Congregation Shalom is a Reform Jewish community committed to education, spiritual growth,
Olam (healing the world).
We are proud to be an extended family of
equals - welcoming,
caring, and inclusive.
Together, we engage in religious observance,
enjoy social activities, and
pursue life-long learning.
From our Rabbi
Almost two thousand years ago, Rabbi Hillel was recorded as sharing two essential teachings about Jewish life. The first is a simple mandate - "Do not separate yourself from community." The second, and perhaps the more famous of the two, being - "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" Both of these teachings, which emphasize the core Jewish value of community, have helped to guide, sustain and enrich the Jewish people through history.
In a temporal and spiritual sense, Jews connect to community THROUGH time. We see ourselves as standing at Mt. Sinai, just as our ancestors did. Each year at Pesach, we say that WE/OURSELVES went forth from Egypt. We relish celebrating the achievements of Jews through time and in other parts of the world, and in feeling such pride, a small part of us feels as though these achievements happened in our "extended family". We also feel as though the dark chapters of our history are somehow also our own. The significance of the expression "L'dor Va'dor" takes shape in this understanding of community.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the emeritus chief Rabbi of England, has articulated in a more personal sense, the power of community. He writes in his book Celebrating Life, "Community is the human expression of Divine love. It is where I am valued simply for who I am, how I live and what I give to others. It is the place where they know my name."
He also wrote in the book, From Optimism to Hope, "Community is a society with a human face - the place we know we're not alone."
Rabbi Hillel's and Rabbi Sacks' emphasis on community raises important questions for our own lives. Do we have a sense of community or communities in our lives and if not, what can we do to build and nurture this sense of connection? What are the benefits of belonging to community and are we willing to make sacrifices in order to benefit and sustain our community/ies?
Rabbi Andrew Pepperstone, in teaching his congregants about Rabbi Hillel's adages, asks these challenging questions. I share them with you as a way to encourage personal reflection:
- Is there such a thing as "the" Jewish community? Who is part of it? Who is not? Who determines these boundaries in the first place?
- What constitutes "separating"? Why is it ill advised?
- What defines the Jewish people? Nationality? Ethnicity? Ethical behavior? Religious commitments? Shared norms and values? Food? Shared history?
- What are some times when the Jewish community has been cohesive? What makes those times unique?
- What happens when a tzibbur [community] holds a set of beliefs and assumption that we no longer hold?
And I share these additional questions:
1. If you are a member of an interfaith family, how can all members feel a part of our community at Congregation Shalom?
2. What can the lay-leadership and professionals do to help you feel more connected and welcome?
3. What can you do to strengthen that connection?
4. If the Congregation Shalom community has receded as a presence in your life, is there a way you would like to re-connect?
As you think about these questions, if you have insights to share with me, please do not hesitate to reach out. I would love to join you for a cup of coffee, a phone call or a long-distance correspondence. I have much to learn from others and welcome your thoughts and insights.
On a personal level, I think about the importance of community each and every day that I serve Congregation Shalom. Our founding families were inspired to "build" a Jewish home in which everyone would know one another and in time, many came to see the people of Congregation Shalom as an extended family. Such intimacy is difficult to maintain now that the size of our congregation has grown. In spite of the numbers, however, the importance of kehillah/community still resonates as a central value of our congregation. In our school, Giveret Yael and our teachers make every effort to nurture this sense of kehillah and we hope that every student who walks through our doors will know that they are not alone, that they are truly valued for being who they are and that we know their name!
I have also been inspired by the members of our community who carry that sense of CS connection with them, wherever they travel and wherever they live. It was a joy to see so many people return to the Chelmsford area to celebrate Congregation Shalom's 50th anniversary gala and more importantly a tribute to those in our congregation who have made on-going sacrifices through the years, to maintain the sense of connection; to celebrate during simchas, to console during times of loss and to encourage in the face of life challenges. Many of our longer-term members who are snowbirds or who have moved south permanently have maintained this sense of community, and a sense of extended family continues in a yearly reunion in Florida. This year I am so excited to travel south to connect with CS folks and I look forward to feeling that sense of southern Shalom community!
Wishing you all a healthy, happy, joyous and "connected" New Year!
From our President
As I am writing this 2017 is rapidly coming to a close, and it's been a busy end of the year for me. I attended the URJ Biennial earlier this month and came away eager to share the new ideas I was exposed to with others in leadership at our temple. Equally fascinating was to talk with our other temple leaders who attended and learn what they took from their Biennial experience. It is important (and reassuring) to remember that we at Congregation Shalom are part of a much larger Reform Jewish movement in North America. The URJ provides resources to us that we can always turn to for guidance. Of course, we are not just like every other Reform synagogue in America, and we always keep in mind what makes us unique and special even as we might draw on the knowledge and experience of others. I find the deep-seated values at the center of Congregation Shalom set us apart from some other temple communities, and our leadership challenge is to respect those values while leading into the future.
