Social Action/Social Justice (SA/SJ) at TBM


Please remember to bring a donation of food or toiletries when you visit the temple, as part of TBM's year-round in-person food collection. Click below for a list of needed non-perishable items. Also to help fight food insecurity anytime click here to donate on TBM's special webpage at Fulfill and also learn where your dollars will go.

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Food insecurity is rising during the coronavirus crisis due to many causes, making soup kitchens, food pantries and school cafeterias more essential than ever. The need is truly URGENT at this moment. Rabbi Cy Stanway and the TBM Board encourage you to donate by credit card easily and securely by clicking here for the Temple Beth Miriam special donation page at Fulfill (formerly The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties). Get more information about Fulfill by clicking here.

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TBM's food drive tsedakah tradition is a year-long effort, but has been necessarily different during the year 5781 as we worship and interact online. Yet our neighbors' immediate food needs more urgent than ever. Your donation will help Fulfill support a network of over 300 food pantries and soup kitchens in our area, providing over 12 million meals every year and over $15 million in resources to help food insecure households with access to SNAP, affordable health insurance, tax credits and jobs skills.

Of the thousands of people served through Fulfill's network of food pantries and other community feeding programs, two out of every 5 are children. Over the past ten years, poverty in Monmouth and Ocean Counties has been increasing particularly among children.

If you prefer to drop off a shopping bag filled with your donated groceries to a food pantry convenient to you, you can view lists (from 2017, so verify by calling first) showing dozens of food pantries. Click here for Ocean County and click here for Monmouth County.

More facts about Fulfill:

    Fulfill was formerly called The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties

    Fulfill has two locations:

    • NEPTUNE FACILITY (Monmouth County) in Neptune
    • THE B.E.A.T. CENTER (Ocean County) in Toms River, Bringing Everyone All Together, a hub for community services and a partnership of Fulfill, the Peoples Pantry and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen.
    • Fulfill also accepts non-perishable food donations at these two locations.

    Besides food distribution

Fulfill has a suite of service programs

    • designed to get our neighbors-in-need back on their feet for good.

Facts about Fulfill's client communities (our neighbors):

    Two out of every 5 people served through Fulfill's network of food pantries and other community feeding programs are CHILDREN.

    Poverty has a major role in food insecurity, including those households that earn too little to cover basic needs. In MC and OC, one in every 4-5 households must pay half of their income or more just for housing.

Between 2007-2017 poverty has grown in MC from 5.9% to 7.6% and OC from 8.1% to 10.9%. For children, poverty figures have increased in MC from 7.2% to 9.9% and in OC from 12.4% to 18.7%.


Click here for more upcoming events and also videos of some past activities.

Clickable menu index for this webpage:

Please see TBM's home page for the most up-to-date information on religious services and Rabbi's classes. Minyans will be led by the Rabbi or Cantor virtually. To visit the temple or meet with the Rabbi or temple administrator George Korbelak, please CALL FIRST. You and your family can launch their smartphone GPS app with directions to Temple Beth Miriam by clicking here.

ongoing SA/SJ-related activities

  • Each Friday night at 7:30 pm (sometimes earlier, particularly in summer) please connect online, or if the temple is physically open come in person, as TBM celebrates Erev Shabbat. Join Rabbi Cy and fellow congregants, along with Cantor Marni often accompanied by other TBM musical talents. See the TBM home page and calendar for details. Erev Shabbat services are usually traditional, but sometimes feature a Bar or Bat Mitzvah reading prayers, celebration of baby-naming, birthday or other blessings, new music from Cantor Marni, or the participation of a group from among TBM youth. Erev Shabbat services are followed by a delicious oneg. Weather-permitting, summer services are outside on the rear patio.
  • When Temple life returns to normal after COVID and we are regularly at the synagogue, please think of bringing a non-perishable food donation to drop off in the bin by the front door, whenever you are coming to Temple Beth Miriam for services, Hebrew School, or a special event.
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    Your food contributions are taken regularly to the newly expanded food pantry at The Lutheran Church of the Reformation at 992 Broadway in West Long Branch. If you are interested in volunteering there, you might consider joining fellow TBM congregants Pat Shapiro, Gail Kass, Susan Hodes, and Amy Goldman on one day a month as they assist seniors at the food pantry. You can contact them for more information, or to sign up to volunteer at the food pantry.


  •  Don't pass up the opportunity to study with Rabbi Cy and fellow congregants online or in-person for the Rabbi's Shabbat Saturday 10 am class on Torah, Sunday 8 am class on Talmud, also Wednesday 10 am class on the Talmud's Pirkei Avot volume. You can show up anytime... no need to register or have attended prior classes. See 'read more' below for a brief overview of Pirke Avot, and also to explore several resources that either examine or challenge the very notion of Social Action/Social Justice in a Jewish context.
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    The book Pirke Avot: A Social Justice Commentary by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz is available in hard cover or on Kindle at Amazon
    Reviewer Rabbi Joseph Telushkin notes that "Pirkei Avot is the Talmud's premier collection of the great ethical and spiritual teachings of the Rabbis over a period of hundreds of years." and lauds Rabbi Yanklowitz for "a work of intensive and wide-ranging research informed by his own active and extraordinary commitment to justice." Another review notes that "Pirkei Avot (literally, "Chapters of the Fathers," but generally translated as "Ethics of Our Fathers") is one of the best-known and most-cited of Jewish texts. Even those who claim to know little about Jewish literature are familiar with maxims such as "If I am only for myself, who am I? (1:14)" and "Say little and do much (1:15)." Popular Hebrew songs take as their lyrics lines such as "The world stands on three things: Torah, service, and acts of loving kindness (1:2)" and "You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it (2:21)".

    Rabbi Cy explained that Pirkei Avot is completely comprised of short, memorable and repeatable maxims called "mishnahs" that focus on familiar, real life challenges. This contrasts with the rest of the voluminous Talmud which is focused on the details of Torah, with Rabbis at the beginning of the common era interpreting and extending the sometimes obscure, metaphorical or not easily understood passages and parables of Torah, in order to build a foundation for Jewish practices.

    Challenging Rabbi Yanklowitz's interpretation that Judaism, ethics, and social action/social justice are intertwined, is Jonathan Neumann's book To Heal the World? How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel
    which as described by one review "argues that those radical proponents who feel obliged to fix the world actually weaken devotion to the true Jewish mandate." Another review says that Neumann "is not just wrong. He's also way out of his league."

    An essay in The National Review entitled 'Social Justice' Is Unjust by Noah Rothman 2019Jan25 scans changes in US politics and offers the definition that "social justice means cutting Israel and its supporters down to size". Noah Rothman is the author of Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America and is an associate editor of COMMENTARY magazine which describes its articles as often "counted as landmarks of American letters and intellectual life. Agree with it or disagree with it, COMMENTARY cannot be ignored. To read it is to take part in the great American discussion." COMMENTARY was "founded in 1945 by the American Jewish Committee" with liberal leanings, and "in the 1970s emerged as the flagship of neoconservatism."

    "Israel Drazin offers an interesting commentary entitled Maimonides Disparages Morality in which Drazin argues that "Morals describe proper conduct, what is good and bad. They inform people how to live a blameless life. Morals 'seem' to show how all people should act. But is this true?"

    "Maimonides (1138-1204) disagreed. The best life is not the moral life, but a life based on reason. Like Aristotle, Maimonides stressed in his Guide of the Perplexed 1:1 that people must develop and use their intellect. In 1:2, he interpreted the Garden of Eden story as a parable that distinguishes "[the tree of] good and evil" from "truth and falsehood," and emphasized that scripture is teaching that intelligent people must not focus on good and evil, but on what is true and false. And it is "through the intellect [that] one distinguishes between truth and falsehood."

    "Maimonides, Judaism's greatest thinker (1138-1204), wrote a commentary on parts of the Talmud and sometimes introduced his commentaries with extended essays. One book of the Talmud, devoted to what the rabbis considered proper behavior, is called in Hebrew Pirkei Avot and in English Ethics of the Fathers, the "fathers" meaning the ancient rabbis. Maimonides wrote an extended essay on Pirkei Avot containing eight chapters and is called "Eight Chapters". In this work, Maimonides tells readers that he will give the thinking of the philosophers regarding the subject of ethics."


  • For many of us, the holidays such as Purim, Passover, Selichot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, and Hannukah are what tie together our Jewish religious practice, Jewish culture, and our daily lives. Don't deny yourself the opportunity for social action that is absolutely for each of us ourselves, as we are nurtured, and simultaneously help to nurture by celebrating together.
  • Formally join Sisterhood or Men's Club to be on the inside track of these happy and satisfying excuses for TBM congregants to engage in social action -- getting together -- sometimes for serious purpose and sometimes for fun, or sometimes both, such as the Men's Club Softball Team organized by Barry Edison which is nearly undefeated. Or please, at least sample some of their upcoming sponsored events and activities.
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    Contact Sisterhood leaders Debbie Gerbman or Cindy Singer or contact Men's Club president Al Goldman for more information.


  • Watch the TBM Calendar for when the TBM Membership Committee sponsors renowned gastronomic gatherings, buffet-style, such as the Chanukah Shabbat dinner, wintertime diaspora Canadian Picnic (the January 27, 2019 event was fantastic), summertime Beach Service BBQ, and Sukkot Havdallahcue. Please invite friends and neighbors. The expense is modest, and as always, there are special deals for families. Be sure to watch for details on the TBM home page.
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    Please contact the TBM office for event registration which helps membership chair Steve Silver get an accurate count for the food. Contact Steve about volunteering for an event or to join Kathy Cohen, Mark Cohen, Sandra Maseda, Roy Dressner, Pat Shapiro, Phil Falcone, Steve, and the Rabbi on the membership committee.


  • Watch for TBM Programming Committee Movie Nights that attract young and old adults for a buffet dinner followed by an Israeli or other Jewish-themed film on TBM's big screen along with some enlightening discussion. (The January 26, 2019 movie night included a delicious Italian buffet, and the movie The Women's Balcony inspired lots of questions and discussion.) Be sure to watch for details on the TBM home page.
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    Please contact the TBM office for event registration which helps membership chair Mark Cohen get an accurate count for the food. Contact Mark about volunteering for an event or to join the programming committee.


  • Watch the calendar for the occasional well-attended Sunday Breakfast with the Rabbi events that invite a guest speaker who has a significant role in the lives and fortunes of all TBM congregants, to address us and answer our questions, in an up-close and personal setting.
  • PLEASE invite friends and neighbors to participate in any of TBM's events and activities (TBM-congregant-only gatherings are rare). Your extending an invitation would be a social action mitzvah. Expense for events is modest, and as always, there are special deals for families. Please talk to Rabbi Cy if you think TBM should welcome your guests gratis.
  • TBM's Bar and Bat Mitzvahs undertake a Kishrei Halev (project of the heart) social action activity of their own choosing as part of their preparation during this exciting coming-of-age time for themselves and their families. There are volunteer opportunities for TBM congregants to advise on these projects as part of the Kishrei Halev Committee, and also to take on a leadership role.
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    Contact Liza Restifo for more information. A list of projects undertaken in the past along with additional related resources can be found at TBM's Kishrei Halev webpage.


  • TBM-based youth groups and North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY, the Reform Jewish Youth Movement) that grow out of TBM's religious education program also promote social action among our youth that is close to home, within their Temple and the broader Jewish community. Please acknowledge the efforts of TBM youth by supporting their events like the Purim Carnival and occasional fundraisers. See the TBM home page for details.
  • The website for NJTV, New Jersey's public television station, offers on demand eight episodes so far of A Matter of Faith, NJTV's series focusing on news and headlines through the lens of faith. Bishop Mark Beckwith, Imam W. Deen Shareef and Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz lead conversations with special invited guests.
  • Long Branch Police Department invites you to download the app and join them in Neighbors by Ring. Click here for details. Participation does NOT require a Ring system.
  • Rabbi Stanway was certified as a Police Chaplain by the Long Branch Police Department, and now serves the Long Branch community by working officially in this role, in which he accompanies Long Branch Police officers on particular police calls when the presence of a Chaplain is needed and required.
  • Visit The Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County in Freehold NJ to see the permanent exhibit Three Centuries of Growth and Change -- A History of the Jews of Monmouth County and to enjoy additional changing exhibits and events. If you are in New York City, the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is on Battery Place at the southern end of Manhattan.
  • See the webpage MRT Social Action: Repairing the World in So Many Ways!  from Monmouth Reform Temple, Tinton Falls NJ website, for ideas on Jewish initiatives for Social Action/Social Justice.
  • See the webpage Social Justice - Unitarian Universalists have a legacy of "deeds not creeds."!  from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, Lincroft NJ website, for their perspective on faith-based Social Action/Social Justice. Also, you might contact Sarah Klepner <> to request to get on her mailing list. Sarah does an amazing job facilitating the publicizing of social justice-related presentations, discussions, and other events taking place at the Unitarian Church and around our geographic area.
  • Monmouth ResourceNet offers a database of community resources, along with a searchable list of volunteer opportunities in Monmouth and other counties. While resources on this website are wide-ranging, Monmouth ResourceNet is specifically anchored by MonmouthCares, a private non-profit organization that partners with families to facilitate care for children with complex needs.
  • A Google search for Monmouth County volunteer organizations provides links to specific organizations such as Lunch Break in Red Bank, United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs, Habitat for Humanity, and Volunteers in Parks that are in need of help. Also listed are websites that can facilitate connecting volunteers with projects and groups that need help.
  • Monmouth County's official website has a web page that lists some volunteer opportunities.


