Congregation Beth Abraham-Jacob

Congregation Beth Abraham-Jacob Congregation Beth Abraham-Jacob is a family oriented synagogue in the Orthodox tradition of Judaism.
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Congregation Beth Abraham-Jacob is a family-friendly modern-Orthodox synagogue open to all backgrounds.

Lag B’Omer is here today, so a game we shall all play. Below you’ll find a list for a scavenger hunt that will be fun, a...
05/10/2020

Lag B’Omer is here today, so a game we shall all play.
Below you’ll find a list for a scavenger hunt that will be fun, although we’d like to play together as one.
If you don’t keep social distance rules, it will make you look like a fool.
Be creative as you can be, take pictures and then email them to me ([email protected]).
As the sun goes down you can all bet, that if you join the virtual bonfire you will be set.

The goal is to collect pictures in the following locations:
1. Lag BOmer is about going outdoors, take a pic in front of a beautiful outdoors space with open fields, rolling hills or caves.
2. Because it’s the Yarzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar YoChae, take a pic in front of where you remember a loved one.
3. Because Rabbi Akivas had many students, take a picture in front of place where a group of students learn.
4. Lag B’Omer is the 33rd day of the Omer, so collect and count 33 of something.
5. Because we are counting up to Shavuot, go find something with the number 49 on it.
6. Since we cannot meet in public places during the Omer, take a a picture of a place where the public gathers (and is now closed to the public due to Covid-19).
7. Do an act of Chesed to negate the baseless hatred which Rabbi Akivas students portrayed.
8. As we all want to get our haircuts but cannot due to the Omer, go take a pic in front of a hair salon.
9. Show your happiness for Lag B’Omer by taking picture or a video of you dancing to your favorite song.
10. Practice your archery skills by aiming and shooting something (no animals should be harmed during this activity).
11. Say thank you to a first responser who would put out your lag B’Omer bonfire.
12. Gather students like you were Rabbi Akiva and take a picture teaching to them.

05/05/2020

THIS THURSDAY ON ZOOM

Lecture by Rabbi Chananya Rosenblum, Thursday, May 7 at 8:30 PM:
Sefirat Ha-Omer: Preparing for the Ultimate Gift
sponsored by Eric Sanders in loving memory of his father, Martin Sanders, on the occasion of his twentieth Yahrzeit.

Rabbi Chananya (Adam) Rosenblum has been actively involved in Jewish communal affairs for the past 25 years. He has taught Torah classes for many years including the daf yomi (daily page of Talmud) at CBAJ from 2005-2009. He founded Jewish student programs at Albany Law School and Montclair State University, has led 12 Birthright-Israel trips and is a Birthright Fellow. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of YBH of Passaic and is a volunteer dispatcher for Hatzolah of Passaic-Clifton EMS. Known professionally as Adam H. Rosenblum, Esq., he is the principal of Rosenblum Law, a law practice with offices NY and NJ. He is a graduate of Albany Law School and holds bachelor’s degrees from UMBC and Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, Maryland where he was ordained. Rabbi Rosenblum and his wife Sara live in Clifton, NJ with their six children.

05/03/2020

Dear CBAJ Family,

Shavua Tov. I hope you are well and safe. Please remember that we are here for you should you need anything at all. I am available to speak about Jewish law, theology, philosophy, Jewish community issues, chesed or tzedakah needs, or anything else. Please send me an e-mail if you'd like to chat.

In addition to our regular programming, I'd like to invite you to two very special programs for our community in the coming week, both at our Zoom link (access information below).

1. Lecture by Rabbi Chananya Rosenblum, Thursday, May 7 at 8:30 PM:
Sefirat Ha-Omer: Preparing for the Ultimate Gift
sponsored by Eric Sanders in loving memory of his father, Martin Sanders, on the occasion of his twentieth Yahrzeit.

Rabbi Chananya (Adam) Rosenblum has been actively involved in Jewish communal affairs for the past 25 years. He has taught Torah classes for many years including the daf yomi (daily page of Talmud) at CBAJ from 2005-2009. He founded Jewish student programs at Albany Law School and Montclair State University, has led 12 Birthright-Israel trips and is a Birthright Fellow. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of YBH of Passaic and is a volunteer dispatcher for Hatzolah of Passaic-Clifton EMS. Known professionally as Adam H. Rosenblum, Esq., he is the principal of Rosenblum Law, a law practice with offices NY and NJ. He is a graduate of Albany Law School and holds bachelor’s degrees from UMBC and Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, Maryland where he was ordained. Rabbi Rosenblum and his wife Sara live in Clifton, NJ with their six children.

