Tu B’What?

tubav2Tonight (Thursday, July 26) and tomorrow mark Tu B’Av.

What!  You never heard of it?

Tu B’Av may be the best kept secret of a special day on the Jewish calendar.

Not be confused with Tu B’Shevat  or Tisha B’Av, Tu B’Av has its own identity and vibe.

The Fifteenth of Av, coming just about a week after the Ninth of Av, a day of mourning, is almost its polar opposite. Continue reading

Summertime and the Cooking is Easy

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Summertime is perfect for cool food especially when the temperature soars as it has these last few days.

So we’ll start our meal with a cool soup. As they say…”cool as a cucumber.”

Technically gazpacho is a Spanish-style soup made from tomatoes and other vegetables and spices, served cold. But today all kinds of cold vegetable soups are called gazpacho. Continue reading

Expansive Justice: Parashat D’varim/Shabbat Hazon

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Parashat D’varim/Shabbat Hazon
Deuteronomy 1:1 – 3:22

These are trying times. Many of us feel that we are unprepared for the crises that have engulfed us. We feel that our expectations have been cruelly and suddenly shattered. We turn to our Torah for sustenance and guidance.

As Moses begins his long and final speech to the Israelites, he chooses to start by reminding them of their past and how they got to their present situation. While it should have taken a mere eleven days to get from Sinai (Horeb) to Israel, it took forty years, instead. (Deut. 1:2) So, too, we need to remind ourselves that we have not reached the present moment in our country and society in an instant. Our present situation is the result of long and accumulated choices and experiences. I share with you my comments on this Torah portion from 7 years ago (- Torah Sparks, 2011). I feel that they could easily be speaking about our present moment:

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Making a Difference

Shomrei Refugee Assistance Group, July 19 Update

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Three important updates since last week:

Good News #1: One of our member-families has offered to match — DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR — the first $1,500 that is donated to our campaign to help send recently resettled refugee children to summer camp!  So, we now need to raise only $1,500 to meet our goal of $3,000!  The funds will be used to send refugee children to summer camp at the Wayne Y and Elizabeth Y in August for one or two weeks (depending on the total funds that we raise) .

If you can, please contribute.  Any amount would be appreciated.  The camp sessions are just around the corner and we need to make payment to the Y by July 25, so time is of the essence.

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Before the Fast

220px-NinthAvStonesWesternWallTishaB’Av, a fast day and day of mourning, occurs Saturday night through Sunday evening. The day marks great tragedies for the Jewish people. The destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem, the beginning of the First Crusade, the expulsion of the Jews from England, the expulsion of the Jews from Iberia and the deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto were among the tragic historic events that took place on that day on the Jewish calendar.

Since one is supposed to abstain from food and drink, various Jewish cultures have come up with recipes for the meal before the fast. They are always meatless as the nine days prior to Tisha B’Av are solemn and mournful, marking the period between the breaching of the Temple walls and its actual destruction. Continue reading

Help Needed!

Lampert libraryLibrary bookshelves will be installed on July 30 if all goes well. Volunteers are welcome to help reshelve the books beginning on Tuesday, July 31.

Snacks and coffee provided.

Discover your next best read and brush up on your alpha-numeric skills.

Even an hour will help. Continue reading

Vacation Reminder

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Don’t forget to check the Lampert Library for books to take along on your vacation. Even if you don’t want to bring hard copies of books, check out the new books for items you might want to read on your e-reader.

We have lots of award winners and are constantly putting new books on the shelf. Continue reading

Our Trip to Holland: Seeking a Context

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The Anne Frank House conveys the narrative that Holland protected its Jews. To quote the fact checker for the New York Times: this requires context.

Conversos settled in Amsterdam during the 16th and 17th centuries. It’s important to note that Holland was not uniformly welcoming as they were not allowed to settle in other towns and it took a while before they were comfortable living openly as Jews. They also did not know much about being Jewish. Rabbis from other countries – Italy, Morocco, Germany – came over to teach them about Judaism. Ashkenazi Jews came to Amsterdam later and during the 18th century this was the larger of the two communities. Continue reading