Stop the Silence

Kol Nidre 5779

To watch Rabbi Limmer give his sermon click here.  Kol Nidre is a night of quiet.  It commences our signature ceremony of introspection: this evening we examine our souls, search out our faults, and begin to change our ways.  For that, we create quiet.  We silence our voices as the music of Kol Nidre rushes over us.  We pause for silent reflection, silent prayer, silent remembrance, silent confession.  We turn down the noise of our physical needs, refrainin...

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Enough, Already! Or, For My Sake The World Was Created

Rosh Hashanah Day 5779

To watch Rabbi Limmer give his sermon, click here.  It’s time someone said it: Enough already.  Really, it’s been enough. It’s a hard world out there.  We know. Regardless of which paper gets delivered to your door, which social media feeds you check during the day, or which cable news channel you turn on at night, being awake and attentive is an exhausting experience. So let me say it: Enough already: enough of politics, of war, of tragedy.  We see ...

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Summer Reading!

News and Views

Make your books your companions; let your cases and shelves be your pleasure-grounds and orchards. Bask in their paradise, gather their fruit, pluck their roses, take their spices. —Judah Ibn Tibbon, Tzavaah A few summers ago, I shared my 11th grade tale regarding “summer reading”, and so I won’t regale you with repeated tales at this time as we turn the calendar to June. However, as we Jews are known as “People of the Book”, and as many of us see the su...

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Israel's 70th Birthday: A Conversation + A Celebration

News and Views

There is a moment in our lives when we realize our parents aren’t perfect. Those moments may be unsettling, but—for most of us—they are far from tragic. Looking back over teenage years likely filled with some rough spots, we realize that even as we adjusted our conception of our parents, we did so around a remaining pillar of loving relationship. In retrospect, hopefully we also believe those relationships are deeper because, instead of being based on unrealistic expectat...

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What’s So Bad about Idolatry?

News and Views

After all, it is idolatry—far more than the wicked and insane Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes—that stands as the real villain of our Hanukkah holiday. That same Antiochus was crowned king decades before the Maccabees ever rose up in revolt against him. In fact, many of our ancestors in Jerusalem favored Epiphanies, whose cosmopolitan outlook suited those Jews who wanted to become a greater part of the Hellenic culture that dominated their day. But in 168 B.C., something changed....

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You Don't Believe in God, Do You?

Kol Nidre 5778

Harvey in Houston.  Irma on the East Coast.  Maria tearing through Puerto Rico. Flood waters rise unfathomably high, stand a biblical 40 days and 40 nights.  Waters cover the face of the earth.  Earthquakes in Mexico City topple mansions and mountains alike.  An “Act of God”" might be how insurance adjustors describe the devastating natural disasters we have witnessed.  But, as we gather in our sanctuary on Kol Nidre night, we can be neither so dising...

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Defending the Enlightenment

Rosh Hashanah 5778

You’re not as smart as you think you are.[i] So read the daunting headline in The Economist.  Think about it: you use zippers all the time, right?  Do you know how one works?  Sit and think and try and explain the actual function of a zipper: having a hard time? Are we as smart as we think we are if we can’t explain the function of objects we use every day?  According to this interview with cognitive scientist Steven Sloman, we really don’t even know the...

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Annual Meeting: How We've Shared the past 12 Months Together

News and Views

It is hard to believe we are already looking back over another wonderful year together. The month of June not only is the time for Sinai’s Annual Meeting, but also a great opportunity to reflect on how we’ve shared the past twelve months together. As my third year at Sinai reaches its conclusion, I am grateful to continue to commence and to deepen my relationships with so many of our individuals and families, the people who make our synagogue a true community. Our being togethe...

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Reform Judaism - Evolving Judaism

News and Views

Our Rabbis disagreed about Rome. A conversation captured in the Talmud describes their differences. Rabbi Judah marvels at the Roman markets, bathhouses, and bridges: to him they symbolize the potential of global commerce, the awareness of sanitary health, and the scientific advancement of engineering achievements. His colleague, Rabbi Yossi, is nonplussed by Judah’s words of praise; Yossi remains silent. Not so Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, whose words singe with sarcasm, “The Roma...

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Participation, Patience and Perspective

News and Views

Hillel says: "Do not separate yourself from the public, and Do not believe in yourself until the day of your death, and Do not judge your friends until you arrive at their place." -Pirkei Avot, The Teachings of our Rabbis, 2:4 Our great sage Hillel lived two thousand years ago. During his day, Rome ruled the known world, and our rabbis struggled to balance their Jewish identity with often oppressive political realities. Facing an empire not known for subtlety, Hillel opted for a different pat...

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