Editor’s note: This message from Rabbi Greenstein and the response from President Miriam Haimes were originally emailed to the congregation on April 28th.
Dear Members of Congregation Shomrei Emunah,
This year has been one of extraordinary challenges. As individuals and families, as a global village, a nation and as a congregation, we have borne losses and pain, disruption and deprivation. Here, at Shomrei, we have also discovered reservoirs of strength, commitment, creativity and determination.
For the past 12 years it has been my sacred privilege to serve as your spiritual leader. And in this past, exceptionally demanding, year I have been exceptionally blessed to share in the work of sustaining our community with our office staff, educators and custodians, along with all our amazing volunteers of the Moving Forward Committee and our Board, all led by our dedicated President, Miriam Haimes, who have all risen to the occasion in inspiring ways.
It has been my sacred privilege and responsibility to serve Congregation Shomrei Emunah as its Rabbi for almost 11 years. I have always taken on my role as the community’s authority on Jewish Law and as its spiritual leader with a sense of reverence.
The present crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has placed extraordinary strain on all of us as individuals and families and on our entire world, our society and our synagogue. I am thankful for all of our community members for their extra efforts in helping the Shomrei community meet this challenge. And I am aware that I bear a heavy responsibility in making decisions on behalf of our community that will guide our policies and actions in accordance with my best understanding of what the Torah – Jewish Law and Tradition – demand, permit or forbid. Continue reading
Protest in Livingston; photo courtesy of northjersey.com
With great sorrow and great outrage, I join with all people who steadfastly stand for the ultimate value of every human life. The murder of Mr. George Floyd is one more obscene crime in a long history of crimes committed against people of color in our society, crimes that have been ignored and dismissed for too long, crimes that seek to declare that Black lives just do not matter. Black Lives Matter.
During this time of global pandemic, we are under incredible strain to protect our own lives, the lives of our loved ones, and, if we take this situation seriously, the lives of all people. But we must realize that we have been exposed, not only to a deadly virus, but also to long festering failures in how we live as a society. So, it is doubly tragic that in this time when saving a life is so paramount in our thinking, the wanton disregard for human life, systemically entrenched in our society, still continues to thrive. Continue reading
Celebrate Beautiful Nature on Shavuot!
A Message From Rabbi Greenstein:
There is a wonderful custom of decorating synagogues and homes with flowers and leaves and pictures of nature on the holiday of Shavuot, the festival celebrating our receiving the Torah. While we are still not able to celebrate within the walls of our synagogue, we can create a wall of photos and images of nature’s beauty to enhance our joy.
Thank you to photographers in our community, Judith Antelman, Bruce Baff, Nancy Breslin, Aimee Brooks, Sarita Eisenberg, Aileen Grossberg, Rabbi Richard Hammerman, Laura Monka and Merrill Silver who have submitted their images in honor of Shavuot.
What a beautiful way to welcome our holiday! May we always take to heart the world’s great beauty!
view the gallery
I am delighted to share that the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has officially accepted a teshuvah (responsum), by Rabbi Gail Labovitz, that offers egalitarian alternatives to the traditional, non-egalitarian, marriage ceremony commonly in use. This new responsum offers two possible ceremonies. As the responsum acknowledges, one of them is based substantially on my own writing and teaching on this topic over many years.
It is a bittersweet privilege to invite our entire Shomrei community to mark the special milestones of two of our younger members – Nathan and Ben – becoming Bar Mitzvah.
The Shabbat of May 2 has long been on our calendar for the Nathan’s celebration and the Shabbat of May 16 has been long reserved for the Ben’s celebration. Each has put in lots of work to learn their Torah portion and their haftarah (prophetic) reading. And they have studied and thought about their Torah portions in order to share their own teachings with the community.