Crowd Sourcing Sermon Topic for July 4


For the sermon on Friday, July 4, our clergy will be drawing inspiration from your comments to the question:

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

Click here for more information about the nature of crowd sourcing from Rabbi Kuhn’s blog

16 Responses to Crowd Sourcing Sermon Topic for July 4

  1. docbzf says:

    The foods of the Passover Seder are so rich in historical/spiritual/tribal meaning . During this Jewish family home tradition , we
    EAT HISTORY ( unleavened bread; bitter herbs; charoset; salt water; green vegatable ; egg; shank bone; Elijah’s cup of wine;
    Miriam’s cup of water; perhaps an orange ) . . and all with a FULL MOON enlightenimg our path thru the waters .
    My second favorite food experience is the Challah of Shabbat , with the themes of Creation .. and the 7th day of rest , and Manna while wandering thru the Wilderness .
    My third favorite Jewish food experience is the Break Fast at the end of Yom Kippur . The Motzi becomes most meaningful on a really empty stomach .
    by Ben-Zion Friedman

  2. Coming from a more orthodox background, but not growing up in a kosher home, when I was a student in GB during my college junior year, I lived in a kosher dorm. I continued such, at least at home, at a later point in my young adulthood. However, I needed to find a meaning/reason for such not just “because that’s the commandment”. A number of years ago, I heard in a rabbi’s sermon, his reason for doing so. As the Temple, when it stood, was the altar of our devotion to The Almighty, so our home table has since the Temple’s destruction, become our “altar”. Eating is a sacred act and our table has become our altar. I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but it gave me a sense of purpose and consciousness on this practice.


    • docbzf says:

      You write of Consciousness . . mindfulness , self-awareness .
      With Kashrut , religious rites remind us of ethical rights .
      Paying attention helps us avoid being mindless zombies on autopilot .

  3. docbzf says:

    Mitzvah Meals
    Back in the day . . . Jane worked as a waitress to make money for college tuition , and I worked as a waiter to make money for graduate school . Food was served to make money.
    These days . . . we mix with other RS congregants as we mix foods to serve as Mitzvah Meals . Food is served to help others .
    So here is the contrast : secular values versus religious virtues . Duality . . . conflict . . the nature of Human Nature .
    A great secular value is the logic of MarketPlace economics: input leads to output ; risk leads to reward ;
    get more , More , MORE .
    Religious values follow an internal emotional logic : you have to give in order to receive ; emotional bonds trump stocks and bonds ; don’t conquer the world . . . conquer yourself .
    Making Mitzvah Meals in the RS kitchen , and experiencing the gratitude of the recipients . . . now THAT is a TRUE EDUCATION .
    The old wisdom is ever-new :
    you make a living by what you get
    you make a LIFE by what you GIVE .

    ( some source material: Rabbi Joseph Soleveitchik ; David Brooks)
    submitted by Ben-Zion Friedman

  4. A few years ago I attended a group that met to focus and meditate on the place of food in our lives. One of my favorite things to do is to make dinner and invite friends over. It is an act of love, of giving, and of inclusion for me. As I reflected on this I discovered that I am not a good receiver. I can give and give but will often avoid or reject being taken care of. There are so many occasions in which food is given as support: in times of grief casseroles appear and at birthdays cakes are baked. It is often such an automatic response we can take it for granted. I know I have, along with other forms of support. Thinking about my relationships with food and people really forces me to reflect on how open and present I am. Food is also something that nourishes – physically and spiritually. Our bodies are a gift from God and thus we should take care of them. We have to eat several times a day and each of those times is an opportunity to be amazed by how creation sustains us and if we are good shepherds to it, how it can continue to grow and regenerate. As a method of reflection I wrote this poem:

    Put your hand on my shoulder
    On the side of my face
    Teach me to receive
    With no argument
    But with a smile and
    Thank you

    Be the voice
    Quiet but present in the day
    That says,
    “It’s ok,”
    Help me stand still
    Marvel at my breath
    My bones
    My blood as it pulses

    Instill grace
    As I walk up subway steps
    As I stir soup in the kitchen
    As I meet strangers who are really friends
    In this human experience
    Be the little light that helps me
    Bring in nutrition
    As food
    As friends
    As self-compassion

    -Danielle Cole

  5. Bob Bierman says:

    Thinking about Jews and food brings to mind the term “belly Jew”. It’s usually a term of derision to describe Jews who are only Jewish in the sense that they admit to liking bagels and lox, corned beef sandwiches, chicken soup, and the like. Of course it sounds so much better to call an individual a secular Jew or a cultural Jew. RS is a welcoming community. We welcome secular and cultural Jews and in fact, truth be told many of us fit that particular niche (myself included). Am I a ‘belly Jew”? Should I be insulted? Food and Jews; a very complicated topic.

