Striking the Egyptians: The Incomplete Redemption (delivered by Rabbi J.B. on January 21, 2023) Every year at the Passover seder everyone dips a finger in their cup of wine and spills one drop for each of the ten plagues. Why do we spill wine at the mentioning of plagues? Today...

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Parashat Va’era: How We’ve Evolved Since The Exodus (delivered by Maayan Lev on January 20, 2023) This week’s parashah is Va’era. This Torah portion is one that many people know well, even if not by name, as it contains seven of the Ten Plagues, and is often depicted on screen...

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Parashat Vay’chi: The Problem of White Lies (delivered by Rabbi J.B. Sacks on January 6, 2023) For me, among the more amusing commercials running on television are those by GEICO. Do you know them? One series of ads began with the question, “Would switching to GEICO save you money on...

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Hanukkah and Assimiliation: Ba-yamim Ha-em U-vaz’man Ha-ze (a discussion led by Maayan Lev on December 17, 2022) This week’s parashah is Vayeshev, which begins the story of Joseph. But on top of what’s happening in the Torah this Shabbat, it’s also Hanukkah tomorrow night. So what do these two narratives...

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Parashat Vayeshev: The Bullies Among Us

Parashat Vayeshev: The Bullies Among Us (delivered by Rabbi J.B. Sacks on December 16, 2022) Tears can be good or bad. The worst tears of all accompany a child’s death. In this week’s portion, Vayeshev, Jacob experiences such tears when his older sons bring him the blood-soaked “coat of many...

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Parashat Vayeitzei: Lions And Tigers And Bears, Oh My (Haftarah study led by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on December 3, 2022) In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob accidentally marries Leah instead of Rachel. He was in the dark about the swap made by his uncle Laban, quite literally. He could...

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Parashat Vayeitzei: The Torah Meets Greek Mythology (delivered by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on December 2, 2022) Chanukah will soon be upon us. It is the story of our victory against the Greeks. The story recounts that we successfully resisted the urges of assimilation, and retained our Jewish identity. To...

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Parashat Chayyei Sarah: All Years Are Equal

Parashat Chayyei Sarah: All Years Are Equal (Torah study led by Rabbi J.B. Sacks on November 19, 2022)   We do not have a lot of time, but it’s important for us to share words of Torah. So let me speak briefly on today’s Torah reading. The first verse we...

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Parshat Chayei Sarah: “Bring Your Days with You” (delivered by Rabbi J.B. Sacks on November 18, 2022)  Old age takes away from us what we have inherited and gives us what we have earned.[1] Let me repeat these important words from Gerald Brenan. Old age takes away from us what...

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Parashat Vayera: The Trials And Tribulations Of Sarah (Torah Study delivered by Maayan Lev on November 5, 2022)   “Marriage. Marriage is what brings us together, today.” These are the words of one of my favorite clergy members in history, albeit a fictional one, from the movie The Princess Bride....

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Parashat Lech L’cha: Lot’s Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’ (delivered by Rabbi J.B. Sacks on November 4, 2022) I remember the thrill of seeing Porgy and Bess for the first time. It was a 1935 English-language tragic opera by George Gershwin.[1] It features a cast of classically trained African-American singers, a...

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Parashat B’reishit: The Story of Cain

Parashat B’reishit: The Story of Cain (Torah Study led by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on October 22, 2022)  This week’s Torah portion is Bereshit (Genesis), which is best known for the days of creation, and also for the Garden of Eden. But there is another well-known story in this week’s...

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Shabbat Breishit: Mistakes–A Gift From G!d?

Shabbat Breishit: Mistakes–A Gift From G!d? (Delivered by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on October 21, 2022) We’ve made it. The High Holy Day season is over, and we are now returning to our regularly scheduled programming. This week, we have scrolled the Torah back to the beginning, and start over...

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Sh’mini Atzeret: Reconsidering Our Relationship to Time (Delivered by Rabbi Sacks on October 16, 2022) If you were alive in the early days of television, you might remember one of the first television game shows, “Beat The Clock.” It actually began as a radio show in 1948 called Time’s A’...

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Erev Sukkot: The Three Jewish Pigs

Erev Sukkot: The Three Jewish Pigs (Delivered by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on October 9, 2022) Chag Samei-ach! It’s a great joy to be together tonight in the sukkah, a sukkah whose invisible branches criss-cross for miles around, creating a web-based canopy above our heads. But is this just a...

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Parashat Ha’azinu: Living Out the Poetry of Torah (Delivered by Rabbi Sacks on October 7, 2022)  I studied in a program in Jerusalem. We traveled in the Galilee and came to the mystical city of Tz’fat in Israel’s Northern District. There our guide and teacher asked our group of young...

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Yom Kippur Yizkor: Finding Life Again After Tragedy (Delivered by Rabbi Sacks on Wednesday, October 5, 2022) It was an ordinary day. Grandma Suzie had taken Greta, her two-year-old granddaughter, out for a walk in her Upper West Side neighborhood. She babysat at least once a week, and tonight was...

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Kol Nidre: Do I Really Sound Like That?

