On the first Shabbat after Pittsburgh attack, Temple Ahavat Achim unites hundreds in Gloucester Mass. #ShowedUpForShabbat

Rabbi Steven Lewis welcomed the community to the November 2, 2018 Kabbalat Shabbat at Temple Ahavat Achim. Organizers had an idea just how big the support and need could be when four hundred RSVP’d. Every seat was taken downstairs and upstairs– where it was standing room only– a full house of interfaith harmony, beautiful music and prayer. It was heartbreaking and hopeful.

#ShowUpForShabbat_20181102_© c ryan

Mark your calendars-

Public progamming and community engagement is robust at Temple Ahavat Achim and informed its architecture. For those far away, you can get an idea of just how big the crowd was by seeing the interior.  For those lucky enough to worship and/or visit, upcoming announcements mention several collaborative interfaith events (see Facebook), and the date for the annual Lobster Trap Menorah lighting is December 4th, 2018.

Temple Ahavat Achim _ TAA Gloucester MassLooking to Gloucester Harbor Temple Ahavat Achim_ Library_Dale_Middle Street_ UU and more_20161210_ aerial from Gloucester Ma City Hall © Catherine Ryan

*I hope to add a link to the program and the interfaith Facebook page

Now we wait: the 2016 giant Lobster Trap Menorah is up and readied @Temple Ahavat Achim

Temple Ahavat Achim
86 Middle Street
Gloucester, MA 01930
Temple Ahavat Achim Lobster Trap Menorah Lighting 5:15 PM December 24, 2016



Before: Awaiting Gloucester Lobster Trap Menorah

at Temple Ahavat Achim, 86 Middle Street, Gloucester, MA. It would be the third year for this tradition.Upcoming TAA event: movies and Chinese food December 24th at Cape Ann Cinema & Stage.



Lisa Smith of Cape Ann TV won a national award for her report on Gloucester’s Giant Lobster Trap Tree and Menorah which will soon be linked on the Gloucester HarborWalk marker #32 for the temple.

The new building was designed by Maryann Thompson. Learn more about her design.

She was part of a fantastic symposium at Cape Ann Museum this year. I’ll add that link, too.



John Prybot climbed City Hall tower. Have you?



On special days throughout the year like Middle Street Walk, the generous Gloucester City Hall Restoration Committee volunteers provide City Hall Tower tours. The weather for Saturday’s Middle Street Walk was sunny, but blustery and chilly. Joe Rosa greeted visitors. Maggie Rosa and Steve Dexter from Carroll Steel Insurance bundled up and stayed up just so guests could climb for sweeping panoramas.

John Prybot, Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free librarian, was kind enough to grab these photos. The angle and brightness of the sun favored a photographic vista in one direction:  over and beyond the Sawyer Free library and Temple Ahavat Achim to the harbor and Stage Fort Park. You can see Middle Street steeples, the fire station, the lovely John and Dorothy Rando Memorial Garden and amphitheater, and the graceful balance of open space between the library, Central Grammar, and City hall. The library buildings and the temple architecture stand out and fit in.



A Delightful Havdallah Evening at Temple Ahavat Achim – May 2nd

Temple Ahavat Achim

86 Middle St., Gloucester, MA


TAA presents a special event for members and guests:




7:30 pm – Supper 

8:15 pm – Havdallah Service 

8:30 pm ’til closing –  A cabaret in three acts:


  • Danceable blues & rock with Bobby Kramer Trio & a special guest
  • Charlee Bianchini performing folk
  • Mark Arnold at jazz piano

Make your own sundaes to sweeten the evening!

$10 in advance or $12 at the door


RSVP is appreciated – it will allow us to know how much food to prepare!

Call Natalia at (978) 281-0739!

We look forward to seeing you for a night of frolicking and friendship!

First In The Universe Official Lighting Of a Lobster Pot Menorah Tomorrow Night (Tuesday) At Temple Ahavat Achim #GloucesterMA


James Dowd Submits-

Come one and all at 5:30pm to Temple Ahavat Achim at 86 Middle street for the first-time-in-the-universe official lighting of the Lobster Pot Menorah! 

Knowing that this time of year is typically owned by the dude in the red suit, Gloucester’s Jews decided to take inspiration from the Trap Tree down on Main and build our own crustacean-inspired holiday decoration (no, we’re not supposed to eat ’em, but Leviticus doesn’t say nothin’ about making a hanukkia out of their traps. Go ahead and read it, we have).

All are welcome to come check out this monster, made by Temple members from traps on loan by awesome local lobstermen Don Riley and Mark Ring. We’ll hear a few words, sing a couple of songs, have a quick blessing and then head inside for latkes and schmoozing. 

Don’t miss this historic event you’ll sure to be telling the grandkids about when all the Temples are doing it years from now.

Pictured: Temple Education Director Phoebe Potts capers in front of the Lobster Pot Menorah. They don’t call her “Potts” for nothing. 

