Welcome from Rabbi Lewis


The following are sermons and thoughts of Rabbi Lewis to her congregation. Please visit this section frequently to see what's new on her mind.

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Temple Menorah Rabbi's Weekly Message
Finding Sanctuary

Veteran's Shabbat. Kristallnacht Anniversary. November 9, 2018. 2 Kislev 5779

I’d like to begin tonight by sharing with you a sampling of requests that I have received from members of our community, just within the last 24 hours:

- Rabbi, during services, can you please say a prayer for the people whose homes are in danger from these horrible fires?

- Rabbi, my husband went to volunteer with the fires. Can there be a prayer for him?

- Rabbi, this Shabbat is the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, which was a key moment in the persecution of the Jews in Europe and, ultimately, in the Holocaust. Will you be doing something to commemorate that important day?

- Rabbi, it’s Veteran’s Day weekend. How are we celebrating our veterans?

- Rabbi, once again, innocent lives were lost without explanation. 12 this time. Just senseless hatred. What can we do?

- Rabbi, I know that last week was the big Solidarity Shabbat, but are you going to do something this week, as well, to commemorate what happened in Pittsburgh?

- Rabbi, don’t forget…we are celebrating something pretty wonderful this Shabbat. Kendall is becoming a Bat Mitzvah. What a joy.

There is so much – it is dizzying. And tonight, with everything going on in our world, in our community, in our history and in our own lives, we come together in our sanctuary. What a gift.

The sanctuary is a funny thing, you know. The dictionary calls it a ‘place of refuge or safety.’ And it is. A place of refuge and safety from all of the everything. Here, we find comfort and safety together. Everything else continues to whirl outside of here.

But so too, Judaism is clear. In sanctuary, we must have our eyes open to the outside world. It is forbidden by our tradition to pray in a sanctuary without windows. Why? Because if we can’t use what’s going on inside here to help us make sense out of what is there, then we need not be here.

The good news is that there is unlimited potential here to put into context what is happening there…and what is happening there…and what is happening everywhere. And when we sit in sanctuary, giving ourselves the space to breathe and reflect just a little bit, we can emerge from here more prepared to make sense out of the world, and to make a difference in the world.

Today, 80 years since Kristallnacht. Ecclesiastes taught that there is nothing new under the sun. It’s been 80 years since our people were killed and excluded and hurt for no reason other than that they were Jewish. 4 generations later, we gather on this dark night in the shadow of hatred and persecution and senseless violence. Tonight we might not have broken glass, but we have broken hearts. Yet tonight, 4 generations later, something else remains constant…the light. When we lit those Shabbat candles, we remembered that the light does come and even just a spark can illumine the darkness.

Gathered together to make sense out of the chaos, gathered together to remember the past, gathered together to pray for calm, gathered together to sing and to celebrate, we are, at the end of the day, together in sanctuary.

A synagogue is a Beit Knesset, a house of gathering and sometimes, that gathering alone is enough to bring the light.

Tonight we bring light, sharing it with one another and because we are here, we will have it to share it with the world.