Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Religious School News

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

Cantor Sandy Horowitz
Religious School Director


The Talent Show was a great success, and a lot of fun! A special thank­ you to everyone who worked so hard in the planning, including our class parents, as well as to those who participated ­ especially those of our students who shared their talents. We’d love to get even greater student participation next year! Lastly, thank you for your support of this event; the primary fundraiser for our school was also a financial success.

By the time you are reading this, our March 1 congregational­and­-school­-wide Purim program will have come and gone. This year we made every effort to include the religious school in the festivities. As I write this, we are planning to have students take part by singing not only traditional Purim songs, but they will also round out the chorus for a couple of the songs in the actual Purim Shpiel. Once that’s over–it will be time to start planning for Passover!

Our final two Family Shabbat services of the year will take place on March 20 (Grade 2­3) and April 24 (Grades K­-1). Won’t you put those dates on your calendar? Our youngest students would be so excited to see their older classmates and other congregants coming out to support them!

Here are some important Religious-­School-related dates to note for March and April: 

Sunday March 1
Purim Program! (during School hours)

Sunday March 15
Tot Mitzvah

Friday March 20
Shabbat Family Service
featuring the Grade 2-­3 students 
Sunday March 29
Creative Seder Program

Sunday April 5
No School–Spring Break

Sunday April 19
Tot Mitzvah

Friday April 24
Shabbat Family Service
featuring Grades K­-1
and a Celebration of Yom Ha’Atzamaut

(Israeli Independence Day)

Confirmation Class Dates:
Sunday March 8 and 22, April 12 and 26


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Social Action for Aphasia

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


A Report from Annette DeMarco
Social Action Committee Chairperson

Aphasia­disorder of the brain affecting communication skills, though not intellect. Caused by head trauma, tumor or, mostly, strokes.

Did you ever have a word "at the tip of my tongue"? Frustrating, right? Ever listen to someone speak but not "get it", or read a paragraph over and over and still wonder what it was saying? People with aphasia have this, pretty much 24/7. They also retain their same levels of intelligence as before the aphasia, doubly frustrating!!

The Adler Aphasia Center in Maywood runs an exceptional program for these folks. The facility is state-­of­-the-­art impressive, and the program gives confidence, self­-esteem and so much more to the people who attend. Not wanting to turn anyone away due to financial situations, the center holds various types of fundraisers. One of these involves the clients making and selling jewelry and gifts, which, by the way, are lovely.

The Social Action Committee is sponsoring a program for this center on Sunday morning, April 19 at 10 AM in the Social Hall. It will begin with a light breakfast, to be followed by a short, informative session, and then a sale of the items (think Tupperware party!).

Won't you please plan to attend? It will be open to the public, so please spread the word.

Hopefully, you will never need this center's assistance, but right now it can use ours. Please go to their website: if you want more information. Board member Marilyn Katz and I took a tour and we were totally amazed at what we saw and learned. And that led us here. 

Thank you so very much to everyone who donated toiletries/cleaning products for our collection for Oelhaf House [see our previous post, Starting 2015 Off With Some Social Action!] as well as to those who gave their time and donations to the victims of the Edgewater fire.

Adas Emuno does it again!

Food collection continues.



acheryl21 at

Monday, March 9, 2015

Congregational Seder

Back by popular demand, our very own Congregation Adas Emuno Community Seder on the second night of Passover. Come join us in celebration of our festival of freedom. You can click on the image of the flyer below to enlarge it, and feel free to print it out, or simply follow the instructions to make an online reservation!

And please note that, because of the rare occurrence of the first night of Pesach on a Friday, April 3rd will be the one Friday night different from all others when we will not be holding Shabbat services at Adas Emuno.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Warming Trend


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

A Message From Our President

Dr. Lance Strate

A Warming Trend

As I write this, we are enjoying the first day in a long time when daytime temperatures have gotten higher than 40°, and this brief respite has not been enough to melt away the mounds of frozen snow and ice that surround us. This has truly been a terribly challenging, difficult winter, and we know that it isn't over yet.

