Seasonal This and That

Sept 14 apology

It always amazes me how we transition so smoothly between the joyous solemnity of Rosh Hashanah to the contemplation of Yom Kippur and then back to rejoicing in the bounty of the earth and the gift of the Torah.

On Yom Kippur, we recite a long list of behavorial errors-often by rote. “How to Forgive” by Amy Klein (Hadassah Magazine online)  looks at some recent books about forgiveness. Klein says  “… at this time dedicated to introspection, soul searching and forgiveness, there are mixed emotions: grief for the people who passed; sadness and empathy for those who got sick, lost jobs and suffered in quarantine. But what should we feel for people who refused to observe quarantine mandates or wear masks, who won’t vaccinate (for nonmedical reasons) or who spread disinformation about Covid-19? Or for those who perpetuated divisions in our society? What to do about all the emotions—even rage—at the stubborn ones who we think are responsible for our suffering? ” In her article entitled “How to Forgive”, she cites two books that helped her deal with her conflicted emotions.  Continue reading

Open Hearts: Yom Kippur Sermon by Lily Lucey (5782/2021)

Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on Yom Kippur 5782 (Sept 2021).

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“I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.”  -Mary Oliver

By show of hands… Has anyone here ever done something wrong, messed up, or made a mistake?

Okay, so all of us.  I mean, duh!  Why would we even need an annual day of atonement if we never did anything wrong?

And yet, while we may know that we’re all bound to make mistakes, how many opportunities do we really give ourselves to show people our imperfections, or at least the parts about ourselves that we think are imperfections?  And what happens when we do? Continue reading

Meeting Our Obligations: Parashat Ha’azinu/V’zot Ha-brakhah/Sukkot

 

Parashat Ha’azinu/V’zot Ha-brakhah/Sukkot
Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52

During these days of Teshuvah – returning, I wish to return to one startling statement found in Moses’s final song, Ha’azinu. Moses speaks God’s words: “I have wounded, and I will heal, for none can save from My Hand.” (Deut. 32:39) I continue to be struck by the paradoxical implication of the verse – “I will heal – and no one can stop Me!” – as if anyone would want to stop God from healing!

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Mourning Doves: Grief and Hope: Kol Nidre Sermon by Lily Lucey (5782/2021)

Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on Kol Nidre 5782 (Sept 2021).

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A fiddler on the roof.  Sounds crazy, no?  But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck.  It isn’t easy.  You may ask, “Why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous?  Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home.  And how do we keep our balance?  That I can tell you in one word: tradition!

 

Tevye captures something that is at the essence of Judaism and that is intensely heightened throughout our High Holiday liturgy: that we are always acknowledging the fragility of life, while continuing to find a way to live it, carrying with us the suffering not just of this moment but of all of our people before us and all of the generations to come. Continue reading

President Miriam Haimes’s Address on Kol Nidre 5782/2021

Click the player above to watch the video.

Editor’s Note: This address was originally given on Kol Nidre (Sept 2021)

Heneni – A Continuation and What it Means as a Shomrei Member

Last week I spoke to you about being present spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Well, Hineni – Here I am, again. Henei Anachnu – Here we are, again. And as we begin to return to the synagogue and to gather together after being separated for so long, I want to ask you to think about reaching out and giving of yourself. I know that every year the president stands up here and asks you to volunteer and I am no different. Heneni – Here I am – asking you to look inwardly as you do teshuva and ask God for forgiveness and to think about how you can do something differently than you did this past year.
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Rabbi David Greenstein’s Kol Nidre & Yom Kippur Sermons 5782/2021

Click the player above to watch the Kol Nidre sermon. (Scroll further down for his Yom Kippur sermon)

Editor’s Note: Rabbi Greenstein originally gave this sermon on Kol Nidre 5782 (Sept 2021).

Shanah Tovah!

On this Kol Nidrei night, a night in which we are so conscious of the weightiness and the lightness of our words, of how easy it is for us to forget our words, evade our words, and deny our commitments, let’s remember a woman of few words, but of fierce commitments. Let’s remember Sarah.

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Rabbi Search Committee, Update on Progress

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Shalom Chevrei,

We wanted to share an update on “What We Did on Our Summer Vacation.”

190 of you participated in our community wide survey, representing over 60% of our members. Another 90+ of you took part in one of our 13 focus groups held in person or via zoom, and the input has been tremendous. We think it is interesting to look at some of the statistics of the participation of those focus groups:

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Write for One’s Self: Parashat Vayelekh/Shabbat Shuvah/Yom Kippur

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Parashat Vayelekh/Shabbat Shuvah/Yom Kippur
Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30

This shortest of all Torah readings contains the final two commandments (mitzvot) of the traditional count of 613 commandments in the entire Torah. Both mitzvot are concerned with the growth of the Torah as a force in Jewish life. One mitzvah is called haq’hel – to congregate and hear the words of the Torah read in public. The other is to write a Torah scroll for one’s self.
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Refugee Assistance Update Sept 2021

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Dear Shomrei Friends,

Here are some major items for your careful consideration. We realize there is a lot here, but there is a lot of need.

1) The Westfield Fun Club has informed us that many of the refugee families that both they and Shomrei have been assisting were severely affected by Hurricane Ida. The apartment complex where they live in Elizabeth was badly flooded and many have lost most of their belongings and cars. They have now been displaced and are being housed in temporary shelters and hotels by the Red Cross. The Fun Club is working with the IRC to help them begin the long and difficult process of dealing with FEMA and the state. If you would like to help, please consider making a financial donation to Temple Emanu-El, 756 East Broad Street, Westfield, NJ 07090, and earmark the funds for the Westfield Fun Club. In addition, one family is without any clothes or shoes. If you have the following, please contact the Fun Club at email hidden; JavaScript is required. All clothes should be washed, folded and neatly packed. Please donate like you are giving a family member the clothes. Continue reading

Rabbi David Greenstein’s Rosh Hashanah Sermon 5782/2021

Click the player above to watch the sermon.

Editor’s Note: Rabbi Greenstein originally gave this sermon on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 5782 (Sept 2021).

Shanah Tovah!

Our tradition teaches that when one sees a very dear friend for the first time in a very long time – a year or more – one should recite a blessing. The blessing is actually one we traditionally recite 3 times a day, every day of the year. But now we are bidden to recite it with renewed appreciation – ב ו רך … מח יה המת ים – You abound in blessings, Eternal One, Who brings life to the dead.

Let us, then, take a moment – If you are in such a position – if today you see, in the flesh, for the first time in ages – someone dear to your heart – then by all means please say these terrifying words of praise – ב ו רך אתה .. מ. ח יה המת ים – You abound in blessings, Eternal One, Who brings life to the dead.

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