Showing posts from 2014

Jews, Christians, and Muslims – Looking at the Big Picture©

Jews, Christians, and Muslims – Looking at the Big Picture© Parashat Toledot 2014/5775, Rabbi David Baum Congregation Shaarei Kodesh
On Wednesday morning, I got off the subway stop at 116th Street and Broadway, as I had done hundreds of times in the past.It was a familiar walk, but now, I’m over five years removed from my time at JTS.But there was something that caught my eye that shocked me:a man holding a sign that said “Google it:Jews control Congress.”

As my friend Steve Laskowitz wisely said, “If we actually did, then things would get done!”
I don’t remember if I saw such blatant anti-Semitism that often when I used to get off on that subway stop, but after the events of this week, it stood out to me as a reminder that the hatred of the Jewish people is still alive and well in the world.The events of this week were horrific in so many ways, but I think for most of us, it was the idea that a Mikdash Me’at, a small holy place, a synagogue, was attacked during prayer and five men w…

For The Spiritual But Not Religious...and The Religious But Not Spiritual©

For The Spiritual But Not Religious...and The Religious But Not Spiritual©   Kol Nidre, 5775/2014 Rabbi David Baum
Tonight, we cancelled out all Nedarim, all vows, that we will take this year, but I want to tell you the story of a Neder, a vow, that I took 18 years ago.
At the time, I was a college student at the University of Florida.I was very active in Jewish life in high school, some might say, I was a Super Jew, but I thought that I wanted to take a break from it for a year, and take a break I did!My Beit Knesset, place of gathering, became house parties, night clubs, and the football stadium.One Friday night, I was approached by a friend of mine in the dorms asking me if I wanted to go to Hillel with her.I looked at her, in a condescending way and said, “No thank you, I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.”
So where did I go instead of Hillel that Friday night for my spiritual journey.An Ashram?Lake Alice to meditate?The Hare Krishna house?
No, I went to a night club, I mean, it…

Being The Giver and The Receiver – Yom Kippur 5775

Being The Giver and The Receiver© – Yom Kippur 5775/2014 Rabbi David Baum 
How many people in here have lost someone close to them? I am sure you have experienced immense pain from these losses. How many people would want me to take away your pain? Here’s the catch – the only way I can do it, is to take away your memories. Do you still want me to take the pain away? Every year, we make this choice – do we choose the pain of memory, or the comfort of forgetting?Do we choose the joys of love but along with it the pain of heartbreak; or do we choose a life free from pain, but devoid of feeling and connection?Do we choose brokenness or what seems like perfection? This is the premise of the book, the Giver, written by Lois Lowry in 1992 and adapted to a movie, that has become a favorite for teens for some time now.

The movie offers a possible future scenario.A society strives to eliminate war, bloodshed, violence, and all pain, but in order to achieve this; they have to eliminate certain …

The Two Facebook Friends I Lost This Summer: Finding the Balance Between the Universal and the Particular©

The Two Facebook Friends I Lost This Summer: 
Finding the Balance Between the Universal and the Particular© Rabbi David Baum, Congregation Shaarei Kodesh Second Day of Rosh Hashanah 5775
I want to begin today by telling you about two friends I lost this summer.Let me just make something clear – these two guys are very much alive and healthy, and may they both be written in the book of life!I lost these friends on Facebook, they both De-Friended me over the summer.
My first friend is named Shmuel.We were friends in high school and connected through our synagogue youth group, USY.Shmuel was the head of the social action/Tikkun Olam committee and it was his passion.He organized food baggings for our local Jewish Family Services, volunteering opportunities at nursing homes, and other projects – he was a real blessing for us.We kept in touch after high school, but we drifted apart.Six years ago, I ran into Shmuel in New York, but he looked a lot different.He wasn’t wearing a kippah anymore, nor…