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The girl in the museum - Yom Kippur 2019/5780

10/10/2019 12:04:01 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

The girl I saw in the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama this summer looked to be about ten years old.  Her mother stood beside her, one hand resting lightly on her daughter’s shoulder.

I noticed the girl because there were no other children in the museum.  The exhibits in this museum are difficult, even for adults.  There are flyers advertising the sale of enslaved people:  men, women and children. There is a...Read more...

The Snake - kol nidre 2019/5780

10/10/2019 12:01:46 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

Just across the river from here, at the trailhead into Doodletown, a sign warns hikers: Timber Rattlesnake Habitat Ahead!  The sign says that rattlesnakes are a threatened species. If a hiker encounters one, the snake should be left alone.  But I wasn’t worried. I hiked the trails often and I never saw a rattlesnake.

One very hot day I had the trails to myself.  As I made my way through the quiet forest, I heard...Read more...

intruder - Rosh Hashanah 2019/5780

10/01/2019 12:57:06 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

This summer I spent a few days in the North Cascade mountains of Washington State.  My friend Red lives out there.  She owns the stable where I ride. This year we saddled up and rode out together on the first day of my visit.  It was a perfect morning. Sunlight angled through the thick pine trees, and the air was cool and fragrant.

As our horses walked through the trees, Red filled me in on the news of her stable and...Read more...

President's Congregational Message 2019

10/01/2019 11:16:47 AM


Steve Samuels

I feel blessed to share the High Holy Days with you.  I’m thankful to everyone who makes these services possible and meaningful.  Many people you see and many are behind the scenes.  It’s a group effort with devotion at its core. It's an honor to serve this community which has meant so much to our family and me.  I grew up with Jewish family, culture, education, and service as driving forces- yes, I’m one of those....Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 2018/5779

09/12/2018 09:09:35 AM


Click on this post for Rosh Hashanah 2018/5779 Sermon and President's message


The temple bombing

09/30/2017 03:26:30 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

 It’s a warm Friday night in May, in the year 1958.    In Atlanta, Georgia, Rabbi Jacob Rothschild is preaching at Shabbat services.  Rabbi Rothschild serves the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, better known as “The Temple,” the oldest Reform synagogue in Atlanta, housed in a beautiful building. 

The title of Rabbi Rothschild’s sermon is: “Can this be America?”   The rabbi preaches:...Read more...

Our Call

09/30/2017 03:24:50 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

Delivered Rosh Hashanah Morning

It was a lovely Jerusalem afternoon in 2013. My husband David and I walked around the neighborhood where I lived when I was in rabbinical school.  I pointed out the balcony of my apartment, overlooking a shaded courtyard.  We walked by the makolet, the tiny corner store where I would send ten-year-old Isaac to buy milk and overpriced Cheerios.   We passed by the green-grocer, the...Read more...


09/30/2016 03:19:40 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

At my age, I should have known better.     One stifling morning last May, I decided to go for a run on a wooded trail near my house.  I wanted to run despite the heat, and despite my knee that had been a little swollen. I thought briefly about taking my phone, but I didn’t want it to slip out of my sweaty hand.  Besides, I would be on a trail usually well-populated by dog walkers.

It turns out that...

The Better Angels

09/30/2016 03:18:23 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

Delivered Yom Kippur Day

I was twenty-eight years old and facing the biggest crisis of my early professional life.   The President of the United States, George H.W. Bush, had recently told the nation that the United States had launched an intensive bombing campaign against Iraq, marking the start of "Operation Desert Storm.” 

I was near the state capitol building in Olympia, Washington, when my beeper went...Read more...

Seeing the Color 

09/30/2016 03:16:56 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

Delivered Rosh Hashanah Evening

This past July I went on a Jewish heritage tour of Eastern Europe along with several members of our congregation.   Before the trip, when I imagined the places we would visit, I pictured them in black and white.

It felt like I had been preparing for this trip for decades.  I first learned about the Holocaust in high school. Ever since that time, the question of how a systematic...Read more...

One of Them

09/30/2016 03:15:18 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

Delivered (Kol Nidre)

As I boarded the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt this past summer, the stewardess greeted me in German.  It caught me by surprise, but I pretended to understand and nodded a greeting in reply.  It happened again when it was time for the beverage service.  "Was wollen Sie essen?" the stewardess asked me.  This time I looked at her blankly, so she switched to English, asking "What would you like...Read more...

When the Earth Quakes

09/30/2016 03:10:43 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

Rosh Hashanah Morning - 5776

Jewish tradition says that today, Rosh Hashanah, is “the birthday of the world.”   Who doesn’t love birthdays?  Candles burning on a cake, singing “Happy Birthday,” Pin the Tail on the Donkey -- Birthdays are joyous celebrations of the anniversary of a new life. 

These happy customs are great when it comes to celebrating the birthdays of people.  But I'm not sure...Read more...

A shandeh

09/30/2015 03:09:09 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

Yom Kippur Morning 5776

I have always loved Yiddish, a language that captures the nuances of the human condition like no other.    For example:   While the Eskimo people have over fifty words to describe different kinds of "snow;”[1]   Yiddish is the only language I know that contains multiple words, all with different shades of meaning, to describe a disagreeable person.[2]   Examples...Read more...

A Lost Brother

08/30/2015 03:12:09 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

Almost forty years ago, mid-way through his freshman year at the University of Washington in Seattle, my older brother vanished.  One day he left the campus and did not return.  My brother didn’t take much with him.  He left his clothing and all of his possessions.  His dorm room looked as if he had just stepped out for a moment.  A few days later my father received a post card mailed from a town in Oregon.  On...Read more...


09/30/2014 03:06:36 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

Delivered Rosh Hashanah Evening, 5775

Twenty six years ago, I was living in Olympia, Washington, a place with very few Jews.  At the time, I wasn't counted among them.  But I had agreed to raise a Jewish child, and it was time to take my son, Isaac, to the local synagogue for his baby naming ceremony. 

I had no idea what to expect.  In my paranoid imagination, as soon as I walked through the doors, it...Read more...

does prayer work?

09/30/2014 01:36:19 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

Let me tell you about the first time that I questioned my decision to become a rabbi.  It happened sixteen years ago, when I was a rabbinical student studying in Jerusalem.  I was taking a class on liturgy:  the language and order of prayers in a worship service.  During one session, something happened that made me question whether I was suited for the rabbinate. 

Our professor was showing us examples of...

Wildfires  (Yom Kippur Morning)

09/30/2014 01:36:05 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

It was near midnight as our plane began its descent over the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.   I strained to look out of the windows at an unusual sight.  There were several orange lines glowing on the ridges of the dark mountains:   Wildfires.    

I didn’t give the wildfires much thought – I was in “vacation mode.”  My husband David and I go to the Pacific Northwest every...Read more...

dayton's Teshuvah

09/30/2013 01:40:51 PM


Rabbi Jennifer Jaech

I would be surprised if you’ve ever heard of Dayton, Washington, a small town set among the rolling hills of in the southwest corner of the state.  My husband David and I joke that when we drive into Dayton, we increase the Jewish population significantly – by 200 percent – from zero to two.   With just over one thousand residents, Dayton has only one traffic light, right in the center of Main Street....Read more...

Sat, August 15 2020 25 Av 5780