This year marks our 20th Anniversary. On Saturday, October 19, many of us came together to celebrate this momentous achievement. I thought I would share my opening remarks from that evening here, to reiterate my feelings about the magnitude of the endeavor that began two decades ago.
As I was thinking about what to say tonight, I decided to consult the doctrine of the man who started this whole Humanist Jewish megillah to see how he might reflect upon such an occasion. While I personally never knew or got the chance to meet Sherwin Wine, I do, of course, appreciate his philosophy.
First, I thought he might have said “We are here today because our ancestors did not lose hope.” While I’m sure he meant the Jewish people in general, I think this reflection also holds true for our own group. I can only imagine the early days of our congregation. As people joined and moved on and others joined in turn, our own founders, like our ancestors, did not lose hope, but continued to develop the Sunday School, to hold services and Shabbat gatherings and shape the organization we have today. To all the members, past and present, who have been here to help us grow, thank you.
Next, I imagined asking Rabbi Wine, “What makes having a congregation so important?” Here he might have answered, “Family and friendship are like the air we breathe; we cannot really live without them.” Kahal Chaverim is a family. And it is a group of friends. Even our name speaks of friendship. We are a community of friends, united in a singular endeavor.
Finally, I thought, “Okay, Wine’s on a roll; I’ll go to the source one last time. ‘What is one important reason why Humanistic Judaism should exist?'” Here, he might have said, “We stand alone, and yet together, to create the world we want.” I think this speaks to who we are as a congregation within the Jewish landscape; we are alone, separate, neither Reform, Orthodox, nor anything in between. And yet, we are together, having created and continuing to create the Jewish community in which we want to live.
Today, we celebrate the past 20 years and look forward to the next 20 years.
Calendar of Events
Friday, November 15: Shabbat at the Boewe Miller Home, gather at 7:00 pm, service at 7:30 pm
November 17 : Sunday School, 9:30 am – 11:30 am, Gottesman Academy, Randolph, NJ
November 24: Sunday School, 9:30 am – 11:30 am, Gottesman Academy, Randolph, NJ
December 8: Adult Education, 9:30 am – 11:30 am, Gottesman Academy, Randolph, NJ; Marty Alboum will present “The Philosophy and Religion of Thomas Jefferson.”
December 15: Hanukkah Celebration, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm; location TBD
The Boewe Miller family will host Shabbat on Friday, November 15 at their home. Please gather at 7:00 pm. The service will begin at 7:30 pm. Kindly bring a dessert or light snack to share. Also, weather permitting, come prepared to enjoy the outdoor fire pit in the back yard.
Community Wide Events
Rutgers 20th Annual Jewish Film Festival, November 3-17, at the AMC New Brunswick, Princeton Garden Theater and the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. Click the link above for the list of films, times and locations.
Conversations with Authors-Sababa: Fresh Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen with author Adeena Sussman, Thursday, November 14, 7:30 pm at the JCC of Central New Jersey, 1391 Martine Avenue, Scotch Plains. Registration required.
Challah at Ya Peeps!
If ever there was a time to wo/man up and make some homemade bread, it’s Thanksgiving. Really, what’s one more multi-step, project-level recipe to add to the menu? You’re already in the zone, the oven’s on, seriously, you’re half-way there already. Maybe you could even have your cousin make the turkey this year because of this important work before you. In fact, there could be a whole future of getting out of unpleasant kitchen tasks because you have to make the delicious and by now family-famous homemade challah without which a holiday is no longer a holiday.
It’s a thought.
At the very least, it’s one way to bring a little Jewish culture to this American holiday. So, if you’re feeling pumped, here are a few links to some homemade challah recipes and ideas for more unique toppings.
Joan Nathan’s “My Favorite Challah” recipe from the New York Times (available without a “Cooking” subscription at Epicurious.com) gets five stars from Times readers.
From Tori Avey, interestingly, this challah recipe uses more yolks than whole eggs. Her video on braiding is a separate post and includes a stuffed challah arranged in a “turban” configuration as well as knotted rolls and a linked loop technique.
And, from the Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More by Shannon Sarna, here are a handful of unique toppings for your homemade challah: pepitas, everything bagel seasoning, sunflower seeds, oats, black sesame seeds, flax seeds or a spiced sugar mix.
Spiced Sugar Mix for Challah
yields half a cup
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Combine ingredients in a small bowl; store in an airtight container for two to three months.
Mazel Tov in advance for your forthcoming bread baking adventure!
Board Members 2019-2020
Dawn Scocco, Treasurer
Jason Meisner, Secretary
Jerry Appelbaum and Rick Pascal, Adult Education
Mona Boewe and Lynn Laffey, Sunday School
Blaine Riddle and Stephanie Zenna, Keeper of the Words and Bogs
Jason Gottlieb, Publicity and Website
Doug Kudler, Membership
Susan Herschman, SHJ Liason
Steve Shaw, Shabbat and Havdalah Coordinator