SA/SJ issues for discussion

  • The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) with a tradition since 1893 of "making things happen" has as its current priorities reproductive health, rights, and justice; choosing justices for the federal courts; voter engagement; and in Israel speaking out for women's empowerment, gender equality, and strengthening civil society.Most recently NCJW has been strategizing ways to protect our families, neighbors, and communities from immigration enforcement raids that separate and are terrifying families across the country. Parents are afraid to leave home, children are afraid to attend school or camp, and families are choosing not to seek medical care, access the justice system, or simply play outdoors. Tearing families apart does not align with our Jewish values – not even close. Contact TBM's Norma Rosenbloom for more information about NCJW and their campaigns.
  • highlights in the current issue of its web magazine an essay On Global Jewish Responsibility: Putting the Olam in Tikkun Olam, by Ruth W. Messinger and Rabbi Rick Jacobs (1/21/2019). Also highlighted is an essay 3 Radical Facts About Martin Luther King Jr. and How to Honor His Full Legacy, by Chris Harrison (1/17/2019).
  • On Sunday January 12, 2020 Monmouth Reform Temple, 332 Hance Avenue Tinton Falls, NJ hosted Ali Abu Awwad speaking on A Palestinian Approach to Peace. The well-attended event was sponsored by Monmouth Reform Temple, Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey, and Muslims For Peace. Awwad was engaging as he described the initiative he helps lead that is building vibrant and sustainable Palestinian communities that coexist peacefully with their Israeli settler neighbors, and frequently must bypass self-interested and inflammatory political leaders.
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    The Wikipedia page for Ali Abu Awwad has detailed information of his life and experiences, and describes Awwad as a prominent Palestinian peace activist and proponent of nonviolence. Awwad currently is finishing his memoir called Painful Hope, an account of his experiences as well as his strategy and vision for the Palestinian future. He lives in Beit Ummar, near Hebron. The nonprofit thinktank Synergos shares additional information about Awwad.


  • Across the spectrum of Jewish belief and practice and across political lines, Jews disagree on private and public policy and action, particularly on how to protect, strengthen and assure longevity for infinite generations of Israel. Disagreements on how best to support Israel are ripe fruit for discussion under the umbrella of social action/social justice as shown in recent opinion columns...
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    The New York Times opinion piece Time to Break the Silence on Palestine by Michelle Alexander references Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as she equates the Vietnam War with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in her unrelenting (and for many Jews, painful) stab at truth-telling as she sees it.

    A blog essay entitled States for Two Peoples - A Response to Michelle Alexander's Recent Op-Ed by Rabbi Rick Jacobs responds to the above NY Times column and argues that despite "Alexander's brilliant work on the unfinished tasks of civil rights... she simplified the endlessly complicated and painful Israeli Palestinian conflict - the same reductionist mistake right-wing voices make."

    The NJ Jewish News opinion piece Worried about anti-Semitism? Monitor your allies, not your foes by Jonathan S. Tobin partly responds to the above NY Times column, and offers a wide-ranging self-described conservative analysis of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism, using familiar arguments that have deep implications for Israel and all Jews whether you personally agree or not.

    An article in Arabia Scene by Bahira Amin reviews The Words of My Father: Love and Pain in Palestine, a memoir by 28-year-old Yousef Bashir about his experiences as a young teen growing up in Gaza.

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    [Excerpted from Bahira Amin's book review and commentary]

    The memoir The Words of My Father: Love and Pain in Palestine is a blend of the personal and the political, and has brought author Yousef Bashir acclaim from critics on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Published in September 2018, its UK edition was chosen by the Times Literary Supplement for its Books of the Year.

    The memoir is the tortuous story of two generations of a Palestinian family sharing their house in Gaza for five years with occupying Israeli soldiers, beginning with the Intifada in 2000. Around 2005 the then-15-year-old author Yousef Bashir was shot in the back by an Israeli captain occupying the home, for which the Israeli army took responsibility and after which Bashir had treatment and sixteen months of rehabilitation in an Israeli hospital for his near paralysis. His brother and father were injured at different times at the home and property that his father refused to relinquish despite initial Israeli demands, so that the family of 11 was forced to live in a single room. Along with the tank and bulldozer destruction of their family date palms, generations-old olive trees, bee hives, an orange grove, and greenhouses (rebuilt at the family's expense after the Second Intifada and the final exit of the Israeli soldiers in 2005), ancestral land around them has continually been destroyed in the violence.

    The memoir is the author's personal project of archiving and disseminating his father's message - his father Khalil Bashir was a widely respected educator, headmaster of the German school in Gaza, and peace advocate. The memoir focuses on recording and transmitting the words that conveyed the father's unwavering hope for peaceful coexistence. For instance, Khalil Bashir insisted on greeting the Israeli soldiers with kindness, and told his son of the young soldiers: "They are just children, forgive them." Reflecting Khalil Bashir's unwavering commitment to peace, even in the face of the harshest conditions, the father said "We must not let our wounded memory guide our future", along with "I don't want to commit the mistake my people made in 1948. I don't want to be a refugee" as he defiantly kept the family in their Gaza home. Yousef Bashir's memoir is titled, starts with, and is held together by the words of his father.

    The memoir has a political strategy of intertwining storytelling through the mind of a teenager experiencing adolescent life in Gaza, with the contemporary political discourse about Palestinians, Israelis and peaceful coexistence, in the midst of which Bashir positions himself now, after studying in the US and moving to the US. Bashir's focus is exemplified by Seeds of Peace, an international summer camp in the US for teenagers from conflict regions, one of the first places Yousef Bashir shared his story.

    Bashir's focus, motivation and strategy for sharing his father's message are also demonstrated when he says, "I show up [at AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee] because it shouldn't be someone else telling my story" and he doesn't want to be "stuck in echo chambers... with tunnel vision further exacerbated by boycotting... events."

    The reviewer of Bashir's book credits the opinions of a younger, more left-leaning American Jewish population with motivating a shift at AIPAC, articulated by AIPAC president Mort Friedman at their conference in 2018: "The progressive narrative for Israel is just as compelling and critical as the conservative one. But there are very real forces trying to pull you out of this hall and out of this movement and we cannot let that happen. We will not let that happen."

    Author Yousef Bashir has this observation on the idealistic phrase that was his father's guiding principle: "If there's anyone who can say the word 'peaceful coexistence', it should be me."

    The Words of My Father: Love and Pain in Palestine, a memoir by 28-year-old Yousef Bashir is available now in the UK. The US edition will be available starting the 7th of May, 2019. This year will also mark the first time that Bashir will return to Gaza in 13 years, this time as a US citizen.


    For further reading that represents diametrically opposing points of view, see these:

    An essay in The Algemeiner entitled The New York Times Trashes Israel Yet Again by Mitchell Bard also partly responds to the above NY Times column, and to recent Tom Friedman commentaries, and offers strong criticism of negative coverage of Israel. FYI, The Algemeiner's advisory board was led by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel until his passing in 2016.

    An essay in Jacobin entitled A Milestone on the Timeline of Israeli Brutality by Belen Fernandez challenges the New York Times' Tom Friedman, and levels strong criticism of Israel's Palestinian actions. FYI, Jacobin describes itself as "a leading voice of the American left".

    An article in The Guardian newspaper entitled In US evangelical capital, a new progressiveness and differing views on Israel recalls that "for many on the Christian right, the state of Israel has been seen as a key to fulfilling prophecy surrounding the end of the world." The article notes that "Christians around the world have always had an intense interest in the Holy Land. It has often been believed that the restoration of the Jews in Palestine will bring about a holy war between good and evil (as prophesied in the Book of Revelation), after which God will set up a holy kingdom on Earth." The article recalls that "when the Trump administration completed its move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, two of the American speakers at the opening ceremony were evangelical superstars: Pastor Robert Jeffress, the author of several doomsday books about Israel, and John Hagee, who interpreted recent lunar eclipses as evidence that the end times were nigh."

    A Google search on washington post israelis and palestinians nets a variety of recent news stories on life in Israel and in the territories.


  • A weekly podcast called Unorthodox produced by Tablet Magazine explores Judaism in the 21st century.
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    Unorthodox is a smart, fresh, fun weekly take on Jewish news and culture hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz. The hosts interview Jewish and Gentile performers, politicians, writers, and others - delving into everything from antisemitism, to matchmaking, to the Amazon TV series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." The hosts use their weekly podcast as a tool to provide more examination of religious life. You can listen to individual episodes of Unorthodox here.

    Unorthodox counts among its supporters Hebrew College in Newton Centre MA which blogs a D'var Torah or Drasha (a talk on topics relating to the parashah, the weekly Torah portion). Particularly related to social action (our coming together to practice our faith and engage others in the tasks we undertake) is the insightful parashah and story of Yitro.



recently past SA/SJ events that may recur annually

    • Oast n Wednesday night November 10 at 7:30 pm (on Zoom) we joined RAC-NJ to learn how to take action to make New Jersey the 21st state to offer same-day voter registration. RAC-NJ is participating in a coalition led by New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and League of Women Voters of New Jersey that hopes to push this bill across the finish line before the new state legislature is sworn in on January 11 in Trenton. Click here for Zoom registration for the November 10 Zoom event at 7:30 pm.
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      Across the country, states that offer same-day voter registration show significant increases in voter turnout, especially among young voters. Same-day voter registration is a key component of the federal Freedom to Vote legislation. At the Zoom webinar, RAC-NJ and partners explained the bill, shared stories from those who have been adversely impacted by cumbersome voter registration processes, and discussed plans and timeline for this campaign. We split into breakout rooms by congregation, with a leader from each group leading the discussion and obtaining commitments for action (lobby visits, calls to state legislators, and social media posts).


      Stacy Goto at Temple Shaari Emeth in Manalapan, from the volunteer leadership team of RAC-NJ, is TBM's contact person for this effort



      League of Women Voters and RAC-NJ have announced LWV's Candidate Forums for Monmouth County Board of Commissioners and Surrogate, and for State Senate and Assembly for LD-11 and LD-13 with all candidates agreeing to participate. The Monmouth County forum is Wednesday, September 29th at 7:30 pm. Click here to register and submit questions. The LD-11 forum is Tuesday, October 5th at 7 pm. Click here to register. The LD-13 forum is Tuesday, October 14th at 7 pm. Click here to register. All forums are on Zoom.

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      Stay tuned for additional announcements about candidate forums in our area organized by LWV. We'll share the dates as soon as we hear.


    • Federation's 2021 Annual General Assembly took place via Zoom on Sunday October 3rd from 2-3:15 PM.(ET) Click here to register. This session planned to reflect on events of the last year that may have far-reaching consequences for the Jewish community, and consider what's next on the Jewish communal agenda.
    • We publicized the Q&A on Wednesday October 6, 2021 at 7:00 PM sponsored by Brookdale's CHHANGE (Center for Holocaust, Human Rights, and Genocide Education) and the New Jersey Social Justice Remembrance Coalition after streaming the film The Long Shadow available by clicking here. Thank you to Red Bank Public Library's award-winning monthly program Let’s Talk about Race for sharing this announcement.
    • The controversial topic of Reparations and Restorative Justice was discussed Wednesday August 25, 2021 at 7:00 PM at Red Bank Public Library's award-winning monthly program Let’s Talk about Race. You can click here for details about the speakers.
    • The MARCH ON for VOTING RIGHTS on Saturday August 28, 2021 in Washington DC and other cities commemorated August 28, 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King led 250,000 people on the historic March On Washington, where in front of the Lincoln Memorial he delivered his famous 'I Have a Dream' speech. Even in NJ we may need to worry about our voting rights with some politicians currently advocating an ID requirement for in-person and mail-in voting, purging voters who haven’t voted recently, suspending the Motor Voter Law, requiring mail-in voters to reapply for ballots every year, and mandatory photo ID. With no local MARCH ON for VOTING RIGHTS, personally I will be making a yard sign to show solidarity with this effort, recalling that gathering together in nonviolent protest is a form of democratic expression older than America itself.
    • On Wednesday July 28, 2021 at 7:00 PM Red Bank Public Library's award-winning monthly Let's Talk about Race program discussed what Antisemitism is, how it shows up, and what needs to be done to eliminate this dangerous trend. Click here for more information. The talk was led by Rabbi Marc Kline from the Monmouth Reform Temple, and Rabbi Leslie Bergson, a chaplain for Compassus Hospice and Palliative Care in New Jersey.
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      If you cannot attend this live event, the Red Bank Public Library will be posting it to both Facebook and YouTube in a few days. Click the above links to find the playlists of past Let's Talk About Race programs.


