Rabbi Alpern focuses on home worship & spiritual guidance

If you’re ready to live your spiritual life outside of a building, you’ve come to the right place.   Temple Shabbat Shalom   



I am happy to announce my 39th year as a Rabbi. I have been in the Albany/Saratoga area of New York for over thirty years, serving Conservative congregations until I founded Temple Shabbat Shalom. While doing post graduate Family Therapy training, studying the interfaith phenomena, I came to understand that couples from different religions (including atheists and agnostics) deserved a Rabbi (which simply means “Master Teacher”) as a mentor.

I founded Temple Shabbat Shalom so that interfaith couples could have a Rabbi (from Innerfaith to Interfaith). We then grew to be one of the larger Temple networks in the country. Our focus is to teach you how to practice in your heart and in your home.  This is also our “hierarchy”; First, God in the heart, then in the home, then in the structures of community.

– Rabbi Laurence Aryeh Alpern


Teaching Everyday Spiritual Values to Families 

The mission of Temple Shabbat Shalom is to teach individuals and families the core spiritual values of the Torah (Bible). Nowadays, religion centers around the church and synagogue but we want to help people live their spirituality outside of the church and synagogue walls. We will teach you how to bring these values into your everyday life with your family.

Unique Ceremonies

The deeper meaning of The Breaking of the Glass at a wedding ceremony is that each couple is unique. At the end of the ceremony we break the mold.  You are unique as a couple and Rabbi Alpern will guide you through a process of creating home ritual. If you’re looking for a network of couples sharing ideas, who want to stay in touch after the ceremony, then kindly call me today. Contact Rabbi Alpern to help guide you through your upcoming celebrations like baby namingBar/t Mitzvahs, and of course, weddings.

Have a question about personal religion?

Contact Rabbi Alpern today for a speedy response!

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Recent Posts From Rabbi Laurence’s Blog

Very Rabbi

The Se(A)lah Bible Se(A)lah, samech, lamed hay in Hebrew is said to be untranslatable. One finds the term in the Psalms, the Book of Habakkuk and the See-doer, the Hebrew prayer book. Se(A)lah means: stop and listen, pause and reflect. Se(A)lah is an instruction to the choirmaster that a shift and transition is in order. Se(A)lah is similar to “Amen” an affirmation that adds “Forever.” All in all Se(A)lah is, I believe the perfect term for the final movement of the symphony of the Bible. The “A” is added as a poetic flourish that acknowledges God, the people of the earth, and the mountain of revelation. The Se(A)lah Bible is a poets scripture. The Bible remains an unfinished book. The Old Testament is not superceded by the New Testament, nor does any Final, or Third, or Last Testament get the last word. All praise to God and the Hebrews for insisting that Torah be a scroll. The scroll contains remarkable notes for a symphonic reading. Note that the text of the Torah consists of consonants. Every Torah reader breaths and sings the text according to how they have heard the cantillation. Vowels and cantillation were noted by the Masorites according to ancient oral traditions. A Book was created to guide the Torah reader/conductor called The Tikkun . The term is instructive, for it fixed trope to the text in the scroll. Everything turns on the trope since the melody they indicate becomes the punctuation of the text. Remember the scroll is neither voweled nor punctuated. Mastering the trope, or Ta’amay Mikra is the conductors first task. The musical variations... read more

A Rabbi’s Devotional Reading of The Quran.

A Devar Jonah Conversation Ari.A Alpern     A salam Ah laykum.  Shalom A lay chem, Peace be Upon You. And upon you Peace. Welcome to our devotional conversation on the Quran. We will read and recite together, from “The Opening” to “Humankind.” Our main guide will be Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Quran. You will need to refer to this resource often, so order one today. To pique your interest, I introduce myself in this creative essay: Talking points are numbered to reference conversation.   The Final Belief     Spend one full year organizing An Ecumenical Conference On how to read Scriptures Which only you attend.   1.) While the Quran, according to some Muslims, is not to be called Holy, it is Glorious, and teaches an exquisite truth. Holy is mostly a Christian category, borrowed from Torah, and originally means “set apart for sanctification.”   2.) “Holy” gilded and embossed on faux black leather is more a modern convention. Like the letters, black on white, the Bible brings out the best and worst in people. Scripture offers pegs for some to hang  beliefs profane. So too the Quran. Truth be told, all depends on mastering the art and science of rhetoric. The fancy term is hermeneutics.   3.) Simply defined hermeneutics is interpretation. The science of interpretation is not limited to scripture. Think of hermeneutics as the rules for reading. The exquisite truth about the Quran, is that it is unreadable in translation. I have tried many times and failed. I studied Quranic Arabic thirty years ago in graduate school, but never mastered the language.... read more

