Sunday, August 31, 2014

Amazing Israeli A Cappella

Another video circulating on social media features the Israeli a cappella group, The Voca People:

Here's the write-up from YouTube:

The Voca People is an international vocal theater performance combining vocal sounds and an acapella singing with the art of beat-box. WWW.VOCA-PEOPLE.COM Artistic Director: Lior Kalfo Music Director: Shai Fishman Producers: Revital & Lior Kalfo. Performers: Eyal Cohen, Oded Goldstein, Liraz Rahmin, Adi Cesare, Adi Kozlovsky,, Naama Levi, Boaz Ben David, Inon Ben David Video Photographer: Shlomi Albo, video editing: Peleg Netanel, Light design: Roy Milo

We think they're pretty amazing! How about you?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The IDF Choir Performing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" in Hebrew

Maybe you've seen it, it's been all over the internet and social media lately. This recording made by the official choir of the Israeli Defense Forces is five years old, but as moving and haunting today as it was then. And many are suggesting that it's the best version of the song that was written by Leonard Cohen, and recorded by a multitude of artists—there are over 300 known recorded versions according to Wikipedia!  Or maybe it's 301? Anyway, is this version better than all the rest? You decide!

Whatever the verdict, I think we can all agree that it's a great rendition of what Rolling Stone magazine called one of the greatest songs of all time.

Leonard Cohen will turn 80 next month, and will celebrate with the release of his 13th studio album, entitled Popular Problems. In addition to being a songwriter and recording artist, Cohen is a widely respected literary figure, as a poet and a novelist. And not surprising, he is especially popular both in his native Canada, and in Israel, where he has performed many times.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Come Join Our New Tot Mitzvah Program!

Announcing our new Adas Emuno Religious School program for children of pre-school age:

The program is free, so spread the word!


Friday, August 22, 2014

Poetry Garden

On the success of our first few gatherings in the Adas Emuno garden, we decided to make our poetry readings a regularly scheduled monthly event. Our next Poetry in the Garden will be this Sunday, August 24th, at 7 PM. Then, starting in September, we'll be meeting on the second Sunday of each month. Here's a summary:

We're calling the event Poetry Garden even though we'll only meet in the garden when weather permits. Otherwise, we'll have the readings in our social hall. And in October, we'll do Poetry in the Sukkah! Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Neighborhood Bully

In our previous post, Maximum Restraint, we shared a recent music video by Bob Dylan's son-in-law, Peter Himmelman, which makes a strong statement in support of Israel, in response to the recent conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. And as pointed out by one of our readers, Himmelman's song was meant as an updated sequel to Bob Dylan's own pro-Israel anthem of 1983, entitled "Neighborhood Bully" (the title is meant to be taken sarcastically, as can be seen by the lyrics):

You can also listen to the track on Bob Dylan's official site, where they also have provided the lyrics:

Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
His enemies say he’s on their land
They got him outnumbered about a million to one
He got no place to escape to, no place to run
He’s the neighborhood bully

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive
He’s criticized and condemned for being alive
He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin
He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in
He’s the neighborhood bully

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land
He’s wandered the earth an exiled man
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn
He’s always on trial for just being born
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad
The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him
’Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac
He’s the neighborhood bully

He got no allies to really speak of
What he gets he must pay for, he don’t get it out of love
He buys obsolete weapons and he won’t be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side
He’s the neighborhood bully
Well, he’s surrounded by pacifists who all want peace
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease
Now, they wouldn’t hurt a fly. To hurt one they would weep
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep
He’s the neighborhood bully

Every empire that’s enslaved him is gone
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon
He’s made a garden of paradise in the desert sand
In bed with nobody, under no one’s command
He’s the neighborhood bully

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health
He’s the neighborhood bully

What’s anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin’, they say. He just likes to cause war
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed
He’s the neighborhood bully

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers? Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill
Running out the clock, time standing still
Neighborhood bully

