Friday, December 20, 2013

Not Just any Birthright Trip

We will eat falafel.
I leave to staff a Birthright trip, Sunday, December 22 for 10 days.  I love visiting Israel and taking people there for a first time experience.  This time I am on a special mission as my Birthright trip is for young adults with Aspergers. (Asperger syndrome is often considered a high functioning form of autism. It can lead to difficulty interacting socially, repeat behaviors, and clumsiness.) My middle son went on this same trip 2 years ago and had the time of his life.  Shorashim is the sponsor of this trip and has been for the past few years with different partner organizations.  The students this year as in the past are from all over the United States.  This trip is not unlike other Birthright trips, we see the same sites from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv to Safed but we don't move around as much; we have more staff and most of our time is programmed. We will eat falafel, ride camels and have a wonderful time.  I will know more in a few days and look forward to blogging my experiences.  

I find as a parent of a young Jewish adult on the spectrum and as an Educator in suburban Chicago that we don't offer many Jewish programs for this constituency. As a professional I am not proud of this fact but I do believe that in the future we will see more programs for students not on the spectrum. Even in my school every year I see more students on the spectrum who would benefit from long and short term Jewish experiences.  

I am looking forward to working with a dedicated staff and I know my group is excited and can't wait to land at Ben Gurion Airport Monday.  We will begin our journey and I know one thing for sure: it will be a memorable one.
Jonathan at the Kotel, with his Birthright Madrichim, Counselors

Monday, December 16, 2013

Not the natural order of things: A light gone out, Sammy Sommer Z'L

This is not the natural order of things, for parents to bury a child.   I was at Sammy Sommer's (Z"L) funeral with more than 1000 people as we said goodbye to Sammy and as we cried with Phyllis, Michael, David, Yael and Solly.  I was there with many Rabbis, Cantors, Educators, teachers, friends, congregants; this assembly was mighty and to behold it in person was to be in awe.  
Program booklet

Rabbi Steven Lowenstein began with a story from Rabbi Harold Kushner about a boy who was very late coming home from school.  Where was he?  He was with a friend whose brand new bicycle had broke.  His parents yelled at him and asked again what could he do to help?  He didn't know how to fix a bicycle, the boy responded, I helped him to cry.  
Inside program booklet

We were all there today to help the entire Sommer family and the circles of communities to grieve.  Phyllis and Michael are part of so many communities that in the first part of Rabbi Lowenstein's remarks which had been dictated by Phyllis, he thanked all of the different communities including:  Am Shalom Congregation and their staff, their children's schools, pre-schools, their temporary schools in Milwaukee, the hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and their camp, Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute and too many more to list here.  

Cantor Andrea Rae Markowicz's voice along with the voice and guitar of Adam Kahan gave all of us comfort as they sang Ozi v'izimrat Yah, Cantor Markowicz Adonai Roi, (23rd Pslam) and Adam closed with Chazak- be Strong by Dan Nichols and Lee Friedman.  

Rabbi Pamela Mandel told us that today was not a day we wanted to ever face.  We hoped and hoped it would not come. In Rabbi Lowenstein's eulogy which was eloquent, full of tears and some giggles he told us that soon after Sam relapsed this last time that the two of them had a conversation over lunch with french fries.  Sam asked, "Who will do my funeral?"  and Rabbi Lowenstein said he would.  Sam asked if there could be fireworks and party games.  Rabbi Lowenstein said we will see what we can do.  A few weeks ago the community came together again and gave Sammy fireworks which he saw and enjoyed.  Sammy was bright, he loved bugs and animals; he loved OSRUI and most of all he loved life.  

When the pall bearers were called up for this tiny casket my tears flowed harder if that is possible.  It is not in the natural order of life to watch Sammy's favorite friends, uncles, babysitters, principal, Rabbi friends, be called to be his pall bearers.  As they came forward I was broken.

As I got back to my office after the funeral my phone, email, Facebook were all beeping and going off.   I hope this paltry effort opens a window on to my perspective of saying goodbye to Sammy.   That is one reason I wanted to write this all down.  Another reason I write down here is for my mentor,Phyllis, Ima Bima  who gently guided me to blog and to start on social media. Phyllis and Michael's own blog for Superman Samuel has drawn so many people into their inner circle.  Many people feel connected and want to continue to help this family in this sad hour. Following the story is a natural out take of their beautiful blog to Sammy, which in turn is a tribute to the entire family.  

