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New mention of Shma Koleinu: A Jewish People’s Commentary on the Siddur

From poeticaperture.com, on

Shma Koleinu: A Jewish People’s Commentary on the Siddur

“This book is a collection of beautiful reflections on words from our prayerbook. Rabbi Schwarzman and others (rabbis, cantors, etc.) reach into the meaning behind the prayers to bring forth stories, lessons, or thought-provoking insights.”

“God knows the numbers of the stars, calling each one by name. We are part of a universe that is not left unattended. Our own part in it may be small, but that does not diminish our importance to God. The stars count, and so do we.” ~ Rabbi Steven Schwarzman writing about Psalm 147

Rabbi Steven Schwarzman on Facebook

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A message from faith leaders in Edmonton - youtu.be/6SJ9GJyz_5U ... See MoreSee Less

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I don't generally post sermons, but here is mine from this past Shabbat, relevant to our current situation (and note that there are some small differences between the printed text and what I actually said yesterday) :

Ki Tissa, 5780
Rabbi Steven Schwarzman
Good Shabbos.
Having worked for a couple of decades in the corporate world, I became familiar with most if not all of the buzzwords of the day. Back in the early 90s, it was self-directed teams, the idea being that people could motivate and manage themselves.
Perhaps that’s true, but our company, which was much more traditionally hierarchical, had a problem with one of our customers who adopted that model, because different people on the customer side would make different requests for changes to the software, and no one was in charge on their side, so there was no way to decide which changes got in and when.
And while buzzwords come and go, there always seems to be one that is current. These days, that buzzword from the corporate world might be data-driven. That is, if you can’t measure it, you can’t achieve it. Decisions are to be made based on hard data, as in numbers.
Of course, there is some truth to this, as there is to all buzzwords. In a for-profit organization, sales and profits are measurable, and so are costs, and using data to drive decisions makes a lot of sense.

In the nonprofit world, to which we as a synagogue of course belong, there has been of late some adaptation of the data-driven concept. Measure how many people come to each program, and presto, goes the theory, you know exactly what is succeeding and by how much and where your scarce resources should be allocated.
The thing is, some things can’t really be measured that way, because our success is not only about numbers. Our success is also about impact. It’s great if we are able to change the lives of huge numbers of people. But it’s also great if we change the lives of one person at a time, and most of the time, that is in fact how it happens.
Our parsha begins with a census. While I have learned in my time in this country that Canadians actually like the census, that sentiment is not shared universally. Of course, a census supplies the data to allow data-driven decisions. And that makes sense for governments that need to know how many people live where and what services they need.
But ultimately, a census counts people, and the Torah has a problem with that. Hence, we do not count people directly; instead, as Rashi points out, we count them indirectly. We don’t count the people; we count the donations of the half-shekel that they are to give. Count up the half-shekels, and that gives you the number of donors.
The result is the same - because the data is, or are, equivalent - but the method of getting to the result is more humane. Count people by what they do, not by their mere existence as if they were objects.
And today, we turn this counting a little bit on its head. I will confess that, most Saturday mornings, I take a look around and get a rough idea of how many people we are. I don’t count per se. I just sort of estimate, and I hope that this keeps me in the good graces of both the Torah and Rashi.
As I said earlier, we don’t measure success directly by how many people come to a service or to a program. But, with that said, we are naturally happy when lots of people come.
However, today, and for the next while, there are entire categories of people whom we dearly love but do not want to see. As we all know, the coronavirus is most dangerous for seniors and people with medical conditions that make them vulnerable. And to protect them, we have asked them not to come.

It’s not an easy thing for us to do, and it’s not an easy thing for them to do. Our natural instinct, besides wanting lots of people to come to everything we do, is to want these particular people to come and be part of a community. We don’t want them to feel isolated.
And their natural instinct is the same. We humans are social creatures. We want to be seen and appreciated as individuals, but we also want and need to be part of a community, and particularly so in the case of our synagogue, where we are not just any community, but a community of meaning and purpose.

We have had to make changes to how we gather as a community, starting with the no-handshaking policy we began last week, and now the no-vulnerable people in shul policy that we begin this week. We have made modifications to how we do kiddush in an effort to try to keep everyone here safe. And it’s not only about keeping ourselves safe. We can help keep the more vulnerable members of our community safe as a result.

We’re going to have to do things differently for a while, and I expect that there will be more changes coming as conditions require. But as difficult as this is for us as a community, it’s important to remember that we are a community. We care about each other, and that extends to every single member of this community.
So in addition to finding new ways to keep everyone safe by reducing contact with each other, we also have to find new ways to keep everyone in contact so that we can take care of each other and help each other through this unprecedented time.

I will try to reach out to our members by phone, and I know you will join me in this. And we have also created a brand new Facebook group called Beth Shalom Edmonton that all of our members can join. You can interact with your Beth Shalom friends in this closed group, which means that only the members of the group can see what gets posted. It’s a place where we can all talk with each other, and I will try to post messages and teachings there for those who can’t come to shul in person.
We’ll think of other things to do to keep our ties as a holy community strong, and I’m happy to hear suggestions. As we consider what we need to do, let’s remember to let all of our members know that they count, whether we can see them directly or only indirectly.
Shabbat shalom.
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Rabbi I hope all is well,

Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah. All the lights are lit. Maximum light to counter the great darkness of hatred now in the world. The candles will go out, so we need to keep adding light through our actions. ... See MoreSee Less

Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah. All the lights are lit. Maximum light to counter the great darkness of hatred now in the world. The candles will go out, so we need to keep adding light through our actions.

