7/14/20

A reminder about our meeting at 530pm today.

Shalom Chevre (friends)!

At our last membership meeting we reviewed and discussed the revised by-laws and subsequently held a vote on accepting them.   We are very pleased to announce that the vote was unanimous and the revised by-laws has been passed.

Our regularly scheduled board meetings are the second Tuesday of every month and our next meeting is on July 14th. All board meetings are open to the membership and we welcome and encourage your participation.  A number of things have happened since the last membership meeting in May that need to be discussed with the congregation and we would invite all to attend to learn more about these developments.
The by-laws call for elections in January of each year.  Because of these developments the board is proposing that an early election should be held in September.  If approved the term of the new board would be Sept 2020 until the next election in January 2022.
The meeting will be a virtual one, you can join us either online or by calling in (details below).

The planned meeting agenda is as follows.
  • Welcome
  • Board Meeting
  • High Holiday update
  • Business update
  • Vote
  • Q & A

Here are the meeting details, if you have any questions please let us know.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87690116604?pwd=enl3aDY5ZDhZNG9na0VFQmREUmNCdz09

Meeting ID: 876 9011 6604
Password: 801142
One tap mobile
+19292056099,, 87690116604#,,,,0#,,801142#

Phone Number: 929-20-56099

Meeting ID: 876 9011 6604
Password: 801142
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcnhAoXMIH
We thank you for your continued support.

Board of Trustees
Michael Zwain
Dean Brody
Michael Rubin
Marilyn Werber
Lenore Berkowitz

Congregation B’nai Jacob

176 West Side Ave.

Jersey City, NJ 07940

7/9/20

Shalom chevre (friends!)

Hope you’re having a cool (by which I mean temperature 😉 week 🙂

This week at CBJ we are kickin’ it back with the classics– Lunch & Learn is today at 12:30pm with the story of the zealot, Pinchas. Right, not very chill at all, and yet there’s a lot to learn from this story about what it means to believe in something passionately, and what happens when we cross that line into zealotry. Looking forward to learning with you!

Meeting ID: 819 1325 5602
Call-In Number: 1 929 436 2866

Then tonight (Thursday) at 6pm CBJ continues its partnership with SMUSH Gallery for White Space Conversations for Anti-Racism, and the topic is: PRIVILEGE. Zoom link can be found at  https://www.smushgallery.com/whatshappening

Ahad Ha’Am famously wrote, “More than Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.” Okay, Ahad, maybe a little shady, but the gift of Shabbat, which is Shalom- peace, wholeness, has carried us throughout our history, and still has the potential to infuse each of us individually with return to ourselves, our breath, our purpose, our being. Come friday night for shmoozing (7pm), meditation (7:15pm), and some great davenin’ (7:30pm). Looking forward to being with you!

Meeting ID: 883 8667 8413
Call-In Number: 19294362866

AND IN OUR COMMUNITY– if you haven’t been able to make the demonstrations at City Hall on Tuesdays @4pm, we are very fortunate that Adam Sachs, friend of CBJ, has been consistently and beautifully documenting the events. Here are some photos showing the teach-ins and artistry that are taking place. Jersey City is asserting the value of community and it is pivotal that we, as Jews in this community, show up in support and solidarity. If you have questions about these demonstrations, about the history of Black Lives Matter (BLM), an organization I’ve been involved with over the last 6 years, I’d be happy to talk more ( rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com)

AND LASTLY (BUT NOT LEASTLY!!!)- We are extremely happy that our beloved congregant and friend Rebecca Shapiro has returned safely to us from Barbados where she has been living and teaching for the last several months. Kevin and Rebecca became members of CBJ mid 2019 and we extend our love and gratitude to both of them at this time 🙂
Blessings to all of you, and looking forward to being with you in learning, prayer, and action! 🙂 R’B

6/30/2020

Shalom chevre (friends)!

I hope everyone has been having a good week so far 🙂 this week at CBJ we’re keepin’ it classic (almost as classic as apple pie, or is that ‘as American’ as apple pie? I’m going to blame it on the heat LOL).

Tomorrow, Thursday @ 12:30pm we continue with our Lunch & Learn study of the book of BaMidbar, in the Wilderness. This week’s parasha tells the (in)famous story of Moses’ famous disobedience to God (gasp!) that actually forbids him from entering the Land of Israel. This story is considered so sacred and heartbreaking that in the Sephardic tradition, the Torah reader actually recites it with tears and in a whisper. Come to learn this story in the original and let’s explore how the Torah imagines loyalty, and what that can teach us about how to walk in this world with integrity today.

Meeting ID: 863 2437 2098
Call-In Number: 19294362866

Then Thursday evening @6pm Bnai Jacob continues to co-sponsor “White Space Conversations: Conversations for Anti-Racism” with SMUSH gallery. To join the conversation of what it means, as a white person, to become actively “anti-racist”, please see the SMUSH gallery website ( https://www.smushgallery.com/whatshappening) for the ZOOM link. **Please note– because of the sensitive nature of the material the ZOOM room will close right at 6:15pm, so please arrive on time. We want you there!** If you have any questions about the group, you can email me at rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com

Lastly (but certainly not least) we celebrate Shabbat this week, that revolutionary day of rest and re-souling in prayer, meditation, song, dance (we should do more of that, no?) and community. Because of the shifts in the season, we are shifting our timing a bit too, so please take note: *7:00pm- open hang out, 7:15pm- meditation, 7:30pm- Kabbalat Shabbat Services with candle-lighting, kiddush, and motzi (our blessing for bread) taking place at the end*
ZOOM LINK:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83016679291
Meeting ID: 830 1667 9291
Call-In Number: 19294362866
And while we hope that you will be able to enjoy at least some of your favorite July 4th traditions this year, we recognize that this July 4th may feel a little different. Bnai Jacob will also be compiling a list of resources that can help mark the uniqueness of this July 4th, including opportunities for volunteering and important actions you can be involved with to support the highest ideals that our country can live up to. Please keep an eye out 🙂
Looking forward to being with you this week, and every week!!
Blessings 🙂 R’B

6/23/2020

Shalom Shalom chevre (friends)!

I hope you’re having a good (albeit schvitzy) week so far 😉 We have a lot of wonderful things happening with CBJ this week, so please take a minute to scroll through to find what lights you up! And you might be surprised– it might be something you haven’t tried before 😉

TODAY, TUESDAY JUNE 23rd @4PM @CITY HALL (280 GROVE STREET)- DEMONSTRATION AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY AND TEACH-IN WITH JERSEY CITY ANTI-VIOLENCE COALITION MOVEMENT, BLACK DIASPORA CLUB, AND BLACK MEN UNITED

These amazing photographs were taken by friend of Bnai Jacob Adam Sachs. When I asked him why he felt it was important to be at these demonstrations, Adam said the following:

“I once saw Saul Williams speak years ago and an audience member asked about the appropriate way to educate our children in the midst of protests. “I’d say that protesting is a form of education,” he answered. At this moment we are all being forced to reassess the paradigm in which we have lived throughout history, and a mass movement of demonstrations is an ideal way to absorb new viewpoints and learn. At the same time, the power of these protests comes from strength in numbers, so our mere presence is the most valuable thing we can do to move the needle closer toward the causes at the center of the demonstrations.”

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24th @5:30PM- LAST TALMUD CLASS OF THE SUMMER!!!!- If you haven’t had a chance to learn about the Talmud’s teachings of justice, now is the last time this summer before we take a little break (but then returning FULL FORCE in the Fall 🙂 🙂 It’s better late than never, come join for the exciting conclusion 🙂 🙂

Meeting ID: 883 1037 6890

THURSDAY, JUNE 25th @12:30PM- LUNCH & LEARN BAMIDBAR- This session is all about rebels (but hey, we’re Jews, when ISN’T it about rebels? ;)– It’s the story of Korach– come see what happens in this epic Biblical throw-down between the rebel and Moses….

Meeting ID: 878 7212 9341

FRIDAY NIGHT, JUNE 26TH @7PM IS SHABBAT: FOR THE REBEL WITH A CAUSE in which we will feature the music of beloved Jewish composer Debbie Friedman z”l.
ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82019076194 Meeting ID: 820 1907 6194
**AND THIS WEEK AS MANY IN OUR COUNTRY ARE CELEBRATING LGBTQIA PRIDE, BNAI JACOB WILL ALSO BE CELEBRATING WITH A MOST SPECIAL SHABBAT INCLUDING PRIDE HAVDALAH WITH SPECIAL GUEST KOACH BARUCH FRAZIER**
ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81045506304
Meeting ID: 810 4550 6304

Blessings to everyone for a good week, health and resilience 🙂  Please be in touch– your rabbi is always down for a virtual coffee 🙂 🙂 ( rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com, 267-475-5181)
Blessings 🙂 R’B

6/19/2020

Shalom chevre (friends)!

Today is Juneteenth, now a municipal holiday (FINALLY) in Jersey City, and so many giants in our communities are celebrating it the way we should– a celebration of Black-Owned Businesses, The Black Owned Initiative at City Hall from 2-4pm organized by Suite Tee Beauty Studio, and a Juneteenth Jersey City celebration from 12-5pm honoring Black culture and peoplehood on MLK Boulevard organized by Black Men UnitedJersey City Anti-Violence Coalition MovementWorld Outreach Christian Church @Black Diaspora Club and more.

We are so proud to partner with Congregation Beth El of South Orange with Rabbi Jesse Olitzky, and Hali J. Epstein and Tal Raichlin Shuster of JC at JC to also honor this day, as well as the hard work we MUST be a part of to truly make our nation free, with Shabbat Juneteenth, featuring Jersey City community leader and educator Dennis Febo. Kabbalat Shabbat begins at 6:30pm tonight for prayer and learning that powers action.

ZOOM LINK: 

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86926982824

Meeting ID: 869 2698 2824

And don’t forget, from CBJ friend, activist, and teacher Alain Mentha and WELCOME HOME JERSEY CITY– this is one HOLY Shabbat! Saturday, June 20th is also WORLD REFUGEE DAY! Please check out some of the amazing educational and also entertaining programs that are being offered throughout the day as is comfortable with your Shabbat practice. Among them is WELCOME HOME JERSEY CITY’S FILM FESTIVAL!!! Details below and on Facebook:

ALSO TONIGHT, as is the custom of CBJ, we will offer blessings of MAZAL TOV! to our beloved member Bennett Carlin and the whole mishpacha on the recent birth of grandson EZRA JACOB!!! We are so excited to celebrate with you 🙂
Looking forward to being together, and please, if you other simchas (joyous occasions) that we can celebrate with you, let us know!
Blessings 🙂 R’B

6/17/2020

Shalom Chevre (friends)!

At our last membership meeting we reviewed and discussed the revised by-laws and subsequently held a vote on accepting them.   We are very pleased to announce that the vote was unanimous and the revised by-laws has been passed.

Our regularly scheduled board meetings are the second Tuesday of every month and our next meeting is on July 14th. All board meetings are open to the membership and we welcome and encourage your participation.  A number of things have happened since the last membership meeting in May that need to be discussed with the congregation and we would invite all to attend to learn more about these developments.
The by-laws call for elections in January of each year.  Because of these developments the board is proposing that an early election should be held in September.  If approved the term of the new board would be Sept 2020 until the next election in January 2022.
The meeting will be a virtual one, you can join us either online or by calling in (details below).

The planned meeting agenda is as follows.
  • Welcome
  • Board Meeting
  • High Holiday update
  • Business update
  • Vote
  • Q & A
Here are the meeting details, if you have any questions please let us know.
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87690116604?pwd=enl3aDY5ZDhZNG9na0VFQmREUmNCdz09

Meeting ID: 876 9011 6604
Password: 801142
One tap mobile
+19292056099,, 87690116604#,,,,0#,,801142#

Phone Number: 929-20-56099

Meeting ID: 876 9011 6604
Password: 801142
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcnhAoXMIH
We thank you for your continued support.

Board of Trustees
Michael Zwain
Dean Brody
Michael Rubin
Marilyn Werber
Lenore Berkowitz

Congregation B’nai Jacob

176 West Side Ave.

Jersey City, NJ 07940
201-435-5725

6/16/2020

Good morning chevre (friends)!

First off, what better way to start the week than to have a glitch in your email system? Am I right? lol Many of you received a repeat email from Shulcloud, our current server. Apologies for the confusion. While this is being fixed you’ll be receiving all the regular updates via my direct email, so no worries, we are still on it!
There is so much going on with CBJ– our learning programs, Shabbat, and community activism. Here’s the lowdown for the week:
Today, Tuesday at 4pm— Bnai Jacob continues to partner with the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition in weekly demonstrations against systematic racism. Please gather at City Hall (280 Grove Street) as we fulfill the mitzvah “Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof”– “Justice, Justice you must pursue!”

Wednesday 6/17 @5:30pm we continue with Beginners’ Talmud as we deep dive into our rabbinic ancestors’ wrestling with responsibility to protest.

Meeting ID: 874 5409 6187
Call-In Number: 19294362866

Thursday 6/18 @12:30pm we return with Lunch & Learn- BaMidbar, in the Wilderness. This week we look at the famous story of the 12 spies. What happens when our fears get the best of us? How do we move forward?

Meeting ID: 894 8839 2237
Call-in Number: 19294362866

Then this Shabbat, 6/19 we are partnering with activist community Congregation Beth El of South Orange and JCatJC  for a special Shabbat service honoring Juneteenth, the American holiday in which we commemorate the abolition of slavery on June 19, 1865. We will be welcoming guest speaker Dennis Febo who will teach us about current initiatives in our state, including addendum ACR145 to the 13th Amendment of the NJ State Constitution, which is still fighting the fight against slavery in our incarceration system.
NOTE the new times: Services start at 6:30pm with Mr. Febo speaking at 7:15pm* 

Meeting ID: 869 2698 2824
Call-In Number: 19294362866

Our tradition teaches, “Do not oppress the stranger, for you were a stranger in a strange land.” From our CBJ friend and teacher Alain Mentha of WELCOME HOME JERSEY CITY, this Saturday, 6/20, is WORLD REFUGEE DAY. There will be a number of programs offered throughout the day and evening, so please check this out as you can and as aligns with your Shabbos practice. Of SPECIAL note, is WELCOME HOME JERSEY CITY’s film festival! For more information, check out WELCOME HOME JERSEY CITY on Facebook or their website ( www.welcomehomerefugees.org) for more information on their amazing programs.

Blessings to all of you for a good week 🙂 R’B


6/12/2020

Dear chevre,

Tonight is Shabbos Lights! Connecting to the power of light, within and without. Some people are saying that these are dark times– between the COVID pandemic and the systematic racism and brutality that has been a plague on this country since its very founding, it is easy to lose energy, motivation, and hope. But this Shabbos we will be reconnecting to our Source, reenergizing from our base. Come to be in community, in meditation, in connection.

6:30pm- Hang-Out Time
6:45pm- Meditation
7:00pm- Davenin‘ and Candle-lighting

ZOOM Link:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84897057399
Meeting ID: 848 9705 7399
Call-In Number: 1 929 436 2866

Blessings 🙂 R’B


6/4/2020

Dear chevre,

We’re in it– the wilderness. It’s rough here. In this week’s Torah reading we see what’s truly scary about the wilderness– when those with the more power operate under different rules. Let’s wrestle with our ancestors and see what we can learn from the struggle. Today at 12:30pm. See you there!

ZOOM LINK:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87133262087
Meeting ID: 871 3326 2087
Call-In Number: +19294362866

d I hope you’re excited– we are so fortunate that This Friday is SHABBAT TZEDEK V’SHALOM, and will feature community peace activist, founder and executive director of the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition movement Pamela Johnson. Join the open chat room at *new time* 6:30pm, with meditation at 6:45, and Pamela Johnson will speak at 7:00pm. Come for community, davening, and an inspiring discussion of the history of anti-violence work in Jersey City, and the ways we can be a part of meaningful and proactive partnership between Black and Jewish communities.

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87620046485
Meeting ID: 876 2004 6485
Call-In Number: +19294362866

Blessings 🙂 R’B


6/3/2020

Dear chevre,
Yesterday’s protest was nothing short of remarkable. It was inspiring to see nearly 1000 people gather in front of city hall to heed the words of some of our city’s greatest giants of social justice and reform– Principal Chris Gadsden, Steve Campos, Frank “Educational” Gilmore, and of course, the powerhouse Pamela Johnson. It was heart-warming to see that there was a Jewish presence in the crowd, and I hope we can keep building on that momentum. We must remember that when our Black sisters and brothers cry “Enough is Enough”– we all know those words in our bones– “Never.Again.”

The struggle for justice has been a 2000 year-old battle for our people, and we canonized it, YES, canonized it in the Talmud. Join us tonight for Beginners’ Talmud @5:30pm to see where the trouble, the kind of trouble that gets people to think about things differently, all began.

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89067635031
Meeting ID: 890 6763 5031
Call-In Number: 1 929 436 2866

One of the chants heard over and over again at the protest, a chant used in every major civil rights demonstration for the last 50 years, goes “No Justice No Peace.” That’s why this Shabbat we are celebrating the pursuit of justice (tzedek), and the pursuit of peace (shalom). This Friday is SHABBAT TZEDEK V’SHALOM, and will feature community peace activist, founder and executive director of the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition movement Pamela Johnson. Join the open chat room at *new time* 6:30pm, with meditation at 6:45, and Pamela Johnson will speak at 7:00pm. Come for community, davening, and an inspiring discussion of the history of anti-violence work in Jersey City, and the ways we can be a part of meaningful and proactive partnership between Black and Jewish communities.

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87620046485
Meeting ID: 876 2004 6485
Call-In Number: +19294362866

In such a difficult and challenging time, we all need to feel a sense of pride and possibility. In a world we are striving not even for perfection, but just a better good, I hope you’ll find these articles inspiring– each one is about the peaceful yet forceful demonstrations that have occured in Jersey City :

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/hudson/2020/06/01/jersey-city-protest-hundreds-march-peaceful-george-floyd-rally/5308690002/

https://www.nj.com/hudson/2020/06/peaceful-rally-in-jersey-city-calls-for-an-end-to-police-brutality-justice-for-george-floyd.html

https://www.nj.com/hudson/2020/06/peaceful-rally-in-jersey-city-calls-for-an-end-to-police-brutality-justice-for-george-floyd.html

Blessings 🙂 R’B


6/2/2020

Dear chevre,

This is one of the many powerful images coming out of the Jewish activist world. Tikkun Olam, which literally means “Repairing the World” is a foundational concept in Judaism’s spiritual life and work in the world. Part of repairing our world today, and every day, is asserting that Black Lives Matter. Jenna Zwain, a 3rd Generation Member of CBJ, wrote these words:

“I see more hatred and fear now than I ever have. Just the thought of it brings me to tears, but the pain I feel is a mere fraction of what the Black community feels and experiences every day.”

Led by peace activist and community organizer Pamela Johnson (and friend of CBJ), the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement (JCAVCM) is organizing a protest against police brutality TODAY at 4pm in front of the Jersey City Municipal Building (280 Grove Street). As the first Jewish board member in the history of this organization, I am proud that we are organizing a peaceful yet forceful protest. I am proud to be a part of an organization that aligns with so many of my Jewish values, and the values CBJ holds dear. 

I urge you, as we are a community of conscience, to attend this protest if you are able. Please come in full protective gear (masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer if you have), practice social distancing to the best of your ability, and be a Jewish ally to our Black and Brown sisters and brothers, and to the brave members of law enforcement who are striving to do better. We will gather in front of the Beechwood Café (290 Grove Street) at 3:45pm. I will be there, and I hope to see you there. Please email me (rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com), ring me or give me a text (267-475-5181) if you plan to attend and want to connect-up.

 I also urge you- if you have health concerns or preconditions that make any group gathering particularly dangerous, to prioritize your own safety and health. There are other ways that you can support this movement besides being at the protest in person. Jenna Zwain, who is not able to attend in person, writes further:

“I chose to donate to bail funds because anyone who is able to join a protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement shouldn’t be afraid to. Now is a time that the Black community and allies need to be able to come together to incite change that is long overdue, and I will do anything and everything I can to support the movement.” 

Along with bail funds, we can also be a part of organizations looking to stop violent policing. One example is Campaign Zero: https://www.joincampaignzero.org/#vision

Please be in touch if you want to know more about endeavors that can be supported even if protesting in person is not safe for you. Remember, your health and safety are always CBJ’s top priority 🙂

I am so deeply proud to be the rabbi of Congregation Bnai Jacob, and what we represent in Jersey City—rich Jewish tradition, inclusivity, and justice. I look forward to being with you today, whether that is in body or in spirit.

In solidarity and blessings 🙂 R’B


6/1/2020

Dear chevre,

Apologies for this lengthy note. These are challenging and demanding times, and I hope you’ll bear with me and read to the end, my dear community.

The Talmud teaches “If one has it in their ability to protest and does not, then that person is to be apprehended [along with the wrongdoers].” CBJ members and friends have been learning this passage in our weekly Wednesday Beginners’ Talmud class. I’m reminded now of another great teaching from our tradition, from Pirkei Avot: “Which is greater, study or action? Study, for it leads to action.”

Now is the time where our study must lead to action. As many of you know, I am a board member of the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement (JCAVCM). Led by peace activist and community organizer Pamela Johnson (and friend of CBJ), JCAVCM is organizing a protest against police brutality for this Tuesday, June 2nd at 4pm in front of the Jersey City Municipal Building (280 Grove Street). The brutal murder of George Floyd in Minnesota is the most recent brutality committed against people of color in this country, and we as Jews know what it is like when those who are supposed to enforce the law enforce it differently depending on what community you come from.

Sadly, we know it all too well. 

It is not just people of color who recognize this moral blight, nor is it just other historically oppressed minorities, including us, who can recognize it, but even police themselves. There are police officers in cities around the country who are also taking part in these demonstrations, for police brutality also puts other cops in danger, making them a target for increased violence. See this article below:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisettevoytko/2020/05/31/in-some-cities-police-officers-joined-protesters-marching-against-brutality/?fbclid=IwAR1rylG9meHBl3rimFYgpHXSkCtssjQpa2HgxA-LAd63NrQ5mQ5vbNfNJG8#33f400b35edb

I urge you, as we are a community of conscience, to attend this protest in full protective gear (masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer if you have), to practice social distancing to be the best of your ability, and to be a Jewish ally to our Black and Brown sisters and brothers, and to those members of law enforcement who are striving to do better. We will gather in front of the Beechwood Café (290 Grove Street) at 3:45pm. I will be there, and I hope to see you there. Please email me (rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com), ring me or give me a text (267-475-5181) if you plan to attend so we can be together. I also urge you- if you have health concerns or preconditions that make any group gathering particularly dangerous, to prioritize your own safety and health. There are other ways that you can support this movement besides being at the protest in person. Please reach out if that’s you.

I am so deeply proud to be the rabbi of Congregation Bnai Jacob, and what we represent in Jersey City—rich Jewish tradition, inclusivity, and justice. Let us truly be a light in this darkness, and stand side-by-side with our neighbors for what is right.

In solidarity and blessings 🙂 R’B


5/27/2020

Shalom chevre (friends!),

I know you’ve been waiting for it, and here it is: the official program for our Shavuot Tikkun Leil!

