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Rabbi Noah Farkas Sermons

03/04/2020 10:59:32 PM

Mar4

The Future is in the Hands of the Bold (Yom Kippur 2020)

10/01/2020 08:37:35 PM

Oct1

Rabbi Noah Farkas

I woke up nervous and excited this morning.  I’m just so excited and nervous about life and excited about the future.  

Excited and nervous about all the possibilities that are in my life.  

Excited and nervous because the holidays are finally here. 

Excited and nervous because I am doing something right now that I have never done...Read more...

Called Out (Yom Kippur 2019)

09/10/2019 08:59:35 PM

Sep10

We live in a call-out culture where we lie in wait for each other fall short. We become known only for our imperfections and not for our accomplishments. What if we flipped the script and called each other out for what really matters...the blessings we give to each other.

Back in October 2012 an organization called LIFE (Living Independently Forever) which is a group home for high functioning adults with learning...Read more...

To The New (Rosh Hashanah 2019)

09/01/2019 08:57:27 PM

Sep1

Judaism has given the world many gifts. Perhaps its greatest gift is the future itself. On a day of Rosh Hashanah where the world becomes new again, let us look at what holds us back from entering the new, and how we as community can step boldly into the future together.

One of the great privileges of my job as a rabbi is that I get to teach and mentor over a hundred young people. Every Tuesday morning I teach...Read more...

Hidden in Love:  A Sermon on Mental Health (Yom Kippur 2018)

09/06/2018 05:20:54 PM

Sep6

For the past ten years I have lead a physician's talmud study group called Dinner for Docs. We meet about once a quarter, have some wine and eat a nice dinner. Then we engage in Talmud study. It was there that I really got to know Dr. Joe Beezy. He’s sitting right over there. Joe and I became friends over a page of Talmud, so much so that he asked me to perform the marriage of his daughter, Talya,...Read more...

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself (Rosh Hashanah 2018)

09/06/2018 05:17:04 PM

Sep6

"Let There Be Love"

It was once said that Judaism is a tradition of minimum text and maximal interpretation. Take these three words from the book of Leviticus “V'ahavtah l'rechah kamocha” Love your neighbor as yourself. (Lev. 19:18). How clear can that be? How straight forward? How simple, how universal? “V'ahavtah l'rechah kamocha” Love your...Read more...

Clap Along If You Feel that Holiness is The Truth (Yom Kippur 2017)

03/10/2017 03:44:39 PM

Mar10

It might seem crazy what I am about to say
Sunshine she's here, you can take a break
I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don't care, baby, by the way
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
(Because I'm...Read more...

A Letter to My Children (Rosh Hashanah 2017)

03/10/2017 03:44:05 PM

Mar10

To my dearest children,

There comes a time in every family’s life where the playthings and the good times must be put on hold for a short time so some serious words can be said. There comes a time in every Jewish family where parents have to sit down with their children and speak of what it means to be a Jew in a Gentile world. My parents sat me down to have this talk as did their parents before them and theirs...Read more...

Judaism Rising (Yom Kippur 2016)

09/10/2016 03:23:30 PM

Sep10

This past year the Jewish community lost three great luminaries. A few weeks ago we lost Gene Wilder, who knew how to mix the subtleties of emotional tragedy into a cocktail of comedy, storytelling, and sweetness. Earlier this year we lost Elie Wiesel, the voice of a generation of survivors of the Shoah, who gave the world the phrase "Never Forget," and taught us that "The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference." Just last week we...Read more...

On Race and Refugees: The Drought of Compassion (Rosh Hashanah 2016)

06/10/2016 11:52:35 AM

Jun10

Let’s speak today about the drought. We all know, living here in Los Angeles, what it’s like to live with drought. “Brown is the new green,” they tell us. “Save your water because it’s all gone,” they tell us. Scientists are telling us that this is probably the new normal.  The other day, I was in my garden when the sprinklers had stopped working. I looked down at the earth and it had shrunk back from the hedgeline....Read more...

