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Sermon: Parshat Chayei Sarah, 11/13/20

11/18/2020 01:57:37 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

When Isaac is comforted by his marriage to Rebekah at the end of this week’s Torah portion, Chayei Sarah, it marks a moment of calm in what has been a tumultuous life. While his birth is met with great joy, the next thing we’re told is that part of his household – Ishmael and Hagar – are removed from his life. We can only imagine the trauma of his father...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Vayeira, 11/6/20

11/10/2020 04:50:24 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Sometimes it’s hard to connect to God. That sense of spirituality can be elusive. That’s the case in the best of times. Nowadays, it can be even more difficult to see that divine spark.

And our Torah portion only highlights that difficulty. For it is true that there are parts of Parshat Vayeira that I love, it is also filled with difficulties and violence. Abraham’s nephew,...Read more...

Story, Parshat Noach, 10/23/20

10/27/2020 04:05:53 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Around Halloween time, I try to bring in some of the weird or spooky aspects of Jewish tradition and this year, there happens to be a great story from rabbinic literature involving Noah’s Ark – which is in this week’s Torah Reading – and a giant. I just learned that there have been over two thousand sightings of Bigfoot in Washington State, so I’m feeling the giant love – and Og – that’s his name -...Read more...

Sermon, Parshat B'reisheet, 10/16/20

10/20/2020 02:47:59 PM


Rabbi Charlie

To see Rabbi Charlie deliver this sermon, click HERE.

Shabbat Shalom!

Parshat B’reisheet is the beginning of the Torah – and I want to begin with what should be a simple question: Do our words mean what we think they mean? The obvious answer should be, “Of course they do!” At the same time, we have all of these wonderful idioms about how our words can be twisted, we...Read more...

Story: Sukkot, 10/2/20

10/09/2020 09:18:21 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Our Sukkot story tonight speaks to the magic of this moment. For there is a legend that one night during the Festival of Sukkot, when the moon shines brightly and it’s very late, that the sky will open and just for a minute, wishes will come true. And for those curious enough and adventurous enough to spend the night in their sukkah, it’s a magical experience.

One year, three...

Sermon: Yom Kippur Morning, 9/29/20

10/06/2020 03:00:38 PM


Rabbi Charlie

I want to elevate the words of the Prophet Isaiah, which were read so beautifully by Cara Serber this morning. Isaiah explains with scathing sarcasm that if we fast and we pray, but continue with the status quo – if we are not moved to change, then all of us suffer.

The prophet specifically implores us to care for people who are hungry and bringing people without anywhere to go into our home. With the reality that Shonda Schaefer...Read more...

Sermon: Kol Nidrei, 9/28/20

10/06/2020 02:57:47 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Gut Yuntiv!

If I were to describe to you a time of returning to God by taking an honest inventory of personal and national sin, taking responsibility for our actions with humility, and asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness, in addition to fasting, prayer, and calls for repentance – you would think you would know what I was talking about. Umm, yeah… that special moment took place yesterday. There was a Christian group – no...Read more...

Story: Shabbat Shuvah/Ha-azinu, 9/26/20

10/06/2020 02:52:54 PM


Rabbi Charlie

See Rabbi Charlie share this story HERE.

Shabbat Shalom! We are Israel, we who struggle with God and as we start the new year, there’s a lot of struggle going on. So, here’s a great story that reflects the best of that struggle featuring Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev – a Chassidic Rabbi known as a defender of the Jewish People.

While it’s one we tell at the...

Sermon: Rosh Hashanah Morning, 9/19/20

09/22/2020 09:46:25 AM


Rabbi Charlie

See Rabbi Charlie deliver this sermon HERE. It is a little different than the written text.


L’shana Tova!

This morning I want to focus on a part of our Torah reading that I usually shy away from. I’m a big fan of confronting difficult texts, but I was never sure what to do with this one. A study session with Rabbi Leon Morris of Pardes Institute in Jerusalem encouraged me to take another look. And you know...Read more...

Sermon: Rosh Hashanah Evening, 9/18/20

09/22/2020 09:38:56 AM


Rabbi Charlie

See Rabbi Charlie deliver this sermon HERE. It is a little different than the written text.


L’shana Tova! A Good Year.

L’shana Tova! I do not offer these words lightly. These words of optimism and hope that we all can be inscribed for a good year – I offer in defiance of everything that the world has been throwing at us. At a time when the struggle seems overwhelming, when God and nature and humanity have...Read more...