We of course recognize there is a diversity of viewpoints on recent events, what else would you expect from the Jewish people?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Maximum Restraint

Bob Dylan's son-in-law, Peter Himmelman, has released a new song in support of Israel, entitled "Maximum Restraint" that makes a very strong statement, and whatever our stance on the current conflict with Hamas, we all can appreciate his passion and concern. The recording features Himmelman on guitar and vocals, Al Wolovitch on bass, Greg Herzenach on guitar, and Jimi Englund on drums, and here is the accompanying video:

And here are the lyrics:

Rockets raining down from Gaza, they can tear a man to shreds
Just imagine what they can do to babies sleeping in their beds

Close to 3000 comin in so far, on our cities and our towns
Obama looks confused, John Kerry wears a perpetual frown

When someone comes to kill you
In the middle of the night
Don’t try to defend yourself

Don’t use an ounce of might
Just sit there quietly and try hard not to faint
As the world calls out for–maximum restraint

They’re shooting grads and quassams, from hospitals, mosques and schools
When they photograph their dead and dying Hamas just sits and drools

Another photo op to take, take straight to CNN
they paint Israel as the aggressor–and then it all begins again

When someone comes to kill you
In the middle of the night
Don’t try to defend yourself
Don’t use an ounce of might
Just sit there quietly and try hard not to faint
As the world calls out for–maximum restraint

Even France is getting the picture, Canada sure does too
Time to take the gloves off, time this sh-- is through

But the White House wants a cease fire, they wanna hand Hamas a win
Not only is that insane, it constitutes a sin

When someone comes to kill you
In the middle of the night
Don’t try to defend yourself
Don’t use an ounce of might
Just sit there quietly and try hard not to faint
As the world calls out for–maximum restraint

We gave them back Gaza and they started their missile attacks
Then they went cryin to the UN when Israel hit them back
Too few Jews have died, there must be something wrong
Israel must be cheating, it’s not fair that they’re so strong

When someone comes to kill you
In the middle of the night
Don’t try to defend yourself
Don’t use an ounce of might
Just sit there quietly and try hard not to faint
As the world calls out for–maximum restraint

A tough message that you may or may not agree with, but we all can join together to pray for peace for Israel, and her neighbors, and all over the world.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Join Us for a Family Meet and Greet!

Join us this coming Sunday, August 17th, from 10 AM to Noon, for a family meet and greet, on behalf of Congregation Adas Emuno and our Religious School. This will be an opportunity for families to meet with our clergy and educators, and members of the congregation, enjoy some ice cream and waffles, and take part in some kid-oriented activities.

Spread the word, and help us spread the joy!

Sunday, August 10, 2014


The August 1st issue of the Jewish Standard included another op-ed piece by Adas Emuno president Lance Strate. This one was entitled Reflecting on Reflection, and carried the subtitle, "Jewish life needs—and provides—an opportunity to slow down, think, and soul-search."

You can read it online on the Standard's site by clicking on the title in the preceding paragraph, or read it right here on our congregational blog:

