Category Archives: Newsletter

Parashiot Acharei Mot – Kedoshim!

Dear friends;

I hope that you’ll enjoy the following Parashiot summary, followed by a Dvar Torah;

” Parashiot in a Nutshell ”

G-d warns against unauthorized entry “into the holy.” Only one person, the Kohen Gadol (“high priest”), may, but once a year, on Yom Kippur, enter the innermost chamber in the Sanctuary to offer the sacred ketoret to G-d.

Another feature of the Day of Atonement service is the casting of lots over two goats to determine which should be offered to G-d and which should be dispatched to carry off the sins of Israel to the wilderness.

The Torah warns against bringing sacrifices anywhere but in the Holy Temple, forbids the consumption of blood, and details the laws prohibiting incest and other deviant sexual relations.

The Parshah of Kedoshim begins with the statement: “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your G-d, am holy” followed by dozens of mitzvot (commandments) through which the Jew sanctifies him or herself and relates to the holiness of G-d. These include: the prohibition against idolatry, the mitzvah of charity, Shabbat, sexual morality, honesty in business, honor and awe of one’s parents, prohibition against taking revenge and holding a grudge against another Jew; and also the ultimate principle of Torah is mentioned, which is:
— Love your fellow as yourself.

” Dvar Torah ”

Towards the end of Parashat Acharei Mot, the Torah talks about the forbidden relationships. It talks about prohibitions against sexual relationships with someone’s parents, step-parents, children, step-children, siblings, step-siblings, aunts, uncles, and the like. It even talks about the prohibition against marrying two sisters at the same time, since this will create a rivalry between the two sisters who are suppose to love each other, rather than to hate one another!

Towards the end of all these prohibitions, the Torah also condemns male homosexuality. It says the following for a man: ” Do not lie with a man as you would with a woman. It is an abomination.”

Although the Torah clearly condemns the act of homosexuality, but in today’s modern day society this prohibition is widely challenged.
The people who are pro homosexuality come up with some strong and valid arguments.
In favor of the homosexual, they say that he cannot control his sexual preference. They even bring in “genetics” to explain his preference. They continue their argument by saying that sexual preference is subjective. It is inappropriate to label heterosexual behavior as proper and homosexual behavior as a perversion. Two people study a single piece of art. The beauty of the work inspires one. The other observer finds the work boring and mediocre. Is one correct and the other mistaken? Of course not! Each is entitled to his or her individual opinion. Why should the issue of sexual preference be treated differently? How can heterosexuality be regarded as more proper than homosexual preferences?

Well, how does our Torah answer these questions? How do our Chachamim comment on this issue? Since homosexuality is a very sensitive subject, many of the Chachamim try to avoid talking about it and I couldn’t find much commentaries on this topic. But still some of the medieval commentators such as Rambam, Ramban and Ibn Ezra do reveal their opinion.

Despite all of the modern notions about homosexuality, the Torah considers it unnatural, and therefore is an abomination.  It is forbidden without exception!! Something which is a disgusting act in the eyes of Hashem, should be a disgusting act in our eyes too. All the Chachamim agree that the Torah clearly condemns the act and there is no way around it. But the question that still bothers me is how do the Chachamim explain the genetic issue?? What if a person is really genetically attracted to other men?? What if it’s not his fault and he was born like that? What if he really isn’t attracted to women at all?

Although most of the Chachamim disagree that homosexuality is a genetic or a medical issue, but for the argument’s sake,, let’s assume that it is true. Accordingly, our sages gave the following explanation if it is a genetic issue: They say that the answer to this dilemma lies in the Pasuk (verse) itself. The Torah says that “you shall not lie with another man”……… It doesnot say you should not desire another man!! The Torah is telling us that even if you desire another man, you should have control over your desires!! Just because you desire something, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have it!! For the same reason that if you really desire to be with a married woman but you need to have control over your desire since the Torah forbids it, so too, to be with another man, you also need to control yourself since it’s what Hashem demands from you. Hashem never gives us a commandment that is impossible to keep! Since it is written in the Torah in Parashat Nitzavim; ” The commandments that I give you today — it is not distance from you and not far from you. It is not in the heaven, nor across the sea…. Rather, it is very close to you; in your mouth and in your heart to perform it.”  Yes, for some people it might be easier to keep a mitzvah, and for some it might be more difficult, but it’s never impossible!!

But the argument doesn’t end here. The homosexual person might say: ” But I’m really not attracted to women?! To me, that is a disgusting act!!” How do we answer this question now?

