Rabbi's Column

High Holidays



Elul, the month preceding the High Holidays, started this past week.  It opens the season of repentance.  Each morning the shofar is blown, an alarm clock trying to wake us up spiritually and help us focus on the task ahead.  Elul is also the clarion call of pragmatic preparation for our upcoming services.  It’s also similar to the root of the word to search in Aramaic.  Very appropriate, as I spend this month searching for numerous things:  moments of introspection, words of inspiration and volunteer participation.

The other day I came across an article online which is a worthwhile read anytime, but especially apropos for this season.  I share it with you below, hoping that you find it helpful in moving you to readiness for the Yamim Noraim

May the upcoming year be one filled with life and love.  K'tiva VaHatima Tova.


Rav Eric

10 Toxic Habits that Drain Your Energy


Bear with me for a moment.  You know when you’re driving to an unfamiliar place, blasting the radio while simultaneously watching your GPS spit out directions?  Then you suddenly get to that one part of the route that’s ridiculously confusing, so you lower the volume even though it has no direct impact on the way you read the directions?

That is your life.  The radio noise you need to cut out to concentrate?  That is the needless, energy-sucking noise in your head.

Turning down the radio in the car re-energizes your mind and offers you clarity when you need it most.  You don’t really think about how or why this makes such a huge difference, you just know that it does.

Now it’s time to apply this same principle to all the other noise in your life, starting with the noise in your head.

But how?

The first step is to eliminate toxic, energy-sucking habits that support this noise.  With over ten years of experience as life coaches behind us, here are ten such habits Angel and I have seen thousands of people struggle with, again and again:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->1.       <!--[endif]-->Pretending like everything is OK when it isn’t. – Do you feel overwhelmed?  Do you feel like giving up?  There’s honestly no shame in it.  You are not a robot; and even if you were, you’d still need to stop for maintenance sometimes.  There’s no shame in admitting to yourself that you feel exhausted, doubtful, and low.  This is a natural part of being human.  The simple fact that you are aware of this means you are able to turn things around.  It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there’s no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->2.      <!--[endif]-->Letting pain from the past devastate the present. – I am stronger because of the hard times, wiser because of my mistakes, and happier because I have known sadness.  The same is true for you.  Every difficult conversation you have had included someone who was teaching you something about yourself.  Every trying situation contains an opportunity for deeper self-reflection and learning.  Every irritant, heartbreak, frustration, disappointment, and fearful moment is a teacher.  Remember, nothing is as bad as it seems.  Nothing.  There’s a benefit and a blessing hidden in the folds of every experience and every outcome.  So don’t you dare give up on today because of the way things looked yesterday.  Don’t even think about it.  Every day is a new day to try again.  (Read The Road Less Traveled<!--[if gte vml 1]> coordsize="21600,21600" o:spt="75" o:preferrelative="t" path="m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe"
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<!--[if !supportLists]-->3.      <!--[endif]-->Believing that your best days are either in front of you or behind you. – You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape one day, and how incredible it will be, and imagining that pristine future keeps you going, but you never do it.  You just use the future to escape the present.  This is precisely what keeps so many of us stressed and unhappy.  The flipside is true as well – obsessing about the past.  What you need to accept is that there are only two days in the year that nothing can be done.  One is yesterday and the other is tomorrow.  So today, this moment, is the right time to love, to laugh, to work and to live boldly.  Yes, this moment needs your undivided attention, for this is the only time and place you are truly alive.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->4.      <!--[endif]-->Trying to hold on to who you were before one of life’s storms.– Hard times are like strong storms that blow against you.  And it’s not just that these storms hold you back from places you might otherwise go.  They also tear away from you all but the essential parts of your ego that cannot be torn, so that afterward you see yourself as you really are, and not merely as you might like to be.  This is a great thing.  It may seem impossible now, but one day you will look back at the storms you have weathered and give a silent thank you.  For many of us, it is the storms of our lives that have given us compassion, kindness, and gentleness that we otherwise may not have known – and that we can now give away to others, because these qualities are inside of us.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

