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
Torah portion for September 7, 2019
May 18, 2019
This month, May is mental health awareness month.
Mental health challenges and disorders have a long history in Judaism.
Accounts of depression, for example, go back to the Tanakh, the Jewish bible.
When Jacob loses his son, Joseph, allegedly to an animal attack, but actually to slave traders, he is never the same again. He never recovers from this trauma. When, toward the end of his life, Jacob meets Pharaoh, he says to Pharaoh: “Few and bitter have been the years of my life…” And yet, Jacob has lived 130 years, has 12 healthy kids, scores of grand-kids, and has survived a famine. He actually has much to be grateful for. But…, he cannot get over his deep grief.
After King Saul is told by Samuel that God no longer wants him to be king, we are told: “An evil spirit came upon him.” Saul’s courtiers express concern. They realize his mood has changed dramatically. “An evil spirit from God now terrifies you.” They tell him. They are worried. And…, they also offer a treatment. “’Let … us … seek out a skillful player on the harp; and it shall be, when the evil spirit comes upon you, he shall play the harp, and you shall be well...’ And, it came to pass, when the [evil] spirit was upon Saul, that David took the harp, and played…; so, Saul found relief, and it was well with him, and the evil spirit departed from him.” Hence, the entrance of David, the singer, later to be King David, into Jewish history.
On the one hand, I have spoken to mental health professionals who confirm that music therapy is very helpful in certain cases. Our ancestors did know something about mental illness. On the other hand, we also must realize that our ancestors viewed much of mental illness as the product of something like an evil spirit, and this … is not that helpful ...
Shabbat Oneg/Kiddush Sponsorship
There are many opportunities to sponsor an Oneg Shabbat or Kiddush in the coming weeks:
- Oneg - Friday - September 13
- Oneg - Friday - September 20
- Oneg - Friday - September 27
- Kiddush - Saturday - September 28
What is Rosh Hashanah?
A handy checklist of everything you need to know for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year
by Rabbi Shraga Simmons
A key component of Rosh Hashanah preparation is to ask for forgiveness from anyone we may have wronged during the previous year. To the greatest extent possible, we want to begin the year with a clean slate – and without anyone harboring a grudge against us. Similarly, we should be quick to forgive those who have wronged us...
Some have the custom of visiting a cemetery on the day before Rosh Hashanah and praying at the graves of the righteous. Of course, we do not pray "to" the righteous, but only to God who hears our prayers in the merit of the righteous...
The Festive Meal
During the High Holidays, a round challah is used – symbolizing fullness and completion. After making the "Hamotzi" blessing, it is customary to dip the bread into honey – symbolizing our prayer for a sweet new year.
Then, after the bread has been eaten, take an apple and dip it in honey. Make a blessing on the apple (since "Hamotzi" did not cover the apple) and eat a little bit of the apple. Then say, "May it be Your will, God, to renew us for a good and sweet new year..." (OC 583)
Rosh Hashanah Prayers
Since there are so many unique prayers on Rosh Hashanah, we use a special prayer book called a "Machzor..."
The curtain on the ark is changed to white.
During the High Holidays, the curtain on the ark is changed to a white one, to symbolize that our "mistakes will be whitened like snow."
The "Amidah" prayer of Musaf contains three special blessings: "Malchiot" (praises to God the King), "Zichronot" (asking God to remember the merits of our Ancestors), and "Shofrot" (the significance of the shofar).
Since it is a question as to whether the "She'hechianu" blessing should be said on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the custom is to eat a new fruit or wear a new garment – and say "She'hechianu" upon it.
The essential mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah is to hear the shofar...
The minimum Torah obligation is to hear nine blasts. However, given a doubt whether the sound should be a groaning type of cry (Shevarim), or a sobbing weep (Teruah), or a combination (Shevarim-Teruah), we perform all three sounds – each preceded and followed by an unbroken blast, Tekiah. Three of each set results in 30 blasts total, which remove all doubt that the Torah precept has been fulfilled...
During the chazan's repetition of the Musaf "Amidah," an additional 30 blasts are blown in the various combinations.
It is the custom to blow 40 extra blasts at the end of services, bringing the total to 100.
It is customary to prolong the final blast, called "Tekiah Gedolah."
It is customary to greet others with: "L'shana Tova – Ketivah vi-chatima Tova." This means: "For a good year – You should be written and sealed in the good (Book of Life)..."
The "Tashlich" prayer is said on the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, by a pool of water, preferably with fish in it. This prayer is the symbolic casting away of our mistakes. Surely we do not “rid our sins” by shaking out our pockets – rather the Jewish approach is deep introspection and commitment to change...
Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the month of Av (August 10-11, 2019), is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, on which we fast, deprive ourselves and pray. It is the culmination of the Three Weeks, a period of time during which we mark the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. During this time, we do not
- eat or drink
- wear leather footwear
- bathe or wash ourselves (washing only until the knuckle when mandated by halachah)
- apply ointments or creams
- engage in marital relations or any form of intimacy
- sit on a normal-height chair until chatzot (the time when the sun has reached its apex)
- study Torah (except for the “sad” parts that deal with the destruction of the Temples, etc.)
- send gifts, or even greet one another (you may respond to greetings)
- engage in outings, trips or similar pleasurable activities
- wear fine, festive clothing