Friday, October 15, 2010

It's Time to Say Good Shabbos

I thought I'd share with you a song that I like a great deal, "It's Time to Say Good Shabbos," by Abie Rotenberg, which appears on his album Journeys Vol. 1.  When my son was still a preschooler, I used to drive him over to the JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly every morning, and we'd listen to the JM in the AM radio program on WFMU, and every Friday morning they'd play that song (my son called it "the hammer song").  So, here it is, with a lovely video accompanying it, courtesy of on syntax291 on YouTube:

The lyrics to this song can be found on the Zemerl website, and here they are for your convenience:

The sun is going down, it's shining through the trees. 

Another week's gone by, become a memory. 

So throw away your hammer, there's nothing left to do. 

Go on home and find the gift that's waiting there for you.

It's time to say "good shabbos" 'cause all your work is done. 

gonna spend a a day together with the holy one 

Say a special blesing on a cup filled with wine 

Man and his Creator, it's a very special time.
Your Candles will be burning, to fill your home with light 

Singing songs of shabbos, well into the night 

so throw away the hammer, there's nothing left to do 

go on home and find the gift that's waiting there for you

It's time to say good shabbos 

'cause all your work is done 

Gonna spend the day together with the holy one 

Say a special blessing on a cup filled with wine 

Man and his Creator, it's a very special time.
You can spend time with your family, you'll study and you'll pray 

Why not wait 'till after shabbos 

oh, those nails won't run away 

oh, so throw away that hammer 

there's nothing left to do. 

Go on home and find the gift that's waiting there for you.

 And, of course, wishing you a Good Shabbos!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

To God's Ears

In a post on July 19, Cantor Shapiro Selected for Vatican Concert in November,  we reported that the spiritual leader of Congregation Adas Emuno, Cantor Kerith Spencer-Shapiro, was one of 20 Americans Reform Jewish Cantors chosen to give a concert promoting Catholic-Jewish dialogue in the Vatican in Rome next month.  Here now is a short video about that upcoming event:

And here is the description accompanying the video over on Vimeo:

“To God’s Ears” is the journey of twenty Reform Jewish Cantors from the United States to perform a concert in an ancient Roman Basilica, just miles away from the Vatican. The Concert will take place on November 16, 2010.

The Jewish Cantors will sing healing songs from Liturgical and Biblical verses in one of the Catholic Church’s most ancient buildings. This sacred concert is an expression by the Jewish Cantors to the Catholic Church acknowledging the past while forgiving and forging vibrantly and melodically into the future. These Jewish Cantors will sing from their mouths “To God’s Ears”. This is a 501(c)(3)non-profit Documentary film, For more information please contact Allan McBride 323 650 3900 ext 303

The performance will truly be nothing short of divine!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Shabbat Shalom!

Courtesy of our friends at Jewish Treats, and the National Jewish Outreach Program on Youtube, here is a cool little video called, How Do You Say Shabbat Shalom?

Anyway you say it, it's great to say Shabbat Shalom!   Try it tonight, services start at 7:30 PM at Congregation Adas Emuno!

Monday, October 4, 2010

An Appeal for the Children

Yom Kippur Children's Service Appeal

from Michael Raskin, Trustee
Congregation Adas Emuno
Leonia, New Jersey
Yom Kippur
September 18, 2010

The Board asked me to do something that's never been done before, which is present the appeal during the children's service.  When I reminded the Cantor of this Thursday night, she said, "oh, that's a great idea, but I didn't know you were doing this. "  Then she said "dude, you have 60 seconds! After that, you'll lose your audience." Well, the speech I had prepared for the adult service is more than 60 seconds;  I hadn't prepared two speeches, so I had to quickly come up with something.

Well, what can you say in 60 seconds about a topic of such great importance without coming off as crass and lame?  Well, not much.  The Cantor said, "hey write a song!  Kids like songs!"  Well, I don't write songs, and if I did I wouldn't be singing it to you. So, instead I came up with a rhyme.  Here goes. Hope it's not too crass or lame.

Don't be a schnoorer, 
don't be a schlemiel; 
C'mon parents 
support the appeal!

On Rosh Hashanah 
we give apples and honey; 
today it's Yom Kippur, 
and we really need money.

We promise you 
we won't waste a cent! 
Give what you can; 
It WILL make a dent!

Explain to your kids, 
this is necessary to do;  
and if they ask why? 
Well, it's like the Cantor says:
"Because you're a Jew!" 

This is the deal; 
Please support the appeal.

Kids, when you get home, ask your parents what the man with the thing on his leg was talking about. Parents, explain it to your kids. You brought them here today so that they learn something. You want to instill Jewish values, and that's great.  But attending services is only part of it.  The appeal is just as important.  One is incomplete without the other. 

 If you're still listening, I thank you for doing so.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Time to Mensch Up

Yom Kippur Appeal

from Michael Raskin, Trustee
Congregation Adas Emuno
Leonia, New Jersey
Yom Kippur
September 18, 2010

When I was first asked to present the appeal, my first reaction was amusement.  You see, when I was a kid attending services, during the appeal, my friends and I would sit way in the back and use the appeal as an opportunity to make fun of the guy presenting the appeal.  Now, I'm that guy.

After the feeling of amusement wore off, fear set in. What do I say to you people?  What goes into an appeal? How do I do this? I've never done this?  The Cantor got wind of this and said "Raskin, quit your kvetching, you'll do fine!" Well, I took comfort in her confidence as I often do and the fear subsided.  It morphed into something else, which is where I'm at now and that's a feeling of honor and privilege.  So, I feel honored and privileged to be able to speak to you about such important matters as this appeal.

