An Overview

The Jewish Community at Rossmoor was founded in 1968 with the observation inscribed on this plaque saying:

“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity.”

It was founded to provide religious and cultural services to members of the Jewish faith who reside in Rossmoor.  

  To access the WebSite of the Congregation, click HERE. The plaque shows many major symbols of the Jewish Faith such as the Shofar, Prayer Shawl (Tallit), and the "Everlasting Light."

The Congregation of approximately 300 members actively supports a diverse schedule of Services and other Religious, Social and Educational events.

From its beginning, the Congregation is Reform in tradition, but includes members from many diverse Judaic affiliations. This Reform Congregation includes those from Orthodox as well as Conservative backgrounds.

  Religious (Shabbat) Services  

The Congregation holds Shabbat Services twice a month at 7:45PM on Fridays, the 2nd and 4th of each month (except in November and December when they are held the 1st and 3rd Fridays.)

High Holy Days are observed regularly, and the Congregation observes an annual Passover Seder.


Participants in the Service

The Cantor conducts services assisted by the Ritual Chair, the Lay Reader, Congregation President, Organist and others. The Prayer Book used by the Rossmoor Congregation is called the Gates of Prayer, a publication of the Reform Congregation of America.

The Cantor
The Ritual Chair and the Lay Reader


Just before the start of the Service, the President of the Congregation delivers appropriate comments and thoughts pertinent for the congregation over the upcoming weeks.

The Holy Ark (Aron Ha-kodesh) with the Eternal Light
(A Ner Tamid) hanging outside and above.

Lighting of the Candles

The lighting of the Candles on the Shabbat Table follows to signify the start of the Sabbath. The two candles represent the dual commandments to remember (zachor) and to keep (shamor) — the Sabbath.

The candles are lit by a woman of the congregation who says the Blessing both in Hebrew and in English. The Cantor sings the Blessing as well.


Start of the Torah Service

The Lay Reader continues with the Sabbath Services both in Hebrew and in English. Half way through the prayers, the Holy Ark is opened revealing two scrolls of the Torah the holy books of the Hebrew Faith.

In preparation for the procession and reading of the Torah, one scroll is removed encased in its ceremonial coverings (Torah Mantles, Crowns, and Breast Plates). The congregation member who does this is referred to as "the Torah Lifter" or "Torah Carrier."

(for a more detailed description of this part of the Service, click HERE)

The opening of the Holy Ark     
     A Torah Crown

. . . . to the left is the opened Holy Ark enclosing two scrolls of the Torah. In the foreground are the Crowns. Metallic Breast Plates hang in front of the Mantles.


. . . . to the right is the member of the congregation holding the Torah in
preparation for the Procession.


The Procession of the Torah through the Congregation

The Procession of the Torah is an ancient ritual intended to venerate the symbol of God's word. Coming close to the Torah scroll is done to place the congregation in the commanding presence of God's Word.


Reading from the Torah

Following the procession, the coverings of the Torah are removed, and the Torah is placed on the Reading Table before the congregation.

At first the Torah Reader reads a translation of the selection from the Torah.

Then the reader reads directly from the Torah in Hebrew, using a pointer so that the page will not be physically touched during the reading.


Return of the Torah to the Holy Ark

When the reading is complete, the Torah is re-rolled, and then "dressed" which refers to the process in which the Mantle, Breast Plate and Crown are replaced in preparation for the next Service. Then the Torah, with coverings in place, is returned to the Holy Ark and its doors closed.

End of Service, a Cup of Wine

On completion of the Service, the Cantor sings the Kiddish on behalf of the Congregation. The Kiddish is a Blessing of the Wine representing Thanks to God for the gift of the fruit of the vine.

The President of the Congregation makes announcements, followed by a song appropriate to a Holiday (near to the day) or by singing a Song for the Sabbath.

The Benediction is sung by the Cantor; the Lay Reader translates it, and then pronounces the dismissal the "Shabbat Shalom."

An Oneg Shabbat (a time of fellowship and refreshments often sponsored in honor of anniversaries or special people) follows religious services.