Kol Nidre: Do I Really Sound Like That? (Delivered by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on Tuesday, October 4, 2022) On the first day of Rosh HaShanah I spoke about the importance of listening to other people’s voices, and other people’s needs. It was a nod to Sh’ma Koleinu, which most...

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Rosh HaShanah Second Day: The Tree and You

Rosh HaShanah Second Day: The Tree and You (A Community Discussion led by Rabbi J.B. Sacks on September 27, 2022)   We just put the Torah away, and the last words we sang were the Eitz Chayyim Hi. It is actually sung whenever we read the Torah. The chumash that...

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Erev Rosh HaShanah: Rekindling Our Pintele Yid

Erev Rosh HaShanah: Rekindling Our Pintele Yid (Delivered by Rabbi Sacks on September 25, 2022)   My practice on Erev Rosh HaShanah is to tell a story and to see what lessons it might yield. Tonight’s story is a true account, a travel story from a professional traveler. Some of...

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Coming to Pray These High Holy Days

Coming to Pray These High Holy Days (A text journey & sermon delivered by Rabbi Sacks on Saturday, September 17, 2022) Some years ago Israeli archaeologists were cleaning a wall in the remains of a fourth or fifth century synagogue they had uncovered in Meroth in Upper Galilee. Suddenly a...

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Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word (Delivered by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on September 16, 2022)  I know that as Jews, we say this pretty much all year round, but it’s that time of the year again. We are in the month of Elul. The High Holy Days are...

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Haftarat Shoftim: Do You Hear The Herald?

Haftarat Shoftim: Do You Hear The Herald? (A discussion led by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on September 3, 2022)   This week’s haftarah is the fourth of the seven haftarot of consolation following Tish’ah B’Av. Like the others, it comes from Deutero-Isaiah.[1] The text comforts the exiled Israelites, telling them...

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First Shabbat in Elul: An Accounting of the Soul (delivered by Rabbi J.B. Sacks on September 2, 2022)   Author Linda Weltner wrote an interesting essay about her brother Kenneth, who visited her on the East Coast from California. Since Kenneth was spending a month with her, she asked him...

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Haftarat Eikev: The Evolution of G-d (as We Know Them) (A discussion led by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on August 20, 2022) We just read this week’s haftarah,[1] the second of the Seven Haftarot of Consolation, read during the seven weeks following Tishah B’Av. The Haftarah opens in Isaiah 49:14...

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Parashat Eikev: Hearing The Silent Shema

Parashat Eikev: Hearing The Silent Shema (delivered by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on August 19, 2022)  It’s so wonderful to be with you all once again after a meaningful summer break in Israel. While Rosh HaShanah is over a month away, this begins my second year as the student rabbi...

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Shabbat Chazon: Moses’ Lessons As We Head into Tishah B’Av (delivered by Rabbi Sacks on Friday, August 5, 2022) The Torah has a sense of humor. Tomorrow we read from Deuteronomy, the fifth and final book of the Torah. It begins,[1] אֵ֣לֶּה הַדְּבָרִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֨ר דִּבֶּ֤ר מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־כׇּל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בְּעֵ֖בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן These...

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Parashat Balak: What Hardship Have I Caused You? (Torah Study led by Rabbi Sacks on July 16, 2022)  We just read today’s haftarah from the prophet Micah, who lived roughly between 740 BCE and 690 BCE. Micah, like Amos, is from a small southern town in Eretz Yisrael, evident in...

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Parashat Balak: Know that We Don’t Know

Parashat Balak: Know that We Don’t Know (delivered by Rabbi J.B. Sacks on July 15, 2022)  A friend of mine in Manhattan told me about an encounter she recently had on the bus. She has a chronic, but “silent,” illness. It is often debilitating, but you wouldn’t know that by...

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Parashat Korach: Considerations of Leadership (led by Rabbi J.B. Sacks on July 2, 2022)  Last night I spoke of the difference between Moses’ leadership and Korach’s leadership, which we read about this morning in the Torah reading. Korach’s style was self-serving and preyed upon the hurts, fears, vulnerability, powerlessness, and...

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Parashat Korach: Moses and Korach, Without and Within (Delivered by Rabbi J.B. Sacks on Friday, July 1, 2022)   In this week’s reading, we witness three dramatic power struggles that have national repercussions! Korach, a fellow Levite, leads a struggle against Moses’ religious authority. Datan and Aviram, descendents of Jacob’s...

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Parashat Beha’alotcha: When It’s Not Too Late (Delivered by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on Friday, June 17, 2022)   Shabbat shalom everyone. It is so good to be with you all tonight on Zoom. I am sorry I wasn’t at CAH for Shavuot, but I was not feeling well. I...

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Shavuot Yizkor

Shavuot Yizkor (delivered by Rabbi Sacks on June 5, 2022) We are all reeling from the tragedy at Uvalde. It’s a lot to process and a lot of issues have rightly captured public attention. Yet now I hone in on one overlooked piece.. When the detailed official timeline of the...

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Parashat B’midbar Sinai: Counting Ourselves As Israel (delivered by Rabbi Sacks on Saturday, June 4, 2022)  We begin reading the Book of Numbers this week. It opens with the taking of a census. After the rather arcane matters we have been reading about in recent weeks—the sacrificial cult, laws of...

