This year's Shavuot Yizkor occurred during the sheloshim of Rabbi Aaron Panken, former president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion who died tragically on May 5, 2018. My message at yizkor was inspired by the poetic reflection of his sister, Rabbi Melinda Panken, which is included in the text below.
From its earliest days, Judaism has existed in contrast to one prevailing culture or another. Jews are perennially "inside-outsiders" who participate in their broader communities but always at something of a remove. This isn't a bug but rather a feature of our tradition, providing the key ingredient to our ongoing ability to add our particular truth to the project of human flourishing.
“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.”