The New Synagogue of Fort Lee

 

Welcome to The New Synagogue of Fort Lee

Message from Rabbi Berger

These are challenging times for modern Jewry. Although our immediate focus is upon Israel and new threats of terrorism throughout the world, we face equally critical dangers from diminishing interest in religious practice, genuine worship and reverence for Torah. The problem is simple, yet any solution is complex. We have fallen out of touch with Torah. Why has this happened? Basically, we have failed to follow the cornerstone of G-d's commandment that we shall diligently teach our children. We must speak of our Judaism when we are in our homes and when we are socializing. We must instill a sense of pride among our young and throughout our communities. We must build the infrastructure that creates a powerful commitment to heritage and our covenant with Hashem.

Our survival is the result of former commitment. Throughout generations, our most significant battle has been against assimilation and complacency. We know it would have been easier to deny Judaism in favor of mainstream beliefs. The winds of religious change did, indeed, convert the majority of humanity into "other nations." We have been dispersed because some generations failed to adhere to the principles of our most sacred daily prayer. We must love Hashem with all our heart, soul and mind.

Along these lines, our congregation has engaged in a great Mitzvah. We have constructed a new building to shine as a beacon of Jewish pride and resilience. We are serving our Jewish community with a new facility that speaks of our commitment to Torah and the unique traditions that set us apart from other nations while binding us together.

To accomplish Hashem's intent, Jews must gather and pray. Jews must worship and bond. Jews must reignite the fundamental principle that we must love our fellow Jew as ourselves. Many questions how this can ever come to pass. After all, Jews are known for quarreling, quibbling and vitreous gossip. We are more likely to reject our neighbor, compete with our fellow Jews, covet possessions of others and ignore tradition. For many, today's obligation to Judaism is limited to two holidays a year: the High Holy days. We may throw in Passover and Chanukah. But, our observance of Shabbat and the Mitzvot has been curbed by our desire to keep pace with our modern lifestyles. This is why we need more synagogues, not less. This is why we must support the efforts of Jewish communities throughout the world. This is why we must honor and respect all Jewish practices regardless of the orthodoxy, conservatism or reformed approach.

I am proud to say that our congregation has been true to the fundamental doctrines that define our faith. When Israel called for support, we were there to help purchase bulletproof school buses and ambulances. When our community mobilized after the terrorist attacks, we raised funds for victims, our firefighters and our police force. When a neighboring synagogue was experiencing financial difficulty, we established a separate campaign to insure its survival.

Over the past decade, I have learned many lessons about faith, perseverance and commitment. I have seen the transformation of our initial founding group into a diverse congregation. I have watched generations grow and return. Hashem has provided me with a wonderful gift - to be able to preside over the Bris of a second generation. Finally, we have our completed facility. A home that fulfills our dreams. A platform that serves our community.

The phenomenal dedication of our volunteers is responsible for our success. Everyone reading my words right now should feel a sense of passion for what we have accomplished because you are part of the process. The work of our volunteers cannot be appreciated without attendees. Our new building cannot be admired and enjoyed without attendance. Our holiday celebrations require our congregants. Our financial health depends upon timely paid dues, the sale of Holiday tickets and your generous contributions. The decor within our building comes from your generosity. The remembrance of loved ones is memorialized in our Yizkor Book. The smiles on faces of elderly are generated by our Hebrew School children who visit with gifts and compassion. The protection of Israel is enhanced by our efforts to contribute what we can.

What is it like to belong to such a congregation? One member took the tour of our new building and exclaimed, "Rabbi, it's like getting a whole new wardrobe!" Interestingly, another congregant commented, "I feel like I just bought a new car!" These are personal feelings that exemplify the sense of value and renewed enthusiasm as we move forward with a bright future and great expectations. I look forward to seeing you.