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Showing posts from September, 2010

Yom Kippur Yizkor sermon 5771/2010: "My Eulogy"

The old man asked me, “Will you do my eulogy?” I don’t understand, I said. “My eulogy?”  The old man asked again.  “When I’m gone.” His eyes blinked from behind his glasses. His neatly trimmed beard was gray, and he stood slightly stooped. “Are you dying?” I asked. “Not yet,” he said, grinning. “Then why - “Because I think you will be a good choice.  And I think, when the time comes, you will know what to say.” This was a dialogue that took place between two men, one of whom was a rabbi. But probably not the one you would guess. I just read to you the opening words of Mitch Albom’s book, “Have a Little Faith,” Published earlier this year. And these words are a transcript of a conversation that Albom, the best-selling author of “Tuesdays with Morrie” and other books, had with his childhood rabbi in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Rabbi Albert Lewis of blessed memory. Rabbi Lewis was a giant among contemporary rabbis. There are actually a number of people in our community w

Whole-Broken-Shattered-Whole: An introduction to the Shofar

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One long blast. three short blasts. nine very short blasts. and again, one long blast. Why do we blow the Shofar in this peculiar pattern? There are pages and pages of traditional Jewish writings about ‘ why do we blow the shofar on Rosh HaShanah.’ It’s an alarm to wake us to our task of repentance; it’s God’s coronation clarion; it reminds us of Abraham’s sacrificial ram, along with dozens of other explanations. but none of these answer the question: What is the meaning of the blasts of the shofar? Why that particular number of blasts, in that particular order, over and over again? When we blow the Shofar, we blow it in patterns of 3 or 4 notes. We start with a Tekiah - one long blast. followd by Shevarim - a set of 3 small blasts / or Teruah - a set of 9 very short blasts - or sometimes both - 3 blasts followed by 9 blasts. And then to round out the pattern, we have Tekiah - one long blast again. It was the 17th c master, the Shnei Luhot Habrit [Rabbi Isaiah Horo

2nd day Rosh HaShanah sermon 5771/2010: "Spirituality of Food"

Art Linkletter, who died earlier this year at age 97, was the host of various TV shows that interviewed kids and got them to say “the darndest things.”   I have a friend and colleague whose college roommate was chosen to be on this show when he was a little boy in the early 1960’s.   This was a big deal for his whole family.   His siblings, parents, aunts and uncles, and his grandparents, were all watching. I should add that this boy’s family was Jewish.   As was the case with many families of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, the grandparents remained extremely traditional -- but the boy’s parents’ generation, less so. Art Linkletter comes up to the boy and says, “What is your favorite food?” The boy thinks for a moment, and then says, loud and clear on national television, “Bacon.” And apparently you should have seen the eye contact between the grandparents and the parents immediately after they saw that, because until that very moment, the boy’s grandparents thought the pare

Rosh HaShanah 1st Day 5771 / 2010: "Letter from the Ark"

Shanah Tovah! Here is the text of my sermon from the 1st day of Rosh HaShanah 5771 / 2010. Other sermons will be posted shortly. Some things that I have learned about this year that I didn’t learn in rabbinical school: The difference between the New Jersey Registry of Historic Places and the National Registry of Historic Places. Different types of smoke detectors and which ones can get set off by carpentry dust. and - that that eagle and those lions are actually removable. We have talked about what an intensely challenging year this has been for many of us, for most of the people in our region, our country, and throughout the world. But this is also a time of great triumph and celebration for this community - because, as we know, this has been the year that we have FINALLY completed our renovation - through its various phases - and we hope you are pleased with the result! yes, like all construction, it took a little longer than expected. For example, The bar and bat mit