Rabbi Cohen's Combined Message with Halacha of the Week - Emulating God: Consoling Mourners
God offers comfort to our nation following the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, the 9thof Av. The name for this Shabbat, Shabbat Nachamu, derives its name from the first verse of the Haftorah from Isaiah (40:1), "Comfort, Comfort my people." The prophet's rousing words throughout the chapter provide hope from God's eternal strength and presence.
How do we emulate the Almighty? How do we offer comfort in times of grief? Rabbi Maurice Lamm, of blessed memory, explained that ultimately only God can truly comfort but we can offer consolation. One of the highest mitzvoth as Jews is nichum aveilim - comforting mourners. In the face of death, we are asked to find within ourselves the capacity to address another's pain.
Sometimes the magnitude of the tragedy is simply paralyzing. Words seem completely inadequate on such occasions. We find ourselves overcome with sadness, literally unable to speak. On this Shabbat, it is an important time to reflect on how we can ease the anguish of another person. I am grateful to Dr. Ron Wolfson, author of A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort for his intuitive guidelines for shiva visits.
A shiva minyan provides a vital opportunity for mourners to share memories and emotions with others in a loving, supportive atmosphere, and to receive tangible reminders that they are cared for and valued. You need not be a close friend to attend a shiva minyan. Your presence represents our community's care and concern for the mourning family.
Greet the mourner by offering some simple words ("I'm so sorry"; "I was so sad to hear about your Dad"; "This must be really tough for you") or simply by offering a handshake or hug. As Dr. Wolfson writes, "A warm embrace, an arm around the shoulder, an empathetic look, the sharing of tears together - these are the nonverbal messages to the bereaved that often say more than a thousand words. And the underlying message sent by these gestures -undoubtedly the single most important act of comforting - is the wordless proclamation, 'I am here for you'."
Jewish tradition suggests that callers allow the mourner to begin the conversation and set the tone for what is discussed.Do not attempt to introduce other topics to "distract" the mourner. Take your cue from him/her. If s/he wants to speak about the deceased, listen attentively, without interrupting or feeling the need to "fill up" the silence. If you feel it's appropriate, you might say something like, "I don't know how you feel, but when my mother died," You can ask factual questions ("Can you tell me something about your brother?")
Some common and well-meaning remarks can often be distressing for mourners to hear: "It's probably for the best"; "At least she's not suffering anymore"; "I'm sure he's in a better place"; "You're lucky you had her for so long"; "I know exactly what you're going through"; "Be thankful that you have another child"; "He lived a long life"; "Why didn't you call me?"
Do not give advice ("You'll get over it in time"; "You have to be strong for the children"; "It will be all right"). Such remarks are often ways of dealing with our own anxiety or distress in the face of another's grief. Recognize that there is no single "correct" way to mourn, and it is normal for mourners to experience a wide range of emotions. If the mourner seems to be feeling guilty ("I should have insisted that he get to the doctor"; "I didn't tell her that I loved her enough") do not try to "correct" him or her.The act of listening and empathizing is the greatest gift you can give at such a moment.
It is not necessary to speak with the mourner for a long time, especially if there are many other people present. Shiva gatherings can be very exhausting for mourners. If the mourner does not seem to want to talk, do not take it as a personal rejection.
During the shiva minyan, there will usually be an opportunity for participants to share memories about the person who has died. If you knew the person, by all means say a few words that will let the mourner know how much you valued his/her loved one.
The house of mourning is a house of grief. It is not a festive gathering or a celebration. The point of attending is to allow the mourner to express grief and to support the mourner through the grieving process. Most importantly, try to be there for the mourner not just at the shiva minyan, but in the days, weeks and months that follow. True friends are those who stay in touch and continue to reach out, even if the mourner does not at first seem responsive to social invitations.
Nothing we can say will fully heal the pain of tragic loss. We pray that God grants comfort to the mourners. Yet, our compassionate presence, over time, can help our friends find the strength to go on.
May God grant our nation and mourners in our midst much comfort in the days ahead and God willing, the celebrations this weekend will serve as a siman tov for all of us for years to come.
Wishing you and your families a Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Daniel Cohen
HIGH HOLIDAY 5777 RESERVED SEATS Make sure you have your desired seat in any of our three services-return the form included in your dues statement or contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
new members Nava and David Zizmor and their family
BCDS Banot Sherut Leumi Hila, Hadar and Rachaeli.
two new families who recently moved to the community and wish them many blessings in the years ahead. Hannah and Michael Lefkovich and their 10 month old son Yoni and Caroline and Benjamin Gruenbaum and their 13 month old daughter Maya.
