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Sermons ...

Date Posted Title Excerpt
Oct 26, 2016 The CV of Failures – Parashat HaAzinu Last Yom Kippur, as some of you may remember, I spoke about a resume that almost broke the internet – one put together by Nina Mufleh, a job seeker at Airbnb. And this morning, with thanks to my good friend Rabbi Josh Rabin, from whom parts of this sermon are taken, I’d like to speak about another CV Continue reading
Oct 26, 2016 The Wind Telephone – Yizkor 5777 Back in the year 2010, a 70-year-old Japanese gentleman by the name of Itaru Sasaki lost his beloved cousin. Finding that he needed a place to air his grief and connect to the one he had loved so deeply, Sasaki developed an unconventional solution – he took an old fashioned, British-style phone booth painted white, installed it in his backyard, placed within it a black rotary phone connected to nothing, and began using the device to converse with the dead. Continue reading
Oct 26, 2016 My Uncle, My Rabbi, and My Deadhead Friend – Kol Nidre 5777 This evening I’d like to introduce you to three of my good friends – my uncle who isn’t really my uncle, my rabbi who isn’t really a rabbi, and a Deadhead from the 90’s who changed the course of my life. I would imagine that most of us have our own personal version of these people, individuals whom we met at just the right time and in just the right place that their impact on us was amplified exponentially. Continue reading
Oct 6, 2016 Tit for Tat with Forgiveness: Rosh Hashanah Day II When I was in college, I was a double major in Psychology and Jewish Studies (the former often being even more relevant to my work as a rabbi than the latter!) and to this day I remain an avid reader of psychology literature in the popular press. In particular, I have always been fascinated by game theory and especially by the prisoner’s dilemma – the social experiment in which two players may either cooperate with or betray one another in order to maximize their own payoff. Continue reading
Oct 6, 2016 10 Days or 10 Dollars – Rosh Hashanah Day I 5777 In the middle of the Great Depression, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia sought to live amongst the people. It was not unusual for him to ride with the firefighters, raid with the police, or take field trips to visit the city’s orphans. On a bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the municipality’s poorest ward. LaGuardia dismissed the sitting judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. Continue reading
Sep 28, 2016 Why You Should Go to Synagogue on Rosh Hashanah This Year – Parashat Ki Tavo That is the title of an article that appeared this past week in The Forward written by Rabbi Jay Michaelson, a writer and activist and provocateur of sorts. You might not be surprised to hear that I was none too pleased to see such an editorial in the pages of our Jewish press, even if Rabbi Michaelson’s essential message is somewhat more benign than it first appears. Continue reading
Sep 7, 2016 11.38 Seconds – Parashat Re’eh Like many of you, I would imagine, I spent a good part of the month of August riveted by the Rio Olympics. And while it’s not generally my “go to” sport, it was actually swimming that I probably watched more than anything else this year – largely because the event coincided with a vacation to Vancouver where my Mom and I would crawl exhausted into bed after a long day of sight-seeing and binge on Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, and Missy Franklin. There are lots of reasons to marvel while watching talented athletes compete – in particular, the sheer skill and strength, time and training that it takes to reach superlative levels of performance. But in addition to all of these things, what I found myself most struck by this season was the margin of victory of these races – an entire career often decided by mere fractions of seconds. Continue reading
Aug 24, 2016 Choosing Your Role in Society A couple of weeks ago I was headed off to my laundry room. I was pushing Isobel’s stroller with one hand and with the other I had an overstuffed laundry bag slung over my shoulder. I passed one of my neighbors and she said, “Playing Mom today?” In my head I wanted to say, “Actually I’m being Dad today” but because I’m not a jerk and I know she didn’t mean anything by it, I just smiled, walked along, and started a load of laundry. No one would have batted an eyelash if a woman were doing the same thing I was, and they certainly wouldn’t have called it “playing.” But when a man acts as a lead parent society doesn’t quite know what to make of it. Continue reading
Jul 18, 2016 How Now Brown Cow? The Parah Adumah and Benign Linguistic Neglect Over the past week a new craze has gripped the world; Pokemon Go. Players download the free game on their phones and suddenly their phones show them a world where Pokemon - adorable little monsters that you can capture and train - are just waiting for to be discovered and caught. The novelty of the game is how it blends the real and the virtual - you have to actually walk around the real world to find these Pokemon, and all kinds of fascinating real world events are happening as a result. Continue reading
Jun 15, 2016 Keep Your Folk – Shavuoth Yizkor 5776 The following story may just be urban legend but I love it all the same. It tells of a woman recently given a terminal diagnosis who made an appointment with her pastor to discuss dying wishes. She told the minister which hymns and prayers she hoped would be sung at her funeral, which Psalms and Scriptural passages she hoped would be read, even which outfit she hoped to be buried in. Just as everything appeared to be in order and the pastor was preparing to leave, the woman suddenly remembered a last detail. “There’s one more thing,” the woman began, “and this is very important.” “When my time comes, I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” Continue reading