Rabbi Philip Ohriner

The Counting of the Omer: Spiritual Richness and Two loaves of Bread

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, ... Read more »

The Jewish Holidays of Yom Hazikaron and Yom HaAtzma’ut

by Philip Ohriner on April 10, 2018

The Jewish Holidays of Yom Hazikaron and Yom HaAtzma’ut

This month we mark Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) and Yom HaAtzma’ut (Independence Day). For those of you who have never experienced these consecutive two days in Israel, know that they are qualitatively different from Memorial Day and Independence Day here in the U.S., particularly in the fact that they are conjoined. ... Read more »

Preparing Our Homes and Our Souls for Passover

by Philip Ohriner on March 14, 2018

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 »

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 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 »

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 »

Entering into “The Daze of ‘Ah!’”

by Philip Ohriner on July 15, 2015

Believe it or not, as you read these words we are quickly approaching the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe, the period of the year when we intensify our engagement in the process of teshuvah, returning God, friends, family, and our ideal “self”. Judaism displays a depth of wisdom in encouraging us to engage in a course of ... Read more »

Our Judaism, Our Israel: Vote MERCAZ

by Philip Ohriner on March 20, 2015

Dear Friends,

We write to you today about a critical election that is about to take place that greatly affects Israel. No, not the upcoming election for Prime Minister in Israel. This particular election is one in which you can have voice and influence the course of Israel’s development and growth whether you are an Israeli citizen or not. This ... 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 »

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 »