Face to Face: Parashat Tazri`a/M’tzora

Parashat Tazri`a/M’tzora

Leviticus 12:1-15:33

The affliction of surfaces – of our homes, garments and very skin (tzara`at)- that is the main subject of our Torah reading has been interpreted by our tradition to be a signal to us to heed how powerful our gift of speech is and to be aware of how easily we casually debase it as a means to hurt others. This unique, heaven-sent affliction was seen not as a disease, but as a Divine punishment for one who has abused their power of speech to attack others in secret.
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Letter from the President – Shabbat Survey Results

Editor’s note: This message was originally emailed to the congregation on April 14th.

IMG_0397To the Shomrei community,

I wanted to send a note about the recent Shabbat Survey results and our next steps.  First a huge thank you to Sarita Eisenberg for doing the heavy lifting regarding the survey and collaborating with the Ritual Committee to develop the questions and to tally and summarize the results.

We received 93 responses across a wide range of age groups including families with preschool, elementary school and older children as well as adults across all the age ranges listed in the survey.  I am very pleased with the cross section of responses.

Overwhelmingly, respondents were comfortable with outdoor services.  We did have several respondents who would also be interested in indoor services.

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England and the Jews

Apr 14 GrossThe relationship between England and its Jews is complicated as is in most countries where Jews have a history. Although there were probably Jews in England during Roman times, there is no evidence of an organized Jewish community. Today, England has one of the largest Jewish populations in the world and is second only to France in Europe.

Apr 14 food potThe first written record of a Jewish presence is dated 1070. Recent archaeological discoveries show proof of a kosher diet in an area known to have been inhabited by Jews.

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The Abyss: Parashat Sh’mini

man thinking about taking big risk to reach the other side with a big jump

Parashat Sh’mini
Leviticus 9:1-11:47

Our Torah portion continues its narrative of the meticulously planned out process for the dedication of the Tabernacle. God has delineated everything – each detail of each ritual. And the rest of the Torah portion includes a thorough-going treatment of dietary laws. Indeed, the bulk of this text is comprised of orderly ceremonies and regulations.
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Memories of Jerry Weiss

Jerry Weiss cropped 2I got to know Jerry well quite a few years ago when we were both appointed to a Shomrei committee no one wanted to serve on. Suffice it to say our assignment was unenviable and none of us wished to be there, least of all Jerry. But he graciously agreed to be co-chair, and he and Helen hosted our many meetings in their lovely home. Week after week, he held us together and steered us toward a conclusion with kindness and above all care for the future of Shomrei. I don’t think it was a coincidence that we all became good friends and remained so. Continue reading

Vive la Difference!

karpasWhy was this year’s Passover different from last year’s?

This year we knew what we were doing as we Zoomed across three continents and several states. We knew where to put the IPad so that everyone could see and be seen. We knew to mute and unmute. We knew how we would sound singing together. And we knew that if we didn’t mute ourselves, everyone could hear our comments.

This year we had in person guests at our small seder, for we were less fearful, though still cautious.

This year we experimented with haroset and grew our own karpas and hazerat.  Continue reading

Random Jottings

Internationa Ch Bk Day 2121Every year the International Board on Books for Young People sponsors a day to celebrate children’s books. Called International Children’s Book Day,  the celebration falls on Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, April 2.  The intent is to both  inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.

This year’s poster and message come from the United States. The colorful poster was designed by Roger Mello, an internationally acclaimed illustrator, author , and awinner of the Hans Christian Andersen award. Continue reading

the memorial: Parashat Tzav/Shabbat Ha-gadol/Passover

Empty toilet paper roll

Parashat Tzav/Shabbat Ha-gadol/Passover
Leviticus 6:1-8:36

This year I will place a new item on my seder plate – a nearly used-up roll of toilet paper. It will serve as a reminder and a prod to appreciate a person, an act and a tradition of holiness.

Our Torah portion continues to give details about how to perform the sacrificial rites. The simplest of sacrifices is the flour offering, the minhah – literally “the gift.” This simplest of gifts – “The Gift” – is one that even the poorest person could bring to God. And it includes in its ceremony the lifting of a small portion of flour, spices and oil that is burnt on the altar. This small amount is called the “azkarah – the memorial.” (Lev. 6:8) This term is never used for any other gift. None of the other types of sacrifice has any of its elements characterized as a reminder. But this simple sacrifice does. Commentators (see, for instance, Ibn Ezra to Lev. 2:2, where this term first appears) link remembering here with scent and aroma, the pleasing aroma that signifies God’s happiness in this simple offering, above all else.
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Kitchen Scrap Gardening for Passover

Aileen's karpas & maror

Aileen’s karpas & maror

It really works!

At the Passover Splash program on March 7, Aileen Grossberg showed the attendees how the root ends of a bunch of celery or head of romaine can be grown in water for use as karpas and maror at the Passover seder.   Once the vegetables have started to put out roots, they can be planted in potting soil and will continue to grow leaves.

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