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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TSTI Today Shabbat Shalom March 27, 2020

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Dear Friends,

It has been another week.

It has been another week when medical personnel continued to show us what real heroes look like.

It has been another week when we worried about the health and wellbeing of those we love.

It has been another week when the vast majority of us have continued to adjust to a (temporary) “new normal” that is anything but normal.

But, just as it does each week, Shabbat is on the way. When it arrives we will be reminded, yet again, that no matter what may be going on in our lives and in the world there is always something for which to be grateful.

I am sad that, once again, we will not be able to be in each other’s physical presence to welcome our day of rest. But, just as we have for the past few weeks, that doesn’t mean we cannot …

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TSTI Today for March 24, 2020

 

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Update: TSTI’s Building Closure

Continued connection is what we have strived for as our temple family moves into an unprecedented second week of state-mandated social distancing. Even without the benefit of the physical structure of Temple, we are one congregation and one community.

We have made every effort to bring TSTI to you to bridge the physical distance required to keep this virus at bay. With Zoom gatherings as diverse as Shabbat streaming services, morning coffees with Clergy, Hebrew School, Shabbat songs and blessings, Torah Study and educational programs like Cantor Moses’ recent discussion of Leo Frank, we are delivering the best of Temple directly to you in your home. Continue to check “TSTI Today” for daily updates about programming.

But in addition to keeping members engaged, our priority is to keep our TSTI family safe. For this reason, we have made the decision to continue with our ZOOM …

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My Shabbat Message March 13, 2020

Dear Friends,

As Shabbat approaches I want to begin by thanking all of you for your understanding and support for the decision by our Board of Directors to shut the building effective last night. The current closure is in effect until March 29. At that time we will assess next steps.

Many years ago my teacher and thesis advisor Rabbi Laurence Kushner wrote a book entitled, “Invisible Lines of Connection.” It is an excellent book whose title captures a great truth- we may not see the myriad ways in which we are connected but that does not mean they are not there. That truth has become clearer than ever in recent days. We are connected- not just within our synagogue, not just within our community but, ultimately, all people everywhere are connected one to the next. The irony, of course, is that the current “proof” of our connection also requires …

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Maintaining Community, Being Safe

Dear Friends,

From the start of this crisis we have been doing our best to put in place steps that were prudent but measured. Unfortunately, recent developments over the past 24 hours require a more urgent response.

After meeting with both our Executive Committee and our Board of Trustees this afternoon we have come to the determination that the best option to keep everyone as safe as possible is to close the building effective immediately. This closure will be in place through March 29th at which time we will reassess to determine if we should extend the closure into April.

We hoped to avoid this step but the continued spread of COVID-19, and our concern for community members leave us no choice.

Lifecycle: The building will be open with a small staff on hand for a bat mitzvah this Shabbat. We will make a determination with regard to other lifecycle …

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