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Sign language has been part of the rabbi’s sermon since Shmulik was told that he should only be up there, with the rabbi on the Bima, if he signs. He took up signing and he stands there with his hands crossed, looking very serious. I believe he is doing the sign for security. Nobody in the shul reads sign language, except for the Silverwitz nephews, and they only visit once a year.
Since Shmulik started signing, less people have attacked the rabbi.
We started the fundraiser for Purim three weeks before the holiday. I don't think Purim itself needs a fundraiser, but Frank and Milt can't support the alcohol they consume. I believe the shul started the fundraiser, years ago, to support the consumption of alcohol. As more members of the community joined AA, we now use the fundraiser as the annual shul telethon. The telethon consists of people calling and asking for money. This year, it was me.
No entertainers are involved in our shul telethons. We would lose all the money if we had a famous person asking for money. We ask for money and we offer a meal. It has to be a meal too. We tried doing a fundraiser carnival for Purim one year, but people will only pay for a carnival if it’s food. The meal is the thing they pay for. The only booth that worked the year of the Purim carnival was the 'throw the meat in my mouth' booth.
As the brunt of fundraising fell on me this year, I realized that asking people to donate does not get them to like you. I have never had so many unreturned calls in my life. I left messages on friends' phones and nobody got back to me. Even when I called to invite them to my house for Shabbat dinner, they didn't pick up. Once I was part of the Beis Knesses Anshei Emes uSefilah Purim Telethon I was not able to get any answers from my calls. I lost all of my friends. My mother stopped taking my calls as well. I heard that she doesn't want me calling anymore, as she fears I will ask for a donation.
She is the only mother in the community that doesn't complain that her child don't call enough.
Fundraisers have caused family fights. I heard Beth gave too much and her husband now can't go golfing till August. There are many fundraiser issues in our community. I believe the best way to deal with it would be to have a fundraiser scholarship fund. This way people could make their donations and not have to worry.
The kids are coming to shul not properly dressed. There is proper shul attire, and nobody is doing it. The last year people stuck to proper shul attire was 1998. Since then, I see kids showing up with shorts and sandals. Waiters at the last Bar Mitzvah had Tshirts on. I don't believe they realized they were at a Simcha event. It might be the Israeli influence. However, we are not always in the middle of summer here. The rabbi should mandate double breasted suits.
Torah classes have not been attended recently either. I think people are worried they will have to give a donation if they show. There is a big fear of donations in our community right now.
Rabbi Mendelchem’s Drasha
Shabbat Shalom My Drove,
Congregants who do not care about your rabbi’s health or well-being, as the board has decided to not give a raise this year, due to finances that the rabbi has 'used'… A gym membership is very important to my role. Gym. Exercise. Health. Have to perform funerals… I deal with death all the time. I need to be healthy to deal with death… Try dealing with Bernie…
B”H it’s not a double Parsha this year… Two portions are not read. Just VaYakehl. As I care about you all, I will not review the Parsha of Pikudei; so, don’t worry… I could still go over Pikudei, as it’s usually a double Parsha. We commemorate, so I give a double sermon. But I am not. Do you want… I believe we're all tired enough. Last year, we were all very disappointed when we thought we were going to end the Parsha, at which point the Chazan kept on going. I remember this, as I am still having flashbacks. We saw Rishon (the first ending segment) end, and then it didn't. It went into Sheini (the second segment), with no stop. We all knew it was going to be long, as that process continued with Shelishi (the third segment), which only ended at Shishi (the sixth segment). I am not down on the Chazan, nor should any of us be... I had a talk with the Chazan about raising people’s hopes. I told him it’s wrong to raise their hopes and think that an Aliyah (segment) is ending, and then to not have it end. So, we are happy it’s a leap year and we don’t need to read Sheini with Rishon… It was confusing. ‘Stop. No. Don’t.’ I have never seen a Chazan or Torah Reader corrected so many times… Everybody thought he didn’t end right. ‘It’s an ender!’ They called it an ‘ender’… You need to be in shape for dealing with double Parshas. That will get the heart-rate going…
(Shemot 35:1-3) Shabbat… Can’t make a fire… Yes. That means work, Bernie. Fire is work… You’re making me work right now to explain the laws of Shabbat. Just stop driving to shul. How about that? Let’s start with not planning a road trip for Friday night… I don't know what Shmulik is doing. I think he's working. Didn't even move his hands to show work...
VaYakhel, ‘Moshe gathered all the nation of Israel.’ We can’t even get a softball game together… You can’t play with five people. You need a Minyin… Let's start with ten. We can't jump to a nation. The first thing he speaks about is Shabbat. He tells them, no driving on Shabbat. No stitching. No breaking... That means no renovations. Because you break everything. And he tells them 'no renovations.' The point is to not ruin stuff, like the Mr. Bernwitz... Worst paint job on the shed... Nobody can see it, and yet, it is till bothersome. Right after Shabbat, and rest, and not ruining everything, Moshe gives over the Tabernacle stuff.
