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Rabbi Sermons

Being Our Best Selves: A Vision for SAJ for 5777 and Beyond: Rosh HaShanah 2016

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, Rosh HaShanah 2016 Shana Tova. Last year, I stood here for my first High Holidays as the rabbi of the SAJ, aware that we - the community of SAJ and I - were beginning a new relationship. I wanted you to have a window into who I am as a person, Jew, and a rabbi. You may remember that I told the story of a young woman who had come to…

Addressing Race as a Jewish Community: Kol Nidre 2016

Kol Nidre 5777 Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, SAJ, NY, NY Yom Kippur invites us to acknowledge the places we, as individuals and as a society, have gone astray and to begin to redress those wrongs.  The confessional prayers -- the Al Heyt and the Ashamnu that we will soon sing -- are written in the plural.  As we recite these prayers multiple times, we are reminded over that we share in the collective responsibility for…

Help.Thanks.Wow: Entering the Gates of Tefillah (Prayer): Erev Rosh HaShanah 2017

Rabbi Mike Commins teaches, “Prayer expresses desire.  Holy desire: an end to an illness or for a peaceful world, to live in joy and to behave well, to find connection with God.”   Tonight, we usher in The Yamim Nora’im, these days of Awe, which are a time for reflection and transformation.  Unlike many other Jewish holidays, the main address of celebration and commemoration is the synagogue and the primary activity of the community is…

From Brokenness to Wholeness on Yom Kippur: Kol Nidre 2017

Lately, it feels like I am having the same conversation in varying forms and guises. A conversation with a friend about marital struggles: Could he stick through it despite the pain and hurt? A conversation with a congregant about a personal struggle that is leaving them despairing. A conversation with my mother, who often feels at the end of her rope as she takes care of three sick relatives, while dealing with her own health…

What Social Justice Activists in the Dominican Republic Can Teach Us about Moving Forward in Difficult Times: January 2017

In April, I sat at my desk in the very late hours of the evening. I was feverishly completing essay questions before the deadline for the AJWS Global Justice Fellowship, a program for clergy to learn about and advocate on issues in the developing world. I applied to this program for a few reasons. First, because as many in this room know, it’s hard to say no to the inimitable Ruth Messinger. Beyond that, I…

Ma Norah HaMakom HaZeh: On Becoming the Rabbi of SAJ

Installation of Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann - November 21, 2015 I am not sure how many of you here know this, but I came into SAJ for services one time before my interview Shabbat last April. It was early October of last year. It has been announced that Rabbi Strassfeld was retiring and the position would become open. I happened to coming up for the weekend for the naming of a dear friend's baby. I…

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