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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...

Sermon: Parshat Ha'azinu, 10/11/19

10/13/2019 04:33:30 PM


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. This is a sacred poem that outlines God’s relationship to the Jewish people.

The Song of Moses comes across as quite harsh at times. The message is clear. God is perfect, we are the dull, witless People who played God false. God found us in an empty howling waste and gave us everything. We grew fat...Read more...

Sermon: Yom Kippur Morning, 10/9/19

10/10/2019 01:27:02 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Gut Yuntiv! Throughout these Days of Awe, I’ve talked about caring for ourselves: as individuals, as a people, and as a congregation. This morning, I felt it was important to focus on caring for ourselves as a part of the global community. Our Haftarah this morning begins with the strong words of Isaiah 58, “Cry with full throat, without restraint; raise your voice like a ram’s horn!” Why are we crying out? So that we can learn about...Read more...

Sermon: Kol Nidrei (Yom Kippur Evening), 10/8/19

10/10/2019 01:21:09 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Gut Yuntiv! When you read through the Torah, it’s not hard to get the impression that God really doesn’t like us very much. Sure, we’re God’s chosen people, beloved, treasured, and all that. But there are dozens and dozens of times when God, Moses, or other prophets just tell us we’re terrible.

We’re defiant and stiffnecked – Just a quick word about, “stiffnecked.” I know, it’s a literal translation from the...Read more...

Sermon: Rosh Hashanah Morning, 9/30/19

10/01/2019 09:28:45 AM


Rabbi Charlie

L’shana Tova Um’tukah – Praying for a good and sweet new year!

In the Torah this morning, we read about one of the most significant moments in the history of the Jewish People – Isaac’s birth. Without Isaac, we’re over before we even began and we marvel at the notion that Sarah gave birth at the age of 90! The idea is that Isaac’s birth was miraculous and a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. A promise that has...Read more...

Sermon: Rosh Hashanah Evening, 9/29/19

10/01/2019 09:22:11 AM


Rabbi Charlie

L’shana Tova Tikateivu –I sincerely hope and pray that it is a good and sweet new year for you and me, for our families, for our community, and for our world!

I know that there’s a lot to be concerned about in our world… a lot of concern… But right now, I’m worried about you. After numerous conversations over the past few months there seems to be a general sense that whether its due to work or family or politics and many...Read more...

Story: Parshat Nitzavim, 9/27/19

09/29/2019 12:19:36 PM


Rabbi Charlie

This week’s Torah portion, Nitzavim, tells us that we should choose life so that we shall live. And in the New Year ahead, we are hoping and praying for a year filled with life and good health and positive things! Our story tonight is therefore life affirming and might even be able to teach us a thing or two about what it means to choose life. It’s a Jewish story from Afghanistan that I learned from Howard Schwartz (Leaves from the Garden...Read more...

Mon, January 25 2021 12 Sh'vat 5781