Shiva Asar B'Tammuz – July 9
by Rabbi Ian Silverman
This commemorative fast day, beginning at first light, recalls the siege of Jerusalem’s city walls and the last days before the fall of the city, both in the conquests of Babylon (586 BCE) and Rome (70 CE). It would be three weeks before Jerusalem fell and was razed, with many murdered and exiled. The seventeenth of Tammuz also marks the day that Moses came back with the Ten Commandments, and seeing the Israelites worshiping and reveling before a golden calf, smashed the tablets. The day then reminds us of both Torah and community shattered. The Mishnah and the Babylonian Talmud are not clear about all the other bad events happening in the first or second Temple period, but they include the first time that an idol was put up in the Temple, and the daily offering discontinued.
Tisha B’Av (Wednesday evening, July 29 through July 30 this year) is a full fast day, beginning at sundown and ending at starlight the next day. There are various reasons that the Temple fell, say our sages. The first Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians and the second by the Romans, both world empires at the time. However, our rabbis attributed internal reasons to the defeat as well. Idol worship is the reason the first Temple was destroyed. Sinat hinam or “needless hatred” (pre-judging people) is often the reason given for the second destruction and exile. Talmud Shabbat 119 gives some additional reasons. Torah study and prayer were abandoned for hedonist paths. Jewish education of children was neglected. The important and the less important in society were turned upside down. No one was ashamed or scandalized by the acts of one’s neighbors. No one rebuked his fellow for violations and omissions of the Torah commandments.
Suffice it to say that our rabbis could have simply left it that we were destroyed by two very powerful empires that attacked us until we succumbed. But our sages were concerned not to leave it there, but to internalize our failures and seek self-improvement, as a corporate entity and as individuals. The take-away from this orientation is that we can learn something about our shortcomings and continually progress and grow. Today in our COVID-19 era, that is an important message. We might be wise to accept the gravity of the situation, and accept that a force more powerful than we are now is a reality. But we also should look at this time of crisis as an opportunity for our own internal reflections and for growth and change. We should also strive to see, with more clarity, the truest blessings and priorities in our lives. Self-improvement, as a take away, will be a source of struggle for certain. But it also is a source of hope. May the period of plague, destruction, and exile of the past continue to teach us as well.
Read the restrictions during the "Three Weeks" from Tammuz 17 to Av 9 HERE. Read More
Rabbi Silverman has authored an article in Zeramim: An Online Journal of Applied Jewish Thought, vol. IV:issue 3–Spring-Summer 2020/5780. You can read it HERE.
View current news articles, commentary, videos and more having an impact on Jewish culture, politics and religion at Rabbi Silverman's Sites to See
Please help keep the minyan and Shabbat services strong. Be aware that Zoom continues unabated for now, for our weekday evening minyan, and for Sunday morning and evening. We have a fast day (Tammuz 17) on the horizon coming up soon on Thurs. July 9th, and a full fast day, Tisha B’Av, which starts before sundown on Weds. Eve. July 29th and lasting through Thurs. July 30th at starlight. Our Tisha B’Av service times will be: Evening service on Wednesday, July 29th at 8:15 pm and 9:00 am on Thursday, July 30th.
A reprise, with some adjustments, for our COVID-19 era. (With apologies to Gershwin and Heyward):
Summer time and the living is easy
Fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high
But that don’t mean-- you shouldn’t daven
So push yourselves baby—please come by!
Summer time and the living is easy
Makin a minyan is sometimes one shy
So that means, you can Zoom in to rescue,
So push yourselves landsmen– don’t make us cry
Summer time, and the living is easy
Golfs a schwitz, and your score is a scream
Why run, on the hot tennis court pavement?
So daven here baby, on Friday night’s stream.
Shabbat mornings, are for those with resistance
Our shul is open, now, to those who will try
Follow rules, of mask at a distance--
And make a nice minyan– for your rabbi.
Summer time, being lonely ain’t easy!
Here rabbi reads Torah; the Hazzan he croons.
The service is casual, so come as you pleasy
If you prefer, join with Zoom.
We really miss you, as we go into summer Read More
We miss our kehilah, we cannot lie,
not seeing your faces, it’s really a bummer--
so add to our numbers, the limit’s the sky.
