Clergy Sermons

At Central Synagogue

Sermons from October 2016

Maurice A. Salth
Facing Fear: Walking the Very Narrow Bridge (Yom Kippur 5777)

Maurice A. Salth  |  October 12, 2016

Here we have so much to offer each other. We have members who've had to face the worst of the worst; a cancer diagnosis, a child with crippling anxiety, a spouse with Alzheimer’s, you name it. And these members have come to us and said: “If you hear of anyone in our community facing something like I did, please have them call, please connect them with me, I want to help.”

Right in the middle of Manhattan, our synagogue is a modern day shtetl – a haven where people can reach out to one other along the path. If you would like to offer your strength to someone or if you need help right now yourself with something large or small, please let us clergy know. We can manage our fears together.

Rabbi Nicole Auerbach
Caves, Bridges, and a World on Fire (Yom Kippur 5777)

Rabbi Nicole Auerbach  |  October 12, 2016

As long as we allow ourselves to wallow in our own need for vengeance, and delight in seeing others punished, so long as we walk around with laserbeams coming out of our eyes, we will assume that there are lasers trained on us, too. If we spend too much time inhabiting vengeance, we will never really believe that we are worthy of compassion. And on Yom Kippur, when we examine all of our own deepest faults, we really need to believe that if we repent, we might be deserving of compassion. We need to forgive and ask forgiveness, knowing that although we have all hurt one another deeply, we will not withhold our goodness from one another.

Angela W. Buchdahl
Forgiveness is a Prayer (Yom Kippur 5777)

Angela W. Buchdahl  |  October 11, 2016

Often the most challenging parts of offering forgiveness is the sense that the offender doesn’t deserve and hasn’t earned our forgiveness. But forgiveness is not about what you are offering someone else – it’s what you give yourself. Forgiveness is a decision about how you want to live. It’s taking control of how much power you allow someone else’s sin to have over you. It is a mistake to confuse forgiveness with justice, to think that withholding your forgiveness is a form of punishment for the person who hurt you. In fact the opposite is often true: as the saying goes, “holding onto anger is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die.” It never works that way.

Ari S. Lorge
Let There Be (Yom Kippur 5777)

Ari S. Lorge  |  October 11, 2016

My grandfather, after speaking about the discouragement of Vietnam, the racial prejudice being lived out on the streets of America, the upcoming 1968 presidential election, and the pervasiveness of fear, declared that Judaism is not quixotic in its demand that we reach for the unreachable. He said it’s not that we live in a delusion or wear rose-colored glasses. And perhaps this is where we differ from Quixote. Rather, he said, with eyes wide open to the brokenness and the despair we still find within ourselves the fire that allows us to take that all in and defiantly declare, “Af al pi chein…lamrot bachol.” “In spite of all this…” still we dream. That is Judaism. In spite of all this he said, “We must bring the unreachable star close to Earth and thereby reach it together.” That was the mission and challenge of his day. It remains ours.

Abigail Pogrebin
Yom Kippur Appeal 5777

Abigail Pogrebin  |  October 11, 2016

In this day and age of endless choices, distractions – and with a glut of content that can make our heads spin – one could ask, Who has time for synagogue? But it’s precisely because of all that noise that we turn to this place – to find peace, connection and meaning away from the fray. To help explain to our children why we light candles every Friday night, or make a sandwich for a person who lives on the street, or pay a shiva call. All of you reaffirm – year after year, with your hearts, your time and yes, your resources – that indeed, we’ve got time for synagogue. This synagogue.

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