April 19, 2014   19 Nisan 5774

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From the Rabbi's Desk  

Rabbi Main PhotoThe most widely observed Jewish holiday is Passover. I suspect it has to do with the Passover Seder, an accessible and colorful ritual that captures the universal yearning for freedom in a way that appeals to people of all ages.

Although based on an ancient epic, we can apply Passover’s theme of freedom to our own lives. Historically we celebrate the
Israelites' redemption from Egyptian bondage. But today it is also about breaking free from the spiritual slavery many of us face. Passover falls in the spring, a time of promise, renewal and rebirth. The ethos of Passover is about battling the enslavement of destructive behaviors, fruitless endeavors and worthless obsessions. Springtime is the most optimistic of all the seasons and Passover reminds us that we can liberate ourselves from even the most overwhelming circumstances to find spiritual freedom and joy.

Equally important is Passover’s emphasis on Jewish continuity, the acknowledgment that our generation is the sole link in a chain that connects the past to the future. Throughout the Passover Seder we are reminded that it is our responsibility to tell the story (in Hebrew li-ha-geed -- the root of the word Haggadah) to the next generation. Ultimately, the Jewish people will survive only if we choose to transmit the sacred lessons and lore of our people to our children.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, Passover is meant to be z’man simcha’taynu, a holiday of joy. Seder means “order.” That refers to the sequence of the rituals; it does not mean “decorum!”  If there is no music at a Passover Seder, no matter the tunes we use or how off-key we sing them, there can be no joy.  If there is no laughter and even a bit of silliness at our Seder, we will deny our children the warm and happy Passover memories we want them to have.

Prospects for Jewish survival do not rest on whether our matza balls sink or float or if we eat chicken, brisket or quinoa kugel (yes, quinoa is kosher for Passover).  Our future depends on our ability to tell the story of our people’s redemption from bondage and to acknowledge that, even today, many others are still enslaved. And most of all, we will flourish as a people if we teach our children and grandchildren about the importance of living a joyous and meaningful Jewish life.

Remember: Passover is meant to be fun! And so from our home to yours, I wish you a sweet, meaningful and mostly Happy Pesach!

Rabbi Robert Goldstein


Biography of Rabbi Robert S. Goldstein  

Rabbi Dr. Robert Goldstein was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1975 and was ordained a Rabbi in 1981 at the Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City.  In 1988, Rabbi Goldstein earned a Doctor of Ministry at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. His doctoral thesis was entitled, “Life Cycle.Life Crisis: Religious Orgins and Psychological Implications of Three Rites of Passage.”
At the core of Rabbi Goldstein's ministry is his attempt to help families and individuals find greater understanding and meaning in the milestone rituals of their lives. By making Jewish ritual accessible through creative adult education, he believes that many more people will discover the relevance of the Jewish path of life.
Throughout his ministry Rabbi Goldstein has sought to bring creativity and vitality to the communities from within and always to serve the emotional and religious needs of his community. This requires a commitment to work beyond the Jewish community, working with others in the broader community to create coalition which attempt to resolve some of the expansive challenges which face our society. With representatives of the Catholic and Protestant communities he continues to participate in an ongoing direct dialogue. In 2001, he was the recipient of the Tikkun Olam Award, and in June 2003 the Rabbi received an honorary doctorate from Merrimack College.

Rabbi Goldstein lives in Andover, Massachusetts with his wife Faith, an elementary school teacher. They have three daughters.

From the Director of Lifelong Learning  

This Spring we’ll have opportunities to learn from wise people, and to discover our personal, internal wisdom.

Dr. Samuel Stern, a professor emeritus from Boston University, has had to postpone his speaking engagement at our Yom HaShoah Holocaust Memorial Shabbat Service (April 25th). We will let you know when he can reschedule. Sam (as he told me he prefers to be called; only his mother was allowed to refer to him as Dr. Stern), his mother and his brother were in the first shipment of German Jews from Nuremberg to Riga, Latvia. They were three of the sixteen people who survived the Holocaust, of the thousand in that transportation. Please join us on April 25thfor an engaging speaker and a meaningful service featuring poetry, prayers, and songs.

Our Rabbi’s Table (Tish) series continues on the first Shabbat morning of the month, with a delicious breakfast and discussion of the Torah portion following Minyan on Saturday morning. I will be leading this month’s Tish.

Please join Hadassah and me on Sunday, April 6th, at 2 pm for a workshop on mindfulness and Jewish meditation.

The Braverman Lecture series kicks off May, with a full weekend of events May 2nd– 4th featuring the Braverman Scholar in Residence, Norma Libman at our Friday nihght service, Rabbi's Table on Saturday and Brunch on Sunday.

And mark your calendars for Sisterhood’s half-day of exploring wholeness and well-being that we are calling “Canyon Emanuel,” on the morning of June 8th.

Rabbi Miriam Philips

2013 High Holy Day Sermons  

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