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Erev Shabbat Messages ...

Date Posted Title Excerpt
Mar 15, 2017 Finding Esther Towards the beginning of his rise to power, Hitler was delivering one of his infamous speeches at a large town hall meeting in Munich when he noticed a man in the front row making derisive facial expressions punctuated by occasional bursts of laughter. Along with finding this strange display distracting, Hitler feared that the man’s lack of respect would seriously undermine the Nazi message. When his presentation concluded, he asked that the heckler be brought before him and indignantly demanded to know his identity. “I am a Jew,” the man said evenly. “Then you should be taking my address more seriously,” warned Hitler. “Do you think that I will not make good on my promise to annihilate your people?” Continue reading
Mar 2, 2017 Chesed Shel Emeth It is hard to imagine anything more abominable than the desecration of a sacred burial place. And so the vandalism of the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri this past weekend has been truly devastating not only for those in the greater St. Louis area but for all of us as well. With over 170 gravestones disgraced, the defilement of this memorial park not only violates the dignity of the deceased who, according to Jewish tradition are to be treated with the utmost highest form of respect, but it also brings pain and suffering to family members forced to witness such an atrocity. Continue reading
Feb 17, 2017 Inauguration Day "Libi bamizrach v'anochi b'sof ma'arav - My heart is in the east, and I am at the ends of the west." While these words were first written by the Spanish philosopher and poet, Yehudah HaLevi, expressing the familiar Diaspora sentiment of being physically in one place and spiritually in quite another, the line seems newly resonant for many of us this weekend as we feel our attention drawn to events taking place in our nation's capital. Continue reading
Feb 17, 2017 Scientists in Synagogues I love science. It's so certain. Science measures things that we can define and understand. By analyzing the relationships and patterns of those measurements, science actually creates brand new understandings and definitions, never before known. Those new things can then be measured, analyzed and understood, thus expanding human knowledge - step by step. In this way, over time, science expands human understanding into nearly infinite reaches of the universe. Continue reading
Jan 10, 2017 Praying with the Soldiers The very first night that we gathered together for ma’ariv (the evening service) in Israel, we all instinctively turned to face the east. That is, until we realized that we were actually standing to the south of Jerusalem in Arad and that we needed to reposition ourselves in order to be in the direction of the Kotel. The next morning we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise service atop Masada led by our own recent bat mitzvah, Sophia Kurzman, changing our orientation yet again. Continue reading
Dec 20, 2016 A Whitefish Wedding Over the course of my career, I’ve had the enormous honor of officiating at a number of weddings! I’ve married close childhood friends and dear members of the congregations in which I’ve served, young brides and grooms beginning life together and older adults grateful for a second chance at love and partnership. I’ve gotten my name in the “Weddings” section of The New York Times. Continue reading
Dec 13, 2016 Scientists in Synagogues Which of the following BEST describes your view - I view science and religion as: Collaborative…each can be used to support each other Independent…they refer to different aspects of reality Conflict…and I am on the side of science Conflict…and I am on the side of religion Some of us will recognize the above question from a survey sent to selected members of our congregation a few months back as part of a “Scientists in Synagogues” grant that BHCBE received from the organization Sinai and Synapses. Continue reading
Nov 21, 2016 Blueberry Muffins The great Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was a man known for his practice of complimenting and expressing gratitude even for the smallest of blessings. One day he was dining in a dingy restaurant presided over by a sour-looking owner and waitress; the woman greeted him unpleasantly and hurriedly registered his order for a blueberry muffin. When the waitress returned with the food, Reb Shlomo asked: “Are you by any chance the person who baked this muffin?” “Yes, and what about it?” replied the waitress. “I just want you to know that this is the tastiest muffin I’ve ever enjoyed,” reported the rabbi. Continue reading
Nov 16, 2016 Abraham and Noah What an incredibly difficult week it has been. Whether we were thrilled or devastated by the events of Tuesday evening, the unexpected results of our national election indicated for many of us that this country is even more deeply divided than we had understood and that the work necessary to raise the United States to its highest calling as a place of prosperity and justice for all is more urgent and overwhelming than ever. Coming off of an extraordinarily polarizing campaign season, the kind of unity necessary to move our country forward is hard to imagine. Continue reading
Oct 26, 2016 A Little Life A few months ago, I finished a novel that I had been living with for quite some time. Weighing in at 720 pages, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara was both of sufficient length and sufficient intensity – a meditation on one man’s ability (or lack thereof) to overcome serious trauma and abuse – that the story had really gotten into my soul and settled there. When I eventually turned the final page, Continue reading