From the sermon (which must be watched in full):
“In New York, Ultra-Orthodox leaders deliver votes as a block, convincing elected officials that their will is the Jewish will, whether on issues like funding yeshivas, defunding public education, policing, criminal justice, abortion, gay rights, or Israel. They are defining the Jewish agenda as right-wing and only self-interested. That is why we created an organization called New York Jewish Agenda to represent the liberal majority, because our voices otherwise aren’t heard.
An example: our mayor hired two Jewish liaisons, both Haredi, despite the fact that more than 70% of New York Jews are non-Orthodox. It’s not just him – Mayor DeBlasio also had only a Haredi liaison and wouldn’t meet with the Reform movement. Mayor Adams’s Haredi liaisons planned for him to meet Netanyahu and not the protesters in Israel, which is out of line with what most NY Jews would want; and they tried to establish a Jewish advisory council in which 90% of the rabbis were Orthodox men, despite the fact that I organized 55 women rabbis to meet with the mayor last year.
Thanks to intervention from New York Jewish Agenda, the council is now slightly more diverse and Adams met with protesters in Israel. We’ve had some wins. Governor Hochul has the first non-Orthodox Jewish liaison ever. And when there was a mask-burning riot in the streets of Borough Park in 2020, with leaders demanding repeal of covid restrictions in the name of Judaism, New York Jewish Agenda got 500 rabbis, including Orthodox rabbis, to sign a letter to the governor clearly stating that pikuach nefesh, saving human life, is the most important mitzvah.
The rampant Trumpism amongst ultra-Orthodox and right-wing Jews is but one obvious measure that they have lost their way. There is no chance that Joseph Caro, Rashi, Maimonides, Akiva, or Moses, if they lived today, would support Trump or Netanyahu and their moral turpitude, law-breaking, greed, crushing of human dignity, and cynical use of racism.”
Do you know what? No one wants to hear today.
A sermon about the state of the Jewish people.
You know what I have to give today?
A sermon about the state of the Jewish people.
Let’s start with imagination.
The very best imagination of being a Jew in the 21st century.
A full repentance for anti-Semitism by the entire world.
Leaders and citizens alike, see that their craving for power. And wealth is not actually about Jews.
That their religious doubts are not actually about Judaism, that their anxieties about change can be managed without blaming Jews that stereotypes and scapegoating are no longer useful.
And they stopped.
Imagine living our lives without internalized, notions about Jews and money, power, greed, less control, intellect, secrecy dishonesty weakness, cowardice conspiracy trustworthiness, loyalty faith or lack thereof.
Imagine total freedom from those ideas.
Imagine a safe home for the Jewish people in the land where we began.
Imagine in Israel. Unmolested by neighbors accepted as a legitimate Nation.
Imagine a Teshuvah process in which all relevant European countries.
Take responsibility for the Holocaust for colonizing the Levant and exacerbating conflict between Jews and Arabs.
imagine all relevant, Middle Eastern countries apologizing for aggression against Israel and perpetuating the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians,
And Israeli government with the strength and courage to pull our people inside its own borders.
Imagine a public Teshuvah process in Israel. In which all of the sins committed against the Palestinian people are enumerated and recounted.
The theft of land, the seizure of homes, the forced marches, the massacres, and the many additional crimes of occupation.
Imagine the Nationwide as leaders and citizens a tone and make a formal apology to the Palestinian people.
Imagine American Jews participating in a parallel Teshuvah process confessing our funding support of and Silence about the occupation.
Imagine a reciprocal apology by the Palestinian people, atoning for every act of violence against Jews.
And finally accepting that Israel and the Jewish people will be their neighbors forever.
Imagine. Imagine the Jewish people Healing Arts, laying down the burdens of our past. No longer living in fear, that the next wave of violence is coming.
Imagine the holes with people embracing religious diversity, Among Us respecting the minority who live, according to strict traditional law.
And then imagine a strict Traditionalists equally, recognizing reformers of all kinds of knowledge.
In that change, has always been part of our tradition and none of us knows, God’s mind.
Imagine flourishing pluralistic, Jewish life with diversity of ritual culture and Community.
