Rabbi Daniel Pressman

A Sabbatical Thanksgiving

שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד הִנֵּה מַה־טּוֹב וּמַה־נָּעִים שֶׁבֶת אַחִים גַּם־יָחַד׃

A song of ascents Of David. How good and pleasant it is for brothers to be united.

What a blessing it is to be together again this year. Since joining the Saratoga community, I have come to cherish this sacred convocation as a highlight of my year. It ... Read more »

An Important Letter from Your Rabbis

by Lynn Crocker on January 22, 2014

Dear Friends,

Balance is one of the challenges in large and complex sacred communities like Beth David.  Good things, essential practices, and valued constituencies can conflict, and we have to find ways to honor competing needs. We have been struggling for a while with one such circumstance around the mi shebeirakh prayer for the sick at Shabbat morning services.

Jews ... Read more »

Remembering Sue Glettig z”l

by Philip Ohriner on July 12, 2013

Dear friends,

We would like to invite you to join us on July 17th at 7:30 PM in our sanctuary as we remember and celebrate the life of Sue Glettig, our beloved, long time kitchen supervisor.  Sue touched the lives of so many CBD members over the years and was a fixture in our community. This evening will be an ... Read more »

Some Thoughts on the Boston Bombing

by Lynn Crocker on April 16, 2013

People and nations are resilient. The terrorist’s goal is to intimidate and demoralize. Strong societies like the United States and Israel instead respond with strengthened resolve.
Rabbi Daniel Pressman

Here’s what we don’t know:

Who did it. Why they did it. Whether it was a domestic or foreign terrorist. Whether the perpetrator was working alone or was part of a... Read more »

A Thought for Yom ha-Atzma·ut: Can These Bones Live?

by Lynn Crocker on April 16, 2013

These words are adapted from my remarks on Shabbat Hol Ha-mo·ed Pesah, when the famous passage from Ezekiel is the Haftarah. I thought they were appropriate for the 65th anniversary of Israel’s founding.

The hand of the LORD came upon me. He took me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the valley. It was ... Read more »

A Bulletin Concerning the Situation in Israel

by Lynn Crocker on November 20, 2012

Gaza, Again

I am sure we are all following the news from Israel closely and with great concern. It’s disheartening to see how the world doesn’t protest when Hamas continually shoots rockets at Israel, but immediately gets stirred up when Israel fires back. Hamas’s behavior is like the story about two kinds fighting in the schoolyard, and the excuse of ... Read more »

Another Shocking Incident of Religious Intolerance

by Lynn Crocker on October 24, 2012

Rabbi Daniel Pressman

As you know, Jewish life in Israel is distorted by the legal dominance of the ultra-Orthodox, a direct result of Israel’s dysfunctional proportional election system, which gives the Haredi parties disproportionate influence. There are many consequences of this, but one of them is the separation of the genders at the Western Wall. For many years, a brave ... Read more »

Not to be Missed

by Lynn Crocker on October 10, 2012

Aristides de Sousa Mendes Event
Sunday, October 10, 2012, 1:00 pm

You have the opportunity to be part of an important event and learn a remarkable story. This Sunday Beth David will honor Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who rescued thousands during the Holocaust. He was the Portuguese consul in Bordeaux, France, and in defiance of his government issued visas to ... Read more »

First Day Rosh Hashanah Possessing or Possessed? — The Jewish Virtue of Histapkut/Enoughness

How many people here have ever moved? How many have helped someone else move? Weren’t the two experiences different? When you are moving, though you may welcome the opportunity to downsize, it’s hard to let go. Who knows, maybe bell-bottoms will come back in fashion. I’m ... Read more »

Second Day Rosh Hashanah

by Lynn Crocker on September 20, 2012

Second Day Rosh Hashanah Redemption and Reality

As I stand here for my 32nd High Holy Days with Congregation Beth David, I realize that of all my sermon themes, only one topic has been perennial: Israel. Why? Many reasons come to mind, including love, necessity, centrality, urgency and volatility.

The Israeli poet Haim Gouri once said, “We are a people ... Read more »

Erev Rosh Hashanah

by Lynn Crocker on September 20, 2012

Erev Rosh Hashanah Kishinu Oref—Finding a Chiropractor for our Stiff Necks

I’ve noticed over the years that people know that Rabbis work hard to prepare for the High Holy Days. People even ask, “Are you ready?” as Rosh Hashanah draws near, which is really kind of sweet! Perhaps it’s less obvious that we rabbis are also Jews trying to ... Read more »

Rabbi Jacob Pressman’s Wishes for the New Year 5773

by Lynn Crocker on September 20, 2012

In the New Year may you discover that your home is built on solid rock able to withstand hurricanes, floods, mud slides, earthquakes, wildfires and escalating insurance and tax rates.

May it be free of mold, mildew and mice, and safe from termites, rug mites, mosquito bites, and family fights.

