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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 →

The Story of Chanukah: An Ancient and Yet Unfolding Miracle

This week, a parent shared with me that her son asked her if it’s safe to tell his classmates that he’s Jewish. This week, we mourned the loss of Jewish and non-Jewish innocent people who were killed in a targeted Anti-Semitic attack in New Jersey. This week, Nessah Synagogue, a Persian congregation in Beverly Hills…Read on →

Erev Sukkot 5780: “Be Joyful, People!”: Training for the Sukkot Season

As you know, because I am totally obsessed with her, we’ve got a 2.5 year old. A few months ago, she started telling us that her room was too dark when she went to sleep, so we decided to get her a nightlight. We got a little one for the wall. It was simple and…Read on →

Yom Kippur 5780: On a Quest to Seek Out Life: The Mars Rover Curiosity and Me

Forecasts on August 6, 2012 called for favorable Martian weather over the landing zone. After a journey from Earth of more than 350 million miles and 8 months, engineers said they were hopeful the rover, the size of a small sports car, would land precisely as planned near the foot of a tall mountain rising…Read on →

Rosh Hashanah Morning 5780: To Build a Mishkan: A Blueprint for Sacred Community and Union Temple’s Next Chapter

James was the front office guy at Temple Israel in Boston—the first congregation that I served as a rabbi. He was the first person you’d see when you walked in the door and he was just about the kindest person you could ever meet. For example, he had worked there for about a week when…Read on →

Erev Rosh Hashanah 5780: Extremely Unrandom Acts of Kindness: A Chesed Baseline for the New Year

I sat once in a classroom with my teacher and mentor—Rabbi Larry Hoffman, a well respected scholar and one of the greatest intellectual minds of modern Jewish thought.  On this day, Rabbi Hoffman had asked us a simple question: What is the most important attribute a person can have?   The first thing I thought of…Read on →

Drilling Down on our High Holy Day Prep with the Help of Parshat Ki Teitzei (and a Little Competitive Ribbon Dancing)

This morning, I was involved in a messaging chain as my family tried to set up plans for our kiddo with a couple of our friends. The texts proceed: What time, oh that’s during nap, maybe she’ll nap in the car, that is a complete fantasy, she never naps in the car…and so forth. This…Read on →