Bar Mitzvah Boy Syndrome

Bar Mitzvah Boy Syndrome? Yes.Time To Grow Up   Time magazine the late spring of 2011 asks: Sex, Lies, and Arrogance: What Makes Powerful Men Behave So Badly? Why is it that the higher one rises in a power hierarchy the more likely they are to commit indiscretions? One of the most powerful men, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a contender for the Presidency of France is arrested for rape. He worried that being a Jew might be a problem in his run for the presidency. Evidently he has more serious issues.  Eliot Spitzer is now reporting on the bad judgments of Rep. Anthony Weiner, a lawyer, as new photos surface. At the same time a survey reports that lawmakers are well educated and that many are lawyers. So we ask again, what makes powerful men behave so badly?  I think it is the Achilles heel just waiting to hobble anyone racing ahead of a moral stride. This means it is hubris. We all have passion and pride. Why do some fall and others race on to the finish line?  My working hypothesis is that a disparity between ones moral and chronological age and education is the answer. I call this disparity Bar Mitzvah Boy Syndrome. You do not have to be Jewish to suffer from Bar Mitzvah Boy Syndrome. (BMBS). BMBS is a clinical subset of the Jonah Syndrome, identified by Dr. Abraham Maslow. We remember Jonah as the reluctant prophet who ran away from his mission. Jonah never grew up as a prophet. Second guessing God, he desired judgment over mercy, power over compassion. Jonah, (Yonah, “dove”, in Hebrew) was... read more

Beyond Sunday School

Beyond Sunday School: A Call to the Children of Israel.  If you, like many, stopped your spiritual education at age 13 or 12, you may see the world like an adolescent. Similar to The High Priest Aaron, of blessed memory, modern rabbis are not able to prevent the dance around the Golden Calf. The calf has grown into a sacred cow. With good intentions but impure hearts the leaders of the denominations of Judaism constructed this modern version of idolization  How does a sacred rite of passage become gilded?  Bar or bat Mitzvah as graduation from Judaism has left us the “Adolescents of Israel.”  Our development is arrested at about age thirteen. This ritual is responsible for Bar Mitzvah Boy (and Girl) Syndrome. Will we ever grow up?  After years of Hebrew and Sunday school we somehow produce students who know little or no Hebrew. Confirmation at age 15 is not enough. The best efforts of our rabbis and synagogues are failing. Time to shutter up these schools and move the age of Bar and Bat Mitzvah to 21, or better yet what ever year our children graduate college. This bar or bat mitzvah celebration will not be a graduation, but a reaffirmation of continuing education.   This done, every student will mature into an understanding of what is essential in our glorious tradition. Next, all will affirm a commitment to fill the Temples of the mind with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, and the chambers of the heart with love and kindness. Our homes will be transformed into sanctuaries and our tables ordered by our tradition. Free from rabbis and... read more

My Dream

My “I Have a Dream Speech”  of Shabbat Shalom ( In memory of Rabbi Edwin H. Friedman ) Rabbi Friedman of blessed memory is my main rabbinic mentor. In his final book, A Failure of Nerve, the good rabbi challenges each of us to have our own “I have a dream speech.” With Kings Speech in front of me I now take up the challenge. Following the example of Jewish liturgy, this “I have a dream” speech is also a “We have a dream” prayer, an individual dream voiced by the community. I have a dream of every body sanctified, of every heart and mind a Temple, and every person a rabbi, priest ,and minister and prophet.   The dream of Shabbat Shalom a revelation of Peace, in our hearts, homes, and on Earth, and in heaven!   O Lord our God who we proclaim to be One we still stand at the base of your Mountain afraid to ascend, so we send our Moses’ or our Jesus, or our King, our Edwin’s, but they now proclaim:   Time for you to ascend, lace up your hiking boots, The dream is on the peak, from the Arête, A vision of excellence and virtue, from the leader within, holding The Tablets, lit by Menorah, anointed, a prophet unafraid of the thunder and lightening, ready, also, for the descent, for what goes up The A Mountain must come down The A Mountain,   When, and where, we declare We will be One Nation On God’s good earth making all land holy on earth when it is heaven.   We have a dream... read more

