Ner Tamid Synagogue

Nadav Cain
  • Nadav Cain

Ner Tamid Synagogue

15318 Pomerado Road, Poway

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?

Rabbi Nadav Cain: I always preach conversationally, and I don’t prepare a sermon ahead of time. I usually speak without notes or with very few notes. How, then, do I prepare for my sermon? I think about it, I read scripture, and I read commentaries on the scripture — depending on what my mood might be. I might read historical or mystical; I might read the biblical-critical. I think about it during the week and when I actually stand up to deliver the sermon, I just speak.

SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

RC: If you are truly free, you can love anybody…. We have this illusion that we make free decisions all the time, but I think most of our decisions are not free most of the time…. The real freedom is having the freedom to choose who you’re going to follow — what leader or what code.

SDR: Why Conservative Judaism?

RC: I absolutely believe that Conservative Judaism is the most authentic form of Judaism in the world. I am a passionate scholar of Jewish law and traditional Jewish texts, and when you study rabbinic texts and Jewish legal codes, they are far more lenient and liberal than Orthodox Judaism today…. Originally Buddhism was called “the Middle Way,” and I love Aristotle, who was all about the Golden Mean. The most influential movement in China has been Confucianism — and it essentially translates as the Golden Mean. That’s what Conservative Judaism is. Being in the middle is very spiritual.

SDR: Why did you become a rabbi?

RC: I thought I could make more of a difference in people’s lives, and I think I was right.

SDR: What does the name of your synagogue — Ner Tamid — mean, and how does it relate to your community’s mission?

RC: It means “eternal flame.” It was the eternal flame used on the sacrificial altar in the first five books of the Bible….Wisdom or God or tradition or holiness — they’re interchangeable words — is the flame that you have as a human being. Before you’re snuffed out you want to inspire and enkindle the love of wisdom in another. It is a matter of soul touching soul like one flame lighting another.

SDR: Where do we go when we die?

RC: My personal belief is in reincarnation, which is held by about 15 percent of the rabbis of our tradition, so it’s not a majority position. I believe what the rabbis of the Talmud are saying is that there is a next plane of existence, but it is hubris to pretend we know what it looks like. Anyone that wants to sell you a picture of what it looks like is a charlatan because once we go there we don’t come back to talk about it. I believe that there is some energy or aspect of our existence that passes back into some kind of invisible transcendent realm, but it’s hubris to pretend we know what it looks like. I also believe souls visit the Earth after death in some form some of the time, at least temporarily.

Denomination: Conservative Judaism;

Membership: 185 families

Rabbi: Nadav Cain

Age: 46

Born: Philadelphia, Pa.

Formation: Princeton University, NJ; Harvard Divinity School, MA; Stanford University, Stanford; Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Los Angeles

Ordained: 1 year

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Regarding Rabbi Cain's comment about what happens after death:

Anyone that wants to sell you a picture of what it looks like is a charlatan because once we go there we don’t come back to talk about it.

There are thousands of people who have had Near Death Experiences and vividly described what happens and where they have gone. In addition, there now are many websites, books, and documentaries on the subject.

Even the Father of Analytical Psychology, Carl Jung, had a Near Death Experience. The following information is from

In a hospital in Switzerland in 1944, the world-renowned psychiatrist Carl G. Jung, had a heart attack and then a near-death experience. His vivid encounter with the light, plus the intensely meaningful insights led Jung to conclude that his experience came from something real and eternal. Jung's experience is unique in that he saw the Earth from a vantage point of about a thousand miles above it.

His incredibly accurate view of the Earth from outer space was described about two decades before astronauts in space first described it. Subsequently, as he reflected on life after death, Jung recalled the meditating Hindu from his near-death experience and read it as a parable of the archetypal Higher Self, the God-image within. Carl Jung, who founded analytical psychology, centered on the archetypes of the collective unconscious.

From Carl Jung: It seemed to me that I was high up in space. Far below I saw the globe of the Earth, bathed in a gloriously blue light. I saw the deep blue sea and the continents. Far below my feet lay Ceylon, and in the distance ahead of me the subcontinent of India. My field of vision did not include the whole Earth, but its global shape was plainly distinguishable and its outlines shone with a silvery gleam through that wonderful blue light. In many places the globe seemed colored, or spotted dark green like oxidized silver. Far away to the left lay a broad expanse - the reddish-yellow desert of Arabia; it was as though the silver of the Earth had there assumed a reddish-gold hue. Then came the Red Sea, and far, far back - as if in the upper left of a map - I could just make out a bit of the Mediterranean. My gaze was directed chiefly toward that. Everything else appeared indistinct. I could also see the snow-covered Himalayas, but in that direction it was foggy or cloudy. I did not look to the right at all. I knew that I was on the point of departing from the Earth.

To read more, go to:

So grateful to see the Reader providing a great look at a wonderful influence in our community!!

My daughter and I (I think she is Jewish from another life time?) often walk up to the synagogue and have fun in the children play area there.

We are often greeted by whoever may be there and cordially greeted.

The buildings are majestic and have wonderful sounds of nature in the prayer room.

Some day we want to get over and take some classes or at least ask some questions.

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