Category Archives: Upcoming Event

How to Watch Our Services from Home

We’ve made our services available for streaming. There are two ways you can tune in:

1. Watch our sanctuary services through our livestream on any device through this link:
or through the feed below.

2. Subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here, or search YouTube for “TBEMC Cranford”.

3. Members can access our minyan and select services through Zoom. Please contact the office for the link.

For service times, please check the Calendar on our site.

Lifelong Learning Events & Programs

Hebrew has three ways to refer to a synagogue: Beit Tefilah (House of Prayer); Beit Knesset (House of Assembly); and Beit Midrash (House of Study). The TBEMC Lifelong Learning Committee is committed to creating a Beit Midrash for our community by providing congregants opportunities to connect with each other while exploring historical, cultural, and religious aspects of Judaism.

We come together in-person and through Zoom to learn from noted experts in their fields and from each other – in the weekly Thursday morning classes, monthly Book Club, and special events.

We have several upcoming events planned! Look in the weekly email or our online calendar for the latest. 

Recent events from the Lifelong Learning Committee:

Ongoing:  Thursday morning “Torah Classes” with Rabbi Kerbel

November 6, 2022 at 9:30 AM: Robin Williams: Reality, What A Concept!
Entertainment historian John Kenrick returns with a multimedia talk about Robin’s work including highlights from his hilarious & heartfelt performances as Mork, Mrs. Doubtfire, and in Good Will Hunting. Continental breakfast will be served.

March 31, 2022 at 8:00 PM: Rabbi Neal Scheindlin spoke on “The Jewish Family Ethics Textbook”

January 2022: A Virtual Tour of Jewish Paris

From the comfort of our homes, we took a guided tour of:
• Le Marais: main Jewish neighborhood in Paris
• Place des Vosges
• Hotel de Sully
• Famous synagogue of Hector Guimard
• Oldest synagogue in Paris
• Musée Carnavalet (exterior)
• SHOAH Holocaust Memorial & Museum
• The History of the Paris Jewish Community
• Stories from Holocaust survivors and their families

August 2021: “The Art of Jonah’s Flight” by Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz, exploring the first chapter of the Book of Jonah.

September 2019: “How to Appreciate the High Holy Days: The Important Themes, Prayers and Customs of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur” two-part series presented by Rabbi Kerbel

2019-2020:  The Jewish Connection to Comedy Film Series:
“The Frisco Kid”
“Brighton Beach Memoirs”
“Biloxi Blues”
“Broadway Bound”
“Keeping the Faith”

Fall 2019:  “Why the Jews”: An Exploration of the Anti-Semitism Throughout History and What to Do About It” two-part series presented by Rabbi Paul Kerbel

Fall 2019: Thursday morning class – “Message of the Prophets” class, led by Rabbi Kerbel

November 10, 2019: Scholar-in-Residence Program: Professor Jack Wertheimer, Professor of American Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary.  Two lectures: “Jews on the Move: How Migrations Have Remade American Jewish Life” and “The Good News about American Judaism.”

December 15, 2019: Trip to See “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish in NYC with dinner at Ben’s Deli

Ongoing:  Thursday morning “Torah Classes” with Rabbi Kerbel

June 10, 2020:  Zoom Webinar: “COVID-10 Pandemic: An Overview of Federal and New Jersey State Response, the Impact on the Jewish Community, and Opportunities for Advocacy,” led by Joshua Cohen, Director, Government Relations & External Affairs, Jewish Federations of New Jersey

July: Thursday morning classes “Book of Psalms” – led by Jerry Baranoff

July 16, 2020:  Zoom Discussion: “Racism, Anti-Semitism, Black Lives Matter and the Jewish Community” led by Melanie Roth Gorelick, Senior Vice-President, Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Jim Johnson, Corporation Counsel, City of New York

July 23, 2020:  Thursday morning class, “Book of Job” led by Jerry Baranoff and Neil Mayer

September 3, 2020: Zoom discussion “The View from Federation: Response to the Pandemic in New Jersey, the United States and the World” led by Dov Ben-Shimon, CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ

October 15, 2020:  Zoom Presentation:  Rabbi Dan Ornstein discussed his new book “Cain v Abel: A Jewish Courtroom Drama”

November 12, 2020:  Zoom Presentation:  Professor Amy Kalmanofsky, Dean, List College, discussed her book “Dangerous Sisters of the Hebrew Bible.” 

