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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…

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…

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…

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…

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