    • On Wednesday August 4th at 3:30 pm Reform congregants from across New Jersey met with Senator Bob Menendez staff in support of the Freedom to Vote campaign. We met with Senator Menendez's General Counsel and his policy person responsible for voting policy. After prepping from 3:30-4 p.m. we met with Senator Menendez's office from 4-4:30, followed by an opportunity to debrief together afterward. Click here for details.
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      Register for the Reform Movement's Freedom to Vote Lobby Meeting with Senator Menendez at We will be advocating in support of the For the People Act (H.R.1/S.1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R.4), which Senator Menendez supports, but he needs to hear from us to keep the momentum going and use his powers of persuasion with his colleagues. Click here to consult RAC-NJ's Candidate Forum Toolkit (You must be signed into Google to view). A similar meeting with Senator Cory Booker is in the works. Besides RAC-NJ's advocacy for the national Freedom to Vote campaign, RAC-NJ is again prioritizing a Fall 2021 civic engagement campaign to make sure all our congregants are registered and have a plan to vote.


    • On Thursday, May 20 TBM and Monmouth Reform Temple congregants joined with RAC-NJ for a SA/SJ conversation with NJ State Senator Vin Gopal (LD-11).
      Registration link was here. See the poster by clicking below.

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    • The Red Bank Public Library again hosted its award-winning program, Let's Talk About Race accessed by clicking here. Featured on Wednesday March 31 at 7 PM via Zoom was local historian Rick Geffken speaking about his new book, Stories of Slavery in New Jersey. Mr. Geffken, a prominent, prolific and engaging author, is donating 10% of book sales to the T. Thomas Fortune House which has its own unique story in our area's past. You can email to order a copy.
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      Red Bank Public Library's Let's Talk About Race February 2021 program featured Minister Kerwin Webb of Second Baptist Church of Asbury Park, Rev. Rashaun Booker of Antioch AME Zion Church of Linden, and Rev. Diane Ford of Lincroft Presbyterian Church, to discuss the moral imperative of practicing love across racial lines.


    • We honored Women's History Month during March with celebrations and also reading from Torah about the matriarchs who helped shape our Jewish tradition.
    • Social Justice discussions continued in the broader community during February for Black History Month and for Jewish Disability Advocacy Month. See upcoming events and videos of some past events.
    • Hopefully you didn't miss The 12th Annual Axelrod International Jewish Israel Film Festival with films available to view at home during the period Tuesday, February 23, 2021 through Monday, March 22, 2021. Click here for more information and to register. Put this on your calendar for next year to not miss out!
    • On Thursday, March 4, 2021, 7pm-8:15pm Rabbi Shira Stern discussed Jewish Resilience. How have the Jewish people repeatedly managed to recover and rebuild, after so many devastating events? How do we, as individuals, deal with stress and move on with our lives? Click below for more info and a biography of Rabbi Shira Stern. Sponsored by Monmouth Reform Temple. Please email your RSVP to: by March 2, 2021. The Zoom link will be sent the day prior to the program.
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      Rabbi Stern will incorporate a PowerPoint presentation and discussion to address these subjects. Rabbi Shira Stern was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 1983 and earned her Doctor of Ministry from HUC-JIR in 2004. She was a rabbi and educator of the Monroe Township Jewish Center for 13 years. She later worked at MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. Rabbi Stern was co-president of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, as well as the president of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains. She created the Human Relations commission in Monroe, was a member of the county and state Human Rights Commissions, and was a member of the Commission on Social Action of the Reform Movement for six years.
      She was trained by the Red Cross to serve on the Spiritual Air Incident Response Team in 2001 and worked for four months at the Liberty State Park Family Assistance Center in the aftermath of 9/11. She is currently the lead for Disaster Spiritual Care for American Red Cross in New Jersey.

      She has taught two Jewish feminist courses at Rutgers University. In addition to her political activism in the pro- choice movement, she has been widely featured in both print and television media on a variety of topics. She writes on issues of Women in Judaism, biblical commentary, and chaplaincy-related topics. She is a Board Certified Chaplain and a Past-President of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains. She has been a hospital and hospice chaplain and was the Director of the Joint Chaplaincy Program of Greater Middlesex County and the Director of the Jewish Institute for Pastoral Care in New York City, part of the HealthCare Chaplaincy. Recently, she had a private pastoral counseling practice in Marlboro, NJ providing individual and family therapy, and served as Rabbinic Associate at Temple Rodeph Torah in Marlboro, NJ. She has now retired with her husband, Rabbi Donald Weber, in Lenox, Massachusetts.


    • YMCA's Counseling & Social Services team and mental health partners Collier Youth Services, Family and Children's Services (FCS), Hope for Children Foundation (HFCF), and Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide held a virtual 2021 Hearts of Hope Breakfast on Thursday, February 18. Click here to hear some of the inspirational speakers. Scroll down the page to find the different videos. The event was to support urgent mental health needs in our community, and celebrate our Mental Health Heroes who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure that our youth receive the treatment and support they need. The event featured a special comedic act by Johnny Beehner. Please consider donating to one of the participating organizations.
    • Ending the Stigma: An Honest Conversation about Mental Health Issues took place on Thursday, February 18, 2021. The event honoring Jewish Disability Advocacy Month (JDAM) was a virtual panel of religious, Jewish social services and healthcare professionals addressing the stigma and healing strategies currently impacting people with mental health issues. Discussion was about symptoms of depression, suicide risk groups, available resources, and agencies that can help as well as how houses of worship are helping. Contact any of the panel participants listed here or The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey which sponsored the event, for more information.
    • Click here for YMCA's YouTube page to view the archived video of YMCA's 32nd annual community MLK commemoration hosted by the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County which took place 8 am on Friday, January 15, 2021 with keynote speaker Kerwin Webb, Youth and Young Adult pastor at Second Baptist Church in Asbury Park and president of the Greater Red Bank Area NAACP. Click here for Patch article about this event.
    • Click here to view the recording of Racism in New Jersey: Seeking Understanding, Pursuing Justice. sponsored by RAC-NJ in partnership with Temple Beth-El of Hillsborough on Sunday, January 17 at 7 pm. Rev. Lukata Mjumbe (Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, Princeton), Imam Deen Shareef (Convener of the Council of Imams in New Jersey and spiritual leader of Masjid Waarith ud Deen, Irvington), and Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (LD-15, Trenton) shared personal testimonies of their experiences of racial injustice, followed by discussion of ways we can be effective allies in pursuing racial justice.
    • this event is past: At RAC-NJ's 2021 Civic Engagement Campaign organizing webinar on February 18 at 7 PM participants heard from representatives from across party lines with RAC state projects in California, Illinois, and Texas advising on the topic of RAC-NJ's proposed Congregational Team Panel: Imagining the Possibilities.
    • this event is past: Learn more and register here for Monmouth University's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Lecture in Social Justice on January 27 from 3:15 pm to 4:15 pm. Featured speaker Ibram X. Kendi is a National Book Award Winner, Contributing Writer for The Atlantic, and Director of Boston University's Center for Antiracist Research.
    • this event is past: Congregation Torat El in Oakhurst will video stream its 16th Annual Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 27, 2021 starting at 7 pm. Speakers include writer and cultural critic Thomas Chatterton Williams and Rutgers Prof. Rasheda Young. A panel of area spiritual and other leaders will delve into the topic of systemic racism. And the event will be graced by talented musicians and choir members from local congregations. The event is a partnership of Second Baptist Church of Long Branch, Living Word Christian Fellowship in Neptune, and Congregation Torat El. Zoom ID 947 7413 3995 Passcode: 183672 or dial in by phone to 1-646-558-8656.
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    • this event is past: Monmouth Reform Temple (MRT) hosts a program on February 8, 2021 at 7 PM entitled How Do We Reclaim Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Failed Dream? with Rabbi Kline and Pastor Samaj Vanzant from the 2nd Baptist Church in Asbury Park. Zoom ID 823 9751 6559 Passcode: 115947
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    • this event is past: Click here to view the recording of the MLK Shabbat from Monmouth Reform Temple Friday, January 15th at 7:00 pm in partnership with Second Baptist Church of Asbury Park. Scroll the page for the dated picture of the event, click it, then click on the large video stream window above to play the archived video. Rev. Semaj Vanzant co-led worship with Rabbi Kline and gave the sermon. Joining Cantor Clissold to provide music were Dan Kahn and Second Baptist Music Minister John Payne. In speaking about whether or not Dr. King’s dream has been made real, Dr. Vanzant sought to provoke thought and ideas to spawn a series of public conversations dedicated to Voices of Justice.
      Click here for the PDF of the program and service so you can follow along.
    • Each year, the Reform Jewish Movement honors the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by commemorating the Shabbat nearest to MLK Day as Shabbat Tzedek. Click here for resources for MLK Day and Shabbat Tzedek.In the spirit of Martin Luther King Day, click here to enjoy a YouTube musical collaboration between Jewish music's well-known group The Maccabeats and the group Naturally 7 with a James Taylor cover (that is, performing a James Taylor song).Rolling Stone columnist Matt Taibbi notes incongruities between press and public attitudes today and during Dr. King's time, in his essay The Annual Misremembering Dr. King Editorials Roll In.


      Click here for 3 Radical Facts About Martin Luther King Jr. and How to Honor His Full Legacy, by Chris Harrison (1/17/2019).


Tu Bishvat on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat extends from sunset to sunset January 27-28, 2021. Early-blooming trees help Jews mark the start of the annual cycle of nature's bounty that features the end of winter, growth of fruit-bearing trees and plants, and rich harvests through the fall. We commemorate Tu Bishvat by eating fruits traditionally grown in the Holy Land as enumerated in Deuteronomy 8:8 such as grapes, figs, dates, olives and pomegranates.

this event is past: Register for RAC-NJ's Post-Election Webinar on Nov 19, 2020 at 07:30 PM. Join us for celebration and evaluation of RAC-NJ's civic engagement campaign, to share an update on our plans for 2021, and to spend some time together learning and practicing some relational organizing tools for motivating our people to take action for justice.

this event is past: Register for RAC-NJ's Every Voice, Every Vote: What's Next? November 11 at 8 p.m. for a movement-wide convening on Zoom to hear from RAC-NJ partners about the impact of the election on the most urgent issues of the moment. Learn about RAC-NJ's planning to mobilize our Reform Movement to pursue justice and change at the local, state, and federal levels in 2021. If for any reason you are unable to join, click here to view the call on Facebook where it will be livestreamed.

The Red Bank Public Library's award-winning program, Let's Talk About Race was on Wednesday Sept. 30, 7:00-8:30 PM via Zoom. The topic Your Vote Matters will feature Dr. Walter Greason of Monmouth University, Rev. Kerwin Webb, president of the Greater Red Bank NAACP and NJ State Assemblyperson, Joanne Downey discussing the history of our votes, the way to vote in 2020, and how voting affects our future.

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We posted the following for the 2020 Election:   Click here to check on your voting and ballot status.

Starting Wednesday, September 2, 2020, 6 PM and WEEKLY up to the election: Every Voice, Every Vote: Every Week: Becoming a 100% Voting Congregation Civic Engagement Campaign Opportunity.

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The URJ Religious Action Center (Washington DC) has on its agenda for 2020 a Civic Engagement Campaign for Every Voice, Every Vote. The goal is to reach 100 percent voter turnout within Reform Jewish communities, and to fight voter suppression nationwide.

If you are interested in this campaign and want to participate in a TBM congregant ZOOM to discuss RAC's guidance and brainstorm our options and possible activities, please contact Phil Falcone at with your availability so that we can best schedule upcoming ZOOM meetings. See the URJ Religious Action Center website for further information, and also for details of other SA/SJ initiatives from the RAC.

RAC-NJ (our NJ SA/SJ organization) has been encouraging each congregation to choose and work on SA/SJ projects for this year and next. Suggested are continuing to talk to and support each other during this challenging time. Other SA/SJ topics include devising ways to locally combat the increasing trend of anti-Semitism and hate in our State, advancing issues of environmental and racial justice, and during the next few months facilitating non-partisan civic engagement to get out the vote.
Our TBM SA/SJ house meeting on July 30th to check in on each other and discuss SA/SJ concerns was useful for all dozen participants. If you are interested in future TBM SA/SJ house meetings to plan specific actions that might be available to each of us, please contact Phil Falcone with your availability so that we can best schedule TBM ZOOM house meetings.

