Rabbi's Blog

The Rabbi's thoughts culled from the "word from the Rabbi" in his weekly email

Lessons from Kodak

Eastman Kodak, the 131-year-old film pioneer that has been struggling for years to adapt to an increasingly digital world, filed for bankruptcy protection early Thursday morning, 1/19/12.Kodak, which in effect is responsible for the modern camera, missed the digital revolution.

Kodak's success in the camera business was due to it being first; it's willingness to try things that no one else was willing to try.

Where did Kodak go wrong? They were not willing to be the pioneers in the digital camera revolution. They gave into the temptation of waiting until others have tried and then imitated; it was too late :( - there goes an iconic brand. It's a 'Kodak moment' for soon it will be just a memory.

Historically, there was a man whose name was Nachshon Ben Aminadav. When the Jewish people were at the edge of the "yam suf" - sea of reeds, they were surrounded; Pharaoh and his armies behind them and the water before them. They did not know what to do. Hashem (G-d) had told them to travel forward yet, they were hesitant to do so. Only one man took initiative and jumped into the water. Nachshon forged into the deep waters until the water has reached his neck. Finally, as the water reached his nostrils, at the last possible moment, the Red Sea split (next weeks Torah portion) ….. Freedom at last.

Was it risky? Yes! However, he was not willing to wait for others to do what needed to be done. Nachshon's little act made all the difference and changed the destiny of the Jewish people for all time.

What risks are we taking? Are we leaving our comfort zones? What are we doing so the Jewish people don’t go the way of Kodak?

Men – Take on the mitzvah of Teffilin (Last verse of this week's Torah portion). For Jewish men, putting black boxes on every weekday is an easy mitzvah. You can add this 5 minute seemingly small act to your daily routine and it will make a big difference. It will even help our brethren in the Holy Land of Israel. Do the Israeli wrap. Don't wait for others - do it now.

Women – Commit to lighting Shabbat Candles; it is a weekly moment of inner peace and can bring light into the most darkest of places. We can light up the world. Don't wait for others - do it now.

For more info about these mitzvahs reply to this email. 

Have a Great Shabbos


Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. To receive the weekly email Click here   


Hard Work Pays.... But It Costs


For many of us our parents came to the U.S. many years ago with almost nothing on their backs. They gathered on Ellis Island and were granted entry to the U.S. where they began to make a life for themselves. They sold items from pushcarts, worked in sweatshops, and took night-school classes. As time moved on they graduated to become entrepreneurs and business owners with higher paying jobs and now Jews make up 25% of the 400 richest Americans. This process took many years but the hard work paid off.

Last week I read a story about a teenage girl Samantha Garvey who is 17 years old and homeless; nonetheless she works real hard and does well in school. Even though she doesn’t have a place to call her own, or even a desk to do her homework on, the teen has continued to excel at school. Ranking No. 4 in her class, she said she works hard in school for a reason. She was nominated as a semi-finalist in the “Intel Science Talent Search”. Her hard work will pay off , If she wins the top prize is $100,000 and if not I am sure she will win in the “lottery of life”. As the saying goes G-d helps those who help themselves. 

Great! We made it your on top. We are successful. We are leaders.

We must always remember where we came from. We need to help those who are less fortunate then us. At the same time, we must also recognize the position we are in as “leaders” and not engage in behavior that wouldn’t be appropriate for those in leadership positions. Many leaders fail at this.

Remember YOU are an icon to someone. People look up to you. What you do makes a difference. It feels great but it comes with responsibility.

I look forward to seeing you at services this week.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman


Is New Better?

Every year people decide this year is going to be a “NEW year”. This year things are going to be different. This year everything will be done in a new way with new resolutions. This year I will make for myself a new life and I will be a new person.

The question is “Is new better”?

Many of the “new things” out there do not enhance our lives. Just think about some of the “new technology” that’s there to “make your life better”. That same technology sometimes engulfs you so much that it doesn’t allow you to spend focused time with your family (this is just one example).

Again the question “Is new better”?

In this weeks torah portion it says A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know about Joseph. Now in the Talmud, there is a discussion that this wasn’t really a new king, only that his policies had changed, and he acted like a new king. 

As a new person we very often fall back into our old patterns. This “new king” found a way to change his policies so he won’t feel bad when he spits in the face of the nation who saved his country – namely, Joseph’s family.

Let’s change ourselves and become new. Without losing sight of where we have come from. Here is an out of the ordinary quote:"No one can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” We have a rich heritage, we have amazing traditions, we have a purpose to add spirituality into the mundane and humdrum of life.

What are you doing to share your heritage, practice your traditions and infuse that spirit into the reality?

Have a great and re-Jew-venating Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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