• About us

    About us

    Welcome to the East Northport Jewish Center. We are a Conservative, egalitarian synagogue of approximately 300 families. We are truly multi-generational; our youngest members are infants, our oldest are in their nineties. On any Shabbat, you can find three generations of the same family in our pews. Read More
  • Tikun Leil Shavuoth

    Tikun Leil Shavuoth

    Learning on Shavuot night, an age-old tradition to allow both the physical and spiritual prepare for the Torah. Read More
  • Adult Education, Spring 2018

    Adult Education, Spring 2018

    Join Rabbi Ian, following the Passover holiday, for a six-unit course examining Torah passages that just don't make sense, and their surprising answers. Read More
  • New and Prospective Member Shabbat

    New and Prospective Member Shabbat

    Please join us at the ENJC for a special Shabbat evening service welcoming new and prospective members. After services plan to stay for an Oneg where everyone will have a chance to meet and mingle, meet our Rabbi and our members. Services begin at 7:30 pm. Read More
  • 2018 Chai Dedication

    2018 Chai Dedication

    Please join us in honoring families who have been members of the ENJC for 18, 36 and 50 years Read More
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View current news articles, commentary, videos and more that have an impact on Jewish culture, politics and religion at Rabbi Silverman's Sites to See

It is hard to believe, but Pesach is upon us, with Yom HaShoah and Israel Independence Day soon to follow. We make our way on our calendar, from these holidays, through the counting period to Shavuoth. Their rapid fire succession has sparked these thoughts–

There is a wonderful hymn that we sing at the end of the Passover Seder, in the English, “Who knows One.” It teaches us of two and three and four, etc, just like the succession of holy times in our Jewish calendar. Let me explain. An insightful sage asks the question, "Why is it that the second verse and the tenth verse are so similar? After all, the refain for two tells us it's the two tablets of law, and the tenth verse, asking "who knows ten?" answers it's the Ten Commandments. Aren't they really the same thing? The tablets are the Ten Commandments! How is it that the author of the hymn could have been so repetitive?

The sage answers his question by saying that they are not the same. The two tablets of law refer not to the two tablets of one set, the Ten Commandments, but the two sets of tablets of law. The first tablets were smashed when Moses saw the golden calf. He went up again to get a second set! The second verse celebrates the phenomenon of second chances in Judaism–the ability of a people to recognize its mistakes and to get a second break from the God of Israel. God is always willing to give us a second chance.

Thinking more deeply about this, however, the coming of the Israelites into the land from Egypt was actually a second chance as well, for Abraham had dwelled there, but the people needed to pass through the “furnace of fire” to become a people of character and unity. Jacob went down to Egypt, a second return. But wait a minute, that too was followed by a blown chance. The first generation muffed it when they heeded the pessimism of the spies and were condemned to die in the desert. One could say that the second generation of freed Hebrews getting in was the third chance that God bestowed on them. Unfortunately, that effort, too, was lost when the Babylonians destroyed the first Temple. We were granted yet a fourth opportunity when Cyrus and Darius got us back to the Holy Land and we built yet a second national home. Alas, the Romans exiled the Judaen State in 70Ce and quashed its rebirth in 135 Ce, during the era of Bar Kochba.

Now along came a fifth chance, granted by Heaven. It started with a dream, in the book The Alte Neue Land, written by Theodore Herzl, more than a century ago. Many make the point that this effort was driven not by heaven above, but by people from below. The Zionist Movement organized, and a society in the making emerged by the hard work of statesmen, philanthropists, industrialists, scientists, dreamers and followers that made facts on the ground. Herzl said “if one wills it, it is not a dream.”