Well, when I was a kid, I had a friend who would never eat beef, chicken or fish. He would not even come close to them. He claimed that it made him feel nauseous. So every day and every night his Mom had to make him a separate dairy dish for lunch and for dinner. Until one day she was fed up, and she said to herself: ” I had enough! No more of this nonsense!!”. So from that day on she made sure to only make beef, chicken or fish for lunch and dinner everyday. The boy did not eat anything for a few days, but the Mom continued with her stubbornness. He cried, he moaned and he complained, but it was to no use. Until one day, he came to realize that there is not going to be any food other than beef, chicken or fish any more, so he started to eat some of the dinner that the Mom prepared. At the beginning, he did feel nauseous, and he did threw up, but the Mom did not give up. Everyday he ate a little bit more and more and he felt less and less nauseous until eventually he began to like eating meat!

Same idea goes with sexual relationships. If a person knows for sure that there is no alternative than sleeping with the opposite sex, then eventually he is going to like it. Only when there is a choice that he can compare, only then he can show preference towards the forbidden relationship. Some people can only drink soda and not plain water. But if there is no soda ever, do you think that they are not going to drink water?

Yes my friends, Judaism is all about having control over our desires. Hashem wants us to overcome our desires and to be in full control. And this is what separates us from the other nations and makes us the unique nation of G-d; His “Chosen People”! Hashem wants us to have control over what we eat, what we say, what we see, what we hear, and above all, to have control over our sexual desires. All these prohibitions in the Torah is for our own good and is for making us stronger people. Being free to do whatever you want, is not freedom; it means that you are not in control; your desires are controlling you!!

So my friends, remember that Hashem never gives us a commandment which is impossible to keep. It might be challenging, but it’s never impossible!

Shabbat Shalom & Regards;


Parashiot Tazria-Metzorah!

Dear Friends;

I hope that you will enjoy the following two Parashiot summaries followed by a Dvar Torah;

” Parshiot in a Nutshell ”

The Torah commands a woman to bring a korban after the birth of a child. A son is to be circumcised on the eighth day of his life.

Tzara’at is a super-natural plague, which can afflict people as well as garments or homes. If white or pink patches appear on a person’s skin, a Kohen is summoned. Judging by various signs, such as an increase in size of the afflicted area after a seven-day quarantine, the Kohen pronounces it tameh (impure) or tahor (pure).

A person afflicted with tzaraat must dwell alone outside of the camp until he is healed. The afflicted area in a garment or home must be removed; if the tzara’at re occurs, the entire garment or home must be destroyed.

The Torah describes the purification procedure for a person afflicted with tzara’at upon conclusion of his isolation. This process extends for a week and involves sacrifices and immersions in the mikvah. Then, a kohen must pronounce the afflicted pure.

Ritual impurity is also caused by a seminal or other discharge in a man, and menstruation or other discharge of blood in a woman, necessitating purification through immersion in a mikvah.

” Dvar Torah ”

When I started to do these Divrei Torahs, my biggest fear was to pick Dvar Torah topics in the book of Vayikra, since the main topic of discussion in this book is about the duties and responsibilities of the Kohanim at the time of the “Temple”. I used to say to myself what can we learn from these rituals which haven’t been in practice for more than two thousand years? But to my surprise, as I started to read the commentaries, I realized that I was wrong. Every Parsha of the Torah is as important as the other, and in every Parsha there is a lesson to be learned!

The main topic of discussion in this week’s two Parashiot is a disease called Tzara’at. There is no English translation for this disease, since this disease never existed in any other cultures, but it was somehow similar to Leprosy, except for the fact that it was not contagious. This disease did not have any scientific proof, nor any medical remedy to it, but rather, it was a heavenly disease brought down by Hashem and cured by Hashem. The Chachamim say that this disease was a punishment for those who had committed the sin of “Lashon Hara”, gossiping and evil talking about someone else.  This disease was an affliction that discolored human skin, clothing, hair, household items and even homes; but it is discussed in great detail when it fell on the body.

If a person was suspected to be struck by the disease, he did not need to be examined by a physician nor a medical expert. In fact, the entire examination and evaluation procedure was done by non-other than the “Kohen”. If afflicted, the person was quarantined and then reevaluated; if condemned, he was sent outside the Jewish camp, isolated from the whole congregation, until he was healed, which was a sign that he had repented from his slanderous ways. The whole procedure was a very embarrassing event. The Kohen had to accompany the convict to outside of the camp in front of the whole congregation and he had to announce in loud voice that he has Tzara’at. The Chachamim say that the punishments given in the Torah are usually measure for measure. The same way that the victim of an evil gossip is avoided and disrespected by everyone else; the same way the gossiper is put to shame and forced to isolate himself from the rest of the community.

