Friday, November 29, 2013

So, How Was Your Thanksgivukkah?

So, how was your Thanksgivukkah? What did you do to celebrate the double holiday? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with us by leaving a comment. And whether you do or not, here are a few more videos on this rare concurrence that, according to some estimates, may not happen again for some 75,000 years.

Here's a report from our friends at Fox News on Happy Thanksgivukkah: Jewish families celebrate Hanukkah with Thanksgiving:

And here's Happy 'Thanksgivukkah'! Immigrants Celebrate in Tel Aviv from Israel National TV:

Of course, every year during the eight days of Hanukkah we celebrate at least one Shabbat as well, so tonight we say Shabbat Shalom along with our Happy Hanukkah!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

So, how are you celebrating this double holiday of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving? Whatever combination of turkey and menorah, latkes and cranberries, sweet potatoes and sufganiyot you may be enjoying, here are some videos to put you in the holidays spirit!

First, a report from Bloomberg on the youthful creation of a menurky (menorah in the shape of a turkey):

And from a bissel business to a bit of music, here's "Oils" - A Thanksgivukkah Miracle (Royals song parody):

And how about The Thanksgivukkah Song from Buzzfeed? Here it is:

And what about Six13 - The Thanksgivukkah Anthem? Take a listen:

Well, however you will be observing these twin celebrations, we wish you all a very happy Thanksgivukkah!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Time to Burn

Here's a new song in celebration of Hanukkah, posted by The Maccabeats over on YouTube:

So, let's start burning those candles, seven more nights to go after tonight! 

And on behalf of Congregation Adas Emuno, we wish you all the happiest of Hanukkahs, as well as a festive Thanksgiving tomorrow night!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Celebrating Our Torah Restoration

From the pages of Kadima, the newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno (literally this time, this page was so nice, we thought we'd share it here in its entirety):

As we prepare for the holidays of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, it is only fitting that we take a moment to look back towards Simchat Torah and the wonderful culmination of this amazing Mitzvah Project. 

At the start of this holiday season, we might well recall that Simchat Torah marks the end of the eight-day Sukkot celebration, that Hanukkah began as a delayed observance of the Sukkot festival, and that this year we indeed have much to be thankful for!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Organized By Law

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

A Message From Our President

Dr. Lance Strate

Organized By Law

Moses is sometimes referred to as The Lawgiver, one of the first to appear in the ancient world, but there were others as well. Some of the earlier examples of codified law include the Code of Ur-Nammu, the king of Ur, the birthplace of our patriarch Abraham; the Laws of Eshnunna, a city-state to the north of Ur; and the famous Code of Hammurabi, the Amorite (a Semitic tribe) king who ruled over the Babylonian Empire in Mesopotamia (that included the city-states of Ur and Eshnunna). Some later examples include Draco of Athens (whose harsh laws gave us the term draconian), Lycurgus of Sparta, and the Byzantine Roman Emperor Justinian I, whose codification of Roman law forms the basis of the civil law system used in many western societies (but not the United States, where we follow common law, a system originating in England, but resembling Talmudic law in many ways).

The Mosaic code consists of the Ten Commandments, which are only the first ten of a total of 613 laws and commandments contained within the Five Books of Moses, which is why Torah is often translated as The Law. Our religious tradition attributes Mosaic Law to God, who wrote down the Law on the first set of tablets that Moses brought down with him from Mount Sinai, and then dictated the second set after Moses shattered the first. Historians, however, believe that the system of law found in the Torah was derived, in part, from the earlier Semitic codes of Mesopotamia, and that the laws it contains evolved over the course of several centuries before it was finally canonized. In addition to the written law of the Torah, Jewish law includes the oral Torah, the interpretative oral tradition that was later codified as the Talmud. And in addition to Talmudic law, there has been further elaboration in the form of Rabbinic law. Taken as a whole, Biblical law, Talmudic law, and Rabbinic law are known as Halakha, the Hebrew word for walk or go (paralleling the Chinese concept of Tao or Dao, meaning the way or path).

