Showing posts from September, 2017

Jerusalem of Iron, Jerusalem of Gold (2nd day Rosh HaShanah 2017 / 5778)

Much of the first part of this sermon is adapted from the account in Yossi Klein Halevi’s masterful book about the Six Day War, Like Dreamers , which devotes significant attention to the life and work of Meir Ariel, and from a video interview with Israeli composer Gil Aldema, . Many thanks to the United Synagogue of Hoboken Choir for singing so beautifully during this sermon! Plenty of songwriters start out with the intention of writing a truly iconic song, but few actually succeed. And no songwriter can count on writing a true classic. But let me tell you the story of one of the most well-known Hebrew songs of all time, an instant classic, and how it came to be written.   It was early 1967.  The state of Israel was 19 years old, and life in Israel felt as precarious as it ever had. Whatever hopes that the new State of Israel would be welcomed into the middle east had not been realized.  Both Syria and Egypt were using increasingly di

"What if?" "Lulei" and Counterfactuals for the New Year (Rosh HaShanah eve 2017)

This Hebrew year 5777 that is now coming to an end - it could have been different. You probably think I have some specifics in mind -- which I do, but actually I am making a comment that would apply equally to every year in the history of our world.  We can always imagine how things would have gone differently.  In fact, focusing on some of the ways that things could have gone differently is one of our tasks now, on the cusp of a new year. There is a particular Hebrew word that refers to the contemplation of something that didn’t happen but could have happened.  The word is ' lulei ' לולא, and it means 'we're it not for.'  It's a word that introduces a counterfactual, an alternative that did not come to be.    Most kids in our educational programs first encounter the word Lulei in a Purim song about Haman’s 3-cornered hat.  According to the song, ‘ lulei hayu lo shalosh pinot לולא היו לו שלש פינות - had it not had 3 corners - lo hayah zeh ha-kova she

Hurricane Harvey - helping those who are affected

This is the note I sent to my synagogue community on August 28, 2017.  The images of the devastation of Hurricane  Harvey , in Houston and other communities in Texas and Louisiana, is devastating. It is on pace to be one of the worst episodes of flooding in recent American history. Many of us in Hoboken know what it is like to be evacuated, stranded, and/or to have flooded homes and cars or other property. For many of us, this prompts a desire to help others, just as others around the country came to the aid of our community at our time of need. In addition to aid organizations such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, there are a number of Jewish organizations that are providing non-sectarian disaster relief. The following are some of the organizations that are accepting donations -- together with some thoughts about how these same organizations assisted us after Sandy. The United Synagogue of Hoboken Rabbis Discretionary Fund is making donations to all of these organ