Friday, August 29, 2014

#BlogElul 3 Bless

When I hear the word Bless I usually think about being blessed, praying or teaching brachot (blessings) or perhaps doing the parental blessings on Shabbat (Oh good word choice for today).  That is the beauty of #BlogElul, you can write about whatever moves you.

At Lakeside Congregation, I love teaching our students and their families how to pray.  By praying every week on Sunday morning before Religious School we hope to form a community and make it easier to pray together.  I had one Hillel director who told the community at the University of Michigan's High Holy Day services, and there was about 2500 of us that praying with this crowd, that praying together was like the a symphony orchestra.  However our orchestra was praying without ever practicing together.  Practicing to pray is not something you may think of but very important and in Elul we must begin the "practice"

This year on Sunday mornings our teachers will be presenting different prayers and our students will teach us what they mean and what they mean to them.  I am looking forward to a new prayer experience and I can say I feel blessed by my colleagues at Lakeside who will bring our community together and we will learn brachot/blessings together.  Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, August 28, 2014

#BlogElul 2 Act

Ethan Ehrlich, First day: UW Madison, August 2014/Elul 5774
All of your parenting leads up to this day. You hope you have prepared your child to act in the appropriate manner and then you send him off to college. You teach them how to act in all types of situations: studying, doing Jewish activities, doing Tikkun Olam, making friends, having a good time and learning how to deal with the not so good times.

I am not sure why this day brings tears as well. I suppose I do know. Things change after you go off to college. I know it's not just the address change but it is also the maturity you acquire living on your own.  I feel confident that Ethan will love college, do well and still feel comfortable coming home.   It just an adjustment not to have him at home.  He was a madrich all summer at OSRUI and we basically knew where he was and what he was doing.  At college, although I am SURE he will call home, eventually, it is different.  I don't want to interfere but desperately want to know what is going on in his life.

I know I must learn how to act with our youngest away at school.  It will not come easy but we have been leading up to this day.  We can act.  I am looking forward to the next chapter.  In fact this is what I left under Ethan's pillow to find after we have left.  I can't wait to see the places he will go!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#BlogElul 1: Do

Lakeside Congregation
Opening Teachers Meeting: Check
Sending youngest Child off to University of Wisconsin: Almost check
Getting ready for the first day of Religious School, Sunday September 7 10am to 12 Noon: check
Helping school Admin to prepare class lists and get all info to teachers:  Check
Ethan Ron

I am trying to "do" as much as possible and sometimes at this time of year I never feel like the days are long enough.  As the month of Elul comes I know the High Holy day are around the corner and Religious and Hebrew can't be far off.

Summer is a time to relax, rejuvenate, and renew. Fall/Elul is a time to do; Time to execute plans for the year and to dream of what can be.  The classrooms are being prepared, teachers are working on exciting programs for this year.

I would write more today but have to get ready for the big drop off tomorrow.  I will have lots to write for #Blog Elul 2:Act as we drop off at University of Wisconsin.  Stay tuned

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer is almost over but Elul is coming around the corner, Summer Suggestions to do

Lakeside at OSRUI
With the absence of very hot summer weather I suppose it is easier to imagine that Fall is around the corner.  Summer is a wonderful time to revive, restore, and rejuvenate.  Kallah Gimmel at OSRUI this summer where I was faculty was fantastic. What do we do at camp?  Check out my IMovie and you will see just a glimpse of what we do at summer camp. Working with madrichim, counselors, and chanichim, campers is my passion and studying Israel this summer was wonderful.  It was a bittersweet summer to study Israel and I have to be hopeful as I look to the future.

We still have a few weeks before we begin Religious School (Sunday September 7 at 10:00 am) and Hebrew school, (Tuesday, September 9 at 4:45 pm). You are probably thinking what could I do for the rest of the summer to get ready for the fall?  Look no farther I have a few ideas:

Now is the time to pick up a good book and finish it before the fall.  Need some suggestions?  Take a look at my Goodreads lists of Jewish books, books about Israel, or even someYoung adult books for some of the books I have been reading.  I am getting ready to read a few more before the summer is over.

Want to practice your Hebrew?  Come to Summer t'filot at Lakeside we start at 6:00 pm for a short outside service.  We will be JC Park Deerfield on August 22 otherwise right here at Lakeside.

Looking to practice Hebrew on your own at your house?  Check out Behrman House website for games and just to practice your Hebrew prayers.  You can listen and practice as much as you want, the computer never gets tired of working with you.

Be sure to register for Religious School and fill out paper work.  We want to see everyone's smiling face in the fall.

