Thursday, September 18, 2014 Elul 23, 5774

What's On The Minds of Our Rabbis?

September 27, 2011
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Rabbi Barry Blum, Congregation Beth El-Ner Tamid in Broomall

Shofar So Good

Rabbi Barry Blum 
Congregation Beth El-Ner Tamid in Broomall

A man drives up to his home and presses the garage opener, but the door does not open. He keeps pressing the button, shakes and moves it in every direction, but the result is the same; the door remains closed. Along comes a Chasid driving his car and sees the other man's plight. He reaches to the back seat of his car and grabs a large shofar. The Chasid sounds the note of tekiah, and the garage door opens immediately.

The shofar blasts reconnect us to our spiritual past. Its notes were heard at Sinai, were sounded as the walls of Jericho tumbled down, and when Jerusalem was reunited during the 1967 Six-Day War. The shofar is a whistle in the hands of our lifeguard, G-d, to return.

It is our alarm clock to wake up and follow the rules, while atoning for our sins. The broken notes of shvarim remind us of the trial and tribulations of the past year: disasters, flooding, unrest and violence in a broken world. The rapid blasts of teruah herald the sirens of danger and the faith that we shall triumph over adversity.

The shofar serves as a visual symbol, the curve requiring us to straighten out our lives and pursue endeavors that fix our world, to engage in tikkun olam. To listen and hear the shofar's call and respond by making a difference in the lives of our family, community and the world.

Making Sense of Community

Rabbi Jeremy Gerber 
Congregation Ohev Shalom in Wallingford

What brings us together? What do we stand for as a congregation? And when do we know we belong?

In four sermons throughout the High Holidays, I will explore the four elements that create a "sense of community," according to psychologists David McMillan and David Chavis, and use them to help answer these questions. These elements include membership, influence, shared emotional connection and fulfillment of needs.

As we gain a better understanding of these different components, they will come together like pieces of a puzzle, to form a picture of what it means to be a community. But these elements only make up the main parts of the puzzle; each of us adds our own pieces to create a unique picture that is meaningful to us, and that gives us a special identity within the community structure.

Opening Up the Spirit

Rabbi Julie Greenberg 
Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City

Turn to the vision of Ezekial to open an amazing space of potential for this New Year. "I will put my spirit in you and you shall live" is the message that will infuse our community's quest for a year of strength, compassion and justice.

The brutalities of everyday life that leave us depleted and diminished will be vanquished by this soul-affirming outpouring of Jewish prayer and song.Together we will ride Ezekial's chariot to the throne of conscience and connection.

L'Shana Tova.

Finding One's Own 'Spring'

Rabbi Eliott N. Perlstein 
Ohev Shalom of Bucks County

This has been the year of the Arab Spring. We don't know where their spring will lead and we have reason to have our doubts.

There is no taking away, however, their courageous acts to date. After long years of cowering in fear, they came out into the sunlight and said, "We are no longer afraid."

On this exquisite autumn day, I invite us to reflect upon our own personal springs. So many of us live under the tyranny of our own personal tyrants, our addictions, our imprisonment in abusive relationships, our phobias, our shame and more.

The theme of these Holy Days is change and liberating ourselves from our own captors. The truth is, this is the most difficult work for a human being to do. It is also the most important work for us to become fully human.

Focus on the Blessings

Rabbi Joshua Zlochower 
Director of Chaplaincy Services 
Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life

As we wish each other a good and sweet year, let us reflect on how we can create this for ourselves, our families, our communities.

Chaim worked hard every day carrying hundreds of gallons of water to his community. As he trudged from house to house, a friend asked, "How are you?"

"How do you think?" Chaim replied with complaints about pain, poverty and ingratitude. The next day, Chaim had a spring in his step as his friend again asked: "How are you?"

"Wonderful!" Chaim exclaimed, detailing the blessings of a large family and the dignity of earning a living and bringing sustenance to others.

Like Chaim, some days we feel the weight of the world upon us and on others our spirits soar as we count our blessings. This year, may we open our eyes to the many blessings in our lives, and embrace family and community.

Shanah Tovah!

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