

Moshe can’t catch a break. There is one rebellion after the other and Moshe seems overwhelmed.

וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַיִּפֹּ֖ל עַל־פָּנָֽיו׃

When Moses heard this, he fell on his face.


Prove The Angels Wrong!

06/19/2020 11:47:20 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

I write these remarks today on  Juneteenth - an important and historic day in Texas and in the shadow of the tragic events that have occurred recently in the United States. 

We are at a critical moment here in the United States. Many people are hoping that terribly tragic events in the last few weeks will lead to a more equitable and safe society for all. I pray that that is true. 

At moments...

What Have You Done For Me Lately

06/12/2020 11:03:02 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Moshe is in for a surprise. As Bnei Yisrael journeys from Sinai towards the promised land, Moshe nervously anticipates the war that awaits them. We can feel his angst as he prays:  קוּמָ֣ה ׀ יְהוָ֗ה וְיָפֻ֙צוּ֙ אֹֽיְבֶ֔יךָ וְיָנֻ֥סוּ מְשַׂנְאֶ֖יךָ מִפָּנֶֽיךָ׃ - Rise up, O LORD!  And let your enemies be scattered, And may Your foes flee before You!.


Kindness Is Never Ending

05/28/2020 10:00:17 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

This Yizkor, the second Yizkor that we find ourselves not able to be in shul, may be 

particularly difficult for people. 

Yizkor is made more meaningful by sharing it with community members. We are comforted by the presence and embrace of our friends and neighbors.

Without the emotional setting of the shul, the chanting of the Chazan and the faint sounds of sobbing, the power of...Read more...

What's In A Name

05/22/2020 01:29:58 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Today (Friday) is Yom Yerushalayim. 

Like many of you, I love Yerushalyim and miss her. Not a surprise to you, I love finding new bookstores...and I love going back to my favorites.

Of course, our celebration of Yom Yerushalayim is a result of the Six Day War - the almost unbelievable Israel victory in 1967. 

Did you ever wonder how the Six Day War got its name? I always thought that it...Read more...

Reflections on Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch

05/08/2020 11:26:24 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

This week, instead of a Dvar Torah on the Parsha,I would like to share with you some reflections on the occasion of the passing of Rav Nachum Rabinovitch. 

On Wednesday May 6th, Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva HEsder, Ma’aleh Adumim passed away at the age of 92.

Rabbi Rabinovitch was the senior and leading Rosh Yeshiva and Posek (religious authority) for the religious...Read more...

Thought Prayer Was Just Contemplative...? Think Again!

05/01/2020 11:47:06 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

One of the most beautiful customs that I have ever come across is the practice of accepting upon oneself the MItzvah of “love your neighbor as yourself” before praying.  The  Magen Avraham  put it simply: (מגן אברהם סימן מו)
                                               ...

We Are All Kohanim

04/24/2020 01:29:01 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

I recently read an article highlighting the ways people are AVOIDING social interaction these days. 

“The world used to be rich with excuses for cutting a conversation short: I should probably get home to feed my dog; this was fun, but I have to go to another party; and so on. But this new, locked-down era calls for more creativity in coming up with a good reason to say bye.

Two friends of mine...

Corona and Gratitude

04/17/2020 07:40:03 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

I want to spend a few minutes on gratitude . 

Studies have shown being grateful can actually make you happier. There are other benefits of gratitude as well. 

“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong...Read more...

What Time Is It? What Day Is It!?

04/14/2020 01:00:03 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

What Time Is It? What Day Is It?

I do not know about you, but keeping track of time is hard during this period of self quarantining and social distancing.  Giving up on our daily routine of having to get to school or work on time, scheduled times at the gym and the like have decayed our internal clock.

There is no doubt that our relationship with time, in terms of how we experience past, present and...Read more...

Pesach In The Time Of Corona (Shabbat Hagadol)

04/07/2020 09:52:23 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Pesach In The Time Of Corona.    (Click here for Video)

At first glance, it seems that the confluence of Pesach and the CoronaVirus pandemic have very little in common. 

Pesach is the story of the birth of the Jewish people after being freed from human tyranny. The Corona pandmeic, on the other hand, has restricted our freedoms, in fact, we have voluntarily given certain freedoms....Read more...

UOS Pesach Portal

04/05/2020 09:22:13 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Dear Friends,

First, I would like to wish you all a Chag Kasher V’sameach, a Kosher and joyous Pesach. I will add the prayer that this year we should all be blessed with good health and that the Corona pandemic speedily come to an end.

I am very happy to provide this Pesach Portal which should make your final preparations for Pesach mush easier.

I would also like to add how...

Pre Shabbat Message from Rabbi Gelman and Ruthie (3/13/20)

03/13/2020 09:14:31 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Dear Friends,
We want to reiterate we are here for you and when we can to provide calming and helping support. The disruption of daily active life can be unsettling, and as some are curtailing activities and may be coming to shul less, we want to make sure that your spiritual and communal needs are being met. Please be in touch with us if you are aware of anyone who can use a check in call or visit. 
We feel...

Kiddush Hashem Country

03/04/2020 10:48:49 AM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

Last week, Robert M. Beren Academy’s High School basketball team, The Beren Stars, their family members and fans traveled to Waco, Texas for the Division IA state basketball championship tournament. Since the semi-finals were scheduled for Friday afternoon and the finals were scheduled for Saturday night, the school made arrangements for everyone to spend Shabbat together at a nearby hotel. I had the privilege of playing a small...Read more...

The Kiss of Greatness or What Is The Torah For?

10/10/2018 01:17:16 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

One of the more beautiful and meaningful Jewish customs is the practice of  starting the Torah again right after we complete it on Simchat Torah. The reason we do this is so not to give the appearance that once done with the Torah we no longer have interest in it, that we have lost our love for the Torah.

At first glance, it does not seem to be a realistic fear. After all, before we read the Torah, we will...Read more...

Kavanot (Points To Consider) for a meaningful Rosh Hashana Davening

08/30/2018 12:53:37 PM


Rabbi Barry Gelman

The Rosh Hashana davening is challenging in that it is very busy and full of choreography. Some find it difficult to focus and create moments of quiet introspection.

Do not feel rushed to keep up. It is more important to internalize the prayers. One should stop and listen to the shofar when the time comes. Rabbi Barry Gelman


Fri, September 18 2020 29 Elul 5780