When I heard that Sam has breathed his last breath Friday night I broke my Shabbat rule and texted Phyllis and Michael, "I have no words, Baruch Dayan Haemet, (traditional response meaning "Blessed is the true Judge")  doesn't seem right. I love you." It is cold, snowy and dark in Chicago today; a light has gone out.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Books, Book lists and Book Group

I have a book group at Lakeside Congregation and this week before we met I updated our  list of books and discovered we have read 33 books.  We have been meeting since December 2011  and it all started when a few woman asked if we could do an evening book group.  We read Jewish books and being transparent here some of the books I have read before I recommend them and some I have just researched.  

We have appreciated most of the books and others we have come to appreciate after we have had our group discussion.  I think one of my favorite book group meetings was  The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal.  The book is well written; not particularly easy to read and is a family memoir by British ceramicist Edmund De Waal who tells the story of his family the Ephrussi, once a very wealthy European Jewish banking dynasty, centered in Odessa, Vienna and Paris, and peers of the Rothschild family. The Ephrussis lost almost everything in 1938 when the Nazis "Aryanized" their property.

At this meeting we all brought a meaningful family heirloom and we saw some beautiful family objects and learned even more about one another.  We are able to share stories and get to learn about one another at all of our book groups.  We come from different backgrounds, some of us were not born in America, some of us are married, some divorced, some with children and grandchildren, some with empty nests and some with full nests. I find our groups to be a relaxing evening of talking, sharing ideas and discussing our lives through the books we have read together.  Our hosts are all gracious and gives us delicious treats and fun drinks.  

We are not the first  book group on the block but I am very proud of our duration and the dedication of our members.  I also want to give special thanks to my mentors all of them book club mavens: Rachel Kamin at NSS Beth El, Lori Sagarin at Temple Beth Israel and Rabbi Phyllis Sommer at Am Shalom.  They share their book lists,  their expertise and  their comments in person, on Goodreads and over the internet.  I can't thank them enough.  

I love books and asking everyone I know; "What is the latest book you have read?"  I love young adult books, books about Israel and even a good romance novel now and then.  Next time you see me tell me what you are reading; take a look at my Gfoodreads page and see what I am reading.  I challenged myself to read 40 books this year and I am on track to make it.  The trip to Israel will put me over the top I am sure.  What trip to about it next week.

Lakeside Book Group List:
December 2, 2011    Books we have read so far, 12-2-11:
1.    Plot Against America: Philip Roth
2.    People of the Book: Geraldine Brooks
3.    Away: Amy Bloom
4.    Rashi’s daughters: Maggi Anton
5.    Septembers of Shiraz:  Dalia Sofer
6.    To Begin Again:  Rabbi Naomi Levy 
7.    Eli Weisel’s Rashi
8.    Day after Night: Anita Diament
9.    Girl from Foreign: Sadia Shephard (Memoir)
10. All other nights: Dara Horn
11. Invisible wall: Harry Bernstein (part of a trilogy and a Memoir)
12. The Year of Living Biblically: A.J. Jacobs
13. History of Love: Nicole Krauss
14. Pigeon and a boy: Meir Shelev
15. My Father’s Paradise: Ariel Sabar  (Memoir)
16. Stations West: Allison Amend
17. 19th Wife: David Ebershoff  
18. Mr. Rosenbloom Dreams in English by Natasha Solomon
19. The Invisible Bridge: Julie Orringer 
20. The Jew Store: Stella Suberman 
21. Drawing in the Dust: Zoe Klein  
22. Dovekeeper: Alice Hoffman
23. Love and Shame and Love: Peter Orner
24. In the Garden of the Beasts: Erik Larrsen
25. Midwife of Venice: Roberta Rich
26. Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots: Deborah Feldman  
27. 2013 Hare with the Amber Eyes: Edmund De Waal
28. Home in the Morning: Mary Glickman
29. 10,00 Lovers: Edit Ravel
30. Second Person Singular: Sayed Kashua,  
31. Wayward Moon: Janice Weiszman