Over 400 people from across New Jersey logged into Reform Action Center New Jersey RAC-NJ's kickoff ZOOM meeting on Thursday, August 6th at 7:30 PM. RAC-NJ reported their feedback from recent congregational house meetings across the state including ours at TBM, in the form of a word tag cloud graph (see above). From RAC-NJ: "Learn how your voice can help shape RAC-NJ's strategy to address racial justice, pandemic response, voting rights, and more. We will also learn about Every Voice, Every Vote: The Reform Movement's 2020 Civic Engagement Campaign, which is a powerful tool we can harness to lay the foundation for our state-level organizing. Together we can turn the urgency of the moment into lasting change."
We're waiting for the engaging video of the speakers at the Zoom meeting to be posted for those who missed the live event.
Please also click here to view the video of the virtual 2020 RJVNJ Advocacy Day.

click here for the RAC-NJ website
and additional RAC-NJ website


    • TBM High Holidays Shmoozeletter article from TBM SA/SJ chair Phil Falcone recalls that on Yom Kippur we demonstrate anew that we indeed respect and care for those around us, particularly those who depend on us. By pledging to vote for leaders who share your philosophy for a better world, you are acting decisively to repair what needs fixing.
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      One hundred percent. Many of us haven't experienced this as a realistic goal since childhood. But that is URJ's target for TBM and all Reform congregations: 100% voter participation in the upcoming November election.

      Might your sincere and emphatic pledge to vote be an answer to what this high holiday season asks of each of us? On Yom Kippur we demonstrate anew that we indeed respect and care for those around us, particularly those who depend on us. By pledging to vote for leaders who share your philosophy for a better world, you are acting decisively to repair what needs fixing.

      Beyond our vote, some of us feel particularly concerned or even personally responsible for a range of Social Action/Social Justice challenges around us, including increased anti-semitism, persecution against innocents, and pervasive economic hardship. News of current events can bring an uneasy, almost painful feeling in the pit of the stomach. All the little and big transgressions that are happening in the real world can be obscured by life's routine distractions and even by the ivory-tower idealism of chanting prayer book affirmations and studying Torah. How might those who care make a positive difference in each other's lives?

      Some efforts to make a difference include our recent food collection, our July 30 Zoom TBM house meeting, the August 6 Zoom call with nearly 400 Reform Jews from 36 of 45 Reform congregations across NJ organized by RAC-NJ, Rabbi and Cantor and religious school's online activities, ongoing TBM board and committee meetings, and upcoming RAC-NJ and URJ RAC organizing and training sessions on Zoom. By now, the TBM board and Rabbi have also announced a pandemic strategy for our traditional high holiday food drive.

      The unexpected pandemic, as a test of our will, is perhaps not unlike life-changing plagues faced by our ancestors. Please consider participating in events listed on the Temple home page, in Elijah and Shmoozeletter, and on the TBM Social Action/Social Justice web page. The calendar is in front of us on our continual journey toward the Promised Land. And please answer the call when you are asked for your pledge to vote, your way, in November.


    • A Middletown Rally For Social Justice/Spread The Love Not Hate was attended by several hundred people including the Middletown HS student and other teenage organizers on June 28. A video of the speakers at the rally is available here.
    • November general election ballots were mailed to all actively registered NJ voters by Oct. 5. If you return your filled-in ballot by mail it needed to be postmarked by Election Day Tuesday Nov. 3rd and received by the county clerk by Nov. 10th.
      Voters could hand-deliver their filled-in ballot either to a secure drop box (e.g. outside the police station at City Hall in Long Branch) or to a polling place.
      Click here to check on your voting and ballot status. By providing your contact info you enable your county to contact you by phone or email if there is a problem with your ballot.SA/SJ alert:  Click here for the PowerPoint presentation from the Zoom workshop on October 6th for Temple Beth Miriam congregants on Safeguarding Our Votes facilitated by RAC-NJ experts Nilene Evans and Liz Cohen. Nilene and Liz provided step-by-step how-to-vote instructions and answered questions for the upcoming election. RAC-NJ is our state's branch of the URJ Religious Action Center in DC.

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      Experts helped us:

      • reject misinformation
      • avoid the most common inadvertent ballot submission errors
      • learn how to ask for information about registering and voting
      • find your secure municipal ballot drop box
      • mail your ballot if this is preferred
      • vote provisionally at your polling place if this is preferred
      • confirm your voting registration status and your ballot's status
      • learn to help and support each other in this effort.

      If some might be interested, we could form a TBM civic engagement team to make congregational contacts (phone calls, text messages and emails) in the coming weeks to:

      • promote 100% TBM congregant participation in the 2020 vote
      • use our voting participation to build power and respect for our Reform Jewish community among politicians
      • help strengthen social connections in our TBM community with this non-partisan effort to boost congregational voter turnout
      • jump-start a voting habit among students, by asking adults how to contact their adult children, e.g. forwarding a temple voter engagement email
      • promote our temple-branded digital 'I Will Vote' pledge card, and publicize with a 'filling Kiddush cup' that shows the percentage of commitments (estimated voting adults in each household)
      • post on social media and write articles in Elijah and the Shmoozeletter
      • encourage the Rabbi from the Bima to speak about 100% voting
      • encourage the Cantor to present some music that engages people to register and vote
      • explore networking with the congregations and organizations in the broader community
      • help combat voter suppression and advocate for equal access to the ballot
      • build familiarity with the initiatives and resources of URJ RAC and RAC-NJ in this effort.


    • The Red Bank Public Library's award-winning program, Let's Talk About Race was on Wednesday Sept. 30, 7:00-8:30 PM via Zoom. The topic Your Vote Matters will feature Dr. Walter Greason of Monmouth University, Rev. Kerwin Webb, president of the Greater Red Bank NAACP and NJ State Assemblyperson, Joanne Downey discussing the history of our votes, the way to vote in 2020, and how voting affects our future.
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    • Our non-Jewish neighbors reflected on our RH and YK repentance tasks at the Long Branch Clergy Day of Repentance Zoom event October 1, 2020 at 7pm using Zoom ID 878 7031 1781 and Password 843618 after you launch the Zoom app.
    • Let's Talk about Race Roundtable on ZOOM Tuesday, June 30, 2020 from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM sponsored by Red Bank Public Library. The topic in this ongoing series is Conversations for Our Times. Registration is required -- you will be sent a ZOOM link the day of the program when you register at this link, providing your name and email address, then clicking 'submit'. For additional details click below.
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      Discussion will be led by a panel to include:
      Kerwin Webb, President of the NAACP/Educational Specialist at Interfaith Neighbors. Minister Webb works to develop educational programs for youth and young adults. He earned a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and has working relationships with organizations including the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and the Center for Public Justice (CPJ)
      He will be joined by:
      -Marcia Grayson. Rev. Marcia Grayson is a retired correctional officer (25 years) with Monmouth County Correctional Facility. After her retirement, she earned a Doctorate of Ministry from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 2019, with a dissertation entitled, “Using Transformational Preaching to Bring Awareness and Break the Silence in Congregations regarding Sexual and Physical Abuse Against Women
      -Rabbi Marc Kline, who serves Monmouth Reform Temple with a passion for tradition and social justice. Rabbi Kline has taught Ethics, Philosophy, Religion, and Government courses at the high school, college, and graduate seminary levels for most of the last thirty years. Prior to entering Rabbinical School, Marc earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and practiced law there for almost 6 years.
      -Suubi Mondesir, a graduate of RBR Creative Writing Academy; rising Junior at Fairleigh Dickinson University and responsible for the Communications for T. Thomas Fortune House.
      For more information, call 732-842-0690, 9-5 M-F.


    • Two local NJ 11th District Assemblyperson-sponsored panels this week... click on the topic to register:
      The Impact of Policing on Black Women hosted by Assemblywoman Joann Downey Wednesday, July 1 @ 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
      Law Enforcement & Special Needs: Police & New Jersey's Disability Community/a> hosted by Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling Thursday, July 2 @ 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM.
    • Archive video is available documenting NJ Spotlight Virtual Roundtable: Environmental Justice and Clean Energy in New Jersey on ZOOM held Tuesday, June 30, 2020 from 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM. Please check the website for the link to the video.
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      Two new environmental justice bills aim to protect overburdened communities. S232 requires evaluation of environmental and public health impacts for permits. S-2484 creates an Office of Clean Energy Equity within the BPU.
      -U.S. Senator Cory Booker will participate.
      Panelists are:
      -Ana Isabel Baptista, PhD, Chair of Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management Program, Assistant Professor, Professional Practice, Director, Tishman Environment & Design Center, The New School
      -Maria Lopez-Nuñez, Deputy Director, Organizing and Advocacy, Ironbound Community Corporation
      -Dr. Nicky Sheats, Esq., Center for the Urban Environment, John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy, Thomas Edison State University; New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance
      -Rick Thigpen, Senior Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, PSEG (NJTV Trustee)
      -Moderator is Tom Johnson, Energy & Environment Reporter, NJ Spotlight


    • The Zoom version of our local communities' National Prayer Day event took place Thursday May 7 at noon. The local in-person event each year always is engaging, with short inspirational messages about each of the identified seven societal centers of influence. Please see the flier below.
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    • THANK YOU to the many TBM congregants who participated in Project Homeless Connect, a one-day event on January 29th, 2020 providing food, clothing, services, and hospitality to our friends and neighbors at-risk for or experiencing homelessness. We took items dropped off prior to January 29 at TBM or arranged to be picked up by TBM volunteers, to one of the drop-off locations, the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission in Asbury Park the day before January 29.
    • THANK YOU to TBM religious school students and teachers, TBM volunteers and other congregants for participating in the busy and informative event on February 23 marking the eleventh year of Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). See the writeup below for a comprehensive review of TBM's event.
    • For the eleventh year, all Jewish communities around the world recognized Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) during February. On Sunday morning February 23, 2020 at 10:30 am, for one hour in the TBM Social Hall, religious school students talked about and experienced what it is like to have a disability with the frustrations it may bring, and also how we all can successfully deal with the challenge of disability.Each participant initially signed their first name using their less-dominant hand. Students viewed two short animated videos celebrating inclusiveness amidst individual differences such as having a disability. Adult congregant volunteers and teachers then supervised activities for the students including walking blindfolded using a special cane and also a helper, and trying out magnifying glasses and a visual assistive camera and TV to enlarge text. Students had the chance to navigate a path while seated and self-propelling in a wheelchair. Students also simulated an eating challenge by transferring water with a spoon held in their less-dominant hand and without using their thumb. A Spiderman-type challenge had students seizing out-of-reach objects using a reacher grabber tool. There were posters for the students to read with Jewish scripture quotes addressing disabilities, and also a challenge to associate a particular disability with the matching person in Torah.Thanks to event chair Rebecca Levin, co-chair Phil Falcone, volunteers Don Pingitore, Danielle DelCuore, Joanne Edison and Al Goldman, principal Stella Stanway and the religious school teachers who together as a team made this special event so memorable.Activities and exercises can be viewed below by clicking read more.
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      Following is a rough draft outlining activities for TBM's February 23rd JDAIM event:

      GROUND RULES for the event:
      Leaders should strive to increase empathy and broaden others' perspectives.
      Participants and leaders should:
      Respect others with your words and attitude.
      Speak from the "I".
      Listen without bias or judgment.
      Ask questions, in a respectful and value-neutral way.
      Respect confidentiality in the information you share.
      Share 'air time' among those who want to speak, and allow anyone to 'pass' on commenting.

      1. WHO WANTS TO VOLUNTEER to do this next activity? Everyone else can be the audience.
      2. Distinguish between simulation-based activities that invoke fear and can worsen public attitudes about blindness and other disabilities, versus activities that give people useful and empowering information and understanding about alternative techniques to overcome accessibility barriers.
      3. Expose participants to tasks and alternative techniques that yield positive results, and are not so difficult that novices would have a hard time completing them.

      ADL safe learning environment guidance
      Make sure to monitor students' responses to each lesson and provide adequate time to debrief and process students’ feelings.
      Make sure that a teacher or other qualified adult facilitates all small group discussions until your students show they are prepared to engage independently in small group or partner dialogue.

      A 3-minute loop on TV screen will be running as people arrive, that features segments from films 'Ian' and 'OK to be different'.

      'Ian' YouTube animation, story of wheelchair-bound Ian's interaction with peers

      YouTube video narrating book 'It's OK to be different...'

      YouTube video, 'Including Samuel' documentary about a kid who has a disability that is caused by Cerebral Palsy downloadable from Amazon

      YouTube video, 'Including Samuel' clip from movie

      POSTERS on TBM patio window at back of social hall:
      February is JDAIM: Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month
      Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs with disabilities:
      -Isaac - by the end of his life, he is too blind and too confused to be able to distinguish between his sons, or discern that a trick is being played on him as he pronounced a blessing on his younger son Jacob.
      -Jacob - limp after wrestling with the angel
      -Moses - lisp or stutter... He was too frightened to speak to Pharaoh because he had a speech defect (Exodus 4:10-16). We don't know whether this was an actual speech impediment, or whether he suffered from a disabling degree of anxiety. Either way, God provided support for him in the form of his brother Aaron who was sent along to be his spokesman.
      -Rachel -
      -ask Rabbi?? Cy has a stutter
      -disabled role models
      Each member of group looks at posters, then comes back and reports to group, on disability that was interesting/important to them.

