Mitzvot—What are Commanded Acts for Reform Jews Today?: Rabbi Cohon's Sermon Vayakhel 5776

March 4, 2016

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

Temple Emanu-El

Tucson, Arizona

I had an interesting discussion last week about the difference between Judaism and Christianity with a congregant.  She noted that in her view the key difference between the religious traditions was that Christianity believes that faith is the most important thing of all, while Judaism believes that actions are the most important.  That is, for Christians, belief is the highest principle, and underlies all action; while for Jews, belief matters, but what matters much more is the way that you act.  I agreed with her that Judaism, while cognizant of the importance of belief, highlights action above all.

Read more: Mitzvot—What are Commanded Acts for Reform Jews Today?: Rabbi Cohon's Sermon Vayakhel 5776

Rebellion, The Jewish Act: Rabbi Cohon's Sermon Ki Tisa 5776

February 26, 2016

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

Temple Emanu-El

Tucson, Arizona

Last night my daughter Cipora and I went to see the latest Coen brothers’ movie, called “Hail, Cesar!”  A farcical tribute to the old studio-controlled movie business of the early 1950’s, with broad parodies of Cold-War themes, it centers around the making of a kind  of Quo-Vadis/Ben Hur Hollywood epic with Christian religious themes.  At one point the studio fixer, Eddie Mannix, played by Josh Brolin, calls in four clergymen to inoculate the studio against charges of impiety and being sacrilegious.  It is a very, very funny scene, mostly because the other clergy—the bishop, the Greek Orthodox patriarch, the Protestant minister—are mostly agreeable, while the rabbi pretty much disagrees with everything.  No great surprise…  Of course he does.   

Read more: Rebellion, The Jewish Act: Rabbi Cohon's Sermon Ki Tisa 5776

The Most Unlikely Leader: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Sermon Shemot 5776

January 1, 2016

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, Arizona

There is a story.

In an effort to improve their challenging personal relationship, President Barack Obama is talking on the phone to Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel, leader to leader, and they are comparing notes.  President Obama is explaining patiently that he has the more difficult job, since not only is he the leader of the most important country in the entire world, but the scale of things is completely different: while Israel is a small nation, he, President Obama, is the president of 330 million people.  But Prime Minister Netanyahu replies that actually he has the more difficult job: “You are the president of 330 million citizens; but I am the president of 7 million presidents!”

Read more: The Most Unlikely Leader: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Sermon Shemot 5776

Light in Dark Times: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Sermon Mikets 5776

December 11, 2015

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, Arizona

Once there was a Chasid who was afraid of the dark.  “Tell me, Rabbi,” the Chasid asked,  “How can I chase the darkness from the world?”

So the Rebbe sent the Chasid into the deep darkness of the shul’s basement.  Handing him a broom he said, “Go sweep the darkness out of the basement.” 

Read more: Light in Dark Times: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Sermon Mikets 5776

Ordinary Miracles: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Sermon Vayishlach 5776

November 6, 2015

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon

Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, Arizona

Thank you all for being here on this Shabbat.  I'd like to thank Marjorie Hochberg for singing tonight, and Chris Tackett our accompanist for doing a beautiful job on the service.  I’d like to thank Beth Horowitz for her drash.  I'd like to thank each and every one of you who are present.  I’m grateful to be on the bimah tonight, and I am most grateful to be the rabbi of this congregation.  I can't tell you what it means to me to be here.  You are too kind to listen to me offer this sermon.  By golly, thanks!  No really, thanks a lot.  Is there anyone I've forgotten to thank?  Wouldn't want to do that.  Oh, and I'd like to thank my mom and dad, for without them I wouldn't be here.  And I'd like to thank the Academy for this great honor...

Read more: Ordinary Miracles: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Sermon Vayishlach 5776