Shabbat Table Conversation Vaetchanan Which one of the Ten Commandments would you amplify in order to impact upon other people's lives more powerfully? How would you develop it?
Kosher Advisory Breaking news from the OU - newly certified items! to check out the list click here
Kosher Alert Unger's Pearled Barley, in particular lot 26917 and 62318, has been found to be infested and should not be used without checking the product thoroughly. Measures are being taken to prevent the rampant infestation of the barley.
LIPS product of the week is Israeli pesto. Available at Stop and Shop for $4.89.
Israel Advocacy Update Our newly formed Israel Advocacy Task Force under the leadership of Ben Lanson held its first organizational meeting. Great ideas and action steps emerged. To learn more about how to get involved, contact Ben at Ben.email@example.com or Rabbi Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Introducing the Shabbat Shalom Mitzvah Mission Bring a Smile to our members. Let them know we are thinking of them. We recently launched an initiative to call our seniors and wish them a Shabbat Shalom, share shul updates, see how we can be helpful and check in. If you would like to join the Shabbat Shalom Team or you know someone who is home bound and might appreciate a call, please contact Rabbi Cohen or Mitzvah Mission chair, Phyllis Shapiro (email@example.com). We ask for 15 minutes a week. With one call, you can make someone smile and make their day!
Introducing the Shabbat Atria Mitzvah Mission Spreading joy and building community reflects the values of our shul. Our clergy periodically leads pre-Shabbat Friday afternoon programs at Atria Stamford, 77 3rd Street. This year, we are stepping it up and launching the Stamford Atria Mitzvah Mission. The goal of the Mitzvah mission is to enrich the seniors' experience through friendship, song and joy. Join me and Kate & Peretz Cik on Friday, August 19 at 2:30 PM to share the spirit of Shabbat. Whether adults or kids, your presence will enhance the ambiance and ruach. Let me know if you would like to join the Atria Mitzvah mission. Thank you!
Shabbat Topics & Participants
Rabbi Daniel Cohen
Rabbi Alex Ozar: Truth, Truthfulness, and Trustworthiness in Public Life
Rabbi Oran Zweiter: Some Halachot of Parking Your Car
Sunday 7:45 am, Monday-Friday 7:00 am
Sunday:7:15 AM/8:30 AM, Monday-Friday:6:30 AM/7:30 AM
Sunday-Thursday:7:25 PM, Friday:7:00 PM
to Shery and the Hertzberg family on the passing of husband, father, and grandfather Barry Hertzberg
to Rabbi Elan Adler on the passing of his father, Edward O. Adler
to Barbara Hotz and her family on the passing of Walter Hotz
to Marian Gans on the passing of her husband, Irwin.
To make a memorial contribution online, and have us send an acknowledgement to the family, please click here.
to Ilyse and Dean Schuckman on the engagement of their son Adam to Allie Hopman
to Elise and Steven Cohen on the recent marriage of their daughter Ari to Eitan Fleischman.
to Judy and Howard Goldstein on the upcoming wedding of their son Bradley to Avielle Movsas.
to Rivka and Rabbi David Walk on the upcoming marriage of Yehuda Walk to Tiffany Ben Shimol
to Meryl and Dr. Larry Meiteles on the upcoming marriage of their son Elliot to Alana Chill
Celebrate with the family! Make a donation in their honor and we will send an acknowledgement to the family. Just click here.
