Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Learning through Living: Limudim at OSRUI

We live our learning at OSRUI and with over 50 Segel during the summer in more than a dozen sessions we do a lot of living. Limud at OSRUI is dynamic, experiential and fun for everyone from chanichim to madrichim.   How does limud work at OSRUI you may be wondering?  Every eidah has a period of time during the day dedicated to limud on their assigned topic.  Topics are created by a Segel committee which has devised of grid for every eidah that rotates every 2 or 3 years depending on the eidah. Our limud grid has subjects for different age eidot and takes into consideration their emphasis.  Our arts eidot, Tiferet, immerses themselves Midrash, the Megillot and Sephardic Jewry.  Our older eidot take on topics of leadership, our Prophetic heritage and of course Israel while our younger chanichim look at All in the Family, Genesis, Middot and Kehillah.

We encourage our limud to leak into all parts of the day.  If your Limud topic is Israel we plan Israeli food for the cooking chug and Israeli dance for an evening program.  Some of our other topics for our older chanichim are not as concrete.  When we study covenant and community with our rising High School eidot we have them talk in their living communities about rules that will help them live together and have a fun and safe summer.

We use puppets, costumes, food and whatever is at our disposal to help get our chanichim involved in our topics.  We try to have experiential modes of learning at camp.  Whether we are composting in our Gan to experience Teva or teaching Ivrit by playing a spirited game of SPUD and calling out numbers in Hebrew we try to infuse our time at OSRUI with as much Hebrew, Judaism, and love of Jewish camp as possible; while living our limud it gives us just the right amount of time. It's only a month away until the magic begins, less than 30 days and everyone is counting.

Limud from the Hebrew root Lamed-mem-dalet to learn
Segel:  Faculty; Rabbis, Educators, Cantors, Youth Directors
Eidah:  Unit
Teva: Nature
SPUD: The person whose number was called catches the ball and then yells “Spud!” When he or she yells this, everyone must freeze. The person with the ball then is allowed to take three giant steps toward any player. He or she throws the ball and tries to hit someone.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Todd Kessler: Someone you should know at Lakeside Congregation!

Sunday Morning T'filah
Many of you have heard Todd Kessler sing at Lakeside Congregation for B'nai Mitzvah, Friday night T'filot or perhaps at our Sunday morning service.  We are so happy to have Todd as a musical presence at Lakeside from his weekly assignments to singing for us at High Holy Days at the Koloteinu Services.  Todd is an integral part of our Sunday morning T'filah as well as teaching music on both Sunday morning and during Hebrew school on Tuesday afternoon's.  If your Hebrew school student could belt out the 4 questions, you have Todd to thank for this.  Todd enjoys creating music and has brought this talent to our Junior Choir. Speaking of Todd's creative abilities, it may interest you to know that he is beginning work on a new solo album.

In an effort to bring our community together and to share some news about Todd, I welcome our Lakeside Family to take a look at Todd's latest project which he worked on when he was in LA over Spring break.  Click here to learn all about how he is developing and promoting his project

Todd with our Junior Choir
If you have never heard Todd this weekend Todd and his band will be playing at our Thank God It's Shabbat, 7:30 pm Friday May 6.  It is a fun service and one the whole family will enjoy! Our next one will not be until next fall so c'mon on down.

 Come on our Family Night Friday night (the 3rd week of every month) and hear some of the new songs our Jr. Choir has composed.  Todd's love of music will also be highlighted next year in our Lakeside Academy (more details to be forthcoming soon!)

Todd and his family, wife Lauren and his boys, Benjamin and Ezra have been a part of our community for the past two years and Benjamin and Ezra are enrolled in our Children's Center and love to come to our Tot Shabbat. We look forward working with Todd at Lakeside and say Todah Rabah for brining his love of music, his expertise and his spirituality to our congregational family.

