President Miriam Haimes’s Speech on Rosh Hashanah 5782/2021

Click the player above to watch the video.

Editor’s Note: This speech was originally given on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (Sept 2021)

Last year I spoke to you about being a community even though we were gathering only virtually. This year I want to build on that as I stand before you whether we are together in our social hall, the tent or you are viewing virtually. I ask you to focus on our capacity for resilience and redirection not only as a Jewish people but as our Shomrei Community.

Resilience is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Being resilient does not mean that people don’t experience stress, emotional upheaval, and suffering. … Resilient people or communities tap into their strengths and support systems to overcome challenges and work through problems.  More succinctly, the Merriam Webster dictionary explains resilience as being able to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.  Our Shomrei community is the ultimate support system and that happens because of the dedication of so many of you.  Continue reading

Doing One Good Thing: Rosh Hashanah Day 2 Sermon by Lily Lucey (5782/2021)

Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on the second day of Rosh Hashanah 5782 (Sept 2021).

Lily-Lucey2“Neat how we ban plastic straws before assault rifles.”  That was one of the popular Internet memes du jour at one point this year.  “Neat how we ban plastic straws before assault rifles.”

In the unlikely event that you are unfamiliar, this controversy was popularized when the powers-that-be at Starbucks announced that the stores would be eliminating plastic straws altogether over the next couple of years.  For environmental reasons.  Several countries, as well as U.S. cities, and various companies have already made this move or have been wrestling with the idea.  Plastic straws were an easy target for someone who cares about the environment.  A tiny way to make a dent.  Even young children have taken it upon themselves to convince people to give up straws as a small way to make a big impact.      Continue reading

Emunah/Amen: Rosh Hashanah Day 1 Sermon by Lily Lucey (5782/2021)

Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 5782 (Sept 2021).

Lily-Lucey2My mom is amazing in a crisis.  God forbid, but hurricane, death, a frightening diagnosis, she’s the person you turn to for the kindest words, for a source of comfort, and the person who can wisely advise because she’s definitely already obsessively done all of the practical research ahead of time, before the crisis ever happened. Or even to have cute little labels on each of the bathroom doors listing which of the many hurricane evacuees who have taken refuge in her home (including the pets) will be assigned to each windowless room if the windows are smashed in the storm.  (True story.)  Since she is highly empathetic and sensitive to the pain of others, I would never have described her affinity to take care of others in a crisis as something that she enjoyed per se… until I read the book A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit.  The book was written pre-Covid-pandemic era (2009), but, aptly, as the 20th anniversary of 9/11 is upon us, she examines the human response to disaster.  Solnit describes the shocking discovery that came from studying and observing peoples’ reactions to sudden disasters: that so many people communally experience something joy-like, not in the suffering itself of course, but in the sense of purpose and being present in the moment that comes from the way people come together in a sudden crisis.  Continue reading

Every Last Tidbit: Parashat Nitzavim/Rosh Ha-shanah

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Parashat Nitzavim/Rosh Ha-shanah
Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20

This Torah reading is always read right before the New Year. It is the first of the last four Torah portions left in our Torah. After the lengthy and impressive unfolding of the entire Torah, each of these last Torah portions is very short. In comparison to the previous portions, these are like small tidbits of text. It is as if, after a full year of feasting on the amazingly rich nourishment of the Torah’s banquet, we still sit at the table, satiated and yet unable to resist nibbling just a few more delicious bites from the leftovers on the table. Just four more small bites before the meal is really over!

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Refugee Assistance: Helping Afghan Families

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We have been researching the best ways to provide support to Afghan families who are being resettled in our region. As a start, we are teaming up with the grass roots organization One World, One Love, which has done amazing work with many refugee families during the past few years. The organization is now starting to help the Special Immigration Visa (SIV) families who are arriving in our area from Afghanistan — 10 families (approximately 50 people) so far, with many more expected to come. They have asked us to help provide the following items for the new homes that are being set up for the families: Continue reading

Apple, apples everywhere

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You know by now that I love to cook. Finding recipes, organizing and writing my shopping list, assembling the ingredients on the counter and following the directions appeal to my inner nature that really, really wants a predictable outcome in these unpredictable times that we are living in.

On the other hand, I’ve spent far too much time in the kitchen these past 18 months. So when planning my holiday meals, I looked for delicious outcomes with minimum effort.

I could not resist sharing with you one last set of holiday recipes. They all use apples, but you could easily substitute pears. Did you know that Shomrei has a pear tree loaded (at least as I am writing this) with almost ripe pears?  Continue reading

A Squirrel in the Pear Tree: That was then; This is now

Editor’s note: This article was first published in 2013 in the print Kol Emunah. See the update below. 

squirrel eatingHave you noticed the little tree right opposite the pre-school playground?  I finally did late in July [2013] when I saw some brown blobs hanging from its slender, leafy branches. When I examined the tree more closely, I realized that it was a pear tree with small, brownish pears-hard as rocks- hanging from almost every branch.

There were more than twenty of the little brown fruits. From that moment I dreamed pears: pear relish, poached pears, pear pie, sautéed pears, a true Sukkot treat from Shomrei’s very own pear tree.  Continue reading

Be Happy: Parashat Ki Tavo

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Parashat Ki Tavo 
Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8

One theme that recurs in our Torah portion is that of being happy. We learn that God desperately wants us to be happy and dreads our failure to be happy. Why is happiness so important? And what is this happiness that God desires for us?

Being happy is mentioned three times in our reading. The first mention is in the opening section of our portion. After the farmer brings their offering of First Fruits to thank God for their harvest, the Torah releases the farmer to go out of the Temple and to celebrate – to “be happy” with family, friends and strangers, for God has given so much good to enjoy. (Deut. 26:11)
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Fast or Slow- It’s Perfect Brisket!

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Despite the sultry days, it’s not too early to start planning holiday meals.

In my house we rarely eat red meat except on holidays when I experiment with various brisket recipes.  Here are two: one VERY slow and one VERY fast. Both are classic versions of brisket except for the cooking method. Continue reading

Teshuvah – Return

Aug26 teshvahWe are almost at the end of the month of Elul when, according to traditional, we examine our behavior and begin the process of making amends , of returning to our best selves.

In that context, please check your home library shelves for the many books missing from our library. Some of you have received overdue notices- often several.  Continue reading