Shabbat Shalom, July 23, 2021

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Dear Friends,

Raina and I spent a few days up in the Finger Lakes earlier this week. We hiked, did some wine tasting and ate some good food. The last night we were there we were scheduled to do a sunset cruise and local beer tasting on the True Love, a gorgeous 60’ schooner. When we got to the dock the weather was “iffy.” After a brief delay we headed out. The water was calm and there was minimal wind. Despite the lack of wind the crew raised the sails. They fluttered gently and, while they weren’t making a material difference, they looked pretty.

Suddenly, things changed. The storm we had been watching on radar had turned and was coming in quickly. The water became rough and the wind picked up. Suddenly, the sails were no longer decorative. They caught the wind and we began to pick up speed. …

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Statement on Antisemitism from South Orange and Maplewood

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Statement from the South Orange Board of Trustees and Maplewood Township Committee Regarding Antisemitism

We are proud to live in and serve the South Orange and Maplewood communities. The diversity of our towns add to their richness and, for many of us, was one of the reasons we were drawn to these communities.

Living in diversity brings with it not only blessings but also responsibility. We have not been immune to the increased bias and hate that has taken root in our nation in recent years. We are grateful that time and time again, when those who seek to sow seeds of hate by targeting one group or another, we have lived our responsibility to make clear that “Hate Has No Home Here”.

 When transgender patriots serving our military were the focus of discrimination, we gathered to hoist a transgender flag in the center of town. …

https://www.southorange.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2102&fbclid=IwAR1TXVupay3eGytGwEKUTkcSMkMPFkYDt58uNb_-2J2HwnPQPUtiaUNQ4zI

 

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Shabbat Shalom, July 16

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Dear Friends,

One of my favorite rabbinic stories explains that love was the determining factor that led to the location of the ancient Jerusalem Temple.

The story is told that two brothers had each inherited half of their father’s farm. One of the brothers was married and had a large family; the other brother was single. They lived on opposite sides of a hill.

One night during harvest time, the single brother tossed about in bed. “How can I rest comfortably and take a full half of the yield, when my brother has so many more mouths to feed?” So he arose, gathered bushels of produce and quietly climbed the hill to bring them over to his brother’s barn.

Meanwhile, his brother across the hill also could not sleep. “How can I enjoy my full share of the produce and not be concerned with my brother? He is alone in

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Shabbat Shalom- July 2, 2021

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Dear Friends,

I’m taking a few weeks off for R&R. While I’m away I thought I might share some of my favorite Jewish stories and a thought or two on each. This week’s story is one of my all-time favorites.

There was once a king who owned an enormous and incredibly beautiful diamond. Every day, the king took the diamond from its jewel-encrusted box and looked with awe as the gem transformed sunlight into magnificent, shimmering kaleidoscopes of color. It made him very happy.

One day, the king accidentally dropped the diamond. It grazed the side of its box and then fell heavily to the floor of the throne room. Picking it up, the king found a long, jagged scratch down one side of the stone. Horrified, he immediately called upon his royal jewelers to repair the gem, but they were unable to do so. The king then called upon

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Shabbat Shalom June 4, 2021

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I was speaking to a dear friend of mine some time ago when she suddenly told me she had to get off the phone and run the .30 odd .30 rifle down to her husband Kevin.

Now I suspect that for many of you that might seem rather strange. It actually wasn’t. You see, my friends Judie and Kevin are ranchers in Texas. They have all kinds of wildlife that appears on the ranch from time to time including the huge rattlesnake that took up residence on their front porch at one point. On this occasion the culprit was a 400 pound feral hog that was posing a threat to both their livestock and themselves. As someone born and raised in suburban New Jersey I’m not an expert on feral hogs but I hear they are pretty nasty.
A short time later, Judie came back, told me that they had …

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Shabbat Shalom, April 30, 2021

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Dear Friends,

Prior to being admitted to rabbinic school, I was required to take a series of psychological tests that included a Rorschach Test. One by one the psychologist administering the test placed an inkblot in front of me and asked what I saw. It is an interesting test to take.  Initially I saw nothing more than paper covered with ink stains. It didn’t take long before I started seeing images in each new inkblot that he placed before me. But here’s the thing: what I saw in those ink blots said a lot about me and absolutely nothing about the inkblot itself. I “read into” the inkblot my experiences and my needs. So while each applicant was presented with the exact same inkblots, we each saw something different in them.

In recent days I’ve been thinking about the parallels between those inkblots and synagogues. Just as each applicant saw …

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Shabbat Shalom, April 23, 2020

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Dear Friends,

Earlier this week I had a thought that has stayed with me. It puts the journey we have been through over the past year, the loss, pain and sometimes trauma we have encountered
in a new light. And it hinges on the concept of liminal moments. A liminal moment is a moment or an encounter that separates life experiences.

We all have such moments in our lives.

Opening the letter accepting me into rabbinic school was a liminal moment. My life was different after opening the letter than it was before.

Standing beneath our chuppah and reciting the words “Harei At… be consecrated to me…” to Raina was a liminal moment. That experience dramatically changed both of our lives.

In fact, if we look at the various rituals that are part of Jewish life, we quickly see that each focuses on a liminal moment in the life of …

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Shabbat Shalom April 2, 2021

This week’s Shabbat Message is part of Great MetroWest NJ’s Bit of Torah program. A video of it can be seen here on Facebook.

https://fb.watch/4C_PmDe1tn/

My thanks to GMW for the invitation to be part of Bit of Torah.

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Dear Friends,

This week we began our Passover festival by retelling the story of our ancestors’ escape from Egypt. And now, a week later, our festival of freedom is coming to an end.

As I look back over yitziyatt mitzrayim — the story of our ancestors’ exodus from Egypt — there is a small turn of phrase that always captures my imagination. We are told that when our ancestors left Egypt — gam erav rav alah itam — “and a mixed multitude went up with them.“

This phrase is often interpreted to mean that it wasn’t just the Israelites who left Egypt.

For example, the Reform Movement’s Plaut Commentary explains that …

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Shabbat Shalom and a Zissen Pesach

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“The epidemic of gun violence continues to plague individuals and communities across the United States, including our own Jewish communities as well as those of our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and partners. The Reform Movement, led by students and NFTY, is outraged at the current lack of legislative action and political leadership that allows this horrible violence to continue. This epidemic is not natural, nor normal and gun violence can be prevented. Drawing on Jewish traditions and values, we remain committed to taking action by engaging in community and legislative advocacy to end the gun violence epidemic.”
—Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Dear Friends,

True to form, Passover’s arrival tomorrow evening coincides with the first signs of spring. The crocuses made an appearance early last week, and in just the last few days, buds began to appear on branches that have, until now, been dormant. And as the earth …

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My Shabbat Message for May 15, 2020

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(Watch a video version of this message.)

 

Dear Community Members,

It is with complete disgust and revulsion that we are forced to share with you that in spite of our own Rabbinic Authority’s clear Jewish legal guidance and those of our movement and other rabbinic organizations plus recent medical guidance, there were a number of people who blatantly violated our synagogue’s policy and indeed participated in a rogue worship gathering this past Shabbat. This level of raw chutzpah and dangerous behavior that puts others at risk cannot be tolerated. This type of behavior and the individuals who perpetrated it must be responded to with significant consequences.

 

That is the first paragraph, slightly edited, from Rabbi Edelman to his South Florida congregation. His message is direct and his language is overly harsh. Obviously. And while it goes without saying that I would never use such language with …

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