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The ‘Anti-Jewish Hate and the Jewish Community: A Virtual Conversation with Town Board Members’ went great. I didn’t know if I should go, as I didn’t know if it was supposed to be pro or against Jews. I think it was in support of hating Jews. That’s what the town board members seemed to feel, when they told us how much they hated Israel. Half of the community is from Israel, and the rest have grandkids that live there. And the rest of us are Jews. The town board members were already voted in, so they were fine being honest. It’s good to know who your representatives are.
The town board has a bunch of Balaks on it. They’re afraid the Jews will take over the town council. I think they’re also worried that we’ll take over Israel.
Jewish identity is key. Some of the board members that hate Israel are Jewish. I call them self-hating Jews, but they really only hate other Jews. They’re fine with themselves.
Census numbers were down. We need more people identifying. The Federation is on it. The focus is not Mitzvot. Nobody cares about that. We need numbers. It’s becoming a big deal. We need people to check the box.
How do we help people identify as Jewish? Anti-semitism has helped in the past. Falafel parties were good. We sent a mission to the mall to find out if people were Jewish. My neighbor, a very religious woman denied she was Jewish. I think that random people banging on your door asking you if you're Jewish scares some Jews. There's got to be a better way to do a census that doesn't remind our community members of the Inquisition.
New Shabbat Kiddish luncheons have begun. The breakaway started coming back. They did the financial breakdown of lunch vs dues and it’s worth it. The whitefish salad is excellent.
A segment got offended when the rabbi referred to a woman as ‘she.’ He then said ‘her.’ That was even worse. He then called her ‘Mrs. Lifshitz.’ ‘Mrs.’ Even worse. The rabbi decided to refer to everybody as ‘them.’
Rabbi Mendelchem’s Drasha
Shabbat Shalom My Congregants…
Them… No. When I say ‘them,’ I am talking to you. When I say 'them,' it's you... It's also you. But I am talking to him...
The meetings were messed up… The annual town board meeting shows how much they hate Jews… Not you. Them... The whole Jewish community comes and complains, and they still tell us they hate us… That's them... Is the idea of the meeting to curse Jews? Is it to raise taxes on our homes??? Yes. That is anti-Semitism.
Meetings should be in person… If you’re not in person, you’re not really meeting… When you meet. You shake hands Bernie. You can’t shake hands on Zoom.
Moav sent emissaries to meet Bilam. They shook hands. You can't close on anything without hands…
She got voted into town council... She said she hates Israel... It's as if she has control over our identity. Bilam couldn't do that... Because Gd didn't let him curse the Jews. The Jews voted her in.
When Moav met with Midian, they hated each other. It was the hatred of Jews that brought them together. That’s how our town council was formed… I’m surprised more people don’t get along in our shul. Raise your hand if you don’t like Bernie... You see. Pinny? And who doesn't like Karen? There is so much dislike here, we should all be getting along... There's enough hatred in the shul. The issue is that there is no fear here. That's why nobody joins together in their hatred. That's why you vote like fools...
Rashi (Bamidbar 22:4) Midian and Moav hated each other. ‘They only made peace between them because of their fear of Israel.’ Fear can bring people together… Fear of not getting to the whitefish at Kiddish can pull people apart… I've had to conspire against Jews before to get some smoked fish... I'm not saying that our town councilwoman likes whitefish...
We need to bond together. How do we do that? Fear?... Nobody wants more home taxes...
Israel is always making peace. If we would stop making peace, we would have peace… We make peace. Yet. The town council calls us evil… You voted for her. You don't join with the person that hates you... What fools join with people that hate them?... She said she hates Jews and Israel and you said, 'we are not Jewish'... You didn't check the box. You voted for her and didn't check the Jewish box... She thinks you're Palestinian... Hymie is Palestinian. Mo is not. Mo was born after 1948...
Mo goes for the whitefish right away. That’s wrong. That causes fear. But what else have the Jews done? There is fear… He fears that all the whitefish will be gone.
Due to the town council meeting, we have many visitors today. Your presence is appreciated… Ms. Milt saying that she hates Israel and the Jews was great advertisement for our community… We appreciate the town's hatred and fear that a Jew will beat you in the election…
If I may now address… Yes. Bernie. The sermon starts now.
Dear congregants and visitors from other synagogues, temples and churches in the community. We are happy to be celebrating Johnny's turning a man today with you. Joining forces in fear and hatred of our Bar Mitzvah messing up.
