These High Holiday sermons will be delivered at Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in September-October/Tishrei 2022/5783. To register to participate in person or online, visit the Kol Hadash website.
What do we do when it feels like the world is falling apart? Can Jewish culture and
Humanistic values be relevant, even inspirational, in moments of crisis? And how can we
find shared purpose and action in our personal diversity?
Rosh Hashana Evening – Violence and Safety
The most basic social contract of a moral society promises reasonable physical safety. Yet we are afraid in schools, while traveling, and at mass events. We fear hateful strangers and unstable neighbors. How can we find the confidence and courage to leave our homes and live our lives?
Rosh Hashana Morning – Personal Values, Public Responsibility
If the morality of our choices depends on their results, then we must live our values in the real world. From the Biblical “thou shalt not murder” to the Rabbinic “pikuach nefesh – saving a life” to the Utilitarian “greatest happiness of the greatest number,” our action or inaction is truly a matter of life and death.
Rosh Hashana Family – Being Good
Most of us want to be good people, but that can be hard to do. We need to remind ourselves that other people like good people, and that we like ourselves better when we are good.
Yom Kippur Evening – Isolation, Tribalism and Community
We are more interconnected, and more isolated, than ever. The lonely sometimes hide from the world before exploding outward in anger. Cultural, social and political bubbles create echo chambers, reinforcing “our” virtue and “their” villainy. How can we transcend our instinctive limits to include everyone in our orbit of concern?
Yom Kippur Morning – Freedom and Autonomy
Radical individualism corrodes social bonds, but radical communal authority imposes on the individual. We want our public schools free of religious coercion and our intimate choices of identity, partnership and reproduction to be our own. When we no longer agree on what “freedom” means, how can we assert our right to be in charge of our own lives?
Yom Kippur Family – Being Better
How can we make better choices in the New Year just begun? We can look back at our mistakes, and look inside ourselves to learn more.
Yom Kippur Memorial – Anger, Grief and Consolation
The old model of stages of grief is passé. Anger and grief can all appear at once or reappear in unpredictable waves. We must have realistic goals for our mourning and consolation, knowing that we never get over a loss; we simply get used to it. Our pain can motivate us to do better for others and for the future.