YOM KIPPUR DVAR TORAH - 5777/2016
(by guest Rabbi Mike Comins) 

I'd like to start with a poem by David Whyte entitled Self-Portrait (from Fire in the Earth).

It doesn't interest me if there is one God
or many gods.

I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned.

If you can know despair or see it in others.
I want to know if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need

to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

KOL NIDRE DVAR TORAH - 5777/2016 
(by guest Rabbi Mike Comins)

In a column in the Forward newspaper, Jay Michaelson suggests that if you are going to observe just one Jewish holiday this year, don't make it Yom Kippur. Try another holiday.

The other holidays are a lot more fun, less demanding, the theology is a lot less problematic. Yom Kippur isn't really a holiday celebration at all. It's more like a retreat, we break out of routine and put ourselves into a very different kind of space. If you're doing just one this year, try something else.

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

ROSH HASHANAH MORNING - 5777/2016
Forgiveness

In a few moments, we will begin our Torah service:This and each Rosh Hashanah we read The Akedah, the story of the binding of Isaac. Abraham is called to bring Isaac to Mount Moriah as a sacrifice. He awakes early to set out on what I consider a horrific journey, bringing Isaac, two servants, and some wood for the altar.

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

EREV ROSH HASHANAH - 5777/2016
Avinu Malkaynu - Ideas About God

Avinu malkaynu... Father – the one who loves us and dotes on us. King – the one who establishes the rules and demands adherence. Avinu malkaynu–Our nurturer and setter of boundaries.

Avinu malkaynu – Our nurturer and setter of boundaries.

Chonaynu va'anaynu – Be gracious to us and answer us –It is no easy task for us to perceive Your presence, I mean really feel and believe that You, God, are real and near.

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

YOM KIPPUR MORNING - 5776/2015
Attitude

This morning's Torah reading comes from the portion called Atem Nitzavim. You stand here this day, all of you from the heads of your tribes to the ones who chop your wood and draw your water, to enter into a covenant with YHWH.

This afternoon we will read from Atem Kedoshim. You shall be holy because I, YHWH, am holy...Revere your parents, keep the Sabbath, leave food for the poor and the stranger, don't steal, don't lie...love the stranger as you would yourself.

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

KOL NIDRE - 5776/2015
Three Types of Sins

Yom Kippur is the one time of year Jews talk about sin. Soon, we will return to our Kol Nidrei service at the point called Vidui, our "Confession of Sin."

The language of sin does not roll as easily from the Jewish tongue as it does for Christians. Christians are born into a state of sin. The distinction between God and humanity is the presence of some degree of defilement that is an inherent consequence of our biology. The inextricability of sexuality from procreation brings the whole enterprise into question.

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

ROSH HASHANAH MORNING – 5776/2015 
Sounds of Shofar = Sarah's Last Three Wails

I don't know about you, but I get caught up in the High Holy Day season. I find the liturgies we visit and the reflective process in which we engage simultaneously satisfying and unnerving.

The New Year feels redolent with opportunity. And yet, at the same time, the pain of past hurts and the remorse over unfinished business emerges.

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

EREV ROSH HASHANAH – 5776/2015

Shanah Tovah.
Here we are, greeting once again, a Jewish new year.
5776.

Gathering in our finery, familiar liturgy and melody, anticipation for tomorrow's sounding of the shofar...all generate chemical and electric responses in our minds that tickle reflective neurons.

A new year. A new chapter in the Book of Life. A new slate.

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

YOM KIPPUR MORNING - 5775/2014
Making it Happen: A Vision for Temple Beth Tikvah

Atem nitzavim hayom, kulchem:

You stand this day, all of you:
Rasheychem. Shivteychem.
The heads of your tribes:
Matriarchs and patriarchs,
Grandparents among us,
Especially grandparents among us with children and grandchildren here, in Bend.

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

KOL NIDRE - 5775/2014
Deliberate Speech: A Disciplined Practice

This is the most attended night in synagogues all over the world.
Erev. Yom. Kippur.
The night we hear Kol Nidrey...

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

ROSH HASHANAH MORNING – 5775/2014
The Ultimate Sacrifice

The Akedah. God tests Abraham, instructing him to prepare his beloved son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. In the eleventh hour, the angel and ram enter the scene, and Isaac lives. 

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

EREV ROSH HASHANAH – 5775/2014
The Holy Thief

I love the High Holy Days. Everbody's here! It's so great to see people. And everyone looks so nice. Even the rabbis of the Talmud encouraged their wives to buy new dresses to meet the New Year in finery. It's nice to clean up, dress up. 

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

YOM KIPPUR MORNING - 5774/2013
Courage and Fortitude
 

The time is yesteryear. A circus comes to town. The circus people are preparing for the show on the outskirts when one of the tents catches on fire.

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

KOL NIDRE - 5774/2013
A Fresh Start

A great rabbi and his disciple were walking along a river when they came upon their usual crossing point.

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

ROSH HASHANAH MORNING – 5774/2013
Growth and Change

A woman proudly displayed on her mantelpiece a piece of needlework that said, "Prayer changes things."

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)

EREV ROSH HASHANAH – 5774/2013
Authenticity and Integrity

Sometimes, I find, it is difficult to know ourselves and what it is we should be doing in the world.

Read Complete Sermon (Adobe PDF)