Showing posts from October, 2015

From Comfort Zone to Home

Parashat Lech Lecha Reform Judaism Shabbat Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz
From Comfort Zone to Home
Vayomer Adonai el Avram lech lecha me’artzecha u’mimoladecha u’mibeit avicha el ha’aretz asher ar’echa’ (Gen. 12:1) – ‘And the Eternal said to Avram, go for yourself, from your land and your birthplace and your father’s house to the land I will show you.’
If we would have to compile a Top Ten of meaningful lines from the Torah that are just begging to be ‘d’rashed’, then this line would make the cut.
One of the things that makes me passionate about the Torah is the sweep of its narrative arc, the ‘God’s eye view’ of the story, from Creation to the death of Moses. Even more powerful, perhaps, is not the ability to zoom out to the expanse of the universe but rather to focus on molecules of meaning that, like subatomic particles, can hold enough energy and wisdom to fuel the world entire. This first line of Lech Lecha has such density.
‘Go for yourself, from your land and your birthplace and your fat…

To Love, Honour and Obey?

Parashat Bereishit 2015 Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz
To Love, Honour and Obey?
The leaves are turning, the evenings are lengthening and the chagim have drawn to a close: time for a weekly ritual of watching ‘Downton Abbey’ on iPlayer. Apart from the completely ahistorical and socially inaccurate way class relationships are depicted, the series usually showcases a wedding or two. Last week’s episode saw the wedding of Mr Carson, the Abbey’s loyal butler and Mrs Hughes, the House’s devoted housekeeper. After much back-and-forth about the appropriate venue, they finally settled on getting married in the Schoolhouse with a spread laden on trestle tables with ‘honest rustic fare’ that would be the envy of Jamie Oliver. So we caught a snippet of the vows in which Mrs Hughes promised to ‘love, honour and obey’ her husband.
An observant watcher may have been alerted to the retrograde nature of those vows. Do Christian brides these days promise to unilaterally obey their husbands? In search of the answ…

What's Your Story?

Sukkot Sermon 2015                          Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz
What’s Your Story?
One of the most important lessons I learnt in my rabbinical school Homiletics Class was “don’t talk too much about your children from the pulpit.” A wise lesson indeed because who wants to hear rabbinic parents kvell over their kids all the time? But if you will indulge me for a moment, I do want to share how very cute it is that Jonathan is really getting into his books (and his little sister happily follows along). See, we don’t have a television at home—I got rid of my TV set back in my university days and haven’t looked back since (if you’re inclined to think this is particularly spiritual or virtuous—don’t: I still whittle away far too much time on the internet!) This means that Jonathan’s primary entertainment is books (augmented with the odd Toddler Learning Channel on YouTube) and it’s been wonderful to see him take to his books. He will come up to us and say ‘book, book!’ and we snuggle on the…