A Stronger and Holier Community

Rabbi David Greenstein’s tenure as spiritual leader of Congregation Shomrei Emunah started not with a bang but a silence. A sanctifying silence. On his first Shabbat on our bimah, in August 2009, he introduced us to the practice of maintaining absolute silence until all congregants finished reciting the Amidah to themselves. No kibbitzing with your seat-mate about afternoon plans. No rabbi moving on to the next reading once most of us were seated. At every Shabbat and holiday service for the next 13 years, if anyone was still praying, the rest of us held the silence. In time, the silence itself felt like prayer. It was an early lesson from our new rabbi in achieving communal holiness, not through words or deeds but through respect. A community of all for one, as well as one for all.

Rabbi Greenstein announced upon his arrival that his greatest value was building Jewish community. And in a recent conversation, that is how he looked back on his years as our rabbi: “I tried as hard as I could to share my love for living a Jewish life, for studying Torah, for connecting people, to be there for people. That’s what I tried to do.”

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Enveloped In Love – Our Kiddush Experience

On Feb 26, 2022, my family hosted the kiddush for Brian’s 10th  birthday party – first time double digits is an exciting chapter! The moment we entered synagogue, congregants wished Brian a happy birthday. Rabbinic Intern, Lily Lucy, welcomed us into the Hinei Ma Tov JLC event, by wishing Brian a good birthday and pointing out to the other students that the birthday table covers, balloons and food items were all set up so that the congregation could celebrate Brian entering his double-digit birthday. It made Brian feel so special. Continue reading

A Guy Who Likes Everything: A Defense

Recently my positive comments about an event were dismissed with the statement “Oh, you like everything.” I laughed and said it was in my nature. But, the truth is I don’t like everything. In fact, I can be very judgmental and at times enjoy being so. But, the point being made by my “accuser” was that I was being indiscriminate, lacking in discernment, and therefore my judgement was suspect or not to be taken seriously. My father (of blessed memory) was also criticized for liking “everything.” After all, how could anyone take someone seriously if they like everything! Continue reading

Shabbat In A Time of Division

When the pandemic began, I missed the office, I missed restaurants, I missed travel, but most of all I missed synagogue on Shabbat. There is something deeply comforting about seeing the same people at the same time, in the same place, in the same seats each week. I especially love being at synagogue on a snowy winter day. During kiddish I would sit with members of our congregation, and watch snow fall through the large widows in our social hall while eating bagels and lox, salad, and cookies. It is an “all is right with the world” experience. Continue reading

Macaroni and Cheese …. Perfect Together

Around Thanksgiving, I kept seeing articles for Thanksgiving meals that included a side dish of macaroni and cheese. As someone who does not think that cheese and poultry belong together in the same meal, that sounded awful. But it did get me thinking about mac-n-cheese. So here are some recipes that I’ve accumulated over the years. Continue reading

A Squirrel in the Pear Tree: That was then; This is now

Editor’s note: This article was first published in 2013 in the print Kol Emunah. See the update below. 

squirrel eatingHave you noticed the little tree right opposite the pre-school playground?  I finally did late in July [2013] when I saw some brown blobs hanging from its slender, leafy branches. When I examined the tree more closely, I realized that it was a pear tree with small, brownish pears-hard as rocks- hanging from almost every branch.

There were more than twenty of the little brown fruits. From that moment I dreamed pears: pear relish, poached pears, pear pie, sautéed pears, a true Sukkot treat from Shomrei’s very own pear tree.  Continue reading

Chicken on the Grill

Chicken - Peruvian grilledHawaiian chickenChicken - barbecue with pantry sauce

Our grill sits on our deck and we use it most of the year, but particularly in the summer. We started to grill a lot when we purchased our first gas grill, over 30 years ago. So much easier and quicker than cooking with charcoal.

Having a gas grill came in handy when we redid our kitchen and were without a stove and oven for 3 months. We do have a funny story about that, though. Usually I buy fresh chicken, but this one day I was using chicken that had been frozen. It wasn’t quite defrosted so I left it on our dining table for a bit. When I came back an hour later, the chicken was gone and there was Donny, our little dachshund, in the corner of the living with just a bit of bone still hanging out of his mouth and a bulging tummy. Seems that he had managed to jump onto one of the chairs and then on to the table to get the chicken. No grilling that night. We ordered in. Continue reading