CONGREGATION BETH SHALOM


688 Clifton Park Center Road, Clifton Park, NY 12065
(518) 371-0608

Welcome to Congregation Beth Shalom
An established community synagogue serving Southern Saratoga communities

News About Upcoming Services

We welcome Rabbi Amiel Monson, Rabbi in Residence, to Congregation Beth Shalom. Rabbi Ami will lead Kabbalat Shabbat services for Congregation Beth Shalom Fridays at 6:30 PM.
“Originally from Philadelphia, Monson spent the last seven years on the West Coast in a range of positions including spiritual support and counseling for elder residents at Los Angeles Jewish Home and The Nest (Los Angeles, Calif.) and youth director at Valley Beth Shalom (Encino, Calif). The rabbi graduated from the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Penn.) with a bachelor’s degree in comparative religion and a certificate in Jewish studies. He earned three master’s degrees from Gratz College (Elkins Park, Penn.) —in Jewish education, Jewish communal service, and Jewish studies. He graduated from The Academy for Jewish Religion (California) and was recently ordained. He follows generations of family rabbis, including his father, and maternal grandfather, who served at Temple Beth El in Troy in the 1940s, and a great-grandfather.” Jewish World, Jun 23, 2021
Rabbi Ami has replaced Rabbi Beverly as chaplain to Daughters of Sarah, Coburg Village and other assisted living or skilled nursing facilities in our area.

Please come to Kabbalat Shabbat service to make a minyan and to welcome Rabbi Ami. Services will be both in-person and via Zoom to accommodate our out-of-town members.
Please see the Beth Shalom weekly email announcements for all worship details including Zoom information. Please note that the service schedule is subject to change. Check Thursday's Beth Shalom email announcements for the most current information.


For Beth Shalom membership information, please call 518-371-0608.

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PLEASE JOIN RABBI AMI MONSON THIS SUNDAY VIA ZOOM or IN PERSON
FOR OUR FIRST TORAH STUDY OF THE YEAR ON SUNDAY NOVEMBER 6, 2022
WE WILL BEGIN AT 10:00am
Because the Torah is the touchstone of the Jewish people, Jews are often called “the people of the book.” The book, of course, is the Torah, the Five Books of Moses. But Torah is more than just one book. It can also refer to all of Jewish sacred literature and learning. Come and let's learn together!

Introduction to Hilchos De'ot

They contain eleven mitzvot: five positive commandments and six negative commandments.

They are:

1. To emulate His ways

2. To cling to those who know Him

3. To love one's fellow Jews

4. To love the converts

5. Not to hate one's [Jewish] brethren

6. To rebuke

7. Not to embarrass

8. Not to oppress the unfortunate

9. Not to gossip

10. Not to take vengeance

11. Not to bear a grudge.

The explanation of these mitzvot is found in the following chapters.

1

Each and every man possesses many character traits. Each trait is very different and distant from the others.

One type of man is wrathful; he is constantly angry. [In contrast,] there is the calm individual who is never moved to anger, or, if at all, he will be slightly angry, [perhaps once] during a period of several years.

There is the prideful man and the one who is exceptionally humble. There is the man ruled by his appetites - he will never be satisfied from pursuing his desires, and [conversely,] the very pure of heart, who does not desire even the little that the body needs.

There is the greedy man, who cannot be satisfied with all the money in the world, as [Ecclesiastes 5:9] states: "A lover of money never has his fill of money." [In contrast,] there is the man who puts a check on himself; he is satisfied with even a little, which is not enough for his needs, and he does not bother to pursue and attain what he lacks.

There is [the miser,] who torments himself with hunger, gathering [his possessions] close to himself. Whenever he spends a penny of his own, he does so with great pain. [Conversely,] there is [the spendthrift,] who consciously wastes his entire fortune.

All other traits follow the same pattern [of contrast]. For example: the overly elated and the depressed; the stingy and the freehanded; the cruel and the softhearted; the coward and the rash. and the like.

2

Between each trait and the [contrasting] trait at the other extreme, there are intermediate points, each distant from the other.

With regard to all the traits: a man has some from the beginning of his conception, in accordance with his bodily nature. Some are appropriate to a person's nature and will [therefore] be acquired more easily than other traits. Some traits he does not have from birth. He may have learned them from others, or turned to them on his own. This may have come as a result of his own thoughts, or because he heard that this was a proper trait for him, which he ought to attain. [Therefore,] he accustomed himself to it until it became a part of himself.

3

The two extremes of each trait, which are at a distance from one another, do not reflect a proper path. It is not fitting that a man should behave in accordance with these extremes or teach them to himself.

