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Kavvanah for Tree of Life

11/06/2018 08:04:36 PM


As we stand here before the open ark, we are about to sing Etz Hayim Hi, it is a tree of life, and we call to mind our brothers and sisters who were murdered in their synagogue, called Tree of Life, a week ago. עֵץ -ַיִּים "ִיא לַמַּ-ֲ-ִיקִים 'ָּ"ּ. וְתמְכֶי"ָ מְאֻשָּׁר “It is a tree of life for those who grasp it, and all who hold onto it are blessed.” Our Torah is a tree of life....Read more...

Hayyei Sarah 5779: Great American Alloy

11/06/2018 08:02:57 PM


US Steel was an iconic American company that flourished in Pittsburgh in its heyday as an industrial center. Its logo, which also became the logo of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, features three diamonds: yellow for coal, orange for iron ore and blue for steel scrap"the three ingredients of steel. The diamonds represented the great power of an alloy, a combination of different things that was stronger together than any of them were on...Read more...

KTI Interfaith Vigil for Pittsburgh Remarks

11/06/2018 07:49:23 PM


Good evening. My name is Rabbi Ben Goldberg, and it is my pleasure to serve as spiritual leader here at Congregation KTI. We are gathered here this evening not because we want to, but because we must. Our hearts are broken as the peace of Shabbat was desecrated last Saturday, as our fellow Jews in Pittsburgh were victims of an antisemitic act of terror. Gathered in prayer and celebration just as we do in this building every week, they were...Read more...

Va-yera 5779: Child Sacrifice

10/24/2018 04:06:00 PM


This week's Torah reading, Va-yera, contains the Torah readings for Rosh Hashannah, including the famous story of the binding of Isaac. The story has generated an enormous amount of commentary and discussion. The story raises core questions of what the purpose of this “test” was, and how it can be that a moral God would command someone to murder his own child.

Following a certain strain of commentary on the story, I understand it as...Read more...

B'reishit 5779: Fallen Angels

10/07/2018 02:32:59 PM


Like many precocious children, I went through a phase where I was obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology. This was especially true around the time when the Disney Hercules movie came out in 1997. I had a number of books that described in detail the various gods, demigods and mythical figures that so captured the ancient imagination. There was something appealing about the stories of conflict among the gods and the exploits of super-human...Read more...

Shemini Atzeret/Yizkor 5779: Unfinished Business

10/04/2018 06:37:12 PM


When I was a teenager, I spent my summers at Camp Ramah. One of my close friends there was named Jake. Jake was a special person. He was friendly, outgoing and kind. He had an interest in martial arts and in long philosophical conversations. I was mostly interested in the later. He, my brother and I often had long conversations about religion and politics that would go late into the evening.

In a way that only a free-thinking...

Sukkot 5779: Simple Joys

10/04/2018 06:33:29 PM


A few days ago, Daniel and I had the pleasure to host the staff of KTI in our sukkah for lunch. The sun was shining as we sat in the shelter of the sukkah on a crisp fall day. The food was fresh and delicious and the company enjoyable. While we do spend a lot of time together, we rarely get the opportunity just to enjoy each other's company, celebrate our hard work and to form the bonds between us.

The elements of this experience were...

Kol Nidre 5779: Neighbor

09/20/2018 08:02:43 PM


It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,

A beautiful day for a neighbor.

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you!

I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,

Since we're together we might as well say,

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you...

Yom Kippur/Yizkor 5779: Choice

09/20/2018 07:56:29 PM


Why me? A few weeks ago, a man called me up to discuss the ongoing difficulties in his life. A number of years ago, he had lost close family members in a gruesome accident, and had struggled ever since to feel whole. The loss had affected his health and his financial situation. “Why me?” he wanted to know. Why have I experienced so much suffering in my life?

“Why me” is a question most of us have probably asked at some point in...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah Day 2: Hospitality

09/12/2018 02:33:10 PM


As I look back personally on the past year this Rosh Hashannah, one theme that emerges is being a guest. This has been a year full of transitions for me, and many of those transitions involved time away from home in new places. I had my monthly pulpit in Woodbury, CT, staying in a hotel there once a month to serve as that small community's rabbi. I traveled to quite a few synagogues around the country that were looking for rabbis, including here...Read more...
Thu, May 30 2024 22 Iyyar 5784