Rabbi Scolnic shares his favorite sermons.

2013: SOMEONE IS CALLING Or Is Good-Enough Good Enough?

In August 2005, Collin Smith was 14 years old when he was a passenger in a car accident. The teenage driver of the car lost control of the vehicle and it wound up flipping several times, before landing upside down on top of Collin. Collin suffered a compression fracture in his neck, resulting in the loss of ability to use his legs and limited mobility of his arms and fingers, which made him a quadriplegic. He spent four months in hospitals.


A lot of us have read Dan Brown’s new novel Inferno. The basis of this book comes from Dante’s classic poem about a journey through the levels of Hell. When you get to Hell, Dante wrote, there is a sign on the gate:
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

My father’s funeral was on a Tuesday. My siblings and I sat shiva with my mother in Maryland until Friday morning and then left to spend Shabbos and the last couple of days of shiva in our own communities. It was hard to leave and it was a long drive on a summer Friday. I had not been home in a week and it had easily been the worst week of my life. So as I drove the last few blocks to my house, I was quite ready to get out of the car.

The way you wear your hat

The way you sip your tea

The memory of all that

No, no, they can't take that away from me

One of the most popular cultural phenomena of the last few years is a trilogy of books called The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It is a dystopia, which is the opposite of a utopia; it is a terrible vision of America in the future. In high school, we read dystopias like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984. Now this new dystopia called The Hunger Games portrays an America where a rebellion against the ruling elite is punished with annual games in which young representatives from the twelve districts are placed in an arena and must kill each other until only one victor is left.

Over the years I’ve told you a lot of stories about people I’ve known. Before I told those stories, I asked the people’s permission and changed their names and other elements. The story that I’m going to tell you today is about two people who came to me at least partly so that I would tell their story to as many people as I could. They are not members of this congregation but read something I wrote and decided that they wanted to tell me about their lives, and, for a reason it took me a while to figure out, wanted me to tell their story for them.

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