Yom Sheini, 11 Adar II 5779

Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur Sermons 5778
Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur Sermons 5777

 Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur Sermons 5776

Shabbat HaKavod Service 2014

RAC 2019 cropped 500 pxlsAs I write to you, I am screeching up the East Coast aboard an Amtrak train with my two colleagues and 12 tenth grade students as we return from Washington, DC, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. This is an annual rite of passage for our Confirmation classes, going back many years. In fact, generations of Temple Israel students (and our clergy) have made this journey. We make this trip each year, not just for the fun and the bonding, which are outstanding, but also for the important things that occur there: deep learning about our values and beliefs, soul searching and learning how to voice our values to those who have the power to turn them into tangible benefits for our nation and the world.
In my years of doing this trip, stretching back 28 years now, I have been a part of these seminars during both Democratic and Republican presidencies, Democratic and Republican houses of Congress and liberal and conservative Supreme Courts. Ultimately, that back and forth is an inherently good thing for our country. That vacillation between the hands that control the levers of power generally lead to a government that falls somewhere in the middle, representing an electorate that in past generations was likewise, generally, somewhere in the middle.

So, each year, we head down to DC, aiming to replicate the amazing experiences of years past, as well as knowing that we are headed into an environment of healthy give and take, exchanges of ideas and, often a frustrating, but importantly slow pace of change. This year, however, there was a different air in Washington when we arrived. The government is, as of my writing, in the midst of the longest shut-down in its history. I’ve been on these weekends at the RAC under shut-down conditions before. But, again, this year was something different. Added to the mix was 5 inches of snow. DC barely tolerates an inch of snow under fully staffed conditions. These 5 inches, combined with the shut-down gave DC an aura of a wasteland. Nothing happening. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do.

DC was frozen, both literally and figuratively. Paralyzed, better portrays it. Worse, still, is the sense from all around us that there is complete resignation that, perhaps, this is the best we can expect nowadays: dysfunction, despair, loathing. It was with that dispiriting sense all around us, that we arrived at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. While we go every year with our teens, the USHMM took on a rare role this year – a place of refuge, as it was one of the few places open in the entire city. The exhibits, moving and challenging in their own ways to all of us, only heightened the sense of despair outside.

Then, we made the short journey over to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Standing there, King’s words, from his famous “I have a dream” speech, the overarching theme of his memorial, are emblazoned into the rock: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope!” I couldn’t help but think of the sense of despair King and millions of black Americans felt then, in 1963. At the same time, that speech, on that day, in that place, was an important turning point in the fight for civil rights. In just the next two years, momentous legislation guaranteeing both civil and voting rights for all of our citizens would change our country forever.

Standing there, reminded me that in our current state of Washington despair, we too needed a stone of hope. This weekend, mine came in the form of our handful of days with our teens. Their earnest concern for our world and our country was evident throughout our intense learning. This contradicts the usual “kids today” zeitgeist that they are apathetic and ill-informed. In fact, they are acutely aware that they are living in times that are not normal, imperfect and ready for tikkun – repair. They engaged in our tradition and sources, debated ways we can change and live our values and prepared to advocate for the world they want to live in, not the one we are giving them.
Then came Monday. Plans were shifting all around us as the snow and shut-down made all of our scheduled visits on Capitol Hill tenuous, at best. Not to be deterred, we stood for over an hour in frigid conditions to get into the Supreme Court to watch oral arguments. Once inside, each of us had a little faith in our government and our American values restored. Before us, we saw the one fully functioning branch of our government, engaged in reasoned debate, questioning petitioners in a time-tested dance of resolving our national issues. In a year that has included much acrimony over the Court, it was a relief to see adults behaving adult-like in our government. I was glad that the students were there to see it. We all kind of needed it.

At that same moment, just feet away, the House and Senate were at a stand-still and a few blocks further down Pennsylvania Avenue, the President of the United States was essentially locked in the White House. On we marched, into the offices of our elected officials. Our teens, eloquently, powerfully told their story. They didn’t ask, didn’t beg or plead with our congressional leadership to do the right things in the year ahead – our teens were the adults in the room. They stood tall, used their learning, their wisdom and their voices. They articulated the future they expected to see and how they expected these leaders, our leaders, to make it happen. They were as clear and rational and as principled as those justices we had witnessed just an hour earlier. They weren’t nervous, they weren’t flustered and they certainly weren’t intimidated. They spoke truth to power. These 15 and 16 year olds were the grown-ups in the room. Just one week before MLK Day, they were a stone of hope in a capital city of despair.

