Restoration: Parashat Va’era 2020


Parashat Va’era (5780 – 2020)
Exodus 6:2 – 9:35

God must persuade Moses and Aaron to persist in their efforts to liberate their people, even though they have met with initial failure. After God repeats this command regarding the people of Israel and Pharaoh the Torah stops the story to begin a genealogical list. The list begins with Reuben, the eldest son of Jacob and proceeds through the next two sons, Shimon and Levi. But it does not include the rest of the sons. It concludes with Levi so as to give a fuller background to Moses and Aaron, members of the Levite tribe. (Ex. 6:14-27) Continue reading

Timely Reading


In 2005, the United Nations passed a resolution urging every member of the U.N. to “honor the memory of Holocaust victims” by encouraging the development of educational programs.

The goal is through education to prevent future acts of genocide.

The date chosen for International Holocaust Remembrance Day was January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

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It’s Time to Bowl, Bowl, Bowl!


Dear Friends,

I am writing with an odd request—as a member of HOMECorp’ s board, I have been asked to form a Shomrei bowling team for one of HOMECorp’ s most energetic fundraisers—a BOWL-A-Thon.  It’s a corny and fun event and it raises a good deal of money for the agency. What I need are 6 courageous bowlers who are willing to spend Sunday afternoon, January 26 at Eagle Rock Lanes!  The entry fee is $100 per bowler or $600 per team.  The fee includes shoes and snacks.  And if you can’t bowl, will you be a sponsor?  More details below…and many thanks to all of you! Continue reading

Speak up: Parashat Sh’mot 2020


Parashat Sh’mot (5780 – 2020)
Exodus 1:1 – 6:1

Moses, a Hebrew survivor, formerly an Egyptian prince, and now a refugee shepherd in the wilderness of Midian, is called upon by God to become the leader of his enslaved people, the Israelites. In the longest conversation between a human being and God to be recorded in the Torah, Moses keeps on arguing against God’s call. He tries to get out of the mission that God has chosen for him.

In our own times of trouble and uncertainty, it is intriguing to read how one person tries to wriggle out of his responsibility to do something on behalf of those who are suffering. As the Torah devotes so much space to documenting the attempts by a person to evade their responsibility, perhaps that extended effort might prompt us to self-reflection. “Is this something that applies to any of us?” – we may wonder with discomfort.

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Local Clergy Meet with James Harris

clergy meeting 1-9-20

Pictured from left to right:
Cantor Meredith Greenberg – Temple Ner Tamid
Rabbi Ariann Weitzman – Bnai Keshet
Rabbi Elliott Tepperman – Bnai Keshet
Rabbi Laurence Groffman – Temple Sholom of West Essex
Rabbi David Greenstein – Congregation Shomrei Emunah
Reverend Elizabeth Campbell – Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Cantor Kenneth Feibush – Temple Sholom of West Essex
Mr. James Harris – NJABE & NAACP
Rabbi Marc Katz – Temple Ner Tamid
Reverend Campbell Singleton – Union Baptist Church
Rabbi Yaacov Leaf – Chabad of Montclair)

Today, January 9th, 2020 local Jewish and Christian clergy met with James Harris to address his comments at the Montclair 4th Ward meeting December 3oth. The rabbis and cantors who attended the meeting have issued a statement:

To Whom It May Concern,

Today at the request of James Harris, a meeting was convened including him and the Jewish clergy serving the Montclair community. This meeting was called and attended so that we could address directly the antisemitic statements and sentiments expressed by Mr. Harris at the Fourth Ward meeting on December 30th. As representatives of Montclair’s Jewish community we feel an obligation to report on the outcome and content of this meeting.

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Honoring Shomrei Stars!


Each year Shomrei honors one or more members for their commitment and volunteerism in support of our community. I am excited to announce that this year we are honoring a quintet of talented and dedicated individuals (as pictured L-R): Carol Katzman, Allison Task, Margot Laksin, John Lasiter and Adrienne Shulman Lasiter

Here’s what you need to know: 

  • First, SAVE-THE-DATE and come to a Shomrei bash in their honor on Saturday night, February 29th. (Invitation to follow.)

  • Second, HONOR OUR HONOREES by expressing your gratitude in this year’s community directory (Ad Journal).  (More information on how to do so below.)

Now let me share a little about our honorees’ impact on Shomrei…

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Stop, children, what’s that sound? Parashat Vayechi 2020


Parashat Vayehi (5780 – 2020)
Genesis 47:28 – 50:26

The Book of Genesis ends with the death of Joseph after he makes his brothers pledge that, when God shall remember them and take them out of Egypt, they will remember him and take his bones back to Israel for burial. I have discussed aspects of the significance of this pledge and act in previous years. (See Sparks for 201520162017)

One thing is clear to Joseph, the family and the reader – Egypt is not really their home. They must eventually return to Canaan. So, as we ponder whether the brothers and their descendants will remember Joseph at that future time, we might ask ourselves a simple question: Why didn’t the brothers simply return to their homes in the land of Israel right after Joseph’s death? What held them back? The famine years had long passed and they were free to go, not yet enslaved to the next Pharaoh. We can understand that Joseph was stuck in Egypt because of his high position in Pharaoh’s court. But, once he died, why didn’t the brothers seize the opportunity to go back home?

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