Yom Kippur, Sermon: Thank God it’s Shabbat

Rabbi Julie’s sermon on Yom Kippur, 2023/5784 

The film opens with four palm trees swaying in the wind and a fiddler playing dramatically in the background.   In Palm Desert, California, Roberta Mahler, age 87, is driving her golf cart, her bleached blond hair blowing in the wind, with her black poodle in her lap.  Her wrinkled cheeks smile when she says, “One of my friends said to me, come on, we’re gonna go to Wendy’s for Shabbat.  I said (incredulously), Wendy’s Shabbat?  I couldn’t believe this.”

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Yom Kippur, Haftorah Introduction: Offer Your Compassion to the Hungry

Introduction by Rabbi Julie: Lynne Kurzweil, co-chair of MESH, a volunteer-run program for food insecure people living in Montclair, will introduce the Haftorah.

Before I begin I would like to give special thanks to my MESH Co-Chair, Aileen Grossberg, for all of her hard work planning, shopping and preparing meals for MESH and for writing these words

Are you all comfortable? Are you a little hungry- no breakfast this morning? Suffering from caffeine withdrawal? Think positively:  you saved a couple of dollars, didn’t have to stand in line at Paper Plane or the Local, didn’t have to think about meal preparation. Continue reading

Kol Nidre, Sermon: Ein Lanu Eretz Acheret – We don’t Have Another Planet

Rabbi Julie’s sermon on Kol Nidre, 2023/5784 

This past summer, my family visited Makhtesh Ramon, the massive crater in the Negev desert in Israel, the largest such crater on planet Earth.   The view of the Ramon Crater from above, from the lookout in Mitzpei Ramon, is breathtaking and otherworldly.  I have been privileged to see it with my own eyes three times in my life.

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Kol Nidre, President’s Address: Upgrading Shomrei

President’s State of the Synagogue Speech on Kol Nidre, 9/24/2023

L’Shana Tova Everyone!

I get to share with you some of the great news of how things have gone here at Shomrei and how I expect the new year to go. Continue reading

MESH Report Sept 26, 2023

It was still gloomy outside but in the Shomrei kitchen the colors couldn’t have been brighter and the MESH volunteers cheerier as they prepared the night’s meal.

New Shomrei members- but experienced food preparers- Carol and Andy Blau joined co-chairs Lynne Kurzweil and Aileen Grossberg is putting together 50 simple but satisfying meals which included an array of colorful raw vegetables, hummus, a generous serving of Aileen’s “Everything Egg Salad, “ semi- homemade coleslaw, a large sandwich roll, a bag of chips, a mini coffee cake and container of applesauce. Continue reading

Rosh Hashanah Day 2, Sermon – Knowing Before Whom You Stand

Shaliach Tzibbur Lily Lucey’s sermon for Rosh Hashanah Day 2, 2023/5784 

After Selichot services last week, I was talking with Morah Lilly– no, not me, although I do talk to myself sometimes!  No– the Morah Lilly who is one of the amazing and loving teachers that we are so fortunate to have working in our preschool here at Shomrei.  During our conversation, Lilly happened to tell a story about our equally wonderful custodian, Carlos, who was at home with the children at the time while she was running the babysitting room here at Shomrei.  (Yes, I did ask their permission to tell this story, although as it’s secondhand I’m paraphrasing their exact words.)  Lilly told me that Carlos, while at home, had just sent her a photo of a lightbulb.  She was baffled as to why he would send her a picture of a lightbulb and somewhat annoyed as she was hoping he might be doing something useful at home during his time off.   He replied: But this is the lightbulb that has been out in the pantry at home for three years!  I thought you would be happy to see that I changed it!   Continue reading

Rosh Hashanah Day 2, D’var Torah – The Cat’s in the Cradle

Rabbi Julie’s introduction to the Torah Reading for Rosh Hashanah Day 2, 2023/5784 

This year, I’m reading the familiar and haunting story of the Akedah, the binding of Isaac, through the lens of one of my favorite folk songs, the Cat’s in the Cradle. Written in 1974 by Harry Chapin, the song speaks of a father who was so busy pursuing his career, he didn’t have much time to spend with his son.

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Rosh Hashanah Day 1, Sermon – Forgiveness in the Rear-view Mirror

Rabbi Julie’s sermon for Rosh Hashanah Day 1, 2023/5784 

In my first year as a rabbi, I had to say ‘I’m sorry’, ‘I messed up’, ‘I didn’t mean to hurt you’ more times than in the first 32 years of my life combined.  In my lifetime, I have apologized privately in person, by phone, and in writing, and on one occasion, publicly to thousands of people at once.   Even though I have a lot of practice apologizing and it comes relatively easily to me, I never look forward to it – it still feels embarrassing, painful, and humbling, even at times, humiliating. 

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President’s Message, Rosh Hashanah Day 1 – Changing Our Mindset

President’s Remarks on Rosh Hashanah Day 1, 9/16/23

L’Shana Tovah! It is wonderful to see so many of you in this space.

I want to speak with you today about abundance. When the COVID pandemic started, we were all so full of uncertainty. Nothing could be predicted or taken for granted. We collectively perceived ourselves in the same way I think conservative Judaism is perceived across the country – out of sync with modern Judaism, low-energy with a detached congregation. In addition, I believe the greater Jewish community in our region saw Shomrei as declining – congregants aging and new families looking for something different than what we have to offer. I can tell you after a year of incredible work and growth with the team that collectively makes Shomrei the great institution it is, WE DON’T FIT THAT DESCRIPTION!

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Rosh Hashanah Day 1, D’var Torah – Pastoral Care

Rabbi Julie’s introduction to the Torah Reading for Rosh Hashanah Day 1, 2023/5784

This morning’s Torah reading celebrates the birth of Isaac with laughter.  But soon after, the laughter of Isaac and Ishmael playing together is replaced by tears of despair.  Hagar, the maidservant, the mother of Abraham’s first-born son, is cast away into the wilderness with Ishmael.  Given only a skin of water and some bread that quickly disappeared, Hagar is overwhelmed and distraught.  She leaves the child under one of the bushes, moves away some distance, “And sitting thus afar, she bursts into tears.” Continue reading