Rabbi Scolnic shares his favorite sermons.

Circles of Responsibility or What We Think About at 2 am - Kol Nidre 5777

You get a call that your mother has fallen in her apartment in Brooklyn and has been taken to the emergency room. You live in Connecticut; you don’t want to drive into the city late at night because you’re completely unraveled, so you take a car service. There you are in the back seat of the car, and it’s 2 AM, and you’re worried about how you’re going to do in this situation. You’re wondering:

Thinking about Extinction - Rosh Hashana 5777

The famous science fiction novel Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card begins by recounting an alien invasion that came dangerously close to destroying Earth fifty years earlier. The military then determined that the only way to survive another alien attack was to actively seek out and train the best and the brightest children to be the military strategists and commanders of the future. A boy named Ender Wiggin is identified as Earth’s best hope.

The Trouble With Pirates - Rosh Hashana 5777

It took me a long time to get into reality TV, but now I like the shows where an expert comes in as a consultant and tries to fix what’s wrong with a business. I find that these shows usually are not about business, but people. The businesses are usually good ones but there are personality conflicts or people who don’t know their own strengths and weaknesses. Since I never drink and never go to bars, I thought it would be different to try a show called Bar Rescue. I saw a blurb for an episode about a bar in Silver Spring, Maryland, near where I grew up. The episode was called “Yo-ho-ho and a Bottle of Dumb.” That sounded like just about my speed.

Yasher Koach and Tear Soup - Yom Kippur 5776

Over the years, I’ve asked you some difficult questions. I’ve asked you to wrestle and struggle with some of the most complex emotions. Today, at this sacred moment, I want to ask you perhaps the most painful question of all: “How many times in your life have you really grieved?”

I know that people have died and you have felt sad, or angry, or confused. But it didn’t take long, a few days, or at most a week, and you were back to normal, absorbed in your regular tasks and enjoyments. You might not have admitted it to anyone, even yourself, but you coped, you went on, you were ok.

George Washington or We’ve All Come to Look for America - Yom Kippur 5776

No one would argue with the statement that George Washington was one of our greatest presidents. He was the General of the Revolutionary forces that somehow, against the odds, defeated the mighty British Empire with inadequate resources and troops.

Jenny and the Forgotten People - Kol Nidre 5776

When I was six, my parents moved into a new development of split-level houses that had been built next to an older neighborhood that had some very small and modest homes. Way at the end of our street, in the older section, there was a tiny house at the top of a steep hill. Normal kids with nothing to do, my new friends and I would climb up the steep, dusty hill and then run down it, trying not to fall and skin our knees and elbows.

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