                                               TIKKUN LEIL SHAVUOT
8pm- I’ll kick this thang off beginning with the original solo wrestling match– Jacob vs the…..(???), ALONE. REVEALED.
8:10pm– Rachel Murdy and a ghostly Shavuot visit with GOMO
8:30pm- candle lighting and Arlene Stein “Wrestling With Others, Wrestling with Oneself”
9:00-9:30pm– Carla Main, depictions of Jacob’s wrestling in 5 visual works
9:30-9:45pm– poetry by Katelyn Halpern, “A Whole Darkness”
9:45pm-10:15pm– Original midrash and artwork by Nina Marie Sciarrotta
10:15pm-10:30pm– Three Dairy Based Cocktails with Graeme A.B. Schranz (it’s Shavuot after all!)
10:30pm-11:00pm– A deep Talmudic dive with Nicole Fix
11:00pm-11:15pm “You Have Struggled With Beings Human and Divine” with Kay Magilavy
11:15-11:45– “Jacob, Moses, and Reb Nachman of Breslov: Solitude and the Practice of Living With Contradictions” with Graeme A.B. Schranz
11:45-12:00am– a story with Beth Achenbach
12:00am-12:30am– L’00ps: A Monologue, music with Alex Pergament
12:30am-1:00am– Embodying the wrestling with Carolyn Andrea
1:00am-1:15am– a teaching with Nicky Watts
1:15am-1:30am– “Take your Broken Things to Make your Wings”, a performance piece by Lisa Huberman
1:30am-2:00am– Tarot Readings with Carolyn Andrea
2:00am-2:30am– spoken word with Rashad Wright
2:30am-3:00am– John Fathom, ‘nuf said 😉
3:00am-dawn– The World of Dream Interpretation… The 9th Chapter of Masechet Berakhot of the Talmud, studying, singing dreaming with me, R’Bronwen.

***AND FOR THOSE MILK-BASED COCKTAILS….***, YOU’LL NEED (though you can just enjoy the demo too 🙂 :):

BRANDY ALEXANDER – Brandy, creme de cacao, half-and-half or evaporated milk, fresh nutmeg to top it off.
GRASSHOPPER – Creme de cacao, creme de menthe, half-and-half or evaporated milk.
BOURBON MILK PUNCH – Whole milk, vanilla extract, bourbon or another sweet whiskey (Mellow Corn is great), powdered sugar, dark rum (optional), cinnamon or nutmeg to top it off.

And from the Master Chef: For the creme de cacao and creme de menthe, my favorite brand is Tempus Fugit but this is not necessary.​​​​​​​

ZOOM LINK FOR SHAVUOT TIKKUN LEIL:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85897996952
Meeting ID: 858 9799 6952
Call-In Numbers:
+13126266799 (Chicago)
+19294362866 (New York)

And today is Wednesday, right?? Well that means we’re still rolling out new Torah, new interpretations, new realness– by getting way deep in that tradition 🙂 Beginners’ Talmud is TODAY at @5:30pm!

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82028107936
Meeting ID: 820 2810 7936
Call-In Number:19294362866

And we are rockin’ that wilderness, y’all. Lunch & Learn is still on for this Thursday at 12:30pm.

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86871397120
Meeting ID: 868 7139 7120
Call-In Number: 19294362866

And SHABBAT, SHABBAT SHAVUOT! So much wonderfulness coming and so many opportunities to be together in celebration of life, rejuvenating us for the harder moments, and the work we must do to make the world a better place. More on this Shabbat Shavuot coming up….

Blessings 🙂 R’B

Shabbat Shavuot ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89083819848
Meeting ID: 890 8381 9848
Call-In Number: 1 929 436 2866 US (New York)


5/26/2020

Shalom chevre (friends!),

It’s here it’s here it’s here! Shavuot is THIS THURSDAY night starting at 8PM! Be prepared for original midrash, story and artwork by Nina Sciarotta, teachings about wrestling with the Divine from Kay Magilavy, Carla Main, and Arlene Stein, poetry from the immense Katelyn Halpern (Artistic Director of SMUSH Gallery in Jersey City), artist Beth Achenbach, and Jersey City poet-laureate Rashad Wright, and SO MUCH MORE! “Like what?” You may ask– in addition to teaching on Moses and Nachman of Breslov, Graeme Schranz will be offering a new take on a timeless Shavuot tradition- 3 MILK-BASED COCKTAILS!!!!  But you’ll want to get the ingredients in advance. From the Master Chef:

BRANDY ALEXANDER – Brandy, creme de cacao, half-and-half or evaporated milk, fresh nutmeg to top it off.
GRASSHOPPER – Creme de cacao, creme de menthe, half-and-half or evaporated milk.
BOURBON MILK PUNCH – Whole milk, vanilla extract, bourbon or another sweet whiskey (Mellow Corn is great), powdered sugar, dark rum (optional), cinnamon or nutmeg to top it off.

For the creme de cacao and creme de menthe, my favorite brand is Tempus Fugit but this is not necessary.​​​​​​​

Can’t wait to see you all there!

ZOOM LINK:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85897996952
Meeting ID: 858 9799 6952
Call-In Numbers:
+13126266799 (Chicago)
+19294362866 (New York)

And as we get ready for Shavuot, the moment of the Revelation of Torah, CBJ is still rolling out new Torah, new interpretations, new realness– by getting way deep in that tradition 🙂 Beginners’ Talmud is TOMORROW @5:30pm!

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82028107936
Meeting ID: 820 2810 7936
Call-In Number:19294362866

And we are rockin’ that wilderness, y’all. Lunch & Learn is still on for this Thursday at 12:30pm.

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86871397120
Meeting ID: 868 7139 7120
Call-In Number: 19294362866

And SHABBAT, SHABBAT SHAVUOT! So much wonderfulness coming and so many opportunities to be together in celebration of life, rejuvenating us for the harder moments, and the work we must do to make the world a better place. More on this Shabbat Shavuot coming up….

Blessings 🙂 R’B


5/20/2020

Shalom chevre (friends!),

Hope you’re having a good week so far! This week we begin a new book of the Torah, BaMidbar- In the Wilderness. Please join us as we transition in our Torah study to a new adventure, both ancient and deeply (perhaps too deeply) contemporary.

LUNCH & LEARN (Thursdays @12:30pm)
ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82274377637
Meeting ID: 822 7437 7637
Call-In Number: 19294362866

And today at 5:30pm, we continue with Beginners’ Talmud! If Talmud feels like a “wilderness” to you (strange, scary, takes at least 40 years to get to the end of it, etc.) don’t worry- you’re right 🙂 but we’re in it together 🙂

BEGINNERS’ TALMUD (Today! & Wednesdays @5:30pm)
ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85097637225
Meeting ID: 850 9763 7225
Call-In Number: 1 929 436 2866

The Wilderness, in Judaism, is also the place where revelation occurs. We come closer to ourselves, to our world, and to our Divine source. This week is Shabbat BaMidbar. Hangtime begins at 6:45, Meditation at 7:10, and candlelighting at 7:30. Looking forward to being with you! And NEXT WEEK, speaking of revelation, is Shavuot! Come for an all-night study (or as long as you can go) starting at 8pm featuring YOU! Yes, our own community members will be presenting original stories, poems, songs, text studies, you name it. It’s Torah Bnai Jacob-style: BY and FOR the community 🙂 🙂

Shabbat BaMidbar!
Zoom Link:
Meeting ID: 861 1490 3839
Call-In Number: 19294362866

And remember, I love to hear from you, and am always available to connect! My # is 267-475-5181, email rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com. Continued, strength, health, patience, and resilience to all of you 🙂

Blessings 🙂 R’B


5/13/2020

Shalom chevre (friends!),

I hope everyone’s having a good week so far. As was brilliantly noted by a member of our community, sometimes even going to the Duane Read can be an “Awesome” experience. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote about the importance of “radical amazement” in spiritual life, approaching all things with a sense of wonder. I hope you are finding moments from time to time to be amazed by the things of daily life, even when it’s hard or strange. And when you can, let’s share them with those around us. We’re a people of wonder-ers, aren’t we? Or was that wanderers…? Maybe it can be both 🙂

So there’s a lot going on this week with CBJ! First off, Beginners’ Talmud is TODAY at 5:30pm.
ZOOM link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85140263909
Meeting ID: 851 4026 3909
Call-In Number: 19294362866

Then Thursday is our really packed day! Lunch & Learn at 12:30pm focusing in on The Shmitah Year– the year of complete rest and release for the land (sound familiar….?). Then at 7pm is our Congregational Meeting. Please join us for a review of the year, some procedures and operations for the health of our community, and a presentation of a vision for the future for our community. And that’s especially where YOU come in 🙂

ZOOM Link LUNCH & LEARN:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82824150231
Meeting ID: 828 2415 0231
Call-In Number: 1 929 436 2866

ZOOM link CONGREGATIONAL MEETING:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82659307013
Meeting ID: 826 5930 7013
Call-In Number: 19294362866

And this week our Shabbat is a special Shabbat– it’s Shabbat Shmitah– The Shabbat of Release. What are we looking to release? What are we afraid of releasing? Please join us *early* at new time: 6:45pm for kibbutz and hang time, at 7:10pm we will begin meditation in preparation for Shabbat led by Carolyn Light, and at 7:30pm we will light candles and bring in Shabbat together. Looking forward to being with you all!

ZOOM link SHABBAT SHMITAH:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86310074775
Meeting ID: 863 1007 4775
Call-In Number: 1 929 436 2866

And lastly, just a reminder that COVID-19 and antibody testing is now being made available for all JC residents, whether or not you are syptomatic. Currently, Jersey City has testing sites at two locations– a walk-up testing center for all Jersey City residents at 140 MLK Drive {in the Mary McLeod Bethune Life Center} and a drive-thru location at the former DPW Complex 575 NJ-440, Jersey City — residents must call 201-547-5535 to schedule an appointment.

Please be safe and stay healthy, sending you all blessings and good energy for continued resilience.

Blessings 🙂 R’B


5/6/2020

Shalom chevre (friends!),

I hope everyone has been having a good week so far. But let’s just say it– “good” is a strange word. We are living in strange times, and please know that it is normal to have ups and downs, moments of peace and calm, and moments of fear or depression. It’s a rollercoaster, right? But we are on this ride together. Please know you can always reach out (rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com, 267-475-5181), and that your Bnai Jacob family is here for you 🙂

So today is Wednesday, which means it’s Beginners’ Talmud! Our theme of self-care, community-care, global-care, speaks to the needs of now, both in the world around us, and within us. Come for the learning, and to connect in community with our tradition’s wisdom for the most difficult of times. And we even laugh, folks. Talmud is fun, just try it 😉

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86916660439
Meeting ID: 869 1666 0439
Call-In Number: 19294362866

And get ready! Shabbat this week is honoring the IMAHOT:  the power of women in our lives– mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, mentors, leaders, drag-mothers, best friends– all the women who have been a part of raising us. Join us at 7pm for hang-time and meditation led by Carolyn Light, 7:30pm is candlelighting and Kabbalat Shabbat. Looking forward to being with you 🙂

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81120106890
Meeting ID: 811 2010 6890
Call-In Number: 1 929 436 2866 

And lastly, in amazing news from our city, COVID-19 and antibody testing is now being made available for all JC residents, whether or not you are symptomatic. Currently, Jersey City has testing sites at two locations– a walk-up testing center for all Jersey City residents at 140 MLK Drive {in the Mary McLeod Bethune Life Center} and a drive-thru location at the former DPW Complex 575 NJ-440, Jersey City — residents must call 201-547-5535 to schedule an appointment.

Blessings 🙂 R’B


5/1/2020

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86428708716
Meeting ID: 864 2870 8716.  Call-In Number:  +1 929 436 2866

Shalom chevre (friends)!

I hope you’ve all been having a good week. In recent Jersey City news, our local agencies have taken great strides to protecting the health and well-being of its citizens. A number of parks have been reopened with precautions, Human and Health Services and other organizations such as AngelaCares and Rising Tide Capital have been working to support and strengthen our most vulnerable populations during this crisis. There is a lot to be hopeful for, and proud of– Jersey City is strong– even our immense arts community is adapting and providing needed inspiration and connection, especially the Jersey City Theater Center, Nimbus Dance, and SMUSH Gallery. Check out their incredible offerings! Remember- we are not alone. We are in this together.

And speaking of TOGETHER– **TONIGHT**, May1st @7pm Bnai Jacob will be continuing its celebration of Israel with Interdependence Shabbat: Israel in 2020. Please come **right at 7pm** to hear Rabbi Ayelet Cohen, Senior Director of The New Israel Fund (NIF) an Israeli/American non-profit which works to advance an Israeli that is truly shared among its residents, one in which every Israeli has an equal stake in combating racism and protecting minorities from discrimination. Rabbi Cohen will share her family’s history of building the State of Israel and their commitment to challenging the Israeli Government to uphold its ethical ideals. Rabbi Cohen’s talk with Q&A will be followed by Kabbalat Shabbat services featuring singer/songwriter Carolyn Light.

ZOOM LINK INTERDEPENDENCE SHABBAT: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86428708716
Meeting ID: 864 2870 8716
Call-In Number:  +1 929 436 2866

Looking forward to being with you always 🙂

Blessings 🙂 R’B


4/27/2020

Shalom chevre (friends)!

Hope you’re having a good Monday 🙂 This week on Wednesday, April 29th we celebrate Israeli Independence Day— we honor the history of the land that is the birthplace of and inspiration behind much of Judaism’s teachings and culture; we commemorate the challenges in establishing what is the modern state; and we take pride in Israel’s many accomplishments in medicine, the arts, technology, humanitarian service and so much more. Please join me in celebrating Israel this Wednesday by checking out IsraPalooza! : An All-Day Drop In Festival Celebrating Israel created by IsraelStory, which includes everything from Israeli music concerts and cooking classes to interviews with leading Israeli and Palestinian activists and politicians. Here’s the link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/israpalooza-registration-103066972088

Bnai Jacob will be continuing its celebration of Israel this Shabbat, May1st @7pm with Interdependence Shabbat: Israel in 2020. Please come **right at 7pm** to hear Rabbi Ayelet Cohen, Senior Director of The New Israel Fund (NIF) an Israeli/American non-profit which works to advance an Israeli that is truly shared among its residents, one in which every Israeli has an equal stake in combating racism and protecting minorities from discrimination. Rabbi Cohen will share her family’s history of building the State of Israel and their commitment to challenging the Israeli Government to uphold its ethical ideals. Rabbi Cohen’s talk with Q&A will be followed by Kabbalat Shabbat services featuring singer/songwriter Carolyn Light.

ZOOM LINK INTERDEPENDENCE SHABBAT: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86428708716
Meeting ID: 864 2870 8716
Call-In Number:  +1 929 436 2866

Also on Wendesday we have Beginners’ Talmud– this is where Judaism gets REALLY real. We’re learning about self-care, community-care, world-care– how they’re linked, and how they get really tough. Ancestral wisdom for tough times.

ZOOM LINK BEGINNERS’ TALMUD:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83953280398
Meeting ID: 839 5328 0398
Call-In Number:  +19294362866

LUNCH & LEARN is Thursdays from 12:30-2. Come to check in, come to connect, and come for the wild ride into the Book of Leviticus, that book of strange purity rituals, ethical questions and quarantines…… wait, quarantines? Yeah, Leviticcus goes there.

ZOOM LINK FOR LUNCH & LEARN: :https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81162753447
Meeting ID: 811 6275 3447
Call-In Number:   +1 929 436 2866 

Lastly, but importantly, many of you have asked me about the best ways to do service in Jersey City during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Councilman James Solomon has released a list of several immense local efforts (https://docs.google.com/document/d/17sR_459l6SvXC0VOYNKsOYFQq3EbNofrhsxNRubeEig/edit?fbclid=IwAR1r4X8_sE3uXcaA_DL_CzEYdPGorUxMz7V6oEpJ8WLBSBy3l5qLB48bS-A) which includes our friends Alain Mentha and Welcome Home and Beth El’s food pantry. In addition, please take note of ChicPeaJC’s relief effort, #JerseyCityRelief. If you’re interested and can contribute, check out their GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/food-amp-necessities-for-jc-covid19?fbclid=IwAR3whttcv9AMVUCtLf-XcquAuIsa6wjI4_5aeGHiSreXTd5KiEmLP67HKjg. And right in our own backyard, local youth advocacy leaders Dwayne Baskerville and  Steven Campos have joined up with the Greenville Neighborhood association to distribute masks to Greenville residents who cannot afford them. For more information and to make a donation, please email gogetmykids2@yahoo.com.

As always, please be in touch if you’d like a regular check in, or need assistance of any kind. My email is rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com, phone number (267)-475-5181.

Sending you all blessings and looking forward to seeing you at one or more happenings this week!!

​​​​​​​:) R’B


4/24/2020

Shalom chevre (friends),

As the end to another week comes, and this week of all weeks we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, we are reminded every Shabbat about the glory of the natural world– the language our ancestors used to commemorate this was “Shabbat V’Yinafash”– Rest and Rejuvinate (literally, “Re-Soul”). GD/ESS completes the creation of the natural world and on the 7th day takes it all in, appreciates the inherent wisdom in this now independent organic being. As our ancestors have told us– that we are each made in an image of The Divine– it becomes part of our spiritual and physical health to stop once in a while and receive, in awe and delight, the beauty of the natural world. Please join in tonight for Kabbalat Shabbat at 7:30pm as we light our candles, and amid song and story, let’s share with each other the beauty of our world, and tap into that nourishing gratitude.

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85603895497
Meeting ID: 856 0389 5497
Call-In Numbers (by region):
+1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

And remember: *NEW*- from 7:00-7:30 will be having Kibbutz & Catch-Up: An opportunity for open, casual conversation and check-in because, hey, being together is what Shabbat is all about 🙂 then at 7:30 we will light candles and begin our services.

So looking forward to being with everybody!

​​​​​​​Blessings 🙂 R’B


4/22/2020

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6557526954
Meeting ID: 655 752 6954

Shalom chevre,

Happy Wednesday, and Happy Earth Day! To think, this is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day… In Jewish tradition there is a custom to mark the 50th year as a year of Jubilee, rejoicing and freedom. Even as we may not be experiencing freedom right now in the way that we imagine freedom to look like, reports have come out that this period of time has yielded some relief for the eart– its air, water, and soil quality, and even the reemergence of certain animal life in their habitats. Of course these benefits shouldn’t have to come at the cost of human suffering… but so too our freedom shouldn’t come at the cost of their stuffering… let us aspire for a world where we can recognize that all of our collective freedoms are intertwined and interdependent.

So learning with CBJ this week! You see it, it’s Talmud Wednesdays! Each session is independent so no need to have started from the beginning. Come take a dive into the sea of Talmud (hey, the seas are doing really well right now!), looking forward to swimming with you!
ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6557526954
Meeting ID: 655 752 6954 

And if you’re feeling like you want to do more of that OG Text Study (that’s original), come for Lunch & Learn on the Book of Leviticus, that wonderworld of holy and profane, clean and contamination (ugh, sounds a little too real, right?). But what makes Leviticus really special? It’s the humanness. They were in the wilderness, and we’re living behind screens. But humanness still prevails. Come see how 🙂
LUNCH & LEARN ZOOM LINK:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6557526954
Meeting ID: 655 752 6954
Call in number:
+19294362866

And Shabbat is coming this week! Again we are so excited to feature the amazing singer/songwriter Carolyn Andrea! And something new: from 7:00-7:30 will be having Kibbutz & Catch-Up: An opportunity for open, casual conversation and check-in because, hey, being together is what Shabbat is all about 🙂 then at 7:30 we will light candles and begin our services. Come to connect and elevate your spirit 🙂 Can’t wait to be with you!

Blessings 🙂 R’B


4/19/2020

Dear chevre (friends),

Happy Sunday 🙂 There is a lot going on with our congregation this week, but especially wanted to point your attention to Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. This year Bnai Jacob will participate in a multi-community event led by The March of the Living (https://www.motl.org) on Tuesday, April 21st @7pmThe March of the Living is an organization which brings Jews from all backgrounds to Poland every year to learn about the history of the Holocaust and most importantly, about the roots of systematic prejudice and discrimination that culminate in violence and genocide. When we say “Never Again”, we also say that never again will we ignore the warning signs– exlusionary language and policies, border closures to vulnerable populations, tolerance of “temporary” inhumane living conditions “for some”, etc. Please see the March Of The Living website (https://www.motl.org) for event details, which will include testimony from survivors and March alumni, as well as performances by guest artists who are committed to the fight against anti-semitism and all forms of discriminatory oppression. Looking forward to experiencing this important commemoration, especially at this time, with you.

ZOOM Links for this week’s programs can also be found below 🙂 Can’t wait to connect with you!

Blessings 🙂 R’B

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6557526954
Meeting ID: 655 752 6954

LUNCH & LEARN ZOOM LINK:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6557526954
Meeting ID: 655 752 6954
Call in number:
+19294362866


4/17/2020

Dear chevre (friends),

I hope you’re end of Pesach/Passover was sweet (and mostly because of chametz 😉 mine was pizza, what was yours??) It was beautiful to connect with so many of you at Yizkor on Wednesday night, a time when we connect to and embrace our grief. In the Chassidic tradition, we learn that truest way to experience GD/ESS’s presence is in human connection, which is why Shabbat is considered the holiest holiday in all of Jewish tradition, because at its core is the idea that we take time away from our busy lives to be with each other.

And no amount of screens are gonna get in our way 😉

KABBALAT SHABBAT services are tonight at our new time, 7:30pm, as we shift with the setting of the sun. Even as we are bound in our homes, we are still bound to the earth, and the shifting time for prayer in Jewish tradition helps to remind us of that. Services will be led by our amazing community members and will feature singer/songwriter Carolyn Andrea! Can’t wait to daven with all of you.
ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81661993517
Meeting ID: 816 6199 3517
Call-in #:   +1 929 436 2866 US 

Next week we return with Ecstatic Tefillah on Mondays (check it out on FB live on my FB page), JUST JEW IT on Tuesdays, Talmud on Wednesdays, and Lunch & Learn on Thursdays.

Blessings 🙂 R’B​​​​​​​


4/14/2020

Dear chevre (friends),

Can you believe it’s already the 6th day of Passover?? I feel like it was just yesterday that we were having 3rd seder together, oy…. I hope you’ve been enjoying your matzah (haha). Though some of you have been very adventurous in making your own! Will send some pics very soon 🙂

As we’re coming to the end of Pesach, the Holiday of Liberation, it is a custom to perform a service known as Yizkor, which means “He/It will be remembered”. This service, performed 4 times a year, is short but powerful– we honor those we’ve lost by lighting a memorial candle (known as a Yahrtzeit candle, but any candle will do), and in poem, prayer, memory sharing, and quiet contemplation. Traditionally reserved for the loss of a parent, sibling, partner, or child, this year we will be additionally honoring the loss that our human family has lost to COVID-19 and its aftermath.

YIZKOR will be held tomorrow night, Wednesday April 15th @7:30pm. The invitation, including call-in numbers, are below. Please try to have a candle available, but do not endanger yourself to get one– Nicole and I will have plenty here to represent anyone who would like. Please also note that our regularly scheduled Talmud class will still take place tomorrow, 4/15 from 5:30-7pm. 

