The New TSTI Website Is Live!!!

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Dear Friends,

Almost a year ago, we set out to build a new TSTI website from the ground up. I’m excited to announce that our brand new website TSTI.org is online!
The new website has a clean look, will always be up-to-date and is a powerful way to deepen your connection to Temple. Here are a few of the state-of-the-art features:

A comprehensive Calendar that will make it easy and efficient to find out what is happening. It is also directly linked to event registrations.

Online Registration for Events and, if there is a registration fee, Online Payment.

Direct Bill Payment and Donation opportunities.

Two Integrated Blogs. One (TSTI Blog) will have a variety of posts and links from the various clergy and TSTI departments. The other (Rabbi’s Blog) will allow me to share important articles I recommend, my writings, and more.

Our Facebook page and Twitter feed …

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Yom Kippur Morning Sermon – 5775

Yom Kippur AM 214 – 5775

This past July it was reported that ISIS had destroyed the Tomb of Jonah in Iraq. My surprise was not around the fact that ISIS would destroy a holy place… after all, one cannot expect a group that beheads people to respect sacred space. No, I was surprised because I didn’t even know there WAS a Tomb of Jonah. And I was only learning about it after it was gone.

Thanks to an online search and some study, I received a bit of an education. I learned that within present-day Mosul is the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh, where the Prophet Jonah preached.

This prompted me to go back and reread the Book of Jonah.

For those of you who do not recall the story:

God tells the prophet Jonah to go to the city of Ninevah and warn the people there that they …

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Yom Kippur Morning Sermon – 5775

This past July it was reported that ISIS had destroyed the Tomb of Jonah in Iraq. My surprise was not around the fact that ISIS would destroy a holy place… after all, one cannot expect a group that beheads people to respect sacred space. No, I was surprised because I didn’t even know there WAS a Tomb of Jonah. And I was only learning about it after it was gone.

Thanks to an online search and some study, I received a bit of an education. I learned that within present-day Mosul is the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh, where the Prophet Jonah preached.

This prompted me to go back and reread the Book of Jonah.

For those of you who do not recall the story:

God tells the prophet Jonah to go to the city of Ninevah and warn the people there that they need to change their evil ways …

Learn More

Rosh Hashannah Morning Sermon 2014 / 5775

“How I spent my summer vacation” By Daniel Cohen

That’s the title of this sermon.

Now, I don’t typically give my sermons titles, but this morning’s sermon is far from typical. It is, in fact, different from any sermon I have previously given here at TSTI.

As many of you know, I had the opportunity to spend part of July in Israel as a participant and co-leader of the very first rabbinic mission for progressive rabbis sponsored by AIPAC’S educational foundation. There were twenty of us on the trip, with Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox rabbis represented. The goal of the mission was to give us — all committed Zionists in our own right — a broader understanding of and appreciation for Israel’s complexities and challenges.

We arrived in Israel on Tuesday afternoon, claimed our luggage, got on the bus, and headed toward Jerusalem. As we left the airport, our tour …

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Erev Rosh Hashannah Sermon 2014 / 5775

When visionaries wanted to resurrect the Hebrew language after 2000 years, they faced a significant challenge. Taking a language that had only been used for study and prayer and trying to bring it back to life was no small task. So much had changed, and there were no words for many of the things that were now part of daily existence. For example… what should they call a train? How should they refer to ice cream? or a bicycle? or an omelet? or jelly?  None of these were items that had existed in Biblical or Rabbinic times.

As Eliezer ben Yehuda, one of the men responsible for the rebirth of the Hebrew language and perhaps the first person to speak Hebrew at home in almost 2000 years, wrote,

“If a language which has stopped being spoken… can return and be the spoken tongue of an individual for all necessities of …

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Sorry, Jon Stewart, there are opinions, and there are facts

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Jon Stewart had a rather amusing bit on his program last night. Each time he would mention the word “Israel” all of the “correspondents” on his show would pop up and begin yelling at him. When the yelling calmed down all but one of the commentators disappeared. After a pregnant pause the man looked at Stewart, scowled and, with disgust said “a self-hating Jew.” Then he too disappeared.

“Look,” Stewart opined after the bit had run its course, “obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”

I could not agree more.

At the same time, while there are indeed, “many strong opinions,” not all opinions are equally valid. And while I know it is not politically correct to say so, some opinions …

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As sirens sound, NJ visitors share resilient Israel’s anxiety

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July 16, 2014
Visiting Israel on a national Jewish federations mission, Maxine Murnick said she was disappointed when her group was discouraged from visiting Ofakim, in Israel’s beleaguered South.

“Can you imagine if somebody advised you against going to Millburn or Morris Plains?” she asked.

New Jersey residents visiting Israel during its current clash with Hamas got a close look at what it means to be in Israel when Hamas missiles pour in from Gaza, as air raid sirens sound frequently, and dashes to missile shelters interrupt the mundane activities of daily life.

 

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Murnick, campaign chair for the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, said the overwhelming impression she was left with was “the resiliency of the Israeli people, which is just something to behold.”

 

Murnick was one of several local leaders — including federation president Leslie Dannin Rosenthal and assistant executive vice president Jeffrey Korbman …

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The year was 1984 and I was a student at Duke University. During the fall semester I spent time working on Jim Hunt’s senatorial campaign. It was not so much that I was working on behalf of Jim Hunt but rather, I was working to unseat incumbent Jesse Helms, one of the most anti-Israel senators at the time. His record on Israel was, as one article put it, “the most negative of any member of the Senate.” Among other things, Helms was the sole senator to vote against prohibiting American companies from joining the Arab League boycott of Israel. During the 1982 Lebanon War, he called for the United States to break all diplomatic relations with Israel. While Hunt won our district, Helms kept his seat and remained in the Senate.

The next year, I was living and studying at the Rothberg School for Overseas Students …

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