       32. What we talk about when we talk about Anne Frank: Nathan Englander
       33. Sweet Dates of Basra: Jessica Jiji
       34. 2014 My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner: A Family Memoir:  Meir Shelev
       35.  The List: Martin Fletcher
       36.  The Illusion of Separateness: Simon Van Booy

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Retreat at OSRUI: Good for the Soul

Human bingo
Last weekend Lakeside and Or Shalom went on their annual Fall retreat to OSRUI with 5th and 6th graders.  (Or Shalom also had an adult retreat there at the same time).  We had 32 students, 5 Madrichim and 2 Educators and we had a wonderful time.  We started Friday night with a delicious Shabbat dinner, followed by T'filot and then a fun game of Human bingo (you would be surprised by the number of students who had been to Israel and/or could do the splits) and finished with a game of Gaga.

Felt B'samim for Havdavlah
Israeli Flag in icing and marshmallows

Gaga or Ga-ga (lit. "touch-touch") is a variant of dodgeball. The game combines dodging, striking, running and jumping with the object of hitting opponents with a ball below the knee while avoiding being hit. The game can be played by groups of individual players, teams and in one-on-one matches. The game may sometimes be referred to as "Israeli dodge-ball".
Funny Songs

Shabbat morning we had a fun Torah study and continued to learn about Israel's geography with giant maps, icing, candy and an Israel Jew-pardy game.

   There was more Gaga in the afternoon and even though it rained and we had to scuttle a few outdoor activities we had a fun weekend.

Giant Map of Israel
What I really enjoy about the weekend is talking with my students and just hanging out.  I enjoy reading young adult books and we always have time on Retreat to talk about what books everyone is reading and what movies are the hottest.  There is no substitute for eating, playing, and praying together for 48 hours to be able to get to know your students as well as  the Madrichim, counselors as well. Retreat is an opportunity to encourage our High school students both of whom are applying to be Madrichim at OSRUI this summer and give them a chance to lead all types of programs including Israeli dance, a mixer, arts and crafts, Gaga and even read Torah.   I believe it is powerful for our students to see an older boy read Torah, an older girl play games, and both Israeli dance; these are the best role models possible.  

I left early on Sunday morning to come back for Religious School.  When I left the buildings were surrounded by fog and  camp had an other worldly look.  I like to think that OSRUI is in the clouds somewhere and coming back to earth is never easy.
Soreff  Center in fog on November 3

Thursday, October 31, 2013

#Throw Back Thursday and why do old pictures get more comments then interesting articles?

This week's #TBT
For the past  few weeks I have been posting pictures for Throw back Thursday.  I am always astonished how much interest these pictures always get.  I think that sometimes we forget how many different sets of friends we have on Facebook and how they interact with our different posts.  What is evident is that everyone enjoys a good picture.

I have most of the pictures I have taken in the past 6 years digitally on this computer.  I really need to get my even old pictures converted to digital and then I could quite the time on Throw back Thursdays.

I do enjoy all types of social media and I like spreading the word on new articles, tweets, books or whatever I come across on line.  I subscribe to a few different email blasts which help me find the newest and latest articles.  I like   ejewishphilanthropy and Tablet Magazine to name just two to get the latest on the Jewish world.

My twitter feed is also full of secular and Jewish sites.  It is not often that both my secular and Jewish feeds trend on the same topic and when they do converge it makes for an interesting twitter feed for me.

Well back to looking at social media, posting pictures and keeping up with our ever changing world.  Wait one more pictures for #TBT
Now Ethan coaches this Schechter team!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Who's coming through the "Door" at Lakeside?

The "Door"
Hayam Salomon
Hayam Salomon in Chicago
This year at Lakeside Congregation we have a door on the Bimah and every Sunday morning at 10:00 am when T'filah are scheduled to begin our Mad Scientist, AKA as Noah Whiteman, helps to bring a new character from American Jewish history through the door.  We began with Hayam Salomon, (Bill Goodman) who helped finance the Revolutionary War AND has a statue in Chicago at Wacker and Wabash with George Washington.    

We invite our guest to stay and pray with us; and those guests who have been from the 1700-1800's so far are very surprised to see that we pray with men and and women sitting together, have someone playing guitar and have a siddur in English and Hebrew. They are very pleased to see the future of American Jewry.  They are very happy to see that American Jewry is alive and well in 2013.

