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Sermons ...

Date Posted Title Excerpt
Oct 3, 2017 Of Fate and Furies: Kol Nidre 5778 (Version II) During the year 2005-2006, the year that Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the Gulf Coast region of our country, I was working as the student rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Biloxi, Mississippi, flying down from rabbinical school in New York once a month to spend Shabbat with the small community. On my very first visit after the storm, a congregant of mine– a gentleman who worked in state government and consequently had special access to enter restricted areas – drove me down Highway Continue reading
Oct 3, 2017 Use My Years Also: Yizkor 5778 Rabbi Sidney Greenberg tells the story of a high-school senior who, upon receiving a diagnosis of terminal cancer, began drawing up his will. He listed each of his possessions in turn and bequeathed them to someone especially dear to him – a DVD collection to his younger brother, a portfolio of artwork to his grief-stricken parents, an old football jersey to the coach who had transformed him from anxious rookie to self-assured starting line-man. Continue reading
Sep 26, 2017 Changing Direction – Shabbat Shuvah 5778 In the days of Communism’s fierce grip on the Soviet Union, there lived a Chassidic Jew named Reb Mendel Futerfas. Reb Mendel repeatedly put his life at risk with his efforts to promote Jewish education behind the Iron Curtain and for some 14 years was incarcerated in prisons and labor camps for the “crime” of teaching Torah. While in the Siberian Gulag, he spent most of his time studying and praying, but he also interacted with other prisoners – one of whom was a tightrope walker who had previously performed with the circus. Continue reading
Sep 26, 2017 Optimizing Disappointment – Rosh Hashanah Day II 5778 Many of you will know that I’m not the world’s biggest sports fan but it’s hard not to be just a little bit enamored with the success of the incredible Theo Epstein! Even the non-die-hards amongst us are aware of how Epstein was able to turn around two hard luck teams, our own Chicago Cubs and my hometown’s beloved Boston Red Sox, breaking both the 86-year Curse of the Bambino and the 71-year Curse of the Billy Goat while giving the Cubbies their first World Series title in 108 years. Many of us still can’t quite believe we lived to see the day! Continue reading
Sep 26, 2017 The Cries of a Child – Rosh Hashanah Day I 5778 Once a Hasidic master was walking along a cobbled street in Eastern Europe some 200 years ago when he heard the sound of a baby coming from his student’s home – a wrenching cry that pierced the night. The rabbi rushed into the house and saw his pupil enraptured in prayer, swaying rhythmically back and forth in pious devotion. He walked over to the infant, took her in his arms, and gently rocked her to sleep. Continue reading
Sep 26, 2017 A Shofar in Jerusalem – Erev Rosh Hashanah 5778 Once, during the tenure of Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of British Mandate Palestine, a group of workers under pressure to complete a building in one of the neighborhoods of Jerusalem continued their labor even on the holy day of Rosh Hashanah. People living in the area sent word to the rabbi, expecting him to order the builders to cease their efforts immediately. Instead, he sent an emissary down to the construction site to blow shofar for the crew. Continue reading
Sep 19, 2017 Do Not Cast Us Off – Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech Chinese tradition tells the parable of an old man who becomes too weak to work in the garden or help out with household chores, who sits idly on the porch all day while his family tills the soil and pulls up weeds. One day, the man’s son looks up and thinks, "What good is my father now that he’s so old? All he does is eat up my food! I have a wife and children to think about; it’s time for him to be done with life!" The son makes a large wooden box and places it on a wheelbarrow, rolls it up to the porch, and asks the man to get in. Continue reading
Sep 5, 2017 Sorkin, Schlesinger, and Rabbinic Judaism – Parashat Ki Tetzei In season two of Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant political drama, The West Wing, President Jed Bartlett finds himself in the company of Dr. Jenna Jacobs, a socially conservative talk-show host and commentator not so-loosely based on the real-life Dr. Laura Schlesinger. Dr. Jacobs has been publicly decrying homosexuality, pointing to the fact that the Bible classifies it as “an abomination,” and the President has a few questions to ask the ersatz religious expert. “I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7,” he begins. Continue reading
Aug 29, 2017 Dvar Torah Shabbat ​Shalom. Recently,​​ my ​​husband ​​Michael​​ and ​​I​​became ​​interested​​ in ​​genealogy. ​​Before​​ a ​​trip ​​to ​​Ireland ​​last​​year, ​​Michael researched ​​his ​​father​​Jonathan’s​​ grandmother​​ and ​​great ​​aunts ​​who​​ were ​​born ​​in​​ Dublin, ​​finding ​​birth ​​records and​​ addresses ​​in​​ the ​​Irish​​ census,​​ and ​​ship​​manifests from​​ when ​​they​​ came ​​to ​​the ​​United ​​States. ​​He researched ​​other​​ relatives​​ who ​​went ​​to​​ South​​ Africa, ​and ​​found ​​amazing ​​stories ​​of ​​a ​​cousin ​​who ​​died ​​as​​ a Japanese​​ prisoner ​​of ​​war​​ during​​ World​​ War​​ II Continue reading
Jul 5, 2017 Parashat Hukat This week’s Parasha tells the story of Moses and the rock. The short version goes like this: Moses tells God the people are thirsty. God tells him to extract water from a rock by talking to it. Moses strikes the rock hard. Twice. And water starts gushing. The Israelites can finally quench their thirst. God immediately turns to Moses and informs him that he will not get to see the land of Israel because he didn’t precisely follow his orders. Perhaps like many of you, the first time I read that I, “Are you kidding me?” After all he’s done? Continue reading