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  • September 22, 2021 2:04 PM | Lance Strate (Administrator)


    Rosh Hashanah Evening, 5782

    Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz

    Rosh Hashanah is a time when we celebrate the past even as we embrace the future. We mark the arrival of the High Holy Days by honoring the old while welcoming the new. We chant ancient words but often add new melody and translation.

    This Rosh Hashanah I again partake of the old/new by continuing a tradition that I established some five years ago. Now, on the eve of the Holiday, I’d like to offer a davar torah, a commentary, on one of the key prayers in our holiday liturgy.

    After all, we recite these prayers year and year, sometimes by rote. They form the backbone of our service. They move us in an emotive, nostalgic way… but what do they mean? What are we saying? Why are they important?

    This year, as we slowly emerge from the pandemic that upended our lives so dramatically, I find myself wrestling with the prayer that contains the most haunting and memorable line of the High Holy Days liturgy. Quite honestly, it is also the prayer that makes many of us the most uncomfortable. It is the prayer that we would most like to ignore or at least reinterpret.

    “Who Shall Live; Who Shall Die”.

    B’rosh Hashanah yikatevun, u’vyom tzom kippur yayhatemun… mi yichiyeh u’mi yamut

    On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed… how many shall pass on, how many shall come to be; who shall live and who shall die.

    We chant it in the Hebrew tomorrow morning, plaintively; almost resignedly.

    “Who Shall Live; Who Shall die” is a centuries old lament that seems to suggest that our fate is sealed, that judgment, on this Day of Judgment” has been cast. It is found in the section called U’netaneh Tokef, which literally mean Let Us Proclaim the Severity of this Sacred Day. As I say in my introduction to the prayer each year, It is at once the most archaic yet relevant, humbling yet empowering prayer of these Days of Awe.

    At times during the height of the pandemic it seemed like our fate was indeed out of our hands. We seemed powerless to stop the plague. Day to day we didn’t know who will live and who will die. We took extreme measures to try to avert the severity of the decree.

    Let me read you the full text of the prayer in English, which we don’t do in the morning service, since we chant it in the Hebrew. It is raw and graphic:

    On Rosh Hashanah it is written; on Yom Kippur it is sealed:

    How many shall pass on; how many shall be born;

    Who shall live and who shall die;

    Who shall see ripe age and who shall not;

    Who shall perish by fire and who by water;

    Who by sword and who by beast;

    Who by hunger and who by thirst;

    Who by earthquake and who by plague;

    Who by strangling and who by stoning;

    Who shall be secure and who shall be driven;

    Who shall be tranquil and who shall be troubled;

    Who shall be poor and who shall be rich;

    Who shall be humbled and who exalted.

    Our ancestors were all too schooled in hardship and suffering and the many ways we can die. Remember that these prayers originate in the early Middle Ages, when life expectancy was barely half of what it is now, and when war and famine and plague were constants in the life of our people. It is no surprise that they would compose prayers that understood that our fate was essentially out of our hands.

    What is surprising is that we choose to preserve and recite these same words. And with all the advances in science and medicine over the centuries, is our destiny any more in our hands than before? I’ve talked with people about this over the years, and it is interesting that some people say yes and some say no. I talk to modern, educated people who insist that we alone determine our fate, while others are adamant that our fate remains largely beyond our control. Can both views be right at the same time? Look how we were initially powerless in the face of the pandemic in the early months, but how we were able to finally turn the tide with vaccines created with our most advanced scientific knowledge coupled with state-of-the-art production and distribution.

    Note how this prayer subtly moves from the bodily threats to life to how we respond to these challenges. In other words; from our physical health to our mental health. Who shall be secure; who insecure; who tranquil; who troubled?

    Then in the last lines the prayer shifts yet again, to our economic well-being and status. Who shall be poor; who rich; who humbled; who exalted?

    The prayer, having compelled us to confront our mortality, concludes in a surprising and provocative way. It acknowledges roah hag’zerahthe severity of the decree. Our fate can be harsh and capricious. So much is beyond out control. But not everything. The decree can be tempered. Not wholly, but to some degree by our actions, which always have consequences, and can alter our destiny.

    And what are these actions? They are teshuva (repentance), t’filah (prayer), and tzedakah (charity).

    The liturgy of the High Holy Days leave no question that we are fallible; we are flawed; it is not if we will make mistakes but when, and the need to forgive and be forgiven is fundamental to our well-being. So it is no surprise that repentance occupies a key place on the road to redemption.

    So too the importance of helping our fellow in need. We reach the highest rung of ethical living when we transcend our own egocentricity and serve the other. When we are guided by the better angels of our nature we make for a better world. Tzedakah, with its root in the Hebrew word for justice, means so much more than the charitable impulse when it strikes us, but the insistence of sharing of our wealth and working for a just and equitable society.

