Monday, January 11, 2016

Winter Social Action Update

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


A Report from Annette DeMarco
Social Action Committee Chairperson


Our WINTER CLOTHING DRIVE is up and running! Please bring clothing to the back of the social hall. We are collecting all sizes, from infant wear through adult sizes, in new or gently used condition. Oh, please do not include hangers. The donations are being brought to the Bergenfield Thrift Shop, which is run by the Council of Jewish Women... and they don't take hangers... who knew? The clothing will be collected through Sunday, January 17.

Why should the NFL have all the fun? So, Adas Emuno is getting in on the act and we're going to sponsor our very own SOUPER BOWL!! From now through Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 7), we will be collecting SOUP for the
Center for Food Action. It's just in time for the cold weather and it's the perfect comfort food! Please, then, pick up a can or a box of soup or soup mix whenever you do a food shop and bring to the small room at the entrance of the sanctuary. If each family brings two soup items, we can help to make a whole lot of people feel mmm­mmm warm, from the inside, out! (Note: please bag all items so we can transport easily. Thank you!)

Food donations that have been left at the temple were delivered to the
Center for Food Action, in time for the holidays. The CFA director, volunteers, and workers thanked us profusely for the bags of food, toiletries, etc. I pass their words to you, along with my own todah rabah. Our regular food collection is ongoing.

As we begin the new year, I wholeheartedly want to thank everyone who has supported the Social Action Committee's programs. Sometimes we ask for a lot and this congregation always comes through. You are amazing, wonderful, generous people. Wishing you all a new year filled with “good stuff”. With special regards, Annette.

Social Action Chairperson   

acheryl21 at

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Fatal Amusements Talk

Some of my fellow congregants here at Adas Emuno expressed an interest in the public lecture I gave back in November, in conjunction with my spending the semester at Villanova University, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Since the talk included some discussion of religion, it seems relevant enough for our congregational blog, and fortunately, the lecture was recorded and uploaded to YouTube. The title of the talk was Fatal Amusements: Contemplating the Tempest of Contemporary Media and American Culture, and you can click on the link to go to YouTube, or you can always watch it here:

As I mentioned in the video, the lecture is based in large part on my book, Amazing Ourselves to Death, the subject of an article in the Jewish Standard entitled From Amusing to Amazing, also included here on our congregational blog in a post by the same name. And in case you're interested in ordering a copy, here's a link to Amazon:


 Of course, the talk incorporated some new material, as examples of politics, in particular, being reduced to entertainment have only multiplied over the past year or so. You might even say that the more recent examples trump all the ones that came before...

Friday, January 8, 2016

I Shall Not Be Silent–The Story of Rabbi Joachim Prinz

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

From the desk of …                    
 Rabbi Barry Schwartz


We all remember, or have seen the footage, of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the “March on Washington”. And for good reason–King’s speech is one of the greatest in American history. Even today, we marvel at the power and beauty of his words, and how this speech inspired a nation.

But do you know who spoke before King? History little remembers that it was a New Jersey rabbi! That rabbi was a remarkable man, who, on that fateful day of August 28, 1963 likewise delivered a deeply moving oration.

Rabbi Joachim Prinz was a charismatic young rabbi in Berlin. He began warning of the Nazi peril even before the Holocaust. He ran afoul of the authorities and was expelled from Germany in 1937. Prinz came to America and eventually assumed the pulpit of Temple B’nai Abraham in Newark, immediately reviving the struggling congregation. In his newly adopted country Prinz also became involved in the civil rights struggle.

In his capacity as president of the American Jewish Congress from 1958-­1963, he worked with King and all the civil rights pioneers. It came as no surprise that he was chosen to represent the Jewish community at the historic rally.

Rabbi Prinz’ speech hit his moral high note as he recalled, “When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”

The rabbi went on to proclaim that, “America must not become a nation of onlookers. America must not remain silent. Not merely black America, but all of America. It must speak up and act from the President down to the humblest of us, and not for the sake of the Negro, not for the sake of the black community but for the sake of the image, the idea and the aspiration of America itself.”


The story of Rabbi Joachim Prinz has now been told in a dramatic hour-­long documentary, fittingly entitled, I Shall Not Be Silent. Like King, Rabbi Prinz epitomized the spirit of the ancient Hebrew prophets, whose words, “For the sake of Zion I will not be silent” (Isaiah 62:1), inspire us still.


I invite you on behalf of the Adult Education Committee to join the Confirmation class in viewing the film on Sunday morning, January 10 (10:00 AM), as a prelude to the national holiday that honors King the week after.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Winter Religious School News

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

Religious School News 


Cantor Sandy Horowitz

Religious School Director

Last month we held a school­-wide celebration of Hanukkah with songs, crafts, games and storytelling, thanks to the efforts and leadership of our teachers. The fifth grade led our family Hanukkah service with much enthusiasm, and the sanctuary was filled with appreciative attendees–Adas Emuno is becoming The Place to Be on Family Service Friday Nights! Meanwhile, Emery Jacobowitz celebrated becoming bar mitzvah in November–mazal tov to Emery and his family!

