For close to five hundred years (starting in the 15th century), many thousands of Jewish residents of Vilnius (Vilna), the capital of Lithuania, were buried in its old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt (in the Shnípishok / Šnipiškės district), including many of the great Jewish scholars of a city once known as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania”. During the Soviet Union’s misrule, the gravestones were all pilfered, and a sports arena was built in the middle of the cemetery, itself on a base mixed with human remains. Most of the graves on all four sides were left untouched, and many thousands are still buried there. It is sacred ground and should be restored as a cemetery and memorial park to which pilfered gravestones (which turn up all over the city) can be returned. Instead, some greedy business interests, cooperating politicians, antisemitic nationalists and "pliant Jewish figures" have joined forces for a new National Convention Center to rise on the site, where thousands would revel, cheer, sing, drink at bars and use toilets surrounded by Jewish graves.
Because of the Holocaust and the murder of around 99% of Vilna's Jewry, the buried people, whose families paid honestly over centuries for their perpetual place of rest, have no local descendants to take up their cause. To make matters worse, the developers and the politicians have boasted that many millions in European Union “structural funds” would be put toward the project (and European Commission leaders have thus far failed to take a clear moral stand on that). This fate would never befall a major Christian cemetery here in the 21st century. There has been staunch opposition from local Jewish and non-Jewish people, and from voices from around the world. Major Litvak rabbis around the world, as well as those from other traditions, have published protests expressing their shock and calling on our nation's leaders to reconsider. The city has many ideal alternative sites for the new convention center.
The decision to mock the memory of Vilna Jewry with a convention center in the middle of the city's medieval Jewish cemetery would be a grave error with unfortunate consequences, making for a blot on this city's status for centuries to come. By contrast, moving the convention center project to another site and preserving with respect the old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt would bring great honor to modern democratic, EU member Lithuania.
Thank you for considering my petition.
Here is the Internet link to sign the petition.
Sunday, January 29 at 11:30 am
Create a fused glass and copper mezzuzah to be placed on new homes in Haifa - rededicate homes in Haifa, Israel...after the fires . Be part of the mitzvah collaboration between The Jewish Helping Hands Foundation and Judaic artist, Gary Rosenthal.
The cost is $20 for a mezzuzah or $35 for a mezzuzah and kosher scroll.
Deadline to signup is January 23. Questions? Contact Ronni Pressman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, January 20 at 6:30 pm
Join us once-a-month following a 6:30 pm Friday night service for dinner, a movie, and discussion with Rabbi Kushner. Our first presentation is Gabriel Over the White House featuring Walter Huston.
When Judson Hammond (Walter Huston) is elected United States president during the Great Depression, he's seen by many as a hands-off, please everyone type. After an astounding recovery from a car accident, however, Hammond awakes a changed man. Instituting sweeping, radical changes to the government - including the dissolution of Congress and the revoking of the Constitution - Hammond somehow manages to bring order to the country through dictatorship, along with world peace.
Save these upcoming Friday nights at 6:30 pm:
- February 3 - The Next Voice You Hear (Note new date)
- March 31 - Ace In the Hole
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Register now for the URJ Shabbaton, taking place this year at Ner Tamid. Let's spend Shabbat together with food for the body, mind, and spirit. The day will include a light breakfast, Shabbat morning service, lunch, study sessions, Havdalah and a concert with "Pursuit of Harmony". To register please click here.
January 27 & 28, 2017
World-renowned Jewish American songwriter Michael Hunter Ochs (In Her Eyes recorded by Josh Groban; On My Knees awarded Song of the Year from the Gospel Music Association and the Nashville Songwriters Association) and award-winning Muslim Palestinian peace activist/songwriter Alaa Alshaham (check out his video Obama Jai; he was awarded the Children of the Earth Prize for his work with youth in conflict zone) join us for an intimate program of music and conversation. These two improbable friends retrace their steps between Israel and Palestine—eventually having performed together at the United Nations. An extraordinary opportunity!
- Friday evening, January 27
Michael & Alaa will participate in teaching, talking and leading services, including their original music. Services at 6:30 pm; potluck (dairy—no meat or shellfish) dinner at 7:30. Birkat Hamazon to follow.
- Saturday evening, January 28
Havdalah Café Concert – at the conclusion of the URJ Shabbaton hosted here at Temple Ner Tamid at 5:30 pm. Cost is $25 per person. If you’re attending the Shabbaton, the admission price is included.
This weekend has been made possible by Marge & Paul Grayson, in memory of Elinor Neifeld z”l, Lisa & Matthew Russman in memory of Barbara & Sanford Cohen z”l, and by the URJ New Jersey & Friends Shabbaton.
Click here to login to the Member Portal to register for the concert if you’re NOT attending the URJ Shabbaton.
Sunday evening, January 29 at 7:30 p.m.
