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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