Being There for Family Promise

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As so many of you know, Shomrei has hosted homeless families with young children in our synagogue since 1988 as part of the Interfaith Hospitality Network (now Family Promise). Twice a year, for a week at a time, for over 30 years, 50 caring volunteers have cooked food for the families, entertained the children and slept over as nighttime guardians. Because of the pandemic, we have not hosted families since December 2019 and the entire congregational shelter network remains shuttered. For 18 months, Family Promise (FP) has been sheltering families in hotels and shifting more resources into its other missions — stabilizing those on the verge of homeless with rental assistance  and case management. FP needs even more financial support to continue to support vulnerable families, particularly as the moratorium on evictions is lifted and many more parents and children face homelessness.

Even though we can’t host families for now, we can be there for them and for Family Promise. Here are two wonderful opportunities to help: Continue reading

Accept the Invitation: Parashat Bereshit

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Parashat Bereshit
Genesis 1:1-6:8

The story begins anew. We read of the creation of the world, and most especially, the creation of human beings. Many have noticed that the story has two versions. The longer, second version is very well known. It reports that Adam was created as a male and that Eve was derived afterwards, from Adam’s body. (Gen. 2:21-22) But the shorter, less well-known, first version says simply: “And the Almighty created the human (Adam) in God’s image, creating him in the image of the Almighty, creating them male and female.” (Gen. 1:27) In this first version “Adam” is both male and female, created as such in one act of creation.
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Wednesday Night Minyan

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Shana Tova! I hope you are greeting 5782 with a resounding “Hineni!”- here I am, ready to take on the New Year with enthusiasm and commitment.

In that spirit, I am writing about the future of the Wednesday Night Minyan. Because of my pandemic work schedule, (teaching on Zoom Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday from 7:30-9:30 PM) I am no longer available to lead the Wednesday night minyan. (Even if we changed Wednesday to another night of the week, all this Zoom time would not be good for my mental health!)  Continue reading

Seasonal This and That

Sept 14 apology

It always amazes me how we transition so smoothly between the joyous solemnity of Rosh Hashanah to the contemplation of Yom Kippur and then back to rejoicing in the bounty of the earth and the gift of the Torah.

On Yom Kippur, we recite a long list of behavorial errors-often by rote. “How to Forgive” by Amy Klein (Hadassah Magazine online)  looks at some recent books about forgiveness. Klein says  “… at this time dedicated to introspection, soul searching and forgiveness, there are mixed emotions: grief for the people who passed; sadness and empathy for those who got sick, lost jobs and suffered in quarantine. But what should we feel for people who refused to observe quarantine mandates or wear masks, who won’t vaccinate (for nonmedical reasons) or who spread disinformation about Covid-19? Or for those who perpetuated divisions in our society? What to do about all the emotions—even rage—at the stubborn ones who we think are responsible for our suffering? ” In her article entitled “How to Forgive”, she cites two books that helped her deal with her conflicted emotions.  Continue reading

Open Hearts: Yom Kippur Sermon by Lily Lucey (5782/2021)

Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on Yom Kippur 5782 (Sept 2021).

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“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

Meeting Our Obligations: Parashat Ha’azinu/V’zot Ha-brakhah/Sukkot

 

Parashat Ha’azinu/V’zot Ha-brakhah/Sukkot
Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52

During these days of Teshuvah – returning, I wish to return to one startling statement found in Moses’s final song, Ha’azinu. Moses speaks God’s words: “I have wounded, and I will heal, for none can save from My Hand.” (Deut. 32:39) I continue to be struck by the paradoxical implication of the verse – “I will heal – and no one can stop Me!” – as if anyone would want to stop God from healing!

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Mourning Doves: Grief and Hope: Kol Nidre Sermon by Lily Lucey (5782/2021)

Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on Kol Nidre 5782 (Sept 2021).

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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

President Miriam Haimes’s Address on Kol Nidre 5782/2021

Click the player above to watch the video.

Editor’s Note: This address was originally given on Kol Nidre (Sept 2021)

Heneni – A Continuation and What it Means as a Shomrei Member

Last week I spoke to you about being present spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Well, Hineni – Here I am, again. Henei Anachnu – Here we are, again. And as we begin to return to the synagogue and to gather together after being separated for so long, I want to ask you to think about reaching out and giving of yourself. I know that every year the president stands up here and asks you to volunteer and I am no different. Heneni – Here I am – asking you to look inwardly as you do teshuva and ask God for forgiveness and to think about how you can do something differently than you did this past year.
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Rabbi David Greenstein’s Kol Nidre & Yom Kippur Sermons 5782/2021

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).

Shanah Tovah!

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.

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