So you know the joke about how Jews eat at Chinese restaurants on Christmas, right? Today, after morning prayers at @EdmBethShalom, we didn't have any Chinese food, but I shared the kosher chocolates that our friends from @AhmadiyyaYEG left us the other day.

Interfaith culinary relations! Thank you to our Muslim friends, merry Christmas to our Christian friends, happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends. PS to Jews - we didn't finish the chocolates, so come to services tomorrow!

@buttfamily06 was our source for the chocolates. 😊
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So you know the joke about how Jews eat at Chinese restaurants on Christmas, right? Today, after morning prayers at @EdmBethShalom, we didnt have any Chinese food, but I shared the kosher chocolates that our friends from @AhmadiyyaYEG left us the other day.

Interfaith culinary relations! Thank you to our Muslim friends, merry Christmas to our Christian friends, happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends. PS to Jews - we didnt finish the chocolates, so come to services tomorrow!

@buttfamily06 was our source for the chocolates. 😊

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There's lots left!

#Hanukah - Edmonton's menorah lighting at Alberta's Legislature. Nice messages of spreading light and being steadfast no matter the odds. Delighted to meet Minister @DevinDVote, who spoke on behalf of Premier @jkenney, MP @jameskcumming, MLA @DShepYEG, and to see MLA @LorneDach t.co/K3uw6CX6wm ... See MoreSee Less

#Hanukah - Edmontons menorah lighting at Albertas Legislature. Nice messages of spreading light and being steadfast no matter the odds. Delighted to meet Minister @DevinDVote, who spoke on behalf of Premier @jkenney, MP @jameskcumming, MLA @DShepYEG, and to see MLA @LorneDach https://t.co/K3uw6CX6wm

Join us tomorrow for Introduction to Judaism! ... See MoreSee Less

Photos from Jewtor's post ... See MoreSee Less

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Kristallnacht Program 2019The Jewish Federation of Edmonton put on a lovely and informative Kristallnacht program featuring guest speaker Ellin Bessner, author of “Double Threat” ... See MoreSee Less

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Thanks for sharing!

Rabbi Steven Schwarzman in discussion with The Jerusalem Post / JPost.com intelligence, terrorism and legal analyst Yonah Jeremy Bob Journalist at his lecture event hosted by Beth Shalom Synagogue and Jewish Federation of Edmonton ... See MoreSee Less

Beth Shalom Open House - September 22, 2019Beth Shalom Board and the entire congregation extended a hearty Mazel Tov to Rabbi Steven Schwarzman and Rebbetzin Bettina as a new chapter opened in our spiritual leadership. ... See MoreSee Less

Beth Shalom Open House - September 22, 2019Beth Shalom Board and the entire congregation extended a hearty Mazel Tov to Rabbi Steven Schwarzman and Rebbetzin Bettina as a new chapter opened in our spiritual leadership. ... See MoreSee Less

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Nice Not many young people

Nachas for all, including Bettina Schwarzman aka Jewtor! ... See MoreSee Less

Nachas for all, including Bettina Schwarzman aka Jewtor!Image attachmentImage attachment

Another wonderful bar and bat mitzvah tutoring experience. ... See MoreSee Less

קבלת שבת
בית שלום
ספטמבר 13
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Reflecting on some of the many names of God with Rabbi Valerie Stessin at Congregation Beth El. Which ones resonate with us, which ones not so much, and which ones do we want to learn more about? ... See MoreSee Less

Reflecting on some of the many names of God with Rabbi Valerie Stessin at Congregation Beth El. Which ones resonate with us, which ones not so much, and which ones do we want to learn more about?

With Ambassador Nimrod Barkan of Israel in Canada and Consul General David Levy of Israel in Montreal | Israël à Montréal at a briefing with Montreal's rabbis and mayors Mitchell Brownstein and Mayor Bill Steinberg, organized by MP Anthony Housefather. ... See MoreSee Less

With Ambassador Nimrod Barkan of Israel in Canada and Consul General David Levy of Israel in Montreal | Israël à Montréal at a briefing with Montreals rabbis and mayors Mitchell Brownstein and Mayor Bill Steinberg, organized by MP Anthony Housefather.

Celebrating Israel on Yom Haatzmaut with thousands of friends in Montreal ... See MoreSee Less

Speaking at the Rabbinical Assembly convention in Montreal. #raconv2019 ... See MoreSee Less

Speaking at the Rabbinical Assembly convention in Montreal. #raconv2019

With gratitude to the good people of Congregation Beth El whom we have come to love in our years in Montreal, I'm delighted to announce that as of July, I'll begin serving Edmonton Beth Shalom as its next rabbi. Thank you to both congregations! ... See MoreSee Less

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מזל טוב!

