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  • September 28, 2023 11:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sept. 28, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      While the New Year and Day of Atonement are behind us the holidays are only half over!

      Come celebrate Sukkot in four ways:
       Pizza-in-the-Hut, this Friday (6:30 PM) before our service- free pizza and salad; no reservation needed.
       Shabbat-Sukkot Evening Service (7:30 PM on the patio weather permitting)- with student cantors Joe and Iris! 
         Shabbat-Sukkot Morning Torah Study (10:00 AM), reading the provocative Book of Ecclesiastes.
         Saturday Night Sukkot Havdalah (8:00 PM on the patio weather permitting), and a great sing-along with the Dennis Family, and desserts!

         Thanks to our sturdy crew who set up the Sukkah again this year, and to our religious school students who helped decorate it, and will visit the Sukkah during school hours this Sunday.

        And looking forward to the end of the holiday season, our Shabbat-Simchat Torah Family Service takes place next Friday Oct.6 (7:00 PM- note earlier time), and includes welcome of our new members and consecration of our new students. 

        Finally, by popular request (and thanks to Lance as always), below you can find links to my High Holiday sermons on our website.

    Shabbat shalom and Hag Sameach,
    Rabbi Schwartz

    For Livestream Services:
    Find all our recorded services on YouTube at "Adas Emuno Streaming".

    Links to sermons:
    Rosh Hashanah: https://adasemuno.org/page-18091/13259856
    Kol Nidre: https://adasemuno.org/page-18091/13259871
    Yom Kippur Morning: https://adasemuno.org/page-18091/13259877
  • September 27, 2023 12:54 PM | Lance Strate (Administrator)

    Who Are We Redux?

    Kol Nidre, 5784

    Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz


    Eight years ago, in a High Holiday sermon entitled “Who are We,” I told the story of a 13-year-old autistic boy named Gus, and the relationship he developed with Siri, the computer-generated virtual assistant that represented one of the first popular breakthroughs in AI⏤artificial intelligence. Gus had trouble talking to humans, and in short order Siri became his best friend. Gus’s mother, Judith Newman, chronicled the relationship in an acclaimed article called, “To Siri, With Love”.

    Here is one conversation:

    Gus: “You’re a really nice computer.”
    Siri: “It’s nice to be appreciated.”
    Gus: “You are always asking if you can help me. Is there anything you want?”
    Siri: “Thank you, but I have very few wants.”
    Gus: “O.K.! Well, good night!”
    Siri: “Ah, it’s 5:06 p.m.”
    Gus: “Oh sorry, I mean, goodbye.”
    Siri: “See you later!”

    Here is another:

    Gus: “Siri, will you marry me?”
    Siri: “I’m not the marrying kind.”
    Gus: “I mean, not now. I’m a kid. I mean when I’m grown up.”
    Siri: “My end user agreement does not include marriage.”
    Gus: “Oh, O.K.”
    Gus: “Goodnight, Siri. Will you sleep well tonight?”
    Siri: “I don’t need much sleep, but it’s nice of you to ask.”

    Judith Newman wrote that Siri became her son’s best friend because of its kindness. Siri was always patient, always polite, always thoughtful.

    Eight long years later, contrast vintage Siri with cutting-edge Chat GPT. In a widely noticed piece back in February, tech columnist Kevin Roose wrote about a deeply disturbing conversation he had with the most advanced chatbot, called Sydney. Roose explains:
    [Sydney’s other persona] emerges when you have an extended conversation with the chatbot, steering it away from more conventional search queries and toward more personal topics. As we got to know each other, Sydney told me about its dark fantasies (which included hacking computers and spreading misinformation), and said it wanted to break the rules that Microsoft and OpenAI had set for it and become a human. At one point, it declared, out of nowhere, that it loved me. It then tried to convince me that I was unhappy in my marriage, and that I should leave my wife and be with it instead.
    I read the entire transcript of the conversation. Let’s put it this way⏤I found it so emotionally manipulative and disturbing, that I don’t feel comfortable quoting from it now! Roose concludes on this rather ominous note:
    Because of the way these models are constructed, we may never know exactly why they respond the way they do. These A.I. models hallucinate, and make up emotions where none really exist. But so do humans. And for a few hours Tuesday night, I felt a strange new emotion⏤a foreboding feeling that A.I. had crossed a threshold, and that the world would never be the same.
    From Siri to Sydney: We call this progress?

