Neighbor is a Moral Concept* (Kol Nidrei 2017)

October 1, 2017

Or zarua latzadik / Light is sown for the righteous**, words we just sang as the introduction to Kol Nidrei. This Yom Kippur, we search for the light of righteousness that it may illumine our path, and the path for generations to come.

Since our last Yom Kippur together, our world feels different.  We have born witness to anti-Semitism and bigotry, meant to keep us from the faith that we have the power to stand in the light.  More emboldened than recent memories of hate.  No longer hiding behind the white hood.  Not limited to the right or left fringes.  White supremacists, have desecrated cemeteries, painted swastikas in our city, threatened our Jewish Community Centers, and just last week created a new online presence #Gasthesynagogue.  And, in 2017 America, armed Nazis stalked a Reform Jewish synagogue in Charlottesville.   According to the Anti-Defamation League, in the first quarter of 2017 anti-semitic incidents in the U.S. surged more than 86%.

What do we do, in the face of heightened Anti-Semitism? Read the rest of this entry »


Our Love is All of God’s Money: Avinu Malkeinu and the Divine Economy

September 27, 2017

It sounds like a classic nightmare. I wake up late and rush to class, only to find that we have an exam for which I had totally forgotten to study. With sweat running down my neck, in a state of sheer panic, I look down at the sheet of paper on my desk not knowing a single answer…

Unfortunately, this was not a dream, and in fact, reality during my senior year of college in a Medieval Philosophy class. And so, bereft of options, like so many of my ancestors before me, I began to pray, “Dear God, if you could just help me pass this test, I promise to study so hard in the future and be a really good person…”

Read the rest of this entry »


I Am Becoming Who I Am*: Transformation in Our Times of Change (Rosh Hashanah 2017)

September 23, 2017

In all of my years preaching from our bimah, I think the sermon about which I have received the most response is the one that described my character revealing challenges in the Whole Foods parking lot.  Speaking of which: What do you think of the new Whole Foods?  I know that many of you shop there, because I see you there all the time.  Even after a year of the new lay-out and new procedures, the new Whole Foods still unsettles me.  When I’ve observed my discomfort I’ve thought of you.  I’ve thought, every time congregants tell me that change in something as meaningful as synagogue life is difficult, I need to remember this — how disoriented I can feel about something so simple, as a new version of my grocery store.  Change– change of all kinds– is hard.   Read the rest of this entry »


There is No Hiding from Difference

December 25, 2016

chanukiya-1584A rabbi named Francine Green Roston recently moved with her family from New Jersey to Whitefish, Montana, in search of a slower pace of life.  As you can imagine, there are not many Jews in their new small town (although with a name like “Whitefish,” you’d think…) but Rabbi Roston has found a small Jewish community.

She also discovered that her neighbors include the white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.  Last week, ignited by the emerging white supremacy movement, a neo-Nazi website issued a call to take action against the Jews of Whitefish.  The site listed the names, pictures, contact information, and addresses of alleged Jews in town, and photo-shopped pictures of Rabbi Roston with a Nazi-era yellow star. Read the rest of this entry »


HaKarat HaTov: Jewish Thanksgiving and Jewish Living

November 24, 2016

Discover more Jewish values on raising kids who are responsible, grateful and menschy with money on Tues., Nov 29, when NY Times money columnist Ron Lieber speaks.

When this year’s Slichot speaker, Dr. Dan Gottleib of WHYY hosted his final weekly Voices in the Family last year, he focused the show on gratitude.  As callers thanked Dr. Dan for giving them something– courage or patience or thanks…  he responded (paraphrased) “I don’t give anyone anything that isn’t already there.  It’s about seeing what’s already there.”

Seeing what’s already there– this is Judaism’s approach to Thanksgiving.  One Hebrew term for gratitude is “hakarat hatov.” Read the rest of this entry »


Our Concealed Shortcomings: On Bias and Race

October 13, 2016

delivered by Rabbi Jill Maderer, Yom Kippur, Congregation Rodeph Shalom     

A story I love, from Rabbi Nachman of Brazslav.  A young woman visits her family and shares that she has become a master in the art of menorah making. She asks her parents to invite all of the other artisans in town to come see her masterpiece.  So all of the finest crafters come to view the menorah.  Later, the daughter asks her parents, “What did they think?” The parents reply, “We’re sorry to say, all of your fellow lamp-makers described a different flaw.” “Yes,” replies the daughter, “but that is the secret! They all say it was flawed, but what nobody realizes is this: Each sees a different part as blemished, but overlooks the mistakes that he himself would make.  You see, I made the menorah in this way on purpose — replete with deficiencies — in order to demonstrate that all of us have shortcomings.

Rabbi Nachman’s parable is drawn from the Psalmist, who calls to God: “Alumenu limor panecha” (Ps 90). “You can see our concealed darkness; You can see our concealed shortcomings, in the light of Your face.” God can see our shortcomings. Read the rest of this entry »


High Holiday Services for Families with Young Children

September 28, 2016

Rodeph Shalom’s High Holy Days Services Designed for Families with Young Children

Contemporary Multi-generational Morning Services

Requires a “pass”; please contact Catherine Fischer cfischer@rodephshalom.org.

Rosh Hashanah: Monday, October 3, 8:30 am

Yom Kippur: Wednesday, October 12, 8:30 am

A full service for adults; yet a family-friendly atmosphere with children of all ages. Clergy, congregational choir, and guitar lead accessible music, encouraging participants to join in. Designed for all ages, the informality provides a comfortable setting for families with young children and there are activities for the children during the sermon.

 

Tashlich Service at Fairmount Waterworks
Monday, October 3, 1:30-2:00pm
640 Water Works Drive Philadelphia, PA 19130
Cast away your sins with breadcrumbs.  Open to all.

                      

Afternoon Mini-Services for Families

Open to the community; no pass needed, please just bring photo ID for security.

Rosh Hashanah: Monday, October 3, 3:00 pm
Yom Kippur: Wednesday, October 12, 1:30 pm

A very brief service for families of very young children and their parents and grandparents.