A Weekly Message from Rabbi Sam Levine 9.3.21

September 3, 2021


Dear friends,


A few last-minute points before we go into High Holy Day mode. This letter will contain:

  1. A letter from Sally Hipscher and me regarding our annual food drive (Sally and Audrey mastermind this great effort every year).
  2. A public-service announcement about the preliminary service on the High Holy Days.
  3. Reminder about Tashlich on Tuesday.
  4. An “ask” for the Acosta Molina family.


  1. First, the letter:

Why Social Action on High Holy Days 2021?

As we gather together as a community for the 2021 High Holy Days, we reflect on the past year, look to the future, and consider meaningful changes we can make and actions we can take. 2021 continues to bring extraordinary challenges for many of us because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of Americans experience food insecurity, go hungry, and are forced to skip meals every day. This year, because of the pandemic, more and more in our community have experienced overwhelming economic challenges and food insecurity.  Many of us were lucky. We only had to adjust by choosing to order our food online and having it delivered right to our doors. Many of our neighbors have not been so fortunate.


On Yom Kippur we choose to skip meals and go hungry as part of our tradition. But we are blessed to have the choice. Even if our hunger lasts only a day, it is enough to make us aware of the challenge hunger presents to those who experience it on a daily basis and especially to those who have experienced this because of the pandemic.

This year, you can take your experience with hunger and turn it into meaningful action.  Please participate in EMJC’s 2021 High Holy Days Food Campaign. It’s easy. Just write a check for any amount made out to East Midwood Jewish Center with a note in the memo that it’s earmarked for the 2021 HHD food campaign. You can also make a donation by credit card on the EMJC website. Click DONATE and make sure you indicate it’s your donation for the food drive (you can do this on the very last page when you check out).  Your donations will help support local food pantries.

By participating in EMJC’s 2021 High Holy Days Food Campaign, we can work together to offer meaningful help to others at this most important time of the year. We can help those who have been especially hard hit during the pandemic and begin to change the harsh reality of hunger and food insecurity and promote justice for all those who are hungry in New York City.

As we know, our ethical obligation to perform acts of tzedakah connects to righteousness, fairness, and justice.


Sally Hipscher

Rabbi Sam Levine


  1. Because of concerns around COVID and prolonged exposure, we have made a great effort to keep the service on the shorter side. Our service will contain all (halachically) required elements. For those who are concerned, my research into this has been extensive. At the same time, we have tried to retain some non-essential elements that beautify the service. So in our effort to trim the time down, I am asking people who are so inclined to pray the preliminary service (birkot haShachar and P’sukei d’Zimrah) at home before the actual service begins; there is no need to say these parts of the service with a minyan, and there will be other opportunities to say kaddish. Cantor Julia Ostrov will begin at 8:30 am with Shacharit, just before Barchu. If it’s important to you to be at the service for the traditional opening of “Hamelech” and Barchu, please be sure to be there/Zoom in/tune in for 8:30 am.


You may (or may not) notice some other small changes. We hope to present a meaningful and safe service for all. Thanks very much for your understanding, and here’s to dreaming about “getting back to normal” at some point!


  1. As we did last year, we will be holding a Tashlich ceremony in the courtyard of the synagogue on the first day of Rosh Hashana at 5:30 pm. Bring some breadcrumbs or grains of rice and cast away your sins into the, um, kiddie-pool. We’ll also be blowing shofar, so if you attended services on Zoom but would like to hear the shofar in-person in a safer, outdoor space, come join us. Apples, honey, and challah to tempt you out of your house!


  1. Katy Molina is due to deliver her baby in October, though it may be sooner. The last item they need for the baby’s arrival is an infant stroller/car seat. If anyone has recently graduated their baby to a regular car-seat and has one to hand down, it would be most appreciated.


Also, a reminder that we will finally have an opportunity to meet the whole family at EMJC on Sunday, September 19th. They will join us that morning for our congregational sukkah-decorating party (everyone welcome!!). If you have kids, please bring them to meet the girls (they are 8 and 5) and make them feel welcome, particularly if they (or you) speak Spanish. They are so looking forward to meeting us.


Shabbat shalom um’vorach – a peaceful and blessed Shabbat; and please accept my warmest wishes for a Shana tovah u’metukah – a sweet, healthful, happy New Year.


Rabbi Sam Levine