If he finds that his nature leans towards one of the extremes or adapts itself easily to it, or, if he has learned one of the extremes and acts accordingly, he should bring himself back to what is proper and walk in the path of the good [men]. This is the straight path.

4

The straight path: This [involves discovering] the midpoint temperament of each and every trait that man possesses [within his personality.] This refers to the trait which is equidistant from either of the extremes, without being close to either of them.

Therefore, the early Sages instructed a man to evaluate his traits, to calculate them and to direct them along the middle path, so that he will be sound {of body}.

For example: he should not be wrathful, easily angered; nor be like the dead, without feeling, rather he should [adopt] an intermediate course; i.e., he should display anger only when the matter is serious enough to warrant it, in order to prevent the matter from recurring. Similarly, he should not desire anything other than that which the body needs and cannot exist without, as [Proverbs 13:25] states: "The righteous man eats to satisfy his soul."

Also, he shall not labor in his business except to gain what he needs for immediate use, as [Psalms 37:16] states: "A little is good for the righteous man."

He should not be overly stingy nor spread his money about, but he should give charity according to his capacity and lend to the needy as is fitting. He should not be overly elated and laugh [excessively], nor be sad and depressed in spirit. Rather, he should be quietly happy at all times, with a friendly countenance. The same applies with regard to his other traits.

This path is the path of the wise. Every man whose traits are intermediate and equally balanced can be called a "wise man."

5

A person who carefully [examines] his [behavior], and therefore deviates slightly from the mean to either side is called pious.

What is implied? One who shuns pride and turns to the other extreme and carries himself lowly is called pious. This is the quality of piety. However, if he separates himself [from pride] only to the extent that he reaches the mean and displays humility, he is called wise. This is the quality of wisdom. The same applies with regard to other character traits.

The pious of the early generations would bend their temperaments from the intermediate path towards [either of] the two extremes. For some traits they would veer towards the final extreme, for others, towards the first extreme. This is referred to as [behavior] beyond the measure of the law.

We are commanded to walk in these intermediate paths - and they are good and straight paths - as [Deuteronomy 28:9] states: "And you shall walk in His ways."

6

[Our Sages] taught [the following] explanation of this mitzvah:
Just as He is called "Gracious," you shall be gracious;
Just as He is called "Merciful," you shall be merciful;
Just as He is called "Holy," you shall be holy;

In a similar manner, the prophets called God by other titles: "Slow to anger," "Abundant in kindness," "Righteous," "Just," "Perfect," "Almighty," "Powerful," and the like. [They did so] to inform us that these are good and just paths. A person is obligated to accustom himself to these paths and [to try to] resemble Him to the extent of his ability.

7

How can one train himself to follow these temperaments to the extent that they become a permanent fixture of his [personality]?

He should perform - repeat - and perform a third time - the acts which conform to the standards of the middle road temperaments. He should do this constantly, until these acts are easy for him and do not present any difficulty. Then, these temperaments will become a fixed part of his personality.

Since the Creator is called by these terms and they make up the middle path which we are obligated to follow, this path is called "the path of God." This is [the heritage] which our Patriarch Abraham taught his descendants, as [Genesis 18:19] states: "for I have known Him so that he will command his descendants...to keep the path of God."

One who follows this path brings benefit and blessing to himself, as [the above verse continues]: "so that God will bring about for Abraham all that He promised."

ELUL MEDITATIONS

“If you are not a better person tomorrow than you are today, what need have you for a tomorrow?”

                                   – Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

The Hebrew month of Elul which precedes Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is meant as a time of introspection. Each day of the month, we are meant to spend some time in meditation and contemplation about the year ending, and the teshuvah, the returning, renewing, and repenting that we each need to do in preparation for the coming year. 

Rather than wait until Rosh Hashanah, we take time each day for 30 days, looking at our actions, reviewing our lives, engaging in meaningful dialogue with our souls and beginning to apologize to those we have wronged, including ourselves.  

 

Our tradition calls this process "cheshbon hanefesh," an accounting of the soul. This is an opportunity for us to understand ourselves better and find more opportunities to engage with God.

The goal is to have a better sense of ourselves, our shortcomings and mistakes, sought forgiveness where possible, and granted forgiveness as well.
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Suggested Books to Read
Thanks to Rabbi Ami, this column is a new feature of our Beth Shalom website.

