Hanukkah celebrations

Over the last few nights we’ve celebrated Hanukkah as a community. Each night we’ve celebrated and honored members of the community with different backgrounds and roles. We thanks them for their hard work!

Another Mishnah

Always blessed to study Mishnah with my dear friends. Hope you can join me next Tuesday at 9:15am for our continued study!

Going on our way…

Happy Thanksgiving.  Here is a brief video I made about Jacob’s journey and ours.  Wishing you a meaningful time with your family and friends.

Interfaith Thanksgiving

How do we support one another?

On November 19, on Benkard Ave, I stood with a dozen local clergy members and almost 100 members of our Newburgh communities.  At St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, we heard beautiful music and had fellowship together.  We heard words from Isaiah, Psalms, and Corinthians–from the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Scriptures.  We sat and stood and sat and stood together.  We reminded ourselves that no matter our faith, we are one city.

Amidst these messages of peace and love, we shared good will.  We collected food and financial donations for Loaves and Fishes, which will feed over 1000 families in the City of Newburgh this year for Thanksgiving.  Thanks to donations from those attending, from supermarkets and the broader community, this miracle comes to pass every year.  Yet this miracle takes a lot of work to happen!

Every year it is down to the wire.  Every year, they do not know if they will have enough.  Usually, they find a way to make it work.  The families depend on the support of Loaves and Fishes.  Without it, they would have no turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and more.  While it is just one place where the fixings for a meal are available, we know that across the city, churches, synagogues and social service agencies are ensuring that families have what they need.

My question is about the rest of the year.  What are we doing then?  Sure, I schlepped some heavy potato sacks this week, but how will I help next week?  Or in July?  I can see the appreciation when I had someone a turkey, but how do I help so they do not need one next year?

Recently, I have seen political, racial, religious divisions run deeper than ever before.  I have heard and seen hate against virtually every segment of our population.  My faith teaches that we are all created in the Image of the Holy One.  I pray that these small acts of kindness for Thanksgiving will inspire us to work together throughout the year.  Let us hire people for our businesses who don’t look like us.  Let us invite people for coffee and dinner who talk differently than us.  Let us remember that no matter our politics, our faith, our color, we are all one.  Let us be thankful for the blessings we share.  When we share a smile and a thank you, it’s a lot harder to find hate.  As Father Bill Damroth shared with us in the words of William Watkinson, it is “far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.” Happy Thanksgiving!

PJ library

Looking forward to offering our thanks with PJ library tomorrow at 10:30am in the Copans Library. We will start with Havdalah, do a craft, sing songs, read PJ library books and have coffee for the grownups and donuts for everyone! Hope you have as much fun as we do!

What are you doing Sunday?

Join us this Sunday at 2PM to hear from Jen Glantz.  She is hilarious and entertaining.

Jen Glantz is the brains behind the business, Bridesmaid for Hire, the heart behind the blog, The Things I Learned From, and the main character inside of the Amazon-best selling book, All My Friends are Engaged. Her new book, Always a Bridesmaid for Hire, published by Simon and Schuster, is available now. Jen’s told her story to hundreds of press outlets around the world-wide, such as a the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, CNN and Fox News, where they called her job the “weirdest of all time”.  Jen is a mentor for New York City women entrepreneurs and a hired speaker for conferences and workshops around the country, such as SXSW, BBYO Convention, Google NYC Headquarters, and more.  She lives on the 26th floor of a New York City apartment, the size of a walk-in closet, where she eats way too much pizza & owes way too much money to the library across the street.

https://www.jenglantz.com/

GO VOTE!

Good afternoon.  I’m always looking for new ways of reaching our community.  Here is a reminder to go vote today with a connection to this week’s parsha.  It’s one take, so I can’t edit it, but you get the point.

Second Sundays continue!

On November 12 we will have Jen Glantz.  You can read about her here: https://www.jenglantz.com/

It will be a blast!

 

Second Sundays

What do you do on Sunday?  After the blessing of Shabbat do you run around and get all your errands done before another workweek begins?

