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


Simon Says, January 20, 2023

I have one thing in common with Moses, and only one thing:  Moses said to God, לֹא֩ אִ֨ישׁ דְּבָרִ֜ים אָנֹ֗כִי, I am not a man of words.  Moses continued,
כִּ֧י כְבַד־פֶּ֛ה וּכְבַ֥ד לָשׁ֖וֹן אָנֹֽכִי . Literally, the Hebrew means, “That I am heavy mouth and I am heavy tongue.” 

My aphasia brought me to the end of the road.  I will retire as of June 30, 2023.  Eighteen years I have been your rabbi, and I said in the interview in 2005, “I will learn more from you than you will learn from me.” 

I am proud of my achievements.  The High Holy Days in 2006 brought 115 people to Ahavas Sholom, and by 2015 we had slightly more than 200 people in the sanctuary.  In the early days of my rabbinate we celebrated the first day of Sukkot and Pesach and the Yizkor days of Sukkot and Pesach.  We grew to celebrate the four days of Sukkot and Pesach.  We had Chinese dinner on Sunday during the Sukkot.  We had an erev Rosh Hashanah dinner, and a Pesach seder.  I was not responsible for the erev Rosh Hashanah dinner and the Pesach seder.  Credit to Jeff Haveson, Eric Freedman for the dinner and the seder. 

We met on erev Purim and erev Tisha B’av.  Credit Fred Grabiner, who taught me so much, Hooshmand Delshad, Dubra Shenker, Eric Freedman, and Jeff Haveson, and the congregants whom I didn’t name who taught me so much. 

I give credit to Clara Macedo for telephoning me when I didn’t send my Simon Says column on time.  I am proud of the Simon Says column week after week; some of the columns were thought provoking, and others were not thought provoking. 

After the pandemic struck, I instituted Havdalah on Zoom and the counting of the Omer on Zoom.  I am proud that in the pandemic, on Zoom, I taught classes on the Halleluya psalms and classes on Hallel. 

I taught a 24 session conversion to Judaism class, and I shepherded the adult B’nei Mitzvah class to the culmination of the B’nei Mitzvah.  Credit Joan Podnos for bringing the idea of adult B’nei Mitzvah to my attention and bringing people to the class.  Flora Sonners was a participant in the adult B’nei Mitzvah, and she chants Musaf to this day. 

I am mostly proud of two things.  Once after Minchah Yom Kippur, I was approached by an openly gay congregant about the traditional Yom Kippur reading, including Leviticus Chapter 18, Verse 22: “You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is an abomination.”  We convened the Ritual Committee and decided to read the alternative selection (approved by the Conservative Movement), Chapter 19 of Leviticus.  The next Yom Kippur my sermon was about the change.  The sermon was before the Torah reading (because Eric spoke after the Haftarah, and I didn’t want the congregation to hear two speeches in a row), and I was nervous, because the sermon contained a controversial subject.  After the Torah reading I walked through the center aisle to the outside.  The same congregant was seated four seats on the aisle, and he leaned over three people to give me a hug.  I thought to myself:  I could die tomorrow happy because I gave this person happiness. 

The other thing, I taught Harold to chant the Torah and chant Musaf.  Harold chants Musaf to this day. 

Thanks to you that you made me your rabbi.  I was untested, having three courses under my belt.  I have five months to go, and I enjoyed and will enjoy every minute with Avahas Sholom.  I will turn my attention to Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael, because they have triennial cycle, and the Torah reading is more manageable to me. 

I said in the rabbinical school, I hope for a career from age 65 until 75.  In June I will be 74 and half years old.  I was so lucky that Ahavas Sholom picked me.