Imagine all the Jews who left people, who felt it was better to blend in because it wasn’t safe to be Jewish who were told that there was only one way to be Jewish and didn’t find meaning or couldn’t be themselves in that one way finding now that it’s safe and all the doors are open and that you can be any way you are.
Imagine that great homecoming, when all the Jews discover our inheritance of wisdom and belonging.
Imagine that use in all walks of life business, the Arts government technology, science Health journalism, lost service, insights from Judaism to fulfill their application.
Torah 613 mitzvot multiply as they’re freely adapted to all settings and jews can choose practices that elevate their lives.
Imagine the song art laughter storytelling problem-solving that emerge from that Jewish world.
And Judaism itself becomes a great Collective imagination for the world that could be. As the Jewish people articulate dreams that give hope to humanity just as our ancestors did, when they cross that sea.
Perhaps your imagination is a little bit different than mine. Perhaps, it’s similar where we are. Today is both near and very far from that dream.
If you take the 2017, women’s March, all the people in all the cities in the US and double it, and repeat it for 36 weeks proportionately. That’s what’s been going on in Israel since January.
These rallies in the streets or a broad Coalition for democracy, gender, equality, lgbtq rights, the right to be liberal or secular Jews, as opposed to Orthodox for equity, for all people.
And against the occupation of the Palestinian people on the other side, the Israeli government is taking democracy apart. With the goal of permanent Jewish control of Palestinians in the West Bank and permanent Orthodox control of all Israeli juice.
That Coalition is made up of ultra-orthodox and right-wing religious nationalist parties, including violently, racist parties.
And one whose main goal is to oppose gay people. These religious Jews are being used by a cynical political leader, who is hungry to stay in power and out of jail, just like a figure in our country.
Democratic vs. Autocratic pluralistic vs. Theocratic; Liberal vs. Liberal Equity vs. Jewish Supremacy. Lgbtq positive vs.Gay bashing egalitarian vs. patriarchal anti-racist vs. Racist. Identifying with the stranger vs. xenophobia two coalitions, two versions of Judaism, to visions of the Jewish people in direct conflict with each other.
A divided parallel to what is happening in this country in American jewry right here in New York,
The struggle of Israelis is our struggle.
Meanwhile, in this senior anti-semitic incidents in the US increased by 36%
Anti-jewish propaganda by white supremacists doubled, unprecedented numbers of anti-jewish incidents took place at K through 12 schools more than ever before. CBE Children faced swastikas, hate speech and misinformation about Israel in their schools.
The while hate against us is proliferating, Jews are struggling over the most fundamental questions, what is Judaism about and who are the Jewish people going to be?
For years, I have been silent about the wrongs of ultra-orthodox and Haredi leadership focusing instead on the value of Claudius right now,
Because there’s widespread bias against ultra-orthodox Jews for looking different for being different, and that is wrong.
Anti-Semitism becomes violent.
If it has here in Brooklyn already, Haredi Jews are often the target.
Imagine how frightening it would be to walk through this anti-semitic world.
So visibly Jewish
how vulnerable we feel.
I do not want to criticize fellow jews.
But I have no choice.
Haredi leaders are trying to divide and conquer are tiny people while anti-Semitism is on the rise, In New York, they are making the false claim that they speak for all Jews in their retrograde public agenda.
In Israel, they are explicitly attacking and seeking to eliminate Reform Judaism.
Further, the Coalition between ultra-orthodox leadership and the Jewish, right Is defining Judaism and the Jewish people to the world in ways that we reject, and we are some of the most important voices to make that clear.
Can we finally acknowledge that It is not more loyal to Israel or the Jewish people to Ally with the Christian white and it does not make us more safe.
It is not more loyal to degrade Palestinian and it has not made us more safe.
Loyalty is standing up for both safety and values.
Loyalty is holding up Israel’s own Declaration of Independence and insisting that it be lived.
But we have allowed ourselves to be cowed convinced that our voice is less legitimate.
Here. We sit in the largest, liberal synagogue in Brooklyn in Brooklyn. The most visible Jewish place in America.
