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    Services (21)
    • Adult Torah Class

      We will learn about and discuss the week's Torah portion. Topic: Torah Study with Rabbi Stephen Epstein Starting Tuesday, December 1, 2020 Time: 07:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada) Every week until Feb 23, 2021 Join Zoom Meeting: Meeting ID: 983 0203 4641 Passcode: 475671 One tap mobile +16699006833,,98302034641# US (San Jose) +13462487799,,98302034641# US (Houston) Dial by your location +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston) +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma) +1 929 205 6099 US (New York) +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington D.C) +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) Meeting ID: 983 0203 4641 Find your local number:

    • Funerals & Memorials

      These are special people in your lives. Preserve their memories fondly.

    • Hebrew School 1

      Preparation for B'nai Mitzvah, for ages 10 - 13. We will focus on improving Hebrew reading, studying Torah, highlighting that week's sedrah/portion, and some cantillations.

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    Blog Posts (401)
    • This past week's Shabbat services

      Friday Night Shabbat Ma'ariv (January 22, 2021): Saturday Morning Shabbat Shachrit (January 23, 2021):

    • This week's 10-Minute Torah (January 30, 2021): "Parashat Beshalach" 5781

      Parashat Beshalach 5781 Parashat Beshalach / פרשת בְּשַׁלַּח Read in the Diaspora on 30 January 2021 (17 Sh'vat 5781). Parashat Beshalach is the 16th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading. Torah Portion: Exodus 13:17-17:16 In Parashat Beshalach, we see the culmination of the plagues. Pharaoh sees that he is fighting against the power of the Universe itself, Hashem, and his resistance is useless. He finally allows the Israelites to leave Egypt along with supplies and payment from Egyptians for over 120 years of slave labor. A few days after the Israelites have left, Pharaoh once again strengthens his heart and regrets letting them leave. He gathers up his 600 best soldiers with their chariots and pursues the Israelites. The Israelites travel to the Sea of Reeds and then in the distance are alarmed to see Pharaoh’s army pursuing them, trapped against the Sea. Hashem has been protecting them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night and now puts those two in between Pharaoh and the Israelites. Hashem tells Moses to raise his staff, which he does. As Nachson ben Aminadab, the prince of the tribe of Judah wades into the sea up to his chest, the Sea of Reeds splits open and the ground hardens, allowing the Israelites to pass through in safety. The pillars of cloud and fire that has been holding back the Egyptian charioteers now vanishes and the charioteers pursue into the split sea. Once in, the sea closes, drowning the Egyptians. The Children of Israel see some of the bodies wash up on the shore and know that the danger has passed. Moses and the Children of Israel sing the “Song at the Sea”. This is a passage that is also in our daily liturgy at the end of “Pesukai D’Zimra” and one of the few sections in the Torah for which we stand when read during the Torah reading. Afterwards, Miriam, Moses’ sister who is now described as “The Prophetess” dances with some of the other women in victory. As the Children of Israel start to continue their journey, some of them complain that they have no water or food. Hashem tells Moses to throw a specific tree into a lake and water becomes drinkable. This is the first indication that the Israelites will find water every three days and symbolic that we should not go more than three days without studying Torah, which we now do on Saturday, Monday and Thursday in our morning service. Hashem also provides food as manna, sweet cakes that the Israelites find every morning in the dew. There are, however, to collect a double portion on Friday, Yom Shishi , (6th day of the week), so they don’t have to work on Shabbat. The portion ends with Moses having Joshua lead a defense against the attacking Amelikites. Moses goes up on the mountain overseeing the battle and when he raises his arms, with the help of Aaron and Hur, the Israelites prevail. We are commanded to always remember that the Amelikites attacked us since they thought we were helpless.