      POSTERS with quotes from Torah:
      The Torah states that each of us is created B'tzelem Elohim, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
      God now said, "Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness; and let them hold sway over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over the beasts, over all the earth, over all that creeps upon the earth." So God created the human beings in [the divine] image, creating [them] in the image of God, creating them male and female. God then blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and tame it; hold sway over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, and over every animal that creeps on the earth." (Genesis 1:26-28).

      Torah teaches us, "You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind." (Leviticus 19:14).
      Some specific barriers include: communication barriers for people with visual or hearing disabilities; steps and curbs that block people with mobility impairments in a variety of buildings and streets; public transportation without accessibility for people with mobility impairments; the lack of accessible equipment needed for the workplace and home; videos that do not include captioning; Shabbat service inability to access the bima, and lack of large-text prayer books for vision-impaired; web pages that are difficult to read or don't support a web page TTS (text-to-speech) voice reader; health care services that are difficult to access or inadequately serve people with disabilities.

      Thinking about a Jewish value called v’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha, that we should love our neighbors as ourselves.
      1. How do you lik to be treated? (With respect, with dignity, and included in fun activities)
      2. When we treat someone the way we want to be treated, we include them and make them feel important. When we include someone, we are being inclusive. We should try to live in a way that is inclusive so that we do not leaves others out or make them feel small and ignored.
      3. How can our actions help others feel good about themselves?
      4. The dignity of other people should be as precious as our own. We are all responsible for one another, including making sure that our neighbors are being cared for and included.

      Kol yisrael arevim zeh b’zeh, "All of Israel is responsible for one another." (Talmud Shavuot 39a)
      "Inclusion is the opportunity for every person to participate in meaningful ways in the life of the Jewish community. How do we know what is meaningful and important to another person? We open our doors, we ask, listen and we take the journey together."

      Inclusion: Involvement and empowerment of all people. Their worth and dignity are recognized. An inclusive community promotes and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and respects the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living of its members.

      "Having a disability or mental health condition must never be used as a reason to exclude someone from meaningful participation and contribution to this wonderful place we call 'The Jewish Community.' Everyone has gifts to share as well as needs for comfort and community."

      "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?" (Exodus 4:11).

      "Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, 'Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.'" (Isaiah 35:3-4).

      What compels us to fight for the rights of disabled people?
      "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8).

      Universal SYMBOL of person in wheelchair... what does this symbol mean? HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE, 'someone with a physical handicap will be able to access this place'.

      Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) summary poster.

      GREETING at door:

      Leaders greet arrivals at the door, suggest expectations, and direct to preliminary assignment.

      ACTIVITY: Write name on dry-erase board with OPPOSITE hand.


      ASK students:

      Thinking about a Jewish value called b’tzelem elohim, that every person is “made in G-d’s image.”
      1. What does it mean to be made in G-d’s image?
      2. Is everybody exactly the same?
      3. Are we all good just the way we are, each a little different and unique, and special and interesting?

      PICTURE FRAME Activity
      SAY:Everybody in this class has things about them that are very special and that make them unique. Now is our chance to show appreciation for the things that make our friends unique.
      Allow each child to stand in front of a drawn or constructed picture frame. Have each child in the class say something nice about the child. (ie: he is tall and can reach high shelves for me, she is really smart and helps me understand in class, she is fast and I like when she is on my team, he is quiet and I always feel like he is listening when I speak).
      WRAP-UP, SAY: When we talk about b’tzelem elohim, being made in G-d’simage, we are remembering that we are all important and we all deserve love. Our differences make us special and when we come together, all our differences make the world a beautiful place.

      1. What is a DISABILITY?
      (EXPLAIN: a disability is a condition that limits a person in being able to SEE, HEAR, WALK, or SPEAK. Some people with disabilities may be blind, or deaf, or may use a wheelchair or walker or cane if they are unable to walk by themselves. A disability might be rooted in some part of a person's body, or even in their mind. Sometimes a person's disability is very obvious to others, but sometimes the disability can be more hidden.

      2. Have you ever MET A PERSON with a disability?
      3.If you have, can you think of a way that they were included or treated, the way YOU would like to be treated?

      POSTER with universal SYMBOL of person in wheelchair...
      1. Have you seen this sign before?
      2. Where have you seen this sign?
      This sign can be found in automobile parking spaces close to an entrance, or at the entrance of a store, or a park, or a school.
      3. What does this symbol look like to you? (Explain that this symbol is a picture of a person who uses a wheelchair, and is for people who are disabled.
      4. What does this symbol mean?
      The symbol means HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE. The symbol lets people know who use wheelchairs or have trouble walking, that they have a special way to 'access' a place. The symbol points people toward a parking space or a path that is easy and a short distance to get inside a place. Or sometimes the symbol can be found on seats closest to exits in buses or trains, and means that those seats are reserved for people with disabilities.

      DRAMATIZE with two or more leaders a scenario demonstrating appropriate behavior when encountering a person in need of help (see Talking Points #4 below).

      Game of TELEPHONE, all kids and adults pass a message through entire group, how does it turn out?

      SEEING and VISION activities
      1. glasses smeared with Vaseline BLURRING vision, making it difficult to see properly. Try to walk along floor following path marked with colorful tape.
      Instructions: Children take turns wearing the sunglasses that are covered with Vaseline.
      Wearing the sunglasses, each child walks around the designated area following the line.
      Purpose: the child experiences the difficulty of seeing with impaired vision.
      1a. Try to read directions using the blurred low-vision (vaseline-smeared) glasses.
      2. Try to read text written BACKWARDS on posters on window, e.g. names of colors... possible competition, return to base first with correct words.
      Discuss DYXLEXIC experience, where letters seem reversed and/or NOT written out in orderly fashion.
      ALTERNATIVE VIEW: consider SECRET CODE possibilities.
      3. total BLINDNESS, subject is BLINDFOLDED and guided by helper (participants partner) to reach destination (bowl of snack bags?).
      4. Use CANE for navigating along a wall.
      5. Use DOCUMENT CAMERA and TV and Rebecca's tiny scrolls, to demonstrate VISUAL ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY.
      6. Use BROWSER TEXT-TO-SPEECH audio ( Audio Tour accessed on IPhone) to demonstrate ACCESSIBLE WEB CONTENT and SCREEN READER.

      HEARING challenge
      1. Hearing-at-a-distance setup with local music that drowns out someone speaking in low voice from across the room
      noise-reducing ear plugs or headphones
      2. Try to read someone’s lips as they say familiar words
      3. Discuss trying to understand when volume is low (which simulates disability of elderly and others who are hard-of-hearing)
      ALTERNATIVE VIEW: what is a way to reduce distractions in a noisy environment?

      simulated EATING exercise
      1A.spoon water from one container to another with OPPOSITE hand
      1B.additional challenge: CAN'T use THUMB
      1C.additional challenge: BLOCK path with string array or other obstacles
      ALTERNATIVE VIEW: could it be a way to diet and eat less, by making eating more difficult
      SKIP snacks for kids and adults

      ARTICULATION demonstrations
      1. Speaking exercise for teachers to read a message where they seem to be talking gibberish, because they change 'n' to 'm' and otherwise systematically permute letters or sounds. What, we can't understand what the teacher is saying? What's is wrong that we can't understand?
      2. Ask volunteer leader to fill his/her mouth with marshmallows until their tongue is immobilized. Have them read to everyone a simple message on a card. They will try to repeat it until the group understands.
      2a. Does this seem familiar, when someone who has difficulty speaking is asked to repeat and repeat what they said?
      3. Discuss strategies to improve communications. Can we sometimes ask yes or no questions? Can we suggest writing down the messages? Could we ask another person to come over and see if they help us understand?
      ALTERNATIVE VIEW: Some experts think that faulty articulation actually makes us LISTEN HARDER.

      WINNING-LOSING (zero-sum) game vs WIN-WIN game
      1. COIN TOSS, best of 5 tosses wins
      1a. then BRAINSTORM WIN-WIN activities, e.g. helping someone else

      Is the TIME it takes to do things a big issue when living with a disability?
      Is it sometimes FOOLISH to be IMPATIENT?
      1. volunteer must give DIRECTIONS to another in FEW (FIVE) WORDS to accomplish a moderately complex task that might require more explanation
      e.g. "fetch deliver red bag tosses" to pull a red bean bag from one bean toss target and put it in the other target.
      Discussion: Can we always do things faster, such as be more concise (use fewer words to communicate) assuming people are smart and can figure things out, OR do we need to take our time and be REALLY CLEAR to avoid mistakes?

      MOBILITY issues
      1. WHEELCHAIR experience, navigate a course by manipulating the wheels to go forward and turn
      2. Walker and cane assisted walking, with students learning safe use of an assistive walker and cane.
      3. Use EXTENSION GRABBING TOOL to grab objects from places that are OUT-OF-REACH, such as from inside a fenced pen, OR from a higher level out-of-reach SHELF
      ALTERNATIVE VIEW: we are not Spiderman or other superheros, so we should always think about USING TOOLS to help us

      1. CHARADE to demonstrate not being able to verbalize, how to communicate?
      2. Discuss and BRAINSTORM how we might communicate with non-verbal individuals
      3. JUGGLING exercise, who can do it, who can't...
      DISCUSS if you COULD do it with enough training and practice, or maybe NEVER have that skill?
      ALTERNATIVE VIEW: Disabled folks can be immensely FOCUSED and TALENTED in particular ways

      TALKING POINTS for DEBRIEF in small groups:

      Organize into small groups with volunteer and teacher leaders, but mix it up so a particular teacher does NOT lead her own students.
      Using dry-erase board, a second facilitator can make very brief notes e.g. keywords, if desired.

      1. What is REAL and what is FAKE NEWS about disabilities? What STEREOTYPES have you encountered regarding people who have disabilities? What have you experienced in YOUR LIFE - family, classroom, neighborhood - involving people who have disabilities? Has there been an aide in any of your classrooms? Do you have STORIES you are willing to share of siblings, extended family, and friends with disabilities?
      2. What is your comfort level, your mood and your feelings after engaging in the disability awareness activities? What will help counter any negative feelings you may experience, when someone you know and care about is disabled? With what you have learned, do you feel you can become knowledgeable, empowered, and ready to beat a disability, be a winner? Or you do you feel frustrated, anxious, depressed, confusion, embarrassed, helpless, fearful, or just more negative than before? Do you feel guilty and selfish at being thankful that you are not disabled? Do you agree with the statement "I am grateful that I don’t have such a burden or disability"? Do you have pity for disabled people? Or are you empathetic ("I feel like I have climbed into their shoes")? Could a disabled person be a good and trusted friend to you? Are you confident that by our working together, we could successfully encourage and assist anyone to overcome their disabilities?
      3. After you yourself have experienced simulated disabilities, do you think that blind people are less competent, and couldn’t perform activities as well as sighted people? Would a blind person have trouble living independently in their own house or apartment? Should blind people be in separate housing and/or special schools or other special institutions? Would you predict that it would take disabled people longer to adjust to new situations? Do you think that some people might be more limited by their disabilities compared to other people with the same disability?
      4. Here is some GUIDANCE for when you encounter or are in the company of a disabled person:
        a. First, always be alert to your environment and to people around you, both for your own safety, and so that you will realize when you encounter a possibly disabled or challenged person who might need help.
        b. When you encounter a person who might need help, assess the situation, and if you think you are capable of helping, ASK if help is needed. Carefully listen, and if the other person responds yes, briefly engage the other person about HOW you might best help. Be friendly and positive throughout this interaction.
        c. BE RESPECTFUL, not condescending. Be GENUINE.
        d. DON'T ASSUME that a disability means total incapacity, or act as though a disabled person is invisible or retarded (something Rebecca knows from experience being ignored or excluded, being shrouded in a veil of invisibility). CONSIDER, don't IGNORE all the possibilities. Be ready to ACKNOWLEDGE a disabled person's intelligence and ability to express themselves and help themselves.
      5. What do you think we wanted to accomplish with the awareness and simulation activities? Did we want your attention focused on the initial hardships of being or becoming disabled, or do we want you to think of disability as the BEGINNING of a potentially successful ADJUSTMENT process? Are you optimistic that our society and also our technology offer vast OPPORTUNITIES to solve problems and make all of our lives better? What do you recall as the most interesting or useful STRATEGIES for disabled people?
      6. Consider all the activities at TBM, including ACCESS to BEMA and other places, and READING from TORAH. What might we identify as challenges for the disabled? Can you suggest specific special services that TBM could provide to people with various disabilities? Are there specific infrastructure changes that would reduce environmental barriers for seriously and even moderately disabled congregants and visitors?
      7. Technology Question: Are people with disabilities more or less likely to use technology?
        The short answer is less likely; there is a significant divide in the use of technology between those who have a disability and those who do not. Specifically, people with a disability are three times as likely as those without a disability to say they never go online (23% vs. 8%). Adults with a disability are about 20% less likely to subscribe to home broadband and own a traditional computer, a smartphone or tablet. Further, people with disabilities are less likely than those who don‘t have a disability to report using the internet on a daily basis (50% vs. 79%).
        Source: Monica Anderson and Andrew Perrin, Disabled Americans are less likely to use technology (Washington: Pew Research Center,2017)
      8. What is the difference between an ALLY, ADVOCATE, and ACTIVIST? (there is overlap between the three terms; sometimes a person or group is acting as an ally and an advocate at the same time).
        ALLY: Someone who speaks out on behalf of someone else or takes actions that are supportive of someone else. Example: Hearing someone make an age-related joke and reaching out to that person and telling them you thought it was wrong. Example: One old senior citizen jokes to another, "So I see you're a TAB" - temporarily able-bodied. Are older people always expected to be mobility-challenged? Is this partly truthful, and partly stereotype? Could 'TAB' apply to any of us?
        ADVOCATE: Someone who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. Example: Writing a letter to a local newspaper about how small businesses should not prohibit teenagers in their stores.
        ACTIVIST: Someone who gets involved in activities that are meant to achieve political or social change; this also includes being a member of an organization which is working on change. Example: Starting a local group that works to address accessibility issues in your school.
        Are you one of these, ALLY, ADVOCATE or ACTIVIST, on behalf of people with disabilities?
      9. Finally... Do you believe that disability is just one part of what constitutes a human being? Do you believe that everyone wants to be treated with respect, and to enjoy as fully as possible the intellectual, emotional and physical enjoyments of life?