I know many of you are not used to the dynamic sermons as given in this congregation. Enjoy your experience here. There are donation envelopes in the back… They help support the new building fund, being built next to Congregation Beth Torah Chadash. The donations also go to help our ongoing programs, such as classes, as you have in your temples and churches, and the rabbi's parking fund… We’re still working on the cover for my car… Not sure if we’re going to build a new building for my car. It is a fund. So you can give… The town council is voting against it. Anti-Semites. And they hate Israel.
I'm going to give a very short sermon this week, as I am very tired and I'm not in the mood to speak with my congregants... They never donate… Can we have all the members move to the back of the shul, so that Ms. Milt's people can move to the front with the other anti-Semites… At least they support the congregation, Bernie…
There's nothing more dangerous than fear. Moav feared the children of Israel. Due to their fear, they are ready to go to war. No talk of peace. No talk of a July 4th BBQ. Just fear.
They heard of Israel's military victories and feared. What did they fear? Who cares? That is not the point. The point is they feared. They were scared. They even joined with their enemies, in order to destroy somebody that could have been a friend. Israelis are always willing to be friends. Ever met somebody from the Middle East? Ever go to the shuk? They always say 'My Friend.' People I never even met in Israel are calling me 'My Friend'... You go to the shuk... Yes. You're scared they're going to rip you off. But it's your friend ripping you off.
Many people have fears. Our bar mitzvah is going to be reading the Torah today. He fears that people will be screaming at him for messing up the reading. He fears that people will be whipping candies at him. He fears that his voice is going to crack and that he will have to write 350 thank you notes after he gets his Bar Mitzvah gifts. We wish you much mazel, Johnny. I fear that your parents didn't give you a Hebrew name, Johnny. The point is, stay away from people… At least make friends with the Gabai. He's going to be on your back from the beginning to the end of your Layning... Any word you read wrong, he'll be right on it.
It all happens because we think negatively about ourselves. (Bamidbar 22:3) They 'jumped.' It was a knee jerk reaction. Kind of like the way that Sadie decided on the new ark cover. It's messed up... Silver embroidery?! You embroider with gold. Fear is a negative reaction to ourselves. It leads to bad decisions, like Michael's new haircut... He only had a few hours to get a haircut, before the Three Weeks and this is what he gets... It leads to voting for Ms. Milt.
They feared. Rashi ‘They became disgusted with their lives.’ That’s what fear does. That's why the team loses every game. Forget about joining with other people or cursing the other team. We have to see ourselves as good... How? We have to identify. 'Go. Beis Emes uSefilah Catchers'... I know we have the worst pitching in the league. We have catchers though...
Fear you'll show up to shul late. Don't fear other people.
Could’ve been friends. But they feared. They went the route of hate… That’s what brought Shalom between Midian and Moav... If we're disgusted with the town board... We need hate. That will bring us together. If there was more hate, the Jews would identify... Hate is bad. But we need identity...
The word used for fear in this week's Parsha is the same root word as used for living. 'VaYagar' and he lived… It is through fear that people live. It is through fear that people walk this world. It is through fear that people come together. If there’s one lesson we can learn from this week's Torah portion, it is that unity is bad... Let's explain for our Bar Mitzvah, who is confused right now... The whole women's section over there... The men's too. The whole congregation is confused. I shall explain. Fear is bad. You have congregants not marking that they're Jewish because of fear. They live with fear. And the only way to live with fear is joining in hatred...
Who did you vote for?... Exactly. How much longer will Jews have to wear baseball hats in this city?... We do that to hide our Yarmulke. How many baseball games will we have to go to, so that they believe we love the game?... You can sit at a park, the grass is nice there too... We have to be strong and live. Not in fear. But live as in 'Chaim,' everlasting life. To identify as Jews for life... How do we do that? You check the box. Number 2 pencils work... Jews are not an 'other.' Jews are hated too much to be the 'other.' You check it.
They conspire with Bilam to fight the Jews with words. As Rashi comments (Bamidbar 22:4), based on the Midrash, the elders said that the strength of the Jews is their mouth, as that is where Moshe’s strength is from. Due to this, they employ Bilam, a man whose strength is also derived through speech. Sticks and stones my Bar Mitzvah, may break bones, but names do hurt. People use words to hurt... Ever been called a poopie face? It hurts…
The Midrash presupposes that Jews talk a lot. A bit offensive. Maybe there would be less anti-semitism if Sadie and Shlomo’s section didn’t talk so much... It’s the middle of Davening…
Maybe if we were a less witty and less sarcastic people, we would have friends, and people would fear our big words like, euphemisms. Which, yes Johnny, Jews can use; because we are smart…
That’s what the Moavites heard from the Midianites. Thus, he wants to curse.