    • Birkot Hashachar: Giving Thanks Each Morning

      This series of blessings are a beautiful expression of gratitude for the opportunity of experiencing another day. BY CANTOR MATT AXELROD How many of us were roused this morning by the sound of a rooster? Probably not many. Yet that precise event is acknowledged in the first blessing of Birkot Hashachar, the introductory blessings recited at the start of services each morning. These blessings recognize God’s presence in the seemingly mundane acts of waking up, getting out of bed and getting dressed each day. Taken as a unit, they are a beautiful expression of thanks that we have the opportunity to experience another day. Originally spelled out in the Talmud, these blessings were associated with specific actions. For instance, upon opening the eyes in the morning, one is instructed to thank God “who has given the rooster [in Hebrew: sechvi] the ability to distinguish between day and night.” When getting out of bed, we are to thank God “who makes mankind’s steps firm.” Upon getting dressed, God is thanked as the one “who girds the people Israel in strength.” Eventually, all of the 15 blessings were compiled as a liturgical unit and placed at the beginning of the morning service. Interestingly, the version that most Jewish worshippers outside of Orthodox communities recite does not represent the original text. Three blessings in particular have been reworded in order to change the focus to positive aspects of giving thanks. “Blessed are you God, Sovereign of the universe, who did not make me a slave,” was changed to “Blessed are you God, Sovereign of the universe, who made me free.” While that seems to be an innocuous change, others reflect the changing face of Jewish life. “Blessed are you God, Sovereign of the universe, who did not make me a non-Jew,” was (perhaps predictably) changed to “Blessed are you God, Sovereign of the universe, who made me Jewish.” The original Hebrew text of that blessing might be a source of discomfort to the modern ear. Certainly the author of those words was giving thanks for the privilege of being Jewish and an heir to the vast and rich tradition of the Jewish people. But the expression of those feelings resonates much differently in a world where Jews and non-Jews live and mingle freely. How would our non-Jewish friends and neighbors react if they felt that we gave thanks each morning specifically for not being like them? Instead, we articulate the fact that we are thankful for being Jewish–certainly a positive way to begin each day. Finally, the last of these three negative blessings may be the most misunderstood: “Blessed are you God, Sovereign of the universe, who did not make me a woman.” Why would this blessing have even been written down, let alone recorded for posterity in our prayer book? According to Orthodox Jewish law, women do not carry the same religious obligations of men. Specifically, they are not required to perform time-bound commandments — that is, ritual acts that need to be done at a certain time. At one point in history, this made perfect sense. Women used to be the exclusive caretakers of the household—taking care of the children and seeing to everything that needed to be done at home. It would have been an impractical and onerous burden to also require them to show up in synagogue at a given time each day. So a male worshipper would recite the blessing “who did not make me a woman” to express thanks for being able and required to fulfill those commandments. What did women recite? What did they give thanks for in place of that blessing? “Blessed are you God, Sovereign of the universe, who made me according to your will.” (In other words, thanks anyway.) In the span of a mere page in the prayer book, the blessings of Birkot Hashachar allow us to start each day in gratitude for what we would otherwise take for granted — waking up, having clothes to wear, and possessing the ability to see the world around us. These are all profound thoughts, and often not first on our minds when just trying to shake off the fog after a night’s sleep. Most importantly, these blessings help us remember that we live not only as individuals, but within the larger context of Judaism, with our ongoing goal of tikkun olam—fixing the world and bringing about change. Outside of Orthodox communities, the blessing regarding women has been changed to: “Blessed are you God, Sovereign of the universe, who made me in Your image.” This emphasizes the fact that we are all created b’tzelem Elohim—in the image of God. Can you think of a better way to greet each day? And all that before your first cup of coffee. Cantor Matt Axelrod has served Congregation Beth Israel of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, since 1990. He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and a national officer of the Cantors Assembly. Cantor Axelrod is the author of “Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide,” and “Your Guide to the Jewish Holidays: From Shofar to Seder.” You can read his blog at

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    • Modern Rabbi | ModernRabbiShmuel | United States

