Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Chanukah

Shalom Everyone,

With Chanukah starting at sundown on Tuesday, December  16th,  I thought I'd share with you the Virtual Hanukkiyah from ReformJudaism.org



It's lots of fun to light this with your family.  And while you're at their website, you can practice the blessings, find other Chanukah songs, latke recipes, how to play dreidel, customs, history and so much more.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Chanukah. חג החנוכה שמחה


Thursday, December 4, 2014

December

Shalom Everyone,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We have 3 short weeks until we have another break but there’s a lot coming up so I wanted to keep you up to date:

 This Friday night the 5th is our very popular Folk Shabbat service at 5:30 AND Staff Appreciation Shabbat




Saturday night, Dec. 6th is the outgoing president, Tim Cope’s roast.  Many of you know Roast Master, Syndi Zook, from her work with Lyric Theatre so it should be lots of fun and a merry time. 

Sunday morning Dec. 7th – bagels and lox breakfast with Temple’s annual meeting.  I encourage all of you to come, particularly if you’ve never been to one before.  Come meet new people, the Board, the out-going and in-coming.

Also that afternoon at UVM, there's a showing of the movie "Body & Soul."





Friday the 12th – special speaker at services, Noah Pollack, who will talk about the current state in Israel and his behind the scenes involvement

Saturday the 13th – Tot Shabbat at 9:30

Sunday, Dec. 14th – Young Judaea Ofarim (2nd -4th grade) Event:
Due to popular demand, the   Skate Party, 1:00 - 2:30pm at the C. Douglas Cairns Arena (600 Swift St., SouthBurlington)  is replacing the Dec 13th Sleep-Over. There will be no Ofarim sleep-over this year. 
There will be a super fun Skate Party followed by donuts and apple cider to help us slide into the Chanukah season. Please join us for this sure-to-be spectacularly enjoyable event. Young Judaea will foot the bill for the children's admission and skates. Parents, please feel free to join us with or without other siblings. Your admission is $5 and skates are $3. The Arena has asked for a head count to help them prepare for the crowd. Please RSVP 862-5302 or topazweis@gmx.net, ASAP to let me know how many children and adults to expect.

 Tues, Dec. 16th – Light the 1st candle for Hanukkah (note, the school calendar is in error, it is not the 15th)

Thursday 18th – School Hanukkah Party.  Please note, there is a 6:00 dismissal that evening and no Torah ChantingThere is Chai School

Friday 19th – Annual Brisket Bake-Off.  Note, services begin at 5:30 and is immediately followed by dinner.  This favorite event is always lots of fun, featuring the best briskets you’ve ever tasted.  And to answer your questions, yes, you may bring something other than brisket.  We always need salads, side dishes, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, drinks and desserts.


Saturday, 20th - You don't have to be a member of Sisterhood to attend, by why not join?
It's the 2nd annual Latkes and Vodka, see weekly announcements for information

  
Sunday, 21st – Story Hour with Julie

Saturday morning Torah Study continues throughout the month at 9:00.  Feel free to attend, even if you’ve never come before.  It’s a great opportunity to learn about Torah.  No prior knowledge needed nor do you need to know Hebrew.

Just to reiterate our Snow Day Policy:

Phone calls will be made to every family and we will post the closing on our Facebook page (if you’re not a friend of Temple yet, please friend us and ‘like’ us.  Additionally, an email will go out to everyone.  If you’re not sure, you can call Temple and check my voice mail box, extension #3 or call my cell, 802-598-7975.  It is not certain if I can get the posting on our website in time so best to check the FB page.  Just remember, we do not always follow school closings since those decisions are made in the morning and lots can happen between a.m. and p.m.  Additionally, it could be fine in the morning but by the afternoon snow and ice may pile up which would necessitate a closing.

Finally, please check the snack list.  I believe all classes are covered the rest of the month but some classes have bald spots Jan-May.

Any questions?  Call or email me.  



Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Disease of Being Busy

BY OMID SAFI, WEEKLY COLUMNIST For On Being

I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.”

Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.”

The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.

And it’s not just adults. When we moved to North Carolina about ten years ago, we were thrilled to be moving to a city with a great school system. We found a diverse neighborhood, filled with families. Everything felt good, felt right.

