Crowd Sourcing Sermons


Imagine that you are a member of the Rodeph Shalom clergy team, and you could tap into the collective wisdom of our congregation to help you write your sermons this summer.

That is exactly what we are going to do this summer with CROWDSOURCING SUMMER SERMON SERIES.

What is Crowdsourcing? It is the process of obtaining ideas or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, especially from the online community. (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, 2014)

What is Crowdsourcing a Sermon? It is an opportunity for us to draw inspiration from your comments and to encourage conversation among our congregants on important Jewish issues. Crowdsourcing sermons will be a way for us to find an opportunity to draw closer as a community. It will be a way for us to fulfill our Vision of creating profound connections.

Several years ago during our Summer Sermon Series, we asked some RS Members to speak to the congregation on each Friday night during the summer. They spoke to us about a “Profound Moment in their Lives.” This was a very popular topic and the congregation responded with great enthusiasm.

This year, we will solicit comments from all of you about some topics that are relevant to Judaism in our daily lives. (SEE TOPICS LISTED BELOW)

Through the method of crowdsourcing, we will be able to gain deeper insight into what you are thinking, as well as ideas about which you are passionate and knowledgeable.

What if I am over 40 and I’ve never heard the word “Crowdsourcing?”

Don’t worry! You can still participate in this summer’s fun! After all, Judaism has been soliciting input from our people since the very beginning. I have noticed that our people are never shy about offering their opinions on any topic.

The Talmud is a perfect example of a form of ancient crowdsourcing. If you look at a page of Talmud (SEE BELOW), you will notice a verse or two of the ancient text of “Mishnah” (1st book of Jewish law published in 200 C.E.), followed by some commentary on those verses by some rabbinic or tannaitic sages at a later date. This is called “Gemorah.” Arranged all around the margins and edges of that page of Talmud are various commentaries about these verses by sages and scholars over the centuries. Each page of Talmud is literally a conversation among great Jewish sages over a period of many centuries.

The Talmud, then is a prototype for today’s crowdsourcing, except instead of a conversation over many centuries, we can have a conversation that is instant over the internet.

How can I participate in this summer’s Crowdsourcing Sermons at RS?

We are posing a question for each sermon of this summer, one for each Erev Shabbat Service (Every Friday at 6:00 p.m.). (SEE QUESTIONS BELOW)

Because we have a large congregation with a diversity of communication methods, we will pose the Crowdsourcing Sermon Questions in a variety of media:

  2. RS BLOG: (Go to our website:   On the Home page of our website you will see the word “BLOG” on the left side of the page. Click on ‘BLOG” and you will see the page with the questions For each week. You will be able to submit your comments, ideas, suggestions, feelings about each question, and we will receive them and work them into our sermons.

3.WEEKLY RS CONGREGATIONAL E-MAIL:Each week’s question will be listed in the All-Congregational e-mail you receive every Sunday. You can e-mail one or all of the clergy with your comments.

4. FACEBOOK: Go to Rodeph Shalom’s Facebook page to find the list of weekly sermon questions. You are invited to submit your questions or comments to the clergy through the RS Facebook page.

  1. LETTERS, POSTCARDS, TELEPHONE, TELEGRAM, FAX, FED EX, SMOKE SIGNALS: Don’t own a computer? Try one of these traditional methods.

Or better yet, tell us in person! Come to services every Friday at 6:00 p.m. and tell us what you think in person! We want to hear from you! We want to share ideas with you. We want to share Shabbat with you.

Our Crowdsourcing Sermon Topics
Friday, July 4: Have you ever felt that food is sacred?  How does food connect you to others?  To your family?  To Judaism?
Friday, July 11: When have you taken a risk and done something outside your comfort zone?
Friday, July 18: What song or piece of music (secular or religious) makes you think differently or think deeply?
Friday, July 25: Technology itself is neither good nor bad, it is how we use it.  How has technology helped to connect you to others and/or how has technology separated you from others?
Friday, August 1: When have you experienced a connection to Israel (the land, the people, the state) that surprised you?  Describe the moment.
Friday, August 8: Besides your physical house/apartment/condo, where and when do you feel at home?  What is it about these other places/times that elicit feelings of comfort, safety and family?
Friday, August 15: What are your ideas about aging with dignity?  How do you find the true meaning and purpose in life as you grow older?
Friday, August 22: Have you ever carried around a grudge or a feeling that did not allow you to move forward completely?  Have you ever let go of such a feeling?
Friday, August 29: Have you ever found extraordinary moments in ordinary experiences?  Describe the moment.