Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach 5771: A Pull to the Past, A Push into the Future

April 22, 2011

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

My laptop computer is old and will soon be replaced. It made it all the way to three years of age—which in computer years is a fairly average lifespan. I decided to replace it not with another laptop, but with a desktop and an iPad, which my wife describes as an iPod Touch for the elderly. I went to get the iPad at an Apple Store about two weeks ago and ended up waiting over two hours in line for it. This, by the way, was weeks after the new model was released. But such was the demand and interest for it, that people waited patiently outside the store for hours. And when I left the line was no shorter. The interesting thing about the release of this new iPad though is that many of the customers are simply upgrading from the old iPad released about a year ago. Technology wears out quick, but really? People who switch benefit from a device that shaves a few centimeters of width off and has two cameras instead of only one. For that they wait in line for hours and shell out a not insignificant amount of money.

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Bamidbar 5771: Israel -- Stop Worrying So Much

May 27, 2011

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

There are some times when there is simply too much to talk about, even for a rabbi known for talking, in one sermon. And that is surely true of the events and issues swirling around Israel right now.

In addition to the fact that I have just been in Israel on a truly whirlwind trip sponsored by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the World Zionist Organization—basically, it consisted of two 24-hour days of flying back and forth for a total of three intense but wonderful days in Israel—and I have a huge amount to tell you about from that extraordinary experience, there has also been a little bit of other news about Israel.

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B'ha'alot'cha 5771: Humility

June 10, 2011

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

I'd like to give everyone some small amount of insight about what sort of kid I was. When I was twelve and preparing for my Bar Mitzvah, I was busy learning my Torah portion, Ki Teitze, in the book of Deuteronomy. This Torah portion is unique in that it has the single most number of mitzvoth – commandments, or Jewish religious obligations. There are 74 of them – a considerable amount more than the Ten Commandments. The most important thing that most Bar Mitzvah students needs to realize about the number of mitzvoth in that Torah portion is simply that there are 74 possible subjects for a Bar Mitzvah speech. Unlike most B'nai mitzvah students though, who got to pick a section of their portion to talk about, my rabbi decided for me. He gave me one of the more challenging sections. It stated that if one has a wayward and defiant son, then he shall be brought to the public square and there be tried and executed. To this day, I wonder if my rabbi was trying to tell me something about my behavior as a child.

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Korach 5771: How a Jewish Community Must Be

June 24, 2011

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

I was on a family vacation last week in Hawaii, on the island of Kauai. And I was standing on the beach with my wife, Wendy, watching the kids snorkel in this protected area of Lydgate beach, and we struck up a conversation with an older couple who had just come out of the water—the guy was still wearing his mask and snorkel on his head. And of course the couple turned out to be Jewish, and we knew people they knew, and they said something that I have now heard hundreds of times: "I'm Jewish, but not religious." They were very nice, and we enjoyed chatting with them, and they later emailed us, and perhaps we will become friends somehow or other.

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Chukat 5771: The Kurn Religious School

July 1, 2012

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

Over the last two weeks there have been significant changes in the professional staff here at Temple Emanu-El. One such change was that the position of a religious school director has been eliminated. This change has, understandably, caused no small amount of worry and concern over the future of the Kurn Religious School. Our Temple and even the larger Jewish community have come to expect a great deal from our program. Over the past several years, our school, under able leadership, with a strong vision, and with the participation of families and a caring, committed faculty has achieved a high level of success. There is no doubt that recent changes present a significant challenge to us going forward, but I am reassured by the dedication of our faculty and the passionate support of our religious school families that has been continuously displayed, especially over the last two weeks.

Read more: Chukat 5771: The Kurn Religious School


225 N. Country Club Road
Tucson, AZ 85716

Phone: 520-327-4501
Fax: 520-327-4504

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