Crowd Sourcing Sermon Topic for July 11


For the sermon on Friday, July 11, our clergy will be drawing inspiration from your comments to the question:

“When have you taken a risk and done something outside your comfort zone?”

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

15 Responses to Crowd Sourcing Sermon Topic for July 11

  1. docbzf says:

    ” Will you marry me ? ” , I proposed to Jane some 54 years ago . I faced the great risk of rejection , but my feeling of love trumped my feeling of anxiety .
    Lucky me . . she said ” yes ” .
    Popping the question to Jane felt risky , but the long-term ,
    life-long reward was so powerful .
    Oh what a night . . 54 years ago . . but every moment remains a strong vivid positive memory .

  2. docbzf says:

    ” No , ” responded Jane firmly , ” I don’t want us to do it ” .
    Jane did not want us to be the first couple on the dance floor.
    Why ? . . fear of criticism . . fear of humiliation . .
    a BLOW to one’s EGO . . .
    I reminded her that we were the first couple to dance at our wedding . . . and gradually we overcame any reluctance to be the focus of people’s attention .
    The Talmud observes : ” All beginnings are difficult ” .

  3. Katherine (Kathy) Cohen says:

    Four years ago, after going on Birthright Israel, I spend three weeks in the occupied West Bank, including staying in a refugee camp. It was a life changing experience.

  4. Cy L Swartz says:

    Picketing at Woolworth on ridge ave just above Broad – ca 1956 – in support of lunch counter deseg in the South
    Helping to organize prayer pilgrimage to DC 1957

    Deciding to sell our first house – on a mostly Jewish block to whoever wanted it -an African american family bought it 1963
    ,moved to a racially integrated block in walking distance of GjC

    Traveling on Arab buses fro j’lem to Bethlehem (Lois prayed at Rachel’s on Rosh Hodesh!

    Holding a weekly interfaith vigil outside of phila to advocate for safety for all parties and justice for Palestinians

    Choosing to leave faculty @ Central HS TO work in national teachers corps with marcus foster & Gratz HS

    Overall to act on my beliefs and principles in my lifelong attempt to make god real in the world

    L’takain olam

  5. docbzf says:

    The World’s Greatest Lie

    So , what is the world’s greatest lie . . .or more precisely , the most frequently spoken untruth ?

    I think it’s the response ” same old , same old ” to the question : what’s new ? ” , or ” how are you ? ” .

    We humans are never the same , certainly regarding biology and physiology :

    * our brains constantly change by re-wiring cell connections ( neuro-plasticity ) ;

    * our lungs are exchanging exhaled breaths for fresh air ;

    * our hearts are pumping oxygen-rich blood to every cell in our body .

    Each human body contains about 75 trillion cells . There are about 4 million cell divisions every second .

    Dear Reader , you are working so hard as you sit and read these words .

    * * * * * *

    Despite this constant growth , change , movement , why does it seem that life is often ” same old , same old ” ?

    I think that the answer is MindLESSness .

    Instead of keen self-awareness ( MindFULLness ) , we mostly operate MindLESSly , like thoughtless zombies on autopilot .

    So why do you and I often operate on autopilot ? Neuro-biologists answer that our brains evovled with the

    Number One Job description : keep us alive . To keep us alive and safe , we tend to follow familiar behaviors .

    Yes , each of us builds comfort zones to keep us safe . . body and soul .

    Zones have walls , and we build walls with blocks . . . not cement blocks , mental blocks . But blocks can be changed ,

    with force from strong motivation .

    * * * *

    In my life I recognize comfort zones to body and soul .

    A comfort zone to body protects me from danger , disability , death .

    A comfort zone to soul ( spirit ) protects me from disappointment , criticism , failure , humiliation .

    My most vivid existential fear occurred the very first time that I allowed my 16-year-old daughter Debra to drive our car
    with me as front-seat passenger . ( Debra : in my imagination , she’s still a helpless newborn baby . )

    Love and trust trumped fear of trauma . Yes , we did hit some bumps during that learning experience

    but daughter and dad did grow in soul .

    My most recent breakout from psychological limits occurred about two months ago at a an Erev Shabbat service at

    Rodeph Shalom . The Siddur spoke of :

    ” wherever we are , it is eternally Egypt ( a narrow space ) .

    that there is a better place , a Promised Land ; . .

    that there is no way to get from here to there

    except by joining hands , marching together .

    Cantor Erin sang joyfully ” L,cha Dodi ” , with imagery of a bride and a wedding . Her music was moving , so I moved .

    Just as we dance at weddings , I began a line dance/walk /marching together .

    Congregants stare . . I did not care .

    Congregants joined : we all felt enriched .

  6. Bob Bierman says:

    The existential fallacy of risk

    Of course we as humans are going to think of the risks we took which worked out or changed us for the better. However, what we are not good at is accepting that risk is not predetermined for a favorable outcome. Life is far too random for that. We might take the risk of crossing against the light and be hit by a truck. I believe that is why many of us don’t take risks. We life in unconscious existential dread of the knowledge of the randomness of life, very often a flip of the coin. After all, If Moses had taken the risk of turning left instead of right,( a bias for right turns seems to be hard wired) we would have the oil, and they would have the sand.

  7. Jamie says:

    I think it’s important to make a distinction between things that are a little scary or require some extra chutzpah and things, often of a deeper or more personal nature, that are truly outside of our comfort zone.

    • Bob says:

      Perhaps. But few of us face deep choices in life. Most of us live a mundane life, which is not meant as a pejorative, and even in that day to day life live in existential crisis.

  8. rofah says:

    After over sixteen years of being sexually abused by a family member, I finally disclosed the abuse, stopped going home overnight, and moved to Philadelphia the day I graduated from college to start a summer job in a new city knowing no one. Now, eight weeks later, I am preparing to matriculate to medical school in August, loving my job, settling nicely into Philly, and am feeling endlessly thankful to have found Rodeph Shalom. Taking these risks took me very far outside of my comfort zone; I was very scared. While there are certainly tough moments, I feel so blessed and thankful to be where I am as a result of making these changes.

    • docbzf says:

      Silence is my reply to your sadness . Silence because no words can give you the thorough comfort you deserve .
      After this silence of grief , I am stirred to learn of your bravery to turn your life around for the better .
      I think that you are the bravest person I have ever known .
      L’chaim , may all your wishes be fulfilled .

    • Rabbi Jill Maderer says:

      Thank you for trusting the community with these powerful words. My heart goes out to you for your past and my heart is lifted for your present and future.

  9. Bob says:

    I am in awe. When I wrote about most of life being mundane, I could not imagine the courage it took for you to take the risks you did. Thank you for sharing, thank you for humbling me.

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