Sermon delivered at Hebrew Union College, 2009
I love helping people find their Jewish way.
My greatest joy is turning others on to Judaism; making Judaism accessible to those who think they don't belong and exciting for those who have already found a foothold. I want to open the doors wide so that everyone can enter and experience the beauty and comfort in the feeling of connection and community. I want to help ensure not only a Jewish future - by working with kids, teens, and young adults, showing them the benefits of making Judaism part of their lives, but also a Jewish present - by creating opportunities for Jews of all ages to live Jewishly whenever and wherever they find themselves.
I love engaging with people as they learn to make Judaism part of their lives.
When I teach, my heart is filled with contentment. I relish the questions - from simple to profound - and bask in helping people find their answers. I explain and describe and engage and connect. No question is out of bounds if it unlocks a door to a deeper personal connection. No challenge is too great if it opens the conversation and paves the way for a renewed commitment. I am a guide, a facilitator, helping make Judaism fit.
When I officiate at a wedding or baby naming, my soul is filled with satisfaction. I love every aspect of the process - from first nervous meeting to joyous celebration. I explain and describe and engage and connect. Everything is out on the table; all customs and rituals open for discussion and interpretation. Everything is in their hands. I help couples and parents truly be part of the process, MCs - masters of their ceremonies. I am a guide, a facilitator, helping make Judaism fit.
I love showing people how our ancient traditions and our modern lives are very much in sync.
The Torah portion of the week in which I was born has become, in a remarkable way, the sermon of my life. It says, “You stand today, ALL of you, before God to enter into the covenant with God. And the instruction is not beyond your reach but rather in your heart and mouth. Before you is life and death, blessing and curse... choose life and live.”
This covenant is for every individual ever created. It is accessible to everyone – it is already inside us, on the tips of our tongues, the center of our hearts if we just look for it. In our lives we all face struggles, adversities, moral dilemmas, and moments of doubt. We know love and happiness, experience simchas and times of great pride. Each of us has within us the power to affect the directions in which our lives go. Whatever obstacles we meet along the way, it is up to us to choose to live our lives with integrity, honesty, and uprightness; to always stand up and take responsibility for our actions and our choices. I deeply appreciate the opportunity rabbis are given to counsel people at all stages of their lives.
I love seeing people comfortably living Judaism.
It would be wonderful if Jewish congregational life reflected the Jewish summer camp experience; if the experiences young Jews have in those summer months could reflect the lives they live throughout the year and as they age. During camp, Jewish children don't just learn about Judaism, they live Judaism. Every hike they take, every game they play, is done in a Jewish context. Judaism is not something external, it is internalized. Because it becomes an integral part of their lives, they learn to take pride in their religious and cultural background. Through my rabbinate I yearn to bring that sense of pride, confidence, and connectedness to Jews of all ages. I aim to help Jews learn how, not what, to choose. I want Judaism to be part of my congregation's internal lives, not merely an external artifact. I believe that this is accomplished through education, prayer, reflection and community gatherings.
My role as a rabbi is to help people find *their* ways into Judaism, engage and challenge them to make Judaism fit, show them the beauty of community and tradition, and see them grow and flourish as Judaism and their connections to it truly enrich their lives and their souls.