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!
I hope everyone is having a great summer and finding ways to stay cool.
Over the past few weeks, we have been monitoring a situation that came up recently where it was reported that the owner of the West Orange Bake Shop had cancelled an order for Pride themed baked goods for B’Nai Israel. We didn’t react immediately to give space for the owner to respond to the claim that the cancellation was anti-LGBTQ+ related. However, after hearing more directly from the owner, we feel his response runs counter to Shomrei’s values and are compelled to move away from doing business with the Bake Shop. This shift will be implemented immediately.
I am thrilled to announce that Fern Heinig will be honored this year at Art Mazel Tov!, an annual event which celebrates Shomrei’s Preschool community combined this year with an honors celebration of Shomrei’s past-president, the wonderful Fern Heinig. Our Ad Journal will be dedicated to Fern, this year’s honoree, for all she brings to our congregation.
Each year we honor a congregant who has had a significant impact on our community and there is no one I can think of that has contributed to our community like Fern.
As we are all about to embark on end of the year celebrations and many of us plan travel, I wanted to take a minute to remind you that while there is no vaccine requirement and mask wearing at Shomrei remains optional, both the Medical Committee and I are becoming very concerned about the rise of COVID/FLU/RSV transmission, which, if the last two years are a guide, tends to peak in early January.
I am pleased to share with you our updated COVID19 protocols. As you will see, starting immediately, we have transitioned to a mask optional policy for all non-school activities. This shift in policy comes following the successful implementation of a mask optional policy for the first floor during the High Holy Days and was approved by the board at our most recent meeting after consultation with our Medical Committee, who agreed it is time to make this adjustment. The change also brings Shomrei into alignment with other congregations in Essex County.
Editor’s Note: This speech was originally given on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (Sept 2022)
It is wonderful to see so many of you in this space.
I want to speak with you about Open-Door Judaism, how Shomrei epitomizes the spirit of the open-door philosophy and how we can each engage with it, and Shomrei during this new year. Open Door Judaism at Shomrei means the active and ongoing removal of barriers to find comfort and spirituality in the Judaism each member wishes to explore.
We are just a few days away from Rabbi Julie leading her first official service at Congregation Shomrei Emunah. I hope you will watch the video of my recent chat with her and that you are as excited as I am.
I could not be more delighted to step into the role of President of Congregation Shomrei Emunah. It is a tremendously exciting time of change at Shomrei: a new Rabbi, a new interim Education Director, the hoped-for full emergence from COVID-19 and return to our familiar ways of gathering and celebrating our community and Judaism.
I have gotten to know many of you over the years, but I still have so many of you to meet, which I look forward to doing soon. Today, I am writing to share my excitement, my gratitude, and to share a bit about myself and my family.
Like all of you, our hearts are broken following the horrendous death of innocent children at an elementary school in Uvalde Texas, which follows two mass shootings last week at a supermarket in Buffalo and a church in Laguna Woods California. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need to act. Taking action is the only thing that will change what is happening. Here are some suggestions for appropriate actions you can consider taking. Continue reading →