Differing Paths? Parashat Huqqat/Balaq

two roads
Parashat Huqqat/Balaq
Numbers 19:1 – 25:9

The specter of the Land of Israel hovers over these Torah readings.

They are stories that take place on the threshold of the Israelites’ entering the Promised Land, and they take place many years after the previous Torah portion left off its story. The generation of the Exodus and the wilderness has died off and a new generation is prepared to fulfill the long deferred dream of entering into the Land. The 38 ½ years of wandering in the desert have come to an end. They are not remembered within the text. As we pace ourselves within the story as it is told, it is as if those years have been completely forgotten in the excited anticipation of this imminent move.
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Look Back to go Forward

Photo courtesy of Forwards: How many Jews of Color Are There?

Photo courtesy of Forwards: How many Jews of Color Are There?

As we approach the 244th anniversary of independence for the United States, soul searching might be in order.

The following books are available at the Lampert Library or most public libraries. Continue reading

Standing Guard: Parashat Korah


Parashat Korah
Numbers 16:1 – 18:32

After weathering the challenge mounted by Korah, the tribe of Levi assumes its proper status as the tribe in charge of taking care of the Tabernacle. The people of Israel are told: “They [- the Levites] shall follow after you and guard the security of the Tent of Meeting for all the service of the Tent, and no one ineligible shall come near to you.” (Num. 18:4) And later, the Torah explains that the guardianship of the Levites is vital for the safety of the Children of Israel: “And the Children of Israel will no longer be able to come too close to the Tent of Meeting, to incur mortal sin.” (Num. 18:22)

The Levites were meant to stand guard around the sacred ground of the Tabernacle and prevent any trespass into that space by an Israelite who was not eligible to enter it. To trespass onto the holy precincts of the Tabernacle would be a “mortal sin.” So the Levites, by barring entry to trespassers, would actually be saving that would-be trespasser’s life.

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2020 Annual Meeting Report


The 2020 Annual Meeting of Congregation Shomrei Emunah occurred on Monday, June 22, 2020.  Members voted on a number of items including the budget and election of new members of the Board of Trustees.

Results of the meeting:

  • 2019 annual meeting minutes were approved as submitted.
  • Audrey Levitin and Romy Rost were elected to the Board of Trustees and Miriam Haimes was elected as President.
  • Special thanks to outgoing board members  Fern Heinig & Lynne Kurzweil.
  • The 2020-21 budget was approved as submitted.

2020 Shomrei Annual Meeting Package which includes reports from outgoing President Sara Ann Erichson and Director of Education, Heather Brown.

Please Take Our High Holiday Survey

Editor’s note: This message was originally emailed to the congregation on June 23rd

Sara Ann Erichson

To the Shomrei community,

In this time of uncertainty and challenges, we at Shomrei have begun to plan for the fall High Holidays with the understanding that many of our usual offerings and practices may not be advisable this year given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As we make our plans, we turn to you, our community, to understand what the High Holidays mean to each one of us. We therefore ask that you fill out a short survey to provide input that will play an important role in our planning.

While we expect that holding traditional services will not be possible this year, we look forward with curiosity and enthusiasm about the opportunities the current situation has created for us. Regardless of the form that our High Holidays might take, how might we collectively experience gathering, renewal, and return during the Days of Awe?

Here is the link to the survey: http://shomrei.org/survey

We ask that you respond by June 30 so that we can incorporate your feedback into our plans.

Thank you!

Sara Ann Erichson

For Education and Entertainment


During these  months with their special challenges for librarians, I’ve learned that there is so much more available that I ever thought although I would never give up hard copies of books.

While there is nothing like face-to-face experience, the online presentations have become almost as good as presenters adapt to unfamiliar technology.

The whole world is available through online presentations. I have discussed the Holocaust with an educator from India, baked hallah with a Jewish woman from Italy, attended a book talk with 30,000 other eager readers and “attended” a lecture with my daughter in France.

None of these things would have been possible in the “real” world. And if you miss something, most presentation are recorded so thatthey are accessible at any time.  Continue reading

What About Caleb? Parashat Sh’lah

Parashat Sh’lah

Numbers 13:1 – 15:41

What makes one person crumble in the face of a crisis while another person remains steadfast and courageous? This is a recurrent question raised in every place and every era when and where human goodness and faithfulness is put to the test by challenging circumstances and by the spread of popular fear in response – which is to say, always. Continue reading

Guiding Principles of Jewish Law and Tradition and their Application to Our Situation

Sharing Shabbat

It has been my sacred privilege and responsibility to serve Congregation Shomrei Emunah as its Rabbi for almost 11 years. I have always taken on my role as the community’s authority on Jewish Law and as its spiritual leader with a sense of reverence.

The present crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has placed extraordinary strain on all of us as individuals and families and on our entire world, our society and our synagogue. I am thankful for all of our community members for their extra efforts in helping the Shomrei community meet this challenge. And I am aware that I bear a heavy responsibility in making decisions on behalf of our community that will guide our policies and actions in accordance with my best understanding of what the Torah – Jewish Law and Tradition – demand, permit or forbid.  Continue reading

Continued Assistance Needed


The Westfield Fun Club, with whom we have been collaborating over the past few months to deliver food and other essential household items to over 100 refugee families in the Elizabeth area during the pandemic, is winding down their Emergency Food Initiative. (See the email) The Fun Club happily reports that many of the families no longer need the emergency supplies since they have returned to work and/or have seen an increase in SNAP benefits.

However, there are still roughly a dozen refugee and asylum-seeking households – mostly senior citizens – who need our continued assistance. The Fun Club is arranging for these families to be “adopted” by other families or groups who can provide them with weekly deliveries of food and household items.

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Summer’s coming in

zucchini soupMango chickenhallah

As the weather warms, we look for food that takes little effort and is light to counteract the heaviness of a summer day.

Soup is always a good starter. There’s gazpacho (Fit for the Fourth, 5/5/17), cucumber soup (Cool as a …,  8/1/19) , cucumber gazpacho (Summertime and the Cooking is Easy, 7/26/18) and cucumber pineapple soup (Cool Food for a Hot Day, 6/17/17), of course. But even easier is this versatile gluten and dairy free zucchini soup discovered  by Beryl Hiller on the Allrecipes website. Continue reading