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From Trauma Toward Meaning - Rosh Hashanah Sermon 2023/5784

09/20/2023 09:14:43 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

During the height of the Pandemic, we were all traumatized. We were traumatized by fear and dread and isolation. Even though COVID is still with us, I think there’s a need for us to process–I think there’s an opportunity for us to grow. Psychologists like Victor Frankl teach us that after we experience trauma, we need a process to create meaning out of that trauma. And so, today, we’re going to go through a collective process to...Read more...

Reflections on Tisha B'Av and Israel

07/28/2023 08:17:02 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

On Tisha B'Av, we mourned the historical destruction of our Holy Temples and the devastation of Jerusalem. Jewish tradition guides us to mourn a host of other historical tragedies on Tisha B'Av as well. It serves as a container for our collective mourning.

Even though the Roman Empire destroyed our Temple, the rabbis blamed the destruction on the baseless hatred that developed from internal disagreement, misunderstanding, and heated...Read more...

Passover Yizkor Sermon 2023

04/18/2023 09:36:46 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Based on a sermon delivered by Rabbi Harold Shulweis z”l

I was blessed to be influenced by his imagination and leadership.

Our sages spoke of two Passovers:  One is called the Passover of the past - Pesach Lish’avar and the other is called the Passover of the future Pesach Latid. The first Pesach is historic the second is futuristic.

Our Pesach of the future looks forward to a...

Israel Connection

03/30/2023 09:17:45 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom Friends, 

I am watching the events unfold in Israel with so many emotions: anxiety about the future of Israel, fear for the safety of Israeli citizens and the security of her borders, and saddened by my long distance from Israel.

Here are links to two articles for an institutional perspective and a personal reflection:

•    A statement from the Jewish Theological...

A Blog Post from Israel

02/13/2023 08:27:44 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

I'm spending a professional development week in Israel taking classes at the Conservative Yeshiva, clarifying our synagogue mission, and articulating a vision for the future.

Yesterday, I sat in on a class taught by my favorite former teacher from rabbinical school, Dr. Walter Herzberg. The subject was the Biblical literary use of repetitive language for emphasis. In this week's parasha, Mishpatim, God threatens us with severe...Read more...

A Beautiful Video Memory

09/29/2022 11:41:12 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

My father presenting me at my Rabbinic ordination.


D'var Torah July 15, 2022

07/20/2022 10:47:20 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

A short sermon from Rabbi Teller:


The Sin of the Nazarite

06/13/2022 09:45:02 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

In parashat Naso, we learn about the Nazarite. Those who want to take a break from civilization to work on their spiritual journey, may take on extra vows of abstention - no wine, no grapes, no shaving, and no haircuts.

Many religions and the spiritual systems encourage retreat from this world - Buddhist monks, nuns, priestly vows of abstinence. Our rabbis have a disagreement about the value of separating one’s self from the...Read more...

Shabbat Morning Ruach Success

06/08/2022 10:41:15 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

The Shabbat Morning Ruach was an experiment that worked. The service is designed to immerse ourselves completely in spirit, energy, and song. Every moment has its own powerful connection to God, to each other, to our ancestors, and to our descendants.

Over the years, we’ve discovered that one service doesn’t fit all. Our Brith Shalom community is made up of a variety of people, each on their own unique journey. Our traditional...Read more...

And you shall teach your children well:How to inspire the next generation

04/11/2022 09:33:59 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Pesach is coming. The core mitzvah of the seder experience is to tell the story of Egypt to our children in a way that they can understand. The reason that why we have all the elaborate rituals is to penetrate the hearts of our children. The wisdom of the seder is…in order to get our kids involved, we have to use the power of questions.

In the first paragraph of the sh’ma, we see the imperative to teach our children – “and you...Read more...

Our Sacred Moon

03/29/2022 08:17:02 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Our Sacred Moon:
Our Deep Lunar Connection

The Jewish people are deeply connected to the moon far more than the sun. The moon is romantic and soft. The sun is aggressive and harsh. The moon waxes and wanes. The sun stays the same. Moonlight, moonglow. Sunburn, sun stroke. We gaze at the moon and we are basked in romance. We hide from the sun and lather on the sunblock because the solar rays can cause serious damage to our skin. I could...Read more...

Honey From The Rock – A Contemporary Reflection

01/03/2022 08:29:48 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

My father, Rabbi Dr. Gerald Teller z”l, died of COVID last February. He contracted the virus while officiating at a prayer service at his retirement home in Israel. Two other members of the minyan died b’oto yom [on that very same day].

