As the year ends…

Dec. 24 Chinese-food-Don’t forget to sign up for A Very Jewish Christmas Eve, ( also called Nittel Nacht) a night  of discussion, a Chinese cooking demo, trivia, and comedy. Unfortunately, you’ll have to bring your own Chinese food. Sponsored by My Jewish Learning the evening runs from 7-11 p.m. on December 24. Click here to sign up

My Jewish Learning has thousands of articles, videos and resources on all aspects of jewish life. No matter your knowledge or your practice, there is something for you on this site. It is non-denominational.   Continue reading

Set Apart: Parashat Miqetz

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Parashat Miqetz
Genesis 41:1-44:17

Let us notice, in a story full of twists and turns of plot, one simple, quiet moment in a scene that is fraught with drama.

Joseph has become Viceroy of Egypt. He is in the middle of manipulating his brothers so as to fulfill the dreams he had more than twenty years before. As they all enter his hall so as to eat a formal meal, Joseph looks upon his younger brother and must run out of the room to hide his emotional tears. This is one of many times that Joseph weeps. His tears flow from a place of persistent estrangement. There is such a great imbalance of perceptions. He sees the brothers for who they are, but the brothers do not yet know who this powerful and mysterious official is. He is not one of them. Perhaps he cries because he senses that he will never be one of them.
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Happy Hanukkah & Thank You!

Editor’s Note: This message was originally sent as an email on Monday December 14, 2020. 

IMG_0397Dear Shomrei Community,

First I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Hanukkah.  Last night [Sun, Dec 13] we lit the fourth candle and many of you participated in our Zoom Community candle lighting and donut decorating.  Often when we wish people a Chag Sameach for Hanukkah we say “May your Hanukkah be bright”. Well the glow of the candles do not begin to match the glow of the warmth that you as a Shomrei Community showed yesterday.  As we distributed almost 100 bags of Hanukkah goodies, we collected so many toys and socks for our greater community. The Sunday minyan had a sunny warm day to meet as well.  We most certainly will make the holiday brighter and the winter a bit warmer for so many people in need of some help and thoughtfulness.  Thanks to all of you who attended minyan, donated and participated in our program and a special thanks to our coordinators and helpers.  I am sure I will leave someone out so I apologize in advance.

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Essential: Parashat Vayeshev/Chanukah


Parashat Vayeshev
Genesis 37:1-40:23

Every year our celebration of Chanukah coincides with our reading in the Torah of the extensive drama of Joseph and his brothers. Indeed, there is an essential parallel between these two sagas. The Chanukah story is not only a story of Jewish resistance to an external foe; it is also the story of the internal conflict between members of the Jewish family over defining Jewish identity in a modern world.
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Everything Hanukkah

Dec 10 hanukkah-stampIt’s finally here, Hanukkah- a bright spot on the calendar with the flickering candles, the shiny gelt, and the glistening oil for the latkes.

This year, of course, is different. We won’t be sharing as we usually do, but there are lots of things to see and do if you take advantage of the virtual offerings in food, music, art and literature. You can even party online.

And what better time to revive the oldest entertainment around-storytelling: reading aloud as a family. Continue reading

Wrestling: Parashat Vayishlach

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Parashat Vayishlah
Genesis 32:4-36:43

Each of our three patriarchs was confronted by a son who challenged him and asked him a question.

As they walked together up the mountain to offer God a sacrifice, Abraham was asked by Isaac, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the offering?” (Gen. 22:7) Abraham offers a response meant to reassure his loyal son, telling him to trust in God, Who will provide.
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Shomrei’s Thanksgiving Food Drive 2020

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During the pandemic, many citizens have lost their jobs, have had their work hours cut, and have found that the limited resources they had no longer suffice. In times like these, it is fortunate that Montclair has caring institutions to support people until the national economic crisis improves.

At Shomrei, we have been concerned about the ever-expanding food insecurity in our town. One of our ongoing efforts has been our work in providing weekly dinners for people through MESH.

The Shomrei Social Action Committee created a subcommittee during Summer 2020 that would focus on food insecurity. One of our first initiatives was to connect with the Human Needs Food Pantry to collaborate on their annual Thanksgiving collection. Continue reading

Stepping-Stone: Parashat Vayetze

Parashat Vayetze
Genesis 28:10-32:3

“Rabbi Tarfon had a mother and, whenever she wished to go up onto her bed, he would bend down and raise her up [to the bed].  And, whenever she wished to go down off the bed, he would lie down and she would step down upon him.” (BTQiddushin 31b)

This is just one of many stories told in the Talmud about the lengths that some sages went to so as to treat their parents with honor – to serve them, cater to their needs, and to make their lives a little easier. That topic is broad and deep, but not for our consideration right now. Rather, it is the image of Rabbi Tarfon on the  floor that I wish to contemplate. He treats his mother well, not merely by making sure she has good clothes, food and shelter. (We know that Rabbi Tarfon was very wealthy.) Rather, he assists her thorough his own body. He lies on the floor and seeks to be a footstool for his mother in order for her to get into bed or out of bed more easily. She steps on his large, soft body (for we know that Rabbi Tarfon was a man of substantial girth) in order to elevate herself onto the bed or in order to then step on the hard, cold floor. Rabbi Tarfon is a stepping-stone and a cushion to serve his mother.
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