These talks were part of High Holiday services in September/October 2019 for Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation and are also available in audio on The Kol Hadash Podcast (also here) and as separate posts here (adult events only).
Jewish history and the human experience have been full of difficult moments: disasters, persecutions, suffering. What have we learned to survive, and how can that help us face today’s challenges?
Rosh Hashana Evening: Antisemitism and Other Hatred
Public expressions of hate are rising, and a rising tide lifts all bigotries. Even if numbers remain small, the haters are louder and bolder. Synagogue (and mosque and church) shootings, antisemitic cartoons, discrimination by both Christian foster care agencies and Dyke Marches – we have seen this before and had hoped never again. Why now? And what to do now?
Rosh Hashana Morning: Political Civil War
It’s been said that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” Today politics IS war: opponents are enemies, issues are black or white, the other side is not just wrong but evil. In Israel, in America, in Europe, civil society strains at the seams. We have also seen this story before, and we need to change the ending.
Yom Kippur Evening: An Uncertain Jewish Future
The Jews have been called “the ever-dying people.” Each generation is convinced it is the last. Yet we are still here and, like our ancestors, we must answer new challenges. Balancing continuity and change is a Jewish tradition and a key to Jewish survival. As is hope.
Yom Kippur Morning: What We Can Do
Our problems are so large, and our powers seem so limited – what can one person or one community do? Facing earlier tragedies, the Jewish people trusted both supernatural providence and human effort. What must we do for human power to be enough for us
Yom Kippur Memorial: The Reality of Mortality
If this life is the only life we know, how do we find comfort after loss? Death has always defined the human condition, but are we any better at dealing with it after all this time? How we remember can make all the difference.