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 May they all be undone, repealed, cancelled, voided, annulled, and regarded as neither valid nor binding.”
Today we make the last stop on my sabbatical journey, the place where we spent the most time, and that is Israel. I need you to use a little imagination for a moment, or if you saw any pictures of what I am about to describe, remember it. You see this hat. Right now, it just looks like a hat. Continue reading
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
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
Next stop, down under, to Australia. We not only visited there as part of the sabbatical, but I lived and worked there as a rabbi in 1997-98. I’m not going to spend much time discussing the actual place today, though I will say it is one of the greatest places on earth for Jewish people and all other human beings to live. Continue reading
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
There is a very famous parable by the great Chasidic Rebbe, the Maggid of Dubno, about the shofar, which is often told at this time of the year. Continue reading
O Sinnerman! Where you gonna run to all on that day?
Run to the rock, rock won’t you hide me, all on that day?
Rock said “Sinnerman, you should have been a prayin, all on that day.” Continue reading
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