In 1963, Richard Levy was in his mid-20s and in his last year of rabbinical school when he was sent on an internship to a synagogue in Jasper, Ala. About the time of Rosh Hashanah, not far away in the town of Birmingham, a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church, an African-American place of worship, and four girls were killed.
It’s not often that a rabbi’s High Holy Days sermon is interrupted by a standing ovation. But that is what happened — twice — when Rabbi John Rosove, senior rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood, dedicated his sermon on the first day of Rosh Hashanah to explaining why he was changing a long-held position and would from now on officiate at interfaith weddings.
This year, we return to the wisdom offered by our rabbis during the High Holy Days in years past. What follows are excerpts from some exceptional sermons and High Holy Days writings; many more voices could have been included, of course, but we hope this will inspire you to revisit your own synagogues’ archives.
The official government sermon delivered in mosques across Malaysia called Jews the "main enemy."
I was nervous about going to hear Archbishop Desmond Tutu this past Sunday at All-Saints Church. I was nervous because, despite his remarkable life story, which of course includes fighting and winning the battle against apartheid in his homeland, South Africa, he has made comments in the past about Israel and the Palestinians that have made him unwelcome in the mainstream Jewish community.
A group of Jewish interfaith educators is asking rabbis to talk about Islam next Shabbat.
A pastor who blessed Sarah Palin's run for Alaska governor said Christians should emulate "Israelites" and run the economy
In sermons on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur throughout Southern California this year, rabbis will continue to exhort their congregants to look inward and outward, to reflect upon and repair themselves, their families and communities, the nation and the world.
You think you have it bad? What about your rabbi, who has to work weeks -- no, months -- to prepare a High Holy Days Sermon. You think it's easy writing a speech that people will remember for the rest of the year? Well, then, why don't you and a friend write your very own with our MadLibs [R] version. First ask your partner to supply the missing words. Then read the completed sermon aloud ... and enjoy.
So you've trained all summer in order to show off that tight body at the beach. Well, as the High Holy Days roll around, impressing the opposite sex seems less and less important. Now it's time to show off your Judaism at shul so you can impress your rabbi. And if your rabbi is a member of the opposite sex, you can't lose.
Temple Israel of Hollywood has had many milestones in its 80 years as a Jewish cultural landmark in our city. One that bears special significance this month, however, occurred on Friday, Feb. 26, 1965 , when the synagogue's Rabbi Max Nussbaum welcomed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to share the bimah with him and to offer a sermon.
All sermons, whether Reform, Conservative or Orthodox, are there to promote something "good." But how do they get there?
How Do Rabbis Choose Their Topics For High Holiday Sermons?
What they don't do is gather together and get a list of topics from on high. But about a month or so before the major holidays -- like Passover and Rosh Hashanah -- the Board of Rabbis of Southern California sponsors a pre-holiday conference for rabbis to come together to study as well as become inspired and motivated.
Warren told Wolfson his interest is in helping all houses of worship, not in converting Jews. He said there are more than enough Christian souls to deal with for starters.
Two women shared a room in a major Israeli hospital some years ago, both awaiting the insemination portion of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. One of the women, "Mrs. Cohen," was undergoing the procedure under the supervision of a mashgiach [religious supervisor] from Machon Puah -- an Israeli religious fertility institution -- and the other, "Mrs. Rabinovich," was not.
Rabbi Edward Feinstein wants to make something clear: It's not about the anecdotes or the jokes or the witty stories. "The art of giving a sermon is not to say something clever. The art of giving a sermon is to say something important. It's not about entertaining," says Feinstein, rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino. "I want to say something that will change the way people think and act and what they value, and bring people closer to the source of the meaning of life."
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.
Fresh out of seminary, Rabbi Naomi Levy gave High Holiday sermons the way she thought they were supposed to sound -- formal, ponderous, laced with phrases such as "my dear friends."
Note to future rabbis: If you want to make a lasting firstimpression with your congregants, nothing beats farm animals on thebimah. Just ask anyone at Temple Adat Shalom in West LosAngeles. It's been almost four months since Michael Resnick took overthere, and they're still talking about his goats.
It's High Holiday speech season. Rabbis prep, call each other withideas, exchange jokes, insights, and witty stories. They ponder thegreat issues of the day and get ready for prime-time talking in therabbinical world. Synagogues may not be full throughout the year, butcome Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, there is hardly an empty pew. Thisyear, attendance will be a bit higher, as Yom Kippur falls on aweekend.