It’s A Hanukka Miracle!



A Special Musical Kabbalat Shabbat with “The Prince of Kosher Gospel” Joshua Nelson

A Special Musical Kabbalat Shabbat with “The Prince of Kosher Gospel” Joshua Nelson. If you missed Josh’s last visit to TAA, you missed something every special. He will have you singing and your feet stomping!
Free admission.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Temple Ahavat Achim, 86 Middle Street, Gloucester

CROSSWALK ART: next two site specific Justin Desilva public art

Cat Ryan submits-

Hi Joey

Justin Desilva’s 20 part work of art is titled, Every Picture Tells A Story. His crosswalk art enlarges and interprets HarborWalk story moment content through a combination of digital paintings that he’s printed and combined with long stretches of color field painted sky.

Here’s one by the Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free library for the Samuel Sawyer story moment #31, an abstraction of the exterior and trees.

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Acting Director Freyja Sanger with artist Justin Desilva

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This one leads to the HarborWalk story post # for Temple Ahavat Achim across the street by the YMCA.

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The dory is on Main Street. The Harborwalk story moment #24 is over on Harbor Loop.

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Café Shalom Coffeehouse Spring Concert on May 4th

Cafe Shalom

Sunday, May 4th at 7 pm (Doors open at 6:45 pm)
Tickests $10/per person at the door

With Julie Dougherty, Bob Kramer, and special guests Gay Shelton and Al Foucault

Café Shalom Coffeehouse, Temple Ahavat Achim, 86 Middle St., Gloucester, presents a special coffeehouse performance from well-known Salem recording artist, Julie Dougherty, Sunday evening, May 4.  Julie has been performing regularly in the Boston area and beyond for many years, since the 1970’s playing her style of folk and country rock covers and originals.

Opening for Julie is the local recording artist group the Bob Kramer Trio playing a mix ranging from Delta and Piedmont blues to classic traditional songs along with their own tasty originals.  The Bob Kramer Trio performs at festivals and clubs throughout the Boston area.

Doors open at 6:45 PM and the music starts at 7:00 PM.  Make your own $2 ice-cream sundaes, as well as other refreshments for sale.   Bring your family and friends! Everyone is welcome!

Questions about the event can be directed to Natalia at TAA, 978-281-0739

Temple Ahavat Achim honor Mark and Amy Farber


Sunday March 23rd, “Pharaoh’s Daughter”, the acclaimed World Music ensemble, played at 4 pm at the breathtaking Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport. This benefit concert for Gloucester’s Temple Ahavat Achim honored Mark and Amy Farber. After the performance guest enjoyed a meal catered by  Passports restaurant.  Debbie Coltin and Ruth Budelmann, Co-Chairs Eve and Phil Cutter, Honorary Co-Chairs of last nights event.

Guitarists Mark Small & Raymond Gonzalez at Cafe Shalom next Saturday, Jan 11

This just in from Natalia Carollo …

Cafe Shalom at Temple Ahavat Achim
Saturday, January 11th at 7PM
Tickets $10/per person

Raymond Gonzalez
Raymond Gonzalez
Mark Small
Mark Small

Enjoy music performances by Mark Small, a classical guitarist-composer-arranger who has penned classical, jazz, pop, and sacred music for chorus, wind ensemble, orchestra, piano, and guitar, and Raymond Gonzalez, a guitarist and composer who combines classical, jazz, Celtic and Latin influences into his songs and solo guitar compositions. His topics range from ethereal to- well, songs about pigs and mermen and most things in between.

Lecture series at Temple Ahavat Achim

Last weekend, Temple Ahavat Achim offered a weekend of talks by Rabbi Arthur Green about his book, “Radical Judaism”, which addresses questions like, “Is there only one God or is there only God? How do we articulate a religious vision that embraces evolution as sacred and that approaches Scripture with historical honesty?”

The event was open to the public, so I signed up, and found it very interesting. Here are a few photos:

Temple Ahavat Achim’s Rabbi Steven Lewis (right) introduces Rabbi Arthur Green (left)
Rabbi Green during the lecture to a nearly full house

Questions and answers after the last lecture

From the Temple’s newsletter: “Professor and Rabbi Arthur Green is the Rector of the Hebrew College Rabbinical School. He is one of the preeminent scholars of Kabbalah and Hasidism, and one of the most important Jewish theologians of our day. He is both a spiritual seeker and a critical scholar.

In his book Radical Judaism he argues that a neo-mystical perspective can help us to rethink such concepts as God, the origins and meaning of existence, human nature and revelation to construct a new Judaism for the 21st century.”

The Temple is planning to continue inviting high-calibre speakers to foment education and dialog on current topics of cultural and religious significance to the Jewish community and to the Gloucester community as a whole.

