November 15th: Sharing the Love of Judaism

Over the past few days, I attended a conference discussing the journey of conversion to Judaism by those who choose to join the faith. We examined curricula for Introduction to Judaism courses, met with a panel of converts to learn about their experience, and worked with rabbis to learn their process for working with their…

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…

July 11th: What Mega Churches Have to Teach

Growing up, I was fascinated with Joel Osteen. The televangelist was able to reach an audience on a weekly basis that blew me away, and his words were able to have an impact that was so incredibly powerful and moving. I had always wondered: what could we, as the Jewish community, learn from seeing his…

June 30th: An Obituary for Truth

For as long as anyone can remember, humanity has been recording our version of truth. From stone tablets and cave drawing, people have attempted to understand the world around us through written and visual means, taking stock of the world and attempting to come to terms with the profundity of what it means to occupy…

June 13th: The Jewish Whiteness Question

I took a Southwest flight for the first time this past week. I experienced the fierce battle that is finding an aisle seat with a priority spot in the B section, and waited, while the rest of the plane filled up around me. Finally, a man and his 10-year-old daughter sat down in the two…

March 12th: Purim Shows Us the Beauty of Standing Up Together

The following is a transcript of the sermon delivered by Austin Zoot at Temple B’nei Israel in Kokomo, IN. Purim is a rabbi’s dream holiday for giving in a sermon. It seems like every year, the values of Shushan can be applied to the world around us. This year is no exception. The story of…

January 30th: Maybe a Trump Ban Will Do The Trick?

We have come to a boiling point in our nation’s history. We knew it was coming. The “America first” rhetoric that Donald Trump employed during his Inaugural address warned us that we would be turning our backs on the world, ignoring the rapid pace of globalization in favor of trying to get control of the…

January 4th: We Aren’t Going Anywhere

In 2016, hate was a concept. We talked about it a lot, but for me, I had the luxury of talking about hate directed at other people. I didn’t have to deal with the feelings of anxiety, discomfort, and fear myself until my own community was targeted yesterday. Hebrew Union College has served as the…

December 31st: The World Can’t Settle When It Comes to Israel

It seems that, over the past few years, the United Nations has made it a habit of putting forward a piece of toothless legislation meant to slap Israel in the face, only to have the American Jewish population cry out in protest. The American government has gotten quieter and quieter in their support of Israel,…