I Believe in the God of Obi-wan Kenobi, Do You?

A long time ago, in a movie multiplex not so far away, a child looked up and asked: “Mom, Dad, is the Force the same thing as God?”

Actually, children have been asking that question for 40 years. The simple answer is “yes.” But this raises another question: Which god or God is at the center of the Star Wars universe?

Rabbi Conover’s Yom Kippur Sermon – Make Them Hear You

Every year, when I get up here to speak, I know exactly what you’re thinking about right at this moment– your break-fast. Am I right? We started off strong earlier in the dayNow, let’s be honest, we drifted a bit during the Torah reading– who can blame us, really? But then we came back strong, as we listened to the Consul General. Yet, now that you’re sitting– and we’ve had some quiet moments, who can blame your stomach for growling, who can blame your mind for drifting? I’ve done it before…

Rabbi Goldberg’s Yom Kippur Sermon – The Face of A Gardener

A Yom Kippur confession: as many of the readings in our new Machzor demonstrate, I don’t believe life-changing wisdom is limited to Jewish sources. As the ancient rabbis declared, Torah was given to the Jewish people but wisdom was given to all people. (Midrash Lamentations Rabbah 2:13) I am not just speaking about Shakespeare or various modern poets. I am …

Rabbi Goldberg’s Rosh Hashanah Sermon – Keep the Conversation Going

A story: There once lived a king much beloved by his subjects. He ruled a little kingdom tucked away in a corner of Europe.

One day an army came and overran the castle, making off with half the treasury. The king decided he had to increase taxes to make up for his losses, and called in one of his wise courtiers to ask how to tell the people the news without inciting a revolt.

Yom Kippur Service Sermon from Rabbi Conover

Shabbat Shalom.

Has anyone here ever heard of SCOTT GINSBERG? On a whim one night in college nearly 14 years ago, he decided to wear a name tag that said: “Hello, My name is Scott” 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He never takes it off. He carries spares in in his pockets. Just about five times a day someone asks him: “What’s with the name tag?”

And here’s his response: “It represents friendliness in the midst of strangers.”

So today, we sit in this beauty of this awesome sanctuary. We pray this day together, but I am sad to say that sometimes, even amidst so many others here, we still feel like strangers. That is not a way to start a new year. We are not wearing name tags, so in just a moment, I will ask you to introduce yourself to those sitting around you. And if you already know your neighbors, ask them this question: “What do you hope this sermon is about?” Put another way: What message do you need to hear at this season this year?

And… go!

Kol Nidre Sermon from Rabbi Goldberg

Gamar Tov.

In these past few weeks I have greatly enjoyed learning stories about the congregation in general and about so many of you in particular. I am grateful to have shared my story with you on Rosh Hashanah.

Speaking of stories, here is one that I love:

A religious man who had reached the age of 105 suddenly stopped going to synagogue. Alarmed by the old fellow’s absence after so many years of faithful attendance, the rabbi went to see him.

He found him in excellent health, so the rabbi asked, “How come after all these years we don’t see you at services anymore?”

“I will tell you, Rabbi,” the old man whispered. “When I got to be 90, I expected God to take me any day. But then I got to be 95, then 100, and then 105. So I figured that God is very busy and must’ve forgotten about me…and I don’t want to remind him!”

The logic of this man may not make sense but his desire is understandable. He wanted to hide from the inevitable. And we must admit there are times when we would all like to hide.

Nobless Oblige Is Always Noble but Not Always Obliged Sermon for Rosh Hashanah Morning 2013

Shanah Tovah! What an honor it is to be here as your new rabbi. I am so grateful for this opportunity and look forward to greeting the New Year with you. Offering a sermon this morning from this bima is very daunting. For one thing, I still need to introduce myself to you. In addition, I am frankly intimidated by the history of preaching here. But I am also inspired! We all have our strengths to bring, after all. Many years ago I attended the groundbreaking for the Skirball Jewish Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The featured speaker was the head of the J. Paul Getty Museum, soon to be the neighbor of the Skirball. The director admitted that the Getty felt a twinge of insecurity to be located near an institution of 4,000 years of history. Then again, declared the director, “We have Getty’s money, so we’re not too concerned.” I don’t have Getty’s money or four thousand years of heritage in my personal portfolio. But I do have a passion to share with you. It’s a passion about my own story and what it means for me and I hope for you. The Torah portion this morning was a story about our ancient family. Today I would also like to share with you my family story. It’s an important one I think. I will make a complicated tale brief: My mother was born in 1926 in a small town near Berlin, Germany. She had four older brothers and one older sister. In the 1930s her eldest brother, Leonard Ohringer, graduated medical school but as a Jew could find no residency in Germany. He was able to find one in the States. The three younger brothers also left Germany. My mother, Reggie, and her sister and parents stayed behind. In October 1938 my mom was called to the principal’s office and told she was being taken to jail. She met her parents and sister there. Soon after they found themselves dumped unceremoniously over the Polish border, literally in No Man’s Land.