RAB Spot

A Fifth Passover Question for This Pandemic Year

Perhaps this year we have a new question to ask at the seder. How is this Passover different from all other Passovers?

On all our other Passovers there were no pandemics, but on this Passover, COVID-19 plagues the world. On this Passover we feel a plague of scarcity, with a shortage of ventilators, protective gear and hospital beds. We also feel the plague of darkness. In Egypt, according to one interpretation, the plague of darkness was not literal. It was a plague that resulted in people not seeing others, and therefore, not responding to one another’s needs. By the time the ninth plague hit, the people had stopped reaching out to check in on one another’s welfare and to offer assistance to their less fortunate neighbors. No one played their part to help mitigate the situation. Instead, they lived their lives as if each person was solely dependent on themselves, independent of anyone else in society.

Social distancing is a way of caring for one another. However, we must remember that it is not the only way to care for one another. There are other ways to help and to reach out to offer assistance. We can still be responsible for one another even as we remain apart. We should all be encouraged to continue to reach out to friends and family during this trying time. Our sacred texts remind us of our obligation to be aware of others even as we take care of ourselves. As it is written in the Torah, “If, however, there is a needy person among you…do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs.” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8) Additionally, Passover and the weeks leading up to it are an opportunity to give maot chittim, gifts of sustenance to people in need. Please consider a donation through Shaarei Tikvah or by contributing to a charity of your choice. Some suggested sites are below. Perhaps this year in lieu of feeding the guests we would have invited to our seder, we instead make a donation in their honor.

We are feeling social distancing greatly with the nearing of Passover, which is usually a time when many gather with friends and family or join together in community sedarim. At the seder, we remember a time when we were slaves in Egypt, unable to celebrate our religion as a free people. We gather with multiple generations of our families to practice the special customs that we have enjoyed together every year. Often it is one of the only occasions when the whole family gathers together. And it seems unfathomable that we currently won’t be able to celebrate in this way.… Read more

Shabbat Message – March 20

Dear friends, I pray that you and your loved ones are healthy and in a safe space to reside during this period of time as we do our part to “flatten the curve.” My family and I are trying to settle into this reality and are trying our best to remain optimistic during this trying time.… Read more

Shabbat Message

Dear friends, As we move into Shabbat together, we are witnessing that more and more synagogues, schools, and places for large gatherings have made the wise decision to close their doors and practice social distancing. It is a new reality which will hopefully slow down the spread of COVID-19 and protect human life. As Jews,… Read more

Religious School Highlights


Update from our Education Director

The Team that Inspires our Children

By Rachel Mann

As I walk through the halls of our religious school, I am inspired by the engaging, deep learning in each of our classrooms and am reminded of the words of the Shema, “Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you on this day. I impress them upon you to your children.”

We are blessed with an incredible staff who understands and appreciates the responsibilities described in the Shema. Among the many things we teach our students are the prayers and how to be prayerful people; the Hebrew language, so they can be participants in synagogue services; the history of Israel and a love for the Jewish people; the holidays, and many of the Torah stories so central to our tradition. Our teachers masterfully create lessons that grab our students’ attention and challenge them to reach their potential.

Alongside these incredible teachers we have some great artists, musicians, and specialists who brilliantly elevate and deepen our students’ learning. These are individuals who bring their life’s passion to Shaarei Tikvah and share their gifts with our students. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you some highlights of this learning.

Briand Gelfand, an incredibly talented musician, lifts the voices of our students with songs of the holidays, prayers from our tradition, and cultural Jewish music. Understanding the importance of building relationships with his students, he greets each student by name. He also meets every student where they are by offering the transliteration, Hebrew, and English for all songs so everyone can actively participate. There is something truly magical about hearing the voices of the next generation singing songs that are both familiar and new.

Pamela Skop is a yoga master who helps our youngest students stretch their bodies, hearts, and minds. During workshops with Pam, you might find our students working together to create a yoga pose or turning inward to reflect on something personal to seek individual growth. This helps to build community, but also offers the opportunity for students to slow down and focus on their inner lives. This can open the door to a deepening spiritual engagement and growth.

Jane Steinman, a master storyteller, brings to life the stories of our tradition and helps us step inside the shoes of characters we read about in the Tanakh. Through activities with Jane, we learn different values connected to stories and holidays of Judaism, such as empathy, patience, collaboration, and compassion.

Sylvia Fallas, nourishes our bodies with her Jewish cultural cooking. She focuses on recipes and techniques that our students can bring home and recreate in their own kitchens, perhaps establishing new traditions! In creating these treats with peers, students learn to collaborate and take part in a greater whole.

Alex Genty-Waksberg collaborates with teachers to create opportunities for students to capture their own interpretations on film. Alex guides our students in taking the learning in the classroom and bringing it to life while also supporting in directing each film created. With this documentation, students and teachers alike are able to reflect and further build each student’s learning.

Eden Cohen, our shinshin (Israeli emissary), brings Israel to life with his experiential, fun, and educational activities. He always greets our students with a smile and his contagious, positive energy. Naturally, the students immediately gravitated to Eden and continue to strengthen their relationship with Israel through their learning with him.

Rabbi Adam and Cantor Cohen are such an integral part of our learning as well. Rabbi Adam will sometimes pop into classrooms to see what students are learning and take part in the lesson while other times, he’ll engage in deeper conversations with our students. It’s always special when Cantor Cohen meets with our students to teach the beautiful melodies of our prayers as well as the Torah and Haftorah trope to our soon-to-be bar and bat mitzvah students!

In addition to these specialists, there is an exceptional group of volunteers for whom I am immensely grateful. These teen volunteers and congregants serve as role models and send a clear message that we value Jewish learning in our community, which extends beyond the walls of our school. Because of these individuals who volunteer their time, we are able to carry out our shared vision of learning.

Our teachers, specialists, and volunteers are truly the greatest team who give our students the greatest gift of all, exposure to deep and meaningful learning, which creates opportunities for each learner to continue developing a rich, personal connection to Judaism.



January 28- February 4, 2019 Kitah Gimmel had some fun with Hebrew letters last week! After reviewing Aleph-Bet through yoga, the class put their knowledge to the test in a game of “Shimon Omer” (Simon Says). This past weekend was filled with light and new experiences! On Saturday evening Kitot Gimmel and Dalet led us in… Read more

Calendar of Events

Shabbat April 18

Sunday minyan via zoom 9 a.m.
Monday minyan via Zoom 7 a.m.
No Zoom minyan Thursday due to Chag Pesach

Friday Kabbalat Shabbat via Zoom 6 p.m.

Sun. minyan via Zoom 9:00am

Parashat Shmini

After the dedication of the Tabernacle and the ordination of the priests, two of Aaron's sons bring a strange fire before God and are consumed by fire; God then instructs Moses and Aaron regarding which animals may be eaten.

Calendar of Events

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