1545 Bushkill Street
Easton, PA 18042
Phone: (610) 258-5343
Fax: (610) 330-9100
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Service Schedule

Thursday, 7:25 am
Minyan

Friday, 8:00 pm
Shabbat Evening Services

Saturday, 9:30 am
Shabbat Morning Services

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Jewish WeddingFrom weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs to business functions and lectures, our facility is a great setting and location for your special occasion.
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Synagogue office is closed on Mondays and Fridays. Hours open: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

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Religious School

BAS Religious School welcomes all children ages 1-8th grade to enrolll in 2009-2010 program. Everyone is welcome.
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BAS Rabbi's Message

Message from Rabbi Daniel Stein

April, 2012

Passover is intended to be a night of question; the rituals are meant to evoke intrigue among the participants. The table is set with strange ritual objects, seen only once a year: a roasted egg, a shank bone, bitter herbs, a cup for a mysterious guest. These objects beg for us to ask, “what is it that we are doing here?” It is not just these questions we are supposed to ask—we are meant to probe the meaning of Judaism itself and to try to understand what, exactly, it means to be Jewish.

Once I shared a seder with a clinical psychologist who was particularly concerned with the way we tell our story. The narrative structure of the haggadah is a response to a ruling in the Mishnah about the right way to answer the Four Questions: “The father instructs his son according to the latter's intelligence. He commences with shame and concludes with praise.” In our haggadah, we begin with the shame of slavery and end with the praise of freedom.

At this seder, the psychologist asked about the impact of this structure: how is the Jewish conscience shaped by telling our story in this way. She asserted that beginning our narrative with our memory of slavery had both potentially positive and negative impacts on what it means to be a Jew. Our memory of slavery is essential to our identity; over and over, the Torah commands empathy with the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan. Our sense of communal responsibility stems from one truth: “You were strangers in the land of Egypt.” We know what it is like to be oppressed, and, for that reason alone, we have an obligation to all who face oppression in our own day. By starting our seder with this memory, we reinforce for ourselves and our families one of the essential traits of our identity.

But is there a danger to starting our story with victimhood? Victims are powerless, unable to stand up for themselves. This psychologist noted that it is victims of abuse who most likely seek control by oppressing others. Schoolyard bullies, we know, often suffer abuse in their own homes; they fill their need for control by hurting others. The powerlessness of oppression can make people defensive and prone to aggression. By starting our story by noting our own victimhood, do we make ourselves more prone to these emotions?

The truth is that, today, Jews enjoy both more freedom and more power than in any other time in our history. Though the recent attacks in France remind us that there still are anti-Semitic threats to Jews around the world, we live in a time of unprecedented strength, freedom and opportunity for Jews. What would it mean for us, this psychologist wondered, to begin our story from this vantage point: “Today we are free, but throughout our history, we have been slaves.” Would we still reinforce empathy? Would we be free from the enslavement of defensiveness and victimization?

As always, Passover provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the blessings of freedoms and its obligation. Today, we are free—not just from oppression and victimhood, but also free to: free to be Jews in the world, to celebrate our heritage, and to express our religious values openly. This year may we take advantage of these opportunities; may we use our freedom to make our Jewish values of Justice, tzedakah, and tikkun olam realities in the world.

Best wishes for a chag kasher v'sameach,

Rabbi Stein