We all have strength in our mouths. Do we use it for fear or blessing? Fear or life?... I heard so much fighting going on about the meatballs last week. There weren't enough. I was scared I wouldn't get a meatball... They were tiny. Fear cause fighting. There was much cursing in the shul. Meatballs were thrown...
You didn’t get them a wedding gift??? Even if you didn’t go… You trying to curse them… To not give them something…
(Bamidbar 22:12) H’ Tells Bilam, ‘You shall not curse them because they are a blessed nation.’
In H’s eyes, we’re blessed. No matter how anti-Semitic. The town council cannot curse us. They can't stop us from checking 'Jew'... This way they know why the cost of housing went down...
The curse is ours to give. It's Jews not wanting to be Jews… The town council can't curse us. We voted for Mrs. Milt. We started wearing the baseball hat to voting booths and covering up our Jewish stars... Their fear of us has turned into our fear... Moav fearing the Jews is fine. They can join forces and speak of how annoying Bernie and Karen and Pinny are... They are annoying. But once we we don't click the box, we're separating from them. We're now fearing the ones we love... Yes. They're annoying. We love them, but they are annoying...
The curse is not from Gd. It’s from us. We need more Jewish people connecting. Our Bar Mitzvah boy, Johnny... How do you connect? You check the box... Not by going to shul or visiting Israel. Just check the box. We need you to check that box, ‘Jewish’… It’s not enough to vote. We’ve seen what voting can do to the shul board. The vice president… You’re not Jewish? It’s fine. It’s for the census… You’re not town council? You’re here for the Bar Mitzvah?... You can still donate.
The question that H’ has for us is, ‘Who are you hanging around?’ Who are you voting for? What is it these people want from you? Did you ever realize that I don’t hang out with any of the congregants?... The casino? I go alone. Never with a congregant.
(Bamidbar 22:9) H’ asks Bilam, ‘Who are these people with you?’ H’ doesn’t care. He’s not jealous that He wasn’t invited for the sleepover party. They're annoying anyways. You can't get any sleep in a sleeping bag.
We must ask ourselves who we are around. That is where are blessing is from… Who do you spend your time with Johnny?... I mean. Who do you spend your time with them?... Are you hanging out with Mrs. Milt? Are you spending time with people that hate Jews? Are you sitting in Shlomo's section, in the back left of shul? When you spend time with the wrong people, you start to hate. You start to curse... I know the kids are coming back from camp, using foul language.
Pirkei Avot ‘Go to a place of Torah.’ ‘Stay away from bad neighbors and don’t be friends with an evil person.’ Why anybody lives here… It’s not you. It’s because you're spending too much time in Shlomo's section. That is where the curse is coming from…
Other people may want to curse us. Don’t hang out with them. Why do you want to be around people that are putting you down all the time?... ‘Hey dumb one… And you should die… Poopie face...’ That’s not the kind of people you should be hanging with… Spending time with people who put others down all the time… Because they fear. And that fear brings a hatred. And then those people want to curse. And the next thing you know, they're calling people a Meshugana. It's offensive...
If we can learn anything from this week's Torah portion, it is that there is only one way for unity, and that is hate. It’s staying away from people.
As you go out to this world, our dear Bar Mitzvah, do not join with anybody. Be an individual. People only join together to do bad. They will work together to bring you down. When they fear you, that's when they become one. Look at Shlomi's section. Conspiring as we speak. Look at the Ms. Milt supporters. Look at Sadie... I know you don't like the tent over my parking spot. It's hate Sadie... You'll see how they all join together to correct every mistake you make when you read the Torah...
You have the chance to be a good Bilam. Don't hang around people who fear Jews. Don't become disgusted with yourself. Make the right decision and donate to the new building fund...
Come to shul, but stay away from them. Check the Jewish box... Don't worry about coming to shul. Check the box.
May we be zoyche to the final redemption, of unison without them.
Rivka’s Notes on Rebbi Mendelchem’s Drasha
The rabbi's short sermon was very long, as he gave a sermon before his short sermon. And then he started speaking to the Bar Mitzvah boy. Which means, he repeated what he said, for the Bar Mitzvah boy.