    Less apparent to the majority of us for whom prayer is not a central but a peripheral part of our lives, is the power of supplication. But to the religious mind, prayer can indeed be life altering. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel expresses it in an oft-quoted passage from our Shabbat siddur:

    Prayer invites God’s presence to suffuse our spirits…. Prayer may not bring water to parched fields, nor mend a broken bridge, nor rebuild a ruined city. But prayer can water an arid soul, mend of broken heart, and rebuild a weakened will.

    Rabbi David Teutsch writes:

    In our everyday lives, we live with an illusion of control. [This prayer] forces us to admit how profoundly our lives can be altered by random occurrences over which we have no control. I cannot control the unexpected blows that will affect my family, my job, my health. But I can control how I live with them. T’shuvah, t’filah and tzedakah will mitigate the bad in the decree. They will not stop the blows that come our way, but they can radically transform how we are affected by them.

    We have collectively been through a harrowing year and half, but we know that life’s challenges are present in our lives all the time.

    In this regard I think it is appropriate to cite another, very well-known appeal, often referred to as the Serenity Prayer:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

    May our acts of repentance, charity and prayer temper the decree at this New Year, or at the very least, give us strength to strive and solace to accept.

  • September 21, 2021 1:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    An Evening of Community, Celebration, Food and Music

    We hope you can join us this coming Sunday, September 26, for some or all of the planned festivities. RSVP is required for "Subs-for-Sukkot" only.

    • 5:00 pm - Subs-for-Sukkot
    • 6:00 pm - Simchat Torah Celebration
    • 6:30 pm - Sukkot Folk Concert
    Subs-for-Sukkot will include individually wrapped meat and veggie sandwiches, beverages and snacks. Join us for some or all of the fun filled activities!

    RSVP for Subs-for-Sukkot

    Look for additional information in the "This Week at Adas Emuno" email on Thursday, September 23, or under "News" on this website.

  • September 15, 2021 12:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sept. 15, 2021

    Dear Friends,
      This weekly message is arriving a day earlier than usual since Yom Kippur begins tonight.
       Books and food drive bags are available in bins on the school porch at any time.
       School families- here is a link to a PDF of our children's prayer book, so you can follow along at Thursday’s children's service (2:00 PM) if you are not to attend in-person:

      The day after Yom Kippur is already Erev Shabbat and a good opportunity to gather remotely via our Zoom Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM). 

       The next morning our Shabbat Morning Torah Study (10:00 AM) commences (now happening via Zoom). This year we delve into the epic history that birthed our people- The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel. 

       Sunday morning religious school (9:00 AM) outside will also feature our monthly Tot program (9:30 AM).

       Sunday afternoon the annual Leonia International Day of Peace event takes place (4:30-6:00 PM) on the lawn of the Methodist Church, and I am always happy to participate in the ceremony. (The Methodist Church lawn is on Broad Avenue.)

       Mark your calendar now for our Sukkot-Simchat Torah Celebration on Sunday the 26th. We begin with a free outdoor subs-for-sukkot meal (5:00 PM) by reservation (email, followed by an abbreviated Simchat Torah Celebration (6:00 PM), and capped off by a Sukkot Folk Concert (6:30 PM), featuring Iris Karlin, Peter Hayes, Elka Oliver, Michael Scowden and Scott Dennis! 

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz

    For Livestream Services:
    Go to and enter Adas Emuno Streaming in the search box. About 5 minutes before the service is set to begin, find the service that is "live" and wait for the service to begin.
  • September 09, 2021 8:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sept. 9, 2021

    Dear Friends,
      This Sabbath, in between the High Holidays, is known as Shabbat Shuva, the Sabbath of Return, and is a beautiful blend of holiday and sabbath melodies.

      This year, it also corresponds to the 20th anniversary of 9-11, and I will share a very personal story in that regard at our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM).

      On Sunday morning we hope to see many of you bright and early for our Gathering in the Garden  along with our Religious School Opening Day (9:00 AM). Come for a song-fest, snacks, fellowship and your free t-shirt!

       Our Monday evening the Adas Emuno Book Club (7:30 PM) will discuss the epic novel As A Driven Leaf. The discussion should be enlightening (even if you did not read or finish the book).

         Finally, there are families in Leonia, including in our congregation, who continue to deal with the flooding from Hurricane Ina. If you would like to add to the contribution already made by our congregation to assist these families please let me know. 

    Shabbat shalom and shanah tovah,
    Rabbi Schwartz

    For Livestream Shabbat and Holiday Services:
    Go to and enter Adas Emuno Streaming in the search box. About 5 minutes before services are scheduled to begin, find the service that is "live" and wait for the service to begin.
  • September 02, 2021 8:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sept. 2, 2021

    Dear Friends,
       This is the last Shabbat of the Jewish year, as well as Labor Day weekend, and the unofficial end of summer.
       Our Zoom Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 pman unexpected change of format) will preview the upcoming holidays. 

       High Holiday books will be handed out this Sunday from 10-12 and then anytime from a bin on the school porch.
        From the ritual committee: all reservations and choices for all services that have been received have been approved. 