We welcome you to join with Rabbi Steven Kushner and Moshe Levi, Community Shaliach of the United Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, for a conversation about Israel, the American Jewish community, and the state of our relationship.
With a disconnect that seems to be growing, complicated by increased tensions between the governments of the United States and the State of Israel, we seek to discover perspective. Is there more to Israel than what we see in the media? Is the Zionist ideal still alive? Did it ever exist (the way we thought it did)? How should American Jews feel about Israel? How are we to identify with Israel as a "Jewish" state when not all expressions of Judaism are honored or even respected?
By the same token, is not Israel our ancestral homeland? Is it not a place of refuge for Jews escaping anti-Semitism and tyranny? Is not Israel a land and a people filled with wonder doing the miraculous? Can we so easily dismiss the compassionate and humanitarian acts which distinguish Israel as a nation unique in our world? Have we lost sight of the blessing that is Israel?
In a discussion moderated by Ner Tamid member and NY1 journalist Budd Mishkin, we will explore the sacred but complex relationship between the American and Israeli Jewish communities. Your presence and insights are welcome.
Be a part of our monthly rituals. See what's coming up:
- Sunday, January 29 at 5:30 pm at TNT - Celebrate the new month with an exploration through the senses. Join Cantorial Assistant Ronni Pressman along with Rabbi Ziona Zelazo. To RSVP please email Ronni at email@example.com.
- Monday, February 20 at 1:00 pm at TNT - Design your own ceramic Miriam's cup and use it at the TNT Women's Seder and in your home! $20 covers all costs. Limited art skills needed. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration with payment is limited to 18 women.
Saturday, February 4, 2017
Celebrating 36 years together. Come together as we honor the Ner Tamid community. All members will be honored in our special Memory Tree tribute. Music by Ed Alstrom and friends, homemade comfort food, silent auction including "community events", wine and martini bar and 50/50. Login in to the Member Portal to register and pay.
Cost: $54 per person, $70 is paid AFTER January 27. Be a Gala Sponsor for $108 per person. Reserve a table for 10 for $600 (must be reserved and paid for by January 27).
Show your appreciation for our beloved community with an ad in this year's Ad Journal. Download your form here and submit it no later than Friday, January 20.
I want to share with you and the entire TNT community the status of the transition occurring as Rabbi Kushner retires in June of 2018. As I explained at the congregational meeting in May 2016, and in subsequent emails and E-Geret posts, the transition includes 4 phases: saying goodbye to Rabbi Kushner, self-evaluation by the TNT community, hiring a new rabbi and integrating the new rabbi and his/her family into the community.
Several events to honor Rabbi Kushner have been scheduled or are in the planning. A Scholar in Residence weekend featuring Rabbi David Ellenson, former president of the Hebrew Union College and currently the Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, is scheduled for October 13-15, 2017. A movie festival, recognizing Rabbi Kushner’s love of film, is planned for fall 2017 with details to follow. And a special Shabbat Celebration, along with a fun party is also being planned for April 28-30, 2018 in Rabbi Kushner’s honor.
The process of self-evaluation has begun with a series of focus groups at which congregants express current feelings about TNT as well as their aspirations for the future. Already, about 80 people have asked to be included in focus groups and many others are being invited by congregants who have graciously offered to open their homes. Right before the start of Hanukkah, we held two focus groups. Many more are scheduled for January. Once all of the focus groups have taken place, we will share a summary report with everyone as this document will inform the search for a new rabbi.
In the spring, the transition committee will make a recommendation to the TNT board on whether or not to hire an interim rabbi for a specifically limited time before moving to a new permanent rabbi. The committee has studied several articles on this issue and will be meeting with several consultants on this topic. To be clear, an interim rabbi is one who has received special training to serve a synagogue in a transition year- often after the retirement of a rabbi of many years. He/she understands that they are at the temple for only about one year. The interim rabbi performs all the duties of a “regular” rabbi; ritual, pastoral, educational, etc. The interim rabbi also works with the synagogue’s clergy and professional staff as well as the synagogue’s volunteer leadership to implement and/or experiment with changes to existing programs and work practices, and seeks ideas to create and implement new programs from synagogue leadership. He/she will also interact with board members and other congregants in a frank and direct manner with a view toward enhancing all that TNT provides our congregants and the greater community.
One goal in hiring a new permanent rabbi is to ensure his/her success. Many Reform synagogues have utilized an interim rabbi for one year to increase the likelihood of success by providing rabbinic leadership during a time of change and by providing room for the new rabbi to comfortably and productively take on the new role.
A rabbinic search committee will be formed in the spring of 2017. That committee will be separate from the transition committee. Its work will be guided, in large part, based on our focus group discussions and the transition committee’s literature review, meetings with consultants, and intensive discussions.
