Union for Reform Judaism Member Congregation

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A Gut-Wrenching Week

This has been a gut-wrenching week for us as Americans, as Jews, as human beings. Whether we’re Democrats, Republicans, Independents; whether or not we have had the privilege of raising children ourselves, or have been part of the “village” that raises everyone’s children; it doesn’t matter. Just a shred of rachmones—compassion—is all it took this week for any…Read on →

Guard Your Tongue From Evil, And Your Lips From Deceitful Speech

In the past few days, we have been subjected to celebrities behaving badly. I will address the two most recent incidents, but they come at a time when public discourse in general is deteriorating by the day, taking on an increasingly coarse and destructive cast. Nevertheless, I will begin with the davar that I had…Read on →

The Commandment to Love the Stranger

We have a double Torah portion this week, Acharei Mot–Kedoshim. We in the Reform Movement know Kedoshim particularly well, because in addition to this appearance in the calendrical cycle, it is our Torah reading for the afternoon of Yom Kippur. Kedoshim tihyu, ki kadosh ani Adonai Eloheichem… You shall be holy, for I your Eternal God am holy. So it…Read on →

Truth and Lies

The centerpiece of our Torah portion this week is the Ten Commandments, or as the code is commonly identified in Hebrew, Aseret HaDibrot -“The Ten Words.” There are two in particular that deal with honesty. The third commandment: You shall not swear falsely by the name of the Lord your God; for the Lord will not clear one…Read on →

To See Through the Darkness

As our Torah portion begins, there have been eight plagues upon Egypt. And now we read: Then the LORD said to Moses: “Hold out your arm toward the sky that there may be darkness upon the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be touched.” Moses held out his arm toward the sky and a thick…Read on →

Voices in the Wilderness: The Courage of the Clergy in Georgia

This weekend is devoted to commemorating the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, z”l. The inspiring, poetic style of his soaring oratory became the voice for so many African Americans whose voices were never heard before, after centuries of the brutality and racism that marked racial segregation and discrimination in virtually every area…Read on →

To Stick Our Necks Out

Joseph wants to see if his brothers have grown beyond their jealously and callousness during the 20 years since he last saw them. As Viceroy of Egypt, he arranges a ruse. He orders his steward to hide his own silver goblet in the backpack of Benjamin, his younger brother. When the goblet is then “found,”…Read on →

Jerusalem, the City of Peace

Jacob now settled in the land of his father’s sojourning, in the land of Canaan.  (Genesis 37:1) So begins our Torah portion for this week, Vayeishev. There is no doubt that our people have lived in what ultimately became known as the Land of Israel for well over 3,000 years. Historically, we always have identified Jerusalem…Read on →

Laughter and Tears

This is a sermon I wrote a number of years ago, and delivered at our temple on Sisterhood Shabbat, back in November of 2004. During that Shabbat, the Sisterhood made a point of honoring our mothers and grandmothers, as is mentioned at the beginning of the sermon. The sermon is based on this week’s Torah…Read on →

Welcome the Stranger

And so, we are here again. A horrifying week. Senseless loss of innocent life. Pain, fear, trauma. Such a sad week for us as Americans, and particularly as New Yorkers. In the very shadow of Freedom Tower—our tribute to the World Trade Center, and our will to go on in the face of terrorism—we endured…Read on →