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D'var Torah - February 16, 2024

Rabbi Laura Abrasley

God is in the Details - Shabbat T’rumah 2024

When I was a little girl, I loved building model train sets with my father. I would hang around near him and he would let me glue the roof on a tiny house or help paint the train depot a very deep shade of emerald green.  At first, I think I mostly wanted to be close to him. As I got older, I began to build on my own, model cars and airplanes. I could get lost for hours, focused only...Read more...

D'var Torah - January 12, 2024

Rabbi Laura Abrasley

Their Stories, My Stories: Reflections from Israel, January 2024

My heart is heavy tonight. Raw and broken. This is the place from which my words tonight are shared. Words that are not yet complete. Thoughts that drift along an uncertain line. But I need to share them. And I need you to hear them.

When the email invitation to join a solidarity mission to Israel in early January came into my inbox, the answer was an instant...Read more...

Please Read: Important Israel Information and Ways to Gather

Dear beloved Temple Shalom community,

It continues to be a very difficult time for our community as we watch painful and tragic news unfolding in Israel. We are taking this situation very seriously and are writing to inform you about our plans at Temple Shalom to care for our community and for Am Yisrael (the Community of Israel.)  

We have heard that there will be a tremendous uptick in very difficult images and videos...Read more...

Gatherings of Solidarity for Israel

To our Temple Shalom Community, 

Our hearts hurt as we continue to watch the unfolding events in Israel. We hope you received our email yesterday. It remains difficult to process this horrible terrorist attack on our beloved spiritual homeland.

In times of great difficulty, it helps to stand...

The Terrorist Attacks in Israel Today

To our Temple Shalom Community, 

We write to you with heavy hearts. 

Just last night we gathered for our first joyful Shabbat B’Yachad of 5784. Across the generations, we danced around the sanctuary with the Torah; we read the final words of Deuteronomy and the very first words from Genesis; and we celebrated Simchat Siddur with our 5th Grade students who received their prayerbooks and BMitzvah Dates with such excitement....Read more...

Wise Aging

Rabbi Allison Berry

Yom Kippur 5784/2023

Watch Rabbi Berry's YK Sermon

This summer my family and I traveled to France. I was having a great time until I developed a headache that would not go away. When I found myself squinting in front of the Mona Lisa - she’s small but not THAT small - I realized I had a problem. $32 and an appointment with a French ophthalmologist later...Read more...

Come Down from the Balcony: A Call to Action for Israel

Rabbi Laura Abrasley


Kol Nidre 5784 - September 24, 2023

Watch Rabbi Abrasley's YK Sermon

It was unbearably hot for 8:30 in the morning. But the people kept coming from all directions. They formed a long human chain as they sang and chanted. A leader paced back and forth shouting instructions in a bullhorn. A teenager passed out ice cream and cold water. Because in...Read more...

May We Be Inscribed for a Good Laugh

Rabbi Allison Berry

Rosh HaShanah Evening 5784 - September 15, 2023

Watch Rabbi Berry's RH Sermon

I remember it like it was yesterday - I was 17 - driving alone for the first time in my parent’s old Pontiac Grand Prix - I sped down the highway, windows open, singing loudly as music blasted from the speakers. It was a moment of pure delight. 

Of course there's more to the story and it may have involved a tow...Read more...

Relationships First!

Rabbi Laura Abrasley

Rosh Hashanah Morning 5784 - September 16, 2023

Watch Rabbi Abrasley's RH Sermon

I used to love spending time with my friend Audrey Cooper. She and her sister Eleanor and their families were among our founding members back in the 1950s. What I loved most about Audrey was her perspective on life. She’d say to me: “Rabbi, I love what you ladies (yes, Audrey was allowed to call me and Rabbi Berry “ladies”) are doing...Read more...

Yom Kippur D'var Torah

Shira Lobron

Please click here to watch Shira's speech from Yom Kippur.

Picture this: you’ve been inside all day listening to rain patter on the roof of your warm, dry house. It’s been pouring for hours, but slowly and surely, the rain is letting up. You decide to step outside to see for yourself, and it’s true! The rain has stopped! What is left is the beautiful image of light returning to the dewy grass once again, streaming through the...Read more...

