Ki Teitzei 5771: What 9/11 is Not -- and What it Is

September 9, 2011 - The 10th Anniversary Sermon

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

Ki Teitzei, our Torah portion this Shabbat, ends with the statement, Zachor et asher asa lecha Amalek, "Remember what Amalek did to you when you came out of Egpyt, attacking your innocents by deceit. Never forget..." It is an appropriate portion to read this weekend of the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, a strong reminder to remember that terrible day.

Read more: Ki Teitzei 5771: What 9/11 is Not -- and What it Is

Vayigash 5772: Happy New Year?

December 30, 2011

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

Tonight marks the final Shabbat of 2011, which means that Sunday morning it will be January 1st of 2012, a bright shining beginning to one of my 12 favorite months of the American calendar.  Actually, January is particularly high up there since it has the dubious merit of being the month when I celebrate my birthday... not that I particularly like to be reminded of the dubious progress of years any more.

Read more: Vayigash 5772: Happy New Year?

Sh'mot 5772: Who or What Defines Us?

January 13, 2012 - Northwest Shabbat

Rabbi Jason Holtz, Westward Look Resort, Tucson, AZ

It's great to be back here in the Northwest for Shabbat with all of you.

Many of you know that I was gone for the last few months and many of you know that it was for a brain injury.

The short story is that back towards the end of October, I suffered from a hemorrhagic stroke. An abnormal blood vessel formation in my brain was bleeding. The bleeding occurred in a part of my brain called the left-temporal lobe. This is a particularly important part of the brain. For 97% of right handers and 81% of left-handers, this is the part of the brain that is used for language. I never had much of an issue with language, so I seem to be a part of the 19% of left-handers that don't use that part of my brain for language. The running theory is that I just never used that part of my brain at all. I might have heard a few times from my parents or teachers growing up that I just wasn't thinking.

Read more: Sh'mot 5772: Who or What Defines Us?

Yitro 5772: Being Commanded for Reform Jews

February 10, 2012

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

Having just survived Super Bowl Sunday last week, we are headed for the Oscar season—the telecast takes place in a couple of weeks—in which we get to find out what the best picture was last year, who the best actor and actress were, which director did the best job, and so on. It is remarkable that anyone takes this process seriously, but it means big business for the movie studios and big contracts for the stars and directors, so naturally they make sure we care about the results.

Read more: Yitro 5772: Being Commanded for Reform Jews

Terumah 5772: Building a House for God

February 24, 2012

Rabbi Jason Holtz, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

In a lot of ways, this week's Torah portion is the most Jewish of them all. For one, the title of it is "Terumah" or "Donation." Moses, as a full-time Jewish professional, is supposed to solicit donations from the Israelites in the desert in order to build a kind of portable Temple-tent, called the Tabernacle. It reminds me of an old Jewish joke:

A Jewish couple survives a plane crash on a desert island. They start to worry about being stranded there. The man turns to his wife. He says, "Honey, what are we going to do?!" His wife thinks for a moment and says, "Don't worry, we never mailed in our Temple membership checks. They'll find us for sure!"

Read more: Terumah 5772: Building a House for God

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