At the Flemington Jewish Community Center (FJCC), we don’t just “do Judaism at you.” Instead, we encourage participation by congregants in our services. Adults and teenagers frequently play these roles in the service:
∙ Lifting or tying the Torah scroll
∙ Taking an aliyah at the Torah reading
∙ Leading the Kiddush blessings
∙ Leading part of the service
∙ Reading from the Torah
∙ Chanting the haftarah
∙ Giving a d'var Torah (a talk related to the weekly portion)
∙ Commenting in response to the d'var Torah or the rabbi’s sermon
Children are encouraged to lead selected parts of the Friday evening service and the closing parts of the Saturday morning service.
The FJCC is an egalitarian, Conservative congregation. We currently use the Sim Shalom siddur and Etz Hayim text of Torah readings. For help with the Hebrew parts of the service, transliterations are available, and all Hebrew texts come with line-by-line translations. No knowledge of Hebrew is required for you to participate in the discussion of the Torah portion. Our rabbi and ritual committee are eager to help you learn how to play whatever active role interests you.
Schedule of Services
Friday - 7:30 pm
Saturday - 9:15 am
Sunday - 9:00 am
Weekday Minyan - Upon Request
Shabbat Oneg/Kiddush Sponsorship
There are many opportunities to sponsor an Oneg Shabbat or Kiddush in the coming weeks:
- Oneg- Friday December 29
- Kiddush- Saturday December 30
- Oneg- Friday January 5
- Kiddush- Saturday January 6</
Cater it, prepare it, or we'll do the work for you.
Call the office at 908.782.6410
Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah
Following the joyous days of Sukkot, we come to the happy holiday of Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah. In the diaspora, the first day is known by its biblical name, Shemini Atzeret. We still dwell in the sukkah but do not say the blessing, and do not shake the lulav and etrog. Yizkor is also said on this day. The second day is known as Simchat Torah, during which we complete and immediately begin the annual Torah reading cycle. This joyous milestone is marked with dancing, traditionally following seven circuits, as the Torah scrolls are held aloft. Both days are celebrated by nightly candle lighting, festive meals at both night and day, and refraining from work. In Israel, the entire holiday is compacted into one 24-hour period.
Coming after the solemn High Holidays, Sukkot is a time of joy and happiness. The seven days of Sukkot are celebrated by rejoicing, dwelling in the sukkah, and shaking the four species of plants (except on Shabbat):
- etrog (אתרוג) – the fruit of a citron tree
- lulav (לולב) – a ripe, green, closed frond from a date palm tree
- hadass (הדס) – boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree
- aravah (ערבה) – branches with leaves from the willow tree
Sukkot, when we dwell in greenery-covered huts, commemorates the sheltering of our ancestors as they traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land. The four species express our belief in G‑d’s omnipresence.On the first two days (or one day in Israel) work is forbidden, candles are lit in the evening, and festive meals are preceded with Kiddush and contain challah dipped in honey. The intermediate days are quasi holidays, known as chol hamoed. The final two days (or one in Israel) are Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.
Yom Kippur is considered by many Jews to be the holiest and most solemn day of the year. It is often called the 'day of repentance' as it inspires introspection, prayer, and petitions for forgiveness so that Jews can enter the New Year with a clean slate. The point of the day is to focus on the spiritual, psychological, and emotional work of improving ourselves, of returning (of doing Teshuvah) and rediscovering our own true selves. Refraining from eating and drinking and other physically pleasurable experiences is one way to accomplish this.
At the end of Yom Kippur, we blow a Shofar, a ram’s horn (unless the holy day falls on Shabbat). The end of the fast is often marked with a festive 'break-fast' meal which is a time for family and friends to reconnect after an often intense day of prayer and petitions.
“Gmar chatimatovah” literally means “a good signing/sealing.” This is a traditional greeting during Yom Kippur, referring to the belief that on Rosh Hashanah our fates are written, or inscribed in the Book of Life, and on Yom Kippur our fates are sealed in it.
Rosh Hashanah, “the head of the year,” is the Jewish New Year. It is a time of celebration, as we look to all the possibilities to grow and improve. It is also a day of judgment, and we take account of our actions during the past year. We review the choices we have made over the past year, our actions and our intentions, as we attempt to honestly evaluate ourselves. On Rosh Hashanah, Jews generally relate to God as the Ultimate Judge.