Life Choices: How To Make the Most of Your Mortality

Rabbi Laura Abrasley

Yom Kippur Morning 5783 - October 5, 2022

Please click here to watch Rabbi Abrasley's sermon from Yom Kippur Morning.

I have a confession.  And it’s a doozy.  But today is Yom Kippur.  The day we confess our sins.
No better time than the present.  Time to get this off my chest.  So, here goes …

I am a mess when it comes to time management.

My email inbox is usually full...

Broad Expanses: The Future of American Judaism

Rabbi Allison Berry

Rosh Hashanah, 5783

Please click here to Rabbi Berry's sermon from Rosh Hashanah.

Last year, Micah got the homework assignment to interview an older relative…You know the one. Get the family history and report back. So naturally, I assumed he’d be asking my dad the same Ellis Island questions I asked my great grandmother. But boy was I wrong. It wasn’t that kind of interview at all…Micah's assignment was to ask my...Read more...

Indigenous People & Our Jewish Values ​​​​​​​

Rabbi Allison Berry

Shabbat Noah, October 8, 2021


On the corner of Centre and Cotton streets, - not far from where I live - there's a sign commemorating the original meetinghouse of the first church built in Newton. Established in 1630, Eliot Church’s1 first pastor was a complicated man named John Eliot. 

Among other things, Eliot was the founder of Roxbury Latin School. Eliot immigrated from Britain and from his early years...Read more...

Choosing Life Means Having the Power to Choose

Rabbi Allison Berry

Nitzavim D’var Torah, Yom Kippur 2021

Last week, in the Times of Israel, my colleague Rabbi Rachel Pass publicly shared the story of her abortion. “I took my pregnancy test on...the first night of the month of Cheshvan.” [It was positive]. I prayed. I read every piece of Jewish literature on abortion...I could find. I made a pros and cons list. I cried on the phone with my mom. Ultimately, I made the choice using the...Read more...

AWE: A Sermon About God

Rabbi Laura Abrasley

Yom Kippur 5782

GOD. The Divine Presence. My Rock and my Redeemer. The Big G. This is MY sermon about God. A sermon advocating for God. Or maybe defending God. Perhaps a commercial for God?

I’ve wanted to write a sermon about God for several years. But it never seemed like the right time. I was new to the community or there was an important social justice concern or we were in the middle of a pandemic.

And...

Don’t Go Chasing Rainbows

Rabbi Allison Berry

Rosh Hashanah 5782

It was a gorgeous April day. The family was gathered together at last; they’d postponed this moment for months. Three little girls sat on the grass in their new spring dresses holding stones they’d painted with the word, “love.” Someone was playing, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on the ukulele.1 There was hugging and crying; laughing. It felt like a great darkness had lifted. We had...Read more...

Our Commitment to Anti-Racism

Betty Morningstar

“When black people are in pain, white people just join book groups" - Tre Johnson, Washington Post

Indeed, this summer, Temple Shalom and many other places of worship started book groups in response to the George Floyd killing. But this time, I believe the result will be different. White people are becoming increasingly aware of how we each of us has had a hand in perpetuating systemic racism in our country. Now and...Read more...

Chanukah Resource Roundup! 

Emily Sienkiewicz

Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, brings joy and light during a dark time of an especially difficult year.  With just 10 days to go, we have rounded up some resources to help you with everything you need to get ready for this year's celebration. We have collected ideas for all ages, including recipes, songs, book lists, gift ideas, activities, and much more; check out the sections below!

For Kids...

Lech L’cha: Go and Vote

Rabbi Allison Berry

Lech L’cha1- God said to Abram in this week’s Torah portion - Go out, go forth. And Abram listens. He leaves everything he has ever known behind and does as God commands. This is the beginning of our people’s journey.

And in every subsequent generation, our people have taught their children that God’s call to Abram - was a call to all of us. A call for us to live as befits our names, to do what is right and just, to care for...Read more...

