Rosh Hashanah Sermons

Rosh Hashanah Day 1 5782 September 7, 2021

Pretend to be a Ragil

Shanah Tovah. This year has been traumatizing. Our sympathetic nervous systems, our fight-or-flight instincts have been on overdrive. If 2020 was the year of lockdown and depression, 2021 has been a year of almosts. All our thanks to the Delta variant. Not to mention the insanities happening in the world around us: Afghanistan, wildfires, Hurricane Ida. What is happening to us right now is not the normal that we ever imagined. At the beginning of this summer, we, the leadership of the synagogue believed that with few changes, the High Holidays of this 5782 would look a lot like those of 5780; before any of this happened.
To read the rest of the sermon click Pretend to be a Ragil

Rosh Hashanah Day 2 5782 September 8, 2021

Jewish Memory, not Jewish History

Shanah Tovah. What is the Hebrew word for history? הִיסטוֹרִיָה. Historiah. What is the Yiddish word for history? געשיכטע. Geshkhite, like the German geschichte, history. In Ladino it is istoria. The word history is of Greek and then Latin origin on its way into English, Spanish, and Hebrew. The words that a language possesses tell us much about the values of its speakers. Given that information about the word history and the Jewish languages that I surveyed, I would posit that there is no native Jewish concept for the study of past events for their own sake. Yes, of course, we study history. It is very important. As the aphorism attributed to Sir Winston Churchill urges us, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But being a Jew means being a person obligated to repeat history. Every year, we relive the day of the creation of the world; we read the story of how our founder, Avraham Avinu, nearly sacrificed his son Yitzhak. Every year we blow the shofar. Is our Jewish existence linear or do we cycle through history?
To read the rest of the sermon click Jewish Memory, not Jewish History