The New Synagogue of Long Island
The Synagogue for Spiritual Judaism

Take a Fresh Look at Judaism

Where do we look for answers to life’s big questions? Judaism is chock-full of wisdom and insights for creating a meaningful, joyous life.

Do you think Judaism is all about guilt?

Judaism gets a bad rap when it comes to guilt. Perhaps it’s because Yom Kippur is one of the most observed holidays among Jews that we mistakenly think Judaism is focused primarily on blame and fault. The Torah, however, explains that we each are created betzelem Elokim, in the image of the Divine. What we do with this divine spark is up to us, but Judaism gives us infinite opportunities to grow and develop and to reinforce our connection with the Almighty. When we make mistakes and come up short, instead of fostering feelings of guilt, Judaism encourages us to pause, restock, and figure out how to do better.

Do you think there are no female Jewish role models?

From ancient times to now, Jewish women have been a key part of our history, nurturing and guiding and inspiring us all. In our darkest time during slavery in Egypt, it was women who kept the Jewish people going, never losing hope that days would get better and would triumph, and refusing to give in to despair. We model our behavior towards guests on the hospitality of our matriarch Sarah, and we model the way we pray on a Jewish woman in the Torah named Chana. Each Purim we read the story of Queen Esther who saved the Jewish people. After we crossed the Red Sea, Miriam, the sister of Moses, taught us to sing, dance, and celebrate freedom and life. On Shavuot, we recall Ruth, the ultimate model of interfaith, love, and loyalty. In every generation, Jewish women have sustained us, strengthening the Jewish body and nurturing the soul of humankind.

Do you believe that Judaism has little to say about life’s pressing issues?

From the Psalms of King David, to the ancient insights of King Solomon, to modern day thinkers, Judaism is teeming with faith and knowledge that addresses the many issues we face every day. The Talmud alone is an encyclopedic work that addresses every topic under the sun, sharing its timeless wisdom on issues such as property rights, environmentalism, the ethical treatment of animals, settling disputes, treating people with respect, behavior in times of peace and conflict, and countless other real-world dilemmas. 

Do you think the synagogue is where Judaism takes place?

For  thousands of years, the Jewish home has been the center of Jewish life.  In Hebrew, the Jewish home is referred to as a Mikdash Me'at - a mini Temple that each of us has the power to create.  It's a place where we instill our core values in the next generation; where we teach and learn; where rituals are performed and spirits grow; and where we watch with pride as life joyfully unfolds.

Judaism has the power to transform us, turning us into more spiritual beings.  Each time we enjoy a delicious family Shabbat dinner, we’re deepening our connection with the Divine.  When we give tzedakah (charity), perform acts of kindness, celebrate Jewish holidays, and put Jewish teachings into practice, we are connecting to eternal truths and spiritual principles that brings out our inner potential, elevating us and the world.

Do you think Judaism is only about Jewish history? Think again – Judaism is a vehicle for transforming our very souls.

Rabbi Stuart A. Paris, HaKohen

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Torah Completion and Celebration

Sunday, May 15, 2016

7 Iyar, 5776

Rabbi Stuart Paris and Rabbi Gedaliah Druin

Rabbi Gedaliah Druin completing the last letter of the Torah