Rabbi Heidi Cohen Yom Kippur Morning 5773 – This Morning in the UN

To listen to Rabbi Cohen deliver this sermon, press ‘play’ on the below video. Return to Sermon Archive

Rabbi Heidi CohenThis morning, as we woke, as those in Israel were concluding their fasts, as those on the East Coast were beginning their Yom Kippur morning prayers, a man stood before the United Nations shouting hateful rhetoric. To allow this man, Ahmadinejad, to speak to the United Nations, a body created to promote world peace, on this, the most holiest day of the Jewish year, is a slap in the face of the Jewish people and only serves to promote strife in our already divided world.

But we can’t do anything about this. You or I had no say in if and when this man would speak. You or I had no say in extending or retracting this invitation. But you and I have the ability to do something. Maybe not so profound as standing before the assembly and declaring what a red line should be. Maybe not so profound as saying when Israel should strike, how Israel should strike, if or how the United States should be involved either in the air or on the ground. But we do have a say.

We are told in Torah, blot out the name of Amalek. Amalek, the evil king who sought to destroy the Israelites as they journeyed from Egypt to Israel.  Amalek and his army with all of their weapons who came after the Israelites unarmed. And yet, the Israelites prevailed. And God said,  Remember what Amalek did to you by the way, when you came forth out of Egypt; Therefore it shall be, when Adonai your God has given you rest from all your enemies around, in the land which Adonai your God gives you for an inheritance to possess, that you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget it.  (Deuteronomy 25:17, 19)

We cannot forget that there were those in our past who sought to destroy us and there are those today who still seek to do the same – he is in New York right now and there are others all over the world.

We cannot forget or allow them to distract us. Our being here today, gathered in this space, about to begin our morning worship in the largest gathering of the year, we are remembering. We are standing together. We are not allowing him or anyone to silence our voices. So today, while someone else speaks words of hate, we must speak words of our tradition. Today, while someone tries to discredit us, we must stand proud and sing out that we are Israel and we are not going anywhere. That today, tomorrow, the year to come and years to come, we commit ourselves to our community, the Jewish people, and to the continuation of the Jewish people.

That is why we are here today and that is how we will be here for generations to come.

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