Wednesday, September 24, 2014

#BlogElul 25 HOPE and #Blogelul 29 Return Shana Tova

Sunday's are never an easy day for me.  I am up early with Religious School and last Sunday I had not one but TWO fantastic Jewish events after a wonderful day at Religious School.  Sunday at the AMC movie theater in Northbrook OSRUI hosted a first time do it yourself reunion which featured a premiere of the 2015 Camp video and other videos from the camp vault.  Free popcorn and a drink and we all settled in for a fun afternoon.  Jerry Kaye, Susan Alexander and Max Weinberg were there to greet everyone, give out raffle prizes and remind us that registration starts this week.  It was fun to see campers and parents and the videos was the ice cream on the cake.

Running from the do it yourself reunion at the movie theater I then was a presenter at NFTY CAR's (Northern Federation of Temple Youth, Chicago Area Region) Leadership Training Institute.  The title of my presentation: Let's Get Technical, centered around blogging, tweeting, instagram and Facebook.  How teens can make all of this social media work for them and their organizations.
Both of these events give me such hope.  Hope for the future of the Jewish people.  I spend many hours contemplating,working and thinking about this same future. After seeing all of these dedicated students, leaders, and parents I know we are on the right track.  We might needs some tweaking and adjusting as we reach the finish line but I think the Jewish community can come together and make

There was a movie theater full of Jewish kids who couldn't wait to get back to camp next summer. Actually counting the days until Summer begins.  Until they can Return to camp.  I remember what it is like to live the year waiting to see your camp and youth group friends.  I am still friends with the friends I made in youth group and grew up with at my synagogue.

 I like being part of the next generation and having been in the "business" for over 25 years I am now watching the  children of my first chevre of students and campers coming of age.  The children of the children I first trained are almost ready to take over.  I'll take it.  Shana Tova 5775!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

#BlogElul 22 Love: I love connecting

I love connecting with people, through Lakeside Congregation, NATE, OSRUI, my water aerobics class at the JCC and whatever new activities I add to my schedule.  There are many ways to connect and in today's world you never know if your virtual connections, blogging, Facebook, Youtube or tweeting are being heard or not.

When someone mentions they like/saw/ noticed one of my endeavors I am always pleased.  I think commenting on virtual relationships is a wonderful intersection of virtual and in person relationships. Nothing replaces a comment from one person to another.  This week Rabbi Phyllis Sommer sent me this picture of a diet coke with my name on it.  It just tickled me.  It's nothing big, expensive, or time consuming.  It's thoughtful to get this from a friend as a text and I loved it.

Elul is drawing to a close and now is the time to connect with your friends by any means at your disposal.  Send a text, call a friend, invite someone for dinner.  You will feel great and I know you will love it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#BlogElul 21 Dare to laugh

This morning I started the morning at my monthly CATE (Chicago Association of Temple Educators) meeting and for the first half hour of the meeting we laughed.  It was scheduled laughing.  We had a meditation session with Dr. Om Johari, where he runs a weekly program on Wednesday's in the board room of Northbrook's village hall.  We started and ended the session with laughter.  We found out that laughter helps your blood pressure, it is anti-aging as it brings blood to your face and it is an aerobic workout for your inner organs.  This is all good news as I love to laugh and have been known to have fits of giggles.

One High Holy day service I got the giggles right as t'filot were beginning to start.  I was laughing silently (which we learned today is also good for you) and I was laughing so hard I started crying.  A concerned congregant turned around and wanted to know if I was ok.  I shook my head and said I was  fine.  My family was not too happy with me but this phenomena happens has happened to me many times.

I am glad that laughter is good for you because I laugh.  So I dare you to laugh; wake up laughing, go to bed laughing, just laugh.  As I review my year, as you should do during the month of Elul I realize that I laugh quite a bit when I am at camp.  Maybe with all of the release of endorphins that comes with laughing it is no wonder that  I have such a good time at camp!  Go ahead laugh.  Do yourself a favor.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

#Blog Elul 15 Learn and see a nice iMovie

I am not sure if this is "kosher" but here is my iMovie from the first day of school.  We learned about blowing shofar in Elul, the song Sweet as Honey, by Dan Nichols and had a fun day in our classes and at our Lakeside fair, Bridges to Peace.  It was a fun morning.  Take a look at the iMovie.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

#Blogelul 14 Remember, not so easy on the first day of Hebrew school

Today was the first day of Hebrew school.  All of the teachers were ready to go back as were the students.  I think though for some students trying to remember where they left off on the last day of school back in May 3 and half months ago it was not easy.  

We assign summer packets which we hope that our students will complete so they can practice over the long months and our students practice at camp, come to t'filot over the summer, and even do their practice packages.  The first day isn't easy but our students will be remembering more and more as they gear up and begin their Hebrew studies.

Songs, practicing, drilling and just coming to class will help everyone to remember.  I tell parents who have not read Hebrew since they were in school that it is like riding a bicycle.  You never forget how to ride a bicycle and you never forget Hebrew:  you have to remember!

Monday, September 8, 2014

#BlogElul 13: Forgive

Forgive is something I hope that I do, but it is not as easy as just saying you are sorry.  As we prepare for the the High Holy days the topic to forgive brings you right to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  Our prayers are full of asking for forgiveness, including one that includes an A-Z listing of sins we may have committed, ending with the sin of Xenophobia.

