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Rabbi Deborah Blausten

Shabbat Pinchas 5782

You can listen to Rabbi Deborah's sermon here or read below.

 

Imagine what it’s like to live in constant fear that people will find out that you aren’t who you say you are?

To feel your whole existence rests upon a secret, a lie, a story that if people knew might jeopardize everything you have come to love, everything that has made you who you are and allows you to care for your...Read more...

Rabbi Deborah Blausten

Shabbat Balak 5782

You can listen to Rabbi Deborah's sermon here or read below.

 

 

What do The Phantom of the Opera, Red Skull from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kylo Ren from Star Wars, Scar from The Lion King, The Joker, Captain Hook and Bilam from this week’s parasha have in common? 

I’m hoping I managed to get a cultural reference in there that works for most of the...Read more...

Rabbi Deborah Blausten

Shabbat Bamidbar 5782

You can listen to Rabbi Deborah's sermon here or read below.

 

Taking part in a census can be pretty boring- sorry to any demographers in the shul this morning- but you aren’t allowed to refuse. In the UK you can be taken to court if you do so. There’s even a fine of a £1000 waiting for anyone who actively chooses not to participate. 

While this may be as...Read more...

Rabbi Miriam Berger

Shabbat B'chukkotai 5782

You can listen to Rabbi Miram's sermon here or read below.

 

 

 

On weeks like this I don’t feel I have a choice. I have an obligation to speak out against the Torah portion. The theology is not just flawed, it is harmful to people. 

When you feel you have been unjustly on the receiving end of God’s harsh punishment it is horrifically...Read more...

Rabbi Miriam Berger

Shabbat  B’Har 5782

You can listen to Rabbi Miram's sermon here or read below.

 

 

 

It’s not surprising that a huge number of our B’nei Mitzvah are referencing the pandemic in their Friday night readings and divrei torah. I’m struck however by how many of them mention a slower pace with far fewer demands being made of them. The escape from the gruelling timetable of school...Read more...

Rabbi Deborah Blausten

Emor- purity and seeing blemishes in others

You can listen to Rabbi Deborah's sermon here or read below.

 

 

 

When I was training to be a rabbi we had a course on biblical scholarship. Each week was devoted to a theme, with one week devoted to the study of women's commentaries on Torah. When introducing the topic to us, the teacher commented, ‘you’ll find some of these texts are...Read more...

Rabbi Deborah Blausten

7th Day Pesach- On Regarding the Pain of Others

You can listen to Rabbi Deborah's sermon here or read below.

 

 

On boxing day 2004 my mum burst through the door of the internet cafe I was sitting in, she said ‘I need the computer, Jane A and her daughter are missing’.

Jane A was my mum’s childhood best friend, her parents, my grandparents’ neighbors and close confidants. When I heard...Read more...

Rabbi Miriam Berger

Shabbat Acharei Mot 5781

You can listen to Rabbi Miriam's sermon here or read below.

 

 

 

It’s just one line in a eulogy: “he/she arrived in the UK with no English, no money and filled with fear.” And yet the legacy of the successful career, the lifelong now-grieving widow, the children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren makes the arrival seem so easy that it diminishes the line of...Read more...

Rabbi Tony Bayfield

Shabbat M'tzora 5782

You can listen to Rabbi Tony's sermon here or read below.

 

 

 

My father – Miriam’s grandfather, Chessy and Ben’s great-grandfather - was one of the founders of South West Essex Reform Synagogue, 65 years ago. Dad, Ron Bayfield died of Covid in late March 2020 and I’m extremely grateful to FRS for allowing me to give the sermon today – it’s not every synagogue...Read more...

Rabbi Howard Cooper

Shabbat Ki Tissa 5782

You can listen to Rabbi Howard's sermon here or read below.

 

 

 

One’s heart goes out to those Israelites in our Torah portion today. In modern terminology we might say they were a traumatised people - oppressed for generations they had just experienced the most tumultuous upheavals it’s possible to imagine. The land they were living in, the only land they knew,...Read more...

Rabbi Miriam Berger

Shabbat T'tzavveh

You can listen to Rabbi Miriam's sermon here or read below.

 

 

 

Rabbi Jackie Tabick tells the most wonderful story which she told Rabbis Debbie and Robyn and me while we were recording a “Rabbiting On” podcast that will be out in a couple of weeks. All of us were blown away by the fact we didn’t know how this huge cultural shift had come about. 

We...Read more...

Rabbi Miriam Berger

Shabbat T'rumah

You can listen to Rabbi Miriam's sermon here or read below.

 

 

 

First they projected purple onto the chimneys of Battersea Power Station for Holocaust Memorial Day, and I didn’t speak out because I thought it was just a misplaced gesture that came from good intentions. 

Then they banned Art Spiegleman’s Maus from Tennesse schools and I didn’t speak out...Read more...

Rabbi Deborah Blausten

Mishpatim- Moral Injury

You can listen to Rabbi Deborah's sermon here or read below.

 

 

Rabbinic training is designed to prepare you for life, but there are some bits of the study of rabbinic texts in particular that can seem a little far removed from reality. Like discussions about how many cheek fulls of liquid constitute a meal? What animals can function as the wall of a sukkah? 

If you...Read more...

Rabbi Deborah Blausten

Yitro- there are no heroes, there's just us

You can listen to Rabbi Deborah's sermon or read it below:

 

Hymie Simon, Joe Kurtzberg, Jerry Siegel, Joe Schuster. These may not be familiar names to you, but if you don’t know these men you certainly know their creations. The Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Superman. And to be honest, Simon, Siegel, Kurtzberg, Schuster....Read more...

