Emanu-El Studios Presents: Purim

This year, our family Purim celebration Emanu-El Studios Presents: Purim took us on an unforgettable journey through some of Hollywood’s most magical family movies. With more than 140 families joining the festivity, Wise Hall was abuzz with laughter, joy and an array of colorful costumes that brought our cinematic universe to life. The adventure began …

United in Spirit: Temple Emanu-El’s Mission to Israel

by Rabb Sara Sapadin

January 13-18, 2024, marked a significant journey for Rabbi Joshua Davidson, Rabbi Sara Sapadin and 17 devoted members of Temple Emanu-El, including Temple President Harris Diamond and Board Member Margaret Streicker. On behalf of the entire temple community, they embarked on a Solidarity Mission to Israel, a heartfelt endeavor to stand with the Israeli people, confront the harrowing realities of the October 7th atrocities and affirm our community’s unwavering support for Israel in both good times and bad.

Covering extensive ground in just four days, our group engaged deeply with the land and people of Israel. We were honored to hear from a survivor of the October 7th attacks, learning about the enduring impact on his family. The poignant words of Lee Siegel, brother of hostage Keith Seigel, resonated with us, urging us to share their story and to continue advocating for all the hostages still in Gaza.

Our itinerary included meeting volunteers and NGOs who responded valiantly to the crisis, visiting communities hosting displaced families and exploring Israel’s state-of-the-art Magen David Adam blood center. We engaged in hands-on support, from donating blood to assembling care packages, and participated in dialogues with journalists, politicians and advocates, each offering unique insights into Israel’s current challenges and future.

The unique value of our Congregation Emanuel trip to Israel is that it engaged us in direct, substantive and constructive dialogue with many Israelis on the front lines of Israel’s  battle against terrorism and movement to protect democracy.” – Jim Gabbe

The mission profoundly deepened our connection to Israel and its people. Witnessing their resilience and indomitable spirit in the face of adversity filled us with respect and admiration. Our congregants reflected deeply on this experience. Danielle Greenberg emphasized the importance of “showing up” for Israel and the global Jewish community.

Rabbi Rinat Safania of V’ahavta, the Reform Community in Shoham, poignantly captured the essence of our visit: “After October 7th, we felt alone. But your visit made us feel less alone.”

Several members shared powerful thoughts encapsulating the essence of our journey. Jennifer Geiling expressed her pride in being a Reform Jew, lauding our commitment to equality, social justice and inclusivity. Jim Gabbe highlighted the mission’s unique value in facilitating direct dialogue with Israelis at the forefront of combating terrorism and defending democracy. Dr. Phyllis Mervis reflected on Golda Meir’s words about Israel’s “secret weapon” – its fierce determination and optimism, which we witnessed firsthand. She also acknowledged the gratitude expressed by many Israelis for our visit and thanked Temple Emanu-El for making this trip possible.

“I left Israel proud to be a Reform Jew. We are leaders in standing up for equality, social justice and inclusivity.” – Jennifer Geiling

Here at Temple Emanu-El, we reaffirm our commitment to stand with Israel, advocate for her and uphold her right to defend her people. As such, we want to express our gratitude to all mission participants: Harris Diamond, Judith West Edelman, Ellen Rothschild French, James Gabbe, Jennifer and Charlotte Geiling, Karel and Danielle Greenberg, Stephen Harris, Phyllis Mervis, Mollie Levison, John and Bonnie Rotenberg, Rebecca Rozen, James Solomon, Margaret Streicker and Samantha Triolo.

Am Yisrael Chai – The people of Israel live!

Rabbi Davidson’s Reflections on the Recent Congregational Mission to Israel

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson, Peter and Mary Kalikow Senior Rabbinic Chair at Temple Emanu-El, offers his reflections on the January 2024 Temple Emanu-El Mission to Israel in response to the October 7 attacks.