Religious and Hebrew school are important milestones for students.  I know I am biased but we have fun on Sunday mornings and Tuesday afternoons and this is just the first building block as you prepare to be a Jewish adult.  I have many students involved in many different competing activities from dance and sports, to drama and debate.  I like to say that my students may not become professional dancers, sports players or sing on Broadway but they will all become adult Jews.  I hope that the training they have at Lakeside stand them in good stead as they make their way through life.

If I do have a student who makes it big in any of the above arenas besides free tickets and a mention at the Oscars I hope that their Jewish education will continue to help them find their place in this world.  I hope that it will give them a strong Jewish identity and a basis to lead a happy and moral life.  As I continue to plan for this year I look forward to revving back up for the fall and hearing about everyone's summer experiences.
Hebrew Class at camp

Monday, August 4, 2014

A message of hope and peace from Beersheva

Here is another guest post from our Cousin Ronna who lives in Beersheva.   It has to been an easy month and to see her resilience, the resilience of her friends, community and the whole country gives me great hope.  Please read how Israel has pulled together.  Stay safe Kramer- Gabay Family, we love you and miss you.  Vanessa

Ronna Kramer

2 August 2014
Hi everyone,
Lots going on.  Yesterday was a tough day, starting with a ceasefire and some hopes that were quickly extinguished.  We all had a very strong reaction to the taking of a soldier, given the situation and knowing the implications.  The fact that the Hamas had agreed to a ceasefire and then broke it so early on, strongly suggests that it was all planned.  Which again shows the kind of enemy involved: one for whom an agreement has no meaning and all means to an end are acceptable. The implications are what happened with Gilad Shalit – that there would be lengthy negotiations resulting in the release of Hamas prisoners, which is just what Hamas wants.  Like many others, I felt the lust for blood at first.  The radio was full of politicians and other public figures calling for re-occupation of Gaza, of getting rid of all Hamas, etc.  As my initial reaction wore off, I felt at a loss as to an alternative. However, towards the evening, cooler heads began to be heard.  It was suggested that the soldier be referred to as a "POW" rather than as kidnapped.  This is not just semantics; it puts things into a "bad but regular event of war" framework and makes it more possible to consider how to proceed.  I may have said this before, but I'll say it again: I have no liking for Bibi Netanyahu, but I think he has done a good job of keeping a cool head and exercising restraint, despite the heavy pressures from his own coalition members to "go all out against Hamas" (a  hotheaded and irresponsible approach).

As I have mentioned before, in Israel, everything is personal.  Every soldier that is killed is presented all over the radio and newspapers, his family, friends, teachers, wife/girlfriend all interviewed and talking about him.  There are no unknown soldiers here.  In fact, at a funeral for a "lone soldier" – a soldier whose family lives outside of Israel, there was a call for people to come to the funeral so that he would the respect he deserved.  30,000 people were at the cemetery.
Which brings me to an incredible phenomenon, that I believe is singularly Israeli.  The outpouring of support for the soldiers and the people of the south – who have been hardest hit by the rockets and tunnel threats – has no limits.  Northern communities have opened their doors, offering rooms, guest houses, activities, etc at little or no cost.  Several of the families of kids from my school went to some kibbutz north of Tel Aviv – they stayed there 4 days, went to the swimming pool (in the south the pools are all closed), on a jeep trip, to a water park, had all their meals – all for free.  Last night we went to one of Yogev's performances in Tel Aviv; anyone showing proof of address in the south, didn't have to pay for the tickets.  If all that isn't enough, it is beyond imagination what is done for the soldiers.  People send literally tons of food and baked goods, underwear, socks, tshirts and cigarettes to the border where the army is based.  Along the road on the way to the base, a man set up a little coffee and pastry stop.  It quickly grew into sandwiches and then a BBQ stop.  There are now over a hundred volunteers there all day, every day.  They grill meat, cut vegetables and make sandwiches to send to the base. All the food is donated – one day someone went online, saying he had 500 tons of meat to donate, but no refrigerator truck to bring it from Tel Aviv.  Within 15 minutes, there was a truck at his door, loading up the meat.  Then there are the hospitalized soldiers.  People who have no prior connection, go to visit the soldiers, bringing (of course) lots of food, baked goods, gifts. The corridors are filled with people.  Last night in one of the bigger hospitals in the center of the country, a well-known chef came with dinner for all the wounded soldiers and their families – over 250 people in all.  The hospital found some hall where tables could be set up and a full course, gourmet meal was served.  Soldiers came on crutches and in wheelchairs.  Everyone wants to feel that they have contributed, helped, done something.

It's an amazing country.

On that more upbeat note and with hope for some positive developments, I'll say goodbye for now.
Love and hopes for peace,