April 2015

Rabbi's Message

The most basic commandment of the holiday of Passover is to refrain from eating chametz, which is leavening. Leavening occurs when yeast cells feed on the sugars found in grains. The byproduct is alcohol and carbon dioxide. This production of alcohol is fermentation, while the production of carbon dioxide is leavening.

Why? What is it about leavening that makes it forbidden to us Jews for Pasover?

Of course the Torah tells us that it is forbidden to us in order to commemorate the speed with which the Jews left Egypt. Because they left in haste, the bread they were making had no time to rise, the leavening process had no time to develop.

But there might be an additional reason. Perhaps it has to do with the way the rabbis understood the significance of the leavening. The rabbis understood that the air, the carbon dioxide produced by the yeast, puffs up the dough. The idea of being puffed up they saw as being arrogant, having an inflated ego, a higher sense of self. The rabbis saw this period of time to be used to not only celebrate the passover, but also to be used for introspection, a reality check. 

May you use this time of Passover wisely, and consider this idea that staying away from Chametz is to also stay away from ego-trips and arrogance.

May you have a Chag Sameach v'Kasher, a happy and Kosher holiday!!

Rabbi Stuart Federow


The Torah commands every person to insure their animals are fed, and in the proper time.  Actually, we are commanded to feed our animals before we eat ourselves.  The Talmud derives this from the verse “And I will give grass in your field for your livestock” and only thereafter “and you will eat and be sated.”   So this being the holiday of Passover, we are setting up the first Congregation Shaar Hashalom Blessing of the Animals.  Please join us on Sunday April 12th at 12:35 in the playground area after the conclusion of Sunday School for this new and exciting event.  Our own Rabbi Federow will give the blessing which is thanking G-d for all the animals in our lives.  The event should last no longer than 15-20 minutes.  These furry friends add so much to all our lives, so don’t miss the chance to participate.  Please be aware that if you are not comfortable with bringing your pet, you can always bring something belonging to the animal, a collar, or even a picture.  We are going to have some short rules to follow so we insure a safe event for everyone.

  1. All dogs must be on a secure leash
  2. All cats must be in a carrier
  3. All small animals, guinea pigs, gerbils, rabbits, reptiles,  must be in a carrier or ventilated box
  4. No elephants allowed
  5. Please bring poop bags to use if necessary and water for your animals
  6. No animals will be allowed in the buildings
  7. No children under the age of 14 will be allowed unless accompanied by their parent or an adult
  8. Parents with children please bring the animal with you when you pick up your child at 12:30.  No animals will be allowed to attend Sunday School, sorry.

In addition, aren’t we always looking for ways to perform a mitzvah?    What about all the animals in shelters that could use a good meal?  Please bring a bag of dog or cat food to this  event as we are going to try and see just how much food we can gather together to make a huge donation to one of the local animal shelters.  Let’s see just how much food we can gather for these animals!!!!

So save the date!  Sunday April 12th at 12:35.   All fur legged friends will leave with a goody bag of treats.   This is a great way to meet new congregants or see old friends.  Is it true that we really look like our pets?   This is the time to check that out!  Hope to see everyone there.  If we get rained out, we will reschedule for the following Sunday April 19th at the same time. 

Social Action Committee
Tammy Allison and Ronnie Weiss

Bon Appetit with Rabbi Stuart

Free & Open to the community: 

Join Rabbi Stuart Federow of Congregation Shaar Hashalom, every Thursday afternoon, beginning April 16th, from 1:00 P.M. – 2:30 P.M., at Bon Appetit Café, 18027 Point Lookout Drive, in Nassau Bay, 77058.  This will be a weekly, on-going event open for  questions on Judaism, religions in general, practices & traditions, comparisons  & differences.  Join us for coffee, questions & conversation; bring your thoughts & questions to share with those attending.

For further information, please call 281-488-5861 for any questions; office hours 10:00 – 2:00 daily.