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254 Broad Avenue Leonia, NJ 07605 201.592.1712

  • December 28, 2023 8:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dec. 28, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      On this last Shabbat of the year I once again present to you...
      "The Rabbi's Top Ten Jewish News Stories".
       This has been a tradition of mine for the past 13 years!

       I'll do so at our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM).
       For Israel and the Jewish community this was such an intensely eventful year...and there is so much to talk about.

        This is a quiet, post-Hanukkah time of the year.
         Please note that both religious school and Torah study are on break this week.

         Let's hope that 2024 will bring a greater measure of shalom (peace, security, wholeness, reconciliation) into our lives and the world.
    Shabbat shalom and Happy New Year,
    Rabbi Schwartz 
  • December 21, 2023 8:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dec. 21, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      This week's Torah portion presents a great act of reconciliation between brothers.

      After an exhausting year of sibling conflict between Israel and her neighbors, and between Israeli's themselves, and between Israel's supporters and detractors...
       And after an exhausting year of sibling conflict between conservatives and progressives, Democrats and Republicans, here in our own country...
       Can reconciliation take place, and what would it look like?

        We'll take this up at our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM), with Adam Kohane, our new youth group advisor and song leader, substituting for our student cantor.

       Happy winter (which officially starts today), and please note that both religious school and Torah study are on break this week and next.

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz 
  • December 14, 2023 8:16 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dec. 14, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      Thanks to everyone who made our Hanukkah celebrations so meaningful this year, from our joyous family service and school celebrations, to the wonderful concert and Torah study.

      With the last light of Hanukkah this evening, we'll take a final look back at the holiday tomorrow.
      What is the true legacy and lesson of the Maccabees, especially in this perilous time?
      We'll share our thoughts as they relate to the unending stream of relevant current events at our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM).

       What do Reform Jews, like ourselves, believe, or not believe, about God?
       We continue our exploration of this subject at our Shabbat Morning Torah Study (10:00 AM) 

        Reminder: Both school and Torah Study are in session this week, but will be off for winter break the last two weeks of December.

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz
  • December 07, 2023 9:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dec. 7, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      Hanukkah arrives tonight, and we wish you a light-filled holiday! 
      Today is also Pearl Harbor Day, and we remember the importance of kindling light against the dark then, and now.

      Our Shabbat/Hanukkah Family Service (7:30 PM) tomorrow, led by our 4/5th grades, will feature the lighting of our 123-year-old menorah, festive music, and a tasty oneg.
       This is also our community Leonia lighting, and we will be joined by both our mayor and mayor-elect. 
        Note: there will not be a daily lighting of an outdoor menorah this year. (Our outdoor menorah has been retired.)

       Curious about the "true" story of Hanukkah? 
       Our special Shabbat/Hanukkah Torah Study (10:00 AM) will consider the Book of Maccabees, that ironically did not make it into the Hebrew Bible, but sheds important light on what really happened. 

        Ready to rock in the sanctuary?
        A Swinging Hanukkah Jazz Concert (2:00 PM) on Sunday, features our very own Scott Dennis and his band, with a wine and cheese reception to follow (free and open to the public- invite your friends!). 

         At any of these events please pick up your Hanukkah gift bag from the social hall, courtesy of our Caring Community Committee. 

         And congratulations to student cantors Flaxman and Karlin, who had their senior recitals this week and last at Hebrew Union College and were magnificent!

    Shabbat shalom and Hag Urim Sameach,
    Rabbi Schwartz
  • November 30, 2023 8:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nov. 30, 2023

    Dear Friends,
    The naming of a baby is both a celebration of new life and of entering into the covenant of the Jewish people.

    At our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM) we bestow a Hebrew name upon Sasha Nicole Villafane, daughter of Leah and Pablo, and formally welcome her into our community.

    Have you ever wondered about alternative ideas about God for those who question traditional belief? There is actually an array of provocative thought, which we will explore at our Shabbat Morning Torah Study (10:00 AM).

     Hanukkah is around the corner. Come to the Mitzvah Mall this Sunday (11:00 AM) to learn about some wonderful charities helping Israel. Donate, and you will receive a lovely card, that makes for an especially meaningful holiday gift. 

    While Hanukkah has a strong home component, we invite you to enhance your celebration by joining us next week, for:

    1. Fri. (12-8) Shabbat/Hanukkah Family Service, lighting of our 123-year-old menorah, and festive oneg 
    2. Sat.(12-9) Shabbat/Hanukkah Torah Study on the Book of Maccabees
    3. Sun.(12-10) Swinging Hanukkah Jazz Concert (2:00 PM), with a wine and cheese reception!

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz
  • November 27, 2023 9:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Social Action committee will, once again, be sponsoring its annual "Mitzvah Mall".  And this year it is personal!!  All of the organizations being represented have a direct line to Israel and each one has a vital role in the war going on in Israel right now.

    When: Sunday, December 3 at 11 am
    Where: Social hall

    What is a "Mitvah Mall"?
    An opportunity to purchase blank cards which include an insert describing the organization you've supported in honor of someone.  These cards can be presented as gifts to the special people in your life. Cards will be $2 each for students and adults are asked to give what they can.

