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Spoon Theory

11/20/2020 12:03:06 PM

Nov20

A congregant was recently talking to me about what it is like to have depression.  She told me it was like the story of the spoons.  I told her I did not know this story.  She was kind enough to share it with me.  As I listened to the story, it occurred to me that while we do not all have to contend with depression or lupus the way others do,...Read more...

Authority

11/13/2020 01:22:53 PM

Nov13

One of the questions the medieval commentator Rashi asks is why the Torah begins with creation.  He points out that the majority of the Torah is a law book, so should it not begin with the laws?  His answer to the question is that we start with creation to show that God created the whole world.  However, he also offers another explanation for beginning with the story of how people came to be:

Our Rabbis explained: God...Read more...

Voting

10/30/2020 11:52:49 AM

Oct30

Obligation is a tricky thing.  As Americans we do not like to be told what to do.  As Reform Jews we prefer to choose.  However, there just are certain things we are obligated to do.  After all, we Jews sometimes do, “Answer to a higher source”.  Voting in elections is one of those sacred obligations that goes beyond personal self-interest and is simply an obligation for the good of the world.

If you have...Read more...

Judaism is Anything but Monolithic

10/23/2020 02:03:44 PM

Oct23

Judaism is anything but monolithic.  Our text, scripture, is hardly the final word in any conversation.  Rather it serves as a jumping off point.  The text merely gives us an outline and then asks us, the reader, to fill in the details.  This dynamic of reader and text working together to uncover truths is the cornerstone of textual study.

The Torah, Judaism, and the universe are all expansive in nature, not...Read more...

What if?

10/16/2020 12:00:02 PM

Oct16

One of my favorite comics growing up was Marvel’s “What if…?” comics.  The main conceit of the series was to ask a “What if…?” question that would set the stage for the ensuing issue.  Questions such as, “What if Spiderman went bad instead of good?” or “What if Captain America were Frenc­h?” provided for compelling reading.  More than fun narratives of alternate realities was the thought exercise this...Read more...

Spiral Curriculum and Torah

10/09/2020 11:17:14 AM

Oct9

When I was a young boy I would go every Saturday with my parents and siblings to our local synagogue.  My friends and I would attend Junior Congregation while our parents were in the main sanctuary.  We would pile into the small library and sit in our chairs and open the prayer books made especially for us.  Every week the leader would ask us questions about the prayers.  It seemed to my young mind that the questions being...Read more...

Yom Kippur Sermon - Power

10/02/2020 11:39:58 AM

Oct2

After losing half his fortune in the stock market crash in 1929, Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan wrote in his diary: “I feel like a polar bear on an ice floe that is drifting into warmer zones as he watches with growling impotence the steady dwindling of his home.”  His words might reflect how many of us feel today.  While we might be able to control how we approach the melting of our home, we do not feel we can stop what seems...Read more...

Yom Kippur Sermon - Honor

10/02/2020 11:37:14 AM

Oct2

During the course of the past year, as in every year, two questions continue to arise that motivate and inform my actions.  The questions come from Hillel’s statement in Pirkei Avot, “Im ein a-ni li, mi li, v’im ani l’atzmai, mah ani - If I am only for myself, who will be for me, and if I am only for others, what am I?” These questions are at the crux of the human conundrum that we all confront. “What do I owe myself?” --...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah Sermon - Strength of Spirit

09/24/2020 02:01:12 PM

Sep24

2020 may have been the toughest year any of us have ever faced. The pandemic has surely presented all of us with unique trials and challenges. However, this does not mean that it was a year devoid of learning.  In a year that would otherwise have been intolerable, I can say that I have learned or come to deepen my own understanding of certain aspects of life.  For these high holy days, I would like to share with you what I have...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah Sermon - Bravery

09/24/2020 01:57:28 PM

Sep24

Humans like God are story tellers. As Elie Wiesel phrased it, “God created persons because he loves tales.” We as humans take the events of our life and we create multiple narratives – sometimes complementing one another, sometimes conflicting. The story we tell at any one moment shapes who we are as spiritual beings and gives meaning to who we are as a community, or as a people. A story can unite or divide us, depending on how it is...Read more...

Tue, December 1 2020 15 Kislev 5781