Rabbi Fabián Werbin

Your last name

Turn on the television, read the newspaper or go to just about any web site. You can’t escape Cononavirus coverage even if you want to. I’m well aware of the virus and its global (not to mention, local) impact. Before getting to my main point, I do want to address that as we face global challenges, individuals in our community are struggling. The anxiety associated with these changes is not easy to manage. Rabbi Harris, Chazzan Fradkin and I stand with you and we are available to help address your needs.

In an attempt to address a different topic that is also front-of-mind, I want to share a message that may help you connect with your families in these unprecedented times.

We all have last names. The use of last names varies according different cultures. Some claim that their culture has been using last names for more than 1200 years. Continue reading →

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The flu season this year has been a tough one. In addition to that, the coronavirus is making headlines and worrying all of us. I decided this week to share with you a different approach to one aspect of these viruses that I hope will make you think.

All of us sneeze – and so do some animals. A mysterious and fascinating thing happens when we sneeze: we close our eyes. Nobody can sneeze without closing their eyes.

Many people have automatically say “bless you” or “gesundheit” when someone sneezes. In Hebrew the term we use is “libriut” לבריאות (good health).

The custom of wishing someone well after they sneeze probably originated thousands of years ago. Continue reading →

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The cow doesn’t give milk

The cow doesn’t give milk.

Both of my grandfathers Z”L were cowboys. The lived in a small town in the rural Argentina called Moises Ville. They spent most of their lives riding horses, taking care of their cattle and working hard. Their hands were not smooth at all and I think that as I grow older, I appreciate their rough hands more and more.

The cow doesn’t give milk. I learned this lesson from my beloved Jewish cowboy grandparents and from my parents as well.

Yes, this is not what you may have learned when you were younger but it is the truth. The cow doesn’t give milk. You need to milk it. In order to milk it, you need to wake up very early, walk through a field, usually filled with excrement, tie the cow’s tail and its legs, sit down on a low stool, place the bucket in the appropriate spot, and then do the right movements (because you do not know how to do it, it takes longer, much longer). Continue reading →

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Buses to Solidarity March in New York

This Sunday, buses will be traveling from around the country for a solidarity march in New York.  Horrified by the antisemitic Chanukah attack in Monsey, NY, the New York Federation and JCRCs around the country are organizing a march across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Buses will leave from the JCCGW in Rockville promptly at 6am. There is a cost of $25 for the bus and a kosher lunch.

Pre-registration is required.  To reserve you place and for more details, click here.


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Lost ten days

Imagine that the highest religious authority in the world (Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, Chief Israeli Rabbi?) announces tomorrow that ten days of the 2020 calendar will be wiped out. Instead of having 365 days, we’d only have 355. Think about the turmoil this would create… Instagram, Facebook and Twitter would buzz; traders at the stock market wouldn’t know what to do; conspiracy theories and governments would point fingers accusing each other. Don’t even mention physicists and astronomers. It would be chaos!

Whatever you imagine, this scenario is not new for human beings. It already happened in history.
In the year 1582, the world changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, the one we use today. Continue reading →

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A new Iphone or my first tefillin?

The conversations and interactions we have throughout Beth El are often fascinating and thought-provoking.

Some weeks ago during my Wednesday morning Torah class, we talked about the price of tefillin and why they are so expensive. I took advantage of the conversation to spend some time learning about tefillin. I explained briefly the rabbinical approach and gave my spiel about how the tefillin are the connectors with God. Like small “walkie talkie” devices they “connect and carry” our

prayers to God.

I showed the class my old tefillin; I opened them and showed the inside, the compartments, the tendons used to sew, the parchments and the different types of tefillin.

Then I posed my class a question: “Why do we question the price of tefillin that we will use for a life-time but have no problem spending lots of money on a mobile phone that will be good for one or two years until a new operating system will make them slow?”

Continue reading →

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All of them

There are books that can make a great impact on people. I read one such book some years ago –Like Dreamers by Yossi Klein Halevi.

In the book, the author describes the lives of several paratroopers who liberated Jerusalem in the Six Day War. The book focuses on their lives after that milestone event in Israel’s history. According to the author, they reunited Jerusalem and divided a nation.

I want to share with you a short story the author highlights in the book that I believe is a beautiful message, especially at this time of year.

Continue reading →

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Pittsburgh and Argentina

Two trips on the horizon.

Pittsburgh and Argentina. So distant, so close

On October 27 – Mitzvah Day –  I will be leading a trip to Pittsburgh, exactly one year after the horrible attack against the Tree of Life Synagogue. A year has passed and I feel I owe that community my support. I have never been to Pittsburgh before, but my heart hurts and my soul still suffers with their loss, with our loss. As if the attack was yesterday. I feel I owe that community a hug, a word of consolation and a moment of silence. I invite you to join me.

This trip will be a chance to bond with fellow Jews and perform an important mitzvah, but we will also make the time together an opportunity to learn. On the bus to Pittsburgh we will welcome a speaker who will be teaching about anti-Semitism and how we should respond. Continue reading →

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The serpent and the firefly

Some years ago I rushed to downtown Roanoke for a picture. I learned that an artist was taking pictures of people and printing them as big posters to be hung all over the city. I wanted to see myself on a big poster I hurried so I could be included in this exciting project.


Three weeks ago the United Synagogue calendar arrived at home and again, I was pictured (nicer this time!) in a big poster. My face is included in a high profile way in homes across the country!

How can a person manage his/her ego? How is it possible not to succumb to the temptation of pride or egotism?

Maybe, being “sameach b’chelko”, happy with your own share, helps a bit. It helps at least to reduce jealousy and envy.

I wanted to share with you a story that may help to illustrate this point. Continue reading →

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Sometimes it is very difficult to cut the umbilical cord. This may be true literally, but in this case, I’m not talking about something physical – though it does feel like a physical separation sometimes. One example of this separation anxiety happens to me when I read or watch the news. I read news from the U.S., and from around the world, but every day I also try to read news from Argentina, Israel, and Colombia – countries that have been my home. And I feel a deep connection with those places even though it has been many years since I’ve lived there.

Something very unusual happened a few weeks ago in South America. Continue reading →

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