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Kol Nidre 5774/2013

09/10/2013 09:43:03 PM


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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....

Rosh Hashanah - 2011 / 5772

09/01/2011 09:33:02 PM


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


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 Torah

The letter...

Kol Nidre - 2010 / 5771

09/10/2010 12:29:26 PM


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...

Yom Kippur - 2010 / 5771

09/10/2010 09:30:24 AM


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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...

Kol Nidre - 2009 / 5770

09/10/2009 09:21:34 PM


Rabbi Carey Brown

Who shall live and who shall die?

It is a remarkable question – Who shall live and who shall die – mi yichyeh u’mi yamut? The haunting words of the unetaneh tokef from our High Holiday liturgy call to mind the fragility of our lives and the awesome nature of the balance of life and death.   For who is it that makes such a determination: Who shall live and who shall die? According to a traditional understanding, it is, of...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah - 2009 / 5770

09/01/2009 09:19:14 PM


Rabbi Howard Jaffe

On the morning of their wedding anniversary, a woman woke up and told her husband, "I just dreamed that you gave me a gold necklace for our anniversary. What do you think it means?"

"You'll know tonight." he said.

That evening, the man came home with a small package and gave it to his wife.

Delighted, she opened it to find a book entitled "The Meaning of Dreams."

Of course, Jews have made a few contributions to...

Clergy Trip to Israel 2008

10/31/2008 09:14:20 PM


Rabbi Jaffe


A Trip to Israel... Relationships with the Land and the People.
View the Photo Album

A few...

Yom Kippur - 2008 / 5769

09/21/2008 09:12:56 PM


Rabbi Howard Jaffe

Have you been following the stock market this week?

We are going though some pretty turbulent waters right now. Of course, Jews know something about going through water. That will probably come in handy right about now. A miracle would be nice, but even without one, we just need to get to the other side safely.

People often go to the movies for escape, and though I have not seen any statistics, I would not be surprised to...Read more...

Kol Nidre - 2008 / 5769

09/20/2008 09:09:05 PM


Rabbi Carey Brown

Have you heard that teenagers no longer email one another?  Just as we finally figured out email – so much so that it became a central manner of communication in our lives –it seems to be turning obsolete.  Well, maybe obsolete goes a bit too far, but at least the technology is changing.  Those on the cutting edge – always the youth of any generation – have moved on.  Social networking is the new thing –...Read more...

Kol Nidre - 2008 / 5768

09/20/2008 09:07:16 PM


Rabbi Carey Brown

In 1978, a young, little known golfer named Tom stood over a birdie putt on the fifth hole of the final round of an important tournament. He was neck and neck with an established, championship-caliber golfer. When the young golfer moved his putter behind the ball, the ball moved a fraction of an inch; no one else but Tom could have known that his putter had moved the ball.  Much to everyone’s surprise, he called a penalty shot on...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah - 2008/ 5769

09/01/2008 09:08:21 PM


Rabbi Howard Jaffe

Some years, there is an obvious topic to be addressed. Other years, nothing stands out. This year, well, let's see … Israel is in the midst of determining who its new prime minister will be, potentially impacting world peace …..…. we are facing a financial crisis that we are told may be the worst since the Great Depression …..… and we are in the midst of a presidential election, with sharper distinctions between the candidates now...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah - 2008 / 5769

09/01/2008 09:06:31 PM


Rabbi Carey Brown

One evening this summer, while my husband Gregg and I were enjoying our vacation in Jerusalem, we decided to indulge in a visit to a dessert shop in a quiet residential neighborhood.  The specialty of the shop was fresh Belgian waffles filled with butter-cream toppings.  While I was instantly intoxicated by the delicious smells that greeted us when we entered the shop, something else grabbed my attention as we waited for our order....Read more...

Yom Kippur - 2007 / 5768

09/10/2007 09:05:36 PM


Rabbi Howard Jaffe

It was not uncommon in “the old country” for there to be someone whose job was to see to it that tzedakah funds were collected from those who could afford to give, and distribute those funds to those in need. One day, he came home unusually late, and was especially tired. His wife could see the kind of day he had and said, “You were out for a long time today. Did you have any success?” He replied “Yes, I am 50% of the way there. I have...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah - 2007 / 5768

09/01/2007 09:04:29 PM


Rabbi Carey Brown

This summer I spent a wonderful portion of my vacation backpacking in the woods of Baxter State Park in northern Maine.  The park was as beautiful as any I have ever seen and it felt renewing to be completely immersed in nature, at least for a few days.  As Gregg and I made our way along the trails I noticed an impressive number of planks laid across the muddy and wet portions of the hiking paths, a sight common on trails across...Read more...

Tue, June 6 2023 17 Sivan 5783