The ways we have had to adjust our thinking, feeling and practices during this pandemic period are endless. Sometimes we feel that we have lost something precious and sometimes we feel freed by the simplification of our lives. Sometimes we miss what we used to have and sometimes we discover new things, experiences and values for ourselves.
I am pleased to announce one small but meaningful example of such a complex phenomenon as it effects our services at Shomrei. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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).
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.
Editor’s Note: Rabbi Greenstein originally gave this sermon on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 5782 (Sept 2021).
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.
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).
“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 →
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).
My 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 →
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.