Shabbat January 20th, 2017

Dear Friends-

As Shabbat arrives this evening our nation will have entered a new era. No matter where one sits on the political and social spectrum I do believe today is a day when we see the strength of our nation. The peaceful transfer of power is one of the hallmarks of our great nation and is worthy of appreciation and respect. And while I hope the spirit of national unity extends beyond today, at least for today we have been able to see those with vastly differing perspectives standing together and celebrating our country’s democracy. We will see that democracy in action tomorrow as well, as hundreds of thousands of Americans make their voices heard as they call for respect for all people regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic standing. 

Etched on the cornerstone of our middle building are words from the prophet Isaiah: “My house …

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Of Hospital Gowns and Hebrew

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Dear Friends,

In this week’s Torah portion, Miketz, the very reason Joseph needed to be in Egypt in the first place becomes clear. Pharaoh has dreams that no one is able to interpret. Joseph is brought from the prison. He is not only able to interpret Pharoah’s dreams but, based upon those dreams, he puts a plan in place and turns that plan into reality. During the seven years of abundance he stores up as much food as possible so that, when the seven lean years arrive, he and the rest of the society are ready.

Vision and tenacity- those are the qualities Joseph relied upon. They are the same qualities that explain why Am Yisrael Chai- the People of Israel Live!

As the final Shabbat of 2016 approaches I am writing to you from the warmth and comfort of my home here in South Orange. Raina and I were …

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SOMA Resettlement – A New Chance to Add Light to the World 

From the chairs of the Deuteronomy 10:19 Resettlement Project

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, Congregation Beth El, and Oheb Shalom Congregation are joining together to resettle a refugee family in our community. We are excited to announce that Church World Services has identified a Syrian family in need of our support and we are expecting a mid-January arrival. We need to quickly arrange housing and so much more before we can make this happen!

Thank you so much to all who have contributed so far! We have already raised an impressive $16K towards our goal. Please consider donating before the end of the year and sharing our fundraising page with your friends on social media. As an added incentive, we have a donor willing to match the next $1,500 raised to help us meet our end of year fundraising goals. Click here to donate on our gofundme page.

We are …

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On Donald Trump’s Appearance at AIPAC Policy Conference 2016


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Once again the AIPAC Policy Conference is garnering a great deal of attention. As I, along with over 30 TSTI members, prepare to head to Washington DC as PC Delegates, the fact that Republican front runner Donald Trump is scheduled to speak has become an issue of significant discussion and debate. Earlier this week the Reform Movement released a statement about his campaign as well as his appearance at Policy Conference.  On the one hand, it stated,

The Reform Jewish Movement has always worked very closely with AIPAC. We respect completely its decision to invite all the viable candidates for president to speak at its upcoming Policy Conference. By inviting the candidates to speak, AIPAC does not support or oppose their candidacies, nor does it condone or commend their policies. AIPAC has, as it must, a singular focus: the U.S./Israel relationship. AIPAC’s intent – and its responsibility – is to

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TSTI in Israel December 2016- Join Us

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Our congregational trip to Israel next fall is in the planning stages. We already have some great interest and are hoping to get even more. Seeing Israel with your temple family is an amazing way to experience the Holy Land. Being able to share as one or more of our young people become Bar/Bat Mitzvah only makes the experience more powerful.

Once again Doron Harel will be our tour guide. But Doron is more than a tour guide. He is an educator, a passionate teacher and a dear friend. And, this year, my wife Raina- who headed Hillel’s Birthright program for three years- is planning the itinerary with Doron. That translates to a TSTI Israel Experience like no other.

If you have any interest in possibly joining us please let Sunny know in the temple office.

Here’s what the current draft itinerary looks like.

TSTI Trip to Israel December 21st2016- January 1st

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Central Conference of American Rabbis: Supreme Court Decision One Step Toward Recognizing We Are All Made in God’s Image

  

CCAR calls decision affording marriage rights to same-sex couples a significant moral step towards a more equal country

New York, N.Y. – June 26 2015 – The Central Conference of American Rabbis, the official rabbinic leadership organization of the Reform Judaism movement, applauds the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which determined that the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to license marriages between two individuals of the same sex. CCAR signed an amicus brief in support of marriage equality in the case, alongside many other religious organizations and faith leaders.

“As Jews, we believe we are all formed in God’s image,” said CCAR Chief Executive Steve Fox. “This compels us to extend and recognize the same rights to everyone in our community, including individuals who identify as straight, gay, lesbian, or transgender. For many years, Reform Judaism rabbis have called for equal rights for all members of our …

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A Moment of Unity: 5 Ingredients to a Good Deal

by Rabbi Daniel Cohen
and
Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner

This week marks the one-year anniversary (yahrtzeit) of the kidnapping and gruesome murders of three young boys in Israel.

David-Seth: I attended the funeral for the boys, who were buried side by side on a small hill in the town of Moddi’in – center geographically to the homes of the three families.

In the sweltering heat, 12,000 people gathered to pay respects to boys that most had never met. Perhaps a handful of the 12,000 assembled knew the deceased’s name 18 days previous. We were religious and secular, Jews and Gentiles, politicians and taxi drivers, men and women gathered in a rare moment of unity and grief.

The Head of School for two of the boys eulogized his students. His remarks still inspire me: “Two Jews. Three opinions. One heart.” When the going gets tough, indeed we are one heart. One …

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Please Join Me AThis Afternoon… Along With Clergy Of All Faiths…

  

Please join me at the South Orange train station on Sloan Street today at 5:30 PM. We will gather with menbers of our local commujity for a vigil of solidarity led by members of the South Orange/Maplewood Clergy Association in the aftermath of the violence in South Carolina earlier this week.

The murder of nine worshippers at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina was a brutal act of hatred and racism. It must be denounced and opposed by people of good faith from every corner of our community and with every fiber of our being. There is power when we band together. There is hope when we share our vision for creating a world of equality and kindness.

Let us come together before Shabbat begins to express outrage, to pray that goodness and tolerance prevail in our country and to recommit ourselves to doing all we …

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Central Conference of American Rabbis Condemns Attack on South Carolina Church

 

CCAR Condemns Attack on South Carolina Church Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) is shocked and horrified to learn of the tragic murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. As clergy whose job it is to gather people in the study of sacred scripture, we are appalled that the desecration of nine human lives could occur in such a holy setting. Our sympathies extend to all the victims, and especially to our partner in clergy, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney.

Earlier in same day that this hate crime was perpetrated, our leadership had gathered for a board meeting during which we passed our resolution affirming our commitment to work for Racial Equality. In the aftermath of the events in Charleston–and on top of the injustices in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, Baltimore, and beyond– we are even more fully dedicated to the …

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Rabbi Cohen TSTI Annual Meeting 2015 

 

What an incredible honor it is to stand here before you during our TSTI Annual Meeting for the 22nd time. I have always known what a privilege it is to serve this sacred community. This year I am especially grateful for the opportunity to be part of the TSTI Family.

There is a Rosh Hashanah teaching that explains why the shofar is the appropriate symbol for the new year. No matter how much you practice and prepare to blow the shofar, this teaching explains, anything can and often does happen when you actually go to sound it. Similarly, no matter how thoughtfully you prepare for the new year, once it begins to unfold, anything can and often does happen. One must, it concludes, be prepared to address whatever may come your way.

That has, to a certain degree, been the nature of this year. As we always do, we …

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