Rabbi Philip Ohriner

Saving our Minyan: Recommitting to Daily Prayer as a Community Dear friends, I grew up in rural Tennessee where religion is a cultural and societal force. Part of the “culture” of the South in many places, even today, are large black billboards with messages from God in stark white writing upon them—pithy, charming statements like “Sin: it seemed like a... Read more »

The Creative Component of Tu B’shevat

by Philip Ohriner on December 28, 2017

Holidays with a strong “home” component have always been my favorite. Passover, Sukkot, Hanukkah, and Thanksgiving (definitely a “Jewish” holiday) allow us to be creative in our Jewish expression. No two families have the same Passover seder or decorate their Sukkah in precisely the same fashion. No two families have the same Thanksgiving rituals or make exactly the same latkes.... Read more »

The True Fire of Hanukkah

by Philip Ohriner on December 5, 2017

The True Fire of Hanukkah Dear friends, Fire is an alluring natural phenomenon when it is not manifesting in destructive ways. In a controlled environment, fire is one of Judaism’s main metaphors for God’s Presence, particularly when it comes to holy vessels. In Jewish tradition, human beings are considered holy vessels, much like the Tabernacle and Temples that once stood.... Read more »

High Holy Day Sermons

by Philip Ohriner on October 4, 2017

Jonah Moments Kol Nidre, 5778 Rabbi Philip Ohriner The acceleration of global warming; Growing Anti-Semitism; Charlottesville; The scourge of racial inequality; The polarization and accompanying deterioration of civil discourse in our country; Income inequality; Food insecurity; Poverty; Xenophobia; Terrorism in Israel, Great Britain, Spain, and elsewhere; The marginalization of liberal Jews and liberal Judaism by the Israeli government; Syria, North... Read more »

The Harvest of High Holy Days

by Philip Ohriner on August 24, 2017

Dear friends, As leaves begin to change and Summer departs, we begin our preparation for harvest. In a certain sense, the High Holy Days and Sukkot are both harvests. Sukkot celebrates physical sustenance and the Providence present in every Fall vegetable that makes it onto our plates.  The High Holy Days celebrate spiritual and relational sustenance and the Divine presence... Read more »

The Harvest of High Holy Days

by Lynn Crocker on August 24, 2017

Dear friends, As leaves begin to change and Summer departs, we begin our preparation for harvest. In a certain sense, the High Holy Days and Sukkot are both harvests. Sukkot celebrates physical sustenance and the Providence present in every Fall vegetable that makes it onto our plates.  The High Holy Days celebrate spiritual and relational sustenance and the Divine presence... Read more »

Preparing Our Homes and Our Souls for Passover

by Philip Ohriner on March 21, 2017

Dear Friends, For many of us Passover is a cherished time of year. It provides an opportunity to focus on the central narrative of the Jewish people—our role in the quest for freedom. Passover affords us the rare opportunity to think deeply with family and friends about freedom and the remaining work necessary in ensuring freedom for all humanity. As... Read more »

High Holiday sermons offered by Rabbi Ohriner 5777

by Philip Ohriner on October 13, 2016

The Mashgiach and the Captain: Lessons in Judging Others Favorably Rabbi Philip Ohriner Rosh Hashanah Day #1, 5777 There once was a great mashgiach, a supervisor of kosher standards at a food processing plant. The mashgiach was revered by rabbis and his community for upholding the highest standard of kashrut. The trusted mashgiach spent his days travelling from one factory... Read more »
“Dear Ari, As you embark upon another great adventure, I want you to know how much I respect and love the mentsch you have become, especially over this past year. I know you are meeting kids who come from different cities and backgrounds than you. I am sure there are kids who don’t know how to be a mentsch. There... Read more »
In the afterglow of Passover, we now find ourselves in the period of the counting of the omer. The Torah teaches that for 49 days we count the omer each night, as our ancestors did when they left Egypt. Midrash tells us that when our ancestors left Egypt, Moses told them it would take 49 days to reach Mt. Sinai.... Read more »

From Rabbi Ohriner

by Philip Ohriner on April 4, 2016

Dear friends, As you know, February and March were difficult months for our kehillah as we experienced an unusual number of bereavements. From one funeral and shivah minyan to the next, CBD members came out to fulfill the mitzvot of k’vod hamet (honoring the deceased) and nichum aveilim (comforting the bereaved). Over the last eight weeks, I have been reminded... Read more »

From Rabbi Ohriner

by Philip Ohriner on February 18, 2016

Dear Friends, As our staff and Board of Directors begin to think about the year to come at CBD, I’d like to use my column this month to share news about an exciting change that will affect our staffing model beginning this summer. I continue to be in awe of the powerful, meaningful, and intentional change Congregation Beth David has... Read more »
Dear Friends, Shavua Tov! This morning I received the following joint statement from the various arms of Masorti/Conservative Judaism announcing a monumental step forward in a decades-long effort to create a permanent, pluralistic prayer space at the Western Wall. There is information at the bottom about a webinar that we are all invited to participate in to learn more. As... Read more »

