SERMON: Barack Obama, Brian Williams … and Me

It was in the summer of 1968. The Vietnam War was raging and I had just received my rabbinic ordination … which I thought meant that I would be deferred from the draft. But a few weeks after receiving my ordination, I got my draft notice and 6 months later I found myself in a helicopter gunship flying over the Mekong Delta with my co-pilot – a nice kid from New Jersey named Brian Williams.

Wait! On further reflection, maybe it wasn’t the Mekong Delta … it was Manhattan. And maybe it wasn’t a helicopter gunship … but a 1964 Buick. And maybe my co-pilot wasn’t Brian Williams … but my wife, Sherry. That’s what happens when you “misremember.” READ MORE

Wishful Thinking

February 27, 2015 Leave a comment

BW RW moonThis Shabbat, I’ll talk about “Barack Obama, Brian Williams …
and Me.” Don’t Brian and I look good together?

Here are some articles to read before then:

Ben Cardin’s creative proposal for tax reform, The Washington Post
A credibility gapThe Washington Post
Rock, Paper, Scissors of PC Victimology, Tablet Magazine

Just wait until you see what I’m wearing for Purim… see you on Wednesday and Thursday at BT!

Shabbat shalom!

Mr. Netanyahu Goes to Washington – Yes or No?

February 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Okay, class. Here is the question for today: should Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3rd?

First, let me first provide the background. The Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner, invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress about negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program. To date, the negotiations have passed their deadline, with a new extended deadline approaching. There are many in Congress, as well as Israel’s leaders, who feel that the threat of more sanctions can help push Iran into making necessary concessions. Others, including President Obama and some world leaders, argue that Congress resolving to add more sanctions would only push the Iranians away from the table. Everyone agrees that Iran going nuclear will be a threat to Israel, yes … but throughout the Middle East and  way beyond as well. READ MORE

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Should Mr. Netanyahu Go to Washington?

February 12, 2015 Leave a comment

This Shabbat, I’ll look at the various opinions on Bibi’s planned speech before a joint meeting of Congress on March 3.

But first…you should read these articles:

Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress now dominates Israeli elections, The Washington Post

Why Benjamin Netanyahu Is Right on Speech to Congress, The Jewish Daily Forward

The emerging Iran nuclear deal raises major concernsThe Washington Post

Kayla Mueller, Self-Sacrificing, Misguided Humanitarian, Brutally Murdered by SavagesIndependent Sentinel

SERMON: Predictions for the Future

January 5, 2015 Leave a comment

When Jews usher in the New Year on Rosh Hashanah we recite the words: “May the old year end with all its curses … may the New Year begin with all of its blessings.” Those words are most appropriate for us as Americans and as Jews as we usher in the New Year of 2015. New York Times columnist, Russ Douthat, writes: “There have been worse years in recent history but 2014 definitely stands out for the sheer variety of awfulness.” Yes, Ebola in Africa, cyber warfare with N. Korea, Russia’s seizing Crimea and part of the Ukraine, civil war in Syria, slaughter in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, the rise of ISIS in Iraq, anti-Semitism throughout Europe, a failed Middle East peace effort, and still no nuclear deal with Iran. And need I remind you, they still have not found Malaysian flight 370.

So what will the New Year bring …more of the same or better news? It is not easy to say. It was the great thinker and philosopher, Yogi Berra, who once said: “It’s tough to make predictions–especially about the future.” READ MORE

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SERMON: The Movie “Exodus” and the Miracle of Schmaltz

December 22, 2014 Leave a comment

This year is unique because during the festival of Chanukah, I have to speak to you about the exodus from Egypt, because of last week’s opening of the movie “Exodus, Gods and Kings.”

I am not much of a movie goer. The last time I went to the movies was back in August; Sherry and I walked out in the middle. Now it is listed as one of the best movies of the year! It’s hard to get us to sit through a movie … Sherry won’t go unless she knows the movie’s ending and I won’t go if it has aliens or vampires! But the movie “The Exodus” seems right for both of us! Sherry could go knowing the ending beforehand, and I figured that as a rabbi I could get a sermon out of it! So someday I might see it, but for now here is the sermon.

The movie did not get good reviews and its opening week was well below projections. That’s for you and movie critics to decide. I speak of the movie because of articles that I had seen that spoke specifically to the religious nature of the movie. It started with a large article in the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 5 entitled: “How did Moses part the Red Sea? The science of tides may have saved the Israelites from the Egyptians.” The article took note of the fact that this movie looked much different than Cecil B. DeMille’s classic “The Ten Commandments.” In that that movie, Charlton Heston – with God on his side – parted the Sea into two huge walls of water. This new version seems to take God out of the equation … it seems to take the miracles out of the picture. In this movie, the waters part as a result of a tsunami caused by an earthquake. So Glenn Beck proclaims: “And the miracles … they are all explainable, natural occurrences. I think this is a very subversive movie for religion.” Entertainment Weekly describes it: “Director Ridley Scott looked to science, not miracles, to part the Red Sea.” Another commentator describes it as having taken place “in accordance with the way of the world; that the wind dries out and parches the rivers.” Indeed, the plagues themselves seem to be little more than natural occurrences and ecological disasters. What happened to the supernatural? What happened to the miracles?  READ MORE

Shabbat Chanukah Suggested Reading

December 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Get ready for Shabbat with these suggested readings!

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