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Parashat K’doshim: The Holiness Mirror delivered by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on Saturday, May 7, 2022   We just finished reading this week’s Torah portion, K’doshim. K’doshim is about holiness. Its passages form the core of what is referred to as the Holiness Code. K’doshim begins, “You shall be holy,...

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Seventh Day Passover: Crossing the Red Seas of Life (delivered by Rabbi Sacks on April 22, 2022) Today we read the unforgettable, thrilling episode of the crossing of the Red Sea. The Israelites, in great haste, cast off the chains and shackles of their servitude when Pharaoh, finally, granted Moses...

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The One Who Redeems Our Children

The One Who Redeems Our Children[1] (Study led by Rabbi Sacks on Shabbat, the first morning of Passover, April 16, 2022)   At our Passover seder, we use a Haggadah. The word Haggadah means “a telling.” But whose story do we tell on Passover? One obvious answer: Our people’s. We...

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Pesach Passages: A Pre-Passover Haggadah Study (Taught by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on Saturday, April 2, 2022)   As Passover (Pesach) draws near, it is not uncommon for people to make preparations for the holiday days in advance. For some of us, we must figure out logistics such as cleaning...

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Parashat Tzav

Parashat Tzav (delivered by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on March 18, 2022)  Purim has come and gone, and, oh, what fun we had! It was so great to see everyone’s costumes, to hear the Megillah, and to sing songs together. I think it’s important to have time to relax and...

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Parashat Ki Tisa: Joining the Celebration or Not

Parashat Ki Tisa: Joining the Celebration or Not (delivered on 2/18/2022 by Student Rabbi Maayan Le)   Shabbat shalom everyone. It’s so great to be here tonight with you all. Believe it or not, until tonight, I have never led a Shabbat service for a synagogue before on my own....

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Parashat T’rumah: G!d’s Need for a Dwelling (A Torah study led by Rabbi J.B. Sacks on February 5, 2022) Our reading today mostly contained a detailing of the command to build the mishkan, a portable sanctuary, that our ancestors would carry throughout their desert wanderings. With our reading as background,...

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Parashat T’rumah: Giving, Not Taking, Leads to Love (delivered by Rabbi Sacks on February 4, 2022) Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler[1] was an important figure of the twentieth century. A Talmudic scholar and Jewish philosopher, he served as the mashgiach ruchani, “spiritual counselor,” for the Ponevezh yeshiva, located in B’nei B’rak, a...

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Haftarah for Lech L’cha 5782/2021 – Torah Study Shabbat Torah Discussion with Rabbi Sacks (given on October 16, 2021)   Once again, yasher ko-ach to Maayan on his chanting of today’s haftarah. In the haftarah, Second Isaiah wants us to see ourselves as a people who live and act in...

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Yizkor Sermon for Sh’mini Atzeret: “Tattered Shoes” (delivered on September 28, 2021) We are completing Sukkot, one of our shalosh regalim, our pilgrimage holidays. Shalosh regalim literally means “three feet,” reminding us that since ancient days, three times a year, on Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot, pilgrims would make a journey...

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Yizkor Sermon Yom Kippur

What do we need to remember? Don’t forget that I existed. My time here had a purpose. You know how to love because of me. A beautiful and meaningful sermon shared by Rabbi J.B.Sacks. Yizkor. Yom Kippur.

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First Day of Rosh Hashana Morning Sermon

The Akedah, The Un’taneh Tokef and the Pandemic:  Part 2: Lessons Learned and Lived Rosh HaShanah, First Morning 5782 (September 7, 2021)   Boker tov. Good morning. L’shanah tovah to all of you. Last night I spoke mainly about the Akedah, the story of the binding of Isaac which we’ll...

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Erev Rosh HaShanah 5782 (September 6, 2021)

­The Akedah, The Un’taneh Tokef and the Pandemic: Part 1: “Envisioning” the Akedah Erev Rosh HaShanah 5782 (September 6, 2021) Tonight I share a story that I have never before seen in the light of the High Holy Days. I have told this story during the internment portion at funerals,...

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Parashat Ki Teitzei: Identifying the Enemy

Sermon originally shared by Rabbi JB Sacks on August 20, 2021 The war tried to kill us in the spring. Those are the opening words of Kevin Powers’s elegiac novel of the war in Iraq, The Yellow Birds. As with all great writing about war and human conflict—such as All...

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Parashat Re’eh: Giving and Relatedness

Parashat Re’eh: Giving and Relatedness Delivered by Student Rabbi Maayan Lev on August, 6, 2021 Shabbat shalom everyone. For those who don’t know me, my name is Maayan Lev, and I am Am HaYam’s rabbinic intern. I work with Rabbi Sacks. This is my first time in the building, and...

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Sermon originally shared by Rabbi JB Sacks on May 22, 2021 Parashat Naso: “Things Fall Apart–Will the Center Hold? “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” —William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming” Nearly 25 years ago, Philip Roth was awarded The Pulitzer Prize...

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