Montebello Jewish Center   34 Montebello Road, Montebello, N.Y. 10901   (845) 357-2430   www.Montebellojc.org facebook twitter

 

 

 

 

 

   Rabbi Joshua S. Finkelstein

    Phone:  (845) 357-2430  Extension 402
    E-Mail: rabbi@montebellojc.org

 

  

 

 

 

Rabbi Joshua S. Finkelstein joined Montebello Jewish Center with over twenty years of pulpit experience within the Conservative Movement serving congregations in New York and New Jersey. He received his ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary and his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Columbia College of Columbia University in New York. Rabbi Finkelstein was a Visiting Lecturer at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he taught the first-year seminar required of all rabbinical students guiding them to recognize and communicate the meaning and vitality of Jewish rituals and texts.

A past president of the New Jersey Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi Finkelstein also served as the Chair of the Intergroup Relations Committee of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the UJA of Northern New Jersey. He was on the editorial board of the Community Faith and Values section of The Record. He is married to Elana Gershen Finkelstein. They have three children, Sarah, Eli, and Becky.  

Rabbi Finkelstein looks forward to speaking with you about Montebello Jewish Center and your Jewish journey. He can be reached at MJC or by email at RabbiJSF@gmail.com.

 

From the Rabbi's Study

  

 

Anti-Semitism and Hatred in Rockland

 

Over the past year, incidents of anti-Semitism and racism have increased around the world and around our country. Unfortunately, our home in Rockland County is not immune from this repugnant trend. Over the past two weeks, we have seen an online anti-Semitic ad from a local political party that was only removed in the face of public pressure. In addition, people have been accusing their political opponents of anti-Semitism to stifle legitimate political differences and debate. In light of this current climate, the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Rockland and the Rockland Board of Rabbis have issued a statement that I am sharing with you below. A quote attributed to Edmund Burke tells us "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good [people] do nothing." Our Jewish Federation and Board of Rabbis are committed to ensuring that we not let this scourge overtake us and that we "preserve a Rockland of which we can be proud."

Shabbat Shalom,

  

Rabbi Joshua S. Finkelstein 

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Joint Statement by Jewish Federation & Foundation of Rockland 

and the Rockland Board of Rabbis

 

Jewish Federation & Foundation of Rockland County and the Rockland Board of Rabbis unequivocally condemn the video, "A Storm is Brewing in Rockland", posted last week on the Rockland Republican Party's Facebook page. This is the latest in a long string of destructive videos and advertisements used to gain political advantage while demonizing individuals and segments of the Rockland community.  It is now known that this approach was approved months ago by Rockland party leaders. The video reflects a broad strategy of demonization of an individual and a segment of the Rockland community. Though it was taken down almost immediately, the damage was done. For many in the Jewish and broader community, the overtones in the video are painfully suggestive of films produced in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and racist slurs used by white supremacists. 

Federation and Rabbis also note and condemn those who respond to legitimate concerns and criticism about any number of community issues; education standards, land use, zoning, etc. with broad charges of anti-Semitism. The use of the term loses its meaning when it is thrown about in such a way. There is enough real anti-Semitism in the world. The serious charge of anti-Semitism should only be used where it describes this particular form of hate and bigotry.

The Jewish Federation and its Community Relations Council will continue to serve as a proactive voice of moderation and community building, and will continue to create spaces where concerned individuals can engage one another in a constructive effort to address the serious challenges that confront our community.

Fear and chaos can destroy our society and our democratic process.  It's time for reasonable people to stand up and say "no more". We call for civic leadership to guide the conversation away from fear-mongering and animosity towards respectful debate of difficult issues. We call on reasonable men and women to come together to work through the problems we face before violent speech becomes violent acts. There can be no other choice but to act and act now.  If we are going to preserve Rockland, let's preserve a Rockland of which we can be proud.

