The first Yom Kippur was, perhaps, an emergency response to the death of Nadab and Abihu. But the Torah records early developments in the holiday, and aspects of the ritual became a permanent feature of our tradition. How will the emergency procedures responding to COVID endure in the months and years to come?
On this festival of Pesach, we turn to formerly enslaved poet Phillis Wheatley. Her commitment to freedom and her faith in America offer us an inspiring view of the potential--as yet unreached--that our country offers for all who live here.
On the eve of Passover, we consider the blessing of freedom. This week, we draw inspiration from within the halls of prison to frame the deeper meaning of freedom.
We read from Parashat Ki Tisa during the annual cycle and on the three Festivals plus the High Holy Day season. The refrain of these Torah readings is the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, the repeated insistence that God treats all of us better than we deserve.
This week's Torah reading, T'rumah, is terrific. (Even though it has a bad reputation as repetitive and boring!) Not only is it my bar mitzvah Torah portion but it also reminds of one of Judaism's core principles: Torah both inspires us with wisdom and also empowers us to interpret its truths, applying them uniquely in our own day and age.
On January 6, riotous supporters of President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, scarring a majority of Americans who felt violated by this grotesque attack. My comments this Shabbat focus on the desecration of this sacred space and its impact on us as witnesses.
A historic election looms in the week ahead. People will differ on how whether the election results are tragic or triumphant, and our tradition urges us not to let these differences tear our communities apart. Like Abraham, we prepare to step into a new land with courage, conviction, and compassion.
Each year on Parashat B'reishit, we commemorate the life and legacy of Regina Jonas, the first woman to attain ordination as a rabbi. This year, we also pay tribute to Roslyn Lieberman Horwich, the 92-year-old woman who was our congregation's first bat mitzvah. These historic firsts are inspirational on the grand and the local scale, reminding of us the cascade of firsts that pave the way for future generations of achievement.
This year's Kol Nidre sermon focuses on antiracism from a Jewish perspective. I suggest that we have a Jewish obligation to look at the world through a "racial lens," drawing on the rabbinic concept of aspaklaria to deepen our understanding of this critical and timely issue.
Text available below the recording.
The Hebrew Bible's view of kingship is more democratic than the medieval picture we've inherited, and I believe the offices of the Israelite king and the American president overlap in several ways. Therefore, it is appropriate to turn to the Torah for guidance on a Jewish frame for considering which presidential candidate deserves our vote.
“To be effective, the preacher's message must be alive; it must alarm, arouse, challenge; it must be God's present voice to a particular people.”