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Am Yisrael Hai

01/18/2024 09:28:16 AM

Jan18

Bruce Alpert

Terri has been collecting my various writings on our Israel trip.  They amount now to around 4000 words, which for me is the equivalent of two high holiday sermons.  I feel as though I have another 40,000 words here inside me, but I think they will have to come out in other ways.  They will do so over time, in response to your questions and in dialogue with one another.

Still, I feel the need to offer some concluding remark - not to end the discussion, but to give all the particulars of which I have spoken and written a larger context.  And so let me say a word or two about עם ישראל - the people of Israel.  Read more...

Why We Are Going To Israel

12/24/2023 09:03:01 AM

Dec24

Bruce Alpert

They say that to keep the romance alive in a marriage, one has to be willing to try new things.  Well, Terri and I have been married for thirty-seven years and next Tuesday, we are going to do something together we have never tried before.  We’re going to walk into the Duty Free shop at Newark Airport and buy all the cigarettes we can carry.

Neither of us smokes nor have we the inclination to take up the habit....Read more...

A Word of Torah - Parashat Vayeshev

12/07/2023 12:53:05 PM

Dec7

Bruce Alpert

Our Torah portion begins the story of Joseph.  At the outset, we are told that Joseph is sent out to watch his brothers as they are shepherding the family cattle:

וַיָּבֵ֥א יוֹסֵ֛ף אֶת־דִּבָּתָ֥ם רָעָ֖ה אֶל־אֲבִיהֶֽם
Joseph brought bad reports to his father.

We also learn that Jacob favored Joseph and loved him more than his other sons.  Then we learn of Joseph’s...Read more...

Why the Jewish Way of Living Matters

11/28/2023 03:19:29 PM

Nov28

Dear friends,

Perhaps like me, you have found the recent debates about antisemitism - particularly as they have taken place on college campuses - extremely frustrating.  Antisemitism is an insidious disease that ultimately destroys all it touches and linking it to Islamophobia and other forms of prejudice (as even the best statements from college administrators invariably do) is to miss its corrosive power.  There is...Read more...

"It's a new world." Jewish Marriage As I See it - A sermon for Yom Kippur Morning

10/03/2023 02:13:08 PM

Oct3

Bruce Alpert

"It's a new world.  A new world: love."

Perhaps you recognize those words as the opening to the song “Do You Love Me” from Fiddler on the Roof.  For those of you who don’t, let me give you a little background.  Our beloved hero, Sholem Aleichem's Tevye the dairyman, has just told his wife Golde that he has yet again abrogated his paternal responsibility of choosing a suitable husband for one of their daughters, in...Read more...

Don't Be Right, Be Smart (Israel's Political Crisis) - A sermon for Yom Kippur Evening

10/03/2023 02:08:46 PM

Oct3

Bruce Alpert

Some time ago, Israel ran a campaign to encourage safe driving.  The tagline for the campaign: al t’hiyeh tzodek, t’hiyeh khakham - Don’t be right.  Be smart.   There is something quintessentially Israeli about that phrase.  Israelis are, for the most part, not ideological.  They are practical.  Living where they do, under the conditions they do, forces one to look at things through the lens of...Read more...

An Anachronism to Live By - A sermon for Rosh Hashanah Morning

10/03/2023 01:49:15 PM

Oct3

Bruce Alpert

Terri and I own a lovely set of Lenox china for which we registered at Macy’s when we got married thirty-seven years ago.  The plates, cups, saucers and serving dishes are all tastefully displayed in the mahogany china cabinet that once belonged to my grandmother.  And not one of those pieces has ever held a morsel of food.

For the first few years of our marriage, that china remained boxed and stored until we had a...Read more...

Bound in the bond of life - A sermon for Rosh Hashanah Evening

10/03/2023 10:50:51 AM

Oct3

Bruce Alpert

תנצב"ה isn't a Hebrew word.  Yet walk among the old gravestones in a Jewish cemetery and you will find its letters -  ת-נ-צ-ב-ה- inscribed on almost all of them.

תנצב"ה is an acronym.  It stands for תהי נגשו צרורה בצרור החיים- May his soul (or her soul) be bound in the bond of life.  

What is the bond of life?  Where does it exist?  How does it manifest itself?...Read more...

What do Judaism and Science Have in Common

10/02/2023 03:45:24 PM

Oct2

Watch our own Rabbi Bruce Alpert discuss how fundamental Jewish values inform our eagerness for scientific knowledge and how that knowledge is helping make Israel a driving force in creating a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable world.

Read more...

“I'm struggling” - Sermon for Second Day Rosh Hashanah

11/08/2021 01:14:18 PM

Nov8

Rabbi Hesch Sommer

I’m struggling and maybe you are, too. Let me clarify with what I am struggling. During these past eighteen months I have lost something and I am worried that I may never regain it. I guess I could say that it is one of those many symptoms of...Read more...

A thought on Captain Kirk's view of the earth

10/15/2021 01:20:51 PM

Oct15

Rabbi Bruce Alpert

Like many of us, I was taken by William Shatner's brief journey into space this week. I was never a big fan of Star Trek, but I have always found Shatner an endearing man – one who seems to exude an innate joyfulness and the admirable quality of not taking himself too seriously. But his reaction to going...Read more...

Jewish Nationalism, Antisemitism & Us Part 1 - Sermon for Rosh Hashanah Evening

09/20/2021 02:44:18 PM

Sep20

Rabbi Bruce Alpert

Thirteen years ago, my second High Holidays here at Beth Israel, I began my sermon on the first morning of Rosh Hashanah with these words:

For some time, I have been discontent with referring to Judaism as a religion. The term religion...Read more...

Jewish Nationalism, Antisemitism & Us Part 2 - Sermon for Rosh Hashanah Morning

09/20/2021 02:40:21 PM

Sep20

Rabbi Bruce Alpert

Judaism is not a religion. It’s a nationality.

That statement will come as a shock to many of you. On all those forms we fill out, Jewish is the word we write in the blank next to the word “Religion.” And in the blank next to...Read more...

Jewish Nationalism, Antisemitism & Us Part 3 - Sermon for Yom Kippur Evening

09/20/2021 02:29:57 PM

Sep20

Rabbi Bruce Alpert

One of the unexpected developments ushered in by the Coronavirus pandemic is a reacquaintance - albeit somewhat incomplete - with the Greek alphabet. Today, the world remains stuck on Delta, but I am beginning to hear ominous things...Read more...

Jewish Nationalism, Antisemitism & Us Part 4 - Sermon for Yom Kippur Morning

09/20/2021 02:24:49 PM

Sep20

Rabbi Bruce Alpert

November 9, 1938 is known as Kristallnacht - the night of broken glass; a massive pogrom through Germany in which Jewish homes, hospitals, schools, synagogues and businesses were ransacked and destroyed by the Nazi party’s paramilitary force, the SA. Hundreds of Jews were...Read more...

A reflection on the attacks on our Capitol

01/08/2021 02:46:44 PM

Jan8

Rabbi Bruce Alpert

Watching the news the other night, I found myself recalling a couplet of verses from Psalm 118:

It is better to take refuge in Adonai than to trust in a man.

It is better to take refuge in Adonai than to trust in princes.

I think...Read more...

Yom Kippur Morning Sermon

10/01/2020 02:49:51 PM

Oct1

Rabbi Bruce Alpert

“Save me, God; for the waters are come in even unto the soul. I am sunk in deep mire, where there is no standing…let not the flood water overwhelm me, neither let the deep swallow me up."

Those words are from the 69th Psalm, attributed to King David. But we are taught...Read more...

Fri, February 23 2024 14 Adar I 5784