This morning I want to talk to you about two men; one of whom I suspect none of you have ever heard of and the other I suspect all of you have heard of. Both of them have one thing in common. Let’s see if you can guess what it is.
The first man is named Julius Meini. You never heard of him, and neither did I or many others until he was recently elected as the new President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, a constituent group of the World Jewish Congress. The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress represents the Jews living in Russia, Ukraine, India, Singapore, New Zealand and others. If you have never heard of him, don’t feel bad … most of the people he now represents have never heard of him as well! First of all, Mr. Meini is not a citizen of any of the countries he represents. He holds dual Austrian and British citizenship. Second, Mr. Meini has never before held a leadership role in any Jewish organization. Now, he is elected as the President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress? Third of all, Mr. Meini is currently under investigation for bank fraud. Strange choice to lead a Jewish organization and even stranger is the fact that Mr. Meini’s mother was baptized and some question whether he is, in fact, Jewish. So what is it that Mr. Meini has that elevated him to such an important position in the Jewish world? You tell me: what’s he got? READ MORE
There are literally hundreds of Hagaddahs out there. It’s time to look for the one that is right for your family. My sermon this Shabbat is: What Hagaddah Not to Use.
Attached is a Hagaddah put out by the Federations … it doesn’t have everything, but it has a lot. You can download it for free!
It is hard to believe but there are only 14 shopping days left until Pesach. Pesach has a way of sneaking up on us and so to make sure we know it is coming and to give ourselves time to properly prepare, we have this special Shabbat – Shabbat Parshat Ha-Chodesh – which tells us that the month of Nisan is about to begin and the festival of Pesach is on the horizon. But first, what does Pesach mean? You should know that there are a variety of answers to this seemingly simple question. On a simple level, Pesach is the name of the lamb sacrifice that was brought to form the basis of the Seder. But, The Jewish Study Bible translates Pesach as “protected,” and the first century Aramaic translator, Onkelos, says the word means “compassionate.” The most common translation we have for the word “Pesach” is “Passover.” How did “Pesach” get that name? It got that name in the 1500’s from a Protestant Biblical translator named William Tyndale. Tyndale translated the Bible and had to come up with appropriate translations for our Biblical holidays, and so for Shavuot he came up with “the feast of weeks,” referring to the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot. For Sukkot he came up with the name “Tabernacles,” referring to the booths we used in the desert. And for Pesach he looked at the special Torah portion we read today which told us of God’s intention to destroy the firstborn of the Egyptians, but the Jews first had to slaughter a lamb, place its blood on their doorposts, “u’fasachta alechem – and I will pass over you … when I strike in the land of Egypt.” William Tyndale put these two words together and gave us “Passover.” But there is one other translation – a Kabbalistic one – of the meaning of the word “Pesach” that I wish to refer to this morning. READ MORE
Tomorrow I will discuss “Boogie Yaalon, Sha-Shtill and the Meaning of Pesach.” Until then, read this:
Where’s the plane? How many times have you asked yourself that question in the last two weeks? Where is the plane? That’s the question that has mesmerized the world ever since Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared. There have been so many theories to “where is the plane?” – hijacking, malfunction, terrorism, elves, suicide. The Washington Post listed some of the Internet’s best theories: the plane never crashed – it’s just invisible! The plane has been at a U.S. Navy base called Diego Garcia the whole time. The plane was shot down by a hostile country … that one from Rush Limbaugh! The plane was hijacked by terrorists and is being retrofitted to become an attack plane. And of course, the flight was abducted by aliens! All sorts of theories, but no sure answer. And that seems to be driving all of us crazy. Why is that? READ MORE
Come to shul tomorrow for my answer to: Where’s the Plane?
Until then, here’s Courtney Love’s theory.
I tell you now: if you stick around until the end of the sermon you’re going to hear me say something that you might find shocking, coming from me!
Tonight we usher in the joyous festival of Purim. Purim commemorates an incident in Jewish history which took place nearly 2500 years ago while the Jews were living in Persia. Haman convinces the king to annihilate the Jews, but through the wisdom of Mordecai and Esther, and with the grace of God, the Jews were saved … leading to rejoicing and celebrating, which we commemorate to this very day. In fact, rejoicing is such an integral part of Purim that our sages ordained that on this day we are to fulfill what, to me, is the nicest and certainly the most popular rabbinic decree: On Purim, say our sages, one is obligated to drink enough alcohol until – in the words of our sages – “Ad d’lo yodah ben arur Haman l’boruch Mordechai” – until one can no longer differentiate between the phrase, “Cursed is Haman” and the phrase, “Blessed is Mordechai.” What a marvelous commandment! It seems as if we are obligated to get drunk! Even those Jews who usually don’t follow the laws of our rabbis, must find some attraction to this decree! READ MORE
This Shabbat, I will discuss Haman and the Hareidim. This is how I will begin my sermon: “I tell you now: if you stick around until the end of the sermon you’re going to hear me say something that you might find shocking, coming from me …”
I usually pick the subject for my sermon, but not today! Today you picked it! I was
asked the question enough times, pressured to give my response … so here goes.
The question: Is a giraffe kosher?
Okay–the truth is, not all that many of you asked this question. The truth is, NONE of you asked this question! But I gave it some thought because a giraffe recently made news around the world.
First, is a giraffe kosher? Answer: yes! The Torah lists ten animals that are kosher …
the tenth one listed is the zemer – which is translated in the King James Version
as the “chamois.” But according to rabbinic tradition, the zemer was a giraffe. And besides, the Torah gives us two qualifying factors that every kosher animal must have; it must have split hooves and chew its cud. The giraffe has both. So, why don’t we eat the giraffe? Some think it is because we don’t know exactly where on its neck to slaughter it, but the truth is, the giraffe’s neck provides a better target than the neck of a cow! Why don’t we eat it? Well, it has something to do with cost, and it has something to do with taste, and it has something to do with catching it! You go try to catch a giraffe! They are amongst the most difficult animals to restrain.
But I know of one giraffe that would have been very happy to have been killed by a
Jewish shochet. The giraffe’s name is Marius. Marius’ slaughter in Copenhagen made news around the world last month when the Danish zookeepers decided that they didn’t need Marius anymore because they didn’t consider him genetically compatible with other zoos and wanted to prevent in-breeding. I have no idea what that means, but what I do know–and everyone around the world was shown–was that Marius
was taken and cut into pieces in front of zoo-goers, including young children. His meat was then thrown to the lions to devour. READ MORE