Interior Sanctuary

High Holy Day Sermons

On this page you can find each Rabbi's High Holy Day sermons. Search for them by service or by the Rabbi's name.
Simply click on one of the tabs to present the sermons you want to see.

Enjoy! 

Read

Yom Kippur 5780/2019 - Yizkor - Rabbi Leder
  • Rabbi Leder
  • Yom Kippur

This is my 33rd Yizkor on this bimah.  But in a profound way, it is also my first.  Because I buried my father one year ago yesterday, this is the first time I have felt what so many of you feel.  I have learned much this past year of sorrow and moving on….    

Helplessness:  Now I understand the psalmist when he said, “Nah-ah-vay-tee shachotee ad m’od--I am bent and bowed low.” (ps 38:6)  

Read More about Yom Kippur 5780/2019 - Yizkor - Rabbi Leder
Rabbi Joel Nickerson
  • Rabbi Nickerson
  • Yom Kippur

My fears have changed at different stages in my life. In my early twenties, after studying Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory, another type of fear rose up in me. I realized I didn’t want to be a doctor but now what was I going to do with my life? And years later, after Julia gave birth to our third daughter, Rebecca, there were some very scary complications and an entirely new set of fears emerged. Luckily, she was okay. There’s a phrase used in the military and by doctors in the ER – “Don’t just do something, stand there.” It’s a reminder that before you act, you should assess the situation and consider your next step very carefully.

Read More about Yom Kippur 5780/2019 - Rabbi Nickerson
Rabbi Shapiro
  • Rabbi Shapiro
  • Yom Kippur

There could be thirty-three million Jews in the world today, but there are only thirteen million—up to twenty million Jews are missing because of a broken promise. In 1917 the British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour sent a letter to Lord Rothschild making a promise.

“His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object….”

Had Balfour kept his word, we wouldn’t have had to wait another forty-one years and fight a war for Israel to be born, and six million Jews would have had a place to go before Germany’s Final Solution.

Read More about Yom Kippur - 5780/2019 - Rabbi Shapiro
Kol Nidrei - 5780/2019 - Rabbi Leder
  • Rabbi Leder
  • Yom Kippur

My father was buried one year ago this morning. I have spoken before about how frugal he was. How he rinsed paper plates, laid them out to dry and reused them; how he would ask the waitress for just a little hot water and slice of lemon, then pull a nasty, used tea bag from his red, plaid flannel shirt pocket and drop it in. These behaviors were the result of a world view, a deeply-held religious and philosophical doctrine often articulated to me in my youth with the Yiddishism “A bissel iz a plotz -- a little is a lot.” 

Read More about Kol Nidrei - 5780/2019 - Rabbi Leder
Rabbi Eshel
  • Rabbi Eshel
  • Rosh Hashanah

Ah love… for us in southern california the wedding season is all year long.  So many couples, I dare say the majority of couples I marry are meeting online… Jdate, Match, ok cupid, tinder, eharmony, Jswipe, and my ultimate favorite?... at least by name… Saw You at Sinai! 


The idea behind the name is all Jewish souls, stood together at sinai, that each and every one of us was there standing together entering into our covenantal relationship with God. We chose to become part of something greater than ourselves, God promising blessing and purpose and meaning and we promise a life of responsibility and intention and action. 

Read More about Rosh HaShanah 5780/2019 - Rabbi Eshel
Rabbi Nanus
  • Rabbi Nanus
  • Rosh Hashanah

It was the end of the brief Siberian summer, sometime in the early 1940’s. My grandfather, Rabbi Meir Halberstam, was just a young boy of 13 and imprisoned in a work camp together with his grandfather, the Rebbe of Zmigrad, Rabbi Sinai Halberstam.


Before the war, in 1936, young Meir had moved to the holy city of Jerusalem with his family. In honor of his upcoming bar mitzvah, his father sent him back to Poland to celebrate the auspicious day in the Chassidic court of his holy grandfather. He arrived in Poland just as the rumble of imminent war was making itself heard. Disciples, family, and community members where all scrambling to save their lives. Young Meir, unable to return to Jerusalem, escaped with his grandfather and immediate family to Russia. At last they were safe, or so they thought.

Read More about Rosh Hashanah 5780/2019 - Second Day - Rabbi Nanus
Rabbi Nanus
  • Rabbi Nanus
  • Rosh Hashanah

It was winter 1994 and my fourth freezing cold day in Moscow. I was there to adopt an eleven-month-old baby girl, but the paperwork and bureaucracy were taking forever, and I found that I had a free afternoon on my hands.

I knew exactly what I wanted to do. My grandparents had come to America from Russia.  In college, I had demonstrated for the freedom of Soviet Jews. Now I was actually here, and I had read that there was one synagogue left in the city.

I found out the address and hailed a taxi. The driver didn’t speak English, but it turns out that the word “synagogue-a” is the same in every language.

Read More about Rosh Hashanah 5780/2019 - Rabbi Nanus
Rabbi Joel Nickerson
  • Rabbi Nickerson
  • Rosh Hashanah

Whether or not to take the job at Wilshire Boulevard Temple was a huge decision. I had been working at Temple Isaiah for eight years and before that, spent two years at the University of Pennsylvania Hillel. Before accepting the job, I did a lot of soul-searching, serious due-diligence into the inner workings of this place, and spent many hours with Julia discussing our lives, our priorities, our children, and our dreams.  

...But it doesn’t take a new job to feel overwhelmed. Everyone I know is trying to balance more than they can handle. We’re overwhelmed by our to-do list.  We’re more stressed than calm; more chaotic than at peace; more anxious than contemplative; life feels more frustrating than it is fun. 

Read More about Rosh HaShanah 5780/2019 - Koleinu - Rabbi Nickerson
Rabbi Shapiro
  • Rabbi Shapiro
  • Rosh Hashanah

I don’t know about you, but this is about the time of the morning when I start to realize that breakfast was a few hours ago, lunch is a few hours off, and I’d kill for an espresso to stop from yawning.

It reminds me of an old story about a rabbi who was invited to spend the day on the yacht of one of his wealthier congregants. 

The rabbi arrives dressed in perfectly pressed chinos, a blue blazer with gold buttons, and an ascot tied round his neck. They set sail and the rabbi relaxes on the deck and lights a cigar. 

Another guest, assuming the rabbi is the owner of the boat, approaches him and says, “This is an incredible vessel you have here. How many does it sleep?”

Read More about Rosh Hashanah 5780/2019 - Rabbi Shapiro