Arguably the most anticipated sermons given by rabbis occur during the High Holidays. The most attended services, on the holiest days of the year, create the atmosphere that these sermons mean just a little bit more than your typical Saturday morning talk.
While every sermon is important, The Chronicle has a sneak peek into some of the local rabbis’ sermons for this year’s High Holidays (don’t worry we don’t give away the best parts).
In an election year you would think a sermon on politics would be forthcoming; however, of the five rabbis The Chronicle talked to, no one has the election on his mind.
“I’m not going to speak about politics,” said Rabbi Daniel Kripper of Adat Shalom in Fox Chapel. “I think they are coming to services for spiritual
Tree of Life Congregation Rabbi Stephen Listfield agreed with Rabbi Kripper.
“The election, while that’s a sexy topic, it’s not what I talk about,” Rabbi Listfield said. “Turn on the TV and let the experts talk about it.”
Instead, Rabbi Listfield will talk about how L’Dor V’dor, meaning ‘from generation to generation,’ is a bad cliché. Rabbi Kripper will speak on spirituality.
“In which way spiritual life helps us face the challenges of reality, in crisis of life,” Rabbi Kripper said. “Also, how to become more spiritual.”
While Rabbi Yisroel Rosenfeld of the Lubavitch Center Synagogue will hit on spirituality, too, he also will speak to his congregants about Jewish unity.
“During the most difficult times that we live in today, from a physical as well as a spiritual perspective, the greatest friends we Jews have, that have helped us throughout all of our times, have been the ability for us to unite under all circumstances,” he said. “It’s a very important theme that is relevant all of the time, but particularly Rosh Hashana at the beginning of the year, when we all need the greatest blessing of God.”
Taking a different approach, Rabbi Alexander Greenbaum of Beth El Congregation of the South Hills will be speaking about the Messiah on the first day of Rosh Hashana.
“The fact that the Messiah has not come is a good thing, for that God has not given up on us,” he said.
Greenbaum said he is constantly asked by people of other religions about the Jewish Messiah, and finds that fewer Jews inquire about other religions. In his sermon, he will talk about various different takes on the Messiah.
Taking the chance to look back on his first five years at Rodef Shalom Congregation, Rabbi Aaron Bisno will talk about how each person is “is created in the divine image, and therefore has the capacity within us to do extraordinary things to build up our community.”
“It’s looking at the last five years of what we’ve accomplished and where we need to go and what role we each need to have, and to look at our God-given potential,” he added.
The conclusion to these sermons, and all the other sermons that weren’t mentioned, can be found Tuesday at your synagogue during the first day of Rosh Hashana.
(Mike Zoller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)