Many voices. One house.

At Netivot Shalom we pride ourselves on valuing a multitude of voices. Many members of our congregation take advantage of the opportunity to share their thoughts about the weekly Torah portion by giving drashot.

Like to give a drash?

If you wish to give a drash, please write to the drash coordinator  drash@netivotshalom.org include your preference for a date and a topic or idea (if you have one at the time).

Coming Soon

In the coming months, our new website will host a complete archive of drashot given at our shul over the years. In the meantime, please use this link to access the archives from our old site.

Intro to Preparing, Writing, and Delivering a drasha – Rabbi Chai Levy

GET STARTED: Read the Torah portion and some commentaries.

PRO TIP: What verse grabs you or what idea jumps out at you? What feels alive and calls to you to dig further? What in the Torah is speaking to you? This will help you zoom in on what you want to speak about.

FIND YOUR MAIN IDEA: Read some commentaries on the area that interests you. Find one idea, question about the text, interesting word or phrase, general theme, etc. that speaks to you. Ask yourself: what is the Torah trying to teach us in this portion? Why is this portion part of our sacred text? What message does it hold for our lives? (My personal opinion is that it is preferable to focus on the third of the parasha that we are reading in the current year of the triennial cycle.)

BEFORE you start to write your drash, know your ONE central point that you want to make. Even if you don’t have an absolute answer to a question that you ask (it’s ok and very Jewish to ask questions without knowing the answer), make sure you have ONE central concept or point that people can walk away with (your “take away”). There is a temptation when giving a drash to mention every thought you ever had, but that makes for a jumbled, hard to grasp drash; the best drashot have ONE main idea.

PRO TIP: don’t walk us through your thought process of writing the drash (for example: when I first read the parasha, I wasn’t sure about…, but then I realized…), just give us your end thoughts.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD DRASHA:
Ground your thoughts in the text – it can be a verse, a commentary, or an overall theme from the parasha, but make sure your ideas flow out of the text itself.

Ground your thoughts in the commentaries – your interpretation is part of a long interpretive tradition – How have our ancient, medieval, or modern commentators answered your question? Is your interpretation similar or different to theirs?

Have a beginning, middle, and end. Have a clear “take away” message.

Respect the Torah and the congregation, even if you offer a challenge.

Brief and concise is better than long and rambling. Aim for 10 minutes, 1000 words, or 4-6 typed, double-spaced pages.

PRO TIP: don’t staple your pages, and do include page numbers for your ease. Use a big font for your bimah version. I write my drashot in phrases rather than paragraphs so I can glance at it and not read it and connect more with my listeners.

Practice delivering your drash. Try not to READ it, but speak/teach it to the congregation. It’s ok to speak extemporaneously from an outline IF you are practiced in doing so.

Suggested Outline

Make an outline before you start to write. Here is a suggested outline, but feel free to be creative and begin with a story, a question or something to grab the attention of your listeners. Also, begin and end with “Shabbat Shalom” and make sure to mention the name of your parasha (portion) in the beginning of your drash.

  1. Introduction to the portion – give a BRIEF overview of what’s in the parasha. DON’T mention every single thing in the parasha, only what’s particularly relevant to your teaching.
  2. Raise your particular topic by quoting a verse, citing a commentary, asking a question raised by the text, pointing out a problem in text, etc.
  3. Develop your topic through: an answer to your question, an explanation of your idea, a resolution to the problem from another textual source, a story or an example.
  4. Make your teaching relevant to yourself, to the congregation, or to our current world.
  5. Conclude by reinforcing your main idea – what is the one central thought we are supposed to take away?

CNS Drash Guidelines

HIGH HOLIDAY DRASHOT 2019

Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur

HIGH HOLIDAY DRASHOT 2018

Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur

Parashat Vayera

Saturday November 7, 2020 Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley CA Samuel Crane, Bar Mitzvah Shabbat shalom. Parashat Vayera is a very complicated Parsha, with many pivotal moments. The most important moments that I would like to explore include the following 4 tests that Abraham and Sara undergo. In the first test, three angels come to Abraham…

Kol Nidre 5781-2020

Monday September 28, 2020 Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley CA Rabbi Chai Levy Turning this upside-down world right-side up It’s been six months since we last met in person as a community. Remember Purim? The last day our building was fully open? We gathered in our costumes to read the megillah and boo Haman, filling our…

Rosh Hashanah – Yossi Fendel

Sunday September 20, 2020 Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley CA Yossi Fendel Rosh HaShana 5781 Day 2 D’var Torah by Yossi Fendel One year, I returned home during Yom Kippur to find a group of teenagers in my house playing a game called “Cards Against Humanity: A Game for Horrible People”.  If you’re not familiar with…

Parashat Chukat/Balak

Saturday July 12, 2020 Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley CA Rabbi Stuart Kelman, Founding Rabbi Emeritus Chukkat is the parasha that deals the most with the topic of death.  In it, Miriam dies and is buried; Aaron dies at the end of an elaborate ceremony and the people mourn for 30 days; and at the very…

Erev Rosh Hashannah drash, 5780

L’shana Tova. It is an honor to be in front of you tonight. I hope my drash is worthy of your attention. I have driven by our shul on many a Sunday nights, going hither and yon. The gates have always been closed and I have continued onward. But tonight, the gates were open, and…

