Rabbi Scolnic shares his favorite sermons.

Food

I don’t need to tell you that food is an important part of Rosh Hashanah. Many special foods are included in a traditional Rosh Hashanah meal; the foods themselves are considered to be blessings. Sweet foods are eaten to symbolize our hope for a “sweet new year.” We enjoy “new fruit,” a fruit that has recently come into season but we have not yet had the opportunity to enjoy this year (often a pomegranate). I’m not into this one, but the head of a fish is sometimes served, to remind us to be “like the head and not the tail”—so we’ll be leaders, not followers. I guess this is one way to get ahead. The fish also symbolizes the translation of Rosh Hashanah, which literally means, “Head of the Year” in Hebrew. A special challah is baked, sweetened with raisins and braided into a round shape, to show that the year is round. Apples are dipped in honey, again symbolizing sweetness. All of these traditions are important, because they help to connect us to the deeper meaning of the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

Black Panther

Recently, a Bat Mitzvah, Shoshana Fleishman, asked me to talk about one of the Marvel superhero movies. Since I go to all these movies with my marvel-ous grandchildren, I had my pick, and I chose Black Panther, which was one of the biggest movies of all time.

Let My People Go

We’ve all heard and sung the old African-American spiritual, “Go Down Moses,” with the famous words, “Let My people go.” 

We all know at least the outline of the story of the Exodus and the Haggadah and we see Moses say to Pharaoh, “Let My people go.”

But chances are that we don’t know the other half of this verse. This is the challenge in being Jewish today.

There’s A Place For Us

It happens on a regular basis. Someone who rarely if ever sets foot in our shul will come by to show me, or email me pictures of a synagogue they visited overseas. Whether in the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, or even Asia, they are excited to show me pictures of a synagogue in a faraway city. I tell them the pictures are lovely, but we have a beautiful synagogue right here at home.

Judaism and Drug Addiction

I recently officiated at a funeral at the Hebrew Free Burial Society for a Jewish man who had died from drug addiction. He had forsaken his family decades ago, leaving a trail of pain.

Changing the Narrative

These days, when we think about Israel, we often think about how some people think negatively about Israel. We know that Israel has more than its share of problems, external threats and internal threats. The external threats are countries and groups in the Middle East and elsewhere who are sworn to destroy Israel. They are always an immediate threat to Israel’s survival. The internal issues are socio-economic and religious. We know all this.

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