For our ancestors in ancient Israel, the Torah was their constitution, providing them with guidance not only about how to worship God, but about how to govern their affairs. And for most of the history of the Diaspora, Halkha was the constitution for Jewish communities as they were allowed to function autonomously under the sovereignty of other nations. This changed with the coming of the Enlightenment and emancipation, as Jews in many European lands were granted equal status as citizens, and nowhere more so than in the New World, in our American republic. And we may indeed take pride in the fact that our founding fathers, in framing the Constitution of the United States, looked to the Torah and the tradition of Jewish law as one of their practical models, as well as a source of inspiration.

And this brings me to my main point, that it is not just peoples and nations and religions that adopt constitutions, but also modern organizations, such as our own—indeed, it is pretty much a requirement for any nonprofit or not-for-profit entity. Did you know that Adas Emuno has a set of By-Laws? I'm guessing that you probably didn't. And they haven't been much of a concern for us, as our congregation has been fortunate in being free from the politics that plague the governance of many other temples and in not experiencing any major conflicts on our Board or among our membership for many, many years.

But it is part of our responsibility, for our Officers, Trustees, and membership, to review our By-Laws periodically, to make sure that we are acting in concert with them, and if not, to either adjust our policies and procedures, or to amend our constitution. The Torah, as a sacred text, cannot be amended, which is why it was necessary to add the interpretations and supplemental rulings of Talmudic and Rabbinic Law. But other documents, such as our nation's constitution and our congregation's by-laws, contain clauses that allow us to make changes to them, to correct and improve and adjust these systems of law to better serve people's needs and adapt to changing conditions.

Over the past year our Board, led by Fred Friedman and Norman Rosen, conducted a review of our By-Laws, and have come up with a set of changes that are needed to bring them in line with current practice, and otherwise better serve the interests of our congregation. The Board has voted to approve the amended By-Laws and put them forward to the membership for approval. To this end, we will schedule a special meeting of the congregation to discuss and vote on the changes. We'll let you know about the date in a separate mailing, and include the proposed changes to the By-Laws so you'll be able to vote on them fully informed. And according to our present By-Laws, "Amendments to the By-Laws shall require an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present and voting" (a provision that is not one we are looking to change). The By-Laws also specify that a quorum consisting of twenty percent of eligible voting members is required, so I want to make a special appeal to you to attend this meeting, and if you cannot, please give your proxy to someone who will be attending.

I don't think there is anything especially controversial in the proposed changes, and that's because we decided not to include any changes in one area that is controversial, which has to do with the membership status and privileges of non-Jewish spouses and family members. What we would like to do at our special meeting, in addition to approving the relatively non-controversial changes, is to open a dialogue on this more controversial topic, and get your thoughts and opinions on whether non-Jewish family members should have voting rights, the right to serve as an officer, trustee, or committee member, and other such issues. The question of whether to make any changes to our existing, longstanding policy in this area, and if so, what changes to make, is an important one, and requires serious discussion and deliberation. I invite you to beginning thinking about it, keep an open mind, and come ready to speak your mind and listen to what others have to say when we hold our special meeting. Based on the feedback we get at that time, we will consider additional amendment to the constitution that can be considered at our annual congregational meeting in June.

As Jews, we trace our history back to Abraham entering into a covenant with God, and covenant is a term that means contract or legally binding agreement. And we tell the story of how the covenant was completed when Moses the Lawgiver gave us the Torah, The Law, our Tree of Life. And as a congregation, we are organized according to our By-Laws, and as a Jewish congregation we owe it to ourselves and to those who will follow in our footsteps to keep them in good working order in the same way that we maintain our buildings and grounds, our religious school and our rituals and services.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Social Action is Ongoing

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

A Report from Annette DeMarco
Social Action Committee Chairperson

Social action is ongoing. It takes volunteers to make it happen, to make it work, to help those who need help. I want to thank the volunteers, members of Adas Emuno, for being involved. Beginning with Erev Yom Kippur, so many of you "volunteered" to donate food to the Center for Food Action. The small room outside of the sanctuary was overflowing! Thank you! 

And a big toda raba to Norm Rosen, who printed up copies of the food wish list, helped to staple them onto the bags and made arrangements to have the food items picked up from the temple. Food items continue to be collected. The eyeglasses we collected were delivered to the Lions of Leonia. Thank you to Bara Capote for hand delivering them! (This collection is now closed.) 