Rabbi Chai Levy Kol Nidrei 2019

Jewish Response-ability in the Climate Crisis: Going Forth in Honest Teshuva and Active Hope Always a glutton for punishment, this year I decided to forgo the light summer reading, you know, the fun novels and page turners that people usually enjoy while vacationing. Yes, this summer, I dove into the climate change genre1 and read…

Rosh Hashana Day 1 Drash

On Rosh Hashana we read stories of women (Sarah and Chana) and children (Yismael, Yitzchak) whose voices, whose prayers, whose needs finally got heard. I, Sarah, say T’zchok asah li Elohim, kol hashomaeah Yitzchak li… “god has brought me laughter, everyone who hears will laugh with me” A son so late in life Whoever hears…

Tips for Good Testing: Drash for the Second Day of Rosh Hashanah 5780

Today we read about the Akedah, the binding of Isaac. It’s a terrifying and difficult reading, that begins with a difficult verse (Genesis 22:1): וַיְהִ י֗ אַחַר֙ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וְהָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים נִסָּ֖ה אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֑ם And it came to pass after these things, G-d tested Abraham What does this mean? It’s easy to understand on a simplistic, narrative…

Netivot appeal Yom Kippur 2019

As we often do on Yom Kippur, I begin with an apology. I am sorry to be here, in the middle of Kol Nidre, perhaps for many of us the most important, mysterious, and meaningful day of the Jewish calendar, yet again asking for money. I find it distasteful, even sacrilegious to interrupt our spiritual…

Yom Kippur 2019

Drash, Yom Kippur 2019—Karen Bovarnick, Social Hall Ever feel pressure to forgive someone—guilt that you cannot do it? Why is it so hard? What gets in the way? Today I want to talk about forgiveness and teshuva in different contexts that illustrate why it is difficult and how our motivation to resolve these questions, quickly,…

Behar (Leviticus 25:1-25:28)

From Them, There and Then to Us, Here and Now Shabbat Shalom! Torah is a living ethical will, a legacy that has been kept alive across the globe for thousands of years by multitudes of generations; a legacy that, whether we are aware of it or not, inspires our way of life, collectively and individually,…

Rabbi Chai Levy’s Installation

V’asu li mikdash v’shachanti betocham (Ex. 25:2) – build Me a MIKDASH [holy place], and I will dwell in them (in us). [sing it with the kahal] It was around 15 years ago that Debbie Friedman z”l wrote a melody for this verse ‘v’asu’. Our building committee had adopted this Biblical verse as a theme…

Parsha Yitro

Shabbat shalom. I’m going to tell you a story today. An adventure in interfaith marriage. But first, some background. As many of you know, I am not Jewish. I was confirmed as an Episcopalian around the age of 12 or 13. I won’t drone on about Christianity today, but here are a couple of tidbits.…

Kapparah: Letting Go, Welcoming In

Two former prisoners of war reconnected after many years and were catching up and reflecting on their experiences. One said to the other, “Have you forgiven our captors yet?” “No, never!” said the other. “Well, then,” said the first, “they still have you in prison, don’t they?” Maimonides in his 12th Century Laws of Teshuva,…

Shalom. Today’s Haftarah reading, the book of Yonah, begins with God telling Yonah, “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim judgement upon it; for their wickedness has come before Me.” Yonah, however, does not go to Nineveh to deliver this message to its morally corrupt people. Instead, he boards a ship going…

A few moments ago our Torah reading began:  VaYidabar Adonoi El Moshe Achrai Mot Shnei B’nai Aharon B’karavtom lifnei Adonoi, V’yamutu.”    “Adonoi spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, Nadav and Abihu, when they drew too close to the presence of Adonai.” The rest of our Torah reading follows…

On Yom Kippur, I usually want to stay in shul all day, partly because, dehydrated, hungry and caffeine-deprived, I enter a kind of trance state, latching on to some parts of the service, fading out during others, and then sometimes finding a way to reenter the moment. (I guess giving a drash is one way…

Compassion and The Possibility of Change

In preparing my drash for today, I had a realization: Rosh Hashanah is tough on kids. I don’t just mean the long services and the long, late meals. I mean in the text itself. A lot happens to and around kids in the Torah portion we just read, both good and bad: First, Isaac is…

Shana tova  We made it. We’re here. If you’re like me, you’ve been anticipating this holiday for a while, making sure you have everything ready– perhaps new clothes, maybe a haircut, taking days off of work, if you have young children you may have had to organize their schedules for this patchwork of holidays. No…

The burdens of memory

Friends, there is just too much to share for one moment, even this moment. Yes, I say that every year, but this year I really do mean it more. So many have gathered tonight, across the world, some because they feel an irrational tribal pull, some because they fervently believe, some despite what they fervently believe. We are holy and non-conforming people in a holy and unconventional Jewish community. We are women and men, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight, republican, democrat, independent (and other), we are single, we are married, we are old, we are young, our skin comes in many shades, we struggle with mental illness and we are caregivers, we are divorced, we are single parents, we do not have children, we are Jewish and we are not. We are all this and more. And in this crowded room we are all equal, all family, and all home.

Ferguson/Fargesn

Do you remember? The crowd was much larger than the police expected. The funeral procession snaked through the bustling downtown district, picking up mourners at each stop. The death brought the community together in ways nobody would have imagined. He wasn’t the man some would have hoped for. But he was theirs. And they would…