        Make sure your calendar is marked for our Gathering in the Garden on the 12th (9-11AM) and our Book Club on the 13th (7:30 PM). We are reading “As a Driven Leaf” by Milton Steinberg.

      Whether in-person or via livestream,  I look forward to seeing you Monday evening and Tuesday at our Rosh Hashanah Evening Service, Morning Service, Children's Service and Tashlich!

      With warm wishes for a safe and joyful new year of peace and blessing,

    Shabbat shalom and shanah tovah,
    Rabbi Barry Schwartz

    For Livestream Services:
    Go to and enter Adas Emuno Streaming in the search box.
    About 5 minutes before the service is scheduled to begin, find the service that is "live" and wait for the service to begin.
  • August 26, 2021 8:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Friends,

       As we draw near the High Holydays our thoughts turn to forgiveness.
       Traditionally special prayers on this theme, called Selichot, are recited this week.
       At our Zoom Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM) we'll share stories on this theme .
       Bring your most meaningful story of forgiveness- personal or historical.
       And on the lighter side of holiday preparation, join our two expert cooks to learn recipes, at our second Zoom Cooking Class this Sunday evening (7:00 PM ).
        You will be surprised how entertaining Chefs Gibby and Marilyn are!

       This is likely our last Zoom service (as the cantor is away) for a while.
       For upcoming Livestream Shabbat services a page guide for your home prayer book is now available:
       Here's the link (which you can print out):

       Reminder- send in your High Holiday service seating form now, or email Virginia or Doris.
       With capacity limits, we need to know what services you will be attending.
       High Holiday books will be handed out next Sunday the 5th from 10-12 and then anytime from a bin on the school porch.

        And our lovely Gathering in the Garden has been rescheduled for Sunday morning, Sept 12 (9-11 AM), corresponding to the first day of religious school. Volunteers are needed bright and early at 8:00 to help set up- email Annette or myself.

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz
  • August 19, 2021 8:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Aug. 19, 2021

    Dear Friends,
      Our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM) will be especially joyful because we celebrate a baby naming.
      Mazal tov to Leiana Rose and to her parents Leah Ryan and Pablo Villafane!
      To add to the spirit, we welcome Peter Hayes accompanying the cantor on guitar.

      We hope to see you this Sunday at our annual Gathering in the Garden (4-6PM).
      Greet your fellow families; enjoy food, drink and music.
      And make sure to pick up  your beautiful new Adas Emuno T-Shirt!

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz

    PS Have you sent in your High Holiday seat reservations? Please do so this week!  And the deadline for Book of Remembrance entries is this Monday. You may also email Doris or Virginia with your requests.

    For Livestream Shabbat Service Option:
    Go to and enter Adas Emuno Streaming in the search box.
    About 5 minutes before, find the service that is "live" and wait for the service to begin.
  • August 12, 2021 10:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Aug. 12, 2021

    Dear Friends,

      Given that this week's Torah portion contains the classic discussion of the administration of justice in our society...I thought it would be an apt time to talk about what is happening to our Supreme Court.

      I'll do so at our Shabbat Evening Service  (7:30 PM), where we very much value your in-person attendance, while also offering the Livestream option.

      By now you should have received our beautiful calendar, announcement of our Aug. 22 Gathering in the Garden, and High Holiday mailing. It's a quiet time now in the waning days of summer, but not for much longer!

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz

    For Livestream Shabbat Services:
    Go to and enter Adas Emuno Streaming in the search box.
    About 5 minutes before, find the service that is "live" and wait for the service to begin.

  • August 05, 2021 8:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Aug. 5, 2021

    Dear Friends,
      I read an interesting story about how the chapel at Camp David, the presidential retreat center, was designed.
      There's a valuable lesson for religious pluralism, which I will share at our Zoom Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM).
        (Note that when the cantor is away we will continue to avail ourselves of Zoom).

       Mark your calendar now for our annual Gathering in the Garden, on Sunday, Aug. 22 (4-6 PM).
       For all ages, including a school open house, and your free Adas Emuno t-shirt!
       Details to follow. 

    Shabbat shalom
    Rabbi Schwartz
  • July 29, 2021 8:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    July 29, 2021

    Dear Friends,
      I'm a big fan of ice cream (especially chocolate) and I'm a big fan of Israel.
      So naturally I need to talk about the Ben & Jerry's controversy making headlines here and in Israel.
      I'll do so at our Zoom Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM), and even explain how the Torah portion relates to the issue too.
      For background, read this article: What the Ben & Jerry’s Decision Reveals About Israel - The Atlantic.
      For another view, read this:
       Who knew ice cream could get so complicated!

       Note that the cantor is away this week and next, and by popular request, I'll lead the service via Zoom.
       We understand that people who grew accustomed to seeing each other via Zoom are missing that, and that not everyone is ready to return to in-person services. 
       So from time to time we'll look for opportunities like this week and next.

    Shabbat shalom
    Rabbi Schwartz

Student Cantor

Joseph Flaxman

Religious School Director

Annette De Marco

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