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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...

Story: Parshat Vayikra, 3/27/20

03/30/2020 09:19:58 PM


Rabbi Charlie

This week’s Torah portion begins the book of Leviticus, which is all about animal sacrifice - Korban. Even though it’s sounds strange to us now, the purpose of animal sacrifice was to "karov" or draw close to God and fill our lives with meaning. With that idea, I want to share with you one of my favorite stories from our tradition.

This is about a wise, compassionate and much loved queen. She was getting older and she knew that...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Vayak-heil/Pekudei, 3/20/20

03/24/2020 09:15:47 AM


Rabbi Charlie

We are in unfamiliar territory when on the surface, it looks like Raymond and I are praying in an empty synagogue with a computer and an awesome microphone. We are in unfamiliar territory when on the surface I’m telling you don’t come to the synagogue, stay home. Our world has been turned upside down – maybe not in a Stranger Things sort of way, but it’s strange enough.

Then again, on the surface, it appears that this...

COVID-19 Address to Congregation, 3/15/20

03/16/2020 05:11:47 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Hi everyone!

Erev Tov, Good Evening. I’m recording this on Sunday evening, March 15th.

For all who are in need of healing, we pray for a refuah shleimah as we pray for this coronavirus to pass us by quickly. Things have moved quickly since Friday when we made the decision to suspend all in person gatherings at CBI. I want to give you an update on all that’s been happening and the steps we’re taking over the next couple...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Tetzaveh, 3/6/20

03/16/2020 05:10:06 PM


Rabbi Charlie

350 teens… a good 75 chaperones… All living in a hotel for a long weekend. It sounds amazing, doesn’t it? We visited the Holocaust Museum, we hung out in Georgetown, we went to the National Mall. And every step of the way, we did Jewish and on Monday morning, after a lot of learning and activities and workshops and skits and more, we accomplished our goal.

Going to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress is inspiring. In the midst of...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Beshallach, 2/7/20

02/12/2020 08:41:59 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom! I want to begin with an apology. It’s Shabbat Shira, the Shabbat of Song, and I am sorry to say that I wasn’t able to write a song to honor this week’s parsha. My song writing time has been spent helping with our Purim Shpiel – the theme is Dirty Dancing – and it should be pretty awesome. And this way, we leave the singing to Hallie.

Instead of a song, I wanted to bring in a little bit of Tu Bishevat – the...Read more...

Story: Parshat Va-eira, 1/24/20

02/06/2020 03:34:08 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

So, fifth graders… What do you think? Is it good to be stubborn? Do your parents think it’s good to be stubborn? In this week’s Torah Portion – Va-eira, we have the story of one stubborn man. His name was Pharaoh. That’s right – this week we have part of the Passover story, including a description of the first few plagues

Throughout the book of Exodus, the Torah doesn’t call Pharaoh stubborn. It...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Shemot - Solidarity Shabbat, 1/17/20

01/21/2020 01:02:57 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Each week the Jewish people read and study several chapters from the Torah. This week, we’re at the beginning of the Book of Exodus where we start off with peaceful coexistence. Jacob and Joseph and family made a home in Egypt. Famines had been managed and there was peace.

Along comes the new Pharaoh, who uses doubt and fear as an excuse for oppression. He says to his people, “The Israelites are too numerous…. Let us deal...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Vayigash, 1/3/20

01/07/2020 10:12:07 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Vayigash, gives us an unexpected hero. Judah is the one who vayigash – who “approaches” the most powerful man in Egypt besides Pharaoh. Judah has no idea that this man is actually Joseph. He only knows that the fate of his youngest brother, Benjamin, looks bleak. The evidence is against him – the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. And yet he steps forward and speaks out,...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Mikeitz/Chanukah, 12/28/19

12/29/2019 09:11:14 AM


Rabbi Charlie

A brief teaching about the true meaning of Chanukah…

I lived in Jerusalem back in 2001-2002. I remember walking in the Old City in December and looking up to see a Christmas tree. And I was surprised. Not because it was a Christmas tree – we were in the Armenian Quarter where many Christians lived. I was actually surprised because I had forgotten that Christmas was...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Vayeishev, 12/21/19

12/24/2019 12:55:47 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom! The Joseph story begins this week with Parshat Vaheishev and let me tell you – it’s got everything! Family intrigue – check! Attempted murder – check! Romantic/Sexual temptation - check! Betrayal and tragedy – check and check! And of course – miraculous change of fortunes! The Joseph story is fantastic storytelling – they should really make that into a musical… well, anyways…

It’s such a great story...

