Sunday, April 27, 2014

A New Way to Commemorate Yom HaShoah or how a Tradition Begins

Today at Lakeside Congregation's annual commemoration of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, we came together with Congregation Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Congregation to commemorate the Shoah, to learn about the Mid-Atlantic Slave Trade and celebrate both our congregations being together and having the ability to sing and pray joyously together.

We began the morning by inviting the whole congregation to light yahrzeit candles in memory of the 6 Million who perished in the Holocaust.  As  El Malai Rachamin, the traditional prayer chanted at funerals for the ascension of the souls of the 
dead, was chanted the congregation was transfixed.  We concluded with the mourners Kaddish and then Rabbi Capers Funnye spoke about the Mid Atlantic slave trade and it's relevance today.  There are similarities between these two horrific events from our combined histories.  Every year we dedicate one Sunday morning, the closest to Yom Hashoah and have a special t'filah, service.  As survivors who can speak become not just harder to find but much fewer in number we realize we must look to change this commemoration in the future and this year's solution was meaningful and appropriate for all ages.  

Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Choir
Our congregation was especially delighted to sing and rejoice in the day when the choir from Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken began their part of the program.  The Lakeside choir was also very excited to join in for some songs as well.  
Our Choir with Cong Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken
From Hine Mah Tov to Mah Tovu they songs were familiar and different at the same time.  The combined congregations were on their feet and clapping as we sang Go Down Moses.  The congregation clapped, sang, danced and had such a joyful morning.  I can't wait to talk with my students next week and ask what they learned and took away from this t'filah.  I know that it will be something they will remember and I hope that this is the continuation of a tradition with Congregation Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Time to Visit Israel, come and listen just how to get there.

Ethan on EIE
Sunday April 20th, 10:30 am (with free lox and bagel brunch) at Lakeside Congregation, come and here about many different ways to visit Israel.  We have 5 speakers and there is a trip for everyone.  First up is Ethan Ehrlich who will speak about his time on EIE, Eisendrath International Exchange.  Ethan spent 4 months of his junior year in High School on Kibbutz Tzuba not just studying his High School classes but experiencing all of Israel.  Then Gina Goldman, Lakeside Confirmation graduate, will share with us about her experiences on Taglit Birthright.

Lakeside in Israel in 2013

We also have experiences for families; Marc Cairo will share with us his experience on the Lakeside Congregation trip last year when his daughter became a Bat Mitzvah.  Dan Blaustein also on the Lakeside Trip.  We are going as a congregation again next year, March 2015 so come and hear a preview of what is in store for you.

Our next speaker is from Skilled Volunteers for Israel.Skilled Volunteers for Israel matches experienced professionals with meaningful skilled volunteer opportunities in Israel.  They link the expertise of North American & British Jews with the critical needs of Israel through limited-term volunteer engagements.  Volunteer to meet a need that’s been identified by our partners or we will design an opportunity for you based on your skills and interests.  Chuck Rosenberg will let us know all about this fascinating new organization.

We will also hear from Daniel Kaplan who will be sharing how to visit Israel.  

I am looking forward to Sunday morning and I encourage you to come and see just how to get to Israel.  Chag Samaech!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

#BlogExodus Day 8: Learn

In all of our Hebrew school classes we have been working on Hebrew as usual but this week we all practiced the 4 questions and got ready for Seder which is Monday night.  In my Kitah Aleph class we watched this video which allows you to pick your own Pesach adventure.  Click on it and you will see and enjoy.

If you need to practice the 4 questions, just click.  There are so many great sites and great Pesach parodies I could fill pages and pages.

Kitah Aleph watching a Pesach Video
I look forward to hearing about everyone's Pesach seder and you can check back here as I try to catch up on #BlogExodus.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

#BlogExodus Day 7 Bless

Still doing #blogExodus and today as you can see we have BLESS.  My family is the first thing which comes to my mind when I think of bless. This Pesach my kids will all be together for both Seders.  I am very excited.

I told Arthur we have one rule, if the 5 of us are not in the same place we must keep our cell phones on.  I guess we will be able to turn off our phones for the first time since last summer.  Can't wait to set the Seder table, make charoset and  have Seder together.  This is bless, blessing and to be blessed.
Nathan and Shula's Wedding Sept 2013

Monday, April 7, 2014

#BlogExodus Day 6: Clean

I do like the idea of cleaning my house to get ready for Pesach.  I don't really like doing it.  It feels good to get rid of all the jars which have been in the refrigerator for unknown amounts of time.  I suppose you could also look at Pesach and also see it as a time to clean house in other ways as well.

