Strong Words –

Be understanding to your enemies.

Be loyal to your friends.

Be strong enough to face the world each day.

Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.


Be generous to those who need your help.

Be frugal with what you need yourself.

Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything.

Be foolish enough to believe in miracles.


Be willing to share our joys.

Be willing to share the sorrows of others.

Be a leader when you see a path others have missed.

Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty.


Be the first to congratulate an opponent who succeeds.

Be the last to criticize a colleague who fails.

Be sure of your final destination, in case you are going the wrong way.


Be loving to those who love you.

Be loving to those who do not love you, and they may change.

Above all, be yourself.


A Yom Kippur Message, by Don Belmont

I would like to share a story with you all; a story I came upon some time ago, that continues to percolate in my mind, like one of those songs by the Carpenters that you can’t get out of your head. It’s about a husband and wife going out to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary with dinner at a fancy restaurant. Leaving the restaurant, they get into their car to drive home, and the wife turns to her husband and says, “What’s happened to us over the years? Do you remember when we were dating, and when we were first married, we’d get into the car and we’d snuggle up next to each other and drive home holding each other? Now look how far apart we’re sitting.” And the husband points to the steering wheel and says “I haven’t moved.”

What is the meaning here? Who’s who? What is this story really about?
Is this about my ever-evolving relationship with my wife?
Is this about my own personal evolution? Maybe I’m the passenger and this is about my original goals and dreams, which reside behind the wheel? Like a younger version vs older version of myself.
Or maybe it’s as the country song says, it’s God in the driver’s seat? – the immovable, spiritual center which we all crave, but sometimes move away from?

Because Spirituality is a basic human need. We need to be in touch with a higher plane of thinking now and then. It is important and necessary. But where do you find it? Where does this absolute center reside? Where are you going to look for your God behind the steering wheel?

Some people say they find God in a sunrise or sunset, or on the golf course, or the ever-popular spiritual walk in the woods. Maybe you will look for your spirituality in movies or on TV, or in books, or at Bloomingdales. Some people look for their spiritual meaning in the bar room, or in the bedroom or in the kitchen. Or maybe in song, or at your workplace. Or as Gandhi said, “To a hungry man a piece of bread is the face of God”.

For many of us, the Synagogue is the primary pathway to spirituality. Our Hebrew prayers are not magical incantations that conjure God as if pulling a genie from a bottle. And I couldn’t come close to being able to translate the Hebrew into English. But the familiar cadence and melodies of our prayers allow space for thought and reflection during worship services. Some find that Torah study and adult education open up their everyday world to new ideas and deeper thinking. Social action projects connect us to the broader world around us, and expose us to a different perspective. For some, the Temple social events are what connects them, and attendance at the wine or dinner events is surpassed only on the HHD. We are social creatures and connecting with a network and belonging are essential to our mental health and feelings of completeness. After all, the word ‘religion’ comes from the Latin word meaning ‘to bind together.’ Almost all of the announcements I send out contain the three words, “please join us”. As you look for your own personal pathway to God and spirituality, I hope you will take advantage of the TSS community, clergy, and activities – and that is my primary message to the congregation today. Take advantage of the TSS community, clergy, and activities.

During the next weeks, months, or year, there will undoubtedly be times when you will feel alone, in need, lost, spiritually empty. That means it’s time to move back to your spiritual center. I truly hope you will find your way. I hope you will use our Temple as a path back to God and your sense of spiritual wholeness. God is still in the driver’s seat, and hasn’t moved.

May you have an easy fast and may you be sealed for a good and spiritual year.

A Blessing Upon You!

Discussing the many blessings we have here at TSS coincided with this week’s Torah portion, which included the “priestly blessing.”  Cantor Sussman spoke to the subject eloquently as she explained how a stone carved with these words was found and dates back thousands of years.

So what is a Blessing?

And what is it about these words that have endured the test of time and still hold the very same meaning for us today?


The Torah states:  “The Lord Spoke to Moses:  Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the people of Israel.  Say to them:

The Lord bless you and Keep you.

The Lord deal kindly and graciously with you.

The Lord bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace!

Thus they shall link My name with the people of Israel, and I will bless them.

As the Cantor explained, people have questioned this reading, wondering how the priests held such power to bless the people.  The Rabbis teach us that The Lord bestowed his blessing on the Priests who in turn then blessed the Israelites.


Whether it came from the priest’s lips or from our own.  We now realize the power of these words.  And the feelings these words invoke to all who speak them.  Often we seek blessings from one another.  A young couple wants the blessing of their parents before they marry, we invoke God’s name to bless the sick or less fortunate.  Even a sneeze will bring most people, even strangers, to offer a blessing.

Often we associate material goods and health, good friends and family with one who is truly blessed.  We at TSS feel extremely blessed to include our spiritual family among the many blessings already in our possession.

Comin’ Home to Shabbat Worship

In the upcoming weeks, it will be important to check the website and watch out for notifications on where Shabbat Services will be held.

Temple Shirat Shalom has always been known for its warm and friendly Shabbat Services. Whether 10 or 100 people are in attendance, there is a welcoming feeling throughout the Service and Oneg. So what would make our Services even more intimate? The Home Shabbat Service.

On designated Fridays, congregants will be opening their homes and hosting Services from their living room, patio, back yard or decks. If you have not attended such a Service before, you are in for a real treat. Remembering one such Service from last summer, the birds were chirping, the sun was setting and all in attendance felt transformed by the experience.

Watch your inbox for upcoming dates and destinations where The Home Shabbat will take place. Attend at least one of these special evenings and experience the peaceful joy of Shabbat.