But, The Torah tells us that the fate of the stricken man is totally dependent upon the will of the kohen. The kohen is shown the negah (blemish) and has complete authority to declare it “tamei” (impure) or “tahor” (pure), which determines the faith of the victim whether he could stay or leave the camp. In fact, even if all signs point to the declaration of impurity, if the kohen, for any reason deems the person tahor or refuses to declare him tamei, the man remains tahor. But the way the Torah demands from the Kohen to examine the blemish on the afflicted person is quite strange. The Torah says: “And the kohen shall look at the “negah” affliction on the skin and behold it has changed to white and appears deeper than the skin of the flesh – it is tzara’at and the kohen shall look at the man and declare him tamei”!

The question that bothers the Chachamim is quite simple. How many times does the Kohen need to look? If he looks at the blemish and it’s clearly tzara’at, then why does he need to look at the man again before publicly declaring him impure??!

Rabbi Kamenetzky has a beautiful insight in regards to this question. The kohen who is instructed to deal with the stricken individual should not only look at the affliction, but he must look at each person individually too. The Kohen must realize what consequences his verdict will bring upon the person and what the victim has to go through! Even if the “negah” has all the attributes that should lead to a declaration of impurity, there are other factors that must be weighed. If the man is a groom, about to be wed, impurity must not be declared. If the man is expecting a new baby sometime soon; if he is moving to a new house or if it will ruin any upcoming festivities, then a declaration of contamination must be postponed. The kohen, a man of love and peace, is not expected to embarrass or humiliate the afflicted person when he is in a state of joy, but rather, he is obligated to hide the truth. A person who has committed Lashon Hara and has humiliated someone publicly, deserves to be humiliated himself. But the Torah is telling us otherwise! The Kohen is expected to show compassion towards the afflicted one! The purpose of the tzara’at is not to punish the person or “chasbe shalom” to get back at him, but rather, it’s suppose to make him realize what he did was wrong and help him to change his ways.

Yes my friends, how easy is it for us to see a flaw or a blemish in others and how easy is it for us to announce it in public. How easy is it for us to call someone a liar, a thief, a crook, a womanizer, an alcoholic and so on. But before we do so, we should look at the man! We should ask ourselves, how is my declaration going to affect the future of this man? Sometimes, a simple gossip can scar a person for life! We should think of the consequences and then see if it’s worth saying it or not. If Hashem has so much compassion even towards a sinner and doesn’t want to embarrass him in public, then how much more compassion we should have for our fellow jews and not to humiliate them in public!

In the weeks between Pesach and Shavuot, it’s time to revise the book of “Pirkei Avot”. In it, it says “judge all of the people in a good way,” as do not look at a partial person: rather, judge all of the person — even a flaw may have a motivation or rationale behind it. That’s why when a Kohen clearly sees a blemish, before he pronounces him impure, he must look again. He must look beyond the blemish. He must look at the man!!

Shabath Shalom and Regards;


Kanissa News By

Kanissa News By

The Official News Portal of the UMJCA

It is with great pleasure to announce that Kanissa News has joined the Communications Committee of the UMJCA. This will help consolidate all the communications channels and provide the community with a sustainable and timely news service.

In practice, Kanissa News will be the only weekly news email and all information on the web site and other sources will be combined into the weekly Kanissa News, which as in the past will go out on Thursday nights.

The databases of Kanissa News and will also be combined.


The UMJCA Communications Committee

Parashat Shemini!

Dear Friends;

I hope that you will enjoy the following Parsha summary followed by a Dvar Torah;

” Parsha in a Nutshell ”

Parshat Shemini begins by discussing the events which occurred on the eighth and final day of the inauguration service in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). After months of preparation and anticipation, Aaron and his sons are finally installed as Kohanim (priests) in an elaborate service. Aaron blesses the people, and the entire nation rejoices as Hashem’s presence rests upon them. However, the excitement comes to an abrupt halt as Aaron’s two elder sons, Nadav and Avihu, offer a “strange fire before G-d, which He commanded them not” and die before G-d. Aaron is silent in face of his tragedy.
Aaron is informed that the Kohanim are forbidden to enter the Mishkan while intoxicated, and the Torah continues to relate the events which occur immediately after Nadav and Avihu’s tragic death. The portion concludes with a listing of the kosher and non-kosher animals, and various laws about tumah, ritual contamination!

