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Posts Tagged ‘High Holidays’

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

SERMON: The Tallit and the Flag … the Apple and the Honey

September 26, 2016 Leave a comment

In recent weeks I delivered a series of sermons on “learning” … Last week was what WE must learn. This week we had entitled, “Let’s Learn.” So with the coming of the High Holy Days, today you’re not going to believe how much you’re going to learn! You’re going to learn why Jewish kings were anointed by a spring; why we eat carrots on Rosh Hashanah and our challah is made round; what are the two stripes on the flag of Israel and why we beat our breasts on Yom Kippur. We are also going to learn whether Donald Trump should wear a tallit and if Colin Kaepernick should sit while the flag is displayed and the national anthem is played. So buckle your seat belts … here we go! READ MORE

SERMON: Kol Nidre

October 6, 2014 Leave a comment

We have heard enough bad news in the past year, so on this, the holiest night of the year, I bring you good news. Earlier this year the Anti-Defamation League conducted the largest ever world-wide survey of anti-Semitism. The survey covered over 100 countries around the globe containing about 85% of the world’s population. According to the results of the survey, 26% – or a little over one billion people in this world – have anti-Semitic attitudes. That’s the good news! What makes this news good are several factors: it’s only 26% … it’s only one billion people! But there was something else about the survey that, for me, was really good news. Of those one billion with anti-Semitic beliefs, 70% had never actually met a Jew! In Spain, for example, a country filled with anti-Semites, 20% of them could not even give a reason why they hate Jews! For me, all this was great news. READ MORE

SERMON: Where Has Joan Rivers Gone?

September 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Here at Beth Tfiloh we had a long time member, Irv Kroll–a man who came to worship here 365 days of the year–and who said to me from time to time, “Rabbi, come on. I listen to your eulogies and all your plaque dedications. You’re always saying how this one is special and that one’s outstanding and this one is unique … everybody’s so great. Come on, rabbi, get off of it!” And I always replied to him, “Don’t worry, Irv. When it comes your turn, I’ll lie about you, too!” When he passed away I didn’t have to lie about Irv. He was one of the Beth Tfiloh greats. But I will be stretching the truth about some of you! That’s human nature. We tend to exaggerate the merits of a person after they are gone.

Joan Rivers passed away last week and from the words of eulogy said about her, from Hollywood to Hoboken, you would have thought that this woman was a combination of Joan of Arc and Mother Theresa! Everyone seemed to have something good to say about her. And there was a lot of good to say! She was a trailblazer, and it seems from those who knew her, a genuinely goodhearted person. But I must tell you the truth: I was not one of her fans. READ MORE