In our efforts to provide our students with a Jewish education, of course we place a high value on learning. But equal to the importance of learning Hebrew, Jewish traditions, history, etc. is the importance of gemilut chassadim–acts of kindness. Our curriculum includes the study of Jewish ethics (this is the theme of this year’s Confirmation class as well); we collect tzedakah in order to donate to needy causes; we have participated in social action projects. And we try to create a school-­wide atmosphere of mutual respect. I have listened to how our madrichim (high school classroom helpers) model kind and respectful speech to our students; I have overheard students encouraging and helping each other as they struggle to learn Hebrew prayers together. I’ve seen teachers maintain classrooms where the expectation is that every student is to be treated with respect.

At this darkest time of the year, may our school continue to shine its two­fold light ­ of learning, and of caring for one another.  –Cantor Horowitz


Dates to remember for January and February:

Friday, January 22
7:30 PM Shabbat Service with Tu B’Shevat Dessert Seder. Join us as we celebrate the New Year for Trees (Israel Arbor Day) with a delicious and informative seder following services.

Friday, January 29
7:30 PM Family Service featuring the Fourth Grade

Sunday, January 31
10 am – 2 pm. Blood Drive in the Social Hall.
Coordinated by Emma Schuller.

Thursday, February 11
7:30 PM School Committee Meeting

Sunday, February 14
No School–Presidents' Day Vacation

Saturday, February 27
10 AM–Bar Mitzvah of Grey Lawrence

Saturday, December 12
Confirmation Class: January 10, 24, Feb. 7, 21 

On Sunday, January 10 at 10 AM in the Social Hall, the Congregation will screen the documentary film, Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not Be Silent, in honor of the upcoming Martin Luther King Day. Please see the Rabbi’s column for full details (to be posted here tomorrow).

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Force (of Jewish Community) Awakens


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

A Message From Our President

Dr. Lance Strate

The Force (of Jewish Community) Awakens

If Hillary Clinton can end her closing remarks at the December 19th Democratic Party primary debates with, "May the force be with you," then I think, or at least hope, that I can get away with using the new Star Wars movie as a launching pad for my column. And as we come to the end of the secular year and feel that sense of renewal that we experience every January 1st, let us indeed make this a time for the force to awaken, the force of Jewish community.

As it exists in the Star Wars films, the force, of course, is not part of Jewish spirituality, although the idea that all living things are connected, all part of a mystical union, is certainly consistent with a Jewish sensibility. After all, we hold life as our highest value (as well as the basis of our toasts—L'Chaim!). In our religious tradition, all life is connected because all life is a part of God's creation, all of us creatures created by the Creator.

Whether you believe in our traditional understanding or not, I think we can agree that there is something at once humbling and ennobling about this way of viewing the world, and viewing ourselves. And it points to a source of strength and growth that we all can draw on, our connection to the force. Our version of the force may not give us the power to levitate, or shoot lightning from our fingertips, or battle with a lightsaber, but it does serve as a source of education and enlightenment that cannot be found anywhere else, and as a source of community and communion with something greater than ourselves.

We may not be able to be a part of events that occurred, "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away," but our tradition maintains that all of us were in fact present millennia ago when God spoke to Moses and all Israel at Mount Sinai. And we certainly are a part of a living tradition that stretches back to the very beginnings of civilization.

We may not be able to be Jedi knights, but we can be Jewish knights, by supporting our shul, participating in our congregational activities, being a part of our synagogue, being present here at Adas Emuno.

And we may not be called on to oppose the dark side of the force, but there surely is enough darkness in the world, and our congregation can serve as a source of light, a center for ethical practice and teaching, for social action and tikkun olam. Just like the characters in the Star Wars movies, we all must choose between the light and the dark.

I think it is safe to say that there is nothing that runs counter to Jewish teaching or Jewish faith in saying, May the force be with you! But it is good to also find the time to say to one another, May peace be with you! In other words, to join together at Congregation Adas Emuno, and say to one another, Shalom!

May the force of Jewish community be with you!

[For more on a related theme, see our previous post, Religion and Space Travel .]


Monday, January 4, 2016

Religion and Space Travel

We think some of you may be interested in the fact that two members of our Adas Emuno community have contributed chapters to a new anthology entitled,Touching the Face of the Cosmos: On the Intersection of Space Travel and Religion. The contributors are none other than our spiritual leader, Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz, and the president of our congregation, Lance Strate.

If you like to do your reading on screens rather than paper, or if you can't wait for the hard copy to be published, the book was recently made available on Amazon Kindle, via Connected Editions:


 For those of you willing to wait for it, or who prefer to read ink on paper, paperback and hardcover editions of the book will be published in March, and are available for pre-order:


Some of the other contributors include the Director of the Vatican Observatory Guy Consolmagno, the science fiction author and public intellectual David Brin, science fiction author Gregory Benford, and several former NASA officials, not to mention an interview with John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit the planet. If you want to see the full table of contents, click on the link for the Kindle edition above, then on the "Look Inside" option by clicking on the cover.


And as you can see from this cover image, the collection is co-edited by Paul Levinson and Michael Waltemathe. Some of you may recall that back on May 5th, 2007, we had a Havadallah Talk adult education session entitled "A Talmudic Look at Ancient History and Science Fiction," given by science fiction author Paul Levinson. 

Paul is also a Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, where he is a colleague of Lance Strate. You can read about that Havdallah Talk on Lance's blog, in a post entitled, The Plotz to Save Socrates (our congregational blog wasn't launched until 2010). And Lance's recent blog post on the anthology, Interfacing With the Cosmos, includes additional links and video.