Shabbat Messages

Rabbi Steve Leder

Rabbi Steve Leder

Each week, Rabbi Leder prepares a Shabbat message to the congregation. Here on this page you can read his latest message and find an archive of all of his Shabbat Messages since March 13, 2020.

This Week's Message

Rabbi Eshel Shabbat Message - April 9, 2021

The first time I took my daughter to Disneyland all she wanted to do was go on Dumbo. We get in line, slowly, slowly weaving our way for an hour and a half. Finally, at the front, my daughter takes one look at the elephant and says, “Nope, No way am I going up there!” But I held her close and told her I would be right by her side. She agreed and loved every minute of it.

In this week’s Torah portion, Shemini, the Mishkan, or traveling sanctuary is completed. Detail after painstaking detail, the time had finally come to offer the first sacrifices. Aaron makes his way to the altar. The text states, “And Moses said to Aaron, ‘Approach the altar and perform your sin offering and your burnt offering,’' The rabbis ask, why would Moses need to instruct Aaron to both approach and perform the offering? Aaron hesitates because he is afraid, overwhelmed by the task and responsibility. He feels alone. But he is not alone. Moses is right by his side.  

For more than a year we too have felt this fear, this loneliness, this isolation. We were overwhelmed by the fear of change, the fear of the unknown. How would our children learn? How would we work? How would we even buy our groceries? When would we see our families and our friends again? These are lonely and isolating questions. But what I have learned is these questions have answers; answers I do not have to find on my own. Because like Aaron, we are not alone. Questions are answered together. This year more than ever I am comforted by the words of our prayerbook.

Standing at the parted shores of history, we still believe what we were taught before ever we stood at Sinai’s foot; that wherever we go, it is eternally Egypt, that there is a better place, a promised land; that the winding way to that promise passes through the wilderness. That there is no way to get from here to there except by joining hands, marching together.

No matter the challenge, from Disneyland to the Promised Land, none is too great when we face it together.

Shabbat Shalom,



Photo Credit: ATIS547/Flickr CC Some Rights Reserved(


Cantor Peicott Shabbat Message - April 2, 2021

I don’t know about you, but for the first time in a very arduous year, things are starting to feel promising and new again. With the reopening of some schools and restaurants and the increase in vaccine availability across the country, I can feel the fog of Zoom and quarantine beginning to lift. Just like our ancestors in the Passover story, I see the outlines of the promised land across the horizon -- a world that someday will be Covid-free.

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Rabbi Nanus Shabbat Message - March 26, 2021

The Passover seders of my childhood were magical and unforgettable. Each year, four generations of thirty or more people would cram into my great-grandmother’s tiny apartment on the North Side of Chicago where the dining room table had been extended all the way into the living room and all the men’s chairs had been plumped up with colorful pillows so that they could recline like true free men. (The women had no pillows on their chairs, but most of them barely sat down, since they were always in and out of the kitchen, serving course after course)

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Cantor Gurney Shabbat Message - March 19, 2021

Dear Friends, 

Do you know what time it is? How about what day it is? If you need to look at your phone... well, you are not alone. Do you know where you were yesterday? Do you remember what you did? I know because I was where I’ve been most days for the past year. In our dining room, my “office,” sitting in front of my computer. My lower back knows the hours. And, I remember what I did as well. It’s what I’ve been doing most days... yes, for the past year. Sound familiar? 

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Rabbi Nickerson Shabbat Message - March 12, 2021

On October 19, 1991, my mother’s house, along with 2,800 others, burned down in the Oakland fire. Six months later I was chanting this week’s Torah portion at my bar mitzvah. We lost everything the day of the fire and half a year later I chanted the verses from this week’s Torah portion that spoke to me as never before when it reminded me, “A cloud of God rested on the Tabernacle by day, and fire would appear in it by night, in the view of all the house of Israel throughout their journeys.”  Clouds and fire surrounded the transitional home of the Jewish people as they prepared for the next leg of their journey. As one commentary states, “the Book of Exodus, which opened with a narrative of misery and oppression, closes on a note of confidence and hope.  Israel is assured that day and night, the divine spirit hovers over it, guiding and controlling its destiny.”

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