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Posts Tagged ‘Bashar Assad’

SERMON: Refugees: Then and Now

October 7, 2015 Leave a comment

We can all picture the images before our eyes. They are fleeing, not by the hundreds and not by the thousands, not by the tens of thousands… they are fleeing by the millions. History will never be the same! Of course, I am referring to the two million refugees who fled the land of Egypt, whose travails we remember during this festival of Sukkot, when the Jews having fled the bondage of Egypt, found themselves not in Hungary, not in Germany and not in Turkey… but in a wilderness, living in booths for 40 years.

We Jews are sensitive to the plight of refugees for a good part of our history that is just what we’ve been – refugees – from Egypt, Israel, England, Spain and on and on. And then came the Holocaust when the world would not even allow Jews to become refugees… when all doors were slammed in our faces by the civilized world. So what we now see taking place in the Middle East, across the Mediterranean Sea and entering Europe, cannot help but touch us as Jews and as Americans; a country made up in large part of refugees. READ MORE

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SERMON: Yom Kippur – Never? Again!

September 16, 2013 Leave a comment

A week before Rosh Hashana I received a phone call from one of Maryland’s U.S. Senators. I am not going to tell you which one, but HE said he was calling to wish me a happy New Year. I told him that I thought that was so nice that in return I promised that he and his wife, Myrna, could come to services and not worry that I was going to give a political sermon. That was THEN. But a lot has happened since then involving Syria. It is something that, as a rabbi, I feel I have to talk about. But I’m not going to make it political … I’m going to try and make it religious. What position should we, as Jews, take in regard to a response to the Assad regime’s having gassed its own people? It just so happens that the answer to that goes to the very essence of why tonight and tomorrow are Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – the holiest day for the Jewish people.

The Torah tells us that on the tenth day of Tishrei, “you shall afflict your souls.” But why on the tenth day of Tishrei? Rosh Hashana is on the first of Tishrei because that’s the day of creation. Pesach is on the fifteenth of Nissan because that was the day of the exodus from Egypt. But why of all days was the tenth day of Tishrei chosen to be the Day of atonement? Answer our sages: a great moment in time took place on that day. It was on that day that the Torah tells us: “Vayomer Hashem salachti kidverecha –“And God said: I have forgiven as you asked.” It was on this day that God forgave the Jews for the sin of
the Golden Calf. READ MORE

SERMON: What Were They Thinking?

The recent behavior of two rabbis caused me to email one of our synagogue’s “wise men,” Searle Mitnick, and ask him if it is possible that I am the only moral Orthodox rabbi in the world? It took Searle a while to respond, but his response was: “You may be the only one left standing.” Yes, I’m still standing! I want to talk to you today about these two rabbis, and some others, rabbis and not rabbis, and ask you the deeply profound, philosophically engaging question: What were they thinking?

Michael Broyde is one of the most important Modern Orthodox rabbis in America. He is so important that he was on the short list of those who were recently considered for the position of Chief Rabbi of England. Broyde is a rabbi in Atlanta and a recognized halachic scholar, to the point that he serves as a judge on the Beth Din of the Rabbinical Council of America – the most important Orthodox rabbinic group. As if this is not enough, he is also a full professor of law at Emory University. Recently it came to light that Rabbi Broyde, using a fake name, had joined another Modern Orthodox rabbinic organization … giving him access to all of its rabbi’s confidential comments. He would write in his own opinions on these matters under the false name. As if that isn’t enough, it also came to light that Rabbi Broyde would write letters to journals where he had contributed scholarly articles and using his false name would compliment Rabbi Broyde for his intellectual wisdom! You tell me: what was he thinking? READ MORE

Homosexuality: Can You Change Human Nature?

A few weeks ago a member of our synagogue came to see me and told me their son had “come out of the closet.” He openly declared that he is gay! At first, our member was shocked to hear this news, but soon enough, made peace with the fact. Now our member – and others –are involved in establishing a support group for Jewish parents of gay children. Next Sunday at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation an Israeli movie will be shown on this subject, followed by a panel discussion involving rabbis and an academician. They already had a Conservative and Reform rabbi on the panel and they wanted an Orthodox one. Homosexuality is a very “loaded” issue in the Orthodox community and it was felt that someone from Beth Tfiloh – with our more liberal and open approach – might be best suited to appear. I replied that I wanted to be completely supportive of the endeavor, I recognize this is an issue that the Orthodox community is reluctant to deal with but must, and I said that certainly one of our rabbis would appear on the panel. READ MORE