Large Enough to Serve You
Small Enough to Know You

Rabbi’s Blog

Egalitarian Value and Tefillin

I’m honored and proud to be the first woman to lead a Conservative congregation in the state of Texas. It means a lot to me that the origin story of Beth Torah includes a desire to be egalitarian. Equality between men and women is an important value in our community. If I asked most of our members if they […]

Rededicated at Hanukkah

Hanukkah is coming and nothing symbolizes the holiday to me more than our Torah readers and service leaders. Let me explain what I mean. The Greeks tried to annihilate Judaism primarily through prohibiting our people to practice their traditions and pass them on to the next generation. Yet, miraculously we did not disappear. Instead, we […]

Rabbi Elana Zelony

Torah Fast When Torah is Dropped

It happened. A Torah was dropped during services. That story children whisper in Hebrew school with eyes widened in disbelief about fasting for forty days is true. Well, give or take a few leniencies that rabbis have made over the centuries. However, the important message is not the shocking length of the fast. Rather, it’s the message of community […]

Rabbi Elana Zelony

Yamim Noraim: “Days of Awe”

The Hebrew phrase yamim noraim is used to describe the ten days between Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur, and is usually translated as, “days of awe.” However, if you enter the word noraim into Google Translate it will tell you that the word means “terrible.” This is a good lesson on why we shouldn’t depend […]

Rabbi Elana Zelony

Torah Stories and Their Changing Meaning

My mother once asked me if I ever worry that I’ll have nothing to say in a sermon because we read the same Torah every year and the story never changes. It’s true that we read the same words every year, but their meaning changes because of experiences we’ve had. These experiences provide us with […]

Rabbi Elana Zelony

Leadership and Relationships in Richardson

For the past nine months I’ve participated in a program called Leadership Richardson. It’s run by the chamber of commerce to train the next generation of leaders. Many of our city’s elected officials and non-profit board members came through this program before being chosen for their positions. In the program, we develop skills and form […]

Rabbi Elana Zelony

Passover and Freedom

Ask people to free associate with the word Passover, and many people will forgo lofty ideas like redemption to say, “matzah.” Instead of cracking the inevitable joke about prunes, I’d like to examine this answer more closely. It’s not a frivolous answer. Matzah is not only a food, it is a symbol. It is a […]

Rabbi Elana Zelony

The Shul with a Pool

As many of you know there have been concerns that our membership is not large enough. The board and I have gone through a strategic process to decide how to address this issue. Based on the success of Jewish Community Centers around the country, we’ve decided to become…The Shul with a Pool. As of the […]

Rabbi Elana Zelony

Inclusion and Mitzvah

February is National Inclusion Month. Our sacred texts teach us not only to include all, but to empower all to be independent. Take a look at this example from the Talmud (Beitzah 16b). “A certain blind man would recite mishnayot for Mar Shmuel, who saw that he was sad. He said to him, ‘Why are […]