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Message from the President: Mishpatim

This week’s Parsha, Mishpatim, seems out of place. Last week we finished retelling the events at Mount Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandments … and now we are given laws about Jewish servants, caring for widows, how to treat thieves and other assorted everyday interactions. At the end of the Parsha, we get back to Sinai and the acceptance by the Jewish people of the Torah, naasseh v’nishma – we will do as we will hear. 
Why the juxtaposition? Rabbi Frand, in one of his divrei torah on ethics, explains that the Torah can only exist with Derech Eretz, and likewise Derech Eretz requires Torah. He goes on to contrast the Jewish people with other nations. Is there another so concerned with lashon harah? With helping your enemy before your friend? He posits that we cannot properly accept the Torah until we become good people. Derech Eretz precedes Torah and stems from it as well. 
• • • 

This week, the Board continued to work on the many goals that were discussed at the last meeting. I have made a list of people for the different committees and will try to contact all before Shabbat so they can get started. The Board met with the Treasurer this week to hear about the financial situation of the Shul and to start planning for the coming year. Different ideas were raised and there was spirited debate but no decisions were made. These will be discussed and voted on in the next few weeks. We will also need to start planning for the annual dinner, which will ideally take place in the Spring.

A more pressing issue arose this week: no heat. There was a problem with pipes in the kiddush room going to the boiler. These have now been fixed, and the heat is back on, but repair work remains in the kiddush room walls. I’ll try to give an update on that next week. I want to personally thank Shternie for all of her efforts in getting the work done and arranging everything. This just points out again how much work she and the Rabbi do in the Shul, and why we really need to expedite getting people hired to assist them. 

As always, please send any comments, advice or criticisms to me at or whattsapp me and I will try to respond as quickly as possible. I will, BH, be in Israel for the next two Shabbatot (writing this in Madrid waiting for my connecting flight) but I will try to send my weekly update while I’m away.

Wishing you all a safe and peaceful Shabbat Shalom,

Steve Inker

Message from the President: Yitro

The weekly Parsha always has relevant lessons for us. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find them, but in Parshat Yitro it jumped right out at me. 

While this Parsha contains the Israelites receiving the Ten Commandments, arguably the most important event in Jewish history, the Parsha is not named for this event. Rather, it is named for Moses' father-in-law, who came to recognize the power and omnipotence of G-d but who, one could argue, was not in the same league as the Ten Commandments.

So why does Yitro get top billing? Yitro came, watched Moses, gave his advice and left. What was this advice, this great contribution to Moses, and the continuity of Jewish leadership? He taught Moses to delegate. To find people to help with interpreting laws and solving problems, so that the nation could function.

• • •
This week we had our first working Board meeting of 2022, and the theme was (you guessed it) delegation.  

Committees are being set up to tackle a number of topics, and will report prior to the March board meeting. Unfortunately, the Rabbi was not able to be present at the meeting, but I discussed all of the issues and deliberations with him shortly afterward. 
The topics are:
    • Security improvements in the face of increasing Antisemetic attacks.
    • Planning our events – how all the people who work on this can share ideas and communicate better.
    • Membership types and levels, keyed to different budgets and needs.
    • Staffing – relieving day-to-day tasks the Rabbi and Shternie are handling, improving shul accounting practices, and formalizing our arrangment with the Shabbos Baal Koreh, Rabbi David Shushan.
     • Elections – seeing if there are ways we can improve how they are conducted.
    • Non-halachic ritual standing committee to assist the Rabbi and congregation. 
    • Job descriptions and expectations of the shul leadership, at the recommendation of the Rabbi.
This is a lot to accomplish, but it begins here. Any members interested in working on one (or more) committees are welcome. You can always contact me, or any Board member or officer to get involved.   

The minutes for the previous meeting will be made available to synagogue members shortly. (The minutes from this week's meeting will be sent out after they are approved at the next Board meeting.)
As always, if you have any suggestions or concerns, please contact me at  (or text or WhatsApp me at 917-620-8762) and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Wishing you all a safe and meaningful Shabbos,
Steven Inker

Rabbi Raskin's video: Yitro

Message from the President: Beshallach

Dear Friends, 

I've been thinking a lot about Amalek recently (we just finished the tractate of Megillah in Daf Yomi). 

Between Purim and Pesach we read Parshat Zachor that teaches us to remember what Amalek (and by tradition, Haman) did to us, to never forget them, and to erase them from the face of the earth. Amalek also features in this week's Parsha of Beshallach. 

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z"l wonders why, after spending three Parshiot learning about how bad the Egyptians are, it is not Egypt that will be erased from the earth, but rather Amalek ... a desert nation that the Israelites had little to do with. Why? 

Rabbi Sacks explains that Egypt had a valid reason to fear the Israelites; we were outnumbering them. Amalek simply attacked us because they saw us as weak. It was an attack out of cruelty, out of a simple desire to win. There are times when battles need to be fought––to correct wrongs, to achieve greater good. We need to be vigilant that the battles we choose are true and warranted, and not just a path to dominate for the sake of domination. 

Rabbi Sacks also notes that the 40-year wandering path the Israelites took through the desert allowed them to arrive at the banks of the Jordan as a better people, more committed to G-d and Torah and more willing to go forth to embrace their destiny.  Similarly, we should avoid shortcuts. Things that are worth doing are worth doing well, regardless of how hard they are. The result is what counts.

• • •

On that note, we have a Board meeting scheduled for Monday, Jan. 17 (the agenda is attached below). I hope to begin the process of addressing some of the issues that have arisen in our Shul over the past few years. My wish is to ensure that all viewpoints are represented. This will not necessarily be easy or quick, but things have to be discussed and debated to see how they should be changed. I'd like to get committees set up to provide feedback well before the March board meeting. It’s equally important is to improve systems that are working well. Please contact me to recommend other issues for the agenda, either at this meeting or the next one, in March. My email and phone number are below.

• • • 

This week is Tu B'Shvat and we have two great programs scheduled. 

Sisterhood is hosting a zoom presentation (for both men and women) at 7:30 PM on Sunday with Michal Osman, Tik Tok Europe’s head of company culture, about navigating the world of anxieties; info here.

And CTeens is having a teen paint party at 11AM on Sunday for 7th graders and up (rsvp here).

• • •

As always, please reach out to me with any issues. All constructive ideas as well as criticisms are welcome. You can email me at  (or text or whatsapp me at 917-620-8762) and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Wishing you all a meaningful and peaceful Shabbos

Steven Inker 



• Tzedakah

• Approval of annual meeting minutes

• Approval of officer appointments meeting minutes

• Rabbi’s report

• Treasurer’s report

• Medical committee update

• New business

• Synagogue Staffing 

• Allocation of funds 

• Programming committee reassessment

• Voting protocol committee 

• Job descriptions

Committees updates should be sent to the President and Vice President within 6 weeks, to be reviewed and sent to the Board prior to the March board meeting, where they can be voted on.

• Other business

• Adjournment

Sat, January 29 2022 27 Shevat 5782