After we settled in, we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled. She finally said: “She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time it’s gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She’s just…. so busy.”

Horribly destructive habits start early, really early.

How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?

Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we overschedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us?

Continue reading.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hebrew School is Awesome, Really

By  for Raising Kvell

So I totally get that sitting around with friends bashing your collective Hebrew school experience from the 80s is pretty much a national Jewish sport, and that we’re all so “traumatized” and “tortured” by the years spent in the cantor’s office memorizing our haftarah portions while wondering when his shiny black hair piece was finally going to fall off that now we’re all refusing to send our own kids to Hebrew school, complaining that it’s a waste of time and they’re not going to learn anything anyway.
But I’m here to tell you that sending my kids to Sunday morning religious school at our local Los Angeles area synagogue is quite possibly the best thing to happen to me post-childbirth since the prescription for Percoset that I got following my two emergency C-sections.
Admittedly, my perspective is slightly skewed because I’m also a Hebrew school educator, but only part-time, one morning a week, in-between writing books, journalism assignments, and my full-time job as an online magazine editor (I want to make it clear that I’m not really this rah-rah sheket b’vakasha…hey!Hebrew school teacher spokesperson; I don’t wear t-shirts with the name of my synagogue on it).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Youth Service is Cancelled

Shalom,

Please note that the 5:30 service and dinner on October 17th are cancelled.

Join us next month on November 14th

Monday, October 13, 2014

Just a quick preview of things coming up, events, plays, and learning opportunities.

Shalom Chaveirim,


This weekend:
Friday the 17th at 5:30 – Youth Service and Dinner

There is also a 7:30 service with special speaker, Julis Stiles, biblical artist.  Her artwork will be on exhibit in the Ben Weisbein Social Hall beginning Oct. 14th

Sunday the 19th at 5 p.m. member Ted Herstand presents his one-man play, “Harold.”  Deli supper to follow.  Tickets are $25 and must be made in advance.


Upcoming Courses:

Kabbalah, Mysticism, and Spirituality - Wednesday nights, beginning October 22nd through December 17th.
Through the different insights of teachers such as, the Neo-Chasidic teacher Rabbi Arthur Green, and Jewish scholars like Martin Buber, Aryeh Kaplan, and Abraham Joshua Heschel, we will explore deeper ideas and insights that can help us understand what useful insights does this shrouded Jewish mystical tradition hold. This will be not only take kabbalah and Jewish mysticism into consideration textually and historically but we will also be experientially delving into guided meditations, niggunim, and much more. Please join us on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8:00 p.m.  Sign up with Stacie, info@templesinaivt.org or 802-862-5125



Adult Hebrew Crash Course - Thursday nights beginning October 23rd through December 18th
Have you always wanted to learn to read Hebrew but never had the opportunity?  Now’s your chance.  If you’ve never had a Hebrew lesson before, this class is for you.  You’ll be reading after the first session, from 7:00-8:30 p.m.  sign up with Judy, directorjudy@templesinanvt.org or 802-862-5125


Global Day of Jewish Learning – Sunday, November 16th 10:00 a.m.-12 p.m.
The 2014 theme is Heroes, Villains, Saints and Fools: The People in the Book. The Bible is not a book to be idly read in passing, and the men and women of the Scriptures are more than mere life portraits: they continue to live and function long after their deaths in this world.  Four separate units to choose from, adults and teens.  No reservation needed, just show up.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Perfect Species

At this time of the year, Jews around the globe head out in search of the perfect lulav and etrog (Lulav refers to the grouping of lulav, hadassim and aravot, which, together with the etrog are referred to as the four species.) Since the lulav and etrog are used for the mitzvah of waving the four species, it’s important to find a set that is as perfect as can be.

So what makes a lulav and etrog “perfect”?

Lulav/Branch of a Palm Tree: A lulav is actually the closed frond of a date palm tree. A nice lulav is green, with no signs of dryness. It should be straight, without any bends or twists near the top. The tip and top leaves of the lulav must be whole, and not split. It is placed in the center of the hadassim and the aravot with its spine facing inward.