Time to finish old projects, time to think about new projects and plan out the year ahead.  This is coincidentally the time of year I plan my school calendar for the upcoming year.  It is fun to look ahead and think about what I might create next year.  Creating new programs has always been one part of my job I have always enjoyed.

(Note to readers:  I had a funny article about how my family blames our cleaning help for losing objects they have lost and then the cleaning help actually finds whatever is lost.   They told me I couldn't write about that.  If you want to hear the stories let me know as I changed the blog but I don't think my family ever reads it, although they claim they do)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

#BlogExodus Day 5: Prepare

Here are some good ways to prepare for Pesach:

Go to Kosher Jewel with the crowds, buy huge basket full of Pesach food and spend under $300.00. comment on what is in other people's basket's, and ask in Hebrew where is the Shemen Zayit (olive oil)
First shopping run for Pesach

Start your Google Doc Pesach menu, so your daughter can also comment on the menu.

Rejoice that you gave off 2 weeks of Religious School for Spring break

leave Pesach preparations to see Divergent!

Friday, April 4, 2014

#BlogExodus Day 4: Free: Kitniyot Rebellion who is with me?

I know that Pesach is the holiday of Freedom; however the week of Pesach in particular does not on the surface seem freeing to me.  As the main cook and bootle washer at my house the week of Pesach highlights to me how dependent my family (read ME) is on restaurants, pre-prepared and packaged food. We usually eat out as a family a few meals a week.  Then there are the stops at our favorite kosher restaurants, which for us is like going into the Cheers Bar...everyone knows our names at these establishments.

I suppose you could say that Pesach frees me of this food dependence and I am forced to cook and create new dishes not just for Seder but the whole week.  I do think about each meal, who will eat it, how will we transport the food if we are at work/school?  We are fortunate enough to live in an area where my local grocery stores sell ready made Charoset, which I would never buy because the way I make it is the best!

Last year I was in Israel for Pesach and most of our meals served Kitniyot and it was a change for me.
(Kitniyot, (Hebrewקִטְנִיּוֹת ,קיטניות‎, qit'niyyot) (legumes) is a category of foods that may not be eaten during Passover by Jews following traditional Ashkenazi laws and customs. Long-standing tradition in other communities and recent rulings have given support in certain cases for variation from this practice.    Kitniyot are grains and legumes such as rice, corn, soy beans, string beans, peas, lentils, mustard, sesame seeds and poppy seeds)
There is already a Kitniyot Liberation Front
The week of not eating Chamatz but eating kitniyot seemed to go by much faster.  Granted I did not have to cook ANY meals last year so perhaps this is why the week went faster but just the options of food seemed tastier to me.  I think I might start a family revolt for Kitniyot.  I know I will be happier and I think my family will be too. It is healthier for vegetarians as soy and other proteins are allowed. Last year in Israel it also meant we could eat falafel and hummus.  So I am seriously thinning about adding Kitniyot because that would be freedom.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

#BlogExodus Day 3: Enslave: What makes you a slave?

There are many things which enslave us, yes technology, whether it be email, Facebook or twitter.  Sometimes you can even be enslaved by your favorite TV shows. Although DVR and On demand features give us the opportunity to at least watch our TV shows at a time when it is convenient for us  Gone are the days when everyone stayed home to watch a certain show. These are first world enslavements.

My Rabbi, Ike Serotta once said that today with all of the gadgets which make our lives "easier" and making getting in touch with people "faster" it has added not just another level of stress to our lives but in the long run these time savers have made our day even longer.  I can barely remember a time when I didn't start my with reading and returning my emails.  Yes, I get much work done, I am in touch with many more people and agencies but my life is more hectic and my day broken into many parts.

I enjoy social media and I believe I have found a happy equilibrium in participating in social media and taking time to attend to longer tasks that take more concentration.

I know there are also serious things which can enslave us: poverty, substance abuse, human trafficking and a range of ills which affect us in 5774-2014.  Just by writing and keeping up with #BlogExodus we can be a part of something bigger and share our vision for our families or for the world: Let nothing enslave you!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#BlogExodus Day 2: Tell (me about being a part of a family)

OSRUI Segel, Faculty before the Shave
Blogging today will be easy in that I have much to tell about last night's event of 36 Rabbi's (there were actually over 50) Shaving for the Brave a St. Baldrick's event.  I came to support the whole community of Rabbi's about to shave their heads and in some cases their faces all in the name of raising funds for pediatric cancer research.  All in all by the end of the evening we had raised over half a million dollars and it is still not too late to donate.

