If you will it – Parashat Emor


Parashat Emor
Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23

We have just marked 70 years since the miracle of Israel was established. The product of manifold forces, of course, the major contributing factor from the human side (- leaving aside the miraculous factor) was the revolution of will undergone by the Jewish people. Long before Israel was proclaimed a state, the political visionary, Theodore Herzl, called out to the Jews: “Im tirtzu – eyn zu aggadah! – If you will it, it is not a legend.” Everything depended on our will – ratzon.

The word, ratzon, has a different meaning and usage in the Torah and in most religious texts of our tradition. It does not mean “will” so much as “acceptance, feeling pleased with [something].” Thus we pray, “Yih’yu l’ratzon imrei fi – may the words of my mouth be acceptable [to God].” On Shabbat we pray, “r’tzeh vim’nuhatenu – [God] be pleased with our [Sabbath] rest.”

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Mesh Cafe May 1, 2018


From Captain Alex Kent:

On the gorgeous first day of May, Shomrei’s MESH cafe fed a full house of 24 guests.  Shomrei member and Pre-School parent Melissa Elbaum was the chef, and she was ably assisted by a skeleton crew, who nonetheless pulled off the meal with no snafus.  Thanks to Melissa’s preparation and organization, the meal was good to go with apple chopping and other help from our regular MESH teens Amalia and Sarah.  Other than that, helpers included Chief dishwasher Captain Alex Kent, and the MESH staff of Adrienne, Mr. Tyson, and security guard Mary.   Continue reading



We are in the midst of our longest Jewish counting period, the counting of the Omer between Passover and Shavuot, from freedom to responsibility.

It seems to be part of human nature to count.

We are always counting. Continue reading

For the Love of Life

praying cropped

Over these many months I have offered a treatment of the blessings that comprise the Amidah, the standing prayer that is central to all our services. Having concluded discussing them, we now reach the coda that closes the Amidah recitation. That coda was originally unscripted. It was the place that was devoted to personal, spontaneous prayer. It is here that the contrast between the collective and the individual,, the public and the private presents itself with force. (I have written about this issue before – see my columns in Kol Emunah for April 2014 and May, 2014)

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Giving, Giving, Giving: Parashat Acharei Mot/Q’doshim

Volunteers at "Food Not Bombs" feed the Homeless and Needy.

Volunteers at “Food Not Bombs” feed the Homeless and Needy.

Parashat Aharei Mot/Q’doshim

Leviticus 16:1 – 20:27

The prophet Isaiah, transported in a vision to God’s palace, returned to earth and taught us the prayer of the heavenly angels, who declare: ”Holy, holy, holy is the Eternal One of Myriads; the fullness of the entire world is His Glory!” (Isa. 6:3)

The angels celebrate and emphasize God’s holiness by chanting it three times. But what is this holiness that inspires them so much? And what is the connection between the first part of their praise and the second part? The movement outward from God’s palace to “the fullness of the entire earth” seems to be connected to this quality of holiness. But how?

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Mesh Cafe April 24, 2018


From Captain Shirley Grill:

On a perfect spring evening, the fabulous Shomrei team served a finger lickin’, delicious meal to our MESH Guests.  We had 24 guests, including 3 children, who feasted on a fabulous barbeque chicken dish, prepared by our greatly admired John Lasiter!  When the captain, Shirley Grill, announced the menu and the chef, the guests applauded!  Continue reading

Book Club: If All The Seas Were Ink by Ilana Kurshan

9781250121264Shomrei Book Club

For May, the book is “If All the Seas Were Ink” by Ilana Kurshan, a 2017 finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in Women’s Studies. We will meet on Monday, May 21 at 7:30 at the synagogue.

“In this deeply personal and often hilarious story, Kurshan shows us how the Talmud’s thousands of strange and demanding pages become a conversation about how best to live one’s life in an imperfect world. Kurshan awakens us to our imperfect world’s hidden magnificence―and to the power of literature to inspire human resilience. A stunning, gorgeous memoir.” ―Dara Horn, author ofThe World to Come
“With this memoir, Ilana Kurshan enters the exclusive club of daf yomi learners, a club that was, for generations, restricted to men. Hers is a stunningly original voice in the world of Torah and the world of literature. Go run and read this book.” ―Ruth Calderon, author of A Bride for One Night

All are welcome to join us. Contact Josie Zeman at email hidden; JavaScript is required for more information if you are interested.

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Mesh Cafe April 17, 2018


From Captain Alex Kent:
The MESH Cafe served 24 guests Tuesday night, including 3 children. Chef Lynne Kurzweil stepped up once again to prepare a healthy, tasty dinner for the group, with Aileen Grossberg acting as sous chef. The crowd was served a green salad to start, accompanied by challah bread and spread. That was followed by a nourishing meatloaf, with peas and roasted carrots, and roasted, smashed potatoes, which were seasoned to perfection. Dessert was chocolate cake with fruit salad. Teen helpers included regulars Sarah and Amalia, along with Jack who wielded a mean potato masher. Montclair State interns Siobhan and Rebecca were on hand, along with two other MSU students: Jenna and Christina. MESH staffers Adrienne, Joseph and Maria ran the show in their usual competent manner.

Tonight’s meal was graciously sponsored in memory of Muriel Kurzweil Kanow by Linda and Todd Wieseneck, Felice and Don Levine, Joan and Don Zief, Maria and Jerry W. Czin, Judy and Neal Yudkoff and Risa and Seth Levine

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