So, we're all in synagogue, together.  Some of you, this is the only time of the year you'll be here. Others, you're here with more frequency.  It doesn't matter to me.  What matters is that you've chosen to be here. And, I think you chose this congregation in particular because you recognize the unique special qualities this place possesses.  This place is not like a lot of other synagogogues.  As I was thinking about what makes this place special and why it deserves your support, I came across an article in the newspaper about the never-ending debate as to the "What is a Jew?" or "Who is a Jew?" that is taking place in Israel and in this country as well.  That debate always makes me mad.   I don't accept some Rabbi's definition as who gets to call themselves a Jew.  Here, the face of Judaism has a distinct and important look and I like the way it looks and I think you do as well.  This town needs Adas Emuno.  Bergen County Judaism, indeed World Judaism needs places like Adas Emuno.

We live in a world gone mad.  Extemists, under the guise of religion doing terrible things. And they seem to have an endless supply of recruits and money.  Some people turn away from religion as a result of this.  I say there's a different choice.  Turn to places like here. Rather than simply recognize that some evil is done under the name of religion, take action against this.  Supporting the appeal is a concrete act.  I'm not saying you'll save the world by supporting the appeal, but, in a small, but important way you'll be putting your money where your mouth is. It's also putting your money where your heart is, because in your heart, you know this is the right thing to do.

Another example of why this congregation deserves your support can be found right here  on this bimah.  First, our artists.  Fran is not here today but Beth is.  Wow.  I don't know if I've ever wanted to stand up and applaud at services before, but last night at Kol Nidre I did.  They are amazing artists and they chose us. They didn't have to. They could have chosen to be elsewhere, but they recognized the special qualities of this place.  So support the appeal; it's like applauding our artists.

Jennifer Katz-Goldstein is not here today.  Some of you know her. She runs the Hebrew school and she does a superb job.  I was here for the children's service and it was quite a sight when the Cantor asked all the kids to come up on the bimah.  It was  really impressive seeing the stream of kids heading up there.  Jennifer's great work contributes to that.  Many of us are concerned about our legacy. Well, this congregation is creating a beautiful legacy and you should feel proud to support us.

Then we have the cantor. She's our Derek Jeter!  Some of you may know, but she is making history.  A small group of cantors have been invited to the Vatican to perform for the Pope.  That's never happened before. She is an amazing representative of this congregation and she has chosen to display her talents for us.  We are fortunate she has chosen to do so.

She is at the forefront of this kind of interfaith dialogue and work. If there's any hope for this world, it's through actions such as the Cantor's and Adas Emuno.

And then we have our board. Among their skills  are an amazing eye for talent.  They found the Cantor when she was an unknown.  They knew she would be a star.  Now, she's not just nationally known, she's internationally known.  The board are the best scouts.  She was like a walk-on, undrafted and they grabbed her.  You know, we're a small team here. We're not the Yankees. We're more like the Oakland As.  We don't have a large budget like the Yankees.  They seem to be able to write endless large checks.  We can't.  We have to be careful with our money.  This board knows how to stretch a dollar beyond all recognition.  Your generosity is not wasted by this board.  This board knows how to balance a budget.  If we could send this board down to Washington DC and fire congress, this board would fix the country's deficit in 6 months.

We'll debate for hours on whether to spend money on a particular item or not.  We know that in this recession, it is especially important to be smart with the congregation's money.  They've been doing this since before the recession, too. 

All of us have been hit by the recession.  Some more than others.  It's especially important to contribute now because some of us can't.

Speaking of the board, I've been on the board a little over a year now.  If you had asked me 2 years ago if I was going to be on the board now, I'd have said "what are you nuts?!" If you had asked me 2 years ago if I would be delivering this appeal, I would have said "are you crazy, are you high?"  But, life is often about doing something you didn't expect to do. I didn't expect to be doing this.  But, I listened to someone and here I am doing it.  And, I'm  a better person for  doing it. For doing something I didn't intend to do.  Some of you are not sure whether you will contribute to the appeal.  Some are sure you won't.  Well, I ask you to consider doing something you didn't expect to do.  I guarantee you, you won't regret it.  You won't have buyers' remorse tomorrow. You won't wake up and say "darn, why did I listen to that guy?" I think instead you'll feel glad you did.

And, don't do this for "us," do it for yourselves, because "you" are "us."  As I was thinking about this idea,  "us" is "you," I was reminded of the words of a great Talmudic scholar.  Here's what he had to say about this.  "I am he, as you are he, and you are me, and we are all together."  When he wasn't studying Talmud, he was playing in a rock and roll band that achieved a little success; his name is John Lennon and he played in a band called the Beatles.

If I haven't given you enough reasons to support the appeal, come up with your own reasons, but please support us.  I think you'll feel like a mensch and it is time to mensch up.  To those who have contributed year after year, we thank you.  To those who have not, well, it's a new year.  Thank you.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Many Simchas Tonight

Shabbat services begin at 6:30 tonight as we also celebrate the holiday of Simchat Torah, the new academic year for the Adas Emuno Religious School, and welcome our new students!

And once more, we look forward to our guests, Yale Strom and Hot Pstromi:

That's Yale Strom on violin, Elizabeth Schwartz singing. and Lou Fanucchi on accordian performing Avram Goldfadn's "Rozhinkes Mit Mandln."

And here they are performing "Shpilt Mir Op Dem Naye Sher," a traditional Yiddish piece:

Chag Sameach, and hope to see you there tonight!