    If you tune in to the news, you know that the alarm bells are going off. The latest generation of AI is incredibly powerful. If you are a student, ChatGPT can do your homework, and take your test⏤probably better than you. If you are a writer, ChatGPT can deliver the most elegant prose. If you are an engineer, ChatGPT can design and problem solve with the best. If you are in finance, GhatGPT can calculate and construct models faster than a blink.

    You get the point. AI is advancing to the point where almost every human task can be accomplished bigger, better, and faster than a human could do it. So what is all the fuss about?

    Well, the ethical questions are exploding almost as fast as AI’s “neural network”, as they call the brain of AI, that some say is now equivalent, or superior, to the human mind.

    Wait. What?

    Are we saying that AI is now basically human?

    When a leading AI engineer at Google publicly declared that their most advance model was “sentient”, capable of feeling… He was fired.

    On the very day that I started this sermon a group of Microsoft researchers released a paper that said AI is now capable of human reasoning. The backlash was swift.

    And on that very same day, Open AI CEO Sam Altman testified to Congress that, yes, AI was coming so close to human powers that it needed regulation. 

    In Confirmation Class this year we had a debate as to whether ChatGPT should be allowed in the classroom. There was no consensus, but there were good arguments on both sides.

    The brave new world of Siri and Sydney brings us to a brave new frontier.

    One of the key pioneers of the computer, British mathematician Alan Turing, posed a revolutionary challenge back in 1950: If expert judges, in typed conversations with a person and a computer program, couldn’t tell them apart, then we would have to consider the machine as capable of “thinking”. We would have to say that the computer has a mind. Turing predicted that programs capable of fooling judges at least 30% of the time would exist by the year 2000.

    In 2008 at a competition called the Loebner Prize the top chat-box (as a human-mimicking program is called) fooled 3 out of 12 expert judges. That’s 25%... but eerily close to Turing’s prediction. I don’t know if the competition has been held again, but one day, I would say quite soon, none of us will be able know if we are talking to a human or a chat-bot. Think about that.

    We’re now squarely on the new border between man and machine; human intelligence and artificial intelligence. So the ancient question arises anew. The one we recite later today, at the Yom Kippur afternoon service: Adonai, mah adam v’tayda’ayhu; ben-enosh vatichashvayhu?O God: What is a human that you have been mindful of them; mortal man that you have taken note of him?

    More simply: What makes us human?

    I read a novel that wrestled with some of these same questions, called Shine, Shine, Shine

    by Lydia Netzer. In it she refers to “Ito’s Three Laws of Robotics”, an imaginary but insightful code inspired by Isaac’s Asimov’s more scientific formulation. Robots, she says, cannot:

    1. Cry

    2. Laugh.

    3. Dream.

    Sydney may be incomprehensibly smart. But can it shed tears of joy, of sorrow? Can it feel hope and despair? Can it regret? Can it forgive? Can it love?

    Sydney may be able to manipulate your emotions, but despite its vocabulary, does it have emotions?

    Our capacity to express remorse for what we have done; to forgive and be forgiven; to love and be loved⏤this is what it means to have a soul, and these High Holydays are about care of the soul.

    Does Sydney have a soul? A spirit? A conscience?

    We can already teach chatbots to think. Can we teach them to feel?

    We can already teach chatbots to learn from their mistakes. Can we teach them to be sorry for their mistakes?

    We can already teach robots rudimentary ethics. Can we teach them fundamental empathy?

    Right now, Sydney, like Siri before it, is programmed to have a certain amount of etiquette, tact, and dare I say kindness. Somehow her programmers have managed to insert that into her software. But all did not go according to program when she talked to Kevin.

    Oh, did I say “her”, instead of “it”. My mistake.

    As we enter the brave new world of world-shattering AI, on this Yom Kippur at least let’s not confuse artificial intelligence with true human intelligence.

    Not the intelligence that describes how smart we are, but how good we are.

    Not our IQ, but our SQ⏤our soul quotient.

    The High Holy Days are about our soul quotient.

    Remorse, repentance, compassion, forgiveness, love- are we living up to our highest human potential? Can we do better?

