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Posts Tagged ‘High Holidays’

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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SERMON: 1517, 1897, 1917, 1947, 1967 … 2017 and Tomorrow

October 3, 2017 Leave a comment

There is something about these moments of Kol Nidre that are unlike any other time of the Jewish year. No matter how distant a Jew feels from his Judaism, Kol Nidre still enters his soul. Who knows what it is that makes Kol Nidre so meaningful? It’s true, its melody is haunting. But its words, which are not even in Hebrew, but Aramaic, are a plain, simple annulment of vows. Indeed, at one point in our history the rabbis wanted to change some of the words but they couldn’t because the Cantors protested. Cantors are always protesting! READ MORE

SERMON: Best Wishes for a Positive New Year

September 26, 2017 Leave a comment

With a full heart I welcome all of you as we usher in this New Year by asking you a question: What do climate change, terrorism, Brexit, ISIS, North Korea, Neo-Nazis, Obamacare, Russian collusion and Donald Trump all have in common? Answer: I’m not going to talk about any of them! You can sit back and relax! We have all heard enough! It has been pointed out that the purpose of a sermon is either to disturb the comfortable or comfort the disturbed! It feels as if we have heard enough disturbing news and events in the past year to last us a lifetime! So today I want to help comfort you … and it’s not going to be easy! Political analysts and sociologists have started calling us “the anxious generation.” We have switched from Prozac for depression to Xanax for anxiety. READ MORE

SERMON: Yom Kippur Yizkor – LOVE the TIME of Your LIFE

October 14, 2016 Leave a comment

I am going to talk to you today about three brothers, three “tens” and three four-letter words. But first I want to focus on two people!

A few years back Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sachs, was scheduled to speak in our synagogue. Beforehand I received a call from his assistant telling me that Chief Rabbi Lord Sachs and Lady Sachs would be pleased to have lunch with me and my wife. I immediately replied that I was available but that I would have to check with Lady Wohlberg! Today I want to tell you about Lady Wohlberg and I and a question I asked myself this year. It’s a question I suspect many of you have asked at some point in your life: should I have stayed or gone? READ MORE

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SERMON: Kol Nidre – Trump and Clinton, You and Me

October 14, 2016 Leave a comment

For all of us as Jews, hinei baw yom hadin – behold the Day of Judgment has arrived. But for all of us as Americans there is another day of judgment this year: Nov. 8th, when we choose the next president of the U.S. So, who are you going to vote for? Knowing my interest in politics and my concerns for the security of Israel, I don’t remember a time when more congregants have asked me that question than this year.

This year the choice we all confront is choosing a candidate who the majority of American people don’t like. On July 29th, William Ziegler died in New Orleans. His family put the following death notice in the local newspaper: “William Ziegler escaped this mortal realm on Friday, July 29, 2016 at the age of 69. We think he did it on purpose to avoid having to make a decision in the pending presidential election.” In fact, in a Public Policy Poll when voters were asked if they would rather have Clinton, Trump or a meteor strike the earth, 13 percent chose the meteor; 7 percent were undecided! READ MORE

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SERMON: ROSH HASHANAH – Uncle Bernie and the Jewish Problem

October 5, 2016 Leave a comment

Down through the ages, we Jews ushered in every New Year with the words from our liturgy: “Tichleh shana v’killoloso teichal shana u’birkoso – may the old year end with all its curses; may the New Year begin with all its blessings.” But I think that this year, for all of us as Americans and as Jews, more appropriate words come from the 60’s rock group, Buffalo Springfield: “There’s something happening here … what it is ain’t exactly clear …” Something is going on in our country … a discontent, a deep division, extending from the Board Room to the bathroom, that has provided us with two candidates for the nation’s highest office – both of whom have more people who dislike them than like them, with American Jews wondering which one could be more trusted when it comes to Israel and with Americans in general echoing those words from Buffalo Springfield: “There’s something happening here … what it is ain’t exactly clear …” READ MORE

SERMON: Groupthink

October 5, 2016 Leave a comment

The days and weeks leading up to the High Holy Days are quite hectic and stressful for a rabbi. Traditionally we refer to the High Holy Days as “Yamim Noraim – the Days of Awe,” but my father used to say that for rabbis the better translation was: “Awful Days.” There is a lot of pressure and tension leading up to these days as a rabbi prepares. What can a rabbi do for a few hours that will take his mind off the High Holy Day pressure? Well, I can’t tell you what other rabbis do, but I can tell you what I did. A week ago I took my boys to Philadelphia to see AC/DC! Now, I know that to some of you, AC/DC refers to “electrical current” … AC – alternating current and DC – direct current. But for those of us in the know, AC/DC is an iconic, classic rock band … one of the favorites of my youth. And to this day, I have an AC/DC poster in my office at home and my ringtone on my iPhone is AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” … a common one amongst rabbis! READ MORE