I tell my students and my own personal children that you must ask personally for forgiveness from those around you.  That is very hard and there may be just as many categories as an alphabetical listing.  Here is my listing:

My students:  If I have not been patient in class with you, if I have not taken enough time to teach you, if you felt slighted in class forgive me.

My Religious School parents: If you didn't find the answers to your questions, if I did not respond in a satisfactory manner, if class did not met your expectations, forgive me.

My children: If I was not always available, if I was there so much  you thought I was hovering, forgive me, if I was not always open to new ideas, forgive me.

My co-workers:  If I expected the impossible with impatience, if I was not in a good mood, if I seem preoccupied, forgive me.

My husband: If I was not always patient, if I was not always pleasant to be with, if I was occupied with miscellaneous tasks and not you forgive me.

Take a minute and think about you would like to ask forgiveness.  You have the month of Elul and then 10 more days to seek out your recipients.  This is a great time of year to make that phone call or visit and connect.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

#BlogElul 9 Hear where were you when you heard...

Joan Rivers Z"L
Joan Rivers Z"L died today. Baruch Dayen Emet (words you traditionally say when you hear someone has died meaning: Blessed is the Judge of truth) I heard the news when I was in the car, by myself.  I wanted to call someone and talk about it.  I think you remember very vividly where you were and what you were doing when you hear good news, bad news or a world event happens.  

I am too young to remember hearing about JFK being assassinated, I was only 4.  I remember that when Yitzhak Rabin Z"L was assassinated I was at OSRUI on a 5th-6th grade retreat and I had to decide what to do at my Sunday morning T'filah back at Lakeside.  On 9/11 I was first at home with my kids before school and then  at Lakeside congregation working with a professional fundraiser (who knew that was the beginning of a recession) and watched the rest of the day on unfold on television.

I remember hearing good news as well although I think with good news be it a birth, a wedding announcement or a graduation you are expecting the news and it is just not as shocking as unexpected bad news.  

To really hear what is going on you have to be present in the moment for good news of bad news.  Hearing bad news or good news is not always easy.  You must be in the present and listen.  This is not something easy and certainly not always easy for me.  I try to work on hearing what people say to me every day.  

There are many things to read about Joan Rivers today and I think she would be surprised by the  outpouring of love and support from all corners of the world.  She had tragedy in her life and never gave up.  I admire her chutzpah and her unabashed take on the world including her unapologetic take on life from her support of Israel this summer to her lifestyle.  May God comfort her family among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

#BlogElul 8 Believe in a good book

Today's word is Believe and I am combining my favorite 10 books (having been tagged in Facebook, thank you Rayna Forman and of course Rabbi Phyllis).  I love reading and believe that it is the best thing you can do for yourself.  When I was growing up I read all the books in the children's section...there was NO young adult books, NO teen section.  The books in Crystal Lake Library, like libraries all over in the 1960's-1970's went from Children's books to adult books.  I read the book many adult books before I should have because I had run out of children's books to read.

So here are my top ten books, which is not easy to narrow down but it's a start:

1. Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott
2. Anne of Green Gables(which I shared with my best friend, we took turns buying the books in the series)
3. Exodus
4. The Source (which I read in Israel in 1979 and I read all the Michener books)
5. The Little Prince (which I read the first time in French)
(At this point I checked in with my Goodreads list to see what books I had given 5 stars and found)
6. Hunger Games
7. Harry Potter
8. To Kill a Mockingbird
9. The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night
10. The Red Tent

As an adult who works with children I have found great delight and fun in ready current young adult books and my list reflects my love of these books. I believe that books open the world for you.  As a child I had to be coaxed outside and to put down my book.  I still find time to read although I do have to do work and can't read all day.  This summer on Cape Cod sitting at the beach and reading was my perfect vacation.  Pick a good book and read; need a suggestion?  Check out my Goodreads list with different shelves including: Jewish, Israel and young adult.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

#BlogElul 7: Be

The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. It offers a chance for spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe. It is traditional to begin one’s preparation for the High Holy Days during this month with the Selichot, the prayers of forgiveness. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed.  

For a few years I have been blogging Elul with Phyllis Sommer (  Every year I try to blog every day and for some reason I have not been able to make it every day.  I try, really I do but Elul NEVER fails to be a very busy time for me.  This year maybe I will try blogging at least during the week.

Today the topic is BE and when in doubt I can go to Hebrew.  There is no verb "to be" in Hebrew.  If you go with L'hiyot as the Hebrew to be you will shortly find the famous verse:

I Am that I Am (אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶהehyeh ašer ehyeh is a common English translation (JPS among others) of the response God used in the Hebrew Bible when Moses asked for his name (Exodus 3:14). It is one of the most famous verses in the Torah. Hayah means "existed" or "was" in Hebrew; "ehyeh" is the first person singular imperfect form and is usually translated in English Bibles as "I will be" (or "I shall be"), for example, at Exodus 3:14. Ehyeh asher ehyeh literally translates as "I Will Be What I Will Be", with attendant theological and mystical implications in Jewish tradition. However, in most English Bibles, in particular the King James Version, this phrase is rendered as I am that I am.

I could add more but I think I need to post and start thinking about tomorrow.