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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...

Reflection Before or During Our Holy Days

09/24/2019 09:10:58 AM


Rabbi Charlie

High Holy Day Reflection Booklet

Click on the link to take a little time to prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These reflections will help you participate in our Days of Awe with a greater sense of intention and purpose.


Story: Parshat Ki Teitzei, 9/13/19

09/17/2019 09:22:40 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Almost every month, people will happily get their birthday gift – the awesome happy birthday pen or magnet – and then we’ll do the anniversary blessing and someone will ask – what gift do the anniversary people get? The answer is usually – each other. Well, this Shabbat, I’m giving the anniversary couples an extra special gift – instead of just one story, I’m going to share two of them. I know – it’s pretty...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Shoftim, 9/6/19

09/08/2019 09:23:14 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom!

I don’t know if you know this or not, but we are living in strange times. I guess there’s lots of ways to look at that statement, but in particular, I was thinking about how we judge everything. We “power rank” sports teams, players, fast food places, junk food, Halloween costumes – everything. Many of us enjoy judging contestants on America’s Got Talent and voting our preferences. Star rankings are...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Re'eh, 8/30/19

09/01/2019 11:07:04 AM


Rabbi Charlie

I talk often about the Jewish values we find in Torah. Giving Tzedakah, caring for those who are sick, offering hospitality. I also teach about how we cannot ignore the more difficult parts of the Torah – the ones that might feel uncomfortable to our modern ears. Passages such as this one from this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Re’eh:

“You must destroy all the sites at which the nations you are to dispossess...Read more...

Story: Parshat Eikev, 8/23/19

08/25/2019 02:15:08 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion speaks of how the Israelites experienced hardships and blessings as they wandered through the wilderness. It teaches us to give thanks for the food that we eat and care for those in need.

And that reminded me of a mashal, a story. It’s a story that begins with a weary traveler named Nechama.

Nechama had always had a restless spirit. Tragedy took the love of her life years before...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat D'varim, 8/9/19

08/11/2019 09:49:00 AM


Rabbi Charlie

Deuteronomy – D’varim begins with Moses recapping the Israelite’s wanderings as they draw near to the Promised Land. And as Moses speaks, it’s hard not to notice what sounds a lot like frustration. Moses stresses the times when the people wouldn’t listen to God. He blames the people – “Because of you, God was incensed with me” (Deu 1:37). He asks rhetorically, “How can I bear unaided the trouble of you, and the burden, and...Read more...

Sermon: Parshat Chukat, 7/12/19

07/13/2019 10:09:03 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Moses sent a messenger to the King of Edom, saying, “You know we’ve experienced hardships. You know the Egyptians dealt harshly with us. Please. We just want to cross through your country. We won’t take anything. Please, make this journey a little easier. Please.” In response, the King of Edom threatened war, so we were forced to go the long way around. We were then attacked by the King of Arad. We were forced to battle Sihon, king of...Read more...

Story: Parshat Korach, 7/5/19

07/09/2019 10:52:21 AM


Rabbi Charlie

This week’s Torah portion, parshat Korach, is about how after learning that the Jews will wander in the wilderness for forty years, there are a series of rebellions against God, Moses, and Aaron. Eventually things will calm down, and this story, told by Rabbi Edward Garsek (“God’s Miracles,” Three Times Chai, Laney Katz Becker, ed, p. 59-60, adapted.), envisions what it would be like as children are growing up in such a...Read more...

Fri, October 23 2020 5 Cheshvan 5781