Barcelona Magic

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s a Jewish proverb that says “No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell.” You never know what surprises you’ll find when you travel and where your feet will lead you.

My daughters and I spent a few days in Barcelona, Spain at the beginning of April. We planned to see the usual sites: a walk along La Rambla, tour Gaudi’s famed Sagrada Familia… and Park Guehl, the Picasso Museum, a stroll along the Mediterranean.

But it’s the unexpected that sometimes leaves the greatest impression.

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Building a “Singing Community” at Shomrei

joey weisenberg
Two weeks ago, Shomrei experienced a very special Shabbat – one, that for many of us, felt transformative. Aided by our musical scholar-in-residence, Joey Weinsenberg, we engaged in services – whether it be by humming a nigun (a wordless melody) or chanting a prayer – with a stronger sense of freedom to sing and to express ourselves.  Our collective voices filled the sanctuary as one.
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Jamming With Joey

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I think that I can speak for almost everyone who experienced last weekend’s Musical Scholar Shabbaton in saying it was truly exceptional! The quest to bring Joey Weisenberg to Montclair was five years in the making, and he surely did not disappoint. In fact, if it was possible, he may have exceeded my already lofty expectations.

Some people wondered, why do we need help singing? Shomrei always has been a “singing community” and we integrate music and song into almost all of our services. The way I explain it is that there is a difference between being led in song and teaching people to sing (and pray) together. Having talked to others and seen his videos, there was no doubt in my mind that Joey Weisenberg is a true visionary in this area. As Creative Director of Hadar’s Rising Song Institute, Joey has become a rock star, working to educate and train communities around the world to unlock their musical-spiritual potential and make music a lasting, joy­-filled force in synagogues and in Jewish life.

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Connecting Through Singing

naz 2“Music helps us listen to each other,” said Joey Weisenberg, our musical Scholar-In-Residence who came to lead our Shabbat services on Fri March 1st. Joey Weisenberg is most recently the Creative Director of Mechon Hadar’s Rising Song Institute which aims to bring more inclusiveness to Jewish prayer and singing across the nation. He is a multi-instrumental musician, singer and composer who works with regular congregants in shuls across the nation in an effort to make music a joy filled experience that can be easily accessed by all.

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Building with Our Voices

SaritaWhat an amazing weekend it was with our guest, Joey Weisenberg. A highlight for me was towards the end of services on Saturday, when Joey invited us to gather round him for Musaf. To make room, we shifted the bima and moved the chairs aside. Envision the people, after moving through the parted Red Sea and gathering on the far bank, singing their praises and gratitude. Now come one step closer, he coaxed us. Now come even one more step closer. And so we stood shoulder to shoulder. Continue reading

The 10th Commandment Adapts!

Ten Commandments

As we all know, every word in the Torah means something.

The Ten Commandments appear both in Exodus and Deuteronomy.  However, the last commandment has changed in Deuteronomy.

In Exodus 20:17, the wording is as follows: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his man servant or maid servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

By using the semicolon, we infer that house means all property owned by your neighbor, including his wife.

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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