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 25, 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 26, 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.  


     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 27, 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.


      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.


     I owe this column to Amy Schonhaut, who last week asked me to discuss the Women’s March and its relationship to Tamika Mallory, and her relationship to Louis Farrakhan. So we will set the scene.

     The day after Donald Trump was elected President, some people used social media to organize a women’s march on Washington in response to Trump’s vulgar comments (the Access Hollywood tapes) and to Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Eventually, their efforts coalesced into an organization called Women’s March, Inc. Teresa Shook was the first woman to create a Facebook page, but similar pages were created by women named Evvie Harmon, Fontaine Pearson, Bob Bland, Breanne Butler, and others. Harmon, Pearson, and Butler decided to unite their efforts, and they formulated the march on Washington proposed for January 21, 2017. They wanted the march to be led by women of different races and backgrounds, and they invited Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour to serve as national co-chairs.

     Mallory, who was born in 1980, has been an activist almost all of her life, and was a member of Mayor DiBlasio’s transition team. Perez was born in 1977, and like Mallory, has been and activist almost of her life. Sarsour, like Mallory, was born in 1980, and she, like Mallory and Perez, has been an activist almost of her life. Sarsour is a child of Palestinian immigrants, and she has constantly criticized Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. (When a Jewish cemetery in Saint Louis was vandalized in 2017, Sarsour was instrumental in raising funds to restore the cemetery, and Sarsour was also instrumental funds to help the Jewish community in Pittsburgh after the Tree of Life massacre.)

     From the beginning, the Women’s March organization was plagued by accusations of antisemitism. There were allegations that Mallory and Perez espoused an antisemitic conspiracy theory about Jews and the slave trade. Mallory and Bland deny the conservation took place, but Tablet Magazine credited “multiple sources.” Vanessa Wruble, a Jewish woman who was among the first organizers of the 2017 march, was taken aback at the very first organizational meeting by Mallory’s and Perez’ denunciation of Jews. Eventually, Wruble was pushed out of the organization; she says it because she was Jewish, and Mallory and Perez deny that. Wruble founded a competing organization, March On, and in December, 2018, Shook called on Mallory and Perez to resign.

     Running through the controversy is Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan needs no introduction to Jews; his vicious antisemitic comments have long been a part of his philosophy. Mallory and Perez (mostly Mallory) have recently been criticized for their support and embrace of Farrakhan. This past month, Mallory was a guest on the television show, “The View,” and was called on to defend her championing of Farrakhan, whom she has labeled the G.O.A.T., which is athletic-ese for “greatest of all time.” The best Mallory could say was, “As I said, I don’t agree with many of Minister Farrakhan’s statements.” (Perez, questioned about her embrace of Farrakhan, said, “There are no perfect leaders.”) Mallory’s and Perez’ embrace of Farrakhan was the reason that Shook called on them to resign.

     (The “Forward” in its December 17, 2018, issue, addressed whether Farrakhan’s good efforts in Chicago excused his vile antisemitic comments and beliefs. Jane Eisner, who wrote the article, concluded that Farrakhan’s good works do not excuse his antisemitism.)

     So, I pose two questions. One is, why do liberals (and I am one), especially college students, denounce every form of intolerance except antisemitism? For example, the Chicago Dyke Parade, a parade honoring gay and lesbians and transgendered people, ejected in 2017 marchers who adapted an Israeli flag to the purposes of the parade, but in 2018, many marchers waved Palestinian flags. Why does the Black Lives Matter campaign identify with Palestinians (who realistically can’t lift a finger to help eradicate police brutality against Blacks) and excoriate Jews (who marched alongside of Martin Luther King, Jr., and were murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi)? Why do supporters of the BDS movement ignore human-rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, China, Egypt, and other dictatorial regimes and concentrate on Israel? These are rhetorical questions, but I am sure that some political-science, doctoral candidate has analyzed this phenomenon and concluded that, as counter-intuitive and as counter-productive as it seems (who better could help gays, lesbians, and transgendered people: Palestinians 6000 miles away who have their hands full simply surviving day to day or United States Jews who have a long history of championing liberal causes and the money and the political influence to effect change?), embracing all causes at the expense of the Jews (or telling the Jews that we are not welcome) actually propels political alliances and political change.

     The second question I pose is a variety of the first question: can we ignore the bigotry of do-gooders like Louis Farrakhan and the bigotry of artists like T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Roald Dahl, Degas, Cezanne, Renoir (all painters who were on the opposite side of the Dreyfus affair from Emile Zola, at a time when what side you were on reflected your antisemitic views). Can we read James and the Giant Peach to our children? Can we read “The Waste Land?” Can we watch Mel Gibson movies? Can we attend performances of “The Nutcracker” at Lincoln Center (In a letter written in 1878, Tchaikovsky wrote that when his train stopped at a Russian railroad station, he noticed “a mass of dirty Yids, with that poisoning of the atmosphere which accompanies them everywhere.”)?

     Artists of all sorts (composers, painters, sculptors, authors, movie directors) create, at best, enduring works of beauty. Who cares that the Pieta depicts Mary and the dead Jesus? Who doesn’t like “Oh, Holy Night?” In my opinion (and it’s only my opinion), even bad people can create universally loved and enduring works of art. You can pass Degas paintings in the museum, but Rafael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo Da Vinci all created works that were commissioned by the Pope, the same person who was head of a church that demonized Jews. If you were to avoid a work of art because the artist was a bigot, you would probably not see a painting, enjoy a concert, hear a poem, read a book.

     But politics, in my opinion, is a different story. In political life, does the end justify the means? If you want to protest Trump, do you want to get in political bed with a woman who thinks that Louis Farrakhan is the greatest of all time? If you want to protest police brutality, does that mean that you need embrace people who think the Palestinians are oppressed (and in some ways they are, both by their leaders and the Israeli government) and believe that the Jews are one with the oppressors?

     There is always another coalition to make a point, without allying yourself with a bigot. Wruble founded a competing march for that reason. At the risk of angering PETA members, there is more than one to skin a cat, and we don’t need to embrace bigots to accomplish political goals.