Tag Archives: featured

Photos from Hanukkah

Some highlights from our Hanukkah celebrations at TBEMC and in the Cranford community.

Hanukkah in Cranford
TBEMC members (shown here with Cranford Mayor Kathleen Miller Prunty) collected canned good donations for Jewish Family Services of Central New Jersey.
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We appreciate this write-up that was published by TapInto Cranford and Cranford Monthly:

Cranford Becomes a Festival of Lights for Hanukkah
Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim (TBEMC) helps lead the community celebrations

Cranford celebrated Hanukkah this past week, with multiple events that brought light and joy to the township.

Temple Beth El Mekor Chayim (TBEMC) held a family community Hanukkah party on its front lawn Tuesday night, drawing a crowd of more than 125 for dancing, donuts, and the lighting of the temple’s new outdoor menorah. Local DJ The Spinners kept the crowd moving with Hanukkah music, pop songs and games. “We really wanted to invite the community to share in our holiday traditions,” said Jessica Suckerman, who co-chaired the event with Andrew Feldman and TBEMC Rabbi Paul Kerbel. “We loved seeing so many people celebrate with us.”

On Wednesday night, The Union County Torah Center-Chabad held its annual menorah lighting downtown by the gazebo. Rabbi Levi Block of Chabad said the tradition dates back more than 20 years. Mayor Kathleen Miller Prunty lit the first candle, followed by Rabbi Kerbel leading the audience in the traditional Hanukkah prayers. Following the lighting, a festive hora dance broke out, with Cranford Police Department chief Ryan Greco among the participants. Guests then enjoyed the customary sufganiyot (jelly donuts).

“We were thrilled to light our brand new Cranford Hanukkah menorah this year. The previous one was so well used we needed to replace it, and we thank all the Cranford residents who contributed towards it.” said Rabbi Block. “We have a long tradition of celebrating Hanukkah together with the Cranford community, and we look forward to this every year.”

Several local businesses commemorated the holiday. Pastosa Ravioli kicked off the season with a Hanukkah canned food drive on November 21st, with Rabbi Kerbel greeting and thanking donors in person. Other businesses like Sweet ‘n Fancy Emporium offered Hanukkah-themed products, while Track 5 Coffee donated hot cocoa to TBEMC’s party.

“Downtown Cranford strives to host events that bring our community together while also supporting our local businesses that are the heart of our downtown.” said Caren Demyen, Downtown Cranford Director. “In 2020 we did a dreidel and menorah painting class with Fire Me Up Studio to celebrate Hanukkah, and it went so well that we wanted to add more activities. Many of our businesses were thrilled to be part of the festivities, and we were happy to partner with other organizations in town.”

The Jewish holidays are based on a lunar calendar, and Hanukkah came early this year, right after Thanksgiving and concluding at sundown on Monday the 6th.

“Hanukkah is a holiday that reflects on Jewish traditions and values, but at the same time, is a universal holiday that teaches religious freedom, sensitivity to our country’s many minorities, and the promotion of diversity and equality.” said Rabbi Kerbel. “TBEMC has been part of the Cranford community for more than 100 years, and we are honored to share our traditions with our friends and neighbors here. Seeing people gather together smiling and dancing was wonderful. We appreciate that our Cranford community is always willing to support us and these celebrations.”


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.


Even during these challenging times of COVID-19, we have come together, 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:

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

January – June:  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.” 

Meet Rabbi Kerbel

Rabbi Paul David Kerbel joined Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim in 2019. Rabbi Kerbel brings a wealth of experience and practice to our congregation, serving congregations large and small, both as a senior rabbi and associate rabbi during his career.

Born in Philadelphia, Rabbi Kerbel was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Rochester, New York and Hollywood, Florida. Rabbi Kerbel’s father Bob served as a Jewish communal professional in these communities, and his mother Ruth as an active lay leader in the communities and synagogues in which they lived. His parents imbued in him the importance of interweaving commitment to the synagogue, community and Israel.

Rabbi Kerbel was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1985, receiving the Isaac H. Wolfson Award for Dedicated Service to JTS during his four years of undergraduate and five years of rabbinical school experience at JTS. He was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree in 2011 for dedicated service to the American Jewish community.

Rabbi Kerbel and his wife Melissa are the proud parents of Sam and Aliza who live in New York City, Rabbi Judah and Eliana who also live in New York City, and Micha, a recent graduate of The Ohio State University, who works for The American Jewish Committee in Washington, DC. Melissa serves as the East Coast Director of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Rabbi Kerbel serves as the Rabbinic Campaign Chair of the Schechter Institutes, Israel’s leading pluralistic academic institution, and as a senior member of the Global Jewish Community Committee of UJA Federation of New York. He is a member of the New York Board of Rabbis and an active supporter of the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. He looks forward to becoming involved in the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, the New Jersey Rabbinical Assembly, and area Boards of Rabbis.

Gan Katan (“Little Garden”) Early Childhood Program

A wonderful education choice for Jewish children ages 3 & 4. Class meets every other week from Sept. to May. Small class size limited to 10. Age-appropriate learning activities include singing Jewish & Hebrew songs, dancing, listening to read-aloud stories, dramatic play, craft activities, and early literacy activities to develop Hebrew skills. Students meet Jewish friends and share positive experiences of Jewish community in the friendly and welcoming environment of TBEMC. Class will be taught by an experienced Jewish early childhood educator. To learn more, contact Cantor Lanzkron-Tamarazo at cantor@tbemc.org or call 908-276-7351.

The Jewish Agency for Israel: Fund for the Victims of Terror

The Fund for the Victims of Terror provides Israel’s terror victims with direct, immediate financial assistance after an attack.

After a terror attack, victims and their families often need funds quickly to rebuild what they have lost. The Jewish Agency For Israel helps them fast, providing immediate, direct assistance so that they can start the process of healing – often within 24 hours. The Fund has helped hundreds of Israeli families. Please join us in providing comfort for those whose lives are suddenly overturned by trauma. With your help we can ease their recovery and help them move on.

To contribute, click here to be taken to the JAFI website

To contribute by phone in the US: 1 (212) 318-6109

For program support in Israel: +972-3-762 8372 or 8373

If you would prefer to contribute by mail, please send a check to:

JAFINA, 633 Third Avenue, 21st Floor, Suite C, New York, NY 10017

For questions: please email us at donorservices@jafi.org.