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I was asked to participate in a Multi-Faith Peace Rally at the Community Growth Center in Setuaket ,NY, along with other faith leaders, that include Father Pizzareli, Kadam Holly McGregor and Mufti Farhan, among others. Our task was to pick a special prayer from our tradition and to explain why it is precious to each of us. This is what I chose to say for this MLK Day Peace Rally.
The Sabbath morning prayer, Yismach Moshe b’matnat helko, goes this way: Moses rejoiced in the gift of his portion.
And what did you give him?
A diadem of glory you placed upon his head.
Moses rejoiced in the gift of his portion.
And what did you call him?
You called him a faithful servant.
Moses rejoiced in the gift of his portion.
And what did he carry in his hands?
In his hands he brought down the two tables of stone.
Moses was so gladdened by a gift of portion because God called him an eved ne’eman, a faithful servant, and placed a crown on his head as he stood on Mt. Sinai. Written on the two tablets in his hands was the keeping of the Sabbath Day.
Why do I love this prayer? I love the fact that Moses is spoken of as God’s faithful servant. What was it that made him that faithful servant and what, as well, can we learn from Moses about being a faithful servant?
Our sages teach: Moses was a Noseh Be Ol, a person who had empathy; a person who bore the burden of others. When Moses became a young man, looked upon the Israelites and saw their torment. His reaction? Midrash tells us that he put his shoulder to the wheel to lend a hand. When a slave was being beaten to within an inch of his life by a ruthless slave master, Moses looks to and fro, vayare ko v’b ko vayare kilo ish, right and left, to see if there were any men around. He looked not because he was afraid witnesses, but because it says elsewhere in the Torah “in a place where there are no men present, be a man.”Stand up for the true and the good! Moses, keenly aware of the burden placed on others, saved the slave from a brutal death.
I am writing this article while the temperature is in the single digits outside. The conversation at work will be all about the weather. The media had predicted the storm of the century over the weekend, and the roads were going to be a skating rink. As a result, many people cancelled their plans because the impending forecast scared them all. Yet, all we got was a heavy rain, which, had it been snow, would have been over a foot. The weekend weather projections are typical of today’s society, seeing the negative and never praising the positive. Well, I would like to take the opportunity to talk about the good.
We just had a very busy weekend at ENJC. After the Friday night service, a group of about 25 congregants participated in our annual Tu B’Shevat Seder. The Seder has been a Brecher tradition, with even my daughter, Amanda attending, except in the years that she was away at college. It was an enjoyable evening, led by Rabbi Silverman and Cantor Cohen, with a feast of fruits, nuts and grape juice, and the very special muffins made by Carolyn Gilbert. Thank you to Wendy and Ed Isaac for shopping and setting up the Seder. I would like to give a special Thank You to Carolyn for not only making her special muffins, but the significant time that she has spent cooking and helping out during Religious School. I know that the children have been enjoying her tasteful treats.
The highlight of the weekend was the outstanding job done by David Kessler for his Bar Mitzvah. David wonderfully executed his Haftorah, which, according to Rabbi, is the “mother of all Haftorahs,” chanting swiftly and easily, to perfection, in front of a turnout of in excess of 110 congregants, family and friends. David and his family spoke very highly of his Bar Mitzvah tutoring by Lisa Maron. David is the fourth student trained by Lisa, but the first Bar Mitzvah to work exclusively with Lisa, the other three having started with other tutors. We are looking forward to the next six students who have been working with Lisa.
Now that the winter holiday season is behind us, the nights are busy at the shul. Successful events never happen unless properly planned. Of late there been meetings to discuss this year’s Purim Event. Please mark your calendar for the evening of March 20th. Details to follow in the ENJC weekly and the March bulletin.
The Security Team has been meeting to discuss our game plan to prioritize the use of money from the grant we received toward the areas of greatest need. The Financial Team is analyzing our operating costs so that we can operate efficiently and not eliminate anything that makes ENJC the shul that I am proud to represent.
Remember that you, the congregants, are the ones to make a difference. Please help support the daily minyan! Besides the five congregants saying Kaddish, Rabbi will be saying Kaddish for his Mom. We can always use your help at 8:15 Sunday through Thursday night.
Hopefully, when you read this, the Groundhog will not see his shadow and Spring will be coming soon.
I will continue with my positive thoughts and not complain about the negatives in the world. Read More
A Plea to the Congregation from Rabbi: Support Our Minyan and Worship With Us On Shabbat–We Need Everyone To Pitch In
There is an old joke about a young man who walks into the High Holiday Service and is greeted by the usher. The usher asks if he has paid his dues. He replies, “I’m not a member. I’m just here to give my grandfather a message.” After a short reflection, the usher tells him, “Okay but don’t let me catch you praying.”
This is about hoping that we will catch you praying. We want you to pray in our lovely Friday night and Saturday morning Shabbat services, our brief evening weekday and our Sunday morning services. To not pray, you see, is no laughing matter, for you miss something significant by not making prayer a part of your life. You miss helping our synagogue fulfill its basic function to comfort our mourners, and you miss in our communal effort to celebrate the world at large, the Torah and God, each Shabbat.
Rabbi Hana tells us that in the Talmud, the prophet Bilaam, seeing Israel’s true power and majesty, blesses not only the tents and dwellings, but the streams and rivers. Why are streams and rivers part of the description of Israel? To stress that just as streams and rivers purify, so too does Torah study and prayer purify us. But I would add a second element: Just as streams and rivers are the circulatory system of a geographic region, so too is prayer the circulatory system of the Jewish people. Prayer nourishes us and uplifts the spirit. It allows us to move from station to station as the days fly by, and it allows us to mark our journey through the calendar year, from Rosh Hashana to Shavuot and back again. Our minyanim are the pulse of our institution. Prayer is heart work and each of us must keep our communal heart pumping.
Our liturgy offers multiple reasons for prayer: to express gratitude to God, to praise God, to petition Him– Prayer seeks to establish a connection, a dialogue, with the transcendent force we call God. Prayer affords us different things at different times. It can foster a sense of reflection and perspective. It roots us to our ancestors. At other times it offers us a sense of renewal, recommitment and re-involvement. But most of all, we pray for two reasons: 1) To provide the pulse of our Kehilla Kedosha, our Holy Community. In so doing, we take care of the needs of those who are grieving, provide a format to hear a little Torah and to celebrate our children and fellow congregants; and 2) We provide proof to God that our hearts are still open. A midrash tells us that each of our souls is a God’s candle. When we bob up and down while praying, we are mimicking the flickering flame. Show God you are still flickering, in spite of disappointments and failures, in spite of efforts of enemies to crush us, in spite of old habits, in spite of all our heart’s wrestling. God hears the prayers of a broken heart, but also the happy heart. Keep all lines open and relish the heavenly connection, ushering God’s presence as a part of our minyan.
We are in urgent need. We need more effort from every single member. Many of us resolve, each new year, to exercise on a regular basis. In this new year of 2019, exercise your soul muscle on a regular basis too! Let us catch you praying! This year make it your resolution to attend once or more a week, so that our minyanim will be transformed from challenged to a vibrant pulse.
Minyan takes place each weekday at 8:15 pm, at 7:30 pm the first Friday of each month and 8:00 pm on other Friday evenings, at 9:15 am Shabbat morning, and 9:00am on Sundays Read More