February 14th: Comic Books As Social Change

In the 1930s, it was nearly impossible for Jews to get jobs in the entertainment industry (or any industry, for that matter). Nobody wanted to hire someone who was such a cultural “other”. As a result, talented and passionate Jews had to go out and figure out how to break into the industry on their…

February 9th: Between Politics and Sport

The Winter Olympics begin this week, as the global community joins together in South Korea to celebrate the unifying joy of sports. More so than in past years, this Olympics puts into sharp relief the politics going on between the nations present and the goals for the competition as a whole. At a time when…

January 23rd: 1984 Is Just Around the Corner

In 1949, George Orwell wrote his idea of a dystopian society, constructed around an all-knowing and oppressive society. His book, 1984, has remained a classic for nearly 70 years. What we didn’t know at the time was just how timely it would end up being today. This winter, my brother, father, and I decided to…

January 18th: Know For Whom You Stand

This week begins a new semester of classes for me, and, for one of the first times in rabbinical school, I’m getting the chance to take an elective on top of my required coursework. Yesterday was my first session in “Faith-based Community Organizing,” a course in motivating and mobilizing social justice work in our religious…

January 2nd: Journalism Is Here to Stay

For the past ten years, or so, adults have been predicting the demise of journalism with comments to college students sounding something like: “Why would you want a degree in a dying industry?” On some level, it is true. Newspapers all across the country have been struggling to sell their product, and the internet has…

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…