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Even Higher - A Tribute to Stan Lee©

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Even Higher - A Tribute to Stan Lee© - Parashat Vayetze 2018 Rabbi David Baum
This week, the Jewish world lost one of it’s greatest heroes, his name was Stan Lieber.You may have never heard of this name, so I’ll give you his superhero name, Stan Lee.If you’re still confused than obviously, you aren’t a nerd like me.Stan Lee was the creator of many of the comic book heroes you have probably seen in the movies:Spider-Man and Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Doctor Strange, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, and my personal favorite, Ant-Man.



As Leil Leibovitz wrote last week: “So entrenched is Lee’s legacy that he was credited, when receiving the National Medal of the Arts from President George W. Bush in 2008, for creating nothing short of a new American mythology, a universe rich not only with thrilling characters but also with timeless moral lessons. “His complex plots and humane superheroes,” read the medal’s citation, “celebrate courage, honesty, and the importance of helping the …

Alternate Realities and The Real After Pittsburgh©

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Alternate Realities and The Real After Pittsburgh© Rabbi David Baum Parsahat Hayyei Sarah – November 3, 2018
Who in here has felt, after the events of the last week, that we are living in an 'alternate reality'?  Alternate realities are all the rage now in pop culture.

There is a very popular show on Amazon streaming right now – it's called the Man In the High Castle.  The show, in its third season, is based on reality, an alternate reality.  In this reality, the allies during World War II were not successful; in this reality, the U.S. is the American Reich; the Nazi ideology spreads to America.  The government isn't German, it's American, they speak English with no accents – the Nazis didn't need to send an invasion force – they had people waiting to embrace their worldview.  As you can imagine, the Jews do not fare well.  Philip Roth, the great Jewish-American novelist, also wrote a book about an alternate reality called the Plot Against America.  In this al…

Abraham: Immigrant or Refugee?©

Abraham: Immigrant or Refugee?©Rabbi David Baum, Parashat Lech Lecha 2018/5779 How and when did your ancestors come to America?

If you are Ashkenazi (from Eastern and Western Europe), you actually have an interesting connection to Ashkenazim in Israel:  almost all of us came to a new land Israel and the United States and Canada, on a boat.  Almost all of us had to cross a body of water to get here.  

I have shared my family's story of immigration – my parents were both born in Europe.  My mother's family came from Poland in the 1960's.  My father's side came earlier, in a different way.  After the war, my grandparents, both Holocaust survivors, after a long courtship of less than a week, got married, and soon after, had my father.  My grandmother received a letter from an American Jew with her maiden name.  The American thought my grandmother was his cousin.  Knowing that she wasn't, but also knowing that this might be her only chance to leave Europe, she took the tri…

Feeling Stuck and Loving Our Home - Israel and American Jewry

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Feeling Stuck and Loving Our Home - Israel and American Jewry© Yom Kippur/Kol Nidre 2779/2018 Rabbi David Baum, Congregation Shaarei Kodesh
Whenever people talk about our community at Shaarei Kodesh, They describe it in the following ways:
It’s so haimish, we feel so welcomed when we go…
It’s a no matter how you dress another how large my bank account is, you always feel accepted and loved...
It’s a place where children can feel free to run in the sanctuary, and where they feel at home
And of course my favorite, “Shaarei Kodesh…it’s that storefront shul across from the gas station!”


As a congregation, we define ourselves by our people and what they do, the actions they take, but, whether we like it or not, we are also defined by our physical place, our home.  
When I tell rabbis about our congregation and our space, they tell me how jealous they are, how lucky we are to own a building, not to have a permanent space that weighs us down.  They tell me, our building is an albatross around …

Love Yourself AND Your Neighbor - Yom Kippur 2018/5779

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Love Yourself AND Your Neighbor© Rabbi David Baum Yom Kippur 2018/5779 Congregation Shaarei Kodesh

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? It's a neighborly day in this beautywood, A neighborly day for a beauty, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you, I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you. So let's make the most of this beautiful day, Since we're together, we might as well say, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won't you be my neighbor? Won't you please, Won't you please, Please won't you be my neighbor?
For many of you, it has probably been years since you heard that tune.  Fred Rogers started a children’s show called Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood which aired from 1968 until 2001, airing for 31 years, it is the second longest running children’s show in the history of American television.  This year, Fred Roge…