With Pesah coming up, it's never too early to start thinking about seders. So I've been asked to offer up my chicken soup recipe, but the truth is that I can't give it to you–and not because it's top secret–but rather, I don't exactly use a recipe. Sure the ingredients are mostly the same: water, chicken, vegetables, spices, etc. But the truth is it varies: sometimes I use chicken thighs, sometimes I use gizzards. In fact, sometimes I've even used turkey necks for my "chicken" soup. I always try to use celery, carrots, onion and dill, but often I try to add parsley or parsnips, occasionally a turnip. This time, on Mary's suggestion, I added thyme, a lovely addition. But there are still some key tips and tricks I can give you to improve your chicken soup, no matter which recipe you use:
1. Don't cook the soup the same day you serve it. Soup is ALWAYS better a day later, when the ingredients have had an opportunity to mix and mingle. Waiting a day or even two can make all the difference between a good soup and a GREAT soup.
2. Brown the chicken before putting it in the soup. Sure, if you're in a rush, you can toss the chicken in a pot of water, but by browning the chicken in the pot before adding the water, you add an immense amount of aroma and browning flavors that will intensify your soup and bring it to the next level.
3. Sauté the vegetables as well, while you're at it. While not quite as impactful as cooking the chicken, you can make the vegetable flavors stand out more. Often I will do the chicken first, then remove the chicken and cook some of the vegetables in the chicken fat, and then add back in the chicken and the vegetables.
4. Skim the soup to eliminate extra fat, etc. Especially when using chicken wings, you often have to deal with feathers, and those things don't dissolve in the soup but float to the top, so you can skim that off along with any extra fat.
5. Know your audience. Some people prefer clear soups, and so you might want to wrap ingredients in cheesecloth, while others don't mind "stuff" in their soup. Some actually prefer it! Some people like throwing in thin egg noodles, or making kneidels/matzoh balls. But if you want to know about how to make those, you'll have to ask Libby, the Kneidel Maidel herself. She even as a song about it! Read More
I am honored and excited to begin my first term as ENJC’s President for 2020-2021. Thank you very much for the confidence you have placed in me, and in your new Board of Directors. Rest assured that we will work tirelessly toward having an excellent and healthy year as we face the challenges of COVID-19 together.
On behalf of the entire congregation and ENJC family, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our Immediate Past President, Frank Brecher. As you know, this was Frank’s second term serving as Congregation President. His tireless effort and strong leadership during these past two years, including the onset of the pandemic, were exemplary. I would like to personally thank Frank for making my past two years as his Executive Vice President both challenging and meaningful. A hearty Yasher Koach to Frank, and the entire Brecher family, who have been so graciously understanding of his commitment to us all!
I would also like to extend a warm thank you to the ENJC Reopening Committee. The Committee was formed in June, and continues its pursuit of creating and maintaining the physical configuration and procedures necessary to keep our congregants as safe as possible, as we open for Shabbos services. The committee is comprised of: Rabbi Ian Silverman, Hazzan Steven Walvick, VP of Ritual Ed Isaac, Executive VP Allen Berman, Immediate Past President Frank Brecher, VP of Building Administration Karen Tyll, Trustee Dr. Linda Mermelstein and me. I would also like to thank honorary member, Yossie Mermelstein, who along with his wife Linda, implemented the safe-distance seating configuration in the combined Sanctuary/Ballroom. On June 27th, 2020, we held our first in-person services, which went very smoothly. It was truly wonderful to be able to attend services with fellow congregants for the first time since March! We will continue the weekly Shabbat sign-up process moving forward. If we are able to get a Minyan, we will open the Sanctuary. If not, services will be conducted by Rabbi and Hazzan via Zoom with ceremonial readings of the Torah and Haftorah portions.
Finally, we have been working hard to update the High Holiday membership package to reflect the new reality of COVID-19. The package will be mailed the week of July 7th, 2020.
I ask that you please read all of the included documents carefully, as they have been modified from previous years. I would also ask that you return your completed package as early as possible in order to allow the Board the time necessary to thoroughly complete its preparations.
Wishing you all a very happy and healthy Summer! Read More