Blog

Writings, sermons, memories, thoughts...

I’m dreaming of a white… Hanukkah?

One of the most famous of Christmas songs is by a Jewish composer: Irving Berlin. I don't care what face tradition you grew up with; White Christmas is a terrific song and it makes me think of the season. But where are all the great Hanukkah songs? Where is the Jewish...

Finding an "ultimate meaningful existence"

Rabbi Alvin Reines, professor of philosophy at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio from 1958 until his death in 2004, taught that religion exists because we realize that we are each destined to die. Because our life is finite, with a beginning and an end, we...

Finalitly of Judgment

On September 21, 2011, at 10:53 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Troy Davis was executed by the state of Georgia. He was tried and convicted for the assault of two men and the murder of a third, a police officer, in Savannah, Georgia in August of 1989. As with other...

Slow to Anger

God passed by before [Moses] and proclaimed, “The Eternal God, the Eternal God, omnipotent, merciful and kind, slow to anger, with tremendous love and truth. Who remembers deeds of love for thousands [of generations], forgiving sin, rebellion and error. Who does not...

Finding Freedom

One of my favorite movies of all time is "The Matrix." It is a story of a dystopian future in which humanity has been taken over by computers. The catch is that the humans are completely unaware of their captivity. People’s brains are all plugged into a vast computer...

Shabbat Shirah 2010

The Psalmist wrote: "Shiru Ladonai Shir Khadash."—“Sing unto God a New Song.” This evening, we have experienced new songs and new expressions to words we say week in and week out. We change the music of our prayers not because the words of our prayerbook change. It is...

The Entrance of Elul

I love the sound of cicadas in the summer. It is the tell-tale sign that it’s August. The cicada’s song is a mating call, but doesn’t sound that romantic to the human ear. If anything, it can be described, according to entomologist Gaye Williams, as “a million baby...

A Covenant of Salt (a sermon for Parshat Korakh)

I hate restrictive diets, don't you? I’ve been on my fair share of them: No sugar, no flour, no yeast, no dairy. No fun! Sometimes it’s necessary due to some health concern, sometimes for losing weight, but when I limit the variety of food in my daily routine, I get a...

Baking Bread–a sermon for Rosh Hashanah

Last night, Jews around the world, like many of us, gathered in homes for a festive New Year meal. Tables resplendent with tzimmes and kugel, brisket and chicken, wine and candles were adorned with white tablecloths, fine silverware, and surrounded by family and...

Shema Yisrael

The following story was relayed to me by Ann Kibbel Schwartz, an educator with whom I worked in Omaha, Nebraska: So a young student of mine was asked to rise and recite the “Shema” in English. The youngster rose and proudly said: “Hear O Israel; The Lord is our God....

Speaking Our Minds

I'm a political junkie. As soon as CNN goes to commercial, it’s MSNBC, the occasional peek at FOX news, and then back to CNN. I go to the CNN website several times a day. I’m looking at tracking polls, listening to political analysis, reading commentaries... and this...

The Spiritual Journey

As long as I've lived here, I have been impressed with this community of New Rochelle. In an era of urban sprawl, people moving into Manhattan, out of Manhattan, over to Brooklyn, up into Connecticut... the New Rochelle residents have by and large remained constant,...

My vision of the Modern Reform Cantorate

Recently, I traveled with our synagogue’s Confirmation Class to Washington D.C. for our annual trip to the Religious Action Center (R.A.C.). During the trip, there were three interesting experiences I had: The first came during a welcome speech given by one of the...

A Plea for Peace

The following speech was delivered at a peace rally in New Rochelle: I stand here before you not as the voice of my synagogue, nor as the voice of any movement, organization, or branch of Judaism. Rather, I am here to join the voice of Judaism to the other...

How to choose a good voice teacher or vocal coach

I have been studying voice for almost twenty years. Fortunately, I've been blessed with some good, strong voice teachers. I've also studied with some not so good ones who held me back from my full potential. Along the way, I have worked with about ten voice teachers,...

Is Autism really an epidemic?

I am a proud father of an autistic son. You probably wouldn't know it to look at him: He's healthy, has a lovely disposition, talks a mile a minute, and at his six and a half years of age, he will tell you almost everything there is to know about dinosaurs. Doesn't...

Torah Corps–Torah, Technology and Tutoring

Becoming a bar or bat mitzvah in the 21st century has its benefits. Students can make compact discs or rip MP3s (music via computer file), purchase trope training software, or even have a computerized voice chant Torah! But with all this technology, it is important...

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