Be a Baal Shem Tov

A:  Mastering the Final Name. Be a Baal Shem Tov A Review  Say A, The Final Name, or Ah, as in say Ah Aleph God   In A Beginning   add lamed say Ale, or A lah Plural of majesty Al o heam, not L o him in A Beginning creating continuously, in your goodness Ma ah say B ray sheet, The Working Story Of our Genesis.   Genesis One One In A Beginning God is Al o heam Who is one Al one.   In the original Beraysheet Bara Aloheam ,( B. B. A). The Gate At Hashamayem V At Ha-aretz. (A H.V.H.) To Heaven and Earth. A to Z. A.H.V.H. Is Final Name Hidden since creation. Say ah, say ha, say va The great ah ha The Good name. Love, God   So, now you Know.   Now you are a Bal Shem Tov and ready for your first lesson in leadership and... read more

Supreme Fiction

On Reading Wallace Stevens with Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary  Poetic allusion must be “recognizable not only to a coterie of poets and gentlemen scholars, but to a whole culture as well.” John Hollander   My diction is ary Sitting pretty upon this Arête I confess I am higher toned Than your Old Christian Woman.   But in the end (when I descend) A happy Rabbi in an unhappy world) Humbled by your drow and ord of word   I look up:  Citherns. Peristyle. Masque. Muzzy (my favorite: muddled and fuzzy?)  So I translate:  Poetry is the supreme fiction, Madame. Take the moral law and make a nave of it And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus, The conscience is converted into palms Like windy citherns   (Spellchecker rejects citherns; demands citterns, Renaissance guitar)   hankering for hymns. We agree in principle. That’s clear. But take The opposing law and make a peristyle   (Which I guess is an Isaiah atrium When the world becomes Temple.)   And from this peristyle project a masque   (a masquerade? also danced to windy citherns?)   Beyond the planets. Thus our bawdiness, Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last, Is equally converted into palms, Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm, Madame, we are where we began.    (And Sir Stevens The fictive sound of one hand clapping Is the supreme oriental fiction Where words ascend and descend So we give you the palm To hear the sound of two. Allow, Therefore, muzzy minds And wizened widows, singing in a higher fictive And a wink and a wink and no wince.)... read more


Gnomologia of Elijah  For Theo, who prefers poetry You are the task, (as Rebbe K teaches), and no disciple, far or wide; and the Teacher, and the Savior of your own life.  So what is Decisive? Sinai? Calgary?  Only The A Ascent. Arête, Says this Prophet of Repetitions.   Begin again, daily, in the beginning. The Physics of Creation The Very Story of your Genesis   Ma-ah say B ray sheet   Commands we order our chaos, say “Let there be light.”   Original Mitzvah. (Prime directive)   A is a Seder The Tree of Knowing Life.   In the Image of A Born of the womb of mercy Her essence is Good Renewing each moment and every day Every light and emenation. In ten se.   Imitate.   Make Yourself a Master-Teacher Disciple yourself, order your chaos Love Yourself Presence is Commanded As is Love.   Listen: the Ten Sayings and the Ten Teachings are Ten Trials.   Traveling with Abraham again, retelling his story, say no to the bindings of religion. To find freedom, and move beyond the graven image, ascend to the Arête and raise both hands and embrace the person of God.   Return and teach the Ten Principles of The End!   Teach your Torah.   Love the Rabbi’s Hate the Rabbinate.   Declare only one Author. A.   The rest is commentary.   Therefore be teachers of the ever flowing fountain And draw this water with joy and jubilation From the springs of salvation By asking What, and asking Why And add Who, When, and Where   Wisdom!   Kabballah this:   The... read more

