Kol Nidre 2011/5772-Promises to Break and Dubai Implants

  The Kol Nidre prayer, as beautiful as it is, is mysterious in that it essentially gives us permission not to tell the truth.  “All the vows, renunciations, bans, oaths, formulas of obligation, pledges, and promise that we vow or promise to ourselves and to God from this Yom Kippur to the next we hereby retract.  May they all be undone, repealed, cancelled, voided, annulled, and regarded as neither valid nor binding.” 

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Erev Rosh Hashana – L’shana Bula

Bula!  My 6 month sabbatical, for which I am eternally grateful, began with that single word.   Bula!  How many of you know what that means?  It means, simply, hello, in Fijian, but in our three days of rest and relaxation on the Fiji Islands where we began the sabbatical, we heard the word bula morning, noon and night.  We heard it not only from hotel clerks and waiters and trinket salesman but from almost everyone we passed walking on the street.  And we rarely heard it said quietly.  It was never bula, but “BULA!”  For weeks afterward Karen, Jonah, and I couldn’t stop saying it.  Continue reading

Rosh Hashana-Day 1—China Tzedaka and Teshuva

A bad joke that I once heard from the owner of a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day.  Knowing his audience he asked me:  “Whose civilization is older, the Chinese or the Jews?”  This is a legitimate question, as Abraham, the first Jew, was said to have lived around 2000 BCE, which was the same time the first dynasty of China, the Xia Dynasty, was established.  Continue reading

Yom Kippur Eve – Startup People

Dan Senor and Saul Singer, the authors of a book about Israel called Startup Nation, were in the office of an Israeli Venture Capitalist named Jonathan Medved, peppering him with questions about the risks of investing in Israel.  Before he would answer their questions, he pulled out a slide from a PowerPoint presentation with a graph on it. Continue reading

Rosh Hashanah Eve – American Jewish Idol

Note: this sermon is also available in a recorded video posted online.

Yes, over 13 million of you voted worldwide, though only 4 million of you happen to be in synagogue today.  Many of you, our contestants, will leave these ten days feeling exhausted, guilty, or distant from your God and your people.  A few of you will leave feeling refreshed, repentant, and renewed.  I’m Rabbi Ryan Jewcrest. Welcome, my friends, to American Jewish Idol.  Continue reading