One Year Since Aurora

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The following is a modified version of the sermon I delivered this past Shabbat on the one year anniversary of the shooting at the Century Multiplex in Aurora, CO: One Year Later: What Have We Learned from Aurora? “Be comforted, be comforted, my people (Isaiah 40:1)” With these words synagogues around the world opened their Prophetic reading for this past Sabbath, from the prophet Isaiah. This Sabbath, the Sabbath immediately following the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, is named … [Read more...]

Chayei Sarah, Elections and Community

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This sermon was delivered at BMH-BJ: The Denver Synagogue on Shabbat morning, November 10, 2012. Most of the country this past Tuesday found themselves glued to their television sets throughout the evening. We tried every way possible to avoid the nearly 73,000 commercials these past few months. We turned off all of our lights when we saw a campaign volunteer approach our front door. We sifted through the mountains of mailings that flooded our mailbox. Yet, on Tuesday night, for so many of … [Read more...]

Hurricane Sandy: A Torah Perspective

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This sermon was delivered this past Shabbat at BMH-BJ: The Denver Synagogue in Denver, Colorado. The Verazano Bridge, Triboro Bridge, George Washington Bridge, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel; all closed and shut down. No going in and no going out of New York City. This almost sounds like the beginning of a summer blockbuster movie, but this past week this was the harsh and unforgiving reality for millions of people in the Tristate area. No subways, … [Read more...]

The Exodus and Miraculous Realism

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This past weekend Jews throughout the world celebrated the beginning of Pesach, the Passover holiday, by embarking on the ancient rituals of the seder. The seder, with its rich symbolic actions and accompanying powerful text from the Haggadah, is an entryway into the psychological, emotional and spiritual experience of the Exodus. Indeed, this is the very point of having the seder, as the early rabbis taught: "In every generation, one is obligated to see oneself as having left Egypt. (Pesachim … [Read more...]

Abraham and Biblical Intertextuality

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Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot has published a remarkable new book Mikra and Meaning (Maggid Books, 2012) in which he demonstrates his tremendous fluency with the Biblical text and his mastery of the rabbinic tradition surrounding it. Each chapter takes the reader on an adventure exploring the intricate and varied ways of understanding the narratives presented in Tanach and plumbing the depths of the tradition for layers upon layers of meaning. I had the distinct privilege of studying under Rabbi … [Read more...]

Torah Learning as the Foundation of Community

It was a little over a year ago that I wrote an article for the religion magazine First Things in which I argued that the foundation for building a large umbrella inclusive community cannot rest on shared prayer alone. I wrote: "Perhaps we require a different paradigm for Jewish inclusiveness. For a generation we have relied on shared ritual. But ritual runs directly into contentious issues such as gender separation, and leads to the stark contrast of the highest or lowest common denominator. … [Read more...]


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