Rabbi Scolnic shares his favorite sermons.

Thy Sea Is So Great And My Boat Is So Small

I’m visiting someone who’s in a rehab facility because she’s addicted to a prescription drug. She tells me that she’s doing a little better, and she’s thinking about a prayer that they gave her in one of the groups. She reads me a few lines:

Thy sea, O G-d, so great,
My boat so small.

Thy winds, O G-d, so strong,
So slight my sail.

Thy world, O G-d, so fierce,
And I so frail.

The Top-rated Restaurant in London or Whatever Happened To The Truth?

This is the 37th year that I’ve spoken with you on the High Holidays, and over the years, I’ve talked a lot about the dangers of anti-Semitism. And every time, at least some of you have let me have it. Just last year, when I warned you that things were getting worse, I was told that I was paranoid because there is no anti-Semitism in America. I just kept saying: “There is a lot of hatred out there.” But of course, I wanted to be wrong about my fears.

The Jewishness of the Mayers, the Schnayers and Bayer

On these High Holidays, we have a lot on our minds. There’s a lot going on in our lives and in the world around us. But I want to stay focused on what our Jewishness means to us. Tonight, in a light kind of way, I want to emphasize one aspect of Jewishness.

The word on my mind is “heritage.” We have inherited a proud Jewish legacy from the past.

So to try out the idea that at least a part of Jewish identity is based on heritage, let me tell you a Jewish story called “The Inheritors.”

E.T.

Before I talk about our grief for our loved ones for our Yizkor service, I have a quick story that summarizes everything I’ve been trying to say on these High Holidays.

I’m sitting with a couple that is having problems. The man shouts, in frustration, “I love you more!”

And the woman says quietly, “I love you better.”

Surfing

A recent Bat Mitzvah, Emily Baitch and her family went to Hawaii and had a wonderful time. Emily learned that she has a natural talent for surfing.

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.

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