Friday, October 13, 2017

It's all in the Mishpacha, family, Mishpacha #NewmanStrong #OSRUI18: Give Now!

Camp Newman October 2017
This week with the news of URJ Camp Newman burning to the ground in the fire of  Northern California, Santa Rosa it got me to thinking about a few things.  I know that I would feel lost, sad and anxious if this happened to my camp, URJ OSRUI and I am an adult (maybe that makes it worst?).

I know that buildings do not make a place but the people do; I also know that a camp, any camp buildings also have memories and emotions attached to them.  I know that the camp leaders of Newman are meeting and working now to think about next summer.  This is not easy as they have not been let back into their camp as it is still smoldering. It is still not safe to go there.

Tzofim Beit T'filah, where I met my son in law
I think about our holy place Makom Kadosh, including our Beitei T'filah at OSRUI and it would be painful to think of it burning.  Just as at any summer camp at OSRUI our buildings, including our Chalutzim Moadon  was rebuilt with the old wood so that the names of the former chanichim were preserved for the ages to read.  When you pray in that Moadon, you see the history of the camp in the signatures of the campers.

When I pray in any of our Beitei T'filah I love the feeling that other campers have prayed in this same space.  It warms my heart to see madrichim singing and leading t'filot and remembering they were once campers in this same space.  In fact I met my son in law in one of these Beit T'filah at camp and that memory is one of my favorites.

I have spent hours and hours in our Beitei T'filah with family, friends and colleagues and when I was watching the news of Newman this week I was crying.  I know I was thinking about our camp too.
Kallah Beit T'filah



I have been haunted also by what I would have chosen from my own house if I had to leave because of fire.  I thought about pictures, computer, and some valuables.  In the middle of the night I woke up in a panic thinking that I would also have to take our passports and other important papers we have at the house.  I had never thought of that before.


I know Newman was able to get out their Torah scrolls and all of their staff is safe and for that everyone is profoundly thankful.  I know that the Jewish community will be supportive and generous for Camp Newman and if it so moves you here is the link to their fundraising to rebuild their camp and I would be remiss if I did not give the link to OSRUI as well.  I have a nice bet going this week with my west coast colleagues over the Cubs-Dodgers Playoffs.  I did pledge twice the amount to Newman if you were wondering and I will be sending a donation WHEN the Cubs win!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What does our new Machzor tell us and how many of the Rabbis, Cantors and Educators do I know who contributed?

This year at Lakeside Congregation we used Mishkan Hanefesh from CCAR Press for all of our t'filot. One of the first things that I did with this Machzor was to look up all the Rabbis, Educators and Cantors that I know.  I can say I know my fair share as well as some of the editors. As we gather every year at Rosh Hashanah with most of my family we talk about services, sermons and this year abut the new Machzor. 
Mishkan HaNefesh

 My father was excited to see passages from Langston Hughes and Immanuel Kant.  I loved to see Rabbi's I knew quoted as well as Debbie Friedman Z"L. It was apparent to me then that this prayer book spoke to different people in a myriad of ways.  

I have always loved the High Holy day liturgy and this year my experience was enhanced with this Machzor.  It is set up just like Mishkan T'filot with traditional prayers on the even numbered pages and the more interpretive resources on the odd numbered pages.  You can read the forward in Mishkan HaNefesh to get the whole picture of what each type of page means and represents.

I love the drop down bar on each page which tells us WHERE in the service we are and I love the addition of transliteration for all of the prayers in Hebrew.  When transliteration first came out I didn't think I would be a fan but as a  frequent service attender I appreciate how much more participation we have in all of our t'filot with the transliteration on each page.
Art for Mishkan HaNefesh

There is also fascinating art in the Machzor and it made me think of many different visions and I found an article on the artist Joel Shapiro which informs us the art was made entirely from wood prints.  I encourage you to read more about the art and artist.  

I was fascinated that one group had thought to put in the notes for their poem, or perhaps the editors did this their website.  Water Women's Alliance.  According to their website
    

"WATER is a global network, an educational and spiritual space, a center for dialogue on feminism, faith, and justice. We connect activists, religious leaders, students, scholars, and allies who are using feminist religious values to create social change."




             

I was wondering why they put their website in the notes, what will happen in 100 years if we still are using this prayer book and there is not website.  My Rabbi reminded me that there will probably will another edition by then and I can't help thinking that more organizations will want their website in the notes.  I can't be the only one who is looking at the notes in Mishkan HaNefesh.  Right?  