Then he talks about the Temple/Tabernacle. Might as well make your work holy… No. I don't necessarily think it's holy to sell lottery tickets... It does stop people from going to the casino... Nobody purchased shul lottery tickets, because it was a fundraiser...
He gave sermons too. Moshe’s Drashas were longer than mine… Moshe also talks about these two things, when he 'gathered' us. First is Shabbat. Because Shabbat is what makes us a people. When else do you see Hymie?... I know you don’t want to hear his jokes. But you don’t see him when you’re working. When you’re tanning leather, you don’t see him. When you’re tying a rope, you don’t see Helen. When you’re stitching… You never look up when you’re stitching. You’re focused on the crocheting… Shabbat is the first thing mentioned when we’re brought together…
As Rashi notes that Moshe begins with Shabbat, to teach us that the work that is done for the Mishkan (the work on the Tabernacle is known as 'work' when we speak about Melachot) is not done on the Shabbat… Hammering was done on the Mishkan. You can’t do renovations on Shabbat… How can your neighbors sleep when you’re banging away? When they know the neighborhood is going downhill... Because you're not a handyman Mr. Bernwitz. You're very not handy. We had to move a bench and your side fell...
A double Parsha is work. I don’t know if they did it in the Mishkan… It is not one of the thirty-nine Melachot... Good point Michael. I will bring that up at the next rabbi conference.
(35:4-20) Right after Shabbat, and being commanded to work for six days, it talks about the work in the Mishkan… ‘Six days you shall work.’ Do stuff… Do holly stuff. They donated all the stuff… The people donated to the Mishkan. And that was the last fundraiser that worked... People still spoke to Moshe and Aharon afterwards...
Working is right after Shabbat. A requirement to work. You need to be in shape to do work… To work with the back left. That's why I go to the gym.
You sleep the whole week... No. The command is not to be lazy. The sisterhood can still help around the shul, like they used to.... The whole week '6 Days, you shall do work and on the 7th' you shall not do any work. You keep the Shabbat and you do not use it as a day to go to the park and push your goods. Nobody cares for the Ahava products... Your sale is mocking the people. You tell them how disgusting their hands are... So stand in the park and mock people. You can just tell them how ugly they are. That's fine on Shabbat...
'6 days, you shall do work...' That means to work during the week. You lazy people in this congregation. The problem is half of this congregation is made of people who went to college....Went to college and now think you can be successful if you work on the Shabbat... That's money. Money doesn't mean success. Mitzvot is success...
If you were thinking about getting a job, why did you go to college? What were your thoughts about your financial future when you are putting down $40,000 a year that you don't even have, for a job that might pay $50,000 a year, six years later... Moshe was telling you to rest. Relax. No studying on the seventh day... That's work. Land rests on the seventh year too... You can still donate, and answer your phone... Sunday is super, and you can work on it. You can give money on Sunday... Saturdays are only for tag flipping. Felvel. Please handout the appeal cards...
What makes Shabbat Kodesh?... Hymie telling jokes does not make it holy. Felvel laughs at his jokes. That’s the one positive. We're not depended on to laugh at them. He does that himself. That allows us to rest... Hymie laughing at his jokes would be painful... He shouldn't tell jokes during the week either.
(Shemot 35:10) ‘All the wise of heart among you shall come and make everything that H’ commanded.’ All the stuff… Even the staves. You need to hold the stuff in place… The clothing of the Kohens... You're not going to have dumb hearted people working on the Mishkan... The Pinkowitzs are not wise of heart... Giving all their money to their youngest for camp... He could've went to Gan Yisrael for a fifth of the amount... So they paid for their kid to go away. Now they're in debt and can't donate anything. Dumb of heart...
Chacham Lev (wise of heart) shall come and do all the H' commands
In building the Mishkan, it was the 'Wise of Heart' that are now invited to come and build the Tabernacle and its parts. It would seem that it is not just Betzalel and Ohaliav that helped make the objects of the Beit Hamikdash... Same objects in the Mishkan and Beit Hamikdash. It wasn't like a whole new idea because it was permanent... A foundation was needed. You don't want the Beit Hamikdash flying away. It would've never made 500 years... Why nobody names their kids Ohaliav is an anomaly... Putting it as the third name doesn't count. I know you name them after your grandparents with a Yasmin Jessica Rut... That's not naming her after Rut, unless if you're dumb of heart...