      Top of Page New Blog Calendar Who Is Mighty? Portfolio Contact Me My Story Videos Events Services Order My Book Subscribe Shabbat Times Instagram Feed NewBlog Rabbi Stephen Epstein 2 days ago 2 min This week's 10-Minute Torah (January 23, 2021): "Parashat Bo" 5781 4 Write a comment Rabbi Stephen Epstein 2 days ago 1 min Replay of this past Saturday Morning Shabbat Shachrit Service 0 Write a comment Rabbi Stephen Epstein 2 days ago 1 min Replay of this past Friday Night Shabbat Ma'ariv Service 3 Write a comment Rabbi Stephen Epstein 6 days ago 2 min Kippot (Head Coverings) in Synagogue 12 Write a comment 1 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Jan 11 2 min This week's 10-Minute Torah (January 16, 2021): "Parashat Vaera" 5781 14 Write a comment Rabbi Stephen Epstein Jan 10 1 min Replay of this past Shabbat's services 0 Write a comment Everyone looks for meaning in our lives. Why? Because when we feel we have a life’s work—a place in this world—we are more effective as workers, family members and as people. When we feel we have a purpose in life, we are more effective and become fulfilled. I am an ordained rabbi and I use the medium of Judaism to facilitate a spiritual regeneration that makes people more fulfilled. My work is to not just lead a person through the various course of the Hebrew calendar and life cycle events, but to relate that to your own feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. When we enhance our feelings of self-worth, it gives us more confidence to succeed and we lead a more satisfying life. Please join with me in exploring your inner self. Let’s see how we can use these milestones in life to make you a more self-actualized person who gets more out of life and feels more equipped to handle life’s challenges. Who is Mighty? One who subdues their passions. Proverbs 16:32 Hillel [also] used to say: "If I am not for myself, who is for me? But if I am for my own self [only], what am I? And if not now, when?" Pirkei Avot 1:14 LEARN ABOUT MY STORY Leading Our Community in Worship Ever since I was young, I discovered my strong faith in HaShem and the desire to pursue a life of service to others. As the most esteemed Rabbi in the southwest Riverside County area of Southern California, my religious service offerings were designed to suit everyone’s needs. Whether you’re looking for a certified Rabbi to officiate your next event, or simply want to gain more wisdom and learn about the Divine — I’m your number one source for all your religious needs. Call me today and see what I can do for you. Get In Touch Share Whole Channel This Video Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tumblr Copy Link Link Copied All Videos All Categories Play Video Play Video Temple Sholom of Ontario Kabbalat Shabbat Vayyera Friday Evening Services With Rabbi Stephen Epstein Kabbalat Shabbat Vayyera Friday Evening Services With Rabbi Stephen Epstein Sermon at 46:40 Play Video Play Video Temple Sholom of Ontario Shabbat Vayyera Saturday Morning Services with Rabbi Stephen Epstein Shabbat Vayyera Saturday Morning Services with Rabbi Stephen Epstein Play Video Play Video 11:25 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Parashat Bo 5781(January 23, 2021) Last three plaques; Killing of the first born-Measure for Measure; Institution of Pesach/Passover; why only eat matzot 6 days? Play Video Play Video 02:19:47 Temple Sholom of Ontario 1 9 2021 Shabbat with share screen only Play Video Play Video 01:23:49 Temple Sholom of Ontario 1 8 21 Erev Shabbat Services Share screen only Play Video Play Video 11:22 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Parashat Vaera 5781(January 16, 2021) The plagues begin!; Hardening one's heart: You're led on the path you wish to take. Load More

    • Background/Resume | modernrabbistephen

      Background RABBI August 2020 - Present Rabbi Temple Sholom of Ontario , Ontario, CA Officiating at Conservative, United Synagogue-affiliated congregation. Conducting Shabbat services (currently on Zoom due to Covid restrictions. Teaching Hebrew School and Adult Ed. Torah Study online. ​ Ordained Rabbi Independent Congregation/"Shteibel" Lake Elsinore, CA September 2019 – August 2020 Leading independent, non-affiliated Conservative congregation. Conducting High Holiday and Shabbat services. Serving the community conducting Life Events for affiliated and non-affiliated, traditional and inter-faith couples. ​ Ordained Rabbi Congregation B’nai Chaim Murrieta, CA July, 2017 – August, 2019 Lay Rabbi/Religious Leader Congregation B’nai Chaim Murrieta, CA July, 2014 – June, 2017 Conducting regular Friday night and Saturday morning services for Conservative Congregation. Services are accompanied by my guitar playing which has lead to other congregants accompanying me playing violin and guitar as well. I officiate Family Services once a month in which our students from our school lead the service. Leading High Holiday services chanting appropriate nusach. Conduct holiday services that fall on New Moon and other holidays. Able to read directly from Torah scroll. Familiarity with both Torah and Haftorah cantillations. Trained four adults in Hebrew and Torah chanting for first all-adult B’nai Mitzvot conducted for Saturday Shabbat Mincha-Ma’ariv. Have trained numerous B’nai Mitzvot for both traditional Haftorah and Maftir Torah. Taught Hebrew and Prayers & Torah Classes for Adults. Currently teaching Hebrew school class for B’nai Mitzvot students. Have organized many events for synagogue including NJOP’s Shabbat Across America 2019 with Rebbetzin. Active in fund raising for the synagogue. Since I became rabbi two years ago, membership has more than doubled. -Continuously studying Artscroll (Orthodox) and Soncino (Conservative) Chumashes. -Studying Talmud for 15 years as part of “Daf Yomi” program using the Artscroll Talmud Series -Studied Kabbalah reading Zohar edited by David Matt -Consistently pray all three services daily including tefillin during secular mornings. ​ PART OF "BEIT DIN"/RABBINICAL TEAM September 2007 – June 2012 Canyon Lake, CA Co-lead lay congregation for "Conservadox" congregation. Participated in leading Shabbat and High Holiday services, including reading Torah and Haftorah. Also conducted periodic Sunday morning themed Talmud studies on various topics such as the Role of Women in Judaism and Astrology. CONGREGATION MEMBER J une 1999 - June 2007 Murrieta, CA Served on board for seven years including President of the congregation for two years. Also assisted rabbi’s in conducting services and substituting during their absences. Conducted Torah study for adults. Instituted and led once-a-month Shabbat Shachrit junior congregation. ​ PSYCHIATRIC TECHNICIAN February, 1986 -December, 1991 Served on Nursing staff of psychiatric facility. Individual and group counseling activities; assistant charge nurse. Worked with variety of demographics: adolescent behavior and chemical dependency; adult chemical dependency; eating disorders; personality disorders including multiple personality disorders; psychotic and delusional disorders. ​ EDUCATION Rabbinical Ordination, Rabbinical Seminary International, New York, NY June 2017 MBA, Business Management University of Redlands, Redlands, CA BA, Psychology State University of New York, College at Oswego AS, Psychiatric Technology Saddleback Community College, Mission Viejo, CA

