God, Prayer and Spirituality

Rab­bi Stu­art Weinblatt
  • Review
By – December 13, 2011
Ordained as a Reform rab­bi, Stu­art Wein­blatt leads a Con­ser­v­a­tive con­gre­ga­tion that he built from scratch, and his book of ser­mons car­ries an appro­ba­tion from a well known Ortho­dox rab­bi. Wein­blatt is active in a host of Jew­ish com­mu­nal orga­ni­za­tions and his top­ics reflect this activist pas­sion. 

While this col­lec­tion of Rab­bi Weinblatt’s ser­mons deals most­ly with top­ics of con­tem­po­rary inter­est, he address­es time­less reli­gious themes as well. For instance, in his ser­mon about God he estab­lish­es the rab­binic idea that each per­son per­ceives God dif­fer­ent­ly and that we each have a per­son­al rela­tion­ship with God. In a ser­mon in the after­math of the 2004 Asian tsuna­mi, Wein­blatt wres­tles with Judaism’s effort to draw mean­ing from nat­ur­al events, includ­ing disasters. 

Rab­bi Wein­blatt teach­es and occa­sion­al­ly chas­tis­es his con­gre­ga­tion. Since his con­gre­gants are not gen­er­al­ly famil­iar with Jew­ish texts his ser­mons tend to be text lite” and often draw upon pop­u­lar writ­ers. His 2005 Rosh Hashanah ser­mon, how­ev­er, The Bless­ing of a Bless­ing, is a mas­ter­piece of rab­binic inter­pre­ta­tion of the Priest­ly Blessing. 

If I have one crit­i­cism, it is that Wein­blatt uses too many quo­ta­tions and sto­ries, one after anoth­er, to make his points. How­ev­er, all in all, this book rep­re­sents a fine sam­pling of the mod­ern sermon.

Wal­lace Greene, Ph.D., has held sev­er­al uni­ver­si­ty appoint­ments, and cur­rent­ly writes and lec­tures on Jew­ish and his­tor­i­cal subjects.

Discussion Questions