Progressivism’s Breakdown Over Israel and Jews

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson, Peter and Mary Kalikow Senior Rabbinic Chair at Temple Emanu-El, discusses how contemporary Progressivism has suffered a breakdown over Israel and Jews because of its binary sorting of peoples and nations into oppressor and oppressed.

Aspiring to Authenticity: A Lesson for the Soul

There is a famous story of Rav Zusha of Hanipol, an 18th century Chasidic luminary and tzaddik.  When he was on his deathbed, his students found him crying uncontrollably. They tried to comfort him by saying that he was almost as wise as Moses and as kind as Abraham and for that he would be …

Celebrating a Year of Success with Hebrew Programs for Young Families

A Year of Connecting Cultures: “Boker Tov, Baby!” and “Shiru Iti! Sing with Me!” Temple Emanu-El proudly marks the first year of our innovative Hebrew-language programming for Young Families, “Boker Tov, Baby!” and “Shiru Iti! Sing with Me!” Launched last year to meet demand from Israeli members and parents eager for early Hebrew education, these …

Light and Unity: Reflecting on our Multifaith Chanukah Candle Lighting

For the first night of Chanukah, Temple Emanu-El’s Fifth Avenue Sanctuary steps became a beacon of interfaith harmony and joyous celebration. Rabbi Joshua Davidson and Rabbi Amy Ehrlich led the candle lighting service. Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, Rev. A.R. Bernard of the Christian Cultural Center, Muslim-American interfaith activist Sabeeha Rehman, author …

Together in Strength and Hope: Reflections on the March for Israel Rally

November 15, 2023 Yesterday marked a historic day for our community and the entire Jewish people. Nearly 300,000 of us gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the March for Israel rally, surpassing the record set by the March for Soviet Jewry in 1987. Temple Emanu-El is proud to have played our part …

“Etrog: The Wandering Fruit” in the News

Have you ever wondered about the journey of the etrog? The Bernard Museum of Judaica dives deep into this topic in time for Sukkot with its groundbreaking exhibit “Etrog: The Wandering Fruit”,which is already creating a buzz in the press.

This week, “Etrog: The Wandering Fruit” was highlighted in “A NYC exhibit explores the etrog’s journey around the Jewish world” from the New York Jewish Week (reprinted in Times of Israel) and a brief “Learn About the Etrog for Sukkot” blurb in the New York Times.

Showcasing over 100 unique etrog-related artifacts, the exhibit features contributions from 20 different lenders. Notable contributors include the Jewish Museum, the New York Botanical Garden Library, and the American Numismatic Society. The display boasts a diverse collection, ranging from etrog containers to documents about the etroger (a Yiddish term for a Jewish merchant who sold etrogs). Additionally, visitors can view illuminated pages where the etrog makes its appearance, both originals and facsimiles.

Don’t miss this fascinating exhibit, which runs September 5 – November 20 from Sunday through Thursday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

Rabbi Joshua Davidson in Haaretz
“Will Israel Care if Yet More American Jews Walk Away?”

March 16, 2023 “For 25 years as a congregational rabbi in America, I have sought to strengthen Jewish identity by deepening commitment to Jewish peoplehood and the Jewish state. Though gratifying, the work has never been easy. Now developments in Israel are making it even harder.”

Our First Spring Mitzvah Day is in the News

March 14, 2023 Tikkun Olam Volunteers and Project Leaders gathered together in Wise Hall this past Sunday, March 12, to assemble over 1200 packages containing over 15,000 items, including Passover-related goods, for communities in need during Tikkun Olam’s first Spring Mitzvah Day. We are grateful to the over 70 community members who arrived ready to …

Our Town Honors Rabbi Joshua Davidson as a Notable New Yorker

“I am both proud and humbled to serve Temple Emanu-El, and through it the wider community. This recognition really should go to my congregation, its tireless staff, its extraordinary lay leadership and its wonderfully devoted membership, some of whom are present tonight and I thank them for being here.” – Rabbi Joshua Davidson March 9, …