Now we stand 70 years in the aftermath of that fifth opportunity, granted to us by the dedicated, brazen and innovative Israeli population. Beset by adversity, Israel has become a military power and entrepreneurial, technological society. She has emerged as a world leader in medical, botanical, technological and scientific achievement. She stands poised to share her know-how with the world around her, and I believe is diplomatically prepared for compromise with a Palestinian leadership that will give up its dream of dismantling the Jewish State. This fifth opportunity is one that all of us should share by visiting Israel and supporting her. Israel has made mistakes, as has all nations. The rebirth of a national existence has its share of complicating elements and moral challenges. But we should be unbelievably proud of the State of Israel as she stands on the precipice of 70 years. May the Zionist State go from attainment to attainment, aided by the support of nations of good will. She has only just begun to share of her bounty and be the light unto nations that is her mission. (Stay tuned for more on the celebration of the 70th anniversary in the coming month).

 What is true for a nation is true for individuals. Judaism and the Bible hold that second chances–third, fourth and fifth ones–are what life is about. All of us make mistakes and sometimes go off in wrong directions. It doesn't mean we should do whatever we want, always knowing that God will take us back. But Judaism holds that God is ready to take us in when we return and are ready to start anew–sincerely anew. And it it means that we must never give up on each other or on ourselves. May Pesach be sweet for you and yours. And may we always be conscious, in our lives, of second and third chances when failure strikes. May we always remember our resilient nature as individuals and as a people.

Leadership

  • Ian Silverman, Rabbi
  • Shavuoth and Yom Yerushalayim
  • Eric Loring, ENJC President

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View current news articles, commentary, videos and more that have an impact on Jewish culture, politics and religion at Rabbi Silverman's Sites to See

SHAVUOTH’S FOUR QUESTIONS

Our Chasidic masters ask why we don’t recite a shehechiyanu prayer when we arrive at the moment of first counting the Omer toward the holiday of Shavuoth. They have a precise answer– Our mind is not in that moment, but in the moment fifty days later when the Torah is received! Following Pesach, a person does not remain in a radically free moment, but immediately, the heart and mind starts to clamor for direction– for parameters and for norms– setting the heart toward Shavuoth.

A second question might then be, why do modern Jews get this so wrong? It is ironic that so often in contemporary Jewish life we flock to the Seder, yet many run from Shavuoth! What a shame. Something is lost in the ritual wisdom of the Jewish calendar by not indulging in the rhythmic flow from freedom to structure.

A third question comes to mind. Why is it that the Torah doesn’t call ShavuothChag Matan Torah,” the Day of the Giving of the Torah? An answer is that the Torah chiefly cultivates the quality of humility and does not call attention to itself. Another answer is that the Torah is perennially given…Its’ a question only of if and when it is accepted!

Finally, a question can be asked as to why, in the Bible, Shavuoth is called “atzeret,” which translates to "a cessation." One reason is that it is time to cease in labor and celebrate a convocation, a festival. But another is that we must cease our own internally generated mental and psychic states to allow ourselves to become a receptacle for Divine thought, for the heavenly word. It is interesting that on the Shabbat before Shavuoth, we always read from “Bamidbar,” the first portion in the Book of Numbers. “Bamidbar” literally means, “in the wilderness.” Say our sages, “a person must make themselves a wilderness in order to receive Torah,” for Torah is akin to water, which will flow to the lowest place. Removed of ego, allowing our inner spiritual landscape to be spare, is when we most absorb Torah wisdom.

This year, Shavuoth arrives early, on Saturday night, Sunday and Monday, May 19-21. Saturday night is our customary Tikkun Leil Shavuoth. Please come for an hour and study with Rabbi from “the wisdom of the ages” and “the wisdom of our sages!”

With and open heart and a “barren soul,” you will experience the spiritual reward of Shavuoth as we once again celebrate the anniversary of standing at Mt. Sinai and “accepting the Torah!”

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Shavuoth and Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Unification Day)

We have just passed a momentous 70th anniversary, marking the establishment of the State of Israel, and will be observing Yom Yerushalayim on May 13th this year. I thought it important to comment on these precious milestones.

