Transforming Uncertainty: Parashat Beha’alotcha

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Parashat B’ha`alot’kha 
Numbers 8:1 – 12:16

“And it was in the second year[since leaving Egypt], in the second month on the twentieth of that month, that the Cloud lifted from the Tabernacle of Testimony. And the Children of Israel traveled on their journeys from Mount Sinai, and the Cloud came to rest in the wilderness of Paran.” (Num. 10:11-12)

The Children of Israel finally departed from their long stay at Mount Sinai. They had been encamped around Mount Sinai for almost a year. It was home. It was familiar. It was normal. But it was now time to move forward, into the unknown, with the goal of arriving in the Promised Land.
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Prayer Vigil in Glenfield Park

vigilA major message that has been communicated in response to the murder of George Floyd is that we each must find a way to take action. The Social Action Committee, chaired by Audrey Levitin and Sarita Eisenberg, published in the June 4th ShomreiWeek a range of opportunities for us to contemplate.

Last Sunday (June 7) I opted to attend a Prayer Vigil, which took place at 2:00 p.m. at the Football Field in Glenfield Park, located on Maple Avenue in Montclair. This gathering was organized by Reverend Michael Spivey of the Citadel of Hope Worship Center in Bloomfield. It was described as an open invitation for all to participate in prayers for our families, community, and our nation. In that it was stated that demonstrators would be adhering to social distancing guidelines, I felt that this was a safe way in which to express solidarity and to advocate for change in our community.

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Protesting during COVID

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Generally, attending a protest is not a hard decision for me—find your walking shoes, grab a sign and go.  Yet COVID has made this a wrenching decision—how do you isolate yourself to stop the spread of one disease and step out to stop the ravages of racism and hate.

After 12 weeks of self-imposed quarantine, the protests compelled me to step out.  As I weighed the risks, I saw the risk of very few people showing up as greater than the risk of my getting infected.  And while I know that protests do not change the world overnight, silence kills.

Each one of us must judge our tolerance for risk, this time the risk of remaining silent was greater than the risk of becoming ill.

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Ease the Burden: Parashat Naso

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Parashat Naso
Numbers 4:21 – 7:89

Among the many topics dealt with in our reading, the gifts of the chieftans of the twelve tribes is chosen as the concluding one. This lengthy section celebrates the generosity of each tribe’s desire. The gifts were not commanded by God, but were spontaneously offered. Moreover, the tribes each gave two separate sets of gifts. One set of gifts was a collection of animals  and utensils dedicated to the consecration of the new Tabernacle through sacrificial rites. Each tribe gives the identical gift of animals and utensils and each tribe is allocated its own day to celebrate that gift, totaling twelve days of consecration. (See Sparks 2018) These gifts are offered to serve God. Continue reading

Seeking Help for IHN families

IHN

Dear friends,

I’m writing to everyone who has helped host homeless families at Shomrei Emunah in recent years. As you probably know, IHN stays actively involved with families who have moved into their own homes. Quite a few of the adults in these families are now essential workers and others have lost their jobs and are struggling to get by.

Our contacts at IHN just let us know that several families badly need help paying for basic purchases, including everything from hand sanitizer to summer clothing for their children. If you can help, please send a check in any amount you choose to Brenda Myrick, IHN’s Director of Social Services, at 46 Park St. Montclair, NJ 07042.

Finally, here are some other requests: One of the families badly needs a car. If you or someone you know is willing to donate or sell a car at a very low price, please email Melissa Perales, IHN’s new head of community engagement, at email hidden; JavaScript is required. Please also let Melissa know if you can donate a dresser.

Thanks to all of you for being faithful supporters of IHN. I know it’s a tough time for everyone, but with relatively small individual donations, this is an opportunity to come together and really help struggling families — including some we have hosted at Shomrei.

My very best,
Dale

Responding to a Society in Crisis

Protest in Livingston; photo courtesy of northjersey.com

Protest in Livingston; photo courtesy of northjersey.com

With great sorrow and great outrage, I join with all people who steadfastly stand for the ultimate value of every human life. The murder of Mr. George Floyd is one more obscene crime in a long history of crimes committed against people of color in our society, crimes that have been ignored and dismissed for too long, crimes that seek to declare that Black lives just do not matter. Black Lives Matter.

During this time of global pandemic, we are under incredible strain to protect our own lives, the lives of our loved ones, and, if we take this situation seriously, the lives of all people. But we must realize that we have been exposed, not only to a deadly virus, but also to long festering failures in how we live as a society. So, it is doubly tragic that in this time when saving a life is so paramount in our thinking, the wanton disregard for human life, systemically entrenched in our society, still continues to thrive. Continue reading

A Week of Action: Message from the Social Action Committee

MLKDear Friends,

I am outraged and saddened at the killing of George Floyd. On the news, I heard a young black man say that when he leaves the house in the morning, he never knows whether he will come back alive. I cannot imagine living with that reality for him or for his family.

Amidst this, I am proud of our state. In Newark, the police stood back and let their community protest peacefully. In Camden, police joined with their community to protest racism and police brutality.

Several groups in Montclair are collaborating to host activities for a week of action. Please consider joining in these events: Continue reading

Shavuot: Where E’er You Go

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Shavuot (5780 – 2020)
The Book of Ruth

This year the holiday of Shavuot falls of Friday and Shabbat, preempting a regular Torah-portion reading and calling for special readings instead. Our Torah readings are taken from various parts of the Torah. One reading tells of our amazing experience – once in all of history – of receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai and the other day’s reading tells about the yearly cycle of holidays – including Shavuot – that we have adopted in perpetuity. In addition, as with every pilgrimage festival, we add a reading from a special scroll. For Shavuot the reading is the Book of Ruth. Continue reading

Helping Myself by Helping Others

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It was the end of March. Except for some walks around the block, I hadn’t gone anywhere or even left the house for several weeks. And then I received an email from the County Freeholders — We Need Your Help! Support Toni’s Kitchen.

The email continued:  We urge you to support Toni’s Kitchen as they are being overwhelmed with the growing demands for their services. Toni’s Kitchen provides food and other critical services to those in the greater Montclair/Bloomfield Community. They are now providing groceries and fresh produce to students who receive free or reduced priced meals from the Montclair Public Schools as well as Senior Citizens and medically at risk residents.

I made a donation.

And then I signed up to help.  Continue reading

Shavuot Nature Wall

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Celebrate Beautiful Nature on Shavuot!

A Message From Rabbi Greenstein:

There is a wonderful custom of decorating synagogues and homes with flowers and leaves and pictures of nature on the holiday of Shavuot, the festival celebrating our receiving the Torah. While we are still not able to celebrate within the walls of our synagogue, we can create a wall of photos and images of nature’s beauty to enhance our joy.

Thank you to photographers in our community, Judith Antelman, Bruce Baff, Nancy Breslin, Aimee Brooks, Sarita Eisenberg, Aileen Grossberg, Rabbi Richard Hammerman, Laura Monka and Merrill Silver who have submitted their images in honor of Shavuot.

What a beautiful way to welcome our holiday! May we always take to heart the world’s great beauty!

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