” Dvar Torah ”

In the course of life, sometimes, startling and shocking events take place. Sometimes we are faced with a tragedy. What do we do, if G-d forbid, a tragedy befalls upon us? “Why is this happening to me”, we may ask ourselves? How do we handle the pain? How do you carry on with our lives? So many questions pop up in our heads with hardly any convincing answers. Even with all the consoling and solace that the rest of the people try to give us, we still don’t find comfort. So how are we suppose to react in the case of a tragedy?

Well, in this week’s parsha, the Torah also talks about a painful tragedy. The story goes as follows: After the completion of the construction of the “Mishkan” (G-d’s mobile Sanctuary), it was time for Mishkan’s inauguration. The excitement was filled in the air. Everyone came to watch this joyful event, somewhat similar to the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the tallest building built in the city — in this case, the house of G-d. The structure of the Mishkan was completed and all the vessels were placed in their right spots and the alter was all ready to begin the first sacrifice ceremony. For seven days Moshe, Aaron and his sons rehearsed the inauguration ceremony’s procedures, and finally, it was on the eight day that G-d’s Presence would finally descend upon the Mishkan, and it was time for the ceremony to start.

But, suddenly, the celebration went terribly wrong. The Torah tells us that “the two eldest sons of Aaron, Nadav and Avihu, each took his fire pan, they put fire in them and placed incense upon it; and they brought before Hashem an alien fire that He had not commanded them to bring.” Immediately, “a fire came forth from before Hashem and consumed them, and they died” !! The Torah continues with the consolation given by Moshe to Aaron by saying the following: “of this did Hashem speak, saying ‘I will be sanctified through those who are nearest to Me, thus I will be honored before the entire people.” And Aaron’s response was that he kept silent!

Wow, what a tragedy! But the commentators don’t waste anytime to bombard us with explanations. Some say that the reason for their death was that they came in drunk into the sanctuary in front of G-d. Others say that they disrespected their teachers Moshe and Aaron, by not consulting with them first before bringing their own offering to Hashem. Another midrash says that this was a punishment to Aaron for helping the Benei Israel to build the Golden Calf. And the commentaries goes on and on and on….

But to me, and maybe to Aaron too, non of these explanations justifies their harsh punishment. Why should two people who were among the most holy people in their generation,  who by mistake brought an offering to Hashem, got killed immediately in front of the entire nation?? Is this justice?? Isn’t Hashem being a little too harsh??  The same G-d of mercy that forgave the nation for their despicable sin of the Golden Calf, couldn’t find it in his heart to forgive two of his loyal servants for bringing an unwanted gift for Him, even if they may have had a drink or two??

Well, Rabbi Yissachar Frand has an interesting insight in regards to Aaron’s sons tragic death. He says that although, all of the explanations for Nadav and Avihu’s death may be true, but none of the explanations should be convincing, because we should never be content with the reasons given for someone’s death! Hashem wants us to feel sorry for the deceased and to feel compassion towards the dead! Every dead person deserves to be mourned for. We are not here to judge people and to find a justified reason for someone’s death!! We have to assume that anyone who dies was a good person and the only reason he died was because of the will of G-d! Do we have to understand why? No! But do we have to accept Hashem’s decision? Yes!

But how are you suppose to react to a tragedy. The answer is also given in this week’s parsha in the fascinating phrase which says: “and Aaron was silent!!” After all the solace and comfort that Hashem and Moshe tried to give to Aaron, he was still in shock and hard for him to accept. It’s hard for anyone to get comforted, when loosing a child or a loved one! But Aaron kept Silent! He did not complain! Although he may have not understood why Hashem performed such a harsh punishment to his two beloved sons who were the two highest priests of the time and were respected by the whole congregation; he still had faith in G-d that he knows what he is doing! He kept silent, in order not to show lack of faith due to lack of understanding!!!

Yes my friends, our religion is not a religion of logic; it’s a religion of faith. In times of distress and misfortune, sometimes we search for answers but our efforts seems to be used in vain. We are not content. Nothing seems to make sense. We may even start questioning G-d’s decision, but it does not give us the rights to loose faith in him. After all, if we believe that G-d is a superpower, then our lack of understanding should not bother us so much, since we believe that G-d has more power of understanding and judgment. We learn from Aaron’s silence that not being content with the reason for a tragedy is not a sin, but loosing faith in Hashem, is. Remember that our G-d is a compassionate G-d,  who is slow to anger and abundant in kindness and truth. He loves his people and he wants the best for us. He doesn’t want to hurt us and if we are faced with a tragedy, we should believe that Hashem knows what is best for us and we should accept his decision.

In the Oxford dictionary, a “tragedy” is defined as a “sad event; a series of drama with an unhappy ending”! In the Torah, however, a tragedy is defined as a sad event which is an act of G-d, which we don’t understand, but we believe that Hashem surely does!

