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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An Amazing Start to the Year

Sara Ann ErichsonIt’s been quite a start to the 2019 calendar year at Shomrei and I find myself enveloped by experiences spiritual, educational and social within our community. From learning about the Dead Sea Scrolls from a world-renowned expert to celebrating Nick Levitin at a very special honor night to a transformative experience last Shabbat with our musical scholar-in-residence.  (How great was it to see all the kids playing together after Havdalah!)

I look forward to this week’s Art Mazel soiree and auction; I’m hearing great things about the Purim shpiel (the Lion King!); I can’t wait for the next holiday hikes with Lily; and I’m excitedly watching our new playground go up.

And, throughout all of this, we have members who continue to open their homes for services, who are so very committed to our social action programs, and who share their experiences and expertise as @nourish speakers.  All this and much more at our “little” synagogue.  Our collective experiences continue to be driven by our dedicated professional staff and so many members of our community who feel a passion, dedication and commitment to making Shomrei the place we all want it to be.  Thank you!

See you at shul!

Sara Ann Erichson

Plans for the Rabbi’s Sabbatical

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As you know, Rabbi Greenstein will be away from Shomrei from January 1st through May 31st of this upcoming year. He has been awarded the Daniel Jeremy Silver Fellowship at the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University.

For much of this year, a Rabbi Sabbatical Committee, led by Shomrei members Geoff Sadow and Dan Winter, have been working to ensure that our congregation will operate smoothly during our rabbi’s absence. This includes the hiring of guest rabbis to join us for many Shabbatot and to provide rabbinic coverage. This also includes the scheduling of academic and musical scholars-in-residence who will bring to Shomrei some exciting programs.

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Security at Shomrei – A Message from President, Sara Ann Erichson

Sara Ann ErichsonAs Rabbi Greenstein so eloquently stated in his recent email, we are devastated by the tragedy in Pittsburgh. As a follow up, I am writing to share with you information and plans regarding security at our synagogue

We are grateful to the Montclair Police Department (MPD) who arrived at Shomrei last Saturday morning as soon as events unfolded in Pittsburgh.  They returned to our synagogue on Sunday. We are actively engaged with the MPD and are requesting, for an interim period of time, extra patrols while we have people in the building.

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Seeing Shomrei: President Sara Ann Erichson’s Kol Nidre Address

Editor’s Note: Sara Ann gave this talk at Kol Nidre Services 5779/2018.

Good evening.  For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Sara Ann Ericson and I’m two months into my tenure as being the president of this synagogue.

I was on the internet recently – looking for advice on how to write this speech.  I saw this remark from one former synagogue president: “Three things make a successful High Holiday speech:  a good beginning, a good ending, and having the two be as close together as possible.”  Ok, I have kept that advice in mind, but I do have some thoughts, observations and information that I want to share with you this evening.

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Greetings from Sara Ann Erichson – Incoming President of Shomrei

31180185_10214048356716115_2761768781414924288_oHello!  This Shabbat marks my start as Shomrei’s new president.  It is a privilege to serve this amazing community which I have been a member of for nearly twenty years.

Let me tell you a bit about myself.  My husband Howie and I moved to Montclair twenty-eight years ago and recently celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. We have two young adult children – Danny and Jake – who both work and live in New York City.  I recently retired from my job after thirty-one years as an executive with Nielsen – the company most famous for producing TV ratings. Howie is a law professor at Fordham Law School. I love to travel, play tennis, go to the theatre and am obsessed with Boston sports – especially the Red Sox. Continue reading

My Last Column

FernThis is my final President’s Column. At the Annual Membership meeting on June 14 you will be voting in a new president; my term is complete. People always ask me what is hardest part of the job? What is the greatest?

The hardest part of the job of being President is being present. If you are not in the building, available to members, staff, parents, and board members, it is difficult to have meaningful discussions when someone wants to talk about synagogue business. If you do not attend ritual services or events, it is hard to encourage others. If you are not present, you do not meet people. But being present also meant deprioritizing other aspects of my life: friends, family, exercise, and sometimes my business. There are only so many hours in a day and I can not do it all. I do have to say, I am looking forward to getting my life back. Continue reading


image (2)Passover is the Jewish holiday, almost every person who relates to being Jewish, celebrates.  How a person or family celebrates, is truly individualized and personal.

My family has two seder nights.  We have almost the same menu since the time my Bubbe hosted Passover.  I actually spent years trying to recreate her recipes since she did not write English (though spoke and read 7 languages) and they died with her.  When my nieces and nephews were young, they wanted to know if this was a Jewish food holiday.  If so, they knew they were getting to eat some foods that were only cooked once a year, or maybe twice, Rosh Hashana we have some repeats. Continue reading