    • File Share | modernrabbistephen

      Files + File Name Last Updated Views Favorites Contributors FAQ 1 item Mar 23, 2020 3 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein NJOP Hebrew Crash Course 40 items Apr 12, 2020 5 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Erev Shabbat Ma'ariv 10_16_20.xlsx File 11.45 KB Oct 12, 2020 0 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Friday Night Ma'ariv Shabbat Service.pdf File 7.79 MB Apr 28, 2020 2 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Full Shabbat Ma'ariv Friday Night Service.docx File 3.82 MB Apr 28, 2020 0 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Hallel_Word_Landscape Format.docx File 1.93 MB Mar 30, 2020 1 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Hanukkah Music.docx File 14.76 KB Nov 30, 2020 0 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Hanukkah songs.pdf File 2.57 MB Nov 30, 2020 0 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Kabbalat Shabbat Opening Psalms.docx File 596.35 KB Mar 30, 2020 0 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Mi Sheberach מי שברך.docx File 17.03 KB Nov 30, 2020 0 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Saturday Morning Shabbat Shachrit Service.pdf File 21.4 MB Apr 28, 2020 0 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Shabbat Shachrit Saturday Morning Service.docx File 7.13 MB Apr 28, 2020 0 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Shabbat ShachritSaturday Morning 10_17_20.xlsx File 13.08 KB Oct 12, 2020 0 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein Welcome to File Share.pdf File 4.32 MB Mar 23, 2020 2 0 Rabbi Stephen Epstein

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    Forum Posts (3)
    • Feedback for Sermon for Ma'ariv Service, 6/5.

      If anyone would like to express any thoughts after the sermon for the Friday Night Ma'ariv Service who will be watching via live stream, please feel free to post your question, comment or statement.

    • Welcome to the Forum!

      It’s good to have you here! Feel free to share anything - stories, ideas, pictures or whatever is on your mind. Here you can start discussions, connect with members, reply to comments, and more. Have something to say? Leave a comment or share a post!

    • If you’re conducting a virtual service on line, what constitutes a minyon? Can you consider the virtual attendees who are Jewish adults?

      Theoretically, you need 10 men in the same room in the same service. That's the tradition. Remember that a minyan is really a rabbinical decree; there's nothing in the Torah about how many and for what. The idea of a minyan is derived from the phrase in the Torah that the "children of Israel will sanctify the Lord". Why ten and not two or three? It's the rabbinical exegesis of the phrase along with the idea of a congregation. These days, things have become more progressive. Now it's ten adults and women are counted. A former religious leader of our community said he'd do a Mourner's Kaddish with only six, because you can continue praying the reader's repetition of the Amidah if you start out with ten and four leave (again, rabbinical). For me, I'll do a Mourner's Kaddish even if there's only a few people because for me it's more important that people honor their loved ones. With the coronavirus, we've used the virtual audience as a minyan. It's probably a given that the Conservative and Reform movements will allow it while the Orthodox would probably tell you to just pray on your own and do what you can do. In my view, the important thing is community so rabbis like me are willing to relax the halachah to accommodate the extraordinary. And yes, Conservative Judaism counts a Torah as one since when it's beyond repair, they bury it like a person.

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