Enjoy your High Holy days and I hope you have a minute to look at Mishkan HaNefesh even if your community does not use it.  It is a beautiful and peaceful resource which I look forward to using over the years.  

I wish one and all an easy fast and I am quite excited to see the new Mishkan for Yom Kippur.  G'mar Chatimah Tovah, may you be inscribed in the book of life!









Thursday, September 7, 2017

#BlogElul 16 Pray

I do believe that there is no wrong place to pray and this summer I did a blog post about just that when I was at OSRUI. You can in a small community, in a large community just by yourself,  If you are not feeling well in mind or body you can ask other people to pray with you of for you.  You can sing, play an instrument or listen to other singing.  I know I always feel calmer and happier after praying.  There are many studies which tell us that if you pray regularly it will improve your health.

Being in the month of Elul as we are to prepare for the High Holy Days what a great time to start praying with Religious and Hebrew school beginning this week.  Come and try out our Tfilah, service at the beginning of Religious school and don't forget our Friday night services.  We also have Torah study and t'filah on Shabbat morning!

Praying at camp and getting ready
I love praying with my community whether that be at Lakeside or camp.  I love singing the old tunes I know and more importantly learning new tunes that keep me and I believe everyone on their toes.  I hope to see my Lakeside chevre this week either Friday Night at Pot-Luck Shabbat, Sunday morning at the opening of Religious School or Tuesday for Hebrew school.







We are also praying this week for the safety of our friends in Florida and hope they will be kept out of harms way. As we gathered supplies for Hurricane Harvey I hope we will not have to do the same for Irma but we are prepared.
Photo Credit: Rabbi Phyllis Sommer

Friday, August 25, 2017

#BlogElul 3 Prepare: #whatjewisheducatorsdo

Prepare is really my theme for the whole summer!  I am preparing for the first day of school, first teachers' meeting, ordering supplies, making lists and trying to make sure everything is ready for the new year. If you have not registered for school or even High Holy Day tickets at Lakeside not to worry.  I can always order more books for new students and you can still order your High Holy tickets! There are many details and I do have help, thank goodness, in this area.

Special Todah Rabah to Margaux Friend, our office administrator who keeps our office running and me as well.  My admin, JoAnne is fantastic and school, flyers and so much more would not be ready if not for her.

I know that Rabbi Serotta is preparing for the High Holy days and sermon writing is just a part of what he does.  Getting the year going again takes many different steps.  When the High Holy days and Labor day align as they did this year it gives us a few more days to keep preparing.

I am looking forward to a wonderful year and I hope to re-connect with everyone as the school year starts and we begin again.

(I know that I am behind in blogging but I hope to blog most of Elul!)


Thursday, August 24, 2017

#BlogElul 2: Search

Every year I join with Rabbi Phyllis Sommer and try to blog Elul.  Elul is the month that proceeds the High Holy Days and it is a time we prepare for them.  (Tomorrow's cue is Prepare...more on prepare later).

Blogging Elul helps me to write more, blog more and just put my thoughts together during a busy time of year.  It is also a chance to participate in a project which links me to an even larger community.  It is a daunting task and this year I want to try and do this in smaller pieces.

Today's word Search makes me imagine searching for peace.  In our world filled with hate  and sometimes it takes searching for your own peace and where to find peace.  I know that this summer I have found peace as I always do at OSRUI and I think the place that is most peaceful at camp are the Beitei T'filah, where we pray.  Being able to pray twice a day is a gift when I am at camp.  It is right there, I don't even have to search it out.

I also find peace on vacation especially when we go to the ocean. This summer we were at Cape Cod went to the beach every day for a week.  I loved listening to the sound that the waves made as they crashed on the beach.  It is a soothing sound and a great place to take a nap.  It reminds me of the words of poem/song Eli, Eli:


This is my first blog Elul for 5777, Looking forward to a good month!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

There is no wrong way to pray at OSRUI with guest editor, Brian Avner

Our Beit T'filah
From my time at OSRUI:
A beach, a game show and a song parody; what do they all have in common?   Can you imagine that the answer is t’filot, services, t’filot (clap)?  In Kibbutz HaTzofim Gimmel at OSRUI the answer is YES.  We have been given the golden opportunity to be as creative as possible as we plan daily t’filot with both campers and counselors.  


