Friday, March 30, 2018

Rabbi Schwartz's Reading for Pesach 5778

From the March 30th issue of the Jewish Standard, we are pleased to share Rabbi Schwartz's special reading for Pesach 5778, entitled "In Every Generation":

In every generation/We come out of Egypt.

Let freedom ring.

In every generation/We stand up to Pharaoh.

Let freedom ring.

In every generation/We part the waters.

Let freedom ring.

In every generation/We march toward the Promised Land.

Let freedom ring.

In every generation/We teach our children.

Let freedom ring.

In every generation/Our children teach us.

Let freedom ring.

In every generation/We march for our lives.

Let freedom ring.

In this generation/Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech/We march for our lives.

Let freedom ring.

In this generation/Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland.

We march for our lives.

Let freedom ring.

In this generation/Two hundred sixty five million guns fill our country.

We march for our lives.

Let freedom ring.

In this generation/Ninety seven souls die from gun violence each and every day.

We march for our lives.

Let freedom ring.

In this generation/Young and old, black and white, Jew and gentile… said enough; enough.

Let freedom ring.

*Participants at the Seder are invited to echo the repeating lines.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

We Were Nomads

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

A Message From Our President

Dr. Lance Strate

We Were Nomads

Passover is coming, and with it comes our annual celebration of the exodus from Egypt. We tend to think of it as a liberation from slavery, the first step on a journey to the promised land, with a very significant stopover at Mount Sinai. But we also tend to discount the journey itself, the forty years of wandering in the desert. We may think of it as a punishment for losing faith. Or we may even joke about it, saying that we got lost in the desert because the men refused to ask for directions.

We tend to think of wandering in negative terms, often as "wandering aimlessly," losing our way, being rootless or fickle. Maybe that's because, in the modern world, we tend to be so very goal driven, so fixated on getting from point A to point B, on making progress, proceeding towards a predetermined end.

We lose sight of the fact that wandering can also mean meandering, taking our time for the pure pleasure of it. It can also mean exploring, delighting in the joy of discovery. And it can also mean roaming, traveling from place to place in a deliberate fashion. This last form of wandering is characteristic of the nomadic way of life, the way of life that we associate with the origins of our people, and our faith.

The story of the Jewish people begins with Abraham in the city of Ur, who is commanded by God to leave the city and journey to the land of Canaan to become a nomad. He becomes a shepherd, roaming the land in search of green pastures and the water that sustains them. In other words, Abraham cannot become holy by remaining in the city. He is sanctified through an exodus of his own, and later witnesses how two other cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, have become the sites of sin and corruption, and are destroyed by God.

When periodic drought strikes the land, Jacob and his sons travel down to Egypt, and as we tell the story, they went down to Egypt to sojourn and not to settle. In other words, as nomads, that move was meant to be temporary. But their descendants are enslaved and forced to build cities for Pharaoh, specifically the cities of Pithom and Rameses, according to the Torah.

The exodus then was an escape from Egyptian cities and slave settlements, and a return to nomadic life. And as nomads, the Israelites would not have been wandering aimlessly in the desert, but rather following a circuit in conjunction with the changing seasons. Not a straight line from departure to destination, but making the rounds repeatedly, in harmony with their environment. It is during this period that the words of the Ma Tovu are uttered, classically rendered as, "How goodly are thy tents."

And the story of the return to the promised land begins with Joshua bringing down the walls of the city of Jericho. Jerusalem itself was not built by the Israelites, but rather conquered by King David to serve as the capital of his kingdom, and the site of the Temple built by Solomon. And without discounting the singular importance of Jerusalem, I want to suggest that we recall the lessons we learned from our experience as nomads:

As nomads, we learned that God, or if you prefer, the holy, the divine, or the spiritual dimension of existence, is not confined to any one place. There are no geographical limits to the encounter with the sacred. Transcendence can happen anywhere.

As nomads, we learned that the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line. That travelling in circles is not a bad thing. That the real world has curves, just as we later discovered that the planet is round, just as Albert Einstein later discovered that all of space is curved.

As nomads, we learned that lines and boundaries are creations of frail and fallible human minds, not commandments from God. That walls are meant to be torn down, to be shattered by the rippling resonances of sound waves. That houses and buildings, settlements and cities, and even nations, are not as permanent as they may seem. That what really matters are people, family, community, and beyond, to teach our children diligently, to honor our parents, to love our neighbors, and to love the stranger, for we too once were strangers.

As nomads, we learned that any given place is not all that important, that it is temporary, transitory. That our religion is not so much about space, but rather about time. We can pray anywhere, we can observe Shabbat, the festivals, and the High Holy Days anywhere, what matters is that we observe them according to the calendar, not the map. We learned that to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose.

As nomads, we learned that flexibility is better than fixity and rigidity. That being a seeker and a searcher is better than becoming too settled in our opinions.

As nomads, we learned to live in harmony with our world, and not be overly proud of our own inventions and constructions.

As nomads, we learned to be cautious about our circumstances, not to take things for granted, to know that situations can change suddenly, precipitously, catastrophically. To always keep one bag packed.