In his final hours, as a last-ditch effort, the medical team put him in a coma. Everyone–including him–knew that he wouldn’t make it out, but he still wanted to give HaKadosh Baruch Hu [The...Read more...

A Hanukkah Message from Rabbi Teller

11/22/2021 03:00:02 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Do You Believe in Miracles?

For too long, belief in miracles has been a prerequisite for religiosity. Either you believe that the sea split or you’re not a religious Jew. Either you believe that Jesus walked on water or you’re not a religious Christian. Either you believe that Mohamad rode his steed on a night journey through the heavens, or you’re not a religious Muslim. Belief in supernatural...Read more...

A Thanksgiving Message from Rabbi Teller

11/22/2021 02:35:37 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Thanksgiving Prayers

Houston has a deep, historical relationship with Native Americans. Many tribes were native to Texas, including the Akokisa, the Karankawas, and later the Cherokees. In 2009, Moore Archeological Consulting discovered over 2,000 artifacts from the Akokisa tribe in and around the Houston area. Some artifacts, like tools, arrowheads, and pottery shards, were dated to 8,100 B.C.

Sam...

A Message from Rabbi Teller

01/08/2021 04:25:13 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,
This week, America was disgraced by purveyors of hate, violence, and intolerance. This morning and every morning, we prayed the words from Psalm 30, “At night we shed tears, and in the morning we rejoice.”
My friends, the dawning of a new era has arrived. America watched the live news reports and we shared a collective, traumatic experience. I believe that the leaders of our country will approach...Read more...

Ritual Blessings for the COVID-19 Vaccination

12/30/2020 01:00:57 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,
What a strange moment in time. The pandemic is still raging and the vaccine is becoming available. On one hand, we are seeing photos and videos of leaders, medical professionals, friends, and relatives receiving the vaccine. On the other hand, the infection rate, hospitalization, and death toll continue to rise. Life and death are in our hands.

Judaism can help us contextualize this moment. Judaism, like Zen Buddhism,...Read more...

Vigil Invitation and Rabbinic Reflection

06/04/2020 08:37:31 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Please join me on Zoom on Sunday night, June 7 at 8:00 PM, for a vigil in memory of George Floyd. We will sing, recite psalms, and provide resources for advocacy.

Join the Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 928 5874 9128
Password: Shalom

The killing of George Floyd has shaken us from our focus on the pandemic into a deeper state...Read more...

Live stream-only Services this Shabbat

03/13/2020 11:48:10 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,

This Shabbat please stay home and pray, sing, and learn with us via live stream only. Tonight and tomorrow, we will be live streaming our services with 10 designees on the bima, without the congregation. We are also temporarily suspending all synagogue programming.

On Friday night at 6:15 PM, click here to pray with me, Cantor Levine, Hazzan-in-Residence David Krohn, Barbara Loeser, Nava Teller and six more...Read more...

CDC Behavior Modification at Shul. Let's Do this!

03/06/2020 10:59:28 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom Friends,

As a genuine, close-knit community, we are accustomed to greetings and practices that embody our loving spirit. As the coronavirus continues to spread, we will be temporarily modifying our communal practices to limit physical contact. It’s going to be strange to restrain ourselves, but we’re going to create a communal gathering space that models sensitivity and adaptability.

We rely on our synagogue...

Shalom from Israel

02/07/2020 09:15:37 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom from Israel,

As expected, I had a meaningful and inspiring trip on the Israel Bonds Rabbinic Mission. I’ll be home for Shabbat. The goal was for North American pulpit rabbis to experience the latest, miraculous advances in the State of Israel from the high tech economy to archeological digs.

In Tel Aviv, we met a panel...

The 42nd Annual MLK Parade

01/10/2020 11:42:50 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

The 42nd Annual MLK Parade
Marching with the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and the Houston Jewish Alliance for Civil Rights
Monday, January 20, 9:30 AM-12:30 PM.  In celebration of Dr. King’s legacy of civil rights, the Houston Jewish community will be participating and marching in the 42nd Annual MLK Day...Read more...

A Happy and Meaningful Hanukkah

12/20/2019 12:02:31 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,

On Hanukkah, we ponder the light of the candles. After the ritual candle lighting, we traditionally recite "Hanerot Halalu," which contains the words, “We don’t use these lights, we only gaze upon them”. We are prohibited to use the candle light for anything but meditative, sacred purpose. Why?

As we gaze upon the Hanukkah lights, we have the opportunity to absorb their soulful, inner wisdom. Rebbe Nahman of...Read more...

