Showing posts from November, 2012

Birkat ha-Gomel - Prayer of Thanksgiving after the hurricane

I wrote this for the Rabbinical Assembly's Thanksgiving Service 2012, in light of our community's experiences with Hurricane Sandy. Introduction to Birkat Ha-gomel   by Rabbi Rob Scheinberg, United Synagogue of Hoboken, NJ The traditional Jewish response to a brush with danger is to recite a blessing – just as we try to respond to every life experience with words of blessing. It may appear to be a paradox that the Birkat Ha-gomel, the Blessing of Thanksgiving, is recited following the very most terrifying moments in our lives: Barukh … ha-gomel l’hayavim tovot, she-g’malani kol tov.’   ‘Blessed are you, Adonai, our God, sovereign of the universe, who bestows favor upon the undeserving, and has bestowed favor upon me.’ We express gratefulness, even though we know that our good fortune has nothing to do with our merit. We are all the ‘hayavim’ - the ‘undeserving’. This blessing acknowledges that the fundamental unfairness of the universe sometimes accrues to our

Thoughts on Hurricane Sandy and Hoboken: "Many waters cannot extinguish love"

Below is our most recent update on the impact of Hurricane Sandy on our synagogue's community and activities. This update will also be reprinted in the Shofar Newsletter for the coming month. Please feel free to forward it to friends and relatives who might be interested in how our Jewish community is faring after the storm --and especially to those who have inquired about how they can assist.   photo taken just a couple of blocks from the United Synagogue of Hoboken.  Photo is from the Rebuild Hoboken website ( מַיִם רַבִּים לֹא יוּכְלוּ לְכַבּוֹת אֶת הָאַהֲבָה וּנְהָרוֹת לֹא יִשְׁטְפוּהָ. “Many waters cannot extinguish love, Nor can rivers drown it.”  (Song of Songs 8:7) These past three weeks have been among the most troubling of my life, but also among the most exhilarating.  I am posting here some updates about the impact of Hurricane Sandy on our community, the current state of the recovery in our community, and some practical suggestio