Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Annual Congregational Meeting

Put this on your calendar!!!

Annual Congregational Meeting 

Thursday, June 16 at 7 PM


Please join us as we hear “state of the congregation” reports from our Rabbi, Cantor, President and Committee Chairs… and elect our new Officers and Board members. 

All temple members are encouraged to attend and give us your suggestions, feedback, etc., etc.! 

Light refreshments will be served!

Monday, May 16, 2016

What's Your Metaphor?

 

From the pages of Kadima, the newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:



A Message From Our President


Dr. Lance Strate








What's Your Metaphor?



What's your metaphor for our congregation? What would you say if I asked you to fill in the blank in the following statement: "Adas Emuno is like…"

Would you say that it's an obligation to fulfill, like paying your taxes? A tradition to honor, out of respect to parents and grandparents? A chore, like doing the laundry, shopping, taking out the trash? A box to check off, like filling out a form?

Would you say that it's like going to work, or going to school? A social activity, like going to a party, or a wedding or bar or bat mitzvah? Or a funeral? An entertainment, like going to the movies, or a show?

What does Adas Emuno mean to you?

And what can Adas Emuno mean to you?

Let me suggest one answer: A source of inspiration.

Inspiration has a spiritual connection, of course. In the past, people believed inspiration came from outside of themselves, from a divine source. The word inspire has Latin roots, the original meaning being to breathe into. You may recall that the Torah describes God's creation of Adam as follows: "God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). In this sense, the opposite of inspire is expire.

For the most part, we don't have to take the meaning of inspire literally nowadays, which means that it actually is a subtle metaphor for anything that we consider to be a breath of fresh air, and a spur to creative thinking. And we certainly can recognize the importance of religion and spirituality for the arts. So much of the history of painting, sculpture, and music is dominated by depictions and expressions of the divine, the transcendent, and spiritual communion. The Torah, Tanach, and Bible is the basis of much of western literature. Theater and dance has its roots in ritual drama.

Thinking of individuals who found inspiration for creative expression through Judaism, here are a few of the many names that might come to mind: J. J. Abrams, Woody Allen, Marc Chagall, Leonard Cohen, E. L. Doctorow, Will Eisner, Nora Ephron, Lillian Hellman, Franz Kafka, Jack Kirby, Stanley Kubrick, Emma Lazarus, Stan Lee, Felix Mendelssohn, Amos Oz, Cynthia Ozick, Phillip Roth, Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, Art Spiegelman, Steven Spielberg, Gertrude Stein, and the list goes on and on.

But inspiration is not limited to those fields of human endeavor that we designate as the arts. There are creative possibilities in all of our activities, an art to bowling, and automotive repair, and accounting, and going to the supermarket. And every activity can benefit from a source of inspiration. This is especially true when it comes to finding solutions to whatever problems may plague us, when we are looking for a source of inspiration for creative problem-solving.

What our congregation offers is a way to step out of the box of everyday life, and into an experience of something different and unbounded. Out of the pressure of rushing here and there and always living in the present moment, and into an experience that is timeless and potentially transcendent. Out of the constant barrage of noise and distraction, and into an experience of quiet meditation and mindfulness. Out of the routines that deaden the mind and dull the senses, and into an experience that can give us a new sense of openness, that can rejuvenate, and elevate.

If you are looking for a source of inspiration, have you tried to find it at Adas Emuno?

And whether you have or have not, what is your metaphor for our congregation? Let us know!




Sunday, May 15, 2016

Spring Awakening

from the pages of Kadima, the newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:





From the desk of …                    
 Rabbi Barry Schwartz
    






SPRING AWAKENING





The signs of spring are everywhere. I never cease to marvel at the rebirth of the Earth, from the flowers and trees to the profusion of new life. We tidy up the garden, move out the plants, and hang up the hummingbird feeders. The hibernating species shake awake and the migratory types wing their way back. And as Jews we celebrate our spring holidays.