The Ten Again

Announcing: A REAL Event in Ten Acts Sealah!   Act One: From A to Z  A to Z As easy as A-lijah ascending Zion Meeting Moses And Kafka on the way All Knowing The decisive thing, The truth beyond the coffin Is taught and learned. Sealah! Ari-A one To the zebra shawled I am not Achare Other Or Apostate Moses is my brother A master teacher yes, But Mosha Rabbanew? Moses our Rabbi? Torah of the rabbis from Moses on Sinai? A Kabballah? The Zealots of A to Z Cast me into a pit Where I sit with Joseph and other Epicureans And hide From Mose2Moses whose money is on Achare (Elisha) as Amalakite, rebels to be stoned sans witnesses or warnings Zadoks not Zaddikim.   No says this A Lee ya who, AElijah Announcing: The enemy is within. Zebra tallised announce Zeal for the Third Temple And World War Three Zion and Zohar in hand Trembling with Angst Zero to Annihilation   Not One Moses among them. So I announce Act One: P.C. On my P.C.? Prophetically correct, if not politically Isaiah’s Final Temple is built, plan 66 The heavens the Throne Feet firmly on the ground What Temple will contain? What place will be filled with my quietude? Says God A. Decisive. Act Two: Anoosem All  Listen, Theo, you know as well as anyone that I am an Anoos, misguided by my parents, who were misguided by their parents, and never grasped the true Oral Law that defines Judaism. Spiritual Karaites. In fact we are all annosem, like children taken captive whose tradition is received under duress.... read more


Taiku The burden of Elijah T.A.I.K.U.? All solved? Haiku. Well versed!    (For Ezra, Once Again)   A legal debate in the Talmud the Rabbi’s are unable to settle is referred to as a Taiku, an acrostic for “Tishbi will resolve.” That  would be me. Oy. It’s not enough that I am a prophet, but a Rabbi as well? You think modern rabbis will take the guidance of a prophet? Never. This is the burden. This is why I versify My lectures. Haiku not Taiku My love letters To gentile and jew. Listen, gentle reader, theo philos, chavere, I believe in the supreme rabbinic fiction willingly. Moses Kabballahed an ideal constitution on Sinai. Also.Update: The Founding Fathers were positive that all are created equal in the American Covenant, another legal fiction agreed upon. Our laws do enfold in the direction of life and happiness based on the original revelation, but politics are religion and religions political when the American Covenant trumps Sinai and Calvary and Mecca and Medina. “The Law of the Land is the Law.” Just ask Napoleon. Listen, once again, my friend. In our incarnation my ancestors were Jews of Germany and Alsace Lorraine. Napoleons Sanhedrin was an adumbration of our modern conundrum, which translated into English means: Are you an American Jew Or a Jewish American? (So too are you an American Afro or an Afro- American?) An Elijah question: What if the Law of the Land Leviathan Contradicts The Law of Religion or Race Behemouth? Which swallows which? Muslim American Or American Muslim? Shrewd Napoleon had his Jews declare “French Jews” not “Jewish Frenchman” but our... read more

Alenu Agonistic A

    Alenu Agonistic A ; Alenu Agnostic A     Is A equal to not A? What may we really say about God?   If the Negative is given (As with rabbi mm and k) Is the positive merely Idolatry?   Is certainty not idolatry? I am not sure.   Is it upon Us, Alenu, To solve the problem of life?   Is the problem the people have with Jews The problem of life itself?   Are their final solutions?   Alenu, it is we Singing the song of ascent Inviting the many peoples To the A Of Zion. Alenu.   So Elijah opens:   Joshua is The one who will yet save All A Gnostics The turning of the text Into a face Reflecting the image Of the One whose salvation Is Ya Who. Isaiah.   Listen O Israel This is where you really fall on your face So say: Heaven on Earth This day Our daily bread Broken Not the bodies of children.   Listen Israel This the whole of our religion: We are chosen We are elected Not so odd We are called To teach To Rabbi To serve up the scriptural pie A yearly feast. To bake the bread of the Presence Into our very bodies. We are the bread We are the wine We the cantor We the teachers Underpaid Unappreciated Underlings. Alenu: It is upon us To give life To sing, and praise And practice the supreme themes Of right and wrong Art and Song Of Love and God And imagination.   AgnosticA Knowing not knowing. Needing not needing.   Rabbi this:... read more

