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?