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04/19/2019 01:59:04 PM


Hannah Orden

My mother was a city girl through and through — born and raised in Brooklyn — but every year she brought forsythia branches into our apartment and forced them to bloom indoors. When I see forsythia, I always think of her and the way she brought life and color and the hope of...Read more...

04/12/2019 02:51:03 PM


Hannah Orden

Our 4th Annual Liberation Seder with Fountain Baptist Church was better than ever! An amazing opportunity to break down barriers and make connections by eating together, singing, talking, sharing stories. One of the questions we asked at the tables was: What are the green shoots that give you...Read more...

Weaving Community

03/08/2019 04:32:35 PM


Hannah Orden

I won’t say this week’s Torah portion is my favorite, but it does feature my favorite name for a Torah portion.  Va’yakhel is the verb form of the word kehillah, which means “community.”  I love that Hebrew has a verb for making community.


In an op-ed, David Brooks talks about social isolation as the core...Read more...

Blessing Magnificence Where You Find It

03/04/2019 12:11:29 PM


Hannah Orden


Jewish tradition has a blessing for almost everything from waking in the morning to seeing a rainbow. The idea is to maintain a constant awareness of gratitude and wonder. But there isn’t much snow in the Mideast, so I made up my own blessing when I woke this morning and...Read more...

01/18/2019 01:48:53 PM


Light and Joy

12/20/2018 03:47:56 PM


Hannah Orden

Hanukkah is over but it is still bringing us light and joy. These cards were made for my congregation by children at Christ Church in Summit. With recent anti-Semitic incidents, they wanted us to know they care. The relationships we build and human connections we create strengthen all of us.


Tohu va Vohu

09/23/2018 02:44:10 PM


Hannah Orden

On Yom Kippur I shared the delightful surprise that the Hebrew phrase tohu va vohu has entered the German language. The words are from the very beginning of the Torah when it says that the world was unformed and void. The phrase is used in Austria, Bavaria, and Switzerland to mean a "disorderly mess." There was even a TV show that ran for 8 years in Austria called Tohu Va Vohu! At Break-the-Fast after services, many people asked me what...Read more...

Cut From the Same Cloth (Kavanah for Amidah, Rosh Hashanah)

09/21/2018 08:24:06 PM


Hannah Orden

When my mother was dying, she asked me to write down parts of the story of her life. One of the things she told me was that when I was born, the youngest of her three children, she thought: "Finally, a child cut from the same cloth." My brother got a lot of mileage out of teasing me about it. I'm not sure my sister was quite so amused. And Bella, who is a teenager at the time, wanted to know if she was also “cut from the same...Read more...

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem (Yom Kippur Kavanah)

09/21/2018 08:13:45 PM


Hannah Orden

          There are some good things about growing older.  Granted, you develop all kinds of aches and pains, and your memory starts to go, and you don’t even realize your hearing is declining until your husband says something in an undertone and even though he’s standing right next to y+ou, you have to ask him to repeat it, but your daughter in the next room with the fan going hears...Read more...

Cross That Line (Yom Kippur Sermon)

09/21/2018 08:09:54 PM


Hannah Orden

B’reishit bara Elohim et hashamain v’et ha’aretz.  V’ha’aretz haitah tohu va’vohu.  These are the opening words of the Torah.  “In the beginning Heaven and Earth were created by God, and the earth was unformed and void.” 

The Hebrew phrase Tohu va’vohu has been translated in many ways – unformed and void, formless and empty, wild and waste are a few of...Read more...

Restructuring the Covenant (Erev Yom Kippur Sermon)

09/21/2018 08:02:28 PM


Hannah Orden

This year the Reconstructionist Movement changed its name to Reconstructing Judaism. Not everyone is happy about the change, but I like the new name. Rather than a descriptive adjective, the new name puts the emphasis on action. In my opinion, the entire history of Judaism is a long process of constantly reconstructing Judaism that begins with the Torah itself. In Deuteronomy, Moses retells the story of the Israelites' experience in the...Read more...

Walking the Path of the Prophets (Rosh Hashanah Sermon)

09/21/2018 07:52:13 PM


Hannah Orden

Mah nishtana halailah hazeh?  Why is this night different from all other nights? Oops. Wrong holiday! And it’s not even night. Is the rabbi losing her marbles? Actually, I wanted to see if you are paying attention. Besides, it’s a great lead-in to my subject which is “walking the path of the prophets.”

In the preface to his book Path of the Prophets, Rabbi Barry Schwartz writes:...Read more...

Will You Be My Neighbor?  (Erev Rosh Hashanah Sermon)

09/21/2018 07:48:07 PM


Hannah Orden

            Tonight is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, which means Yom Kippur can’t be far behind.  Which means it’s time to start confessing.  It’s an old Jewish tradition.  Well, really, it’s more than a tradition.  It’s required.  So, here is one of my confessions for this year: I have never thought of Jews as nice people.  In my defense,...Read more...

"Turn, Turn, Turn" Redux

09/16/2018 08:33:03 PM


Hannah Orden

During Shabbat Shuvah (The Shabbat of Turning would be one way of translating) it, we played with Pete Seeger's famous song, Turn, Turn, Turn, to explore Ecclesiastes' idea of the fullness of life and of the rightness of every feeling and every ambition, in balance and in it's proper time.  Here's the CBH version of the lyrics:

To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time...

Happy Birthday, World!

09/11/2018 07:45:13 PM


Hannah Orden

 Rosh Hashanah is considered the birthday of the world when we celebrate creation. After services today I went for a walkRead more...

"Hereness" and Jewish-American Identify

08/30/2018 07:34:19 PM


Hannah Orden

There is a lot of discussion in the Jewish world about the relationship between Israel and American Jews. Not only the political situation with Palestinians, but the idea that authentic Jewishness is in Israel, and all of us are really supposed to be there. An article in Jewish Currents called "On an Emerging Diasporism" talks about "hereness." The author says "hereness" invites us to dig in where we live. "Hereness isn't just about...Read more...

High Holiday Sermons, 5778 / 2017

10/13/2017 05:04:04 PM


Seekers, Devotees, and Lovers - Erev Rosh Hashanah sermon, 5778 / 2017 . . . Read more...

High Holiday Rap, 5777 / 2016

10/13/2017 05:03:45 PM


Jubilee: Hope for Change After 50 Years

08/26/2017 09:14:03 AM


Hannah Orden

On May 21 Congregation Beth Hatikvah hosted Israeli storyteller and author Noa Baum. Noa performed her powerful one-woman show “A Land Twice Promised” which weaves together the story of Noa’s Jewish family and the story of her Palestinian friend Jumana. Both families lived in Jerusalem, and Noa presents the events of 1948 and 1967 from two very different perspectives as she relates first-person experiences of two generations of...Read more...

Tue, April 23 2019 18 Nisan 5779