SERMON: Jacob, Kelly Ann Conway and Alternate Facts

November 20, 2017 Leave a comment
alternative-facts-facebookIn my office at home I have something like 2,500-3,000 books, most of them on topics of Jewish interest. Out of all of those books, one stands out as perhaps being the most valuable. It is almost impossible to purchase a new copy of it. On Amazon it sells for $300. All it is is a paperback published less than 20 years ago entitled Lying for Truth by Nosson Slifkin. Rabbi Slifkin became a cause celebre in the Jewish world some five or so years ago when another book he had written entitled, The Challenge of Creation, was banned by a group of ultra-Orthodox rabbis. This, despite the fact that the book had a forward from Rabbi Zvi Hersh Winereb, someone all of us highly respect, who was then the executive vice president of the Orthodox Union. Why was the book banned? Because Rabbi Slifkin had told the truth! The truth that rabbis down through the ages had questioned the veracity of scientific statements made in the Talmud, and that it is very legitimate to believe from a halachic perspective that the world is more than 5,700 years old. Banned for telling the truth! READ MORE

SERMON: Thank God for Not Making Me a Woman: Reflections on Harvey Weinstein

November 14, 2017 Leave a comment

There is a blessing Jewish men are supposed to recite every morning amongst other blessings, where we declare, “Blessed Art Thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has not made me a woman.” It is safe to say that this is amongst the most controversial and criticized words in all of Jewish tradition. There are several explanations for the meaning of the blessing, but the bottom line is, if I were a woman, I would find the words deeply offensive. But as you all know, I am not a woman… and I still find the words deeply offensive! However, I must, in all honesty, confess that in recent weeks based on the news, I have found myself thinking, “Thank God for not making me a woman.” READ MORE

SERMON: Was the Flood a Hoax? Is Climate Change a Hoax?

October 24, 2017 Leave a comment
Is climate change a hoax?

Is climate change a hoax?

During Sukkot, in one of my sermons, I did a terrible thing. I said something bad about Rush Limbaugh … and for some, that’s an unpardonable sin. I pointed out that when Hurricane Irma was heading toward Florida, Rush told his listeners that the threat of the hurricane was a hoax … just as climate change was a hoax. It didn’t matter that I had tried to be even-handed in the sermon by pointing out how liberal Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein had also made a fool out of herself in another matter – but that didn’t matter! The bottom line for some of you, anything said against a conservative or Republican rubs you the wrong way. READ MORE

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SERMON: Thank God for Jared Kushner

October 18, 2017 Leave a comment


It is a question which has divided the world of philosophers for thousands of years. But, thank God, because of Jared Kushner we now know who was right! The whole underpinnings of western philosophy come from three men who lived 2,500 years ago. You all know their names: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. What many people don’t know is that Plato was a student of Socrates and that Aristotle was a student of Plato. So, within a 100 year period, these three giants had a profound effect on the way we think to this very day. READ MORE

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SERMON: What to Save When It’s “Gone With the Wind” … and the Rain

October 18, 2017 Leave a comment

what-would-you-save-fbThis holiday of Shemini Atzeret is marked by just one special prayer. All the other prayers we recite are recited on every holiday. What makes Shemini Atzeret unique is the one prayer we recite during Musaf: the prayer for geshem – the prayer for rain. It’s a prayer that speaks of the power of water in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses and Aaron; and of the collective people of Israel. It’s a prayer we recite every year with the land of Israel in mind; a prayer hoping that with the coming of the winter months there will be rain in Israel to supply that country the water that is so necessary for its life. READ MORE

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SERMON: Am I a Liberal or a Conservative?

October 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Let me ask you a question. Do you think I’m a Republican, or a Democrat? A liberal or a conservative? I have been delivering sermons here at Beth Tfiloh for 39 years now. There is hardly a subject I can think of that I have not spoken about – from Iraq to Iran, from Obama to Trump, from homosexuality to hurricanes, from abortion to anti-Semitism, from J Street to Worth Avenue, from liberals to conservatives. And I have spoken about these subjects with a bit more clarity and outspokenness than most rabbis. That is because of YOU! That’s because you have allowed me to express my feelings! So, you know where I stand. Having said that, do you think, deep down, that I’m a liberal or a conservative? Come on, raise your hands! Would it help if I tell you that in the last six presidential elections, three times I voted Democratic and three times I voted Republican? READ MORE

SERMON: Remembering What to Forget

October 3, 2017 Leave a comment

In these moments before Yizkor, when we are called upon to remember, let me see how good your memory is. Over the years I’ve told you some humorous stories to start this sermon. Let’s see if you remember this one from seven years ago. READ MORE

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