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September 21, 1990 - Image 32

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

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

The Message


Rabbi Avraham
"I want people to get
something practical,
an answer to, 'What
does this mean for
my life?'"

Rabbi Norman
"If one person
comes up to me and
tells me I've made a
difference, then I
know I'm a success."

constantly comes across
ideas to use in his Rosh
Hashanah sermon. "I can
be sitting in a car or
waiting in line when I'll
think of a word. Just before
Rosh Hashanah, I'll take
all my notes and compile
He reviews events of the
past year, trying to learn
lessons about serving God.
He then hopes to impart
this insight through his
sermon to congregants.
"All Jews are born with a
soul that has a penchant
for service to God," he says.
"We don't have to teach
Jews to be spiritual. We
just have to draw it out."

Rabbi Roman


■•■■•■•■■•■ 011."01 ■ 01WWWW11



abbi Norman Roman
gets misty- eyed when
he speaks about his High
Holiday sermons. The
spiritual leader of Temple
Kol Ami and president of
the Michigan Board of Rab-
bis has had several signifi-
cant events happen in rela-
tion to his sermons.
He remembers eight
years ago when he ser-
monized about the expecta-

tions he had over the birth
of his first child. And when
his daughter, Caryn, was
born on erev Rosh
Hashanah, the sermon
became emotional and
joyously difficult.
He can also remember
sermonizing about then
Soviet refusenik Ida Nudel
and her need to be lib-
erated. The next day he
read a story in the New
York Times that Ms. Nudel
was free.
There are other stories.
Because of the significance
of the year, Rabbi Roman
believes there is something
almost magical about it. It
is appropriate that this is a
time of great expectations,
he says. And it is the ex-
pectations of his con-
gregants that he tries to
touch through his sermons.
Rabbi Roman follows a
pattern for his series of
four sermons that includes
a certain amount of per-
sonal nostalgia, current
events, poetry, biblical ref-
erence and what he kid-
dingly calls "schmooze."
"I vary my themes and
my delivery style of the
sermons," Rabbi Roman

says. "One sermon is
always Israel oriented
while one is theological,
one is current events and
the other is usually
oriented to my temple. In
this case, we're celebrating
our 25th anniversary and
we're going to commission
the writing of a Torah."
Rabbi Roman likes to
quote different poets in his
sermons. Typically, he'll
use Alfred Lord Tennyson's
verse, "Come my friends,
it's not too late . . ."
"I do this because I think
my congregants expect cer-
tain things out of a ser-
mon," he says. "They want
to be entertained,
stimulated and educated.
In addition to this, many of
my congregants want a
validation for some of the
things that they are think-
ing themselves about their
If there is a bottom line to
his sermons, it's the stress-
ing of a sense of awe, the
rabbi says. He also says
that because many more
Jews attend services dur-
ing the High Holidays, he
is under a certain amount
of pressure to deliver more.
And it's through the ser-
mon that the message is
"I'd like to say that I
wish I could be as intense
at every weekly sermon as
I am during the High Holi-
day sermons," he says.
"But I know I'm not. As a
rabbi, you put more of
yourself into the High
Holiday sermon. I don't
measure my success if 100
people come up to me and
say 'Wow.' If I know I've
helped one person who
comes up to me and tells
me I've made a difference,
then I know I'm a success."

Rabbi Spectre


abbi Efry Spectre col-
lects ideas and news
tidbits in a folder he keeps
specifically for his High
Holiday sermons. Then' he
takes the information dur-

ing the summer and blends
it into a series that includes
everything from biblical
passages to the world's cur-
rent situation.
But if there is one theme
the Adat Shalom Syn-
agogue rabbi wants to ad-
dress during these days,
,it's the understanding that
life is judged during this
time. It's a time of
possibilities, he says, when
Jews cap mitigate the se-
verity of the decree.
"It is a time when,
through our sermons, we
can help people realize that
we are fallible, that we are
most frail," he says.
"The sermon should raise
nerve endings. If life is
judged at this time,
perhaps the right word at
the right time will affect a
person so his life will
change. Sometimes people
are coming to shul during
the High Holidays because
they are giving Judaism a
shot. They might not be
into the Machzor (High
Holiday prayer book), so
they come to have the rabbi
talk to them."
Rabbi Spectre says he
isn't there to judge those
who decide to attend syn-
agogue only during the
High Holidays. He says,
however, that he hopes to
motivate through his ser-
mons change in the con-
"I want there to be a stir-
ring in their lives during
this time," he says. "A suc-
cessful sermon is one that
will motivate. I'm unsuc-
cessful if the sermon
doesn't motivate one to
look at himself and im-
"But it's not all or
nothing, and I'm not look-
ing to reach the lowest
common denominator with
my sermons. If they come
in at least for the sermon,
that's sometimes the open-
ing in their spiritual
Rabbi Spectre says the
High Holidays are a
critical time for religious

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