Archive for “Spiritual Life” Categories

Getting ready for Chanukah

The decorations are starting to up at the Robison Jewish Health Center in preparation for Chanukah!collage

Residents of Robison and participants in Adult Day Services are looking forward to some of the things they love most about the holiday, including:

  • Latkes (with or without apple sauce),
  • The chance to light the candles on the Menorah and saying the appropriate blessings each night,
  • Fancy cakes,
  • The joy of seeing wonderful children,
  • The game of Dreidl,
  • Gelt coins filled with chocolate

Celebrating Purim in Style at Robison

We had quite the week at the Robison Jewish Health Center last week! In celebrating Purim, we first made hamantaschen (ate some too)…



…then resident’s put on this year’s Purim Spiel and it was a hit!



Rose Schnitzer Manor resident Evelyn Hirsch wrote the script and Life Enrichment Director Jennifer Felberg wrote the parodies. The Robison residents were supported by both Jennifer and Resident Care Manager Ronnie Schecter for introductions, narration and technical needs.

May You Be Sealed…

On Rosh Hashanah, we greet each other with the words “Shanah Tovah”, “Have a good year” or the more traditional “L’Shanah Tovah Tikateivu” “May you be written for a good year”. This latter greeting references the idea that on Rosh Hashanah, God is deciding, and writing down our fate for the coming year. God is deciding, according to our liturgy: who will live, who will die, who will be at peace and who will be troubled, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched.

rosh hashanah

After Rosh Hashanah, we change our greeting to “G’mar hatimah Tovah”, “May your final sealing be good”. The idea is that we have the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to examine ourselves even more deeply, and if we think we may have been deserving of a “bad fate”, we implore God to change God’s mind before our fate is sealed on Yom Kippur.

The image of a book that God writes in and then seals may not resonate with our modern sensibilities. I’d like to suggest another way of thinking about this “final sealing” (hatimah).

As we take an honest look at ourselves and increase our self-awareness, all too often we may focus on what’s “wrong”; what we want to “fix” or improve. Many of us are very hard on ourselves, harder than others are and perhaps harder than God is or would be.

I would like to propose that on this Yom Kippur, we envision this “sealing” as completion, allowing us a fresh start. After all, Kippur means “atonement”, which is about reconciliation and forgiveness. We can put our mistakes and shortcomings behind us (or at least on the back burner).

Moving into this New Year, let us forgive ourselves. Let’s work at being as kind and caring towards ourselves as we are towards others. It is not always easy work, but it is very worth the effort. The truth is, when we are compassionate with ourselves, we create room for greater love, peace and caring in every part of our lives and with everyone we encounter.

“G’mar Hatimah Tovah.”

PS: Please take a few moments to read Ruth Messinger’s important post “Why Yom Kippur Tells Us to Fight Ebola” here.

~Rabbi Abby


L’Shanah Tovah

Wishing you a New Year filled with sweetness, joy, love and meaning. 

rosh hashanah

David Fuks and the Staff and Board of Directors 

at Cedar Sinai Park

For some recommended reading from our own Rabbi Abby Cohen, read “For The Sin of Prejudice: Growing Up Jewish as a Person of Color.”

Welcoming the Month of Elul

Happy Elul!

The month of Elul leads up to the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. During Elul, the shofar is blown every morning to remind us to wake up and begin the process of t’shuvah.

T’shuvah is often translated as “repentance”, but the word really means “returning”. To what should we return? To our true selves. The season that begins in Elul and concludes with Simchat Torah is one of self-reflection. The piercing sound of the shofar is there to remind us that time is passing, and we have internal work to do. Does someone deserve praise that we have withheld? Do we owe an apology? Now is the time to “balance our spiritual books.”

During the month of Elul, I will pose a series of questions for you to ponder if you so desire. The first question:

“What do I stand for?”

If you would like to share your reflections with me via email, face to face or in a more public way, please don’t hesitate. I would love to hear what each of us feels we stand for.

The shofar will be blown each morning in the lobby of Rose Schnitzer Manor and the Main Dining Room at Robison beginning tomorrow morning. When we hear it, let’s take that as an opportunity for spiritual awakening.

~Rabbi Abby