2. Covid-19 Considered: A Conversation with Local Experts, Sunday, May 10 at 8:30 PM:
An inside look at the coronavirus, with experts answering your questions.
Join CBAJ Member Dr. Nathan Graber, Pediatrician and former Director of the NY State Health Department's Center for Environmental Health, and Dr. Eli Rosenberg, Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the Albany School of Public Health. Join us for a candid look at what's going on and what the future might have in store for us. Submit questions in advance to me at [email protected].

As for our weekly programming:
my Talmud class (Tractate Megilah - in depth) continues this evening at 8:30 pm,
tomorrow (Monday) evening's Jewish Law class will explore whether synagogues must make up the many missed Shabbat Torah readings when we return to shul - also at 8:30 pm,
and our Thursday morning Tanakh class (9:30 am) considers the split of the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah in Sefer Melachim.
Please contact me if you are interested in sponsoring one of our many classes or programs in honor of any occasion.

I wish you and your families a good week ahead, and I hope to "see" you soon at some of our virtual programs.

Roy Feldman

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03/26/2020

Dear CBAJ Family,

I hope you staying healthy and doing as well as possible considering the circumstances. As I have noted before, please do not hesitate to contact me directly to chat, for questions, or should there be any way I or the community can be helpful to you.

I would like to draw your attention to some important information as we approach Passover. Please also read tomorrow's CBAJ Notes E-mail which will contain a number of new online social programs we are offering. This e-mail contains only Passover information. I will send another e-mail the week before Pesach with more information relevant for your Seder.

1. Sale of Chametz
This year, unfortunately, I will not be accepting in-person appointments to sell Chametz. To appoint me as your agent, please fill out this online form ( https://www.cbaj.org/sale-of-chametz ) by Wednesday morning, April 8 at 9:00 AM, at the very latest.

2. Passover Q&A
I have been posting short videos on Pesach-related Halacha (almost) daily on Facebook. The videos can be accessed even if you do not have a Facebook account.

I will be hosting two sessions for Open Q&A on Pesach Questions here at our Zoom link. They will take place on Monday, March 30, at 11 AM and at 8 PM in order to accommodate different daily schedules people may have. Please join us for one of those meetings, where many questions will be answered. If you know you have a specific question in mind, please send it to me: questions sent earlier can be more thoroughly researched if necessary.
Should you have any questions about any item, how to Kasher something, or anything at all do not hesitate to ask.

3. Shabbat HaGadol Discourse
This year, we sadly do not anticipate that our Synagogue will be open for Shabbat HaGadol. Most years, I offer a Shabbat HaGadol Discourse that illuminates and adds relevant meaning to a particular section of the Haggadah. This year, in place of such a Discourse, I will offer a Zoom Class on the Haggadah itself as well as suggestions for making a "small Seder" meaningful. Please feel free to bring your own suggestions and contributions to this conversation, which will take place Monday evening, April 6, at 8 PM.

4. A Pesach Alone
This year, many of us will be experience Pesach in small groups with our immediate family or alone for the first time, and we hope only time. I urge you to follow CDC and local public health guidelines: stay home for Pesach. This can save lives, and potentially lives of members of your family. This is not a matter to be treated lightly or flippantly. I know that you know people who will be getting together for Pesach: the fact that they are doing this does not make it right, safe, or healthy. Please lead by example: do the right and safe thing and stay home.

I understand that this will be very difficult emotionally and spiritually for most people; I empathize and I am saddened that I will not be spending Pesach with my family and with my congregation. Here are some helpful suggestions by a psychiatrist for those spending Pesach alone. In addition, should anyone feel like Yom Tov alone will be very difficult for their emotional or mental health, please speak with me ASAP so that we can discuss suggestions or options. If you know someone who may not see this e-mail for whom that is relevant, please give them my contact information so that we can speak.

