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Sermons

07/30/2017 07:10:17 PM

Jul30

Yom Kippur 2016/5777

09/10/2016 09:51:14 PM

Sep10

Rabbi Howard L. Jaffe

This is my 17th year as rabbi of Temple Isaiah.  On Rosh Hashanah, I did something for the first time in all of those years: I spoke about politics, or more specifically, the election. But only a little, and as those who were here know, I really spoke about how to respond to the challenges that the election has inspired. I did not endorse a specific candidate or even mention the names of any candidates. The high holidays are, and Yom...Read more...

Kol Nidre 2016/5777

09/09/2016 09:49:04 PM

Sep9

Rabbi Jill Perlman

Pockets

Every year at the beginning of the second semester of our tenth grade confirmation experience here at Temple Isaiah, I create two concentric circles of chairs, one facing in and one facing out so that my students can look one another in the eye as I ask them a series of questions. Every once in a while I say switch and the inner circle moves down by one.

It’s like speed dating…but not.

I ask them to listen...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 2016/5777

09/01/2016 09:50:20 PM

Sep1

Rabbi Howard L. Jaffe

Noting that this is the time of year for apologies, I begin with one this morning.

For those who our here today hoping that I would talk about the presidential election and even endorse a particular candidate, I apologize for disappointing you.

And for those who came today hoping that I would talk about timeless matters, and not reference the presidential election, I apologize for disappointing you.

Because we need to...Read more...

Erev Rosh HaShanah 2016/5777

09/01/2016 09:48:01 PM

Sep1

Rabbi Jill Perlman

The Moral Courage to Be Our Best Selves

Tonight, I want to talk about courage.

I don’t mean the courage to stand up in front of a room packed with upwards of a thousand people, but come to think of it, that’s not a bad kind of courage to have either.

I want to talk tonight about moral courage, and about the moral choices that we make every day from the small to the grand to do right, despite our fear of punishment...Read more...

Yom Kippur - 2015 /5776

09/10/2015 09:45:52 PM

Sep10

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

A defendant was on trial for murder. There was strong evidence indicating guilt, but there was no body. In the defense's closing statement, the lawyer, knowing his client would likely be convicted, resorted to a trick.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for you all," the lawyer said as he looked at his watch.

"Within one minute, the person presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom." He looked...Read more...

Kol Nidre 2015/5776

09/09/2015 09:46:45 PM

Sep9

Rabbi Jill Perlman

You’ve probably heard it before. I know that I’ve said it before from this very spot on this night in years past: that Yom Kippur comes to us shrouded as a rehearsal for our death.

Yom Kippur asks us to imagine that we are living the last day, preparing for our last breath. Traditionally, we wear white like the shrouds in which Jews are buried. We recite vidui or confession just as those facing death traditionally do. We reject...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 2015/5776

09/01/2015 09:44:37 PM

Sep1

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

The year after I became Bar Mitzvah, my parents gave me the choice of attending Rosh Hashanah services or not.  Exercising my newfound autonomy, I chose not to attend.  And you know what?  I missed it.  Terribly.  And you know what I missed most?  I am guessing it is what you would have missed the most. 

I missed the sound of the shofar.  And I vowed that as long as I was physically able, that...Read more...

The Armenian Genocide is Not Past

04/01/2015 09:43:48 PM

Apr1

Laura Boghosian

Shalom.  I am honored to commemorate Yom HaShoah with you this evening and to speak with you about the Armenian Genocide.  On behalf of the Armenian community, I would like to thank Temple Isaiah for its valued support, and, in particular, I would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Rabbi Jaffe for his principled dedication over the past seven-and-a-half years to the cause of Armenian Genocide recognition.  Your...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 2014/5775

09/01/2014 09:41:44 PM

Sep1

Rabbi Jill Perlman

Shanah tovah.
I want to begin tonight with a story, a story shared by Rabbi Chaim of Tzanz:

A person had been wandering in the forest for several days, unable to find a way out. Finally in the distance he spotted someone approaching. With a heart full of joy, he thought to himself, “Now I will surely find a way out of this forest.” When the two neared one another, the first asked the second, “Will you please tell me the way...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 2014/5775

09/01/2014 09:40:49 PM

Sep1

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

Seek Peace and Pursue It
It was a mild Tel Aviv evening, a bit cooler than it usually is in the middle of July. I was sitting with my friend, Rabbi Eric Gurvis of Temple Shalom in Newton, on Rothschild Boulevard, sipping a cup of ice coffee on a bench by one of the ubiquitous kiosks that line that thoroughfare and give that part of the city much of its character. He was on the phone with his son, and I was looking at email on my...Read more...

