Jewish Community Center

Opening Doors to Spirituality, Social Consciousness, and Community A Friendly Egalitarian Conservative Congregation

Shabbat Shmini

Leviticus 9:1- 11:47.
Candle lighting time 7:14 PM.


In this week’s Torah reading, Shemini, Aaron’s two older sons were incinerated because they offered up an alien fire which God had not commanded. Aaron’s response to these deaths was silence (Lev. 10:3), leaving us to wonder what Aaron was thinking[1].


Just as no individual is exempt from tragedy no people is exempt either. The Midianites reduced Israel to utter misery (Judg. 6:2-6). Like many of us Gideon wondered where God was when tragedy struck the Israelites. “The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘’The Lord is with you, valiant warrior!” (Judg. 6:12) Gideon could have responded with a wordless nod like Aaron’s, but instead he said, “Please my lord, if the Lord is with us, why has all this befallen us?” (Judg. 6:13). Gideon wanted to know why it seemed as if God had abandoned His people.


God didn’t answer that question. After the Israelites had endured seven years of enemy attacks, starvation, and hiding in caves, God didn’t explain why He never intervened. God could have revealed Israel’s past sin as the reason, but instead He gave Gideon hope for the future. God said, “Go in this strength of yours and deliver Israel from the Midianites” (vv.14).


Do you ever wonder why God has allowed suffering in your life? Like Gideon, we shall never know the answer to the question “Why is this happening?” The only question we can answer with any degree of certainty is, “Now that this has happened, what am I going to do?” Will you fall into despair or move forward knowing these travails can help make you stronger, better, and more empathetic. Our faith also reminds us of God’s nearness and that you can rely on His strength when you feel weak.


Aaron was renowned as a lover of peace who pursued peace.[2]When Gideon finally believed that God was with him and would help him, he built an altar and called it “The Lord Is Peace” (v. 24). There is peace in knowing that whatever we do and wherever we go, we go with the knowledge that God will be there helping us, strengthening us, and cheering us on.

[1] See the Etz hayyim Humash page 634 below the line for possible explanations why Aaron was silent.

[2] for here See Avot 1:12



Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Greene


Service Schedule 

Shabbat 9:30 a.m.


Save The Date


Sunday, April 15 - Yom Hashoa observances  at Temple Torah at 10:30 A.M.

Sunday April, 23 - Queen's Earth Day- Prof. Stephen Pekar

THE LAST TIME IT GOT THIS HOT ON EARTH: A Climate Scientist Looks Back and Then Forward to a Sustainable Future

Sunday, April 22, 3 p.m.

At the Forest Hills Jewish Center

Carbon dioxide is rising at an unprecedented rate, chiefly due to fossil fuel use and clearing of forests. Humanity has started an uncontrolled experiment that is like putting our climate on a “hot plate.”


With greenhouse gases rising to levels not seen in tens of millions of years, understanding past eras helps us understand our future. A Professor of Earth and Environmental Science at Queens College, Dr. Pekar will talk about what the Earth’s climate was like when the level of greenhouse gases was as high as predicted for this century.


Dr. Pekar’s research has taken him on expeditions around the world, including Antarctica, to understand climate and oceanographic changes 16 to 45 million years ago and what that means for humanity’s future. He will also discuss what we can do to create a more sustainable world.  


Free. Donation requested.


The Forest Hills Jewish Center is located at 106-06 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills, NY 11375.  Enter on the side of the building.

The Interfaith Community Action Committee (Environmental Subcommittee) is a co-sponsor of this Queens Earth Day Event with the Central Queens Y for Sunday, April 22 at 3 PM. The Central Queens Y has merged with the Samuel Field Y in Little Neck, and we hope to collaborate on a number of future events. I have spoken to Peggy Kurtz, the director of the Cultural Arts and Jewish Heritage Programs at the Central Queens Y, and she is excited about this collaboration.

Thursday, May 3rd celebrate Lag B'Omer with a hot dod dinner an see the movie  "The Band's Visit" Dinner is $10.00 pp and the movie is free. Make tyour reservations at the synogogue's office

Sunday, June 3 - Celebrate Israel Parade

Shabbat, June 23, we celebrate Nicole Gerber's Bat Mitzvah

Shabbat, June 30 our next outdoor Shabbat service. Remember we begin at 10:00 am.



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