We blow a Shofar, a ram’s horn, (similar to the way we might blow a trumpet) during the Jewish month of Elul that leads up to Rosh Hashanah, and then at Rosh Hashanah services (unless any of these holidays fall on Shabbat). The sounds of the shofar – tekiah, shevarim, and teruah – remind many people of a crying voice. In the Torah, Rosh Hashanah is merely called “Yom Teruah,” the day of blowing (the Shofar).” Hearing the shofar’s call is a reminder for us to look inward and repent for the sins of the past year.
Traditionally, on Rosh Hashanah, Jews eat sweet foods — like apples and honey — to symbolize a sweet new year. In Sephardic tradition, the tradition of Jews who lived in the Near East and North Africa, a number of foods believed to signify our wishes for the coming year, such as pomegranates, leeks, and pumpkins, also appear on the Rosh Hashanah table. Some people even eat fish heads! This is to symbolize our desire to start the New Year at the head of things, rather than at the tail or rear. Many eat round Challahs as a reminder of the never-ending cycle of life.
On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, in the afternoon, it is traditional to gather for the Tashlich ceremony. Jews symbolically cast off their sins by throwing pieces of bread into a body of water.
We greet people on these holidays with “Shana tovah,” have a good year! Shana tovah u-metukah, which means “for a good and sweet year.”
Tisha B'Av (the ninth of Av) is the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. It is the date of the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem in 586 BCE and 70 CE. As a major day of mourning, it is a total fast day. The restrictions are similar to those of Yom Kippur: to refrain from eating and drinking, bathing, wearing leather shoes, and showing affection. The day is spent reading the Book of Lamentations and the Book of Job.
Shavuot, commonly referred to as the Festival of Weeks, commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Traditionally, the holiday is celebrated by studying Jewish texts in all-night study sessions. On the first morning of Shavuot, families gather at the synagogue to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments. That evening, Yizkor candles are lit from pre-existing flame and Yizkor is recited on the morning of the second day of Shavuot. Generally, dairy meals are served for the holiday and buildings are decorated with lots of beautiful flowers.
Lag B’Omer literally means the 33rd day of the Omer. The Omer is counted for 49 days between the end of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot. Lag B'Omer is the one day during the counting of the Omer (a period of semi-mourning) in which celebrating is allowed. In modern times the holiday has come to symbolize the resilience of the Jewish spirit. The most popular ways to celebrate is making a bonfire, having a picnic or playing sports.
Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day
Passover (Hebrew: פֶּסַח Pesach) commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. It begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar and is celebrated for eight days.
A QUESTION AND ANSWER GUIDE
TO PREPARING FOR PASSOVER
I. THE LAWS OF HAMETZ
A. DEFINITION OF HAMETZ (LEAVEN)
1. Hametz is any one of the following grains—oats, spelt, wheat, rye, and barley—that has come in contact with water for 18 minutes or more. This is the beginning of the leavening process.
2. Hametz can also be any food product, whether solid or liquid, that is produced from the above grains even if these grains are of the smallest quantities. (The only exception is matzah, when the dough does not come into contact with water for more than 18 minutes and the dough is baked in less than 18 minutes.)
3. Dishes, utensils, ovens, and ranges that have absorbed even the smallest amounts of hametz and hametz products are forbidden to be used during the week of Passover unless they are properly cleansed and kashered according to Jewish law.
4. It is the custom of Ashkenazic Jewry during the week of Passover not to eat rice, corn, and vegetables of the pea family as though they were really hametz. The reason for the custom was that the above vegetables were ground into flour to make bread. To avoid any confusion between these vegetables and the five hametz grains, the custom was created to abstain from eating these foods during Passover week.
5. Any non-hametz food product that was prepared in vessels and utensils that did absorb hametz is prohibited to be eaten during Passover.
B. WHAT IS NOT HAMETZ?
1. The following types of food are not considered hametz in themselves:
a) Meat, poultry, and fish
b) Fruits and vegetables (the exception being corn, rice, and peas, according to the custom of Ashkenazic Jewry)
c) Dairy products
2. The above mentioned non-hametz food categories must be processed, canned, bottled and packaged with rabbinic certification to guarantee that no hametz ingredient is included in the processing.
a) The following does not require any rabbinic certification:
1. Those foods written in Paragraph #1 in their raw or fresh condition
2. Refined sugar (excluding brown sugar, which does require supervision)
4. Ground coffee (excluding instant coffee)
5. Pure fruit juice without additives in a glass jar or bottle only
3. The prohibition against the use and consumption of hametz applies to those products that are edible and fit for human and animal consumption.