Story: Parshat Ki Tavo, 9/4/20

09/22/2020 09:37:16 AM


Rabbi Charlie

This week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, is filled with lists of blessings and curses. Blessings if we live as God wants us to live. If not… curses – lots of curses. It reminds us that we do have some control over our lives. The choices we make do have an impact. That relates to our actions and it also relates to how we choose to see things.

Life is always filled with ups and...

Sermon: Parshat Ki Teitzei, 8/28/20

09/02/2020 05:28:40 PM


Rabbi Charlie

To see Rabbi Charlie deliver this sermon, click HERE

Sometimes the simplest teachings can be the most profound. Judaism makes it clear that we need to care for each other. This week’s Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, gives us reminder after reminder. If we see someone’s animal go astray or we find a lost item – we can’t ignore it, even if we don’t know where the person lives....Read more...

Story: Parshat Shoftim, 8/21/20

08/25/2020 01:57:25 PM


Rabbi Charlie

To see Rabbi Charlie deliver this story, click HERE.

This week’s Torah portion includes the phrase, “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof – Justice, justice shall you pursue.” To reflection on the idea of justice and, as we’ve entered into the month of Elul, to start that process of reflecting on our lives, a mashal – a story:

There once was a Jew who went out into the world to seek justice. He saw how people mistreated each...Read more...

Story: Parshat Eikev, 8/7/20

08/12/2020 08:37:11 AM


Rabbi Charlie

To see a recording of Rabbi Charlie's Story, please click HERE!

Shabbat Shalom!

Our Torah portion warns us against arrogance - forgetting God and assuming that it’s all about us (Deut. 8:14-17). I did this, I did that, I’m so great… Even the most righteous need to pay attention to that teaching. Especially because it’s far too easy to...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Vaetchanan, 7/31/20

08/04/2020 04:49:02 PM


Rabbi Charlie

To see a recording of Rabbi Charlie's sermon, please click HERE.

Shabbat Shalom!

Elie Wiesel wrote, “I marvel at the resilience of the Jewish people. Their best characteristic is their desire to remember. No other people has such an obsession with memory.”

We see this throughout this week’s Torah portion. Multiple times Moses instructs us not to forget what we saw, not to forget our covenant with God. Moses...Read more...

Story: Parshat D'varim 5780

07/29/2020 09:52:15 AM


Rabbi Charlie

To see the recording of Rabbi Charlie's story, click HERE.

Shabbat Shalom!

This week begins the book of Deuteronomy, D’varim in Hebrew, which means, “words.” These words mostly consist of a series of speeches that Moses delivers. These speeches are sometimes personal, sometimes poetic, and filled with meaning. It reminds us of the significance of our own words, which leads me to this beautiful story:

There was...

Sermon: Parshat Matot-Masei, 7/17/20

07/23/2020 09:02:54 AM


Rabbi Charlie

To see the recording of Rabbi Charlie's sermon, please click HERE.

Shabbat Shalom!

This week we reach the end of the Book of Numbers and say, “Chazak, Chazak, V’nitchazeik – be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen each other.” We need to be strong – we need to care for ourselves and we need to strengthen one another – we need to care for others. We see this in our Torah reading.

The tribes of...

Story: Parshat Pinchas 7/10/20

07/15/2020 03:17:34 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Click HERE for a recording of the sermon as delivered.

In the Torah portion this week, Parshat Pinchas, we read about the aftermath of chaos that gets out of hand, which gives way to the order and structure of a military census and the details of our sacred calendar. It made me think – hmmm… chaos… a desire for structure or normalcy… that sounds pretty familiar. And it reminded me of one of my favorite stories from...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Chukat/Balak, 7/3/20

07/05/2020 12:33:10 PM


Rabbi Charlie

For a recording of the sermon, click HERE.


There’s a lot in this week’s Torah portion – red cows and talking donkeys, travels and military battles, the passing of Moses’ siblings, Aaron and Miriam, there’s prophets and blessings and more. When Aaron dies, there’s thirty days of grieving. When Miriam dies, there’s none of that – only a concern about water. It makes sense to ask: what’s going on...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat B'haalot'cha, 6-12-20

06/14/2020 09:45:29 AM


Rabbi Charlie

This is primarily a message to the graduating class of 2020, but I hope there’s something in here for all of us. First to the graduating class, Mazal Tov!  The completion of any stage along the journey of life is a moment for reflection.  And with your high school years behind you, it’s a time to celebrate and appreciate your accomplishments as you embrace the excitement of the path ahead.

At...

