Rabbi Israel, a genius on both the revealed and secret aspects of the Torah, was a very modest man. Despite his great scholarship, he never considered himself worthy of all the honors that were bestowed upon him.Read More
Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, Talmudist, Halachist, physician, philosopher and community munal leader, known in the Jewish world by the acronym Rambam and to the world at large as Maimonides, is one of the most important figures in the history of Torah scholarship; on his gravestone were inscribed the words, "From Moses to Moses, none arose as Moses."
Today, many hospitals and schools across the globe are named after Maimonides; and to this day, students worldwide pore over his scholarly works.
Rambam was born in Cordoba, Spain, on the 14th of Nissan (the eve of Passover) of the year 4895 (1135 C.E.1). His father Maimon, a direct descendant of King David, was a judge in the city's rabbinical court. His mother passed away when he was yet a small child. At the age of thirteen, his family was forced to flee Cordoba when a fanatic Islamic sect took control of the city; the Jews were attacked by rioters and many synagogues were destroyed.
Rambam and his family traveled from place to place looking where to relocate. Not finding anything suitable in Spain, he and his father and younger brother, David, moved to Fez, Morocco for five years. In 4925 (1165 C.E.), he visited the land of Israel and then moved to Alexandria, Egypt. Later, he settled in Fustat, today known as Old Cairo, where he lived until his passing.
In Egypt, Maimonides was supported by his brother David, a merchant who imported diamonds from India. His financial support gave Maimonides the ability to devote himself to the study of Torah and to author his three main scholarly works: (1) Commentary on the Mishnah, (2) Mishneh Torah Jewish Law (3) Moreh Nevuchim The Guide for the Perplexed.
Tragedy befell him when his father, wife and two of his sons died within a span of two years, starting in 1166. Several years later, in 1171, his brother David drowned when his ship sunk en route to India. Without the support of his brother, he began practicing medicine and struggled to support himself and his brother's family.
In his mid-fifties, Maimonides was appointed as a personal physician by a royal courtier and then to Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and Syria. His new appointments and duties gave him financial stability and more – albeit still very limited – time to devote to his writing.
His son and faithful student, Abraham, was his only remaining immediate family member.
Maimonides passed away on the 20th of Tevet of the year 4965 (1204 C.E.) and was buried in the city of Tiberias in the Holy Land.
Iris Jacobs is having another surgery on her hand and we need help providing meals for Iris and Dan (2 adults) between Monday, December 17 and Thursday, December and between Monday, December 24 and Thursday, December 27.
If you would like to help provide for dinner between these two periods, please sign up at Meal Train.
Please note the following: The Jacobs don't eat white pasta, white rice, white flour, brussels sprouts, asparagus or dairy, The Jacobs are allergic to peanuts, fresh cherries, and sulfites (used in most dried fruits).
Please help us remember our friend Phil Machlin.Read More
The first Jewish mellah (Arabic for “salt marsh” or “salt spring”) was established in the Moroccan city of Fez in 1438. Historical records suggest that the Fez Mellah, similar to a European ghetto, was built to safeguard the city’s growing Jewish population in return for loyalty to the sultan. Today, it stands in ruin.Read More
On a governmental level, I’m writing to share our immediate responses to this alarming development in a neighboring state.
Councilwoman Elsie Foster-Dublin (head of the Public Safety Committee) and I consulted with our Police Chief Stephen Rizco about the steps we can take to bolster synagogue security in our town. As an immediate measure we have increased drive-bys at our synagogues at times when services are held.
We are scheduling a meeting between representatives of the NJ Department of Homeland Security, clergy members of faith communities in the area, church & synagogue administrators, and current church & synagogue presidents for this Tuesday (time and place to be shared with meeting invitees).
There is one other thing that each one of us can do. The federal government has recommended for the past decade or more; If you see something, say something. If you notice someone who appears out of place in your synagogue, an untended bookbag, or an unusual package received in the mail, tell your rabbi or a synagogue officer immediately (don’t wait until after services end).
If the person you inform cannot identify the suspicious person, bookbag, or package, have them contact the Highland Park Police Department immediately (call 911). Don’t delay and don’t worry that you are causing an undue alarm. You may be saving lives.
Wishing everyone a safe, secure, and healthy fall.
A new study published earlier this month in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that a religious upbringing positively correlates with an individual's happiness.
The study, conducted by Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that those raised with religious practices have better physical and mental health as they age, and have a lower risk of depression, tobacco use, STDs, and substance abuse.
The study, which followed participants for 8-14 years, included 5,000 people. Children and teens who attended prayer services with their parents at least once a week were 29% more likely to volunteer, and 33% less likely to use drugs in their 20s.
Those who prayed or meditated daily were 30% less likely to engage in promiscuity at a young age and 40% less likely to have an STD. They were also 16% more likely to report being happier in their 20s. These adults were also better able to process emotions, forgive, and be satisfied with their lives.
Study author Ying Chen said, "These findings are important for both our understanding of health and our understanding of parenting practices. Many children are raised religiously, and our study shows that this can powerfully affect their health behaviors, mental health, and overall happiness and well-being."
We just received 150 copies each of the Orot Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur mahazorim for this high holiday season. The new Orot Mahazorim contain a revised translation and is set in linear style. The font is clear and easy to read.
Etz Ahaim now has the entire set of Orot siddurim — Shabbat, Chaggim, and the High Holidays available for your davening.
We like to thank all of the individuals who donated money to pay for these new mahazorim. It will make it easier to follow our services, and the translation will help those whose Hebrew knowledge is imperfect to better understand the prayers.
Etz Ahaim now has beautiful new seating for our men's section. The new benches were produced from Kibbutz Lavi in Israel.
We like to thank all of our donors. Please keep the seats clean. Don't leave dirty tissues and other trash inside the seat back storage compartments. Please ensure that the sidurim and chumashim are put away on the shelves, and that the tallitot are replaced neatly back on the rack.