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Will We Have Faith and Will Our Faith Have Children?

“Rachel is weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are not.” — Jeremiah 31:14

This excerpt from the book of Jeremiah seeks to highlight the pain and anguish that the Israelites experienced upon their exile to Babylonia. Jeremiah stood in the moment of deep pathos. The poetry of Jeremiah describes Rachel weeping and her fear that there will be no more children – there will be no more future. The anguish of wondering about the future when all appears as barrenness and desolation is the fear of loss encapsulated in her very being.

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Unity Matters Now

On November 8, 2016 this country elected a man to the presidency who has never held public office. He has never served in our military. No major network or news group predicted his win. This historic event has troubled many. Some have expressed anger and rage, while others are confused and fearful. The future is unclear and for this reason my thoughts go to a story in the book of Samuel.

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Yom Kippur Yizkor Thoughts

One of the greatest gifts of Yom Kippur is that we take the time to be contemplative, to be present with one another, to bare our souls to God and to remember our loved ones who have gone before.  This Yizkor service gives us an opportunity to remember that we are simply a link in the chain of tradition stretching back to Moses.  We are individuals woven into the fabric of humanity and the greater world – something that can be easily forgotten as we go about our busy days.
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Getting Ready for Yom Kippur

Every year we read the book of Jonah on Yom Kippur. The reading in the afternoon marks a dramatic conclusion for a day of fasting, praying, and introspection. A time in which we truly reconsider our lives, our deeds, and how to best return to God. Often times we are blind to the things which we really need to repent for. Sometimes we can be blinded by greed, selfishness, insecurities or even our ego. It is an extremely painful thing to realize that a mistake was made. Sometimes that realization can only happen years after that incident occurred when our emotions are finally at ease and our insecurities are at a rest.
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Prayer from the Huntsville Islamic Center

This is what I shared when I prayed at the Huntsville Islamic Center on December 18th.  It was the first time I was invited to speak in their prayer space.  It is something which I hope and pray will happen more.  The only way to get through the virus of bigotry is through education and by being present with one another.  I hope that this is something which is meaningful and that the event which occurred on Friday will be the continuation of more events to come.

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Why We Need to See the Other

From 1979 when militant Iranian students took 52 Americans hostages, through today, we still confused about the term religious fundamentalist.  What does it mean and where does it come from? Who is and who is not?  Does being religious automatically mean you will become fundamentalist?  If you are a fundamentalist, are you connected with terrorism?

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Joanie Plous Bayer Young Leadership Honorary Award Acceptance Speech

I can only say thank you! I was so surprised to learn that I had received this award! And am so happy to share this with Rabbi Yammer, of whom I have heard so many wonderful things.  I am honored to have met you this evening.  I would also like to thank everyone here for attending and particularly to my congregation who have driven down from Huntsville to Birmingham. It is wonderful to see you all.

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