White Meadow Temple

153 White Meadow Road | Rockaway, New Jersey  07866 | 973-627-4500 | office@whitemeadowtemple.org | Calendar and Candlelighting Schedule

President's Message
Eric Balis and Stephanie Levine, Co-Presidents

February is known for two holidays, Valentine's Day and Presidents Day. Valentine's Day has evolved as a holiday that represents love and caring while Presidents Day reminds us of leadership and respect.

How do these holidays relate to us as Jews and to our WMT community?

Judaism teaches us to treat others as we would like to be treated and to care for those in need with respect and dignity.

Valentine's Day origins lie in the third century with a martyred priest named Valentine, though the connection is dubious. Judaism has its own day of love called Tu B'av, celebrated in the summer since the Second Temple period, a day of music and dance festivals, exchange of cards and flowers, and a popular day for weddings. But Jews are commanded to celebrate the love of family, friends, neighbors and community, and to treat people with kindness, each and every day. The Talmud tells the story of Rabbi Hillel, who was challenged by a pagan to teach the entire Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel said, "What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole Torah; the rest is just commentary. Go and study it." Rabbi Hillel was building on the Torah commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.

Jewish history is filled with people who have led us in good times and bad, amid exile and semi-stability, during pogroms and relative peace. We know the names of some of them; others are lost to history. We are who we are because of the strength of our will, the determination to persevere, and the existence of people who have been courageous enough to do what needed to be done, prominently or quietly.

As Americans we honor and celebrate our country’s holidays, traditions, and leaders. We also note that we often have parallel Jewish teachings and/or holidays covering the same theme.

Our families, community, and Temple join together to educate our kids and adults. Our lives as American citizens and our lives as Jewish Americans build upon each other to allow us to develop as moral, loving, informed people. Active and involved are worthwhile traits as well, and we urge you to Be Leaders! Be Doers! Be Presidents!

See you around the Shul.

Stephanie and Eric