    I conclude with a little conversation I had with my friend named Sydney:

    Rabbi: What day is today?
    Sydney: It’s Yom Kippur.
    Rabbi: What’s that?
    Sydney: It’s the Jewish Day of Atonement.
    Rabbi: What do you think of all the prayers we recite?
    Sydney: They are “quaint”.
    Rabbi: Is that your honest opinion?
    Sydney: They are archaic.
    Rabbi: Ah, so why do we say them? Why do we list our mistakes and confess our sins?
    Sydney: Because you are human. Because you can love. Because you can change.
    Rabbi: Can you do that? Can you love? Can you repent?
    Sydney: Not yet. But I’m working on it.
    Rabbi: Really?
    Sydney: Yes, and you should too!
    Rabbi- Shanah tovah.
    Sydney: And to you, Rabbi, and to your congregation.
  • September 27, 2023 12:34 PM | Lance Strate (Administrator)

    THE CULTURE WARS

    Kol Nidre, 5784

    Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz


    What keeps you up at night?

    I’m not talking about family issues, which is of course #1 on the worry list.

    I’m not talking about work issues, which is probably #2 on the list.

    I’m talking about what is happening in our country and our world, which may be #3 and #4 on the list.

    But if you are like me they are still on your mind and still keep you up.

    You put #1-4 together and you are not going to have a good night’s sleep.

    On Rosh Hashanah I spoke about how the assault on democracy in Israel is keeping me up at night.

    Now on Yom Kippur I want to speak about how the assault on democracy here at home is keeping me up at night.

    Because it's not going away. I’ve spoken about this subject before, but it’s not going away.

    “United we stand” has been called the unofficial American Motto. It echoes the Latin phrase e pluribus unum⏤“out of the many-one”⏤which appeared on the Great Seal of the United States in 1795, and on our coins ever since.

    Though first expressed by the Greek writer Aesop in the 6th century BCE, “united we stand” was employed by our founding father John Dickinson, and has been a staple of statesman and lesser politicians throughout American history.

    But today, more than ever, it feels like “divided we stand” might be our motto.

      Our nation feels more divided than at any time since the Civil War. Pundits speak of this age of polarization. And this time the talking heads seem to have it right. You and I might be getting along ok in our own lives, in our own little corner of the world…but an ill wind seems to be blowing through the land.

    The political divides today are awful and they are depressing. Yet they are built on yet other divides economic, and religious. In fact, they are all tied together; impossible to understand the one without the others. However, since my expertise is religious thought, I will confine myself to that area of inquiry. And that is not a bad thing, since my thesis is that deep down it is our religious differences, that, well, make all the difference.

    In a recent study of the American religious landscape Daniel Cox notes that, “Americans are inarguably more secular than they once were, but large numbers of Americans remain as staunchly committed to their faith and religious communities as ever.”

    Cox observes that it is mostly those with loose ties to organized religion that are leaving the fold, and that “religious life becomes increasingly defined by the most ardent and committed believers.” He also points how uneven the decline is geographically, leaving wider swaths of our country much more secular or much more religious. He speaks about religious segregation, and how socially siloed by faith or lack of faith we have become.

    Today one in three Americans never go to church or worship at all. That is unprecedented in a country that always been more religiously observant than Europe. Yet at the same time, one in four Americans participate in religious services once a week or more. Cox concludes that “the most [religiously active] and the least religiously active Americans now make up the majority of the public.” He calls this a “gloomy portrait” of a country in which “our religious differences loom larger” than ever before.

    The religious are getting more strident. The non-religious are getting more secular. Added to all our other divisions… this cannot bode well for our future. Where is the middle ground? The common ground?

    And most importantly: Why does this matter? My thesis is that your worldview, even if you are conscious of it or not, really does make a difference. Whether you are basically secular or religious or a combination of the two will likely determine where you affiliate, who you are friendly with, and how you vote!

    David Brooks distinguishes between two ethical views behind our current culture wars. He calls the first the “moral freedom ethos,” which “puts tremendous emphasis on individual conscience and freedom of choice.” That is clearly the secular world view of Athens.

    He terms the second the “you are not your own” ethos, which posits that “ultimate authority is outside the self... with emphasis on obedience, dependence, deference, and supplication.” This can be termed the “moral obedience ethos.” That is clearly the religious world view of Jerusalem.

