Rabbi Scolnic shares his favorite sermons.

How Anakin Skywalker Became Darth Vader

A recent Bar Mitzvah, Caleb Caplan, asked me to give a sermon about Star Wars, and connect it to that week’s reading from the Torah, Shelach Lecha, and I happened to be in the right mood for a personal reason.

The Allen School

The Allen School was the worst school in the Dayton, Ohio system for many years,. Located in the dilapidated inner city, the dropout rate was astronomical. Fifth graders had parole officers.

XENOCIDE

As we are about to celebrate Pesach, I want to think about a word I associate with the High Holidays. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when we repent for our sins and mistakes in the last year, we have a confession called the vidui that uses every letter of the Hebrew alphabet to name a sin or a fault. When the English translators wanted to duplicate this Hebrew acrostic, they did not know what to do with the letter “x”, which does not exist in Hebrew, so they came up with Xenophobia, which is fear of the strange and the alien, fear of the other. At first, people I know mocked this translation, but they don’t mock it any more.

Lies and Truths

It might seem strange that we are at a point in time that we need to talk about telling the truth, but we are clearly at that point in time.

The Torah says: “You must not carry false rumors; you shall not join hands with the guilty to act as a malicious witness.” (Exodus 23:1)

A Wall In Your Heart

Following the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (70 C.E.), the outer western wall of the Temple Mount became Judaism’s most holy and sacred space. The Western Wall, or the Kotel was never abandoned by Jewish people and there was always a special veneration for that holy space.

Fighting Chaos

I keep thinking about the hurricane season that passed, because for a lot of the victims of those terrible catastrophes, the nightmare is far from over. After I continue to send funds to those who need, I try to understand these events. And I think about the story of the ancient Flood and how Noah survived: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (Genesis 7:11).

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