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03 October 2017

Yom Kippur Yizkor 5778 Sermon

Written by Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Stoller 2015To remember, in Judaism, is about much more than simply recalling the past.

It’s about keeping the past alive, actively, and deliberately – now in the present, and for the future.

To remember, in Judaism, is to transcend the boundaries of time.

* * *

Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik tells a beautiful story from his childhood about the power of living memory.

Rabbi Soloveitchik’s father was a renowned Torah scholar, and his home would constantly be filled with students sitting around the table discussing the sacred books.

03 October 2017

Director of Engagement and Communications

Temple Israel is searching for a Director of Engagement and Communications who is creative, energetic, and proactive, with the ability to bring people together and facilitate relationship-building among members of the community. The Director of Engagement and Communications will be responsible for membership recruitment and engagement, managing temple communications, and working in collaboration with the clergy and professional team to create vibrant and engaging programming for all demographic segments within our congregational community, including young families and empty-nesters. This is a part-time position, approximately 20 hours per week.

26 September 2017

Erev Rosh Hashanah Sermon: What is God Calling You to Do?

Rabbi SussmanRabbi Deana Sussman Berezin

Shalom, Shana Tova, and welcome to tonight’s game of “Make Me a Match.” In this game, I will be introducing you to three contestants, and after we meet each of them, we’ll make a match! Let’s begin!

Contestant Number One is a Commander in the Army, and has spent the last five years working to protect our country from threats to our safety and wellbeing. This contestant is outgoing and has a memorable personality. When asked what we should know, Contestant Number One replied, “My relationships are very important to me. I protect the people I love. I want to be someone’s rock, their safe place in the storm.”

READ MORE & WATCH VIDEO

26 September 2017

Rosh Hashanah Sermon: A Holy Community

Rabbi Stoller 2015Rabbi Brian Stoller

The first time I walked into this building last winter, I was struck by the incredible windows.

You know what I’m talking about.  They’re everywhere:

The tall, wide windows that let the light pour in, casting a clear, panoramic view of the landscape.

And these windows surrounding our sanctuary!  It feels like that light of the first morning of Creation, God’s own light, is shining on us, and enveloping us with warmth and love.

It feels holy.

You might not know this but, according to Jewish law, a sanctuary is required to be built with windows – so that you can look out toward the Heavens, and be stirred by the majesty of it all, and really feel God’s presence?

READ MORE AND WATCH VIDEO

19 September 2017

Message and Appeal from Rabbi Michael L. Feshbach and the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas

stthomasWith humility and gratitude, we accept your many offers of help. We will use your support in four distinct ways: aid for recovery for the island, support for members in need, repair of the damage we sustained, and support for the congregation as a whole...Your assistance in picking us up, helping us recover from this devastating blow, including such basic acts as delivering and distributing food and water in some cases… it is… essential. And appreciated.

19 September 2017

PJ Library Loves Houston!

PJ loves HoustonHundreds of families in Houston’s Jewish community are out of their homes and lost all their PJ Library books along with the rest of their belongings. Although the best way to contribute to a disaster of this scale is to donate funds directly to a trusted source, PJ Library families across the country have been asking how else they can help. PJ Professionals in over 50 communities are coordinating with the PJ Library national office to send packets of books directly to the PJ Library professionals in Houston to replenish the libraries of each family. If your family has duplicates of PJ Library books you’ve received, or even gently used PJ Library books that your children have outgrown, please consider donating them to this effort. 

07 September 2017

An Accounting of the Soul

During the month of Elul, we are called to do a cheshbon ha’nefesh, an accounting of the soul. We are asked to take stock of our lives – our actions, our relationships, our decisions. We reflect on the past year and think about how and why we will change in the coming year. One of the ways we do this is by changing our “business as usual” mentality, and giving ourselves permission to step out of our routines and dive into the hard work of the High Holiday season: understanding ourselves. 

One of the ways that we do this is to recite Achat Sha’alti during the conclusion of our service. This verse, from Psalms 27, asks us to consider what it is that we want from our lives.

One thing I ask of Adonai, only that do I seek:

to live in the house of Adonai all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of Adonai, and to frequent God’s temple.

Elul is a time of searching, oF reflecting, of challenging ourselves. We ask ourselves a litany of questions: Who am I? Am I the person that I want to be? Do my actions reflect my values?  What do I need to live a life of meaning?

Elul is our opportunity to think about how we’re going to do better and be better in the coming year. Let’s make it count.

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