YIZKOR ZOOM LINKhttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/86775189937
Meeting ID: 867 7518 9937
One tap mobile
+19294362866,,86775189937# US (New York)
+13126266799,,86775189937# US (Chicago)
Dial by your location
+1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US
+1 301 715 8592 US
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

TALMUD CLASS ZOOM LINKhttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83998697303
Meeting ID: 839 9869 7303
One tap mobile
+19294362866,,83998697303# US (New York)
+13126266799,,83998697303# US (Chicago)

Blessings to you all 🙂 R’B


4/11/2020

We mourn the passing of Rita Brody.

Rita Brody of Boynton Beach, Florida, formerly of Jersey City and Tenafly, New Jersey, passed away peacefully on April 4, 2020.  She was 88.

Rita was born in Jersey City on October 6, 1931, to Sol and Peggy Schustrin.  Rita was the devoted wife of her late husband of 68 years, Harvey, and was predeceased by her loving sisters, Carol Starr and Libby Shapiro.

Rita was an avid card player, baker, golfer and returner.  Together with Harvey and her parents, she was a co-founder of Congregation B’nai Jacob in Jersey City and a President of the Jersey City chapter of ORT America.  Her greatest joy, however, was her time spent with her grandchildren who lovingly called her Meme.

She is survived by her three children, Jan (Julia), Jill (Richard), and Dean (Debra), eight grandchildren Melissa, Steven, Gregg (fiancé Rachel), Daniel (girlfriend Arielle), Perri, Rob, Cameron and Adam, and many nieces and nephews.

Under the present circumstances, her burial was private and a memorial will be celebrated at a later date.

The family has requested that those wishing to make a charitable donation in Rita’s name do so by donating to Congregation B’nai Jacob, 176 Westside Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07305


4/10/2020

Dear chevre,

Chag Sameach! Happy Holiday! “Sameach” may not be the first thing on all our minds this holiday, and that’s understandable. I hope that you all had meaningful seder experiences, even if very different from the past. I’m sure no two were alike (are they ever?) and I can’t wait to hear about them tonight at our Kabbalat Shabbat and 3rd Night Seder. For our 3rd seder, we will be doing a DEEP dive into the 4 Questions, so be prepared with your haggadas, there’s a lot more to these questions than meets the eye (what a surprise, has a Jew EVER been able to ask a simple question?? Oy….)

So let’s join together tonight via the Zoom link and invite below (remember that you can copy/paste the zoom link directly into your browser and it will take you directly to the meeting).

Blessings 🙂 R’B

FREEDOM SHABBAT AND 3RD NIGHT SEDER
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6557526954
Meeting ID: 655 752 6954
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,6557526954# US (Chicago)
+19294362866,,6557526954# US (New York)
Dial by your location
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US
+1 301 715 8592 US
Meeting ID: 655 752 6954


4/8/2020

Shalom chevre,

As we mark the coming of Passover/Pesach in the new few hours, it is also upon us to mark this moment in which we honor those we’ve lost in our community.

​​​​​​​Rita Brody (Raizal Rada Rifka bat Shimshon), mother of Dean Brody and Jan Brody, together with her husband Harvey Brody z”l, was a founding member of Congregation Bnai Jacob. Rita passed away Shabbat morning, April 4th, and her funeral was held yesterday afternoon. Zoom shiva information will soon be available, and a memorial in Rita’s honor will be held at Bnai Jacob at a later date when we can be together in person.

This morning, April 8th, we also mourn the passing of Beatrice Bashi Rubin, mother of Michael Rubin and Paul Rubin, who together with her husband Phillip Rubin was also a founding member of Congregation Bnai Jacob. Beatrice was the first woman to be on the bimah of the shul and its first female president, long before the Conservative Movement was fully egalitarian. The funeral will be held for family only on Monday,  April 13th. Details for Zoom shiva will soon be available.

And as I’m sure many of you have seen that our very city has lost one of its finest–Councilman Michael Yun. Yun’s story– that of an immigrant who started as the owner of a small store and who dedicated his life to the fight to build up this city by empowering the citizens– in business, education, and housing, is an inspiration to all of us. Let us be always vigilant in the protection of each other and our neighbors, and this must include our immigrant neighbors as well.

It has been a week of much loss, but we intend our hearts and our actions that their memories shall always be for a blessing, and that the way we walk in the world will be postiively strengthened by their legacies.

Blessings to you all 🙂 R’B


4/8/2020

Dear chevre,

It feels like the question should be “What isn’t different about this Pesach/Passover from every other Pesach/Passover?” Many of us will be going virtual, many of us have decided that the internet is too intrusive (since it feels like we’re using it every second of every single day now). But the point is– there’s no one way to do a seder. But I think you already knew that (we’re Jews after all, when have we EVER done something just one way? LOL).

There has been a barrage of resources put online for how one might do the seder this year during a global pandemic. And here’s just a smattering of my favorites (from 3 different movements!):

Conservative: http://www.jtsa.edu/passover-resources
Reform: https://reformjudaism.org/how-make-your-virtual-seder-lively-engaging-and-meaningful
Reconstructionist: https://www.reconstructingjudaism.org/passover-box
And one last favorite— an amazing collection of videos from Jewish scholars and artists across the movements, created by my friend Gabe Miner (apologies for the long link):
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFO1dFmakFP9WHdLSoYHuEQ?fbclid=IwAR23xxtbC6Vg6FY9U47MQMNIFRpCaeLdmDRwNGluXCGJuUdPlzgbbZgiTU0

All of this is to say is that there’s one thing all of these resources have in common: mindfulness. Mindfulness is about casting your awareness to how you’re feeling in the moment, in your body, mind, and spirit, and mindfulness is about being present in the moment as it is. The Seder, and the Holiday of Pesach/Passover, is all about recognizing where we are now– no longer slaves, but still trying to figure out what freedom means, in every generation. What could be more relevant now?

I want to offer you one of my favorite teachings from the Haggadah: DAYEINU/ “Enough!”. Whatever Haggadah you use (or even don’t use) will be Dayeinu/Enough. Whether or not you were able to acquire all of the traditional foods for the seder plate or you had to get a little creative with all of this quarantine-realness, it is Dayeinu/Enough. Even if your seder gets interrupted with internet connection issues, or the house didn’t get cleaned of all the hametz, guess what? Still Dayeinu/Enough. What matters is that we are here, alive, this day. Breathing in the breath of freedom, even if it feels strange to us this year. It’s not the first time in Jewish history that Pesach/Passover has been observed under dire circumstances. If only we could ask our ancestors what funny and awkward work-arounds they had to do too. I’m confident they had many. And that’s a great legacy to share tonight and tomorrow– how we adapt with where we are, how we cherish and acknowledge exactly where we are, and tap into the opportunity for mindfulness that the Seder has created for us for nearly 2000 years.

Before we launch into the final hours of Pesach/Passover prep, I want to remind you that we are still having Shabbat services this Friday, April 10th, @7pm and we will be holding a virtual alternative seder featuring some of the moral creative additions to the seder this year.. Meeting invite is below: (remember you can copy/paste the zoom address into your browser and it will take you there automatically, or you can call in). Looking forward to davenin’ with you, and being with you at this precious and tender time.

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6557526954
Meeting ID: 655 752 6954
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Blessings to you all for a Zissen Pesach, a holiday in which we recognize our history of oppression, we cultivate our compassion and activate our actions towards combating the oppression of others, and we are grateful for our many freedoms, even when some freedoms may be curtailed. We are resilient, and as Pesach/Passover is also a holiday of rebirth and renewal, so may we have faith that our joys will be renewed even in sorry, that our blessing will be renewed even in loss. This is the holiday of liberation, let us commit ourselves to fighting for liberation, for ourselves, our communities and the world.

In love and solidarity 🙂 R’B


4/3/2020

Chevre! Shalom Chevre!

So looking forward to bringing in Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Shabbat of Hope and Anticipation for Liberation and Redemption, in together. Tonight’s service will be led by a number of our community members and special musical guests. ***Please remember to use this ZOOM link: (just copy/paste into your browser): https://us04web.zoom.us/j/6557526954
**OR DIAL IN**: 19294362866, Meeting ID: 655 752 6954

Wishing you all strength and fortitude. Wishing you all the knowledge and confidence that we as a human family will use all the great gifts within us to survive this. Wishing you, in the face of so much change and loss, the ability to receive comfort and courage. And wishing you a Shabbos of rest– rest from fear and insecurity, and a Shabbos of sweetness, of appreciation for breath, family and friends, of the body and the spirit.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Blessings 🙂 R’B


4/2/2020

Shalom shalom chevre!!

Tomorrow night is our 3rd Shabbat service online, on Zoom, and it’s a big one: literally. It’s Shabbat HaGadol– The Great Shabbat! Jewish tradition teaches that the Shabbat before Pesach/Passover receives a special title, Gadol/Great, because it’s the Shabbat  anticipation of freedom, in anticipation of redemption. As we learn from the Israelites, however– redemption is a journey through a wilderness, a place unknown and a time without a clear end in sight. I think we too, at this moment in time, are in anticipation of a redemption. Maybe we’re longing for the freedoms we knew before, or maybe we’re hoping that the world finally sees the ways we have never been free. The Talmud teaches that the plague of darkness in Egypt was the kind of dark you could feel with your hands. I think we’re all feeling a kind of darkness we haven’t necessarily known before, or haven’t known in some time. But there’s a light in the darkness, and that’s us. The light is what we can create for each other.

Tomorrow’s night’s service will be at 7pm and will feature many of our community members leading prayers and original songs and writings to light up the night. Looking forward to davenin’ with you 🙂

ZOOM link (just copy/paste into your browser): https://us04web.zoom.us/j/6557526954
**OR DIAL IN**: 19294362866, Meeting ID: 655 752 6954

​​​​​​​Blessings 🙂 R’B


4/1/2020

Shalom chevre (friends),

Thinking of you all as we begin another week in our new, physically-distant normal. I want to emphasize “physical” as opposed to “social” because although we are physically distant from one another, for the safety of everyone, the work we must do is to remain socially and spiritually connected to each other. We feel honored at Bnai Jacob to be working to maintain these connections which are so nourishing. Let us continue to strengthen each other, which is why we are releasing our new logo “Bnai Jacob @Home: Join us Live”. Even though we cannot yet be in the same space together, we can still share a spiritual home together from wherever we are, especially because of Zoom and other platforms. So please, keep a look out for us as we will do our best to look out for you 🙂

And as such, be on the lookout because tonight we have Beginners’ Talmud: Pursuing Justice! ZOOM link:  https://us04web.zoom.us/j/734278511
Class begins at 5:30pm and our first topic will be “Self-Care/Communal-Care/Global Care– How Justice Begins with Us!” Looking forward to learning with you 🙂  

Just a reminder of how to Connect through Zoom– all of our online events can be accessed through zoom. You can download Zoom through the website zoom.us. BUT you also don’t need to download Zoom! You can copy/paste the Zoom link for any of our events right into your browser and it will prompt you to join the meeting (it may ask you to download the program but you don’t have to!)

**AND A GENERAL NOTE– EVERY ZOOM EVENT WILL HAVE ITS OWN UNIQUE LINK THAT WILL BE SENT OUT THE WEEK OF THE EVENT. DO NOT CLICK ON PREVIOUS LINKS BECAUSE THEY ARE INACTIVE**.

Looking forward to learning with you tonight! We will send out email announcements of our other upcoming events (including Lunch & Learn tomorrow, 4/2, and Friday Night Services 4/3 in separate emails to keep the separate Zoom links clear).

Blessings 🙂 R’B


3/27/20

Shalom chevre (friends),

It’s hard to believe that another week has gone by as we intensely practice social distancing and for many of us, quarantine. Bnai Jacob, like many houses of worship around Jersey City and around the country, has had to adapt. Adaptation can be hard but can also be a good thing– for one thing it has meant that we can offer a lot more programs. The hard part is that we miss being together the way we used to be. So we have a challenge– to seek out times to be together and make those times as meaningful as possible. It’s very appropriate, then, that we begin VaYikra, the Book of Leviticus, and this time in the calendar. This book brings forth a central question– how do we create a meaningful, connected, and secure society in the midst of a wilderness apart from anything we’ve ever known? What emerges in the Book of Leviticus/VaYikra are sacred and artistic rituals, moral codes, stories of hardship and loss, and some of the most beautiful reminders that we are part of a collective humanity. The experiences, questions, and wisdom contained in this text have a lot to offer us today, and Bnai Jacob is trying to work from our tradition to create as many pathways to sacred connection as possible. Please let us know how we can better serve you– we are here for you to support you during this time.

With that in mind, I want to remind you of a few ways to stay especially connected that we have up and running:

Connect through Zoom– all of our online events can be accessed through zoom. You can download Zoom through the website zoom.us. BUT you also don’t need to download Zoom! You can copy/paste the Zoom link for any of our events right into your browser and it will prompt you to join the meeting (it may ask you to download the program but you don’t have to!)

So for tonight’s service, Shabbat Vayikra, you just copy paste the link below into your browser to join the community in prayer and connection: 

ZOOM link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/654306316

Finally! Our Talmud Class is Launching– every Wednesday beginning April 1st from 5:30-7pm (except for Pesach, 4/8).
ZOOM link:  https://us04web.zoom.us/j/734278511

This event will be on FB LIVE on MY Facebook Page (Bronwen Mullin). Take a walk in your own neighborhood and I’ll be in mine, and we can bless together! Who knew there was such a thing as A Blessing Walk? Well, now’s the time to try something new! Every Sunday from 10-10:30am!

Want to do more prayer in the body? This is an opportunity to focus in on one prayer from each othe services, featuring one contemporary Jewish musician each time, including Kirtan Rabbi Andrew Hahn, Kohenet Taya Ma, and others.
Start with Shacharit, the morning, and we’ll dance and pray!
This Monday, 3/30 at 6:30am

ZOOM link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/620156339

Blessings to you all for a Sweet Shabbos 🙂 R’B


3/24/2020

Shalom chevre!

Apologies! Shabbat services will be THIS Friday, 3/27 @ 7pm!

​​​​​​​
Blessings 🙂 R’B


3/24/2020

Shalom chevre (friends, not the cheese 😉

I hope everyone is staying healthy, which, ironically, doesn’t always feel good– much like eating unwanted vegetables, we’re all being asked to practice unwanted social distancing. For me I’ve experienced a deep longing for genuine connection. It’s actually been amazing how much joy I experience just smiling to a neighbor across the street and receiving a smile in return. I hope that the physical and material suffering during this time has been kept at bay, and know always that there are resources to help provide our community. You can always be in touch with me (rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com, 267-475-5181) as well as resources through the Municipality of Jersey City and The Department of Health and Human Resources. As for the emotional and spiritual suffering during this time, know that you are not alone. This is what community is for, to help each other and create real connection to mitigate despair and isolation. Humans have an immense capacity to make connections. Hey, that smile from across the street really helped me get through my morning 🙂

So speaking of smiles from a distance– here’s the exciting news– we are launching a series of AMAZING classes and prayer opportunities for the Bnai Jacob community all through Zoom! See below for the events with their descriptions, and their Zoom links. If you have any questions about using Zoom, please email me (rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com) and I will assist you. No one should miss out on being in community during this time because of a technical difficulty (trust me, I’m usually the worst with technology but if I can use Zoom, I promise you that you can lol).

So check this stuff out, and please be in touch with any questions, or ideas for additional programs we could be offering!

Blessings 🙂 R’B

An in-depth look at the Book of Leviticus, all about sacrifices, making holy spaces in the wilderness, and strange diseases…. pretty contemporary stuff 😉
ZOOM link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/775103482 (copy/paste into your browser)

Finally! Our Talmud Class is Launching– every Wednesday beginning April 1st from 5:30-7pm (except for Pesach, 4/8). ZOOM link:
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/734278511


3/19/2020

*SHABBAT SERVICES WILL BE THIS FRIDAY @7PM ON FACEBOOK GROUP VIDEO CHAT! TO JOIN- GO ON FACEBOOK AND SEARCH ‘CHAZAK SHABBAT’ IN ‘EVENTS’. RESPOND ‘GOING’ OR ‘INTERESTED’. AT 7PM TOMORROW, 3/20, YOU WILL RECEIVE A FACEBOOK GROUP VIDEO CHAT INVITE FROM ME, R’BRONWEN. SHABBAT IS ON!* (If you have questions about how to use Facebook or Group Video Chat, please email me rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com or call (267)-475-5181)

Shalom chevre,

As I’m writing to you I experienced two beautiful things this morning– my next door neighbor practicing their cello, and a Zoom-bris. That’s right, a zoom bris! What amazed me in both cases was the fundamental drive that humans have to strive for and create moments of beauty and connection in times of distress. That’s why it’s all the more poetic that around the world, Jewish communities will be reading from parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei (“They Gathered- Recountings”), the final section of the Book of Exodus this Shabbat. In this parasha, we are reminded one last time about how the Israelites gathered under the direction of Betzalel, a skilled artisan (the first Jewish installation artist, I think) who is assigned by GD/GDESS to construct the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary for GD/GDESS to dwell among the Israelites as they wander in the wilderness, a wilderness apart from anything they ever knew of the world before and with no clear end in sight. This final parasha is a reminder that we all have something to contribute to the creation of sanctuary, even when we are afraid, even when there is great loss around us. At the end of this parasha, we chant the words “Chazak! Chazak! V’Nitzchazek” (Strong! Strong! We Will Be Strengthened!” That’s why we’re calling tomorrow’s service Shabbat Chazak- by being together, we will be strengthened! May we continue to dervie strength from one another, and continue to discover the our inner resources for strength as well.

I’m sure that many of you are in touch with a number of resources for grocery and medication pick up and other necessities, but please know that the JerseyCity.gov page is constantly be updated with new information. In addition, the FB group “We Are The Village” created by CBJ friend, co-founder and executive director of the Jersey City Anti Violence Coalition Movement Pamela Johnson, is a virtual community resource for physical needs as well as providing childcare, job supplement for people facing employment insecurity, and more. People are showing their resilience. We will get through this, and as long as our new reality unfolds, we will find ways to support one another. There is nothing more holier than that 🙂

I hope to be with as many of you tomorrow as possible! Please be in touch if you want to connect at any time (rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com, 267-475-5181).

Blessings to you all 🙂 R’B


3/13/2020

Shalom dear chevre (friends, community),

It was so wonderful to celebrate Purim with so many of you on Monday! Y’all certainly brought the raucous, and I think Sister Mary Helen really put the Ham in Hamantaschen… (see what I did there? 😉 PLUS- there was a super nice write-up about our event in HeyAlma : https://www.heyalma.com/drag-performers-turn-purim-into-a-queer-joy-extravaganza/

Seems like this party is part of a larger Jewish movement. Let’s keep this momentum up! So glad to be in connection with you all 🙂

Now speaking of momentum, it seems like on the one hand the momentum has sped up– what was once a small anxiety around a few cases of COVID has now become a global pandemic and many of our schools, offices, social activities, and even religious spaces are under temporary quarantine. And on the other hand, this has led to a deep slowing in our momentum– some of us are now homebound, practicing social distancing, unable to partake in the normal pace of day-to-day life.

There is a beautiful poem going around by Lynn Ungar that describes a deep Jewish wisdom about this time. I won’t quote the whole thing, but just this piece:

“Pandemic–What if you thought of it as the Jews consider the Sabbath— the most sacred of times? Cease from travel. Cease from buying and selling. Give up, just for now, on trying to make the world different than it is. Sing. Pray. Touch only those to whom you commit your life. Center down.”

The act of cessation, stopping, is something our people have been practicing for generations. The truth is– stopping truly can be scary, even when there isn’t a health concern as large as this. But we have a deep reserve of body and soul wisdom within us, inherited from ancestors of the body and spirit– sometimes stopping is what we need to recharge, re-nourish, replenish, in order to go back out into the world stronger and healthier, and to make the world stronger and healthier.

Bnai Jacob will be offering livestreamed prayer services via Facebook Live beginning next Friday, and with guest musicians and artists from our larger Jersey City family. Stay tuned for more details upcoming this week.

And in the meantime, one more piece of Jewish wisdom– the art of making even the most mundane tasks into something holy– a poem by my contemporary liturgist Trisha Arlin:

A Blessing For Washing Hands During a Pandemic

As we wash our hands
We pray,
Blessed is the Soul of the Universe,
Breathing us in and breathing us out.
May our breaths continue
And our health and the health of all
Be preserved
In this time of sickness and fear of sickness.
Holy Wholeness,
We take as much responsibility for it as we can
By observing the obligation to wash our hands,
Thoroughly:
For as long as it takes to say this prayer.
Amen​​​​​​​

Blessings to you all for a Shabbat of deep rest and cessation that opens for you a new kind of sweetness, a different kind of delight. Know always that we are not actually “socially distancing” but “physically distancing”. Please be in touch if you’d like to connect at any point: rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com (267)-475-5181.

​​​​​​​:) R’B


3/6/20

Shalom chevre,

It’s been a long week, hasn’t it? And a very busy one, both in our country and also in Israel. Something that has been resonating very deeply this week is how important it is for us to be civically engaged, and to remain compassionate and kind to one another in the process, because in the end– we’re all on the same team. The illusion is that we’re not, that we need to fight for our own and only our own. Or that there is such a thing as “only our own”, because humans have been designed in a way that all our wants, needs, and desires are actually interconnected and interdependent. The illusion that we are all individual islands has led us to become increasingly divided from one another. It is our Jewish obligation to be bridge-builders.

How do I know? Well believe it or not, this is one of the key messages of both Purim, and Parashat Zachor, the Torah reading for this Shabbat– in this Parasha we retell the story of the vicious kingdom of Amalek that attacks the Jewish people while they are at their weakest and most vulnerable, and specifically targeting the women, elders, and children. This attack is considered so heinous by the Torah that we are told to “utterly obliterate the name of Amalek from under heaven” (Exodus 17:14). But according to rabbinic tradition, Amalek arises in every generation. In fact, Haman, the villain of the Purim story, is considered a descendant of Amalek! Now you might say– “hey, don’t we end up hanging Haman and all his kids? Guess we solved the problem of Amalek!” Well, sorry to let the cat-out-of-the-bag (and not to offend our many cat-lovers here)– the rabbis conclude that Amalek lives long past Haman. So what’s the solution? Developing a system of ethics and caring for others, rituals and traditions of beauty that elevate the soul. The rest of the Torah responds to the story of Amalek by giving us mitzvot, ways to guide our life meaningfully and with a whole heart. The Megillah actually insists that we celebrate Purim by giving to those in need, recognizing that our fate is interconnected with theirs.

I want to bless you all that despite a week that may have felt disheartening or isolating, that connection is possible. Shabbat is a reminder that we can stop, breathe, re-soul, re-fresh, and be at peace in the universe, even if only one day-a-week. Let us all aspire to experience that rest this Shabbos, and bring a touch of it into the week to come.

And if you’re looking for some more peace-of-mind in your life, YOGA at CBJ continues next Thursday at 6:30pm. See flyer below (it was AWESOME)!

Looking forward to seeing you all on Monday as we celebrate Purim!!! 7pm doors open, and LOCATION: SMUSH Gallery (340 Summit Ave)– Heads up: parking can be tough. Please either carpool, use the new Jersey City VIA (it’s GREAT!!!), walk, run, or Uber.

Blessings for a Sweet Shabbos! 🙂 R’B


3/2/2020

Shalom chevre,

Hope everyone’s week is going well so far (Mondays, oy, we got this guys!)