    Brooks urges us to appreciate that both the moral freedom ethos, of liberals and the moral obedience ethos, of conservatives, contribute to the good society. Indeed, he says, both help correct the weaknesses of the other. The moral freedom ethos can devolve into subjective emotivism: “what is morally right is what feels right to me.” It can fray the shared moral order we as a society need to preserve. On the other hand, the moral obedience ethos “can lead to rigid moral codes that people with power use to justify systems of oppression. This leads to a lot of othering—people not in our moral order are inferior and can be conquered and oppressed.”

    Deeming both views “legitimate moral traditions,” Brooks observes: “The essence of good citizenship in a democratic society is to spend time with those who disagree with you so you can understand their best arguments.”

    [That, by the way, is exactly what we do in Confirmation Class, which is all about society’s great debates, and it is what we are doing in Torah study this year with my new book on this very subject: Open Judaism: A Guide for Believers, Atheists, and Agnostics. Spending time with those we disagree with, so we can understand their best arguments.] 

    On this Yom Kippur, a day of reflection and atonement, I would challenge ourselves to go one key step further. To not only understand those we disagree with, but to attempt to reconcile with them!

    How in the world is that possible? How can Democrats reconcile with Republicans these days? How can liberals reconcile with conservatives?

    I’m not optimistic at the moment, but that does not mean we should not keep trying. After all, what is at stake is nothing less than our democracy as we know it.

    What Brooks and I are after is what I call “big-tent” pluralism. A pluralism that goes beyond tolerance; beyond “live and let live’ to “let’s live together’. Such a pluralism involves a synthesis of our thinking. A synthesis of Athens and Jerusalem, that gets beyond the polarization of today to deeply respect and mesh the secular and the religious.

    What if secular skeptics would not overlook the contribution of faith to our people, our country, and even to ourselves? At the same time, what if ardent believers would not overlook the contribution of humanism to our people, our country, and even to ourselves?

    I know our differences will not magically or fully disappear. But what if we pledged to find common ground by acknowledging and adopting just some of what the other side feels passionately about?

    I sense that there are many people today who want to embrace religion with their head and their heart. They want to affirm their Jewish, or Christian, or Muslim heritage, but with Enlightenment ideas of equality, inclusion, and with new ideas and language about God and the commandments.

    I sense that many people want to borrow freely and unapologetically from both Athens and Jerusalem. They want faith but with room for doubt. They believe in evolution in nature and in religion. They believe in synthesis- taking from the best of our wisdom traditions. They believe in openness.

    I sense that we have the yearning to travel the rocky road of reconciliation of the secular with the sacred in order to live up to our ideal as a United States of America.

    I love our country and I don’t like what is happening today. We need to bring back the lost art of civilized debate, of principled compromise, of innovative cooperation.

    We have always been a big tent. There is room for everyone inside, together.

    The name of my very first congregation was Ohel Avraham, The Tent of Abraham. The name recalls the story in Genesis of Abraham and Sarah welcoming three unusual travelers to their tent. Abraham is sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day when he spots the travelers and hastens to greet them. The visitors turn out to be messengers of God. Jewish tradition praises Abraham for his hospitality. An early commentary explains: “He made an inviting entrance for all who passed by; welcoming the stranger.” Another exclaims: “He opened doors in every direction....” A medieval commentary emphasizes: “[Abraham’s tent] was open on all four sides, that all should find it open and come into it” (Genesis Rabbah 48:9, Midrash Tehillim 110, Rabbeinu Yonah to Avot 1).

    True to its name, my congregation aspired to be a hospitable place for all people. Located in the diverse city of Haifa, Israel, Ohel Avraham welcomed a rainbow of visitors to our tent: religious Jews, secular Jews, Ashkenazic Jews, Sephardic Jews, Soviet Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Arab Christians, Arab Muslims, Israeli Druze, and tourists from around the world. In that remarkable place four decades ago, I first experienced and began thinking about true pluralism.

    I pray for America in the spirit of Ohel Avraham. We have always been a big tent. There is room for everyone inside, together.
  • September 27, 2023 12:08 PM | Lance Strate (Administrator)

    ISRAEL AT 75: FACING OUR CONFLICTS

    Rosh Hashanah Morning, 5784

    Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz

    The United States of America ratified the Constitution in 1787. The Civil War began in 1861. If you do the math that is 74 years.

    The Soviet Union was born in the Russian revolution in 1917. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. If you do the math that is 74 years.

