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Write Your Book of Life
Your Book of Life doesn't begin today, on Rosh Hashanah. It began when you were born. Some of the chapters were written by other people: your parents, siblings, and teachers. Parts of your book were crafted out of experiences you had because of other people's decisions: where you lived, what schools you went to, what your homes were like. But the message of Rosh Hashanah, the anniversary of the creation of the world, is that everything can be made new again, that much of your book is written every day - by the choices you make. The book is not written and sealed; you get to edit it, decide what parts you want to emphasize and remember, and maybe even which parts you want to leave behind. Shanah tovah means both a good year, and a good change. Today you can change the rest of your life. It is never too late. (Rabbi Laura Geller)
Rabbi Rachel Marder: Stand Taller

Continuing our You are Here series, Rabbi Marder discusses the origin and meaning of the ritual of tashlich. 
Personal Reflection: Start of a New Year
By Anita Belle

This Rosh Hashanah is different from any other we have celebrated. The past eight months have been challenging, filled with ups and downs, sadness and joy, difficult conversations, and endless laughs. With each unfavorable turn the world and country took, I had to face my emotions and acknowledge them in a productive way. I remain hopeful and faithful that the majority and masses of people are good, peaceful and rational human beings and I witness this daily.

I'm about to enter a new year, the first after my conversion to Judaism. Looking back on my first full year as a Jew, I feel a great amount of happiness for the shul family that has embraced us. Coming to the synagogue about two years ago, it feels as though we have been here much longer and feel welcome and familiar every time we step foot on the grounds. From communal celebrations in person and virtual, emails and phone calls just to check-in, sit-ins at Beth El for Black Lives Matter, continued organizing and give backs, etc. my heart is happy!

This year though I cannot physically be in synagogue or with you all, I know we are tied together. We mourn those we have lost, appreciate what we have and are thankful for seeing another year to be better and do better. Shanah Tovah!

Anita Belle is the owner of AJB Events LLC.

Our guest High Holiday Chazan Rabbi Menachem Creditor sings the unmistakable melody for Erev Roshanah in the Ma’ariv Aravim prayer thanking God for bringing on the evening.
Today is Rosh Hashanah

Today we do not greet each other with Chag Sameach, as we do on Passover or Sukkot or Shavuot. Those holidays celebrate Jewish history -- the Exodus from Egypt, the wandering in the desert, the Revelation at Mount Sinai. But during the Days of Awe, we celebrate not the God of history but the God of nature.Hayom harat olam. This is the birth of the cosmos, the creation of life. So on this day we pray differently, we think differently, we see differently, we imagine differently. Even the Kaddish we recite on these Holy Days is different. Tol’eilawe addul’eila -- “entirely beyond.” We are elevated. We lift up our eyes to see the cosmic world as if through the eyes of God. (Rabbi Harold Schulweis z"l)
Learning Sessions During Rosh Hashanah:
Visit our High Holiday Hub by clicking here for meeting links.

Saturday, September 19 – Rosh Hashanah Day 1
  • 10:00AM-10:45AM - Learning Session with Rabbi Marder – Unetaneh Tokef: Living with the Unknown

  • 1:15PM-2:00PM - Learning Session with Rabbi Creditor – Fear and Trembling at the Mountain: Remembering and Experiencing Through Prayer

Sunday, September 20 – Rosh Hashanah Day 2
  • 10:00AM-10:45AM - Learning Session with Rabbi Olitzky – Wrestling with Different Gods: The Shema as a Gateway to our Multiple Relationships with the Divine

  • 1:15PM-2:00PM - Learning Session with Rabbi Creditor – Resemblance and Identity: What Would You Sacrifice? An Exploration of the Binding of Isaac
Congregation Beth El is an inclusive, egalitarian synagogue affiliated with United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, serving Essex, Union, and Morris counties. We can be reached by calling 

Jesse M. Olitzky, Rabbi
Rachel A. Marder, Rabbi
Jason Silberfein, Executive Director
Danielle Weitz, Director, Thelma K. Reisman Preschool  
Rivka Nelson, Director of Religious Education
Karen Freeman-Pettis, Assistant Director
Molly Gimbel, Youth Program Director
Terry Pridgen, Coordinator of Maintenance Services

Jehiel Orenstein z"l, Rabbi Emeritus
For more information about Beth El membership, please contact
Membership Chairs, Yuval Brokman and Lisa Buber.