Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Korach 5781

I came across a post on Facebook this week that I sat with for a long time and then hesitantly re-posted. It’s by a woman named Leah Solomon who lives in Jerusalem. I don’t know her, I’m not even her Facebook friend. But we have friends in common and she works for Encounter, an organization that brings Jews and Palestinians together to listen to one another. I read her words and I want to share them with you in their entirety.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Bamidbar 5781

I had a chance on Thursday to talk to our member Jared Dougall, who’s 18 years old, one of my son Benji’s closest friends (they met at Yachad), and is living and working in Tel Aviv these few months, taking a break from his first year at the University of Michigan. Jared is a really smart, thoughtful intellectual, and he and I have had many conversations over the years about Israel/Palestine, as well as all about American politics.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat B’har-B’chukotai 5781

Lucy, what a beautiful d’var Torah. I love that you connected rest to freedom, Shabbat to Shmita to Yom Kippur to Yovel (Jubilee). I love that you brought us two evocative teachings about t’ruah, the shofar sound that, according to the Mehilta of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai, is the sound of breaking chains of slavery, and according to Ketav v’haKabbalah, the sound of fellowship and friendship.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Acharei-Mot/K’doshim 5781

One of the curiosities of pandemic life in our synagogue is that time is jumbled, juxtaposing Torah portions that would never otherwise be read together. Today we contemplated Bereishit, the first parasha in the Torah, with Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, today’s double Torah portion which, as Jane taught us, is at the very center of the Torah. This creates for fascinating possibilities of analysis.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Tazria-Metzora 5781

Abbie and Benny, beautiful and important Torah.

Benny, I think you’re right. A few days ago the Park Slope Patch reported that a full fifty percent of this neighborhood is at least partially vaccinated. CBE now has a reopening task force making plans for how and when and with what precautions we will reopen services and programs to members in person. We’re all pretty eager to do the things we couldn’t do for the last thirteen months.

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Rabbi Timoner Published in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

“My dad taught me that businesses thrive when the dignity of every human being is honored — workers, customers and shareholders alike. He taught me that there is no contradiction between being pro-business and pro-union. He taught me that our economy and society can be both prosperous and caring. He taught me that standing for the rights of workers is what it means to be a proud Jew.”

Please read this meaningful op-ed by our very own Rabbi Rachel Timoner for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Rabbi Rebecca Epstein – Shabbat Sh’mini 5781

Mouna, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us this morning. You took on important themes including your thoughts on God, and the flexibility and ongoing evolution inherent in Judaism. As you have heard, our 5th graders are here today, they are just beginning their journey towards B’nei Mitzvah and as part of that journey they are going to receive their Chumash, or Torah book in just a few moments. I am so glad that they specifically heard both what you had to say, and how you built your remarks, incorporating Torah study and commentary, Jewish history, and your own experiences and ideas.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – 7th Day of Passover

This Shabbat, this seventh day of Pesach, we read from Parashat Beshallach in the Book of Exodus. We read of our people’s departure from Egypt, the pursuit of Pharaoh and his many chariots, the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, and the triumphant Song of the Sea once we’ve crossed to the other side.

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Rabbinic Intern Eliza Scheffler – Shabbat HaGadol 5781

Cleaning Out the Chametz in Our Houses and Ourselves

Sometimes, the Jewish calendar aligns perfectly with the natural cycles of life. Like in the winter, how our Chanukah candles bring light to the darkest days of the year. And we celebrate Sukkot, the harvest holiday, when the farmers’ market is full of fall produce.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat HaGadol 5781

Today is Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Shabbat, the Shabbat before Passover. This is the Shabbat when historically our people would settle in to services because it was the longest sermon of the year, all about how to halakhically prepare your home for Passover. That is not what we’re talking about today. Instead, we’re talking about Light and we’re talking about Shame.

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Rabbi Stephanie Kolin – Shabbat Vayikra 5781

V’im Kol Adat Yisrael Yishgu: Standing with the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community
Vayikra 2021

My family recently moved from Gowanus to Crown Heights, so we became avid users of the Buy Nothing Facebook Group for our old neighborhood. If you’re unfamiliar with what that is, it’s a forum that people use to give things away or request something for free. It’s a way for communities to share what they have, make less waste, and offload things they are done with that might find a new home with someone who needs it.