Hadassim/Three Myrtle Branches: The hadassim, which are bound on the right side of the lulav, should have moist, green leaves grouped in level rows of three. There should be no large, uncovered section of stem. The stem and the leaves should be whole, without any nips at the top and the leaves should cover the entire branch to the top. There should not be more berries than leaves and there should be no large twigs.

Aravot/Two Willow Branches: The aravot, which are bound to the left side of the lulav (slightly lower than the hadassim) should have reddish stems with green, moist leaves. The leaves should be long, narrow and smooth-edged, with no nips or tears.

Etrog/Citron: The Torah describes the etrog as “the fruit of a beautiful tree” (Leviticus 23:40). Ideally, the skin of this yellow (or green when not ripe) citrus fruit must be clean of spots and discolorations. It should be bumpy, not smooth like a lemon, and should be broad at the bottom and narrow toward the top. (Please note that the etrog is very delicate and should be handled with care. If dropped, the etrog can be damaged and rendered unfit for use!)

Wishing everyone a Chag Sameach





Reprinted from JewishTreats.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Look What's Happening in School and Temple this Fall

It was so great to see everyone on our first day of school.  As always, there was so much excitement in the air as friends greeted old friends, made some new ones, and met the new teachers.

This is going to be a lengthy, newsy blog post so please take the time to read it when you have time.

Teachers:
Jade Walker - Grades 1-2
Zora Berman - Grade 3
Audrey Chafetz (J) & Judy Alexander (H) - Grade 4
Jon Polson - Grades 5-6
Dana Rachlin (J) & Bruce Chalmer (H) - Grade 7

Teacher bios are posted outside the classroom.  Additionally, all of you (except grade 1-2 parents) should have received an introductory letter from your child’s teacher(s).

New programs this year:
Jewish Scavenger Hunt.  Yesterday each student received a “Passport to the Jewish Year” filled with suggested Jewish activities whereby each child will earn a ‘point’ for each activity completed.  We will offer small rewards at the quarterly ceremony, as outlined in the passport.  A students completing 24 activities by the end of the year will get a grand prize.
Not on the list but talked about:  On October 5th Brotherhood needs help moving tables and chairs out of the classrooms for rug cleaning.  Your child can earn a point for doing this activity.  Please let Patty Greenfield know if you plan to participate.

Own a Holiday.  I will go into detail about this on Sunday, September 21.  You and your child should plan to attend this orientation session at 10 a.m. as it will affect the entire congregation.

Join the Rabbi:
Every Thursday from 4:15-5:15 Rabbi Glazier plans to have an informal gathering with parents and congregants who would like to drop in to ask questions and/or talk about current events in the Jewish/Israel world.

Oldies but goodies:
Snack:
As in years past, you will need to sign up to bring snack several times a year.  The snack sign-up schedule is not yet up and won’t begin until October.  I’ll send out an email when it’s running.  Try to keep it simple and if you are sending in fruit, please wash it. 

Tzedakah:
Your child is encouraged to bring each week either money or a non-perishable food item for the food shelter

Hike for Hunger:
We’re teaming up with Hunger Free Vermont this year on September 27th to participate.  Register at: www.firstgiving.com/team/276486.  For more details go to www.hungerfreevt.org
and follow the links to Hike for Hunger 2014 or contact Patty Greenfield greenfieldp24@yahoo.com

Holidays:
Lots of them are coming up in short order.  Sept. 24th is Erev Rosh Hashanah
No school Oct. 9th due to Sukkot
Oct. 16 is Simchat Torah and we plan to hold services during school hours with a dinner to follow.  Plan to stay with your child for services for this holiday and also to Consecrate our new students and to give siddurim/prayer books to those in grades 4 and upwards who have not yet received their siddurim.

Chai School:
Begins Oct. 2nd.  Watch for registration.

Torah Chanting for 6th Grade students
Begins Oct. 23rd from 6:15-6:35

Adult Beginning Hebrew Reading Crash Course
Begins Oct. 23rd from 7:00-8:30

November 16th – Learning opportunity for the whole family


Tot Shabbat and Story Hour
Listed on the school calendar.  First Story Hour is on Sept. 21st.  Students in grades 5-7 are encouraged to sign up to help with both or either of these monthly events.