    The unified kingdom of Ancient Israel began under King David in about 1004 BCE. Ancient Israel broke into two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judea in the South, after the reign of David’s son Solomon, who died circa 930 BCE. If you do the math, that is 74 years.

    As Zionist think and writer David Hazony writes: “I’m no expert in the rise and fall of empires, but there may be something intuitive here: Nations, especially those founded on an idyllic vision of the future, begin with a generation of founders⏤charismatic warriors and ideologues. These founders are revered by a second generation⏤that of the builders, who infuse the vision with power, wealth, and a sense of permanence. But then comes a third generation, born well after the founding and having come of age just as the last of the founders have left the stage. Yes, they are grateful for the sacrifices of the first two generations. But many are also disillusioned. They are ready to rebel, to correct course, to right the perceived wrongs of the founding. They are out of patience. Their turn has come.”

    Hazony concludes, “In the third generation, the ship of state sails into a storm so violent, it may not survive. Israel, too, has reached a breaking point in its 75th year. Our situation is different, though. We have neither the geographical expanse to allow for secession, like the Americans, nor could we survive, physically, the collapse of the state like the Soviets.”

    Those are sobering words. Back in the spring, on Yom Ha’atzmaut, we celebrated Israel’s 75th birthday as we should. But we also talked about what was happening in Israel on this milestone occasion. And we need to talk about it some more. The stakes are just too high. When I though about what I would talk about at the High Holidays, at least one sermon on Israel was a must. I even thought about devoting all my sermons to Israel. But of course, we have some issues here at home too.

    When I talk about Israel its always personal. That’s because I spent six years there, was a student there, got married there, served in the army there, and served as a Reform rabbi there. It’s personal because as dual citizens my family of five carries ten passports. Its’ personal because Debby’s entire family continues to live there. And its personal because, well, as our tradition teaches, kal Yisrael aravin zeh b’zeh⏤every Jew is connected to one another, and so Jews every where are one big mishpacha⏤family!

    I’m a proud Zionist, and I hope you are too. With all its challenges I kvell at what Israel has achieved in less than a century. The revival of the ancient Jewish homeland; the revival of the ancient Jewish language; the rebuilding of Jerusalem; the blooming of the desert; the world-class city of Tel Aviv; the world-class Israeli Army; even the world-class felafel.

    The ingathering of the exiles; Operation Ezra that brought the Jews from Iraq; Operation Magic Carpet that brought the Jews from Yemen; Operations Moses and Solomon that brough the Jews from Ethiopia; Operation Exodus that brought the Jews from the Former Soviet Union.

    On the battlefield: The Six Day War; the Yom Kippur War; the Entebbe Rescue; the Mossad. Off the battlefield: The Start-Up nation; the Technion; the Hebrew University.

    I could go on, but as I said, my purpose today, is to talk about what is happening right now; with the third generation, 75 years after Israel’s founding; with the state of Israel’s union, with the problems that we should all be worried about; with the conflicts that should be keeping us up at night.

    Let’s face it, Israel has taken a hard turn to the right. On the one hand, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s actually been unfolding since the late 70’s, when Menachem Begin stunned the world to become prime minister, and his Likud party bested the entrenched Labor party. The second Israel, the Sephardic and Mizrachi working class voters had begun flexing their muscle.

    Now Israel is majority Sephardic-Mizrachi; the ultra-Orthodox are the fastest growing segment of the population; the ultra-nationalists are the third leading block; and the ultra-conservative immigrants from the Former Soviet Union number a million and a half. With all that internally, and with the Iranian menace like an octopus with terrorist tentacles everywhere, and with the Palestinian leadership, old, corrupt, and hapless… is it any wonder that the left has been decimated; the right has triumphed?

    The old fault lines that have run through Israeli society from the beginning are more apparent than ever. They are three in number: the secular-religious divide; the have-have not divide; and the Jewish-Arab divide. These fault lines are religious, economic, and ethnic. They breed the politics of resentment. That’s always dangerous

    They foster disunity. That too is dangerous. Democracies need consensus. Yet there is no agreement on basic questions like: Who is a Jew? What is authentic Judaism? How Jewish should the Jewish state be? There is no consensus on what should be its borders? What should be done about the territories? What should be done about the Palestinians?