      FYI, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in October promotes National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

      A Biblical View of Disability that is not all positive and empowering... a good source of Biblical quotes such as "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?" (Exodus 4:11).

      Chabad observes Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month (JDAIM) with activities listed.

      Reform Jewish perspective on disability rights through stories about disabilities from the URJ Religious Action Center (RAC).

      Jewish guide to breaking down barriers and creating inclusive communities and
      Hineinu introductory page

      URJ RAC's grant from Ruderman Family Foundation

      Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center from URJ and Ruderman Foundation featuring URJ RAC compilation of study resources on disabilities inclusion.

      Now Is the Time to Make Our Houses of Worship Fully Accessible advocacy article.

      Goals of JDAIM 2020 to advance the two pillars of an inclusive community: the spirit of belonging, and the structure of inclusion. Belonging is something we all want in our lives; inclusion focuses on what our organizations can do to foster that sense of belonging. INCLUDES resources for JDAIM 2020 such as...
      JDAIM 2020 program guide PDF with focus that "Inclusion is the opportunity for every person to participate in meaningful ways in the life of the Jewish community. How do we know what is meaningful and important to another person? We open our doors, we ask, listen and we take the journey together."

      Lesson plans and other resources.

      Website offers statistics that

      • 15%-20% children and youth ages 3–21 have a diagnosed learning disability
      • 1 in 68 children in the United States has an Autism Spectrum Disorder
      • 200,000 students in the Jewish community with special needs
      • Kol yisrael araveem zeh b’zeh: All of Israel is responsible for one another. This Jewish teaching makes us consider the way that each Jewish person can support one another—and know that we can receive support from community members.

      A Very Special Critter film by Gina and Mercer Mayer.

      ADL website, concepts on disabilities that are somewhat dated (2006) but includes link to the excellent
      A Brief History of the Disability Rights Movement

      ADL page defining and exploring negative connotations of ABLEISM

      Health agency report on age discrimination in healthcare settings

      PREPARATIONS for the 2020February23 event:
      -volunteer facilitators/supervisors/leaders for each activity
      -posters of disabled Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs, quotes, other info; NEED suction cup hooks (Phil and Rebecca and Rabbi)
      -posters of dyxlexic sentences (Phil and Rebecca)
      -small scroll (Rebecca)
      -large TV screen and media player for videos
      -small TV with document camera with zoom (Phil)
      -wheelchair lightweight (Phil) borrow from rehab neighbor, Monmouth Medical Center,
      -cane for visually impaired (Phil)
      -walker (Phil)
      -extension grabbers
      -fenced-off area or playpen to reach into, with grabbers
      -high shelf area to reach to with grabbers
      -items to grab with grabbers
      -colored tapes to mark navigation courses (Phil)
      -glasses for obscured sight (Stella)
      -vaseline to obscure goggles and glasses (Phil)
      -win-lose game, e.g. coins for coin toss
      -velcro and content materials for pin-tail-on-donkey (high up) game
      -hearing-at-a-distance setup, OR noise-reducing ear plugs or headphones (Phil)
      -dry-erase board and markers for discussion (Phil)
      -provide COFFEE, SNACKS for group
      -prayer books and Torah commentaries in accessible format (i.e. large print)
      -juggling balls
      -Hersey Kisses packages (dark is dairy-free)
      -timer for timing unwrapping of Hersey Kisses
      -simulated picture frame for describing each other
      -message for Telephone Game icebreaker


    • PLEASE NOTE that the Men's Club March 21 Devils Hockey event scheduled for April 8 was cancelled, with the NHL season now on hold.
    • Click here to view the video of the virtual 2020 RJVNJ Advocacy Day. And please look out for upcoming RAC-NJ online followups for the SA/SJ work that we were unable to accomplish due to the cancellation of the annual Trenton information and lobbying advocacy day organized by Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey (RJVNJ, now NJ/RAC) originally scheduled for Monday March 16, 2020 to convene at the Masonic Temple near the State House in Trenton NJ from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. Anticipating eventual rescheduling, please register in advance with RJVNJ for NJ Advocacy Day to be part of discussions with our legislators and advocates, to address ways to combat the increasing trend of anti-Semitism and hate in our State, and also advance issues of environmental and racial justice, and the RAC civic engagement (voting) initiative. TBM congregants please contact Phil Falcone to carpool, as a group of us did in 2019. This RJVNJ event has a sliding scale fee of $25 that includes lunch, snacks, and materials. More details are on registration link.
      read more ...
      The Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey (RJVNJ) is an extension of the URJ Religious Action Center, and is focused on issues impacting New Jersey that reflect our values as Reform Jews. The annual Trenton information and lobbying Advocacy Day organized by RJVNJ is Monday March 16, 2020. RJVNJ advises that you register in advance with RJVNJ for March 16th NJ Advocacy Day (click here) to be able to get appointments with NJ state legislators, and to carpool. Participants will participate with the entire group in talks and discussion about important issues, and then gather in small constituent groups to meet with respective NJ State Assembly men and women and our State Senators to share insights about the issues from their perspective, and that of our progressive Jewish voice. TBM congregants usually plan to carpool, whether you can provide a ride or if you would prefer to get a ride. Phil Falcone 908-803-5516 is TBM's contact person for this event and for TBM carpooling. Also, members of NFTY and our young people from TBM are invited to attend. The cost is $25, (bring a check or cash with you on the 16th), however, please don't let the cost keep anyone home - it will be covered by RJVNJ as needed.


    • THANK YOU to the many TBM congregants who participated in Project Homeless Connect, a one-day event on January 29th, 2020 providing food, clothing, services, and hospitality to our friends and neighbors at-risk for or experiencing homelessness. We took items dropped off prior to January 29 at TBM or arranged to be picked up by TBM volunteers, to one of the drop-off locations, the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission in Asbury Park the day before January 29.
      read more ...

      What kind of donations can you provide?
      Ready-to-Eat Foods (cereals, chips, crackers, nut mixes and candy, canned goods)
      Winter Clothing
      Water Bottles
      Socks & Underclothes
      Coats & Bags
      Postage Stamps
      Coupons & Gift Cards

      Please email Phil Falcone to arrange a convenient time for pickup of items you wish to donate from the following list, or you can drop off items at TBM. TBM Board Members please bring donated items to the prior Board meeting. We will take collected items to one of the drop-off locations, Jersey Shore Rescue Mission in Asbury Park the day before January 29. Our local legislators and community leaders were promoting the Project, asking religious institutions and their congregants for their help to make this event a success.

      Right here in Monmouth County, four offices are accepting donations before January 29th, including:
      New Beginnings Agape Christian Center, 133 Throckmorton St., Freehold
      Peggy Comfort, MCDWD,
      Rona Henderson, MCDSS, 732-431-6000 x 6194,
      Kaitlyn Lenehan, MCDHS,
      St. Mark’s Soup Kitchen, 247 Carr Ave, Keansburg
      Bea Oesterheld, CARC, 732-774-3282,
      Pilgrim Baptist Church, 172 Shrewsbury Ave., Red Bank
      Deacon Darlene Wilson, PBC, 732-774-3282, 732-676-0304
      Birgit Mondesir, PBC,
      Jersey Shore Rescue Mission, 701 Memorial Dr., Asbury Park
      Maura Comer, Interfaith Neighbors, 732-775-0525 x 205,

      To learn where, when, and how to drop off deliveries, or for more information about Project Homeless Connect, you can call or email the contact listed for the location nearest to you.

      If you or someone you know is either experiencing homelessness or is at risk of losing their home, we encourage you to attend Project Homeless Connect at any of the listed locations on Wednesday, January 29th. Not only can this event help at-risk neighbors get through the winter months, but it can also connect with important social services that can help someone at risk get back on their feet.

      Thank you to all of the volunteers and community leaders who have made this event possible, and to all whose donations will support our friends and neighbors. We hope that you'll help us make Project Homeless Connect a success!


    • The shore community celebrated in January 2020 the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with two weeks of interfaith events in and around Long Branch that welcomed everyone to enjoy the fellowship of our area's faith communities. Click on read more for an inspirational music video, reflective magazine column, and local event fliers along with directions to each local event venue. Rabbi Cy Stanway participated at the Monday January 20th 10am event at United Methodist Church in Red Bank.
      read more ...

      Click here for a web page that lets you launch your smartphone GPS with directions to these MLK events.

      MLK commemorative breakfast on Friday, January 17, 2020, 7:30-9:30 AM at the Sheraton in Eatontown, hosted by the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County. For tickets which are $30 for adults, $10 for youth (16 & under) and $250 for a table of 10, please contact Sandy Riddle at 732.671.5505, ext. 119 or e-mail

      In the spirit of Martin Luther King Day, click here to enjoy a YouTube musical collaboration between Jewish music's well-known group The Maccabeats and the group Naturally 7 with a James Taylor cover (that is, performing a James Taylor song).

      Rolling Stone columnist Matt Taibbi notes incongruities between press and public attitudes today and during Dr. King's time, in his essay The Annual Misremembering Dr. King Editorials Roll In.

      an essay shares 3 Radical Facts About Martin Luther King Jr. and How to Honor His Full Legacy, by Chris Harrison (1/17/2019).


    • On Sunday January 12, 2020 from 2-4 PM, Monmouth Reform Temple, 332 Hance Avenue Tinton Falls, NJ hosted Ali Abu Awwad speaking on A Palestinian Approach to Peace. The well-attended event was sponsored by Monmouth Reform Temple, Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey, and Muslims For Peace. Awwad was engaging as he described the initiative he helps lead that is building vibrant and sustainable Palestinian communities that coexist peacefully with their Israeli settler neighbors, and frequently must bypass self-interested and inflammatory political leaders.
      read more ...

      The Wikipedia page for Ali Abu Awwad has detailed information of his life and experiences, and describes Awwad as a prominent Palestinian peace activist and proponent of nonviolence. Awwad currently is finishing his memoir called Painful Hope, an account of his experiences as well as his strategy and vision for the Palestinian future. He lives in Beit Ummar, near Hebron. The nonprofit thinktank Synergos shares additional information about Awwad.


    • Just prior to Thanksgiving week 2019, TBM congregants were encouraged to bring to the temple donated food non-perishable items (see the list below). TBM congregants then participated on November 26 from 11 AM to 1 PM alongside our friends at Trinity AME Church at 64 Liberty Street in Long Branch to hand out bags of donated items, as part of Trinity AME's Thanksgiving Meal distribution project for families and individuals in need of food at Thanksgiving.
      Click here for Trinity AME's Facebook page.
      For a web page that lets you launch your smartphone GPS with directions to Trinity AME Church, click here.

      Click here for Trinity AME's LIST of requested Thanksgiving food pantry items ...

      Before November 26, please bring to the temple office your donated items from among the following:

      • canned cranberry sauce
      • frozen peas and string beans
      • potatoes
      • stuffing mix
      • canned gravy
      • black-eyed peas
      • canned corn
      • canned carrots


    • TBM congregants were warmly welcomed by our friends at Trinity AME Church at 64 Liberty Street in Long Branch, as we joined them on Saturday October 5 2019 at 9 am for a prayer breakfast and program celebrating Men's Month. Click here for Trinity AME's Facebook pageFor a web page that lets you launch your smartphone GPS with directions to Trinity AME Church, click here.See below for the flier for Trinity AME's Men's Month events.
      read more ...


