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Posts Tagged ‘anti-Semitism’

SERMON: Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman

Our Torah reading this morning is every rabbi’s dream. There is so much in it worthy of talking about, starting with the kindling of the menorah, the role of the Leviim, the concept of Pesach Sheini, two upside down “nuns” bracketing the words of the “Vayehi binsoa ha-aron” – the words we say every time we remove the Torah scroll from the Ark. And then comes the good stuff … the Jews, complaining for a change! And to top it all off, Miriam speaking loshon hara about her brother, Moshe. Every incident is worthy of a sermon, but today I want to discuss something in the Torah portion that is usually overlooked, surprisingly so, because it makes up 10 verses that formed the basis of a Jewish holiday. It begins with the words, “On the day … the Tabernacle was set up the cloud covered the Tabernacle that was a tent of the testimony, and in the evening there would be upon the Tabernacle like a fiery appearance until morning. So it would always be the cloud would cover it and appearance of fire at night.” The verses go on to tell us how that cloud guided and protected the Jewish people through their journey in the wilderness. READ MORE

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SERMON: Eyeless in Gaza

If you want to know exactly what is going on at the border separating Gaza from Israel, I can explain it in 15 words – 15 words found in this morning’s Torah portion. Here they are:
Y’var-ekh’cha Hashem v’yeesh’m’recha:
Ya-eir Hashem pa-nav ei-ley-cha vee-chu-nei-cha:
Yee-sa Hashem pa-nav ei-lay-cha v’ya-sem l’cha sha-lom
May the Lord bless you and protect you:
May the Lord show you kindness and be gracious to you:
May the Lord bestow favor upon you and grant you peace.
That, in a nutshell, says it all! Let me explain. 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: Anti-Semitism: Do We Have a Problem?

Benny was right all along … I should have known it!

Rabbi Benjamin Blech is one of the most widely regarded teachers and preachers within the Orthodox Jewish world. He is a professor at Yeshiva University, the author of books on topics ranging from the Sistine Chapel to the mystical meaning of the Jewish alphabet! His book, The Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Judaism, is the clearest and easiest explanation of the fundamentals of Judaism that I know of. Even I understand the book!

The truth is, I understand most anything and everything Rabbi Blech has taught me. In a very real sense, he has been my most important teacher. Our connection goes back all the way to when I was in the 6th grade at Yeshiva Toras Emes and his father, of blessed memory, was my rebbe. Just about the same time, at summer camp, I fell in love with my beautiful waitress who turned out to be his girlfriend and now his wife! For many summers, he was a teacher at Camp Morasha while I was a teacher at nearby Camp B’nai B’rith. I would spend hours with my tape recorder just listening to him expound on Jewish topics. What did he have to say? You already know it! You’ve heard it in my sermons over the years. Strangely enough, in recent weeks, I kept thinking about something he wrote more than 40 years ago in New York’s Newsday newspaper, words that I could not identify with at the time, and thought were off base. I called and asked Benny to send me a copy of the article and after reading it, I realize how right he was. READ MORE

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SERMON: Post-Obama, Pre-Trump: Lessons for American Jews

January 10, 2017 Leave a comment

This is the time of year when pundits make predictions for the future. I am definitely not going to do that! Who would have predicted at this time last year that the so-called “civilized world” would stand by when hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians were being gassed and bombed? Who ever imagined that Britain would vote to pull out of the European Union? And then, of course, there’s Donald Trump. Many still can’t believe it! We are living in a world in turmoil, and there is really no way of predicting what the future may bring. I, for one, can do little – if anything – to set the world straight. But I can do something regarding the Jewish people! I can have an effect on the future. Not by predicting it – even I don’t claim to be a prophet – but by correcting some of the mistakes that our people have made in the past year in the hope that it won’t happen again in the year ahead. READ MORE

SERMON: EMUNAH: Believe it or not …

November 15, 2016 Leave a comment

On this day, obviously, there is only one thing on my mind, and one thing for me to talk about … and that is emunah. But not THAT Emuna, although I could talk about her for hours! This morning I want to talk to you about the emunah that is so much a part of our tradition and which many of us, as Americans and Jews, have lost. In the authoritative Alcalay Hebrew dictionary the definition of emunah is “confidence, consciousness, honesty, religion, faith, doctrine, creed, belief and trust.” Any way you look at it, our country is going through a serious crisis of emunah. READ MORE

SERMON: Orlando and Pulse, Tel Aviv and Sarona, Settlers and Jihad … and lots more…

For us as American Jews, we have been hit with a double whammy. First, there was the terror attack at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv, killing four people. I have been to the Sarona Market … it’s new and it’s beautiful and just the right atmosphere to enjoy a leisurely evening. But the terrorists didn’t see it that way.

And then, just a few days later all of us as Americans were crushed and devastated by the terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. It is a place where people can go and be themselves and enjoy themselves. But the terrorist did not see it that way.

The terrorists, separated by thousands of miles, did see everything the same way … through the eyes of Radical Islam. President Obama seems to be the only one unable to say it, but everyone knows it. READ MORE