Thanksgiving Prayer

Bridging the Gap

Between Deuteronomy 15:4 and 15:11

For many years I have pondered the contradiction found in the fifteenth chapter of Deuteronomy.  Verse four says:  “There shall be no needy among you.” But a few sentences later in verse eleven, we read, “The poor shall never cease out of the land.” As Thanksgiving approaches, I have written the following poem to address the contradiction. 

Thanksgiving soon will be here,

A grand and special day, 

So I opened up the Good Book

To see what it has to say.

I find in Deuteronomy

A glorious proclamation:

“There shall be no needy among you 

In any land or nation!” (15:4)

What a glorious vision that is!

If only it were true,

But I note a few lines further 

That we have much work to do

“There will never cease to be those in want,” (15:11)

The very next paragraph reads.

How can two such opposite views

Be almost rubbing knees?

The answer lies between 

The conflicting thoughts we heard,

But we must follow closely

And take to heart God’s words!

There will be no poor about!

That will only happen when,

All of us work together

To make that time “Now,’ not “Then!”

But we all know the time’s not near

When all will heed God’s wish

So those of us who really care 

Must step up to the dish.

Those of us who’ll read this

Are comfortable no doubt.

But all too many on God’s earth 

Surely do without

Without a home to keep them dry

And clothes to keep them warm

From snow and sleet and wind and rain

From every passing storm

Others strive just to exist

Without enough to eat

Try feeding five on minimum wage.

That’s surely no mean feat.

And don’t forget those in our midst

Who have much that they own,

But suffer sadness deep inside

And feel so all alone.

Loneliness was always real

But now things are much worse

In this time of the Pandemic

It’s a veritable curse.

“For just such a time as this,” (Esther 4:4)

God calls on us to serve

Because so many suffer

And lack what they deserve

A sense that life has purpose

And hope for a new day

Will continue to elude too many

Before Corona goes away.

So let’s focus on the “Giving”

This coming holiday

To enrich the lives of those who lack

In a meaningful way!

 There is so much

That still needs to be done,

Before our world and God’s will

Truly become one!

May we give thanks for all our blessings

With hearts and hands unfurled

To embrace God’s challenge to us

To repair our broken world!

It is Election Day, and I Am Very Sad

It is Election Day, and I am very sad.

A CNN headline explains why: “Officials brace for lines and lawsuits as the polls open on Election Day.”

I am old enough to remember when we greeted Election Day as a real holiday – a joyous celebration of a free and open balloting to choose our countries leaders.

Opposing candidates disagreed on the issues – often strongly – but the personal attacks, insults and accusations of criminal behavior were not part of the tableau.

I am beyond distressed by the news clips of people standing outside in frigid weather waiting hours to cast their ballots Why?  Voting is both a right and great privilege of American citizenship. Our country owes all of its citizens sufficient polling places with sufficient staff to ensure that no one must wait an inordinate amount of time to vote.

In all my 53 years of voting – wherever I have lived – I never waited more than 15 minutes to vote. Every American citizen should be able to say the same thing. There is no reason that I should have that privilege just because I have always lived in “nice” neighborhoods. 

Counting the ballots

Even in the pre computer days of Paleozoic technology, people voted, the ballots were tabulated and by the next morning at the latest, we knew who had won.

I am sure almost all of us either remember or have seen in history books the early headlines proclaiming Dewey the victor over Truman in the 1948 election.  But by the next day, all was sorted out. 

This year we will wait days, perhaps even weeks to have final results, and the entire process will be marked by cries of fraud. 

Unless the victory of one of the candidates is completely overwhelming, accusations of a crooked election will cast a pall over the entire process

Never in my life have I heard an incumbent temporize when asked if he would accept the results of the election. 


I can imagine the anguish Barack Obama must have felt when after losing the popular ballot by more than 3 million votes, the Electoral College tally made Donald Trump the winner of the 2016 election.

And yet with the grace and class that marked his eight years in the White House, Mr. Obama did all one could ask and more to graciously turn over the reins of power.

Unlike many, I do not call for the abolition of the Electoral College, but I do call for fair and equitable access to our countries sacred right and privilege to vote.

No matter what the outcome of today’s vote, we must continue to work hard to promote the ideals in which we believe and preserve the rights that we see threatened. 

Unlike many, I do not see the end of American democracy hinging on what happens today. But I do see how much is broken and needs fixing in our country. No matter what, we dare not despair.

But still …

It is election day and I am very sad.

An Invitation

Parashat Vayera (Genesis 18:1- Genesis 22:24) Contains two of the Torah’s most important stories. 

We cannot fully understand the vital lessons of the stories of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Binding of Isaac unless we read them in conjunction with one another. 

In addition to these two stories, the portion contains an additional lesson that could very well save your marriage.

For all of these reasons you do not want to miss our Shabbat Welcome Friday evening, November 6 at 7:30 or our Shabbat morning Torah study Saturday, November 7 at 9:30 AM.

An interesting Bat Yam debate has arisen: should our weekly quiz questions be tougher so that winning a virtual candy bar will be more difficult or should the questions continue to encourage as many people as possible to answer? I welcome your thoughts.

In the meantime, this week’s question is: How old is Sarah when Isaac is born?

If you want the Zoom links to these sessions, please send an email to If you are answering the virtual candy bar quiz question, please put, “Quiz” in the subject line.