Story: Parshat Naso I, 5/29/20

05/31/2020 01:39:21 PM


Rabbi Charlie

This week’s Torah portion is about groups of Levites that have the responsibility to care for the sacred items of our people – The Tabernacle, the Ark, the Alter – everything used in sacrificial worship. Sometimes, depending on who we listen to, such responsibilities, even important responsibilities, can start to feel like a burden. This is a story that might to help lighten some of the load.

Picture this… Non-descript time,...

Sermon: Parshat Bamidbar, 5/22/20

05/26/2020 09:38:31 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

In moments of stress our vision tends to focus on our immediate needs. When Adam and Eve get kicked out of the Garden, they have to learn about the harsh reality of our world. They focus on what’s right in front of them. When the Israelites are fleeing from Egypt and the sea parts, they focus on what’s right in front of them. And in this week’s Torah portion – Bamidbar, the beginning of the Book of Numbers -...Read more...

Brief Teaching for Teacher Appreciation: Parshat Behar/Bechukotai, 5/15/20

05/20/2020 03:22:58 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Tuvia Bolton shares the story of his teacher, Rabbi Mendel Futerfas of blessed memory.

When Rabbi Mendel was five years old learning Torah in a cheder in Russia, it happened that one of the boys forgot to bring his ink bottle and asked the boy at his side for some of his. "No," replied the latter. "I haven't enough; you should have brought from home." So the first boy had to ask someone else.

The teacher noticed this and said...

Sermon: Parshat Emor, 5/8/20

05/13/2020 11:11:32 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Sometimes we look at the Torah with great pride at the wisdom we find there. Sometimes we are dismayed. And sometimes we look at the Torah and struggle to understand how it connects to anything in our lives today.

This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Emor, includes guidelines for priests, guidelines for sacrifices, and our calendar year. Much of the calendar of holy days that the Torah spells out is very familiar to us today. The...Read more...

Concluding Remarks: Service of Healing, 5/7/2020

05/08/2020 08:57:45 AM


Rabbi Charlie

As we pray for healing this evening, it helps to understand that we are also mourning. We’re mourning loss of life, loss of jobs, loss of physical connection. We’re mourning the loss of planning, the loss of control, the loss of normal. We might say we’re ok, but it’s not ok.

It’s not ok when so much of our world has shut down.

It’s not ok when funerals take place without loved ones present.

It’s not ok...

Pirkei Avot - Online Study

04/28/2020 10:00:43 AM


Pirkei Avot is a collection of wise teachings from generations of rabbis that continue to provide guidance and perspective in today's world. While the teachings are over 1800 years old, the wisdom could not be more relevant today.   Please see...Read more...

Story: Parshat Tazria/Metzora, 4/24/20

04/28/2020 09:32:07 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion – Tazria/Metzora – focuses on a strange disease that requires isolation whether you have it or not. Out of all the Torah portions, this was one that I never anticipated would have such parallels with real life. When you find yourself in an unexpected situation, when difficulties are all around, it can help to turn to the wisdom of Chelm.

Jews have a long history and tradition of wisdom,...

Sermon: Parshat Shmini, 4/17/20

04/22/2020 09:37:05 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

I know that we need something uplifting this evening. We’ll get there. Sometimes we have to face the facts before we can find the silver lining. Parshat Shmini is a tragic wake up call. On the very day that Israel’s priests are consecrated as priests, two of our almost priests, two of Aaron’s sons die because they made a mistake.

All who witness this moment are shocked. While Moses tries to offer an...Read more...

Story: Shabbat Pesach, 4/10/20

04/12/2020 11:45:54 AM


Rabbi Charlie

On Passover we share the story of freedom and we pray that Elijah will come, ushering in redemption for all. Right now, it can be hard to imagine what redemption might look like, but this story – an old favorite of mine that’s been attributed to Rabbi Haim of Romshishok - can point us in the right direction.

After a full and long life, a wise, pious man dies and goes to heaven. There he is greeted and welcomed. But like so many...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Tzav, 4/3/20

04/10/2020 09:30:50 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Tonight is Shabbat HaGadol – the great Shabbat, the Shabbat that comes right before Pesach/Passover. This is the night where traditionally the rabbi would explain all of the laws of Passover. Instead, tonight, I just want to focus on the word Pesach – Passover, instead.

When it comes to this virus – we certainly want it to pass over us. Although when looked at closely, the word Pesach may not actually mean Passover. It’s used...Read more...

Thu, December 3 2020 17 Kislev 5781