This is a reminder that tomorrow, March 3rd @6:30pm, Bnai Jacob is the first host site for the Jersey City Climate Action Plan Community Meetings. Come to hear from the Jersey City Climate Action Team about how our city and municipality is responding to the climate crisis, what we can do to be more environmentally sound, and to learn more about the economics of environmentalism. There will be an opportunity to ask questions and to connect with neighbors and friends, new and old. This is an important gathering, hope to see you there!

AND UPCOMING MONDAY, MARCH 9th… GET READY TO GRAGER!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAND, if you’re looking for something a little more mellow, YOGA starts this Thursday, March 5th @6:30pm.

Hope to see you at one, two, or all of these awesome things happening in our community 🙂

​​​​​​​Blessings 🙂 R’B


February 26, 2020

You can feel it right? Purim is coming! And we have some big plans. Not only are we pre-gaming with some pretty ferocious hamantaschen baking on Sunday, March 8th, but Purim (Monday March 9!), that holiday where we celebrate the fierce speaking-truth-to-power realness of Queen Esther, is finally being celebrated the way it should be: IN DRAG. My long-time pal Sister Mary Helen has come straight from “church” to join Bnai Jacob in the most unique Megillah reading, I guarantee you, you’ve seen in a long tine 🙂 🙂 We are also partnering with the fabulous SMUSH Gallery in Journal Square who will be our host. Let’s get ready to PARTAY! MARCH 9 7-9pm SMUSH GALLERY 340 SUMMIT AVE

And…. if you still haven’t registered for Shabbat-Across-America, there’s still time!
RSVP to Temple Emanu-El at 201-436-4499.

Happy Wednesday y’all!

Blessings 🙂 R’B


February 23, 2020

Shalom Chevre,

SHAVUA TOV! Hope you all had a sweet Shabbos and are having a restful Sunday (it’s beautiful out, right??) So this is the week– Friday, 2/28– Bnai Jacob will be participating with 700 + congregations around the country to celebrate Shabbat in prayer and a community meal, and we will be teaming up with Temple Emmanu-El of Bayonne, NJ with Keynote speaker The Honorable Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.

The Details: SERVICES @6pm (co-led by R’Benzaquen and R’Bronwen and MEAL at Temple Emmanu-El (735 John F. Kennedy Blvd, Bayonne NJ 07002). COST: $36/person but *please email me because I have some subsidies available if anyone wants.

RSVP to Temple Emmanu-El (201-43​​​​​​​6-4499). *PARKING*- There will be additional parking available at Bayonne High School (669 Avenue A) about 2-3 blocks away. LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING TOGETHER. 🙂

And coming up in two weeks…. YOGA!! Reserve your spot now, this will be deeply enhancing physically and spiritually. Please RSVP to Jason Wendroff-Rawnicki, information below:

And lastly (if you haven’t yet, please RSVP for the Purim Pre-Game Party on Sunday March 8th. Even if you think you already have your hamentaschen-game down, or you think you and baking are not a match-made-in-heaven, this is gonna be a fun afternoon. RSVP to rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com

Blessings to y’all for a good week and see you Friday!! 🙂 R’B


February 18, 2020

Shalom Chevre,

Hope you’ve been having a good week so far! There are a number of amazing events coming up at and with Bnai Jacob, so we’re going to try breaking these down a little more to make sure you don’t miss something awesome! So next Friday, 2/28— Bnai Jacob will be participating with 700 + congregations around the country to celebrate Shabbat in prayer and a community meal, and we will be teaming up with Temple Emmanu-El of Bayonne, NJ with Keynote speaker The Honorable Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.

So the details: SERVICES @6pm (co-led by R’Benzaquen and R’Bronwen) and MEAL at Temple Emmanu-El (735 John F. Kennedy Blvd, Bayonne NJ 07002). COST: $36/person but *please email me because I have some subsidies available if anyone wants.* And RSVP to Temple Emmanu-El (201-436-4499). *PARKING*- There will be additional parking available at Saint Henry Catholic Church (82 West 29th Street), 1 block away from Emmanu-El. Looking forward to seeing you there!!!

And also (if you haven’t yet), please RSVP for the Purim Pre-Game Party on Sunday March 8th. Even if you think you already have your hamentaschen-game down, or you think you and baking are not a match-made-in-heaven, this is gonna be a fun afternoon. RSVP to rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com

Blessings to y’all for a good week! 🙂 R’B


February 7, 2020

Shalom dear chevre,

In these last moments before Shabbat begins, this is just a reminder that services start tomorrow at 10:30am. This is Shabbat Shirah, the Shabbat of Liberation Song! Services will be co-led by myself and Rabbi Leana Moritt of Temple Beth El. We’ll sing together and get ourselves rallied together for….well, a rally! Looking forward to aligning heart, mind, and body with you all, and doing what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said– “praying with our feet.”

Enjoy the light of the candles tonight, see you tomorrow!

Blessings 🙂 R’B


February 3, 2020

Shalom dear chevre,

Hope you’re having a good week so far (is it really only Monday?!?!?)

But to help you move through the week (especially if it already looks like it’s going to be one of those weeks), here’s a reminder of what’s coming up this Shabbos:

**THIS SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8TH***
FACE-TO-FACE/ STRENGTH-TO-STRENGTH
Shabbat Morning services at 10:30am in partnership with Temple Beth El (at CBJ, 176 West Side Ave) followed by an Anti-Gun-Violence Rally led in partnership with Pastor Viola Hemmingway

Bnai Jacob will host a Jersey-City wide Anti-Gun Violence rally uniting over 20 communities of faith in Greenville. The morning will feature an energetic Shabbat morning service co-led by Rabbi Moritt, Cantor Risa Wallach, and myself. Services followed by Kiddush and rally led by Pastor Viola Hemmingway. Featured speakers include Pastor Hemmingway, Pamela Johnson, Frank Gilmore, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight and Mayor Steven Fulop.
***LET’S PRAY TOGETHER AND THEN BE THE CHANGE WE PRAY FOR***

AND!!!!!!

Feeling stressed? Feeling stiff?? We have yoga this week, and please note the time change:

Yoga For the People
Thursdays from 6:45-8:00pm Thursday, February 6th (we will continue weekly classes again starting Thursday, March 5th)
led by Jason Wendroff-Rawnicki

This yoga class is discounted and open the entire Greenville community. Our community has been through a lot this year, and one thing we can do is provide healing services at an affordable rate. Come be a part of this amazing initiative to be a part of a diverse community, and get in tune with your body at the same time!
*for more information EMAIL Jane Canter ( unclejane1@aol.com ) with YOGA in the subject line.

Looking forward to being with you all this Saturday, this will be soulful prayer service and an inspiring gathering.

​​​​​​​Blessings 🙂 R’B


January 24, 2020

Shalom dear chevre,

The time is NOW. That is the theme of this week’s parasha, Va’Yera. God speaks to Moses at the burning bush, commanding him to return to Egypt to liberate the Jewish people from slavery. Moses, twice, tries to use the excuse that he is “not a man of words”, and poetically says, “I am of uncircumcised speech.” The medieval Torah commentators understood Moses’ reluctance to go back to Egypt as being about his conflict around his own identity- ‘Who am I to speak to Pharaoh? I’m a nobody!’ ‘Who am I to represent the Jewish People? I’m not Jewish enough!” Our religious tradition understands reluctance and insecurity. And our tradition also has the famous adage, “If not now, when?” As we know, Moses gets the courage, with the help of his brother, Aaron, to go back to Egypt and become the leader he was destined to be. What we can learn from this is that there’s no better time than the present to step up and step forward, for the betterment of our communities and the betterment of our own neshamot (souls, selves).

So yeah, I say “The Time Is Now”! It certainly is for Jersey City (yes, that was our City Council voting to affirm the protections of Immigrant Families here in our very own communities just last night!) And here are some awesome things coming up with Bnai Jacob:

Lunch & Learn Realness! It is the book of Exodus, people, it doesn’t get much better than this! Lunch & Learn dates: 1/30, 2/13, 2/27, 3/12, 3/26, 4/23, 5/7. Let us know if you want to join virtually, we’re hi-tech like that 😉

FACE-TO-FACE/ STRENGTH-TO-STRENGTH
Anti-Gun Violence Rally led in partnership with Pastor Viola Hemmingway
Saturday, February 8th (Shabbat Morning services at 10:30am, Lunch & Rally at 12:30pm)
Bnai Jacob will host a Jersey-City wide Anti-Gun Violence rally uniting over 20 communities of faith in Greenville. The morning will feature an energetic Shabbat morning service followed by Kiddush lunch and rally led by Pastor Viola Hemmingway.

Just Jew It: The Introduction to Judaism Class You Always Wanted
*We are meeting every-other-Tuesday beginning 1/28 from 6:30-8:30!*
-a 9 month course covering sacred texts (all those books!), holidays, lifecycle, prayers, ethics & philosophy, Jewish history, and Hebrew reading
*for students preparing for conversion, interfath couples wanting to know more about Judaism, and folks who want the best Judaism-refresher around!
EMAIL- rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com for more information.

Friday Night Kabbalat Shabbat Upcoming Service Dates: 3/20, 4/24, & 5/29 (Shabbat + Shavuot, now THIS is a party 😉

Yoga For the People
Thursdays from 6:00-7:15pm beginning January 30th
led by Jason Wendroff-Rawnicki
This yoga class is discounted and open the entire Greenville community. Our community has been through a lot this year, and one thing we can do is provide healing services at an affordable rate. Come be a part of this amazing initiative to be a part of a diverse community, and get in tune with your body at the same time!
*for more information EMAIL Jane Canter ( unclejane1@aol.com )

You know you wanna learn Talmud, or you know you know someone who wants to learn Talmud. EMAIL: rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com for more info!

And also to keep in your calendar:

-Saturday Night, April 11th– mark the date for the West Side premiere reading of Jersey City poet laureate Rashid Wright’s new book, hosted by Bnai Jacob!

-And also in April: Ever heard of a 7th night seder? Well Bnai Jacob is hosting one, and it will feature….The Jersey City Haggadah…. more info to come 😉

-May 12th (SAVE THE DATE!) Community Fundraiser with Temple Emanuel of Bayonne (think music, think Barbecue, get ready 😉

Blessings to you all for a sweet Shabbos 🙂 R’B


January 17, 2020

Temple Beth Sholom of Bushwick Brooklyn, coming to us THIS SATURDAY 1/18!

Shalom chevre!

TGIS, riiiiight? (Thank God It’s Shabbos! Doesn’t everybody say that….?)

Just one last reminder before tomorrow– it’s a POTLUCK, please bring something vegetarian to share (and if you don’t have time to cook, chips/hummus/veggies/cookies count, anything and all appreciated 🙂

Can’t wait to be with you all!

Blessings 🙂 R’B


January 10, 2020

Shalom dear chevre,

I hope everyone has been having a good week. A lot has happening, both locally in Jersey City (re: BOE) and nationally (re: conflict with Iran). Now more than ever is a time in which we need open communication, education, and meaningful action. And hey, our tradition has a lot of wisdom to share 🙂 In this week’s parasha, Vayechi, the final portion of Genesis, we see that Jacob makes a special effort to try to repair the tensions of the past. When blessing his grandchildren Ephraim and Menashe, Jacob specifically blesses the younger child with his right hand, the hand that would normally be reserved only for the elder. Joseph believes his father has made a mistake but Jacob says, “In this way shall all Israel be blessed for all time.” And to this very day, we bless our children that they should be like Ephraim and Menashe. We bless our children that they be strong in their efforts to repair the hurts of the past, and to increase blessing in the world around them. May we feel blessed to do this same work, and to pass it on to those after us.

So speaking of blessing, I wanted to remind everyone about exciting things coming up:

Lunch & Learn Realness! We start up again on every other Thursday, beginning January 16th from 12:00-1:30 (lunch @12, learning from 12:30-1:30). And if you would like to join virtually (YES! VIRTUALLY!) we will be publishing a zoom-link shortly. Lunch & Learn dates: 1/16, 1/30, 2/13, 2/27, 3/12, 3/26, 4/23, 5/7.

Friday Night Kabbalat Shabbat Upcoming Service Dates: 2/21, 3/20, 4/24, & 5/29 (Shabbat + Shavuot, now THIS is a party 😉

Martin Luther King Day Weekend Special Shabbat (Saturday January 18th, services begin at 9:30, 12:30pm POTLUCK and Teach-In)
*featuring Rabbi Yeshurun and Temple Beth Sholom of Bushwick, Brooklyn
Rabbi Yeshurun is a renowned scholar and rabbi who has led Temple Beth Sholom, one of the oldest Black Israelite synagogues in the country, for the last two decades. Rabbi Yeshurun will join us as a scholar-in-residence, speaking about the history of the Black Hebrew Israelites in the United States, and leading a completely unique and inspiring Shabbat morning service on Saturday. Come to have your spirit lifted, and to learn about the deeper history and identity of the Black Hebrew Israelites.

Yoga For the People
Thursdays from 6:00-7:15pm beginning January 30th
led by Jason Wendroff-Rawnicki
This yoga class is discounted and open the entire Greenville community. Our community has been through a lot this year, and one thing we can do is provide healing services at an affordable rate. Come be a part of this amazing initiative to be a part of a diverse community, and get in tune with your body at the same time!
*for more information EMAIL Jane Canter ( unclejane1@aol.com )

Just Jew It: The Introduction to Judaism Class You Always Wanted
-a 9 month course covering sacred texts (all those books!), holidays, lifecycle, prayers, ethics & philosophy, Jewish history, and Hebrew reading
*for students preparing for conversion, interfath couples wanting to know more about Judaism, and folks who want the best Judaism-refresher around!
EMAIL- rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com for more information.

Talmud Time: You Beit (Midrash) Werk!
-Have you ever learned Talmud before? Have you ever wanted to learn Talmud before? Have you heard of Talmud before? Well Talmud is where Judaism happens. Really happens. Come join this multi-level class beginning in February. EMAIL- rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com for more information.

Anti-Gun Violence Rally led in partnership with Pastor Viola Hemmingway
Saturday, February 7 (Shabbat Morning services at 10:30am, Lunch & Rally at 1:30pm)
Bnai Jacob will host a Jersey-City wide Anti-Gun Violence rally uniting over 20 communities of faith in Greenville. The morning will feature an energetic Shabbat morning service followed by Kiddush lunch and rally led by Pastor Viola Hemmingway.

Hamentaschen Baking Extravaganza! led by Bnai Jacob member Leah Yesepkin (Sunday, March 8th, more information coming)
Bake with an expert, and have fun as you make Hamentaschen for your own home, and extra to donate to local churches, soup kitchens, and our neighbors in Greenville and Bergen Lafayette.

And also to keep in your calendar:

April is the month (not only of Passover) but celebrating Bnai Jacob’s 60th anniversary (think Barbecue, think Jazz, start getting excited).

Also…. consider a community seder for 2nd night of Passover…. please email rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com if you’re interested….

And Saturday Night, April 11th— mark the date for the West Side premiere reading of Jersey City poet laureate Rashid Wright’s new book, hosted by Bnai Jacob!

Blessings to you all for a sweet Shabbos 🙂 R’B


January 8, 2020

Shalom chevre!

I hope you’ve been having a good week so far! In 10 days we will have our FIRST Saturday morning service and event of 5780, and it is going to be incredibly special. Come for an incredibly meaningful service and fascinating learning. Information below. The flyer is also attached so please invite friends! Looking forward to being with everyone soon 🙂

Also– keep an eye out for our next email with the broader schedule of upcoming community events, learning, cultural activities, and more.

Blessings 🙂 R’B

EDUCATE. EMPOWER. CELEBRATE.
As part of honoring Rev. Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, please join
Congregation Bnai Jacob (176 West Side Avenue) on Saturday January 18, 2020 as we welcome Rabbi Yeshurun and the community of Temple Beth Sholom (House of Peace), a historic Black Israelite Community in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Prayer & Song @9:30am, Potluck Lunch & Teach-In @ 12:30pm
ALL ARE WELCOME!

Learn about the REAL HISTORY of THE BLACK ISRAELITES,
A movement of Judaism FOUNDED IN 1919
Steeped in AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE and THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

PRAYER & SONG BEGINS @9:30AM (come when you can get here!)
POTLUCK LUNCH & TEACH-IN WITH RABBI YESHURUN @12:30PM

RSVP to rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com
CONGREGATION BNAI JACOB (176 West Side Ave btw. Fulton St. & Stegman Parkway)


January 4, 2020

Shavua Tov chevre!

I hope everyone had a sweet and restful Shabbos. I wanted to update everyone about the Solidarity March in NYC tomorrow.

The Jewish Federation of Northern NJ, which has made strides to represent Jersey City these last few weeks in the ongoing discussions and actions around combating antisemitism, has organized a contingent of all the shuls of Northern NJ to meet early at 10:15am at the New York Supreme Court Steps (corner of Pearl Street and Centre Street).  If you plan on coming to the march, please meet there so we can march Jersey City Strong. From this meeting point we will then join the starting point of the march at Foley Square.

Looking forward to being with you. If you have trouble finding the location, shoot me a text at 267-475-5181.

Hugs and blessings 🙂 R’B


January 1, 2020

Shalom dear chevre,

What a year this has been! We’ve prayed together, shared meals, made new friendships and strengthened old ones, learned together, pushed ourselves to become more compassionate and conscious of the world around us, we’ve done it all. And 2020 begins in just a few hours. What’s coming next for Bnai Jacob?

The most important thing about community is about being there for each other in times of need. We held together during the recent shooting in our beloved neighborhood, and on a more personal level, we must be there for our beloved friend, Glenn Pertz, whose dear mother, Doris (Devorah Leah) Woolf z”l passed away Monday Morning. We extend our deepest condolences to Glenn. Shiva will be held 1/1 from 3-6pm, 1/2 from 6-9pm, and 1/3 from 11am-2pm at Glenn’s mother’s home: Cedarcrest Senior Living (606 Millcreek or 1 Cedarcrest Drive (gated entrance, guard will guide to the apartment), Pompton Plains, NJ 07444. Shiva calls may also be made to Glenn at 973-831-9942. We hold Glenn close to us, and we pray that he find comfort with his family.

From sadness to joy as both are part of the cycle of community, Bnai Jacob will continue holding rousing services once-a-month, our Lunch & Learns will continue every other Thursday beginning January 16, and there are a number of exciting additions:

Just Jew It: The Introduction to Judaism Class You Always Wanted
-a 9 month course covering sacred texts (all those books!), holidays, lifecycle, prayers, ethics & philosophy, Jewish history, and Hebrew reading
*for students preparing for conversion, interfath couples wanting to know more about Judaism, and folks who want the best Judaism-refresher around!
EMAIL- rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com for more information.

Talmud Time: You Beit (Midrash) Werk!
-Have you ever learned Talmud before? Have you ever wanted to learn Talmud before? Have you heard of Talmud before? Well Talmud is where Judaism happens. Really happens. Come join this multi-level class beginning in February. EMAIL- rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com for more information.

After an awesome Kwanzaa & Hannukah gathering of Bnai Jacob congregants who expressed a passion for social justice work with some of the most prominent activists within the Greenville African American Community (such as Pam Johnson of the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition, Sandra Lovely of The Urban Times, and Gillian Sarjeant-Allent of Black Wallstreet) as well as Councilwomen Mira Prinz-Arey and Denise Ridley, Bnai Jacob will be the host site for several community conscious initatives moving forward:

Martin Luther King Day Weekend Special Shabbat (January 17-18)
*featuring Rabbi Yeshurun and Temple Beth Shalom of Bushwick, Brooklyn
Rabbi Yeshurun is a renowned scholar and rabbi who has led Temple Beth Shalom, one of the oldest Black Israelite synagogues in the country, for the last two decades. Rabbi Yeshurun will join us as a scholar-in-residence, speaking about the history of the Black Hebrew Israelites in the United States, and leading a completely unique and inspiring Shabbat morning service on Saturday. Come to have your spirit lifted, and to learn about the deeper history and identity of the Black Hebrew Israelites.

Yoga For the People
Thursdays from 6:00-7:15pm beginning January 30th
led by Jason Wendroff-Rawnicki
This yoga class is discounted and open the entire Greenville community. Our community has been through a lot this year, and one thing we can do is provide healing services at an affordable rate. Come be a part of this amazing initiative to be a part of a diverse community, and get in tune with your body at the same time!
*for more information EMAIL Jane Canter (unclejane1@aol.com)

Anti-Gun Violence Rally led in partnership with Pastor Viola Hemmingway
Saturday, February 7 at 10:00am
Bnai Jacob will host a Jersey-City wide Anti-Gun Violence rally uniting over 20 communities of faith in Greenville. The morning will feature an energetic Shabbat morning service followed by Kiddush lunch and rally led by Pastor Viola Hemmingway.

Plus partnerships in the process with the Jersey City Anti Violence Coalition, the Cultural Awareness Series of the Jersey City Public Library, and many others.

And also to keep in your calendar:

April is the month (not only of Passover) but celebrating Bnai Jacob’s 60th anniversary (think Barbecue, think Jazz, start getting excited).

And Saturday Night, April 11th– mark the date for the West Side premiere reading of Jersey City poet laureate Rashid Wright’s new book.

There is so much coming up at Bnai Jacob, it can’t all be contained in one email, but this is to give you an idea. Please keep an eye on the calendar, and be in touch if there’s more you want to see 🙂

With blessings to you all for health, joy, and resilience in this new year!!

🙂 R’B


December 19, 2019

Shalom chevre,

I hope everyone’s been keeping warm this week 🙂 Reunion Shabbat, a time to Unite and Reunite, is finally here! Tomorrow night at 7pm, come for some home-cooked, Bnai Jacob spiritual nourishment with Kabbalat Shabbat, and stay afterwards to hang out with the friend family you grew up with at Bnai Jacob, and to expand the family by meeting all our fabulous new members. And hey ‘newbies’– (and this is coming from a ‘newbie’ herself!), let’s show these folks what Bnai Jacob 2020 (so close!!) is made of 🙂 🙂 Looking forward to being with everyone!

Tomorrow night we also will welcome visitors from a number of Christian communities in the Jersey City. This is a time when not just Bnai Jacob is reuniting, but Jersey City is uniting! What better way to bring in Hannukah by lighting the night together!

And speaking of lighting…

**DATE CORRECTION**
On Monday 12/23 at 4pm, Bnai Jacob will participate in the city-wide candle lighting at City Hall. Please come down and let’s represent Bnai Jacob. The miracle of Hannukah is not just about the light that lasted 8 days, it’s about the miracle of human resilience, and what greatness people can accomplish when they really show up. Let’s show up 🙂

More information below. Soooooo looking forward to being with everyone tomorrow night!

Blessings 🙂
R’B


December 17, 2019

Shalom chevre,

I just wanted to share with you the following note from our president, Michael Zwain, who made a shiva call to the family of Mrs. Leah Mindel Ferencz z”l.

From Michael:

I was able to attend the shiva for Leah Ferencz this morning. As the rabbi said, attending a shiva and being present with one in mourning is one of the highest mitzvot that any of us can do. It is also one of the most difficult since death (and especially one as violent as these) is often very hard to face. I can attest to how painful it was to meet with the family.

