Sermons

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Passover Insights

By Hershel Allerhand Based on the writings of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik (the memory of the righteous is a blessing). Time: Freedom, Holiness and Responsibility  The first commandment given to the Jews in Egypt before the exodus was to create a calendar by designating the first day of each month, in effect to

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Tu Be’Shvat

A thoughtful essay by our member, Hershel Allerhand, on the meaning of Tu Be’Shvat. Tu Be’Shvat, the ‘New Year for trees,’ falls this year on February 6th. The holiday is called by its date, the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Shvat. It is celebrated in the state of Israel by planting trees and

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Kol Nidre 5783: Spending Time

Imagine, if you will, that every morning when you woke up some anonymous donor placed $86,400 in a bank account for you to spend any way you wished – with one proviso: any dollar not spent would disappear at the end of 24 hours — no money could be saved. 

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Rosh HaShana morning 5783

The Dubner Maggid told the story of a king who had a large and glorious kingdom – but his most prized possession was a large and glorious diamond.

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Erev Rosh HaShana 5783

As never before, our United States democracy is being threatened. And it is being threatened by attacks on one of the most basic rights that sustains a democracy: the right to vote, and the integrity of that vote.

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The High Holy Days

By Herschel Allerhand Vaclav Havel (writer, dissident and statesman) was not Jewish, but his views regarding life mirror those of our Sages and make a good introduction to the coming Holy Days. “Higher responsibility grows out of conscious or subconscious certainty [that] everything is forever being recorded and evaluated … somewhere above us… [by] an

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Tisha B’av

By Herschel Allerhand Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish year, will be observed on Sunday, August 7th, 2022. Actually, Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, falls on Saturday, August 6th, this year, but as the Sabbath is made for joy, our sorrowful observance is postponed one day.  The first

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Shavuot

By Herschel Allerhand, typed by Mary Ann Easley, edited by Elizabeth Coffin

Shavuot is the second of the pilgrimage holidays (falling between Passover and Succot).

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D’var Torah on Haazinu

By Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor

Ed Paine, Ed Pease, Mike Scarpiello wrote a song in 1977, made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1982 “music speaks louder than words, it’s the only thing the whole world listens to, music speaks louder than words, when you sing people understand”

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I Don’t Want To Talk About Antisemitism … But I have To

A sermon by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor Yom Kippur 5782 Congregation Shirat HaYam, Nantucket The oldest hatred rears its ugly head again.  How I wish there could be a High Holiday season during which the topic of antisemitism need not be addressed.  We don’t live in that world yet and I wonder if we ever

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Putting Off What Needs to be Done

A sermon by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor Kol Nidre 5782 Congregation Shirat HaYam, Nantucket I am almost always behind the eight ball. Behind the eight ball means placed in a difficult situation from which one is unlikely to escape. The idiom behind the eight ball was first printed in American newspaper stories in the 1920s and was derived

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The Politics of Necessity

A sermon by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor Rosh Hashana 5782 Congregation Shirat HaYam, Nantucket Imagine if you will – I know that this might be difficult –but try:  Amidst a great democracy, once opposing views have become poisoned.  Instead of reasonable people approaching problems from differing points of view, the atmosphere has become so polarized

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This Ain’t Our First Rodeo

A sermon by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor Erev Rosh Hashana, 5782 Congregation Shirat HaYam, Nantucket On March 12, 2020, I drove to Tarrytown, New York, to meet up with some friends who were giving a concert at the Tarrytown Music Hall.  They had been on tour for the past several weeks and expected to continue

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Some Thoughts on Purim 2021

Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor As we find ourselves almost a year since the initial shut-down precipitated by Covid-19, it is interesting that we have lived a full Jewish year in that time.  I wrote last year’s thoughts on Purim just days before the actual shut-down of our country.  Many of the things that I wrote

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Yom Kippur Morning 5781 / 2020 – The Death of Truth

A sermon by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor Take a minute and imagine the scene: The Children of Israel, after a forty-year journey through the desert, are poised to enter the Promised Land. They are arrayed awaiting the instructions on how to live and what to expect. Moses, their leader for the entire journey, begins his

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Kol Nidre 5781 / 2020 – Strangers Among Us

A sermon by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor No fewer than 36 times in the Hebrew Bible are we exhorted to pay attention to the treatment of the stranger because “you know the feelings of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 23:9) We Jews have always prided ourselves on being

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Rosh HaShana Morning 5781 / 2020 – Sacrificing Our Children

A sermon by Rabbi Gary M. Brettton-Granatoor For the past forty years, I have read this same Torah portion on the first day of Rosh HaShana (in most traditional shuls, it is read on the 2nd day, but the Reform movement a century ago moved it to the first day – that’s another story).  Every

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Erev Rosh HaShana 5781 / 2020 – Innovation Will Save Us

A sermon by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor While there may be people sitting in the congregation this evening, the majority of you are sitting in your homes, hopefully in a comfortable place, with a desktop, or laptop or tablet or phone to stream High Holy Day services.  A year ago, this would have been unthinkable. 

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On Tisha B’Av – The 9th day of the Month of Av

by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor Jewish life is the life of the mind – study is the very core of our continued existence since Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai founded the first Academy after the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70 CE.  Jewish life is the life of the spirit – as study should lead

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Some Thoughts on Passover

Yes, this night is different from all other nights. And that will probably be true for the immediate future. How do we deal with it? Jewish tradition has some suggestions. The story that is central to Passover and consumes the first part of the Haggadah is the experience of our ancestors in Egypt. In Hebrew,

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Some Thoughts on Purim

by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor Purim is usually celebrated with great frivolity – in fact, one of the commandments of the day is that when celebrating, liquor should be enjoyed in copious quantities – so much so, one drinks “ad lo yadayah” (‘until you don’t know’…, the difference between Mordecai and Haman).  I would think

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A Chiddush (insight) for Chanukah

Chanukah 2019 by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor There are so many interesting challenges when considering the festival of Chanukah – the first is obvious: how to we spell it?  As with all Jewish holidays and concepts, the language of our heritage is Hebrew – so the name of the holiday is actually: חנוכה.  The word

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Choices

Yom Kippur 5780 A Sermon by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor Why are you here? What made you decide to spend this day in this place? You could be on the golf course, on your boat, at work, at home, shopping, on the beach, cleaning your closets….  You had a choice.  What drew you here?  Are

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