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Rabbi Stephanie Kolin – Shabbat HaChodesh 5781

On the Anniversary of the Pandemic: The Scraps with Which we Build
Vayakhel-Pekudei 2021, Rabbi Stephanie Kolin

Wow, we’ve been building the Mishkan for a long time. For chapters and chapters, we’ve been getting the instructions for how to build the Tabernacle, our traveling sanctuary in the wilderness.

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Rabbi Stephanie Kolin – Shabbat Zachor 5781 D’var Torah

There’s a guy in Texas who owns a furniture company. His name is Jim Mcingvale. Maybe you’ve seen some reporting about this story. He has this huge warehouse store and when it became clear that Texans were in serious trouble, without electricity or heat or water, he opened his store to anyone who needed refuge. Seniors and kids sitting on his mattresses and recliners. Children curled up on their parents on his couches, watching his televisions. He’s not even worried that their shoes are all over his furniture. He was worried that they were alone and freezing and afraid and out of options with no one to come help them.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Bo 5781 Nechemta

Russell, your d’var Torah explored this parasha and the issue of Pharaoh’s hardened heart in a totally original way, as you explored the terrifying feeling of being out of control in our emotions. You showed us that not only is this a universal human experience, it is an experience that the Torah tells us God shares with us. And you questioned whether it was okay, whether it was moral, for God to artificially impose or exacerbate that experience within Pharaoh.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Va’eira 5781 Nechemta

Joe and Sylvia, your divrei Torah today are aiming at the questions of what is true and what is right. Joe was asking what caused the ten plagues, a question that could be answered scientifically (whether through scientific theory or archeology), religiously, or literarily, through text criticism. This is a question of what is true.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Sh’mot 5781 Nechemta

I felt the need to speak to you this morning, though it was not part of our original plan. I felt the need to speak to you in the week that the Reverend Doctor Raphael Warnock, John Lewis’s pastor, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr was baptized, gave his first sermon at age 19, and served as pastor for the rest of his life—the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Reverend Warnock became the first Black Senator from the state of Georgia. I felt the need to speak to you in the week that Jon Ossoff, John Lewis’s intern, became the first Jewish senator from the State of Georgia.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Mikeitz 5781

We need dreams. Hanukkah ended yesterday, and the longest night of winter is still ahead. Vaccinations began this week, thank God, but it will be many months until we can enjoy their protection. Dreams will be what carry us through the long, dark winter. Dreams are our light in the dark.

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Rabbi Matt Green – Shabbat Vayeitzei 5781

What are we doing when we pray?

My guess is that this is a question that many of you have asked yourselves before. Presumably if you’re here this morning, many of you find something within prayer that’s worth drawing you away from other holiday weekend festivities.

Among the clergy at CBE, I am probably the least likely to ask the question: What are we doing when we pray?

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Vayeitzei 5781

Last night was a sad night for a lot of people. Even if you made a full meal and had your family around you, even if you zoomed in with family and friends all around the country or world, few of us were able to gather with the joy and feeling of fullness, with the full mishpacha we would usually enjoy.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Tol’dot 5781

Aaron and Sam, I love that you wrote one d’var Torah together. I don’t think we’ve ever had anyone do that before, and it was as if your medium was your message. And your message, about the particular closeness of twins, was a great way to approach a question for all human relationships and really all human existence.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Chayei Sarah 5781

Hannah, I really like how you brought us so many different Rabbinic perspectives on Abraham’s motivations in this parasha. I also think that your idea that Abraham was trying to feel equal to the Hittites is smart and perceptive. I was particularly taken by the idea that Abraham was trying, through his actions, to secure God’s promise that the land would belong to him and his descendants forever.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Vayeira 5781

Norah, you taught us that we are descendants of Abraham, meaning that we live in the tradition and by the example of our first ancestor, who had the courage and temerity to stand up to ultimate power. And that means that living in his lineage obligates us to do so as well. Yes.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner Interviewed by NY1

“Most of what we’ll be doing is out and around the Sukkah. Families can bring a blanket, have a picnic, but stay separated from other families, but [they] still have the feeling of community, the opportunity to be outdoors and the opportunity to celebrate the holiday.”

Rabbi Timoner was recently interviewed by NY1 outside the CBE sukkah. Read the full article here.

