Towering Humility: Parashat Shoftim

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Parashat Shoftim
Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9

As Moses continues to prepare the Israelites for their future without him, he does not only scold and warn them. He also seeks to reassure them. He promises that God will continue to send the people prophets who will give them guidance as they need it: “A prophet, from your midst, from your brethren, like me, shall the Eternal, your Almighty God, raise up for you.” (Deut. 18:15)

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Shomrei Assisting a Sixth Family

Shomrei Refugee Assistance Group, August 10 Update

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Here are the important announcements for this week:

We are excited to announce that we are now assisting a sixth family in Elizabeth!  Our summer camp fundraising resulted in 8 children attending two-week sessions at the YMCAs in Wayne and Elizabeth. We are collecting school supplies for the families we are assisting. On Sept 30, we will be hosting a luncheon in the Sukkah catered by Syrian refugee families.

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Pre-Holiday Reading

shofar1We are now in the month of Elul, leading up to the Jewish spiritual New Year. Elul is traditionally a month for introspection culminating a few weeks later on Yom Kippur.

To help you get in the mood of the upcoming holidays and gain some insights, The editors of the Jewish Review of Books have selected 10 previously-published articles that follow the arc of the fall holidays, from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to Sukkot and Simchat Torah, and created a High Holiday Companion ebook.

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What We Want to See: Parashat R’eh

eyes_have_itParashat R’eh
Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17

The eyes have it. Moses begins this Torah portion by exhorting us: “See! (R’eh) I am placing before you today blessing and curse.” (Deut. 11:26) We are meant to look and see this starkly distinguished contrast. We should be able to see that God’s way is equal to blessing and that abandoning God is equal to a curse. We should be able to see this simple dichotomy with our own eyes. Continue reading

We’re Back! Lampert Library is Open.

shelving8After months of anticipation and mounds of boxes waiting to be unpacked, the Lampert Library is again ready for operation.

Thanks to a hard working crew of volunteers, almost all the books were put back on the shelves in a week’s time.  There’s still some adjusting to be done but our library looks like a library again.

 

 

Here’s what it looked like as numerous volunteers- including some who were camera shy- sorted and shelved:

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Expansive Gratitude: Parashat Eqev

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Parashat Eqev
Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25

So that the Children of Israel may eagerly anticipate entering the Promised Land, a land he knows that he, himself, will never enter, Moses describes the land of Israel in glowing terms. It is a gorgeous, good land, abundant in many types of produce, so that the Israelites, once there, will never lack for anything. (Deut. 8:7-9) Moses becomes excited and predicts our good fortune and our gratitude for it: ”And you shall eat and be satisfied and you shall bless the Eternal, your Almighty God, for the good land that God gave to you!” (v. 10) This elated vision expresses Moses’ own fullness of heart in his contemplation of our future.

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Summer Camp Fundraiser a Huge Success!

Shomrei Refugee Assistance Group, July 31 Update
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We have a number of important items this week:

  • Our fundraising to help send local refugee children to summer day camp has been a major success!  Including the very generous matching grant provided by one of our member-families, we have raised a total of $2,866 so far.  The funds are being used to send seven children from two families in Paterson to the Wayne Y and to send one child from the families that we are supporting in Elizabeth to the Y camp in Union.  All of the children will be enjoying two weeks of day camp thanks to our group’s fundraising efforts.  (See photos of Kresten, below, waiting for her first day of camp to start yesterday.)  Any funds in excess of those needed for camp will be used for the general welfare of the refugee families.

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Tradition or Traditsye

yidfid3The other night I watched a Channel 13 program about the Jewish influence on Broadway. It is amazing when one realizes how many of the great composers and lyricists of beloved Broadway shows were Jewish and how many shows have a Jewish sensibility.

A new book Devil’s Mile: the rich, gritty history of the Bowery has a chapter called simply “The Jews.”  Yiddish theater began on the Bowery. Seats cost 25 cents and everyone from mothers with their babies to workers and politicians would attend. Continue reading

Loving With All Our Might: Parashat Va’et`hanan/Shabbat Nahamu

Arms open

Parashat Va’et`hanan/Shabbat Nahamu
Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11

“Love the Eternal, your Almighty God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut. 6:5) This verse from the Sh’ma is glossed by our Sages: “’Love …your God … with all your soul…’ – even when God takes away your soul.” (Sifrei  32)

Thus the Sh’ma became the final declaration of love and devotion to God, spoken by faithful Jews at the time of their death, whether by natural causes or as martyrs. Even in the bitter moment when God has refused to answer our prayers and grant us more life, we are called upon to love God with everything we still have. And so many Jews over the years have fulfilled that commandment, with all their hearts. Continue reading