Our Torah instructs that one must count the 49 days of the Omer, from Passover to Shavuot, beginning from the morrow of the Shabbat. Therein we find a controversy in the Talmud. Do we count the 49 days on the Sabbath after the Passover or the day after Passover?  Our Suducean opponents contended that if it says Shabbat, the Torah means the “creation” day of Shabbat (Saturday). This would mean a different number of days each year from Pesach to Shavuoth, depending on what day Saturday falls! "No," said our forebears, the Pharisees. Shabbat can mean a festival, which also requires a cessation from labor, albeit from a few less labors. The counting begins on the day after Pesach.

Rabbi Levi Isaac of Berdichev adds to this argument by saying something a bit more philosophically deep. Shabbat may indicate a day which brings Shevet, a return to a sense of radical amazement (to use Heschel’s phrase) about God. In the wake of a profound event, one’s religious mindset gains an enhanced spiritual understanding of God as being present among us. That is shevet, “a return to a sense of amazement and faith” from our normal distracted sense of Divinity.

In the creation story, the first Shabbat after creation implanted this sense of radical amazement into the very first humans; a keen sense of wonder at the power and existence of God. Likewise, the event of the Exodus at Pesach imprinted in our People a profound sense of God in our midst. This, too, is a Shabbat in that it engenders a sense of Divine awe. The sefira, the counting to Shavuoth, is meant to be a cultivation of that wonder and certainty of God to a point wherein we will naturally collectively receive the Torah anew each year.

We have, in contemporary Jewish life, an event which compares to the Exodus of Egypt and even, in a way, to the fashioning of a brave new Jewish world having been fashioned for us before our very eyes. And in this profound event, shouldn't we also feel that sense of radical amazement and sense that the presence of God is vital and operative, every bit as much as did our ancestors at a time of their transforming moments? Look at the survival and flourishing of our precious Medinath Israel.

For all the flaws and shortcomings the world sees in her, she is a democracy that allows free expression of all religions. She has a Supreme Court and legal system that always aims at the highest standards. She has an army as mighty, constrained and commanded by a civilian government, and that values tohar Haneshek–the restraint and concern for civilian life as paramount. After seven wars, the immigration of millions, terrorism, and a foe that refuses to find a solution in compromise–a psychic and physical toll–Israel stands before us as a nation of phenomenal strength, the 11th happiest in world, with a healthy upward youth trend demographically. She struggles with new issues that Jews have not struggled with for millennia, such as issues of Statecraft, security and the ethics of  power. Some Israeli policies don’t make the world happy and many times don’t make most Israelis happy. But her presence as a bulwark and a stable democratic ally of the U.S., and her capacity to provide a counterweight to Iran expansionist actions, is a great comfort to the U.S. and now the Sunni "moderate" nations. She has expanded her overtures and ties with African nations. She offers the world advancements in medicine and technology, telecommunications, agriculture, agronomy, urban ecology, mass transportation, and disaster relief. Those that take her up on these advances are glad they have.

And as far as the Jewish world is concerned, miracles abound. Her doors are open to Jews in need everywhere. No longer are Jews stuck when anti-Semitism endangers communities. She doesn’t stop there, making the case each year, as military jets fly over Auschwitz, that Israel’s army is the “Jewish Peoples' Army” and will come to their rescue wherever they are threatened. She has absorbed millions of people and educated them. She is at the center of Jewish creativity, music, art and religious studies. Is Israel perfect? Far from it, as no society is without flaw. She needs more pluralism when it comes to acceptance of liberal Judaism and more enlightened thinking about Jews in the Diaspora. Her government ought not to be in the business of legitimizing one stream of Judaism over another. But her development and evolution from a fledgling state to modern state in the blink of an eye (what is seventy years, after all?) with a robust army and strong economy, from a few hundred thousand to 6 million Jews, is nothing short of miraculous and points to a guiding providential hand.

