The Synagogue Sermon
The Rabbi's sermon has seen many changes throughout Jewish history.
The modern type of sermon became the norm in England and in the USA. Even in Eastern Europe in the nineteenth century, where the art of the old Maggidim still flourished, the sermons in Yiddish were often more sophisticated than in the past and more relevant to the burning social and political issues of the day.
In modern Rabbinical seminaries, Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative, homiletics is an important subject in the curriculum. For the modern Rabbi, preaching is an important part, perhaps the most important part, of his Rabbinic activity.
Certain fashions in preaching have become the norm. On the festivals, for instance, every Rabbi would see himself as having failed in his duty if he did not devote his sermon to the particular theme of the festival--freedom for Passover, trust in God for Tabernacles, the importance of Jewish survival for Hanukkah, and so forth.
Among the more general themes to which the modern pulpit addresses itself are: the alleged conflict between religion and science; the role of the State of Israel; the permissive society; intermarriage; Jewish education; war and peace; social justice; racial discrimination; the use and abuse of wealth; and Judaism in relation to other religions.
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