Each evening, one group of campers is asked to lead t’filot for the rest of Tzofim.  In preparation, they meet with a member of the faculty and their counselors to plan their service in their own, unique way. They are given different ways to personalize their t’filah.  They can pick an opening and closing song and what exact melody they want for any prayer from Barechu to Oseh Shalom.  We are always impressed that since we pray together twice daily, they know exactly which melody they want for each prayer or song.  


The other night, Tzofim had t’filot at the beach.  The impetus for doing t’filot there was that the va’ad (group) that was leading really enjoyed spending time at the beach and knew that being able to sit at the water and watch the sky over the lake could make for a truly spiritual experience.


Preparing for T'filah!
Another recent service was done in the style of a game show.  Instead of just introducing the prayers, the campers leading the service prepared trivia questions to ask the rest of Tzofim to teach them about the prayers as we went along.  Campers were engaged throughout the service and excited to play the game while they prayed.
At the Beach!


Campers always look forward to Shabbat at OSRUI. The are excited to join our procession with the Torah, the story we tell on Tzofim hill, and joining with the entire camp for Shabbat Shira. On Shabbat morning, after reading Torah, instead of a giving a traditional d’rash, we learn about the Torah portion through a song parody.  This past week we learned about Moses not being able to enter Israel and the daughters of Zelophechad fighting for early women’s rights in the Torah to the tune of the song Rude by Magic.


Looking ahead, other t’filot experiences this session will include:  Dodge Ball, Apples to Apples, Visual Arts and T’fifloat (at the pool). Come visit us in Tzofim Gimmel; we can’t wait to pray with you!

Segel from Tzofim:  Brian Avner, Director of Youth Education at Congregation Sinai in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Vanessa M. Ehrlich, Director of Lifelong Learning at Lakeside Congregation in Highland Park, Illinois.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Celebrating with Kallah and Kallah, Bride and Bride

Celebrating Bride and Bride
Every morning we read in the siddur "Eilu D'varim; these are the things we can do without measure” and one of them is to provide for the bride. This weekend I rejoiced with Bride and Bride and as a Jewish educator my heart was full to the brim from this wedding.  One bride, Becky has been a friend for over 25 years from Solomon Schechter Day School. I’ve known her since she was only 5 when she was in Kindergarten with my daughter. She also went to OSRUI and Deerfield High School her. Now many years later, since meeting her bashert Erin on JDate, they both live in Cleveland. As one grandma described them, they are most certainly a power couple. Becky is studying towards her PhD Biomedical Engineering and Erin is just completing her Residency as a Medical Doctor.


OSRUI Chevre
15 years ago this couple would have had a hard time finding a Rabbi or a Cantor to marry them and certainly not from the Conservative movement.  Reform clergy has sanctioned same sex marriages since 1996 and the Conservative clergy got on the bandwagon in 2006. And they were right to -- if anything, Becky and Erin are the model of an active and involved Jewish couple. Becky and Erin belong to an traditional independent minyan in Cleveland Heights, Beth-el, the Heights Synagogue.  

Shabbat morning we celebrated a traditional Auf Ruf with their community.  One bride read from the Torah and both of them had an aliyah. Many people participated in the service including their parents, siblings and one Grandmother gave a beautiful D'var Torah on Parshat HaShavua, Chukat. In this portion there is one short mention of the death of Miriam, Moses' sister and the d'var reminded us of the importance of women in not only Moses' life but in the Children of Israel's lives. Miriam and the midwives had saved Moses’ life when he was a baby and floating in the Nile and found water for all of the Children of Israel. Seeing Becky and Erin and their community at the minyan was just as rejuvenating to me as Miriam’s water.  

Erin's Kabbalat Panim
Becky's Tisch


Tisch
The wedding on Sunday afternoon started with a Kabbalat Panim and a Tisch. At the Kabbalat panim we welcomed Erin as a bride and at the Tisch we studied Torah with Becky. These pictures explain some of the traditional elements Becky and Erin carefully planned into their wedding.  
Kabbalat Panim
It was important to Becky and Erin to include many of the  traditional elements in their ceremony: writing their own Ketubah, circling by one of the brides seven times and breaking  the wedding glass at the end of the ceremony.


Together I know Becky and Erin will make the world  a better place to live and as Jews they will welcome everyone into their community. As I teach students of all ages and show pictures and tell stories of this wedding I hope that someone will be moved to either open their eyes or say "Hey, there's a couple just like me."


#itsaschurthing
#mybiggayjewishweddng