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Rabbi Hillel’s Blog

Celebrating Diversity: Parashat Noach

  • Posted on October 12, 2018
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At the end of Parashat Noah we read about the Tower of Bavel. The citizens of Earth were all united, living in the same place, and they wanted to build a  tower to keep them all together working towards a common mission. God saw this as a form of rebellion against God, and responded by changing each one’s language so that Continue Reading »

No Explanation Suffices

  • Posted on October 5, 2018
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Parashat Bereshit   Shortly after reading the creation narratives, we read of the first two naturally-born human beings, Cain and Abel, and their bitter argument which led to fratricide.   Cain and Abel both brought offerings before God. Abel’s offering was accepted, Cain’s was not. Cain and Abel exchanged some words, and then, while out Continue Reading »

Z’man Simhatenu: Our Season of Joy

  • Posted on September 27, 2018
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After the charged atmosphere of the High Holidays comes the festive week of Sukkot, called in our liturgy ‘Z’man Simḥatenu’ – ‘our season of joy’. Sukkot gives us the opportunity to stop our busy lives and remember that which is truly important. We leave our lavish homes and live for a week in a flimsy Continue Reading »

Yom Kippur, Sermon before Yizkor 2018/5779: Opening the Gates: Burial of a Non-Jewish Partner in a Jewish Cemetery

  • Posted on September 21, 2018
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    (Sermon delivered on Yom Kippur day, 5779, Sept 19, 2018)   The Talmud recounts a story about a debate between two sages in the second century CE: Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Eliezer. They argued over a question of purity or impurity. The Talmud says that God actually weighed in on the debate, taking Continue Reading »

Yom Kippur Kol Nidre 2018/5779 Sermon: Which way does the Jewish clock turn?

  • Posted on September 21, 2018
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  (Sermon delivered on Yom Kippur evening 5779, Sept 18, 2018)   Tick, tick, tick. 24 hours until we can eat or drink again. 24 hours on the clock until the final verdict is rendered in the heavenly courts. We have 24 hours left to make a difference, to seek atonement for past mistakes paving Continue Reading »

Rosh Hashana 2018/5779 Day 2 Sermon: “Judaism and #metoo”

  • Posted on September 13, 2018
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  (Sermon delivered on Second Day of Rosh Hashana 5779, Sept 11, 2018)  On Sunday, as I was driving my family and our cantor to synagogue for the morning service, we passed a church with a billboard that said, “Nobody can make or save themselves. Only God can make you, only God can save you.” Continue Reading »

Rosh Hashana 2018/5779 Day 1 Sermon: “When We Separate Children from their Parents”

  • Posted on September 13, 2018
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  (Sermon delivered on First Day of Rosh Hashana 5779, Sept 10, 2018)  These days of awe, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, are truly the most exciting days of the year for me. Everything seems magical. We’re in a different prayer space; everything is covered in white; the melodies are familiar, comforting and haunting. More Continue Reading »

The Grand Chess Game of Life, Parashat Ekev

  • Posted on August 3, 2018
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Each of my children has a very different personality. You all know Hisda, but most of you haven’t yet met my other three.  Merhavyah, my 16-year-old daughter constantly discovers and develops new skills. She taught herself sewing and photography, plays guitar and piano, and studied music production. Yeshayahu, my 15-year-old, is fascinated by innovative ways Continue Reading »

Parashat Va’Etchanan

  • Posted on July 27, 2018
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        After reading the Ten Commandments, numerous other commandments, and the first paragraph of the Shema in this week’s Torah portion, we read a verse (Deut 6:18), “Do that which is right and good in the eyes of God…” The famous Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman a.k.a Nachmanides, 1194-1270) explains in his commentary Continue Reading »

Parashat Dvarim

  • Posted on July 20, 2018
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     This Shabbat is the 9th of Av, Tish B’Av, the anniversary of the destruction of both Temples, the destructions of Jerusalem, and exiles of our ancestors. Our first temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, and our second temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Tisha B’Av is our Continue Reading »

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