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Teachings & Sermons, Page 4

Some of our recent teachings and sermons are reprinted here as a service to the community.

Rosh Hashanah 5775/2014: Belonging With Israel

For the first month studying in Jerusalem, I was in my bubble, streaming news feeds 24/7 for siren alerts while living a ‘kinda-normal’ life. Many weekday evenings, I forfeited cultural events to attend sessions with political analysts who bantered on their sociological and historical perspectives of the situation, followed by late night conversations of the future of Israel with international and Israeli friends in local cafes.

Rosh Hashanah 5775/2014: The Light of Belonging

To this new year, each of us brings our own hopes, hurts to heal, and things for which we seek release and forgiveness. These are our own individual gateways into Rosh Hashanah. At the same time, the words we just sang evoke more the collective than the individual. We’re each unique, but together we share one Creator.

Yom Kippur 2013/5774: Put Down That Backpack

I am reminded of a story about Yankele, who was walking from Minsk to Pinsk, wearing a heavy backpack with all his clothes and goods. As he continued walking, the backpack seemed to grow heavier, and Yankele became more and more tired. Along came a wagon, and Yankele decided to see if he could hitch a ride.

Kol Nidre 2013/5774: Holy Bird, Holy Ground

We began on this Kol Nidre evening by declaring that we who have ourselves transgressed declare it lawful to pray with others who have wronged either God or other human beings. This is the evening that more than any other in the Jewish year, calls us forth to synagogue to pray — to pray with others, to pray with kol Yisrael, all of Israel.

Rosh Hashanah 2013/5774: Good Luck, Bad Luck

Our history is very complex. “Good” and “bad” are intertwined, and as today’s Haftarah from the prophet Jeremiah reminds us, God loves us even in dark times and promises us that things can get better.

Rosh Hashanah 2013/5774: The Bridge from Fear to Joy

These words come to us from Nachman of Breslov, set to music by Shlomo Carlebach. Nachman and Shlomo taught that even when our world seems narrow and constricting – tzar, as in the Yiddish tsuris (trouble) – even then, aiming for joy isn’t optional. Joy isn’t an extra or a detour on the spiritual path: as they put it, joy is “the whole point.” But the joy they taught isn’t a naïve glee, or mere fun, or escape from daily life: their joy is freedom, feeling the fullness of reality, even the stress and strain of daily life.

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