By the time you read this, our great spring festival of Pesach will have passed over. Pesach celebrates not only spring awakening (in a nice coincidence it corresponded with Earth Day this year), but the rebirth of our people to freedom. If our biblical ancestors were to drop by they would recognize our holiday celebration with little problem. While the fifteen steps of the seder and the Haggadah have evolved over time, the essential story and symbols have remained unchanged. Passover, as essentially a home holiday, is the most widely observed of the Jewish holidays, by a long shot.

The same cannot be said of the biblical festival that follows “a week of weeks” later-Shavuot. Though it celebrates the first harvest and the momentous giving of the Torah at Sinai on the fiftieth day after the Exodus (and like Pesach was the object of a national pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem) today Shavuot is not well marked in the non-Orthodox community. Yet it is when we read the Ten Commandments and the beautiful Book of Ruth. Our Confirmation Class will uphold that tradition at our service on June 10 (7:30 pm). Celebrate the holiday and support our wonderful teens who dedicate three years after bar/bat mitzvah to this accomplishment.

Our biblical forbears would certainly not recognize two other special days that mark spring in the Jewish calendar, because they commemorate two epochal events of the 20th century-the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel. Yom HaShoah falls this on May 5 (there is a community ceremony in Fair Lawn that evening) and we will include appropriate music and words at our Shabbat evening service on May 6. One week later is Yom Ha’Atzmaut-we gladly celebrate the 68th birthday of modern Israel at our Shabbat evening service on May 13.

The Holocaust and the rebirth of Israel happened within the lifetime of older members of our community. But the passage of decades dims the memory for the generations that follow. There is no substitute for directly hearing from and seeing the eyewitnesses to the tragedy and the triumph. In the same way that I feel sorry that my children did not know my immigrant grandparents, and learn first-hand what it took to leave Eastern Europe and rebuild their lives in America, so we will face the challenge of the Holocaust and Israel’s founding moving from living history for us to “ancient” history for our youth.

As the most successful example of keeping memory alive, perhaps we can take a clue from the Passover seder. What new rituals can we create for the spring holidays that will enlighten and endure? The genius of the Jewish holidays is how they link the cycle of the seasons to the cycle of our history. In this age of environmentalism and globalism, as world citizens, but as bearers of ancient wisdom, there is much to ponder and to celebrate.





Saturday, May 14, 2016

End of Religious School Year Updates

From the pages of Kadima, the Newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:

Religious School News 

     from

Cantor Sandy Horowitz

Religious School Director


As we come to the end of the school year, we bid farewell to our teacher, Aliza Neuer, who has done such a wonderful job teaching Judaics to grades K-1 and 2-3 this year. We thank her for her hard work and her enthusiasm, as she brought exciting projects and lots of fun learning to her classes every single week. She will be truly missed.

As we say goodbye, the school committee has already begun thinking about finding a new teacher for next year–if you know of anyone who might be interested and available to teach our youngest students on Sunday mornings, please be in touch with me or with one of the co-chairs of the Religious School Committee, Michael Raskin or Elka Oliver.

We also say “thank you” to all of our teachers who have continued to enrich the Jewish lives of our students this year. Thank you also to the madrichim who help out in so many ways, and to our various substitute teachers who have stepped in during the year.

Most especially, thank you to all the Religious School parents for making the commitment to bring your children to school each Sunday, and to the students themselves who come with their creativity, their insights and their enthusiasm.

The school year may be ending, but there are still several exciting events coming up during May and June. We will be celebrating the bar mitzvah of Dylan Priblo, David Goldstein and Zach Arnold–please see below for exact date information. Also, on June 10, we will have our annual (and very special) Confirmation service, as we give a Confirmation send-off to 10th graders, Ava Fisher and Emma Schuller, and honor all the post-b'nei mitzvah teens who have been studying with the Rabbi all year long. It promises to be a great evening!