C. Mindy Kipness’ Yom Kippur 5783 Remarks


Tevya the singing philosopher in Fiddler on the Roof teaches us about tradition with the song that begins with the words:  “Because of our traditions, we have kept our balance for many many years”

Tevya closes the song with the words: “Tradition. Without tradition, our lives would be shaky… as a fiddler on the roof.” 

Tradition is defined as the passing down of a mode of thought and elements of a culture from generation to generation (L’Dor va Dor).  We may not be on Broadway or in a movie but most of us also struggle between tradition and a fast-changing world.  Tradition can ground us with familiarity and provides a comfort level during the lifecycles and struggles.

And yet, traditions can change. Around 1987, which was early in my corporate career, I attended a seminar called Managing Change.  We learned how the world would be changing and that our management styles would have to adapt to those changes. What an understatement when we look back to the 1980’s.  Technology has accelerated changes in our personal world and in some of our religious traditions. However, traditions still have their place in our religious and personal lives.

By attending and by participating in religious services during these Days of Awe, each of us is saying tradition is important to me.  By keeping our Jewish traditions at home and in the synagogue, we keep Judaism alive.

For more than 100 years, TBEMC has been the Jewish synagogue of Cranford.  Some of our members have moved away but remain connected as Associate Members.  The memorial board on the wall and the Yizkor prayers and books remind us of family, temple members, and friends who are no longer with us.  We welcome new members each year.  As the membership and times change, the temple community continuously adapts, modifies, or adds to those traditions.

In 1917 a group of 12 Jewish families got together for social events and worshipped in each other’s homes.  Within 10 years they had outgrown meeting in living rooms and laid the cornerstone of our first building on South Avenue. The new synagogue was called Temple Beth El.   By 1960 they had outgrown their first building and laid the cornerstone for this building where we pray today.  In 1987 we had our first woman president, Abbie Halperin.  In 1998 we merged with Suburban Jewish Center Mekor Chayim of Linden. One of our former presidents, Jackie Baranoff was the first girl to read Torah at her bat mitzva in Mekor Chayim.  Traditions have been evolving all along.  Imagine the dedication, initiative, and ambition required for those families to take the first steps to create a new synagogue family, and years later to build each of the two buildings and then to merge with another synagogue.   

As I enter my second year as co-president with Bruce, I recognize how much planning, willpower, fundraising, financial commitment, volunteering, and teamwork are required to meet our commitments to the congregation and maintain our building.  This Temple is more than a building. This is a religious home away from home.

I have spoken with members who have been part of our community for over 50 years. Can you imagine that? Many remember when the cornerstone was put into this building. We also have members who have been part of TBEMC for multiple generations.  This holiday we have a reunion of TBEMC alumni leading different parts of our services. The following are children of former presidents who have found their way back to share their talents with us during these High Holy Days: 

  • Spencer Brooks led Musaf and graced us with beautiful and familiar melodies and prayers
  • Nat Werschulz led family services woven with his musical talents to make the services special for all, and
  • Ellie Barkin, our Religious School Education Director, helped lead family services

    and the following read Torah:
  • Jon Cohen (who will also teach Trope to our Religious School)
  • Jeremy Brooks
  • Aaron Werschulz

    Our recent Religious School alumni Torah readers and Haftorah chanters included: Ryan Feldman, Ethan Kanig, Caleb Mallo, Joshua Metz, Max Reissman, David Thaler, and Alana Taub.  Welcome back to all of you, and we invite you to keep sharing your talents with our congregation.

Technology and necessity helped us adapt during the Covid lockdown as we created new traditions and modified old ones.  For example:

  • We began using Zoom for daily minyans, meetings, virtual fundraisers, and events. 
  • We invested in live streaming cameras and sound equipment in September 2020 so that we could have hybrid services. 
  • We modified services to include virtual P’tichas to allow for social distancing which we continue because we learned that the service moved more smoothly.  This year we distributed lists of virtual P’Ticha openings so you will know the names of our P’Ticha honorees.
  • Our family services used to be held only in the Youth Lounge.  This is the third year with family services were under the tent on our front lawn when the weather permitted.  

