Meeting Our Sister Synagogue

IMG_20170222_193837

Alan & Ann Lippel, Rabbah Lastreger and Lou Hammerman. Photo: Nick Levitin

Last night, over dinner, about 35 members of Shomrei met Rabbah Nathalie Lastreger (“Rabbah” is the Hebrew term for a woman Rabbi) the spiritual leader of Minyan Mishpachti Masorti (Masorti Family Minyan) a congregation in the northern Galilee village of Kfar Vradim, Israel.  “Masorti” (Hebrew for “traditional”)  is the name for the Conservative Movement used outside the United States.  Accompanied by congregants and congregational leaders from Minyan Mishpachti Masorti, Rabbah Lastreger recounted her personal journey from an Orthodox Rabbi’s wife to becoming a Masorti Rabbi herself.  She described in detail many of the challenges facing women Rabbis as well as non-Orthodox religious institutions in the state of Israel. In Israel, only orthodox synagogues and Rabbis are recognized and receive state funding. Marriages, ordinations, and conversions (among other things) performed by non-Orthodox Rabbis are not recognized.

Continue reading

A Seder for Independence Day

Israeli youth Scouts are reflected in a pool as they light torches, during a memorial ceremony at the Mount Herzl military cemetery, on the eve of Memorial Day in Jerusalem, Israel, 10 May 2016. (Credit: EPA)

Israeli youth Scouts are reflected in a pool as they light torches, during a memorial ceremony at the Mount Herzl military cemetery, on the eve of Memorial Day in Jerusalem, Israel, 10 May 2016. (Credit: EPA)

A letter from Rabbah Michal Schwartz, The Masorti Congregation of Petah Tikvah, Shomrei Emunah’s sister congregation in Israel. 

The Month of Iyyar

The month of Iyyar is a special month in the Hebrew calendar. Up to a few years ago it was a boring month, lacking holidays. But 68 years ago something changed. It is already 68 years that we celebrate Israel Independence Day in the month of Iyyar. Most Jewish holidays are thousands of years old; Israel Independence Day is a new, fresh holiday.

But as much as it is young, it is unique. In this young holiday is hidden an ancient mystery.

Continue reading

The Ecological Response

plastic bag photo

A letter from Rabbah Michal Schwartz, The Masorti Congregation of Petah Tikvah, Shomrei Emunah’s sister congregation in Israel. 

5776 is a leap year in the Jewish calendar. In such a year there is an additional month of “Adar,” which is really a continuation of the month of Sh’vat, an additional month in which there is time to contemplate the connection between the human being and nature.

In the last few years Tu B’Sh’vat (Jewish Arbor Day) has taken on a new dimension – the dimension of “sustainability.”

The ecological question is one in which scientific, social and economic dimensions are all mixed together. Every day, in the media, they frighten us regarding the deteriorating state of our Planet Earth. Yet, in the meantime, they encourage our consumerism through societal conventions. Giant economic bodies control everything both out front and behind the scenes. Continue reading

Letter From Israel: Tu BiSh’vat

rain photo

A letter from Rabbah Michal Schwartz, The Masorti Congregation of Petah Tikvah, Shomrei Emunah’s sister congregation in Israel. 

Tu BiSh’vat (- the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Sh’vat – falling this year on January 25, also called the Holiday of the Trees) symbolizes the end of the Israeli winter, so sunny and sparse of rain. The last chance for rain is embodied by the month of Sh’vat. All the produce of this year: the grain, fruit, vegetables and the amount of drinking water, all depend upon how much rain will fall this winter. Without water there is no life. The end of the winter is the end of the rainy season. Until next year. Continue reading

Letter From Israel: Choose the Hero

A letter from Rabbah Michal Schwartz, The Masorti Congregation of Petah Tikvah, Shomrei Emunah’s sister congregation in Israel. 

Shwarts, Rabbah MichalFirst a few words about our congregation:

Ha-Kehillah ha-Masortit Petah Tikvah (The Masorti Congregation of Petah Tikvah) began functioning on Tu BiSh’vat 5762 – (January) 2011. We were a very small, but very eager group of men and women, headed by Mr. Yoel Bar Gil, the first Chairman of the congregation, and a Rabbah. The first year was extremely difficult. We met every Friday evening to greet the Shabbat and once a month for Shabbat morning prayers. Most of the time we did not have a minyan. Sometimes we were only 3 or 4 people.

I am full of admiration for the founding kehillah members who kept at it during that entire difficult year. Without their constancy and determination we would never have held on. These men and women are my heroes. They are my inspiration of perseverance and faith. Continue reading

Letter From Israel: On Life Here in Times Like These

 Petah Tikvah

Petah Tikvah, location of Shomrei’s sister congregation in Israel

A note from Rabbi Greenstein:

I am delighted to introduce to our community a wonderful colleague who is doing great work in building a Masorti (Conservative) kehillah (community) in Israel, Rabbah Michal Schwartz.
First, some definitions:

“Masorti” – The Conservative movement in Israel is called the Masorti Movement. It strives to promote Judaism in a way that is traditional, egalitarian and inclusive. It has made great progress over the years. But Israel officially recognizes and financially supports only Orthodox Judaism. So Masorti communities have to try to accomplish all their good work despite lack of government support and even despite official opposition.

Continue reading