The end of December has kept me busy with friends and family. How wonderful it is to have my adult children come home, and to make new memories with my family and close friends. We follow the standard Jewish custom of going to the movies and getting Chinese food on Christmas day...I have to say that I got a welcome reinforcement of my role as your president from my fortune cookie: "Executive ability is prominent in your make up." Funny how some fortunes come at just the right time!
I wish you a healthy, happy, and peaceful 2018.
From our Education Director
The trees in New England are bare and have brown leaves; bare shrubs and no bright spring flowers surround us. It is dark way too early and I feel like 6 p.m. is 10 p.m. Yet, in the middle of the cold winter, we have reminders of the spring ahead. It feels as if the Jewish calendar knows that we need a reminder of the warmth and the growth that is ahead, and it sends us Jewish Arbor Day, the holiday of Tu B'Shvat, a celebration of the "new year for the trees". This amazing holiday offers us a way to pause to taste new fruits, appreciate the beauty of nature and to celebrate the importance of taking care of our earth.
The symbol of a tree is very important in Jewish tradition. Trees are linked to both our spirituality as humans but also the Torah as the "Tree of Life" creates a deep connection between our Jewish tradition and the way we live our lives. During our school Tu B'Shvat Seder, we read the story of Honi Ha'Magel (Honi the Circle Maker). Honi saw a 70-year-old man planting a Carob tree and asked why he would spend the time to plant a tree if he could not see the tree grow and the fruits of his planting; Honi falls asleep only to wake up 70 years later to see the Carob tree big and strong with the next generation enjoying its fruits. This story allows us to think about the importance of taking care of the earth for every generation. What a wonderful connection for our students to focus on importance of preserving the essence of Torah study and passing down the Torah with all its rich tradition and teachings and at the same time focusing on caring for our beautiful earth and trees so we can pass it all on L' Dor Vador - from generation to generation.
Our Hebrew School students will celebrate a school wide Tu B'Shvat Seder and we hope you will bring this tradition into your homes as well. If you have never created a Tu B'Shvat Seder with your families, I encourage you to try something new, eat the 7 fruits of Israel, (
wheat, barley, olives, dates, grapes, figs & pomegranates)
and enjoy Israel's Arbor Day as you look ahead and count the days until we see leaves and flowers growing right here in New England.
From our Cantorial Soloist
On the first Shabbat of 2018, we move into the second Book of the Torah, Exodus, Shemot, relating the story of the Israelites'
, and the
Giving of the Torah
. The theme of freedom, both the absence and blessing of, is highlighted throughout the eleven portions in this Book. In Parashat
, the fourth story, a special Text depicts both visually and melodically, an exclamation of gratitude to G-d for freedom from bondage under Pharaoh's rule. Shirat Hayam, the Song of the Sea underscores the Israelites thanking G-d for the miracle of their redemption. Each year, this special Text is chanted on Shabbat Shira, the Sabbath of Song.
On Friday January 26th, Shabbat Shira will begin at Sundown. Please join us for a special evening of song as we share both contemporary and traditional pieces emphasizing freedom and community. We begin with a
6 PM Tot
service; following this our
7:15 PM Sweet and Soulful Sabbath of Song
Bring your voices and spirit to whichever service you choose to attend. Shabbat Shira 2018 promises to be an inspirational night rich with music and soul!
B'Kavod (With Respect),
Jodi Blankstein, Cantorial Soloist
Adult Education at Congregation Shalom
We had some wonderful events in December - Alden Solovy, liturgist and poet, and Leslie Sachs of Women of the Wall (www.womenofthewall.org.). Both came courtesy of the URJ Biennial and we could never have managed to bring WOW without the additional support of local Jewish communities including Hadassah, Merrimack Valley Jewish Federation, our own Congregation Shalom Social Action fund, Temple Emanuel of Lowell, Temple Beth Abraham Sisterhood of Nashua, and Temple Shalom of Newton!
We have some of Alden Solovy's books The Grateful Heart -( www.ccarpress.org) We got a good deal, so if you buy them from us for $15, you'll be supporting Adult Education and get some wonderful reading. Please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org and send a $15 check made out to Congregation Shalom Adult Education and we'll have a book waiting for you in the office!
Your input is welcome!
Great Decisions - Sundays at 11 AM
Great Decisions, the centerpiece of the longest-running civic education program in the United States devoted to foreign affairs, empowers readers to discuss global issues shaping U.S. foreign policy and the world. The briefing book provides historical background, current U.S. policy and alternative policy options, informative maps and detailed graphs, suggested readings and resources. The reading for each meeting is between 8 and 10 pages.