Kol Nidre 5774/2013

09/10/2013 09:43:03 PM

Sep10

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

100 years ago tonight, on Kol Nidre 5674, 1913, Franz Rosenzweig, one of the most important Jewish philosophers of the 20th century, entered a small Orthodox synagogue in Berlin for what he expected to be the last time he would attend worship services as a Jew. Rosenzweig, who by the way, as best as we know, is not related to my wife who carries the same last name, had become convinced, as did many modern Germans of his day, that the path to...Read more...

Yom Kippur - 2012/5773

09/10/2012 09:39:59 PM

Sep10

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

“The Future Is Not What It Used to Be – and Neither Is the past”

Using the best technological tools available today, in other words, Google, as far as I can tell, it was the French poet and philosopher, Paul Valéry who is credited with saying: "The future is not what it used to be."  In context, he was referring to a rapidly changing world, the one in which he lived from the late nineteenth through the middle of the...Read more...

Yom Kippur 2012/5773

09/10/2012 09:38:57 PM

Sep10

Rabbi Jill Perman

It was a hard summer. A spate of violence seemed to overtake our nation. There was the deadly shooting and rampage in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado that left twelve dead and many more injured. A few days later, a man took a 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistol and killed six at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

About a week passed and The Onion, the infamous satirical newspaper ran a story entitled Nation Celebrates Full Week...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah - 2012/5773

09/01/2012 09:37:44 PM

Sep1

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

I would like to introduce an important Jewish concept, a fundamental one, in fact: "a dispute in the name of heaven" - "machloket l'shem shamayim."  The Talmud in particular is filled with such disputes, because Judaism recognizes that when it comes to understanding how we ought to live in this world, what our norms and practices ought to be, there is no ultimate human authority, and so, we can share a common goal of a strong and secure...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 2012 /5773

09/01/2012 09:36:56 PM

Sep1

Rabbi Jill Perlman

Shanah tovah.

So I am in the middle of a major life transition right now. It began the day that my two two-year-old sons learned to swing their little legs over the side of their cribs. On that day, I knew that we were in trouble.

That’s right. We are in the transition from cribs to toddler beds.

After a successful catapult over the side, my son, Lev was thrilled. The second time, however, landed him with a goose-egg...Read more...

Yom Kippur  2011 / 5772

09/11/2011 09:35:15 PM

Sep11

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

In an e-mail that I sent out to the congregation just before Rosh Hashanah, I quoted Thomas Cahill's book, The Gifts of the Jews, but did not specify the particular gift he identified in Shabbat, the radical, revolutionary notion that human beings, especially free human beings, created in God's image, should not be working, productive, creative every waking hour.  The idea of Shabbat was that we take a break every now and then, without...Read more...

Kol Nidre 2011/5752

09/10/2011 09:36:14 PM

Sep10

Rabbi Jill Perlman

Shabbat shalom. Shanah tovah.

The very first question uttered by God in the Torah is Ayeka, Where are you?[1] This short one-worded question occurs just after Adam and Eve have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge and with their eyes now opened, they hide.

“Akeka?” God calls out into the garden.

And it’s a ridiculous question in one regard, right? A ridiculous question when we consider who is doing the asking....Read more...

Erev Rosh Hashanah 2011/5772

09/01/2011 09:33:51 PM

Sep1

Rabbi Jill Perlman

Shanah tovah.

No matter what age I am working with, from the tiniest toddler to the grayest head amongst us, I
find there is one symbol of this season that intrigues us across all ages. One symbol that is so
simple yet so sacred. One symbol that yanks us out of the life that we live every other day of the
year and immediately renders us… enlightened to all of the possibilities that Rosh HaShanah
have to offer us....Read more...

Rosh Hashanah - 2011 / 5772

09/01/2011 09:33:02 PM

Sep1

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

I suspect that some number of who are gathered today are hoping that I will talk about Israel and the request for recognition by the Palestinian Authority at the UN last week.  And I suspect that there are some gathered here today who are hoping that, in the spirit of Rosh Hashanah, I will talk about something more timeles .

The with answer is yes.

I do have a few thoughts about what took place at the UN last Friday, its...Read more...

Kolin Torah Sermon

10/30/2010 09:31:33 PM

Oct30

Rabbi Yales

The Kolin Torah was dedicated by Temple Isaiah on Kol Nidre Eve, September 17, 1972 as a memorial to the Six Million.
The Scroll is on permanent loan to the congregation from the Memorial Scrolls Committee of Westminster Synagogue in London.
The Kolin Torah is read by the congregation on Yom Kippur and Yom Hashoah in remembrance of the Holocaust.
The Dedication Sermon was given by Rabbi Cary David Yales.


The Kolin...Read more...