We see bed most visible face of diverse liberal pluralistic, feminist Justice, Focus, Judaism, Ultra-orthodox leaders are fighting right now to Define us out of Judaism, but most of us are not aware of our role in this struggle to shape Jewish history.
In New York, ultra-orthodox leaders deliver votes as a block. Convincing elected officials that their will is the Jewish will weather on issues like funding you sheba’s or defending public, education or policing or criminal justice or abortion, or gay rights or Israel.
They are defining the Jewish agenda as right-wing and only self-interested.
And that is why we created an organization called New York Jewish Agenda to represent the liberal majority, because otherwise, our voices are not being heard.
An example Our mayor hired two Jewish Liaisons, both Haredi , despite the fact that more than 70% of New York, Jews are not Orthodox.
As much as him Mayor de Blasio also had only a, Haredi liaison and wouldn’t even meet with the reformed one.
Adams haredi liaison plan for him to meet Netanyahu and not the protesters in Israel, which is out of line with what most New York Jews would want.
And they try to establish a Jewish advisory Council in which 90% of the rabbis were Orthodox.
Men despite the fact that I personally organized 55 women, rabbis to meet with the mayor last year.
Thanks intervention from New York Jewish agenda. The council is now slightly, more diverse and Adams met with the protesters in Israel.
We’ve had some wins Governor Hochul has the first non-orthodox Jews liaison ever.
And when there was a mask burning Riot, you might remember in the streets of Boro Park in 2020 with leaders demanding the repeal of Covid
Restrictions in the name of Judaism, the New York Jewish Agenda. Got 500 rabbis including Orthodox, rabbis to sign a letter to the governor. Clearly stating that saving human life is the most important mitzvah.
The rampant trumpism among the ultra-orthodox and right-wing Jews is, but one obvious measure that they have lost their way.
There is no chance that Joseph Carroll or Maimonides or Akiba, or Moses if they live today with support Trump and their moral turpitude, law-breaking, greed crushing of human dignity and cynical use of racism.
It is galling enough that the ultra-orthodox leadership and the Jewish right condoning this Behavior as visible representatives of the Jewish people, but it is even more galling that they do.
So with the claim that they are, the only real jews that we do not count that we are not really Jewish.
To be clear, many of us have loved ones in the Haredi world, who cherish and respect us. There are movements for change inside Orthodoxy and leaders were allies with us and do not seem to demean us.
And, let’s be honest. We have problems, too.
Our liberal movements are destabilized. And while some of our synagogues are thriving, others are shrinking. Many Progressive Jews lack knowledge of Jewish, tradition aren’t interested in learning more and don’t have a relationship at all with Israel.
New York liberal Jews generally don’t present ourselves as Jews in the public Arena voting like generic New York Times, readers or MPR listeners. Making it difficult for elected to recognize our vote as Jewish.
We know that the claim is being made about us that we are not real Jews. Many of us kind of believe it.
If I asked you to Close Your Eyes by for a second, man, to close your eyes and picture a Jew. What do you see?
You can open your eyes.
If we ask AI or Google to show us the jew, they’re going to bring up dozens of pictures of white men in black hats as if there are no women.
As if we the vast majority do not exist. How many people in this room have said it one time or another? I’m a bad jew. Or, I’m not really Jewish. Or the worst. I’m just reformed as if you’ve been bad but are improving It’s reform. Meaning we are changing Judaism.
In the Haredi version Judaism stop developing in the shtetl there around that time. And because of the threat that they perceive and modernity already, Haredi rabbis have made it even more patriarchal and insular than it was, then that’s real But history tells us that from the rabbinic era, to the Medieval Era to the modern era Judaism has been changing all along.
In Haredi Judaism already Haredi Rabbis are the sole possessors of Torah truth, but we know that Jewish tradition has always allowed for multiple valid interpretations of Torah, that’s what midrash is.
In Haredi Judaism The focus is inward on our own people and creating a unit. That fulfills me to vote to bring the Messiah.We say to be Jewish, is to care, not only about Jews, but also everyone else.
These two Jewish values. Both real Jewish values, strength through boundaries and loving-kindness through connection are understood and the tradition as a Continuum.
