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A Reform Jewish Community for all of Tucson
225 North Country Club • Tucson, AZ 85716
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Yom Shishi, 7 Heshvan 5775

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October 24, 2014

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

There's an ancient joke about the end of the world.

An astronomer is giving a talk to a community group and he says that in 5 billion years the sun will expand and engulf the earth, ending life as we know it. At this a woman in the back leaps for her chair shouting "Oh my God! Oh my God!", and then faints.

They revive her and the astronomer says, "Well, gee, I know that I said the world will end, but it's a long way off. Don't worry."

And the woman says, "Well, what did you say?"

And the astronomer says, "I said the world will end in 5 billion years."

And the woman says, "Oh! Thank God! I thought you said 5 million years."

People have been predicting the end of the world for a long time, and we still find it believable. Just a few years ago everyone was exercised about the end of the Mayan calendar, which would spell finish to our planet; before that there was the Y2K debacle, in which our technology would finish us off in a massive computer meltdown that never occurred. And so on. Regularly people predict the end of the world as we know it, and we go on feeling fine.

Read more: Noach 5775: Disaster! and Life After...

October 14, 2014

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ
Delivered by Rabbi Batsheva Appel

I offer this talk prepared by Rabbi Sam Cohon, who could not be here tonight, but is here in spirit. He wrote:

We meet tonight on the festival of Sukkot, the thanksgiving holiday that is the source of all of our fall and winter celebrations of gratitude in the Western Hemisphere, Jewish, Christian, and turkey-based, too. It all comes from Sukkot, the Feast of booths in the Torah, and that's rather special for us. In truth, we have much to be grateful for on this particular Sukkot, this thanksgiving feast of Tabernacles.

First, the Supreme Court, in its elliptical and legalistic way, appears to be on the cusp of making marriage a truly equal experience in all of America, and that is something to give thanks for indeed. Second, tonight we are joined together in prayer and song and thought across all boundary lines of race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, and political and religious belief, which is always a reason to give thanks. And finally, we are able to be here on the bimah of Temple Emanu-El together openly and proudly celebrating a service of great diversity and beauty like this—and it is not a surprise, nor is it a dramatic act.

Read more: Sermon for Pride Service 5775

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

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