Sermons

Rosh Hashanah Day 1 - Anniversaries
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 30th 2014
1 Tishrei 5775 ~ 25 September 2014 I wish each and all of you a year of blessing, good health, sufficient parnasah and much love. As I begin another year as your rabbi, I am grateful to be with you at times of simhah and appreciate your trust in me at times of sorrow. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are times when we can express gratitude and reflect on where we are as individuals and...
Israel at 60: Reclaiming our Narrative May 2008
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Aug 21st 2014
Between Purim and Passover, we were privileged to host Rabbi Daniel Gordis and Hon. Irwin Cotler as our Shabbat guests. They each reiterated themes related to Jewish and Israeli life which I addressed during the Days of Awe. On the one hand, we have much for which to be grateful. The Jewish people made great strides from the time of the Balfour Declaration 90 years ago to the...
Emor - 3 May 2014 / 3 Iyar 5774: Calendars for Past and Future
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Aug 21st 2014
Calendars for Past and Future Notwithstanding the Raptors playoff chances, the Canadiens against the Bruins, Mayor Ford stepping aside, the proposed June election for Ontario, the Russian destabilization of Ukraine, and the terrible massive deaths in the Afghani landslide, Israel remains in the news. As the State of Israel approaches its 66th birthday, only the embers remain from the...
Yizkor - Pesah 5774 - 23 April 2014/23 Nisan 5774: Back to the Future
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Aug 21st 2014
Back to the Future H̱ag same’aẖ. Memory is necessary to our identities as human beings and particularly to our lives as Jews. On Pesah, more than any other time, our memories are multi-sensory. I have powerful childhood memories of my mother- who raised me as a single mom- involving me in preparations for Passover. There was cleaning, koshering, cooking, kiddush and recounting. We...
Beha'alotha: Disagreement and Diversity as Paths to Truth - June 2014
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Aug 21st 2014
Disagreement and Diversity as Paths to Truth Be’ha’alotekha 9 Sivan 5774 ~ 7 June 2014 Rav Baruch Frydman-Kohl The most famous excommunication in Jewish history occurred on 6 Av 5416 (July 27, 1656).  The Portuguese- Jewish community of Amsterdam, still anxious about its acceptance and security after the twin exiles from the Iberian peninsula, declared that 23...
Struggling with Judaism
By: Daniel Silverman
Nov 22nd 2013
November 16, 2013  פרשת וישלח Daniel Silverman – Beth Tzedec Congregation Struggling with Judaism A few years ago, some friends of mine and I invented a game, and I want to give you a chance to play right now.  The game works like this.  Imagine you are someone who has had no interaction with anything Jewish.  You have never met a Jewish person, and...
Noah and Abraham: Two Pew Thoughts (Part 2 of 2)
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Oct 12th 2013
Shabbat Lekh Lekha, 7 Heshvan 5774(12 October 2013/8 Heshvan 5774)Lekh LekhaLast week, I gave you the bad news. This week I want to offer some hope. I want to look at the Pew report through the lens of Jewish theology.It should be no surprise that Avram appears to us as we think about Jewish demography. From the beginning, Avram was counting his descendants.As you listen to these words of...
Noah and Abraham: Two Pew Thoughts (Part 1 of 2)
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Oct 5th 2013
Shabbat No’ah, Rosh Hodesh Heshvan 5774(5 October 2013/1 Heshvan 5774)No’ahAfter the news of this past week, I feel like Noah, preparing for the flood.  Although we live in Canada, we are deeply affected by trends from the United States. Mordecai Kaplan used to quip that Canadian Jewry is “only one degeneration behind America”. Looking at American trends give us a lens by which we...
Going Home: Yizkor Thoughts Shemini Atzeret 5774
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 26th 2013
Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret are all about building homes. One is the temporary place that reminds us of the shelter in the Wilderness. The other is the permanent sanctuary in Jerusalem. The haftarah of the second day of Sukkot and the haftarah of Shemini Atzeret are two parts of the same chapter of the Book of Kings that tell of Solomon's dedication of the bayit, the Temple: “בנה...
Ushpizin - Shabbat Sukkot 5774
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 21st 2013
As you know, one of the great traditions of Shabbat is the welcoming of guests.  On Sukkot, inviting people to one’s sukkah actually fulfills two mitzvot: hospitality, hakhnasat orkhim, and eating in the sukkah. Eating in sukkah is as important a mitzvah as hearing shofar, eating matzah, wearing tallit, or putting up a mezuzah. But not all hospitality works out. I want you to think...
The Big Sukkah Sukkot 5774
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 19th 2013
Political parties often speak about a big tent. Some religions also imagine a comprehensive unity. Most of us get stuck and focus on what divides us. Occasionally, I tell this joke to Christian colleagues. They share a wistful and rueful laugh. George was walking across a bridge when he saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. He ran over and shouted, "Stop! Don't do...
Adjusting Sights Yom Kippur Yizkor 5774
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 14th 2013
The calendar turns to September and Tishrei and we turn to memory. Twelve years ago last Wednesday, the morning news broke from New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Uncertainty and confusion gave way to fright and fear. In Toronto, buildings were evacuated and schools dismissed. In America, physical devastation and personal loss shifted into desperate searching and profound mourning....
Assisted Suicide Kol Nidre 5774
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 13th 2013
As we recite Unetaneh Tokef, reminding ourselves of the stark reality of mortality, we not only think about who shall live and who shall die, but also how we shall live and die. While the prayer-poem draws attention to the drama of fire and water, warfare and wildlife, earthquake and plague, most of us wonder whether our lives and deaths will be tranquil or troubled, calm or...
Doors, Disputation and Dialogue - Rosh Hashanah II, 5774
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 6th 2013
Today is Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembrance. I want to speak about a mitzvah intended to foster memory and ask what its meaning might be for us. We were walking in Girona, a 45 minute drive from Barcelona, exploring the Jewish call, where Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman had been the most prominent community leader. In the museum, I saw the stamp of Nahmanides, the seal - discovered in the 1970s...
Anniversaries - Rosh Hashanah 5774
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Sep 5th 2013
I told you so. Last year, I warned you that Rosh Hashanah would be early. Let me prepare you again.  Rosh Hashanah will fall on Labour Day. In 2032. I hope that most of you will be around to complain in 19 years. Have you noticed that people approach significant birthdays and anniversaries in different ways? Children are excited by birthdays, but many adults are dismayed. Young...