Click here to buy my book, Faith Unravels, or click here to learn more.

Subscribe to my blog to receive my latest news and updates!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 
Click here to get in touch! Contact me about a book reading or coming to speak to your community!
Upcoming Events

Shabbat, June 6-7, Greenville, SC.

Friday, March 28th thru Sunday, March 30th at JCC Biennial

Sunday, April 6th - Monday, April 7th - Akron JCC 

To invite Rabbi Greyber to visit your community, send an email through this website.

Audio / Video
Open to Hope - Click here to listen to a radio interview for "Open to Hope" - a non profit organization with the mission of helping people find hope after loss. .
A Gathering in Support of Israel and Peace, August 13, 2014. Click here to here to listen to "Reflection & Text Study: It is written in the Book of the Wars of Adonai, 'There will be love in the end.'" Click here to list to a prayer for Israel's soldiers, a prayer for healing, a prayer for Israel and a prayer for peace.
Click here to watch the burial of ashes from Dachau in the Durham Hebrew Cemetery, Memorial Day 2014.
Clcik here to watch a panel on Huffington Post Live - February 4, 2014 - on Untimely Death.
Click here to for a podcast with Amy Ziettlow, Host of FamilyScholars Conversations.
Click here to listen to Rabbi Greyber and Rev Joe Harvard on Your Health Radio for their conversation on "Faith and Death" - August 2013
Click here to listen to Rabbi Greyber's conversation with NPR's Frank Stasio on The State of Things.
Click here to watch a panel on Huffington Post Live - December 18, 2012 - on Holiday Loss.
Click here and listen in to minutes 10 to 31 for the conversation for a conversation about Faith & Healing with Drs. Adam Goldstein and Cristy Page on "Your Health Radio."
Click here to listen to a talk given at the Rotary Club of Chapel Hill on June 1, 2012.

 

Thursday
May292014

Dachau to Durham

Last Sunday, I was honored to officicate at a unique and extraordinary occasion: the burial of ashes from Dachau in the Durham Hebrew Cemetery.  Below are some remarks I shared. Feel free to click here to watch a TV story about the occasion or here to read one of the many articles written about the day.

****************


ברוכים הבאים - Hebrew words of welcome that translate literally as, "Blessed are those who have come." It may feel strange to say words of blessing for a day like today, but let me tell you a story. Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt was conducting a funeral a few years ago. After the service finished, while still at graveside, an elderly woman stepped forward and called out for everyone’s attention. It was most unusual. She did not even ask permission to talk. She just started speaking. She wanted us to know what a blessing it was to have a funeral, a proper burial, with friends and family in attendance. How fortunate this individual was to be laid to rest in accordance with Jewish customs and rituals.

For some her remarks were puzzling. But she was a survivor of the Shoah, the Holocaust, as was the person who was buried that day. The elderly woman explained that so many Jews never had a proper burial; that their graves are unknown. Their loved ones were not with them to perform the mitzvah of hesed shel emet, the final act of kindness that a proper burial provides. And so, she said, a funeral is a blessing; to enjoy the freedom offered by this land, and to have a grave.

So too…today is a blessing.

The Torah tells us that when Abraham died, he “breathed his last, died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and was gathered to his people – ויאסף אל עמיו . Today, those who died so many years ago, whose remains traveled from Dachau to Dobson and from Dobson to Durham will now be laid to rest, at last gathered to their people.

Pledge of Allegiance.

Tomorrow, of course, is Memorial Day, when we remember the sacrifice made by America’s soldiers and their families. We are honored to have so many veterans of America’s armed forces here with us today – thank you by honoring us with your presence. 

It was an American soldier, Walter Corsbie of the US Army Air Corps, who was given these ashes; it is that soldier’s son, Joseph, who brought them to us and who is here today to help bring these ashes to their resting place, a patch of soil in a Jewish cemetery, in America, a country that has offered Jews freedom and equality unparalleled in thousands of years of Jewish history.  We are honored to begin by calling forward the Mayor of the City of Durham, Mayor Bill Bell, to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Text Study

One of the ways we mourn in the Jewish tradition, and honor  those who’ve died, is by learning, by furthering our knowledge of and engagement with God’s teachings in their memory. By doing so, we testify that their lives made a difference in ours. Today, we read a text from the Mishnah, a text from the year 160, about the proceedings of the Sanhedrin, the gathering of great judges in Jerusalem.

Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5

 הוו יודעין שלא כדיני ממונות דיני נפשות. דיני ממונות, אדם נותן ממון ומתכפר לו. דיני נפשות, דמו ודם זרעיותיו תלויין בו עד סוף העולם, שכן מצינו בקין שהרג את אחיו, שנאמר (בראשית ד) דמי אחיך צועקים, אינו אומר דם אחיך אלא דמי אחיך, דמו ודם זרעיותיו

לפיכך נברא אדם יחידי, ללמדך, שכל המאבד נפש אחת מישראל, מעלה עליו הכתוב כאלו אבד עולם מלא. וכל המקים נפש אחת מישראל, מעלה עליו הכתוב כאלו קים עולם מלא

Know that civil cases are not like capital cases. In civil cases, a person pays money and atones. In capital cases, the blood of the victim and the blood of his descendants hang over him for eternity, for it says about Cain, “the bloods of your brother cry out to me from the earth” (Genesis 4). It does not say “the blood of your brother” but rather “the bloods,” his blood and the blood of his descendants…

Therefore Adam was created singly, to teach that one who destroys a soul, Scripture accounts it as if one destroyed an entire world, and one who saves a soul, Scripture accounts it as one who saved an entire world.