Conflict in the South China Sea - January 21
Prospects for Afghanistan and Pakistan - March 18
For more information on the topics go to Great Decisions. Join us for the two remaining programs! The cost of the booklet is $18.00. To sign up, please contact email@example.com.
Torah Study - Saturdays Feb 10 & Apr 7 at 9AM
The Torah is central to Judaism. As it says in mishnah Pe'ah 1: "These are the obligations without measure, whose reward, too, is without measure: To honor mother and father, to perform acts of loving-kindness, to attend the house of study daily, to welcome the stranger, to visit the sick, to rejoice with the bride and bridegroom, to comfort the bereaved, to pray with sincerity, to make peace when there is strife. And the study of Torah is equal to them all because the study of Torah leads to them all."
Everyone is welcome. Come study Torah with us!
Save the Date
Great Decisions - Sunday, January 21st
January Oneg Schedule
Jan 5 - 7 p.m. 2nd Grade Family Shabbat - Music with Sue Horowitz - Rosen*, Barter, Grier, Libby & Shannon, Schertzer & Strizhak
Jan 12 - 6 p.m. Sunset Shabbat - Hirsch*, Sherer, Toomey, Weintraub & Spiro
Jan 19 - 6 p.m. Sunset Shabbat - Worden*, Dubner, Himelfarb, Michaud, Miller M&L, Rosenberg
Jan 26 - 6 p.m. Tot Shabbat - Music with Jodi & Adam - Jegasothy, Newman D&E
Jan 26 - 7:15 p.m. Adult Sweet and Soulful Shabbat - Music with Jodi & Adam - Arrington*, Blumstein, Desrochers, Nahabedian, Rosenberg & Katler
We extend a warm welcome to Paul Schor and LZ Nunn and their daughter Zana-Lee to our Congregation Shalom Family.
Lee J. Strock
Norma Jean Wilgoren
Howard D. Dimond
Nancy Roth Berman
Peter J. McHugh, Jr.
Philip Sherwood Wexler
Charles Eliot Worden
Samuel Robert Berman
Thanks to all those who have made squares. We greatly appreciate it!
We are still in need of 12 knitted or crocheted squares to make afghans. Squares need to be 10 x 10 (please measure). Use 100% acrylic yarn. 4ply- worsted weight only,. Yarn can be any shade of blue or pure white (not cream or off-white).
If you would like to learn how to knit or crochet, please email
and we will arrange lessons for you.
|Our Caring Committee Can Help
The Caring Committee is always available to provide meals or transportation to those members and families who need a little help. Please don't hesitate to email Katie Wolman at
or Rabbi Perry at
, or feel free to call Katie at home.
|Newsletter Ads and You!
We are always looking for advertisers for the Temple newsletter. Ads can be placed at any time with special pricing for members. Ads need not be for a year so if you want to try us, we take ads for 3 months as well as six months. If you decide to continue your ad for a full year, we do pro-rate the price. As the saying goes, "Try us, you'll like us!"
Throughout the year, there are many enriching Jewish experiences available to our youth through our synagogue or the community. These include, but aren't limited to, summer camps and trips to Washington, New York, and Israel. Fortunately, there is some scholarship money available through the temple to those families in need of financial assistance for these opportunities. Please contact Margie Berenson at
with any questions and/or for an application form.
Changed Your Address?
Notify us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
and we'll make sure all the right organizations at the Temple are informed. Please include your full name in your request.
SAVE THE DATE - JANUARY 21ST!!!
No, it's not a wedding, shower, B'nai Mitzvah. It is the Final Sale, the Finale, the Big Brown Bag Sale! It is the 'Sale to end all Sales', the great bargains from the Online Auction. You'll find this great 'store' in the lobby of the Temple from 8:30 to 12:30. Some items will be NAME YOUR PRICE while others will be marked down even further. Nothing will be held back.
We wish every congregant and their families a happy and healthy 2018 with safe travels wherever you are.
The Fundraising Committee
We knew the Festival of Lights was on the way when the Temple lobby was filled with tables displaying holiday treats and supplies. Members of all ages visited the Chanukah Fair and shopped for everything from festive socks to sparkly jewelry. We are so grateful to Patti Green, Laura Rodman, and all of the helpers that made the fair a success this year.
Patti Green also went above and beyond to host our annual Chanukah party. It was a lovely evening of laughter and delicious food.
Our collection of donations for the House of Hope in Lowell was huge this year. The staff were thrilled to see the trunk full of a variety of items at delivery. Thank you to the entire congregation for your generosity!
In January, there are two scheduled events. The Brotherhood/Sisterhood Night Out is on Sunday, January 14. It will be at Burton's Grill in Westford at 6 p.m. We also plan to enjoy dinner and a movie on Sunday, January 21.
We have a unique new event on Sunday, February 4. Join us for a Souper Bowl at the Temple from 1:00-4:00 p.m. No football is involved, but attendees will have a chance to sample and share recipes for favorite soups and salads.