 After Hayam Salomon we went back even farther in time and brought back Asser Levy, (Michael Schaffer). Asser Levy was one of the first Jewish settlers of the Durch colony of New Amsterdam on Manhatten Island. He was also the first  Jew to own a house in the New World, to be a solider in the army and to the first Jewish Butcher.  You can see him with his butcher's apron below.

Asser Levy and our Mad Scientist
  Rebecca Gratz, (Emily Crane), was our next visiter and she  helped to establish the first Sunday school, for which all of my students were very thankful. At the age of 20 in 1801 she helped to found the Female Association for the Relief of Woman and Children in Reduced Circumstances.  Later on her family founded Gratz College which is still in Philadelphia today.  She was astonished to see me lead t'filot in pants but I think we won her over.

Before we our guest goes back into time to finish their important work they sign our door and we sing them back into time.  We have a wonderful song, composed and sung by our own Adam Kahan, Dor L'Dor (from generation to Generation and a pun on Door) We want to make sure all our guests get back in time to complete their work and make their mark on history.  We also put their picture on our website with a short biography to help us remember them.

Besides our students learning about Jewish history, this project is a wonderful way to include parents and congregants in a weekly project.  The costumes are simple and wigs or hats go a long way every week.   I plan on raiding the local Halloween stores early on November 1st this year.
Rebecca Gratz

This idea was originally the brain child of Anne Stein at Congregation Etz Chaim in Lombard.  This year Anne and I have shared this project and have a wonderful time planning together.  We are looking forward to a fun year of costumes, characters and congregants.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

NFTY Leadership Training Institute or why staying in youth group makes the teen years go a little easier

My congregation, Lakeside was happy to host over 70 High School Leaders from Chicago area NFTY today. These teen leaders ages 15-18 met each other, learned different skills to become a leader, hung out, ate, studied some more skills, had dinner together and then went home.  Lakeside's LCTY group had helped plan this event and did a wonderful job.  I could go on with the platitudes but I know many times I am like a broken record when talking about youth group.

I know in my heart of hearts that these teens are future leaders of the Jewish community and perhaps starting with statement like this will not garner the additional participants that I would like to add to all types of Youth engagement. I realize that it might be better to start with skills that can be gained by becoming involved as a teen.  Here are just a few areas where teens gain expertise from youth group: leadership, communication, social media, making friends, speaking in front a group and planning programs and all of this steeped in Judaism.

I have always discussed with my Rabbi, Ike Serotta, that our kids that stay in Religious School through confirmation and then through youth group and working in our school have a much better chance of, well how can I say this, "staying out of trouble."  We have seen it time and time and time again.  I say it so much that I think I am a broken record or an itune song in a loop.  I know that Youth group be it NFTY, BBYO, Young Judea, fill in your youth group name here is not the answer for everyone.  I just wish more someone's would try it out.

The 70 teens today at Lakeside will become leaders, go on to work at our camps and are wonderful teens.  I hope that we can attract more teens to become engaged.  I have seen with my own eyes the difference it can make when teens are engaged and when they are not engaged.  Engagement can also be at public school, through sports, drama, dance, and the many extra curricular activities.  My passion is Jewish education and that's how I hope to attract and engage students for as long as I can.

If I am really lucky those that we engage go on to become Jewish educators, Rabbis, Cantors, or Youth group advisors and my record so far is pretty good...but it could always be better.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

#BlogElul 13th of Tishri Epilogue

Just an image I found, not done by a child I know

I know that Elul is over but Rabbi Phyllis I think you should consider some type Epilogue to blogging Elul.  I have loved watching facebook posts of everyone's sermons, ones they gave or one they heard, great meals again either served or eaten.  I even liked to see how tired everyone said they  were after said activities.  I think everyone blogging Elul should do one more Blog to wrap up their year.  It would also give everyone discipline to do ONE more Blog.  After blogging Elul I have fallen off the grid as  many of us have.  There is so much to do as a professional Jew, we just don't a minute to ourselves during  Tishri, never mind time to blog.  I do think it would be great to see how Blogging Elul paid off for those blogging and it would  give the discipline for just one MORE Blog.
Sermon Bingo is Genius

I know for me I enjoyed the daily posts and it certainly got me in the frame of mind for the High Holy Days even though Rosh Hashanah was 2 days after Labor day.  I had one friend, (Daniel Shore) who did a sermon Bingo on Rosh Hashanah and he asked friends on Facebook to let him know who had heard a sermon on DOMA, Syria or the 50th  Anniversary of MLK's speech, I have a dream.  Fascinating to see that many people had heard many of these same topics.
After blogging Elul I was in a good frame of mind to listen to wonderful sermons, start writing my weekly Email articles, and was able to get  into the spirit much earlier.