If you have trouble hearing, may you give in and ... Read more »

Jewish Law, Abortion, and Rape 29-Sept-12

by Lynn Crocker on September 5, 2012

Jewish Law, Abortion, and Rape

Because of recent events in the news, people are asking me about the position of Jewish law on the question of whether rape is warrant for an abortion. The first thing to know is that, in the words of Orthodox physician Daniel Eisenberg, who writes on Jewish medical ethics, “The traditional Jewish view of abortion ... Read more »

Masorti Judaism in Israel 22-Aug-12

by Lynn Crocker on August 22, 2012

You may have heard that over the summer a German court ruled that circumcision is illegal. In the judge’s words, circumcision is a “severe and irreversible interference into physical integrity.” Of course, Jews (and Muslims) all over the world protested, and there is every reason to believe that the German parliament will overrule the judge’s decision and protect the right ... Read more »

Reflections on a Trip to Berlin 1-Aug-12

by Lynn Crocker on August 1, 2012

Reflections on a Trip to Berlin

Last month I spent a week in Berlin. On Shabbat Pinchas (July 14th) I spoke about this experience, and now I want to share these thoughts with a larger circle of the congregation, including a few pictures.

There are written texts and there are life texts. Today I want to share a few impressions ... Read more »

A Special Simchah 27-June-12

by Lynn Crocker on July 24, 2012

A Special Simchah

Tomorrow I will fly to Los Angeles for a rare and wonderful event: A party to celebrate my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary. That’s right—Rabbi Jacob and Marjorie Pressman have been married for 70 years as of June 14th. I looked on the internet for statistics on how many couples achieve 70 years of marriage, and the closest ... Read more »

The Mitzvah of Wearing a Bicycle Helmet 20-June-12

by Lynn Crocker on July 24, 2012

The Mitzvah of Wearing a Bicycle Helmet

Every once in a while one reads something that just boggles the mind. So it was when I read a New York Times article with the headline “Dropping Helmet Laws to Reduce a Town’s Risk.” To summarize: the town of Milton, Washington, population 7,000, had a law requiring all cyclists and skateboarders to ... Read more »

Farewell to a Friend 13-June-12

by Lynn Crocker on July 24, 2012

Farewell to a Friend

Four years ago I got an unusual phone call. The new Consul General for the State of Israel wanted to come visit me in my office in order to introduce himself and get better acquainted. I was intrigued. This had never happened before. A few days later Akiva Tor arrived at Beth David and we began ... Read more »

The Holy Table 6-June-12

by Lynn Crocker on July 24, 2012

The Holy Table

As you may know, I have taught a Talmud class on Friday mornings for over 20 years. Recently, we looked at some teachings about what prolongs life (which include some dubious medical advice, but that’s another story). One of them that remains timely is this (with the translation and running commentary from the brand-new Steinsaltz English edition), ... Read more »

My Diary from the Rest of the March of the Living

by Lynn Crocker on July 24, 2012

My Diary from the Rest of the March of the Living

My apologies for the length of this dispatch. I was kept so busy and tired that I fell behind in updating it. I hope you will find it of interest.

Friday, 4-20:

Today we returned to Auschwitz. Just writing those words is somehow chilling. We were there on Thursday. ... Read more »

Report from the March of the Living 18-Apr-12

by Lynn Crocker on July 24, 2012

Report from the March of the Living

Greetings from Krakow, Poland. I am here with a group of our teens for this remarkable event, bringing together 10,000 participants from all over the world. You can read more from www.motl.org. Aliza Aitchison, Gabriela Fine and Danielle Lerner from Beth David are attending with a delegation from Silicon Valley, sharing a bus ... Read more »

Good to the Last Verse 4-Apr-12

by Lynn Crocker on April 3, 2012

Good to the Last Verse

The Seder suffers from its familiarity. We do it every year. The Seder is long, and especially after the meal it’s hard to keep focused. As one of our members said to me after Rabbi Ohriner and I taught at the Mishpaha program, “Now I know how to keep the children involved; but what about ... Read more »

Sacred Money 22-Feb-12

by Lynn Crocker on February 22, 2012

Sacred Money

Last Shabbat, we honored the donors to our annual campaign. This gave me the opportunity to reflect on Judaism’s attitudes on money and wealth. I’ve reworked it a bit for this message.

I enjoy my work, but like anyone, there are some parts of it that I don’t relish. One of my least favorite things is when someone ... Read more »

Torah at the City Council 8-Feb-12

by Lynn Crocker on February 7, 2012

Torah at the City Council

I recently had the opportunity to offer the invocation at a session of the San Jose City Council. As it turned out, they were recognizing the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. There were a number of Holocaust survivors present, who were presented with plaques by Mayor Chuck Reed. Our long-time member Jack Tramiel spoke briefly and ... Read more »

True Religion 11-Jan-12

by Lynn Crocker on January 10, 2012

True Religion

I’d like to share with you my recent comments on Parashat Vayigash. As Joseph is seeing off his brothers as they return to Canaan to tell Jacob that Joseph is still alive, he says, “Do not be quarrelsome on the way.” (Gen 45:24)

One comment on this verse is perplexing: “R. Elazar said: ‘He said to them: ... Read more »