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D’var Torah – Vayikra

03/23/2024 05:08:54 PM


Rabbi Peter H. Grumbacher

In an early article I mentioned that one of my Beth Emeth congregants asked me why I didn’t bow lower for the Aleinu. As I wrote, “Because I’m not that humble.” That, believe it or not, is relevant for this week’s Torah portion, Vayikra, which begins the third book of the Torah, named, yes, Vayikra.
The first word is Vayikra but is written differently than you would expect. The last letter, the aleph, is written smaller in every...Read more...

The Zone of Interest

03/08/2024 04:50:17 PM


Peter H. Grumbacher, Interim Rabbi

The first movie about the Holocaust that came out was called “Let My People Go.” It was the wrong title. The scenes of victims of the Shoah were brutal; for all intents and purposes that was the content of the entire film. Then came others. So many of us saw “Sophie’s Choice,” “Schindler’s List,” “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” “Life is Beautiful,” “Defiance,” “Woman in Gold,” and others. Each of them had the...Read more...

D’var Torah: Terumah

02/17/2024 04:47:44 PM


Rabbi Peter H. Grumbacher

When I was a student in my third year of rabbinical school there was a trip to the Sinai desert which in those days post-1967 war was in Israel’s hands. There were about twenty of us who camped in that wilderness. There were some magnificent natural sites. Probably the most beautiful was Dahab on the coast of the Red Sea.
In Hebrew the word Dahab is Zahav, as in Yerushalayim shel Zahav, Jerusalem the Golden. It was a perfect name for...Read more...

“Lewandowski, Taubman and Friends: Thoughts on This Shabbat Shira”

01/26/2024 11:35:48 AM


Rabbi Peter H. Grumbacher

   Jewish music! I so love the musical liturgy across the board that when Beth Emeth asked me what kind of fund I wanted to set up in honor of my retirement, I didn’t hesitate a moment. There is now the Rabbi Peter Grumbacher Music Fund that has brought singers and choirs and fantastic music  - traditional and contemporary – to highlight worship and special programs. 
   I grew up with the music of the...

“In Five Minutes Flat:The Uniqueness of Jewish Humor”

01/12/2024 11:31:39 AM


Peter H. Grumbacher, Interim Rabbi

   Please by a show of hands let me know if you read my article yesterday, which wasn’t an article at all but a joke about the rabbi and the tv producer. If it isn’t one of the funniest you’ve ever heard, well, we have different perspectives on humor. But for the few who may have missed it, and for the sake of my words tonight, let me repeat it… 
   After services one Shabbat evening, Rabbi...

“Considering the World Around Us: What Would God Do?”

12/22/2023 11:26:50 AM


Peter H. Grumbacher, Interim Rabbi

   The rabbis of old tell us that God decided to leave the world imperfect. It would be our job, the job of mortals, to perfect it. To that I say, “Good going, God, imperfect it is!” And I might also say, “God, you overestimated our ability – or our will – to fix the mess!” And so I, and perhaps you as well, might ask of God, “Far be it from me, a humble rabbi to ask, but looking at the world around us, what would You...Read more...

“Israel and Hamas: The Bottom Line”

11/17/2023 02:52:55 PM


Rabbi Peter H. Grumbacher

   Rabbi Lawrence Kotok, a classmate of mine sent this letter to the New York Times shortly after the October 7th tragedy…. 
   Is Israel the only country that is not allowed to defend itself? After the brutal attack by Hamas the world was shocked by the savagery and violence seen by all. But as Israel began to protect its citizens and sovereignty opinions shifted to blaming Israel for reacting. Now the world...Read more...

“Things That Drive Me Nuts: Jewish and Otherwise”

11/12/2023 11:40:47 AM


Rabbi Peter H. Grumbacher

   Certain words and phrases bother me. I once wrote in another publication that “reach out” has, in my humble opinion, a specific meaning, namely, to offer help. Today we don’t call, text, email, visit, rather we “reach out” to everyone and everything. Hooey!

   “No worries” and “No problem,” two phrases that make me particularly crazy. When someone says, “Thank you,” replying with those...Read more...

“What Did You Learn in School Today?: One Half of the Whole Question”

11/10/2023 11:45:43 AM


Peter H. Grumbacher, Interim Rabbi

   Last Sunday I asked the kids in our religious school, “What did you learn in school last week?” I started with the subject we discussed in our fifteen minute session with parents. I was surprised…and very happy…that some of them were pretty specific with their answers. Let’s experiment.

   (To the students present in the congregation: “Do you remember what it was? We spoke about tzedakah. What does...Read more...

“Thoughts on the Israel-Hamas War: The Fronts Abroad and the Fronts at Home”

10/27/2023 08:08:02 PM


Peter H. Grumbacher, Interim Rabbi

“Thoughts on the Israel-Hamas War: The Fronts Abroad and the Fronts at Home” Peter H. Grumbacher, Interim Rabbi Temple Beth El – Newark, Delaware October 27, 2023 ______________ Yes, we had a wonderful time on our cruise, and I’m not going to present a travelogue on our experiences. Too much happened between the last time on stood on this bimah and tonight. I regret not having been here when you probably need a rabbi the most, but I...Read more...

Sat, April 13 2024 5 Nisan 5784