We all have every right to complain about the bitter cold and severe weather. And yet there also is much to be thankful for. For starters, we can give thanks that we don't live in Boston. And on a more serious note, we can give thanks for the fact that the cold will not last much longer, that springtime is coming, sooner or later, in name and in fact. Warmer days are around the corner! 

And even on the coldest nights, our Friday night Shabbat services and Saturday morning Torah study sessions continue to be better attended than their counterparts at much larger shuls. They are the perfect way to warm the heart and soul during the winter season, and all year round. If you're wondering what’s our secret, all I can tell you is, come join us and find out. 

The wonderful warmth of our congregation was on full display back in January during our successful Talent Show fundraiser for our Religious School, which showcased the marvelous skills and abilities of our children and adults alike. Kudos to all who participated, to our dedicated volunteers who organized the event, and to all who turned out to enjoy our performers and support our school.

One of the first signs of spring is the holiday of Purim. And this year was marked by a particularly joyful celebration: a complete Purim service, songfest, and spiel on Sunday morning, March 1st, bringing together shul and school like never before! And if that's not enough, a Purim party featuring an encore performance of the Purim spiel on Wednesday evening, March 4th, complete with food and drink and fun and games!

The Festival of Passover is the season of our celebration of freedom, and also of the season of spring. And this year we plan to bring back our congregational Seder, to be held on the second night of Passover in our social hall.

And there's so much more to look forward to, but what I want to stress is the warmth of our congregation, our intimate and caring little shul on the hill, and the warming trend that we are experiencing, that owes much to our rabbi, Barry Schwartz and our Cantor and Religious School Director Sandy Horowitz, along with all of our volunteers who contribute their time, energy, and resources on behalf of Congregation Adas Emuno.

In the final analysis, everyone is capable of contributing to our warming trend, to some degree or other. Even if each one of us can only add a degree or two, together we can generate enough warmth to withstand the wildest of winter storms. And with all of the warmth that we have been generating, and will continue to in the future, all that's left to say about Adas Emuno is, when you're hot, you're hot! 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Come Celebrate Purim!

Come join in the joyous celebration of our Purim holiday at Congregation Adas Emuno! It's a holiday so nice, we're celebrating twice, first with the whole megillah of a Purim service, songfest, and spiel on Sunday morning, and second with a Purim party on Wednesday evening! You won't want to miss either one of them!

And both on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening, we encourage you to bring boxes of pasta to use as groggers, so that afterwards they can be donated to the Center for Food Action. Purim may be the Jewish counterpart to Mardi Gras, but social action is never far from our minds!

Please note a correction to the schedule for Wednesday evening. We'll be starting a little later, more like 7:30 PM, with pizza, snacks, and beverages. And the encore performance of the Purim spiel, The Schnook of Esther, will begin at 8:30. See you then and there!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Je Suis Charlie?

The latest op-ed in the Jewish Standard by Adas Emuno President Lance Strate appeared in the January 30th issue, and perhaps takes on further resonance in light of the new attacks that occurred in Copenhagen yesterday.  In reference to the brutal acts of terrorism that occurred in Paris on January 7th, and the French and international response, the op-ed is entitled Je Suis Charlie? And it is followed by the subtitle, "It depends on what 'is' is".  And here it "is":

It says much about the age that we live in that so many of us first learned of the terrorist attacks in Paris on January 7th through Twitter, and that the slogan that came to represent much of the international response to the massacre originated as an image tweeted by French artist and music journalist Joachim Roncin, and soon morphed into a hashtag that rose to the top of the day’s trending topics, and has become one of the most popular hashtags in the history of that social network.

I am referring, of course, to Je suis Charlie, or in hashtag form, #jesuischarlie, and its English version, #iamcharlie.

