Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Looking Backward: Looking forward

This last week has not been an easy one.  Beginning with the terrorist explosion in a Tel Aviv cafe and then the horrific tragedy of Orlando.  It is hard to heap more words on those that have been spoken already.  From the URJ to Lakeside Congregation we have spoken out about Orlando and gun control in the United States.  Last week I got a text from a friend who was worried about sending her daughter to Israel for the summer after the Cafe bombing.  I told her not to worry, that all Israel trips for youth, synagogues or any tourists are very carefully controlled.  True they may alter an itinerary after a security alert but I have never felt safer when living and visiting in Israel.

After the tragedy in Orlando what do we do?  Can we warn our children to alter their behavior in going to clubs?  Israel was in solidarity with Orlando and many buildings in Tel Aviv showed their rainbow colors.

Yes we can protest gun violence and in fact there is a protest this Friday:

What: Demonstration at assault weapons manufacturer

Date: Friday, June 17, 2016

Time: 12 noon until 1:00 pm

Where: DS Arms, 27996 W. Industrial Avenue, Lake Barrington, IL

Contact: Lee Goodman 847-559-9525

In response to the the recent mass-shooting in Orlando, Florida, Peaceful Communities will hold a demonstration at a company that manufactures assault rifles and sells them to the public.

“Companies are making money manufacturing assault weapons and selling them to the public. These companies and the entire gun industry should be held accountable for the damage that their products cause,” said Lee Goodman, organizer of Peaceful Communities. “The gun industry has escaped liability for the shootings, whether mass-shootings like the recent one in Orlando or the daily shootings all across America. It is time that industry started acted responsibly.”

The demonstration is the ninth in a campaign called the Merchants of Death Protest Tour, which will continue to visit gun industry locations throughout the summer.

Peaceful Communities is a volunteer organization working for the reduction of violence.
We can write and call our representatives, we can say prayers for the families who are still hurting from the aftermath of this attack.  This is looking backward.

Planning Limudim 2015
Looking forward I will be at OSRUI tomorrow to participate in Staff training, Shavuah Hachanah, (week of preparation).  I am working in Kibbutz Hatzofim this summer, an Ohel (tent) eidah (unit) and I can't wait.  When I come up for the day I get to meet all of the madrichim (counselors) I will be working with in a few weeks and help them prepare for a wonderful summer.  

Sometimes we do an art project together to remember how it feels to be 9 years old and away at camp; other times we study some Torah and see what Jewish values we find together.  I see these staff members as the future.  They will be able to outlaw assault rifles, they will be able to make this world better than how we are leaving it.  They have hope and when I work with them I have hope too.

I need to get ready for tomorrow and pick up some good snacks, including a Gluten Free option and I know that I will be inspired by my tzvet, (staff) tomorrow.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Shavuot, Confirmation and Cheesecake

Next Motzei Shabbat,(Saturday night) and Sunday is the holiday of Shavuot.  On Sunday morning June 12, 10:30am at Lakeside Congregation we will be confirming our 10th grade students. If you have never attended this t'filah I highly encourage you to come and celebrate with us.  Besides thoughtful d'vrei Torah on the theme of Beyond Words by all of our students we have a light kiddush lunch which is highlighted by the favorite desserts of all of the confirmands.

I am sure we will have cheesecake as it is a custom to eat milk products on Shavuot.  (Some derive the practice directly from scripture, saying we eat dairy to symbolize the “land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8) promised to the Israelites, or that “milk and honey are under your tongue” (Song of Songs 4:11). These passages, along with “The precepts of the Lord are… sweeter than honey” (Psalm 19:9-11) also indicate we should eat honey, which is customary in some communities. From My Jewish learning)
Shavuot is sometimes a lost holiday.  As it is this year we are celebrating after we have finished our Religious School year.  We are not in school when we celebrate and not yet at camp.  Our students and families don't realize that it is on par with Sukkot and Pesach as one of the Pilgrimage holidays.

Shavuot has several designations in the Bible. Shavuot means in Hebrew: weeks.  As we know here at Lakeside this refers to the counting of the Omer for 7 weeks between Pesach and Shavuot. The Book of Exodus 23:16 designates it as “Hag HaKatzir” — the Festival of the Harvest — which identifies the holiday with an agricultural season. The Book of Numbers 28:26 designates it as “Hag HaBikkurim” –the Festival of the First Fruits, which specified the time on which the custom was to offer first fruits. When I studied for the year in Israel I spent Shavuot on Kibbutz and actually saw the first fruits brought out on a tractor including all of the babies born in the last year.  It is a festive fun holiday.

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.