Thanks To Our Sponsors
Shabbat Shalom Hospital Packages
the Linda Beson Nursing Education Fund
Marc and Sherry Silver in memory of Marc's father, Joseph Silver
by Judy & Howard Goldstein in honor of Bradley's Aufruf and his upcoming marriage to Avielle Movsas and by Elise and Steven Cohen in celebration of the wedding of their children Ari and Eitan
Young Families Pot Luck Shabbat Lunch The Young Couples Committee is holding its fourth annual potluck Shabbat lunch on September 17 following services. We are looking for young families and couples to host the potluck and provide the main dish, drinks, and challah, and then guests will fill in with side dishes and desserts. Joni us for this great way to get to know people in the community! Click here to sign up or contact Jessica Dulitz for more info. firstname.lastname@example.org
Toddler Time Playgroup Tuesdays, 3:30 pm. Please join us for an hour of free play for children 18 months to 4 years old and their caregivers. Facilitated by two moms of toddlers, this drop-in group meets weekly in the downstairs children's classroom. No cost, a light snack provided. Info: Rachel Kaimowitz email@example.com or Jessica Furmansky JessicaL83@gmail.com
End of Summer Shabbat Oneg in the Park Please join the CAS Young Families in the Shabbas Park on Saturday, August 20, 4:30 pm. Please bring a parve dessert or snack to share. Rain date: 8/27. We look forward to seeing everyone! Please invite friends and any visiting families
Always wanted to read Hebrew but didn't know how? This class is for you! Come join us beginning Monday evening, September 12th at 7:30 PM for an 8 session weekly crash course in Hebrew reading at Agudath Sholom. Level 1- For those with no Hebrew reading background led by Rabbi Oran Zweiter Level 2- For those with basic familiarity, who want to develop their skills, as well as learn to navigate the high holiday prayer book (will include a one session review of level 1) led by Mark Wagshul
Make this year an extra sweet one! Get Ready for Rosh Hashanah with a challah baking workshop! Learn technique & recipe to make scrumptious Challah and enhance your holiday. Learn the meaning behind the mitzvah of Challah. Fun, Inspirational and delicious evening. Open to all women in the community. Wednesday, September 14 at 7:45 PM. Reservations required-by September 9
We are looking for young families and couples to host the potluck and provide the main dish, drinks, and challah, and then guests will fill in with side dishes and desserts. Join us for this great way to get to know people in the community! Click the box above to sign up
Connect with Community and Inspired by the Spirit of the Holidays Saturday Night, September 17 8:30 PM - 10:30 PM Featuring Ruach, Rhythm, Refreshment and Song with Chazan Bokow, Sandy Shapiro, Steven Adelman, Ari Levine, & friends. Sign up at www.cas-stamford.org Info: Rabbi Oran Zweiter at firstname.lastname@example.org
This trip will feature stimulating daily shiurim in Tanach, Talmud, and Halacha - taught by leading Torah scholars including Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Rabbi David Stav, and Mrs. Shani Taragin. Information: Contact Rabbi Cohen or Rabbi Tzvi Bernstein
Sponsor a teen minyan kiddush Parents! Help us provide kiddush at all our teen minyans this year!
LOOKING FOR NEW MEMBERS FOR CAS MEN'S CHOIR If you sing well and would like to be a part of the High Holy Days choir. Please contact the Cantor at email@example.com or 6463842277.Regular pre- HH days weekly commitment strictly required. Be a part of something special
HEALING VISITS AT CAS The strength of our community emerges from caring for each other. We pray for a person to not only be healed in body but healed in spirit. In fact, the Talmud explains that visiting to cheer someone up or lend an ear can improve a person's health. If you would like to participate in this special mitzvah, let Rabbi Cohen know and he will add you to our healing visits intiative at CAS. You will be added to a google group firstname.lastname@example.org) and informed of mitzvah opportunities. May everyone for whom we pray merit a full and speedy recovery.
JOURNEY OF BODY AND SOUL TO ISRAEL AND VISIT THE FOUR HOLY CITIES WITH RABBI DANIEL AND DIANE COHEN October 28 - November 7, 2017. For more info, contact Rabbi Cohen or visit http://www.israeltour.com/rcohen/
DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS MOVING TO STAMFORD OR RECENTLY ARRIVED? Let us know so we can insure they receive a warm CAS welcome to our community! Please contact Rabbi Cohen or our membership committee: Jessie Brand (email@example.com), Rebecca Ben Atar (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jon Makovsky (Jonathan.email@example.com)
CAS FREE MEZUZAH CAMPAIGN IN FAIRFIELD COUNTY, CT Bringing Blessings to Jewish Homes. Do you know a neighbor or a friend who lacks a mezuzah? CAS offers a free mezuzah and home visit to post this sacred scroll at the entrance to all Jewish homes in the area. For more info, contact Rabbi Cohen: firstname.lastname@example.org
JOIN THE CHEVRA KADISHA We need new volunteers for the Chevra - those willing to perform a tahara. Info: Please contact Rochel Attar at email@example.com
IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING We need you to help secure our Synagogue. As you come to the building, please be aware of your surroundings. If you see something out of the ordinary, please let someone know about it. This will keep everyone safe.
WELCOME TO OUR SYNAGOGUE PROGRAM Every Shabbat we station ushers at the doors in the sanctuary to welcome people, assist them and enhance the service. We are expanding the usher roles to include a greeter in the lobby from 9-10:30 am. Please join the usher team. We need you and your smile. Info: Mitchell Bell.
COMMUNITY CHESED HELPERS An important role of the Chesed committee is outreach to the Shul's elderly and homebound, who are often isolated and lack a lifeline to our synagogue. Volunteer to reach out and identify needs, visit, or give a ride. Even small gestures mean a great deal Interested? Vivian Weiss at 203-323-0909 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are aware of elderly or homebound members in need of outreach, please notify Rabbi Cohen.
