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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BAS Office Hours

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

May, 2011

Throughout our long history, we Jews have had no shortage of enemies. Pharaohs have enslaved us, Semetic tribes pursued us, and we were twice exiled from Israel by kings and emperors. As a landless people, we were often caught up in the waves of history; while empires declined and new one formed, Jews—often on the fringes of society—fell victim to marauder, crusader, and inquisitor. We were blamed for failing economies and accused of being political subversives. The consequences were the same, though the scale increased: blood libels, pogroms, genocide. Yet somehow, we have consistently outlived our enemies, and the words of our Passover haggadah continually ring true: In every generation they rise up against us, but the Holy One, Blessed be God, saves us from their hands.

I was reminded of all of this recently as I watched the news coverage surrounding the dramatic demise of Osama bin Laden, an enemy not just of the Jews, but of all humanity. In the outpouring of emotion that followed, impromptu celebrations broke out at the site of the World Trade Center, while sports fans spontaneously broke out into chants of USA! as they received the news over their smart phones. Closer to home, families of 9/11 victims spent time reflecting at the numerous memorials across the tri-state area. All of this left me thinking: what is an appropriate Jewish response to the fall of an enemy?

In the book of Proverbs, we find two conflicting claims about how to respond to the fall of the wicked:

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; and when the wicked perish, there is joy. (Proverbs 11:10)

Whoever mocks the poor blasphemes his Maker; and he that is glad at calamity shall not be unpunished. (Proverbs, 17:5)

The first verse seems to suggest that it is appropriate to take joy in the downfall of the wicked; their death is a validation of divine providence and an affirmation of justice in the world. The second verse, though, commands the opposite: calamity, it seems, cannot be the source of joy no matter who it befalls.

Rabbi Avrham Grodzinski, head of the Slobodka Yeshiva immediately prior to the Holocaust, offers the following resolution of these two verses:

When the wicked perish, there is joy. Not everyone is worthy and prepared for this. A person requires great care that he not be considered glad at calamity. A purity of heart is needed for this mitzvah, more than that which is needed for all of the other mitzvot in the Torah. If those who left Egypt recited a song of praise over the fall of Egypt, that was because of the lofty spiritual status that they had at that time. Their hatred for the wicked was a hatred for evil—a pure and simple hatred that is appropriate for fearers and lovers of God. (Tranlastion: Rabbi Gil Student).

Rejoicing at the fall of the wicked, at least for Rabbi Grodzinksi, is appropriate only in limited circumstances. If a person takes joy not in revenge or in the personal tragedy of the wicked person, but rather, in the diminishing of evil in the world, then the joy serves a holy purpose. But if the joy is colored by vengeance or malice towards the wicked person, it may not be in accordance with Jewish values.

Does the death of Osama bin Laden reduce the presence of evil in the world? Certainly it does, and I am grateful to God that I live in a country that values the pursuit of Justice. I hope that this achievement helps to bring closer a time when peace, freedom and prosperity are attainable for all in the world.

Best wishes for a month of peace,

Rabbi Daniel Stein