At our Children's Center Model Seder earlier this month

Friday, April 15, 2016

Recount #BlogExodus 7th of Nisan

I am late coming to the blogging Exodus party but I started on the right day.  RECOUNT  is today's topic and let me tell you how we count the Omer at Lakeside Congregation.  First what is the Omer and why do we count in the first place and if you google you will find:
Image result for Counting the Omer
Counting of the Omer (Hebrew: ספירת העומר, Sefirat HaOmer, sometimes abbreviated as Sefira or the Omer) is an important verbal counting of each of the forty-nine days between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot as stated in the Hebrew Bible: Leviticus 23:15–16.
We count and RECOUNT from Pesach to Shavuot and at Lakeside we do this not with wheat but with products made from wheat, rice and other grains:  CEREAL boxes.   On every day of the Omer we put on our bimah the number of cereal boxes that correspond to that day.  By the end of the 49 days we have 1225 boxes of cereal which we donate to local food banks.

For the first time this year one of the food banks actually contacted me wondering if they could receive our cereal boxes.  They let me know how much they appreciate getting all of the cereal boxes for their clients. Cereal is not inexpensive and they thank us and I thank all of the families at Lakeside for bringing boxes of cereal all through the end of April, May and the beginning of June.  We appreciate all of the cereal boxes that congregants bring in and if you are in the neighborhood drop off a cereal box or two. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Do you know what the Torah Portion is for this week?

Well, if you don't it's Pikudai, the last parasha from Exodus.   meaning "records of".  

These are the records of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of the Pact, which were drawn up at Moses' bidding--the work of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest. - Exodus 38:21

In the near future at Lakeside we will be releasing commentary on the weekly Parasha, Torah portion.  We will be working on form and content but if you are ever  wondering either what the Torah portion is or what it is about here are a few of my favorite links to start you on your studies.  

My favorite video link which explains the Torah portion with an animated video is G-DCAST.COM Every week they have a 3-4 minute cartoon which give you a great overview of the parasha.
Whenever you google the name of the Torah portion the first sites to come up are usually very Orthodox sites.  If you want a more intellectual site from a Reform point of view I encourage you to check out the Union for Reform Judaism's site for Torah Study.  This site has many d'vrei Torah (Plural of d'var Torah, also known is a talk on topics relating to a section (parashah) of the Torah).  Here is the summary of this week’s Torah portion from the URJ site:

A statistical summary of the materials used for the Tabernacle and an account of producing the priestly vestments are recorded. Moses blesses the Israelites for the work they did. (38:21-39:42)

Upon God's instruction, Moses sets up the Mishkan and the priests are anointed and consecrated. (40:1-33)

A description is given of a cloud that covers the Mishkan by day and a fire that burns by night, indicating God's Presence therein. (40:33-38)

I help our students at Lakeside write their D’vrei Torah when they become B’nai Mitzvah.  I can always find an interesting topic in every pararsha for our students.  Some portions are easier to understand especially those in Genesis where there is an easier story line to follow. I help our students to find something they are passionate about in their portion and then tell us why their portion is still relevant in today’s world.  I hope we will open a dialogue as we begin our Lakeside Torah commentary.  Watch for it soon.  

Friday, March 4, 2016

My Dad is a veterinarian and this Sunday, 3-6, there will be a dog at T'filot

My Dad, Dr. Michaels
Yes and he just retired this year.  Whenever I tell people I meet that my Dad is a veterinarian they always get a smile on their face. They ask me what animals I had growing up, assuming we had a zoo in the back yard.  Growing up we did not have a menagerie at the house but we did have dogs, hamsters and when I was young a cat.  I worked for my Dad through High School and enjoyed working at the Fox Valley Animal Hospital.  I even thought about being a veterinarian until I found out it required quite a bit of science and math. In fact, my Dad's profession is why we moved to Crystal Lake, Illinois in 1960.  Let me just say not only was there not a synagogue near by but neither could we buy bagels, lox or anything remotely Jewish; but that's a story for another blog. 