 

DATES TO REMEMBER:

Saturday, May 7
10:00 AM: Bar Mitzvah of Dylan Priblo

Saturday, May 21
10:00 AM: Bar Mitzvah of David Goldstein

Sunday, May 22
9:00 AM Final Session of Religious School


Saturday, June 4
10:00 AM: Bar Mitzvah of Zachary Arnold

Thursday, June 9
7:00 PM: Religious School Committee Meeting

Friday, June 10
7:30 PM Shabbat Service with Confirmation Ceremony

Confirmation Class Sessions:
May 1, 8, 15



Friday, May 13, 2016

Social Action Spring and Summer

From the pages of Kadima, the newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:


 

A Report from Annette DeMarco
Social Action Committee Chairperson




 



Through May 22: we are collecting "left over", unopened, non-perishable, kosher for Passover foods to be given to Helping Hands Food Pantry in Teaneck. Please leave donations in the basket in the vestry.

June, July, August: Child-friendly food collection for the summer months when students are not in school to receive breakfasts or lunches. Please leave in the vestry room of the temple.

Last but not least! A special thank you to all who donated to our Community Purim Basket Food Drive! Over seven full bags of food were delivered from Adas Emuno to the office of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey as part of their Mega Food Drive. Good for us!

Sunday, May 15
Blood Drive in the Social Hall from 10 AM to 2:30 PM.
Must be 16 or over to participate and accompanied by parent or guardian if under age 18. Photo ID required.
Remember to eat and drink before participating.
Walk-ins welcomed or you may pre-register at leoniablooddrive at gmail.com
Coordinated by Emma Schuller

Another collection! Spring and summer clothing in good condition. Please leave in the back of the social hall. This drive runs through the end of May. Donations go to the Council of Jewish Women's thrift shop in Bergenfield.


****NEW PROGRAM****

Sunday, May 22
Pre-Memorial Day Event

We will be going to Mount Moriah Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery in Fairview on Fairview Avenue (better known as Dan Kelly's Hill in days gone by) to place American flags on the graves of service men and women. We will not only provide the flags but will also provide a pizza lunch, in the social hall, beforehand, for anyone going. IMPORTANT: Any student attending must have parents with them at the luncheon as well as at the cemetery. The schedule is as follows:
 
12:00 noon: Pizza lunch in the social hall, directly following religious school dismissal
12:30-12:45: Leave for cemetery
1:00-1:15: Arrive at cemetery

Please email me at acheryl21 at gmail.com by Tuesday, May 17th if you plan on joining us for the luncheon and trip, or just the trip. Thank you!

Regards to all,

Annette ­ Social Action Committee Chairperson

acheryl21 at gmail.com


Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Angel of Death and the Choice of Life

Just in time for Passover, here is the latest Jewish Standard op-ed from Adas Emuno president Lance Strate, published in the April 22nd edition of the weekly. Appearing under the title of The Angel of Death and the Choice of Life, we are pleased to be able to share it here on our congregational blog:


Passover is a celebration of freedom, a holiday marking the defining moment in Jewish history, our liberation from bondage.

Passover represents the birth of a nation. The clan of Jacob, just an extended family, becomes a multitude, the children of Israel.

And the story takes us through a revolution against an unjust monarch and an escape from tyranny, to the framing of a constitution at Sinai. No wonder that the holiday resonates so powerfully here in the United States. The Jewish story of slavery’s abolition even includes a civil war of sorts, with the confederacy that turns to worship the golden calf.

The powerful injunction to remember that we were slaves in Egypt stands in sharp contrast to the mythologies of other peoples of the ancient world, which cast them as the descendants of gods or otherwise of supernatural origin. Passover establishes the foundation of Jewish ethics—not simply to value freedom, but in the words of Micah, “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” You can’t get much more humble than being a slave.

Birth is a common theme for holidays that incorporate the rites of spring, as does Passover, with the rebirth of nature symbolized by the green vegetable and the egg on the Seder plate. The other side of birth is death, a topic we don’t like to think much about. But death, unlike taxes, is unavoidable for each and every one of us, whether we acknowledge its existence or not. The very name of the holiday Passover, or Pesach, refers to the Angel of Death passing over the dwellings of the Israelites.