Rabbi Deborah Blausten

Shabbat Va-yeitzei 5782

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There’s this category of thing you’ve always known and therefore never actually checked to see if its true. You know, like the idea that you lose most of your body heat through your head, or that Vikings had horns on their helmets, or that fortune cookies are Chinese food, or that lemmings jump...Read more...

Rabbi Howard Cooper

Shabbat Va-yeira

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In my early years in the rabbinate - and I am talking about 40, 45, years ago,  because I started in this business ridiculously young - when I listened to other rabbis’ sermons I was aware that they hardly ever talked about what I thought was the most important theme/idea...Read more...

Rabbi Deborah Blausten

Yom Kippur 5782

You can listen to Rabbi Deborah's sermon or read it below:

 

I should be honest here that the sermon I am about to give is not the sermon I originally wrote. I spent, as many rabbis do, my spare time over the summer reading and learning, I spent my weekends talking with study partners and writing, and on Saturday I finished my sermon and sent it to some friends to proof read. 

The...Read more...

Rabbi Miriam Berger

Kol Nidre 5782

You can listen to Rabbi Miriam's sermon or read it below:

 

It’s the image of the shop window which intrigues me most. People standing stock still, looking out, watching the real people on the street go by. They stand making the display look enticing, willing passers-by to come in and choose them, but all the while noticing the minutest detail of the routines just the...Read more...

Rabbi Howard Cooper

Rosh Hashana Day 2

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So here we are. With our ‘new normal’ – and our ‘new caution’ – in our New Year. 

You know what I mean by the ‘new caution’. That we’ve come to the end of something we were used to, and new questions and doubts have infiltrated our thinking: where do we feel comfortable going, out the house? who do we...Read more...

Rabbi Tony Bayfield

Rosh Hashana day 1 5782

REPENTING THE SMUGNESS OF SUCCESS: TWO MICHAELS AND A KARL

THE TYRANNY AND ARROGANCE OF MERITOCRACY: MICHAEL SANDEL
I was standing at my study window looking at the garden and thinking life isn’t so bad. Lovely house, big study lined with many hundreds of books, West Ham season ticket – admittedly less than half the price of the Etihad or the Emirates but fidelity to...Read more...

Rabbi Deborah Blausten

Behar - Bekhukkotai- Words That Burn

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I want to tell you a story about a woman named Imma Shalom. Mother of Peace. She’s one of the few women to be named in the Talmud, she’s only mentioned four times, but it’s not quantity that matters here, it’s quality, and Imma Shalom delivers a lesson in Torah and in daily life that feels particularly relevant for...Read more...

Rabbi Deborah Blausten

Shabbat Emor - Blasphemy and Inclusion

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I absolutely hate it when someone is having an argument on their phone in public. It’s so inconsiderate. Shouting down the receiver, emoting shock, sadness, outrage, it’s so selfish. At least they could have the argument on speaker phone so that I’d know whose side to take!

The joke isn’t mine, but it...Read more...

Rabbi Deborah Blausten

Tazria Metzora - Seeing Each Other's Faces

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Dr Sandra Lee has 7 million followers on youtube and 4.2 million on instagram. She’s better known as dr pimple popper and she has made a name for herself by producing what you might think is niche content but apparently is anything but- filming her work as a dermatologist, removing cysts, squeezing pus, and...Read more...

Rabbi Miriam Berger

I am Jewish - Sermon and readings

You can listen to Rabbi Miriam's sermon or read it below:

 

 

 

Quotes from the book in memory of Daniel Pearl in answer to the question of what is means to say "I am Jewish"

“I am Jewish. It began at birth purely by chance. It continues through my life as a great challenge and will end in the final moments of my life. What is most amazing, though, is...Read more...

Rabbi Miriam Berger

Markaz Yitro

You can listen to Rabbi Miriam's sermon or read it below:

 

This week’s Torah portion identifies the creation of one of biggest problems I see in society. It ruins lives and leaves people completely let down by the structures that are meant to be there to support them.

Let me explain. This week’s...Read more...

Rabbi Howard Cooper

Shabbat Bo - Mental Health Awareness Shabbat

You can listen to Rabbi Howard's sermon or read it below:

 

 

 

Exactly one hundred and one years ago this weekend,  Martha and Sigmund, a bourgeois Viennese couple, received some devastating news. The phone call came at noon. Their pregnant...Read more...

Rabbi Deborah Blausten

Kabbalat Shabbat - Mental Awareness Shabbat

You can listen to Rabbi Deborah's Drash or read it below

 


I’ve started writing this Drash several times this week. Why? Because this Shabbat is mental health awareness Shabbat and it means that clergy around the country have been asked to talk about mental health from the bimah. It’s such an important initiative, and one that means a huge amount to me personally, so why...Read more...

Rabbi Miriam Berger

Shabbat Sh'mot 5781

You can listen to Rabbi Miriam's sermon or read it below

 

 

 

Over the last few days, I’ve been struck by the ever so stark, different outlooks of the population. The news has been full of vaccine updates. The second vaccine being used...Read more...

Rabbi Howard Cooper

Shabbat Lech L'cha 5781

You can listen to Rabbi Howard’s sermon or read it below.

 

It’s a truism to say that these are strange times, disturbing times, vexing times: if you are not feeling destabilised in some fundamental part of yourself, somehow on edge, unable to fully relax, fully let go and enjoy life in all its abundant richness, if you are feeling you have lost some essential inner calmness of spirit, or...Read more...

Rabbi Miriam Berger

Shabbat B'reishit 5781 - 17th October 2020

You can listen to Rabbi Miriam’s sermon or read it below.

 

This week I’ve felt rather sad and helpless. My grandma who has been so stoic since losing her husband of 75 years to Covid at the beginning of lock down has...Read more...

Tue, 9 August 2022 12 Av 5782