From Rabbi Ohriner

by Philip Ohriner on December 16, 2015

Dear Friends, A couple of weeks ago we had a fantastic annual meeting where our community took stock of our financial security, as well as a huge number of statistics and numbers demonstrating the strength and vibrancy of congregational life at CBD. It was a very full meeting with a significant time devoted to the Next50 project. I’d like to... Read more »
By Rabbi Ohriner Bein hameitzarim: Journeying Through Periods of Distress גָּֽלְתָ֨ה יְהוּדָ֤ה מֵעֹ֨נִי֙ וּמֵרֹ֣ב עֲבֹדָ֔ה הִ֚יא יָשְׁבָ֣ה בַגּוֹיִ֔ם לֹ֥א מָצְאָ֖ה מָנ֑וֹחַ כָּל־רֹדְפֶ֥יהָ הִשִּׂיג֖וּהָ בֵּ֥ין הַמְּצָרִֽים׃ Judah has gone into exile Because of misery and harsh oppression; When she settled among the nations, She found no rest; All her pursuers overtook her in the narrow places. This verse from the book... Read more »

News from Israel – July 6, 2015

by Contributor on July 15, 2015

Inside Israel The 5th happiest country in the world.  Israel is one of the top 5 happiest countries, according to a new Better Life Index report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  Israel came after Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland on 22 variables – including income, education, housing, health, life expectancy, life satisfaction and community. Zoabi is... Read more »

Preparing for Passover

by Philip Ohriner on March 20, 2015

Dear friends, As we move ever closer to Passover, I am sure many of you are beginning to think about Passover cleaning and preparing for the Festival of Freedom. The physical, spiritual, and intellectual work we do in the coming weeks leading up to Passover is some of the most intense work of the entire year. All of this work... Read more »

NEXT 50 UPDATE February 12, 2015

by Philip Ohriner on February 13, 2015

Starting on TUESDAY FEBRUARY 17th the main entry doors will be closed! This is the beginning of a very exciting time. It is truly the first giant physical step towards our extraordinary future, as well as the beginning of a finite period of up-rootedness. Please continue to refer to the website regularly for program locations, construction logistics and general project... Read more »

My Last Column

by Daniel Pressman on December 31, 2014

After many hundreds of columns and thousands of words, here I am. The term for gratitude in Hebrew is hakarat ha-tov, which means “recognizing the good.” As I look back over 33 years of service to Congregation Beth David, I am grateful for so much, more than I can express in this short column. The people of Beth David gave... Read more »
Dear friends, We are excited to announce a partnership between Congregation Beth David and Milk & Honey Catering (M&H), led by Jonathan Mizrahi. While we are very pleased with the service that House of Bagels provided us for Kiddush lunches and dinners, this move allows us to have an in-house, full-time kosher caterer under Rabbi Ohriner’s kashrut (the laws of... Read more »

Rabbi Ohriner’s High Holy Day Remarks

by Philip Ohriner on October 2, 2014

Dear friends, It is a privilege to share my remarks from the High Holy Days with you (links and text below)! As I posted on Facebook just after the end of Rosh Hashanah, I am so moved by the courage of our community and the holy work we undertook collectively and individually over the holidays at CBD. To all who... Read more »
Dear friends, This past Shabbat we had the honor of celebrating the impending marriage of one of our members to her non-Jewish fiancé. This was a significant change in communal practice at Congregation Beth David, one that I did not take lightly. I wanted to share with each of you the position paper I presented to our Board of Directors... Read more »

Communal Solidarity During Difficult Times

by Philip Ohriner on July 24, 2014

Dear Friends, I am still overwhelmed by the show of support displayed at our community gathering in solidarity with Israel held this past Tuesday. To see our sanctuary filled to capacity with standing-room only and folks spilling out into the halls brought me and so many others tremendous strength at a particularly difficult moment for the Jewish people. I am... Read more »

Standing in Solidarity with Israel

by Philip Ohriner on July 9, 2014

Dear friends, This afternoon I write to you broken-hearted. The incessant raining of rockets fired by Hamas into Israel, over 300 in the last 48 hours, has my stomach in knots. Along with so many in our community, I am reaching out to friends and family in Israel currently living life from minute to minute, unsure of when they will... Read more »
A Promise and a Challenge: Engaging in a New Narrative Regarding Israel Dear Friends, This past Rosh Hashanah I made a promise to you community. I promised that we, as a Kehillah Kedoshah, a holy community, would begin to engage one another in conversations regarding Israel. As support for our Jewish homeland wanes amongst our children, it is imperative that... Read more »