Poems Before Prophecy

Poems before Prophecy  A Poets Prayer:  Ezra. Help. Do poets pray? What if a becomes e And we are consumed in this conversation?   Collaborations? Poetry as duet? A seminary for prophets?   Ezra. Let us go then and keep it succinct. An event poem. Include a match with manuscript, and burn this book.   Book? Not so much in the future. A screen that mirrors our image In letters and colors and light? Yes and Yes. Smash this screen? Then Listen: Sound. Poets prayers in letters, sounds, a symphony, a soundtrack, images, moving pictures, so   Hollywood be thine Name? On earth as it is in heaven? Where angels proclaim The Endgame to God: The End? To all the wing clipped Smooth shouldered bipeds?   Is this prophecy a poetry?   Or is poetry more than prophecy?   No need to burn books when a gentle point and press deletes.   So, Ezra, perhaps you are right. You the poet. Me the Rabbi.   Me the Priest, you the Prophet? Who writes and who edits?   Or will this be Moses and Aaron again?   Will you order my stutterings? Will you write in gilded script Poems for the final pageant For Oscar (tamed) or for calf?   My desire?   To make fictions supreme?   What type of rabbi? A rose? A rise? Yes and yes.   AA on Arete.   A pain in the A? The thorn that guards? A turning sword? A poets prayers?   The Sod Of the Garden?   So Ezra speak. The poet’s is not a collaborative art. Or is it?  ... read more

Final Belief

Final Beliefs: Repetitions (Scripts for A Conversation; in 18 parts) Part 1. “The prologues are over. It is a question now of Final belief. So, say that Final Belief must be in a fiction. It is time to choose. ” Wallace Stevens Part Two: Shalom Shalom A number of years ago the phone company made a mistake and listed me as Reverend not as Rabbi Alpern. I decided not to correct the mistake. Call it providence. Call me the very Rabbi. Call me A Rose rabbi I pursue the origin and course of a God Named AHVH. Say Ah Say Ha Say va The Love, God. Part Three. Call me apostate. I am no one’s apostle. Call me pagan For I am a country dweller A person down to earth And now An Arête dweller. Call me. We need to talk. Why else send this love letter out into the world? Part Four: My main rabbinic mentor, Edwin H. Friedman O.B.M. taught that great courage is required to be a leader. Ordering the chaos of religions or politics or the various healing traditions requires a strong sense of self. All leadership begins with the management of one’s own personal health, physical and mental. All leadership demands to the individual to be different. To be strong and of good courage we turn to the head. Clear vision and an articulation of mission are essential. The good rabbi asks each and every one of us to write our “I have a dream speech” speech. Thinking often becomes gridlocked in the quest for self and meaning. Many are stuck on the search... read more

Eight Final Solutions to the Jewish Problem

 Final Solutions to the  Jewish Problem     (One)     If X is equal to Z over Y And Y is equal to ? Then ABC Jehovah?   If Z is any Jew, Suffering, Servant Is Y any question?   If J becomes K LmnoP?   Let P = Priest of Politics or Psychology; and even of Poetry.   Q is minded Gospel source. (Good News; Finally!)   R who was Rabbanu lost; now found.   Sealah’s   Truths   Unseal.   Victory   When    X becomes, once again, Y Z, Anointed, without, within, wo/man, in the very end A. begin again.   Two:   A Final Solution to the Jewish Problem     The prologues are over. It is a question now of final belief. So, say that final belief must be in a fiction. It is time to choose.   Wallace Stevens     This is a coming to terms. This is A Solution to the Jewish problem.     We begin in the beginning with A. When God began creating, A-lah Is her Name.   A, then is one solution. God, The Messiah of The central mind. (call her our Theo-cortex) A is made by, and is the maker of Wor(l)ds.   The Third Testament has been written again and again and once again. Gospels, Recitation, Manifestos, fictions all of the Newish Testament, yet the world remains young, and I too have written my Bible, to unite heaven and earth.   The Final; another fiction, for nothing is ever final. In fact, I will not be my own Rashi to my own Testament, much... read more

