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Sermon: Parshat Va-etchanan, 7/23/21

07/27/2021 09:13:13 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

Greene Family Camp is a magical place. I spent almost two weeks at GFC helping with services, teaching, mentoring, and participating in everyday activities. It has everything from mountain biking to ping pong to basketball to boating to dance to arts and crafts to 3D printing and so much more. Campers don’t get phones at camp and with fewer distractions, it’s a...Read more...

Brief teaching: Parshat Pinchas, 7/2/21

07/06/2021 10:57:19 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

A very brief teaching from Parshat Pinchas…

This Torah portion comes after great upheaval the past few weeks. We’ve seen a political rebellion that was put down, we’ve seen an attempt at prophetic corruption that was corrected, and we’ve seen the violence of an extreme zealot. Following all this we have a lengthy...Read more...

Story: Parshat Balak, 6/25/21

06/29/2021 03:32:19 PM


Rabbi Charlie

This weeks Torah portion includes a talking donkey that helps teach humility to the great prophet Bilaam. And with great humility, he blesses the Israelites instead of cursing them. While we have two talking animals in the Bible, we have numerous examples of talking animals throughout Jewish and non-Jewish folklore. Different versions of the following tale go back over a thousand years, with Jewish versions found...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Chukat - Juneteenth, 6/18/21

06/22/2021 03:16:25 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

We have a lot of chutzpah, our people. A close reading of chapter 12 of Exodus shows us that we have the audacity to create a festival of freedom before we are even free. And then, even after we receive the Torah, we’re a mess – rebelling against God and Moses, wandering 40 years in the desert. We conquer a land through genocide… we’re led by Kings that...Read more...

Carroll ISD Baccalaureate Remarks, 5/23/21

05/25/2021 11:50:03 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Mazal Tov and Congratulations to the class of 2021 and all your families. I want to give appreciation to all of the teachers and staff and administrators who helped you make it through, especially over the past 15 months! Mazal Tov!

I also want to give appreciation to the organizing group who selected, “Love One Another,” as the theme. What an incredible challenge! It’s a...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Nasso, 5/21/21

05/25/2021 11:25:51 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

This wasn’t the sermon I was planning on giving tonight, but sometimes the world doesn’t work to our advantage. In the Israel update I offered this past week, I tried to show the complexity of the situation in Israel. Something that is not complex, something that is simple and straightforward and crystal clear is that Antisemitism is wrong. The situation in...Read more...

Brief Teaching: Parshat Bamidbar, 5/14/21

05/19/2021 03:47:16 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

The book of Numbers begins with God telling Moses to conduct a census of

כָּל־עֲדַ֣ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל

The whole community of Israel.

This is curious for two...

Sermon: Parshat Behar/Bechukotai, 5/7/21

05/11/2021 08:56:13 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

The Torah contains powerful ethical teachings that are celebrated throughout Jewish tradition: Every person was created in God’s image (Gen 1:27). Love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18). Care for those without power in society because we were strangers in Egypt (many places). The Torah is also filled with contradictions – including teachings that contradict...Read more...

Story: Parshat Emor, 4/30/21

05/04/2021 03:08:58 PM


Rabbi Charlie

This week’s Torah portion, parshat Emor, details who can and who cannot become a priest and it states: “asher yih’yeh vo mum – that anyone with a blemish or defect,” cannot be a priest who offers a sacrifice (Lev 21:17).

Not surprisingly, there are other verses and teachings throughout Jewish tradition that offer a very different perspective, including the line from...Read more...

Brief Teaching: Parshat Achrei Mot-Kedoshim (Honoring Hazak), 4/23/21

04/27/2021 12:44:46 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom! A brief teaching before we turn things over to Hazak – and this is just so good. Now Sandy and I didn’t plan it this way, but it’s amazing how often these things work out. In this week’s Torah portion, we find the following (in Lev. 19:32)

מִפְּנֵ֤י שֵׂיבָה֙ תָּק֔וּם וְהָדַרְתָּ֖...

Sermon: Parshat Tazria-Metzora, 4/16/21

04/20/2021 09:51:04 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

I don’t feel that the idea of “diversity” is in any way controversial, and yet it is. A week ago one talking head was claiming that one company’s desire to increasing diversity in their workforce could get people killed. It was shocking to...Read more...

Story: Parshat Sh'mini, 4/9/21 (honoring new members)

04/14/2021 09:47:42 AM


Rabbi Charlie

This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Sh’mini, details our original dietary laws. So in honor of food and in honor of our Newest Members – a story about food and the building of community in the most unexpected of ways.

A long time ago in the town of Tzefat, the richest man in town was sleeping, as usual, through Shabbat morning services. He awoke just long enough to hear the...Read more...

Sermon: Shabbat Pesach, 4/2/21

04/04/2021 02:14:46 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

On Pesach we celebrate freedom, liberation, redemption. And what are we free from? Avodah – work.

So we leave Egypt and create a system of sacrificial offerings to God. And what do we call it? Avodah – work.

The same word we used for the Temple service is the same word that we are running...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Tzav, 3/26/21

03/30/2021 11:31:52 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Pesach!

Leading up to Passover, I’ve spoken each week about different aspects of freedom. Tonight, the focus is on stories. Many groups of people have experienced slavery and oppression. What makes the Exodus from Egypt so powerful is the storytelling. We can relate to Moses. We can relate to the Israelites. And with our hardened hearts, sometimes we can...Read more...

