Ahavas Sholom – an Historic Landmark and Sacred Space

Newark's Last Remaining Synagogue born of the Great European Migration at the turn of the 20th Century

145 Broadway, Newark, NJ 07104
Phone: 973-485-2609 | Email: cahavassholom@optimum.net


Newsletter, February 8, 2019

145 Broadway, Newark, New Jersey 07104


Fax: 973-485-2609

E-mail: cahavassholom@optimum.net

President: Eric Freedman, 201-988-3799

Rabbi: Simon Rosenbach 908-591-4037, rabbisimonlouis@gmail.com


     Please note: services this Saturday morning, February 9, 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.



     It is not too early to start thinking of Purim. We will read the Megillah on Wednesday night, March 20, 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.    


     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 10, 2019, at 10 a.m. at Ahavas Sholom.


     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.


     Lord, prepare me

     To be a sanctuary

    Pure and holy

    Tried and true

Randy Scruggs

     God tells Moses in verse eight of this week’s Parashah, “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among [the Israelites].” The Hebrew word is “mikdash,” and you can see word “kodesh [holy]” in the word “mikdash.” Let us explore the word “sanctuary.”

     “Sanctuary” is a funny word. My Oxford English Dictionary (and by the way, you should read The Professor and the Madman, by Simon Winchester, about the making of the OED), defines “sanctuary” a holy space, a room within a house of worship, or a place of refuge where a person can be safe from police action. This is one of the times we need to read the Torah in Hebrew, rather than in translation.

     We refer to the room where we hold services at Ahavas Sholom as the sanctuary. That noun distinguishes that room from the other rooms at 145 Broadway: the office, the social hall, the museum, the kitchen, the furnace room. That room is where we do our holy business: praying to God.

     But another common meaning of “sanctuary” is found in places like the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary in Short Hills, or the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. A sanctuary is a place where animals can come and be protected from human noise or danger.

     If we read the Torah in English, one of our thoughts is: why does God, who is all-powerful, need a refuge? God needs a quiet place to meditate? God needs a quiet place to contemplate the world after each of day of creation and conclude, “It was evening, it was morning, day whatever?”

     But that is the English language speaking. In the Hebrew, what God wants the Israelites to do is build a holy home for God when God comes to visit. Many people, from the medieval commentators to more recent thinkers, pose this question: why, if God is everywhere, does God need a home? I think that question misses the point.

     Why did the Israelites need a tabernacle? Could not have every person worshipped God in his or her own way? Why did the Israelites need a caste a priests and acolytes? Why the sacrifices need to formalized?

     A million people worshipping individually is million people worshipping individually. A million people worshipping in a central location in accordance with prescribed rituals is a religion. That raises the age-old question: does God, who created the universe from nothing, really need the adoration of puny humans? But God’s relationship with the Israelites is deeper than a God-human relationship. God knew that the Israelites would not be a nation without a shared set of values, without a shared culture, without a shared sense of community. God told the Israelites to build the Tabernacle not so much that God would have a home; God is ubiquitous. God told the Israelites to build the Tabernacle so the Israelites would have a common God, would have a common prayer ritual, would have a common culture, and would have shared experiences. God told the Israelites to build the Tabernacles so that there would be, in the end, a Nation of Israel.