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Sermon: Parshat Bereishit, 10/1/21

10/07/2021 08:12:59 AM

Oct7

Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

Bereishit – the beginning of our Torah. It starts out so good! God’s speaking and creating and it’s all good and then God makes us and it’s very good. And then God creates things in a different way – forming Adam and putting him in a garden, forming animals and Eve. And then things start to go off the rails…

Adam and...Read more...

Sermon: Shabbat Sukkot, 9/24/21

10/07/2021 08:11:44 AM

Oct7

Rabbi Charlie

I love the creativity of our people. It states clearly in the Torah (Lev 23:43) that God made us live in sukkot when we came out of Egypt. And yet in both Midrash and the Talmud, our Rabbis debate what this means. One goes with the obvious – that the Israelites built actual booths. Another offers a different take – that the sukkot were metaphorical booths. Instead physical structures, these booths were God’s...Read more...

Sermon/Song: Parshat Haazinu, 9/17/21

09/19/2021 03:37:33 PM

Sep19

Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion is parshat Haazinu, which is made up almost entirely of Shirat Moshe – the Song of Moses. After writing it, the Torah says that Moses came, together with Hosea son of Nun, and recited all the words of this poem for the people. Afterwards, Moses tells them: Take to heart all the words with which I have warned you this day. Enjoin them upon your children, that they may...Read more...

Yom Kippur Morning Sermon 5782

09/19/2021 03:18:01 PM

Sep19

Rabbi Charlie

Gut Yuntiv!

This morning’s Torah reading has always puzzled me. I can comprehend the washing and the special clothes. The idea of an animal sacrifice makes a lot of sense. But what’s up with sending a goat to Azazel? I know there’s lots of great interpretations and there’s lots of lessons to learn, but really? Put everyone’s sins on a goat and send it off to the...Read more...

Kol Nidre - Yom Kippur Evening Sermon 5782

09/19/2021 03:15:48 PM

Sep19

Rabbi Charlie

Tonight’s D’var Torah was inspired by a teaching from Rabbi Shai Held, the Rosh Yeshiva at Mechon Hadar – an egalitarian yeshiva in New York who I heard speak at the online CCAR Conference this past year.

Gut Yuntiv!

We are told clearly how to understand our place in the world in Genesis, chapter 1. It was revolutionary then and it remains...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Vayeilech, 9/10/21 - Remembering 9/11

09/14/2021 01:23:08 PM

Sep14

Rabbi Charlie

Parshat Vayeilech near the end of Deuteronomy is filled with a sense of history. The transition from Moses to Joshua, the instruction to read the Torah every seven years, the foretelling of a future where we will turn away from God. A scroll is written to bear witness – to remember.

The act of witnessing and remembering remains an integral part of our tradition. We remember...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah Morning Sermon 5782

09/08/2021 08:47:20 AM

Sep8

Rabbi Charlie

L’shana Tova!

This morning’s Torah portion mentions that Hagar finds herself bamidbar – in the wilderness. There was no warning. Her son Ishmael did something that Sarah didn’t like and they were cast out from their home. In the wilderness they wander. In the wilderness they despair. In the wilderness they are saved and begin life anew.

The wilderness is a brief, transforming episode for Hagar. The wilderness overwhelms the rest of the Torah. From the middle of Exodus to the end of Deuteronomy we are bamidbar. We survive the trauma of slavery only to be thrust into the unknown. In the wilderness we experience skepticism and lack of faith, along with fear, frailty, and vulnerability. Bamidbar – in the wilderness, mistakes have real and tragic consequences, yet every person can encounter the divine and healing, learning, and growth become possible. We are tested bamidbar and many times we fail. Through our trials and tribulations, we become a People in the wilderness.Read more...

Rosh Hashanah Evening Sermon 5782

09/08/2021 08:44:29 AM

Sep8

Rabbi Charlie

L’shana Tova!

We could use a good year! It’s been very challenging for far too many of us. Between COVID, the weather, physical and mental health issues, local, state, and national politics, tragedies overseas, and numerous other difficulties, it’s been really hard. And just when we think that things might get better, there seems to be another challenge, another turn for the...Read more...

Sermon/Story: Parshat Nitzavim, 9/3/21

09/08/2021 08:42:36 AM

Sep8

Rabbi Charlie

This week’s Torah portion includes some of my favorite verses. Moses tells the people:

Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and...Read more...

Story/Sermon: Parshat Ki Teitzei, 8/20/21

08/24/2021 02:52:11 PM

Aug24

Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Ki Teitzei, has more mitzvot than any other parsha. Most of these sacred obligations speak to how we should treat one another – if something is lost, we return it; we don’t abuse workers; we don’t turn away a slave seeking refuge. The story tonight focuses on that notion of communal responsibility.

Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Shoftim, 8/13/21

08/17/2021 04:27:15 PM

Aug17

Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

The story I share tonight comes from II Kings. It’s a reminder that our Tanakh, our Bible, is well worth exploring. We start off with Josiah – who becomes king in Jerusalem when he’s just eight years old. We don’t know much about those early years, but something monumental occurs eighteen years later.

King Josiah orders...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Re-eh, 8/6/21

08/10/2021 03:25:27 PM

Aug10

Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

To read through the first eleven chapters of Deuteronomy, it would be easy to come away with the impression that it’s hard to be an Israelite. Moses tells us about the wonders we experienced, and he stresses that we’ve been a burden. He shares wisdom and teachings, and he recounts all the times we felt short of expectations. Moses points out numerous challenges...Read more...

Story: Parshat Eikev, 7/30/21

08/03/2021 05:28:31 PM

Aug3

Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

At GFC they don’t do a lot of camping, but each unit will do a cookout around the campfire with s’mores. It’s a part of the camp experience. This year, Erez was the cook for cookout. He’s the director of high and low ropes, an Israeli who lives just a few kilometers from the Gaza border, and he’s working at camp and teaching our kids while remotely running...Read more...

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

07/27/2021 09:13:13 AM

Jul27

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

Jul6

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

Jun29

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

Jun22

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

May25

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

May25

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

May19

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...Read more...

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

05/11/2021 08:56:13 AM

May11

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

May4

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

Apr27

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...Read more...

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

04/20/2021 09:51:04 AM

Apr20

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. https://www.newsweek.com/tucker-carlson-warns-united-airlines-diversity-initiative-will-eventually-kill-people-1581853 It was shocking to...Read more...

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

04/14/2021 09:47:42 AM

Apr14

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

Apr4

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

Mar30

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

Mar21

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

Mar21

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

Mar9

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...

Sun, October 24 2021 18 Cheshvan 5782