iconMezoogle24   iconFacebook24  iconDonate24 DONATE

Newsletter Instructions

Scroll past the "Newsletter Block" below to view any article who's "Read More" link you click on. Note: both the rabbi's and president's articles are usually found on their "blog" pages.

To view and print the entire newsletter as emailed, click one of the newsletter archive links found in the right-hand column on this page to open the issue in a new browser window by itself.

Current Newsletter Issue

Stephen Myerson - D'var Torah

Shabbat Shalom and welcome all to our B’nei Mitzvah.

If I were still 13, I would both thank my parents and blame them for the stage fright I felt at 13 years of age. At my first Bar Mitzvah 60 years ago, I was motivated by parental insistence and images of my grandparents weeping in the background.’ – I was NOT motivated by spirituality. This time around, I can proudly say I have studied this Bar Mitzvah without promise of immunity or financial reward and did/do so freely without hesitation so help me God. AND, I do so with a heightened spirituality and enthusiasm for the practice of Judaism.

Sadly my parents are gone, both having succumbed to heart disease. But, the loves of my life, my friends and this community are here to thank. So thank you all.

God’s gift to Moses on Mount Sinai is a concise oral story that lays out the practices to be followed going back to the First Temple. The Book of Leviticus begins a discussion of what we can, and should, eat AND which saturated fats to avoid in one’s diet, and the consequences of such consumption: … he who violates “shall be cut off from kin.” Incidentally, Leviticus also talks about circumcision, but that is someone else’s Bar Mitzvah.

However recently I had my own Mt. Sinai and burning bush experience at which I realized just how fragile life can be. In November last year, I was awakening not high on Mt. Sinai but certainly I was high and I was up on a gurney in the recovery room at Renown with a slight burning sensation in my heart. I had what cardiologists call a “cardiac event” which is a euphemism for a near death experience. Certainly, my case was relatively minor compared to the seriousness of multiple by-pass or valve replacement surgery. But, I awoke feeling depressed, worried, and afraid of what the future would look like knowing it could end quickly and perhaps sooner than I ever expected. My view of immortality was shattered. Here I was following in my parents final footsteps. And so, this Bar Mitzvah study took on a more serious and dedicated perspective about my parents, my genetics, my life expectancy and this Torah portion.

I previously mentioned the great scholar Yehuda haNasi, the highly revered Rabbi Judah the Prince from the first century. I pondered what he and his colleagues might have placed into words and added to the Mishnah had he had the benefit of 21st century thinking and research on diet.

In my research about these Torah verses, I looked at the writings of Moses ben Maimon, also referred to as Rambam and simply Maimonides. This gentleman was a Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. In his time, he was also a preeminent astronomer, and physician. In his writings, Maimonides described asthma, diabetes, hepatitis and pneumonia, and HE EMPHASIZED MODERATION AND A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE. Incidentally, many medical institutions include the name of Maimonides because of his great contributions to health sciences.

And finally, to bring my understanding of these Torah portions into the 21st century I had Breakfast right here at Temple Sinai with several well-known cardiologists. Each suggested a more sinister consequence than mere “cut off from kin”. To prevent premature death, they all agreed about the importance of improved diet and exercise.

The issue of eating cheilev (fat) weighs heavily in the consequence of this Torah portion being “cut off from kin.” The simple matter of paying close attention to the types of fat, the amounts of salt and sugars we ingest and the use of refined grains are of critical concern in this 21st century. Diseases such as arthrosclerosis, diabetes, stroke, heart failure, obesity and perhaps dementia are all related to the matter of diet and lifestyle which is directly linked to one’s life expectancy. Most of us are much too familiar with the typical Ashkenazi diet: Fatty creme cheese, salty fish, fatty brisket, chicken livers & schmaltz, eggs galore, sour creme, refined flour sweet everything, and of course chocolate bubka which gained me 8 pounds on our recent Temple Sinai Israeli trip.

I was motivated by these words of Leviticus as well as my cardiologists that an immediate change in diet was critical to reduce my bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipid blockages in my vascular system. In fact my dear friends, MOST, note I said most, coronary artery disease, bypass surgery and other major heart diseases might (note I said might) have been avoided had we paid more attention to our diets from before the typical bar mitzvah age.