Youth Services:
Zora Berman, our Grade 3 & Music Teacher, will also lead these services.  Different students over the course of the year will be participating.  I will let you know in advance if your child is part of a given monthly service.  These 5:30 services are youth friendly and followed by a dinner, provided by our Brotherhood.  It’s a wonderful way to meet other parents and make Temple connections and I encourage you to come as often as possible.

Grade Services:
The following grades are leading the services on the following dates:
    Jan. 17th - grades 5, 6 & 7
    Jan. 31st - grade 4
    March 21st - grades 1, 2 & 3
Please plan to be at your child’s class service as this is considered a class session; you are also encouraged to attend other grade services that your child may not be in.  Since we are a one-day-a-week program, we try to have enrichment opportunities, such as services.  We do have a service attendance requirement -- all students should attend 8 services per year; students in the year preceding their B'nai Mitzvah should plan on attending 16 services, with four of those services being a Bar/Bat Mitzvah (either at this temple or another one).  When your child attends a service, please have him/her put the date in the black loose-leaf note book, which is either on the black table in the lobby or in its drawer.

Hebrew program for grades 1-6
As I mentioned at Orientation, the new Hebrew program/books we’re using this year have an online component called the Online Learning Center (OLC).  This component serves to supplement the Hebrew learning your child does in the classroom through games, activities and practice.  It can be accessed from any computer as long as you have a unique sign-in and password.  If your child does not have her/his own email, s/he can use yours.  However, if you have more than one child in the school, you will need a unique email for each child.  Parents should all have received the letter and permission form for you to sign up.  I cannot add your child to the OLC until I have your returned permission form so please get this back to be ASAP.  

In addition to the OLC, the Behrman House website, www.behrmanhouse.com has other exercises anyone can use.  Another great/fun website for your child to practice and learn Hebrew is www.shalomsesame.org

I want you to know that all of us at Temple--me, Rabbi Glazier, Mark Leopold, Stacie Gabert, Patty Greenfield, and all the teachers and board members are here to see that you and your child have a successful year and become valued members of Temple.  If you have any questions or concerns, we’re here for you so please speak with one of us directly and if we cannot help, we can refer you to the proper party who can be of assistance.  This is YOUR temple, it is what you make of it.  We’re glad you’ve chosen to make us your ‘second’ Jewish home.

Best wishes for a Happy & Sweet New Year/Shanah Tovah u’Metookah,

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Back to School Blogger Edition 2014-2015

Shalom,

Welcome back. I hope you were able to enjoy the beautiful summer, whether spent in Vermont or elsewhere.

I want to take this opportunity to let you know about the upcoming school year, some program additions as well as curricular changes.  What changes can you expect to see?

Online Learning Center (OLC)*
This year our Hebrew program across grades 1-6 is using a program from Behrman House Publishing called the Online Learning Center (OLC).  The texts the students will be using have a classroom component and a home component where your child can practice what s/he learned in the classroom with computer games and exercises.  It is also a way for teachers and parents to communicate and teachers to keep track of homework and the progress your child is making.

Scavenger Hunt*
Each child will be issued a ‘passport’ of mitzvah activities to perform throughout the year.  This might be attending a service at temple, donating time or money to a worthy cause, helping a neighbor, etc.  As your child hits each benchmark, s/he will receive a reward.  Anyone achieving 100% of their benchmarks will have a special reward at the end of the year.




Own a Holiday*
Each grade and school family will be assigned and responsible for one of the following holidays:  Tu Bishvat, Purim, Passover and Shavuot.  You will work with Patty Greenfield to plan and implement a hands-on and learning opportunity for the entire Temple.  More information at our Holiday Info meeting on September 21 at 10:00 a.m.

Youth Services**
Once again our Youth Services meet once a month at 5:30 beginning October 17.  They will be under the leadership of Zora Berman, our new Kitah Gimmel/3rd Grade teacher and Song Leader.  Zora will be working with the students 2-3 times a month in the 6:00-6:15 time slot teaching them parts of the service which the students will lead throughout the year.