I was speaking with Leah’s husband and he said something that has stuck with me: “Even when Hashem brings bad things, he also brings good things.” I extended condolences to the family and Satmar community from the B’nai Jacob family. I was very touched by the warmth and sincerity towards appreciation of my attending the shiva. I look forward to working with them in the future to strengthen the Jewish community in Greenville.

May her memory always be a blessing.

And just as a reminder, I plan on visiting the Moishe Deutsch z”l family between 8:30/9am and the Leah Ferencz z”l family between 11:30/12 tomorrow, Tuesday, 12/17. If you’re thinking about coming ti the shiva but are nervous to go on your own, know that you can come at either of those times and I will be there as well.

The information for locations is below. Looking forward to being with you all, in better times, this Friday 🙂

Family of Moishe Hersh Detsch z”l
(Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
119 Lorimer Street apt 7A between Marcy Avenue and Harrison Street

Family of Mrs. Leah Mindel Ferencz z”l
(Jersey City)
165 Bidwell Avenue between Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Van Cliff Drive

Blessings to you all 🙂
R’Bronwen


December 16, 2019

Shalom chevre,

The families of our Satmar brothers and sisters have just released information about shiva attendance (the house of mourning). Attending a shiva and being present with one in mourning is one of the highest mitzvot that any of us can do, and also one of the most difficult since death (and especially one as violent as these) is often very hard to face. Both families have asked that people attempt to come in the morning either Monday, 12/16 or Tuesday 12/17 when the homes will be less crowded. I want to encourage you, if you have the time, to try to attend one of these shivas, and if you’re feeling nervous about going on your own (which is very understandable) I plan on visiting the Moishe Deutsch z”l family between 8:30/9am and the Leah Ferencz z”l family between 11:30/12 on Tuesday, 12/17. Please reach out to me if either of those times work for you as well and I’d be happy to speak in advance about any feelings that are coming up for you or if you would like to discuss further the expectations within a shiva house.

The information for locations is below. Even in this painful time, wishing you all a good Monday (as good as Mondays can be) 🙂

Family of Moishe Hersh Detsch z”l
(Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
119 Lorimer Street apt 7A between Marcy Avenue and Harrison Street

Family of Mrs. Leah Mindel Ferencz z”l
(Jersey City)
165 Bidwell Avenue between Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Van Cliff Drive

Blessings to you all 🙂
R’Bronwen


December 15, 2019

Shalom chevre,

I hope everyone has had as restful a Shabbat as possible. As promised, below are a number of resources we can utilize to support the members of our Jersey City community affected by this tragedy:

In honor of Douglas Rodriguez z”l:
https://www.gofundme.com/f/douglas-rodriguez-victim-of-the-jc-shooting

In honor of Detective Joseph Seals z”l:
https://www.gofundme.com/f/for-det-seals-and-his-family?utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet

While the families of the victims in the Satmar community have not published specific fundraising efforts, donating can also be made through the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey:
https://www.jfnnj.org/supportjerseycity/

Moshe Detsch z”l was a volunteer with Chai Lifeline, a wonderful organization. Donations can also be made in his honor here:
www.chailifeline.org

On a broader note, heightened attention has been brought to the ongoing housing crisis affecting Jersey City and especially the Greenville neighborhood. According to many reports, tensions between the African American and Jewish communities in this neighborhood have been enflamed because of various economic factors, and the gentrification of this neighborhood as well as other neighborhoods in the New Jersey and New York areas with similar demographics are being compared. Antisemitism and anti-Jewish violence are terrifying, and racism and systematic economic injustice are devastating to the ethical and moral fibers of this country.

We at Bnai Jacob plan to heighten our attention and focus on being a part of the noble and necessary work of community building. We will be renewing our attention to organizations like Family Promise, and we will be engaging with our local Jersey City Council members to examine housing reform in our area. We will be exploring what it means to broaden our Jewish connections in Jersey City, expanding our outreach from Reform to Orthodox and remaining in solidarity with the Satmar community. These endeavors can only be strengthened by the assets that are each and every one of you. Please keep your eyes and ears open for ways that we can do what the Torah commands: “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor”. We can do this together.

Blessings for continued strength 🙂
R’B


December 13, 2019

Shalom dear chevre,

This has been an incredibly challenging week. Many of us have felt overwhelmed by fear, anger, and confusion, and many of us have felt inspired by the power of community and connection here in Jersey City and with our sisters and brothers around the country. Next Friday which is our Reunion Shabbat is reality a Shabbat about Uniting– not only will this Shabbos be a time for reuniting old friends and family of Bnai Jacob and new, this will be a time in which we will unite with our local community. Several guests among our Christian neighbors in Greenville will be joining us in community solidarity. I am so looking forward to being all together in our sanctuary. May it always be a gathering place for brothers and sisters to dwell in peace.

There are many updates with regards to actions we can take to support the grieving families of those whose lives were taken, including Moshe Deutsch, Mindy Ferencz, Douglas Miguel Rodriguez and Detective Joseph Seals. An expanded update will be sent out on Sunday, please keep your eyes out.

In the meantime, please keep your hearts and prayers open for our fellow Jews whose lives were lost, for our human siblings whose lives were lost, and for the hope that this wonderful diverse community that is Jersey City can continue to strive for the common good. I will miss you all this Shabbos and am greatly looking forward to being together next week. Below is a beautiful and inspiring essay written by fellow Bnai Jacobian (works right?), by Carla Main. May her words usher you into a Shabbos of compassion, hope, and connection.

Blessings 🙂 R’B

As Jews, Jersey City residents, Congregation B’nai Jacob congregants and Americans, our hearts are broken by this week’s events in our city. The senseless slaughter of Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals, followed by the deliberate attack on a Jewish business resulting in the death of Moshe Deutsch, Leah Ferencz and Miguel Douglas Rodriguez, are tragedies none of us will ever forget. We join other communities and houses of worship in prayer for the families who have lost their precious loved ones in this terrible week.

Trying to make sense of this, my thoughts turn to my grandfather, Chaim (“Hymie”) Siegel. Though he died before I was born, he animated my life through family stories. Chaim came to this country as an immigrant and suffered great poverty. He left school at 14 to work full time at a printing and engraving shop called Turner Brothers; he would work there for the rest of his life
.
When he was 45 years old, the Turners wanted to sell the business. Chaim, an ambitious and frugal businessman, managed to raise the munificent sum of $800 to buy it. But he feared their many elite clients would not want to do business with a proprietor named Chaim Siegel. So, he went to court to change his name to Herbert Turner. Grandfather was formidable. He made his adult children, who sometimes helped him in the shop, change their names too; thus, the concealment of Jewish identity was completed.
Among our family records are legal papers that show the name-changes and the Turner Brothers bill of sale. Grandfather ran Turner Brothers successfully until the day he died on the shop floor. Was the name-change necessary? I don’t know. I do know Grandfather’s documents convey a fundamental tension in the Jewish-American story: we have great success, and yet we are the “other”: sometimes respected, sometimes a curiosity, sometimes despised.

For the most part, we have long enjoyed our American success in safety. Then came Pittsburgh. Then Poway. And now this week in Jersey City we have been reminded in the most violent way of our “otherness.” Of course, Jews are not the only “other” in American life; African Americans have long suffered violence as the “other”; the terrible shooting in El Paso had a “goal” of killing Hispanics.

E Pluribus Unum: From the many, one. The Founders anticipated that our nation would be a hodgepodge of “others” who would have to come together as one. Together we are stronger. Together we are safer. Together we can move dialog and understanding forward.

We can take heart and strength in knowing that local and state government stand with the Jewish community. Love, tolerance, community, action, teshuvah,tefillah and tzedakah: these are ways forward in this difficult time.

Carla Main, CBJ Member
Jersey City, NJ


December 10, 2019 (in the afternoon)

Shalom dear chevre,

As I’m sure many of you have heard– there has been a violent shooting here in Jersey City which has left one police officer and five civilians dead inside a Kosher supermarket. Many public schools in the area have been placed on lockdown and many businesses have been advised to close their doors and for individuals to avoid being on the streets. The assailants used AK47 rifles to make their attack, a weapon that no civilian should have access to. These are frightening times that we live in where this kind of violence is becoming increasingly rampant. As Jews we denounce these acts of violence, we denounce all bloodshed and spurning of human life, and we denounce silence as a response. We affirm community and the power of human connection and resourcefulness to build a world of love, a world that is holy.

At 7pm tonight we will be holding a virtual vigil and community gathering (we are not encouraging anyone to leave their home until the situation is more handled). Below is the zoom link:

gaeaglobal.zoom.us/j/8355663610 (ID: 8355663610)
Join by phone
(US) +1 646-558-8656
(US) +1 720-707-2699

I will offer a few words, we will share brief thoughts and intentions, we will offer a kaddish for those lives lost in today’s senseless act of violence, and we will conclude with a prayer for peace.

“May there be a day when war and bloodshed cease, and love will flow like a mighty stream.” The words of our prophets, the words on our heart this day.

In solidarity, may the hope for blessings to come by everpresent
​​​​​​​:) R’Bronwen


December 10, 2019 (in the morning)

Shalom chevre!

Hope everyone’s been having a good week! Unfortunately ShulCloud’s platform was having some hiccups last week so there’s been some delay in emails, sorry! Hope you missed us, because we miss you 🙂

‘Tis the Season! Yup, in just 10 days it’s REUNION SHABBAT: THE MIRACLE OF LIGHTS (The weekend of December 20-22nd). If you grew up at Bnai Jacob, this will be a Hannukah-themed Shabbat and partay to reunite with old friends, and for new Bnai Jacobians and ol’ Bnai Jacobians to celebrate together 🙂 also on December 22nd, the first night of Hannukah, Bnai Jacob will be lighting up the night, across Jersey City and beyond! If you are lighting a menorah, take a pic and post it to the Bnai Jacob Facebook group so we can all share in each others’ light.

And more to light up your December (and beyond!):

*Upcoming Yoga Classes to begin at Bnai Jacob Thursday Nights from 7-8pm followed by Kirtan-Inspired Chanting Maariv (evening prayer), free to the community!

*More Lunch & Learns, last one of the year is next December 19 from 12-1:30pm

*Exciting new programs for 2020 including Purim Baking, Social Justice Initiatives including New Sanctuary, Family Promise, and more; and Introduction to Judaism classes (for those planning for conversion or who just want to know a little more, more solidly 🙂

Looking forward to being with everyone!

​​​​​​​Blessings 🙂 R’B


November 19, 2019

Shalom chevre!

I hope everyone’s having a good week so far! Just a few reminders of upcoming awesomeness at Bnai Jacob:

*This Friday for Shabbat Hodu-Gratitude Shabbat we will be joined by the inspiring Reverend Dr J.R. Norwood, an activist for the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation of New Jersey who will speak about the history of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe and how we can support this community right here in Jersey City. And if you haven’t already, please remember to sign up for the potluck (email rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com with what you plan to bring and any ingredients that might be potential allergens). And even if cooking is not your jam (haha), you can come and bring a soda, juice, or just yourself because Shabbat Hodu is about being grateful for community 🙂

*Thursday Lunch & Learns are back in full swing! The remaining 2019 dates are: November 21, December 5, and December 19. Session are from 12-1:30, the lunch is on us but you better come to learn 😉

*Also on December 5th at 7pm is an open pizza dinner for all interested in being a part of the volunteer and visioning core of Bnai Jacob– we’re looking for folks who wants to talk vision and execution, we can do some exciting stuff, especially powered by pizza 🙂 please RSVP to rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com if you’re down!

*And then there’s REUNION SHABBAT: THE MIRACLE OF LIGHTS (The weekend of December 20-22nd). If you grew up at Bnai Jacob, this will be a Hannukah-themed Shabbat and partay to reunite with old friends, and for new Bnai Jacobians and ol’ Bnai Jacobians to celebrate together 🙂 also keep an eye out for December 22nd, the first night of Hannukah, Bnai Jacob will be lighting in style…. more to come….

Looking forward to being with everyone!

​​​​​​​Blessings 🙂 R’B


November 13, 2019

Shalom chevre!

I hope everyone’s staying warm, but if not, what better way to warm you up then with some exciting news?!? (It’s a longer email, but if you read till the end, I promise it’ll feel like you just had the best hot cocoa of your life…or something like that…. 😉

We all know that November contains the holiday of Thanksgiving and the origin narratives around the founding of this amazing country. Part of that history, however, includes the many injustices that have been inflicted upon the various Native American communities in the United States.

As a community which cares about justice, we will be joined by the Reverend Dr J.R. Norwood, an activist for the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation of New Jersey on Shabbat ‘Hodu’ or ‘Gratitude’ Shabbat November 22nd @7pm. This awesome event is in just 10 days, so please remember to sign up for the potluck (email rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com with what you plan to bring and any ingredients that might be potential allergens), and get ready to connect in musical davening, community, and in learning from Reverend Dr. Norwood about the history of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe and how we can support this community in our own state.

About The Rev. J. R. Norwood, PhD:

The Rev. Dr. J.R. Norwood is the Principal Justice of the Tribal Supreme Court of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation, for which he has also served as a Councilman for over fifteen years. He is the Co-Chair of the Task Force on Federal Acknowledgment of the National Congress of American Indians and the General Secretary of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes. Dr. Norwood is the senior minister to the Nanticoke-Lenape Tribal Christian Prayer Circle Ministry and has served for over twenty-seven years as the pastor of the Ujima Village Christian Church of Ewing, NJ, a non-tribal urban congregation. He has represented his tribe at the national and international level and has written about and lectured on tribal history, culture, religion, and current concerns.

Also keep an eye out for REUNION SHABBAT: THE MIRACLE OF LIGHTS (The weekend of December 20-22nd). If you grew up at Bnai Jacob, this will be a Hannukah-themed Shabbat and partay to reunite with old friends, and for new Bnai Jacobians and ol’ Bnai Jacobians to celebrate together 🙂

Looking forward to being with everyone!

​​​​​​​Blessings 🙂 R’B


November 3, 2019

Shalom Chevre!

I hope it’s been a restful Shabbat and a cool weekend (fall has finally arrived!) And with that, it means that Shabbat Hodu: Gratitude Shabbat is upon us. In honor of the what has become known as the season of gratitude, Bnai Jacob will host Shabbat services this month on Friday, November 22nd and have our first community potluck of the new year! Please keep an eye out for a sign up sheet where you can sign up to bring any vegetarian dish to share or a dessert (special points for homemade, it is also the season of pies after all….). Our service will also feature some musical guests, so be prepared to sing 🙂

Also keep an eye out for REUNION SHABBAT: THE MIRACLE OF LIGHTS (The weekend of December 20-22nd). If you grew up at Bnai Jacob, this will be a Hannukah-themed Shabbat and partay to reunite with old friends, and for new Bnai Jacobians and ol’ Bnai Jacobians to celebrate together 🙂

Looking forward to being with everyone!

​​​​​​​Blessings 🙂 R’B


October 22, 2019

Shalom Chevre!

It was so wonderful, magical, reflective and joyous to spend the high holidays with you. This Friday, 10/25 at 7:30pm (note the special time, 7:30!) will be our first Kabbalat Shabbat together of the season, and it’s particularly special– this coming Shabbat marks the 1 year anniversary of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. Synagogues across the country will be gathering together for what has been called ‘Solidarity Shabbat’- a time to connect to in our collective mourning and also in our collective resilience. Please see details below– Bnai Jacob will be collaborating with Temple Beth El, our Reform sister-shut in Jersey City.

SOLIDARITY SHABBAT will be at Bnai Jacob (176 West Side Avenue).

There is no more important time than now to be an Am Yisrael– A Jewish People. Looking forward to being with you this Friday for a lively service and oneg with a wonderful guest speak, our very own Professor Thomas Main.

Have a great rest of your week and see you Friday!
Blessings 🙂
R’Bronwen


October 7, 2019

Shalom chevre!

I hope you all had a sweet and restful Shabbos, and that you’re feeling ready to return to the sacred, challenging (and admit it, sometimes even fun!) work of looking inward, reflecting on the past year, and preparing to make the changes for a better year ahead. Yom Kippur begins tomorrow night, and I am so looking forward to being with you all, exploring the theme of true connection. Just a reminder that tickets are free, so feel to free to invite friends, mishpacha, the whole works. We will make room 🙂 Here’s the schedule:

Tuesday, October 8th
7:00pm- Kol Nidrei and Learning: Understanding What Blocks Us and What Binds Us
Wednesday, October 9th
10:00am- Yom Kippur Morning Services
11:30am (approx.)- Yizkor I
(afternoon nap, meditation, you do you)
6:30pm-Yizkor II
7:00pm- Neilah
8:30pm- Dairy Break-fast with Bnai Jacob. Come hungry… 😉 😋

Wishing you all a Gmar Chatimah Tovah (A Good Seal in the Book of Life), and may this next chapter for each of you, and our community Bnai Jacob as a whole, be metukah (sweet).

Blessings 🙂 R’B


October 4, 2019

Shalom chevre!

It was such a blessing to be with you all for Rosh HaShanah. Your energy, your voices, the call of the shofar (and that amaaazing avocado blossom honey) have already made this new year a sweet and hopeful one. So looking forward to coming back together for Yom Kippur, a time for each of us to do the challenging work of reflection in order to build true connection. What is ‘true’ connection? Something that many of us have a hard time finding the words for, but we know it when we feel it. True Connection will be the theme of this year’s Yom Kippur at Bnai Jacob. Join us to begin the journey towards a more connected life 🙂

Tuesday, October 8th
7:00pm- Kol Nidrei and Learning: Understanding What Blocks Us and What Binds Us
Wednesday, October 9th
10:00am- Yom Kippur Morning Services
11:30am- Yizkor I
(afternoon nap, meditation, you do you)
6:30pm-Yizkor II
7:00pm- Neilah
8:30pm- Dairy Break-fast with Bnai Jacob. Come hungry… 😉 😋

May this Shabbat, known as Shabbat Shuvah, the Shabbat of Return, feel like a deep and welcomed return, a return for another year of breath, of purpose and the pursuit of joy and a more healed world.

Blessings 🙂 R’B


September 29, 2019

Shalom shalom shalom chevre!

Tomorrow is the big day! Rosh HaShanah services begin at 10:00am, followed by a light kiddush (trust me, this is NOT your grandma’s apples & honey, stay till the end for the big surprise….) and Tashlich downtown by the Korean War Monument at the southern end of Washington Street). Timing tomorrow we will look roughly as follows:

10:00-1:00 Lively services in our beautiful sanctuary
1:15-2:00 Kiddush and Kibbutz 😉
2:30-3:00 Tashlich downtown.

And remember, we have services again Tuesday morning at 10am. Come for more fun, more surprises, and more opportunity to recharged and reinvigorated in community for the upcoming year!

​​​​​​​A L’Shanah Tovah to you all, and see you tomorrow!

Blessings 🙂 R’B


September 26, 2019

Shalom chevre,

Rosh HaShanah is just days away! We will be celebrating together at Bnai Jacob Monday September 30th and Tuesday October 1st beginning at 10am. Everyone– whether this is your first time or you’re an old or new friend of Bnai Jacob, or you’re a long-time member of the family, High Holiday tickets are free for you. We can’t wait to celebrate together and reinvigorate for the new year ahead.

Looking forward to being with you all for this incredibly special season!

Blessings 🙂 R’B


September 11, 2019

Shalom chevre,

I have missed being with you these last 3 weeks– I had the joy of celebrating my marriage to Nicole Fix and also the sorrow of burying my father, Jay Mullin z”l. Never so poignant have the words “Book of Life” and “Book of Death” felt for me this year as we approach the High Holidays. I’m sure many of you know the feeling, and it is the great gift of Jewish life and community that we honor both in their interconnection. Thank you, to all of you, for your support, and I feel blessed to return now and be a support to all of you.

And so the season is upon us! Rosh HaShanah will be celebrated at Bnai Jacob Monday September 30th and Tuesday October 1st beginning at 10am. Everyone– friends & family are welcome! High Holiday tickets are free, but this community is invaluable 🙂

Looking forward to being with you all for this incredibly special season!

Blessings 🙂 R’B


August 12, 2019

Shalom shalom chevre!

I hope everyone’s been having a good week, had an easy fast, and is getting revved up for Kabbalat Shabbat and a home-cooked dinner by yours truly (trust me, rabbis can cook! And of course Nicole will assist too…. 😉

Looking forward to seeing everyone this Friday, August 16th @7:00pm!

Suggested donation- $10, but most importantly, can’t wait to just be with you!

Blessings for a sweet rest of your week 🙂
R’B

Rabbi Bronwen Mullin
rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com
http://bnaijacobjc.com/
office: 201-435-5725 (rabbi: 267-475-5181)


August 7, 2019

“Do Not Stand Idly By the Blood of Your Neighbor” (Leviticus 19:16)

Shalom chevre,

This past Shabbat was not an easy or restful one, and this week has begun in shock for some, and for others numbness– 3 more mass shootings have afflicted this nation: in Northern California, 2 children and 1 adult were killed at a community garlic festival; in El Paso, Texas 22 people were killed in a Walmart; and in Dayton, Ohio 9 people were killed walking around the Oregon Disctrict.

I cannot help but think of the verse “Do Not Stand Idly By the Blood of Your Neighbor”. The rabbis of our tradition interpreted this to mean that one should not profit in any way from anything that takes human life. This is not an easy commandment to follow in our day and age, especially when the thing that is taking human life is not just one person, or one weapon, but is an intersection of larger systems and ideologies that contribute to creating cultures in which violence is tolerated and even endorsed. Alll of us are participants in American culture, and it is our duty as Jews to follow this commandment to the best of our ability. The first step is asking ourselves– what can I do? What small thing can I do? Have I been complicit in any way? Have I been ambivalent? These are hard questions, because as I write them to you I’m tearing up, knowing that my own numbness has led me to not be as active as I would like. But the great thing about our religion is that we believe that everyone has the potential to do better, and in community there is the most potential for solidarity. That’s why I’m reminded of another verse, “Do Not Separate Yourself From the Community” (Deuteronomy 14:1). Now is the time to stand together and to move forward together.

Our next Community Shabbat is on Friday, August 16th @7pm. At this service we will honor the memories of those whose lives were cut terribly short as a result of these murders, and we will also lift up their memory in joyful song, prayer, and hope for a more peaceful world. And please stay for dinner after! Nicole and I will be preparing a home-cooked vegetarian meal for the community. And if you want to get together soon, great! We have Lunch & Learn tomorrow, Thursday August 8th from 12-1:30. Looking forward to being together 🙂

Blessings 🙂 R’B

Rabbi Bronwen Mullin
rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com
http://bnaijacobjc.com/
office: 201-435-5725 (rabbi: 267-475-5181)


July 12, 2019

Shabbat Shalom chevre,

Hope you’ve been having a great week! As I’m sure you’ve heard, there have been a number of political actions and protests arising over the cruelty at the ICE detention centers. We as Jews and the children of immigrants know the life-or-death realities of being able to seek freedom in another country. Please be in touch if you would like to see Bnai Jacob participate in any of said actions, or if you would like to be sent resources to become more involved. Our prayers are with those in most need of strength and protection. In fact, that’s what our Torah cycle teaches this week. Parashat Chukkat inclues the famous line of the non-Jewish prophet Bilam, who says of the Jews people “How goodly are your tents, oh Jacob!”. May our tents, those of the Jewish people and the United States, always be goodly to those seeking to dwell under their protection.

