June 2022: President’s Message

June 24, 2022
Shabbat Shalom.
I would like to begin with a special thanks to Shira Rosenblatt. I was thrilled when you replied to my text message that you would be honored to be our installing officer this year. I’ve always admired your dedication to this synagogue. I look forward to working with you this year as you embark on your role as Programming VP. I know you think you’re going to do this for just one year, but we’ll see what happens. (more…)

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You are a Masterpiece Bulletin

I’ve met so many people who are turned off by the word “religion.” When I meet with them, I ask them why. For some, it’s the guilt they feel when they don’t live up to the expectations of their religious community. For others, the rules are just too hard, or they feel judged by religious people. And for others, it’s all the bad that religious people have done in the name of religion itself. For all these reasons and so many more, there are good spiritual people that just won’t step into religion. (more…)

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Reinventing Israel’s History

‘Promised Land’ or revisionist history? A former Knesset member weighs in on Barack Obama’s telling of Israel’s story

By Dov Lipman – CT Jewish Ledger – December 11, 2020

(JNS) I have never criticized former U.S. President Barack Obama publicly – neither during my time in the Knesset nor anywhere else – despite my having disagreed with many of his policies. I am of the strong opinion that Israelis should not engage in or interfere with American politics, and I regularly offer a blanket thank you to all American presidents, including Obama, for their economic and military support for Israel.< (more…)

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Bechdel test for Jewish texts is shaking up the beit midrash

The test has adherents among Hillel educators and is spreading among educators at pluralistic institutions of Jewish learning.


When Danielle Kranjec committed to using only Jewish texts written by women and queer people in the classes she taught for Hillel International’s Springboard Fellowship, a program that places recent college graduates in positions at college campus Hillels across the country, she knew she was taking on a challenging task.
After all, for most of Jewish history, women weren’t encouraged to take on religious leadership roles or write commentaries on the Torah or Talmud.
But Kranjec knew that elevating the work of women would be worth the effort, both because doing so would communicate the value of women’s insights to her students and she believes the mismatch between the diversity of the people teaching Torah today and the sources they teach had grown too great. Also, as a Jewish educator and trained historian, she knew there were a plethora of texts that might not be considered “Torah” in the traditional sense but could serve as rich source material.
Much of the time, those who assemble materials for Jewish study sessions — commonly known as “source sheets” — start with the Torah text, working their way to the rabbinic texts, the Mishna and Talmud, followed by commentaries on texts written over a span of more than a thousand years. Men wrote the vast majority of those texts. (more…)

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December 2020: President’s Message

As we all know, COVID-19 is on the upsurge again in our area. It’s a fact of our present lives. Therefore, we must continue to suspend in-house services, and maintain our current approach via Zoom. However, please know, if you have a Yahrzeit or a special occasion for you or a family member and you want to come into the shul for a Shabbat service, please call the office and let them know, so the Rabbi is aware you are coming in. (more…)

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Alexander Weiss – Shlomo Yoseph ben Chayyim Dov ve-Bracha – 2018

We’re here today, in the sanctuary that meant so much to him, to mourn the passing but also to honor and cherish the life of Alexander Weiss, beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather, great-grandfather, businessman, past president of this synagogue, and just a wonderful man.

He was born at home in Newark; the doctor said he weighed 16 pounds and while he was a big baby, this was a slight exaggeration. Still, they paid the doctor 2 dollars for the good job he did. He was raised with his siblings Jacob, Sidney Irving, whom we remember with respect today, and mourn with his sister Leona. (more…)

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Annette Greenhouse – Hannah bat Michael ve-Sonia – 2018

We’re here today to mourn the passing but also to honor the life of Annette Greenhouse, beloved wife, mother, grandmother and cherished friend. Annette has suffered and she was ready to go. It was enough, and she knew that this was her time. She laughed just before she died, bantering with a wonderful nurse. And yet, even though we are content that she always had the loyalty and attention of her family and the best of care, we are still very sad that she has passed on. Today, we are not going to focus on her death but on her life, because she had a wonderful life. (more…)

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Ayala Dworetzky – Ayala bat Israel ve-Yocheved – 2018

We’re here today to mourn the passing but also to honor the life of Ayala Dvoretzky, beloved wife, mother, sister, teacher, and cherished friend. With the constant, daily, selfless love and devotion of her husband Israel, and the loyalty of her beloved son Shay and his wife Jamie and Ayala’s cherished granddaughter Maya, and the amazing visits of her sister Leah from Israel, somehow, Ayala lived eight months to the day in the hospital, fighting and fighting for her very life. In the end, even all of the best efforts of her family and the medical staff of the hospital could not save her. She knew before anyone else that it was her time, and she let finally let go. But what an inspired fight she fought! And what superhuman strength she mustered to keep living all that time. And Israel was there by her side, every single day, her angel, her white knight who fought for the treatment that would keep her going. And during that time, she saw Shay and Leah and her family and friends countless times, and they helped to sustain her. Israel talks about how as a parallel to the miracle of the 8 days of Chanukah that he prayed for, he and Ayala were given the last exact 8 months together. (more…)

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Elliot Alderman – Eliyahu ben Avraham ve-Esther – 2018

Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground. Elliot liked it when I gave sermons that included song lyrics. But I never thought about using a song lyric at his funeral. Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground. I keep thinking about this line from the James Taylor song where he mourns: But I always thought that I’d see you again. Elliot and Diane had been living a wonderful time in their lives, with travel and real enjoyment, and then came these last few years, which have been difficult at best and often terrifying and painful and brutal. Sweet dreams came crashing down. And now we’re here. And it’s just horrible. These last weeks, which have been the worst of all, have coincided with the season when Jewish people say a certain psalm, Ps. 27. It’s a prayer about our fears and our hopes for…

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