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Vayera 2021

Rabbi Robin Nafshi

Our Torah portion this week, Vayera, includes the well-known story of the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Near the end of that story, Lot’s wife watches the destruction and is turned into a pillar of salt.

Why? What did she do that caused her to turn into a pillar of salt? Like most women of the Torah, we know so little about her. Our sacred text doesn’t even...Read more...

Lech L'cha 2021

Rabbi Robin Nafshi

As the rabbi of Temple Beth Jacob, I serve as the Jewish chaplain for St. Paul’s School here in Concord. And every fall, I am invited to speak before the student body, faculty, and administration when the entire community comes together for chapel time. Chapel time happens four mornings each week, and this year they had me come twice – right after Yom Kippur and during Sukkot.

St. Paul’s, as I’m sure most of you know, is an Episcopal school, though many of the students are neither Episcopalian nor even Christian. In fact, approximately 13% of the student body is Jewish, the second largest religiously identified group after Christians. The chapel time at St. Paul’s gives the community the opportunity to learn about many different faith and spiritual traditions.Read more...

Yom Kippur 5782: President's Address

Bob Friedburg

Just yesterday Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the URJ sent his thoughts on this Day of Atonement: “There are several steps to t’shuvah, which is often a long, emotionally grueling process. First, we must acknowledge the wrongs we have done. Second, we must demonstrate true remorse and regret for our behavior. Third, we must take responsibility, seeking to repair harm that has been done and using learnings to...Read more...

Yom Kippur 5782: Anger

Rabbi Robin Nafshi

In the Babylonian Talmud,[1] we read a story about Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son, Elazar, who had fled from the Roman government. They went and hid in a cave. A carob tree sprouted to provide them with food, and a spring appeared to provide them with water. With their basic needs met, they focused only on the most important thing. They buried themselves up to their necks in sand and studied all day, taking...Read more...

Kol Nidrei 5782: Trauma

Rabbi Robin Nafshi

A couple of weeks ago, a rabbinic colleague of mine offered a suggestion to rabbis across the globe: What if on Kol Nidrei, as we stood before our congregations to deliver our sermons, we simply cried for ten minutes?

I gave it serious consideration.

As I contemplate our world, our country, our state, our community, I just want to weep. COVID...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 5782 Day 2: D'var Torah

Morissa Sobelson Henn

The video version is linked at the end of the D'var text.

Shana tova. My name is Morissa Sobelson Henn, and I am honored to have been asked to speak this morning. I grew up in Concord, nurtured by the TBJ family. Over the past two decades, as I’ve moved from apartments in Boston and Brooklyn to Salt Lake City, my continued membership at TBJ has helped me stay connected to...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 5782 Day 1: Boundaries

Rabbi Robin Nafshi

As the Israelites begin their wanderings in the wilderness – after spend­ing two years at Mount Sinai – they were instructed on how to carry and transport the mishkanthey had built, the tabernacle that housed the tablets, along with the holy items used for their sacrifices. The regular Levites immediately surrounded the mishkan, north, west, and south, with the east reserved for Moses,...Read more...

Erev Rosh Hashanah 5782: Déjà Vu? Lessons Learned?

Rabbi Robin Nafshi

Here we are again, attending our primary High Holy Day services online. A year ago, I would not have believed it if someone had said that 5782 would be a repeat of 5781. But it is. The Delta variant of COVID is making its way across our globe and nation, raising the previously low new infections rates, and infecting both vaccinated and unvaccinated. Yes, the unvaccinated are a much higher risk of getting infected...Read more...

Yom Kippur Morning 5781 – Life

Rabbi Robin Nafshi

The singer and songwriter Jewel Kilcher penned these words:
And lend your voices only to sounds of freedom.
No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from.
Fill your lives with love and bravery and you shall lead a life uncommon.

In Judaism we learn that the greatest mitzvah one can perform is p’ku-ach nefesh, to save a life. A Shabbat-observant Jew must violate the laws of Shabbat if in...Read more...

Kol Nidrei 5781 – Gratitude

Rabbi Robin Nafshi

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which read, “I am blind, please help if you can.”

Only a few coins were in the hat – spare change from folks as they hurried past. A woman stopped. She took a few coins from her purse and dropped them into the hat. She then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. She put the sign back in the boy’s hand for everyone to...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 5781 Day 1 – Beauty

Rabbi Robin Nafshi

In February of 2018, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNIESCO) and the European Broadcasting Union chose the Matisyahu hit song One Day as the theme song for the eighth edition of World Radio Day. World Radio Day “marks a time when people around the world celebrate radio and how it shapes lives,” according to a statement from UNESCO. The theme in 2018 was “Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace.” The song...Read more...

Erev RH 5781 – Peace

Rabbi Robin Nafshi

For my first year of rabbinical school studies, I lived in Jerusalem. Jerusalem probably has more synagogues per capita than any other place in the world. You can find every denomination, every trans-planted community from across the globe, and every language. In the first few months I lived in Jerusalem I went to services often. And as the cantorial class groupie, I attended services with Shira and her classmates to hear liturgical music...Read more...

Wed, October 27 2021 21 Cheshvan 5782