Kol Nidre - 2010 / 5771

09/10/2010 12:29:26 PM

Sep10

Rabbi Carey Brown

Recently, the Library of Congress released data about the most frequently watched movies of all time. The winner?  “The Wizard of Oz.” It’s not surprising, considering how often it appears on television, not to mention that it is a masterful story and a joy to watch. Among the many themes in the movie, the one that most resonates with me this year is that it is a story of searching for home. 

 
We all know the...Read more...

Yom Kippur - 2010 / 5771

09/10/2010 09:30:24 AM

Sep10

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

As you know, I chose to speak on Rosh Hashanah, as I often do, about a topic that is timely, bringing Jewish teachings and sensibilities to a burning issue of our day. Not today. Yom Kippur is about the timeless, a day to look inward toward our individual and collective souls, a day devoted to grappling with the meaning of our lives as we face our own mortality.

And so it may come as a surprise that I begin with reference to...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah - 2010 / 5771

09/01/2010 09:28:30 PM

Sep1

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

A Jewish man walking along the street in his pre-World War I Polish town was surprised to see a friend of his sitting on a bench and reading the local Polish newspaper. He asked "what gives? Why aren't you reading the Yiddish newspaper?" His friend put down the newspaper, looked up and sighed, "Eccchhh, I read our newspapers and I feel so bad. A pogrom here, a synagogue vandalized there. I pick up this newspaper, and it makes me feel so good:...Read more...

Erev Rosh Hashanah

09/01/2010 09:27:17 PM

Sep1

Rabbi Carey Brown

September 13th, 1993.  The rabbi walked into my Confirmation class that night with tears in his eyes, holding a newspaper.  “Save this paper,” he said, “This may be the most important date in Jewish history of your time.”  On the cover was the iconic picture we all know well: Bill Clinton bringing together Yassir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin for a handshake on the White House lawn.  The rabbi’s comments seem sadly...Read more...

Gaza flotilla

06/04/2010 09:26:26 PM

Jun4

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

I know that most people here today know me well enough to know that I am not an alarmist or much of a dramatist. I tend to take measured responses to events and occurrences which inspire a more animated response from many others.

I am also, when it comes to Israel and the challenges it has in making peace with its neighbors, a centrist. I have not been completely comfortable with the approach of either The American Israel Public...Read more...

Remarks at AJC Dinner

05/25/2010 09:25:17 AM

May25

Jeffrey Robbins

I’d like to talk a bit about this wonderful, venerable organization that is the real reason we are here tonight, the American Jewish Committee. As David Harris illustrates, when it comes to the cause of Israel, the cause of human rights in the Middle East and the cause of peace, there is no organization more important than the AJC.

Unfortunately, as David points out, the challenges to Israel, to human rights in the Middle East and...Read more...

On Miracles - First Parish, Concord MA 3/28/2010

03/28/2010 09:24:17 PM

Mar28

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

I am absolutely delighted to be here this morning, and to be in the presence of this wonderful congregation.  I am particularly pleased to be invited to be with you by my friend, and your extraordinary pastor, Gary Smith.  You know him as the man of exceptional intellect, integrity, dynamism, intelligence, and leadership that he is.  I know him as my travel buddy.  As Gary mentioned, he and I traveled to Israel about a...Read more...

Yizkor Story - 2009 / 5770

09/11/2009 09:23:25 PM

Sep11

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

I would like to share a different kind of story today. It does not come from traditional Jewish sources, but comes from a man named Paul Villard -- not the French Scientist Paul Villard, a different Paul villard - published originally in Readers Digest  in 1966– a powerful Yizkor story.

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember well the polished, old case fastened to the...Read more...

Rabbi Howard Jaffe 

09/11/2009 09:22:31 PM

Sep11

Yom Kippur - 2009 / 5770

With your permission, I would like to begin today speaking a bit more personally than usual.

I always think about death on Yom Kippur. We are supposed to think about death, and particularly him our own death today. We do not eat, we do not drink, we refrain from sexual relations. Traditional Jews customarily wear a kittel, a white robe, reminiscent of a shroud - note that the clergy and all of the choir are wearing white robes today....Read more...

Rosh Hashanah - 2009 / 5770

09/11/2009 09:19:58 PM

Sep11

Rabbi Carey Brown

Dear Yael,

It is your first Rosh Hashanah and I want to tell you a story. Although you will not remember me telling you this story this year, or even next year, you will surely hear it again and again. I imagine that it will become such a part of you, that you will come to understand that you have been hearing it your entire life.

It is a story about your great-grandmother, Nana. You met Nana twice in your life – do you...Read more...

Fri, September 22 2017 2 Tishrei 5778