    • docbzf says:

      A ” belly Jew ” is still a Jew ; in freedom-loving America, we are all ” Jews by choice ” .
      Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan defined Judaism as a religious civilization . There are numerous components of a civilization : food , music , literature , languages , history , holy days , rituals . . . just to name a few .
      But the basic foundation is Peoplehood . We each behave differently; we each believe differently ; but we all BELONG to the Jewish people .

  6. Jessica says:

    For me, food is an inherently Jewish thing. We keep kosher inside the house and I only eat vegetarian out of the house in an effort to be a modern kosher Jew. Every time I eat, I get to think about being Jewish and how this ties me to my family but also to my ancestors. The blessings over the food also help me to feel that food is sacred but I don’t often remember to do the blessings. I’m trying, though 🙂 Eating is a way to connect with others so that you are able to find nourishment both physically and emotionally. In this time where we eat too much and talk to one another face to face too little, making a healthy meal together can become spiritually fulfilling, as well.

    • docbzf says:

      I agree that eating kosher ( or kosher-style ) is a link to Our Ancestors ( without whom we would not be alive ) .
      Kashrut also involves Mindfulness ( we should be aware of our food choices, and not eat like a zombie on auto-pilot ).
      Keeping kosher also strengthens our-self control ; self-control is an ingredient for happiness .
      Finally , kashrut reminds us that we cannot have or get everything we might want in this world . Even Moses did not get to go to The Promised Land .

  7. Food becomes sacred to me within the rituals that restrict our eating of it. For example, the Yom Kippur fast tests my commitment to not become grumpy, enhances the specialness of the day, and sweetens the ‘breaking’ of the fast that comes later. The restrictions of Passover fare create a special time and space, and sets us apart from our Christian friends. Restricting food intake for an ideal such as ‘eating animals doesn’t feel right’ can make the act of eating seem more special, when we feel positive about our food. Restricting food intake for health reasons can feel like a homage to our bodies and a contribution to our strength and vigor, creating a sacredness of self valuation and care. Preparing for a camping trip when we know food may be less available makes us appreciate the easy dinners available at city sidewalk cafes.

    To sum up, food by its lack makes food more sacred to us and reminds us of our goid fortune in having it so readily available.

    • docbzf says:

      You are virtuous by paying ATTENTION to your food . . and creating spiritual and/or historic connections . Even a simple HaMotzi blessing does generate Mindfulness .

  8. Stephanie Ben-Salem says:

    I always feel as if my food is very sacred; particularly, when anything has been killed (sacrificed) in order for me to be sustained. When cows, chickens, fish, (and yes, vegetation) have been at least humanely bred and housed, then it’s even more important that they are killed humanely and respected in this way. We must remember the fact that they are also part of G-d’s creation, and so this makes them even more sacred. I believe that when there is creation, that which has been created will also possess a neshama, and a refuah (healing) quality. Ultimately, I prefer to take only what I will eat, and I do not waste what is given to me so that the life sacrificed for me will not be in vain.

    • docbzf says:

      So, where is God ? The Chassidic answer is : ” God is where we let God in ” .
      I prefer : God is where we PUT God in ” . . emphasizing our sensitivity and choice .

  9. Matthew Wander says:

    Beer has always been sacred in judaism. Unfortunately we stopped making it ourselves. It became something merely to consume not to appreciate. It became the band-aid to a hard day rather than a celebration. The point of beermaking at RS has never been to increase what we drink, but rather to appreciate what we drink. Drinking should always be public, a group celebration rather than shunted to the private corners of disease and fear. Alcohol in all its forms is a central part of not just Jewish civilization, but all civilization. When you appreciate it rather than just consuming it, then it becomes sacred.

    • docbzf says:

      I agree with your sentiment of AWARENESS . . MINDFULNESS.
      Much better to be fully focused ( as you are ) than to go thru life like a mindless zombie on autopilot .

  10. Rabbi William Kuhn says:

    I’d like to thank all of you for your very thoughtful and beautiful comments about the connection of food and Judaism. I have incorporated a lot of your thoughts into my sermon for tonight (Friday, July 4) as we explore how the entire ethical food movement comes directly from Jewish values. I hope to see you tonight! Have a happy and safe Fourth of July, and Shabbat Shalom. Bill Kuhn

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