Rabbi Scolnic shares his favorite sermons.

Lox and The Meaning of Jewish Identity, or Off On The Road To Morroco

Do you know what the oldest word is?

I mean the oldest word in any language known to humankind.

You might guess “Mama,” or “Dada,” or “Baba,” but you’d be wrong.

The answer is a word that would not have been in my first thousand guesses. I ask you again: What is the oldest word in any language known to us that has continued to be used with the same pronunciation and meaning for 8000 years straight? Are you ready?

Thy Sea Is So Great And My Boat Is So Small

I’m visiting someone who’s in a rehab facility because she’s addicted to a prescription drug. She tells me that she’s doing a little better, and she’s thinking about a prayer that they gave her in one of the groups. She reads me a few lines:

Thy sea, O G-d, so great,
My boat so small.

Thy winds, O G-d, so strong,
So slight my sail.

Thy world, O G-d, so fierce,
And I so frail.

How Are You Feeling, Oceans?

When Jewish people have happy festivals, we sing the Hallel, a group of psalms of thanksgiving. And one of those psalms begins: Mah Lecha Hayam, which means, “What’s going on with you, Sea? How are you feeling, Sea?

How is the sea feeling these days? How are our oceans doing?

The Top-rated Restaurant in London or Whatever Happened To The Truth?

This is the 37th year that I’ve spoken with you on the High Holidays, and over the years, I’ve talked a lot about the dangers of anti-Semitism. And every time, at least some of you have let me have it. Just last year, when I warned you that things were getting worse, I was told that I was paranoid because there is no anti-Semitism in America. I just kept saying: “There is a lot of hatred out there.” But of course, I wanted to be wrong about my fears.

The Jewishness of the Mayers, the Schnayers and Bayer

On these High Holidays, we have a lot on our minds. There’s a lot going on in our lives and in the world around us. But I want to stay focused on what our Jewishness means to us. Tonight, in a light kind of way, I want to emphasize one aspect of Jewishness.

The word on my mind is “heritage.” We have inherited a proud Jewish legacy from the past.

So to try out the idea that at least a part of Jewish identity is based on heritage, let me tell you a Jewish story called “The Inheritors.”


Before I talk about our grief for our loved ones for our Yizkor service, I have a quick story that summarizes everything I’ve been trying to say on these High Holidays.

I’m sitting with a couple that is having problems. The man shouts, in frustration, “I love you more!”

And the woman says quietly, “I love you better.”

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