Shalom from Rabbi Hammerman

At our Board of Trustees meeting on December 20, I was happy to report on several areas of my work that may be less visible to the congregation. While you may easily imagine what my “regular” days look like here at the shul – with a focus on Shabbat and weekday Services, teaching, providing pastoral care and being involved in many lifecycle events (happy and sad) – I thought that it might be interesting to share with the Board last night – and by extension all of you – some other things that have kept me quite busy recently.

Two weeks ago, the Town and Village of Harrison marked Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, with a 21-gun salute and a dinner and ceremony at the Harrison Volunteer Fire Department. I attended, representing all of you. I delivered an invocation on behalf of the Jewish community and spoke about this being a season for giving thanks.
Last weekend, I was so fortunate to join thirteen of our synagogue teenagers in attending my very first ever BBYO convention. BBYO is our synagogue youth group. I was greatly impressed by the spirit and energy at the Convention as more than 250 teenagers came together at the Danbury Crowne Plaza Hotel. We spent Shabbat, did some learning and had some decent kosher food. It was just a wonderful thing watching these teens interacting with one another, brought together through their shared pride in Judaism and all things Jewish. Interestingly, the convention coincided with the early decision college admission day for many high school seniors. It was remarkable to be in the room with them as many – one by one – were getting their college admission news. I was moved to see friends supporting one another at this important time in their lives.

Finally, I reported to the Trustees about a new business coming to town. While I would suggest, in general, that supporting local businesses is important, I don’t typically endorse one business over another. However, that value contradicts a longtime rabbinic responsibility of ensuring kosher food for the rabbi’s community. Rabbis have served as schochtim (ritual slaughterers) for centuries. Don’t worry, I am not taking on that storied Rabbinic role! I am, however, involved in a brand-new business come to coming to town where I have gotten involved in the early stages of their plans. The business? Wegmans! Wegmans, for those who are not familiar, is a well-regarded grocery store chain. Their new facility will open here in Harrison along the 287 Corridor in a little over a year. I reached out to their corporate offices several months ago and am now deep in discussions with them about their kosher food offerings. I am doing my best to ensure that they stock Challah and other kosher baked goods. I am working with them to offer a full range of kosher meat and poultry. And, I have strict instructions from home to get them to install a strictly-kosher rotisserie chicken case and oven. I am following those instructions! If you have specific ideas, please do not hesitate to share them with me and I will be happy to pass them on. I look forward to showing you all around the kosher department at our new Wegmans in the months to come.

Wishing all a very happy and healthy new secular year! See you here in shul in 2019!