We began the evening with t'filot to frame the task that was in front of us.  After a moving t'filah with over 500 Rabbi's in attendance, some with their families. They covered the stage in plastic; 8 barbers standing behind 8 chairs and the first group, including Rabbi Phyllis and Michael Sommer began to have their hair shaved off.

During the shaving which began late in the evening and lasted for over  2 hours was sometimes hard to watch, I know some of the participants were nervous and I think for a woman to shave her hair is such a brave thing to do.  For the men although they look very different  in a few weeks they will begin to look normal.  For the woman this process will take so much longer.
Some of the Women who shaved for the brave.  

I am so proud of being part of something bigger.   I met Phyllis at OSRUI when we were both on Faculty.  Being part of the OSRUI family is also being part of something bigger.  I have known Phyllis since she came to Chicago and have shared ups and downs with her and her whole family.  I know that I will be here and the OSRUI family will be there, the Rabbinic family, Am Shalom and too many more families to name.  It's good to be part of family.

Rabbis Michael and Phyllis Sommer

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

#BlogExodus Day 1: I believe

I am ready to blogExodus.  For the next two weeks I will be blogging on these topics:
Thanks to Phyllis Sommer, @ImaBima for organizing, creating and being the inspiration for BlogElul and now BlogExodus.  Blogging every day takes discipline, creativity and time.  I hope to live up to this challenge.  

Today's topic is believe.  The first thing that came to my mind is the scene in Bull Durham which I would put here but it is a little too racy at the beginning (If you search  Bull Durham on youtube it will come straight up).  I did find another moment from Broadway the song I believe from Book of Mormon.  

Mormon belief maybe taking belief to its farthest extreme and certainly I do not fall into this category but there are some people, in many different religions who "just believe"

We have just worked on a logo for Lakeside's Religious and Hebrew school (thank you Kristy Scher, my admin and wonderful designer) and this does sum up what I believe.  

I believe in Religion and I like practicing it at Lakeside.  Our school is literally my business and I am passionate about Religious and Hebrew school.  Many times prospective members call me and ask if I think that it is OK to start school in let's say 3rd grade.  I always tell them you are talking to the wrong person.  I am paid to be the Director of Education  and I BELIEVE all students should begin in   Kindergarten after they have attended a Jewish pre-school.  Funny you can find a Jewish pre-school center at Lakeside as well.  
Hebrew I believe is where it is at for our students in supplementary school.  If we can give our students a love of the Hebrew language and not "JUST ENOUGH" Hebrew to get through B'nai Mitzvah I believe you will see a transformation in the end product with our students.  This is easier said then done but it is a goal to which I strive. 
School is the last word in our new logo and education for everyone is another one of my mantra's.  I believe that learning goes on from birth to death.  As I look back on my career I realize that as we get older and I include myself in this demographic education becomes even more important.  I look forward to learning in so many new and exciting ways and I try to learn something if not every day close to it.  I also believe in the wonderful project 36 Rabbis shaving for the Brave.  Tonight in downtown Chicago many of the over 70 Rabbi's will be shaving and they have raised over Half a MILLION dollars to eradicate childhood cancer.  There is still time to donate.  

 Great first topic Believe. Thanks Phyllis.  Can't wait for tomorrow:  Tell and since I am going to SEE the Shave for the Brave, I will have lots to tell!

Kallah on Israel? What's a Kallah? Who teaches Israel?

Last week, the National Association of Temple Educators, NATE, had their yearly annual gathering in Northbrook, Illinois.  Some of you maybe asking: "What did you do?  What did you study?"  Others may be asking themselves, "What did I miss?" Our conference, "Inspiring Innovation in Israel Education" was a collaborative effort with the ICenter for Israel Education,  We spent an intensive 48 hours together, studying with national scholars, skyping with scholars in Israel and singing with an Israeli musician Moshe Bonin. We all enjoyed singing Hebrew songs of the 1970's.  I was the first to admit that I sang the songs of the '70's IN THE '70's.
Arts and Culture Israel workshop

We also had tiyulim, (field trips) to sites all over Chicago.  We visited Moadon Kol Chadash, a Hebrew immersion early childhood program, B'nai Zakan Ethiopian Congregation, The ICenter and the Institute for the Next Jewish Future more workshops. These field trips

I have been a member of NATE since the beginning of my career as an Educator.  I have always looked forward to Kallot and Conferences.  If you want to take a deeper look and see more pictures of NATEKALLAH14 here is my latest iMovie.  Enjoy.  Now I have to start to #blogExodus.