Reciting Quran

The Final Belief: Recite and Read     Spend one full year organizing An Ecumenical Conference On how to read Scriptures Which only you attend.         While the Quran, according to some Muslims, is not to be called Holy, it is Glorious, and teaches an exquisite truth. Holy is mostly a Christian category, borrowed from Torah, and originally means “set apart for sanctification.” Sanctification is a separating of holy and profane.   “Holy” gilded and embossed on faux black leather is more a modern convention. Like the letters, black on white, the Bible brings out the best and worst in people. Scripture inspires some; for others its verses are pegs to hang beliefs profane. Scripture inspires some to holy war; others to heal the lepers of Calcutta.   So too the Quran. Truth be told, all depends on mastering the art and science of rhetoric. The fancy term is hermeneutics.   Simply defined hermeneutics is interpretation. The science of interpretation is not limited to scripture. Think of hermeneutics as the rules for reading. The exquisite truth about the Quran; it is unreadable in translation. I have tried many times and failed. I studied Quranic Arabic thirty years ago in graduate school, but never mastered the language. I am relearning the basics of Arabic for my next reading of Quran.   As you might already know my day job is Chaplain for the New York Department of Corrections. Being in corrections my office is next door to the Imam. He is a jovial scholar from Ghana, a true African American. When inmates go back for “the count”... read more

Jewish Holy Days According to Gregorian Calendar (2012 – 2016)

Holy Day Hebrew Date 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Rosh Hashanah Tishrei 1 – 2 Sept. 17 – 18 Sept. 5 – 6* Sept. 25 – 26 Sept. 14 – 15 Oct. 3 – 4 Yom Kippur Tishrei 10 Sept. 26 Sept. 14*/ Oct. 4 Sept. 23 Oct. 12 Sukkot (first 2 days) Tishrei 15 – 16 Oct.1 – 2 Sep. 19 – 20 Oct. 9 – 10 Sept. 28 – 29 Oct. 17 – 18 Chanukah Kislev 25 – Tevet 2 (or 3) Dec 9 – 16 Nov. 28 – Dec. 5 Dec. 17 – 24 Dec. 17 – 24 Dec. 25 – Jan 1, 2017 Purim Adar 13 Mar. 8 Feb. 24 Mar. 16 Mar. 5 Mar. 24 Passover (first 2 days) Nissan 15 – 16 Apr. 7 – 8 Mar. 26 – 27 Apr. 15 – 16 Apr. 4 – 5 Apr. 23- 24 Final DayPassover Nissan 17 – 20 Apr. 13 – 14 Apr. 1 – 2 Apr. 21 – 22 Apr.7 – 10 Apr. 29 – 30 Shavuot Sivan 6 – 7 May 27 – 28 May 15 – 16 June 4 – 5 May 24 – 25 June 12 – 13* 17th of Tammuz Tammuz 17 July 8 June 25 July 15 July 5 July 24 Fast of 9th of Av Av 9 July 29 July 16 Aug. 5 July 26 Aug.... read more

Thanksgiving, more than an orgy of football and food!

Temple Shabbat Shalom Thanksgiving Seder Rabbi and Karen Alpern A THANKSGIVING TABLE CEREMONY   PREPARATIONS: * Review the ceremony and feel free to make additions. * Musical interludes are welcome. The Seder * Welcome to our Thanksgiving Table Ceremony. Before the feast we will fill our minds and hearts with the  Thanksgiving Story and the events that inspire giving thanks. *This ceremony is designed to be read around the table. During the meal we will continue our conversation and then end with Grace. THE CANDLES Baruch ata Adoneigh elohanu melech haolam asher kidshanu bamitzvotav lehadleak Ner shel yom tov. All praise to You, Lord our God, who teaches us the way by the light of these festival candles.   THE WINE To Life! May all who hunger come and eat and find nourishment here. Wine gladdens the heart and we drink it today to remind us that everything material may be lifted up to the Lord. Baruch ata adoneighn elohanu melech haolam boray pri hagafen. * We sanctify this home as a sanctuary with our words. We are about to fulfill the greatest commandment – To proclaim that we all worship the same God and that our mission is to promote liberty and justice for all.   THANKSGIVING AND THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT: We love You Lord our God with heart and soul, and all we have. We hear Your teachings, which You renew every day. We teach them diligently to our children, speak of them in our homes and sanctuary’s, when we journey, everywhere, every morning and evening. Your teachings are the focus of our minds eye. We write... read more