At Congregation Agudas Israel, we are turning the SECOND SUNDAY of the month into a very special social day.  Each month we have a new activity, movie, author, topic, and of course, SNACKS!

In September, we learned about babka with Shannon Sarna.  In November, we will talk with Jen Glantz about her hilarious book, Always a Bridesmaid–for hire!

No one left our October event hungry.  We screened the Deli Man movie and brought in kosher deli.  Who can beat that?

Also starting in November will be a PJ Library program on Second Sunday mornings.  We aim to keep you busy and connected!

Wishing you a wonderful week.  Shavua tov!

 

Rosh Hashanah is coming, but first Selichot!

Sephardic Jews begin their preparations for Rosh Hashanah when Elul begins.  In addition to the daily blasts of the shofar, they begin waking up early and reciting Selichot, prayers of forgiveness and atonement.  They ask the Holy One to remember Her conversation with Moshe after the golden calf, to remember the 13 attributes of mercy, that Gd is gracious, merciful, forgiving of sin, etc., etc.

Ashkenazi Jews also blow the shofar every morning, but they do not begin their Selichot until the Saturday evening before Rosh Hashanah (most years).

This year, my colleague Rabbi Freedman of Temple Beth Jacob, Stefanie Kostenblatt of Newburgh JCC, and I (Rabbi Philip Weintraub) of Congregation Agudas Israel, wanted to figure out how to inspire more people this time of year.  How do we get people excited for Rosh Hashanah, while also considering a public response to the growing hatred and violence in our nation and around the world?  How can we speak out against hatred, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Islamic, anti-LGBTQ, anti-American, and even Nazi/KKK propaganda? After some brainstorming, we decided that Selichot was an incredible opportunity, a tremendous gift.  It was already a time for repentance, to discuss areas of growth.  If we opened that to the community, we could find new ways of talking about race, hope, love and their opposites in this country.

We invited everyone we could think of, but until they started coming in, we did not know what our numbers would look like.  Approximately 200 people from across the City of Newburgh and its surrounding municipalities came.  We saw Mayor Kennedy, City Councilpeople and Town officials.  It was a truly pluralistic event.  We had a gospel choir from Ebenezer Baptist Church.  And the words from their Senior Pastor, Bruce Davis, Sr. were incredible.  He used the Bible to teach an important message of appropriate outrage AND cooperation.

Chaplain Patt Kauffman joined us on the 16th anniversary of her ordination and her reading of the Psalms was truly inspiring.

 

 

 

We heard a message of love and peace from Imam Rashada, of Masjid Al-Ikles in Newburgh.

I think it was probably the first time on our bimah we heard the Muslim Call to Worship AND a song about Jesus.  Some might find that theologically challenging, but to me, it is a tremendous blessing.  We shared our space with our friends and neighbors.  We called out to Gd and created a sacred moment.  We did not try to blend our traditions, but to hear from the best of all of them.  We learned about one another and saw the beautiful parallels we share.

 

We heard voices from the Catholic tradition, saw friends in all sorts of elegant clerical garb, and truly reflected on our place in the universe.

 

 

While we asked everyone to limit themselves to 6 minutes, I may have used a little more time–but I did try to capture the lessons that each spiritual leader had shared before me.

My words from tonight's incredible evening.

Posted by Rabbi Philip Weintraub on Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rabbi Freedman got us all to think about the Al-Chet, and what we should be asking forgiveness for today. His reminder that we all need to be a bit more “uppity”, that we must not stand by when we hear racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, or any other hurtful -ism brought people to their feet.

I didn’t list everyone here, but it was a beautiful night.  Many thanks to Stefanie Kostenblatt and Rabbi Larry Freedman for their organizational abilities, beautiful teachings and cooperation in this beautiful night.  As I go into the Yamim Noraim, the High Holy Days, I am inspired, uplifted and sure that through our cooperation, we can do amazing work.  Our country is a very special place, where people can come from all different backgrounds, faiths, and traditions and work together to build community.   Hallelujah!

Thank you very much to Caryn Sobel for her beautiful photography.