A Weekly Message from Rabbi Sam Levine 2.26.21

As the rabbi of EMJC, it is certainly important for me to be involved in every aspect of synagogue life and governance. Periodically, I like to inform my flock of important changes in synagogue policy, as well as keeping the membership apprised of any structural or renovative changes to the building. This is as good a time as any, I figure.

To begin with, I am pleased to announce that a new Safety Committee has been empaneled. There have long been concerns about safety matters regarding the swimming pool (the door often gets left open – a serious hazard for children), the electrical wiring (electrical outlets on the floor of the bimah in both the Beit HaMidrash and the Main Sanctuary dating back to the 1920s – if you stand on them “just right,” you can get a nice crackle!), and the fire escapes (just try to open the exit door at the top of the stairs on the second floor – I dare you!). The committee has been hard at work, as evidenced by this important file holder in the main office:

Next, we are announcing an important new fund-raising campaign. Synagogues are funded largely by the purchase of plaques – memorial plaques, honorary plaques (such as, “this wall is in honor of my grandparents Seymour and Yetta Wall”), etc. As such, we have a brand-new pricing scheme for memorial or other plaques. For example, if you wish to honor your deceased parents, please see the following price chart:
For the first parent: $500
For two parents: $850
For three parents: $1,100
Each additional parent, add $150
The number of children honoring the parents will also affect the price, as follows:
2-3 children: no extra charge.
4-6 children: add $100 (per child)
7-12 children: wrong shul
If you are an only child, there is a $50 reimbursement
Below is a sample from the Social Room on the 4th floor. Miss Rothman was charged $1,100 for having three parents, but had $50 deducted from her total, for a final price of $1050, an astonishingly good deal for a mitzvah of this import:
To order your plaque, and for help with calculating pricing, please contact Executive Director Wayne Rosenfeld in the synagogue office.
Lastly, I would like to make an important public health announcement on behalf of the entire synagogue, and I know that most of the members of the Board of Trustees agree with me:
Ladies, ladies, ladies. If we’ve told you once, we’ve told you, literally, a thousand times. Please! Do not spit, smoke, or litter in the bathrooms!!! We deliberately painted the ladies’ rooms pink in order to engender slightly more, shall we say, lady-like behavior in the, shall we say, female membership of the synagogue, but all in vain! Especially in the age of COVID-19, it is crucial for all of our health that you reserve your spitting, smoking, and littering to outdoor spaces, like the courtyard, or the area in front of the synagogue (you may also “walk your dog” there, if you know what I mean).
If you are wondering what the rabbi is doing in the 4th floor ladies’ room, I direct your attention first to the fact that it is directly across from my office, and that, yes, in those quiet moments – well, enough said on that matter. And furthermore, that there is rabbinic precedent for such minor boundary-crossing: Rabbi Akiva said: “Once I followed Rabbi Yehoshua into the restroom and I learned three things from him…” Ben Azai said to Rabbi Akiva, “How could you be so bold with your teacher?” Rabbi Akiva replied: “It is Torah, and I need to learn!” And what three things did he learn? No spitting (as it is written, “Or if the man with the discharge spits on one who is clean, he too shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening” – Lev. 15:8), no smoking (as it is written, “Out of his mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap forth. Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. His breath kindles coals, and a flame comes forth from his mouth” – Job 41:19-21) and no littering (as it is written, “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for it and to maintain it “- Genesis 2:15) (Berachot 62a, sort of).
I hope you will avail yourselves of these new programs and services. And, like, seriously, ladies? – enough with the spitting already.
I will likely have more to report. Look for further announcements roughly a year from now.
Happy Purim,
Shabbat Shalom um’vorach – a peaceful, blessed, and sanitary Shabbat,

Rabbi Sam Levine