Shalom Rabbi Epstein!
 

Meet Rabbi Ephraim Epstein, the Jewish Federation's Community Scholar in Residence. This new role in the Jewish Federation family serves to increase Jewish content for the Federation and our family of agencies, in line with our mission to enhance Jewish life. 

Rabbi Epstein is the former senior rabbi at Congregation Sons of Israel in Cherry Hill, where he spent the last 21 years of his career. During the past two decades, Rabbi Epstein has established relationships with the organized Jewish community, the local police force, hospital leadership, and even the Governor's office, serving on the New Jersey Holocaust Commission for many years. 


 

Shabbat Table Talk

By Rabbi Ephraim Epstein

  • We truly live in a 24/7 world. Whether we are in pursuit of a social connection, doing a work task, or seeking entertainment, one could stay busy all day and night. Yet, as a great sage once quippe...

  • Jonny exclaimed exuberantly when arriving home from the bus stop, “Mommy! Mommy! The Head of School asked me to be an ambassador at the Open House this Sunday!” Mom responded, “I am so proud ...

  • It’s quite an “aha” moment for a youngster when they realize that milk does not originate in a carton and food does not originate at the market. It has a beginning and a source. Our produce a...

  • After someone returns from a vacation, they are often asked: What were the highlights? While the entire experience was memorable and worthwhile, there are usually a few unique and titillating times...

  • “Who wants to go first?” asked the math teacher. All the kids looked quizzically at one another, but no one raised their hand. There was a 30 second silence until one boy stood up and walked to...

  • Preparing For the Seder

    It’s that time again, the annual Seder gathering. While many look forward to Passover with great anticipation, others may not feel the same or be able to celebrate in the...
  • Remember when you were a child and someone told you that you were going to receive a present in a few days? The anticipation was overwhelming and you likely kept asking, “Please give me a hint as...

  • You only get one shot to make a first impression. What is the first thing you say on a first date? You get an audience with your Senator to advocate on behalf of your community, what are the first...
  • What do we respond when we are told sad or upsetting news? We pause and then think for a second, but we simply don’t have the right words for this moment. In order to break the silence, we often ...

  • Some people are good at filling out forms, some are excellent at organizing, and others are great at parallel parking. We all have our talents. What about when we are required to reach beyond our c...

  • It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. The approach is key to all interactions. The words you choose, the style you utilize, and even the backdrop you pick will inspire the reaction y...
  • “You look just like your grandmother! I haven’t seen such a skilled basketball player in this league since your father graduated from high school twenty-five years ago. You have the voice of an...

  • According to the Torah all human beings are created individually, with unique talents and strengths to do their part to develop the world around them. When a person latches onto a unique talent the...

  • Equality vs. meritocracy: how do they square with one another? As fair and reasonable people we want everyone to have equal opportunities and benefits, yet when some people put in more effort and/o...

  • There’s a well-known Hebrew phrase used when giving directions to a person wandering towards a destination: Yashar, Yashar Vetishal Shamah. It means, “Go straight, straight and then ask.” Whi...

  • The Hebrew word for “glasses” is “mishkafayim;” and the Hebrew word for “philosophy” is “hashkafa.” The reason the two words are related is because how you see the world depends on ...

  • As a rule, the Torah says what it means and means what it says. There is one glaring exception to this rule: An eye for an eye. This verse in Exodus 21: 22-25 is interpreted Talmudically to mean ...

  • People love to be the bearer of good news. At home, at the office, on Zoom, or wherever we are; when we have good news to share, we like to do so. Most of the time people meet our good news with war...

  • Did you ever find yourself in an exciting space and lose your footing? You meet your favorite professional athlete or actor, and you simply go numb and forget all the things you would have wanted t...

  • One of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is the social isolation it causes, especially for the elderly and more vulnerable populations who need to cloister themselves away from even close fam...

Words of Wisdom

A weekly video series from Rabbi Ephraim Epstein

Tu B'Shvat: Celebrating the New Year of the Trees

Learn about traditions, values, and rituals from our Community Scholar in Residence. Rabbi Epstein can also serve as a resource for everyday issues, offering perspective with a Jewish lens. He will answer all questions submitted by community members, and questions will remain anonymous unless permission is provided to share with the larger community. Highlight this as a resource that he provides to the entire community as our Community Scholar in Residence.

 

Have a question on your mind about Jewish culture or everyday life from a Jewish perspective? Submit it to our Community Scholar in Residence, Rabbi Ephraim Epstein: AsktheScholar@jfedsnj.org

 

Check back soon for new Q&As!

  • Q: HaShem gave us the ability to exercise freedom of will – making our own choices. Why, then, did he also give us guilt? Why, if one is committed to a decision (small or great), having implement...

  • Q: My brother and his wife are moving into a new home. Aside from hanging a mezuzah, are there any other rituals for a Jewish "house-warming"?

    A: Mazel Tov on the new home! Indeed, affixing a Me...

  • Q: Are there any Jewish rituals for the winter solstice?

    A: Since the Jewish calendar and festivals are primarily based on the Lunar Calendar, and the solstice is related to the sun, there is no ...

  • Q: What types of spices (Havdalah) should be used for Havdalah?

    A: Smelling sweet spices after Shabbat concludes serves to strengthen our souls that feel diminished after Shabbat goes away.

    The g...