<!--[if !supportLists]-->5.       <!--[endif]-->Resisting change and growth. – You must consistently check with yourself and ask: “Am I committed to feeling good, or am I committed to growing?”  Because growth does not always feel good, and feeling good does not always provide growth.  Neither is wrong, as long as there is balance.  The important thing is to remember that being uncomfortable is important too, and this discomfort often arrives right on time.  Don’t avoid it – embrace it.  Channel your energy into progress.  All growth begins at the end of your comfort zone.  When you’re feeling uncomfortable, know that the change taking place in your life is a beginning, not an ending.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->6.      <!--[endif]-->Worrying and worrying and worrying and never taking action.– Worry is the biggest enemy of the present moment.  It does nothing but steal your joy and keep you very busy doing absolutely nothing at all.  It’s like using your imagination to create things you don’t want.  Break this negative habit!  It is far better to be exhausted from effort than to be tired of doing nothing but worrying.  Don’t waste your effort avoiding effort.  Go ahead and get it done.  Today, ask yourself what is really important and then have the courage to build your day around your answer.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->7.       <!--[endif]-->Sacrificing all of your Self for everyone else. – Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you do, there will be very little left that you can give to anyone, even those you love dearly.  Whenever you feel trapped and it’s difficult to breathe, let me remind you – don’t forget to secure your own oxygen mask first.  Taking care of yourself does not make you selfish; it makes you selfless.  In fact, it’s the truest form of selflessness one can experience.  Only through attentive self-care can you care for others.  In order to truly have a loving, supportive relationship with someone else, you need to learn how to be your own best friend first.  It’s all about falling in love with yourself first and sharing that love with others who appreciate you, rather than looking for love to compensate for a self-love deficit.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->8.      <!--[endif]-->Taking everything personally. – There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.  And rarely do people do things because of you anyway.  They do things because of them.  So even when it seems personal, it probably isn’t.  Remember this.  And when you find yourself feeling angry, heartbroken, or victimized by the actions of another, see if you can you find within you any seed of softness, some place deep within that understands how much pain that person must be in, how burdened their soul must be, how devastatingly hardened they must be in their heart in order to behave in a way that is surely out of alignment with their own integrity.  (Read The Four Agreements<!--[if gte vml 1]> o:spid="_x0000_i1025" type="#_x0000_t75" alt="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=marandang-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1878424319"
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<!--[if !supportLists]-->9.      <!--[endif]-->Letting negative thoughts get the best of you. – Don’t believe everything you hear – even in your own mind.  Choose to be miserable and you’ll find plenty of reasons to be miserable.  Choose to be happy you’ll find plenty of reasons to be happy.  It is this simple 99% of the time.   Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction.  Break this negative habit.  Talk about your joys, your loves, and your dreams instead.  Be outrageously and unreasonably positive.  Be funny and creative and ridiculous and joyful all at the same time.  It’ll make you feel better.

10.   Refusing to let go a little and open up to uncertainty. – True happiness takes courage.  I’m talking the vulnerable, put yourself out there and risk looking like a fool sort of courage.  It’s not easy, to push the limits of your vulnerability, to dig deeper and deeper into the core of who you are as an individual and not only love and accept the imperfect parts of yourself, but also expose them to others.  You’ve got to be willing to break free from the norm, appear uncool and stop caring so much about what everyone thinks.  It’s about taking a stand.  In fact, we’ve ALL got to take the time to slow down, to break away from the crazy pace in life and take a minute to sit and stare at the sky without checking for the next text, watch the sunset without uploading it to Instagram, and just free ourselves to be ourselves.  We’ve got to shelve our egos and say “yes” to the present moment, to love, to opening ourselves up to being hurt beyond hurt again, and above all, to saying “yes” to taking chances.[1]Public Religion Research Institute,Jewish Values Survay, March 2012- 


 About Rav Dangott


Eric Dangott is excited and proud to serve as Surf City Synagogue’s new Spiritual Leader starting in July 2013.  Eric is a Huntington Beach native, and his Jewish youth was spent not far from Surf City’s Livingstone Campus location, at Temple Sharon.  At Temple Sharon his initial interest and enthusiasm in Judaism blossomed under the guidance of numerous teachers, including our own Pnina Stein and Tanya Klugman.

After graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with Bachelor’s degrees in Politics and Psychology, Eric spent a year teaching English in South Korea.  A career in financial services took Eric from Orange County to San Diego, where his spiritual hunger was renewed.  Surprisingly, the rabbi of the congregation closest to Eric, Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal, was the last rabbi at Temple Sharon, and leading the service when Eric celebrated his Bar Mitzvah.

Ultimately Eric became active in Gesher, San Diego Hillel’s graduate student and young professional group, as an officer and regular lay leader.  When a professional opportunity took Eric to Tustin, as a Business Systems Analyst at SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, he happily transferred his skills from Gesher to Surf City Synagogue. 

Eric has started initial studies at the American Jewish University, and looks forward to immersing himself as a full time student in the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies starting in Fall 2014.  It is extremely meaningful for Eric to support and develop the Jewish community in the exact place his seeds of Jewish love were first planted.  He looks forward to encouraging that same love of Judaism with the Surf City Congregation, allowing each member to tap into their Torah.