Sermon: Parshat Vayeitzei, 12/6/19

12/08/2019 03:03:31 PM


Rabbi Charlie

In Genesis 28:14 God promises Jacob:

וְהָיָ֤ה זַרְעֲךָ֙ כַּעֲפַ֣ר הָאָ֔רֶץ

Your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth

And we can ask: is that supposed to be a compliment? In the 13th century, Rabbeinu Bahya offers a fascinating and insightful commentary. He acknowledges the negative...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Vayeirah

11/19/2019 08:34:29 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

Parshat Vayeira begins with Abraham as a model of hospitality. Even though he’s recovering from a recent surgery, he sits at the entrance of his tent, waiting. He interrupts an appearance from God to offer a little water and bread and shade. Then he gets the whole household moving – making cakes, slaughtering animals, preparing a feast, with Abraham himself serving the guests.

With Abraham as super-host,...

Invocation: Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation Luncheon, 11/13/19

11/14/2019 11:13:25 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Over twelve hundred people are here today! You – all of you – have chosen to spend this hour focused on mental health and depression and suicide. You have chosen to help bring light to this conversation. You are a blessing. Your presence is an inspiration.

Rabbi Eric Weiss wrote the following prayer based on a passage from the Talmud (Berachot 5b):

When all seems dark and the darkness is harsh, Take my hand.

When...

Story: Parshat Lech Lecha, 11/8/19

11/10/2019 10:54:48 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

This week’s Torah portion is parshat Lech Lecha where God asks Abraham to go on a journey. He travels hundreds and hundreds of miles with Sarah and all their possessions so they can make it to the Land of Israel.

We had another great leader, King Solomon who went on a different kind of journey. King Solomon was known as the wisest person in the world. He knew the language of every animal. He kidnapped...Read more...

Invocation: Tarrant County Commissioner's Court, 11/5/19

11/05/2019 07:58:47 PM


Rabbi Charlie

As the Commissioner’s Court opens this election day morning, we ask God, whatever you conceive God to be, to open our hearts and minds to one another.  In a time of division and mistrust, when party loyalty far too often means more than personal integrity or the needs of the people for both Democrats and Republicans, we pray that we can listen and hear the sincere plea of the just.

In Jewish tradition, Hillel and Shammai, the...

Sermon: Parshat Noach, 11/1/19

11/05/2019 08:33:34 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom! I am not a fan of the idea that Noah and the Ark is a little kid’s story. If you go online and do a search for Noah’s Ark, the first thing that comes up is the Noah’s Ark experience near Cincinnati. Someone actually built a life-sized Noah’s Ark museum that you can tour and walk through. Not a joke – and there’s a zip line… it’s not far from a creation museum… it’s a real thing.

The second thing...

Yom Kippur Afternoon: Four Stories, 10/9/19

10/25/2019 01:31:38 PM


Rabbi Charlie

The beauty of Torah is that it offers meaning and purpose to each of us. In every age our People – each of us as individuals – have always been able to learn from and connect to Torah. This afternoon’s sermon celebrates that point. I asked a handful of our members to share a story or a teaching inspired by one of the verses from this afternoon’s Torah reading. What I received was personal and heartfelt, honest and beautiful. Many thanks...Read more...

Story: Sukkot, 10/18/19

10/20/2019 04:25:59 PM


Rabbi Charlie

The following story is a modern retelling of a Tunisian folktale that I learned about from the brilliant story tellers Nina Jaffe and Steve Zeitlin (While Standing on One Foot, p. 81-86, adapted).

Once there was a man named Jacob Leibman, who lived in a small apartment on the top floor of a six-story house in New York City. Jacob lived alone, but he had many friends. Neighbors were always stopping by to see him, and children loved to...Read more...

Tue, July 7 2020 15 Tammuz 5780