145 Broadway, Newark, New Jersey 07104
President: Eric Freedman, 201-988-3799
Rabbi: Simon Rosenbach 908-591-4037, firstname.lastname@example.org
SHABBAT SERVICES STARTING TIME
Please note: services this Saturday morning, February 2, 2019, will start at nine o’clock in the morning. We are going to be short some regulars this week. If you have nothing to do on Saturday morning, consider coming to Ahavas Sholom and help to make our minyan. Your presence will be appreciated by anybody who needs to say Kaddish and you will enable us to read the Torah. Thank you in advance.
Every year on Super Bowl Sunday the Conservative Movement holds a tefillin-in. The date this year will be Sunday, February 3, 2019. We will hold services at 9:00 a.m., and if you have never lain tefillin you should come and experience the feeling of tefillin on your forehead and arm. And if regularly lay tefillin, come and help us to make a minyan.
It is not too early to start thinking of Purim. We will read the Megillah on Wednesday night, March 19, 2019. We presently have three Megillah readers (Dubra, Hooshmand, and I) unless Fred shows up. Do you want to learn to read the Megillah? We will be happy to teach you. You don’t need to read an entire chapter.
ADULT BAR AND BAT MITZVAH
We are have settled on March 16, 2019, for the adult bar and bat mitzvah. On that Shabbat, we will start the Book of Vayikra, and it is also the Shabbat before Purim, Shabbat Zachor, where we have a special maftir remembering what Amalek did to the Israelites on their way to Eretz Canaan. Our goal is to have everybody chant at least three verses of Torah and a portion of the haftarah, which is among the saddest stories in the Tanakh. It recounts how God took the kingship from Saul, because he didn’t follow the Prophet Samuel’s exact directions. Our goal is also to have everybody lead a portion of the service, whether it be the preliminary service (I’m all by myself during the preliminary service, excepting Harold and Fred and Linda and Flora, and maybe a couple of people who got lost on their way to Newark and the ride didn’t take them as long as they thought), Shacharit, the Torah service, or Musaf. Don’t feel as though as you are obligated to meet the goals; you are not 13 anymore and doing it to please your parents. So come sign up, and we will teach you what you want to learn. Other people have done it before you, and you are as smart and disciplined as any of them. Don’t be scared.
We will be meeting next on Sunday, February 3, 2019, at 10 a.m. at Ahavas Sholom, weather permitting.
The cost of sponsoring Kiddush is $150, and that barely covers the cost of the lunch. Our goal is to have every Kiddush sponsored, so if you want to mark an event of honor a loved one, sponsor a Kiddush at Ahavas Sholom. If you want to sponsor a Kiddush, e-mail me, call me, call the synagogue, or fax the synagogue. Or e-mail Alla Eicheldinger at Alla7815@yahoo.com. Another thing you can do, which doesn’t cost any money, is shop. We have a list, we’ll tell what to buy. You get reimbursed. You can contact me or Alla. We welcome all volunteers.
We don’t have a religious school at Ahavas Sholom, so if we want to Judaically educate our children, we need to send them to other institutions or hire tutors. We established an education fund about 10 years ago to help parents defray the cost of religious education at other synagogues. For the recent few years the fund has dispersed more funds than were received for that year. We were able to do that because a reserve had been building, which is now mostly depleted. We need to replenish the education fund, and donations to the education fund are another way to honor somebody or memorialize somebody. Maimonides famously said that if a town does not build a school to educate the children, that town deserves to be put under a ban. Members of the congregation who wish to contribute to the education fund please send their checks to the synagogue with the memo line: education fund.
BURIAL PLOTS FOR SALE
We have about 100 burial plots for sale in King Solomon Cemetery in Clifton. If you are interested, contact Eric.
This week’s Parashah, Mishpatim, begins, “And these are the rules [or statutes, or laws], and the Parashah continues to list, in apparently no order, a whole host of rules that Israelite society was obliged to follow. Some rule needed to be first, but it is interesting that the first rule governs the relationship between an Israelite slave and an Israelite master.
When you acquire a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years; in the seventh year he shall go free, without payment. If he came single, he shall leave single; if he had a wife, his wife shall leave with him.
Verses following these verses say that if his master gives the slave a wife and she bears children, at the end of the six years the slave leaves alone; the wife and the children belong to the master. If, perchance the slave desires to stay (I love my master and my wife and my children), the master bores a hole in the slave’s earlobe with an awl, using the doorpost as a backstop.
The medieval commentators discussed this first law extensively, including its placement as the first law. Israelite society, like most in the ancient world, was a slave economy, so it would not surprise us that the treatment of a slave ranked first in the thoughts of compilers of the Torah. But the commentators thought that the priority of the slave law had theological overtones.
The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, and these laws (in Torah time) were promulgated not long after they left Egypt. The Israelites’ experience with slavery was fresh, and the primacy of the slave rule reinforced the Israelites’ experience of slavery. The duration of the slave’s service, six years, had a two-fold purpose: the determinate duration of the service reinforced the freedom from slavery that God effected, the duration also echoed the seven days of creation, when God rested on the seventh day. The rest of the rules governing slavery were economic in nature.
It might seem strange to us (and callous) to have the slave leave alone when he had a wife whom the master provided and children whom the wife bore, but we no longer recognize human beings as property (except in professional sports), and we can not put ourselves in the shoes of the master, who provided the wife. The wife was the master’s property, and she remained the master’s property. Perhaps there should have been a provision in the Torah to allow the departed slave, or the soon-to-be-departed slave, to buy out the master’s interest in the wife and children, but there was not. The most that can be said, is the Torah puts a limit on the duration of slavedom, unless the slave wants to stay.
The benign treatment of slaves is the beginning of a pattern of benign treatment of laborers in Jewish law. Later, we will learn that the Torah twice stipulates that day laborers were to be paid at the end of the day. Later yet (many thousands of years later), the Torah’s solicitude for slaves and day laborers led some Jews to organize unions, to protect the workers. Samuel Gompers was instrumental is founding the AFL, David Dubinsky led the ILGWU, and Sydney Hillman was president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers. There were many more Jews involved in the nascent, labor movement who are not household names.
The latest aspect of the first law of Mishpatim is the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. There are two sides of this issue. The proponents say that $7.25 an hour is not a living wage. If you work 2000 hours a year, the federal, minimum wage earns you $14,500. How can anybody live on $14,500 a year? (If we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, that total becomes $30,000, and I would pose the same question: how can anybody live on $30,000 a year?) The opponents say small business owners can not afford to pay people $15 an hour, and that prices will rise, and teenagers will be priced out of the workforce. I am not an economist, but I was lucky enough to have good education that enabled me to land a white-collar job that paid reasonably well. Our tradition teaches that we should the worker decently. How are we doing?