Union for Reform Judaism Member Congregation

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Rabbi Kolin on Transgender Day of Remembrance

Many years ago, I was leading a birthright trip to Israel. Early on, one participant very nervously came to talk to me. She shared with me that she was a lesbian and she wasn’t sure how the other folks on the trip would be with that. Being pretty sure of our Reform Movement group, I…Read on →

Hachaziki et Yadech: Grab Someone’s Hand and Life-Giving Waters Appear

Four years ago, I sat with friends and watched the presidential election. As the votes came in, my sense of dread increased. This was not partisan dread. As an organizer, I have a deep respect for the power that a multiplicity of voices in the public square has to make real and enduring change. But…Read on →

The “Hey” of God’s Blessing: A Wellspring of Inner Strength

This week, our congregation gathered to make a huge and historic decision about our future. We voted to merge with CBE, our sister Reform congregation just up the road a bit. The evening was a powerful mix of storytelling, connecting with one another, dreaming, and honoring a full range of real and authentic emotion. It…Read on →

Grounding in Torah for Congregational Vote

We are on a journey right now and here tonight. And this week’s Torah portion—perhaps somewhat presciently— is about our quintessential journey. God comes to this guy named Avram, who had been just going about his business and then one day, God says to him Lech L’cha, Avram. Lech l’cha meiartz’cha—Go, from your land. U’mimolad’t’cha—from…Read on →

A Holy and Human Hesitation After the Flood

There’s a piece of music that’s been circulating on social media this week and probably a lot leading up to this week, but it just got to my circles now. It’s a piece that is being created on the spot by a couple, the Bengsons, Abigail and Shaun, who have been singing new songs, kind…Read on →

Ayeka, Where Are You?: God’s First Question for Us

I think maybe the most common question asked throughout a day might be: How are you? And the most common answer? Good! Fine. Okay. It’s almost a reflex. How are you? Good. Really? No. But we rarely ask the “really” part. The one who asks, though surely well-meaning, probably doesn’t have time for an actual…Read on →

A Time to Uproot What Has Been Planted: Rabbi Kolin’s Erev Sukkot Sermon

On Tuesday night, as I listened to the presidential debate, there was a moment when I audibly gasped. A lot of the debate felt predictable or uncomfortable or, at times, demoralizing, but this moment made my blood run cold. There were five words uttered that were all over the airwaves this past week, and they…Read on →

Bein Kodesh L’Kodesh: Union Temple’s Beloved Community at a Moment of Historic Discernment: Rabbi Stephanie Kolin, Yom Kippur 5781

The word midbar means wilderness. Now sometimes when our people’s story gets told, it’s reported that we wandered in the desert for 40 years. And then everyone pictures the flat, dry, yellow sand of a cartoon desert. A thirsty bunch in colorful robes plodding along the smooth terrain. But that’s not a midbar. No, our…Read on →

Ten T’fachim High: What is This Fist I Place on my Heart in Confession?: Rabbi Kolin’s Kol Nidre Sermon 5781

In a few minutes from now, we will ball up our fists and we will say the words of our Vidui—our confession of all of the things we want to repent for this year. All of our mistakes and missteps – the things we have done knowingly and unknowingly that have hurt someone. The harsh…Read on →

Hope as a Participatory Virtue: Even Now, Especially Now, Essentially Now, Rosh Hashanah 5781

At the very beginning of this pandemic, the very first thing that happened in my family is that I broke my toe and probably my foot. I had just heard the news that we would be quarantined for two weeks—which, at the time, was shocking. I leapt out of my chair and ran to check…Read on →