Forever Seeking: Parashat Va’et’hanan/Shabbat Nahamu

SparksParashat Va’et’hanan/Shabbat Nahamu
Deuteronomy 3:23-29

Of the many texts and verses in our portion that have taken special places in our tradition and liturgy (such as the Sh’ma and the Ten Commandments) one verse is recited at the end of every traditional prayer service, morning, noon and night. The last words of the first paragraph of `Alenu, the concluding prayer  of each service, are this verse from our Torah portion: “And you shall know today, and you shall return it (va-hashevota) to your heart – that the Eternal is the Almighty God in the Heavens above and on the Earth below, none other (ayn `od).” (Deut. 4:39) Continue reading

Letter from the President – High Holiday Announcement

Editor’s note: This message was originally emailed to the congregation on July 16th.

IMG_0397Dear Shomrei Friends,
It is with great joy and gratitude that I write to you, announcing that this year’s High Holy Days will be back in person for those who wish and are able to attend. We understand that our community’s needs vary as we start to emerge from COVID, and some continue to prefer to view services from home. That option will be available to you as all the indoor services will be livestreamed. But for those that are ready to be in person, we are planning a variety of ways to worship together.

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Two Sinais, Parashat D’varim/Shabbat Hazon


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

Moses begins his personal and especially powerful review of Israel’s history and destiny, along with a review of the Divine directives to help Israel on their path. Each review is connected to the other. Our history and our Torah of laws and values are interdependent and mutually influential.

As Moses sets the stage for his extended set of orations, he begins by acknowledging the point at which these words are spoken – at the threshold of entering into the Promised Land. And he reminds the people that they are here, in this place, at this moment, because of a failure of nerve that condemned them to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Their present moment and location are not what they might have been. The people could have entered the land at a different moment, from a different place. Instead, the change in place and time has been determined by their own actions a generation ago. But pointing out this sad fact is not necessary to Moses only to set the stage for his main point.
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To Grill or Not to Grill

Yes, I know it’s grilling season. But years ago our grill’s time was up. Now I use a grill pan on the stove and my marvelous Breville oven to beat the summer heat.

So here are some non grilling summer recipes many of which you can adapt if you prefer to cook  outdoors.

July 15Pineapple-Cucumber-Gazpacho-Start with a cold soup like pineapple gazpacho (See: Cool Food for a Hot Day, Jun 26, 2016). You’ll need a good knife and some kind of blender to puree the mixture. It goes together quickly especially if you buy a precut pineapple. And it can be as spicy as you wish with the addition of extra jalepeno. Or try a little of Trader Joe’s Chili Lime seasoning to spice up the soup. Pomegranate seeds or plump blueberries might make a colorful garnish. Continue reading

Rabbi Search Committee, Meeting Minutes


Meetings of the Shomrei Rabbi Search Committee

July 12, 2021

  • Discussion of the Shomrei Community Survey Distribution
    • Please fill out the survey sent to you by email or in ShomreiWeek.
  • Discussion of Community Focus Groups Logistics
  • Beginning Discussion of the extensive Rabbinical Assembly (“RA”) Questionnaire
    • The main topic this week focused on the wonderful things in our community that we would like to remain the same under new rabbinical leadership.


July 5, 2021

  • Discussion of the Shomrei Community Survey and the importance of maximizing community feedback.
    • Feedback from all members of the community makes this process better, and we encourage all members of the community to use whichever channel they’d like (direct contact with individual committee members, focus groups, survey) to share their thoughts
    • To increase access, committee discussed:
      • Mailing printed versions of materials (survey, summary of process) to community members that do not use email;
      • Asking Shomrei staff to encourage members to speak to committee members; and
      • Having committee members participate in upcoming Shomrei services and events and make announcements about Committee process and our desire for feedback.
    • Discussion of Community Focus Group Logistics
      • No more than 10 people no less than three
      • Mix of in member homes, at Shomrei and via Zoom
      • Offering a variety of dates/times to maximize accessibility
      • Five facilitators doing three groups each with one note taker and one host


Moving Forward (via Zoom): AJL 2021

AJL moving forwardOne thing librarians, especially librarians who work in small environments, look forward to is the annual conference.

Now that I am retired from the public sector, I especially anticipate the annual Association of Jewish Libraries conference. This international multi-day meeting is held in a different city each year and even has gone international – Canada to showcase our northern neighbors and Israel some years ago to celebrate the organization’s 25th birthday. Continue reading

Ambitious Cattlemen: Parashat Mattot/Mas`ei


Parashat Mattot/Mas`ei/Rosh Hodesh
Numbers 30:2-36:13

Is it Pharaoh’s revenge? Joseph’s comeuppance?

Now, forty years after the exodus from Egypt, on the brink of entering the Promised Land, two tribes and a part of a third refuse to cross the Jordan and take a portion of the land. The tribes of Reuven and Gad (and then part of Menasheh) argue with Moses that, since they have much livestock, and the land to the east of the Jordan is perfect for grazing cattle, “thus our portion has come to us from the other side of the Jordan, eastward.” (Num. 32:19)

Eventually a deal is struck, and these Israelites remain to the East and do not partake in the division of the tribal portions in the land of Canaan. We should notice that the allotment of portions on the western side of the Jordan is done at God’s bidding, with the participation of all the tribal leaders. The Eastern tribes take their portions for granted – “our portion has come to us.” They basically engage in a landgrab.
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Welcome to the Board of Trustees, 2021

Yasher koach to the 2020-21 Board of Trustees.  Special thanks to outgoing board members Dawn Berman, Marc Chalom, Shana Rubin and Allison Task.

Welcome to new board members Adam Dembrow, Lynne Rubin, Sarita Eisenberg and Michael Sag:

Adam DembrowAdam Dembrow, Trustee (term expiring 2022)

My wife Sarah and I, and our kids Lily (11) and Eitan (8), just passed our fourth anniversary of living in Montclair, and we’ve been part of the Shomrei community since we moved here.  I have particularly been enjoying the group study sessions led by Rabbi Greenstein of Pirkei Avot and the Zohar.  I’m excited to join the Board of Trustees and am looking forward to working with the community that I’ve found so welcoming. Continue reading

Announcing a Change to the Rabbi Search Committee


Shomrei president Miriam Haimes announced this change in an email to the congregation on Wednesday July 7:

Dear Shomrei Community

Art Schuman recently informed us that due to some unforeseen commitments, he is unable to dedicate the time needed to continue to serve on the Rabbi Search Committee.  We appreciate his contributions so far and know that we can depend on Art for input as the search continues.  As I mentioned in my initial announcement, it is important that the Search Committee “broadly reflects our membership, spanning diverse interests, needs, religious practice, age, family status and gender.” Based on this, we wanted to fill the opening with someone who could represent the same generation as Art, and I am thrilled to announce that Barbara Gollob has agreed to join the search committee.  Please join me in welcoming Barbara, a long time Shomrei member, to the Rabbi Search Committee.  Please read on for her bio. Continue reading