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, January 18, 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, January 19, 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.


     Our own April Modlinger has had a piece of art accepted in a juried exhibition. The exhibition is at the Belski Museum in Closter, New Jersey, 280 High Street, Closter 07624. The name of the exhibition is the Urman-Spinowitz Juried Group Exhibit, and it will run through January 27, 2019. Call the museum, 201-768-0286, or consult the website, http://www.belskiemuseum.com/, for the days and hours when you can visit the exhibit. The museum is open only on Saturdays and Sundays.



The Tu b’shvat seder is the next event on our calendar. Tu b’shvat (the birthday of the trees; the Torah decrees that you can’t eat from a tree unless the tree is a certain number of years old, so rather than celebrate the birthday of the trees one by one, we have set a universal birthday of the fruit trees, the 15th day of the month of Sh’vat; much like thoroughbred racehorses have a universal birthday of January 1, regardless of when they are born) the birthday of the trees this year starts on the evening of January 20 and continues until evening of January 21, 2019. We will have the seder at 5:00 p.m., weather permitting, on the afternoon of January 20, 2019. We will send an e-mail on Sunday morning to tell you whether the seder is on or off.


     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.


     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, January 20, 2019, at 10 a.m. at Ahavas Sholom, weather permitting. It is not too late to join the group. Indeed, the number of participants was increased by one this past Sunday. But it getting too late.


     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.

     Dubra Shenker is sponsoring the Kiddush this week and also doing the shopping. Thank you, Dubra.


     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.


     We have about 100 burial plots for sale in King Solomon Cemetery in Clifton. If you are interested, contact Eric.


Did you ever wonder why the Israelites seem so ungrateful? God sends the Ten Plagues, and parts the sea, and all the Israelites can do is complain. I want to tell you a story about a woman named Gladys Kelly.

Gladys married Ernest Kelly sometime around 1973. The day after the wedding, Ernest got drunk and knocked Gladys down. Although a period of calm followed the initial attack, the next seven years were accompanied by periodic and frequent beatings, sometimes as often as once a week. During the attacks, which generally occurred when Ernest was drunk, he threatened to kill Gladys and to cut off parts of her body if she tried to leave him. Ernest often moved out of the house after an attack, later returning with a promise that he would change his ways. Ernest was careful to hide their relationship from the public; only one of the attacks had taken place out of the house.

On May 23, 1980, Gladys and Ernest went shopping. They did not have enough money to buy food for the entire week, so Ernest said he would give his wife more money the next day.

The next morning he left for work.  Gladys next saw Ernest late that afternoon at a friend’s house where she had gone with her daughter to ask Ernest for money to buy food. He told her to wait until they got home, and soon Gladys and Ernest left. After walking past several houses, Ernest, who was drunk, angrily asked, “What the hell did you come around here for?” He then grabbed the collar of Gladys’ dress, and the two fell to the ground. He choked her by pushing his fingers against her throat, punched or hit her face, and bit her leg.

A crowd gathered on the street. Two men from the crowd separated them, just as Gladys felt that she was “passing out” from being choked. Fearing that her daughter had been pushed around in the crowd, Gladys then left to look for her. Finding her daughter, Gladys saw Ernest running toward her with his hands raised. Almost immediately, he was right next to her. Unsure of whether he had armed himself while she was looking for their daughter, and thinking that he had come back to kill her, she grabbed a pair of scissors from her pocketbook. She tried to scare him away, but instead stabbed him and killed him.

     Gladys was indicted for murder. At trial, she interposed the defense of self-defense. Now, the defense of self-defense has criteria that the defendant needs to satisfy, and among them is the defendant’s state of mind: the defendant needs to show a perception of danger and the objective reasonableness of that perception. Gladys attempted to call an expert to testify about what is known as the Battered-Woman’s Syndrome, but the trial judge, after listening to the expert, rejected the attempt.

Gladys was convicted of reckless manslaughter, and her principal claim on appeal was that the trial judge denied her attempt to call the expert. The case made it all the way to the New Jersey Supreme Court, and the Court accepted that the Battered-Woman’s Syndrome had an academic and psychological pedigree that might convince a jury that the abused defendant reasonably objectively perceived the abuser-victim as being an immediate danger to the abused defendant because of the history of abusive behavior. The Court sent the case back for a retrial. I don’t know what happened, but Gladys died in 1987.

We prosecutors were outraged by the decision, but within a couple of years all prosecutor’s office statewide created a Domestic-Violence Section in their offices. Maybe we were slow learners, but at least we learned.

What has the Gladys Kelly do with this week’s Parashah? I’m glad you asked that.

If you have encountered a battered woman, or if you have heard of a battered woman (and by the way, battered woman are not only women), the first thing you ask her, or yourself, why don’t you leave (or why doesn’t she leave). The refusal may seem counter-intuitive, but there are real reasons.

And one of the components of the Battered Woman’s Syndrome is that she can’t leave. There are many reasons for refusing to leave. She may decide that the abuse is the cost of financial security. She may want to admit to her parents or her friends that the relationship is a failure. She may be afraid that wherever she goes, the abuser will find her and kill her. She may be afraid that if she leaves, the abuser will hurt the children.

Our ancestors knew of the Battered Woman’s Syndrome, as you can see many times. The first time Moses asked Pharaoh to let the Israelites go in the desert and worship God, Pharaoh told the overseers to tell the Israelites to make bricks without straw. The foremen of the Israelites encountered Moses and Aaron, and the foremen said to them, “May the Lord look upon you and punish you for making us loathsome to Pharaoh.” In the first verse of Beshalach, this week’s Torah portion, we read about God’s appreciation of the Battered Woman’s Syndrome: “Now when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of Philistines, although it was nearer; for God said, ‘The people may have a change of heart when they see war, and return to Egypt.'” But God did not appreciate the power of the Battered Woman’s Syndrome.

When the Egyptian army in pursuit of the Israelite approached, the Israelites complained both to Moses and God. “What have to done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, saying, “let us be, and we will serve the Egyptians, for it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” But Moses said to the people, stand firm and be strong; God will battle for you.

In B’midbar 11, the people complain, “If only we had meat to eat. We remember the fish that we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” The Israelites were battered and they exhibited all the symptoms of battered women: they didn’t want to leave, despite their being abused by the Egyptians. God feared that they would turn tail and run straight to their abusers at the smallest provocation. They remembered with great fondness their time in Egypt, conveniently forgetting that they were abused daily.

When the crossed the sea and witnessed the destruction of the Egyptian army, almost immediately they complained that they nothing to drink. Witnessing the Ten Plagues and the miracle at the sea did not stop the Israelites from complaining, and I always wondered why. If I witnessed even one of the Ten Plagues, let alone all ten of them, I would gladly suffer any inconvenience along the road to freedom and the Promised Land. If I witnessed the miracle of the sea crossing, I would gladly suffer any inconvenience along the road to freedom and the Promised Land. But I was the like prosecutor and the judge who didn’t understand what the expert in Gladys Kelly’s case was trying to tell them. The Israelites were battered women, and they behaved like battered women, and that explains the continuous grumbling on the journey.