The goal is not to choose one but to find balance. Rising anti-Semitism during economic and political instability is never good for Jews.
Like a turtle in a shell, the oldest part of our nervous system tells us that pulling in word is the safest response to threat.
But our more involved, Nervous system, the mammalian system tells us that the best strategy for safety is interconnection with others
In the book of Exodus. After we crossed the sea a great mixed multitude on our way to Mount Sinai. Says we will be a qodesh a holy people, qodesh, has been understood to mean separate but it also implies the opposite.
The 19th Chapter of Leviticus which begins, You shall be holy, for I, your God am holy proceed with, the vote about interconnection among them. Leave food for the hungry, be fair in judgment and most famously. Love your fellow as yourself.
Given that we’re also told that God is everywhere and in everything as in Psalm 72, the whole Earth is filled with God’s presence, to be kadosh to strive, to be like, God is to invest oneself, and the well-being of all the Earth.
Are ultra-orthodox siblings contend that non-Jewish culture will corrupt us that if we’re to open our people believe that non-Jewish, people will turn against us that we can only be safe by closing ranks and develop and defending our own.
The dominant culture is often corrupt.
And people do leave Judaism. And assimilation did not save us from 20th century genocide.
But we know that closed systems also become corrupt. And that Jewish Supremacy is its own Danger, and that keeping to ourselves. Also didn’t save us the 20th century genocide.
The truth is, we don’t know what will keep us safe.
We must remember our distinctiveness and our shared Humanity.
We must look out for our own people and others.
We must continue to balance between boundaries and connection.
We in this room don’t want to practice Orthodox, Judaism.
But we often Define ourselves in the negative, by Orthodox standards. I’m not religious, some might say even as you sit here, It’s time to articulate our Judaism by our own standards in the positive.
Our Judaism is represented gloriously today, as we hold eight services using seven different for thousands of people including 20’s and 30’s children, teens adult, in Liberal traditional egalitarian and a special Israeli service conducted entirely in Hebrew.
We are diverse and proud of it here at CBE, we have members who themselves or their families.
Come from all around the world, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Mexico, The Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and many places closer to Brooklyn like Alabama, Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma, Ontario, Quebec. And even Florida.
What can you do?
No matter where we’re from the matter where we’re from. We are living the Judaism of our time.
We do not have one kind of look, we do not have one kind of name.
We come from every race and married culture that you made me a white Ashkenazi Jew. You might meet a black Jew to an Asian Jew or a Latino Jew to an Arab Jew ,no matter what we look like.
We might know a lot about Judaism or a little. We also include a lot of people who aren’t Jewish.
The only thing you can assume here, the only thing you should assume is that every single person you meet, at CBE belongs here exactly as much as you do.
Our community includes all so many intermarried families, Jewish people have been saying forever where the children of Moses and Zipporah, where the children of Ruth the Moabite, who was the ancestor of King David who is the ancestor of the Messiah.
Some of the most dedicated an outstanding Jewish teens of this community, have been children of intermarried families.
There is no such thing as a half Jew.
Jewish children of intermarriage are Jews.
When we embrace the diverse families of our community, intermarriage makes us stronger.
This year were inviting groups, who might feel like they’re on the margins into the center.
You’ll be hearing this, in addition to our Collective celebration of a holiday, we’re going to have a special event for Jews of color and multiracial families a special event for Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews a special event for lgbtq choose a special event for Interfaith families and a special event for neurodiverse families.
And that’s just the beginning. Because if we are the face of thriving 21st century Judaism, let us be the face of thriving 21st century Judaism.
Some say really Jewish cultural Jew. Our claim is that cultural Judaism is Judaism.
As we begin to program the center for new Jewish culture at Union Temple house.
This year, we are developing a rich robust Jewish cultural life, with meaning that binds you together, who may never come into this room to pray, but are fully and equally Jewish
What is a bad Jew?
How many Jews for working to make the world better?
Think they’re bad Jews because they don’t pray three times a day or at all but human being is created in the image of God and they know justice justice shall you pursue?
And it’ll questions are more important than answers and a life of righteous. Deeds is the goal and learning is equal to them all It sounds like good Jews to me.