    The participating organizations:
    • Magen David Adom
    • Friends of IDF
    • Israel Guide Dog Center
    So, please meet us at the mall!  If you can't be there but want to buy some cards, please send a check to the temple (to the attention of Annette/Social Action) or donations can be made through the AE website.  Let me know if you've made a donation and I can make sure you get the cards and the inserts for the organization(s) you choose to support. 

    Thank you,
    Annette & the Social Action committee
  • November 23, 2023 8:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nov. 23, 2023

    Dear Friends,
        Happy Thanksgiving!
        And extra special wishes to Virginia Gitter, who is celebrating a big birthday today!

       It's appropriate to think about what we are grateful for, even during this troubled time, including, for example, the few who have stood up for Israel, publicly and proudly, and we'll do so at our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM), 

      Please note that Torah study and Religious School are on break this holiday weekend.

       Hanukkah is early this year, so here's advance notice of fast-approaching Hanukkah events:
        Sun., Dec. 3 (11:00 AM)- Mitzvah Mall 
        Fri., Dec.8 (7:30 PM) -Hanukkah Family Service
        Sat., Dec. 9 (10:00AM)- Hanukkah Torah Study 
        Sun., Dec. 10 (2:00 PM)- Hanukkah Jazz Concert.

        And from our Book Club- our next book (for Jan. 8 meeting) will be on the lighter side, the autobiography of comedian Mel Brooks, entitled All About Me, with many copies in the library system. A new biography Mel Brooks- Disobedient Jew, will also be discussed. Brooks, who is 97, is an American original and one of the few people to win the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar/Academy and Tony awards).

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz
  • November 16, 2023 8:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nov. 16, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      It's time for our first class-led service of the school year.
      The 6th Grade will step up at our Shabbat Evening Family Service (7:30 PM).
       Of course, all are invited to help support the class.

        And now let's make some room for God!
        At our Shabbat Morning Torah Study (10:00 AM), and over the next few sessions, we'll talk about traditional and non-traditional views.
         In this regard, my blog this week reflects on the possibility of belief during tragic times: Where is God Now? | Barry L. Schwartz | The Blogs (

         Religious school, including Confirmation Class, is in session on Sunday.

         Our annual Leonia Community Thanksgiving Service takes place on Tuesday (7:00 PM) at All Saints Episcopal Church (150 Park Ave.), with Rev. Leah Fowler speaking.
          Recall that on very short notice Rev. Fowler, and all the Leonia clergy, participated in our Vigil for Israel.
           Especially if you live in Leonia, let's show our support. 

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz
  • November 09, 2023 8:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nov. 9, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      Eighty-five years ago today the Holocaust in Europe began in earnest with Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass", that saw hundreds of synagogues and Jewish businesses in Germany destroyed, scores of Jews killed, and tens of thousands deported. 

      It is sadly ironic that we have to continue our discussion of resurgent anti-Semitism on this tragic anniversary. We will do so at our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM). 

      My latest blogs on the Israel-Hamas War can be found here: .
      Each week we are now reading the names of 18 Israeli hostages, who are ever on our minds.

      Having completed the Preface, we read and discuss the Introduction to Open Judaism at our Shabbat Morning Torah Study (10:00 AM). 

       Another period of Jewish suffering - the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition- is the subject of our Adas Emuno Book Club on Monday (7:30 PM- via Zoom), when we discuss the difficult but bestselling novel (based on a true story and discovered manuscript) The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon.

       This weekend we also mark Veteran's Day, and pause to express gratitude to those who have served our country. Did you know that our oldest member, Kurt Roberg (99 years old) witnessed Kristallnacht and then fought for this country in WWII? And that another member, Maren Friedman, was born in Germany, on Kristallnacht (Happy birthday, Maren).

        Congratulations to Temple member Bill Ziegler on being elected mayor of Leonia.
         The same to Temple member Kimberly Melman on her reelection to the Leonia Board of Education.

         And finally, also in the good news department, we celebrate another new birth this week- of our granddaughter Ava Liana Schwartz.
         Ava was so eager to come into the world that she was born at home, delivered by our son Nadav!

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz
  • November 02, 2023 8:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nov. 2, 2023,

    Dear Friends,
      As a liberal myself, I have been struggling with the reaction of the left/far left to the Israel-Hamas war.
      This includes general media (such as the New York Times), some Jewish media (such as Tikkun magazine), and what is happening on many college campuses.
       I'll talk about this at our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM). 

       Meanwhile, I have joined in a campaign to contact our NJ elected officials to advocate for Israel and the return of the hostages, and you can too, at  by clicking here: Your elected officials | USAGov.

        We'll continue reading from the introduction to my new book, Open Judaism, at our Shabbat Morning Torah Study (10:00 AM), which offers timely insight into why there is such conflict between secular and religious viewpoints in today's world. 

         Sad news- our heartfelt condolences to Fanny Fishbein on the untimely loss of her nephew, Peter Bojmal.

         Happy news- mazal tov to Leah Ryan and Pablo Villafane on the birth of their daughter Sasha Nicole Villafane, the newest member of our congregation!

          Reminder: set back clocks on Saturday night.
          Reminder: Vote on Tuesday!

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz

Student Cantor

Joseph Flaxman

Religious School Director

Annette De Marco

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