So just a reminder– we have lots of events coming up (see below!). Any in addition, please mark Wednesday, July 31st @7:30pm on your calendars. This is our Congregational Meeting and Town Hall. First of all, come for the pizza and ice cream, and secondly- come to be a part of the visioning and strategizing for the future of CBJ as we enter into our 60th year. Amazing things are possible if we come together! This will be both a celebration, and an opportunity for a real conversation about what we need to work on. Real and honest and in the spirit of believing in the possibility for a more vibrant future. Can’t wait to see you there!

COMING UP…… 🙂 🙂

HAVDALAH & MOVIE UNDER THE STARS– Brand New!
So you know how we have that amazing parking lot, right? Did you know that it’s also the only outdoor movie theater in Jersey City?? Well it is now! Come out for a beautiful Havdalah service (the service ending Shabbat, y’know, with the fierce twisted candle) and a late night showing of the Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man” (2009). But don’t be so serious that you don’t get out on Saturday night… Saturday July 20th 8:30pm-11:00pm  (Note: this event has been postponed due to weather. Stay tuned for rescheduling information.)

LUNCH & LEARN– Change of Date!
Come for a roudy discussion of the week’s parasha (Torah reading). I promise, no books will be thrown, but we really love to wrestle with our tradition….
Thursday July 25th 12:00pm-1:30pm

COMMUNITY SHABBAT SERVICE & DINNER— You know it and Love it!
We’re back! We’ll bring in Shabbat in poetry and song with Kabbalat Shabbat and a delicious vegetarian dinner to follow. Friday, July 26th @7:00pm, $10/person but no one will be turned away!

Have a sweet Shabbos y’all, and looking forward to seeing you soon!

Blessings 🙂
R’B

Rabbi Bronwen Mullin
rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com
http://bnaijacobjc.com/
office: 201-435-5725 (rabbi: 267-475-5181)


July 5, 2019

Shabbat Shalom chevre,

I hope everyone’s been enjoying a happy (if hot) July 4th week! There is much happening in the month of July with Bnai Jacob, so we look forward to seeing you!

What’s Coming Up!

LUNCH & LEARN– Change of Date!
Come for a roudy discussion of the week’s parasha (Torah reading). I promise, no books will be thrown, but we really love to wrestle with our tradition….
Thursday July 11th & July 25th 12:00pm-1:30pm

HAVDALAH & MOVIE UNDER THE STARS– Brand New!
So you know how we have that amazing parking lot, right? Did you know that it’s also the only outdoor movie theater in Jersey City?? Well it is now! Come out for a beautiful Havdalah service (the service ending Shabbat, y’know, with the fierce twisted candle) and a late night showing of the Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man” (2009). But don’t be so serious that you don’t get out on Saturday night… Saturday July 20th 8:30pm-11:00pm

COMMUNITY SHABBAT SERVICE & DINNER— You know it and Love it!
We’re back! We’ll bring in Shabbat in poetry and song with Kabbalat Shabbat and a delicious vegetarian dinner to follow. Friday, July 26th @7:00pm, $10/person but no one will be turned away!

While there is so much joy and fun for us to share, community is also about supporting each other, and the world, during difficult times. It was with a heavy report that I inform you that long-time community member Howard LaMell passed away on Monday, July 1st. We held his funeral at Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, NY on Wednesday, July 3rd. He is survived by his beloved wife, Shlomit Geisler, his sister Joan, and beloved children Rachel and Bradley. Howard was a tender and vivacious soul whose memory will always be for a blessing. Notes/calls of condolence may be made to Shlomit. Please be in touch with the office if you would like further contact information. ZIchrono l’Vracha– may our memories of Howard, Tzvi Herschel, always be for a blessing.

Thinking of you all this Shabbos. May it be sweet, comforting, and restful for you all.

Blessings 🙂
R’B

Rabbi Bronwen Mullin
rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com
http://bnaijacobjc.com/
office: 201-435-5725 (rabbi: 267-475-5181)


June 7, 2019

Shabbat Shalom chevre,

I hope everyone’s been having a lovely week. Despite some technical problems this week, we are still excited to observe Shavuot! Please come out tomorrow night at 7pm, to Temple Emanu-El of Bayonne (735 John F. Kennedy BLVD in Bayonne, NJ) where Rabbi Jacob and I will teach and co-teach (dueling rabbis, eh? Don’t wanna miss that!) on Art and the 2nd Commandment– does Judaism actually permit and/or even endorse art?!? What about a world where Art simultaneously uplifts the human spirit and portrays the worst aspects of humanity? Where and how does Judaism enter the conversation? There will be teaching, kibbutzing, and plenty of ice cream and cheesecake. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Blessings 🙂
R’B

rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com
http://bnaijacobjc.com/
office: 201-435-5725 (rabbi: 267-475-5181)


May 17, 2019

Shabbat ACHLAH! (Shabbat is AWESOME!):
A Kabbalat Shabbat Service Celebrating Israel at 71
WHEN: May 17, 2019 @7pm
WHAT: Israeli food and music, Israeli dancing,
Israel Trivia (with some fierce prizes) and a few more surprises!

Blessings,
R’Bronwen
rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com
http://bnaijacobjc.com/
office: 201-435-5725 (rabbi: 267-475-5181)


May 10, 2019

Shabbat Shalom chevre,

I’ve been thinking of all of you this week as this week’s parasha (Torah reading), Kedoshim, tells us of God’s command that “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). It’s hard to know how to be holy when so much in our world feels unholy, as this week our country is ravaged yet again by another school shooting in Colorado and our and ancestral home, Israel, is in the midst of more fighting with insurgents in Gaza. The parasha continues by explaining that to be holy means to honor one’s parents, to provide food for the poor, to care for the blind and the deaf and to not oppress any kind of foreigner in our midst. What’s amazing is that the Torah is telling us that– YES– there is A LOT of unholiness in the world– family strife, poverty, illness, pain, economic disparity, and so much more. Holiness, according to our tradition, means being vulnerable enough to see the struggles of the world, and brave enough to do our part, no matter how small. If you are feeling struck by the events of this week and have ideas about how Bnai Jacob could be more involved, or you’re looking around Jersey City and thinking “I may have an idea about how to contribute to making such-and-such better!”, be in touch! We can be a congregation of holy chutzpah!

AND SPEAKING OF CHUTZPAH…..

That’s right! Next Week is our Israel-Themed Celebration Shabbat! There is a suggested donation ($5-$10 for food) but no one will be turned away, it’s not a party without YOU! Can’t wait to see you again for our monthly Shabbat Services!!

Blessings for a sweet Shabbos 🙂
R’Bronwen
rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com
http://bnaijacobjc.com/
office: 201-435-5725 (rabbi: 267-475-5181)


May 3, 2019

Shabbat Shalom chevre,

I hope you’re all doing well in the midst of what has been a very difficult week. If you haven’t already, please read the beautiful essay in response to the recent violence at the Chabad of Pohway, California by our friend and community member, Carla Main (www.bnaijacobjc.com). Thank you, Carla, for your healing words.

And just a reminder:
This Sunday, May 5th at 2:30pm Bnai Jacob will join together with the United Synagogue of Hoboken and Congregation Beth El to commemorate Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. The ceremony with film and guest speaker Ernest Mathias will be held at Congregation Beth El (2419 John F. Kennedy Blvd). Please join us in loving and supportive community, where we can pray together for a day when “war and bloodshed cease, and a deep peace will envelop the whole world.” (Siddur Sim Shalom, A Prayer for Peace)

And a word of Torah—

This week’s parasha, Acharei Mot, begins in the aftermath of a great and terrible loss, the death of the sons of Aaron. How is Aaron to walk in the world, to fulfill his duty as the High Priest, in the midst of so much pain? Only a few verses in, Aaron is instructed about the intricate laws of Yom Kippur, the most important (and volatile) holiday of the Jewish calendar. Aaron is instructed to go back to his duties, to mourn for a day, but then return to life.

But is that true for all of us? Can all of us mourn and return to normal so quickly?

The Kli Yakar (Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim of Luntschitz, b. 1550) explains that this is why the parasha waits two more chapters for HaShem to instruct the people: “Like that which was done in Egypt you shall not do, nor like that which was done in Canaan, the land in which I am bringing you; you shall not walk according to their laws. Rather, it is My ordinances that you will abide, and My laws which you shall observe and walk with, for I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 18:3-4) The Kli Yakar explains that our laws traditions and customs are exactly what help us get through times of pain—they remind us of the uniqueness of our relationship with HaShem, invigorating and infusing our duty to do that which is just in the world with a sense of holiness. Like Aaron the High Priest, we are a nation of priests as well (Exodus 19:5-6). We have always survived the most difficult times by tapping into what makes us unique in the larger world, whether that’s lighting two candles at Shabbat, or the tune we choose for Chad Gadya or our collection of menorahs.

May this Shabbat, and every Shabbat, be a time in which you feel reminded of the uniqueness of being a Jew in this world , and being the unique and treasured spirit that you are. Have a sweet Shabbos, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

Blessings 🙂
R’Bronwen
rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com
http://bnaijacobjc.com/
office: 201-435-5725 (rabbi: 267-475-5181)

April 28, 2019


Shalom chevre,

It was so lovely being with everyone Friday night for a music, laughter and love filled Shabbat. What a great way to start this new time in the life of our community. For those of you who couldn’t be there, I look forward to connecting to you soon and seeing you at our next Friday night service–

Shabbat ACHLAH! (Shabbat is AWESOME!):
A Kabbalat Shabbat Service Celebrating Israel at 71
WHEN: May 17, 2019 @7pm
WHAT: Israeli food and music, Israeli dancing,
Israel Trivia (with some fierce prizes) and a few more surprises…. Stay tuned 🙂

Community means being together in times of joy and pain, especially seeking each other out for support. As you may have heard, there was another act of domestic terrorism that took the life of one woman and injured three others during services for the last day of Passover at the Chabad of Poway, California. The suspect is believed to be a white supremacist. This news is devastating as hate crimes in our country, and against Jews, have seen dramatic increase in the last two years. This news is also devasting because it seems that around the world religious groups everywhere face great peril, whether you are attending a mosque in New Zealand, or a church in Sri Lanka. We have no choice, as people of faith, to stand together against hate.

Next Sunday, May 5th at 2:30pm, please join in the Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration that will be held at our sister congregation, Beth El of Jersey City and in partnership with our fellow congregation, The Conservative Synagogue of Hoboken. Faith leaders from other local communities will also be invited to participate in the commemoration in a show of solidarity. The event will be secured for everyone’s safety, but as our tradition tells us:

“The whole world is a very narrow bridge, but the most important thing of all is to not be afraid.” (Rabbi Nachman of Breslov)

I will be available by email and phone for anyone who would like to process these recent events, and I hope to stand side by side with you next Sunday.

Blessings,
R’Bronwen
rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com
http://bnaijacobjc.com/
office: 201-435-5725 (rabbi: 267-475-5181)


April 17, 2019

Dear chevre,

What awful images many of us saw yesterday, whether in news reports or from friends and family on the ground— the historic, 865 year old monument, The Cathedral of Notre Dame, burning. Due to the courageous efforts of Paris’s firefighters, the structure of this holy site remains intact, but the damage has been done, and the Cathedral will never be the same.

The loss of a national symbol of religion, culture, and civilization is not unfamiliar to us as Jews, as we have seen many of our sacred structures burn, whether these were the great synagogues and yeshivot (houses of learning) of Eastern Europe during the years before and leading up to the Holocaust, or our very own ancient epicenter, The Beit haMikdash, The Holy Temple in Jerusalem, nearly 2000 years ago. We know all too well the grief of losing these structures, these sanctuaries for God and Humankind alike. We mourn with our Christian siblings, our French and fellow global citizens. We also support our Muslim siblings, who suffered a fire on Monday night in the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a 1300 year-old structure and the 3rd holiest site in Islam. Thankfully that fire was put out very quickly and no significant damage was done.

As Passover approaches, let us remember that what makes a place holy are the people who make it holy. When you make Pesach in your home, your home becomes a sanctuary. May you all be surrounded by people this holiday who give you that sense of the sacred— sacred in time and sacred in connection.

And I look forward to being a part of making Bnai Jacob sacred again with you all next Friday, April 26th, for Shabbat. But until then, happy cleaning (haha), enjoy those last slices of pizza, and have a sweet Pesach!

Blessings 🙂 R’Bronwen

rabbibnaijacob@gmail.com
http://bnaijacobjc.com/
201-435-5725


April 5, 2019

Shabbat Shalom B’nai Jacob chevre,

(not the cheese, though it’s delicious. It means something like community of friends)

This Shabbat is known as Shabbat HaGadol, the Big Shabbat, because it is the Shabbat right before Passover. The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement and a brilliant storyteller, asked “Why is it called Shabbat haGadol, the Great Shabbat? Shouldn’t every Shabbat be great? Why should one Shabbat be lifted up above any other?” The answer, he says, is this:

“On every Shabbat every single person is given an extra soul, that is why the Torah tells us that on the 7th day, God ‘rested’- ‘vayinafash’ (nafash is related to the word nefesh which means ‘soul’). But on that last Shabbat in Egypt, it was not only that every individual person was given a new soul, but the Jewish people as a whole were given a new soul because they knew that they would be liberated from the house of bondage. Thus it is not that Shabbat haGadol is greater than any other, but that the Jewish people as a whole are greater because the soul of the entire chevre has been made greater.”

The story of Passover, with its themes of hope in the face of despair and the partnership between God and human beings in struggle to liberate the oppressed, has made us as a chevre greater. In every generation we tell and retell this story, and in every generation Jews around the world have been partners in the struggle against oppression. Not only that, we’ve developed beautiful traditions in music, storytelling, and food to keep the soul of our history alive. As we prepare for this Passover season at B’nai Jacob, we have three special events coming up:

Sunday, April 14th at 10:30am—
Chocolate Model Seder!
in partnership with Temple Emanu-El of Bayonne, NJ. Everybody welcome! Come for the music, the learning, and of course, the chocolate 😉

Tuesday, April 16th from 10am-6pm and Thursday, April 18th from 10am-6pm—
A Chametz Sale That Makes A Difference!
Lend me your pasta! Your rolls! Your waffles! Actually, sell them! We’re “selling” our chametz this year as a donation to the local Sikh Temple’s food pantry & meal delivery program, Let’s Have A Meal. So drop off your chametz at B’nai Jacob anytime during the hours above. To complete the “sale”, our donation is being returned with a personal invite to the B’nai Jacob community to attend a Kirtan chant service. More info on our community Kirtan event coming soon.

And wait for it, wait for it…..

Friday night, April 26th,7pm, @Bnai Jacob—
It’s Liberation Shabbat!
A Welcome-Back and Welcome-In Shabbat Service with music, storytelling, food, and maybe a few more cups of wine, you know, it’s still Passover and all…. 
Hope to see you there!

Have a Sweet Shabbos!
R’Bronwen


March 28, 2019

Shalom B’nai Jacob!

I’m Rabbi Bronwen Mullin and I am so honored to serve as your new rabbi. While your beautiful sanctuary was awe-inspiring and your president and board members warm and welcoming, it’s the history of this community that makes me really excited to join the team. This is a community that has had the grit to create firm foundations against all odds, the love and commitment to build long-lasting relationships spanning generations, and has stuck together to this very day, saying: we want a thriving community and spiritual home for Conservative Judaism here in Jersey City, here at B’nai Jacob. Well, count me in!

A little about me: I currently live in Brooklyn, NY with my partner Nicole (she’s an amazing shofar blower by the way, so get ready for the High Holidays 2019!). I come from Town & Village Synagogue in NYC where I served as the Rabbinic Artist-in-Residence creating diverse Jewish cultural events, and the Director of the Center for Conversion to Judaism mentoring individuals and couples from all backgrounds in the conversion process. There’s more to say and you can check out my full bio on our newly updated website, but suffice it to say—what I love most about this work is building meaningful connections between people and Judaism.

I feel blessed to now serve B’nai Jacob because together we can build meaningful connections at so many levels— whether through soulful prayer services, thought-provoking classes, social justice partnerships with our community neighbors, sharing in the joy of a couples’ chuppah or providing support for a family sitting shiva. While I feel incredibly honored to serve as your spiritual leader, I hope we will grow together, be creative with our outreach, and have some fun along the way! I’ll soon be reaching out to each of you and will be available regularly at rabbi@bnaijacobjc.com. Drop a line, let’s talk! I look forward to building a community with you and for you.

In the meantime, beginning in April—which is also the Hebrew month of Nissan and the holiday of Pesach (Passover), we will be relaunching monthly Friday Night, Kabbalat Shabbat services and hosting a model seder in partnership with Temple Emanu-El of Bayonne, NJ, more information coming soon. Whether you’re a long-time member of CBJ, a new member of CBJ, or you’re just getting acquainted with CBJ, the spirit of the Passover season is one of rebirth and renewal— I hope you’re as excited as I am for new beginnings!

Blessings,
Rabbi Bronwen


And some older messages from Rabbi Aaron Katz:

Dear All

Jewish communities around the world will sit in collective mourning on Tisha B’ Av.

Tisha B’ Av, the ninth of Av, is an annual fast day in Judaism (observed on July 22 this year).

We will mourn for the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem.  For the defeat of the Bar Kochba rebellion.  For the first crusade in 1096.  For the expulsion of Jews from England in 1240, from France in 1306 and Spain in 1492. For the day in which Himmler was given the green light for the “final solution”.  For the AMIA bombing of the Jewish Community in Buenos Aires, July 1994.  And for the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in August 2005.

Why so much suffering for so long?
What does it tell us about the Jewish destiny and fate?

Anti Semitism and Anti Zionism are complex phenomena!

We learn from the history of humanity that the people made two big mistakes:
1) they created freedom without order, and 2) they created order without freedom. The humanity failed!

Jews throughout history have recognized tyranny for what it is, and the Jewish people have refused to be intimidated by power, threat, terror and fear.

We created the State of Israel as an example to the world!  We created a society of freedom and order.  We have a free press, free elections, and an independent judiciary system.

Israel is a constant innovator in the arts, science, medicine, agriculture, technology and more.

We must be different.  The Bible tells us that we need to create a system of freedom with order, a place of respect and dignity for everyone.  A country that respects our neighbors.  To love the stranger as we love God.

Justice and law, grace and mercy are part of our culture. We need to show the world how to create freedom without anarchy and order without tyranny.

Tisha B’ Av is a time of reflection.

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
https://www.facebook.com/BnaiJacobJC/
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Dear All,

With gratitude we would like to recognize the family of Arlene Schor for the sponsorship of our Summer Shabbat Study with an exceptional Oneg.
It means the world to us! Because of you we can continue to provide a lovely Summer Shabbat Study.

Your support is a great vote of confidence in our mission!

We are so lucky to have you as a donor!

Thanks!!!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
https://www.facebook.com/BnaiJacobJC/
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Dear All,

Judaism is a way of thinking about life, and of course it contains life changing ideas.

In the American Declaration of Independence from 1776, we read: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

Thomas Jefferson, when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, was a slave owner.
Eighty-seven years later, when Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, America was fighting a civil war over just this issue.

We know that ideas change the world, and because of that they change us!

Judaism, and we the Jews, must teach the world the idea of equality before the divine and human law, the dignity of human person, for collective conscience and social responsibility, and for love as the foundation of justice.

Howard Sachar wrote: “nowhere did Jews identify themselves more forth rightly with the liberal avant-garde than in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s”.

In 1949 Rabbi Julian Feibelman of New Orleans opened the doors of his Temple Sinai for a lecture by Ralph Bunch, the black UN ambassador, permitting the first major integrated audience in New Orleans history.

The Klan group exploited the integration crisis to launch acts of anti-Semitic violence.
In one year from November 1957 through October 1958, temples and other Jewish communal edifices were bombed in Atlanta, Nashville, Jacksonville and Miami, and undetonated dynamite was found under synagogues in Birmingham, Charlotte and Gastonia in North Carolina.

The idea that Judaism has about humankind is in the term Jefferson used: “self-evident”.

From the stories of the Bible, especially in Genesis, we learn that “in the will to power” is perennial bloodshed.

We need to choose the “Power of Ideas”!

Happy 4th of July.

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
https://www.facebook.com/BnaiJacobJC/
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Dear All,

Immigration crisis:

“Love the stranger because you were once strangers”…

You would have to be less than human not to be moved by the images of the immigrants and children in crisis.

One of the dark moments of our history occurred in July 1938, when representatives from 32 countries gathered in Evian France to discuss the humanitarian disaster that everyone knew. Country after country shut its doors. Every nation said it wasn’t their problem.

The Torah said: “Love your neighbor as yourself“.

The Torah emphasis and uses this concept many times because it is easy to love your neighbor when they are quite like us! But it is hard to love the stranger, one whose color, culture or creed is different from ours.

When we talk about freedom, we need to agree that freedom is about children, education and the distant future.

The Torah teaches us that our great leader Moses had a clear vision about the future. When he took us out from slavery, he fixed his vision on the distant future, not on the adults but on the children. Moses made a fundamental point: to sustain a free society and to defend a civilization you need education, families and communities.

It is true that freedom requires the rule of law and Justice, but we need a judicial system in which the right of some are not secured by the denial of rights to others.

The definition of Family is essential in our religion.
Family is where we find passion, affection and companionship.

We need to put Family in the hearts of our concerns.
Children need stability, to deprive them of the love and nurture of those who brought them into being is irresponsible, cruel, inhuman and unfair.

The book of Bereshit, Genesis, is not about theology or doctrine or even about idolatry. It is about the story of families, couples, brothers, sisters , parents and children. Strong families are essential for a strong society!

…”Children are the world’s most valuable resource and it’s best hope for the future”… JFK.

…”Tomorrow’s world is born in what we teach our children today.
Freedom is won by making space for the people not like us”… Rabbi Lord Sacks.

Freedom begins with what and how we teach our children.

Which example are we showing to the world?
What are we teaching to our next generation?
Where are our values of justice and compassion?

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
https://www.facebook.com/BnaiJacobJC/
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Father’s Day was first observed in the United States almost a century ago — but Judaism long before commanded Jewish children to honor and fear their parents.

A father once came to the Baal Shem Tov with a problem concerning his son. He complained that the son was forsaking Judaism and morality and asked the rabbi what he could do. The Baal Shem Tov answered: “Love him more.” (Chassidic tale)

On Father’s Day, we honor our fathers not by comparing them to some ideal but by acknowledging them for who they really are. We pause to reflect on their history, remember the challenges they faced, and meditate on what they taught us along the way. In that, we truly live by the words ‘Honor thy Father’…”

Rashi said: “Obeying from love is better than to obey from fear”!

Happy Father’s Day!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
https://www.facebook.com/BnaiJacobJC/
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Dear all,

…”For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as we remember them”…

As we pause to remember our fallen soldiers, we are reminded of the ultimate sacrifice so many people have made so we can live with liberty, dignity and freedoms.

Rabbi Lord Sacks said: “A society that has no room for difference has no room for humanity. The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. Wherever you find anti-Semitism, there you also find a threat to liberty. No free society was ever built on hate“…

On Memorial Day or Decoration Day we pay tribute to those who have given their lives in our nation’s Wars.

Our soldiers fight for the principles of our country and for the respect and tolerance we all deserve.

We know that with freedom comes responsibility, and at the same time we need to remember that large hearts change the course of history.

