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Welcome to Sha’ar

"My success as a rabbi isn't going to be measured by how many people I inspire to live my Jewish life, but by how many people I can inspire to live their own authentic Jewish life."

Rabbi Adina Lewittes

Shabbat Shalom 

This message is dedicated to the loving memory of Sam Price, Shmuel Harel bat Avraham v’Beilah, z”l.

 

Hevre/Friends,

 

In the middle of a Torah portion made famous by the stories of the birth of Esav and Yaakov, the trading of a birthright for a bowl of lentil stew, and Rivkah prompting Yaakov to dress up as Esav to trick their nearly-blind father, Yitzhak, into giving him what he thought was going to be the covenantal blessing, there lies lesser known tales with some equally deep messages, especially for a community like Sha’ar.

 

In the middle of the parasha there’s a chapter that tells of Yitzhak reliving many of the events that his father Avraham experienced: traveling south in a time of famine, passing his wife off as his sister out of fear for his own safety, clashing with some local tribes over wells and then resolving their disputes.

 

Some commentators see this as a reflection of how so many of us, now  middle-aged, discover that we’re becoming our parents.  Some of us shudder at the thought, some of us chuckle, and some of us begin to feel more compassion for our parents and more understanding for the choices they made in their lifetimes.

 

One interesting reading comes from a comment by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, z”l. He noticed a significant difference between the stories of Avraham and Yitzhak: Avraham had gone down to Egypt during the famine, but here Yitzhak is told by God to stay in the land of Canaan.  The Rebbe saw in that difference two models of growing and strengthening Judaism and the Jewish people.  

 

One, modeled by Avraham, calls us to take Torah and Judaism on the road to reach people wherever they may be and to share it in creative and innovative ways that people will find relevant and resonant. The other, modeled by Yitzhak, calls us to invest in the people and institutions that are in our immediate communal circles: shuls, schools, camps, JCCs.

 

The Rebbe taught that since our ancestors gave life to us all, we must each make an effort to emulate both Avraham and Yitzhak.  Those of us who are inclined to live out our Jewish identity through prayer, study and ritual observance should devote some time to bringing Jewish values, healing and wisdom to the broader worlds of activism, business, politics, sports, friendship, art, culture, and beyond.

 

And those of us whose Jewish identities are lived out more in the realms of music, art, advocacy, food, film, Zionism, scholarship and literature, should also make an effort to study Torah, to engage with Jewish spirituality and to connect  through ritual and tradition with the holy One that permeates all of life.

 

But on a deeper level, those realms are actually one, and we undermine their respective holiness when the boundaries between them remain rigid. Our challenge is to recognize the singular sanctuary that is built of the world’s diverse settings; to move more fluidly between them carrying our spiritual values and vision with us at all times.

 

The tragedy of our parasha is Yaakov’s sense that he needed to appear as someone else in order to be given the mandate to do his work in the world. The blessing he receives while masquerading as Esav is not the covenantal blessing after all; he only receives that later on when he appears as himself. 

 

The courage to show up in the myriad spaces life beckons us to as our whole selves, garbed in authenticity, is one we honor today on this Trans Day of Remembrance. Too many have paid the ultimate price to live their truth. In their memories we pledge to open the borders between our internal and external worlds making them a unified, safe, affirming and sacred space befitting every expression of spirit, dignity and love - human and Divine.

 

Community is a gateway expanding our sense of home into the world beyond, and the world beyond is a gateway that leads us home, wherever that may be. And Sha’ar is the gateless gate that invites you to travel seamlessly, authentically, and purposefully along your journeys. 

 

Join us. Our gate is open. 

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Dini
Rabbi Adina Lewittes

 

ps- check out Sha’ar in the newsin this article published today in EJewishPhilanthropy.com

 

TUESDAY DECEMBER 1ST at 7PM ESTFT. LEE DIVERSITY PANEL 


JOIN DINI AND OTHER LOCAL LEADERS FOR A PANEL DISCUSSION WHICH WILL EXPLORE ALL ASPECTS OF DIVERSITY WITHIN THE
FORT LEE, NJ COMMUNITY, AS WELL AS HOW THEY INTERSECT.
REGISTRATION REQUIRED 

REGISTER HERE FOR ZOOM LINK

Sha'ar Justice Beit Midrash 2020/2021Wednesday, December 2

The Sha'ar Climate Team Presents:Ecological Grief and Jewish Spiritual Practice WorkshopWith Professor Julia Watts Belser 

DECEMBER 6  11AM EST
Bringing together ancient Jewish texts and contemporary disability wisdom, this workshop explores how Jewish spiritual practices of attention, perception, and embodied presence can invite us to deepen our work for climate justice and ecological care, even as we acknowledge loss and remain present with fragility and beauty.  We'll work with gentleness and resolve, honoring both the urgency of the hour and the tenderness of our hearts.

This event will have live captioning. 

REGISTER HERE

The Armchair  Pilgrim Supper Club with  Rav  Haim  Ovadia , Dan  Nadel and  Special Musical Guests : Departing Sunday, December 20 


The Alliance Israelite Universalle School at Izmir, Turkey





  photo courtesy of www.diarna.org 

As a community that loves to travel, we’re eager to get back on the road. While we wait for the world to open up again, join us on these virtual trips to lesser-travelled and lesser-known Jewish communities. No need to schlep any bags! Just pack an open mind and a sensitive heart. And bring an appetite - we’ll be sharing a recipe for you to prepare and enjoy during each adventure. And of course, a signature cocktail by Dini using special ingredients from that region.


Rav Haim will introduce us to these cities through story, poetry, music and spirituality. We’ll meet figures from the local Jewish community and encounter the larger cultural and historical settings which give these places their unique shape and character.
 

Yalla! Let’s go!

 

Sunday, November 22, 2020        Izmir, Turkey       DEPARTED

Sunday, December 20, 2020        Mumbai, India     GET YOUR BOARDING PASS 

 

All trips will run from 7pm-8:30pm EST, are free of charge, and open to everyone.

Help Sha'ar continue to bring guest musicians and speakers on board by upgrading to Business Class ($36) or First Class ($54). Enjoy early boarding at 6:45PM with Dini and other Sha'ar leaders.

 BOOK HERE 

 
REGISTER HERE FOR ARMCHAIR SUPPER CLUB
 

 

 

Thu, November 26 2020 10 Kislev 5781