As nomads, we learned what it means to be free, what it means to be a people, and what it means to have faith.

This is the legacy we share, together, as a congregation. Wishing you a very wanderful Passover holiday!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Language of Truth

Fresh from yesterday's Jewish Standard, here is an article featuring Marc Salem, who will be performing tomorrow at Congregation Adas Emuno—see our previous post, Marc Salem's Mind Games This Sunday.

The article, entitled The Language of Truth, and written by Jewish Standard editor Joanne Palmer, is subtitled, "Mentalist Marc Salem of New Milford talks about nonverbal speech," and concludes with the following information:
Who: The mentalist Marc Salem

What: Will present “Mind Game”

When: On Sunday, March 11, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Where: At Congregation Adas Emuno, 254 Broad Ave. in Leonia

For more information: Call (201) 592-1712

How much: $10

And here is what the article had to say:


That’s a scam, right?

That’s when somebody’s on stage pretending to read your mind, tell your secrets, maybe embarrass you, all while he’s busy diverting your attention or his assistants are rummaging through your bag, next to you on the floor, or the person whose mind he’s reading is a plant, right? Right?

Well, I don’t know. And I’m not here to tell you one way or another. But I do want to present the case for Marc Salem, mentalist by night, for about 20 years a professor of psychology at such schools as NYU and Mount Saint Vincent (and the holder of a doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of Pennsylvania) by day. (Oh, and also, on other days, for nine years, the director of research at Sesame Street, and directly responsible for Rechov Sumsum, Sesame Street’s Israeli version.)

We’re focusing on Mr. Salem, who lives in New Milford and is the son of a rabbi (and whose given name, Moshe Botwanick, would fit less easily on a theater marquee than his taken name), because he will perform at a benefit for Adas Emuno on Sunday.

According to Mr. Salem (who could be called Dr. but prefers not to be, he said), he has always been interested in nonverbal communication, “because people have a much more difficult time lying nonverbally than verbally. We are not really trained to read nonverbal language, but it is much harder to hide emotion because it literally is written on people’s faces.”

He chose developmental psychology because, he said, “I was always sensitive to other people’s nonverbal cues.” From the time he was a small child, Mr. Salem added, he was able to know things about other people that he thought were entirely obvious, until he realized that no one else could see them. “I wanted to go into psychology because the mind fascinated me,” he said. “It was my playground. I thought that everyone could read it, that it was part of everybody’s makeup.”

What began as intuition he later honed and trained, so now he works with a combination of instinct and decades of experience, he said. It’s not magic; it’s observation and knowledge. It’s also fast talking and fancy but obfuscatory theory, of course, but that’s all part of the show.

And so is the idea of leaving audiences feeling puzzled, but happy, never uncomfortable, never pried into.

Mr. Salem’s shows included a stint off Broadway—to rave if disconcerted reviews—and a still-viewable (Google for it) and honestly jaw-dropping segment with Mike Wallace onstage for 60 Minutes

It’s all a balance.

There is no real conflict between his work as a teacher and as an entertainer, Mr. Salem continued. “Marshall McLuhan,” the mid-20th-century North American philosopher who pioneered media studies, said “Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either,” Mr. Salem said.

Although he’s a writer, as well as a teacher and performer, one thing that he never has done and never will do is counseling, although his credentials would allow him to. Because he can see so deeply into people “I would be too close to people’s pain, and it would hurt me to try to deal with it,” he said. He uses his father as an example; as a pulpit rabbi, at Tel Or in Havertown, suburban Philadelphia, his father, Rabbi Israel Botwinick, counseled congregants, and he worried and grieved with them. As a result, his son said, “My father died too young, because he didn’t know how to build calluses against other people’s pain.” So, he said, he steers clear of avoidable pain. Instead, “I bring joy.”

His shows include tricks like guessing which numbers people are thinking about, or what words; they’re based on an understanding of the sorts of words or numbers people are most likely to guess. Although much of his work is based on visual cues, some of it is purely verbal. For example, on the phone, he said, “Pick a number from one to four.” Almost everyone picks three, he explained, because the sentence that offers the range of numbers — from 1 to (2) 4—omits three. He offers other, similar tricks, which steer the listener clearly but unconsciously in specific directions. It’s not foolproof, but it’s smart.

His work, Mr. Salem said, “is a matter of being sensitive to other people. If everybody learned to be better at nonverbal communication, they’d be better parents, better siblings, better lovers. It’s the one language that we don’t learn, and it’s the one language that carries the most truth.”

And yes, there is a great deal that is Jewish in his work, Mr. Salem added. “A great deal of what I do involves thinking things through. I think I use a talmudic logic.

“The rabbis of old had incredible memories—and so do I. They could memorize page after page of Talmud. It is the written word versus the oral tradition. I focus on both of them very strongly, and I see how they differ from each other.

“I think—and McLuhan taught—that the written word is very different from the oral word. I think that our oral tradition allows laws to be changed in certain ways, and it also creates powerful memories.