It is not easy to find a Simchat Torah picture with a girl holding a Torah
I know it's almost Sukkot and we are again preparing for not just this holiday but we have Shabbat and Simchat Torah following quickly on its heels.  I liked blogging Elul and it gave me the feeling of what it is like to blog daily.  I would love to hear other peoples' Epilogue to blogging Elul.  I'd write more but I have got to catch up before Pizza in the Hut begins tomorrow.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

#BlogElul 29 Return WAIT, it's Tishri? Now What?

Well I didn't make Quite make it until the end of BlogElul.  It got too hectic, I attended a great wedding and didn't have my computer, I had to get ready to open school, coordinate High Holiday T'filot and OK, Name your excuse.  I hate when people give the excuse they are too busy.  In fact I have been known to tell more than one person, "Don't try to Out Busy ME!"  Whatever my excuse once I stopped blogging I felt that I couldn't even blog some other ideas but I was determined to finish BlogElul in some way.  
Nathan and Shula get married

I am looking forward to next year when not only will the High Holy Days be later but, of course Blog Elul will be later as well.  There will be other obstacles to face next year, school starting, Ethan Ron going to college, (yes you read that right) but I look forward to blogging all of Elul 5774.  If I don't succeed there is always the next year.  I am in this for the long haul.

As we look to return and begin again as the year 5774 comes in there is a comfort in the familiar rituals of the High Holy Days followed by Sukkot and this year the beginning of Religious School.  Returning means to start from where you once were.  
Congregation Knesseth Israel, Elgin

I have very strong memories of hearing Kol Nidre at my home congregation, Knesseth Israel in Elgin as I was growing up.  We went every year and sat in the sanctuary as a dedicated lay person from the choir, Milt Pearlman, would sing Kol Nidre so beautifully.  The entire congregation would be spell bound throughout his renditions.  I tell all my students that their first adult service should be Kol Nidre because of my strong feelings of rembrance.

I am looking forward to hearing Kol Nidre at Lakeside Congregation tomorrow night with Cantor Davis, our beautiful choir and one rendition on the cello; I return to Elgin, I return to sitting in the pews with my sister, parents and Grandmother.  I love the beautiful peace that descends on the service as we usher in Yom Kippur.  I will be thinking about blogging Elul and how good it felt this year and wondering what Rabbi Phyllis Sommer has in store for us next year.

If I have offended anyone, whether intentionally or accidentally I hope you accept my apologies and grant me forgiveness as we enter the new year.  G'mar Chatimah Tovah.

This post is part of #BlogElul, a series of social media posts created during Elul, the month preceding the High Holidays. During Elul, it is customary for Jews to prepare spiritually for the upcoming new year. An annual project, #Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

#BlogElul 23 Love: Name your city

When I think of a picture of love I think of this beautiful sculpture from the Billy Rose Sculpture garden at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.  Here is its predecessor sculpture in New York.

Two great cities and I love them both probably for the same reason; they both have a lot of Jews.  It is exhilarating to be in Jerusalem and study with great scholars.  It is also exhilarating to be in New York amongst Jewish and secular scholars and to be in the midst of Broadway, the Met and all of the other great museums.  

Can you love a city?  I suppose if I did it would  be a three way tie and the last city being Chicago.  I love coming back to Chicago after spending time away.  It is home and I do love it.  We may not have a love sculpture but we do have the BEAN

This post is part of #BlogElul, a series of social media posts created during Elul, the month preceding the High Holidays. During Elul, it is customary for Jews to prepare spiritually for the upcoming new year. An annual project, #Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

#BlogElul 22 Dare to see the World Through Jewish Eyes

What's the biggest dare you have ever taken?  I am not much of dare devil.  In fact I am sure my family would tell you that I should be described as the opposite of Dare devil.  I do like taking  a chance in my work and in the educational lessons, curriculum and projects that I plan. I love to try new curriculum, find out the latest speakers in the area or just plan a new program.