    The substance and melodies of the religious services, meetings, and events were grounded in tradition even as the method of connecting changed.   See how flexible we can be?

The High Holiday Services do not just happen.  Planning began before summer started as our ritual committee led by Laura Cohen and our High Holiday Committee led by Elliot Ballen worked with Rabbi Kerbel to ensure the religious traditions were kept and that services ran smoothly. We thank everyone involved. Yashir Koach.   

TBEMC operates with a small staff that includes Rabbi Kerbel, an office administrator along with the Education Director and Religious School teachers.  The rest of the heavy lifting and accomplishments only happen with the help of our volunteers.  Through your generous pledges, donations, and volunteering, each of you support the Temple and allow us to continue to provide various services to our members and community. You make miracles happen.

Our membership is about 150 families.  A small reliable group of about 30 to 40 volunteers work behind the scenes to make sure TBEMC is alive and thriving (Chai V’Kayam).  We thank all of them for their time and energy. Our volunteers give up their personal time to make things happen at TBEMC. They are passionate about doing things the right way.  These volunteers include the officers and the members of the Board of Trustees, the committee chairs and members, and the minyan leaders.  They include the sisterhood and men’s club officers and members. They include all the volunteers who help in the office, the kitchen, build the annual sukkah, create events, attend meetings, plan, organize, make phone calls to members, and visit them. They shop, chop food, make beautiful kiddush platters, stuff envelopes, make copies, and go to the post office.  They support all age groups from our Seniors to our children and young families. We thank every one of our volunteers. We could not be here without each of you and your endless devotion to TBEMC.

Let me highlight just two of the many volunteering miracles that happened during this past year.  

First miracle:  a team of about a dozen volunteers worked together during two days in August and created a super team. Together we filled a dumpster with 1.7 tons of debris. Our ages ranged between 11 to the mid-80’s.  We worked hard and laughed together and enjoyed the great accomplishment and the teamwork.

Second miracle: one young person who had an urge to do something good for the community. Joshua Schwartz is the son Craig and Rachel Schwartz and grandson of David and Shelly Schwartz, third generation TBEMC.  As a senior in High School, he offered to power wash the Holocaust Memorial in our front yard a few weeks before Yom Hashoah.  He came back a second time to get it done perfectly. Then he came back to power wash the stone bench on the other side of the main entrance way.  He did this because it wasn’t right to only power wash part of our garden. Isn’t he great?

There are so many unbelievable examples of volunteers who help our community in so many ways.  Whether as one person or as a team, every single one of you can make a difference. We invite you to accumulate your mitzvas for the new year and join in the fun. Imagine how much we can get done if more of you volunteered.

Just like in 1917 and 1960, TBEMC depends on volunteers and donors.  Generous donations from current members and from legacy donors have allowed us to make necessary capital improvements. However the building is now 62 years old and is in need of more system improvements and replacement parts.  We must again pull together with donations and volunteering to ensure our building continues to be safe and functional.

The prayer for those that serve the community is said every Shabbat after the Torah Service and before the prayer for our country. In this prayer, we ask God to bless among others, “those who unite to establish synagogues for prayer, and those who enter them to pray and those who give funds for heat and light, and wine for Kiddush and Havdalah, bread to the wayfarer and charity to the poor and all who devotedly involve themselves with the needs of this community and the Land of Israel”.

Between this Yom Kippur and next Yom Kippur there will be unlimited opportunities to meet, socialize, volunteer, and pray.  Start this year by joining us for weekly Shabbat Services, Kiddush, and some schnaps; for Jewish festivals and holidays, for Sisterhood and Men’s Club events, for Senior Monthly Gatherings, for entertainment and for learning, for the library and for committee meetings and even for fundraising events and for old fashioned socializing.  There are unlimited opportunities to come into the building and join in these events. There are also unlimited opportunities to volunteer and help TBEMC while also making new friends and new bonds. 

TBEMC is here for each one of you and we also depend on each one of you. We are committed to keeping our traditions and even creating new ones for you and for your families.  Let’s work together to make sure we “are not shaky… as a fiddler on a roof.” 

Thank you all for your support!