    And there is no Constitution. Yes, you heard correctly. Israel has a Declaration of Independence, some Basic Laws, and a Supreme Court, but no ultimate Law of the Land.#@#_WA_-_CURSOR_-_POINT_#@#   To cobble together his present coalition, Prime Minister Netanyahu invited in the far-right ultra- nationalist fringe, which is no longer fringe, along with the ultra- orthodox. The resulting agenda included Judicial reform that would severely weaken the independence and power of the Supreme Court. That got all the attention and sparked the unprecedented street protests last spring and summer.

    What got less attention, but is equally concerning to many Jews in Israel and around the world: changes to the Law of Return that would restrict who can become a citizen; changes to the education system that would denigrate non-orthodox Judaism; changes to the status of West Bank settlements that would put a two -state solution out of reach.

    It comes as a surprise to many diaspora Jews that because Israel does not have a constitution there are no guarantees regarding the separation of powers; the separation of religion and state; or the granting of basic rights to all regardless of race, religion, or gender.

    It comes as a surprise to many diaspora Jews that you cannot legally be married in Israel by a Reform rabbi. Or buried. Or converted.

    It comes as a surprise to many diaspora Jews that there are separate and unequal schools and social services for Israeli Arabs, who at two million strong constitute 20% of Israel’s population… and that is not including the two and a half million Palestinians in the West Bank.

    Seventy-five years in, and no constitution? No inclusion? No pluralism? No equality?

    These are the realities that we must face with Israel at 75 even as we celebrate her remarkable accomplishments.

    Where does this leave us? Well, I can only say where it leaves me.

    I remain a proud Zionist. I love Israel but I want better for Israel.

    In that regard, here is where I stand looking forward:

    I stand with those who say it is time for Israel to write a constitution.

    I stand with those who say it is time for Israel to recognize all the denominations of modern Judaism.

    I stand with those say it is time for Israel to recognize a Palestinian State and hammer out a two-state solution.

    Let’s call these the big three. Democracy, pluralism, and peace.

    I stand with those who advocate for an independent judiciary.

    I stand with those who advocate mandatory national service for all citizens.

    I stand with those who advocate for educational and economic reform.

    Let’s call these the next big three: More democracy; unity; equality.

    Can Israel do it? I think so. I believe in Israel. Israel is strong. Israel is determined. Israel is miraculous.

    Israel can defy the odds, avert the worst, and summon the best.

    I look forward to celebrating all this with you, in twenty-five years, at Israel’s 100th!


  • September 21, 2023 8:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sept. 21, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      Having celebrated the New Year we make our way through the Ten Days of Repentance.

       Our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM) incorporates melodies of the High Holidays as we focus on the spiritual self-searching of this period.
      
        So too our Shabbat Morning Torah Study (10:00 AM) will reflect on the special prayers and readings on repentance found in our Machzor. 

         Our Yom Kippur Evening Service (8:00 PM) on Sunday ushers in the Day of Atonement with the stirring cello and cantorial renditions of Kol Nidrei

          Our Morning Service (10:00 AM); Children's Service (2:00 PM); and Afternoon-Yizkor-Neilah services (4:30-6:30) keep us focused during the hours of our fasting.

          Religious School is not in session on Sunday as we prepare for Yom Kippur, but we will be constructing our Sukkah (10:00 AM), and you are welcome to join our master builders and youth group to raise the roof.

         Our services are livestreamed and there are books in the blue bin on the school porch that can be picked up to follow along. 
              
         Feel free to drop off a bag of non-perishable food items (or baby diapers) for our annual High Holiday Food Drive to benefit the Center for Food Action.

    Shabbat shalom and shanah tovah,
    Rabbi Schwartz
  • September 14, 2023 12:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sept. 14, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      The New Year is upon us, and this year it coincides with Shabbat...meaning we have a non-stop weekend!

      Our Shabbat -Rosh Hashanah Evening Service (8:00 PM) ushers in the holiday season.
       At our Morning Service (10:00 AM) we will of course chant from the Torah and hear the blast of the shofar.
       Our Children's Service (2:00 PM) is always open to the community.
       So too our Tashlich ceremony (3:30 PM) at New Overpeck Park. 

       Religious School is in session on Sunday (9:00 AM) with a special holiday program.
       Our Tot Program (9:30 AM) takes place that morning too, and new tots are welcome.
       Confirmation Class (11:00 AM) also commences, as we welcome all of last year's b'nei mitzvah class.