4. Those products that are made from hametz that are not edible and are not fit for both human and animal consumption are not considered hametz, and one may derive use and benefit from them. Some examples of such products are toothpaste, deodorants, hair sprays, shampoos, soaps, lipsticks, talcum & baby powder, and cold creams & hand creams. Although toothpastes and lipsticks do not require rabbinic certification for use during Pesach, one should only use a fresh tube of toothpaste with a new toothbrush and a fresh stick of lipstick.
PLEASE NOTE: Dishwashing liquids and soaps must have rabbinic certification.
C. THE SALE OF HAMETZ
The Torah teaches that during the eight days of Passover, Jews must not own or use any form of hametz. In the past, Jews would destroy all the hametz and hametz products before the Passover holiday or a Jew would give away all the leaven to a non-Jew as a gift that would be his permanent possession. However, Jews began to acquire much larger quantities of hametz for business or the home. The destruction or the giving away of these vast quantities of hametz would have meant a tremendous financial loss for Jews. The Rabbi's teach "Rachmana liba Be-ee." "The Law requires the heart." Jewish law gave us an alternative that has shown great compassion and understanding of the material needs of the Jewish community. This alternative is called "machirat hametz"—the selling of hametz.
The selling of the hametz is a legal business transaction with a non-Jew that involved the drawing up of a legal contract based upon rabbinic law and signed in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the contract. The contract includes an assessment of the value of the hametz being sold, a statement of the terms of delivery, and other conditions. The rabbi on Passover eve acts as the agent who will negotiate the sale with the non-Jew. The two people will reach an assessment of the value of the hametz, and the rabbi will ask for a down payment of money on the hametz. The rabbi will stipulate with the non-Jew that the balance of the money be paid on the night of the eighth day of Passover after the appearance of the stars, Tuesday, April 18th approximately 8:55 PM. If, at that time, the non-Jew does not want to pay the balance, then the rabbi will return the deposit to the non-Jew and the sale will not be completed.
This is a legal and binding sale and not a joke as some people claim. Any person who does desire to sell his or her hametz may come to the synagogue office or fill out the form below appointing the Rabbi as his or her agent in the sale of hametz. Please remember that the sale of the hametz is not reserved only for traditional Jews, but every Jew can participate in the mitzvah. Even if that person does not observe the traditions of Judaism in his or her home, the person should not feel ashamed but should try to do this mitzvah.
PLEASE NOTE: Even if one will be away from one's home during Passover, one is still obligated to sell his or her hametz.
II. KASHERING OF UTENSILS
The process of kashering utensils depends on how the utensils are used. According to halahkah, leaven can be purged from a utensil by the same process in which it was absorbed in the utensil (kevoleokakhpoleto). Therefore, utensils used in cooking are kashered by boiling, those used in broiling are kashered by fire and heat, and those used only for cold food are kashered by rinsing.
1. Earthenware (china, pottery, etc.) may not be kashered. However, fine translucent chinaware that has not been used for over a year may be used if scoured and cleaned in hot water.
2. Metal (utensils wholly made of metal) used in fire (spit, broiler) must first be thoroughly scrubbed and cleansed and then made as hot as possible. Those used for cooking or eating (silverware, pots) must be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned and completely immersed in boiling water. Pots should have water boiled in them that will overflow the rim. The utensils should not be used for a period of at least 24 hours between the cleaning and the immersion in boiling water. Metal baking utensils cannot be kashered.
3. Oven and ranges: Every part that comes in contact with food must be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned. Then oven and range should be heated as hot as possible for a half hour. If there is a broil setting, use it. Self-cleaning ovens should be scrubbed and cleaned and then put through the self-cleaning cycle. Continuous-cleaning ovens must be kashered in the same manner as regular ovens. A microwave oven, which does not cook the food by means of heat, should be cleaned, and a cup of water should be placed in it. Then the oven should be turned on until the water disappears. A microwave oven that has a browning element cannot be kashered for Pesah.
4. Glassware: Authorities disagree as to the method of kashering drinking utensils. One opinion requires soaking in water for three days, changing the water every 24 hours. The other opinion requires only a thorough scrubbing before Pesah or putting it through a dishwasher.
5. Dishwasher: After not using the machine for a period of 24 hours, a full cycle with detergent should be run.
6. Electrical Appliances: If the parts that come into contact with hametz are removable, they can be kashered in the appropriate way (if metal, follow the rules for metal utensils). If the parts are not removable, the appliance cannot be kashered. (All exposed parts should be thoroughly cleaned.)
