Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Scenes from the Purim Spiel

One of our traditions at Congregation Adas Emuno is celebrating the holiday of Purim with our annual musical Purim Spiel.  This year, we celebrated Purim on February 27th with a Spiel based on the Broadway hit, Les Misérables.  Here are some photos of our marvelous (not miserable) Adas Emuno players, led and directed by our Cantor Shapiro:

Thanks to our intrepid Purim photographer, Alan Spector, for making these snapshots available for us to enjoy!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Merrill Steinberg's Confirmation Speech

Merrill Steinberg was another member of our religious school's Confirmation class who took part in our Shavuot ceremony on May 18th (see our previous posts, Preparing for Shavuot and Confirmation 2010).  Below, we see him preparing for the Torah reading prior to the start of our Shavuot service:

And here is his confirmation speech, which he generously made available to us:

Confirmation Speech

Merrill Steinberg

Until I took confirmation I had always regarded Judaism as only a religion. I never really felt very Jewish because I never was very religious. But confirmation changed all this. After 3 years of analyzing how Judaism applies to everyday situations, I realized that Judaism is more than just a religion, it is a set of guidelines and laws describing how to have a peaceful and just society. Without this realization I would never have had the respect for Judaism that I have now and I would have never considered myself Jewish in the way that I do now, not as a follower of the religion, but as a Jewish citizen.

And one more look at Merrill just prior to the start of Shavuot:

Congratulations to Merrill and the Steinberg family from the entire Adas Emuno Community!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ben Johannesson's Confirmation Speech

Ben Johannesson was one of four students of our Adas Emuno Religious School who took part in our Shavuot celebration and Confirmation ceremony this past May 18th (as noted in our last two posts, Preparing for Shavuot and Confirmation 2010). 

And he was kind enough to share with us the Confirmation Speech he delivered that evening:

Confirmation Speech

Ben Johannesson

After wandering the desert for forty years Moses went to the top of mount Sinai and talked to G-d. G-d chose Moses and the Israelites to give the Ten Commandments to. G-d said to Moses, “For thou art a holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be His own treasure, out of all peoples that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6).  G-d chose the Jewish people to follow the Ten Commandments and his word, he said, “(18) And today the LORD has affirmed that you are His special people as He promised you, that you are to keep all His commands, (19) that He will put you far above all the nations He has made in praise, fame, and glory, and that you will be a holy people to the LORD your God as He promised” (Deut. 26:18-19). The true meaning of  “the chosen people” is not clearly determined, G-d left it for us.  As it is for us to determine in our own personal way, it can have a different meaning to anyone who reads the words of G-d. Throughout Confirmation we have learned about Judaism, Israel, the Torah, and G-d and after being given all this knowledge it is up to us to determine what being chosen means. I would like to thank Jennifer and The Cantor for helping and teaching us through out our years here.

And here's another look at Ben, as he prepares for his Torah reading prior to the Shavuot service.

Congratulations to Ben Johannesson, and his family, from the entire Adas Emuno community!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Confirmation 2010

On Tuesday, May 18th, four members of the Confirmation class from Adas Emuno's religious school took part in the Shavuot Festival celebration, reading from the Torah and from their own prepared speeches.  Here they are, posing with Cantor Shaprio on the right, and Religious School Director Jennifer Katz-Goldstein on the left, prior to the start of the service.

The Confirmands, from left to right, are Benjamin Johannesson, Merrill Steinberg, Deanna Morin, and Benjamin Strate.  We certainly are proud of each and every one of them!

And here now are some snapshots taken during the preparation for the Confirmation ceremony:

And finally, special thanks to our photographer, Barbara Strate! 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Preparing for Shavuot

From the pages of Kadima, the Newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno, here is Cantor Shapiro's column concerning the Festival of Shavuot last month:

Shavuot is almost here. We’ll be celebrating this festival in the synagogue on Tuesday, May 18th, as five of our young people have concluded the Confirmation course and will be Confirmed during this service.

On Shavuot, we remember that the Eternal One gave the Torah to our people. During the service in the synagogue, like Jews all over the world, we will read the Ten Commandments.

As Jews, of course, the ten are not enough, and we are given a whopping 613 commandments. Although we may interpret them differently, the Ten Commandments are shared by the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In this way the Ten Commandments point toward some of our similarities with our sister religions. Another set of rules that we have are called the Noahide laws. These are seven laws that are listed in the Talmud and reflect the principles of the Ten Commandments. But the Noahide laws point toward more universalist concepts in Judaism. The Talmud says that any non-Jew who lives his or her life according to the Noahide laws has a place in the world to come.

The seven laws listed by the Tosefta and the Talmud are: Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before God; Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder; Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal; Prohibition of Sexual promiscuity; Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme God's name; Dietary Law: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive; Requirement to have just Laws: Set up a governing body of law.

These different groups of laws, rules and commandments show that while Judaism acknowledges the chosen nature of the Jewish people, traditional Judaism also recognizes that other peoples and religions have a special place as well. This Shavout, may we recognize the beauty of our own traditions while continuing in the path of our ancestors who found ways to honor and welcome people of other faiths.


And here now is a photograph of Cantor Shapiro preparing, prior to the start of our Shavuot service this past May, with several of our Confirmation students in the background.


Cantor Shapiro was joined on the bimah by our outstanding Religious School Director, Jennifer Katz-Goldstein, seen here preparing for the Torah reading before our Shavuot service, while surrounded by our glowing, young Confirmands.

Look for more about this year's Confirmation class in future blog posts!