We are currently collecting warm winter clothing for adults, which will be split between the Womens' Center of Englewood and the HUC Soup Kitchen/Clothing Closet in New York. Donations will be accepted through November. Thank you to Richard Alicchio for his help on Mitzvah Day sorting through items already brought in. And thank you to Maranda Raskin who stopped in to help sort books and toys. 

Our Mitzvah Day project is a co-sponsorship with the Adas Emuno Religious School. Books and toys collected will be donated to a school in Elizabeth. They will be wrapped by students and parents at a special family program. Marilyn Katz and Lauren Roland, from the Social Action Committee, as well as the parent in charge from the religious school, took shifts in the social hall to accept donations being dropped off. Books and toys will continue to be collected through November 24th, as well as tape and wrapping paper. Soda can tabs are still being collected for donation to the Ronald McDonald House.

Please watch for more details about our cooking and serving for the Hackensack Shelter on Sunday, December 23rd.

L’Shalom, Annette <acheryl21 at>

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Jew and the Pew

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

From the desk of …                    
 Rabbi Barry Schwartz


You may recall that at the High Holy Days I shared with you concerns about the future of the American Jewish community. In one sermon (letter-to-my-children) in particular, I quoted quite a few statistics. The numbers were more than a decade old, but the best I had. Well now we have much more recent and comprehensive findings. You may have heard that in October the highly respected Pew Research Center issued a major new survey of our community. The results are eye-opening indeed. To say they are disturbing is an understatement; they confirm my worst fears and apprehensions.

Here, to my mind, are the key findings:

  • The percentage of US adults who say they are Jewish has declined in half since the 1950’s (meaning we are now less than 2% of the population and getting smaller). 

  • Even among those who call themselves Jews, a fifth say that have no religious connection at all (which rises to a third among those under 30). 

  • Intermarriage now stands at an all-time high of 58% for the Jewish community as a whole, and an astounding 71% for non-orthodox Jews. 

  • More than two-thirds of those families will not raise their children with Jewish education. 

  • Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue (and those who do have, by and large, very low participation rates.) 

Is there any good news to be found in the survey? I would have to honestly say for us non-orthodox Jews that constitute 90% of our community, the answer is… no. Let’s be brave enough to admit that this portrait is devastating. We are in free fall. I know that you can argue that Jewish history is not about the numbers, but when we are a small community to begin with, and our numbers and involvement are plummeting, we do need to worry about whether our vital core will remain large enough to sustain us. As I pointed out at the Holidays, many a great Jewish community has disappeared before in history (although never from the self-inflicted wound of assimilation).

So now you are asking: is there anything we can do about it? I’m still waiting for our community leaders to cease their denials and evasions, to stop spinning their replies to make it look not-so-bad for their particular denominations, and to eschew their head-in-the sands approach for truly creative and radical action. I’m still waiting for that inspiring wisdom. In the meantime I have some thoughts of my own, and I will share them in subsequent columns.

In the meantime, I’d like to hear your reactions to the above. Am I too negative? Am I too judgmental? Am I missing something? After all, is there a more important conversation than the future of our children and our community?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Anti-Semitism and Social Media

On the Shabbat service held on November 8th, Congregation Adas Emuno featured a special program commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, which is generally considered the first major event of the Holocaust. What follows is a response to the program from congregant Ludwik Kowalski:

Two things impressed me during this evening's (11/8/2013) Shabbat service. One was Holocaust survivor Kurt Roberg's presentation commemorating the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. 

Another was Rabbi Schwartz's reference to a new Jewish Publication Society publication entitled Hatemail. The book presents picture postcards—yesterday's social media—which were widely used to promote anti-Semitism.

The link below will show you how today's social media are being used for the same purpose: 

Three Poisonous Documents

You will see translations of three highly anti-Semitic documents found on Polish websites. I hope they will be used by some sociologists and students.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Join Us For Some Jazz On Saturday Evening

Come join us this Saturday evening, November 16, at 7 PM, when we jazz up Congregation Adas Emuno with a group of world-class musicians, as we welcome back Eugene Marlow's Heritage Ensemble. 

It's a great way to get geared up for the Hanukkah holiday!

And don't forget the delicious dessert bar! 

First we will delight your ears, and then 
after we will delight your taste buds! 

You can order tickets via PayPal via the Donate button over on the left. Just include your name and note that it is for the Heritage Ensemble concert. Or you can pay at the door.

It's an evening not to be missed!

So don't!