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Why Israel?

Rosh Hashanah Morning 5783/2022Congregation Mishkan Israel, Hamden, CT 75 years! Next April we will celebrate Israel’s 75th birthday. I’m sure our local celebrations will feature Falafel, Israeli Salad, hummus, and Israeli music. While we will acknowledge that Palestinians call this day their “Catastrophe, the Nakba,” and for them this is a day of mourning, we…

Planting for the Future by Counting our Blessings Today

Rosh Hashanah 5783 – 2022 “How awesome is this place – מַה־נּוֹרָ֖א הַמָּק֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה!” (Ma Norah HaMakom HaZeh!) It is awesome to see everyone, we are so glad that you are here both in person and online. In our Torah we find Jacob, wary from a long journey, seeking a comfortable place to rest. He…

We Will Rise Up

I stand before you as a white male rabbi. As a rabbi, I could speak about the Jewish laws that not only permit but may even require an abortion if a woman’s life is in danger. (Mishneh Oholot 7:6) Whether she is in physical, mental or economic danger, in Judaism the fetus becomes a rodef,…

I Will Bereave You

Two weeks ago I gave an impassioned sermon about the right to be who we want to be, to love who we want to love, and to have autonomy over our bodies. I felt sad afterward. These aren’t the sermons I want to give. I want to stand on the bima and tell you it…

The Jewish Family

We are a family that welcomes everyone who wants to proudly participate with us in spreading love, meaning and purpose to those who so choose.

We Will Long Endure

For now we place our trust in ourselves, through vigilance and action. We remember every time we blot out Amalek’s name that we are still here. We are still here and the Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Spanish Monarchy, Nazis, are no more. We blot out their memory but we never forget that we endured and will continue to endure and thrive.

The Arithmetic of Failure

Since the pandemic began, we have been a society fixated on numbers. First we were concerned about the raw numbers of people getting sick, and then hospitalized, and then those who have died from COVID. Looking at individual numbers are important for each of these represents a soul who has become sick, a person who…

The Breath of the Etrog

Today the sukkah reminds us of the fragility inherent in life. It is intended to be susceptible to the forces of nature, not to protect or separate us from them as we do with our permanent houses, but to remind us that we, too, are part of creation.

It’s OK Not To Be OK

It can be hard for us to admit that we are not OK. It can be harder still for us to admit that its OK not to be OK. And it can be even more difficult to seek help.

The Power of Community

“The essence of the minyan is the reciprocity of the social contract – the shared obligation that binds all ten individuals to one another, transforming them from a number of individuals into a community.”

Our modern minyan causes us to create more than a congregation, it helps us to form community

Let’s Eat Cantor!

Just like the Rambam teaches us to find layers of meaning in our unvocalized Torah, I pray that one day we too will find layers of meaning in our unvocalized year. Layers of grief, sadness and despair, combined with layers of love, perseverance, and triumph, layers of leadership, science, and wisdom, and, I pray, layers of hope.

Do Not Remain Indifferent

It is not enough to simply say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ though it is an important first step. We must transform our world so that black lives do matter, in every corner of society. This transformation happens not in the streets, but within each of us, as we explore who we are and who we want to be, by examining how our society functions and how it could function. Jews know this transformation – we do it every year on Yom Kippur when we engage in chesbon hanefsh – when we examine our actions from the past year in order to be better in the next.

In Spite of It All, I Still Believe in Hope

Hope is an essential Jewish value that allows us embrace the possibility of a brighter future. We must always hold on to hope – hope in ourselves, hope in our community, hope in our country, and hope that one day our children will only know shalom, wholeness and peace.

The Power of Fire

We strike the match to the matchbook and from nothing a flame emerges and dances before us. Just like God we create – light appears where once there was none. We marvel at our creation as it quickly creeps toward our fingers – and then light not one but two wicks. Zachor v’shamor – remember…

Showing Love by Standing With Our Neighbors

The best thing we can do in the fight for racial justice is to show up, be present, and stand with our black and brown brothers and sisters. This is how we show love and create a stronger community

Finding Hope in a Broken World

Hayom Harat Olam – Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world. Today marks just over three months since Jenny and I welcomed Aiden into our lives. My dearest Aiden, There is a tree across the street from our synagogue that takes away my breath every time I see it in the Spring and Fall….

Testing Our Love of the Stranger

As we just read in our Torah, God called out to Abraham: “Abraham, Abraham,” “Hineini,” Abraham replied, “Here I am.” “Abraham, take your son, your only son, the son whom you love, Isaac, and take him up to a mountain, and there I want you to sacrifice him as an offering to me.”  Aside from…

Loving as a Community in Times of Grief

This past Shabbat I was feeling sense of elation as I started to walk out of the Sanctuary with our Bar Mitzvah, Dylan. I told him how proud I was of him and he beamed with pride. His friends ran into hug him and tell him that he did awesome. As the community entered the…

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