5. Passover Relief
I am distributing money to families who need help in preparation for Passover, which is invariable our most expensive holiday.

If you or someone you know would like financial assistance for Passover, or if you know of someone who could use it, please reach out to me ASAP by replying to this e-mail! This will remain confidential.

You may donate by sending a check marked "Passover Relief" made to the CBAJ Rabbi's Discretionary Fund, online at cbaj.org/donate making the same notations, or at the bottom of the online Sale of Chametz form at the link above.

6. Fast of the First Born
This year, the Fast of the First Born is observed on Wednesday, April 8. Most years, we offer a Siyum and festive meal to exempt firstborns from this fast. This year, we will not offer an in-person Siyum at CBAJ. The prevalent custom is not to fast for this fast. Therefore, if you a re a first born, please avail yourself of another option:
Study a tractate of Talmud on your own and finish it by April 8 in the morning
Join us for a Zoom Conference Siyum on April 8 at 8 AM.
If both of these options prove difficult or impossible, donate to Tzeddakah April 8 in the morning and redeem your fast through that Tzeddakah.

8. Passover Meals - Prepared Food
We know that many of you are "making Pesach" for the first time in a while, or ever. The Price Chopper Kosher Store has prepared food and "Seder food" packages available as well as "Seder plate" packages. Call 518-456-9314 (option 8) for more information. If you wish to purchase food or Seder materials for Pesach from Price Chopper in order to lighten your burden and increase you Simchat Yom Tov and need a financial discount, please speak with me directly.

9. Pre-Pesach Food Drive
Although we are not collecting at CBAJ, you may still donate food items to the Shalom Food Pantry by leaving items in the box on their porch at 393 Delaware Avenue in Delmar.

Again, please remember to check you e-mail for more resources as Pesach approaches, as well as our regular CBAJ Notes e-mail which will include a variety of programs offered online. As always, e-mail, call, or text me should you want to speak.

Wishing all a "Chodesh Tov," a healthy and happy new month to all.

Roy Feldman

03/18/2020

Dear CBAJ Family,

As our building remains closed for the next few weeks, we will continue offering a variety of Jewish spiritual and educational programs online. Please see the full schedule below. In addition to the regular weekly schedule, we will have guest speakers on Zoom and other programs periodically - please check your email. The weekly Shabbat Notes will also contain updated information.

I would like to appeal to our members who fall into what have been deemed "high risk" categories based on age, medical conditions, or other vulnerabilities. I implore you not to endanger yourselves needlessly and to follow the suggested social distancing guidelines; please take advantage of the support your friends in our amazing Beth Abe community can offer. If you would like help with shopping, errands, or other things since you are remaining home as much as possible, or conversely, if you would like to volunteer to help people in the community who may need help, please fill out the form at this link.

Once again, should you or someone you know experience financial distress related to purchasing essentials like food or household items, paying regular bills, etc., please let me know now and do not wait until crisis hits. I keep a discretionary fund for use as gifts or loans specifically for these reasons, and any calls to me will remain strictly confidential. Please assess your needs, and keep in mind the upcoming Pesach holiday.

Finally, I know this time can be worrisome and difficult. If you need or would like to chat - please feel free to call or text me. If you know someone who you think would be interested in a conversation with me, please feel free to give them my number. This time can be very difficult for people living alone, empty nesters, and others, and depression or anxiety can set in without warning. Shabbat and Yom Tov can be especially difficult, and if they are, I have some ideas I can share with you. We are here for you always, and especially during these trying times.

Stay healthy and safe,
Roy Feldman
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Access Information:
Our Zoom conferences can be accessed on a computer or smartphone at: https://zoom.us/j/9405089347 ; or on any phone by dialing 929-205-6099 and using Meeting ID 940 508 9347.
For Facebook programming, visit facebook.com/rabbifeldman

Schedule:
Daily
Sunday to Thursday at 1 pm: 5-minute live videos on Halakhot of Pesach on Facebook
Monday to Friday at 1 pm: Orthodox Union Communal Tehillim and Words of Inspiration, call (773) 249-0370
Sunday to Thursday: Mincha, Mishna study in memory of our loved ones (for mourners and Yahrzeit), a prayer for the ill, and Ma'ariv, on Zoom Conference. See Shabbat notes for weekly time (this week, 6:50 pm).