Educational Events

(1) Discussion Group — meets every Monday morning at 9:45 at the Rossmoor Clubhouse for 6 months of the year. Topics vary and include current World and Community Events such as the Budget Deficit, Social Security changes, current situations in Israel, etc. A lively participation is part of each meeting — everyone participates, with a moderator to direct the conversation.

(2) Sunday Morning Cultural and Education meetings — These are held 5 times a year in which speakers present topics of general interest that encourage a question and answer session at the end. The speaker's topic follows a traditional “Bagel Breakfast.

Examples of previous topics are:

  • "The 2004 Elections" — presented by a professor from Rider College.
  • "Jewish Music and Composers" — including piano renditions of the music of such greats as Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and others.

(3) Torah Study — This is conducted by a Rabbi (head of Religion at the Lawrenceville School), every Saturday morning at 10 AM each week in the Clubhouse at Rossmoor. Between 1997 and 2004 the group completed 4 complete readings of the Torah with associated commentary by the Rabbi.


Social Events of the congregation

(1) Hanukkah Celebration

The Congregation holds an annual Hanukkah Dinner.

The holiday originated when Judah the Maccabee and his followers reclaimed the temple in the village of Modi'in from Syrian King Antiochus IV. The temple was cleansed and prepared for rededication. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means "dedication." When the sacred temple Menorah (candelabra) was relit, there was only enough sacred oil to burn for one day. Yet, according to tradition, the oil miraculously lasted eight days until more purified oil could be found.

In remembrance, a candle is lit each of the eight days of Hanukkah. Children receive gifts of gelt (in remembrance of the coins minted by the new independent Maccabee state) or money and play games of dreidel (a spinning four-sided top.) You will also see this holiday spelled Chanukah and perhaps even Hanukah due to different translations and customs.

The traditional foods consumed during the Hanukkah holiday are symbolic of the events being celebrated. Most are fried in oil, symbolic of the oil that lasted eight days. Others contain cheese to celebrate Judith's victory. Loukoumades are deep-fried puffs dipped in honey or sugar to represent the cakes the Maccabees ate, along with Soofganiyot (also Sufganiyot) and zelebi. Pancakes are a traditional dish, serving as a reminder of the food hurriedly prepared for the Maccabees as they went into battle, along with the oil they are fried in as a reminder of the miraculous oil.

Latkes were originally symbolic of the cheesecakes served by the widow Judith, and later evolved to the potato/vegetable fried latkes most known today. Many cheese and dairy dishes are consumed in memory of brave Judith. A newer tradition in the United States is the baking of butter cookies or pretzels in the shape of Hanukkah symbols while relating the stories. Children delight in helping and learn as they create, too.

(2) Purim (a casting of lots)
This is a joyous Jewish celebration which occurs on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar in the Hebrew
calendar beginning at sunset. The Jewish Congregation of Rossmoor hosts an annual Purim Party. Entertainment is provided. Celebrations have included an entertainer singing and playing the piano with renditions of Purim, Jewish and Broadway songs. A cast of players may present the story of Purim, and "Groggers" (hand-held noise makers for the occasion) are supplied so participants can drown out the name of the villain Haman!

For those unfamiliar with the story of Purim, according to the Book of Esther (the Megillah), the king of Persia, Ahasuerus, was nearly convinced to kill all the Jews in his land. Ahasuerus' chief advisor Haman despised Jews, especially a man named Mordechai who had refused to bow before Haman. Mordechai's niece, Esther, was Ahasuerus' queen. Haman wanted to punish all Jews for Mordechai's actions and convinced Ahasuerus of his position. Ahasuerus, unaware that his queen was Jewish, accepted Haman's plan to cast lots, or Purim, to determine a day for murdering the Jews. Esther intervened on behalf of her people by telling the king that she was Jewish. Upon hearing this, Ahasuerus ordered Haman's death instead and Mordechai assumed Haman's position as chief advisor.

(3) Passover Celebration
(To commemorate Passover the Congregation holds an annual Seder.)

The name "Passover" refers to when the Angel of Death "passed over" the homes of the Jews. They had been forewarned to put lambs' blood on their doors, so that death would spare the first born child.