In this week's Torah portion, it would seem that all people who are wise of heart joined....Wise, because they were working towards something. They had a goal. The end game was there. They knew what they were going to do. They didn't go to university and spend $40,000 a year... Sorry. Forgot about room and board... They were there. To see it come to fruition... Money doesn't fruit. It needs heart to fruit... That's come to fruition. The wise-hearted didn't stop at the donation. They had the skills to... It takes divine inspiration. We don't want Bernwitz mishaps on our shul... Sometimes, it takes a wise-hearted to not help out...
These were the people who went to Community College and got an education, then a job.... The point is- Ben, Shira, Shana, Max, Eliezer, Esther, Gavriel and Karen- get out of your parents' homes. You are all above thirty and doing nothing with your lives. It is time that you pay off your student loans, so that you can become Wise members of this Synagogue, who pay dues... Help out with something already. Learn hot to layn, read the Torah...
Can you imagine how much longer this Dvar Torah would be with Pikudei... A few words from your wise rabbi who works real hard during the week and... Yes. I hit the gym. Wise-hearted. And I pay gym membership, which the shul should pay for...
Fundraising has to be done… Rivka. Way to go with the fundraising for the Purim fundraiser... We can't upkeep the building without funds. The first step in upkeep is money. We need the donations... Can't be wise-hearted with no donations...
We do the city census to see who to fundraise for. It turned out that we need to give more money to the Dollar Tree... It turns out people like the Dollar Tree and they feel they're paying too much there... We can't hold services there... The kids like basketball cards too. That was part of the census... No donations to the shul... School was deemed unimportant, as past graduates have not shown wise of heart tendencies... Ben, Shira, Shana, Max, Eliezer, Esther, Gavriel and Karen. Please stand... Exactly...
We have the census. Lots of censuses... We do them, because that's the only way to get half shekels out of you... You don't give, so we can't even do the shul census...
It’s about tradition. I remember when I used to come to shul as a kid… Yes. I did, Bernie. We used to get baseball cards. We would flip them. Cheesecake Kiddish. Bar Mitzvahs. Everybody wore tuxedos… You’re in shul. You look good. You wear a suit. You don't wear shorts and polo shirt... It's shul. You get cards when you donate, dress decently... Why not a cheesecake Kiddish? Let's take a census...
(Shemot 35:20) ‘And they left from before Moshe.' They probably didn’t want to do the work, like this membership... That's how you have to fundraise from now on Rivka. Tell them they'll have to help if they don't give money.
Some did do the work. The wise of heart. They gave money and did the work. You immerse yourself physically... Not work on Shabbat. You don't do renovations on Shabbat. That's not wise. Baruch is going to lose money this month... You immerse yourself in shul on Shabbat.
(35:22-25) ‘Men came with the women, everyone whose heart motivated… And all the women who were wise of heart spun with her hands’... Not on Shabbat... Because Shabbat is communal. I have seen you crochet. You're impossible to talk to... The community quilt doesn't count. That's not spun with wiseness...
Families get involved.
Wise of heart means all encompassing. They know the Torah is a way of life. Mitzvot... Missing a game of golf... I understand its sixth months. You can volunteer at the shul during that time... You can also yell at your wife for donating money to the shul...
It’s the work that is done by the wise. The heart motivates to give. The wise heart does the actions... Being there. Doing stuff... If you showed to Minyin, you would understand... Your plaque doesn't count for a tenth.
The action of giving charity. The action of doing work. The action of the whole family sharing in the process. It's all encompassing action... If you gave too much Tzedakah to the shul, you would feel it. You would see your debt everyday. That's all encompassing...
Working for Kodesh is a good heart. On Shabbat, we sleep for Kodesh. Kodesh, holy, is all encompassing. We are encompassed by the holiness as Shabbat, as we are encompassed by the labor of the week... Make it holy. Do positive stuff then... If you want to be a social worker, that's fine. A social worker for the Temple... We're encompassed by community. Just stop with the jokes, Hymie. They're painful. And let us not be encompassed by an extra Parsha... After Shabbat, answer Rivka's calls...
I am going to engulf myself at the gym, to deal with this all encompassing membership...
Rivka’s Notes on Rabbi Mendelchem’s Sermon
We lost people last year, after the double Parsha. We lost them all. For three weeks, we couldn’t get a Minyin.
Our congregation is very uneducated and it's embarrassing. To correct the Chazan and Torah reader with English terms like 'ender' is pathetic. Here, they're reading it in Hebrew, and these guys are screaming 'ender.' 'It's an ender.'
I have no idea how they all sit through the whole service in Hebrew every week. They must be sitting and spacing out for three hours. It's a meditative process to say words you don't understand, wrong.