 

 

Law and Order

  

This morning I attended a Hate Crimes Symposium for local community/religious leaders hosted by The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Town of Ramapo Police Department. Proving that there are no real coincidences in life, this week's Torah portion is Shoftim. The opening verse of Shoftim is an instruction to the People of Israel, who are readying to enter the Promised Land, to set up judges and officers in all their settlements so they create a just society. The oft quoted verse from this portion is "Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may live and take hold of the land that the Lord your God is giving you." (Deuteronomy 16:20) The opening section of this week's portion is dedicated to justice and the importance of those whose role in society it is to uphold justice and maintain order.

Being invited to such a symposium by the local and national law enforcement organizations, the week when we read about the biblical mandate for justice and enforcement, struck me as more than a coincidence. The focus of the symposium was even more apropos than its timing might have suggested. 

As we are preparing for the High Holidays, MJC is doing what it does this time of the year. Seats are being assigned, honors are being given out, and preparations are being made for a truly special High Holiday season. Recently, one of the pressing tasks has become the increased focus on our community's safety and security. Over the past few years, we have established an even stronger relationship with the Ramapo Police Department. Last year, with the attacks on synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, MJC has been working with the Ramapo Police to ensure we are doing all that is possible to create a safe and secure environment for our community. 

When the invitation to attend this morning security symposium came just weeks before the High Holidays, I saw it as further opportunity to strengthen the bond with our law enforcement officers and ensure that our shul is doing what it should be, not only for these High Holidays, but every day.

Over the past year, a camera system was set up to monitor who approaches and enters our building. Security professionals have been hired for our major events, and the leadership of our shul has been continually reviewing security arrangements. What I learned this morning at this symposium, was that we are on the right track, but we must continue to be vigilant and continually update our security plan.

As our People were entering ancient Israel, Moses instructed them to set up officers and judges to ensure justice and create a just, safe, and secure society. Though it is thousands of years later, the need for such officers has not disappeared. We are blessed to live in a land where we have such wonderful resources, both local and national, that are dedicated to our safety and security, and that allow us to gather and worship in peace and freedom.

Shabbat Shalom, 

 

Rabbi Joshua S. Finkelstein

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Heshbon Nefesh - A Spiritual Accounting

 

This Shabbat, we begin the final month of the Hebrew calendar, the month of Elul. With Rosh Hodesh Elul, we begin to focus on the High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur. Each morning, except Shabbat, we sound the shofar at minyan and in the evening and morning we read Psalm 27, "L'David Adonai Ori". Rather than see Elul as the last month, we should recognize it as the precursor to the first month. From the first of Elul when we sound the shofar, to the last week when we begin Selichot prayers, Elul serves as preparation and anticipation for the New Year.

Indeed, in a month we will be wishing each other a Shanah Tovah, a Good Year, but do we even know what a good year looks like? Is it a function of health? prosperity? family? The month of Elul is meant to move us to begin reflecting on ourselves and our lives, and it pushes us to contemplate on what our hopes and aspirations are for the coming year. 

Each of us should use this time wisely. Our tradition speaks of Heshbon Nefesh - a soulful accounting, a spiritual accounting that each should take of his/her life. This season is a time for reflection.

The focus of this period is faith and trust in God. Psalm 27 concludes with the most basic of messages: "Trust in the Lord." With this acceptance of God's sovereignty, comes a serenity that allows us to confront the future with faith and optimism. We pray not for what we think we want, but for what God knows we need, and the strength to follow God's path. The true gift of the High Holidays is the reminder that we are not alone, and that with God at our side, we will persevere and prevail. 

The Month of Elul is meant to move us to begin reflecting on our lives, and it pushes us to contemplate on our hopes and aspirations for the coming year. If we use this month well it will bring us nearer to God and God nearer to us, and then we will truly have the hope of a Shanah Tovah--A good and blessed year.

Shabbat Shalom and Hodesh Tov, 

 

Rabbi Joshua S. Finkelstein 

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