And we must not overlook the importance of exercise both aerobic and strengthening exercises to balance our diets. There is much literature in addition to our Torah, the Zohar, and the Mishnah Torah that better defines the importance of improved lifestyle changes.

So, if your desire is to have God bless you and keep you on this earth take heed. Your family will love you longer -- and you will love life longer -- by paying attention to the early chapters of Leviticus as well as your cardiologists. I hope you realize that our Torah is not an outdated religious scroll. Take heed and reflect on your personal dietary lifestyle.

דַּבֵּ֛ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר כָּל־חֵ֜לֶב שׁ֥וֹר וְכֶ֛שֶׂב וָעֵ֖ז לֹ֥א תֹאכֵֽלוּ׃

Lev. 7:23 -- God spoke to Moses and said: “Speak to the Children of Israel, saying: You shall not eat any fat of an ox, sheep, or goat.”

Now May you all have good health and a Shabbat Shalom.


2018-03-26 Reno Jewish Story Club

Reno Jewish Story Club Meeting
Monday, March 26, 2018, 7 - 9:00 p.m.

"Cheesus Christ" and "Pick a Color" by Etgar Keret

If you search the internet for Israeli authors our contemporary, Etgar Keret, pops up time and again. He's everywhere, working in print, film and television. Our first Reno Story Club exposure to Keret was 13 months ago when we read three very brief works. This time two stories suffice. As the first title above suggests, readers have to be prepared for irreverence and prepared to tolerate some profanity in Keret's work product... it's the deal readers make with many modern authors, perhaps a reflection of our increasingly coarse mass culture.

In "Cheesus Christ," the author examines the inter-connectedness of events in our lives, of actions in the world. The story's first line is an excellent hook ... "Have you ever wondered what word is most frequently uttered by people about to die a violent death?"

In "Pick a Color," Keret gives his answer to the timeless question, why do bad things happen to good people? His answer has parallels to the one we find in the Book of Job but Keret presents his conclusion with modern themes. It takes a confident author to tackle such a fraught, well-trod subject ... in less than four pages! You'll decide if Keret succeeds.

Discussion Leader: Alan Liebman

Host: This month's meeting will be at the home of Nancy and Jonathan Morse in northwest Reno's Sommersett.

RSVP Required: To reserve your seat(s), receive a PDF copy of this month's story and travel directions, please e-mail your name(s) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before sundown, Friday, March 23rd.

For this meeting the Club can accommodate 25 attendees, but please remember your reservation is a pledge to attend this Reno Jewish Story Club meeting. Serial no-shows shall be banished to Winnemucca. Social time after the discussion. Refreshments served.

NEXT Club Meeting [mark your calendar!]: Monday, April 23, 2018, 7 - 9:00 p.m.

2018-03-11 Sunday Forum at UUFNN

 jewish starrabbi bair bw

Sunday Forum: What Jews can Teach UUs

March 11, 9 AM, Starr King Room

UU Fellowship of Northern Nevada
(780 Del Monte Ln, Reno, Nevada)

Jewish members bring a richness to our spiritual lives. Rabbi Ethan Bair, of Temple Sinai, will engage UUs on their third UU Principle of “encouragement to spiritual growth”, as he endeavors to imagine what Judaism as a whole could teach them. He will focus on the tension between the particular, for example, Judaism, and the universal, e.g. values, aspirations, ideals. This will be about the importance of depth in the particular in order to engage in universally oriented work more fully. He promises to challenge UUs and perhaps make them a little uncomfortable, as he invites them to struggle with their own particularity as a community that bills itself as universalistic. He advocates the right balance between rooted-ness and universalism, seeing them not as mutually exclusive, but as mutually reinforcing. Achieving balance between identity and practice is what the UU's can, he believes, learn from the Jewish people. In their covenant, they celebrate “wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life”, and in particular “Jewish… teachings, which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors….” This is an opportunity to think about what they really mean, and to share a mean cup of coffee. Kevin Murphy will moderate.


Sinai Mailing List Signup

Sign up for our newsletter emails: CLICK HERE

2018 Newsletters

2017 Newsletters

2016 Newsletters

2015 Newsletters

2014 Newsletters

2013 Newsletters