7. Refrigerators need only be thoroughly cleaned with warm water and soap. The racks don't need to be covered, but if you wish to use foil or wax paper, pierce it to allow air to circulate in the refrigerator.
8. Tables, closets and counters: If used with hametz, they should be thoroughly cleaned and covered, and then they may be used.
9. Kitchen sink: A metal sink can be kashered by a thorough cleaning and by pouring boiling water over it. A porcelain sink should be cleaned and a sink rack used. If, however, dishes are to be soaked in a porcelain sink, a dish basin must be used.
10. Hametz and non-Passover utensils - Non-Passover dishes, pots, and hametz whose ownership has been transferred should be separated, locked up, or covered, and marked to prevent accidental use.
III. THE SEARCH FOR THE HAMETZ
1. The Talmudic tractate known as "Massechet Pesahim" requires an intensive and careful search for hametz in one's house on the night before Passover as soon as possible after nightfall. This cleansing of the home before Passover is traditionally known as "bedikat chametz." This year, the search for hametz takes place on Sunday evening, April 9th after sundown.
2. The supplies necessary for the search are:
a) A candle
b) Wooden spoon, paper bag, paper plate, or paper cup
c) A feather
3. Since most of our homes are cleaned and ready for the Passover holidays, it is customary to place crumbs of bread in the various rooms of our homes (especially those rooms in which hametz was consumed) before the search.
4. Prior to beginning the search, the following blessing is recited:
"BARUCH AHTAH ADONAI, EHLOHAYNU MELECH HA'OLAM ASHER KID SHANU BIH-MITZ-VOH-TAF, VIH-TZEE-VANU AL BEE UR HAMETZ."
"BLESSED ARE YOU, O L-RD OF THE UNIVERSE, WHO HAS SANCTIFIED US THROUGH HIS COMMANDMENTS AND COMMANDED US CONCERNING THE DESTRUCTION OF THE HAMETZ."
5. The person then moves from room to room with a lit candle (please note: the house must be darkened) and gathers up the crumbs with the feather and places them in the wooden spoon or paper bag. No conversation is permitted until the search has been completed. The hametz that is found during the search is then tied up and put away so that it will be burned the next morning.
6. After the search has been completed, the person recites the following formula for nullification of the hametz preferably in the English language:
"ALL LEAVEN AND ALL HAMETZ THAT IS IN MY POSSESSION THAT I DID NOT SEE AND DID NOT DESTROY, LET IT BE NULL AND OWNERLESS AS THE DUST OF THE EARTH."
IV. FAST OF THE FIRST BORN
1. It is a tradition that on the day preceding Passover, the first-born sons of our people fast as an expression of thanksgiving to G-d for having spared the first born of the children of Israel from the plague that destroyed the first born of the Egyptians.
2. It is permissible for the first born to break the fast for the purpose of celebrating certain religious observances such as a wedding, a circumcision, or the completion of a tractate of the Talmud. In most instances, the Rabbis of many congregations will study a Talmudic tractate during the year and complete it on the eve of Passover. There are rejoicing and celebration when the Rabbi asks not only the first born, but everyone to participate in his simcha. The celebration is known as a "siyum.”
V. BURNING OF THE HAMETZ
1. The book of Exodus tells us: "You shall destroy leaven from your houses." On the morning of Passover eve, the hametz that was collected during the bedikat hametz the evening before and other hametz is burned in a fire. The fire is normally lit outdoors, and the hametz is then thrown into the flames.
2. After the hametz is thrown into the flames, the following statement is said in English: "Any kind of leaven which is in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have destroyed it or not, shall be regarded as null and void and shall be as the dust of the earth."
I APPOINT RABBI AS MY AGENT IN THE SALE OF HAMETZ.
[NOTE: IT IS customary to enclose a charitable donation called MAOT CHITTIM (literally - "Money for Wheat") so that monies can be given to the Jewish poor to provide a Kosher for Passover Seder for them and their families.
The Celebration of Purim includes four Mitzvot:
- Reading of the Book of Esther (Megillat Esther), on Purim: In many congregations, the megillah is also read in the morning. At each recurrence of the name of Haman, the children make a lot of noise with their groggers, symbolically casting Israel's enemies, such as Haman.
- Mishloach Manot: It is a custom to send at least two gifts (consisting of food or drinks) to a minimum of one friend or neighbor.
Mattanot La-evyonim: It is also customary to give a minimum of two gifts, usually money, to at least two poor people, or to charitable institutions.
- Seudath Purim: In the afternoon, a festive banquet is held. Wine is allowed in abundance, though sobriety should be maintained.