Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I love to Read!

Just the NEW BOOKS in theYoung Adult Section
Deerfield Library
I have always loved reading since I was a toddler.  My parents swear they toilet trained me by putting a pile of books by my potty seat.

My favorite part of 4th and 5th grade Public school was the WHOLE hour on Friday when we could do "free reading" and sit quietly for 60 minutes and read.  I realize now it was not just a good idea but the teacher was probably taking a break too.

 When I would go weekly to our public library in Crystal Lake, Illinois where I grew up with my Mom and sister I would check out as many books as I was allowed.  As I got older I actually read through the young adult section of my Crystal Lake library, ( I am sure there are
MORE books there now).  I distinctly remember in Junior High that I read A Separate Peace commonly now assigned to High School students.  I now know that  I didn't really understand  the book but I didn't have many books to choose from.   I began reading adult books at an early age including all of James Michner's books: The Source, The Drifters, Hawaii, Poland, you name it.  I also read many books by Leon Uris including QBVII, Exodus, Trinity and Mila 18.  I loved all of these books and have fond memories of them.
Part of Lakeside Congregation Library

What I wouldn't given for the children's and young adult section like you can find at my newly rebuilt  public library.  I love all of the different book sections including the books on CD.  Deerfield also has a section for book groups which has many copies of the same book including many Jewish books.

My library at Lakeside Congregation also has a great selection of Jewish books and our librarian, Margaret keeps everything up to date and current.  I am proud of our collection and our students and families take advantage and check out books regularly during the year.

Exodus by Leon Uris

I love reading young adult books today and maybe this stems from not having enough books when I was of age.  I enjoy not just the Vampire series but other genres as well.   I did read The Hunger Games before all 3 books had even been published.  I am now a big fan of the dystopian young adult books and have read quite a few.  Interested in my book list take a look on my Goodreads, a site/app which keeps track for me all the books I have read and more importantly those I WANT to read.

I enjoy reading and my summer list so far includes for my Jewish books:
The Wayward Moon by Janice Weizman, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker,  What we talk about when we talk about Anne Frank by Nathan Englander, The List by Martin Fletcher and Sweet Dates in Basra by Jessica Jiji.  My non Jewish book list reads:  Paris by Edward Rutherford, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and a few more too many to list here.  Take a look on Goodreads though.  Have a great summer and take up a book; there's nothing good on TV anyway. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Synagogues as an Apple Store; Are we up to the challenge?

My computer in Israel at Kibbutz Tzubah
I bought a Mac Book Air about a year ago and have enjoyed it since day 1.  I got it right before I went away to camp, OSRUI, so I could have all my madrichim, counselors, help me work out the kinks or at least the kinks in me as the operator.  What I didn't take advantage of until a few months later was the Apple One to One tutorial sessions.  For $99.00 which in my case was a BARGAIN Apple provides you with as many tutorial sessions as you want for a year.   I enjoy the hour sessions and I can ask any silly question and receive immediate answers.

Why blog about this?  Well sitting in a planning session at Lakeside today I realized that Apple knows how to make people comfortable in a world in which they are normally not comfortable and give them the knowledge they need to understand what is going on around them and feel competent.  

The more I thought about it I realized that this is something in the Jewish world we are not always successful at doing.  We need to give our members the opportunity in our synagogues, camps and schools the opportunity to learn at their own pace, ask any question no matter how foolish it may sound or seem to them and provide this at regular intervals.  How do we make congregants comfortable in places and situations where they may not be comfortable.  The staff at the Apple store makes working with computers, IPods, iPads and everything Apple look easy.  When you sit and work with the staff they let you navigate your system at your own pace until you learn how to for instance make an iMovie.  I have enjoyed learning a new skill and know that in the back of my mind that I can always go back to the Apple store if I have more questions.  

New Ark at Lakeside
I know that Apple is a business selling something most of us want and value.  I do believe that Judaism is something our congregants/campers/family want and we just need to think about the packaging.  We need to keep expanding our horizons and making room at "our stores" for everyone.  We need to engage people where they are at and where they feel comfortable.  Maybe if we open up a Synagogue NEXT to the Apple store? I might be on to something here!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bonjour France from the whole Mischpacha Ehrlich/Shanker/Michaels

For 10 days I had the pleasure of touring France with my extended family; my parents celebrating their 80th birthday's this year, my sister and her family and my family for a total number of 12 people.  It was a wonderful trip of touring, eating treats, and traveling as a family.

We were able to travel to Normandy right before the anniversary of D-Day on June 6, stay in apartments in Paris for 5 days and walk, walk and do more walking over all of Paris.  We visited old favorites: the Louvre and loved the Musee D'Orsay with all the Impressionists and that is just the tip of the iceberg of our visits.
A pre dessert of cheese and candied plum

After walking many miles, which I know we did as my pedometer registered over 30,000 steps for 4 of the 5 days of our walking.

To make sure we didn't die of hunger every night we had delicious meals and finding places where they could seat 12 people was not an easy task.  Once finding these restaurants making the reservations was also a challenge.  Special thanks to Arthur Ehrlich for finding the restaurants and to Neil Leiter for making the actual reservations for us in FRENCH.  Every night we dined at about 8:00 pm and were finished by 11:00 pm at the earliest.  We enjoyed all of our meals as we ate from the Basque country, at a Vietnamese restaurant and a European restaurant.
Jonathan with WWII Jeep

Here is a top ten list of what we learned while in Paris:

  1. Butter is a MAIN food group and it is used in EVERY meal.
  2. If you are in Normandy near D-day it is like being in a time machine back to WWII.
  3. Using the Metro (Mass Transit) while easy does NOT mean there is NOT a lot of walking or going up and down 100's of steps.  
  4. In the Marais (Jewish quarter) you can get a Schnitzel of course aptly named: Le Schnitzel
  5. Even the Pacific Rim restaurants have fully stocked wine cellars 
  6. When touring museums it is more fun if you act out the painting or sculpture
  7. Ice at a restaurant means 2 cubes for the whole table of 12 people
  8. High School and College French skills go a longway in communicating with people
  9. If Taxi drivers get in a fight while you are in the car they will not charge you the full fare
  10. Acting out Rodin's sculpture 
  11. A family vacation in France is a wonderful way to start the summer of 2013
BONNE ANNIVERSAIRE Marian Lee and Jerry; 80 years old and as we say in Hebrew Ad Meah V'esrim, until 120.  Where are we going next year?
Marian Lee and Jerry Happy 80th!