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Posts Tagged ‘anti-Semitism’

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

SERMON: Why Do They Hate Us?

It happened to a man who died 60 years ago this past month and it is still studied and discussed by Jewish and Christian scholars alike. Most people are unaware of what happened, but it happened! Shockingly, indeed, unbelievably it happened … and people still wonder why it happened. Together let’s step back in time and recall the story of Rabbi Israel Zolli –the Chief Rabbi of Rome. Our story begins in June, 1944 when Rabbi Zolli, the Chief Rabbi, officiated at a Shabbat ceremony held in Rome’s central synagogue, the Tempio Maggiore, to commemorate the war dead and to celebrate the liberation of Rome from German occupation. Zolli delivered a message of hope, moving to tears many of the thousands of people who attended the ceremony. No one at the time could ever have imagined that nine months later, in February, 1945 an even larger crowd would gather in that very same synagogue for another ceremony … this time to sit shiva and to mourn for Rabbi Zolli who had not died, but had announced his conversion to Christianity. And not just him, but his wife as well! And to top it off, at his Baptism in the chapel of Santa Maria Degli Angeli, he took on the first name Eugenio, in honor of Pope Pius XII … referred to by some as “Hitler’s Pope.” READ MORE

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SERMON: Let’s Talk Politics: Obama, Trump … and Asara b’Tevet

December 21, 2015 Leave a comment

Every once in a while I mention in my sermons that I don’t like to discuss politics from the pulpit and many of you just sit there and giggle! Well, today I am going to talk politics from the pulpit, and what I have to say is nothing to laugh about. But in order for me, as a rabbi, to talk politics I first must disguise it by a D’var Torah regarding the Fast of Asara b’Tevet.

This Tuesday is a sad day in the Jewish calendar. It is the 10th day of Tevet and I think it is fair to say that most Jews don’t know – or don’t care – about that day. Really, how many of you who come to shul every Shabbat know what the Fast of Asara b’Tevet commemorates? Yet our tradition considers it a significant day. There were other fast days that our people used to commemorate which over the centuries were removed from the calendar. Indeed, there used to be fasts on the 8th and 9th of Tevet as well. We no longer observe them. After all, if we fasted every day that had a tragic event took place for the Jews, we would never have to go on a diet! But our rabbis kept the fast of the 10th day of Tevet, and in fact considered it so important that whereas other fast days, besides Yom Kippur, which come out on Shabbos are delayed. If Asara b’Tevet could fall on Shabbos, it would not be delayed. READ MORE

SERMON: The Pope or the Chief Rabbis; Who Would You Choose?

October 12, 2015 Leave a comment
Hassid Fliping the Bird

(Photo by Geralyn Shukwit)

It is said that one picture is worth a thousand words. If that be the case, the picture that appeared in the New York Post and went viral on the Internet before Yom Kippur speaks volumes about the contemporary Jewish condition and helps explain why I already miss the Pope, and perhaps provides the beginning of an answer to one of the greatest challenges confronting the Jewish people. (Now if you had trouble understanding that sentence, how do you think I feel?)

Let me explain. It took place two days before Yom Kippur at a time when Jews around the world have a custom of participating in the Kapparot ritual. The ritual itself has a long history of controversy and some great rabbis wish ed to completely ban it. The ritual used to involve a chicken … you swing a live chicken over your head, proclaiming in effect that you, yourself, deserve to die for your sins but instead this chicken will be put to death as expiation for your sins. Sort of, instead of a scapegoat … a scape chicken! READ MORE

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