MESH Report Jan 7, 2020

image (2)From Captain Lynne Kurzweil:

Tuesday evening we welcomed 21 grateful guests and wished everyone good health and improved circumstances in 2020. Chef Lynne planned a seasonal menu centered around a generous contribution of organic produce from Judy Wildman and Ken Bannerman including winter squash, potatoes, parsnips and cabbage.

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How do you recognize a Jew? Parashat Vayigash 2020


Parashat Vayigash (5780 – 2020)
Genesis 44:18 – 47:27

[Note: In this essay on the Torah portion I share some thoughts concerning current events and problems, so this essay is considerably longer than usual.]

How do you recognize a Jew?

This question became, in later times,  a lens through which to read a crucial moment in the Biblical story of Joseph and his brothers, as told in this week’s Torah reading. And the question haunts us today.

After an emotional appeal for mercy from Judah, Joseph breaks down and reveals himself, not as an Egyptian vizier, but as his brothers’ long lost brother, a Hebrew like them.  The brothers are astounded: “And his brothers could not respond to him, for they were very shocked before him. And Joseph said: ‘Come closer to me,’ and they drew near.” (Gen. 45:3-4) Continuing to speak to them, he says, “Look! Your eyes and Benjamin’s eyes can see that it is my mouth that speaks to you.” (v. 12) The unreality of this man speaking to them as their brother is almost impossible for Jacob’s sons to take in. Nor can they believe that Joseph is not intent on avenging himself against them. So Joseph seeks to draw them close. And he says a Biblical version of “Read my lips!” as he promises to care for them and not punish them.

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Help for Understanding Anti-Semitism


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



editor’s note: on the evening of Dec 29, 2019, the wider Jewish community including area synagogues and Chabad of Montclair, as well as interfaith allies gathered for the lighting of the communal Hanukkiah as an act of solidarity in light of recent attacks on Jews.

By Judith Antelman

on a corner in December
in the cold in the rain

we light one candle
we remember

with community & family
with strangers & friends Continue reading

Rainy Night of Solidarity


editor’s note: on the evening of Dec 29, 2019, the wider Jewish community including area synagogues and Chabad of Montclair, as well as interfaith allies gathered for the lighting of the communal Hanukkiah as an act of solidarity in light of recent attacks on Jews.

Report and Opinion from a Rainy Night of Solidarity
By Aileen Grossberg

The night was cool and rainy but the hearts were warm and the voices strong. Scores of people from Montclair area synagogues were joined by others of all faiths to stand in solidarity against the recent spate of anti-semitic acts in the tri-state area.

The concern was palpable as small groups talked in hushed voices about the incidents of the last weeks. But there was also determination to not give in to fear and to do something to fight this growing wave of anti-semitism and violence. Continue reading

Self-Erasure: Parashat Miqetz 2019


Parashat Miqetz/Hanukah (5780 – 2019)
Genesis 41:1 – 44:17

Joseph is raised from the dungeon to face Pharaoh in Pharaoh’s time of need. This scene, as with the entire Joseph novella, is subtly and richly packed with psychological and interpersonal elements that are sometimes ignored as we are swept along by the main plot lines of the story. But a close reading of the exchanges between the exalted ruler and the lowly “Hebrew lad, a slave” (Gen. 41:12) can help us appreciate this drama even more.
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Building a Social Action Network at Shomrei


Dear Friends,

Shomrei has a long history of social action that involves providing services to those in need. Our new Social Action Committee aims to expand Shomrei’s involvement in social action to include advocacy.

The focus will be on issues that affect our local community and state, starting with immigration. To that end, we made a proposal to the Board of Trustees to join the Montclair Sanctuary Alliance. That proposal was passed on December 9th.

Our next step is to create a Social Action Network. This is an email list that we will use to keep you apprised about efforts at Shomrei and in the larger community and about opportunities to be involved. Much like the Mensch Squad email that  posts opportunities for helping fellow Shomrei members, the Social Action Network email list will post opportunities to participate in advocacy efforts – for instance, by contacting elected officials and by showing up at rallies and Freeholders meetings. To join, go to: to join the list

We also need to form a steering committee to map out our goals and plan for educational programs. Steering committee members would be asked to attend regular meetings and to be personally active in some area of work on a consistent basis.

For more information, please contact email hidden; JavaScript is required or email hidden; JavaScript is required.

We look forward to joining with you in this endeavor.

Sarita & Audrey,
Co-chairpersons, Shomrei Social Action Committee

Shomrei Joins Montclair Sanctuary Alliance

Board at WorkDear Friends,

I am writing to share that on December 9th, the Shomrei Board of Trustees voted to join the Montclair Sanctuary Alliance. By doing so, we add our name to a growing list of houses of worship in Montclair who have combined their voices in support of undocumented immigrants residing in our midst.

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It’s Hanukkah Tonight


It’s not too late to plan a special Hanukkah meal with proven recipes from the Shomrei kitchen.

Food for Hanukkah has traditionally been fried in oil to recall the miracle of the small cruse of oil lasting eight days. Today’s more health conscious diets preclude eating a lot of fried food so here’s a “Kosher Southern-Style” oven fried chicken recipe courtesy of Jamie Geller ( Continue reading