Rabbi Scolnic shares his favorite sermons.
(This is a sermon I gave recently at the Bat Mitzvah ceremony of Janessa White)
I’ve talked with Janessa about history and how we both are interested in going back to historical situations where leaders had to make decisions like whether to go to war. Were they right or wrong? Did they make the right decision? Should they be blamed if they made the wrong decision based on the facts as they understood them? For example, Janessa has talked about what American military leaders and political figures might have known about what turned out to be the attack on Pearl Harbor that led to American involvement in World War II. To this day, historians blame different people and there are even conspiracy theories that some in the government wanted it to happen. Some historians claim that we could have been better prepared for that disaster, that we should have been prepared for that attack. Whatever the case, when we make mistakes, we have to learn from what has happened. We were not prepared for the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Have we learned from our mistakes?
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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