Passover is a holiday that commemorates a time in history when the Jewish people were freed from slavery in the land of Egypt. Their leader, Moses, asked Pharaoh to free all Jewish slaves, but he refused. In response 10 plagues were sent down to Egypt, but still the Pharaoh would not let the Jews go. Finally, after the tenth plague (the slaying of the first born sons), he relented and gave permission for the Jewish people to leave. They gathered up their belongings so quickly they had no time for their bread to rise, so they baked it as it was. This is why Jewish people eat the unleavened bread called "matzah" during Passover remembrances.

Passover is celebrated in homes by a Seder, which translates into "order." During Seder, the Passover story is read from a special book called the "Haggadah." Both traditional and symbolic foods are eaten during the Seder in remembrance of the events of that day such as:

  • Dipping a spring vegetable into salt water. The vegetable is a sign of spring, or rebirth, and the salt water represent the tears of the slaves.
  • Bitter herbs are eaten in remembrance of the bitterness of slavery.
  • A special mixture, called Charoset, is made of apples, nuts, wine, and cinnamon (or other combinations of foods depending upon the community sponsoring the Seder) to recall the mortar from which the slaves made their bricks.

(4) Game Day - all Rossmoor Residents are welcome to join congregation members to play Mah Jong, Cards, other different card games and enjoy refreshments.

(5) A Summer Festival (annually) features a special Barbecue for the Congregation and its guests, prepared as a joint project of The Sisterhood and the Men's Club.


Groups within the Congregation

  1. The Sisterhood is comprised of women Congregation members, promotes involvement in community services within and outside of Rossmoor, provides stimulating and educational programs for monthly meetings (in 2005 this included a theatrical story teller who presented a program of "Topics of Jewish Interest," "American Art since 1950," "Stories about the past history of Monroe Township," "Jewish Historic Philadelphia," and others), and arranges for interesting trips. There is also Sisterhood Knitters Group which meets in the Clubhouse on a pre announced schedule.

  2. The Men’s Club The Club sponsors programs on a variety of different topics such as Genealogy, Fire and Police Department topics. A "Tailgate Party" is arranged in December during a Football Game viewed on a Large Scale TV. Bus Trips are sponsored to Atlantic City at least nine times a year.

  3. The Bulletin is the official publication of the Rossmoor Jewish Congregation published monthly to keep the community informed of special happenings, interesting notes and activities planned for different groups within the Congregation.

  4. Shiva Services for those in need in the congregation.

Outreach of the Congregation (to the community of Rossmoor and beyond) The Congregation supports a number of outside charities including:

  1. Jewish Family Services is a United Way agency and a constituent agency of Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, providing a wide range of mental health and social services to all constituents of the community from counseling and gerontology programs. The agency serves individuals, couples, and families of all ages and socioeconomic levels who reside in Southern Middlesex County. While the thrust of the agency is to serve the Jewish population, the agency responds to all individuals in need, regardless of religious affiliation. The Jewish Congregation of Rossmoor is proud to support their efforts by donations as well as providing services. For example, once a week, the Sisterhood provides transportation for homebound people to join the Jewish Family Service "Breakfast Club" Program.

  2. The Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County Celebrating over 250 years of Jewish life in America, this philanthropic organization collects and distributes not only funds to charitable outreach programs, but provides cultural news from throughout the area. Community-wide Programs are supported such as the Jewish Community Foundation, the Joint Chaplaincy Program, the New Jersey Jewish News, Passover Food Packages, and Shabbat Meals at the Rutgers Hillel, to name just a few.

  3. Habitat for Humanity (The Trenton NJ branch of Habitat for Humanity International) presents the opportunity for people of compassion to provide the capital and skills needed to renovate or build simple, decent homes for those who are without adequate housing at an affordable price. They are a non-profit ecumenical housing ministry working in partnership with low-income households to improve the housing in which they live.

  4. A number of different congregation funds are also supported
    1. Charity Fund
    2. Cultural and Education Fund
    3. Sanctuary Fund
    4. Torah Fund

Bulletins of the Congregation
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
March 2016
January/February 2016
November/December 2015
October 2015

October 2016
November/December 2016
January/February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017


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128 Sussex Way, Monroe Twp, NJ 08831

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