Rabbi Matt Green — Shabbat Chayei Sarah 5784

What can Abraham’s response to Sarah’s death teach us about our own collective grief?

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Rabbi Stephanie Kolin — Shabbat Vayeira 5784

Four weeks after the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas, Rabbi Kolin reflects on where things stand and finds wisdom in Abraham’s response to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. 

Rabbinic Intern Evan Traylor — Shabbat Vayeira 5784

In his senior sermon, Rabbinic Intern Evan Traylor talks about God testing Abraham to speak out on behalf of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and invites us to pass a similar test. 

Rabbi Rachel Timoner — Shabbat V’zot Hab’rachah 5784

On Simchat Torah, Rabbi Timoner offers wisdom for the end of our Jewish holidays.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner — Sukkot I 5784

On Sukkot, Rabbi Timoner discusses the harms of striving for perfection.

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Rabbi Stephanie Kolin — Yom Kippur 5784

In an upcoming year that’s going to test us, how can we navigate our fear?

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Read it here.

Rabbi Rachel Timoner — Kol Nidre 5784

How can we respond to AI and emerging technology? Rabbi Timoner advocates for returning to the body. 

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Read it here.

Rabbi Rachel Timoner — Rosh Hashanah Day 1 5784

On Rosh Hashanah Day 1, Rabbi Timoner examines the state of the Jewish people.

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Read it here

Rabbi Matt Green — Brooklyn Jews Rosh Hashanah 5784

How do we celebrate the new year in a world that feels like it’s ending?

Rabbi Matt Green — Erev Rosh Hashanah 5784

How long is a New Year new? 

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner — Shabbat Pinchas 5783

Rabbi Timoner tackles the difficult character of Pinchas. 

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Rabbi Stephanie Kolin – Shabbat Korach 5783

On Pride Shabbat, Rabbi Kolin discusses what the story of Korach and Pride might have in common. 

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Korach 5783

What can we learn from Korach and Moses today?

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Naso II 5783

Rabbi Timoner explores the relationship between victim blaming and the belief that progress is linear. 

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Vayikra 5783

The Book of Leviticus opens with a silent aleph. Rabbi Timoner contemplates what this means.

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Rabbi Matt Green – Shabbat Vayikra 5783

Rabbi Green tackles an age old question: Why do we pray?

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Rabbi Stephanie Kolin – Shabbat Vayakheil-Pekudei 5783

Rabbi Kolin reflects on the Mishkan.

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Not Some Gift, Just You
Vayakhel-Pekudei
Rabbi Stephanie Kolin

Imagine that our ancestors are sitting in their tents near Mount Sinai. It still smells a little like burnt up Golden Calf, but life has moved on and they learn that it’s finally time to build this thing they’ve been hearing about. It’s called a Mishkan, and they’ve been told that everyone will help build it, everyone will contribute. So they look around their tent and in their pockets and wagons and baskets for what they can give. And the text tells us:

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Rabbi Stephanie Kolin – Shabbat Parah 5783

Rabbi Kolin finds a connection between the red heifer and current events. 

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Rabbinic Intern Evan Traylor – Shabbat Parah 5783

This week’s parashah tells us about dedicating a day of each week to rest. But for many of us today, rest can feel out of reach.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Zachor Morning 5783

After returning from the high school Yachad trip to Germany and Poland, Rabbi Timoner connects the figure of Amalek to Polish Holocaust erasure and recent Israeli pogroms in the West Bank.

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Ian and Rainen, thank you for your meaningful divrei Torah. I noticed that each of you were concerned with all of the rules and strictness of the parasha, but you also each focused on something pleasing or delightful to the senses: the sight of eternal light for the eyes and the smell of incense.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Zachor 5783

After returning from the high school Yachad trip to Germany and Poland, Rabbi Timoner connects the figure of Amalek to Polish Holocaust erasure and recent Israeli pogroms in the West Bank.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Yitro 5783

In Shabbat Yitro, God shows us that we need each other as one collective community, an idea that comes at odds with America’s focus on rugged individualism. Rabbi Timoner shares how we, in Park Slope, can do better—and the blindnesses we are all guilty of.

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Millie, I’m so glad you spoke about how important it is to ask for help and give help. Your message is actually really counter-cultural in American society, and it is a message that we desperately need right now. I want to say more about that in a minute, but first I need to point out the ways that your message resonates throughout the rest of your parasha and really throughout all of Jewish tradition.