The rabbi put in for Siddurs with translation, so that the congregants would have something to do, other than faking like they're praying. They still all glance up when they bow, to make sure they're doing it at the right time. We have one woman who's a perpetual bower.
The rabbi started using the gym thing to his advantage. He was playing pickleball regularly. He was spending three hours a day there and saying that was part of his job. He said something about Pikuach Nefesh, saving a life, and how he had to work up his cardiovascular system to deal with the membership. He said, ‘This is the kind of work I have to do during the week. Bernie…’ And then he called it office time. Office time is very vague nowadays. My son says he's going to the office when he goes to the washroom.
The people in our shul really do focus on their work, on Saturday. The rabbi telling people to keep the Shabbat was revolutionary. No rabbi before him ever brought up Shabbat on Shabbat. They were too scared to find out what would happen if the congregants learned about Shabbat.
Our congregants had no idea that separating was a Melacha, an action you can’t do on Shabbat. The rabbi just said ‘separating can’t be done,’ and the divorce rate in our shul went down. It turns out that most divorces happen on Shabbat. The Friday night dinner turns out to be the number one cause for families separating. Time together with one’s spouse seems to be detrimental to marriage in our community.
Then he told them to work the other six days. That killed them. People protested as they wanted Sundays off too. The rabbi turned into a Jewish boss, demanding people clock in on Sundays. The Christians in our shul were very hurt by this.
The rabbi lost the congregants, and his message, when he said something about money not being success. Five members left right then to try to sell some cars. Baruch's Used Car Lot went right back to business that day. He said later that he didn't want Shabbat to get in the way of his success. He lost money that month, but it wasn't for lack of not keeping Shabbat. Everybody thought the rabbi was a Navi for saying Baruch would lose money. The rabbi said he wasn't a prophet. Just that Baruch is not good at sales. Baruch also had a hard year, like me, as the head of the fundraising comedy.
More members left the shul when the appeal cards came out. We have a fidgety membership who are worried they'll accidentally pull down a tab. They twiddle a lot. That will lead to a phone call and a donation, or more phone calls.
I think it was fifteen years ago when the sisterhood started complaining; complaining, and doing nothing else. They used to complain and set up Kiddish. They used to complain about flowers and buy them. Now, they just complain about how ugly the flowers are.
The rabbi saying 'dumb of heart,' he meant dumb. The babies are being named after favorite athletes and TV personalities. We have a Harvey in the shul. It's Harvey Moshe. If the first name is not after your grandparent, you're not naming your kid after your grandparent. You can't shtup a name in the middle of five names and say that's a Kavod, an honor, to Grandma.
Family Fights I have Witnessed in Our congregation: The we should've not walked in the rain fight. The you're going to catch pneumonia fight. The it's your side of the family fight. The why did we move here fight. The davening is too long fight, and it's your side of the family's fault that the Chazan is leading services way too slow. The we should've hired another rabbi fight. The the last rabbi was worse fight. The why did you donate money fight. The it's our square in the community quilt that ruined the quilt cover of the ark fight. The why fight.
When Flevel laughs at his own jokes I am so appreciative. It’s a relief. I don't have to put in the laugh energy. Now I don’t have to laugh. Thank Gd. It's a good way to hear jokes on Shabbat and rest.
We finally got Shmulik to stop signing, as there are no deaf members in the shul right now. He’s been relegated to Kiddish bouncer. He stands there with the front arms crossed.
We tried buying cards for the kids, to encourage them to come to shul. They’re too expensive nowadays. We tried a fundraiser for the cards, but that just caused more people to run from the shul.
I appreciate the rabbi supporting me, though he hasn't donated anything to the fundraiser. He did donate to the rabbi's parking canopy fund, and the rabbi's gym membership fund. Since I started fundraising, I have lost all my friends. People have been blocking my number. Some have taken their number out of the phone book., in fear they will be found. Our congregation has the highest number of unlisted numbers in Topeka.
The rabbi shouldn’t have mentioned the census. It turns out, the city lost five thousand Jews last year. Nobody wrote down they were Jewish, in fear of being found for a fundraiser.
Purim fundraiser was also a really bad idea. It’s supposed to be a happy holiday. Nobody smiled all of Adar. Knowing there was a fundraiser killed the holiday feel.
It turns out that fundraising chases Jews away.
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They wanted to clean the silver on the Torah. Instead, they Polished it.
You get it? People from Poland are Polish. They should‘ve polished the silver. Nobody knows what it means. Maybe put a Polish person on it. If you're Polish, we do not mean to offend you. At the Kibbitzer, we are sure that many Polish know how to polish very well.
The Jerusalem Shofar carrying bag and water bottle. Perfect for when you need to blow the Shofar on a Tiyul. (saying something about a Shofar on a hike was where our creativity on this joke came to a halt)