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The Teaching Bench

6_Simantov_0917

IT WAS A Friday night like many others. Candles lit, table set, side dishes plated in my favorite pieces of pottery. The challahs were still warm, proudly sitting beneath an embroidered cloth; my damp-from-the-shower hair was neatly tucked inside a colorful headscarf.  The sky rapidly darkened to an inky blue-black from which stars popped out from their hiding places in ... Read More »

Precious Giving 

Simantov_May

ONE OF MY most respected teachers frequently intoned, “If you can say ‘Yes,’ say ‘Yes. But if you cannot say ‘yes,’ you are obligated to say ‘No.’” This lesson has profoundly altered my life. In the years prior to the aforementioned epiphany, I’d been crazed with a desire to be liked, valued and emulated. Frequently saying “Yes” to strangers, I ... Read More »

Twenty Twenty

asimantov-april2017

FOR SEVERAL SHABBOSIM in a row, I’d noticed a beautiful young woman sitting on the right side of the women’s section, balancing an extremely large Artscroll siddur (prayerbook) on her lap, and an even larger Chumash (Pentateuch). Like most of us, she knew the service almost by heart. The Torah reading and subsequent Haftarah reading is always sung aloud, and we ... Read More »

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