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A Reform Jewish Community for all of Tucson
225 North Country Club • Tucson, AZ 85716
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Yom Chamishi, 29 Tishri 5775

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October 4, 2014

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

Traditionally in the month of Elul before Rosh HaShanah we blow shofar every day, except on Shabbat, to remind ourselves of the urgent need we all have to do teshuvah, to return and repent our misdeeds in the past year. The sound of the shofar is powerful, primal, stirring, and unique.

However, over the course of the months of Elul and Tishrei I have blown shofar 50 or 60 times at various services, classes, and programs. Embracing my inner Satchmo, my inner Louis Armstrong, I have now blown shofar at every Hebrew and Religious School session for a month, in each Zohar Study Group, at every Taste of Judaism class, at each staff meeting, Temple Board meeting, Adult Education Academy meeting, Ritual Committee and Bilgray Lectureship Committee meeting, before we lit candles at the start of Shabbat services each Friday night, at every Project Elul morning event I led—twice a week for four-plus weeks—at Shofar Choir practice, with ECE preschool children age 2, with older adults age 92.

Read more: Yom Kippur Yizkor 5775: The Shofar Sounds for These

October 4, 2013

Rabbi Baruch J. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

This morning once again we opened the Torah and read the words from a farewell speech by Moses. The people are camped on the east bank of the Jordan. Moses knows he will not cross that river with them, and he wants them to know what to do when they enter the Promised Land. The name of this reading is "Nitzavim" – literally "Standing." Its opening lines set the scene:

"You are standing today, all of you, before your G-d. Your leaders, your tribes, your elders and your officers – all the men of Israel. Your children, your women, the strangers in your midst, your woodcutters and your water-carriers. [You are here to] form a covenant with G-d... all who are here with us today, and those who are not here with us today."

Not here? Did anyone not make that list? That was a pretty complete list. Who was not there? All the unborn generations. Including us. The covenant is a sacred commitment that involves us all.

Read more: Yom Kippur Morning 5775: How Close is Close?

October 3, 2014

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

There was news a couple of weeks ago that may transform the entire universe. The story is that the term "selfie" has now become an acceptable word in Scrabble, and is also about to enter the holy of holies for neologisms, the Oxford English Dictionary.

Do you all know what a selfie is? Have you ever taken a selfie? Here, I'll show you: Smile, and I'll take one with all of you in it.Rabbi Cohon Selfie 5775

That was a selfie. If I were going to do this right, I'd post that shot on Facebook and Instagram, and Tweet it out while we continue the service.

"Selfies" went viral this year. For the uninitiated, selfies are photos we take of ourselves with our iphones or Samsung Galaxies. As Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the plethora of social networks available have exploded, so too has the desire and the ubiquity, the almost animal need people seem to have to take photos of themselves and post them immediately in the most public places possible. Put simply, we love taking pictures of ourselves, and then sharing them with the world. Nowadays, every moment is a Kodak moment.

Read more: Kol Nidre 5775: Selfie and Self, Public and Private: Towards a New Understanding of Authenticity

September 25, 2014

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

An artist goes to the gallery where his work is displayed. The gallery owner tells him: "I've got good news and bad news for you."

"Tell me the good news first," the artist says.

"The good news is that a man came into the gallery yesterday, asking if I thought the price of your paintings would go up after you die – and, when I told him yes, he proceeded to buy every piece of your art in the gallery."

"Great!" says the artist, "And what's the bad news?"

And the gallery owner answers, "The bad news is: that man is your doctor."

Read more: Rosh Hashanah Morning 5775: The Bad News/Good News About Anti-Semitism, Shmittah, and Unity

September 24, 2014

Rabbi Batsheva Appel, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

One of the downsides of being a rabbi is that people complain to me... about other congregations. I remember being at my cousin's wedding and listening to a distant relative complain bitterly about his synagogue's expectations of his son who was to become bar mitzvah that year. The synagogue is being entirely unreasonable, he said, given that his son is playing on a Little League team that will very likely go to Williamsport, Pennsylvania and win the Little League Baseball World Series. His son has to be at practice, he cannot go to mid-week Hebrew. His son has to be at games, he cannot go to Sunday School. His family cannot be expected to attend services. My relative set up private tutoring for his son, but the synagogue is still making what he thinks are unreasonable demands.

Read more: Erev Rosh Hashanah 5775: Let's Have a Catch

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