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Posts Tagged ‘Yizkor’

SERMON: What to Save When It’s “Gone With the Wind” … and the Rain

October 18, 2017 Leave a comment

what-would-you-save-fbThis holiday of Shemini Atzeret is marked by just one special prayer. All the other prayers we recite are recited on every holiday. What makes Shemini Atzeret unique is the one prayer we recite during Musaf: the prayer for geshem – the prayer for rain. It’s a prayer that speaks of the power of water in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses and Aaron; and of the collective people of Israel. It’s a prayer we recite every year with the land of Israel in mind; a prayer hoping that with the coming of the winter months there will be rain in Israel to supply that country the water that is so necessary for its life. READ MORE

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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: Everybody is Somebody!

Thirty-three million people were watching it here in America, and countless millions around the world. It was a never-to-be-forgotten moment as the Academy Award for Best Picture was announced – the winner was La La Land. Then, amidst the victory speeches and accolades a commotion erupted on stage. By now we all know what happened! A mistake had been made. The envelope was switched and the real winner was Moonlight. But no one knew what to do – until one man stepped forward. Jordan Hurwitz, the producer of La La Land, took control while everyone else seemed paralyzed and confused. Hurwitz called Moonlight’s team up to the stage, handed over the statue and hugged the real winners.

We Jews have a name for people like Jordan Hurwitz. They are called “nachshonim” and we are reminded of where this name comes from during these last days of Pesach. Do you remember what happened when the Jews stood at the banks of the Red Sea? It happened on the 7th day of Pesach. If you don’t remember the Torah reading, you certainly remember the movie! The Jews have been liberated from Egypt and are on their way to the Promised Land when suddenly they are confronted with the swirling waters of the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian army behind them. So they cry out to God and what does God say? “Daber el b’nai Yisroel v’yisau – tell the Jewish people to go forward.” But no one moves! Everyone was fearful of drowning. When the Israelites stood at the edge of the Red Sea, none of the princes, the leaders, had faith in God; none wanted to go into the water. All the princes suddenly became very polite. Each one said to the other, “After you …” Suddenly, out of nowhere, comes along a man named Nachshon ben Aminadav, who, in an act of great faith and courage, plunged into the swirling waters. According to our tradition, because of Nachshon – and Nachshon alone – because of his courage, heroism and faith in God, the Almighty split the Red Sea, thus saving the entire Jewish people. The Jewish people have remembered Nachshon’s name ever since. This is why in modern Israel, the ones who go first, the ones who take the lead in a difficult or dangerous situations are called Nachshonim. 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: Something Nice to Say about Hillary and Donald

We have all been captivated, mesmerized, disgusted… call it what you want… by the Presidential nomination process we are in the midst of. During the lifetime of most of us, we have never experienced something quite like this–so divisive, so accusatory and sometimes downright malicious. One can think of so many names of prominent Americans who many–if not most of us–would find appealing, from Biden and Bloomberg to Ryan and Warren. And yet, it still seems to be coming down to two people–Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump–who have one thing in common: people don’t like them! According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, more than half of American voters have unfavorable views about them! Donald Trump has a 65% unfavorable view and just 24% favorable. And Hillary Clinton is doing a little better, but not by much. She has a 56% unfavorable rating and a 32% favorable rating. These unfavorable ratings are the highest in the history of the poll asking this question. So, you have to wonder: how did they get to be the people’s choice? That’s for some other time. But for me the question today is: is there anything nice to say about the two of them? Yes, it’s true, I didn’t live through eight years of Barack Obama to face a choice between Clinton and Trump! And there is still time before November for things to change. But for now, our tradition teaches that we should judge everyone on the scale of merit. So what merits can I find in the two of them? I think I have found the answer and it has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with why we have come here today to recite Yizkor. READ MORE

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SERMON: Water Water Everywhere … Not Really!

October 7, 2015 Leave a comment

Today I want to take back something I’ve said to you countless times on this day of Shemini Atzeret. So many sermons I delivered on this day began by pointing out that this festival of Shemini Atzeret is very strange. Unlike most other festivals, it has no special ceremony nor does this day mark any historic occasion. Shemini Atzeret is a holiday unto itself… independent of Sukkot and independent in its manner from any other major observance. Today I want to take that back! This year on Yom Kippur I was reminded that there IS something unique about this day … there is something special we do on this day. And what we do has tremendous contemporary relevance. READ MORE

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SERMON: To Thine Own Selfie Be True

September 25, 2015 Leave a comment

Before we get to this year, let me first give you an update about last year. Last year in my Yom Kippur Yizkor sermon dealing with my 70th birthday, I told you that I had bought a watch which you program with some information about your age and your health, and then the watch tells you the present time … and how much time you have left until you die. And then you watch the minutes tick down. Well, after Yom Kippur I put that watch away. I didn’t think about it again until shortly before Rosh Hashanah. I took it out of the drawer to see how much time I had left. And lo and behold, I looked at the watch … and the battery had died! So much for last year’s prop. Now, for this year’s!

What is this? (Holding up selfie stick).  If I had asked you that question two years ago most all of you would not have known the answer. Had I asked this question last year most everybody under 50 would have known the answer. This year everyone knows the answer, especially if you have recently traveled. Sherry and I were in Rome and Venice with our granddaughters this past June. People were selling these on every corner. And they weren’t doing such great business because everyone already seemed to have one! It is a “selfie stick.” READ MORE