November 29th: Sean Hannity Isn’t What Some Think He Is

The New York Times wrote a story this week on Sean Hannity, calling him one of America’s most influential TV personalities. The fact that Hannity even agreed to participate was shocking enough, considering the crusade he and his friend Donald Trump have undertaken against the “liberal” media. Within the story, though, was a line that…

November 16th: Going 12 Rounds or 1,500

As part of a safety presentation I experienced this week, a law enforcement agent gave harrowing details for what an active shooter situation can look like in a school or business. The details were frightening, but incredibly important to hear, as too much of our country is facing threats of violence without the proper preparation…

November 8th: One Year Later

One year ago today, our country chose a direction. A nation watched as half of the country celebrated triumph and half mourned a devastating loss. One year ago, we went to bed knowing our country had picked a direction, but certainly not our destination. Now, I ask: how have we done? This isn’t a political…

November 6th: Waiting for Terror

I’m embarrassed to say that, in the wake of yesterday’s shooting at a church in Texas, my first thought was not for the victims of yet another act of terror in this country. My first thought was to wonder if the person who walked into the church and killed over 20 people was white. The…

October 18th: The Emptiness of “Thoughts and Prayers”

Visiting my student pulpit this weekend, I introduced the mourner’s kaddish, the prayer for those thinking about the death of a loved one, by bringing my congregation’s attention to those who have lost their lives to natural disasters in recent weeks. Fires have ravaged the west coast, while the memories of those lost to hurricanes…

Rosh Hashanah Morning Sermon 2017

Below is a transcript of the sermon given by Austin Zoot at Temple Oheb Shalom in Sandusky, Ohio on September 21st, 2017. When the year 5776 began two years ago, I was living in Israel, beginning my rabbinical school journey. During that year, I was learning about the basics of our faith, the history of our…

September 14th: Queen of the Hill

I’ve never liked Jemele Hill very much. She likes to talk about basketball and football, while I’m much more of a baseball and hockey fan. She and her co-host, Michael Smith, have taken up the mantel of discussing race as a lens for sports, and it just hasn’t been done as well as I would…

September 6th: True American Greatness

We were promised in 2016 that Donald Trump would “Make America Great Again.” At the time, plenty of people wanted to answer a few questions. During which period was the greatness Trump wanted to return to? What is it that makes America less than great right now? How do we do this exactly? It is…

September 3rd: What Lakewood Wouldn’t Do, We Have To Do

Religion can be a way for the world to use a set of morals and ethics to right the wrongs that plague us as a society. Religion can also  be one of the dividing facts that forces us to confront our different identities and struggle between people. When religious institutions interact with the world around…

August 23rd: Football Can’t be Football Anymore

During a preseason football game last week, two of the game’s most exciting young players made a powerful statement. While teammate Khalil Mack kneeled for the national anthem, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr placed a hand on his shoulder, a symbolic gesture of support. This week, about a dozen Cleveland Browns kneeled in a prayer circle…

August 17th: Is This REALLY Necessary?

I never thought I would have to write a blog post condemning Nazis. If I had, I never thought it would be quite as hard as it is right now. What really is there to say? You type a sentence like “Nazis are bad,” and you think it sounds so ridiculous. OF COURSE Nazis are…

July 13th: It’s Getting Coaled in Here

I don’t understand coal. Sure, I understand it is an energy source and a big provider of jobs for a large section of American workers in certain regions. I get that, as coal’s value on the global market decreases, life gets harder for those whose income is tied to it. I’m even on board with…