Category Archives: Rabbi

Message from Rabbi Abby

December 12, 2018

Dear Friends and Members of TBE, 

I hope everyone had a meaningful and joyful Chanukah and the light of the candles guide your way through the upcoming winter and beyond. I always feel a tinge of sadness as the candles of the 8th night burn out, wanting to light just one more night. While the darkness of winter and that of our world can be challenging, the historical and spiritual teachings of Chanukah bring me hope and renewed commitment to change. The Chanukah Haftorah (Zekariah), reminds us that Spirit, not might or power, ultimately helps us prevail over darkness. We’re called to dedicate (Chanukah means to dedicate) ourselves to creating, seeing and expanding the light around us. 2,283 years ago (but who’s counting?), a small group of Jews dedicated themselves and each-other to keeping the light of Judaism shining, affirming the words of Margaret Mead to  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. 

Eighty-five years ago, a small group of committed Jews in Hammonton NJ, formed a community, a Kahal, and then built a little Shul so they could celebrate and affirm their Judaism. In 1934, during a time of heightened Antisemitism around the world and in the US, multiple faith groups of Hammonton came together to finance and build OUR building and then dedicated it to future generations. Last week, a small group of 13 Temple Beth El members came together for our yearly meeting and re-dedicated themselves to keeping that community alive. Old and new members joined together to face the challenges and joys that lay before us as a small, diverse and geographically challenged Kahal. 

We are pleased to share that Temple Beth El of Hammonton will continue to teach, pray, celebrate and support the needs of the South Jersey Jewish community into 2019. Please join us on our journey and help us grow into the future! 

Many blessings for a warm and safe holiday season.

Rabbi Abby

Sending Blessings

Sending Blessings of Light and Love (A Message from Rabbi Abby,  October 30, 2018)

“Eitz Chayim Hi…It is a Tree Of Life to those who grasp her, and whoever holds on to her is happy (Proverbs 3:18)”

Dear friends and members of Temple Beth El,

As we try to rap our heads around the recent mass shooting in Pittsburgh, that which followed a week long assault of violence on our country from within, many of us search for words and feelings that are nearly impossible to find. While our world reels from this latest assault, this time against the Jewish community, we send love and light and prayers to all who are suffering.

Our hearts grieve for the 11 beautiful souls murdered at the Tree of Life Synagogue as well as Maurice E. Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones, murdered in Kroger on October 24th.when the killer could not get into a nearby church. May their memories always be for a blessing. We pray for the healing and recovery for all those injured and who lives will never be the same. We send out healing energy to the mourners and pray they will find comfort among all those who mourn.

With the safety and peace of Shabbat temporarily shattered, we search for ways to cope and to integrate these horrific events into our lives. It is important that we not let hate and fear, stoked by violence and virilent words, turn us away from the light and love that is in this world and the hope and possibility of change. We must stand together with all those committed to building a more compassionate and loving society and find our way through the challenges together. Since the attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue, we have witnessed communities coming together, filling sanctuaries to capacity and we can gain strength and inspiration from this support. We will grieve for all that has been lost and then we must turn our anger and pain into action.

What can we do to heal and to build a safer, healthier world? We can sing and pray and love each other as we struggle and be sure to reach out with a supportive hand or ear. We can encourage and inspire eachother to move forward towards change, while holding fast to our values as Jews, Christians, Muslims, Atheists and others, all sojourners on this beautiful planet. We can give Tzedakah to worthy causes that fight for justice and freedom (consider a donation to HIAS), in memory of those no longer physically with us, but always with us in spirit. We can vote for individuals that represent our highest ideals and stay committed to  a world that is grounded in love and compassion for all beings with no exceptions.

We can also create circles of healing and support and I invite you to the upcoming gatherings that I will be participating in/or leading, building communities of mutual respect and friendship.

Tuesday, 10/30 –  Marlton Interfaith Service of Solidarity at Congregation Beth Tikvah in Marlton. beginning at 7:30 pm.

Thursday, 11/01 – Torah study at TBE where we will explore the Life (and death) of our matriarch Sarah, beginning at 6:30 pm.

Friday, 11/2 – Interfaith Shabbat Service at Congregation Beth Tikvah-Beth Israel in Sewell, beginning at 7:00 pm.

Saturday 11/3 – Temple Beth El in Hammonton.  We will be welcoming members from the larger Hammonton community in friendship and solidarity to our sanctuary, beginning at 10:30m , following by a light lunch.

Thursday, 11/15 – Healing Circle at RAPHA – The Center for Healing and Spirituality, Cherry Hill beginning at 7:30 pm.

Tuesday, 11/20 – Interfaith service of Gratitude – United Methodist Church, Hammonton, beginning at 7:30 pm.

As we journey forward, please remember that you are not alone and I am here to provide support if needed. I offer the two attached melodies in the hope that they will bring you some comfort during these difficult days and you will come sing them with me on Shabbat morning this coming Saturday.

May we work together in building a world from love, Olam Chesed Yebaneh and may Eitz Chayim Hi, The Tree of Life, bring us  peace and healing.

B’Ahava (in love)

Rabbi Abby

(Hear Rabbi Abby’s beautiful chants below. (When you click below the files will be downloaded; then click on the download to hear the audio.) 

Eitz Chayim Hi          Olam Chesed Yebaneh

A Message From Our Rabbi 2015/2016

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Dear Friends and Members of TBE:

I have a vivid memory from the synagogue of my youth that I would like to share with you.  While surrounded by hundreds during High Holy Day services, feeling disconnected from the meaning of the day, my heart was touched by the singing of the cantor.  I was a troubled teen and the healing power of his voice sparked a desire in me to one day bring Jewish music forth to help others heal.  Following my Bat Mitzvah, like many of my generation, I separated from Judaism and cut off that desire along with my Jewish past.  Twenty years went by before I would seek out Judaism as a source of comfort and healing and I reconnected with that spark, leading to a path that became a calling.  Walking through the doors of Temple Beth El in my early thirties opened a Jewish world so very different from the one I had left as a teenager.  Not only did I find a community home, I also found a spiritual connection to a Judaism that was hopeful and healing, meaningful and inclusive.  This Judaism opened my heart and inspired me to come closer; closer to God, to my Jewish soul and to a Jewish mission of building a better world. 

What I realized early on, was that Judaism provided a never ending toolbox for healing, and for coping with our lives and challenging world in which we live.  My teacher, Reb Zalman Schachter Shalomi of blessed memory, who passed out of the earthly realm a year ago today, spoke of Judaism as a vital organ of the world, along with all the other religions and cultures seeking universal healing.  He taught the importance of remembering and honoring the Judaism of old, while bringing forth its spiritual God energy to address the needs of the present and the future.  After ten years as TBEs spiritual leader and rabbinic student, I am excited to say that I look forward to a new year of delving deep into the “spiritual juice” of Judaism, as Reb Zalman would say, and, as your Rabbi, bringing it forward to the community in a meaningful and joyful way.  I hope you will join me on this journey and this ongoing mission to find the beauty, wisdom and joy in Yiddishkeit, and bringing it home to blossom. 

Wishing you a wonderful summer and a sweet and joyful New Year as we look ahead. 

Many blessings,

Rabbi Abby