1 Tishrei 5775 ~ 25
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...
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...
Calendars for Past
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
As the State of
Israel approaches its 66th birthday, only the
embers remain from the...
Back to the Future
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...
and Diversity as Paths to Truth
Sivan 5774 ~ 7 June 2014
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
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...
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....
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...
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...
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.
you noticed that people approach significant birthdays and anniversaries in
different ways? Children are excited by birthdays, but many adults are