Sermons

Rosh Hashanah II 5776 - Six Words for the Road
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 17th 2015
Rosh Hashanah 5776 ~׳ ראש השנה תשע״ו  Last year, I became interested in six word memoirs. The idea is attributed to Ernest Hemingway. Supposedly, the novelist was once challenged to write a six-word story. He responded with, “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Whether or not the story is true, those six words are powerful. What do they tell you? They tell me someone...
Rosh Hashanah Benediction 5776
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 17th 2015
In the New Year, may you discover that your home is built to withstand floods, ice storms, earthquakes and escalating insurance rates. May it be free of mould, mildew and mice, and safe from termites and family fights. If you have trouble hearing, may you get a hearing aid (as I did). If you have trouble seeing, may you get respectable spectacles. If you cannot drive, may you cultivate...
Korah - 20 June 2015 / 3 Tammuz 5775: Of Hatred and Hope
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Jun 23rd 2015
From the 1960s through the 1990s, religion was not seen as terribly newsworthy. It was not front-page, usually relegated to back sections. The only daily papers that had significant coverage were the Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the St Louis Post-Dispatch and the Los Angeles Times. Everyone else planned articles around Easter and Christmas. Even...
Beha'olotkha - 6 June 2015 / 19 Sivan 5775: Charisma, Character and Catastrophe
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Jun 6th 2015
In the Torah portion of Beha’alotkha (Numbers 8-12), two elders are noted for their charisma. Eldad and Medad, who have remained in the camp of Israel, experience an overflow of divine inspiration and energy. They begin to prophecy. Joshua is very worried. However, Moshe seems unconcerned and actually wishes that more people would become prophets. What worries Joshua? Why is Moshe...
Shavuot/Yizkor 5775: More Life
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
May 25th 2015
As part of our celebration of Shavuot, we read the short, pastoral, beautiful Book of Ruth. If you had been here on Saturday night, you would have heard Rabbi Harvey Meirovich teach about Ruth as a Jew-by-choice and of the ambivalence our tradition has about her. Others have pointed to Ruth as a lesson about acceptance of outsiders and as a counter-narrative to the exclusionary policies...
Passover - 11 April 2015 / 22 Nisan 5775: Who Stands Before You
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 13th 2015
A few years ago, I spoke about Philip Roth’s book The Plot Against America, and the Yiddish Policemen’s Union, by Michael Chabon. Each of them imagines a different outcome to the decade from 1940-1950. Turns out, this is not just an approach to fiction. Jeffrey Gurock, Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University, has published a book, The Holocaust Averted: An Alternate...
Passover - 4 April 2015 / 15 Nisan 5775: The Dichotomies of Passover
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 7th 2015
Pesaẖ is a yom tov replete with dichotomies. One dip or two? Regular veggies or maror? Sit up straight or recline? And, of course, the basic dichotomy: Hametz or matzah? From the history of baking and bread, we know that the main difference between ẖametz and matzah is explained in the Torah: They baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had taken out of Egypt, for it was...
Vayikra - 21 March 2015 / 1 Nisan 5775; Who Brings a Sacrifice
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Apr 7th 2015
Thoughts on Citizenship and Association The ritual question of who brings a sacrifice is related to the status that one has before God and to the historic question of how Jews should act in relation to non-Jews? When is it appropriate to distinguish ourselves and when is it incorrect? Listen carefully to the opening words of וַיִּקְרָ֖א, Leviticus, the most ritually exacting...
Toldot - 22 November 2014 / 29 Heshvan 5775: Blood, Shmattes and Hope
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Dec 1st 2014
Blood. Blood soaked into the tallitot. Blood smeared on tefillin. Blood streaked on the floor. Searing images of five people stripped of life. In a synagogue in Jerusalem. Four Jews killed during prayer. A Druze police officer killed seeking to save lives. The killers? Two Palestinian cousins from East Jerusalem. The tools of death? Knives, axes and a gun. Early in our Torah portion,...
Shabbat Sukkot 5775 - 11 October 2014/17 Tishrei 5775 ~ What Makes a Real Yom Tov?
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Oct 21st 2014
What makes a Yom Tov special? Is it the family that came together to celebrate and share meals? Is it the special destination where you marked the hag—Israel or somewhere unique in the world? Was it something special, unusual, that occurred? I’ll come back to this question later. Fifty years ago, in 1964, Lyndon Johnson, then the President of the United States, called for a War on...
Kol Nidre - 10 Tishrei 5775/3 October 2014 - Difficult Conversations
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Oct 21st 2014
Teshuvah—return, restoration, reconciliation, whether with ourselves, other people, or God—does not happen all at once. It happens in a progression of insights and encounters. Like the Long War, it may take decades. Perhaps something will stir you this Yom Kippur that will affect you long after this day. Last year, I spoke to you about difficult decisions regarding end-of-life...
Rosh Hashanah Day 2 - Benediction
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 30th 2014
As this year comes to a close, and another begins, may you and the people dear to you know health, happiness, and love. May our congregation serve as a place of inspiration and community. May the Jewish people everywhere know security and safety, creativity and connection – with each other and with God. May Israel and its neighbours, our country and the world know...
Rosh Hashanah Day 2 - The Shofar of the Summer
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 30th 2014
2 Tishrei 5775 ~ Rosh Hashanah ~ 26 September 2014 The announcement comes softly. “There is an alert in Ashkelon”. “There is an alert in Ashdod.” “There is an alert in Beer Sheva”. The quiet, calm voice sought to avoid creating panic. It interrupted the regular music, news or call-in conversations on radio all summer in Israel. As I listened, I thought of Dena calling the...
Rosh Hashanah Day 1 - Benediction
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 30th 2014
5775 When we travel through the world; let us stop in synagogues and other sacred spaces. When we stay close to home or city; let us enjoy the time we have with family and friends. Hayom.  Today we are here. On this sacred day and on many Shabbat evenings throughout the year, let us bring blessing to others. May God bless us with humility, and with a hunger for...
Rosh Hashanah Day 1 Appeal - New Beginnings
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 30th 2014
1 Tishrei 5775 ~ 25 September 2014 I hope that you have taken note of all the new spiritual experiences and intellectual opportunities we offer as part of our Synaplex during these Days of Awe. In addition to our already robust Hot Topic discussions, youth programs, Family Service and the Mezzanine Minyan/Parallel Service, we have added a New Beginnings reader—with background essays on...