Becoming More You

09/25/2019 11:12:57 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Delivered on Shabbat Morning
September 14, 2019

I pray that we all have bad habits that we want to break. I pray that none of us feel that we are perfect human beings. Human beings are not designed to be perfect. Yes, we are all deserving of love, affirmation and respect, just the way we are. But, I pray that we all have the ability and humility to self-reflect and grow. I pray that we all have at least...Read more...

KOLOT: Celebrating the Plurality of Jewish Voices

09/17/2019 01:42:17 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

The fourth volume in the KOLOT: Celebrating the Plurality of Jewish Voices thought journal includes an essay/sermon by Rabbi Teller.

This volume centers around the theme of "Living Jewish Values on a Daily Basis." This edition features commentary and interviews from academics, cultural critics, rabbis, and more! A valuable addition to any Jewish...Read more...

Wearing White on Yom Kippur

09/11/2019 08:55:41 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

The clothes we wear orient us and influence our behavior. When we wear business attire, we’re oriented toward work. When we wear jeans and a t-shirt, we’re oriented toward relaxation. When we wear athletic gear, we’re oriented toward exercise. Sometimes, when I’m lacking motivation to exercise, I put on athletic gear, which dramatically raises the likelihood of exercising. It works. Clothing orients and influences us.

On Yom...

High Holy Day Prep with Rabbi Teller

09/04/2019 02:49:09 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom Friends,

Join us for the first of three Havdalah Song Sessions for the Soul this Saturday night at 8:00 PM as we begin the process of transformation and renewal.

This week begins the month of Elul, the run-up to the High Holy Days. This is the time to start our process of renewal.

Take note of your happiness quotient. What’s going right in your life? What’s not going right? Realize that you can grow and...Read more...

Shabbat Shalom From Jerusalem

07/26/2019 01:00:46 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom from Jerusalem,

I’m in Israel spending the week at a rabbinic seminar at Yad Vashem. It is the first program of its kind, designed to expose rabbis to the depth of scholarship and research in the Yad Vashem archives, and provide pulpit rabbis with pedagogical strategies. There are 15 rabbis in the group, mostly Orthodox, a few Conservative, one Reform, and several from Chabad.

We are delving deeply into Holocaust...

Nexus of Theater and Worship

05/30/2019 09:39:48 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,

A few years back, Brith Shalom put on a play entitled "Bart’s Wedding." I was selected to play the role of Bart’s rabbi. We hired a director and stage manager to help create a meaningful, quality production. The professional team brought in extra stage lights, directed the players, blocked the movements, enhanced the sound, and generally assisted with the production. I struggled with the irony.  All of these...Read more...

A Simple Seder Suggestion

04/15/2019 01:28:35 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

The Talmud teaches that the seder should begin in pain and move toward praise. Toward the beginning of the seder, around the dipping of the karpas in saltwater, share a difficult moment that you experienced this year. Then, ask people to share a difficult moment of their own. Toward the middle of the seder, around Dayeinu, share a wonderful moment that you experienced this year. Then, ask people to share a wonderful moment of their...Read more...

Morning Minyan

03/27/2019 03:09:23 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom friends,

Our 7am morning minyan needs our support. As a Conservative synagogue, we value daily communal prayer and the tradition of saying kaddish for our loved ones on the yahrzeit anniversary of their passing. Recently, our minyan has come up short of the quorum of ten. As a traditional congregation, this shortfall means that we can’t say kaddish for those we love.

If you are able, please come and help us make a...Read more...

Mishpatim 5779/2019

02/08/2019 02:03:12 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller


I learned a spiritual metaphor this week that has already helped me in number of ways, and I’d like to share it with you. It sounds a bit light-hearted at first, but I’ll try to connect the term with some deeper, practical wisdom. The term is “a spiritual trampoline.”

Wikipedia reports that the first trampoline was built by George Nissen and Larry Griswold in 1936 at the University of...Read more...

Cantor Mark Levine’s 10th Anniversary Celebrations at Brith Shalom

12/14/2018 02:05:04 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,

Cantor Levine is a blessing in our Brith Shalom community. When he arrived 10 years ago, we knew that our community would be blessed with an expert Jewish educator. Since then, the blessings have multiplied exponentially. We now also know about his true mastery of professional skills, the intensity of his passion, and the depth of his commitment. As a community, we have presented Cantor Levine with many new challenges...Read more...

Alternative Davening Experiences

11/30/2018 02:16:35 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,

In the weeks and months to come, you will have the opportunity to experience alternative davening experiences. As we continue to strengthen our traditional services, we are also experimenting with more progressive modes of prayer. If these experiments in davening work, we’ll consider continuing them as alternative options to our traditional davening. We are not attempting to replace our traditional davening. Rather, we...Read more...

