When I started Milken Community High School's middle school after finishing the sixth grade at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School, I further realized how unacquainted I was with my own feelings toward my religion. Although we had Judaic studies every year, I felt unable to drift away from my parents' beliefs and create my own.
Some Torah portions lend themselves very easily to sermons. Yitro, which contains the giving of the Ten Commandments has lots of material about which to talk. Others are more challenging, like Tazria-Metzorah, which has extensive discussions about skin diseases, inflammations and rashes.
When we open our doors at the seder and invite Elijah the Prophet to sip the glass of wine that we have designated for him, we express our longing for
the Messiah. Elijah, in our tradition, will herald the arrival of a ruler who will enable a world of peace. The message of the seder is of hope: God, the Creator, entered history to free us from bondage, providing reason to believe that God will re-enter history to facilitate the final redemption.
Rabbi Sherwin Wine of Birmingham Temple in Detroit founded Humanistic Judaism in 1963. Today, there are over 30,000 Jews involved with Humanistic Judaism in North America, including 1,000 in the greater Los Angeles area.
Rabbi David Wolpe keeps the hundreds of "Exodus letters" he's received in two piles on his desk: for and against. And given the still-swirling controversy over his speech on Pesach, even he is surprised that the grateful and congratulatory letters outnumber the negative ones 20 to 1.