Mazal tov Steve. I just looked at the Beth Shalom website and see how excited they are to welcome you. I hope you get as much from them as I know they will get from you. Hatzlacha. Shabbat Shalom Bydidut. Richard

Mazel Tov! You will all need much warmer winter coats. I lived in Calgary for 6 years ,I know.😂

Mazel Tov!

Two days of no electronics, in observance of #passover. Tonight, after the holiday ended, I turned on my phone to check in with the world. Horrified to read of yet another massacre of innocents, this time in #SriLanka's churches and hotels.

Before the holiday began, I received warm greetings from our friends in the #Ahmadiyya Muslim community, and I shared these with my congregation during prayers. And before the holiday, my media were full of mutual greetings between #Jews and #Christians for Passover and #easter.

Hatred doesn't look like it's going to disappear soon. But as a person of faith, I believe with all my heart that, one day, it will. The respect and friendship between people from different faiths is growing, as I think it is between all people. Let's keep building bridges.
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Most Fridays, I'm working on a sermon for Shabbat. This Friday afternoon, I'll be joining my friends at the Ahmadiyya Al-Nusrat mosque here in Montreal. As they so beautifully say, love for all; hatred for none. (Note to self: better finish the sermon on Thursday this week.) ... See MoreSee Less

Absolutely horrified by the murderers of 49 innocent worshipers in New Zealand's mosques. May the good that the victims did in their lives always be remembered. May their families and their community find comfort. May the scourge of weaponized haters come to an end. ... See MoreSee Less

Canadian rabbis and JTS alums Adam Cutler ('09), Eytan Kenter ('09), and Steve Schwarzman (RS '08) lit Hanukkah candles together on Parliament Hill last week. ... See MoreSee Less

With @CanadianPM @JustinTrudeau, @AndrewScheer, @AHousefather and others at #hanukkahonthehill - #menorah lighting with leaders of all Canadian parties, Israel's ambassador @IsraelinCanada, and #jewish leaders. All pronounced #Hebrew marvelously! ... See MoreSee Less

With @CanadianPM @JustinTrudeau, @AndrewScheer, @AHousefather and others at #Hanukkahonthehill - #menorah lighting with leaders of all Canadian parties, Israels ambassador @IsraelinCanada, and #Jewish leaders. All pronounced #hebrew marvelously!Image attachmentImage attachment

Taught my Psalms of the Siddur class tonight in darkness when the power went out. No problem. We had already covered the text learning from the Talmud, and we learned new and familiar melodies for singing Hallel - by the light of our Sukkah lanterns and cell phones. ... See MoreSee Less

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The atmosphere was perfect!!! Thank you.

Prime Minister Trudeau issues a heartfelt and moving apology for Canada having refused entry to Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany.

Thank you, Prime Minister.
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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headline: the opening words of the Kaddish ... See MoreSee Less

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headline: the opening words of the Kaddish

Photos from Jama'at Musulmane Ahmadiyya - Québec, Canada's post ... See MoreSee Less

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Over 1000 #Montrealers, political leaders, rabbis, cantors, federation leaders, #Muslims, #Christians, #Jews joined together in a vigil to mourn the loss of life in #pittsburgh's #TreeOfLifeSynagogue. Our work together gives us all hope and strength. Thank you, merci, shukran. ... See MoreSee Less

Please join us at this important vigil.Please join Federation CJA and CIJA-Québec for the Montreal Jewish Community Memorial Vigil for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack.
Monday, October 29 at 7:30pm
Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation
6800 Mackle Road

Rejoignez la Fédération CJA et CIJA-Québec lors de la veillée commémorative de la communauté juive de Montréal, en mémoire des victimes de l’attaque de la synagogue de Pittsburgh. Lundi 29 octobre à 19 h 30. Congrégation Beth Israël Beth Aaron, 6800 rue Mackle.
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Please join us at this important vigil.

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Dear Rabi Steve Schwarzman, our prayers are with the victims and tour community. May the almighty give you all the strength and forbarnence in these difficult times. Amen. To G-d we belong and to him alone shall we return. Holy Qur’an 2:157.

After a peaceful Sabbath, horrified to learn of the shooting at Pittsburgh's #TreeOfLifeSynagogue during prayers this morning. We pray for an end to hatred. But until that happens, the US needs to end the proliferation of guns. ... See MoreSee Less

Retweeted Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland):

Canada is dismayed by the most recent escalation of tensions in Israel & Gaza, and condemns rocket fire from Hamas into Israeli communities. The killing and injuring of innocent civilians must stop. Canada encourages Israelis & Palestinians to pursue a peaceful solution.
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Retweeted Anthony Hinton 🇨🇦 (@CANdiplomat):

Reviewing security of @CanEmbIsrael staff & Canadians in #Israel after 150+ rockets fired from #Gaza.

We condemn #Hamas' attacks, support #Egypt & #UN diplomatic efforts to calm the situation.

Throughout, we think of civilians affected, who spent night & morning in shelters.
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2 years ago

Marilyn Mudrik

Happy Birthday Rabbi Schwarzman!🎂 ... See MoreSee Less

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Thanks, Marilyn!

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