Sign In Forgot Password

werk's words of wisdom

Susan Werk

February 2017


Take Care of Yourself

It’s here — that nasty cold and flu season. (Don’t forget to get your flu shot!) I find this time of year hard to navigate. Attendance at classes and programs is sporadic, and from the students and congregants who do show up, you hear lots of sneezing and coughing, with tissues...Read more...

Lights, gratitude, action!

December 2016

The American winter holiday season challenges us to con-front our relationship to consumerism, gratitude, and action. We are overwhelmed with the “shopping frenzy” sur-rounding the holidays and the need to buy, buy, buy.

Shopping has become a form of entertainment in the stores, on the computer, and even on the phone: It is an expectation of this time of...Read more...

A meaningful, creative Shabbat for your family

November 2016

Are you looking for meaning and purpose for you and your family? Are you craving unplugged time? Real conversation? Go back to the basis of Judaism and con-sider adding Shabbat ritual to your family life.

Consider this:

The Sabbath

“The meaning of the Sabbath is to
Celebrate time rather than space.
Six days...

Walking the walk on Yom Kippur

October 2016

“Sorry,” “Sorry,” “Sorry” We have all heard it, said it, and wondered which of the sorries that we deliver and receive are really sincere? What is our tone of voice when we say, “I am sorry”? What is a true apology? Our tradition teaches us that only when a person says that he or she is sorry, feels remorse, pledges not to do it again, and then, given the same situation,...Read more...

Facing new beginnings

September 2016

What a summer! So much was going on the past couple of months, it was hard to keep track. Besides the per-sonal experiences of catching up with friends, enjoying the beach, wandering through museums, trolling through beauti-ful gardens, and eating a lot of ice cream, there was also so much news to absorb about our country and the world: The presidential campaigns and party conventions,...Read more...

Roadway to mitzvot

June 2016

I drive on Passaic Avenue at least once a day; I go to ShopRite, fill up the car with gas, or just stop by Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee. And every time I am on Passaic Avenue I hunt for “mitzvot,” commandments. Why? Well, the offi-cial route number of Passaic Avenue just happens to be 613, the precise number, we are taught, of mitzvot in the Torah.

So as I drive on Passaic Avenue, I can’t help...Read more...

Gather round the campfire

May 2016

I love campfires — the savoring of tasty s’mores, baked potatoes, and roasted corn; singing songs while some-one strums a guitar; sharing stories old and new; and hud-dling and cuddling with good friends. It all feels great.

Every time I sit with friends around a bonfire it brings back a flood of memories: of the Girl Scouts, Camp Ramah, and, yes, Israel. Hiking, camping, and bonfires are part of...Read more...

Passover’s coming! Let’s get ready!

April 2016

Passover is fast approaching! Let’s get ready. Remember: I am available to consult on your Passover needs: Haggadah suggestions, creative seder ideas, even recipes!

Pre-Passover prep

Begin to make Jewish memories before the seder. All theseactivities can be done with your children or grandchildren:


Celebrating a community-inspired holiday

March 2016

The Jewish calendar is rich with holidays. In the Torah, we receive Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and our weekly Shabbat. God announces the holidays, gives a description, and provides the rituals; later on the rabbis add the details of how to celebrate. So there is wonder at how Purim; Chanukah later; and, in recent times, Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence...Read more...

Created b’tzelem Elohim—in the image of God

February 2016

In Genesis1:27 we read: “And God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him, male and female.” This famous passage underscores the understanding that all of us are made b’tzelem Elohim: in God’s image. An echo of our adolescent selves, when all we wanted was to fit in, to be the same as our peers, often creates a conflict in our thinking when we meet people who look different from us and think...Read more...

What I’ve learned over a quarter-century

January 2016

Over the past 25 years at Congregation Agudath Israel, I have learned …

1. The family friendships made during the Early Childhood years journey together through all ages and stages.

2. It will take a class of threes 45 minutes to kiss the Torah scroll in the ark.

3. Halleluyah moments always include sports teams and toys.

4. Dum Dum Lollipops are “smart smart” to use as a...Read more...

Struggling with the ‘fun factor’

December 2015

Jewish educators across the nation are struggling with the “fun factor.” How do we educate a generation of youngsters who are now exposed to an unending stream of TV shows, computer games, YouTube, and an overwhelming assortment of extracurricular activities: sports, art, dance, karate, etc.? The constant question we struggle with is: How can we make religious education fun without sacrificing substance? How can we...Read more...

Blessings of home 

November 2015

I entered my childhood home for the first time 50 years ago—to be precise, on Nov. 1, 1965. I remember only sketchy details of my grandparents bringing three-year-old me and my brothers at night to our new home, where my parents greeted us with excitement and delight. So I guess my first and remaining impression of my family’s home was light and a warm embrace. To this day, when I enter 95 South Madison Ave. in...Read more...

What’s in a name? 

With the ending of the Tishrei holiday season we begin once again the Genesis narrative. We learn about the creation of the world; meet our patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah; and learn about our special covenant with God and the Land of Israel. In the very beginning we learn the power of a name. In Genesis 2:1920, God gives the responsibility to Adam, the first human being, to name...Read more...

werks words of wisdom

September 1, 2015

Looking ahead — and looking back

This summer I had the good fortune to spend time with our congregant and friend Karen Hauss, who reminded me of a wonderful childhood memory. Like many of my genera-tion, I remember the encyclopedia salesperson coming to our door and selling my mother the full set, to be sent one volume a week. For approximately six months, a new volume would arrive each week — in...Read more...

Werks Words of Wisdom

October 23, 2014  

Halloween in the truest sense is not a Jewish day - it is a celebration of All Saints Day, which is a Catholic celebration.  Outside of the United States it is really a holy day for our Catholic...Read more...

February 27,2024 /  18 Adar I 5784