Vigil

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Rabbis Ariann Weitzman, David Greenstein, Marc Katz, and Elliott Tepperman lead 200 members of the religious, political and social Montclair community at B’nai Keshet to mourn the victims of the Tree of Life massacre at a vigil of prayers, song and support, Sat. night, Oct. 27. Photo © Adam Anik

This past Shabbat the worst attack on Jews in American history took place. Many of us were stunned, horrified, angered and grief stricken. What does one do in such a circumstance?

One answer was provided by our rabbi and our community: Congregation Shomrei Emunah co-sponsored a vigil along with congregations Bnai Keshet and Temple Ner Tamid.

Unfortunately, due to the late hour of the email notice that went out to the congregation about the vigil (it could not be sent out earlier because of Shabbat) there were few Shomrei members in attendance. How I wished our congregants could have been there for this special evening – a chance to come together to share our pain and find comfort in one another’s embrace. Having spoken to a number of our congregants, I know many wished they could have attended.

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Syrian Refugees Visit Shomrei and Our House on Rosh Hashanah

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My mother used to tell me, “You can only be at one place at a time.” When my kids were little, I would give them the same advice. As much as they wanted to, they could not play soccer, go to a birthday party or have a play date at the same moment.

I thought of this on the first day of Rosh Hashanah services. Shomrei offered such an array of options that I had a hard time to choosing one. Lucky for me, I chose the “teen” discussion group led by Andy Silver, with a panel of Syrian refugees and aided by a translator.

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Know Compassion

familyAfter each two-hour shift I spent with the families we hosted through IHN, I walked out of Shomrei feeling humbled, grateful, and sad. These emotions inspired the following poem:

Know Compassion

Even just a little
because we have health
because we have family
because we have security
and we know
as we move
through our day
when a child you love
needs tender care,
someone is there
to offer hugs and love
and safety
and more love.

Know compassion
without judgement
because you never know
when you may need
shelter, clothing, food
because you answered
yes when no called
or you moved east
when west asked
or you accepted
charity masked as
strategy; then
tragedy befell
a family.

Know compassion
maybe even more
because we have
because we eat
because we sleep
and we know
tomorrow
when we rise
inside four walls
beneath a roof
sipping hot or cold
coffee or tea
we are alive
we are safe.

 

image:  “Family” © IsaacVakeroKoner altered and used with permission via Creative Commons License

Our Trip to Holland: Seeking a Context

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The Anne Frank House conveys the narrative that Holland protected its Jews. To quote the fact checker for the New York Times: this requires context.

Conversos settled in Amsterdam during the 16th and 17th centuries. It’s important to note that Holland was not uniformly welcoming as they were not allowed to settle in other towns and it took a while before they were comfortable living openly as Jews. They also did not know much about being Jewish. Rabbis from other countries – Italy, Morocco, Germany – came over to teach them about Judaism. Ashkenazi Jews came to Amsterdam later and during the 18th century this was the larger of the two communities. Continue reading

Visiting the Anne Frank House

IIMG_0406t is called the Anne Frank House but it was not actually her home. The buildings housed her father’s company and Anne, together with her family (father Otto, mother Edith, sister Margot) and 4 other people, hid in the top two floors of the back annex above the warehouse for 2 years.

The entire building is empty. No furniture – the Nazis removed everything and Otto Frank did not want other furniture brought in to recreate the space. Only a few personal items have survived – postcards and magazine photos that Ann glued to her bedroom wall, a shopping list, Edith Frank’s siddur. Continue reading

Audrey Levitin: Families Belong Together

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image courtesy of ACLU

Around the time when news about the crisis on the border emerged, I was on my morning train into the City. It was crowded and coming up the aisle was a young mother and a grandmother, struggling with a stroller and a toddler. They were Spanish speaking. The woman sitting next to me offered the mom her seat and she and the toddler sat next to me. The boy sat on his mother’s lap and I was able to take him in. He was about 2 years old, with chubby cheeks, big brown eyes and at the age where everything about him is adorable. He was pointing out the window with great enthusiasm at everything we passed. The other commuters and I looked up from our phones and we shared a few minutes of pleasure watching this child’s innocent delight at simply being on the train.

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Turning Strangers into Friends

IMG_2133The biggest reason my family joined Shomrei back in 2015 is because of the community here. So as the crisis in Syria grew,  my husband and I kept asking each other: Should we do something? Adopt a Syrian orphan? Donate some clothes? It seemed obvious that I should email the rabbi. Was Shomrei “doing” anything? Continue reading

Carol Katzman: Do You Know?

katzman_carolHi, I’m Carol Katzman, President of the Shomrei Emunah Cemetery Association and Shomrei Emunah’s delegate to the Jewish Memorial Chapel for many years. So I was wondering

DO YOU KNOW?

Do You Know There is a Non-Profit Jewish Funeral Home? – Yes. The Jewish Memorial Chapel is located on Allwood Road in Clifton about 15 minutes from Shomrei Emunah.

Do You Know Congregation Shomrei Emuanh is A Delegate Organization? Yes, we have been a delegate organization since 1994. When the Nutley Temple joined Shromei Emunah, it brought its membership with them.

Do You Know Non-Profit Means Funeral Costs are Less? Yes. Being Non-Profit the Jewish Memorial Chapel covers it costs. Funerals are anywhere from approximately one-third to one-half less than at a for-profit funeral home. The licensed professional staff conducts funerals with dignity and in strict compliance with Halacha (Jewish Law).

Do You Know What the Jewish Memorial Chapel Does With Surplus Funds? After all expenses, the Jewish Memorial Chapel will dispense any excess funds. Shomrei Emunah just received a $3,600 check from the Chapel. It is being used toward unrecoverable expenses associated with the main water pipe break. Continue reading

Robert Bielsky Speaks About Widespread Jewish Resistance

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Bruce and I attended the Yom HaShoah Commemoration of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest and Kean University Holocaust Research Center on April 11th, featuring Robert Bielsky as Speaker.

Director of the Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest, Barbara Wind, said Jews did not go to slaughter quietly during the Holocaust. Between 1941 and 1943, underground resistance movements developed in approximately 100 ghettos in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe (about one-fourth of all ghettos), especially in Poland, Lithuania, Belorussia, and the Ukraine. Their main goals were to organize uprisings, break out of the ghettos, and join partisan units in the fight against the Nazis. There was widespread resistance by fighting and killing Nazis, Jews risking their lives to save other Jews, escaping from killing fields, ghettos and slave labor camps, keeping the Jewish religion alive and fighting with the Partisans in the forest. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising lasted more than a month before the Germans overcame the Ghetto. That is longer than France or Belgium held up against the Germans before surrendering. Continue reading