From the beginning, there has been tension between Judaism Elite and folk the elite tradition was written by men in Authority.
Chieftains priests scribes rabbis in contrast with folk Traditions home base culture, often shaped by women center around food, the moon cycles of life and the Earth.
Always the men in charge have asserted that their way is the only way.
Always they’ve been anxious that the folk are not behaving.
Properly are not coming to the Jerusalem Temple or not coming to the synagogue.
Always the fear that people are leaving. The Judaism is dying, but always the folk culture has thrived.
The wall between religious and cultural Judaism between synagogue and home between traditional and secular used to come down.
If you stop feeling like a second-rate Jew to be somehow, Orthodox Jews judge you. What is the imaginations you could have for your Jewish life, if you made a list of all the Jewish things that you did this year, defined as broadly as possible.
How long would it be if you could Define? What counts is Jewish, what would be on the list?
And what if you learned something new and 5784 even if you already know a lot about Judaism there, so much more treasure in our tradition.
Just a little and you’ll find wisdom beyond measure.
When the truth is, we don’t know how to live none of us to do.Because if we knew how to live our old world wouldn’t be on fire, and it wouldn’t be a Chasm between rich and poor and racism would just be a bad dream and we would do so much less harm with our words and our actions.
I have so much less to repent for on this day so given that we don’t know how to live in our tradition.
Has some of the most brilliant mind on that very question when I get curious,
It’s the single best way to ensure that your great-grand kids will be Jewish.
We got to trust our kids. No access to secular education so that they can never leave.
We got to trust that if we give them the foundation and they see us delighting in it, most of them will choose to be Jewish in their own way in their own time.
Our people story is incredible, a resilient, a creativity who wouldn’t want to be part of that.
They say that reform synagogues are ushering people out of Judaism. 866 adults joined CBE in the last five years, not counting the members who came for Union Temple.
More than 80% of those who joined had been unaffiliated are not a stop on the way out.
We are way in. Over the next month, we’ll all be stopped on the street by our friends in Habad.
Who will ask us If we are Jewish?
That moment incapsulates this uncomfortable, question of authenticity.
If we say yes, we get schooled as if our Judaism is not real.
To avoid the conversation. Some say, they’re not Jewish that doesn’t feel good.
Some of us stay actually, I’m a rabbi.
Today on your way out. We invite you to take stickers stickers for you.
That’s say that you would wear probably that’s a why? Yes, I am Jewish. I heard the shofar at CBE. Or I shook the lulav at CBE. Thank you very much.
It is time. It is time for diverse. Pluralistic. Feminist cultural liberal Progressive Justice Focus.
Used to assert our jewishness, our maturity, our legitimate place. Our legitimate place in setting the agenda for the Jewish people.
We care about anti-Semitism and we also care about climate racism, Reproductive Rights, refugees, LGBTQ rights and democracy.
We care about Israel and loyalty to Israel looks – like staying with Israelis against this government.
Our Judaism is invested in healing the world and getting hooked to the Hopeless and Imagining the future.
That should be aware that our well-being is interconnected.
With all the earth I want to be perfectly clear, our vision of Judaism includes Haredi Jews
It’s a vision of a people who unite across our differences to make the world more whole.
But a black hat does not make a person more Jewish.
Just like being a man. Does not make a person more Jewish.
If you are a Jew, there is no one on earth more Jewish than you, no one, whatever kind of Jew you are own,
Step up into it. Fall in love with it. Our history depends on it.
Orthodox Jews to people who come together to celebrate more and be careful with children, all races, all genders, all sexualities, all ages, pluralistic, cultural, spiritual Justice, Focus, creative alive.
We are the face of thriving 21st century Judaism. Be, that face someday when the world pictures of Jew. They’ll know, this is what Jewish looks like.
Rid your people, all forms of hate war and violence.
Save the remnants of your people from ourselves; we have sinned before you cause us to care for ourselves and the other, give us the courage to atone. Grant has the humility to see that we are safer, stronger, and more vibrant in our diversity with all of your people included,
bring to life our best imagination so that we can be the blessing and a hope that we were always meant to be.