Although my family does not have a dog (if you have not heard the story about when Lital prayed for a puppy after the Amidah you have not been to enough T'filah that I lead) we do have a cat, Tapuz (Hebrew for orange).  I also realize that many of my students love their pets and over the years I have seen many B'nai Mitzvah students who create Mitzvah projects having to do with their pets or shelter pets.

My favorite projects are when my students participate in therapy dog training or visits with their dogs.  This Sunday at Lakeside we are fortunate to have Julie Fixler and her dog Billy coming to visit us during our T'filah/Assembly time (10-10:30am)to talk about all the different ways in which therapy dogs can help out.  Want a preview?  Check out this video with Julie and Billy.  We will learn how we can be good community members when it comes to therapy dogs, people with disabilities and making a difference with our behavior.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Why I wear a tallit

I did not grow up wearing a tallit or a kippah.  In fact at my  home synagogue we had black kippot for the men and little doilies for the women to put on their heads.  Neither ritual item was really explained to us and why or why not we should wear one.  As I got older and then married Arthur, who always wore both kippah and tallit but I didn't think much of it.

When my kids were at Solomon Schechter Day school it was required that boys wear kippot all the time and girls were allowed to wear them.  Lital, my oldest and my daughter never wore a kippah at school but she decided to wear tallit and kippah when becoming a Bat Mitzvah.  I hope I had something to do with her wearing a tallit as I had begun to wear one when she was much younger than 13.  It was a Lakeside student who made me decide to wear a tallit.

When I was first Educational director I taught all of our Hebrew classes.  In Dalet one day as I was talking about the mitzvah (commandment) of wearing tallit and kippah and explaining to my students that my boys at school had to wear these items every day, a student (a madrich actually) asked: "Mrs. Ehrlich why don't you wear a tallit?  You told us it's a mitzvah, you have told us men and women are equal certainly in Reform Judaism, why don't you wear one?"  I remember being taken off guard.  It was many years ago and I replied that I had not grown up wearing a tallit and then deflected the question in my answer.  This madrich's question got me to think about my own mitzvot, about taking on a new ritual.  I had not grown up with women wearing tallit or kippah; I had seen some women read from the Torah but during the 1970's really just for B'not Mitzvah.

I also started thinking that if I did not start to wear a tallit how could I expect Lital to wear one when she became a Bat Mitzvah in September 2001?  That summer when I was on faculty at OSRUI where we lead t'filot every morning and help our campers lead in the evening, I started wearing a tallit.  No one said anything. At camp it was acceptable to wear a tallit or not.  No one said anything to me.  When I got back to Lakeside I started to wear a tallit for the High Holy days and slowly I added this new custom to whenever I pray.  I especially wear a tallit when I know there will be a Torah service. I don't always wear a tallit but I do have a small collection in my office.  At confirmation I always offer some of my tallitot to our girls and if you look at the pictures on the wall outside of my office you will see some of my tallitot. Enjoy and have a Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious or happy to have students involved in the Arts.

Maddy Richter, Alex Leva and Brody LaForce in Highland Park High School's Mary Poppins
Wednesday morning I was fortunate enough to see a preview of Highland Park High School's Mary Poppins.  We have many students from Lakeside congregation and I try to attend my students' performances.  What a great production and a fun morning.  Our children in our public schools and our private schools have so many opportunities to be exposed to the arts, sports and almost any activity you can imagine.  I am glad that our students attend schools where this is valued.
Sari Lindner

I am always happy to have a spill over to Lakeside as well when it comes to music, drama or Hebrew.  Sari Lindner one of our Madrichot has been involved in  Marching band and other orchestra's at Deerfield High School.  Over the past few months she has learned guitar and played at our Tot Shabbat with our Children's Center families.  She is a welcome addition and we thank her as she begins her journey in Jewish music.

We have many fun activities coming up at Lakeside and I am sure you will want to see our own Thespians in our 6th Purim Spiel on Wednesday March 23.  (Spiel at 6:00 pm and carnival at 4:30pm)