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
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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

February, 2011

My great-grandfather, Isaac Stein, was a dyed-in-the-wool socialist. He was widely considered one of the great tailors of Toledo, Ohio, but people knew that altering your clothing at Stein’s came with a price: Isaac would chew off your ear about politics and, when you picked up your clothing, the pockets would be stuffed with pamphlets promoting the Socialist Labor Party. Despite his socialism, my great-grandfather had a love of America and a unique kind of patriotism. He once wrote to the Toledo Blade on Flag Day celebrating the Star-Spangled Banner; it is the only flag, he wrote, that stands for the greatest of all human values: Revolution.

I don’t know how much of Isaac’s fire has been passed down to me, but I do think I have inherited his love of country, and particularly a sense of gratitude for living in a land where free speech is protected. When Dena and I visited Cairo several years ago, we asked our guide if the Egyptian government allowed for free speech. “Yes,” he said, “We have freedom to say what we please, and the government has the freedom to arrest whom they please.” I thank God that I was born into a time and a place where freedom of expression is valued.

Free speech, though, does not mean that we should not be shocked or outraged when words fail to pass muster. Over the past year, I have grown increasingly disappointed with the tone of political discourse in our country. Though there has been an effort to politicize the issue, the lack of civility is not a one-party problem; locally we witnessed both Congressman Dent and Mayor Callahan engage in a campaign that was far from cordial. Realistically, though, this type of vigorous campaigning will likely never cease, and we have come a long way from the days when Preston Brooks beat Charles Sumner with a cane in Senate chambers. What disturbs me, though, is the increasing popularity of a rhetorical move that seeks to demonize the opposition by depicting them as Nazis--or, equally as troubling, equating their political position with the plight of Jews suffering anti-Semitism.

Again, if this were a one-party problem, I would not dedicate my column to the subject. Though I have strongly held political convictions, I do not think it appropriate in my role as spiritual leader to advocate for one side over the other. But in the last month, politicians on both sides of the aisle have sought to score points by invoking the spectres of Nazism and anti-Semitism. In a ten-day period, the ADL issued statements condemning both Democrat Steve Cohen of Tennessee for comparing Republicans to Nazi propaganda master, Hermann Goering, and Republican, Sara Palin, for comparing the outrage over a campaign image to a blood libel. Neither apologized.

This type of inflammatory speech is problematic on many levels. It trivializes a millennium of Jewish persecution from the time of the Crusades to the Third Reich. The Republican rhetoric over the health care bill may contain misinformation, but they are far from Nazis. And, though Sara Palin may have received unfair criticism over the “cross-hairs” map, no angry mob travelled to Wassilla, pitchforks and torches in hand, hoping to slaughter the governor and her family. Perhaps as troubling, invoking anti-Semitism seeks to cast the politician as persecuted. From a position of victimization, all can be justified. By comparing their political opposition to Nazis and themselves to the victimized Jew, politicians hope to strip their opponent of any human decency. Given such enemies--this line of reasoning asserts--all tactics are justified. It offends my sensibilities to allow our tragic history to be cheapened in this way. It reduces our legacy as a people to fodder for a 24 hour news cycle.

There isn’t much we can do about the problem except speak up. Perhaps our collective voice will have strength where one would not. We must make our elected officials know that we will not tolerate a rhetoric that diminishes the history of human suffering. Political rivals may occasionally be dishonest, unfair, and even underhanded, but they are not Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, the Janjaweed, or Bohdan Khmelnytsky. To assert otherwise is an offense to all who have suffered at the hands of tyrants.

All the best,

Rabbi Daniel Stein