Panim El Panim: Face to Face with Loneliness | Yom Kippur 5781 Sermon

Rabbi Allison Berry

This April, after a beloved temple member died of Covid-19, I joined his family at the cemetery to say goodbye. Each of the mourners, myself included, wore a mask. We stood six feet apart, and we approached the grave only after the casket had been fully covered with earth. As the service ended, the widow did something that a few weeks earlier would have been the most natural thing in the world - she walked over to me with arms outstretched to...Read more...

Finding Salvation in the Chaos | Rosh Hashanah 5781 Sermon

Rabbi Laura Abrasley

In the early morning hours of April 18th, 1906, the city of San Francisco was struck by a major earthquake. And in the aftermath, a perfect storm of broken gas lines and damaged chimneys produced fires that threatened to destroy the city and everyone in it.

But if you ask the citizens of San Francisco it was the fires that saved them. At least that was the case for Anna Amelia Holshouser. She and her friends...Read more...

High Holy Day Greeting

Temple Shalom Board of Trustees

Dear members,

A warm welcome to our High Holy Days. While we are in the midst of a new type of high holiday season, we are so fortunate that we can still come together as a community to celebrate the New Year.

We are blessed by dedicated clergy who have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic to support our congregation. We are just as fortunate to have such a committed and caring community. Many of you have been lifted...Read more...

Important High Holy Day Information

We are excitedly anticipating the High Holy Days and look forward to being together as a community despite our need to be virtual.  This letter contains valuable information about accessing services online as well as prayer book borrowing, the annual food drive, and more. 

High Holy Day Access
This year, our High Holy Days services will be viewed on live stream similar to Friday night Shabbat...Read more...

Book of Memory | Remembering Our Loved Ones

Dear {{first_name}},

This year, Temple Shalom is continuing our sacred tradition of honoring and remembering our loved ones in a Yom Kippur Book Read more...

A Message To Parents About Schooling

August 3, 2020 Dear {{first_name}},Our critical job as parents is to ensure our children are safe, happy, and engaged in meaningful learning. NonRead more...

Your High Holy Days Guide | 2020/5781

With the month of Elul just a few weeks away, we are excited to update you on our plans for the High Holy Days 5781. While these holidays will certainRead more...

Across 3000 Miles: Celebrating a Bi-Coastal B’not Zoom Mitzvah

Cantor Leah Shafrtiz

Over the past few months, in the midst of the pandemic, Rabbi Berry, Rabbi Abrasley, and I have been blessed to call five of Temple Shalom’s young people to the Torah as Bar and Bat Mitzvah. While this milestone moment in these family’s lives is currently not able to happen in our sanctuary, we have reimagined the experience over Zoom, with each student and family designing their virtual “Zoom Mitzvah” in a way that is...Read more...

We Are Temple Shalom: Make Your Annual Membership Commitment

This year has been like no other. Looking back to September, we were dedicating our beautifully renovated sacred space, and feeling the energy and excitement of our flourishing Temple Shalom community. The last few months have felt very different, as we’ve navigated the isolation and uncertainty that comes with a global pandemic. Read more...

Bat Mitzvah in the Time of Corona

Elizabeth and Keith Newstadt

Our daughter Miranda became a Bat Mitzvah in June of 2020. It wasn’t at all what we had expected, but it was wonderful.

We had imagined an event much like our older daughter Amelia’s Bat Mitzvah two years earlier. The service would be in the newly renovated sanctuary, surrounded by our clergy, family, and friends, both local and traveling across the country, followed by a party in the social hall, with the...Read more...

Tales from a “Zoom Mitzvah” Stage Manager

Ellie Goldman

In the weeks leading up to our first Zoom Mitzvah at Temple Shalom of Newton, I did not sleep well.  I was a ball of nerves.  Why, you ask? Am I the mother of the Bar Mitzvah?  The Rabbi?  The Cantor?  Nope.  I’m the virtual stage manager and I wouldn’t even be seen on camera.  

My role is to make sure the Zoom links work, the participants are unmuted (and muted!) at the...Read more...

Mon, April 22 2024 14 Nisan 5784