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8:45 AM  Monday & Thursday

7 PM on Friday Evening
9:30 AM on Saturday Morning

Check our Calendar. We have services for all of the regularly observed holidays

Thursdays, Weekly Torah discussion  @ 10:30   You do not need to be a member

Cantor Javier Smolarz
Leading Meditation before Saturday morning services
Saturday's @ 8:45 AM  Pre-Shabbat Service Meditation

Judges 9: The Trees Desire a King

(A Late Tribute to Tu Bishvat, the New Year for Trees)


Adapted by Rabbi David Hartley Mark


            In those days, there was no king in Israel: every person did what was right in their own eyes. Gideon ben Joash was an upright man, and God raised him up as a judge, chieftain, and miliitary leader in Israel. He led Israel in their struggles against the Midianites, who were the oppressors of Israel in those days. After Gideon’s campaigns, Midian was defeated for forty years, and the land had quiet for a time.

            And Gideon had seventy sons, for he had many wives. He had also a concubine in the town of Shechem, who bore him a son he named Avimelech, meaning, “God of my father.” And Gideon died without designating a son to follow him as judge and chieftain, for that was the custom among the judges in those days: there was no line of succession.

            But Avimelech, despite being the son of a mere concubine, went to his uncles, the men of his mother’s clan. And he said, loudly, “Which suits you better, Men of Shechem: would you rather be ruled by all the seventy sons of Gideon, or by myself? And recall that I am your flesh and blood.” His uncles talked him up as a fine leader among the Shechemites, and he won them over by the power of his tongue and his craft, for he was adept at becoming a leader.

            All of Shechem said, “We will follow our kinsman, Avimelech,” and they gave him seventy shekalim from the charity-box of the Temple of Baal-Berith (lit., “Baal of the Covenant”), who was the leading idol of the day. Avimelech took this money and used it to hire violent and lawless men, and they followed him.

            And Avimelech went to his late father, Gideon’s house, and he and his gang murdered his seventy half-brothers. Only Jotham, the youngest brother, escaped death, because he hid. Afterwards, the citizens of Shechem proclaimed Avimelech King of Israel. They were celebrating when Jotham boldly came out of hiding at the top of Mt. Gerizim and called out to the people loudly, “Citizens of Shechem! Listen to me, so that God may listen to you.

            “Once, the trees of the forest desired a king. They said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ But the olive refused, saying, ‘Both people and God love my oil. Shall I stop giving them my rich oil, and vainly wave above all my fellow trees? I will not be king.’

            “And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Reign over us.’ But the fig replied, ‘Have I stopped yielding my sweet and delicious fruit, that I should now wave over the trees? I will not be king; I serve a purpose in the forest.’

            “And the trees said to the vine, ‘Reign over us.’ But the vine replied, ‘Have I ceased to grow my sweet grapes, from which comes wine to gladden the hearts of both God and people, that I should wave above the trees?’

            “And now, the trees were perplexed, for they could find none of their kind willing to become king. And the thornbush spoke up, that which hurts and pricks the skin and limbs of both people and beasts. And the thornbush, which has neither fruit nor pleasant scent, spoke up: ‘Yes, I will become king! I will reign over all the trees and plants of the forest.’

            “But a wise cedar of Lebanon said, ‘I caution you, trees all, not to appoint the vain and empty thorn-bush as your king: for from the thorn will issue a fire which will burn and destroy the entire forest!’

            “But the trees did not listen, so desperate were they for a king. And they chose the thorn as their king.

“And now, Brothers and Sisters,” continued Jotham, “ if you believe you have done well in appointing Avimelech as your king, after his crimes and murders, I wish you well. But if he turns out to be an evil thorn-bush, I pray God that a fire issue forth from it, to destroy all of Israel!”

After which, Jotham fled. And the people of Shechem did not heed him: they gave Avimelech absolute power in Israel. However, he reigned but three years, until Shechem rebelled. The war was bloody and difficult, but, in the end, the people of Shechem triumphed. Many lives were lost.

As the rabbis of blessed memory tell us: “Experience keeps a harsh school, but a fool will learn in no other.”




OUR RABBI - David Hartley Mark

WATCH RABBI MARK , To Life, L'Chaim #217 - Rabbi David Mark (You Tube)

Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Rabbi David Hartley Mark was born in New York City, and grew up on the Lower East Side, that legendary Jewish immigrant neighborhood, attending Hebrew Day School. He was first from his school, the East Side Torah Center, to attend Yeshiva University High School for Boys—Manhattan. David attended Yeshiva University, where he attained a BA in English Literature, a BS in Bible and Jewish Education, and a Hebrew Teacher’s Diploma (HTD). He spent his third year of college at Bar Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel, where he developed a fluency in Hebrew, and toured around the country. He has also attained a Certificate in Advanced Jewish School Administration from the Hebrew College in Brookline, MA.

David attended the City University of New York Graduate Center, where he earned an MA degree from Queens College, as well as an M.Phil. degree, majoring in 17th Century English, specializing in the work of John Milton, as well as the Romantic Poets. A year teaching Hebrew School in a Reform temple in Brooklyn convinced him of his great love of Judaism, and he began attending the Academy for Jewish Religion, Yonkers, NY, where he was ordained a rabbi in 1980.


He met Anbeth, who was hired as temple secretary the same day he was hired to teach. They were married in 1978. They have two grown children, Tyler and Jordan, as well as a grandson, Aidan.


Rabbi Mark served pulpits in Warren, NJ, Fayetteville, NC, and Portsmouth, NH, in which last pulpit he spent 22 years, a record for that state. Seeking warmer climes, as well as closer family members, he and Anbeth took the pulpit of Temple Sholom in 2009. He also fulfilled a lifetime dream of teaching English at Keiser University in Ft. Lauderdale.  


OUR CANTOR - Javier Smolarz

Cantor Javier Smolarz

Cantor Smolarz comes to us originally from Argentina and via Congregations in various U.S. localities, joining Temple Sholom in September of 2018, where he has been wholeheartedly embraced by the Congregation.  His strong beautiful singing voice is coupled with a great sense of presence and decorum, but with a warm welcoming demeanor - all of which enhances our morning minyans and shabbat and holiday services.



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Tue, May 26 2020 3 Sivan 5780