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Rabbi Rick Schechter


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Did you make any New Year's resolutions for 2018?

To lose 10 pounds? To exercise more? To take better care of yourself?

Believe it or not, Judaism supports these popular aspirations at the turn of each new secular year. You may not think it given our penchant for fatty, rich foods during Hanukkah, Purim, and Passover. Oil, butter, and schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) aside, it’s a mitzvah (commandment) to be healthy and well. We could even go so far as to think of it as a foundational mitzvah.

Our tradition calls it shmirat haguf – literally, guarding the body. In...

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“The old shall be made new, and the new shall be made holy,” wrote Rav Kook, chief rabbi of Israel in the 1920s and 30s. His deep insight exquisitely applies to the popular and growing field of positive psychology. This field is, I believe, poised to profoundly influence religion today and Judaism as we know it.

Simply described as “the scientific study of what goes right in life [and] those things that make life most worth living,” positive psychology’s tremendous growth and appeal is amply evident in dozens of titles at the bookstore, and thousands more on Amazon.


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“Who was the first Jew?”

I enjoy asking religious school students – and my own children – this question. It’s so much more than a Torah trivia question. What an important and meaningful experience, to know your origins and the foundational stories of your culture and religion (not to mention those of your family and community).

Students sometimes respond with the names of Adam, Noah, or Moses. They were all great people, but it was, in fact, Abraham and his wife, Sarah whom I like to refer to as the “George and Martha Washington of Judaism.”

As American citizens...

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