Now, as we count the Omer and as we mark yet another Yom Yerushalayim marking the transformative victory of the '67 War, may we, in pondering this, experience a “Shevet”–a sense of radical amazement in God’s hand in our lives. May Israel ever remain for us that spiritual gift. We can choose not to live there as our primary residence, but we should make room for her in our hearts. Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, but we might follow the emotions of Judah Halevi who had his heart in the east, in the land of Israel. May her existence ever lend us profound insight into the protecting and enduring presence of God. And may we strive to give back to her concretely in love, in economic support, in watchfulness against those who tarnish her and seek her demise, in lauding her manifold positives, and in visiting her. And to this may we say, Amen.

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EricLoringIt is a new year, a time of new beginnings! I hope that everyone had a lovely Chanukkah. As everyone knows, Cantor Nussbaum is now retired. He and Avrille are making arrangements to move closer to their family in New Jersey. He is extremely appreciative of the love and support he has received.

A lot has been happening over the last couple of months, so I would like to give an update of where we stand. We have hired Eliza Zipper as Religious School principal. She is a graduate of the Davidson School at Jewish Theological Seminary and has many years of experience as a Jewish educator and youth leader. She brings a great deal of energy and excitement about Jewish education. We look forward to working with her.

Also in the Religious School, we have hired Rabbi David Shain as the Hay Prayer and Hebrew Skills teacher. Those of you who have spent time at Gurwin may be familiar with Rabbi Shain, who has served there as a mashgiach (kashrut supervisor) and their Shabbat Rabbi. Rabbi Shain is very personable and knowledgeable. I am confident that our Hay students are in good hands.

Turning our attention to B’nai Mitzvah preparation, we have hired Dr. Paul Kaplan, a former long-term congregant, to tutor our B’nai Mitzvah students. Dr. Kaplan is a retired college professor with decades of teaching experience. In addition, in his own words, he has prepared “a thousand students” for their Bar and Bat mitzvah including at least one member of our Board of Directors. We are lucky to have him on board.

Finally, the Cantor Search committee has been meeting regularly since mid-November. With input from the Board and committees, a job description for our Cantor position has been developed. We have submitted our job posting to the Cantor Assembly Placement Office and we have begun to receive applications. It is still very early in the process, but we are on course and schedule. Look for future updates as things develop.

Shalom, chaverim! See you in shul!

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Services

  • This Week

Week of Monday, May 14
See Shavuot Week schedule by clicking HERE.


Week of Monday, May 21

Monday, May 21
2nd Day Shavuot with Yikor – 8:45 am
Maariv with Havdalah – 8:30 pm

Tues-Thurs, May 22-24
Weekly minyan – 8:15 pm

Friday, May 25
Shabbat Service– 7:30 pm

Saturday, May 26
Shabbat morning service – 8:45 am

Sunday, May 27
Morning minyan – 9:00 am
Evening minyan – 8:15 pm


Week of Monday, May 28

Mon-Thurs, May 28-31
Weekly minyan – 8:15 pm

Friday, June 1
Shabbat Service– 7:30 pm
Prospective Member Shabbat
High School Graduates

Saturday, June 2
Shabbat morning service – 8:45 am

Sunday, June 3
Morning minyan – 9:00 am
Evening minyan – 8:15 pm


Week of Monday, June 4

Mon-Thurs, June 4-7
Weekly minyan – 8:15 pm

Friday, June 8
Shabbat Service– 7:30 pm
Chai/Double Chai Shabbat

Saturday, June 9
Shabbat morning service – 8:45 am

Sunday, June 10
Morning minyan – 9:00 am
Evening minyan – 8:15 pm

 

 

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Final HiHi of the season-Wednesday, March 14

Candlelighting

Contact Us

The East Northport Jewish Center
328 Elwood Road
East Northport, NY, 11731  

Phone: 631-368-6474
Fax: 631-266-2910
Religious School Office: 631-368-6474

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