When I taught Religious School, many moons ago I used to change grades every year.  I got bored teaching the same grade and dared to take on a new set of program, students and text books.  Taking a dare with a new idea coming to a new service or trying a new Jewish experience is something I dare you to do.  

I have stayed with the Chai Curriculum from the URJ for many years.  I like it.  I have tweaked it, added to it and made sure we cover new ideas.  I dare myself to make it new and current every year and throughout the year.  

20 years ago the Union of American Hebrew Congregations published a new curriculum, "To See the World through Jewish Eyes" I was trained to use it over a long period of time and believe me it was not user friendly. As soon as teachers were trained on this curriculum it was gone.  In fact I could not for the life of me find any graphics from this curriculum to show here.  It was over and one with before you could typeset the title in your school handbook.

 I did use the title countless times over the years as I have always loved it.  It dares you to see the world through Jewish colored glasses and I do.

This post is part of #BlogElul, a series of social media posts created during Elul, the month preceding the High Holidays. During Elul, it is customary for Jews to prepare spiritually for the upcoming new year. An annual project, #Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

#BlogElul 21 Change Again

Oy Change again.  As I said last week, no one likes change and here we have another blog on change. In the end though, change is good, very good in fact.  Here is my story about change which I forgot about last week so I am glad I have another opportunity to blog about change!

David Bryfman
  I have heard David Bryfman, Director of the New Center for Collaborative Leadership at The Jewish Education Project in New York at an ICenter conference and his words have haunted me ever since.  He told us that if our organization had not changed in the last 5 years that in 5 more years your institution might not exist.  

I think about the organizations I belong to NATE; or my home institution Lakeside or even OSRUI andI actually think that we have made changes in the last 5 years and we plan on making more changes that will help enhance our institutions.  Sometimes we resist change but when it is successful we are eager to embrace it.  As we head into 5774 change something in your life whether it be at work, camp, home or when you pray.  One change could lead to another.  

This post is part of #BlogElul, a series of social media posts created during Elul, the month preceding the High Holidays. During Elul, it is customary for Jews to prepare spiritually for the upcoming new year. An annual project, #Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer.

Monday, August 26, 2013

#BlogElul 20 Judge or maybe not.

At this time of year, before the High Holy Days when you see the word judge I think about God, Book of Life, judging your actions for the past year.  It is an awesome time for Jews as they sit in synagogue.  I like to see the world through Jewish eyes and now is also the time for You to be the Judge, just like the book from Torah Aura.  

Here is the description of the book from the website:
You Be the Judge books pose real-life situations and their Jewish answers. These legal cases are perfect as part of family or Shabbat programs, as the trigger to fun class discussions, equally usable at the dinner table and in the classroom. Here are three chances to share values, discuss ethics, and take a first look into the Talmud, the codes, and the wisdom of the Jewish legal process. 
There is also You be the Judge 2 and 3.  These are great books and are wonderful triggers for Religious School class.  I wonder if they would be interested in a new book line called:  Don't be the Judge.  I think too often we tend to judge other people, colleagues, students, teachers, fill in the blank.  I sometimes jump to conclusions and then I stop myself and say wait a minute.  Who am I to say what is right or wrong or who is right and wrong.  It is not easy to sit tight and not make a snap judgement. Over the next few weeks I will be thinking about God as Judge and trying not to Be The Judge. 

This post is part of #BlogElul, a series of social media posts created during Elul, the month preceding the High Holidays. During Elul, it is customary for Jews to prepare spiritually for the upcoming new year. An annual project, #Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

#BlogElul 19 Ask

Over the years I have had some bone mishaps, some planned and some very Unplanned.  I had foot surgery and a few years ago I broke my wrist.  It is not easy asking for help.  I find  it something that is hard to do and have seen other people having that same hard time asking for help when the community around them would be more than happy to help.  When I broke my wrist the first thing I thought about was how was I going to put on my bra..with help I did it.

Today there are many websites and apps that can help a family keep loved ones and their community up to date.  The two I have used and participated in include:  Lotsa helping hands and Caring bridge.  These sites have become more sophisticated with calendars and many other add ones which help keep people informed and also help those coordinating all the helping efforts.  These calendars are very helpful and can make sure that no efforts are being duplicated for the family who needs help.

