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).


“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

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).


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

Doing One Good Thing: Rosh Hashanah Day 2 Sermon by Lily Lucey (5782/2021)

Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on the second day of Rosh Hashanah 5782 (Sept 2021).

Lily-Lucey2“Neat how we ban plastic straws before assault rifles.”  That was one of the popular Internet memes du jour at one point this year.  “Neat how we ban plastic straws before assault rifles.”

In the unlikely event that you are unfamiliar, this controversy was popularized when the powers-that-be at Starbucks announced that the stores would be eliminating plastic straws altogether over the next couple of years.  For environmental reasons.  Several countries, as well as U.S. cities, and various companies have already made this move or have been wrestling with the idea.  Plastic straws were an easy target for someone who cares about the environment.  A tiny way to make a dent.  Even young children have taken it upon themselves to convince people to give up straws as a small way to make a big impact.      Continue reading

Emunah/Amen: Rosh Hashanah Day 1 Sermon by Lily Lucey (5782/2021)

Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 5782 (Sept 2021).

Lily-Lucey2My mom is amazing in a crisis.  God forbid, but hurricane, death, a frightening diagnosis, she’s the person you turn to for the kindest words, for a source of comfort, and the person who can wisely advise because she’s definitely already obsessively done all of the practical research ahead of time, before the crisis ever happened. Or even to have cute little labels on each of the bathroom doors listing which of the many hurricane evacuees who have taken refuge in her home (including the pets) will be assigned to each windowless room if the windows are smashed in the storm.  (True story.)  Since she is highly empathetic and sensitive to the pain of others, I would never have described her affinity to take care of others in a crisis as something that she enjoyed per se… until I read the book A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit.  The book was written pre-Covid-pandemic era (2009), but, aptly, as the 20th anniversary of 9/11 is upon us, she examines the human response to disaster.  Solnit describes the shocking discovery that came from studying and observing peoples’ reactions to sudden disasters: that so many people communally experience something joy-like, not in the suffering itself of course, but in the sense of purpose and being present in the moment that comes from the way people come together in a sudden crisis.  Continue reading

What to Expect on the High Holidays

shofar1Shalom, friends!

I’m excited to bring you an update of what we have in store for our virtual High Holiday experience.  Thanks to the participation of so many of our members, this experience will be a rich and heartwarming reflection of the Shomrei community.  Here’s a little taste of what to expect during the month of Elul (the preparatory month leading up to the High Holidays) and what to expect during our High Holiday services. Continue reading

Shomrei Community: Send us your High Holiday videos!


The deadline for sending videos has been extended until 9am this Sunday Aug 23.

The videos sent by congregants so far are terrific! Please join in and send us your video(s).

Super Easy
Please don’t be deterred by the technology, see the list of tech helpers below. We can set you up in a zoom session with a helper who will do all the technical part. Or you can make a short video on your phone OR your computer, either is fine. See these recording_tips.

Upload Videos Here:

Two Videos:

1. Hallways Hugs and Greetings:
Make a brief video of yourself or your family as if you were greeting your Shomrei community in the synagogue on the holidays. Make it 10 or 15 seconds at most. (Don’t forget: record with phone in “wide” orientation”) Examples:

  • Shanah Tovah!
  • Happy new year from our family to yours!
  • May you have a sweet new year!
  • Share a personal joy/simcha (“It’s going to be a great year…My son is getting married!”)
  • Share a new year’s wish or blessing for your community
  • Feel free to keep it simple or to be creative.

2. “Virtual Choir” Song:

Listen to this audio recording in your earphones or air pods and record a video of yourself singing along. The best way is to listen to the file on headphones on your phone or device and then record yourself on your computer or vice versa. Remember you can contact one of our helpers to assist you. The only audio we should hear in the video is your voice. So make sure the music is ONLY in the earphones you are wearing. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like you have a great singing voice!!! When we blend together it will sound great, just as it does when we are able to sing together in person. (Don’t forget: record with phone in “wide” orientation)

Technical Help
Don’t panic! We’ll talk you through it. Call one of our volunteer tech crew!

Eric Feldman
John Lasiter
Michael Legman
Geoff Sadow

Consult your community directory for numbers or call the office at (973) 746-5031


The Gift of Hinei Mah Tov


One of the greatest gifts I was given when I came to the Shomrei community over three years ago was the opportunity to lead our family service, Hinei Mah Tov. Befitting the name of the service, we always open with the song “Hinei Mah Tov,” a song that is known by many melodies but lyrically highlights the importance of being together with our brothers and sisters; the version that we open with says, “How good it is, how sweet it is, to be with my sisters and brothers/ How good it is, how sweet it is in peace with one another.”

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Noah and the JLC

We had a fun and lively Shabbat morning here in the JLC last weekend for Parashat Noach!  In response to the needs of our community, we made a schedule change and held Hinei Mah Tov services for the first hour of JLC.  With near-perfect attendance from our JLC students, plus young families and congregants, we were able to come together in prayer, song, and learning.

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