Hide and Seek (Yom Kippur 2015)

09/10/2015 08:26:05 AM

Sep10

My house is full of kids. With four children - the oldest topping out at age seven - our house is just like summer camp.  It’s always loud, messy, the kids are always eating, and there are splatters of paint everywhere.  One of my kid’s favorite games to play is hide and seek.  Once earlier this summer, my second child, Shaya, he’s five, ran off to find the perfect hiding spot.  He crouched down low behind a...Read more...

Seven Sacred Questions (Rosh Hashanah 2015)

09/01/2015 04:33:31 PM

Sep1

There is an old parable of a rabbi that reached the end of his life. He was sitting at home and his students came to visit him on the Sabbath as they did every week.  Now he was frail and ill, and his talmidim asked him to reflect on his career in the hopes of gaining some wisdom for themselves. The rabbi said that when he left the walls of the seminary he was eager to fix the world.  And with all the confidence that comes from...Read more...

Yizkor Sermon (Passover 2014)

04/06/2015 05:28:04 PM

Apr6

About two months ago, an airplane was scheduled to fly from Kuala Lampur enroute to Beijing.  There were about 300 people onboard. The flight took-off at midnight heading southwest. And at some point, for whatever reason, all indications - all the beeping things - all the things that tell the world where that plane is and where it’s supposed to go, how it’s doing, turned off. After several hours, the plane disappeared. It flew off...Read more...

Rabbi's Corner: Turning the Tables with Rabbi Noah Farkas

04/06/2015 07:37:02 AM

Apr6

Apples and honeyMy fondest memory of our Rosh Hashanah table is from even before we sat down to eat. As I was growing up, one of my chores on the Jewish New Year was to help set the table. Every year, as my mother would leave the plate of apples and honey on the...Read more...

A Homeless Heart (2013)

09/06/2013 08:40:58 AM

Sep6

Every Shabbat I walk to synagogue.  Sometimes I walk alone; sometimes I walk with my family.   Now, it’s about a mile from my place to here. I walk down Ventura passing by the stores and under the 405 underpass. Many of you see me walking, some of you, honk at me to say hello! Some others of you even pull over, offering me a ride, and I thank you for that.  But what many of you don’t see, what many of us have forgotten to...Read more...

To Reclaim Politics (2012)

09/06/2012 05:27:31 PM

Sep6

When the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville came to America in 1831 to investigate the American prison system, he instead discovered the inner workings of American democracy. Coming from France, de Tocqueville worried that in a free society like America the nature of democracy would turn citizenship into a series of tepid exchanges between isolated individuals and a powerful state. Especially as, in his view coming from France, the...Read more...

Towards a New Zionism (2012)

09/06/2012 07:37:34 AM

Sep6

In 1864, Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, an Englishman with a literary mind was entrusted with the care for an afternoon of the three young daughters of the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. That afternoon Reverend Dodgson and his colleague Reverend Duckworth, took the girls on a five-mile river trip. To pass the time Dodgson spun a series of yarns about each of the girls, especially the youngest of the three, named Alice....Read more...

The Prayer Thief (Rosh Hashanah 2012)

09/06/2012 07:36:02 AM

Sep6

I’ll never forget the day I proposed to Sarah. I’d been planning it for weeks. We went on a long road and hiking trip with friends across the West. I bought a cheap plastic ring that was orange in the shape of a small flower for 50 cents, so I wouldn’t lose the real one in my pack. Still, I was worried. What if she finds it? What if it falls out?  

We hiked the North rim of the Grand Canyon, and for the next few days, and I...Read more...

An Integrated Kashrut for the 21st Century (Rosh Hashanah 2011)

09/06/2011 08:51:00 AM

Sep6

My great grandfather, my Zaddie Morris, may he rest in peace, was a tie maker. He worked in Manhattan and lived in a tenement on the Lower East Side. He would come home every night to his wife Esther and their five sons, and soak his hands in rose oil to keep them soft and smooth, so he wouldn’t scratch the Italian silk of his craft. Every Friday morning, he and my Bubbie Esther would wake up their boys from the single bed they shared many...Read more...

