Crowd Sourcing Sermon Topic for July 10

July 5, 2015

From what person or event in Jewish history or in Jewish text tradition do you draw inspiration?

From the new Yom Kippur Prayerbook (p 198)

In the depths of the night, by the edge of the river, Jacob was left alone.
In heartfelt longing, in the temple of God, Channah uttered her prayer alone.
In the barren wilderness, in doubt and despair, Elijah found God alone.
On the holiest day, in the Holy of Holies, the High Priest entered alone.
We are bound to one another in myriad ways, but each soul needs time to itself.
In solitude we meet the solitary One; silence makes space for the still small voice.
For the Psalmist says: “Deep calls unto deep.” For the depths of our soul, we seek what is most profound.
Adonai, s’fatai tiftach, ufi yagid t’hilatecha.  Adonai, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.

Our Concealed Shortcomings and Charleston

June 26, 2015

By Rabbi Jill Maderer

Rebbe Nachman of Brastlav tells this tale: A young man leaves his home to learn a trade. Years later, he returns to his family and shares that he has become a master in the art of menorah making.  He asks his parents to invite all of the other artisans in town to come see his masterpiece — a candelabra inspired by those of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.  So all the finest crafters come to view this man’s menorah. Later, the son asks his parents, “What did you think?”  They reply, “We’re sorry to say all of your fellow lamp-makers told us that it was a flawed, ugly piece.”  “Ah,” replies the son, “but that is the secret! Yes, they all say it was ugly, but what nobody realizes is this: Each sees a different part as ugly. Each overlooks the mistakes that he himself would make, and sees only the shortcomings of the others.  “You see, I made this menorah in this way on purpose — completely out of mistakes and deficiencies — in order to demonstrate that none of us has perfection.”

In Psalm 90, the Psalmist calls to God: “You can see our concealed darkness; You can see our concealed shortcomings, in the light of Your face.”  Perhaps God can see our shortcomings, but can we?

Broken-hearted to live in a society where a white man enters a black church with his gun and brutally murders nine African American souls who are studying Bible, Read the rest of this entry »

Crowd Sourcing Sermon for Friday, July 3

June 26, 2015

Freedom: Breaking the Bonds:

In honor of the 4th of July, we celebrate the birth of our nation when we broke the bonds of tyranny and dedicated ourselves to freedom.
During the High Holy Days we ask, “What bonds do you hope to break in your life today?”
We will discuss the prayer below from our New High Holy day prayer.

Please share your thoughts.

To Break the Bonds of anger,
To be generous of heart;
To break the bonds of shame,
To live with self-respect;

To break the bonds of envy,
To serve one another in joy;
To break the bonds of boredom,
To be attentive to all God’s gifts;

To break the bonds of fear,
To live with courage and strength;
To untie the knots of betrayal;
To love with fullness of being.

To break the bonds of loneliness,
To receive a hand of hope;
To break the bonds of self-centeredness,
To extend a hand of help;

Released from the darkness,
Our people found their freedom at the sea;
And we pray for liberation
At the dawning of this year.

“Encountering the New High Holy Day Prayerbook”

June 24, 2015

Crowdsourcing Sermons: Contribute your Thoughts

by Rabbi Jill Maderer

For this summer’s sermons from July 3 through August 28, we’d like to incorporate your perspectives. The clergy will pose a question regarding the readings and interpretations in our new High Holy Day prayerbook, Mishkan Hanafesh at the beginning of each week and we encourage you to respond to that question by responding on the blog ( or on Facebook (“friend” us!).  Your responses will help to inform our words in the sermon for that week.

Read the rest of this entry »

Demand Fair School Funding Tomorrow: Interfaith Shabbat Service in Harrisburg

June 19, 2015

Saturday, June 20: Prayer Service in Harrisburg

Rabbi Eli Freedman will lead Shabbat morning prayer and people of faith from across the state will gather to at our State Capitol to demand a moral budget that fully funds public schools. Participants from Rodeph Shalom will be carpooling from the synagogue. Contact Rachel Thomas (  about making arrangements for either driving or riding to Harrisburg.
10:30AM | Shabbat Service | Steps of the State Capitol
12PM | Interfaith Ceremony | Steps of the State Capitol

The Power of a Spiritual Foundation in Our Quest for Wholeness

May 31, 2015

by Rabbi Jill Maderer

Last week, at my annual physical, I brought the health forms my doctor is required to complete, so that I may serve on faculty for two weeks this summer at our Reform Movement’s Jewish camp, Harlam.  The camp does not provide a different version of the health form for faculty, so it can be humorously confusing for the doctor to complete questions that were clearly created for an adolescent.  You can imagine.  As the doctor continues to read down the list of possible ailments, there’s this: does the camper have a problem with eating disorders?  With cutting? The doctor looks up at me.  “What kind of camp is this?!  A place for troubled teens?”  “No,” I reply, “it’s just Jewish camp.  We worry a lot.”

And truth– there is a lot to worry about.   When I think of what it means to raise children and adolescents or to exist as adults in our world, the challenges to a healthy and whole life are overwhelming.  Yet there are real resources in our quest for wholeness. Read the rest of this entry »

Parashat B’midbar – Being Counted

May 28, 2015

There’s an old expression from the great city of Chicago – vote early and vote often.   The first part of the saying is good advice.  We actually have a similar idea in Judaism.  We should be so excited to do a mitzvah that we do it first thing – early in the day; this is why brises are often done in the morning.  The second part of this saying is obviously a tongue-in-cheek reference to the corrupt practice of voter fraud, for as we know so well, every person is entitled to one vote and one vote only.

Read the rest of this entry »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.