One of the personal challenges we all face here and now, in 21st century America, is finding a time and a place for reflection. 
In the last century, it was said that no one has had a complete thought since the invention of the telephone, a device that we brought into our homes so that we could be interrupted by the outside world at any hour of the day or night. How quaint—and how naïve—that seems today, now that we carry our phones around with us wherever we go, and are continually bombarded by a variety of email and text messages, alerts, apps to play with, and yes, even actual phone calls. There seems to be no room in our busy schedules to simply sit and think, no escape from the deluge of information, interaction, and entertainment made available at our fingertips, the habitually twitching digits of this digital age.
Thinking, in and of itself, is not unique to our species, but human beings have developed a unique set of tools for thought that sets us apart from other forms of life.
First and foremost is language. Much of what we call thinking consists of talking to ourselves silently, carrying on an inner dialogue or monologue. Notice that for the most part, we do not think by somehow imagining that we are writing or typing, or reading our own words on a page or screen. Language is a set of sounds that convey meaning, and for tens of thousands of years—which is to say for most of our history as a species—human beings survived without the aid of the written word. And somewhere along the line, we learned how to internalize speech in the form of thought.
Compared to the spoken word, writing is a relatively recent development, dating back only about 5,500 years. Its purpose was to record speech in a durable form. Before writing, both speech and thought were fleeting, ephemeral, subject to the vagaries of memory. And while we should not discount the power of collective memory, writing gave language a permanence that we had never known before. Writing also made it possible to step back from our words, to see them as fixed signs, available for study.
In other words, writing gave us new tools for thought, allowing us to fix language in place, allowing our words to become the object of prolonged contemplation. Writing recorded the speech and the thoughts of others, allowing readers to view and review their statements and arguments. And writing gave us a way to step outside of our own thinking processes, to observe our thoughts from the outside.
Simply put, writing gave us a mirror for the mind. And in doing so, the written word made possible our capacity for reflection.
That capacity is the subject of an extended essay by Ellen Rose, a professor of education at the University of New Brunswick, which was published in book form, titled On Reflection: An Essay on Technology, Education, and the Status of Thought in the Twenty-First Century. In considering the meaning of the word “reflection,” Dr. Rose relates, “when I close my eyes and try to picture reflection, I immediately envision someone sitting in a book-lined room, reading or pondering silently.” She concludes that the essence of reflection is “deep, sustained thought for which the necessary pre-conditions are solitude and slowness.” Dr. Rose rightly argues that reflection is in decline—has been for some time now—because of our many technological innovations, particularly electronic media.

The decline of reflection is a cause for concern among thoughtful people everywhere, but it ought to be viewed as particularly alarming in regard to the future of the Jewish people. Our religion, tradition, and culture are based on the written word, on the Hebrew aleph-bet and the study of sacred texts, on Torah, Tanach, Talmud. Our rite of passage from childhood to adulthood, the bar or bat mitzvah, is a literacy test. Our houses of worship also are houses of learning, our synagogues also are schools.
It is worth recalling that one of the goals of Nazism was to wipe out the capacity for reflection, and not simply in the service of totalitarian domination. Consider the following observation on the part of historian Elizabeth Eisenstein in Divine Art, Infernal Machine: The Reception of Printing in the West from First Impressions to the Sense of an Ending:
"Anti-Semitic stereotypes attributed a soft, flabby, and sedentary lifestyle to the bookish Jew, in contrast to the masculine, muscular Aryan. Observers in 1933 witnessed the book-burnings of works by Jews and other “decadent” authors, along with the elimination of the same works from libraries and bookshops. The elimination of Jewish books served as a prelude to measures in the next decade aimed at eliminating the Jews themselves."

The problem we face today is not the elimination of books, but their growing irrelevance to our lives. Could the disappearance of the quiet time we need for reading and for thinking, for the solitude and slowness that forms the basis of deep, sustained thought, possibly be a prelude for a more serious threat to Jewish survival, as a culture or even as a people?
For Dr. Rose, the best hope for the future lies with education. But we also can turn to another opportunity to claim a time and space for reflection, in Jewish worship services of any stream, Orthodox or Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist. Prayer is a form of thought, an exercise in ways of thinking that differ from our everyday thought patterns. And prayer provides an opportunity for profound forms of soul searching, serious introspection, contemplation, and meditation. If we are to reclaim our capacity for reflection, and in doing so safeguard what is essential to our tradition and culture, we will need both our schools and our shuls.

For the earlier op-eds, see our previous posts, Jewish Stereotypes on TV and Jewish Movie Marvels.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Magic Carpet Ride

In case you haven't been by the temple in a while, back on July 3rd a new carpet was installed in our sanctuary, a project that was long overdue. Here are some images taken from that day:

Many thanks to Adas Emuno Treasurer and Buildings and Grounds Committee Chair, Michael Fishbein, for taking the photographs, sharing them with us, and overseeing the carpet installation.