Shabbat Shalom & Regards;


Sunday Morning Parasha Class with Rabbi Adam Sabzevari (& Breakfast)

Sunday Morning Parasha Class with Rabbi Adam Sabzevari (& Breakfast)!

Our Sunday Morning Parasha Class is on for this week (April 7). We will be studying Parashat Tazria Metzora & Pirke Avot!

A special thanks to this week’s sponsor, who has requested to remain anonymous.
Breakfast will be served at 9:45 am, the class is 10 am – 11 am, at 54 Steamboat Road.
This class is for the refuah shelema of Nissan Chai ben Rachel and Ruchama Sarah Miriam bat Tamar.
For more information or to sponsor, contact Rabbi Sabzevari ( or Ben Nabavian (

MYC Blood Drive

The Mashadi Youth Committee has organized a blood drive to be held at Shaare Shalom Synagogue (54 Steamboat Road), on Sunday, April 14th, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  Blood cannot be manufactured – it can only come from generous donors  – which is why we encourage all eligible donors to come and participate.  The general requirement to be a blood donor are as follows: 1) Must be age 17 or up.  16 year-olds can donate with permission of parent or guardian who must sign you in.  2) Must weigh at least 110 pounds.  3) Must have valid identification such as a driver’s license, passport, or other valid picture id, and your social security number.  Drinks, snacks, and light food will be available for all donors.  For more information, please feel free to contact Shawn Aziz at 516-423-6231 /,  Maxine Karmily at 516-782-1551, or Charlotte Shahverdi at 516-424-2252 /

MYC Blood Drive 2013-1-pdf flyer

Wheels For Life Basketball tournament

The MYC and the Israel Zionism Committee in cooperation with American Friends of Magen David Adom are proud to present the Wheels For Life 3-on3 Basketball tournament on Sunday April 21 @ Shaare Shalom Gym.

Sign-up deadline March 21st

All proceeds will go towards dedicating an ambulance to Magen David Adom in Israel in the name of the Mashadi Community of NY. For information about the tournament and Magen David Adom, click here.

To donate NOW, visit

Israeli GPS App Waze Wins Best Mobile App Award At Mobile World Congress

Waze, the popular Israeli GPS navigation app, won the Mobile World Congress’ Judges Choice Award this Tuesday for best overall mobile application, beating other top contenders such as Dropbox, Flipboard and Square, the electronic payment service.

“This is a huge win for our community — thanks Wazers, for making us number 1!  Waze wrote on its Facebook page.  The company added: “It takes 40 million drivers to make a great service that impacts the world, and that’s just the beginning. Imagine what we’ll able to do at 100 million.”

Waze was among four other Israeli applications nominated in the competition under different WAZE_LOGO_640_jpg1-460x250categories. The other Israeli apps were MyCheck, Intucell, Isracard and uTest.

The awards, presented yesterday by British funnyman David Walliams, are part of the Mobile World Congress taking place in Barcelona. The congress said the awards “recognize and celebrate all the contributions made to the ever-evolving and developing mobile industry.”

Waze was founded in 2008 by Uri Levine, Ehud Shabtai and Amir Shinar and is led by CEO Noam Bardin. (


IvRead Registration

  • Want a tune up on your Hebrew reading? Did you forget your aleph bet?  Do you want to learn how to be chazan? Do you want to learn how to read tehillim? If you you answered yes to any of these questions, then sign up for IVREADIVREAD is a learning imitative to teach the community how to advance in their Hebrew reading skills in the context of Jewish prayers on regular days, Shabbats, and holidays. Classes begin on April 8th at 8:00PM and will continue for eight weeks on every Monday. Check up on our Facebook page for the registration link or click here.
IVREAD is available to the entire community for anyone above the age of 16.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call/email: Sean Hakimi-,  Joe Kamali 516.659.3881/, Stephanie Aziz –, or Stephanie Dilamani (516-423-6641)

Shalom Summer Camp

Starting July 1 – August 23, 2013 (8 weeks)

Toddlers  9:30 -2:00
8 weeks $1,900,  6 weeks $1,500,  4 weeks $1,000

Nursery, Pre- K, & Kindergarten  9:30 – 3:00
8 weeks $2,100,  6 weeks $1,650,   4 weeks $1,100

Hot Lunch, Snacks and $500 Registration Deposit included in Price

Exciting Special Events
Large Dynamic Outdoor Playground
Bicycle Track
Water Fun & Sprinklers
Outstanding Indoor Facilities and Playground

130 Steamboat Road
Betty Arjang – Director

Early Bird Prices In effect through March 14, 2013