Shavuot Resources

shavuot1Shavuot was frequently called the forgotten holiday. Religious schools had often closed by the time the holiday came around in late May or June.

Shavuot didn’t have the newness of the fall holidays; it lacked the gift giving and competition with Christmas of Hanukkah; and it’s missing the nostalgia of family gatherings that Passover brings.

However, Shavuot is one of the great pilgrimage holidays that along with Sukkot and Passover that drew ancient Jews to Jerusalem for sacrifices. The holiday also marked, for an agricultural people, the summer harvest and presaged the bounty that was to come in the fall. Continue reading

Reading in Difficult Times

Stone CarvingsAs I sit at my computer,  so-called normal times seem so distant.The coronavirus pandemic has altered the way we act, where we go, even how we eat. We hope that soon we will return to a semblance of normal. If not, books may bring us entertainment, escape and solace, as well as, challenge.

While the synagogue library itself with all its treasures may not be accessible, this is the time to investigate ebooks borrowed from the public library, from an online  bookseller. or a local bookstore.  Brick and mortar bookstores also are doing their best to serve their customers with curbside or home delivery service.

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A Special Month to Celebrate Us

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By Proclamation, May is Jewish American Heritage Month. While it does not get the attention that Black History Month or Hispanic Heritage  Month get, we can make it important in our lives.

It is amazing how many programs are available while we are confined. Jewish organizations and museums have a wealth of programming on line, much of it more than just talking heads or a sage on a stage.

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Passover in the Age of Zoom

Microscopic view of Coronavirus, a pathogen that attacks the respiratory tract. Analysis and test, experimentation. Sars

Being cooped up at home can either be a curse or a blessing. I do miss my routine which gives purpose and markers to my days. However, the extra unscheduled times has allowed me to catch up on reading (I recommend The Convert by Hermans), organize my Rolodex ( I can’t give it up), and think about cleaning the closets. More importantly it has given me the opportunity to participate in some thoughtful webinars and online classes.

Some of these have been organized around the upcoming Passover holiday. In ordinary times, most of us would be planning our seders, making lists, freezing the gallons of chicken soup, and deciding which haggadah to use. These are not ordinary times; even my super organized brother hasn’t thought about Passover yet.  Continue reading

Storytime Lives

happy-family-reading-book-together-vector-illustration-cartoon-mother-father-son-childs-drawing-126432566Books are an important part of our kids’ school-and hopefully home- lives. What do we do when we’ve read all the books in our houses a thousand and one times, don’t want to order another thing from Amazon, and can’t go to the library or bookstore because they are closed?

While I’m investigating how to perhaps present an online library story time to our currently closed preschool, parents and kids of preschoolers and other picture book lovers might want to log on to Storyline Online.  Continue reading

Refugees are Still Here

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This weekend at Shomrei, we would have marked National Refugee Shabbat, a project of HIAS. Because of  the health emergency, we obviously will not mark this event.

However, there are still thousands of refugees both in our country and world wide though their lives have been eclipsed by the growing pandemic. Continue reading

In Praise of Women

women1Purim is but days away. Central to the story, of course, is the beautiful, young Jewish woman Esther. She uses both her beauty and her wits to outsmart the villainous Haman and save her people.

Jewish history is filled with strong, smart, heroic women, often unsung.

As a tribute to Esther and the March, Women’s History Month, here is a short selection of books -fiction and non-fiction- featuring Jewish women who used their strength of mind and character to overcome problems, fulfill their dreams, or make a mark in the world.

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From the Shomrei Kitchen

Seven_Species

On the 15 of Shevat, corresponding to the 10th of February, we will be celebrating Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees.

Customarily, certain grains and fruits mentioned in the following quote from the Torah are eaten:

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill, a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and [date] honey (Deuteronomy 8:7-8).”

These items are collectively known as the seven species and each has been given a characteristic.

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Timely Reading

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In 2005, the United Nations passed a resolution urging every member of the U.N. to “honor the memory of Holocaust victims” by encouraging the development of educational programs.

The goal is through education to prevent future acts of genocide.

The date chosen for International Holocaust Remembrance Day was January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

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Help for Understanding Anti-Semitism

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The new year should start with hope and promise. This year does not seem to promise the dream of each of us sitting under his or her own figurative fig tree in peace.

To help understand the history behind the anti-Semitic events of the past few weeks, the following books look at the topic from both a historic perspective and more recent events.

Most are non-fiction, but sometimes it is easier to understand when fact is clothed in the disguise of fiction. Continue reading