ICYMI: Rosh Hashanah Sermon Recaps

Wondering what you missed at any of our Rosh Hashanah services? Here’s a recap of the wonderful Jewish knowledge our three Rabbis shared in their sermons.

Rabbi Julie Roth (Conservative) : For her sermon, Julie spoke with Jim Helsinger of the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, about his effort to block out protesters from the funerals of the victims of the PULSE shooting in Orlando. The entire story is fascinating (more to come later this week), but this lesson was most prescient:

The pairing of lovingkindness and truth, of chesed v’emet, suggests a model of how we love and how we forgive.   We are asked to see the truth of what is before us – the truth of our mistakes and misplaced priorities, the truth of the limitations of our parents, family, partners, and friends, the truth of the unmet needs, our own and of those we love, and to bring lovingkindess face to face with that truth as we seek forgiveness, as we offer acceptance, as we soften into love, as we draw closer to each other.  And when we hear the still, small voice, within ourselves, in moments of quiet, we are invited to love ourselves with chesed v’emet, with a willingness to see the truth of who we are at this moment and to soften into that truth with the compassion of lovingkindness.

 Rav Ariel Fisher (Orthodox): Rav Ariel, who speaks without notes, recapped his sermon:

I spoke about the musaf on Rosh Hashanah, and specifically the zichronot section. It talks about memory, and God remembering the Jewish people. I discussed how the initial concept of memory is that God knows everything, but as the passage goes on, it discusses that memory is more of a relationship. We are asked to remember as God remembered Noah and the Ark; with love. Other various verses say that memory is relational. Also, memory affects us in a certain way. It’s important that God remembers us a certain way, but also the way we remember ourselves, and the way we remember God, has an impact on our lives as well.

Rabbi Sara Rich (Reform): Sara spoke about the moral dilemma of Abraham’s choice to sacrifice his son Isaac in the Rosh Hashanah Torah portion, and considering it through a lens of bravery and courage.

When Abraham began his journey up the mountain with Isaac, he knew that his life would never be the same again. Each step was a move away from the happy life he was living, towards grief and isolation. Willingly, Abraham steps into that dark place where so many of us are afraid to go, because we fear not finding our way back out. We can disagree with Abraham’s moral failing, but this story presents an opportunity to identify in ourselves where we are being called to act with psychological courage. What is the mountain that you are afraid to climb? What are the steps that you hesitate to take because you don’t know where they lead? Although staying in a safe emotional place is comfortable, it comes at a cost that we often don’t like to consider. How might our lives be different if we were not held back by those fears? What are the feelings or memories that we avoid dealing with, and are we truly better for it? In what ways could we improve our physical health, improve our relationships, if we could find the courage to let go of some of our control over our emotional states and to be vulnerable. Not for the sake of being vulnerable, but for the sake of moving forward, of healing.