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Called to Life- Yom Kippur 2019/5780

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You can read this as a Google Doc here.

“One of the Torah’s central projects is to turn memory into empathy and moral responsibility,” says Rabbi Shai Held, of Mechon Hadar in New York (The Heart of Torah, Vol. 1, p 175).If there’s anything that can help make sense of what brings us together, here, today, it’s this.“One of the Torah’s central projects is to turn memory into empathy and moral responsibility.”We are a people bound by memory.There are many ways the human family has subdivided into peoples.Some speak the same language, and feel connected to each other by their common tongue.Some people identify themselves by the fact that they live in the same territory.Or the all look similar, maybe the same skin color, the same hair color, the same type of facial features or physical features.Maybe there’s a powerful central government or ruler who keeps everyone in line.The Jewish people have none of these.
We are all linked to the same language, Hebrew, but for most everyone in this r…

Wish Song- Kol Nidre 5780/2019

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You can read this as a Google Doc here!
If I ran these sermons past a test audience in advance, everyone would tell me not to do what I’m going to do next.But there’s no dress rehearsal, no one to stop me, so here goes:
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a match, Find me a find, catch me a catch Matchmaker, Matchmaker Look through your book, And make me a perfect match
Ever heard of the concept of a ‘wish song’?It’s a staple of musicals: the first time a character sings a song, that song identifies the person, their situation, and their key wish—and that wish will drive the plot.So in Fiddler on the Roof, Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava want a decent match, a desirable husband, and that will drive their story.Their father has a song of his own, and I won’t sing it, but Tevye’s story will be driven by his love of… tradition! The two songs together: the girls’ wish for happy marriages, Tevye’s wish to continue tradition, creates the conflict and the plot of Fiddler.It’s all in the ‘I wish’ songs.
’I Wish’…

Rosh Hashanah II 5780/2019

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Rosh Hashanah II 5780/2019

You can read the text of the Day II below, or here!

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RHII 2019/5780 The Center Must Hold
Rabbi Dan Selsberg
I very rarely remember my dreams.  Some people have vivid dreams, and wake up with a vision of something perfect.  Perfect partner, perfect evening, perfect life, peaceful world, perfect day at the beach, millions of dollars in disposable income, the Jets getting to 8-8.  I can never remember specific dreams, though I know my mind is somehow conjuring perfect worlds while I sleep. Yours likely does the same. For all I know, some of you are dreaming right now of some ideal existence, where rabbis let you sleep uninterrupted.  Hollywood used to think of itself as “the dream factory,” because perfect worlds could be conjured onscreen. We seem attracted to the dreamy idea of perfection. “The dream is flawless, as long as it remains a dream,” wrote the Israeli novelist Amos Oz, zikhrono li’bracha.
Oz, who died thi…

Hope and Fear: RHI 5780-2019

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Rosh Hashanah Day I 2019/5780
Hope and Fear 
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Shana tova!








Hope and Fear

HHD 2019/5780
Rabbi Dan Selsberg
Before we turn to autumn, a brief last note of summer. This past summer our son Sammy was at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, a great place, and they did all the usual camp things, like sports and swimming in the lake and crafts and endless dusty days.  And then all the usual Jewish camp things, like davening and singing Israeli songs, and they also took a couple of bus trips off-site. For one of these, they went to Niagara Falls, and they did Niagara Falls tourist-y things, then all the way to the Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, OH, and they did amusement park-y things, and then to Pittsburgh, where they visited the Tree of Life synagogue, where they did memorializing the Jews who were murdered there things.  Because that’s American Judaism in 2019, as we step into the year five thousand seven hundred and eighty. The fun and carefree attitudes we’ve long had, the su…