    • The Days of Awe are Judaism's longest-running continuous holiday celebration, during which one can wish chag sameach anytime. TBM's welcome for the new Jewish year 5780 began with a well-attended and inspiring Selichot at Rabbi Stanway's home, then celebration of Rosh Hashanah including a very pleasant outdoor second-day service, then Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah, all celebrated at Temple Beth Miriam.
      Be sure to see the TBM home page and calendar for details of all events at TBM.
    • Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey (RJVNJ) celebrated in late 2019 its successful lobbying for passage of the NJ Safe and Responsible Driver Act (A1738/S1340) that will allow drivers' licenses for undocumented residents in New Jersey and for others. The Safe and Responsible Driver Act would assure that our neighbors can get to jobs, doctor appointments and schools. This is not only an immigrant justice issue, but a quality of life concern for all, since the Act improves safety by restoring lawful normalcy and inclusion on NJ roads. More information is available at the website Let's Drive NJ.
      District 11's legislators mostly supported the NJ Safe and Responsible Driver Act, but they should be encouraged to monitor its successful outcomes, fix any problems that occur, and endorse the Act going forward. During RJVNJ's Advocacy Day in spring 2019 TBM congregants spoke to Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling and Senator Vin Gopal about the Act and other issues. Senator Gopal said that he planned to vote for the bill, while Eric Houghtaling did not favor the bill. RJVNJ's urgent call in late 2019 to contact legislators undoubtedly helped its passage. District 11 office phone number is: 732-695-3371, and FAX number is: 732-695-3374.

      Click here for details of RJVNJ's calling campaign in late 2019...

      RJVNJ set a goal of making 150 calls to our State Legislators by Friday November 22, 2019 in support of Driver’s Licenses for All in New Jersey, and to get the Let’s Drive NJ bill to the finish line. NOTE that District 11 Legislators were NOT current cosponsors of A-4743/S-3229.
      Here were the steps recommended for making calls to legislators.
      1. Find your legislators and their contact info.
      2. Encourage legislators to co-sponsor this bill.
      3. Use the scripts below or use your own words for your call.
      4. So we can count all RJVNJ’s calls please report them at
      Here is a possible draft script you can use on your call:
      a. My Name is _____________ and I'm a constituent that lives in (your town/neighborhood). I'm also a Reform Jew, calling as part of Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey to make sure we pass the Driver's Licenses for all legislation
      b. I'm calling to ask ________ to cosponsor A-4743/S-1747 -- Driver's Licenses for all New Jerseyites. The Reform Jews of New Jersey, have made Driver's Licenses for all our top priority campaign. Our tradition calls on us to take care of the stranger in our midst dozens of times in the Torah. Giving undocumented New Jerseyites a chance to get driver's licenses makes their lives a little easier, makes our roads a lot safer by having more trained and insured drivers on the road, and is just better for all New Jerseyites. We want to see this bill become law..
      c. Do you know if ______ supports Driver's Licenses for all New Jerseyites?
      i. If yes: Great! Will _________ become a cosponsor?
      ii. If no to supporting legislation: Can you tell me why not?
      d. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today I hope that _______ will support this legislation.


    • Long Branch's 7th Ave. Community Garden unfortunately is closed at the current time. This site previously collected and composted vegetable kitchen waste, just as NYC and other communities are doing in pilot programs. Click here for to see the prior drop-off schedule for vegetative kitchen waste. Due to the regulatory and logistic complexities of transporting waste, the State of NJ along with other experts advise composting yard and kitchen vegetable waste in your own yard, or collaborating with others in your immediate neighborhood. By participating in composting, you can avoid kitchen vegetable waste decaying for days in your kitchen garbage can and fouling your indoor air quality. Also you can reduce what goes into your curbside garbage pickup and into landfills. Using your smartphone click here to launch your GPS app for directions to the now-closed 7th Ave. Community Garden site.
    • Our friends at Temple Rodeph Torah (TRT) in Marlboro and Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey (RJVNJ) hosted a program focused on the issue of climate change and its very real impacts across the world, also affecting environmental justice and sustainability. TRT and RJVNJ on September 15, 2019 welcomed US Congressman Frank Pallone and NJ Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson for a program on What Can We Do About Climate Change? Assemblyman Benson and Representative Pallone talking about what grass root groups can do to influence environmental legislation. See the flier by clicking below.For web page that lets you launch your smartphone GPS with directions to Temple Rodeph Torah, click here.
      read more ...


    • TBM families and friends enjoyed the annual end-of-summer, end-of-the-Jewish-calendar-year l Southern Fried Shabbat and BBQ on September 6, 2019 with Kabbalat Shabbat at 6 PM followed by dinner at 6:45 pm (dinner was inside in the social hall due to inclement weather from the remnants of hurricane Dorian). As always, See the TBM home page and calendar for more details and to sign up. Why a 'Southern Fried Shabbat' you ask? For insights on the long history of Jewish experience in the American South, click below.
read more ...

click here to see fiction and non-fiction books on American southern Jewish experiences. A Wikipedia article features the history of the Jews in the United States including America's southern regions and southern cities. The website for the PBS series The Jewish Americans produced by David Grubin has links to many resources including The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life and the Southern Jewish Historical Society. A project from the National Endowment for the Humanities focuses on Privilege and Prejudice: Jewish History in the American South.


  • Our histories as American Jews are as varied as our number, but our families share the experience of being immigrants often finding hostile hosts despite our feeling of relief at fleeing terror. A "lights for liberty vigil to end human concentration camps" on Friday July 12 in Red Bank at 8 pm addressed the challenges of immigrating peoples encountering hostile hosts in America and around the world. Some fellow TBM congregants participated in the vigil to show support, and to demonstrate the involvement of TBM and the Jewish community in this issue. Recall that during TBM's Listening Campaign congregants strongly expressed the wish to have our Jewish voice heard in the community, such as at public gatherings that are interfaith, ethical and spiritual. To see the flier for the event click below. We note that some TBM congregants who saw the flier were concerned that calling the detainee camps 'concentration camps' is a superficial comparison that diminishes both the Holocaust, and the current situation which deserves our unique attention to the specifics that make it untenable.
    click here for the flier...
    Adapted from flier and website for the "lights for liberty vigil to end human concentration camps". Please note comments above, that though Jews have deep concern for the plight of immigrants, this terminology is controversial in the Jewish community.


  • At a gloriously balmy outdoor Shabbat service on Friday night June 28, Sister Carol Ann Henry, Executive Director of Mercy Center in Asbury Park was invited to the bimah, during which she related the 30-year evolution of Mercy Center in Asbury Park, and vividly and poignantly described the challenges faced by so many of our neighbors who struggle with the most basic needs of their families for survival. Sister Carol and Mercy Center's development person Rebecca Nichols talked about all-encompassing support services at Mercy Center from education to counseling to monetary support, and also suggested possible collaboration and volunteer opportunities for TBM congregants to help Mercy Center.
    read more ...

    Initiatives at Mercy Center include their 60-student middle school for girls, their Family Resource Center, and their food pantry. Sister Carol and Rebecca Nichols discussed volunteer opportunities for those with professional and other expertise of all kinds. Mercy Center cannot afford paid staff in many areas, but continues to meet their very high expectations and successful track record by engaging volunteers. Mercy Center would like to invite TBM congregants to Mercy Center's occasional open house events. And to support Mercy Center's food pantry, TBM could include Mercy Center as an additional destination for our non-perishable food collections which are especially needed during summer months. Rabbi Cy and Sister Carol dialogued about TBM undertaking a special item donation drive to meet Mercy Center's specific needs at particular times. In such endeavors, TBM would be joining a strong community network of other agencies and churches that facilitate donations to organizations such as Mercy Center.

    Contact Rabbi Cy or TBM congregant Phil Falcone for more information about TBM's collaboration with Mercy Center, or contact Mercy Center representatives Rebecca Nichols and Eileen Greenlay directly using information on their Contact Us webpage.


  • Mazal Tov to TBM's Judy Berg, who has been prominent for three decades in Jewish Reform Movement leadership and activism. Judy was honored at TBM's Shabbat service June 7, 2019. Representatives from the Union for Reform Judaism came to TBM to mark Judy's retirement from the National Board of the URJ after 28 years. Judy continues on the Board of the URJ's Commission for Social Action where issues of social justice are her passion.
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    During Judy's tenure on the National Board of the URJ she has been a Vice-Chair, led the Commission on Outreach and Membership, chaired the Trustees Committee, and traveled to Temple Boards as a facilitator to name just a few of her leadership positions. Currently she is on the Board of the Commission for Social Action which is affiliated with the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC. In this capacity she advocates for issues of social justice which you all know is her passion. Peter Weidhorn, a past chair of the URJ made the presentation to Judy at Temple Beth Miriam during Friday evening services.

    The URJ wrote this about Judy: “Listing Judy’s formal committee roles is only part of the story. What’s most important about Judy is the intelligence, warmth, understanding and great judgment she brings to everything she does. Judy says it has been a ‘true blessing’ to be involved with the lay leaders and professionals of our Reform Movement over the years. In the words of the URJ, Judy, your service on the Board and to our Movement has been a ‘true blessing’ for all of us. “Judy’s voice has made a lasting contribution to the growth of the Reform Movement and Beth Miriam is proud to both be honored by her and to honor her.


  • BM's Judy Berg was in attendance along with Reform Jews from around the US and Canada as they gathered in Washington DC May 19-21, 2019  to hear national leaders discuss efforts for social justice, and learn skills to make social justice efforts more effective, at the Religious Action Center's annual event called Consultation on Conscience.
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    Goals of the conclave for NJ participants, upon returning home, included engaging their congregations to choose SA/SJ issues on which to focus, working more closely with the local New Jersey Reform Jewish Voice organization in lobbying our senators and representatives, and working with RAC on training to improve outcomes in SA/SJ activities. RAC provided a 'Brit' for participants to bring to their congregations to sign, to commit to these goals. Judy Berg, who can be reached at will be sharing her experiences from the Consultation on Conscience with TBM congregants.


  • With sadness, but also reflecting on a legacy filled with hope, the family and many friends of Milton Ziment honored their mentor and teacher who passed away June 17. Milt has truly blessed Temple Beth Miriam over many decades as a pillar of our community, very active in religious school teaching, youth programs, religious practices and social action. Milt's history and influence were remembered by the Rabbi, by Milt's daughter, and also by her son, Milt's grandson, as they poignantly articulated memories and thoughts about Milt that resonated with all those in attendance. Leading off the remembrance were two interfaith friends of Milt and Claragee who described the couple's deep concern and activism on behalf of interfaith peace and harmony through their leadership in the widely inclusive interfaith organization MCWRET. (click here and scroll up slightly for more information)
  • Claragee Ziment, cartoonist, artist and now centenarian, was honored at TBM's Shabbat service May 10 by a large crowd of friends and well-wishers who joined in joy and in prayer to celebrate her birthday. Rabbi Stanway recounted how Claragee's life has been filled with social action impacts on TBM and everyone around Claragee, as she exemplifies the Midrash's benchmarks of energy and kindness, beauty, and wisdom, reflecting the ages 7, 20 and 100, which the Midrash notes total up to 127, the age that matriarch Sarah was able to bear children. A small exhibit in the lobby just hinted at Claragee's long career of providing her unique cartoonist and artist's perspective on the world, which continues to influence viewers' attitudes about social action and social justice.
    For Claragee's picture and interview transcript, click here.
  • On Friday March 22, Rickie Kashdan, Rebecca Levin and Phil Falcone, along with many others from many faiths, participated in Rings of Peace, a coming together to completely surround the New Brunswick NJ Islamic Center, Masjid Al Aman Mosque in Middletown, NJ, and other mosques around the nation.
    read more from Rickie Kashdan and Rebecca Levin describing Rings of Peace...

    from Rickie Kashdan: Today I joined with an interfaith group of allies at the New Brunswick Islamic Center in solidarity and to show support for our Muslim sisters and brothers. We were welcomed and embraced with open arms and hospitality. I met and talked with several women who let me know how much our presence and support meant to them. And I learned and asked questions about the practice of Islam. I sat between a Muslim woman praying and a Jewish woman who is a member of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, a group that encourages having dialogue and building relationship between Muslim and Jewish women. I learned of a chapter in Monmouth County and plan to join the group. Governor Phil Murphy and NJ Commissioner of Health, Shereef Elnahal joined in the prayers. Governor Murphy talked about NJ as, “by many measures, the most diverse state in America.” He continued, “...We are safer when we are closer, without question... When I was running for office I promised you I would be back. I would not be here just when I needed you, but I would be here when you needed me. Whether that is to protect you from a public safety standpoint, or to celebrate with you the cultural diversity of this extraordinary community or to pray with you....” I look forward to learning more and continuing to build connections in community with my Muslim sisters and brothers.

    from Rebecca Levin-Weinberg: Yesterday, Phil Falcone and I, members of Temple Beth Miriam, along with many others came together at the Masjid Al Aman Mosque in Middletown, NJ. We were all there offering our condolences and showing solidarity for the massacre in New Zealand of men, women, and children slaughtered while observing their religion. I entered the Middletown mosque, after removing my shoes and sat down. Over a hundred people came in to pray as they do several times each day. Their kindness was overwhelming. Their leader explained to us the peace that the Koran taught, welcoming us with open arms. These are the Muslims I know. The violence done in the name of Islam is NOT from the teachings of the Koran. As I left the mosque, I was given a meal and was thanked for coming. Thanked for doing a mitzvah? These peaceful people stood besides us as we mourned the victims of the hate crime at our sister synagogue in Pittsburgh.

    Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ offered the following invitation: The community is invited to show solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters starting Friday, March 22 at 1PM and continuing weekly, for Rings of Peace at the following locations:
    Muslim Center of New Jersey, Fords - 15 South 2nd St, Fords
    Muslim Center of Middlesex County - 1000 Hoes Ln, Piscataway
    New Brunswick Islamic Center - 1330 Livingston Ave, Unit 4, North Brunswick

    Rabbi David Vaisberg of Temple Emanu-El, Edison who also represents The Metuchen Edison area Interfaith Clergy Association and The Rabbinical Association of the Heart of New Jersey for Monmouth and Greater Middlesex counties, along with Susan Antman, Executive Director, Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ shared information about the above March 22 event, and offered the following:
    "Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey is shocked and appalled by the hate-filled terror attack targeting two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
    We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the 49 victims and to our dear friends and colleagues who are part of the worldwide Muslim family in the heart of NJ.
    The Jewish community knows all too well the price of terrorism, racism and hatred. No person should ever have to fear attending a sacred place of worship. The xenophobia that led to this unspeakable bloodshed must be condemned in no uncertain terms. We cannot let it continue to violate the moral and ethical core of our society.
    We join in one voice to categorically condemn the destruction brought by taking the lives of Muslims praying in Christchurch, New Zealand,” added Rabbi Marc Kline, the Federation’s chair of interfaith initiatives. “The mass shooting is an offense to everything and everyone we hold sacred.
    Let us in one voice categorically condemn all form of hate and bigotry.
    Today we are sick. Our hearts ache. Let's come together and use this gathering to show solidarity and reaffirm our commitment to promote unity and understanding among all people and do our part to immunize our community from any form of hate and bigotry!"


  • Temple Beth Miriam congregants Barry, Page and Todd Edison, along with Pat Shapiro, Grace Doctorow and Phil Falcone, helped lead a Passover Seder on the last day of Passover Saturday April 27 at The Atria Assisted Living residence in Tinton Falls. We brought Passover ritual items, Atria provided Passover menu items, and Atria residents supplied their knowledge and humor as we read and sang from the Haggadah.
  • Long Branch marked the May 2 National Day of Prayer with events that included an evening prayer service at Old First Methodist Church in West Long Branch. Nearly a dozen spiritual leaders from Long Branch area churches each provided provocative insights, prayers and blessings for one of seven identified centers of influence: national, state and local government services and leaders; our military; all those pursuing or providing education; those in business serving consumers and helping communities; those working in media and arts; our families; the community's religious ministries.
  • All TBM congregants and visitors can feel safer that recently ten congregants took part in CPR training and refresher training taught by Beth Weston-Knotts and co-sponsored by Sisterhood.
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    TBM congregants Beth Weston-Knotts and Tim Knotts are certified EMTs and EMT trainers. They have been volunteering their time and resources for years, serving local communities as EMTs and by training interested groups and the public on the techniques for CPR or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. According to Beth and Tim, trained individuals encountering a victim of heart stoppage who immediately apply CPR and early use of an AED device can keep blood flow active during the crucial minutes until medical personnel arrive. This can double or triple a victim's chance of survival after cardiac arrest.


  • The Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey (RJVNJ), an extension of the Reform movement's Washington DC-based Religious Action Center (RAC), recently had its Annual Trenton Advocacy Day. RJVNJ focuses on issues impacting New Jersey that reflect our values as Reform Jews.
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    Stay tuned in March 2020 for the next Annual Trenton Advocacy Day organized by RJVNJ.

    Contact TBM congregant and liason person for RJVNJ and for this event, Rickie Kashdan and cell phone 732-927-0795 for more information. The event usually is scheduled from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm in March in Trenton at a meeting space usually a short walk from the State House. Rickie strongly advises that you register in advance (in January or Februay 2020) with Reform Jewish Voice of NJ for NJ Advocacy Day (click here) to be able to get appointments with NJ state legislators, and to carpool. Participants will learn about important issues, and meet in Trenton with respective NJ State Assembly men and women and our State Senators, to convey a progressive Jewish Voice. TBM congregants usually plan to carpool, which Rickie can arrange, whether you can provide a ride or if you would prefer to get a ride. Also, members of NFTY and our young people from TBM are invited to attend. The cost is $25, (bring a check with you), however, please don't let the cost keep anyone home - it will be covered by RJVNJ as needed.


  • A Reform Judaism website article remembers Al Vorspan who helped organize the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in the nation’s capital some 70 years ago. Click read more below for contrasting insights on the dilemma of silence as 'holy' or sometimes not.
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    Vorspan describes being jailed in 1964 along with a group of Reform rabbis who had joined Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in civil rights protests in St. Augustine, FL. "We came as Jews who remember the millions of faceless people who stood quietly, watching the smoke rise from Hitler’s crematoria. We came because we know that, second only to silence, the greatest danger to man is loss of faith in man’s capacity to act."
    A contrasting, perhaps contradictory definition for silence as necessary for our reaching out for holiness, is related in recent D'var Torah commentaries on Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26) by Rabbi Ben Spratt and by Rabbi Juliana S. Karol, from Reform Judaism website's Ten Minutes of Torah.


  • Stay tuned for Temple Beth Miriam's annual soup-making and soup selling fundraiser.
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    The Soup-A-Thon will again benefit the newly renovated food pantry at The Lutheran Church of the Reformation. A recent tally was 100 quarts of soup and 3 kinds of treats that were sold after religious school. Chef volunteers, home-made soup lovers, and other supporters are needed to make this a successful event. Contact organizer Gayle Topper for more information.


  • Mark your 2020 calendar for the next (20th) annual United We Sing: Music of Gratitude, Voices of Different Faiths Raised in Joy and Happiness. The event is at 4 pm on the Sunday just before Thanksgiving, and is sponsored by Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought (MCWRET) and hosted at the Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse at 1475 West Front Street, Lincroft, NJ.
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    In 2019 the audience enjoyed entertaining and spiritually uplifting performances from our community's many interconnected faiths, including music, song, dance, talks, and readings. A generous buffet of homemade food items was served after the event. The flier for the 2019 event is below.
    Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought (MCWRET) strives to enhance the acceptance of religious and cultural diversity.The Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought was established in 1994 by individuals in Monmouth County from various religious and ethical traditions. It is led by a Board of Trustees comprised of members of our diverse religious communities. The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County graciously hosts United We Sing: Music of Gratitude, Voices of Different Faiths Raised in Joy and Happiness.


  • Stay tuned in early 2020 for the next annual Harmony Coffee House featuring an eclectic selection of live music and performers from Monmouth County and beyond, usually held at Temple Beth Miriam on a Sunday afternoon, with tickets at $5 and refreshments available. The recently held 2019 event is documented at The Harmony Coffee House Facebook page.
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    Fans enjoyed the efforts of a wide-ranging and gifted lineup of performers volunteering their talents to raise money (in 2019) for the Axelrod Performing Arts Center and the Asbury Park Music Foundation. The 2nd annual happening in 2019 of The Harmony Coffee House was produced by Michael and Elliott Topper, Jacob Gerbman, and Maya Restifo. Contact Michael and Elliott's mom Gayle Topper for more information, or to get in contact with the producers regarding suggestions for performance acts at the Harmony Coffeehouse, or to volunteer your help.




Who's Who of Social Action/Social Justice in Reform Judaism (sourced from Wikipedia)

  • The Religious Action Center (RAC) is the political and legislative outreach arm of Reform Judaism in the United States.The Religious Action Center in Washington, DC is operated under the auspices of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism (CSA), a joint body of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union for Reform Judaism. It was founded in 1961.
  • The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) (until 2003: Union of American Hebrew Congregations or UAHC), founded in 1873 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, is the congregational arm of Reform Judaism in North America. The other two arms established by Rabbi Wise are the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. See the following Wikipedia links for RAC and URJ
  • The Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey (RJVNJ) is an extension of the Religious Action Center, focused on issues impacting New Jersey that reflect our values as Reform Jews. See above regarding the annual Trenton information and lobbying session.
  • The The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey brings together the Jewish community across Monmouth and Greater Middlesex counties to address the issues facing Jews individually and as a People locally, in Israel, and around the globe. See Jewish Federation's calendar of events.



Congregation-wide TBM Listens Campaign meetings report

Dear Fellow Temple Members,

We are thrilled to share the results of our Listening Campaign. We completed our house meetings in the spring. We had 17 gatherings at host homes including 140 congregants who attended. The meetings were designed to get to know one another in a deeper, more relational way. We focused on three questions designed to enhance our understanding of the meaning of a supportive community. The first question encouraged participants to talk about a time in their life when community was there for them. We heard stories about how participants felt about the warmth of community in times of greatest joy or sorrow or just the special moments of life that are remembered. In the second question we zoomed in on where each person was in his or her own life. We heard about the challenges of various life stages such as family issues, job changes, balancing responsibilities, and adjusting to new life stages. This information helped enlighten us about whether we as a Temple community are meeting these needs. The last question tackled the deeper question regarding what each person would want to do in a community that they could not do on their own. These responses gave us the most insight about how we can be a more supportive community. We heard about longings ... for spiritual connection, for companionship, for educational engagement, for promoting awareness of social justice issues to name just a few.
We analyzed the responses to better understand what our congregants are seeking. After examining the information, a group of themes emerged. We decided to focus on three areas that resonated with the most congregants.
The first theme was echoed by many religious school parents. They shared a desire to socialize and get to know each other better. They would like to have the children participate in family activities, but also have some adult time.
The second theme that we heard from a wide swath of the congregation, was a passion for social justice. Many people felt like they would like to band together and use their collective voice to impact social issues.
The third theme that emerged was a desire to nurture our temple and greater community through food. This may include a cooking class, or providing meals to our congregants.
We felt that these three themes would be a good place to begin. If the three groups work well and the participants find them meaningful, we can tackle other themes that were shared at the home meetings. Forty four volunteers were involved in the Listening Campaign. We wish to thank our hosts, note takers, and facilitators for all they did to make the project a success and most of all YOU, the participants for sharing so willingly and giving your time to this endeavor. Thank you for your continued support as we move forward.

TBM Listens Committee
Lori Goldstein, Judy Berg, Joanne Edison


TBM's Social Justice listening campaign house meeting report

In early December 2018 TBM former president Judy Berg organized a house meeting that was hosted Rabbi Cy and Stella Stanway, attended by TBM Board members and other congregants who have had a variety of roles as social action leaders.

Judy's agenda was an initiative from the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism (CSA, see Who's Who above) that involves 360 congregations across America, to devise strategies for future efforts of the Reform Movement concerning issues of social justice.

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The house meeting at the Stanways featured a guided engagement conversation to brainstorm about which issues are most broadly and deeply felt. Judy's goal was to assess the role, interest, and capacities of the Reform Jewish community on issues of social justice, to influence RAC's next social justice initiative.

Participants shared personal stories of experiencing or witnessing injustice. Concerns included anti-semitism, women's rights, racism, gun violence, abuse, mental health and homelessness.

What is it that empowers and unites Jews, that might engage us regarding issues of social justice? We heard at the meeting about the importance of community, our desire to debate and discuss, our compassion for others, out need to give back, our acceptance of others, our openness and our command to repair the world. This sets the tone for all we could accomplish.

Some participants felt it was better to stick with local initiatives like getting involved with food pantries and community kitchens to support those who are food insecure, dealing with homelessness and mental health issues, confronting sexism and racism, addressing women's issues, promoting legal justice including voting rights, and helping immigrants. But the group seemed open to explore and pursue additional broader issues that are shared with Jews and others nationally and globally, such as anti-semitism, climate justice, gun violence, defense of Israel, security at houses of worship, interfaith families, and engagement of unaffiliated and all Jews to make the synagogue and Jewish practice more meaningful.

Judy will report back key findings and takeaways from the TBM meeting to the RAC. The RAC will then analyze the findings from many such engagement conversations and develop a strategic campaign that will take RAC's social justice efforts through 2019 and beyond.

A selected RAC campaign plan will be announced at the Consultation on Conscience event sponsored by the RAC in Washington DC in May 2019.

Additionally, TBM's Social Action Committee has the opportunity to move both RAC and local initiatives forward.

Judy can be reached at:


What is the most powerful SA/SJ action EACH of us can take?

TBM board member and Social Action/Social Justice chair Phil Falcone is coordinating this web page. Please send an email to add your initiative and information to this page, or for any other questions or suggestions.