“I worry about things like iPads and other electronics, because of the way we rely on them instead of our memories,” he continued. “The Talmud says that each generation will get weaker and weaker,” and he fears that the devices’ external memories make us dependent on them, and let our own internal facilities degenerate. “I am no Luddite, but I do think we must not let that happen,” he said. “The more technology memorizes stuff for us, the less we use our own muscles for memory.

“We are the people of the book, and I think that the written word is the most powerful. I do think that the power of the linear written work goes into your cerebral cortex. What you hear to some extent goes in one ear and out the other. To retain things, you must be skilled in reading.

“I talk about the difference—not to my secular audiences, of course—between the Torah she’be’ketav—the written Torah—and the Torah she’baal peh—the oral Torah. They are both important, but the 10 Commandments are written in stone—they are unchanging—and the Talmud is an oral tradition.

“I am of the belief that the future hasn’t happened yet,” he said. “Therefore we make our own future. The smarter you are, the easier it is to create your own future—but there is also the random element.

“There is a tribe that used to let its cattle wander based on the cracks that developed in the bones they would throw in the fire. The cracks were random—so they never went back to a place they’d already been. So what they thought was predicting the future really was randomness, giving them a map to travel where they’d never been before. Following randomness has certain advantages. It prevents the bias of thought in doing things.

“It’s like a stream. If a rock goes into a stream, it will be diverted. We have to realize that the rocks will be there.”

Confused yet? Marc Salem says many things; some of them are entirely clear, and others are not so clear. But he can read a great deal about you from the way you express your confusion.

So, if you are in mind for a little confusion, and a lot of entertainment, join us tomorrow at 4 PM for a mindblowing performance!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Social Action Spring

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


A Report from Annette DeMarco
Social Action Committee Chairperson


Hello All!

The number of the moment is 183! That is how many items of soup we collected and donated to the Center for Food Action… and during one very, very cold winter! Thank you to all who took part in our "Souper Bowl"!

We are now working with the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey as this organization sponsors its March Mega Food Drive. Please bring non-perishable foods to the vestry room between now and March 19, and place in our Community Purim Baskets. Donations will be brought to the JFNNJ office and from there distributed to local food pantries.

Another chance to help: On Sunday, March 25th, families are being asked to help sort the food collected as well as pack week-end snack packs for children in need. Please go to to register and to find a list of most needed food items. There are no age limitations to participate!

Save the Date: Sunday, May 6

For the third year, our congregation will be part of Family Promise Hike or Bike in Ridgewood. This event raises money for homeless, working families with children. Participants can choose to hike (walk through town) or bike for three miles, or bike for 15 miles. There are lots of family activities plus refreshments. Stay tuned for more information!

Social Action Committee Meeting: Thursday March 15 from 6:30-7:30 PM. New Members Welcome! I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to those who answered our call to support March for Our Lives by making a donation or purchasing merchandise.

acheryl21 at

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Youth Group News Spring 2018

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

Youth Group News from
Youth Group Advisor
Samantha Rosenbloom:

Our next Youth Group event will take place on Sunday March 11 with pottery painting!

April's event will be an “escape room” excursion. As a group, we will be locked into a room, where we will need to solve clues to escape before the time runs out.

samantharosenbloom at

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Spring 2018 Religious School News

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

Religious School News 


Cantor Sandy Horowitz

Religious School Director

The joy and silliness of Purim having just ended, we now look ahead to Passover at the end of this month. As in previous years we will be putting together a school Passover Seder program with student contributions of music, skits and presentations. We need help from parents with food, setup and cleanup
please check out the Parent Volunteer link and sign up if you can help: aa2caafe3-class

The next Family Service on March 23 will be led by our youngest students from Grade 1-2- 3. Come on out and support them as they lead us in songs and prayers, and provide us with their take on the 10 Plagues!

The April 27 Family Service in celebration of Israel’s 70th birthday will include contributions from each class, as they share sets of 7 facts (one for each decade!) on different aspects of Israel’s life and history. This promises to be an inspiring and enjoyable celebration.

But wait, there’s more! Jordana
Marcus is celebrating becoming Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, March 10th. B’nei mitzvah services at Adas Emuno are open to everyone. Our students work hard and we are so proud of them
go Jordana!

Please make a note of these upcoming dates in March and April for our students & families!

Saturday, March 10 

10:00 AM–Bat Mitzvah of Jordana Marcus

Sunday, March 11

Confirmation Class followed by Youth Group activity

Friday, March 23 

7:30 PMShabbat Family Service featuring Grades 1-2-3

Sunday, March 25
Religious School Passover Seder

Sunday, April 1 No School

Friday, April 27 

7:30 PMShabbat Family Service in celebration of Israel’s 70th Birthday

Sunday, April 8
10:30-12 Confirmation Class with Guest Author Joan Arnay Halperin who will discuss her book, My Sister’s Eyes: A Family Chronicle of Rescue and Loss During World War II. Open to the Congregation.

 School Sundays at 9:15 AM Mommy/Daddy ‘n Me!