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Rabbi Sermons

7 Things I Learned about Teshuvah & The High Holidays from My Daughter’s Concussion

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, Erev Rosh HaShanah Drash 2018/5779 “Mann Tracht; Un Gott Lacht” — “Man plans. God laughs,” the Yiddish saying goes. This phrase took on new resonance and meaning when our life took an unexpected turn this past summer. Jon and I picked up our daughter Aviel from Camp Havaya for a short vacation, along with our son Nadiv. On the third day of our trip, we went tubing on Lake Hopatcong, which was glorious!…

Becoming a Judaism that Stands for All: Rosh HaShanah 2018/5779

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann “SAJ is a joyous community of New Yorkers, a Jewish home where everyone’s voice is valued and heard. Imagine a school kids run towards and a synagogue where all can come together for study, social justice, and Shabbat. Ever since SAJ introduced America’s first bat mitzvah in 1922, it has been reconstructing Judaism, questioning tradition and expanding its boundaries to ensure that Torah remains relevant, engaging, and welcoming to all.” These…

Judaism that Stands for All: Standing For Justice

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, Yom Kippur 5779/2018 The very first commandment given to the Israelites is the commandment of Rosh Hodesh (and thus the instruction to keep a calendar), received just as they are about to leave Egypt and become a people. On this verse, Rashi, the prolific French medieval torah commentator, famously inquires: Why did the torah not begin with this verse? Why start with the Creation of the world and all that follows…

Listening as a Spiritual Practice

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, Kol Nidre 2018/5779 A short questionnaire. Have you ever been in a meeting at work where you were so focused on what you wanted to say that you realize you are no longer listening and have no idea where the conversation is?Have you interrupted someone in the middle of their speaking? How about in the last 48 hours?Have you ever been in a situation in which a friend reaches out for…

Sources of Hope and Possibility for the New Year 5777

Erev Rosh HaShanah 2016, Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann Every year, I look forward to the Erev Rosh HaShanah service. As the sun is setting, we have the opportunity to physically and spiritually usher out one year and welcome in a new one. Finding myself again in the unique holiday melodies, I contemplate newness and the gift of starting over. If I am lucky, I am able not just offer greetings of Shana Tova to a…

Turning to the World on Yom Kippur

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, SAJ 2015/5776 Shana Tova. G’mar Hatima Tova. Pope Francis, writes in his recent Encyclical Laudato Si about responsibility towards address climate change: "Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it." Perhaps it is not so…

Judaism, Torah and Meaning while Standing on One Foot: Rosh HaShanah 2015

Rosh HaShanah Day 1, 5776, Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann Early in my career, a woman – in her mid 20s asked for a meeting.  This was highly typical – I encountered a lot of young Jewish people through my former synagogue that were seeking to find a way back into Judaism on their own terms.  I gladly set up a meeting for the following week, anticipating that we might talk about any number of topics, like…

7 Things I Learned about Teshuvah from Moving to New York City: Erev Rosh HaShanah 2015

SAJ, Erev Rosh HaShanah 5776, Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann Every year, as we move toward a New Year and into a new High Holiday season, I am awed by the majesty and power of these sacred days.  Our tradition asks us to dig deep inside our souls so that we can return to being the best and most authentic versions of ourselves.  We are asked to forgive and to be forgiven, to challenge ourselves to grow…

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