SERMON: Are We Family?

One Jewish FamilyToday is Pesach … tomorrow is Easter. Thinking about this put a smile on my face. I thought about those who have chosen to be Jews for Jesus, and the incredible choice they had to make this weekend. Should they go to shul, or go to church? Should they have the sacramental wine and wafer, or the Manischewitz wine and matzah? Should they dip an egg in salt water, or paint an egg and roll it down the hill? I smiled, thanking God that I don’t have to make such agonizing choices!

But I also smiled for another reason. Here is Pesach and there is Easter … and we Jews don’t have a worry in the world. The fact of the matter is that down through the centuries the coming of Pesach and Easter was the time when thousands of Jews fell victim to bloodthirsty mobs inspired by bigoted priests. There was a time when Pesach and Easter coinciding brought terror into Jewish homes. There was a time when the Seder would be interrupted by mobs who came looking for the bodies of Christian children. There was a time when Christians were told in church that Jews made matzah with the blood of Christian children.

So there is much for us to smile about when Pesach and Easter come together. Look how far we have come! Look how far we have come from that fear. Look how times have changed – from “Christ killers” we’ve become “brothers in faith,” with popes who used to condemn us now placing notes of prayers in our people’s most sacred spot, the Western Wall. READ MORE

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SERMON: #NeverTrump

gift horse fb

I want you to pay attention to what I’m about to say, because people who aren’t here won’t believe that I said it! So here goes – today I have something nice to say about President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

As many of you know, I did not and would not vote for them. I find Donald Trump a grossly indecent human being. His leadership is a form of government best described as a kakistocracy. And if you don’t know what that means … we are all better off! I could spend several days telling you why I strongly oppose him, but that would be a waste of your time, and mine. We are all entitled to our opinions. But despite the fact that I don’t approve of much of what Trump and Pence stand for, today I rise to defend them from attacks coming from one particular group – American Jews. Recently, President Trump and Vice President Pence have been criticized by American Jews because of the slap in the face they gave to the Jewish people. Pence, by the speech he gave to Israel’s Knesset; Trump, by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. For some Jews these were unpardonable sins. READ MORE

SERMON: Women, Guns and the Slippery Slope

slippery slopes

Today I want to talk to you about the slippery slope. The slippery slope is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “a course of action that seems to lead inevitably from one action or result to another with unintended consequences.” Jewish tradition describes it a bit differently, with the classic story about the man who, before his wedding, goes and asks the rabbis just what is permissible between him and his soon-to-be wife. “Go ahead, ask, ask,” the rabbi said. The man asked question upon question, about whether one thing or another was okay. To each inquiry the rabbi responded, “Yes, that is fine, between a man and his wife, it’s all fine.” The man was relieved and so he asked about more and more erotic things; about each, the rabbi said it was fine. It was all fine until the man mentioned one last thing that he assumed would be fine like all the previous questions he asked. But, surprisingly, the rabbi said: “No, halachically that is forbidden!” “Tell me, rabbi, why is this last thing not permissible if all the other things were?” The rabbi replied, “That last one is no good because it can lead to mixed dancing!” READ MORE

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SERMON: Is Our President a Genius?

genius vs good

Is Donald Trump a genius? He thinks he is! He has said so on numerous occasions. But, as a taxi driver in Israel pointed out, even Einstein never called himself a genius. But Trump has called himself a genius, and many people agree with him! According to one poll, 50% of the Republicans polled consider him a genius. You can certainly make a case for this. After all, you don’t become a billionaire and president of the United States by being a fool. Trump himself said it, “I went from very successful businessman, to a top TV star … to president of the United States. I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that.” And yet, it is reported that Trump’s own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has called him a “moron,” his Treasury Secretary, Menuchin has described him as “an idiot,” and his National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, has called him “a dope.” So which is it? Genius or dope? I have to be honest and admit that I am not a genius … so I’m not the one who can tell whether Trump is one or not. READ MORE

SERMON: God’s Cossacks: Force-fed Judaism

Something historic took place on the festival of Purim, and we Jews didn’t even celebrate it! Yes, everyone knows that Purim was the day we were saved from annihilation by Haman. That we celebrated. But there is something else that took place that day that affects us to this very day. You know what happened on Purim day? The Jews accepted the Torah! That’s right! It happened on Purim! You thought it happened on Shavuot at Mt. Sinai. But no, it happened on Purim in Persia. Allow me to explain because the explanation may give some insight into what motivated the Jews to build the Golden Calf, and indeed it might help us understand how Jews should be treating each other today. READ MORE

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SERMON: Zachor – Poland and the Holocaust

February 27, 2018 Leave a comment

Today is a special Sabbath in the Jewish calendar–the Shabbat before Purim is noted as Shabbat Zachor – the Shabbat on which we are commanded to zachor – remember – what our archenemy, Amalek, did to us. So important is this that the same paragraph that starts with the commandment for us to “zachor – remember” concluded with the words, “lo tishkach – don’t forget.”

This morning I want to tell you three stories. After you hear them, you might have a better understanding of what the difference is between “remembering” and “not forgetting,” while also understanding the mistake the Polish government recently made regarding the Holocaust, and why we, American Jews, today must both “remember” and “not forget.” READ MORE

SERMON: Don’t Jump to Conclusions

February 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Don't Jump to ConclusionsToday I want to tell you about a person who is one of the best known woman in the Jewish world, and I suspect that none of you present have ever heard her name. Her name is Sivan Rahav-Meir. See? I told you! You’ve never heard of her. All she is, is a prime time anchor woman, a columnist for Israel’s most popular newspaper, a biblical scholar and author, has 130,000 followers on Facebook, and to top it off, she’s a rebbitzin! And you’ve never heard of her!

 

Sivan Rahav-Meir was born and raised in a secular home in Herzliya. At 18 she entered the army, having already completed a bachelor’s degree in political science. In the army she served as a reporter for the Israel Defense Forces radio station, after which she grew increasingly observant and met her husband, the rabbi, who was also a newspaper columnist. Today she is a prime time anchorwoman on Israel’s Channel 2, a radio show host and a columnist for Israel’s most popular newspaper, Yediot Acharanot. While on maternity leave for her fifth child she began to feel bored by her interviews with the Knesset and the Supreme Court of Israel’s political leaders. So she began to give lectures on Jewish subjects, specifically on the Torah portion of the week. One week she had one million readers on her website, and now she gives a weekly lecture which is attended by 1,000 people, with 130,000 following on Facebook and another 10,000 subscribers to her daily WhatsApp Torah thought. She put her thoughts on the weekly Torah portion into a book which became a bestseller in Israel, and now is available in English entitled, #Parasha.

Why do I tell you all this? Because what she has to say about this week’s Torah portion provides me with a thought on a subject that has been uppermost in my mind in recent weeks, but which I can’t talk about … but she can! Her Torah thought on this week’s Torah portion is entitled, “Don’t Jump to Conclusions.” READ MORE