Shabbat Shalom ~ VaYera 2021

You’ve heard about “Biscuits with the Boss” (at least if you watch Ted Lasso). Now it’s time for “Coffee with the Clergy” (or “Coffee with the Klei Kodesh” if you’re a traditionalist). We want to meet with you and get to know each other better. Call or send us an email so we can set up a date!

Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz:
Assistant Rabbi Cornelia Dalton:
Cantor Ethan Goldberg:


Shalom WJC Family,

This week in synagogue we are reading Parshat VaYera, the second Torah portion about the life and times of Abraham and Sarah. One of the fascinating ways to read their story is as the first real outsiders in human history. They leave their clan or tribe in Ur and risk wandering through the lands of kings and chieftains whose ways they knew not. Abraham becomes known as ‘HaIvri’ the one from across the river, the outsider.

In this week’s Torah Talk video I dig a little deeper into the issues, but I want to use this moment to highlight a few important things happening this week that involve those we treat as “the other” when maybe we should approach them more as part of “us.” First, SOJAC, with support from a grant from the UJA/Federation, is hosting a program on Sunday morning at 10:00am via Zoom about the history of slavery in Mamaroneck. This exploration of our area’s past may open your eyes to remnants of slavery’s history that are still around today, which can help us understand the present state of race relations here and will hopefully lead to a more inclusive future. I hope you’ll join us—see the details here on the WJC website.

Next, I want to wish a mazal tov to WJC’s own Sandi Rosenbaum. She was honored Wednesday morning with an “Advocates for Adults with Autism Award” by a local organization called Yes She Can. Yes She Can works to help teens and young women with autism spectrum disorders and related social and learning disabilities develop transferable job skills to enable them to join and be successful in the competitive workforce. Anyone familiar with Sandi’s incredible work and dedication to those with disabilities knows how deserving she is of this recognition. Mazal tov Sandi and thanks for all you do and for giving us an excuse to kvell together.

Also this past week a few of us met with representatives from the Interfaith Council for New Americans Westchester (ICNAW). ICNAW is affiliated with a number of local synagogues and other faith organizations and has been involved in helping refugees, mostly from Afghanistan, resettle here in Westchester. We have been invited to join the group. So, we are hosting a meeting later today with those who might be interested in helping with this important project. We need folks who can act as a liaison to ICNAW as well as those who are willing to volunteer directly with the refugees. This is not an advocacy organization, but a hands-on, help people directly organization. If you are interested in helping, please contact me, Holly Fink, or Sharon Silver. Even if you cannot make the meeting today, we will get you connected.

There is also mitzvah news on the TS Ida recovery front. As you may be aware, The Coalition for Community is still supporting dozens of our newly homeless families. The Community Resource Center now has an agreement with the Fuller Center (formerly Habitat for Humanities) to prioritize the remediation and renovation of five homes. The cost for all five homes will be $40,000 for materials and such. A generous anonymous donor from the congregation has agreed to match donations to my discretionary fund for the cause up to $20,000. So, if you are inclined to help our neighbors in the Latinx community and would like to double your impact, please make a donation to the discretionary fund and indicate “Ida Relief” on the donation.

There are so many different kinds of people that we encounter as “the other.” The truth is, though, that we are all different in one way or another; we are all “the other” sometimes, just like our ancestors Abraham and Sarah. The Torah is awfully clear on this point time and again, “Do not persecute the stranger, because you were strangers in the Land of Egypt.” Even more than not persecuting them, let’s help and support them, just as we want to be treated when we are the ones feeling on the outside.

We are excited this Shabbat to host noted educator and musician Eliana Light who will be doing some in-service training with the clergy, making Shabbat with our ECC kids, participating in Rhythm & Ruach, and offering a Dvar Tefillah on Saturday morning. We are very excited to welcome Eliana – you can see the details for services this Shabbat below.

See you in shul or online,





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