Speaking Topics

booksigning

“Finding Hope and Faith in the Face of Death: Insights of a Rabbi and Mourner” (published in April of 2018)

My book is about giving hope and faith, comfort and inspiration when a death occurs. Based on my professional experiences throughout my forty-one-year career as well as my personal losses, the book contains sixteen short sermons that can positively affect the transition from mourning to living our lives. I will be happy to sign copies after I read a couple selections and answer questions.

“Three Reasons Why Abraham Lincoln Was the Best President for American Jews” (previously taught at Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook, Jewish Center of the Moriches, and Hadassah Sea- Port Chapter)

Lincoln promoted and protected the rights of Jews at a time when their status in America was just beginning to rise. This talk is based on books written by historians Gary Zola and Jonathan Sarna, and features primary documents from that era.

“Ten Tips for ‘Successful’ Jewish Parenting and Grand- parenting” (previously taught at Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook and Temple Beth El in Huntington)

This PowerPoint presentation emphasizes the ways in which adults can set an example of Jewish commitment and involvement for their children and/or grandchildren by how they live, what they do, and what they say.

“Judaism and the Afterlife” (previously presented at the April 2017 Stony Brook Hillel ‘Jewish University for a Day’)

In this speech, I trace the development of beliefs about the afterlife in Biblical times, the Rabbinic era, the Medieval period, the Enlightenment, and Modern-day Judaism. It answers the many questions Jews have about life after death.

“’Turn, Turn, Turn’: What We Can Learn From the Book of Ecclesiastes” (previously taught at Temple Isaiah and at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute [OLLI] Program at Stony Brook University)

The Book of Ecclesiastes is profound and meaningful, especially for senior citizens, but its messages about wisdom, family values, and perspective can be understood by anyone.

“David: From Shepherd Boy to King to Messiah Ancestor” (taught at OLLI Program at Stony Brook University from September through December 2017 and 2018)

Combining text study and discussion as we trace David from his humble beginnings to his eternal greatness, this can be done as a ten-session course or as individual classes or speeches.

1) Why David is Still Important 3,000 Years After He Lived
2) From Shepherd Boy to National Hero
3) His Enemy Saul, His Friend Jonathan, and His Wife Michal
4) Not a “Family Guy”: David’s Wives and Children
5) King-Size Adultery: The Bathsheba Story
6) Was David a Great King?
7) David in Music and Art
8) David in Literature, Films, and Television
9) David the Psalmist and the Subject of Prayers
10) David as the Ancestor of the Messiah

“Daily Life-Lessons from the Brilliance of Yom Kippur: Sin and Repentance, Apologizing and Forgiveness, Atonement and Reconciliation” (Taught at Temple Isaiah in October and November 2017)

Our Yom Kippur liturgy is reinforced by modern psychology in encouraging behavior that can better our lives.

1) Turning Wrong into Right: Why Sin is Normal
2) I “Applegize”: Why Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word
3) Letting Go of Your Past and Taking Control of Your Future: Why Forgiveness is Good for You
4) Self-Love is Not Selfish: Why Atonement and Reconciliation Are So Empowering

“Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus and What We Do Believe” (Taught at Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook and at Temple Beth El in Huntington in March and April 2018)

Judaism differs with Christianity about the role of Jesus, agrees about the importance of a Messiah or Messianic Age, and has much in common with Christianity. This course presents the theories of scholars and historians and various Biblical texts to clarify Judaism’s beliefs.

1) Was Jesus the Son of God, a Prophet, a Rabbi, a Revolutionary, a Tzadik, a Pharisee, or the Messiah?
2) Jewish Beliefs about the Messiah and the Messianic Age
3) What Beliefs Do Judaism and Christianity Share?

“Bob Dylan’s ‘Jewish’ Music” (Taught at Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook in April/May 2018 and October 2018, at Temple Beth El in Huntington in October 2018, and at the Suffolk Y-JCC in Commack in December 2018)

Based on Seth Rogovoy’s Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet, and other resources, this course involves listening to and dis- cussing some of Dylan’s lyrics that contain Biblical and Jewish references. Included are well-known songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Forever Young,” “All Along the Watchtower,” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”

“What I Learned From My Heart Attack: Practical Lessons for Everyday Life” (published in the Journal of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1997)

This talk is intended to inform and inspire people about how to deal with stress and what Judaism encourages us to believe and do to enhance the quality and quantity of our days and years.

“Growing Older Gracefully” (Delivered to Hadassah Sea-Port Chapter in September of 2018)

This presentation draws on Jewish texts and modern psychology to emphasize how a positive approach to growing older can affect the daily quality of our lives. We are in control of how we react to tragedy, how we establish priorities, and how we can learn to forgive ourselves and others with the power of chesed—true love and grace. We do not have to be the “victims” of the aging process, and we can be the creators of the life ahead of us.

“GUILT!!! Why do we accept it? Why do we impose it? How can we handle it?” (Yom Kippur Afternoon Discussion, Temple Isaiah, September 2018)

“Jewish Guilt” is an overblown, mischaracterized cultural phenomenon. “True” Jewish Guilt dates back to the Torah, but there is an inherent commitment to forgiveness. There is good guilt and bad guilt, and it can keep us on the right path of behavior or convince us that we are bad people not worthy of be- ing forgiven. It is up to us to decide if we have no choice but to feel guilty, if we have to use it to get other people to do what we want, and if we can turn it from a liability into an asset.

“What Reform Judaism and Orthodox Mysticism Have in Common” (Temple Beth El, Huntington, December 2018)

Believing that you can make a positive difference in the world every day of your life is the most important message taught by Orthodox Mysticism and Reform Judaism. In this session, we will explore how both movements opposed what they saw as the passive approach of Orthodoxy. We will discover how two extreme viewpoints met in the middle to empower individual Jews to practice “Tikkun Olam” (Repair of the World), and why making the world a better place should be a priority in our lives now.

“JEWS IN BASEBALL: ON THE FIELD AND OFF THE FIELD” 

Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg, and Ryan Braun are among the names that come to mind immediately for Jewish fans of Major League Baseball.  But there are and were other players, managers, coaches, league executives, and club executives whose Jewish heritage is or was part of their identity.  This presentation is a source of pride, nostalgia, and a number of surprises.

“HOW WOMEN ARE TREATED IN THE HEBREW BIBLE—OUR FOUR FOREMOTHERS: SARAH, REBEKAH, LEAH, AND RACHEL” 

The Hebrew Bible, edited at the end of the First Century of the Common Era, was the product of a patriarchal society and was probably written by men.  Although the Four Matriarchs are sometimes overshadowed by the Three Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—each one is a fascinating person and has her own distinctive story.  This topic can be condensed to one presentation if necessary.