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Showing posts from September, 2012

Words are Wind?

Southport Reform Community  Kol NidrĂ© Sermon 
Words are Wind? 
“I’ll begin from the moment I got you, the moment I saw you lying on the table among my other birthday presents... on Friday, June 12, I was awake at six o ‘clock, which isn’t surprising, since it was my birthday. But I’m, not allowed to get up at that hour, so I had to control my curiosity, until quarter to seven... A little after seven I went to Daddy and Mama and then to the living room to open my presents, and you were the first thing I saw, maybe one of my nicest presents...’ 
When she started scribbling her thoughts in her checkered blue-and-red diary, on that fateful 12th of June, 1942, did she know her words were eternal? That they would change the world – both hers and ours? 
Words bind our fate and shape worlds, as my fellow Dutchwoman and co-religionist Anne Frank would intuit. Words, words, words. Yom Kippur is heavy with them. Prayers that are given wings through our sacred intentions. Words that indict us and…

Heroes and Villains

Yom Kippur Sermon  Southport Reform Synagogue 
The Heroes and Villains Among Us: Abraham and Jonah 
One of the great unexpected delights of rabbinical school was discovering that so many of my fellow students are science fiction and fantasy nerds. Star Trek, Star Wars (but never both at once!), Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings – all these modern-day sagas were loved, cherished and dissected by us students. I guess it makes sense: these narratives are so archetypical and we rabbis love a good story and a good book. 
One fantasy, however, that many of us have been particularly engrossed with is the ‘Game of Thrones’ book series by George R.R. Martin, also a successful television series by the American network HBO. In most fantasy and sci-fi, there is not so much space for moral ambiguity or psychological depth. Not so in ‘Game of Thrones’ – set in a brutal Medieval world, even the most noble of characters know their darker sphere and even the greatest of villains have some redeeming qualiti…

The Numbers Game

Southport Reform Synagogue Esther Hugenholtz 
The Numbers Game 
This is a sermon that shouldn’t be delivered again. This won’t be original nor will it be my best. It won’t be clever, complex or sophisticated. It won’t include intelligent commentary on the Torah or bring insightful citations from the Talmud. But it will be real. 
I wrote a sermon on a similar theme last year. the economy. Almost five years ago, in 2008, I started my rabbinical studies in the United States. My husband and I had plans to emigrate to America from the Netherlands. I moved to Los Angeles and hoped that he’d catch up soon and find a job in his field.  ‘Man plans and God laughs’, the Yiddish saying goes. The economy collapsed, my husband lost his job back home and couldn’t find one in the USA. We were forced to maintain a long-distance marriage for the two years that we struggled to keep me in school despite dwindling funds and stalling opportunities. Eventually, we had to face the music and pull out of rabbin…