19th Annual Sisterhood Retreat March 3 2017 9 AM - 4:30 PM
This year we will have a one-day retreat on Saturday, March 3, 2017 at the Stonehenge Inn, Tyngsborough.
Continental Breakfast and Lunch are included. Cost is $60.00
The Theme is PURIM: Women Learning, Laughing, Letting Loose, and.....
The day will include Shabbat services, study sessions, and free time.
Free time (1:30 - 2:45) options include swimming, massage/facial, study group, time on your own.
If you are interested in a spa treatment, please make your reservation during the free time block.
If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please contact Janet at
Please watch for evites with information for all upcoming events.
Don't forget that we have a variety of gifts and Judaica items available in our gift shop. Many beautiful options are on display. Contact us if you would like to make a purchase.
Our next board meeting is on Tuesday, January 2 at 6:45 p.m. All are welcome to attend to share input and ideas.
Thank you to everyone who attended our annual Creative Service, Program, and Dinner! The theme of this year's event was "Around the World."
This January we will be going to North Conway for our annual ski trip. We leave Friday, January 5th and come back on Sunday, January 7th.
On January 13th from 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. there will be a NFTY subregional event held at the temple. NFTY youth groups from the local area will get together to have a cookie decorating contest, eat pizza and watch a movie.
On January 21 we will be hosting a meet and greet the Shalomites event for the 7th graders, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the temple. All Shalomites and 7th graders are welcome. Hope to see you there!
Grocery cards are available for Hannaford, Stop&Shop, Whole Foods or Donelan's, and the temple makes $7 cashback for each $100 purchased. This leads to thousands of dollars for our programs, with no extra out-of-pocket money from you. I am also happy to help your family sign up for the monthly program if you are interested. I can send cards to college students, too. Just email
Toby Sedgwick a
nd then start shopping and giving back to the Temple at the same time. Thanks so much for your support!
|iGive for Congregation Shalom
Have you ever thought how great it would be to be able to shop online at 783 different well-known stores and still donate money to Congregation Shalom? Well, you can do that! It's free and easy so join those of us who have been sending donations to the synagogue for years simply by shopping by first going to the iGive website once you have established the link.
to register for Congregation Shalom to automatically be the recipient cause.
If you make a purchase through iGive within 45 days of signing up, an extra $5.00 will go to Congregation Shalom. If you have any questions, please contact
Reform Jewish Outreach Boston (RJOB)
offers classes and workshops supporting interfaith couples and individuals exploring Judaism:
Yours, Mine & Ours for Interfaith Couples
Interfaith couples who are seriously dating, engaged, or newly married strengthen their communication around faith, family, and culture, in a short-term, small group setting. Held October and March.
Introduction to Judaism
Explore a modern take on Jewish life. Engage with Jewish values, celebrations, and spirituality. Introduction to Judaism is an engaging 16-session course for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of Jewish life through a Reform lens. Courses starting in Brookline, Boston, and Sharon/Westwood.
Planning a Jewish Wedding
For Interfaith and Jewish couples. Explore the symbols of the Jewish wedding ceremony, ways to honor family traditions, and how to personalize your ceremony. Workshops in Boston and Cambridge.
RJOB is a program of the Union for Reform Judaism, working in partnership with URJ congregations and with the support of Combined Jewish Philanthropies.
Table of Plenty in Chelmsford
Free Dinner Served
Every Tuesday from 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.
at First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Chelmsford Center
All are welcome. No questions asked.
Also, if you know of someone who cannot get out,
but would benefit from a dinner being delivered to them, please contact us.
For more information contact:
Return to Quick Links
From the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston & Affiliates...
VNA Hospice Care needs volunteers! Hospice volunteers play a key role in helping to provide caring and compassion to patients and families facing life-limiting illness and loss. A volunteer may provide patients with company and emotional support, give the spouse, partner or other caregiver a needed break from care giving, and/or help caregivers run errands or get to and from appointments. A strong need exists for volunteers who can visit on weekdays. We also seek: musicians who would like to sing or play music quietly at the bedside of nursing home residents; Reiki practitioners who would like to offer Reiki to patients and/or caregivers; and people interested in visiting with their therapy dog. Volunteers who speak both English and a second language are also helpful. We provide volunteer training and ongoing support. Call 781-569-2888 and ask to speak to a Volunteer Coordinator for more information. Or email LPalais@vnab.org.
Spiritual Poetry Journal
"Soul-Lit" is a new on-line spiritual poetry journal. A number of entries have been from Jews and have
Jewish content. Writers are encouraged to submit their own poems which have a level of spiritual content to them. Two volumes have already been published.
To check out the website, please click here.
Please spread the word to members of the community who are writers / poets, and who may wish to submit their own writings.
Please support our Congregation Shalom advertisers