Holding Tight: Sh’mini Atzeret/Simhat Torah/V’zot Ha-b’rakhah (5780 – 2019)

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Sh’mini Atzeret/Simhat Torah/V’zot Ha-b’rakhah (5780 – 2019)
Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12

The beginning of the new year is marked with so many holy days. Now we are reaching their end, the end of the beginning. The annual cycle of Torah portions, begun last year also comes to an end, not at the end of the last year, but at the beginning of this new year. And then we begin once more. We are meant to pay attention to endings and beginnings and to consider how each may also be its opposite. Continue reading

Call to Action: Helping Immigrants in Essex County

Protesters have targeted the Essex County Correctional Facility, which holds about 800 people who have been arrested on immigration charges. Photo credit: Mel Evans/Associated Press

Protesters at the Essex County Correctional Facility. Photo credit: Mel Evans/Associated Press

Dear Friends:
I hope everyone is having a great holiday season. I am writing to let you know about two social actions you can take to help immigrants in Essex County.

1) Join Faith in Essex on 10/23 at 7pm at the Newark Hall of Records for the Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting to insist on ACLU-endorsed civilian oversight for Essex County Correctional Facility. This is a very important meeting where I believe the ordinance for the civilian oversight board that the ACLU is recommending will be introduced.

Please let me know (email hidden; JavaScript is required) if you plan to go to the Freeholders meeting and if so, let’s work in car pooling.

2) Send the email below to County Executive Joseph D. Vincenzo and the Board of Chosen Freeholders. Continue reading

‘Tis the Season

Hebrew clockI love this time of year and the changes and challenges it brings.

When you’re a child, you don’t notice the passing of time in the same way that you do as an adult. Don’t you remember those endless summers that seemed to stretch on forever? Now, summer seems to go by in a flash and I hardly ever accomplish what I had planned.

For someone most of whose life has been ruled by a school calendar, September is a beginning. By October, we were settled in.  Remember those new “school” shoes and clothes , yellow pencils, fresh notebooks?

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MESH Report Oct 15, 2019

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From Captain Alex Kent:

It was a wild and crazy MESH night this past Tuesday when, unbeknownst to the volunteer crew, the MESH guests were slated to dine in the Sukkah.

Everyone rose to the occasion, even though at times it was a bit of a Chinese fire drill with plates of food being ferried up and down the stairs and in the elevator. The MESH staff assured us the guests wanted to eat in the Sukkah, despite the 60 degree weather.

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Divine Glory: Parashat Haazinu/Sukkot (5780 – 2019)

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Parashat Haazinu/Sukkot (5780 – 2019)
Deuteronomy 32:1 – 32:52 

This reading often directly precedes the festival of Sukkot, the Harvest Festival. References to nature abound in this reading. They range from the unspoiled, God-given phenomena of rain and dew and go on to include the produce of human cultivation of the soil. Late in the song of Ha’azinu  we find the paradoxical image of “the vine of Sodom, the vineyard of Gomorrah,” where these cities of iniquity are seen as sources of rotten fruit. We have moved from nature to civilization, but civilization as a source of corruption and wrong-doing.

Thus, without stating it explicitly, our Torah portion tells of the vulnerability of nature, available to people to use as they see fit, subject to manipulation and transformation at the hands of humans. Will this usage be for good or for ill? Will nature be enhanced or destroyed? Only we have the answers.
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Material Support: Parashat Vayelekh (5780 – 2019)

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Parashat Vayelekh (5780 – 2019)
Deuteronomy 31:1 – 31:30

The last two mitzvot (commandments) of the Torah (- according to the traditional count of a total of 613) are found in this week’s Torah portion, the shortest of all weekly Torah portions. (Most of the time it is joined with last week’s portion as one reading.) Both concern the Torah herself. The next-to-last mitzvah is to congregate together (haq’hel) once every seven years and listen to the Torah being read to us. The last commandment is for each of us to write, or support the writing of, a Torah scroll.
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