Grade Services**
Please make note of the Saturday service which your child’s class is leading. We know that there are many extra-curricular activities but it’s one Saturday a year so please make every effort to be at the service.  

What we need from you:

Reinforce learning:  See that your child practices Hebrew every day.  One hour a week is not enough time to teach a language.  The more s/he practices at home, the more at ease s/he will feel in school.

Model:  Good Jewish practices.  Come to our Youth Services and Tot Shabbat.  Learn some Shabbat songs and sing them at home.  Add just one practice a month, whether it’s lighting Shabbat candles, making the blessing over the wine or challah, cooking a special holiday food, reading a Jewish story--it’s never too little.  The rabbi, the teachers and I are here to help.  We have many resources we’d love to share.

Volunteer:  We are looking for parents to serve on our Education Advisory Council.  Many of our ideas have come from meeting and talking with parents.  I can’t do it alone, I value your input.  It’s not a huge time commitment and it’s a great way to meet other parents and make new friends.

Share your talents:  Do you have a skill or talent you’d like to share?  Perhaps you can help in a classroom through using art to teach Jewish subjects; journaling; singing; leading a band/choir; teaching Israeli dancing; using video or technology to advance education.  We’d love to hear your suggestions.

Listen:  Ask your child specific things s/he learned that s/he can teach you.  Did they learn a new blessing?  A custom?  A Hebrew word?

I look forward to seeing all of you at our Open House on September 11th at 4:00 pm.  Come meet the new teachers, greet old and new friends.  We do need you to register, if you haven’t already.  It’s very easy with your Chaverware account.  If you’ve never set it up, just go to the Temple website and click on Chaverweb Sign In.  If you’ve forgotten your username or password, you can always apply for another.

I want to wish all of you a Shanah Tovah u’Metookah, a Happy and Sweet New Year and I look forward to seeing everyone on September 11th.

B’shalom,

Morah Judy

*New
**Oldie but goody

Monday, August 4, 2014

Thinking About Science, Judaism, Time Machines

The following article is reprinted from ReformJudaism.org

Note in the picture on the right is our very own Peyton Coel, who incidentally, had the greatest time at this camp.

Until a few days ago, I had never thought about building a time machine. I had never thought about flying a drone. I had never thought about editing files (other than Word Documents or Excel spreadsheets) in the guts of a computer. Now, I’m thinking about all of those things.
Why am I thinking about these things now? A few days ago, my 25-year-old daughter Alyssa and I went to visit a Jewish summer camp. It’s something we’ve done a few times over the years, but this time was different. This time, we visited the Union for Reform Judaism’s newest overnight camp, URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy. Though we only spent several hours at camp, I was profoundly impacted by what we saw and experienced while there.
I’ve always believed that Judaism can and should be able to be integrated into one’s passions – that no one should have to choose between being an athlete and participating in Judaism, between being a dancer, a musician, or a scientist and integrating Judaism into their life. In yesterday’s society, that was challenging. In today’s, it is less so. Many people in the Jewish community are committed to finding ways to help young people integrate their passions with Judaism, and the opening of URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy is a great example.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What is your child doing this summer? What about you?

Chances are pretty good that you'll be spending time in the car with a smart phone or on a computer.  While you have this 'downtime' take the time to learn something Jewish with Jewish Interactive Applications


  • Learn about Sukkot with the Sukkah Challenge.
  • jiConnect lets you see how Jews all over the world celebrate holidays and lets you learn their customs
  • Shabbat Interactive brings you into the magical, enticing and fun-driven realm of shabbat
  • Go on a Mitzvah Hunt in this interactive game, filled with music and animation that encourages children to look for the good in other people.
  • iThank You teaches children the importance of gratitude
  • JI Studio encourages children to let their imaginations run wild.


Start downloading and let me know how it's going.  Have a great summer!



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Reincarnation


Reincarnation is a word that to most Jews screams of foreign cultures. What is not common knowledge, however, is that the reincarnation of souls is a concept found in Judaism known as gilgul.

Before discussing any aspect of gilgul, Jewish Treats feels that it must advise you that this is an extremely complex kabbalistic idea, which we can only present in a broad and superficial manner.

