Opening our Doors Even Wider: Yom Kippur Sermon 5783/2022

Editor’s Note: Rabbi Julie originally gave this sermon during the Yom Kippur service, Oct 2022.

This past March, during women’s history month, a reporter from the Montclair local news interviewed me together with Miriam Haimes for an article about Shomrei appointing its first female rabbi.  There was something important and memorable that our past president said during that conversation that didn’t end up being quoted.  Miriam said, “our congregation was open to hiring a rabbi of any gender.”  I remember feeling a sense of pride that I was coming to a very open and progressive community, that was ready for a rabbi who identified as female, male, non-binary, or trans.   And then on my first day of work at Shomrei this past August, I walked into the building through the first set of doors and noticed for the first time a sign that reads, “all males please wear a head covering while in the building.”   I remember thinking, well I guess it doesn’t matter if the rabbi remembers to wear a kippah. Continue reading

Shomrei is Our Namesake: Kol Nidre Sermon 5783/2022

Editor’s Note: Rabbi Julie originally gave this sermon during the Kol Nidre service, Oct 2022.

In 1918, at the age of 5, Joe Fine started attending religious school at Shomrei Emunah in the original building on Bloomfield Avenue.  He remembers being sent home a few years later, at the age of 8 or 9, for coming to High Holiday services dressed in a new cardigan sweater and trousers made by his grandfather because he wasn’t wearing a suit jacket.   When asked what the town of Montclair was like in the 1920’s, Joe described Bloomfield Avenue, starting at the corner of Maple, store by store, beginning with Wilensky’s department store, which was owned by Louie and his three brothers, Morris, Sammie, and Haimie and then continuing up the street to the pharmacy. Continue reading

Reaching for Royalty: Rosh Hashanah Sermon 5783/2022

Editor’s Note: Rabbi Julie originally gave this sermon during the Rosh Hashanah Day 1 service 5783 (Sept 2022).

In 2005, the year I was ordained as a rabbi, Queen Elizabeth II was out for a walk in the hills near her Scottish castle Balmoral together with her royal protection officer, Richard Griffin. They came across two American tourists and one of them struck up a conversation, asking the queen where she lived, so she said London. He then asked whether she’d ever been to this area before. She said she started visiting this part of Scotland when she was a little girl, more than 80 years before. Aware that the castle was in the vicinity, the hiker then asked her if she had ever met the queen. “Quick as a flash she said, ‘I haven’t but my companion meets her regularly.’ Continue reading