Sermons Category

Our Jewish Identities[i]

Diane Gabaldon’s well-read NY Times, best-selling novel, and now a STARZ TV series, Outlander, is, for those that like historical romance, a double historical-time setting whammy. In 1945, a retired World War II nurse, Claire Randall is on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank in Scotland. She finds herself suddenly transported to 1743 – […]

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Gender in the Image of God

Like all interesting television, there was a cutting edge premise. In 2014 Jill Solloway produced a comedy drama for Amazon studios that went on to win multiple Golden Globe Awards. The series was based on her own experience of her father coming out as transgender. In the series, Transparent, the story was told of a […]

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I Am Because of You

Why be part of a congregation? Can’t I just be spiritual by myself? Why do I need organized religion? Why do I need a Har Sinai Congregation? Let me begin in Africa. Boyd Varty grew up on the Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa and he tells the story of a baby elephant called Elvis. […]

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Kehillah Kedosha – Building Our Holy Community

Drama. The Yiddish writer S. Ansky, in his play The Dybbuk, described it with these words: “Once a year… the High Priest enters the Holy of Holies in order to pronounce the ineffable name of God. And at this immeasurably holy and awesome moment the High Priest and the people of Israel are in the […]

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5779: A Year of Sacred Opportunity

I think you might know this one:   Come gather ’round people Wherever you roam And admit that the waters Around you have grown And accept it that soon You’ll be drenched to the bone. If your time to you Is worth savin’ Then you better start swimmin’ Or you’ll sink like a stone For […]

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Creating Communities at the 5779 Frontier

This is how it started. In the beginning Abraham looked around his father’s idol store and said “What the heck? How can these be the power behind the universe?” He took up a broom and smashed the idols to smithereens.[i] And then he had to run from his father and his family. And when he […]

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AN ADAM WITH TWO FACES

When Rosh HaShanah arrives in two weeks, we will celebrate the sixth day of God’s creation, the anniversary of the emergence of humankind, a being called “Adam”. What was that newly-created being like? In Genesis Rabbah, Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman comments on the peculiar wording of the phrase in Genesis 2: “Male and female God […]

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Sacred Disagreement

Our tradition has always embraced disagreement. One might think that the most famous rabbis of disagreement were Hillel and Shammai. In the first century BCE the Babylonian Hillel migrated to Israel and worked as a woodcutter as he studied. He lived in such poverty that he was unable to pay the fee to study Torah. […]

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Let’s Sing the Song of Equal Pay

Prior to Shabbat, we celebrated the last day of Pesach. The seventh day Torah reading is Shirat HaYam, the Song of the Sea, the victory melody the Israelite’s chanted when the sea closed over their Egyptian pursuers on the escape from Egypt. This is a war victory song – singing of God’s triumph over the […]

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Culture and Change

You may have caught the news story on NPR this week of the female inmates of an Indiana prison who had been taking a class on public policy. Vanessa Thompson, 17 years incarcerated, was watching a news story about the over 10,000 abandoned and neglected homes in Indianapolis. She brought a proposal to her public […]

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