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September 21, 1990 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-09-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Making
The Message
Count

Rabbis spend weeks, sometimes months, planning their High Holiday sermons,

Part emotional,
part current events,
part schmoozing,
they appeal to the broadest audience.

osh Hashanah and
Yom Kippur are
times of judgment
and repentance, of
families coming
together, crowded syna-
gogues, a change in the
seasons, symbols of apples
and honey.
And for Detroit area
rabbis, it's also a time to
step into the spotlight and
deliver a message that will
hopefully change lives and
refocus congregations to a
greater committment to
Judaism.
Indeed, many Jews look
forward to the High Holi-
days not only for the
prayer, but also for the
words they will hear from
their spiritual leaders.
For most rabbis, High
Holiday sermons are a pro-
ject that requires months to
put together. Every word is
carefully considered; every
thought is refined.
Most important, they
say, are the results: not
whether their words are
eloquent and interesting,
but that congregants begin
to live the lessons their
rabbis speak.

R

waritiftollorft"."001041041011011.110040 11

30

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 1990

Rabbi Nelson

R

abbi David Nelson of
Congregation Beth
Shalom uses his summers
the way bears hibernate in
the winter.
"I call it my creative
rest," he says. "I don't give
sermons in the summer. I
like to save up for Rosh
Hashanah."
Then he bogins to for-
mulate his topics, looking
for inspiration everywhere
from the latest best seller
he's picked up — which
this year means columnist
George Will's book on
baseball — to rabbinic
texts.
"I try to speak about key
concerns and issues in the
lives of my congregants
and in my own life," Rabbi
Nelson says. "I always
start with myself."
Rabbi Nelson will not
deliver Rosh Hashanah
addresses with the direc-
tives, "You must do this;
you must do that," he says.

PHIL JACOBS and
ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM

Assistant Editors

"I focus instead on how to
pay serious attention to our
Jewish tradition — which
is in fact the topic of all my
sermons."
Concern for others is a
frequent topic in Rabbi
Nelson's High Holiday
remarks. "The Bible tells
us we are to remember that
we were downtrodden, and
we must reach out to all
our Jewish brothers and
sisters — and to all human
beings."
While he realizes he may
reach a larger crowd than
at any other time, Rabbi
Nelson does not plan ser-
mons to accommodate
those congregants who
rarely attend services.
"People who may hear
me only once a year expect
me to talk about every-
thing — assimilation, anti-
Semitism, Jewish edu-
cation, intermarriage
—but I'm not going to offer
a potpourri just to show
someone I'm aware of the
numerous issues facing the
Jewish people," he says.
"My litmus test for a
good sermon is whether
people learn something, if

ABOVE:
Rabbi Meilech
Silberberg:
"The most important
element is the state
of spirituality in
which you find
yourself."

LEFT:
Rabbi Arnie
Sleutelberg:
High Holiday
sermons are
"overrated."

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