Crowd Source Sermon Topic

July 19, 2014

Crowdsourcing July 25 Sermon

For this summer’s sermons, we’d like to incorporate your perspectives. The
clergy will pose a question at the beginning of each week. Your
responses to the question will help inform the sermon for that week.

Please respond to July 25 sermon topic: “Technology itself is neither good nor bad, it is how we use it. How has technology helped to connect you to others and/or how has technology separated you from others?”

In Jerusalem, What Else Do You Do?

July 12, 2014

A poem by my friend and colleague, Rabbi Michael Latz:

on the way to visit a friend for dinner on Emek Refaim,
we stopped to do a holy Jewish act:
Buy a book.
As we perused the selection
in Hebrew
and English
at Steimatzky’s,
and explored titles
of trashy novels
and deep philosophy
and Jewish life
and the potential
for Middle East Peace
and how to make
a perfect Shakshouka,
the Air Raid Siren went off.
we went to the miklat–
the safe room/bomb shelter.
We crowded in with
other shoppers:
A mother soothing an anxious toddler
with Hebrew lullabyes,
An older woman reading her I-Phone
for news on the Red Alert app,
Two young college students,
handing out stickers that read, “Discount”
in Hebrew to the children
in the Bomb Shelter
as the Iron Dome intercepted
two of the four rockets launched at Jerusalem,
once considered
now a target.
and our daughters
in the Miklat on Emek Refaim
wondering in our hearts
a volley of unspoken questions:
Is this
our new normal?
Do you ever get used to this?
Where do you put the fear?
How are our daughters–
raised in the safety of the United States–
acting so calmly,
so courageously?
And then, it was over.
We handed over the 100 Sheckel note
and bought a book for me–John Grisham’s latest court room thriller–and a book for Noa:
a young adult novel of fantasy and princesses and dangerous alliances brewing in a mysterious world.
The shop keeper smiled,
handed us our change,
and we said simultaneously,
Todah Rabbah: Thank you.
And walked to dinner.
Because in Jerusalem
what else do you do?

Read the rest of this entry »

Opening to Risk and Praying for Israel: Crowdsourcing Sermon from last Shabbat

July 12, 2014

“You shall love the Eternal your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. Set these words upon your heart.”

Why?  Why does it say to set these words of love and of Torah, upon your heart? Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz teaches: we place the words of Torah upon our hearts so that they can lay there, wait there, for the day our heart breaks.  And when it does break, those words of love sitting on our heart will fall right into the crack.  That’s when we will really know Torah.

With fear comes distancing, the building of walls, the closing of hearts.  But with openness—sometimes even just a crack, exposing our heart—comes the trust and faith that can allow for risk-taking. Read the rest of this entry »

The Reform Movement Stands With Israel

July 11, 2014

From Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President URJ

These have been heavy, heady days. With the escalation of violence in Israel, the Israel Defense Forces have launched Operation Protective Edge, calling up IDF reservists for active duty and amassing troops along the Gaza border. Israel has already had to deploy the Iron Dome.

A number of our Reform Jewish summer programs are on the ground in Israel, including NFTY-EIE, Kesher Taglit-Birthright, Mitzvah Corps, and congregational trips. We have been in constant contact with group leaders and with participants’ families and will continue to closely monitor the situation. At this time, everyone is safe and – Adonai yishmor tzeitam u’vo’am – may God protect their comings and goings.

As I write to you, Israel prepared for another night of rocket fire from Gaza. Residents of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Be’er Sheva, Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh, Ra’anana, and so many other cities will be keeping close to bomb shelters this Shabbat. Sirens are expected to continue to blast warnings as Hamas continues to launch hundreds of rockets at targets in the Negev and throughout the center of Israel. Daily life in Israel will continue to be uprooted.

This is our time to come together as a community to show our solidarity with the people of Israel and the IDF. In the coming days, we will share with you information about the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and the Israel Religious Action Center’s joint campaign to end racist rhetoric, as well as efforts to provide humanitarian aid to our congregations in Israel.

But we can help now.

As we did two years ago, the Reform Movement has joined in partnership with the Conservative Movement and Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) to raise and distribute funds to provide emergency aid and alleviate the pain and suffering of our Israeli brothers and sisters. We can’t stop the rockets or silence the sirens – but we can try to soften their impact on the lives of the children and families living under their blare. Please visit to join this community-wide effort.

This Shabbat, as we keep Israel in our hearts and in our minds, let us say together these words: “Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya’aseh shalom aleynu, v’al kol Yisrael v’al kol Yoshvei Teiveil ve’imru amen, may the One who makes peace in the high heaves make peace for us, all Israel, and all who inhabit the earth.” Amen.

At times such as these, we feel especially connected to our people in Israel and worldwide. I hope you will join me in contributing to this critical joint effort.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rick Jacobs Signature
Rabbi Rick Jacobs

We Stand With Israel

July 11, 2014

Dear Congregation Rodeph Shalom,

As we gather this evening to celebrate Shabbat, our hearts are filled with concern for our beloved Israel. Once again, our brothers and sisters in our spiritual homeland are under attack, as over 500 rockets have been fired from Gaza by Hamas.

Now is the time for our congregational family to stand in solidarity with the State of Israel, its citizens and armed forces. Of course we grieve for all the innocent people who are affected by this situation, but today, we need to be clear that Israel has the right to exist and to defend herself from enemies who seek her destruction.

Our thoughts are especially with our beloved Cantor Erin and David Frankel and their precious daughters Sivan and Meital, as they have been in Israel the past two weeks. We pray for the safety and the return to security of all the people of the Land of Israel. May there be a speedy resolution to this crisis.

Oseh shalom bimromav, Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu, v’al kol Yisrael.
May the One who causes peace to reign in the high heavens, let peace descend upon us, on all Israel and on all the world.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi William Kuhn
Lloyd Brotman, RS President

Rabbi Kuhn’s “Crowdsourced” Sermon (7/4/14)

July 10, 2014

“Have you ever felt that food is sacred? How does food connect you to others? To your family? To Judaism?”

At sunrise on Wednesday mornings in the summer, farmer Phil Stober and his crew pick fresh vegetables and fruit at their farm, Barefoot Organics near Lebanon, PA. and deliver it to Rodeph Shalom every Wednesday afternoon, as part of our Community Supported Agriculture. On Wednesday evenings, RS congregants come in to cook fresh meals, prepared with the produce just-picked that morning and then deliver them (we call them “Mitzvah Meals”) to other RS congregants who are ill, or homebound, or who have recently lost a loved one.

Last Wednesday evening, as I stood in the RS kitchen and watched our team of chefs preparing Mitzvah Meals I was overcome by the feeling that what I was witnessing was the very essence of Judaism.

Can food be sacred? What is the connection between food and Judaism? These are the questions we posed to our congregation this week in our first ever “Crowdsourcing” sermon, where we asked the members of our RS family to offer your thoughts on a different question each week – as our Summer Sermon Series. (As a way to tap into the collective wisdom of our congregation)

This week, we received a lot of very thoughtful responses. Quite a few of the comments focused on the Mitzvah meals, as this has helped provide deeper meaning to the connection between food and Judaism.

Read the rest of this entry »

Crowdsourcing Shabbat Sermons

July 9, 2014

Crowdsourcing July 18 Sermon

For this summer’s sermons, we’d like to incorporate your perspectives. The
clergy will pose a question at the beginning of each week. Your
responses to the question will help inform the sermon for that week.

Please respond to the question for Friday July 18: “What song or piece of music (secular or religious) makes you think differently or think deeply?”


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