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Belonging (Sermon from Rosh Hashanah, 2019)

rabbi hannah Oct 11, 2019

            When we ask someone “Do you belong to a synagogue?” we usually mean: Are you a member?  Do you pay dues?  But belonging is so much more than that.  Over the summer when I asked congregants what “belonging” means to them, several people mentioned that belonging to a group is a primal human need.  Thousands of years ago, people had to band together to survive and on some level we still do. A number of people also mentioned an epidemic of loneliness and isolation in our own time.  A few pointed out that the British government has a Minister of Loneliness whose job is to address social isolation.

            When the CBH board met this year to talk about our vision for the future, people agreed that a sense of isolation is often what draws people to a synagogue –  it may be isolation from other Jews or it may be living far...

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Why I Want to Be a Cheerleader (Sermon from Kol Nidre, 2019)

rabbi hannah Oct 11, 2019

            I imagine it will not come as a surprise to most of you to hear that I was not a cheerleader in high school.  I am really not the cheerleading type.  Waving pompoms and yelling “rah rah rah’ is not my thing.  Yet, in my own way, I see myself as a cheerleader for Congregation Beth Hatikvah.  I believe this is a very special place, and I consider myself fortunate to be part of this creative, collaborative, joyful, stimulating, and caring community.

            And because I love this community so much, when I see the huge sign in the foyer that says “You belong at CBH” or the bracelets everyone is wearing that say #CBHBelong, I really want it to be true for everyone.  I want us to live up to our advertising, which means that we must value every person who walks through our doors.

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Standing Together (Sermon from Yom Kippur, 2019)

rabbi hannah Oct 11, 2019

            During the summer I asked my friend Kim what gives her hope.  She replied: “Hah!  You are asking the wrong person.”  She told me that she has just about given up on this country and is thinking of moving to Europe. She is not naive. She understands that other countries are not perfect, but as a Black woman she feels the need to get out from under the particularly insidious ways that racism in America affects her life.

            It made me sad to hear that Kim has given up on America. I can’t pretend to know what it is like to live in her skin, but for myself, I could never leave. I tried living in Israel, but it was not my story. My story is here, in this country that is my home, and that continues to struggle to live up to its own ideals. As discouraged as I sometimes feel, I know that I have to try, in whatever ways I can figure out, to move us a...

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10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation About What Matters

A main function of the Social Action Committee is to facilitate conversations and action to address society’s challenges. We are involved in addressing food insecurity (SHIP, BRIDGES), helping refugees adapt to life in the U.S. (tutoring Syrian refugees), recycling plastic (Bags to Benches), racial justice (Race Dialogue Circles), and building community bonds (Fountain of Hope Storytelling Project). 

It’s often lamented how fragmented and polarized civil discourse has become. Discussing the weather and your health used to be considered safe topics, but we’re in such a state now that even those topics can lead to tense conversations.

If we can’t talk about the problems we’re experiencing in society, how will we solve them? Perhaps our biggest problem is that we’ve stopped listening to each other. Journalist and interviewer Celeste Headlee gave a TED talk in which she offered 10 tips for a better conversation. We’d like to share them...

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