Martin Luther King Jr. said: …”In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our Friends”…

“Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay.” —President Barack Obama.

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

From our last Baby naming…

“Since I have had a child I find I can relate to God much better. Now I know what it feels like to create something you can’t control.”

…”Every child conceived in love is testimony to a profound and moving faith in the future, in human renewal, and in life itself as the supreme blessing. And every parent in his or her heart knows that the real privilege lies less in being loved than in being given the chance to love. Children, says Psalm 127, are “a gift from the Lord”, placed by him into our safekeeping. They are, this side of heaven, our greatest intimation of immortality”…

Our Blessings and Happiness to:

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Dear All,

Bamidbar is usually read on the Shabbat befor our Shavuot holiday.

The fourth book of the Torah, Bamidbar is about a journey, as the second book of the Bible, Exodus is also about a journey.

The difference between both of them is that Shemot, Exodus, is about a journey “from”, and the book on Numbers, Bamidbar is about a journey “to”.

Rabbi Lord Sacks said that the journey “from” is always easier that the journey “to”.

We all agree that life is a journey.
This journey begins with a “dream about what we will like to do and to achieve “. With our dreams we begin to build our future.

We do a lot of mistakes in our journey, one of the reason is because we focus very much in the present and too little to the future.

The idea of reading this text before the holidays that commemorate the giving of the Torah, tell us that in Judaism the law preceded the land. We receive the Torah in the desert. Our traditions, values and dreams will continue to survive even without a “land”.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach.

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Shalom Baby Playgroup Earth Day Celebration at Hamilton House on April 22.

Thank you to all who participated, and thank you to the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s Hudson County Regional Council for their help in sponsoring this event.  

Yom Hashoa Holocaust Remembrance (April 15)

Thank you to all who attended and participated!

The service was structured around the lighting of 6 candles. We were honored by the participation of Galit Peleg, Head of the Department for Public Diplomacy and Academic Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, who spoke to us with passion and emotion.

Cantor David Krasner of Bellerose Jewish Center in Floral Park, NY sang Eli Eli and Mizmor Le David.

With his son in his arms, Sudhan Thomas, President of the Jersey City Board of Education spoke about the importance of education.

Tyler from Manhattan’s Aristo Strings provided beautiful music, as he did during the High Holidays last Fall.

With her husband and son looking on with interest and pride, Keynote Speaker Carla Main gave a passionate and educational talk about the history of Holocaust education (or lack of it) in American schools, and the work her father Albert Post did in the early 1970’s to change that by writing curricula and training teachers.

Special thanks to Rabbi Scheinberg and choir from United Synagogue of Hoboken for inspirational music, Rabbi Leana Morrit of Temple Beth-El, our own Rabbi Aaron Katz, Social Worker Max Laffend, Kevin for his photograpy, Lenore and Marilyn for the Oneg, and all others who made the afternoon special by attending and participating.

Yom Hashoa Holocaust Remembrance
Sunday, April 15 4PM at Congregation B’nai Jacob 176 West Side Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07305

We hope you will attend our afternoon of remembrance, spirituality, music, and learning.

We will be honored by the participation of Galit Peleg, Head of the Department for Public Diplomacy and Academic Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, as well as Jersey City representatives, Rabbis from Temple Beth-El, United Synagogue of Hoboken, and Congregation B’nai Jacob, Cantor David Krasner of Bellerose Jewish Center in Floral Park, NY, a choir from United Synagogue of Hoboken, and a cellist from Manhattan’s Aristo Strings.

The keynote speaker will be Carla Main, a congregation member and journalist. Ms. Main is the daughter of Albert Post, author of the first curriculum in the U.S. for teaching the Holocaust in secondary schools. Ms. Main will discuss how Holocaust education began in the early 1970s and why it matters now more than ever.

For more information about Ms. Peleg, Cantor Krasner, and Aristo Strings:

http://embassies.gov.il/new-york/Departments/Pages/Consul-for-Public-Diplomacy.aspx

https://bellerosejc.org/home/about-our-cantor/

http://www.aristostringsnyc.com/

Yom Hashoah, the day we in the Jewish community observe our Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Nazis deliberately timed some of their worst programs of mass murder to take place on Jewish festivals, as a way of killing not only Jews but also our Jewish identity and faith.

After the Shoah, Jews and much of the world vowed: “Never Again”!

In the last year anti-Semitism has returned to Europe and even in our United State of America.

Anti-Semitism matters not because it is an assault on Jews but because it’s on assault on humanity.

Jews were hated because they were a minority and because they were different.

We are all different, and any group may one day find itself as a minority. It wasn’t Jews alone who suffered under Hitler.

When we mourn those who were murdered and comfort those who suffered, we will tell their stories! We will not allow the memory of millions to pass into silence.

We must fight for the right to live!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Pesach is where the past does not die, but lives in our lives and in the stories that we tell to our next generations!

Pictures from our Second night Seder:

Thank you to all who attended and brought food and interesting conversation!

And, thank you to the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s Hudson
County Regional Council for their support!

Hello to all of you!

Our programs for Passover look great! I hope to see all of you at least to some of them.

This Friday at 8PM : millennial Shabbat Dinner in our home. Please feel free to come.

Shabbat Pesach Service Saturday 31 at 10:30 at West Side Avenue.

Second Seder Saturday 31 at 6PM in our home.

Lunch and Learn: Monday, April 2 at 12PM at West Side Avenue.

Friday Shabbat Service, April 6 at 6PM at Hamilton House.

Shabbat Yizkor Services, Saturday April 7 at 10:30 AM at Hamilton House.

Sunday movie date, April 8 at 4PM in hour home. A late lunch will be serve at the intermission.

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Meaning in life

This Shabbat we begin to read from a new book of the Torah, the book of Vayikra- Leviticus. It is also the beginning of a new month, the month of Nissan.

According to the Torah, the first month of the year is Nissan. This was the month that the earth became dry after the Flood. It was the month that we received the first command as a people. It was the time of our liberation as slaves in Egypt and a year later the Tabernacle was dedicated.

The first Mitzvah given to us as a whole, prior to the Exodus, was the command to sanctify the time.

Time plays an enormous part in Judaism. Time is also an essential medium for our spiritual life.

In the book of Vayikra, we learn how to give God something of ourselves.

We normally talk about how to pursue happiness in our lives. We forget many times, to talk about the meaning of our lives.

Meaning is about how we judge our life, how we create positive impact on others.

Happiness is about the present. Meaning is about our whole life. We need to ask our selves what life wants from us, and not to ask what we want from life!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Dear All,

In Judaism, community is essential to the spiritual life.

The celebration of the Shabbat and the creation of the Mishkan are the two strongest ways of building community. Community is the antidote to individualism. The best way to get people active and involved is to get them to build something together.

Every member of the group must be able to make a unique contribution and then feel that it has been valued. Each must be able to say, with pride: “I helped make this”.

“Community is society with a human face – the place where we know we’re not alone. It is the place where they know my name.”…Rabbi Lord Sacks.

We are so happy to share with you our two newest B’nai Jacob families!

Karla, Ariel and Bella Levit.

Karla, is working in NYC in finance, Ariel is the director in USA for Juventus Football Club, Italy, and Bella is enjoying life!

Carla, Thomas and Joshua Main

Carla is a writer and editor in journalism, Thomas is a writer and professor of politics at New York University, and Joshua is a student and a writer, too.

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

Dear All,

This coming Thursday we are celebrating the birthday of our Bubbie Bea Rubin!

We are grateful for having all the Rubin family as one of our supporters.

Rabbi Kushner said: …”I would rather think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to come together and make sense”…

We pray your day will be filled with immense joy and that you are surrounded by family and friends. Yom Huledet Sameach!

Your family B’nai Jacob.

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

An essay by Carla T. Main:

In Purim Lies an Ancient MeToo Story

This week Jews around the world celebrate Purim, a holiday that honors the triumph of Queen Esther, a Jewish woman of Persia, and her defeat of the evil Haman, a big shot in the King of Persia’s court who plotted to kill the Jews of the Kingdom. As traditionally told, King Ahasuerus of Persia was in such thrall to Queen Esther’s bravery and beauty that he turned against nasty Haman and changed his mind about annihilating the Jews after the bewitching Esther begged for her people.

The truth is more complicated, as I learned this week in study group at Congregation B’nai Jacob in Jersey City, New Jersey. Rabbi Aaron Katz asked us some intriguing questions about Esther. How did she get to be Queen? Could it be, he posited, that the Book of Esther contains a MeToo message?

Esther, it turns out, has a predecessor. Before there is a Queen Esther, there is a Queen Vashti. She is quite a beauty too—and headstrong. Now, Ahasuerus isn’t much for the details of governing. He prefers women and wine. One day, he gets a notion to parade Vashti before his court naked, the better to display his prize possession. Emphasis on possession, for this was how he regards her, Rabbi Katz explained.

For Vashti, this is too much. She says “no” to the King of Persia!

A crisis ensues. Ahasuerus’s advisors counsel that the wives of the Kingdom will run amok; no man will have peace if such disobedience is countenanced. Vashti is banished. (Or executed; no one is sure.) A young beauty named Hadassah is chosen among many candidates to be queen. Hadassah’s Uncle Mordecai –another royal advisor—counsels her to keep her Jewish identity secret and use a Persian name, Esther. Thus, from the start, Esther operates on the down-low. Then Haman, enemy of Mordecai and the Jews, obtains the decree ordering annihilation of the Jews. Mordecai urges Esther to act, reminding her that no Jew—not even the Queen—will be safe from the decree. Though Mordecai has advised Esther in the past, she must now act on own her own. She uses her sex appeal to entice Ahaseurus to a private banquet, and uses Haman’s lust for power to set a trap for him by inviting him as well, knowing he won’t refuse such proximity to the King. She charms the King. Then she repeats the process, inviting both to a second dinner.

At the second dinner, after she charms the King again, she pleads for her own life and the lives of her people. The King, unaware of the details of his own administration, is shocked to learn of her impending doom. Esther then exposes Haman—conveniently in the room—as the genesis of the evil decree. But Ahaseurus doesn’t act; he retreats to the veranda for air. Haman, distressed, flings himself across Esther, as she reclines on a divan, begging her for help. When the King returns and sees this, he immediately thinks—because he is a libertine himself—that Haman is raping his wife—his possession. Now, he’s angry! He orders Haman put to death and issues orders that save the Jews. Esther remains Queen; she and Mordecai prosper.

How fresh Vashti’s and Esther’s story still feels. The two remind me of women who enter male-dominated workplaces and encounter harassment (from Hollywood to Wall Street). Some, like Vashti, draw a line in the sand. Leaving is their only option—a decision to be respected. Others, like Esther, work within a difficult male power structure and learn to maneuver to their own advantage. Neither has an easy path.

Vashti and Esther both experienced a MeToo moment when their value was reduced to that of a sexual possession. Only one of them, Esther, emerged triumphant. Perhaps luck played a role. But we should also give Esther credit. She used the tools available to her and sized up Haman for the sniveling sycophant he really was. Then she cornered him into a compromising—and deadly—position. In the end, the Jewish people of Persia were saved.

Thinking about both Queens of Persia, as Rabbi Katz taught, helps us understand that women who lived long ago faced challenges not so different from those we face today. We can learn and take heart from their examples.

Carla T. Main is a writer and a member of Congregation B’nai Jacob of Jersey City, NJ

Purim and the “Me Too” movement!

…Reveal Yourself…

Women’s voices from the Purim story.

How can we lift up both Vashti and Esther as role models for women today?

How can we celebrate their courage and draw inspiration from their story?

Leadership is about courage and conscience!

Congregation B’nai Jacob Purim celebration:

Wednesday, February 28 @ 6PM.
176 West Side Ave. Jersey City.

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Dear All!

Let’s build the home of the Jewish heart together!

This week’s portion describes the construction of the Tabernacle, the portable house of worship the Israelites built and carried with them through the dessert.

When God said: ”Let them build something together”, this command transformed the people from a group of complainers to a community that contributed with gold, silver, bronze, skins, time and skills.

Judaism is a call to responsibility.  Our faith does not want us to rely on miracles.
We need to recognize what we have.  What we make of that is up to us: our choices and our efforts.

Building together will bring us closer as a community and at the same time symbolize the challenge of the future.

One of the greatest challenges of leadership is to give people the chance to give, to contribute and to participate.

Let’s make our people the Co-architects of our own destiny!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Dear All!

Our text of the week, Mishpatim, contains many laws of social justice.

The first and last of these laws is the repeated command against harming a stranger; 36 times!

…”You must not mistreat or oppress the stranger in any way.  Remember, you yourselves were once strangers in the land of Egypt”…(Ex.22:21).

…”You must not oppress strangers.  You know what it feels like to be a stranger, for you yourselves were once stranger in the land of Egypt “…(Ex.23:9).

Those who forget what it feels like to be a stranger eventually come to oppress strangers.
We have to remember that we were once on the other side of the equation.

What makes us human is the fact that we are rational, reflective and we think things through.  We feel empathy and sympathy.  We feel the pain of someone else.  The greatest crimes of humanity have been committed against the stranger, the outsider, the one not like us.

What makes us moral and what makes us capable of being so inhuman?

Knowledge, emotions and reason lead us to be moral.

Dehumanize the other and all the moral forces in the world will not save us from evil.
Knowledge is silenced, emotion anaesthetized and reason perverted.

Rabbi Johanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohi:

…”Verbal wrong-doing is worse than monetary wrongdoing “… because one only affects the other person’s money… and for one, restoration is possible, but not for the other…

Even after apology, the pain and the damage of reputation remains.

When we fear the stranger it brings out the worst in us!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Environmental Responsibility

Global warming: experts have long debated whether it really exists, but the accumulating evidence is hard to deny!

While the creation narrative clearly establishes God as “Master of the Universe “, it is the human being who is appointed “Master of the Earth”.

Rabbi Kook, first Chief Rabbi of Israel writes: … “ any intelligent person should know that what the Torah said does not mean the domination of a harsh ruler who afflicts his people and servants merely to fulfill his personal whim and desire according to the crookedness of his heart”.  Could God have really created such a complex and magnificent world solely for the caprice of humans?

The two Hebrew verbs used in the Torah are significant:
“Le Ovdah”-“to serve it” and “Le Shomrah”-“to guard it”.

This is the best short definition of humanity’s responsibility for nature.
Respect the integrity of nature!

From the Midrash:
“And God said to Adam: See how beautiful are My works.  All that I have created I have made for you.  But be careful that you do not ruin My world, for if you do, there is no one else to put right what you have destroyed “.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Dear All!

“Let’s build something together”

As Jews we believe that to defend a country we need an army, but to defend a civilization we need education.

In the traditional cultures, the task of the child is to obey! “Children should be seen, not heard”!

Judaism teach us that it is a religious duty to teach our children to ask questions, even deep and difficult ones.

We believe that intelligence is God’s greatest gift to humanity.

It is necessary to pass our memories and ideals to the next generation. We have a culture and we can communicate.  We have a language and we can pass our values to future generations.

This is the reason that the absolutely priority we have in our Judaism is always to place education schools and community even higher than prayer.

We need to teach that “liberty” means freedom of the mind, not just of the body.

The great danger in a democracy, said Tocqueville, is individualism, when people come to care about themselves and not about others.

Community is essential to the spiritual life.

More than 20 years ago, Past President from our congregation, Harold Zwain said:

“Spirit, Energy, Vitality, Dedication are some of the words that one might use to describe our B’nai Jacob. 

However, this is no time to rest on our laurels. What we have achieved is duly recorded in our archives. Looking forward to greater heights, greater goals, greater achievement are the key to the continuance of an even better B’nai Jacob. 

Who would have believed, that today we are in the midst of an economically rejuvenated Jersey City?”

And the same is true today!

This Shabbat we are beginning a new project in downtown Jersey City.  We have instituted our own programs of reaching out to those who have moved into our city.

For the moment, it is good to be able to celebrate this wonderful occasion, to revel in our collective achievement but realize that we must plan together to ensure the continuity of our Congregation B’nai Jacob.

Shabbat Shalom! See you on Shabbat in downtown!
PS: look for our next programs at West Side Avenue and Downtown JC!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Message from Founder and Past President Jane Canter:

Dear Friends:

Good news from B’nai Jacob. Many of us have been thinking about our future and we want you to be the first to hear about our thoughts to continue the legacy we began almost 60 years ago!

Beginning in 2018 we will have a series of monthly Shabbat services, one Friday night and one Saturday morning each month, led by Rabbi Aaron Katz – and always followed by refreshments!

Our congregation is growing. Participation in community needs as well as spiritual needs is our goal, hopefully with you joining us. Help us determine the next 60 years. Join us for our first Shabbat Service in a part of Jersey City that is easily accessible.

We will send a complete list of the dates through June 2018 beginning as follows:

FIRST DATE: Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 10:30 AM.
LOCATION: Hamilton House Community Room
225 Brunswick Street, corner of 10th Street in Downtown Jersey City.

If you need further information call Rabbi Katz at 305-607-9062 or e-mail him at rabbiaaron1@gmail.com.
Looking forward to seeing you on January 20th!

Jane Canter

Dear All!

As a gay Rabbi, I am always deeply grateful for this country!

After my complicated “coming out” America was the nation that open its doors to me. All of this would not have been possible without the support of my dear friends Maggie and Dave Parkhurst, the Community BCC of Los Angeles and meeting my spouse Kevin,

At first, like many new immigrants to this country, life for me was hard and challenging. When I remember those days, I can relate to every single immigrant of today!

I studied from the Talmud: “A prisoner cannot release himself from prison”.

When you take away a person’s freedom, you are taking away our humanity. Freedom to do the right and the good, is not a given! We need to pursue it!

From our text of the Torah, we see how Pharaoh enslaving others. Pharaoh became a prisoner of the values he himself had championed.

Immigration will always be an important part of our political discourse, but we must remain vigilant in the way we frame the issue and the language we use to debate them.

There is no place in the discussion for prejudice, xenophobia and to instill fear in the population. America is a nation of immigrants, and because of that we need to create our own identity by telling the story. The problem begins when we stop telling the story of who we are and why we come here.

Today’s debate is fragile.

The discussion must be beyond economic issues, it must address the fundamental question of what defines America’s identity. There cannot be a place in the immigration debate for xenophobia, bigotry, hate and the appeal to fear.

We will discover that the people not like us are just people like us!!

Shabbat Shalom,

Your Rabbi.

Rabbi Aaron Katz

Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Reflecting on our days…

What would be some Jewish advice for the coming year?

…Love life and you will be blessed!…

Take “If only!” out of your vocabulary.  This phrase is the opposite of love! “If only” is toxic to happiness.  It focuses on what we don’t have instead of what we do have!

Invest in the spirit, and your happiness will increase.

We say “Bruchim Ha Baim” to our new members and friends: “Blessed is the one who has come to us!

And for you, there are a couple of things you should know about us and our B’nai Jacob Community:

1) we are an open, egalitarian traditional Community.

2) we would love you as part of our B’nai Jacob. Our Congregation is like a family!

3) our services are spoken in English and Hebrew. They are uplifting and soulful.

4) we love to be happy, to smile, and we love keeping things simple.

Looking forward to an amazing 365 Days!

Your Rabbi,
Aaron

Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062
rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

Dear All!

Parshat Vayechi.

“The future of the past”

…”success is the ability to go from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm “… Winston Churchill.

We live life forwards, but we understand it backwards.

What we become depends on our choices, and we are almost always free to choose this way or the other one.

We see the past in a context as a part of a tale whose end we know now.

The Jewish people are tasked with changing the moral vision of mankind but can only do so if individual Jews are capable of changing themselves.

We believe that the future redeems the past, and this is what we call: Hope!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

…”If we change the way we think, we will change the way we feel “… from the Tanya.

From Victor Frankl (1905-1997):  Logotherapy: the search of meaning for one’s life.

… it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.
The facts don’t change, but the way we perceive them does.

Though we cannot always change the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we can change the way we see them, and this itself changes the way we feel.  It will give us the strength to survive and the courage to persist.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

“Pray as if everything depends on God, but act as if everything depends on you.”  Rabbi Heschel

It happened in 1888. Nobel, the man who invented dynamite, was reading his morning papers when, with a shock, he found himself reading his own obituary.  It turned out that a journalist had made a simple mistake.  It was Nobel’s brother who had died, and the paper just got it wrong.  What horrified Nobel was what he read.  It spoke about the dynamite king who’d made a fortune from explosives.

Nobel suddenly realized that if he didn’t change his life that was all he’d be remembered for.  That was when he decided to dedicate his fortune to creating five annual prizes for those who’d made outstanding contributions in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace.  Nobel chose to be remembered for peace.

There’s a beautiful law in Judaism, and it applies to a day like today, Friday.  On the Friday of Hanukkah we light two kinds of lights, for the festival and for the Sabbath, both of which begin at nightfall.  What if we only have one candle?  Do we light it as a Hanukkah light or a Sabbath light?  It can’t be both.

The answer is: we light it as a Sabbath light, because the Sabbath light symbolizes peace in the home.  And in Judaism, even the smallest fragment of peace takes precedence over even the greatest victory in war. Like Alfred Nobel, Jews prefer to be remembered for peace.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

…”Hanukkah is the festival on which Jews celebrate their victory in the fight for religious freedom more than two thousand years ago. Tragically that fight is no less important today, and not only for Jews, but for people of all faiths”…

Optimism to Hope p. 96
“You can see religion as a battle, a holy war, in which you win a victory for your faith by force or fear. Or you can see it as a candle you light to drive away some of the darkness of the world”…

A new Chanukah miracle! Good wins over evil!

Sometimes ancient rituals can radiate contemporary significance. That’s the case this year with Hanukkah, the Jewish festival that we began last night.

The everlasting light that no power on earth can extinguish.

Optimism to Hope p. 94
“Hanukkah is about the freedom to be true to what we believe without denying the freedom of those who believe otherwise. It’s about lighting our candle, while not being threatened by or threatening anyone else’s candle.”

…”The symbol of Hanukkah is the menorah we light for eight days in memory of the Temple candelabrum, purified and rededicated by the Maccabees all those centuries ago. Faith is like a flame. Properly tended, it gives light and warmth, but let loose, it can burn and destroy. We need, in the twenty-first century, a global Hanukkah: a festival of freedom for all the world’s faiths. For though my faith is not yours and your faith is not mine, if we are each free to light our own flame, together we can banish some of the darkness of the world”…

By Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.

…”What history taught us was that to defend a country you need an army, but to defend a civilization you need schools. In the short run battles are won by weapons, but in the long run they are won by ideas and the way they are handed on from generation to generation. Oddly but appropriately, Chanukkah comes from the same Hebrew root as “education”…

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

rabbiaaron1@gmail.com

…”If you want one simple word to symbolize all of the Jewish history, that word would be: Jerusalem “…. Teddy Kolleek.

Israel is the Jewish home of hope.

No people ever loved a city more . We saw Jerusalem destroyed twice, besieged 23 Times, captured and recaptured 44 Times, and yet in all those years wherever Jews lived they never ceased to pray about Jerusalem, face Jerusalem, remember it at every wedding, in every home they built, and in every celebration.

The name Jerusalem, indicates the city’s function as a “ spiritual center for the entire world” influencing the nations of the world.

Unfortunately the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, has been turned into a political issue.