Sermon: Vayikra, 3/19/21

03/21/2021 04:22:55 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

Leading up to Pesach – which is just over a week away – I’ve been focusing on various aspects of freedom. Tonight’s teaching and invitation has been inspired by the opportunity to spend a week learning with over 350 Reform rabbis at an online CCAR conference. I studied with great teachers, I reconnected with friends, and we had more than one session that...Read more...

Sermon: Vayakhel-Pekudei, 3/12/21

03/21/2021 04:21:17 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

Leading up to Pesach, I’m focusing on different aspects of freedom. Tonight the focus is on work and workers – a group that I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past year. This week’s Torah portion focuses on work – where everyone gives and everyone contributes to build the Tabernacle and God’s presence blesses their work at the end of the Book of Exodus. It’s a beautiful ideal, but our reality is far...Read more...

Sermon: Ki Tisa, 3/5/21

03/09/2021 02:46:14 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

I don’t usually do this, but this is the first in a series of sermons related to different aspects of freedom that will lead us into Passover. Let me know if this is a good thing. We start tonight with Israel.

Israel’s a complicated place. It’s a Jewish state, but most people are secular. It’s a democracy, but it doesn’t...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Tetzaveh, 2/26/21

03/03/2021 09:59:05 AM


Rabbi Charlie

When I was growing up, I loved Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series. It imagines the fall of an enormous galactic empire that was based on the fall of the Roman empire. Central to Asimov’s storytelling was the idea of psychohistory – a “science” that if you had a large enough sample of human beings, one could predict the future with a high degree of probability… large trends – not individual actors. While...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Terumah, 2/19/21, After Winter Storm Uri

03/03/2021 09:55:50 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

My original intention was to share a silly story to lift your spirits. Raymond was joking about singing the prayer, “Roll into Dark” tonight, but we agreed that it might be too soon after the week we had. But instead of a silly story, it made more sense to share some true ones.

For in parshat Terumah we learn how to build a mishkan, a tabernacle - A portable temple made of the finest materials. It was a...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Mishpatim, 2/12/21

03/03/2021 09:54:06 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

The Torah teaches:

וְגֵ֥ר לֹא־תוֹנֶ֖ה וְלֹ֣א תִלְחָצֶ֑נּוּ כִּֽי־גֵרִ֥ים הֱיִיתֶ֖ם בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃

You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress one, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt....Read more...

Story: Parshat Beshalach, 1/29/21

02/02/2021 10:11:24 PM


Rabbi Charlie

To hear Rabbi Charlie deliver this sermon, click HERE

Shabbat Shalom!

This week is Shabbat Shira – the Shabbat of Song, named after the Song of the Sea in Exodus, chapter 15. After the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites sing a song of freedom – only to be followed by complaining due to a lack of faith. We know that they will eventually make it to the Promised land, but...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Vay'chi, 1/1/21

01/05/2021 05:09:03 PM


Rabbi Charlie

To hear Rabbi Charlie deliver this sermon, click HERE.


Shabbat Shalom!

Parshat Vay’chi wraps up the book of Genesis with the peaceful passing of Jacob and Joseph, yet it still manages to have a little drama. After their father’s death, even though many years had passed, Joseph’s brother’s feared retribution. They come to Joseph and tell him that with...Read more...

Story: Parshat Vayigash, 12/25/20

12/27/2020 10:44:27 AM


Rabbi Charlie

View Rabbi Charlie delivering this week's story/sermon, including special effects, HERE.

This week’s Torah portion begins with incredible drama. Joseph is second only to Pharaoh. His brothers have reluctantly brought Benjamin down to Egypt only to have Joseph frame Benjamin for stealing. Parshat Vayigash begins with Judah’s heartfelt appeal to save Benjamin. Joseph is so moved that with tears in his...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Mikeitz, 12/18/20

12/23/2020 01:09:37 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Watch Rabbi Charlie deliver this sermon HERE.


Shabbat Shalom!

We are in the midst of Joseph’s story. Joseph interprets pharaoh’s dreams, he’s been elevated and is in the process of managing seven years of famine for the entire region. Meanwhile, Jacob is not doing well. When his sons return from...Read more...

Hanukkah Teaching: Parshat Vayeishev, 12/11/20

12/16/2020 10:32:04 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Watch Rabbi Charlie's teaching HERE. The text is below...


It doesn’t take much to celebrate Hanukkah. A chanukiah – a menorah for Hanukkah, some candles, something cooked in oil – that’s it. We can always do more – decorations and gifts and gourmet latkes and gourmet donuts – yes, donuts. An Israeli baker created a donut to celebrate the new relationship with the UAE called the...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Vayishlach, 12/4/20

12/09/2020 10:12:18 AM


Rabbi Charlie

To hear Rabbi Charlie deliver this sermon, click HERE. The sermon as delivered does deviate from the written text.


Parshat Vayishlach has one of the more challenging accounts of “justice,” and I put that word in quotes. We begin with the Jacob’s concern about Esau, wrestling with an angel, and ultimately the beautiful scene of...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Toldot, 11/20/20

12/09/2020 09:29:24 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

Our very own Richard Baratz knows how to draw a caricature. For those who don’t know, Richard is the caricaturist at Sardi’s in New York City, a restaurant famous for it’s caricatures. In a caricature, certain features are made to be more obvious and others are toned down. By definition, a caricature shows us a small part of a person. In the right hands,...Read more...

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...

Tue, July 27 2021 18 Av 5781