He does this thing where he talks to the Bar Mitzvah boy, but we are all still there. So, we have to listen. And then he gets mad when we talk during the sermon. But we have no idea he is talking to us. I think we're supposed to watch the Bar Mitzvah interaction. It's proper etiquette to not talk. And the new seats in shul are theater seats.
Referring to everybody as ‘them’ confused people. Everybody thought the rabbi was specifically not referring to them throughout the speech. He had to change it back to ‘you,’ ‘he’ and ‘she’ so that they knew who he was rebuking.
I think the problem is that people are identifying as ‘they.’ We need them to be identifying as ‘Jewish.’
The Bar Mitzvah boy was confused. I think the family was trying to figure out why there was so much hate in the community. The rabbi was very taken aback at the town council meeting. He brought that all to the shul. The Bar Mitzvah boy also didn’t know if he should be going to shul where people are or not.
It was a big day for the Johnny. He was told he was turning into a man. I heard he got back home and told his parents he's moving out. He claimed that he had more of a chance of supporting his family if he moved to New York.
The speech being given before the Bar Mitzvah boy's reading of the Torah instilled a lot of fear in the kid.
The rabbi was not happy with the town council meeting. He also didn’t like that there was no handshaking on the screen. He later complained that nobody identifies with people sitting in their home and watching TV during a meeting, with a blank screen. As he said, ‘Nobody says I want to be part of that community, where you can’t see half the people.’
The rabbi does feel that it would be better if most of our communities were not seen. Many of them are nosy and annoying, and we’ve lost many potential members because of shul regulars not being absent on Shabbat.
If Bilam would’ve cursed the Jews with the members of Beis Knesses Anshei Emes uSefillah, Moav would’ve had a chance.
Kiddish didn’t have enough meatballs.
Said they were bringing it for the table. That was a lie
And one of the members decided they should share their opinion on how we should vote for the Town Council. They called us all racist and said that we should vote knowing we are all racist. His message was that even though they are anti-Israel and anti-Semitic that doesn’t mean we should be racist and not vote for them. I didn’t understand it. It was nice that they sponsored the Kiddish in honor of the kids graduating. Everybody left the kiddish and went home.
In the end, the Jewish community voted anti-Semitic.
The rabbi took excellent advantage of the visitors from around the community. Making an appeal to non-members was the right thing to do. Members don’t donate to the shul. It’s much smarter to ask people who never come to give. It’s also good he caught them before the Kiddish. If they would’ve had any of the sardines, they would’ve given nothing. Who serves sardines at Kiddish?! They definitely weren’t happy not getting meatballs. Only members know how to maneuver their way to the Kiddish table violently.
Handing out donation cards after his sermon was brilliant. They all flipped high hundreds. Some thousands. Our secretary figured out who they were. She’s into forensics. She figured out their addresses based on their fingerprints. She misses nobody. I think they learned well that if they want to curse Jews, they have to pay dues.
To get more Jews to check the box and identify as proud, we decided to bring in an athlete who was not Shomer Mitzvot. We don’t even think he is Jewish. He has a Jewish parent, but he himself is not Jewish. Once he came and said ‘being Jewish is good,’ the census numbers went up. Less people kept Mitzvot. But the number of people wanting to be Jewish rose. They thought their kids had more of a chance at making the NFL or the NBA if they were Jewish.
We also served falafel at the event. And we had some people on the sides saying that they hate Jews. As many are looking for friends, they thought it would be good to help if they had an identity. Mark and Simone as names isn’t enough to make for identity.
The annual board meeting helped with the anti-Semitism. The members of the board decided to run for town council. Their platform, ‘We hate Jews.’
Shabbat Kiddish luncheon had no challah. People had to eat twice. The whitefish was gone and there was no challah or crackers. How that happened is a miracle that our congregation will be discussing at the next board meeting.
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I was going to do Kaparos before Yom Kippur, but I chickened out.
You get it? Kaparos is the tradition of placing your sins on something else, the day before Yom Kippur, traditionally a chicken, and waiving it. He chickened out of the chicken. He might've done it with money in the end. But that would still be without a chicken.
Designated stroller parking area. Something every shul needs, so I can get through the entrance on Yom Kippur... Truth is they should have stroller parking all the time. The entrance is always blocked.
Problem: Merv and Bernie will end up parking there. They already take the disabled parking spots and walk just fine. When it comes to parking, every member of our congregation is disabled.
Side Note: Figured out why so many kids come to shul on Yom Kippur. Because they get to eat in shul on Yom Kippur.