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Rabbi’s Blog

Rabbi Elana Zelony

Ordinary People Taking Responsibility

Life seems to be full of connected events. I’d like to share a series of connections that speaks to love triumphing over hatred. It happened once that Holocaust survivor Judith Meisel, born in Lithuania and imprisoned in Stutthof, had dinner with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This happened because, after the Shoah, Mrs. Meisel rebuilt her life in Philadelphia. […]

Jewbarrassed?

Have you ever been Jewbarrassed? It’s a word that describes the embarrassment of feeling we’re supposed to know something Jewish, but we don’t. For example, we might feel Jewbarrassed when people sing birkat hamazon, grace after meals, and everyone but us seems to know the words. Or, maybe we feel it in that moment of not being sure whether […]

Synagogue Mascot

The board and I have recently finished reading How to Attract Millions of People to Your Synagogue by Rabbi Abel Bodyman. The chapter that resonated with us the most was about creating a brand for the synagogue. A distinct brand will help people remember our synagogue. Most communities brand their shul with a logo or tagline and, since we […]

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 […]