Tag Archives: dvar torah

A Bar Mitzvah Boy’s Call for Marriage Equality

I am a very, very strong supporter of equal rights and the freedom of men and women to marry whomever they love.
-Duncan McAlpine Sennett

During his bar mitzvah service at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, Oregon Duncan McAlpine Sennett gave this amazing D’var Torah. Forget what the Pew Study says—the future of Judaism is bright!

Mazel Tov, Duncan and the folks at Congregation Beth Israel for nurturing and supporting him.

Posted on December 4, 2013

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Rosh HaShanah: Sanctifying Our In-Betweens

Rabbi Reuben Zellman delivered this D’var Torah on Erev Rosh HaShanah in 2006 at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav in San Francisco. Seven years later, his words remain relevant and meaningful.

Gut yontef, L’shanah Tovah, Shabbat Shalom!

Before I begin, I want to offer my deepest thanks to all of my beloved Sha’ar Zahav community for the opportunity to be here with you this year. It is a privilege and a joy, and at this time of year I am especially grateful to God and to all of you.

Creative Common/Michael Fawcett

Creative Common/Michael Fawcett

We stand here tonight without knowing quite where we are. Or more precisely, we don’t know quite when we are. Shabbat has come in; the sun is just gone over the horizon. During this evening’s service light gives way to dark, and the old year and the new year meet. We cannot ever pinpoint the exact moment when the old year disappears forever. But we know that there is a time at sundown when it is no longer the past year and it is not yet the year to come. It is old and new, both and neither one, at the same time. For fleeting minutes on the evening of Rosh Hashanah, time and certainty are suspended, and we who have come to pray are lifted up into twilight and its mystery. Continue reading

Posted on September 3, 2013

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What I Wish I Had Known at 13

When the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would decide on the legality of California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June, I decided to take a look at a speech I gave about lesbian and gay families for my synagogue’s oratory contest in 2004. At the time, Multnomah County, Oregon (a mile from where I lived) had briefly legalized same-sex marriage, bringing LGBTQ rights to the local forefront for the first time I could remember; I, as a not-yet-aware-I-was-queer 13-year-old, wanted to share my thoughts from a Jewish perspective. My speech (which won second place in the middle school division!) was well-intentioned, but often misguided. Among other things, it:

  • Called homosexuality a lifestyle
  • Discussed the Torah’s call to kill men who have sex with men in a “well, we shouldn’t kill, but obviously it must be bad if the Torah said it was worthy of death” kind of tone
  • Acknowledged that same-sex couples could make great parents and that adopting was a mitzvah
Creative Common/sgt fun

Creative Common/sgt fun

In the years between giving that speech in 2004 and now, I grew and changed: from a middle schooler to a grad student, from a Conservative Jew to a humanistic one, and from a closeted boy to a proud queer man. During many of those years, I struggled to understand and accept my sexual orientation. I recently reflected upon what I wish I had known before that struggle, when I gave my speech nine years ago: Continue reading

Posted on July 10, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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