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Showing posts from September, 2012

Asking the Clergy

Here is my printed response from today's "Ask the Clergy" column in Newsday .  The question was: How would you comfort someone facing a medical challenge? In Judaism, we believe in doctors. We don't ascribe to a faith that is without science and modern medicine. So, the first order of business is to make sure the person is getting the right medicine and science. Then, we would deal with the practical. Can I help them in any way to find the right doctors? Do they need assistance with transportation to medical appointments? Do they need someone to sit with them in their home? Do they need someone to sit with them at a doctor's appointment? Sometimes, people think going to the rabbi or other clergy is the last resort. We can be supportive throughout the person's illness, even for practical assistance. And the things I mentioned earlier can be done by any individual, not just a member of the clergy. Yes, we can pray with them, and our hope is that prayer o


The Hebrew month of Tishrei offers quite the set list!  Immediately following Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is Sukkot.  This holiday begins on Sunday evening and marks the Israelites wandering through the wilderness and living in these temporary shelters. This month provides us with a record setting concert.  Year after year it is the same.  Rosh Hashanah.  Yom Kippur.  Sukkot.  Simhat Torah.  There is an interesting tradition that even before breaking Yom Kippur’s fast, one is supposed to place the first board on the sukkah.  Like the best of concerts there is no pause between songs.  We move from the introspection of Yom Kippur to the rejoicing of Sukkot.  The two holidays are bound to each other.  The joy of Sukkot takes over.     The inwardness of Yom Kippur is transformed by the earthiness of Sukkot.  We let go of our sins and wrongdoings.  We turn to the world.  Whereas Yom Kippur is all about prayer and repentance, Sukkot is about our everyday world.  Its mandate is to ce

Why!?: A Meditation on the Meaning of Religion

Yom Kippur Morning Sermon I was recently reading the Iceland Times.  Or is it the Times of Iceland?  (Ok I just had to begin with that.)  My Icelandic is of course very rusty.  Still I was able to make out the following.  Thank you Google Translate.  Thank you Facebook friends for sharing.  The story began on Saturday, August 25 th , when a woman who was described as "Asian, about 160 cm (5 ft-3), wearing dark clothing and speaking English well" was declared missing somewhere in the vicinity of southern Iceland.   The search went on throughout the better part of the weekend, with no sign of the woman to be found. However, on Sunday evening, she was reported  alive and well.  In fact she had no idea she was missing in the first place.   This was apparently the result of a misunderstanding regarding her appearance. While it was initially reported that she had stepped off her tour bus and never returned, in fact she had changed clothing before getting back on the bu

Don't Separate Yourself

Yom Kippur Evening Sermon On the plane home from Israel I met a man from Louisiana who had just finished working on an oilrig off the cost of Haifa.  He was returning home after spending six months working on the rig.  He told me of the Leviathan gas field which as the name suggests is immense in its proportions and almost messianic in its promise of natural gas riches.  When the messiah arrives, the rabbis teach us, we will eat the flesh of a roasted Leviathan.  I am not sure if that sounds like it will taste good, but such is the legend.  I was saddened to learn that he never once visited Israel’s shores except to travel to and from Ben Gurion airport.  He did promise that he would visit Jerusalem on his next trip. It saddened me that he was so close to Israel and yet did not take the opportunity to experience the country.  But what made me even more disheartened was the distance he expressed to our own, shared country.  Somehow we started talking about politics, the u

Yom Kippur

The Mishnah teaches: “For transgressions against God, Yom Kippur atones; but for transgressions of one human being against another, Yom Kippur does not atone until they have made peace with one another.” This past Saturday evening Ari and I went to the Bruce Springsteen concert at MetLife stadium.  A shout out to all of the JCB members I saw there.  Because of a weather delay the concert did not start until 1030 pm.  Bruce played until 2 am.  It was of course a fantastic concert.  At about 8 pm they ushered everyone out of their seats to take shelter inside because of the approaching severe weather.  Two hours later they made an announcement.  “We have resolved the situation.  It is now safe to return to your seats.”  Ari and I looked at each other quizzically.  Are not the rains in the heavens?  During our prayers we pray, “Your might Adonai is everlasting.  You give life to all.  Great is Your saving power.  You cause the wind to blow and the rain to fall…”  Some