Larchmont Temple Chevra Torah

Questioning faith in the parsha

Monthly Archives: April 2011

“The Neighbors” by Bruce Jay Friedman

Parashah Kedoshim

An excerpt fro the story by Bruce Jay Friedman – for the full story, come to chevra!

Lang had always felt that the way to solve the neighbor problem was simply to thrust yourself into the day’s activities, to go about your business and ignore the new fellow and his unpleasantness. But Gionfriddo was no ordinary neighbor. Lang could sense his presence. Although he could not look out and see him, he was aware of his movements, could almost smell him. Lang actually made a physical effort to shut the other man out of his consciousness, biting down on his gums and clamping shut his eyes; but it was as though the other man had a way of sending a sentry-like finger through Lang’s defenses, to steal beneath his tee shirt, to press upon his chest.

The morning Gionfriddo moved in, Lang had felt a thrumming begin around his neck and for the first time was stifled and wanted to move. He knew that was impossible, that it would not solve the problem anyway. What if he moved next to someone worse than Gionfriddo, worse than ten Gionfriddos. The trouble was all inside his own head and had to be worked out there.


something like

something like

(derived from Yehudah Amichai’s story The world is a room)

this at last was the land

on the radio a pure melody was playing

in his mind the sound still flowed

long after the first shots when the seeding had been done//

this was the land he grew to know

in the dark as Isaac knew Jacob

he paused and wondered whether to curse or to bless

but he had entered the land and the fighting and killing//

in his beloved’s eyes the sea was tired

as her body grew stronger and heavy and far

he didn’t know what he was doing any more

he was lying in an empty room where through open windows//

the wind was blowing and on the walls

he saw something like a plague


Cheva April 23

Passover continues — and so we take time to read Exodus 13:3-10 and a wonderful short story – an excerpt on The Four Questions from the book Kaaterskill Falls —  by Allegra Goodman.

Our koshi:WHAT is it we must remember?HOW does the rite/ritual of seder enable us to “remember” and “explain”?

You can read ahead …. here

Exodus 13:3-10

Shabbat Pesach

3 And Moses said to the people,

“Remember this day, on which you went free from Egypt, the house of bondage, how the Lord freed you from it with a mighty hand: no leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 You go free on this day, in the month of Abib. 5 So, when the Lord has brought you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall observe in this month the following practice:

6 “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a festival of the Lord. 7 Throughout the seven days unleavened bread shall be eaten; no leavened bread shall be found with you, and no leaven shall be found in all your territory. 8 And you shall explain to your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I went free from Egypt.’

9 “And this shall serve you as a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead — in order that the Teaching of the Lord may be in your mouth — that with a mighty hand the Lord freed you from Egypt. 10 You shall keep this institution at its set time from year to year.

The Four Questions by Allegra Goodman

Shabbat Pesach

excerpted fromKaterskill Falls by Allegra Goodman  – for the full story, come to Chevra! 

Ed is sitting in his mother-in-law Estelle’s gleaming kitchen. “Is it coming in on time?” Estelle asks him. He is calling to check on Yehudit’s flight from San Francisco.

 “It’s still ringing,” Ed says. He sits on one of the swivel chairs and twists the telephone cord through his fingers. One wall of the kitchen is papered in a yellow-and-brown daisy pattern, the daisies as big as Ed’s hand. The window shade has the same pattern on it. Ed’s in-laws live in a 1954 ranch house with all the original period details. Nearly every year since their wedding, he and Sarah have come out to Long Island for Passover, and the house has stayed the same. The front bathroom is papered, even on the ceiling, in brown with white and yellow flowers, and there is a double shower curtain over the tub, the outer curtain held back with brass chains. The front bedroom, Sarah’s old room, has a blue carpet, organdy curtains, and white furniture, including a kidney-shaped vanity table. There is a creaky trundle bed to wheel out from under Sarah’s bed, and Ed always sleeps there, a step below Sarah.

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

Synopsis of Allegra Goodman’s latest book  – The Cookbook Collector

Emily and Jessamine Bach are opposites in every way: Twenty-eight year old Emily is the CEO of Veritech, and twenty-three year old Jess is an environmental activist and graduate student in philosophy. Pragmatic

Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley. Romantic Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily is rational and driven, while Jess is dreamy and whimsical. Emily’s boyfriend, Jonathan, is fantastically successful. Jess’s boyfriends, not so much–as her employer George points out in what he hopes is a completely disinterested way.

Bicoastal, surprising, rich in ideas and characters, The Cookbook Collector is a novel about getting and spending, and about the substitutions we make when we can’t find what we’re looking for: reading cookbooks instead of cooking, speculating instead of creating, collecting instead of living. But above all it is about holding on to what is real in a virtual world: love that stays.

War of the Bernsteins

Chevra April 19 Acharei Mot  Story by Shalom Auslander

There are the things that Bernstein carried in the brown, broken suitcase he kept under his bed in the hope that the Messiah would arrive in the middle of the night: two pairs of black socks, one pair of black pants, a white shirt, one Book of Psalms, some rugalach, three yarmulkes, a spare set of phylacteries, two prayer shawls (one for weekdays, one for Sabbath) and a bathing suit because you never know.

 “In the World to Come,” the rabbis would say to Bernstein, “there will be eternal happiness and joy.”

 “In the World to Come,” Bernstein would say to his wife, “there will be eternal happiness and joy.”

April 9 chevra

This week in Leviticus we read about plagues — not the kind we’ll be relieving in just a few weeks, but the plagues that fall on houses.

The text is Leviticus 14:34-47 and the modern author is Yehudah Amichai, known for his poetry (we’ve posted “If I forget thee, Jerusalem“)  and thanks to Reva we’ve got some reviews of his poetry.  The story this week is “The World is a Room.”

Shabbat Shalom!


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