We stepped out of the office buildings of the US Congress into a day, and a future, that was suddenly bright and full of promise. Snow was melting. Hopefully, another kind of thaw was just beginning.

Rabbi Scott Weiner


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High Holidays 5778
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

The most sacred time of the year is the period of the High Holidays, from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.

For the Rosh Hashanah sermons given by Senior Rabbi Scott Weiner and Rabbi Beth Nichols, please click.
For the Yom Kippur sermons given, click for Senior Rabbi Scott Weiner and Rabbi Beth Nichols.

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High Holidays 5777
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

The most sacred time of the year is the period of the High Holidays, from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.

For Rosh Hashanah sermons given by Senior Rabbi Scott Weiner and Rabbi Beth Nichols, please click.
For Yom Kippur sermons given by Rabbi Beth Nichols, please click.
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HHD 5775


High Holidays 5776
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

The most sacred time of the year is the period of the High Holidays, from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.

For Rosh Hashanah sermons given by Senior Rabbi Scott Weiner and Rabbi Beth Nichols, please click.
For Yom Kippur sermons given by Senior Rabbi Scott Weiner, please click.
For Rosh Hashanah greetings given by Lloyd Robinson, President, click for Erev, Family and Main, please click.


Shabbat HaKavod Service

TINR 1 Year Anniversary Speech – June 6, 2014 ~ Adam Egelberg

For those of you whom we haven’t yet met, my name is Adam Egelberg. My wife Mia is sitting over there (point), and next to her are our two sons, Jake and Matt. We have lived in New Rochelle for 12 years and we’re here tonight celebrating our 1 year anniversary with the congregation of Temple Israel. I guess if we were a little quicker on the uptake we might be celebrating our 10th anniversary tonight, but better late than never.

Mia and I were invited to speak on behalf of the families being honored for their first anniversary. When considering this, we felt that we could only do so if we could reach out to as many of them as possible to get a sense of what other families thought about their first year with Temple Israel. Amazingly, all the first-years seem to be on the same page when it comes to this community. Here are some of the thoughts and feelings that came out of those conversations, many of them repeated:

Inclusive, Amazing, Tremendous positive influence, Peppy, Wonderful, Interactive, Happy, Huge help, It felt great, Thrilled, Something for everyone, Always striving to do better, Dynamic, Innovative, Creative, We are very thankful, Like family.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The word community came up frequently. But what is a community exactly? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines community as “a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc.” That didn’t capture it for me, so I went to the font of all knowledge: Google.

Google says a community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals. While still a bit bland, I think that “feeling of fellowship” is a good place to start when describing Temple Israel. Google would also like you to know that there is a sale on Kippot at Amazon.com tonight and that you should all join Rabbi Weiner’s Google+ group.

The other sentiment uniformly expressed by the freshmen was that the Kehilah school is really something special. I would go way over my allotted one page if I tried to fully capture all the amazing things the families said about the school. So to be brief, you guys are doing a great job. Keep it up.

As Mia and I have older children, I would like to add that the Chavaya program is incredible. I am stunned to see children actually enjoying Hebrew School. You might be running afoul of some long standing traditions there.

So on behalf of my wife and children and the other first-year families who were lucky enough to discover this wonderful community, I would like to thank you for welcoming us all into your family.

Shabbat HaKavod Service

TINR 18 Years Anniversary Speech – June 6, 2014 ~ Jessica Frank

Good evening!  I feel particularly blessed and honored tonight to be able to celebrate the Cohan family’s 18 year anniversary in this glorious place.  I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone by, and how much MY HUSBAND AND I AND OUR CHILDREN have gained from being a part of the vibrant, inspirational community that is Temple Israel of New Rochelle.

18 years.  CHAI! -- the gift of life and of good luck.  How appropriate.
It all started when my 9 year old daughter came home from school one day and announced that it was imperative that she make her Bat Mitzvah.  (I think that her grandfather had something to do with her demands, but I can’t be positive.)   I drove up the winding hill from Pinebrook Blvd. just to TALK about the possibility of joining, and left Joyce Engel’s office a half hour later as a member,  armed with a complimentary prayer book in my hand.

And that day opened up a new chapter in our lives, which, 18 years later, has multiplied into volumes of beautiful experiences here for us.  Laura did make her Bat Mitzvah, but, unfortunately, her grandfather didn’t live to see it.  Neither of them did.  They both would have been proud, though.  My son David followed through as well, growing and thriving here on his journey through Bar Mitzvah, Confirmation, and Hebrew High School graduation.  

