A Visit with Refugees

The Arabic version of Rosetta Stone Language learning software.

The Arabic version of Rosetta Stone Language learning software.

On a spring Sunday, Andy Silver and I delivered some much-needed clothing and a TV, provided by members of the Shomrei community, to a Syrian refugee family in Elizabeth, NJ. Bara’a and Tammam seemed tired when we arrived. That, of course, is understandable — being a refugee means once again being in a foreign land, not speaking the language and, for the most part, at least for now, being dependent on strangers. In addition, Bara’a and Tammam have two small children and are expecting a third and our visit came in the middle of the daily Ramadan fast! Continue reading

Shomrei Refugee Assistance Group Attends Vigil to Honor Refugees

Shomrei members in photo: Andy, Merrill and Dan Silver, Nick Levitin and Beryl Hiller of Shomrei Refugee Assistance Group.

(L-R):  Merrill,  Dan and Andy Silver, Beryl Hiller of Shomrei Refugee Assistance Group.

On Tuesday, June 6th several Shomrei members attend a vigil in Montclair in support of refugees to the US.  The vigil was held on the anniversary of the date the ship St. Louis full of refugees was turned away from American shores in 1939.

Continue reading

Update from the Shomrei Refugee Committee


Editor’s note:  The Refugee Committee is a group of Shomrei congregants concerned and involved with the needs of refugees coming to our area.  Here is a report of some of the activities some of the committee members are engaged with.  If you’d like more information about the Refugee Committee you can join here: shomrei.org/refugee

Dear Friends,

Here is an update on efforts to help refugees and other immigrants in our area:

Continue reading

Building a Sacred Community – Sustaining Share

Nick LevitinAlmost two years ago, Shomrei Emunah adopted the Sustaining Share Membership Model.  Doing away with the traditional dues structure was a huge risk. The risk has paid off.  Shomrei has become a more diverse and and engaged spiritual community, in part because of the sense of ownership and energy provided by this model. It has also resulted in 18 new family members this year!

Continue reading

It Takes a Village

1W1L 1For the past sixty-four days, I have felt hopeless, helpless and frustrated by many of the actions of the new administration. Rather than yelling at the TV screen and flailing my arms in despair, especially regarding the Moslem travel ban, I was grateful when Nick Levitin and Andy Silver organized the Shomrei Refugee Committee. Finally, a call to action! Thanks to their research and research by other committee members, we now have information about several agencies that occasionally need a helping hand. Or two or three. And make them strong, loving hands, as well. Continue reading

An Evening of Warmth and Spirit



120 people gathered at Shomrei on Saturday March 4th to honor Rich Epstein and Susan Lazev at “Mensches & Martinis” our annual Honor Night celebration. Accompanied by the marvelous Stepansky-Posada Jazz Ensemble, the evening began with an elegant cocktail hour followed by catered feast.

Continue reading

Aiding Refugees & Other Immigrants: Getting Started

refugee meeting

Last Sunday evening (March 5) , a group of concerned Shomrei members met to explore what Shomrei as a community could do to help refugees and immigrants in our area.

Why did people come to the meeting?

Immigrants are the lifeblood of our country. If we betray immigrants, we betray ourselves.

I’m a descendant of an immigrant. The way this country accepted my family, that’s the way we should be accepting these immigrants.  Continue reading

How We Treat Refugees & Immigrants: Shomrei Members Respond to a Need


Some of our congregants have been refugees, others have belonged to families whose members were refugees.

In response to a letter I wrote in Shomrei Week several weeks ago, a group of Shomrei congregants –– more than 30, so far –– have expressed interest in working on a project to support today’s refugees and other immigrants in need. As a result, we will be having an organizational meeting for the project this Sunday (March 5th) at 7 PM, at Shomrei. All members of the Shomrei community who are interested in helping are invited. Continue reading

Meeting Our Sister Synagogue


Alan & Ann Lippel, Rabbah Lastreger and Lou Hammerman. Photo: Nick Levitin

Last night, over dinner, about 35 members of Shomrei met Rabbah Nathalie Lastreger (“Rabbah” is the Hebrew term for a woman Rabbi) the spiritual leader of Minyan Mishpachti Masorti (Masorti Family Minyan) a congregation in the northern Galilee village of Kfar Vradim, Israel.  “Masorti” (Hebrew for “traditional”)  is the name for the Conservative Movement used outside the United States.  Accompanied by congregants and congregational leaders from Minyan Mishpachti Masorti, Rabbah Lastreger recounted her personal journey from an Orthodox Rabbi’s wife to becoming a Masorti Rabbi herself.  She described in detail many of the challenges facing women Rabbis as well as non-Orthodox religious institutions in the state of Israel. In Israel, only orthodox synagogues and Rabbis are recognized and receive state funding. Marriages, ordinations, and conversions (among other things) performed by non-Orthodox Rabbis are not recognized.

Continue reading