Hearing Nature's Silence: Bereshit 5772  

09/06/2011 07:36:30 AM

Sep6

This fall we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” the book that launched the modern environmentalist movement. Carson’s genius was in her ability to arrange opaque facts and smith compelling prose in order to make her case. She describes her habit of walking into the woods and listening the chorus of nature, and when on a particular morning, she noticed its absence:

“On the mornings that had...Read more...

The Book of Real Life (Rosh Hashanah 2010)

09/06/2010 07:59:00 AM

Sep6

About seventy years ago a couple by the name of Paul and Marie Lamfrom fled Nazi Germany with their daughters, Hildegrade, Eva, and Gert. They fled Hitler and sailed to America first to San Francisco and then up to Portland Oregon where they purchased a small distribution business. As any good Jewish businessman knows, when you're the middle man, you get squeezed at both ends. And that's what happened to Paul and Marie. Their suppliers began...Read more...

Father and Son (Rosh Hashanah 2010)

09/06/2010 07:59:00 AM

Sep6

While we pray here together on these high holidays, all across Los Angeles, all across America, there are small groups of younger Jews who have broken away from established congregations, and formed their own prayer groups, minyanim, and havurot. In living rooms, in backyards, in school gymnasiums, they gather this yomtov, to pray and learn and celebrate the new year together. They represent something new in the Jewish community, the next...Read more...

The Re-founding Of Conservative Judaism (2009)

12/06/2009 08:01:00 AM

Dec6

The Jewish Week - December 22, 2009

As Rabbi Steven Wernick presided over his first United Synagogue Conservative Judaism biennial, held earlier this month, there was a sense of an unprecedented opportunity to discuss the history and future of Conservative Judaism.  

As a young rabbi who believes in the idea of religious movements, I note that Conservative Judaism is a grass-roots coalition that has lost two of its...Read more...

It is Not Good To Be Alone (Yom Kippur 2009)

09/06/2009 08:09:00 AM

Sep6

It's a wonder that Jews from all over the world find their way to synagogue tonight. We all came here tonight because of many motivations. I know you all didn't come here just for me, as much as any rabbi might think that to be the case. We came because we remember our parents and grandparents coming to shul when we were children. We came because some unconscious part of us that says, "you should be here." We came because we believe that...Read more...

Invocation for the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors

06/06/2009 07:52:00 AM

Jun6

June 2, 2009 by Rabbi Noah Zvi Farkas

90 years ago, a German sociologist named Max Weber published a lecture of critical importance entitled, Politik als Beruf, or Politics as a Vocation. In which, Weber articulated an ethos of politics and civil activism based on the integration of two seeming incommensurable values. On the one hand, for those who choose public life, there exists the value of unbridled idealism that composes and...Read more...

Invocation At The 49th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony

11/06/2008 07:51:00 AM

Nov6

Invocation at the 49th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony at Forest Lawn Memorial Parks And Mortuaries November 11, 2008 by Rabbi Noah Zvi Farkas

Good morning. I am Rabbi Noah Farkas, a former Navy Chaplain, and I am one of the rabbis at Valley Beth Shalom, a Conservative Synagogue in Encino. 

In a letter to James Lloyd on the 1st of October 1822, our 6th President John Quincy Adams wrote, "Individual liberty is individual power, and...Read more...

Reclaiming our Birthright (Rosh Hashanah 2008)

09/06/2008 07:49:00 AM

Sep6

Imagine with me, if you will, a small village in Ghana, West Africa. In this village, with no electricity or running water, there’s a primary school, sitting in shambles. Now, despite the decrepit look of the building, the school fills daily with sounds of young children running to and from their lessons. On the side of this school is a mural, painted with stylized images of African workers carrying concrete in pans placed atop their heads...Read more...

Sat, October 24 2020 6 Cheshvan 5781