List of Speeches/ Sermons

Violence in Arizona

Violence in Arizona

Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt
January 15, 2011

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who are inclined to say, “things happen for a reason,”and those who believe that various occurrences are random, and have no rhyme or reason.

Regardless of which approach you take, or which camp you are in, even if you subscribe to the notion that things happen for a reason, one thing is certain, and that is: the reason, whatever it may be, may not be clear right away. The root cause may not be readily apparent and difficult to uncover, and it may take a long time to understand its impact and significance.

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The Need for Civil Discourse by Rabbi Melissa Weintraub

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The Need for Civil Discourse

Why Civil Discourse on Israel Must Become a National Jewish Priority

Address to the Jewish Council of Public Affairs Plenum, February 21, 2010

by Rabbi Melissa Weintraub

I’m so delighted to be on this panel because “how to create civil discourse on Israel” is the question to which I’ve dedicated my life. It’s the reason I created Encounter, the organization I co-direct, which has brought together hundreds of Jewish leaders from a staggering range of religious and political backgrounds: national-religious settlers and anti-occupation activists; Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Rabbis; lead supporters and staff of AIPAC and J Street, sitting down together in front of the separation barrier and grappling with what it means.

  • We are an organization whose very purpose is to catalyze conversation between those who generally don’t talk to one another–let alone with mutual curiosity, listening and respect.

I want to make a case this afternoon for why it is so critical that we, who are here today, walk away committed to healing the heated and often toxic nature of Israel discourse in our community— why all of JCPA’s other battles hinge on the success of this one.

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Revelations of the Other by Rabbi Melissa Weintraub

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Revelations of the Other, Face-to-Face

Senior Sermon - Melissa Weintraub
Delivered at JTS, Feb. 18, 2006

Face to face God spoke to you on the mountain, out of the fire (Deut. 5:4).

Revelation at Sinai takes place face-to-face. Or we might say: it is when we look into the face - truly look - that revelation takes place. What do we see when we search the face of another human being? We see a reality that exceeds us, an inscrutable mystery we can neither possess nor disown. The face overflows all our prior conceptions, and urges us on to new understanding.

You - my family, community, teachers, students, and friends - you have been sources of revelation to me. I am so overjoyed to look out into all of your faces. I would like to introduce you to the two faces that introduced me to the world, and who taught me, through their lived example, the subject of the Torah I will share today.

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Judaism and Civility - The "Other Side of Halaka" by Paul Roitman Bardack

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Judaism and Civility - The "Other Side of Halaka"
by Paul Roitman Bardack

Given at Tifereth Israel Congregation, Washington, D.C., on August 3, 2002 (25 Av 5762).

Shabbat shalom, everyone.

It's summer … a time to kick back, stay out of the heat, and reflect on some of life's basics. For that reason, this morning I would like to share with you my research on Jewish notions of civility.

Several months ago, the idea for this talk originated during a Kiddush luncheon. Rabbi Seidel and I were discussing behaviors we notices, behaviors which bothered us, in a wide variety of settings: the office, the supermarket, some of our own congregation's e-mail discussions, the neighborhood street, the Beltway, the doctor's office, and so on. Our survey was anecdotal and hardly scientific, but incivility seemed rampant, and on the rise.

The following passage, taken from Yale Law Professor Steven L. Carter's book "Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy," evokes wonderfully the sort of behavior to which Rabbi Seidel and I were referring. The passage is entitled "Barbarians Running Late:"

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