Overcoming Jacob: Parashat Vayeshev

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Parashat Vayeshev

Genesis 37:1 – 40:23

The longest story of any of our early founding ancestors, the story of Joseph and his brothers, begins in this week’s Torah portion and continues to the very end of the book of Genesis. It is a very rich and complex story, with many parts. After Joseph is disposed of by the brothers, sold into slavery, conveyed down to Egypt, the Torah’s attention shifts to tell of an adventure – or mis-adventure – of Judah. (We have dealt with this story before. See Sparks for last year and for 2012.) This episode seems to be a tangential sub-plot. After telling this episode will the Torah return to Joseph’s story in earnest.
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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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MESH Report 11/27/18

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From Captain Sarah Kravits:

This past Tuesday night, 24 guests came out of the wind and found a warm welcome and a hot meal ready for them at the Carol Starr MESH Cafe at Shomrei.

Cooks Barbara Lesser and Carolyn Lack put together a delicious dinner of tomato soup and bread, roasted tilapia with butter sauce, house made cole slaw, roasted farm fresh fall root vegetables and squashes, and banana nut bread and pineapple, with some able on-the-spot assistance from Aileen Grossberg. Continue reading

MESH Report 11/20/18

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From Captain Fern Heinig:

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving we had a full Cafe. 23 guests joined us for dinner at our tables while 2 guests had take away.

We were also blessed with an army of volunteers. Key Club student Emily volunteered for the first time while regular Amalia and Lewis, with three friends came in time for service. Captain Fern had four adult friends, Holly, Brian, Tracie, and Mary come with 8 teenagers. MESH staff regulars, Adrienne, Bonny, and Joe rounded out the crew.

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Hammering it Out: Parashat Vayishlah

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Parashat Vayishlah
Genesis 32:4 – 36:43

And he said, ‘No longer will your name be said to be Jacob, but, rather, Israel. For you have striven with the Almighty and with people and you have prevailed.
(Gen. 32:29)

Jacob’s name is changed to “Israel” by a heavenly angel, who seems to say that the name Jacob will fall away and be replaced. Yet, immediately following that dramatic statement our Patriarch is referred to by the name “Jacob,” and the text continues to use the Jacob-name for quite a stretch of narrative. I have suggested (- see last year’s Torah Sparks for this portion) that the effect of getting the name of Israel is to change the meaning of the name Jacob. The name no longer connotes deception. Jacob/Israel is the one who struggles and prevails.

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New Books on the Shelf

newbooks1Let’s take a break from the dysfunctional first family of Judaism and take a look at books new to the Lampert Library.

You’ll find a truly diverse selection. Remember that both children and adults may borrow books from the Lampert Library. It’s always here for you.

Here they are in alphabetical order by author. J means that the book is for younger readers; YA indicates a book for middle school and up. Some of these make great reads for adults, too. Continue reading

Musicians Aged 10-110 Wanted for the Simcha Band!

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If you can read music or carry a tune, if you have a song in your heart and an instrument in your house, if you have previously played in the band or are joining us for the first time, the multi-generational Hanukkah Simcha Band welcomes you! Shomrei’s Annual Hanukkah Party is on Sunday, December 9 at 5:00 PM. The latkes, the communal lighting of our many Hanukkiyot (menorahs) and the Simcha Band are traditions at our synagogue!
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MESH Report 11/13/18

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Report from Captain Alex Kent:

Shomrei’s Carol Starr MESH Cafe served a full house on Tuesday night, and also packaged up 7 additional meals for those left out in the cold.

Aileen Grossberg and Sarah Steindel stepped into the void as there was no cook signed up for Tuesday night. Sarah prepared food the day before, and Aileen had everything prepped and ready to go with detailed instructions for Captain Alex Kent to assemble and cook. Luckily there were 5 High School helpers on hand. Thank you teens! Alex and Jaden from the Montclair High Key Club, and Louis, Max, and Kendall from West Orange High School assembled salads, made fruit salad, buttered bread, served, and did dishes.

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Two Camps: Parashat Vayetze

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Parashat Vayetze 
Genesis 28:10 – 32:3

The beautiful story of Jacob’s dream, in which he sees a ladder reaching from earth all the way to heaven, with God’s angels streaming up and down upon it, has captured the imagination of readers for millennia. That story opens our Torah portion. Less noticed is the story of Jacob’s meeting with angels that closes our portion. After Jacob endures a stressful encounter with his father-in-law, Laban, he is able to resume his journey home: “And Jacob went on his way, and angels of the Almighty encountered him (va-yifg`u bo). And Jacob, when he saw them, said, ‘This is the encampment of the Almighty!’ And he called that place Mahanayim (Two Camps).” (Gen. 32:2-3)
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