It is not easy to ask for help, if you are sick, healthy or just getting by.  People like to help it makes them feel good.  We teach our children that tikkun olam, repairing the world, means visiting the sick.  Sometimes we feel funny making a sick call.  It has taken me 30 years working in Jewish education and at synagogues to realize that you just need to visit someone don't really need to say much.   When you make a shiva call and you should make a shiv call when someone in your community, not just your family dies, you can just sit with the family.  You can ask if they need anything but usually your company is enough.  I encourage everyone one to ask for help, answer the calls and be there for one another.

This post is part of #BlogElul, a series of social media posts created during Elul, the month preceding the High Holidays. During Elul, it is customary for Jews to prepare spiritually for the upcoming new year. An annual project, #Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer.

#BlogElul 18 Pray, T'filah in a Kehillah, community, Kehillah

I love T'filah and I especially love t'tilah at OSRUI.  I help our chanichim, campers lead t'filah every night.  We usually have all of the chanichim right about each prayer.  It is beautiful and so prayerful for everyone at t'filot.  

One of the reasons camp works so well and t'filot at camp work well because we pray together as a community for 3 weeks (at least in Kallah Gimmel, in other units it is 2, 4 or 7 weeks).  These kids and madrichim, counselors really know how to pray.  I am including in this blog a sample of one cabins readings before a typical evening t'filah.

Opening: Tzrif James A Garfield

R:  Welcome to tonight’s first Tzrif T’filah.  We are Tzrif James A. Garfield, and tonight we will be leading Kallah’s  T’filah. 
A:  Our Tzrif will be giving modern explanations of our prayers.  Please enjoy our t’filah lead by James A Garfield Tzrif

C and A:
We begin with the Barechu.  This is the call to worship. Please rise for the Barechu on page 4, amud arbeh

Hi I am M and I am J Our Tzrif is writing about the different prayers in our T’filah.  The Shema means to me that we believe in one God

People in different religions and different  beliefs think differently. Some people say there is more than one God as we have learned from Greek stories.  You don’t have to be Greek to believe in more than one God.  We should respect all religions.

Michamochah: M and L
M:  The Michamochah is the song sang by the Israelites after the Red Sea parted.  It is talking about the miracle of the Red Sea, and how we wouldn’t be here today if the sea did not part.  This was a miracle from the past.

L:  And a miracle in the present that is happening right now is that we Jews are all at camp together and getting along as community, Kehillah Kedosha.  

Silent Prayer
R and S
We believe that silent prayer is your change to connect with God.  Your time to thank God for all the miracles in the world and at camp.. To pray for peace in Israel.  And now we’ll pray silently as a community.  

Oseh Shalom
D and J
The Oseh Shalom prayer is about peace .  Making peace at camp can be described as being nice to one another.  

Kaddish and 
Closing Song

This post is part of #BlogElul, a series of social media posts created during Elul, the month preceding the High Holidays. During Elul, it is customary for Jews to prepare spiritually for the upcoming new year. An annual project, #Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer.

Friday, August 23, 2013

#BlogElul 17 Awaken

I awake this morning the mother of a 25 year old and the other two are 22 and 17. How did I get to this place?  It does seem that just yesterday I had 3 little kids, going to school, carpooling to here and there.  The last child has just started his last year of High school.  Really when did this happen? With the explosion of blogs, twitter and all things social media everyone at this time of year is talking about taking kids to the first day of school from Kindergarten to University.  I feel it really I do. The first day of school, the pictures, the letting go of your children.  It 's that time of year.

I suppose you could say I always feel it as I have opened my own school for the past 29 years and yes 25 at Lakeside Congregation.  This time of year  is always frenitic with opening school, the High Holy days and at least one birthday to plan.  I planned some good parties in my day; maybe because I would rather focus on a great birthday party and not ordering enough Hebrew school books and pencils.

I will awake tomorrow and it will be Shabbat and another day closer to the opening of  school and the High Holy days.  To be awake and aware of everything is certainly a blessing one which I will think about tomorrow.
My 25 year old baby

This post is part of #BlogElul, a series of social media posts created during Elul, the month preceding the High Holidays. During Elul, it is customary for Jews to prepare spiritually for the upcoming new year. An annual project, #Blog Elul is the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer.