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Yom Shishi, 11 Sivan 5778
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26 February 2016

6th Grade Retreat - from the Perspective of our Madrichim

By Allyson Morgenthal & Hannah Haar

6th Grade Retreat, 2/19-2/21, 2016

Allyson Morgenthal and Hannah Haar, 12th grade madrichim (mentors) in our Religious School, write about the 6th grade retreat to Camp Harlam that they staffed the weekend of February 19-21:

A bus full of 6th graders arrived at Camp Harlam on Friday night, February 19 for our annual retreat. After settling in we had Shabbat dinner. Next, we had Shabbat services led by our Camp Harlam song leader for the weekend, Jason Flatt and Rabbi Smiley.  Following services we played games to make sure everyone got to know each other. Playing the name game was especially challenging considering there were over 40 6th graders!!! We wrote a mitzvah that we had completed on paper leaves and hung them on a mitzvah tree!

On Saturday morning, Rabbi Smiley led morning services and the students from Temple Emanuel of Cherry Hill joined us. For the Torah service we unrolled the Torah and laid it across our laps. It was so cool seeing the whole Torah! Next we made beautiful wooden Tzedakah boxes. We got to pick what color we wanted it to be and make it all ourselves!  After lunch we got into groups and each group was assigned one of the eight levels of Tzedakah from Maimonides. We created skits using random props and then we got to guess what order the level went in and we were pretty close!!  Next we had some free time -- some of us played gaga, some went on a tour of camp, and others played basketball. Next we played a game that involved rolling giant dice and learning mitzvah heroes and mitzvah project to help us start thinking of ideas for our own mitzvah projects. After free time and dinner, we had a beautiful Havdalah service and an activity that made us think about what we are passionate about and what we want to change in the world. We ended the evening watching a movie called the Little Red Wagon. This movie was about an 11 year old boy who was passionate about helping the homeless and the hungry and started his own foundation. After a long day it was finally time for bed!

We finished our weekend filming silent movies about what we are good at, what we are passionate about, something that bothers us with the world, and what we can do to fix it. We had an amazing weekend making friends, learning about mitzvah heroes and dreaming about our mitzvah projects. To read more about mitzvah projects at Temple Emanu-El, click here.


Alayne Morgenthal (Allyson's mother) reflects on her daughter's post-Bat Mitzvah learning at Temple Emanu-El:

It has been a delight to watch my daughter embrace her Jewish learning from the Temple into a meaningful contribution.  As she has moved from post-Bat Mitzvah to 12th grade, she loves helping students prepare for their B'nai Mitzahs and know she is helping them feel more comfortable with this task ahead.  I love that she has continued with her Jewish education and that she feels a part of this community.

19 February 2016

Why We Will Be Reciting Kaddish for Justice Scalia at Temple Emanu-El

By Rabbi Doug Sagal

The death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has left not only a vacancy on the Supreme Court, but a gaping wound in the discourse of our civil society. His death had barely been announced when those on the right were pledging to defy the president and oppose any judicial nomination, and some on the left were engaging in vitriolic denunciations of him, which could not but hurt his already grieving family.

Justice Scalia was unquestionably brilliant (my brother, who as a law student attended one of his lectures, has said that he was the single most brilliant person he ever met) but part of the partisan divide that is chipping away at our social fabric. On a personal level, I could not have disagreed with him more on issues such as LGBT rights, civil rights legislation, abortion rights, and racial injustice. In my view, he unfortunately chose to clearly and unashamedly associate himself with the views of one political party (and its leadership) which again, in my view, led to a sense that the Court itself suffered from partisan taint. When I lived by the University of Chicago I knew people who called him a personal friend, and from them I heard that in private he was a gregarious, friendly, and generous man. His deep friendship with Ruth Bader Ginsburg seems to attest to that side of his character.

In the Late Talmudic period, during a time when many Jews lived in the Diaspora of Babylonia, the sages developed the legal principle of “Dina De Malchuta Dina” - literally, the law of the land is the law. The practical effect of this was to put primacy, in civil matters, on local courts rather than rabbinic, Jewish courts.  (religious matters, of course, always trumped local laws). What is interesting is the reason the sages developed this legislation. It appears that they felt that if Jews were living in a society governed by rule of law, with a court system and a justice process, then as citizens we had a responsibility to respect and abide by the civil society.

I don’t need to tell you that respect for the civil society and respect for one another, despite differing political views, is at rock bottom. The current climate is vindictive, foolish, and unworthy of our democracy. Because we believe in Dina De Malchuta Dina - that we respect and honor the institutions of our country - we will be saying Kaddish for the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

05 February 2016

An Amazing Year at the ECE!

By Rabbi Ethan Prosnit and Jill Cimafonte, ECE Director

It has been an amazing year at our ECE! We dedicated our outdoor classroom at the end of 2015, now known as Teva (Hebrew for nature). Our classes have been having a blast exploring the outdoors, jumping on stumps, playing in the bamboos forest. We know that this new space has sparked their curiosity. Early last month, over 50 of our families joined us for a festive Shabbat dinner and the spirit in the room was electric. Our ECE community continues to thrive and our connections to the greater Temple continues to be a pillar of our success.

As we continue this wonderful year, we are looking to the future and starting to plan for next year. Registration for the 2016-17 school year and 2016 Summer Fun is currently taking place! Using our newly revised mission statement as our guide, we have added some longer class options to help accommodate working parents. If your child is 2, 3, 4 or 5 years old (full day Kindergarten), s/he will be able to attend our program every day during the hours that we are open. Early hours will begin at 8:00 AM and optional enrichment classes will be offered to extend the day until 3:45 PM.

Our Summer Fun Program has some new additions as well. We will once again be offering the very popular Mini Camp ((2 weeks in June before most other camps begin) and our entire camp season will more closely align with other camps in the area, including an 8 week option. We are also very excited to offer a Nature Camp for children entering Kindergarten through 2nd grade. This will take place in our wonderful outdoor classroom where children will become mini scientists, explorers, and adventurers!

If you or you know of someone that is looking for an early childhood program, please reach out to us to set up a private tour. We’d love to show you around! If you have any questions please feel free to email or call, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 908-232-7663.

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