To Just Sit: A Spiritual Mindfulness Message on Yom Kippur Afternoon

October 16, 2014

Were you able to find a seat ok?  You may have noticed that when you enter this early part of the Yom Kippur afternoon service, it’s easy to find a place to sit!  Nestled between the crowds of Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur morning, and the crowds that will soon arrive for Yizkor and Neilah, this afternoon service tends to be our quieter moment of the day.  And yet, here you are.  Perhaps you are drawn here because your family has always made Yom Kippur a full-day experience.  Perhaps you need a place to wait out the fast.  Perhaps you are avoiding slicing tomatoes back at your house, where your family is preparing to host a break-fast. And perhaps you are here, to soak up every last potential opportunity, for introspection on Yom Kippur.

I’d like to consider with you, the role of introspection, in these hours of Yom Kippur, and beyond.  What does it mean, to sit in reflection?   Read the rest of this entry »

Israel, Anti-Semitism Resources Recommended This Yom Kippur

October 14, 2014

To learn more about the complex issues involved in Israel and in global Anti-Semitism, explore these resources recommended at our Yom Kippur afternoon discussion, led by Rick Berkman, National Chair of the American Jewish Committee and past president of RS:

An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth: A former AP correspondent explains how and why reporters get Israel so wrong, and why it matters:

Yair Lapid’s speech in memory of the Holocaust:

Rabbi Adam Zeff’s Rosh Hashanah sermon, Israel: Moving Beyond Myths:

A History of Israel, Howard Sachar

My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, Ari Shavit


RS is Going to Israel

October 7, 2014

Our Reform Movement brought more students to Israel this summer than any other denomination. It’s OUR turn! Discover Israel through a progressive Jewish lens with our Reform Movement’s outstanding travel arm, ARZA World. Travel with Rabbis Kuhn and Maderer and RS to Israel April 18-29 and register before Nov 15!  Info here:

Choosing Our Character: A Yom Kippur Message

October 6, 2014

Delivered Yom Kippur morning by Rabbi Jill Maderer

A woman sits at an airport gate, reading her book and eating a bag of cookies… begins Valerie Cox in her poem, “The Cookie Thief.”  The woman at the airport realizes the man next to her– a stranger– is sticking his hand into her bag and eating her cookies!  How dare he do such a thing?  Her row is called, she boards the airplane, settles into her seat and reaches into her handbag for her book.  And there it is.  Instead of the book, she pulls out her unopened bag of cookies.  The bag at the gate belonged to the man.  He had quietly let her stick her hand into his cookies.  She was the cookie thief!

What was this man’s disposition, that he simply allowed a stranger to share his snack?  And what was this woman’s attitude, that she assumed the worst in someone else?  How much does a response to a small everyday, situation say about who we are?  Jewish tradition teaches that both the large life turning-points and those daily small moments reveal our character, or spiritually we might say, our soul. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock the (Jewish) Vote!

September 30, 2014

“Give ear O heaven… let the earth hear the words…”

In this week’s Torah portion, Ha’azinu, Moses calls upon heaven and earth to witness this important moment in Jewish history.  According to commentators the use of heaven and earth as witnesses is common in near eastern literature and forms what is called a merism – a mechanism that uses two extremes to signify totality.  Moses is essentially saying that this moment – the moment when he will leave the people in the capable hands of Joshua to continue their journey into the Promised Land – this moment is of universal significance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rabbi Nachman and Mental Illness – Erev Rosh Hashanah 5775

September 26, 2014

On the cusp of the 19th century, in a shtetl in Western Ukraine, Feiga and Simcha were celebrating the birth of their son, Nachman.  Nachman was named after his grandfather, a great rabbi and a disciple of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidic Judaism.

At his bris, Feiga turned to her brother, Rabbi Baruch, one of the wisest men of the generation, and requested that he bless her son that there should never be any strife surrounding him. He replied, “That is not something that can be done.”

Rabbi Baruch’s response was more true than even he may have predicted.  Throughout his tumultuous life, Nachman would see the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mindfulness and Spirituality: Join Us for Selichot

September 18, 2014
This Saturday we welcome a powerful guest speaker and teacher of spirituality to help us kick-off the High Holy Days with Selichot.
“Going Long, Going Deep: Delving into Our Souls as We Delve into a New High Holy Day Prayerbook” with Rabbi Rex Perlmeter on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 8pm
We will explore passages from the new High Holy Day prayerbook of the Reform Movement, Mishkan HaNefesh, with Rabbi Rex Perlmeter who serves on the  High Holy Day Prayer Book Advisory Board and is a Founding Director of the Jewish Wellness Center.
8:00pm: Grand Dessert Buffet  
8:15pm:  Study Session
9:30pm: Selichot Service


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