Blur Day

A day during the pandemic is a different kind of day. You don’t know what day of the week it is because every day is Blurday.
How do we cope?
Let’s be very basic. How can I distinguish between the other days of the week? There is an old Yiddish song about differentiating days of the week: (more…)

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A recent Bat Mitzvah, Tema Caplan, is quite the athlete and asked me to give a sermon at her ceremony about “goals.” The goal, in athletics, seems to be winning. You want to win the game. Every sport has its goal and winners  have a plan to win.

But let’s talk about goals differently and think about our goals in life. (more…)

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Rocking in the Red Zone Or Dealing with Disruption

You’re walking home from school.

You’re coming home from work.

You’ve lived here since the day you were born.

This is where you grew up.

This is your community.

This is your home.

As you’re walking home, suddenly, you hear a siren. (more…)

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The Best Part of Waking Up, And the Worst:

Jewish People, Coffee, And The Rule Of Law

I drink a lot. I don’t drink alcohol of any kind, but I try to drink more water than ever. And every day, I drink coffee. I have long days and coffee really helps. Recently, I’ve even learned to distinguish good coffee from not so good coffee. (more…)

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The Next Right Thing

I bet a lot of you have never seen Frozen II, the hit sequel to the Disney animated movie about two sisters, Elsa and Anna. But I have three granddaughters and I have seen the film and listened to the score many, many times.
Towards the end of the movie, Anna is desperate with grief: She thinks that her beloved sister Elsa is dead and now her best friend Olaf the Snowman has literally melted away in her arms. She curls up in a cave and almost succumbs to the grief and sadness she feels over the deaths of her two loved ones. It is the darkest moment of the movie. (more…)

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Your Money Or Your Life! Or Essential Services

Have you ever heard of Benjamin Kubelsky? If not, you may have heard of him by his show business name, Jack Benny. He was one of the most famous comedians of the 20th century.
In the most famous skit he ever did, a robber threatens him:
“This is a stickup: Your money or your life!”
Benny is silent.
“Look Bud, I said, “Your money or your life.””
Benny says, “I’m thinking it over.” (more…)

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The Problem with Expectations Or Presidents and Other False Messiahs

I want to talk today about expectations. You may find that the first part of what I say expresses some things about your life that you do not even admit to yourself. Some of you will find the second part of what I say, about expectations of our country and our leaders, very controversial. But it’s Yom Kippur, and if we’re not honest on Yom Kippur, we never will be. (more…)

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The Dutch House

I try to read a couple of bestsellers every year, trying to understand America’s mood by reading what everyone else is reading. One of the books I read this year was The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. I want to talk about this novel tonight as a way to get into how we think about our lives, how we think about our Judaism and the way we think about the people in our families. (more…)

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You shall dwell in Sukkot seven days. . . In order that future generations will know that I made the Israelites live in Sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. [Leviticus 23:42, 43] (more…)


Ritual During A Pandemic

Let’s be very basic: What is ritual? Ritual provides a model of reality, showing how to interpret the world as is, as well as a model for reality, clarifying how life ideally should be.

Ritual brings these two aspects – the “model of” and the “model for” – together.

Ritual is about order and sameness. There is comfort and security in knowing that ritual stays the same, no matter what. (more…)