Gilgul is not mentioned in the Torah, nor is it a focus of the sages of the Talmud. In fact, the concept of gilgul only became a topic of study in Medieval times. It was discussed by scholars such as Saadia Gaon (882-942) (who rejected the idea) and Nachmanides (1194-1270) (who accepted it). It was the kabbalists of Safed, however, who delved into the depths of the idea of reincarnation. The teachings of the Arizal (1534 -1572) were published by his disciple, Rabbi Chaim Vital (1543-1620), in the book Shaar Hagilgulim. These teachings then gained prominence in the early Chassidic movement.

The basic kabbalistic understanding of gilgul (which comes from the Hebrew word for cycle) is that every soul has a purpose. When a soul does not complete its purpose the first time it enters the physical world, it is returned to this world again in order to create a tikkun (repair). It is placed in a new life in a new body where the flaws of the previous life may best be rectified. And while chassidic/kabbalistic texts discuss reincarnation, it is not a primary focus in Jewish life because it then becomes a distraction to those creating the tikkun.(Sometimes, however, dramatic stories have arisen of special souls that made themselves known.)
Today's Tip:
No Assumptions
 
Before assuming that a concept is foreign to Jewish life, ask a rabbi, Jewish scholar or write to
Jewish Treats (jewishtreats@njop.org)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Making Meaning of the March

The “March” reminds us that the Jewish educational engagement of all Jews must remain an enduring goal.

by Dr. Gil Graff for eJewish Philanthropy

For the third time over a period dating to 1996, I have joined thousands of Jews from dozens of nations around the globe in the experience of “March of the Living.” Initiated by Israeli Jews, a “Holocaust to Redemption” theme is palpable: 70 years ago, Jews were, fundamentally, powerless and millions perished; today, there is a powerful, sovereign State of Israel. This very theme is often – including in his Yom ha-Shoah message – invoked by Binyamin Netanyahu, with reference to the threat of Iranian nuclear capability: “Unlike our situation during the Holocaust, when we were like leaves on the wind, defenseless, now we have great power to defend ourselves….”

Juxtaposition of the Holocaust and a powerful, sovereign state, understandably resonates with most Israelis. Jewish sovereignty, after two millennia, is a remarkable phenomenon. For Israelis, sovereignty and the responsibility of power are realities that call for serious reflection. The experiences of “March of the Living” provide a springboard for such reflection.

Data released shortly before Israel’s Independence Day showed an Israeli Jewish population of 6.135 million, representing 75% of Israel’s 8.18 million residents. The opportunity of shaping a Jewish democratic state, drawing upon values rooted in Jewish teaching, extending to the public sphere in the 21st century, is a unique chapter in Jewish history. Though thousands of North American Jews have chosen to move to Israel, the overwhelming majority of American Jews – no less numerous than our Israeli counterparts – feels quite at home in the land of their birth and citizenship. America is not viewed as a nation in which anything akin to the events leading to the Holocaust – let alone anything resembling the Holocaust – might ever occur. While appreciating the significance of Israeli sovereignty through the lens of the “March,” what, for North American Jews – teens and adults – is the directly applicable take-away of March of the Living?

As there are “seventy faces to the Torah,” there are multiple approaches to making meaning of the “March.” The horrors of genocide and the imperative of responding to the sorts of rhetoric and action that can lead in that direction, are clear. In addition, I would suggest that a key message for North American Jewry is the enduring importance of Jewish learning.

Poland was, for hundreds of years, home to the most populous and, arguably, the most culturally rich Jewish community in the world. Apart from sites that one (hopefully) visits over the course of a “March”-associated week in Poland that reflect this past, a magnificent museum of the Jewish experience in Poland has recently opened, in Warsaw, devoted to sharing this legacy. The vitality of Jewish life was grounded in communities that valued and nurtured Jewish learning which, in turn, related to and influenced daily living. By the latter half of the nineteenth century, hasidim, mitnagdim, maskilim, hovevei zion, socialists, the musar movement and new yeshivot each drew in their own way from a shared heritage of learning. Despite ideological divides, most of these groups were sustained by the rich wellspring of Jewish learning, though – to be sure – differently filtered. “Marchers,” who proceed to Israel, recognize that there, too, elements of shared language undergird the ferment that is part of Israel’s vitality.

