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Showing posts from 2012

Sacrificing God: Erev Rosh Hashanah Sermon 5773

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How many of you are here tonight because someone you love asked you to be here? Or because someone you love told you to be here?
How many of you are here to connect with the Jewish community? To connect with Jewish culture and history? To feel connected to your family, whether they are sitting next to you or are across the country?
How many of you are here because this is just what Jewish people do? How many of you are here to make amends with God?

Tonight we are starting a journey. We will spend the next ten days climbing a mountain together, on a journey to the top. And when we get to the top, we’ll have more than a view of the path we took to get there; we’ll have a panorama of of the past year spread out beneath us. We will look back on our past, and out toward our future as well.
Every year at this time we revisit the story of the akedah — the story of the binding of Isaac. God tells Abraham to take his son, his only son, the one he loves best, to the top of Mount Moriah and to offer him…

Living Jewish Values at Camp

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This year at Camp Newman, each day at camp had its own theme which was carried through all activities during the day – not just the educational programming. For example, when the theme was “kehillah kedosha” (building a holy community), it was a part of pool time: building a holy community means following the rules so everyone can feel safe. It was a part of meal times: building a holy community means cleaning up your dishes after a meal, because we all have a part in making the dining hall a place we all want to eat It was a part of sports: building a holy community means playing fair on the field so everyone can enjoy the game. It was a part of the talent show: building a holy community means cheering and applauding for everyone at the talent show (whether or not they have talent).
All day there were chances to build a holy community. What is unique about camp is the context put around every activity – the reminder that every part of our day is a chance to express our community’s val…

Things I Learned at Jewish Summer Camp: A Break from the Internet is Good for Kids, and Adults

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It almost goes without saying that it is good for kids to get offline and go outside, it is exactly what we expect to happen at summer camp. The same can be said for adults.  The internet at camp is notoriously bad. The geography of camp and the set up of the wireless service makes it impossible to use your phone and the computer at the same time. Plus, the phone service and 3G service was so sporadic it was like living in a Verizon commercial “Can you hear me now?” While that may sound like it is not such a big deal, it does make doing anything online or over the phone very inconvenient. For two weeks my iPhone was reduced to a mere camera, and I could not even post photos to facebook without driving down the hill to the coffee shop.  At first this is frustrating, every summer it takes me a day or two to adjust to life without e-mail or voice mail, I start off feeling disconnected, like I have no idea what is going on outside of camp. How do I know something happened to me if I don’t …

Blessing for my daughter at her Bat Mitzvah

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When we finished tying your tzitzit you took the most important step of becoming a Bat Mitzvah. It was not the act of tying the fringes; it was the moment when you realized that it was yours.  Truly yours — not just as a possession, but something beyond that. You made it yours by the work you put in and by connecting each knot to your hopes and dreams, to the things you are grateful for, and to your own understanding of what it means to be a  Jewish adult. I made this tallit for you last summer with your dad, but it is you who completed it. Today we will literally hand you the Torah, passing on our values to you, but it is up to you what you will do with it.
Just like your tallit, you will make Judaism your own. The painted corners of your tallit represent the journey our ancestors took to the Promised Land, as well as your own journey; these are my blessings for you at this stage in your life’s journey. May you always be able to articulate your hopes for the future as beautifully as you did when you…