The escape from servitude only occurs after the escape from death. First there must be life. Only then can there be hope, and the potential for freedom. But what is left unsaid is that the escape from death is only a temporary reprieve. Does this imply that the same might be true of the escape from bondage? Certainly, there is no permanent liberation from the inevitability of death.

The Jewish-American anthropologist Ernest Becker, author of the 1974 book The Denial of Death, argued that we human beings are the only forms of life on earth that are aware of our own mortality, and that awareness represents a crushing blow to our self-esteem. The function of human culture is to provide some form of compensation, through beliefs in various kinds of immortality, and by providing us with heroic roles to play in the lives that we lead. Of course, when it comes to the denial of death, religious beliefs have played a major role, especially in the very specific conception of an afterlife that many provide.

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Passover stands out from all of the other traditional holidays on the Jewish calendar in its direct confrontation with death. By way of contrast, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we pray that we may be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life, with barely a mention of life’s opposite. On Passover, however, death is personified in the guise of an angel. Since an angel literally means a messenger, this implies that death is a message from God, the same God who exiled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to keep them from eating from the Tree of Life and becoming immortal.

The message is one of choice. In Deuteronomy (30:19) God tells us, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you may live.” While we do not choose to be born or to die, there are choices still to be made. The Pharaoh chooses death time and time again, beginning with his order to kill every newborn Hebrew male, continuing with his refusal to let the Israelites go, resulting in the death of the Egyptian firstborn. The Pharaoh’s choice of death culminates in the decision to pursue the escaping Israelites, resulting in the drowning of the Egyptians army.

Pharaoh’s choices come as no surprise, insofar as he represents an ancient cult of death. We may marvel at the pyramids and Sphinx as wonders of the ancient world, but we also should recall that they were built with the blood of forced laborers, and that they are enormous tombs carrying the embalmed remains of the Pharaoh along with those who served him in life and were sacrificed so that they might follow him in death.

While the Pharaoh chooses death, the Israelites must make an active decision to choose life. When it comes to the tenth plague, the Angel of Death will not discriminate automatically in favor of the Israelites, will not spare anyone by virtue of their descent from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or because they are circumcised, or because they worship Adonai. It is not Jewish blood that saves the Israelites, but the blood of the sacrificial lamb. This requires, first of all, being a part of the community. If you were not, how would you learn about what had to be done? It also requires choosing to follow the instructions.

We may have replaced the sign made with lamb’s blood with mezuzahs long ago, but the lesson remains: choose life, that you may live.

The Angel of Death who executes the tenth plague is no Adversary. It is not the equivalent of the Christian Satan or Lucifer, nor is it a lord of the underworld along the lines of the Greek god Hades. The personification of death quite naturally is a frightening figure. Its depiction as a creeping darkness in the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille film The Ten Commandments, usually broadcast on television at this time of year, has been the stuff of childhood nightmares for six decades now.

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I recall being disturbed, in my youth, by the image of this angel in a Haggadah that illustrated a Passover song, Chad Gadya. That the “Holy One, Blessed be He,” finally “smote the Angel of Death, who slew the slaughterer, who killed the ox…” clearly communicated the hierarchy, but this didn’t change the fact that both the slaughterer and the ox ended up dead.

Which brings me back to the point that Passover is a holiday that confronts death rather than denying it, and offers the alternative—to choose life. The Angel of Death is neither an object of worship nor the embodiment of evil. The personification of death is frightening, without a doubt, but as God’s messenger, it is at the same time an Angel of Justice, under certain circumstances an Angel of Mercy, and without a doubt an Angel of Humility.

Ernest Becker eventually came to the conclusion that in our contemporary culture, we have come to place too much emphasis on enhancing self-esteem. Humility serves as a counterweight to that tendency, the humility that comes from remembering that we were slaves, and the humility that comes from remembering that our lives are finite.

Passover is a celebration of redemption and renewal, but above all it is a celebration of life, whose meaning and value can only be understood through its contrast with death. So as we drink our four cups of wine at the Seder, let us also remember to say L’chaim! To life!