______________________

Today we bury the ashes of one, or two, or ten people – but each of them was a world, for it was not just them who taken from us, but their children and grandchildren and their descendants for all eternity. And today we are reminded of the power of each one of us – that if we save one person, it is not just one person we save, but children and grandchildren and their descendants for all eternity – an entire world.

 

May this teaching that we learn in memory of all those who died in the Shoah inspire us to remember the infinite value of each human life. Their bloods cry out to us from the ground – they urge us to save the world, one soul at a time.

Wednesday
May072014

On Being Jewish and a Human Being in the NBA and the Modern World

Click here to listen to a sermon on "Sterling and Silver, the Shoah and Social Action: Reflections on Being Jewish and a Human Being in the NBA and in the Modern World" 

 

Tuesday
Apr292014

Routines Are a Double-Edged Sword

Routines are a double edged sword. They help and hinder. Scales help us play others’ music but can dampen the melody within. Morning prayers can inspire to cherish each new day or blind us to all that is not written on the page. In one of the few narratives in the book of Leviticus, Aaron’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu, die for bringing “strange fire that God had not commanded.” There are many theories about the exact nature of their sin. Rashbam (Rabbi Shmuel ben Meir, 1085-1158, from Troyes and Rashi’s grandson) implies they erred through routine. He focuses on the words “God had not commanded” and adds,

on that day. [Meaning], even though on all other days [of the inauguration of the tabernacle] it is written that, “the sons of Aaron the priest should put fire on the altar” (Leviticus 1:7), today Moses did not command [that they bring the fire]. Moses did not want them to bring a ‘regular’ fire because they were expecting the descent of divine fire…they should have waited so that God’s name would be sanctified when everyone would find out that a fire had descended from heaven. Elijah said similarly, “Apply no fire” (I Kings 18:25), because he wanted to sanctify God’s name through the descent of a fire from above.

Nadav and Avihu assumed the 8th day was like every other day, that they should bring the fire as they had done 7 days before. Their routine from yesterday blinded them to the uniqueness of today. Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote, “The greatest hindrance to knowledge is our adjustment to conventional notions, to mental cliches. Wonder, or radical amazement, the state of maladjustment to words and notions, is therefore, a prerequisite for an authentic awareness of that which is.” And in his most recent book, Sacred Attunement, scholar Michael Fishbane writes, “A task of theology is to attune the self to the unfolding occurrence of things in all their particularities and conjunctions, and help one remain steadfast at each new crossing point where raw elementariness, radically given, becomes human experience.”

Life without routine quickly disintegrates into chaos, but can we remain steadfastly aware as each day unfolds? Can we create routines that help us see and experience life more fully rather than deafen our senses? Can we do our part in God’s service and, on the very next day, have the patience to wait for a gift from above?

Friday
Apr112014

Already Free

Passover 2014/5774

I was ten years old. I remember riding in the back of the car on the way to swim practice and being so scared.  The coaches would not tell workouts in advance. We loved sprints. We didn’t mind long pace sets, swimming back and forth. But some sets struck fear in our hearts: 8 x 200 butterfly, or 12 x 200 freestyle, fast, where by the end, every part of you hurts and you just don’t know how you can take any more. My coaches could not jump in the water and make me swim, but each day, I rode to practice scared they were going to make me do one of those sets. As I grew older, I learned not to be so afraid, that fearing them was an excuse for not taking responsibility for my choices to swim. I gave my coaches power over me instead of embracing my freedom.

How often in our lives do we give our power over to others? A person insults us. Quickly, they are gone. Did they even know they hurt us? But we seethe with anger. We seek to avenge our bruised ego. We carry our wounds. For how long? For minutes? Hours? Months? Years? Why do we give them such power?

The Midrash teaches:

When [the Jewish people] descended into the midst of the sea, they found that it full of clay, because it was still wet from the water and so it formed a kind of clay, as it says, “You have trodden the sea with Your horses, through ‘clay’ of mighty waters (Hab. III, 15).” Reuben then said to Simeon: In Egypt we had clay, and now in the sea again clay: in Egypt we had mortar and bricks, and now in the sea again mortar and bricks (Exodus Rabbah, 24:1).

Some people will never be free. Others will never be enslaved.

Viktor Frankl, a survivor of the Shoah and author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” once wrote: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” We have sufficient proof. Freedom is a choice, an assumption of responsibility.

Emerson once wrote, “If you speak to the man, he turns his eyes from his own scene, and slower or faster endeavors to comprehend what you say. When you have done speaking, he returns to his private music.” Passover is a season we are given to choose the songs for our private music. No one can make us scared. No one can make us happy. No one has that power because we only lose our freedom when we give it away. On Passover, God reminds us we can be free. In fact, we already are.

Monday
Feb242014

To What Do We Say Amen?

Amen. Jewish tradition takes that word seriously. Amen is related to the word Emet, meaning “truth.” Amen declares, “What you have said is true!” Amen delineates the boundary of community. In his Laws of Blessings (1:13), Maimonides writes, “One should not respond Amen if the person reciting the blessing is a gentile[1], an apostate, a Samaritan…” When I am with my Christian friends and they end their prayer, “in Jesus’ name,” I feel excluded from the community and I do not answer Amen. But if their prayer language is more general (“God” “Creator”), I answer Amen, grateful for their ecumenicalism and our religious common ground. The word Amen raises the issue: to what do we agree, consciously or unconsciously?

To read the full version of this blog, click here

Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 11 Next 5 Entries »