Weekly Adult Education
Sundays at 8pm on Zoom: In Depth Talmud, Tractate Megilah
Mondays at 8pm on Zoom: Contemporary Halakhic Issues
Thursdays at 9:30 am on Zoom: Tanakh, Sefer Melakhim
More special programs and guest speakers to be announced

Youth Programming
Fridays at 3pm on Zoom: Tot Shabbat
Sundays at 10:30 am on Zoom: CBAJ Kid's Club for grades 2-5 with Youth Director Jory

Shabbat Family Programming
Fridays at 6:00 pm on Facebook Live: Pre-Shabbat singing and Dvar Torah (30 minutes)
Saturday nights, 15 minutes after Shabbat ends, on Zoom: Musical Havdalah and Melaveh Malka (some post-Shabbat singing)

03/17/2020
03/15/2020

Dear CBAJ Family,

Shavua tov. As we enter this week and the coming weeks in which our health experts have advised to maximize "social distancing" and avoid public gatherings in order to slow down the spread of COVID-19, I would like to emphasize the importance of full communal cooperation. This project will only succeed in slowing down the spread of the virus if people truly comply - whether or not there are "known cases" of it.

Our role, in the service of living by the Torah and Pikuah Nefesh (saving lives) is to limit public gatherings as much as possible. As I expressed in our live pre-Shabbat video gathering, this makes communal Jewish life more difficult but not impossible. It requires us to remember that CBAJ is not the name of a building, but the name of a community and a strong one at that. I have always said that our Jewish life revolves around the formula found in Pirkei Avot: Torah, Avodah, and Gemilut Chasadim (study, prayer/action, and acts of kindness). We will continue all three together as a community in the coming weeks. Please read the information below to hear about our virtual "community prayer," options for people reciting Kaddish, and other opportunities.

1. Torah
The most obvious way we can continue communally is through Torah study. Aside from your own learning projects (I am happy and eager to give suggestions for books or articles you may find interesting - shoot me an e-mail to chat about what you might like to learn!), If you use Facebook, please stay tuned on my page facebook.com/royfeld for short videos and other Torah.

We will also continue our weekday classes via Zoom Conference.
Join us for:
1) Tanakh Class Thursdays at 9:30 AM (we are studying Sefer Melachim).
2) Talmud class Sundays at 8 pm starting next week, March 22, Tractate Megilah.
More classes will be added soon, including a weeknight Practical Halakha class also on Zoom. If you have suggestions or requests for topics, please e-mail me.

You can access Zoom on a computer with a webcam/microphone, your smartphone with a camera, or also dial in from a regular telephone. Use this link for classes: https://zoom.us/j/9405089347 ; if you prefer calling in, call 929-205-6099 and use Meeting ID 940 508 9347.

2. Avodah (Prayer and Kaddish info below)
"Tefilah B'eit Tzarah:" Our sages teach us that in a time of crisis, we must pray for that crisis. Please recite Tehilim (Psalms) in prayer for those who are ill. My revered teachers have also suggested inserting a prayer we traditionally recite on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that specifically asks God to spare us from pandemics. The prayer is to be recited in the "Shema Koleinu" blessing in the Amidah as below:

שְׁמַע קוֹלֵנוּ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, חוּס וְרַחֵם עָלֵינוּ וְקַבֵּל בְּרַחֲמִים וּבְרָצוֹן אֶת תְּפִלָּתֵנוּ,

כִּי אֵל שֹׁמֵעַ תְּפִלּוֹת וְתַחֲנוּנִים אָתָּה,

וּמִלְּפָנֶיךָ מַלְכֵּנוּ רֵיקָם אַל תְּשִׁיבֵנוּ,

אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ זְכר רַחֲמֶיךָ וּכְבשׁ כַּעַסְךָ וְכַלֵּה דֶבֶר וְחֶרֶב וְרָעָב וּשְׁבִי וּמַשְׁחִית וְעָון וּמַגֵּפָה וּפֶגַע רַע וְכָל מַחֲלָה וְכָל תַּקָּלָה וְכָל קְטָטָה וְכָל מִינֵי פֻרְעָנֻיּות וְכָל גְּזֵרָה רָעָה וְשִׂנְאַת חִנָּם מֵעָלֵינוּ מֵעַל כָּל בְּנֵי בְרִיתֶךָ ומעל כל העולם:

כִּי אַתָּה שֹׁמֵעַ תְּפִלַּת עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּרַחֲמִים.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, שֹׁמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה

Unfortunately, for the time being we cannot pray with a minyan. I urge you not to find other minyanim or to create your own - the guidelines from health experts are that all public gatherings should be avoided in order to slow down the spread of this virus. I understand that this means that mourner's Kaddish cannot be recited and how difficult that will be for some of us. I include here the words of my teacher, Rabbi Yuval Cherlow (translation from Hebrew is mine):

"I understand the great difficulty we have with the inability to recite Mourner's Kaddish. We must remember two central principles:
First, is that in Jewish Law, the living always take precedence over the deceased, and our responsibility to keep healthy takes precedence over the ascent of a soul. That is one of the great principles of "V'chai Bahem" ("You shall LIVE by the Torah"). Moreover, the essence of the Kaddish is that it is a part of public prayer, and it is the mourners' right to recite it as part of public prayer, but it is not an obligation in and of itself.
However, it would not be right to be satisfied with just not saying Kaddish. The right thing is to do other things for the ascent of the deceased's soul, such as learning Mishna, and with God's help to complete the Mishnayot being studied, and reciting the Kaddish following that completion for the ascent of the soul (when it is possible, in the future, to gather with a minyan)."

To that end, we will convene daily via Zoom Conference to daven Mincha and Ma'ariv together virtually (it is still "private prayer" without the prayers that are only to be recited with a Minyan). Between the two prayers, I will teach a Mishna in memory of all those for whom Kaddish is being recited. After that Mishna, in place of Kaddish, anyone with Yahrzeit will have an opportunity to say a few words about their loved one. If no one has Yahrzeit, those who are saying Kaddish can share a few words if they would like. We will meet this week each evening at 6:50 pm sharp for Mincha (I will start the "Zoom Conference" at 6:50 pm and begin my Mincha then). Use this link: https://zoom.us/j/9405089347; if you prefer calling in, call 929-205-6099 and use Meeting ID 940 508 9347.

3. Gemilut Chasadim
As we have noted, it is recommended that anyone over 65 and anyone with other medical conditions that deem them "high risk" for COVID-19 should stay home as much as possible. Out of an abundance of caution and to stay ahead of the curve, it has been recommended that everyone stay home as much as possible. With that being the case, there are people in our community who need our help: some need help with groceries and errands as they cannot leave the house. Other need financial help as they cannot go to work or are out of work due to this pandemic.

- If you need help with groceries or other errands, or if you would like to volunteer to help those who need it, please fill out this form (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1CaLlfWGwGB5pP9ndBhfiCSC06pzqOTW505lJqQ-ZKw0 and thank you to Elliot Chester for setting up the form). Please pass along this form to anyone who you think may need help or may wish to help. Our Chesed Committee will match volunteers with those who need help.
- If you know of someone who needs help but cannot fill out his form, please let me know.
- If you need financial help at this time, please let me know. You can call my cell phone. All calls of this nature, needless to say, are kept strictly confidential.
- If you know someone who needs financial help, please let me know as well
- If you can provide financial assistance, please donate to our Benevolent fund. You can either make a check out to CBAJ RDF, or donate online ( cbaj.org/donate ) and choose "CBAJ Benevolent Fund."

With regards to Shiva visits and Bikkur Cholim (Visiting the sick): please conduct these by phone call for the time being. Please continue reaching out to those who you know who may be isolated and need to know we are thinking about them. Of course, I will be calling people, but if you know of someone who could particularly use a phone call from me, please let me know.

We will get through these weeks together. With God's help, we will remain healthy, and we will have done our part in the holy work of keeping as many people healthy as possible. After all of it, we will emerge stronger.

Wishing everyone a Shavua Tov U'vari U'mevorakh, a good, healthy, and blessed week.

Roy Feldman

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380 Whitehall Rd
Albany, NY
12208

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Chag Chanukah same'ach. Shacharit during Chanukah? is it also at 6.40 or do you begin a few minutes earlier? Thanks (called the shul but the dates and times for tephila are a couple of weeks behind).
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