Jewish learning represents a shared language that connects Jews of those dozens of countries – including Israel – from which Jews “march.” Moreover, it enables bringing accumulated Jewish wisdom and experience to bear on issues of life and society in the communities of which Jews are a part, ennobling our lives in the process. In the absence of Jewish learning, the fabric of Jewish living – including the capacity to contribute the richness of our heritage to the body politic – will surely fray.

Near the close of this year’s March of the Living ceremony in Birkenau, a Torah scroll was publicly completed. Fittingly, Holocaust survivors shared in transmitting this torch of Jewish learning by filling in some of the last letters of the scroll. If we are to remain a people with a purpose, our actions must be grounded in Jewish learning. The closing words of the Torah are: “before the eyes of all Israel.” The “March” reminds us that the Jewish educational engagement of all Jews must remain an enduring goal.

Dr. Gil Graff is Executive Director of BJE: Builders of Jewish Education.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Testing Positive for Judaism: Unlocking a Family’s Genetic Secret

A genetic test for Tay-Sachs revealed surprising results—and helped my husband and me discover what Judaism means to us

By Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy


Being tested for a genetic disorder is usually not a laughing matter, but that’s exactly what we were doing when my husband had his blood drawn to see if he, like me, was a carrier for Tay-Sachs. His being tested was a formality for us as Jewish prospective parents. We didn’t take it seriously because we didn’t have anything to worry about: Matt had been born and raised Catholic in a rural town in northeastern Pennsylvania. He converted to Judaism before we got married two and a half years before. He had told me that loving me meant loving everything about me, including my Judaism. He had told my parents that he felt a resonance in Judaism that he had never found in Catholicism. He had told our rabbi that he felt personally committed to helping ensure that there would be future generations of Jews in the world, to parent and raise Jewish children of his own. And yet Matt’s commitment to his new faith didn’t alter the statistical improbability of his being a Tay-Sachs carrier.

Which is why we were shocked, stunned, speechless when we learned that he was a carrier. Not just because of what that test result meant for our efforts to have children, but because of what it meant beyond that: My husband, the Jew-by-choice, had been Jewish all along. Genes don’t lie; a genetic counselor told us that Matt had, without a doubt, a specifically Ashkenazic version of the mutation that causes Tay-Sachs.

The news was explosive, but also revelatory. While my husband found himself obsessed with discovering the origins of this long-buried family secret and strangely comforted by a new feeling of understanding with his connection to Judaism, I felt like I was, in many ways, meeting my husband, and my own sense of my faith, all over again.

Keep reading.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

End of School Year

Shalom Everybody,

This time of year always seem to pass so quickly and before you know it, it's summer!  Some events to keep in mind in the coming weeks and months:

April
19th – Tot Shabbat at 9:30 a.m.
20th-27th – Spring Break; no classes on the 23rd or 24th
27th – Community-wide Yom Hashoah/Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration is here at Temple Sinai at 2:00 p.m.  Our students who have studied the Holocaust may find it particularly pertinent.

For the grown-ups:  Bruce Chalmer’s class on “Reality, Faith and Meaning: Jewish Views on Science and Religion” begins April 27th at 10 a.m and runs for 4 consecutive Sundays.  You may contact Stacie in order to register.

May
2nd – Teacher Appreciation Shabbat/Folk Service - please come and show our teachers how much you and your family appreciate all they do for our children.  Chinese dinner follows services.  There is a fee and you do need to RSVP - greenfieldp24
4th – Story Hour 10 a.m. – our last of the season
10th – Tot Shabbat at 9:30 a.m.
15th – the last day of school –6:00 p.m. dismissal
17th – Bat Mitzvah of Elise Norotsky
24th – added service; Aufruf of Eli Chalmer and Jessie Karsif

Looking ahead to June – Note, all Friday night services starting in June and through August begin at 6:00 p.m.

