The Abyss: Parashat Sh’mini

man thinking about taking big risk to reach the other side with a big jump

Parashat Sh’mini
Leviticus 9:1-11:47

Our Torah portion continues its narrative of the meticulously planned out process for the dedication of the Tabernacle. God has delineated everything – each detail of each ritual. And the rest of the Torah portion includes a thorough-going treatment of dietary laws. Indeed, the bulk of this text is comprised of orderly ceremonies and regulations.
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Memories of Jerry Weiss

Jerry Weiss cropped 2I got to know Jerry well quite a few years ago when we were both appointed to a Shomrei committee no one wanted to serve on. Suffice it to say our assignment was unenviable and none of us wished to be there, least of all Jerry. But he graciously agreed to be co-chair, and he and Helen hosted our many meetings in their lovely home. Week after week, he held us together and steered us toward a conclusion with kindness and above all care for the future of Shomrei. I don’t think it was a coincidence that we all became good friends and remained so. Continue reading

Vive la Difference!

karpasWhy was this year’s Passover different from last year’s?

This year we knew what we were doing as we Zoomed across three continents and several states. We knew where to put the IPad so that everyone could see and be seen. We knew to mute and unmute. We knew how we would sound singing together. And we knew that if we didn’t mute ourselves, everyone could hear our comments.

This year we had in person guests at our small seder, for we were less fearful, though still cautious.

This year we experimented with haroset and grew our own karpas and hazerat.  Continue reading

Random Jottings

Internationa Ch Bk Day 2121Every year the International Board on Books for Young People sponsors a day to celebrate children’s books. Called International Children’s Book Day,  the celebration falls on Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, April 2.  The intent is to both  inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.

This year’s poster and message come from the United States. The colorful poster was designed by Roger Mello, an internationally acclaimed illustrator, author , and awinner of the Hans Christian Andersen award. Continue reading

the memorial: Parashat Tzav/Shabbat Ha-gadol/Passover

Empty toilet paper roll

Parashat Tzav/Shabbat Ha-gadol/Passover
Leviticus 6:1-8:36

This year I will place a new item on my seder plate – a nearly used-up roll of toilet paper. It will serve as a reminder and a prod to appreciate a person, an act and a tradition of holiness.

Our Torah portion continues to give details about how to perform the sacrificial rites. The simplest of sacrifices is the flour offering, the minhah – literally “the gift.” This simplest of gifts – “The Gift” – is one that even the poorest person could bring to God. And it includes in its ceremony the lifting of a small portion of flour, spices and oil that is burnt on the altar. This small amount is called the “azkarah – the memorial.” (Lev. 6:8) This term is never used for any other gift. None of the other types of sacrifice has any of its elements characterized as a reminder. But this simple sacrifice does. Commentators (see, for instance, Ibn Ezra to Lev. 2:2, where this term first appears) link remembering here with scent and aroma, the pleasing aroma that signifies God’s happiness in this simple offering, above all else.
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Kitchen Scrap Gardening for Passover

Aileen's karpas & maror

Aileen’s karpas & maror

It really works!

At the Passover Splash program on March 7, Aileen Grossberg showed the attendees how the root ends of a bunch of celery or head of romaine can be grown in water for use as karpas and maror at the Passover seder.   Once the vegetables have started to put out roots, they can be planted in potting soil and will continue to grow leaves.

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Please Take Our Shabbat Services Survey

Editor’s note: This message was originally emailed to the congregation on March 25th.

IMG_0397To the Shomrei community,

As we approach spring I think about renewal, emergence from the long winter and change.  We continue to be in an ever-changing and uncertain environment as vaccines become more available and we learn additional facts about COVID 19.

I understand that many of you may be eager to resume our in-person services while others are content to continue with online services.  We have been diligently working over the last year to bring a myriad of services and programs to our Shomrei Community and we are now thinking about options for in person services with appropriate safety protocols.  We will be doing an outdoor Kabbalat Shabbat in April but as we plan for additional services, we want to understand what you, our community, would like during this period of transition.

I am asking you to fill out a short survey to provide input that will play an important role in our planning.  We will endeavor to find ways to gather together as a community.

Here is the link to the survey:

Please respond by Thursday April 8th so we can incorporate your feedback into our planning.

Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey.

Wishing all of you a very Happy Passover.

Miriam Haimes,

So Far Away: Parashat Vayiqra

Parashat Vayiqra

Leviticus 1:1-5:26 

The book of Leviticus – Vayiqra – begins by giving rules for the offering of sacrifices in the newly constructed sanctuary. Today we find these rules difficult to pay attention to. They seem so far from our experience. Yet, for the Torah, these sacrifices are the means by which a person might hope to draw close to God. The clear implication of this text is that it is here – in the sanctuary space and nowhere else – where sacrifices should be offered if they are to be acceptable to God. It is meaningful to follow some of the details of these instructions to see better how this concept is driven home.
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Passover Resources

March 18Table-mimouna_2Oh, today we’ll merry, merry be! Ooops…wrong holiday. But certainly we should be merry, or at least rejoice, as we celebrate freedom. What is more precious?

The following resources will help you to have an enlightening, delicious, and fulfilling holiday. Continue reading