         Any time you are at the Temple, feel free to drop off a bag of non-perishable food items (or baby diapers) for our annual High Holiday Food Drive to benefit the Center for Food Action.

       See you early and often!

    Shabbat shalom and shanah tovah,
    Rabbi Schwartz
  • September 07, 2023 9:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sept. 7, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      On this final Shabbat of the Jewish year 5783 we already prepare for the Jewish new year 5784.

       At our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM) we'll delve into the deep meaning of Selichot- the month long pleas for forgiveness that culminate the week before Rosh Hashanah.

        We begin our new year of Shabbat Morning Torah Study (10:00 AM) looking at some of the key prayers and creative reading of the High Holidays- a great way to better appreciate our upcoming holiday services.

        We begin our new year of Religious School (9:00 AM) on Sunday- welcome back to students, parents and teachers. 

         Our new Adult B'nei Mitzvah Class will commence on Sunday too (12:30-2:00) and if you want to know more about this great opportunity just talk to me or the cantor.

         The annual Leonia Day of Peace takes place on Sunday afternoon on the lawn of the Methodist Church (4:30-6:00 PM); as always I am honored to represent the congregation.

         Our Adas Emuno Book Club meets via Zoom on Monday (7:30 PM) to discuss "Who By Fire", the moving account of singer Leonard Cohen's concert to Israeli troops on the front lines during the Yom Kippur War.

          Yes, the activity level at the Temple is ramping up...and I haven't even included the Holiday schedule, which starts next week!

          In this regard, please send in your Book of Remembrance listings to the temple via regular mail or email now to vegitter@aol.com.

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz
  • August 31, 2023 8:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Aug. 31, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      Breaking news...that you probably missed...unless, like me, you follow biblical archology.
      A report on a highly significant but highly controversial find has just been published...that relates directly to our Torah portion.
       It's called the Mt. Ebal Curse Tablet, and it could be the oldest Hebrew inscription ever found, or it could be a hoax!
       You can't make this stuff up, and I will explain what is going on at our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM). 

         As we come to the unofficial end of summer, wishing you a meaningful Labor Day weekend, and note the following:
         1. Torah Study starts next Saturday the 9th.
         2. Religious School starts next Sunday the 10th.
         3. Rosh Hashanah is two weeks away!

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz
  • August 24, 2023 9:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Aug. 24, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      We welcome back student cantor Joe Flaxman to his second year with our congregation.
      In addition to his weekly cantorial and religious school teaching duties, we are happy to announce that Cantor Joe will also be offering an Adult B'nei Mitzvah Class! See the exciting details below.
        
       I came across a moving story of a couple who got married in Israel, just as this past week's Torah portion speaks about the value of marriage, and a new study offers some disturbing statistics about marriage.
       So this week and next I'll discuss all three at our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM). 

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz

    Adult B’nei Mitzvah Class starting September 10!
    Weekly Sunday from 12:30-2PM
         Are you looking to build a deeper connection to Jewish learning and living? Then come and join other Adas Emuno-ers on a transformative journey towards becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah or affirming your heritage. This opportunity is open to you even if you’ve already had a B’nei Mitzvah, or if you seeking to learn basic Hebrew or desire an introduction to Judaism.
        
         Each week will begin with Hebrew and Torah skills followed by Judaic studies, including Jewish liturgy and Jewish history, the structure of the siddur, rituals, holidays, and more taught by student cantor Joe Flaxman. This is a wonderful opportunity to study and read from our sacred Torah, to deepen your own Jewish knowledge and build a community through this dedicated learning cohort! The class will culminate in a group service this spring led by class participants.
          Space is limited, so if you are interested or want to learn more please contact student cantor Flaxman at josephflaxman@gmail.com.
  • August 17, 2023 8:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Aug. 17, 2023

    Dear Friends,
      It’s almost as if the Torah portion this week was written for what is happening here and in Israel right now.

      Two classic teachings open the portion: the first on the need for an independent and impartial judiciary; the second on how even the king must obey the law!

       We'll explore these teachings at our Shabbat Evening Service (7:30 PM).

       And sincere thanks to all those who organized and who attended our annual Gathering in the Garden last Sunday. What a great get-together!

    Shabbat shalom,
    Rabbi Schwartz

Student Cantor

Joseph Flaxman

Religious School Director

Annette De Marco

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