I of course, (not one to be upstaged), jumped on the spiritual bandwagon and decided, about 40 years after my 13th birthday, that I too wanted to study Hebrew and to make my Bat Mitzvah.  My husband encouraged me, my children inspired me, and my Temple laid out the welcome mat by providing a beautiful, nurturing environment with strong support so that I could reach that goal.  My adult Confirmation just last week was yet another step along my path of learning  -- being given the opportunity to  analyze, debate, and absorb Reform Judaism and all of its gifts, as well as its challenges.  

I could go on and on about everything that this place has done for me, but for now I’ll just say “Thanks, Temple Israel, from the Cohans, for the friends, for the faith, for the knowledge, and for the on-going adventure.”    

And here’s to another chai – another 18 years…or even 36, God willing!

Shabbat Shalom.

Shabbat HaKavod Service
TINR 36 Years Anniversary Speech – June 6, 2014 ~ Val Etra

In the introduction to Mishkan T’filah, our prayerbooks in the pews, Sam Karff wrote “Each generation must struggle to hear the call,
“Where art Thou?  Each must choose to answer.

Shabbat HaKavod Service

TINR 50 Years Anniversary Speech – June 6, 2014 ~ Carole & Mitch Ostrove

Yes, 50 years as a couple here at Temple Israel.  It all began in 1948 with consecration at Webster. TI has, and always will be, an important part of our lives.  Our parents were involved, so we were involved.  They were great role models.

We were both consecrated and went to Religious School, Mitch was a Bar Mitzvah.  We were part of the Junior Society, Junior Cantors, Junior Rabbi’s, Junior Choir, then Confirmation and Graduation. All that before being married, in Temple, 50 years ago. It is through our involvement that many good friends were made and kept.

Working to put together the Holiday Bazaar was a huge undertaking. The Purim Carnival and the Young Couples Club were loads of fun, especially the Scavenger Hunt at JFK.

I served as Brotherhood President, was active on the National Board, and for 20 years headed up the  Kitchen Crew and loved every minute. I served on the Temple Board and have been an active Honorary member for years.  My brother and I were the honorees for a Temple Gala 20 years ago.  It was a wonderful evening!

Our children, Marjorie and Jimmy continued the family tradition. They were named at Temple, consecrated, attended Religious School, Bar Mitzvah, Confirmation, Graduation and were active TIFTY members.

And now a 4th generation of Ostroves. Our granddaughter Jackie was named at Temple, as was our grandson Joey.  Joey was one of the first babies in the Kehillah School and his mom, Marjorie is President of the Parents Association.

L’DOR V”Dor from generation to generation.  Temple Israel, part of the fabric of our lives.


Shabbat HaKavod Service
TINR 60 Years Anniversary Speech – June 6, 2014 ~ Mary & Tom Garten

My wife’s parents lived on Aviemore Drive in New Rochelle, and I resided in Hartsdale. Mary’s parents were then members of our Temple at the Webster Avenue location.

On September 9, 1954 we were married by Rabbi Shankman at Mary’s home.  I was quite nervous so Rabbi Shankman told me to hide behind the foliage until the ceremony began.  Mary and I then became members at Temple Israel.

Both of our children received their Hebrew names at our Temple.  Our son, Lawrence was Bar Mitzvah by Rabbi Shankman after being mentored by Cantor Crockett.  Larry always valued his friendship.  Our Bar Mitzvah was held in Rosen Hall.  The first party event scheduled there.  Our daughter Jean attended Sunday school and her class picture was for many years on the corridor wall.

Mary and I will always treasure our friendship with Rabbi Wohl.  I so enjoyed being a member of his radio committee.  Cantor Reps performances were always a pleasure to listen to.

We have witnessed our Temple grow in recent years in many aspects of the religious field.  We are so proud to be affiliated with our Temple and know our Temple will continue to flourish under Rabbi Weiner’s leadership. As a World War 11 Veteran and Purple Heart recipient, I very much appreciate Rabbi Weiner’s reading at our services the names of the fallen soldiers.

Mary and I are so thankful to be honored here this evening.

Coming Up

03.17.2019 - 03.18.2019
NFTY-NAR Advocacy Day
03.19.2019 3:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Kol Simcha
03.19.2019 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
03.19.2019 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Chavaya High School
03.19.2019 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Purim Spiel Rehearsal
03.19.2019 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
TIFTY Monthly Sandwich Brigade
03.20.2019 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Purim Spiel & Megillah Reading
03.21.2019 11:45 am - 12:45 pm
Kehillah Purim Parade
03.21.2019 3:45 pm - 6:00 pm
Torah Corps