Matthew Green

Black Fire above White Fire

The lecture “Torah: Black Fire over White Fire” was given by Rabbi Salazar at Temple Ahavat Achim last Tuesday. Rabbi Salazar is the scribe who is writing the new Torah scroll to replace the one lost in the fire that destroyed the previous temple building. The talk was fascinating!

Before the lecture, Rabbi Salazar was had the Torah-in-progress spread out on the table.

Rabbi Steven Lewis gave an introduction:



Rabbi Salazar spoke off the cuff with erudition and fervor, but very clearly and accessibly, even for folks like me who don’t know much about Jewish theology.  Christians and Jews have a lot in common in some ways – judging from this lecture, at least some schools of Jewish thought have more in common with Christian mysticism than I expected – but there are also very significant differences, of course. Christianity had its origin in Judaism two thousand years ago, and a lot has happened historically, philosophically, and theologically in the interim!



You can see a couple more photos here.

Fr. Matthew Green

Purim Celebration at Temple Ahavat Achim

Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman, a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther (Megillat Esther).” – Wikipedia

Here on GMG, I saw an invitation to Temple Ahavat Achim’s Purim celebration, and decided to attend! I’ve already been to their Hanukkah celebration and two of the Cafe Shalom events, and it’s always been interesting and enjoyable. This was no different!

If you want to make sense of these photos, I recommend you read about Purim on Wikipedia or some other source. In brief, they read and partially reenact the book of Esther (using noisemakers to blot out the name of Haman), accompanied by alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) beverages, traditional pastries called hamanashen, and the wearing of costumes.  It’s a fun mixture of ritual and lighthearted fun. Cape Ann Brewery contributed some delicious pomegranate beer!  Here are some shots I took.

Click here for a complete full-size slideshow:


and/or scroll down for a few highlights:



Fr. Matthew Green

Cafe Shalom at Temple Ahavat Achim

On Saturday night, Temple Ahavat Achim offered a Cafe Shalom event, with Henry Allen and the New Swingset as the opener and the Judith Murray Trio as the headliner.  It was an evening of beautiful jazz! Here are a few photos. The next Cafe Shalom is on February 9th at 7PM, with “The Blackwood Ramblers” and Daisy Nell.

David Wesson is the MC and organizer of Cafe Shalom
Henry Allen and the New Swingset

Judith Murray Trio
Judith Murray Trio

Click here for a slideshow of this and past Cafe Shalom events

Fr. Matthew Green

New Torah for Temple Ahavat Achim

On December 17, 2007, when Temple Ahavat Achim burned to the ground, all religious objects, including the Temple’s torah scrolls, were lost. The Temple, having now been rebuilt, has begun the process of having a new torah hand printed in the ancient tradition.

Rabbi Yochanan Salazar is a master sofer, or scribe, who today oversaw the  Hebrew inscription of a  portion of the new torah by members of the congregation. Participation in the  process is a moral deed performed as a religious duty.

Summer residents of Gloucester (and year round visitors) Jane Paznik-Bondarin and Andrew Karlin added a letter under the watchful eye and guidance of Rabbi Salazar, starting with a ritual hand washing and ending with the award of a certificate commemorating the event.

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Hanukkah Party; St. Ann School Concert

Last Saturday was the final day of Hanukkah, and our Jewish community gathered to celebrate at the Temple!  As a Roman Catholic priest, I am not Jewish of course, but I was invited to come along and had a great time (as well as learning a lot – but they will have to forgive me if I am inacurate in my terminology or description of the event…).

It started with some music by a band of members of the congregation, including traditional songs, dancing, and even some rap in Yiddish by David Wesson!  Then some children (students of Henry Allen) presented a short play on “The Miracle of Hanukkah”.

Things got more serious with a commemoration of the fire that destroyed the previous temple building. However, the focus was positive.  Carole Sharoff and Lou Goldish told how an elaborate and historic hanukiah (given by leaders of the state of Israel to the American embassador in the 1960’s), was saved from the fire by being kept an extra day or two in the Unitarian Universalist church to which it had been lent.  Wendy Betts, a very talented performer, then sang a selection from the work “Voices”.

Rabbi Steven Lewis gave a brief and very interesting “D’var Torah” – a commentary on the festival, based on the Torah and commentaries.  (I used some of what he said in my homily at Mass the next day, giving due credit to the Rabbi, of course).  The ceremonies ended with the lighting of everyone’s hanukiot (a.k.a. menorah) that they had brought from home, starting with the aforementioned historic one. Then we all ate latkes, jelly donuts, and other finger food!

A few photo highlights are included below. For more photos, click on the thumbnails below.


Here are some highlights:

And although Hanukkah is over, here is a great Hanukkah song:

And don’t forget:


Urban Voices: A Choral Music Initiative from the Metropolitan Opera Guild
This program is made possible by a generous gift from the Popplestone Foundation.

Fr. Matthew Green