Rabbi Timoner Interviewed in The Forward

“The main thing that Judaism tells us God believes about us is that no matter what we do and what we’ve done, no matter how we’ve fallen short of that ideal of justice, peace, love and compassion, no matter in what ways we’ve closed our hearts and failed to see how we’re harming others, how we’ve erred, there is endless opportunity for us to turn. God absolutely believes that human beings can endlessly improve ourselves, that there is no end to the learning curve, no limits on our capacity to become righteous.”

Read this powerful interview with Rabbi Timoner by journalist Abigail Pogrebin, originally published in The Forward, as part of her series Still Small Voice.

New York Jewish Agenda Presents: Allies Debate the Two-State Solution

At a time when progressive Zionists have united in opposition to annexation, Peter Beinart’s provocative essay in Jewish Currents, and his New York Times op-ed, divides allies. Beinart’s contention that a two-state solution is unattainable, and that a binational state provides the only path to achieving a just resolution to the conflict, has challenged the conventional wisdom and ignited a vigorous debate.

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Message from Rabbi Timoner to the CBE Community – My Thoughts On This Moment

Dear CBE Friends,

These are harrowing times. A pandemic, a nationwide cry for justice, fires and destruction, and police and now military deployed by the president to “dominate” our streets.

If you are feeling afraid, despairing, overwhelmed, or uncertain, you are not alone. Your CBE community and clergy are here for you, I am here for you, and our tradition is here for you.

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Rabbi Timoner and New York Jewish Agenda Featured in the Times of Israel

“We felt it was important to create a new voice in New York that focuses on state and local issues, that serves as a central address for liberal Jews whose Jewish values shape their priorities, both with respect to domestic issues and with respect to their support for Israel and their commitment to combating anti-Semitism.”

Rabbi Rachel Timoner shares the mission of the New York Jewish Agenda, which she recently co-founded with several other progressive NYC rabbis, activists, and politicians, in this new article by the Times of Israel.

Hashkiveinu – Friday Nights at CBE: Sounds of Shabbat

With each passing year, as with each passing day, we pray for peaceful transitions from work, to rest, to renewed wakefulness. This brooding, poignant melody, originally set to the text of Psalm 121 (“I lift my eyes to the mountains…”), brings out our essential human vulnerabilities but also calls us to reaffirm our faith in God’s essential grace and compassion. And it reminds us that no matter how scary the night may seem, we find courage by traveling through it together, as one community.

Me and the Jews

Check out this beautiful article written by our friend Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter of Old First Reformed Church about his meaningful relationship to Judaism and CBE.

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Never Forget

By Betty Leigh Hutcheson

Aliza, Our Holocaust Survivor, Addressing the Mission. Photograph by (ret.) Lt. Col. Peter Lerner in April 2011.

Aliza Goldman-Landau buried her cousin’s son the same day she served Shabbat dinner to six members of our tour. She had agreed to be a host for the evening meal after services at Kehillat Mevasseret, a reform synagogue in a Jerusalem suburb. That Aliza continued with her commitment was incredible to us, but was a minor feat for this quiet, tiny woman—small in stature but large in spirit. Even more astonishing that evening was hearing her life story.

Aliza emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine from Poland, arriving in 1947 by way of Cyprus when she was 9, an age when our children are considering treats, swimming pools, soccer in the park, and the secret comfort of a parent’s lap. Aliza’s life was much different. By the age when she was old enough to enjoy outdoor sports, her family had left Lodz to hide in the woods during the Nazi occupation. They hid in the forest for months and ate what they could find around them while the Nazis destroyed Jewish culture and lives throughout Europe.

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Creating Sanctuaries through Crises

By Rabbi Rachel Timoner

When innocent children are separated from their parents and held in camps, we are in a crisis.

When two synagogues experience Antisemitic murders within six months, we are in a crisis.

When hate and scapegoating are whipped up by the leader of the country, we are in a crisis.

When the president vilifies the press and threatens the freedom of the press, we are in a crisis.

When the president defies and delegitimizes Constitutionally-mandated oversight by Congress, we are in a crisis.

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Israel and Language

By Ed Bleiberg

One aspect of my relationship with Israel has always included my interest in languages. My year-long stay in Jerusalem in 1974-75 was primarily to learn Hebrew. On the recent CBE congregational trip to Israel, language took many forms.

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