Some followed up on this formula with the variations Je suis Ahmed or Je suis Ahmed Rabet, to acknowledge the Muslim police officer who was so brutally murdered in the attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and as a subtle reminder that the terrorists are not representative of Muslims in general. Others added Je suis Juif, meaning I am Jewish, to recall the fact that four hostages were murdered in a kosher supermarket, in addition to the 12 killed at the offices of the Parisian periodical. (Several of them also were Jewish.) Members of the Jewish community in France and abroad were encouraged by the appearance of Je suis Juif signs and hashtags, especially as the slogan was displayed by some French Muslims, although there has also been some criticism that it was not shared widely enough.

Another variation on Je suis Charlie, coming from the far right in France, was Je suis Charlie Martel. The reference is to Charles Martel, the leader of the Franks and the grandfather of Charlemagne, who introduced the stirrup and with it mounted shock combat (of the sort used by knights in armor on horseback wielding lances). That innovation allowed his outnumbered army to resist an invasion from the Islamic empire’s Umayyad caliphate back in the 8th century. Considered the savior of Christendom and a progenitor of the feudal system that brought order to Europe in the wake of the decline of the Rome’s imperial authority, he was given the cognomen Martel, the French word for hammer, after his victory, following the archetype of Judah Maccabee.

Outrage against the attacks has not been universally shared, however, and some have shown their support of the terrorists with the Twitter hashtag #IamKouachi, in reference to the brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack, while a British member of Parliament tweeted Je suis Palestinian. A less extreme expression of disagreement has been the hashtag #JeNeSuisPasCharlie, meaning, I am not Charlie. This counterslogan has been used to express the view that Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons making fun of the Islamic prophet Muhammad was disrespectful to Muslims, without necessarily condoning the terrorists’ violent response to it. It has been used by news organizations to justify their decision not to republish or display those cartoons. And it also has been invoked as a protest against the fact that so many other acts of violence and bloodshed occurring outside the West have been ignored by journalists and social media participants.

In a New York Times op-ed called I am Not Charlie Hebdo, David Brooks argues that if anyone had tried to publish the content of the satirical newspaper on any U.S. campus today, it would have been accused of engaging in hate speech and shut down by the university’s administration. Moreover, Brooks points out that “it is inaccurate for most of us to claim, Je Suis Charlie Hebdo, or I Am Charlie Hebdo. Most of us don’t actually engage in the sort of deliberately offensive humor that that newspaper specializes in.” While characterizing the magazine as sophomoric, indeed juvenile in its humor, and puerile and insulting, he maintains that ridicule and provocation play an important role in any community, and that healthy societies should be tolerant of all forms of speech. They should not adopt codes of political correctness, as many of our institutions have, he says.

As Brooks suggests, taken literally, Je suis Charlie seems a bit absurd, but of course the slogan is not meant to be taken literally. It is an expression of support and solidarity, no doubt fashioned after President John F. Kennedy’s famous quote, part of a speech delivered in West Berlin in 1963, in response to the building of the Berlin Wall by the Communist government of East Germany: “Ich bin ein Berliner,” meaning, “I am a Berliner.” The ambiguity about what exactly is meant by the verb “to be” is what gives this declaration its powerful effect, but it is that same ambiguity that Brooks calls into question. It is an ambiguity that brings to mind another famous quote from an American president, Bill Clinton: “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” This was said in defense of his earlier statement about Monica Lewinsky: “There’s nothing going on between us.” (That is arguably true if “is” is limited to the present moment and not inclusive of what “was” going on in the past.) In the context of a grand jury investigation, the remark came across as invoking nothing more than a legal technicality, but in fact it reflects one of the most problematic elements of our language.

