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Until further notice, all outdoor events will require participants to wear a mask, and all other events will continue to be held virtually.

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 

...אָדָ֗ם כִּֽי־יִהְיֶ֤ה בְעוֹר־בְּשָׂרוֹ֙

When a person shall have in the skin of their body… (Vayikra 13:2) 


The Hassidic Master, Reb Yehudah Arye Leib of Ger, otherwise known as the Sefat Emet, in his commentary on this week’s double parsha of Tazria-Metzora which focuses on skin afflictions, notes the rich symbolism of the Hebrew homonym“Or” which means both skin (עוֹר) and light (אור). What’s their connection? 

Skin, our outermost shell that covers and protects our bodies, is porous and vulnerable, as our reading makes clear. Our permeable body armor that we wear in the world allows us to absorb everything around us even as it allows us to breathe out what’s deep inside of us. Only an exterior that is porous can enable us to take in the world’s beauty, her joy, her despair and her hope. Only an exterior that is porous can enable us to share with the world our compassion, our love and our respect. This fluidity, manifested by our skin, makes it possible for us to be responsive and sensitive to one another and to build societies filled with kindness and generosity. 

Life is made meaningful when we have skin in the game – when we are invested in the people, communities and ideas that inspire and motivate us. To have skin in the game is to take the risk of failure for the possibility of success. To live surrounded by solid, impermeable walls, to live without risk, without making ourselves vulnerable to loss or to defeat, is not to live at all. 

But what about the need for self-protection from the forces out there that can inflict pain and suffering? Don’t we also talk of growing some thick skin to protect ourselves from getting hurt? 

Before donning our tallitot to pray we recite verses from Tehillim which include the words: “עֹֽטֶה־אוֹר כַּשַּׂלְמָה/ ֹֽYou are wrapped in light as a garment.” Wrapping ourselves in the tallit we, like the Divine, become wrapped in“Or” --in light -- in the
illuminating, radiating, and enlightening presence of holiness and wonder. And when we envelop ourselves in the tallit whose fringes represent our sacred values and responsibilities, we assume a spiritual skin, an“Or” of insight, devotion and integrity which we pray will strengthen us to face the inevitable challenges and complexities of life, the hardships and pain that are the risks of living fully open and exposed to the world, as we do with our other“Or,” with our physical, porous skin. 

The deep truth of our Torah reading is that strength is derived not from durability, but from fragility. Our path towards this week’s truth took us through Yom Hazikaron which we intensified by watching the joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial ceremony, and through Yom Ha’Atzmaut which celebrated 73 years of Israel’s miraculous rebirth and, we pray, renewed our commitment to the independence, dignity, safety and wellbeing of all who call Israel home. Both these sacred days reminded us, as does our Torah reading, that our pain and our promise don’t make us powerful; ideally, they make us sensitive and responsive to the troubles and triumphs of life in all its forms. And therein lies our greatness. 

May we feel in our skin (“Or”) the reality of our shared humanity, and may that awareness bring light (“Or”) to the work of healing our world that awaits. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Shabbat Nature Walk and Learning in honor of Earth Day. BYO Kiddush!    Saturday, April 17, 2021   at 11:30am - 1:30pm EST

Celebrate Shabbat in anticipation of Earth Day on April 22 by joining Sha’ar for a devotional nature walk followed by an informal BYO Kiddush.

Meet at 11:30am at the northeast corner of Central Park West and 77th Street, near the Alexander von Humboldt Monument, across the street from the Museum of Natural History and the NY Historical Society.

All outdoor programs require participants to wear masks.

Sign up here. Please check the our homepage prior to Shabbat in case of any weather-related changes. Please be sure to bring a blanket or towel to sit on the grass for our study session.

GroundWaves : Mondays, 8:30pm EST

April 19: Special Guest Raffi Schieir

Raffi Schieir is an experienced leader in the recycled plastic industry serving as chair of Europe’s main plastic recycling conference (ICIS 2017) and founded Bantam Materials LTD over one decade ago. Raffi established the fully traceable and certified Prevented Ocean Plastic program that provides reliable income streams for coastline collectors and recyclers in developing countries. Raffi is a social entrepreneur with truth in recycling and solutions at meaningful scale at the core of what he does.


The Sunset Stroll Minyan & The Morning Walk Minyan :   Tuesdays at 5:30pm EST &   Thursdays at 8:15am EST

Sha’ar announces a new, creative weekday morning & evening minyan!

Due to the great success of the Morning Walk Minyan, we've added an evening edition! The events are weekly outdoor devotional walks through Central Park for those who wish to expand their experience of prayer to include nature as a sanctuary for fellowship and embodied spirituality; framed by kavanot / intentions and the Mourner’s Kaddish.

For both walks, please gather at the posted time at the statue in front of the Delacorte Theater just off 80th Street and Central Park West; both walks are approximately 45 minutes long. Please visit our website for weather-related updates.

To listen in on the Minyan, register to receive the Zoom link & dial-in information. Click here for the Morning Walk and here for the Sunset Stroll.

For all outdoor programs, please visit our homepage for weather-related updates. All outdoor programs require participants to wear masks.

Sha'ar Justice Beit Midrash 2020/2021  : Wednesdays,   7:00pm-8:15pm EST  

April 21 Topic: Healthcare Equity


In the traditional style of a Beit Midrash (House of Study), we’ll combine wrestling with sources together with guided teachings focused on a range of societal issues: civic responsibility, democracy, leadership, race, immigration, healthcare, income inequality, climate, and more. Each unit will be capped by a visit with a leading activist or advocacy organization to build the bridge between learning and doing, and to catalyze the transformational impact of our study.

For more information click here.

LBGTQIA Discussion Group : Sunday,  April 25, 5:00pm EST

An open, participant-driven conversation facilitated by Rabbi Adina Lewittes for LGBTQIA seekers of Jewish community and Jewish spirituality 

All are welcome.

Register here.

Sat, April 17 2021 5 Iyyar 5781