Sermons | Congregation Beth Am





Rabbi Charles Briskin
September 18, 2001

For a full four minutes every April, Israel comes to a halt. Two minutes on Yom Hashoah-Holocaust Remembrance Day and two on Yom Hazikaron-Israel's Memorial Day. The wail of air-raid sirens pierce the bustle of city life, summoning all people to stop-for two minutes. The cacophony of noise in each city, town, and kibbutz is reduced to one sound--the cry of the siren. Cell phones stop ringing, shop keepers stop bartering, politicians stop arguing and car horns stop honking. Drivers halt their cars in the middle of the street, and step out to stand in silent reverence and remembrance. For...

Rabbi Janet Marder
September 7, 2001

My grandpa Joe was a truck driver. Like all of my grandparents, he never went to college; he never owned a home, and he worked hard all of his life. One of my earliest memories is of Grandpa taking my brother and sister and me to a big Christmas party put on by his union, the Teamsters. I remember how proud and excited he was to show off his grandchildren to the men in his local. Only later did I discover that not everyone thought of the Teamsters’ union with the same nostalgic affection that I did.

How did...

Rabbi Janet Marder
August 31, 2001

I read this week that the city of Chicago has embarked on a radical new experiment: an effort to pull an entire city away from televisions and video screens into the pages of literature (NY Times Aug.28, 2001). Chicago officials are asking every adult and adolescent in the city to join together in reading the same book at the same time. The book they have chosen is Harper Lee's powerful anti-racism classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird." The city has launched a vigorous promotional campaign, including placing thousands of copies in Spanish and Polish translations on library shelves and organizing...

Rabbi Janet Marder
May 4, 2001

Exactly 40 years ago this week astronaut Alan Shepherd became the first American in space. On May 5, 1961 he blasted off from Cape Canaveral and rocketed 117 miles up, landing 15 minutes later, 300 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. It was just a month after Major Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union had orbited the earth in the world's first manned space flight.

Some saw the human conquest of outer space as a profound challenge to religious faith. It was one of the early Russian cosmonauts, I think, who commented that he had proven once and for...

Rabbi Janet Marder
December 15, 2000

Do you have a childhood memory of sitting on the knee of some department store Santa Claus? I do. The memories come back to me as I stroll in the mall these days, surrounded by the trappings of the Christmas season. One rabbi I know has a name for the discomfort that some Jews feel at this time of the year -- our sense of being a minority engulfed by someone else's holiday. He calls it "Santa Claustrophobia."

Why do many parents - even some Jewish parents - tell their children about Santa Claus, want them to believe in...

Rabbi Janet Marder
December 8, 2000

I love Yiddish. Not only for its sound and its emotional texture, but for the special wisdom that resides in "di mameloshn." Take, for example, the term "shayne yidn." Literally it means "beautiful Jews." To Yiddish speakers a shayner yid isn't someone with lustrous hair, sparkling teeth and a great body. A shayner yid, a beautiful Jew, is a refined person, a cultivated person, a person of sterling character.

To me that little phrase captures a kernel of Jewish wisdom: the idea that true beauty, the beauty that matters, is inner beauty, beauty of heart and mind and...


Congregation Beth Am
  • 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
  • (650) 493-4661 Contact Us

We strive to live as a holy community whose study and practice of Judaism inspires and challenges us to "do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8).