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A Vibrant Reform Jewish Synagogue in Bergen County.

Temple Avodat Shalom

Serving northern New Jersey since 1952.

Upcoming Events

January 23, 2019 at 3:45pm
January 24, 2019 at 12:00pm
January 25, 2019 at 8:00pm
January 26, 2019 at 9:15am
January 26, 2019 at 10:30am

Yitro

Posted on January 21st, 2019

Exodus 18:1–20:23 

 

By Rabbi Sarah Bassin for ReformJudaism.org


Encounters That Can Make Us Become Better Jews


Jews are good at nostalgia. We remember with fondness the tenements of the Lower East Side when our community was tight knit and intact. We remember the quaintness of shtetl life untouched by outsiders. We yearn for the sovereignty of Ancient Israel where we controlled our own fate, unmolested by other nations.

But as Rabbi Rachel Adler reminds us, “there never was a time when ancient Israelite religion or the Judaism that succeeded it were not being influenced by the cultures and religions they encountered.”1

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Shabbat Shira - Beshalach

Posted on January 14th, 2019

Exodus 13:17-17:16 
 

By Rabbi Sarah Bassin for ReformJudaism.org
 

How We Win Is Important
 

If we as Jews believed in a hell, Amalek would have a special place in it.

Since we don’t, we take care in every generation to blot out Amalek’s name. It’s a level of disdain we retain for the worst of the worst. Amalek makes it to the top of our list of enemies. So who was Amalek and why is he the focus of all our ire?

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Bo

Posted on January 7th, 2019

Exodus 10:1−13:16 


By Rabbi Sarah Bassin for ReformJudaism.org


Thinking Big and Failing Fast


Think big. As a society, we value those who step beyond the status quo, who push us beyond what we think is possible. We think of them as heroic — because they possess a talent that we do not.

But what if thinking big were not a talent but a skill to be cultivated — something even God had to practice?


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Vaera

Posted on December 31st, 2018

Exodus 6:2-9:35 
 

By Rabbi Sarah Bassin for ReformJudaism.org
 

Shortness of Breath, Shortness of Spirit
 

High school wasn’t great for me. I functioned at the periphery of social groups, laying low and laughing at jokes made at my expense so as not to be excommunicated into social oblivion. The weekend I left for college, I never once second guessed my decision until the moment my parents said goodbye and drove off. Watching that van pull away, it suddenly hit me that I was fully alone. I was 1,200 miles away from anyone who knew me. Every worst-case scenario flooded my brain in that instant. What if it were worse than high school? What if I didn’t find any friends or a group of friends? What if I failed my classes? What if none of the clubs wanted me? I froze. I wanted nothing more than to return to the familiar — to go back home. I must have stood there looking shell-shocked for a solid five minutes before a kind orientation leader coaxed me out of my stupor to some ice-breakers and what turned out to be the start of a fulfilling college experience.  

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Shemot

Posted on December 24th, 2018

Exodus 1:1−6:1
 

By Rabbi Sarah Bassin for ReformJudaism.org
 

The Limits of Control
 

We take control. We lose control. Sometimes things are beyond our control.

There is as much value in recognizing what’s within our control as there is in acknowledging what is not. Finding that balance of what to own and what to acknowledge as beyond our reach can be tough. It can be a poignant internal struggle — particularly when you’ve just suffered a trauma or been the victim of a crime.

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