In the approach known as general semantics, the problems posed by the verb “to be” long have been acknowledged. Simply put, the word “is” tends to imply a relationship of identity, of interchangeability, projecting all of the characteristics of one thing onto another, which is why Brooks objects to the slogan Je suis Charlie. Holding the emotional impact aside, it would be more accurate to say that I sympathize with the staff of Charlie Hebdo and their families, I grieve for the victims of the terrorists attacks, and I unequivocally support freedom of speech and the press. Because we tend to respond to the word “is” as if it means “equals,” as if it means the same thing as “one plus one is two,” some general semanticists have suggested avoiding the verb “to be” altogether, with all tenses and traces of the verb eliminated. While this may seem like an extreme measure, substituting verbs like sympathize, grieve, and support for is, am, and are does result in more accurate statements. It also generally yields better writing, forcing us to use more active verbs. This is not to discount the simple power of the ich bin/je suis/I am quotes, but to understand that they are the exception rather than the rule.

To say that the Kouachi brothers are terrorists is to imply that that is all we need to know about them. We absolutely must condemn them as terrorists, and do whatever is in our power to prevent such acts from occurring again. But we do ourselves a disservice by reducing them down to a simple label and a simple equation, when we desperately need to understand the complexities of such violent activities. In the aftermath of the attacks, the statement that Islam is a religion of peace has been repeated countless times, and while we may applaud the sentiment behind it, it is as misleading as saying that Islam is a religion of violence, as misleading as making similar statements about Judaism, Christianity, or Buddhism. Substituting other verbs, such as preaches and promotes, would be helpful, but general semantics also would recommend dealing with more concrete terms. Islam is an abstract concept (so is Judaism, Christianity, or Buddhism), and it helps to use more concrete terms, to refer to specific individuals and groups, statements and texts, and especially, actions.

Modernity, and with it the establishment of the State of Israel as a Jewish homeland, has led to much agonizing over the question of who is a Jew. And while there are issues we grapple with concerning Jewish identity, to a significant degree, the problem may be in our verbs, not ourselves. The answer to the questions of “Who is a Jew?” and “Who is Charlie?” would depend on what the meaning of “is” is.

It is significant to note that this is a problem that does not exist in the Hebrew language, at least not in the present tense. There are no words for is, am, and are, and the verb lihiyot, “to be,” is conjugated only in the past and future tenses. It is a quality that Hebrew shares with several other languages, including Arabic. While it is far from a cure for our many linguistic maladies, it should serve to point us in the right direction. And it is consistent with Jewish ethics to say that what really matters is not so much what someone is, but what someone does. And that includes standing up for the right of free expression and religious affiliation. And that includes defending the right to live in peace and free from terror.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Remembering Muriel Rukeyser

As a follow-up to our previous post by Adas Emuno Trustee Doris White, Poetry is Alive and Well at Adas Emuno, and with the monthly meeting of our Poetry Garden group coming up this Sunday, February 8th, at 7 PM in our temple social hall (the group meets every 2nd Sunday evening), it seems only appropriate that we take this opportunity to recall the Jewish-American poet, Muriel Rukeyser, who passed away on February 12th, 1980, at the age of 66.

A political activist with a deep commitment to social justice as well as a poet of no small renown, Rukeyser attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx, then Vassar College and Columbia University. In addition to her poetry, she also wrote several plays, including one on Houdini, and published a number of  prose works as well. According to her Wikipedia entry, she is "best known for her poems about equality, feminism, social justice, and Judaism."

According to her entry on,

“She was the first poet that I knew personally," William Meredith once told the Paris Review, “I knew her when I was still an undergraduate. She was a very amazing human being and any traces of honesty in my life come from having seen how beautifully honest she was in administering her life and her poetry without any separation—you couldn’t get a knife between the two things with her. The real influence was her human model of what a poet could be.”

In addition to Meredith, the entry states, "many poets have claimed Rukeyser’s influence on their work, Anne Sexton among them," and another author who sings Rukeyser's praises is Alice Walker, as can be seen from the following video:

As for our Poetry Garden group, here's the link to the original blog post with all of the meeting dates: Poetry Garden. And when you go to that earlier entry, you may notice that the quote we use as a motto of sorts for Poetry Garden is from none other than Muriel Rukeyser.