HENNE HOUSE by Nomi Eve

Book Overview

 An evocative and stirring novel about a young woman living in the fascinating and rarely portrayed community of Yemenite Jews of the mid-twentieth century, from the acclaimed author of The Family Orchard. In the tradition of Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, Henna House is the enthralling story of a woman, her family, their community, and the rituals that bind them. Nomi Eve's vivid saga begins in Yemen in 1920, when Adela Damari's parents desperately seek a future husband for their young daughter. After passage of the Orphan's Decree, any unbetrothed Jewish child left orphaned will be instantly adopted by the local Muslim community. With her parents' health failing, and no spousal prospects in sight, Adela's situation looks dire until her uncle arrives from a faraway city, bringing with him a cousin and aunt who introduce Adela to the powerful rituals of henna tattooing. Suddenly, Adela's eyes are opened to the world, and she begins to understand what it means to love another and one's heritage. She is imperiled, however, when her parents die and a prolonged drought threatens their long-established way of life. She and her extended family flee to the city of Aden where Adela encounters old loves, discovers her true calling, and is ultimately betrayed by the people and customs she once held dear. Henna House is an intimate family portrait and a panorama of history. From the traditions of the Yemenite Jews, to the far-ranging devastation of the Holocaust, to the birth of the State of Israel, Eve offers an unforgettable coming-of-age story and a textured chronicle of a fascinating period in the twentieth century. Henna House is a rich, spirited, and sensuous tale of love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness, and the dyes that adorn the skin and pierce the heart. This description may be from another edition of this product.

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Please Visit our Calendar for All the Upcoming Events


Do you have a special event coming up that you would like to share with your family, friends, and synagogue family? Why not sponsor an Oneg or Kiddush? Sponsoring a kiddush is honoring, celebrating, memorializing, and congratulating any individual/s or event. A kiddush is a wonderful way to bring people together and begin to celebrate the Sabbath too. For more information you can call the synagogue office and speak to Jackie at (518) 371-0608 or call Linda Russell at (518) 371-3641.

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Additionally, check out some of the other resources available to Beth Shalom through Jewish Federation of NENY using the link highlighted here. A link to the Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center is also provided below.

The Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center

The Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies strives to build a cadre of teachers, professional and lay leaders across the United States who are committed to Holocaust Education and Remembrance, ready to meet the challenges that the field is facing as survivors of the Holocaust are passing away and awareness of the subject in public memory is fading.

Welcome to Beth Shalom


Welcome to Beth Shalom!  Serving Southern Saratoga County for the last 47 years, we are so excited to welcome you into our building, services, and synagogue family.  While our unique membership comes from all branches of Judaism, we lean towards liberal Conservative practices and embrace interfaith, LGBTQA, and all our diverse friends and families.  Have a question?  Our Board and members are here to help.  Poke around our website to learn more about us and contact us today so we can learn more about you!  We are so glad you are here and can't wait to greet you in person!
Rabbi Ami with Professor Josh Kulp from The Conservative Yeshiva in Israel.
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Recent Events of Interest

A Mitzvah

 

We have a chance for volunteers to participate in a mitzvah by helping a refugee family who have settled in our area. Rabbi Beverly Magidson has forwarded this request to us.

 

The United States Committee on Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is looking for volunteers to assist with a small Afghan refugee family located in Ballston Spa. The family consists of two older adults and two adult children. Most of what they need is daytime transportation to doctor appointments. They are living with family; their English is pretty good. USCRI would like to run background checks for volunteers (at their expense) but will not require it in this case.

 

Please contact Margaret Slotnick at [email protected]

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Rabbi Ami recently officiated at a renewal ceremony at Summit at Mill Hill Senior Independent Living in Guilderland. Click on the link above to watch.
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‘It Could Happen Here’ – A Conversation with Jonathan Greenblatt,
ADL CEO and National Director
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
GE Theater at Proctors

Many congregants from Beth Shalom attended a conversation with Jonathan Greenblatt, author of It Could Happen Here – Why America is Tipping from Hate to the Unthinkable – And How We Can Stop It
In his new book, Greenblatt sounds an alarm about how the antisemitism and hate-related violence once relegated to far-off places is intensifying in the U.S., and how violence on an even larger, more catastrophic scale
could be around the corner if we don’t act now. The program was moderated by Neil Golub.
For those of you that would like to send Rabbi emeritus Markowitz a short note please send it to:
Rabbi Chanan Markowitz
c/o Josh Markowitz
3530 N Lake Shore Drive, #1A
Chicago, IL 60657

We are sure he would love to hear from you.

Congregation Beth Shalom                        [email protected]                  (518) 371-0608                  Rabbi Ami T. Monson, Rabbi in Residence
688 Clifton Park Center Road                                                                                                                                                President David Clayman
Clifton Park, NY 12065                                                                                                                                                           Rabbi Emeritus Dr. Chanan Markowitz