Showing posts from September, 2020

2nd day Rosh HaShanah 2020: "The 7:00 p.m. Shofar"

  Do you remember -- back in March?  Yes, I know it seems like several years ago.  Way back when in March, when the health crisis was so abominable in this area, people in various New York neighborhoods, and here in Hoboken, started an apparently spontaneous practice of stopping whatever they were doing at 7pm each night and applauding for health care workers.  Apparently this practice started near hospitals where shifts tend to change around 7pm,  so such a salute could be heard by health care workers as they left or arrived at the hospital. We clapped and cheered, some of us used other homemade materials to make noise, generating a brief daily feeling of togetherness and solidarity.  A few days after this practice started, I got a question from someone in our congregation, a question of Jewish law: "In the file of questions I never thought I’d need to ask my rabbi...  in the event of a global pandemic and a community’s desire to honor first responders by making lots of noise, wo

Rosh HaShanah 2020, 1st day sermon: "The Secret to Finding Things that are Lost"

I don’t need to tell you that every aspect of these High Holy Day services are a new ex perience for me: just 14 people in the sanctuary, everyone wearing masks, and giving sermons in my office. These are among the many ways that this Rosh HaShanah is different from every other Rosh HaShanah.  And then there are the more trivial differences:  For example, I have never before given a sermon inspired by a refrigerator magnet. For many years we had a refrigerator magnet on our refrigerator that I picked up at a Jewish book store many years ago, because it intrigued me and it sounded like it would be very useful for our family at the time.  It was labeled  סגולה למציאת אבידה segulah li-m’tzi’at avedah , a ritual or charm to bring success in finding lost objects.  At that time with several young children at home, we were losing things all the time,and I thought I should take whatever help I can get. So even though I am not most attracted to the parts of Jewish tradition that focus on mystic