Using all of this information, the search committee will create the job description for our new permanent rabbi or interim rabbi. We plan to post this position around Labor Day/High Holy Days 2017 with the Central Conference of American Rabbis (“CCAR”) - the rabbinical association for all Reform rabbis in North America that will be working with us on our search for a new rabbi. The CCAR will be working with us at no charge as a benefit of Temple Ner Tamid being a part of the Reform Movement as a member in good standing with the Union for Reform Judaism.
The Transition Committee will continue to periodically share with you additional updates as we move forward with our work. We value your input and participation. Please feel free to email me (email@example.com) or call me should you have any questions. Thank you in advance for all that you do for TNT.
We need your help. We have a variety of Tikkun Olam projects, but not enough volunteers to man them all. Depending on what’s your passion we have a volunteer opportunity that’s just right for you. But, if by chance you don't see that one special project that tickles your fancy, we want to hear where you want to help “repair the world.”
Here's the list of our current opportunities waiting for your special touch:
- Bloomfield Café – Soup kitchen partnering with United Park Methodist Church (monthly)
- Brookdale Shoprite – Collecting food donated for the Human Needs Food Pantry (monthly)
- Blood Drive – Donate blood (semi-annually)
- Interfaith Hospitality Network – House homeless families; parents and children, in need of shelter (1 week a year)
- Christmas Holiday Hospital Assistance Program – Relieve hospital staffs who celebrates Christmas (Christmas Eve and day)
- Temple Rummage Sale – Setup and sell donated clothes and household items (annually)
- Neighbor to Neighbor Network – Assist elderly and infirm Bloomfield residents with simple home repair and cleanup (a couple of weekend days)
Any of these projects require just a couple of hours of your time, and you're never going to be doing them by yourself. It's a great opportunity for families who want to experience community service together, for students looking for mitzvah projects, or for congregants wanting to get to know one another a little better while enjoying a rich rewarding experience. The work isn't hard. You might be tired at the end of the day, but you'll feel great about what you've just accomplished.
Maybe you're looking for a broader social action opportunity. You want to be involved in an activity that can change the future of a larger constituency which might not necessarily be local. If this is the case contact Lori Price Abrams, VP Tikkun Olam, firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your idea. Get involved! Be a Tikkun Olam volunteer and help “repair the world.” Click here to download your volunteer form today!
Throughout the summer Ner Tamid’s members and friends have dedicated their time and energy in an effort to help those less fortunate. Beginning in the middle of last summer we have been preparing food for our homeless of Bloomfield and Montclair. On the fourth Sunday of every month we use the Park United Methodist Church of Bloomfield’s kitchen and dining room to prepare and serve the community’s homeless a nutrient meal which might be the only meal they have had in some time. Food insecurity is something most of us only read about, but for these men, women, and children face this reality every day.
You don't have to be a master chef to volunteer. You can help set up and serve. At the end of the day you’ll feel something very special in helping others. Be a joiner. We'd love to see some new faces. You're only volunteering for a couple of hours of work.
Please contact Sharyn Mandell email@example.com with any questions or to add your name to the list of volunteer to help.
Please click hear to read more about the wonderful efforts of amazing volunteers and Tikkun Olam Committee.
For over more than two years Ner Tamid volunteers in partnership with Brookdale Shoprite collect food donations to help stock the shelves of the Human Needs Food Pantry. This food helps our neighbors who don’t, on a daily basis, have enough to eat. Brookdale Shoprite shoppers’ donations help the elderly, the disabled, the home-bound, the unemployed, and the underemployed working poor meet their family’s food needs.
So how do we do get these donations? Once a month on a Sunday we stand at the entrance of the Brookdale Shoprite asking shoppers entering the store to buy one or two extra non-perishable items which we collect as exit the store. We hand out flyers explaining who we are and what our mission is with a suggestion of the most needed food items; rice, cereal, baby food, tuna fish, canned vegetables, etc. We never solicit for money. People are always in a hurry, but once they know we are asking for food donations and not money they stop to hear what we have to say. Lots of people give a can or two of food, but others give us much much more; a bag or 2 of food. The generosity of our neighbors is overwhelming.
This is a perfect Tikkun Olam opportunity for the entire family, shoppers have responded very favorably to children giving out fliers. Help us repair the world. Meet other like-minded Ner Tamid members. Please contact Jeff Plaut at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d like to see some new faces.
Temple Ner Tamid has its own new Amazon.com store featuring favorite books and DVDs of Rabbi Kushner, Cantor Greenberg and fellow Temple members.
Shopping via Ner Tamid's Amazon store won't cost you anything extra, but it does allow Temple Ner Tamid to earn about 6% from most purchases. You can purchase the books and DVDs recommended by clergy, staff, and fellow members or other items on Amazon.com that may not be featured on Temple Ner Tamid's Amazon store. All of your Amazon shopping benefits Temple Ner Tamid.
Please click on the link below to access Amazon.com and then after shopping, proceed to the checkout. Ner Tamid's commission will be credited automatically.