We pray that Jerusalem stays unified for the benefit of all nations, and the leadership and citizen of Israel will stand tall in the face of adversity.

…”You’re shaking… So am I. It’s because of Jerusalem, isn’t it?
One doesn’t go to Jerusalem, One returns to it!
That’s one of its mysteries”… Elie Wiesel.

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

…Community it is where each of us is valued simply for who we are, how we live, and how much we give to others…

It is the place where they know my and your name!

Our Bnai Jacob is the place where we know we’re not alone!

Some pictures of our last Sunday “Schmus, drinks and food” with our new members!

 

 

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

From our weekly text:

…”Jacob was very afraid and distressed “…(Gen.32-7).

Why is Jacob the “father of our people”?

We are the “Congregation of Jacob”!

Jacob is someone with whom we can identify.  Jacob is someone we understand.

We can feel his fear, his pain and the tensions in his family.

Jacob is human, but he is also spiritual!
He is the one who discovers that he is not alone, that God is with him.

Judaism is not an escape from the world, but an engagement with the world!

Judaism is about faith as a journey, as Rabbi Lord Sacks said.
To be a Jew is to move, to travel, to find our place in the world.
Life is a journey, and this means striving each day to be greater than we were the day before!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

…”It is gratefulness that makes the soul great”…
Rabbi Heschel

Thanksgiving is a secular holiday that represents values important in Judaism and in American culture.

It is no longer a celebration affiliated with any particular religion or faith.

Gratitude lies at the heart of who we are as Jews.

Just as gratitude lies at the heart of who we are as Jews, mindfulness lies at the heart of gratitude.

Rabbi Heschel talked about mindfulness in this famous quote: ”Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement “ he said. Get up every morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal, everything is incredible, never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed“.

Thanksgiving is as important to societies as it is to individuals. It protect us from resentment and the arrogance of power.

Thanksgiving must help us to heal the wounds that so divide us in our nation today.

Thanksgiving is essential to happiness and health.

Enjoy it!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

Dear All,

…”Time is free, but it’s priceless.
You can’t own it, but you can use it.
You can’t keep it, but you can spend it”…

Jews as a people have been more often connected to time than to places or things.
The Bible, and all other Jewish texts tend to pay greater attention to the nature of events than to the places where they occurred.

Rabbi Herschel spoke about “holiness in time” as a basic characteristic of Jewish practice.
Prayers, the Shabbat, Holidays and festivals gives a sense of spiritual renewal to the passing time.
We have the commandment to remember events and peoples. Time and memory are a pillar in our Jewish identity.

This Shabbat we are announcing the new month of Kislev.
On Kislev the days grow short and night arrives early.
In this month we will celebrate Chanukah.

…”Twenty-two centuries ago, when Israel was under the rule of the empire of Alexander the Great, one particular leader, Antiochus IV, decided to force the pace of Hellenisation, forbidding Jews to practice their religion and setting up in the Temple in Jerusalem a statue of Zeus Olympus.
This was too much to bear, and a group of Jews, the Maccabees, fought for their religious freedom, winning a stunning victory against the most powerful army of the ancient world. After three years they reconquered Jerusalem, rededicated the Temple and relit the menorah with the one cruse of undefiled oil they found among the wreckage.
It was one of the most stunning military achievements of the ancient world. It was, as we say in our prayers, a victory of the few over the many, the weak over the strong. It’s summed up in wonderful line from the prophet Zechariah: not by might nor by strength but by my spirit says the Lord”… from Rabbi Sacks.

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

Shalom,

From our Text of the week: Parshat Toldot.

The boys grew up, and Esau became a skilful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. (Gen. 25:27-28)

Parents and leaders must establish a relationship that is basic in a honest, open, respectful communication that involves not just speaking but also listening.

Unconditional love is not uncritical, but it is unbreakable!
That is how we should love our children!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

From our Parsha: Chayei Sarah

On Judaism and Islam:

The Torah is not a history book. The Torah tells us what happened only when events that occurred then have a bearing on what we need to know now.

There is a Midrash: (Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer, 30) which tells the story of how Ishmael was twice visited by Abraham.

On both occasions, Ishmael was not at home. On the first , his wife, not knowing Abraham’s identity, refused the stranger bread and water.  Ishmael divorced her and married a woman named Fatimah. This time, when Abraham visited, again not disclosing his identity, the woman gave him food and drink.  The midrash then says ”Abraham stood and prayed before the Holy One, blessed be He, and Ishmael’s house became filled with all good things.  When Ishmael returned, his wife told him about it, and Ishmael know that his father still loved him.”

This story has an immense consequence for our time!  Jews and Muslims both trace their descent from Abraham – Jews though Isaac , Muslims through Ishmael.  Fatimah is an important figure in Islam.  She is the daughter of the prophet.

The rabbis piece together a story of reconciliation between Abraham , Isaac, Hagar and Ishmael.
Yes , there was conflict and separation, but it was at the beginning, not the end.

Between Judaism and Islam there can be friendship and mutual respect.  Abraham loved both his sons, and was laid to rest by both.

There is hope for the future in this story of the past.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

… Some are guilty, but all are responsible…

The early history of humanity is a series of disappointments.

The civilizations failed in taking responsibility.
God gives human beings freedom, which they then misuse.
They lack personal and collective responsibility!  They said: It wasn’t me!

Our faith is built with the principle that we will not defend the human status quo.  We must learn, and we must challenge it.

Our rejection of ideologies that contradict our ethical ideals should not be limited to negative criticism.
We need to open an offensive front by presenting a positive outlook based on true values.

Abraham was the first human being that had the courage to challenge God.
Abraham gave us the basic of challenge human rules!

Judaism and Jews, do not accept the world that is.
We are the first religion of protest. We challenge the world instead of accepting it.

Abraham is the role model of leadership.  He took personal, moral, and collective responsibility.   Abraham acted.

Indifference to evil, indifference to the suffering of human beings, is worse than evil itself!

In a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

Parshat Noach.

Leadership begins with taking responsibility!

Hillel said: “…If I am not for myself, who will be?, But if I am only for myself, what am I?…”

This is the argument of our text of the week from Parshat Noach.

Two stories in this parsha: the Flood and the Babel tower.

The flood tell us what happens to civilization when individuals rule and there is no collective.

The second event from our text, the Babel tower tell us what happens when the collective rules and individuals are sacrificed to it.

There are individualistic cultures and there are collectivist ones, and both fail!  The first one because they lead to anarchy and violence, the latter because they lead to oppression and tyranny.

Judaism gives equal weight to individual and collective responsibility.

Judaism is a religion of strong individuals and strong communities.

Shabbat Shalom.

Sent from my iPhone
Rabbi Aaron Katz
Congregation B’nai Jacob Jersey City
305-607-9062

Did you know the last of the Jewish holidays is here? Simchat Torah marks the close of the Jewish holiday season and is celebrated in dance by scrolling the torah back to the beginning.

Our Simchat Torah wish for you is that you’ll mark new beginnings with your chosen one in the coming year.

Tomorrow, Thursday October 12 @ 6:30…

See you with Pizza!

Your Rabbi,
Aaron.

Sukkot:5778-2017

…”What matters is not how long we live, but how intensely we feel that life is a gift we repay by giving to others.

Simcha = Joy, in the Torah is never about individuals. It is always about something we share.

Our Shabbat Sukkot gathering was a Simcha for our members and friends!

Sukkot is the time we ask the most profound question of what makes a life worth living.

What makes a hut more beautiful than a home is that when it comes to Sukkot there is no difference between the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor.

On this Sukkot may you be blessed with abundant happiness, health and gratitude!

Judaism places a big emphasis on happiness. In fact, the holiday of Sukkot is centered around the concept of happiness. No wonder it is called “the time of our joy,” a time where we are supposed to be filled with happiness and thanksgiving.

Our first night in this year’s Sukkah:

Please join us for Friday night Shabbat in the Sukkah on October 6!

On Yom Kippur:

To be a Jew is to be creative, and our greatest creation is our self.

It was Judaism, through the concept of teshuvah, that brought into the world the idea that we can change. We are not predestined to continue to be what we are.

Yom Kippur is the time when we ask ourselves where have we gone wrong?  Where have we failed?

When we tell ourselves the answer, that is when we need the courage to change.  If we believe we can’t, we won’t.  If we believe we can, we may.

Never believe we can’t be different, greater, more confident, more generous, more understanding, and more forgiving than we were.

May this year be the start of a new life for each of us. Let us have the courage to grow.

Rabbi Aaron.

Judaism is the story of a love affair between a people and a book, the Book of Books!

One of our commands is the duty to make the Torah new in each generation.  It must speak to us affectively and emotionally.

Music is central to our Jewish experience!  When we pray we sing!

Music is the map of the Jewish spirit!

To make the Torah new in every generation means that the Torah was given once, but it must be received many times, every day; for that requires not only intellect, it requires emotions.

Each of us enters to our Synagogue with a different need.  Our Synagogue is called a House of God because it is the place for the ideals by which we say we live.  It is the home address of kindness.

We make our Sanctuary a house of prayer, of study, and of meeting.

Our Community is a House, and more than that, a home.  It is the home of a family of families.  We are creating a room for You!

See you at our High Holidays services!

Your Rabbi,
Aaron

…For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as we remember them…

Rabbi Aaron Katz  9/11/2017

As we approach this holiday season:

Dear all,

We’re fast approaching yet another Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, and all the blessings and challenges they invite!  As Grace Paley wrote in her marvelous short story Wants, “I don’t understand how time passes.”

It continues to be a wonderful experience for me to serve as your Rabbi.  Now that I’m into my second year at B’nai Jacob I’ve come farther along in getting to know, or at least making the acquaintance of, almost everyone in our Temple community.  I plan to continue to do my best to deepen and expand these relationships in the months and years to come.

We were so privileged that in the last year we increased our membership and created amazing programs, such as: the millennial Shabbat, family Shabbat service, Lunch and Learn, Judaism in Spanish, Hebrew, bar and bat Mitzvah classes, Sunday school, movie nights and even had a scholar in residence!

We celebrated yearly events including Sukkot party, Chanukah latke fest, Shabbat dinners, barbecue, Purim, tree planting, Passover dinner, Yom Ha Shoa Memorial Day, baby namings, adult bat Mitzvah, founding family recognition, and all with great attendance.

Our last High Holidays service was a introduction to our new inspirational view of Judaism. We hope that you will continue to participate this year in all of our programs.

All of this was possible because of you and because of the total support from the board of directors!

I know this commitment is in our bones.  Our community could not exist for a day without its members and our board of directors.  You are the lifeblood of our organizations, we are growing thanks to all of you!

We need your support, economicly, emotionally and spiritually!

The Community we build for tomorrow is born in the stories we tell our children today.

We are making space in our lives for the things that matter, for family and friends, love and generosity, fun, and joy.

Come to Us and enjoy our Community!

Rabbi Aaron

Parshat Ki Tavo

One of my mentors told me that a good rabbi is one who can tell a particular kind of story. The story must explain our collective vision.

The first question that we need to ask is “who we are”, “why are we here” and “what is our purpose “, and the best way to answer this questions is by telling a story.

Our Torah is a book of stories, and the Torah wants us to be part of the stories.

In our text of the week : Deut.26:5-8, we can read:

My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt and lived there, few in number, there becoming a great nation, powerful and numerous. But the Egyptians ill-treated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labour. Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders.

For the first time the retelling of the nation’s history becomes an obligation for every citizen of the nation.

The injunction to remember felt as a religious imperative to an entire people.

Rabbi Lord Sacks said: There is a fundamental difference between history and memory.

History is “his story”, an account of events that happened sometime else to someone else.

Memory is “my story”. It is the past internalized and made part of my identity.

If we forget the past, we will lose our identity!

Don’t forget Bnai Jacob history!

The community we build for tomorrow is born in the stories we tell our children today!

Remember Bnai Jacob as a part of your identity!

Shabbat Shalom,

Your Rabbi,
Aaron


We know this in our bones

Our community could not exist for a day without its volunteers. They are the lifeblood of our organizations, we are growing thanks to all of you!

The Community we build for tomorrow is born in the stories we tell our children today..
We are Making space in your life for the things that matter, for family and friends, love and generosity, fun and joy.

Come to Us, enjoy our Community!


Our Days of Awe 5778!

A meaningful Service! Linking our traditions in a innovative way with music, spirituality and friendship!
This year the Rabbi joined by:
Aristo String NYC.
Cantorial Solist: Rebecca Weitman.
Cantor Solist: Simon Ciubotariu.
Shofar Service: Kevin Gleason Katz and Will Trotta.
Opera singer: Isabella Megyeri.
Yoga teacher; Garrett Steagall.


Hello and shalom to all of you!

News for the month of September….

Saturday, September 2, at 7PM.
Movie Night: Doubt: a film by: John Shapley.
The film takes place in St. Nicholas school led by Sister Aloysius(Meryl Streep) Sister James(Amy Adams) tells Aloysius that Father Flynn(Philip Seymour Hoffman) might have too much personal attention with the school’s only black student Donald Miller(.Joseph Foster), thus leading thus Aloysius starting a crusade against Flynn. The film also stars Viola Davis as Donald Miller’s mother.
Soda and popcorn:$5 donation.

Monday, September 4, 12-1:30PM.
Lunch and Learn.
Take a break during the day, come for a light lunch, discuss ideas and share opinion with friends.
Lunch:$10.

Saturday, September 9: 10:15-11:30AM.
Ruach Shabbat: A Family Shabbat Service.
Family Shabbat is a kid-friendly oriented and encourage children’s participation. All are welcome and this service is specially popular with families with children.
Ruach Shabbat have a shorter service and a nice Kiddush.
Family Shabbat Service is a great way to connect with Shabbat and with other families with young children….

Tuesday, September 12: 7-8:15PM.
Hebrew Classes!
Hebrew for Adults: a innovative Ulpan style teaching method using associative learning to teach Hebrew in Hebrew. We will use basic vocabulary revolving around Jewish holidays, traditions, modern day Israeli culture and current affairs.
The classes focus on speaking, reading and some writing.
Cost: Member: free
Non Member:$10 per class.

Monday, September 18: 12-1:30PM.
Lunch and Learn.
Our topic: Honey from the Heart.
Lunch:$10.

Days of Awe 5778 with Bnai Jacob Jersey City.
5778 Schedule:
Saturday, September 16: Selichot Service, 6:30PM.

Wednesday, September 20: Erev Rosh Hashana Catered dinner, 7PM. Cost: $36. Please RSVP.

Thursday, September 21: Rosh Hashana I.
9:45AM-12:15PM: a innovative service linking the past to the future includes: morning service, Torah service, and Shofar service .
Tashlich service: 4PM.

Friday, September 22: Rosh Hashana II.
9:45-12PM: a traditional service.

Saturday, September 23: Shabbat Service:
10AM.

Sunday, September 24: 3-6PM
Celebrating the New Year with Friends in the Rabbi’s home.

Friday, September 29: 6:30PM.
Kol Nidrei Service.

Saturday, September 30: 10AM-7:15PM
Yom Kippur Service.
Keep an eye out for the great and exciting details of the High Holidays services and activities!

Wednesday, October 4: 6:30-9:30PM
Erev Sukkot BBQ dinner in the Sukkah .
Cost: $18 donation.

Friday, October 6: 7-9:30 PM
Millennial Shabbat in the Sukkah.

Saturday, October 7: 7-9PM.
Movie night.
Soda and popcorn:$5.

Sunday, October 8: 10:15-11:30.

Sunday School in the Sukkah.

Monday,October 9: 12-1:30PM.
Lunch and Learn.
Take a pause from work, enjoy a lunch in the Sukkah with friends and celebrate the time with community!
Lunch:$10.

Tuesday, October 10: 7-8.15PM.
Hebrew Class.

Thursday, October 12: 5:15PM.
Yizkor service.

Thursday, October 12: 6:15PM.
Simchat Torah Celebrations.

Keep an eye out for great and exciting details!!!

See you soon!!!
Rabbi Aaron


Hello and Shalom to all of you! How we respond to what happens to us!

In the aftermath of violent demonstration by white supremacist, neo nazis and their sympathizer in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulting in 3 deaths and many injures, we see and hear that Racism is still with us!
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Herschel said:”Racism is man’s gravest threat to man- the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason”…
The repeated failure from the President and his Attorney General, to condemn the supremacists, neo nazis and their sympathizer is a threat to all American and civilization.

It is up to us to prepare our next generation for what they have to meet, we should place great emphasis on the idea that it is all right to be different.

Racism it is not automatic, is taught in our society.

“Racism oppresses its victims, but also binds the oppressors, who sear their consciences with more and more lies until they become prisoners of those lies. They cannot face the truth of human equality because it reveals the horror of the injustice they commit”. Alveda King.

From our Parsha:
…”If only you would listen to these laws”… Deut.7:12.
Our Torah contains 613 commands, but it does not contain a word that means “to obey”!
The verb used by the Torah in place of “to obey” is “Shma”- means: to hear, to listen, to heed, to pay attention, to understand.
In Judaism, God want us to understand the laws, to reflect, to listen.
To listen it means to be open. It is a spiritual act. To be a leader and leadership begins with taking responsibility!
Leadership is about the future!

We believe that we are God’s image. Free as God is free, creative as God is creative!
“No human race is superior, no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them”.Elie Wiesel.


Justice

As Moses begins his great closing addresses to the next generation, he turns to a subject that dominates the last of the Mosaic books, namely justice:

I instructed your judges at that time as follows: “Listen to your fellow men, and decide justly [tzedek] between each man and his brother or a stranger. You shall not be partial in judgment. Listen to great and small alike. Fear no one, for judgment belongs to God. Any matter that is too difficult for you, bring to me and I will hear it.”

Tzedek, “justice”, is a key word in the book of Devarim – most famously in the verse:

Justice, justice you shall pursue, so that you may thrive and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Deut. 16:20)

Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.

I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice based on sexual orientation.

Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. Coretta Scott King

Rabbi Lord Sacks said:

“Why then is justice so central to Judaism? Because it is impartial. Law as envisaged by the Torah makes no distinction between rich and poor, powerful and powerless, home born or stranger. Equality before the law is the translation into human terms of equality before God. Time and again the Torah insists that justice is not a human artefact: “Fear no one, for judgment belongs to God.” Because it belongs to God, it must never be compromised – by fear, bribery, or favouritism. It is an inescapable duty, an inalienable right.

Judaism is a religion of love: You shall love the Lord your God; you shall love your neighbour as yourself; you shall love the stranger. But it is also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts (who would not bend the rules, if he could, to favour those he loves?). It is also a religion of compassion, for without compassion law itself can generate inequity. Justice plus compassion equalstzedek, the first precondition of a decent society.

Shabbat Shalom!


Tisha Be Av, the day of Jewish tears

Dear all!,

In a couple of days, Monday July 31 at sunset, Jewish communities around the world will commemorate together Tisha Be Av, the day of Jewish tears.

Tisha B'Av

We will collectively mourning for the destruction of the First and Second Temples, for the loss of the Jewish state. For the defeat of the Bar Kochba rebellion. For the first crusade 1096. For Jews were expelled from England in 1290, for the expulsion of Jews in France 1306 and from Spain in 1492. For the day in which Himmler was given the go-ahead for the “final solution”.

On July 1942 began the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto. The AMIA bombing of the Jewish community in Buenos Aires.

Why so much suffering for so long? What does it tell us about the Jewish destiny and fate?

Antisemitism and Antizionism are a complex phenomena!

From our past we learn that Jews throughout history have recognized tyranny for what it is, and have refused to be intimidated by power, threat, terror and fear!

Dr. Robert Gordis, after an extensive discussion of the question, concludes that the fast must be retained. “In sum,” he writes, “Tisha B’av can perform these basic functions for Jews living in the middle of the twentieth century, with the state of Israel before them as a reality. It can keep Jews mindful of the tasks which lie ahead in the areas of Jewish religious rebirth and of ethical living, both in the state of Israel and throughout the world. It can focus attention upon the universal aspects of the Messianic hope, which have long been integral to Judaism. Finally, it can help to remind Jews of the long record of sacrifices and sufferings of past generations, and thus prevent the cultural degeneracy which would follow from the ignoring of the achievements of Galut or Diaspora”

On Tisha Be Av, we mourn not only what happened to us then, but, perhaps more importantly, we mourn what it symbolizes for us now.

Wall


Parshat Pinchas
The Parsha of the week always occurs at the heart of the three weeks.

The three weeks or Bein Ha-Metzarim in hebrew (from the 17 of Tammuz to the 9 of Av), is a period of mourning commemorating the destruction of the first and second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. It happened twice, once in the sixth century BCE, the second time in the first century of CE. In both cases it happened because of poor leadership! When there is no effective leadership, divisions open up whithin the group. There is internal conflict, the energy is wasted and no coherent strategy emerges.

Abraham Lincoln said:”A house divided against itself cannot stand”! Leadership is not a luxury! Leadership is a necessity! A leader is a prophet of Hope! Rabbi Lord Sacks said that optimism is the belief that things will get better. Hope is the belief that if we work hard together we can makes things better! We need courage, wisdom, understanding of history and possibility, and ability of communicate to create a civilization that values the young! If we value the young, we stay young! A leader must love the people he lead!

We must invest in the future! If we invest in the future- we have a future! A leader needs to give the possibility to widen our horizons! To embrace humanity as a whole! The prophet Jeremiah said:”Seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its prosperity you shall prosper”! Jeremiah:29-7. This is the first statement in history of what it is to be a creative minority!

The leader who cares only for their own people are chauvinist! They create false expectations and bravado rather than real courage! Great leaders, are great not just because they care for their own people! They are great because they care for humanity!


Moses was worried. Who would lead the Israelites after his death?

…”Moses spoke to God, saying: Let God…appoint a man over the community… Let God’s community not be like sheep that have no shepherd. God told Moses: Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man of spirit, and lay your hand on him”…
Moses did as God ordered him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Elazar the kohen and before the entire community. He then laid his hands on him and commissioned him”… (Num:27:15-22).

…”And lay your hand on him – this is like lighting one candle with another. Give him some of your authority – this is like emptying one vessel into another”…(Bamidbar Rabbah 21:15).

Joshua’s appointment to replace Moses was clearly a critical point in the spiritual and political development of the Jewish people.
Every aspect of this sensitive transition was significant!

We read that God commanded Moses to :1) “lay your hand” on Joshua. 2) have him stand before Eleazar and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence.3) give him “some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him.
The Torah testifies that Moses did as he was commanded. But in fact , Moses placed BOTH of his hands on Joshua. What is the significance of this change?

What does it tell us about the nature of leadership in Judaism?

This is what we call: “separation of powers” into three branches: the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
The Torah is concern for the future of freedom if power were concentrated in a single source.

Rabbi Lord Sacks said:” Liberty does not flourish because men have natural rights, or because they revolt if their leaders push them too far. It flourish because power is so distributed and so organized that whoever is tempted to abuse it finds legal restraints in his way.

The world require two types of
leaderships . We need leadership in worldly matters: economic, societal, political and military. In addition we require spiritual guidance.
Capable leadership will lead to success in both areas!

Rashi, comments on this: …”when they are about to leave this world, they put aside their personal needs and become preoccupied with the needs of the community “…

Great leaders think about the long term future! They are concerned with succession and continuity. So it was with Moses.

And what’s happen with our leaders?