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Rabbi Matt Green – Shabbat Yitro 5783

Rabbi Green discusses the struggles of envy.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Shirah 5783

How do we fight the state of malaise that many of us are struggling with? Rabbi Timoner finds wisdom in the Midrash. 

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Emma and Leo, I need to tell you how impressed I am with both of you. Your divrei Torah – both of them – gave me chills. You spoke with such beauty and power and truth. And it just so happens that your messages connect to something I feel a strong need to speak about today.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Bo 5783

In the wake of the East Jerusalem synagogue shooting, Rabbi Timoner stresses a message of solidarity. 

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Israel and the Unknown Future

Vera, you speak so beautifully about facing the unknown and how frightening that can be. The Hebrews had been in Egypt for 430 years and now they were leaving. They had no way to imagine what lay ahead – what dangers, what possibilities. The known, even if it is wretched, is often more comfortable than the unknown.

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Rabbi Matt Green – Shabbat Bo 5783

Did you know there are four Jewish new years? Rabbi Green wishes us, “Shanah Tovah” before Tu BiShvat and discusses how to mark time Jewishly.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Va’eira 5783

Rabbi Timoner considers the existence of Jewish karma, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, and how we can ensure that we don’t turn out like Pharaoh. 

 

Charlie, you know how to put the pressure on! Jessie and Doug, every parent in this room is feeling for you right now, even if we are dog people.

One of the roles of the darshan is to make Torah come to life and apply it to our concerns in our own age, and you certainly did that. But you didn’t just apply Torah to the pressing question of your own family’s pet ownership, you talked to us about Vladimir Putin and stubborn, violent, tyrannical leadership in our own time.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Sh’mot 5783

Drawing on David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism, Rabbi Timoner introduces The Book of Exodus and contemplates the concept of narrowing.

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Serach, what a profound joy to welcome you in person to CBE after years of learning with you and praying with you over zoom. What a profound joy to watch you become a bat mitzvah here in our sanctuary, for you to chant from the Torah, to teach us Torah, as a member of our community. What a blessing you are.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Vay’chi 5783

What is our responsibility to others, and how does this intersect with God and providence? Rabbi Timoner considers these questions with the help of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, whose 50th yahrtzeit was this past week. 

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Stella and Hudson, what thoughtful divrei Torah you’ve offered us this morning. Hudson, you asked about truth-telling and forgiveness. Is it OK to sometimes tell a lie? What is our responsibility to forgive when the one who wronged us does not seem to deserve it? Stella, you asked about theology. What are the implications of the idea of God’s providence on human responsibility? And this is where your two divrei Torah intersect.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Vayigash 5783

Rabbi Timoner shares stories of moral courage from Jewish leaders. 

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I had dinner with Ruth Messinger on Thursday night. Ruth served on the New York City Council for 11 years from 1978 to 1989, and then was Manhattan borough president for 8 years, from 1990 to 1998, and then led AJWS, American Jewish World Service, for 18 years, and now has four jobs and is a general trailblazer and badass of the Jewish world. We got to talking about moral courage, in particular its indispensable function in rabbinic leadership and Jewish leadership more broadly. Ruth told me two stories that I knew I’d want to share with you this morning.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Mikeitz 5783

We find ourselves this week in the midst of the high drama of the Joseph story. The parasha opens with Joseph down in Egypt, having been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. After being falsely accused by his master’s wife, he finds himself in prison, where through his gift at dream interpretation, he eventually is released and called to Pharaoh’s side to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Vayeishev 5783

When to surrender and when to fight?

Thank you, Haile, for your immensely thoughtful and deep d’var Torah. I know we’re all praying for your grandmother’s healing. Thank you for teaching us about her inspiring example. Your theory is that Jacob didn’t intervene in Joseph’s suffering because he trusted God. He trusted that even though Joseph was suffering there must have been some larger plan or greater good, so he waited. And we’ll find out in a few chapters that Joseph trusted God and believed that his brothers’ actions were on God’s behalf.

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Rabbi Rachel Timoner – Shabbat Vayishlach 5783

Antisemitism, Continued

Galit and Samson, what insightful, important divrei Torah you’ve given this morning. I am so impressed with both of you on this day you become bnei mitzvah.

I feel that the fear in this parasha and the wrestling imagery and the anticipated confrontation fits the American Jewish experience of this week and this month very well. This is going to be my third sermon on antisemitism in five weeks. That’s a record.  

Just to give you a sense of what has come across my rabbinic field of vision in the last week:

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