Sermons

Leadership ~ Yitro ~ 26 January 2019 / 20 Shevat 5779
By: Rabbi Shalom Schachter
Jan 31st 2019
Today we are reading Parashat Yitro. Last Shabbat we read Parashat Beshallah. Moses successfullygot the Jews out of Egypt, acrossthe sea of reeds and safe after the attack initiated by Amalek. Moses demonstrated his leadership as a diplomat in representing God to Pharoah and in uniting the Jewish people to leave Egypt. Moses demonstrated his leadership in amilitary context to defeat the...
The Strange Case of the Circumcision at Night ~ Shemot ~ 29 December 2018 / 21 Tevet 5779
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Jan 7th 2019
Bizarre. Strange. Perplexing. Enigmatic. That’s how Bible scholars describe the three verse narrative from our Torah portion about Tzipporah, Moshe and their new-born son. Here is the story-line: Moshe has fled Egypt after killing a man for abusing a Hebrew slave.  He meets the daughters of Yitro near a well and chases away the shepherds who are harassing the women. Yitro...
Testing: Then and Now ~ Toldot ~ 10 November 2018 / 2 Kislev 5779
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Nov 12th 2018
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the November 11 agreement that ended the First World War. Today also marks the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the organized riot that revealed to all, in dramatic fashion, the true intent of the Nazi regime. These were times of great trial and testing. During the past two weeks, we have also been witness to and participants in great trial and...
After Death—A Tree of Life ~ 3 November 2018 ~ 25 Heshvan 5779
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Nov 4th 2018
My colleague Rabbi Ethan Linden of Camp Ramah in Berkshires wrote: It is a Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it and all of its supporters are happy. I have been holding, clinging, but this week, I have not been happy. I’ve been saddened. I’ve been broken. Branches of our Tree of Life have been broken. They have been snapped off of the tree. There has...
Shofar for Our Souls ~ 2 Rosh Hashanah 5779 ~ 11 September 2018
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 28th 2018
Josette joins me in the hope that this year will be a shanah tovah, one of blessing for you and your family, the people of Israel and the world. Rosh Hashanah is saturated with memories. Occasionally, we are so overwhelmed by these memories that we cannot speak, we cannot articulate why they are so significant. But they remain at the core of souls, at the heart of our inner...
The Faith of a Heretic ~ Rosh Hashanah 5779 ~ 10 September 2018
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 28th 2018
What beliefs sustain you? What commitments guide you through life? What is so important that you would makes sacrifices for them?  I invite you to reflect on these questions today. As you do, I have a confession to make.  This past year, I became a heretic. Heresy, which comes from a Greek word which meant “choice," came to mean a freely chosen opinion at variance with an...
Call My Name, Seek My Face ~ Yom Kippur 5779 ~ 19 September 2018
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 22nd 2018
We received a pre Yom Kippur request from someone in hospital: I won’t be able to be in shul for Yizkor. Would you please remember the names of my loved ones during the time of memory.  We want to recall the names of those we love. Names impart identity and meaning to our lives. According to recent research, using or hearing your own name is considered comparable...
Pentimento ~ Kol Nidrei 5779 ~ 18 September 2018
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 22nd 2018
It is so good to see you here for our regular Tuesday night minyan. In 1954, Bette Nesmith Graham had a problem with her job as a typist. When she sought to correct a mistake, the eraser would smear ink over the page. She knew that artists made corrections or covered up mistakes not by erasing their work, but by painting over them. Graham mixed up some fast-drying white tempera...
Privacy: From Balaam to Facebook ~ 30 June 2018 ~ 17 Tammuz 5778
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Jul 3rd 2018
“It’s private!  One day we give her a bath. The next day, she closes the door and says, “It’s private! ” We want to assert our privacy and we also give it away. In a recent article in The New Yorker, Louis Menand asks, “Is there something primal about the need for privacy, for secrecy, for hiding places and personal space? These are things we seem to...
Three Hearts ~ Shavuot ~ 21-May 2018 / 7 Sivan 5778
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
May 24th 2018
Today, as we mark Shavuot and recite yizkor memorial prayers, I’d like to discuss three hearts with you. The heart of Sinai, the heart of King David and the heart of Fania Feiner. According to the Torah, בַּחֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֔י לְצֵ֥את בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם בַּיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה...
From Death to Life ~ Shemini ~ 14 April 2018 / 29 Nisan 5778
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 19th 2018
In Canada, we have been pained by the recent deaths of so many young athletes, killed in a road accident in rural Saskatchewan. Many of us recall similar times of national mourning in Israel after a terrorist attack on a home or the bombing of a bus, a cafe or a restaurant. In the Torah, the only narrative portion of the Book of Leviticus tells of the deaths of Nadav and Avihu at what had...
A Fifth Cup for the Future ~ Pesah Day 8 ~ 7 April 2018 / 22 Nisan 5778
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 11th 2018
ẖSeder is celebration of passage to freedom, but it also reflects deep loss. In his commentary to the Haggadah, Elie Wiesel writes: Like most Jewish children, I especially loved the Passover holiday. Solemn and joyous, it allowed us to escape time. Slaves of the pharaohs, we followed Moses into the unknown... . His summons to freedom was stronger than fear. The seder...
We Are All Jews: A Passover Story of Courage ~ Pesah Day 2 ~ 1 April 2018 / 16 Nisan 5778
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Mar 30th 2018
Today, I want to tell you the story of Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds, a Christian from Knoxville, Tennessee. It is a story that was unknown to his family and the public until a few years ago. In December 1944, six months after D-Day, an infantry division of the United States Army landed in France. During the cold and wet winter the soldiers travelled across France and Belgium. After an...
Stories We Tell ~ Pesah Day 1 ~ 31 March 2018 / 15 Nisan 5778
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Mar 30th 2018
In addition to eating matzah and refraining from leavened food, an essential mitzvah of Pesaẖ is Maggid, the telling of the Exodus story. Moshe our Teacher emphasizes this when he addresses the people of Israel before they leave Egypt. “When you come to the land … you shall say to your children, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the Eternal, who passed over the houses of the...
Farewell Beth Tzedec - Shabbat Parashat Vayikra 5778
By: Rabbi Adam Cutler
Mar 23rd 2018
I was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary. However, it was at Beth Tzedec that I became a rabbi. It was here, for the past nearly nine years, that I learned what it means to be a spiritual leader, to help construct the Jewish life of a community. It was here that I celebrated with you at life’s most joyful moments and sat with you amidst your deepest pain. I hope that I have...