Sermons

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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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Looking at the Details

Kol Nidre 5780 A sermon by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor Last December, in an effort to support our daughter’s desire to take up Pilades, my beloved Marianne offered to go with Samantha.  Soon after they decided to add Yoga into the mix and very soon, I was more often than not alone at home with

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Anti-Semitism: A Disease in Search of a Cure?

Rosh HaShana 5780 A sermon by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor As I was minding my own business last week, reading through updates on my FaceBook, I got a signal that I received an instant message.  The message was sent to me by an old friend from my Jewish Youth Group days in the beginning of the

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Civility

Erev Rosh HaShana 5780 Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor As a student at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, I was offered the most sage advice ever by one of my professors.  It was such an important piece of advice that it was shared with generations of rabbis that came from the Cincinnati campus, the New

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Hanukkah Sermon

Hanukkah Sermon 2018 Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor Please click below to hear the sermon:      

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Yom Kippur Morning 5779 Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor My dear friend of three decades, Rabbi Harold Robinson the retired rabbi of Hyannis for many years, who is also a retired Admiral in the US Navy and was deputy head of the Chaplain Corps for the Navy and the Marines, visited our congregation several weeks ago,

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Truth and Truthiness

Kol Nidre 5779 Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor When I was a kid, the newspaper would be delivered to the door of our apartment in the late afternoon.  I vividly remember, grabbing it and lying on my belly in the carpeted foyer (pronounced with correct Yonkers accent) and reading – just reading.  It didn’t take long

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Nationalism

Rosh HaShanah 5779 Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor The story of humanity begins with a singular human couple  – Adam (Adom from the earth) and Eve (Hava – life).  The rabbis describe Adam’s creation as the gathering of earth from the four corners of the world: white, black, yellow and red soils – so that no

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Women's Voices

Erev Rosh HaShanah 5779 Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor My beloved wife, Marianne, has said repeatedly, that my sense of direction is so bad, that I would get lost even if I had a compass and a boy-scout with me. She is correct.  Drop me anywhere in the world and I am hopelessly lost.  So when

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One Voice

Yom Kippur Morning 5778 Authored by Rabbis Judy Shanks and Elka Abrahamson With input from many colleagues, especially Rabbi David Stern Shared and emended by Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor Congregation Shirat HaYam, Nantucket The Talmud teaches, “If you see wrongdoing by a member of your household and you do not protest – you are held accountable.

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Divided by the Chief Rabbinate

Kol Nidre 5778 Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor “They’re trying to throw dust in the eyes [of the public] and say that the Orthodox extremist Jews invented [the separation of sexes],” Shlomo Amar, a former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, said. “It’s like Holocaust deniers, it’s the same thing. They shout about Holocaust deniers in Iran,

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Immigration

Rosh HaShanah 5778 Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor There isn’t a soul in this room that cannot recount how and when they or their ancestors came to this country. In fact, our very identities are rooted in the travels and travails of our forbearers. Aside from Native Americans, the majority of Americans came from somewhere else,

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Chossing As A Way of Life

Erev Rosh HaShanah 5778 Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor The meaning of life is often found in where you place the emphasis. This is true especially in language. A little comma — a jot, a tittle, a little mark — changes the entire meaning of a text. Let us take a text from the Yom Kippur

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Kedusha: Reaching Out For Holiness

Yom Kippur 5777 Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor On Erev Rosh HaShana, I spoke about the power of the voice and noted that the voice can be used to denigrate or elevate. In the intervening days, profanity has continued to pollute our environment. It seems as if we have explored all aspects of the profane –

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Selachti K'devarecha

Kol Nidre 5777 Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor Since the breakup of the phone company, and the rise in cellular telephone and cable television and internet companies, there has been a massive increase of competition between them all. While it seems that Comcast and Verizon are the two choices here on Nantucket for cable and internet,

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The Power of the Voice

Erev Rosh HaShana 5777 Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor A few days ago, I was driving south on the FDR Drive in Manhattan. Traffic had slowed to a crawl. As I looked at the car in front of me, my eyes were drawn to a large bumper sticker, which read “TRUMP THAT BITCH.” Now I have

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