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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


Wed, December 12 2018 4 Tevet 5779