Just because school ends, doesn’t mean the activity at Temple ceases.  Please note these events that are happening in June and show your support for our students by attending

June
3rd – Confirmation/Shavuot Service at 7:30 – Ben Silver and Erica Issenberg have attended Religious School and then Chai School.  Ben’s family has been schlepping all these years from Benson—I’m always awed by their steadfast commitment.  Ben also attended Brandeis’s Genesis program last summer and plans to return this summer.  Erica has been active in both our Temple and as President of the Mazkirut/Executive Board of Young Judaea.  I hope you will come and show them how much they are valued as members of our congregational family.

We also have 2 wonderful young ladies having their Bat Mitzvahs in June:

14th – Talia Loiter
21st – Liza Segal-Stone

6th Grade families note:  the Kallah/Retreat scheduled for June 7-8 has to bechanged.  I’ll be contacting you specifically regarding this.

Have a wonderful week and see you soon,
Morah Judy



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Some Fun Videos to Get You in the Mood for Passover

Google Exodus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIxToZmJwdI


Best Seder in the USA (The Passover Song)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCy4-_DaacI


The Fountainheads INTERACTIVE Escape from Egypt Video

http://www.foheads.com/exodus

Passover Rhapsody - A Jewish Rock Opera 


Uncle Jay Explains Passover for OurJewishCommunity.org

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfA2J6ah7cI

Thanks to Kim Dauerman for sharing this one with me, "Chozen" (for fans of Frozen)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

THE NAMES OF PASSOVER

Passover has several names in the Torah, each one saying something different about the meaning of the holiday:

Chag HaPesach – The Festival of the Paschal Offering.  On the night of the fourteenth of the first month (which we call Nisan), the Torah instructs us to offer a special sacrifice of an unblemished lamb.  It is to be eaten roasted, along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, as a “holy barbecue” by a person’s entire household, along with guests.  In ancient Israel, this celebration marked the renewal of spring.
Chag HaMatzot – The Festival of Unleavened Bread.  Beginning on the fifteenth day of the first month, a seven day festival takes place on which all leavened products must be removed from the home.  Only unleavened bread may be eaten.  This was an agricultural holiday that celebrated the beginning of the grain harvest.
Orginally, Chag HaPesach and Chag HaMatzot were two separate ancient holidays that had nothing to do with the Exodus from Egypt.  The Torah, however, combines them into a single festival that symbolizes the Exodus, while retaining the earlier associations.
The paschal sacrifice must be eaten quickly – with loins girded, sandals on feet and staff in hand – as if ready to depart that night.  None of the sacrifice can be left over the next morning.  The name Pesach also came to be associated with the tenth plague.  The Israelites painted their doorposts with the blood from the paschal sacrifice so that the angel of death would “pass over” (pasach) their homes, sparing their first born children.
Matzah came to symbolize freedom.  Our ancestors did not have time to let the dough rise before leaving Egypt, so they had to make due with unleavened bread. 
With the joining of these two holidays, the Torah adds two additional names that incorporate the historical elements into the seasonal/agricultural celebrations
Chag HaCheirut – The Festival of Freedom.  In the kiddush for Passover, we refer to the holiday as Z’man Cheiruteinu, the time of our freedom.  The Exodus from Egypt is the founding experience of the Jewish people.  It plays a primary role in our collective consciousness.  The memory of slavery is meant to inspire us to behave compassionately towards those who are suffering.  The experience of freedom serves as an eternal bond between us and God.
Chag HaAviv – The Festival of Spring.  This name ties together the agricultural and historical aspects of the holiday.  Springtime is the time for renewal, the beginning of the grain harvest, and the time when our ancestors were freed from Egypt.  Because of the Torah’s reference to Passover as a springtime holiday, we adjust the lunar-based Hebrew calendar.  During seven years out of every nineteen year cycle, we add an additional month to ensure that Passover always occurs on the night of the first full moon after the Spring equinox.
Of course, we include all of these elements in our celebration of Passover today.  We have reminders of the paschal offering on our seder plate, along with symbolic representations of springtime and rebirth.  We tell the story of God freeing our ancestors from slavery, and we re-experience that freedom ourselves.
So whatever you want to call it – Chag HaPesach, Chag HaMatzot, Chag HaCheirut, or Chag Ha-Aviv – HAVE A HAPPY PASSOVER!