Soul Session - Judaism

11/28/2018 11:12:21 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Rabbi Teller's “soul sessions” interview at Lone Star College with Professors Cory Colby and Margaret Jelinek Lewis.

This was part of a discussion series to create understanding about faith communities that each compose less than 3% of the U.S. population. The discussion series was hosted by Professor Cory Colby and Dr. Margaret Jelinek-Lewis, and was sponsored by Lone Star College - Tomball Center for Civic Engagement, the Office...Read more...

Happy GivingThanks

11/18/2018 02:17:47 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,

As we approach Thanksgiving, we are called to cultivate our gratitude. Yes, there is brokenness in the world in need of repair. Yes, we all have opportunities for growth and areas of concern.

So, how do we cultivate gratitude in a landscape of brokenness, lack, and concern? Start from the bottom up with 3 simple steps.

Step 1: Appreciate life.

If you are reading this email, it means that you are...Read more...

Words Matter

11/09/2018 02:19:41 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Words Matter
A Poem in Response to the Tragedy in Pittsburgh
Rabbi Ranon Teller

Words have power to inflame. Words have power to comfort.

Words matter.

As survivors and mourners search for meaning, some are finding meaning in the power of words.

Words matter.

We console each other with words. We sing our songs to You, Adonai.

Words matter.

We Bless...

Rabbi's Yom Kippur Sermon: Learning and Integrating Resilience

09/20/2018 02:21:29 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,

Thank you for an incredibly meaningful and uplifting High Holy Days. Please send me your reflections on cultivating resilience. I will compile our collective wisdom to offer as spiritual resources for my colleagues in North Carolina as they pastor to their communities…in addition to the material resources.

Blessings and love,

Rabbi Teller

Learning and Integrating...

Rabbi's Rosh Hashana Sermon: The Jewish Value of Politics

09/12/2018 02:23:13 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

The Jewish Value of Politics
Rosh Hashana 5779
Rabbi Ranon Teller
Congregation Brith Shalom, Bellaire, TX

This year, I didn’t have to choose the topic for my sermon. This year, the topic presented itself to me. This year, it’s clear what’s on our minds and our hearts. This year it’s clear what’s weighting heavily our collective soul…politics. We are all immersed in politics – each...Read more...

Rabbi's Erev Rosh Hashana Sermon: Actualizing Metaphors of the Machzor

09/11/2018 02:25:25 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Actualizing Metaphors of the Machzor
Erev Rosh Hashanna 5779
Rabbi Ranon Teller
Congregation Brith Shalom, Bellaire, TX

Tonight, we begin our High Holy Day journey. Tonight, we allow ourselves to be transported and lifted into transcendent, High Holy Day space. We are presented with an opportunity – the opportunity to use our religious images and our metaphysical metaphors to do our soul-work....Read more...

Hurricane Harvey: One Year Later

08/14/2018 02:26:59 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,

Friday, August 25 marks the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in Texas. A year later, we’re still in recovery from the devastation and loss.

Lives were lost. Homes were destroyed. Possessions were washed away. Families and communities were traumatized.Interfaith Ministries is providing a prayer ritual for us to recite in our houses of worship and in our homes entitled “The Work of the...Read more...

Experimenting With Prayer

05/11/2018 02:30:44 PM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,

Next year, we’ll be experimenting with a few different services and learning opportunities. The goal is to offer a diverse menu of Shabbat services to help you connect to your Judaism and your Jewish soul on a regular basis.You are travelling on your own unique Jewish Journey with your own unique set of Jewish needs, tastes, and styles. The diversification we are offering will make it easier for you to find your...Read more...

Live stream-only Services this Shabbat

03/13/2020 11:44:44 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,

This Shabbat please stay home and pray, sing, and learn with us via live stream only. Tonight and tomorrow, we will be live streaming our services with 10 designees on the bima, without the congregation. We are also temporarily suspending all synagogue programming.

On Friday night at 6:15 PM, click here to pray with me, Cantor Levine, Hazzan-in-Residence David Krohn, Barbara Loeser, Nava Teller and six more...Read more...

Live Stream-only Services this Shabbat

03/13/2020 11:40:41 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Shalom all,

This Shabbat please stay home and pray, sing, and learn with us via live stream only. Tonight and tomorrow, we will be live streaming our services with 10 designees on the bima, without the congregation. We are also temporarily suspending all synagogue programming.

On Friday night at 6:15 PM, click here to pray with me, Cantor Levine, Hazzan-in-Residence David Krohn, Barbara Loeser, Nava Teller and six more...Read more...

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784