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Archive for November, 2011

Four Dialogues

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Rebecca & Isaac, Sarkozy & Obama, Kissinger & Garment, Justices Kagan & Ginsburg

One night a man got into trouble when his wife informed him that the day had gone by and he had forgotten her birthday. He told her how sorry he was, and said he would do anything to make up for it. She immediately said, “All right, tomorrow there better be something in the driveway for me that goes from zero to 200 in two seconds flat, or you’re in for it.” The next morning the wife awoke early, and looking out her bedroom window saw a small package in the driveway. She was a bit perturbed, as this was not what she was expecting. She went out and retrieved the package and upon opening it, found a handsome brand new bathroom scale! The funeral for her husband took place earlier this week.

According to the dictionary, a dialogue is “an exchange between two people of ideas or opinions on a particular issue, with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement.” But not every dialogue – as we just heard – works out that way. On this Thanksgiving weekend I want to draw your attention to four dialogues that have received attention in recent weeks, and see what we can learn from them. READ MORE

Joe Paterno, the Catholic Church and the Jewish Community

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Knowing that there were going to be children in the synagogue this morning I hesitated in delivering this sermon. But I decided to do it anyway because, after all is said and done, the purpose of this sermon is to protect our children.

It is not just the sports world but American society that has been shocked by the revelations that have come out of Penn State University regarding former defensive coordinator on the renowned Penn State football team, Jerry Sandusky, who stands accused of molesting numerous boys over a 15 year period. Penn State University’s football team – the Nittany Lions – is one of the most highly respected football programs in the nation under the leadership of 85 year old Joe Paterno – the winningest coach in college football history. What makes the recent revelations most appalling is the realization that college officials, including Paterno, knew about the accusations for at least 10 years and did close to nothing about it, leaving youth unprotected to Sandusky, the predator. The fallout from this lurid story had led to the firing of Penn State’s President and the fabled Joe Paterno. Many have expressed sorrow that such a legendary coach’s career should have such a tragic ending. Forgive me for saying it, but I don’t feel sorry for him at all. He was part of the problem. I feel sorry for the children who lost their innocence because Paterno just didn’t “get it.” READ MORE

Categories: Uncategorized

Two Sides to Every Story…

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment

It is said that “there are two sides to every story”…  here is living proof of it!

  • Ronen Bergman believes that despite his Netanyahu comments, French President Sarkozy is a great friend of Israel: Our friend in Paris
  • And on the other side… Emmanuel Navon, International Relations Lecturer at Tel Aviv University and author of numerous books on Israel’s foreign policy, states, “Sarkozy’s attitude toward Israel is indistinguishable from that of his predecessors…” in Sarkozy, c’est fini

And finally, watch this video debate between Elliot Jager and Larry Derfner on the likelihood of an Israeli attack on Iran, media reporting on the issue, and the international implications all around.

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A Mixture of Religion and Politics

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment

We Jews are supposed to be smart people. And it would seem to be true! In the past century 20% of all Nobel laureates have been Jews. We’re only ¼ of one percent of the world’s population, but 20% of the Nobel Prize winners. In this year, 2011, five of the eleven Nobel Prize winners that have been named are Jews. That is 45% who are Jews! So, yes, it would seem as if we are smart. But between you and me … I’m not so sure!

This morning I want to test you and see just how smart you are. I’m going to ask you a series of questions and let’s see if you know the answers:
1. What religious group in America is most liked?
2. What religious group in America do we Jews most dislike?
3. What American religious group is most knowledgeable about other religions?
4. Are Mormons really Christians?
5. Who was the first convert we Jews rejected?
6. Why do Evangelicals like the Jewish people?
7. What are the names of the people who first said the words, “Boruch Hashem?”
8. Who was Maimonides?

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Sneak Preview…Questions to be answered in tomorrow’s sermon:

November 11, 2011 Leave a comment

These are the questions to be answered in my sermon tomorrow:

1. What religious group in America is most liked?
2. What religious group in America do we Jews most dislike?
3. What American religious group is most knowledgeable about other religions?
4. Are Mormons really Christians?
5. Who was the first convert we Jews rejected?
6. Why do Evangelicals like the Jewish people?
7. What are the names of the people who first said the words, “Boruch Hashem?”
8. Who was Maimonides?

Categories: Sermons

What’s an Israeli Life Worth?

November 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Don’t wait until Sunday to read this article … it’s worth reading now! Gilad Shalit and the Rising Price of an Israeli Life in the New York Times, by Yedioth Ahronoth’s political and military analyst Ronen Bergman.

For those of you who support NPR, and subscribe to Time Magazine – both of which have a long time anti-Israel bias – the following article is worth considering: A French Lesson in Free Speech

What’s the secret to a successful marriage?

November 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Our question for today is the following: who is right – the Talmud or the Atlantic magazine? Rabbi Rackman or Rabbi Soloveitchik? The answer has serious ramifications for countless people.

Let me provide the setting. A serious problem in Jewish society is the problem of the Agunah – the “chained woman.” This refers to a woman whose husband refuses to give her a “get” – a Jewish divorce. According to the Torah, the husband’s agreement is necessary for divorce to take place. What if he refuses? She is “chained” … she is stuck. Now, in times gone by, this was not such a serious problem given the insular shtetl life in which most Jews found
themselves. The husband who refused to give his wife a “get” was either beaten up by her relatives, or had such a social stigma put on him that he finally would agree. But in modern times such solutions were no longer possible, and women were being forced to give in to their husbands demands – financial and custody rights – just to get the husband to agree to give the “get.”

In the 1970’s Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, of blessed memory, a leading Modern Orthodox rabbi, proposed a solution to this problem. He pointed out that Jewish law speaks of a mekach taos – a mistaken sale. What does that mean? If I purchase something from you and the item turns out to be flawed, I have the right to demand a cancellation of the sale. Similarly, argued Rabbi Rackman, if a woman gets married and then discovers her husband is an abusive person, she should have the right to annul the marriage, claiming it was a mistaken purchase. In Rabbi Rackman’s words, “Concealing an important fact in selling a piece of property can justify the annulment of the sale. The same argument can be applied with regard to a marriage.” There was only one problem with this halachic initiative. In the Talmud, quoting Resh Lakish, it says, “It is preferable to live as two than to dwell in widowhood,” which means that a woman would rather have any sort of husband than no husband. That even if the woman had known that the man was abusive, she still would have married him, because from her perspective … “something” is better than “nothing.” A woman would rather be married … no matter what! READ MORE