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

June-July, 2011

Before I formally begin my column, I just want to thank everyone who worked so hard to make my installation a success; the dedicated committee and scores of volunteers created a wonderful and meaningful celebration for our community. Dena and I, as well as our families, are grateful for your kindness.

On our recent vacation to Hawaii, Dena and I visited Volcanoes National Park. One of the highlights was a tour of the Thurston Lava Tube--a cave that once served as channel for flowing lava. As we descended to the cave’s entrance, a dark hole veiled by rainforest greenery and hanging vines, a woman behind me remarked “Wow! It looks like Dinsneyland!” Whether or not she knew it, her exclamation contained an important truth about the world in which we live.

The modern world is one where representations of reality-- whether on the internet, on television, at a theme park or on the Las Vegas strip--have become more real for us than the places they seek to portray. What is more, these artificial representations are in some ways more desirable than their realworld cognates; if I were to travel to Paris, for instance, I might have to chance an oversees flight and be in a culture whose rules are not the same as my own. But, if I travel to Epcot Center, I can experience a meal at a French bistro, purchase a bottle of wine, and enjoy the Seine while still being less than two minutes from air-conditioning, a clean restroom, and a mouse-eared ice cream bar.

French philosopher Jean Baudrillard coined the term simulacrum to describe these virtual realities. He worried that increasingly, we would cease to be able to differentiate between the simulacrum and the real and that, ultimately, the real would be less meaningful than its representation. The volcano would look like Disneyland, and not the other way around.

For American Jews, Baudrillard’s claims are most relevant to the ways we think about Israel. For many of us, our image of Israel is based on what I would call the American Zionist narrative; we learned Israeli songs and dances of the kibbutz at Jewish schools and summer camps, accompanied by the requisite falafel and hummus. For others in our community, our image of Israel is shaped by real memories of historical events; for some, the most powerful image is the founding of the Jewish state as a refuge for our people after the horrors of Auschwitz.

Others in our community came of age during the 1960s, and the threat and subsequent triumph of 1967 created an image of Israel as the courageous underdog, able to fight for justice and Jewish values in a desert of enemies. Jews my age may understand Israel differently: some, influenced by the debate on college campuses, may feel a sense of alienation from the Jewish state, or at least question its treatment of the Palestinians. Others, especially those who travelled to Israel on Birthright, might have a sense of Israel as a land of beautiful men and women filled with exotic beaches and nightclubs. All of these representations of Israel are based on some kernel of truth. But if any of these narratives represents the total extent of our knowledge of Israel, than we are as guilty as the woman who mistook the volcano for a theme park.

What can we do to understand the real Israel? The first thing we can do is to visit the country and experience both its tremendous achievements and its shortcomings; perhaps consider joining our Bnai Abraham community this December as we travel there together.

If a trip to Israel is impossible, follow the advice of Israeli novelist David Grossman. Grossman worries that many American Jews would rather “influence the course of events [in Israel] through...giving to Jewish philanthropies” than investing the time it takes to learn about the culture.

Today, many of the best Israeli novels are translated almost immediately into English, and the works of Aharon Apelfeld, David Grossman, Etgar Keret, Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua, and others are readily available in English. Perhaps consider taking an Israeli book with you to the shore this summer; if you are looking for a place to start, I recommend A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz. By experiencing Israel on its own terms and by learning about the country from its citizens, we begin to collect “real” representations. The more of these we understand, the closer we get to the truth that lies between them.

On July 19th, we observe the 17th of Tammuz, the beginning of a period of mourning the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple that culminates three weeks later on the ninth of Av. This period calls on us to think about our relationship with Israel, past and present. Hopefully, as a community, we can come closer to understanding the Jewish home in ways that lead to a future of security and peace.

All the best,

Rabbi Daniel Stein