WE WANT YOU FOR BINGO! Players AND volunteers needed. Join in on the fun we have every week at 6:00 PM
ATTENTION YOUNG FAMILIES. BI-CULTURAL'S END OF SUMMER FAMILY FUN DAY Celebrate the end of summer with Bobby Doowah at this FREE, fun family event, Sunday, August 28th, from 3:00-5:00pm. Ideal for children up to age 5, but all siblings are welcome. Hosted by Bi-Cultural Day School and PJ Library. Featuring a performance by Bobby Doowah, bounce house, face painting, crafts, and games. Healthy snacks & drinks provided. BYO chairs and picnic blankets. At Bi-Cultural's Field & Playground, 2186 High Ridge Road. Please RSVP to email@example.com
JOIN JFS ON SEPTEMBER 21ST FOR AN EVENING OF SCOTCH TASTING AND FOOD, a JFS fundraiser, at a private home on Revonah Circle, Stamford. You'll taste whisky with a prominent expert and enjoy a light kosher supper and if necessary, a ride home. Cost:$200 and RSVP by September 12th. Contact Claudia Brenner at 203-921-4161 or firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP or with any questions.
JOIN FRIENDS OF THE IDF on Sunday September 18th at the Stamford Marriott Hotel for the Connecticut Annual Dinner. Come hear the personal stories of former and current IDF soldiers, as well as get the chance to speak firsthand with them. For any questions, contact Ali Picheny at 646-274-9645 or email@example.com. To register online go to our webpage: https://fidf.org/CTGala2016.
UJF together with the JCC and the Stamford Board of Rabbis presents the 13th Annual Tapestry - Saturday, November 19th A community celebration of adult Jewish learning.Honoring Tapestry founders, Ilana DeLaney and Meryl Gordon.
DO A MITZVAH! CONSIDER SUPPORTING THE JFS KOSHER FOOD PANTRY by purchasing Mitzvah Baskets and/or Mitzvah Centerpieces instead of flowers for your next simcha at CAS. Distributions from the JFS Kosher Food Pantry have increased by more than 1000 since the recession. With this tremendous upsurge in use, JFS is constantly challenged to keep the food pantry full. Your generosity enables JFS to help those in our community in their greatest moments of need.
JFS BLENDED FAMILIES WORKSHOPS -Thursdays, July 7th and August 4th, 7:00-8:00 pm at JFS, 733 Summer Street, Stamford. A series of three evening workshops, co-sponsored by BCDS and co-facilitated by Eve Moskowitz, Rebekah Kanefsky and Bob Abrams, Jewish Educator and patriarch of a successfully blended family. The workshops will focus on "blended families", making co-parenting, step-parenting and parenting alone work for families. Free to the community. Light refreshments served. RSVP required at 203-921-4161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
JFS KOSHER FOOD PANTRY WINTER COAT DRIVE Jewish Family Service is collecting new or gently used clean coats for our Kosher Food Pantry Clients. Drop off your donations during the Summer months (June, July and August) at the JFS Stamford office. For additional information, please contact Rebekah Kanefsky at 203-921-4161 or email@example.com.
JFS LIFE TRANSITIONS -Wednesdays at 3:00 pm Support group for the unemployed at the Stamford JFS office, 733 Summer Street, 6th Floor. The group will provide a forum to discuss and explore the concerns and issues related to job loss and to find alternative solutions for career satisfaction. The group is a collaborative effort between JFS Counseling and Employment & Training Departments. To register or for more information, please contact Nadja Streiter at 203-921-4161 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
JFS NEW BEGINNINGS , Mondays, 7:00-8:00 pm Support group for separated or divorced at Westport JFS office, 431 Post Road East, Suite 11. To register, contact Nadja Streiter at 203-921-4161 or email at email@example.com
LET'S TALK - Thursdays, 11 :00 am Free at the Stamford JCC, 1035 Newfield Avenue. Seniors talk about common interests and concerns, facilitated by a Jewish Family Service counselor. Contact Connie Cirillo Freeman at 203-487-0983 or firstname.lastname@example.org
JFS BRAIN FITNESS PILOT PROGRAM Working with clients experiencing early stage dementia or Alzheimer's in the client's home. Contact Matt Greenberg at 203-921-4161 or email@example.com
SNAP ENROLLMENT WORKSHOPS For adults and seniors, JFS will be providing information and eligibility assistance for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-formerly food stamps). SNAP Enrollment Workshops will be presented monthly at our Stamford office (733 Summer Street,6th Floor) on the second Wednesday of every month at 2:30 pm and at our Westport office (431 Post Road East) on the second Tuesday of every month at 11:00 am. For additional information or to register, please contact Rebekah Kanefsky, JFS Case Manager at 203-921-4161or email firstname.lastname@example.org.