From my friends at the Chabad of Peabody, MA

I'm the Rabbi at the Chabad of Peabody

We'd like you to join us for the High Holidays.

These are the things you should know about us first.

I decided to write our High Holiday ad this year because it's been brought to my attention there may be a few misconceptions about Chabad that ought to be addressed.

We are probably not what you expect, and you will probably be pleasantly surprised. 

Our services are quick.

My sermons are funny. And if I do my job right, meaningful. You'll be thinking about them after the services. This may lead to a lively conversation. Or even a spirited debate. Imagine that.

Our services are spoken in English and Hebrew.

You won't have any trouble following along.

You don't need to belong to our synagogue to get a good seat.

Sure, we'd love to have your support but partnership is never required to attend any of our programs or services. Ever.

Children are welcome. The more the better. We have a few of our own. Okay, more than a few. You'll have to come to find out how many.

Ninety-five percent of the people you'll meet at Chabad aren't Orthodox. There are Jews of every persuasion-Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, Reconstructionist, even Jewish Renewal.

In fact, if you're a member of another synagogue and join us, you're likely to run into other members while you're here. Don't worry. What happens at Chabad, stays at Chabad.

Yes, We do have a mechitza (divider between the men and women) however, if past reports are any indication, you may not even notice that it is there. You will be too busy enjoying, learning, laughing and growing spiritually. 

We're a friendly congregation. If you're new to our services, be prepared, someone will make you feel welcome.

There are people who join us to pray.

There are people who join us to kibitz. And to make new friends.

If you're here simply for some alone time, we're good with that.

Now that you know a little bit about us, you may find yourself asking, "What do you actually believe?"

Good question. We ask it of ourselves often.

We don't have all the answers, but we do have some. So here's a start.

We believe the world is a good place and that light dispels darkness. We believe that Judaism should bring people together, not keep them apart. Our differences are opportunities for learning and growth.

We believe that helping to bring out the best in others leads to bringing out the best in ourselves.

We believe, that loving and supporting Israel passionately is a an essential part of being a Jew in today's world.

We believe in acts of kindness and maintaining a healthy sense of humor.

Laughter is a good thing. So is smiling. You'll see a lot of smiles here at Chabad. So smile freely. We're big on the whole joy thing.

If you won't try it, you won't know what you are missing.

If you'd like to experience something a bit different this year, visit www.jewishpeabody.com  or give us a call at 978-977-9111 and we'll save you some seats. Free. And as always, our pleasure.

I look forward to spending the High Holidays with you and your family.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman

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Sanity is overrated

If I were asked to give people one piece of advice, I'd tell them that sanity is overrated. I say this with a smile but I am serious. People try to be perfect and like everything to be the way that they want everything to be. However, the world is not perfect, people are not perfect, it's OK to make mistakes, and it is fine if the joke is occasionally on us, you, or me. We don't always have to be in control.

I realized that this statement, sanity is overrated, is a positive way to think about people who are religious or who have a belief in religion. How do you know there is a God? You can not see him or her. Many people believe that God controls their lives - I don't know what to do but God will guide me. We have the ability to choose, so how can God tell us what decision to make or what job to take? In the past, people said that God spoke to them. Now if you tell people that, you will definitely be considered crazy.

We see the world by what we understand. What we don't understand does not make sense to us. Not everything is logical, not everything is known.

Belief in God is another way of seeing the world. We do not have to be able to see, touch, smell, or feel something to know that if it exists. It is belief. Because something is invisible does not mean that it does not exist.

See the world as it makes sense to you. Accept the way others see the world especially if it is different from your view. And, sanity is overrated.

Give them the roses while they can smell them

My dad taught my brother and I simple lessons that I believe make life more enjoyable. One of his favorite bits of wisdom was "to give them the roses while they can smell them." People eulogize how good or nice a person was. My dad would always say, "I hope they expressed those kind thoughts when that person was alive."

A simple and nice bit of advice. Everyone loves compliments and encouragement. People always point out the negatives and mistakes in your life. How about the positives, the things that that you does well? It's easy to spot the negatives. But, it is just as easy to find the positives. 

Give them the roses while they can smell them.

One Year Anniversary for AllThingsJewish

AllThingsJewish just celebrated its first birthday. Rosh Hashanah is just around the corner. For many, a new school year has begun. It is a time for goal setting and a time for reflection. 

Let's begin with reflection. I think it is important to see how things went in the past and where you want to go in the future. I started AllThingsJewish to create a magazine/blog to explore different aspects of Judaism. It came from my exploration to relearn and return to Judaism. I thought it would be interesting to have a place to read and discuss different points of view and interest.

Reflection tells me that AllThingsJewish was not as successful as I thought it would be. I didn't write as many articles as I thought. I invited guest writers but few accepted my invitation.

It's a new year and I am inspired to bring AllThingsJewish to its next level. My first goal? Invite and encourage more people to write for AllThingsJewish. While I can't pay for articles, authors retain their copyright. Authors can write about what they like. If you have an interesting Jewish-related business or organization, feel free to write an article that promotes it. Please let me know if you would like to submit an article.

My second goal? To write more articles. It doesn't matter if they are short or long, philosophical or humorous, or just a short post about something on my mind. I will write more often.

AllThingsJewish is for everyone. What type of articles would you like see? 

  • Reviews and posts about Jewish music?
  • Articles about Jewish literature?
  • Articles about Jewish customs?
  • Anything else?

Please share your thoughts with me. 

Palestinian and Israeli Students Get Along at Camp in Maine

I've always believed that people from different countries, cultures, and religions could get along if given the opportunity to talk and get to know each other. Granted there are some that want to hate no matter what, but in general, I believe that people want to get along. I think it is part of being human.

Seeds of Peace brings teenagers from conflicting areas together to get to know and understand each other. Click here to read about how Palestinian and Jewish teenagers are forging friendships at a summer camp in Maine.