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Passover Resources

A wealth of information is available to enhance your seder and provide meaning during the Passover holiday.  Click here to view selected internet resources that will help you select your Haggadah and plan your seder, obtain important kashrut information, and access educational resources that will inspire.

Shining a Light on Senior Mental Health

by Alesa Silver

Caring for a senior can be a difficult and complex task.  It is also an important and meaningful task.  The Beth Ahm Tikkun Olam Social Action Team understands this task and recently hosted a lunch and learn focused on how seniors, their families, and friends are mentally affected by a variety of age-related issues.

 

Tracey Proghovnick from Jewish Senior Life, Abby Segal a geriatric counseling specialist, and Shari Smith from the Area Agency on Aging spoke about the topics below and shared helpful resources.

  •  Coping with physical pain and illness
  •  Dealing with diminished mental capacity
  •  Managing the loss of independence and freedom
  •  Handling the death of contemporaries and little or no socialization
  •  Foiling financial frustration and fear

Click here to view the resources provided which include contact information for agencies that can provide assistance when caring for a senior.

Reflections on my Recent Trip to Israel

by Nancy Goldberg

It has been a month since I made the journey to Israel.  I wanted to share some thoughts about this most interesting trip, which is part of a program I am participating in called OnBoard.  All of the participants are board members of their agencies/synagogues. Some of the agencies include Jewish Senior Life, Hebrew Free Loan and The Holocaust Memorial Center, which is represented by Beth Ahm member Lilly Jacobson.  The participants are called “fellows,” and we began the program in March, 2018.  The program involves attending seminars to gain knowledge about common issues related to being on a board, participating in Jewish study with a designated teacher, working on a project for the agency, and then the culmination is the trip to Israel.

 

I traveled with OnBoard fellows from the Metro Detroit area, including Beth Ahm board member and officer David Stryk.  David and I started the trip a little early, and were able to explore Tel Aviv and Jerusalem before the OnBoard program began.  OnBoard fellows from Pittsburgh also participated in the program.

 

I’ll try to hit some of the highlights as the trip was jam packed with meeting various speakers and community leaders.  This was not your typical touristy trip—no climbing Masada or riding a camel.

 

A couple of goals from the trip:

1. To meet and engage with inspirational leadership from across the spectrum of Israeli society.  Some examples—meeting Joseph Gitler, founder of Leket Israel, Israel’s leading food rescue organization, Sigal Kanatopsky, CEO of Oliym Beyahad an organization that helps Ethiopian Israelis, and Gabe Axler who is helping to build community and start up small businesses in Beersheva.  We also met with prominent figures, such as author Yossi Klein Halevi and Avraham Infeld, who was the International President of Hillel.

2. To update and educate the fellows on current realities and complexities of contemporary Israeli society.  We had a variety of activities that addressed these complex issues, such as touring the Seamline and getting a detailed account of the history of the division of Jerusalem, and how this division affects its residents.  We visited various agencies that promote bringing Jews and Arabs together—this was inspiring.  We visited a school for children of refugees, as well as a school where Arab and Jewish children learn together.  We also spent an afternoon at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).  (Some familiar faces from the Detroit area were prominent on the wall of our meeting room).

 

We had various scholars guide us through different texts to bring together the written word and contemporary Israel.  A couple of the scholars were Orthodox women who went on to become rabbis.  One was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi, and she described the challenges she faces due to the Orthodox world not recognizing her as a rabbi.

 

One highlight was visiting the Headquarters of the Masorti Movement, the Conservative movement in Israel, which Rabbi Rubenstein has talked about on several occasions.  Another fellow from Adat Shalom also attended.  We learned about a program that promotes children with disabilities to have bar/bat mitzvahs, and saw the Siddur that is used that includes pictures over the words so the child could better understand what he or she is reading.

 

One agency that was particularly special to me was Israel Elwyn.  This agency assists those who have a disability to have opportunities for vocational rehabilitation and ultimately find work, therefore promoting dignity and inclusion for the clients.  I work with clients who have traumatic brain injuries, and my company also promotes work opportunities and inclusion.  One participant who is autistic spoke to us about his work experiences, and how Israel Elwyn has helped him.

 

Another highlight was Kabbalat Shabbat at the Kotel.  We lit candles and some of the women and I helped lead services in the Women’s section.

 

There were many other wonderful opportunities—I could fill a number of pages about this trip!  I’m still processing everything about this great experience.  I am very grateful to be a part of the OnBoard program, and that I was able to go on this remarkable journey.  I will take the knowledge and experiences from this trip and put it into my role as a Beth Ahm board member.  I look forward to my continuing involvement with our wonderful shul.

Fulfilling the Mitzvot of Purim

There are 2 special "giving" mitzvot on Purim, Misloach Manot/gifts to friends and Matanot LaEvyonim/gifts to the needy.  Both originate in the Megillah (Book of Esther) and help us share the happiness of the holiday.  Sending gifts to friends and family increases love and friendship within our community while making gifts to the needy elevates those in difficult situations.

 

These mitzvot align with the mission of the Beth Ahm Sisterhood.  We strive to build community within our synagogue while helping those outside the congregation.

 

Please help us fulfill our mission by performing these mitzvot through a special tzedakah project.  On your behalf, the Sisterhood will send a festive Purim greeting card to your friends and family within the synagogue.  A portion of your tzedakah will be given to Yad Ezra for hunger relief.  The remainder will be used by the Sisterhood to advance all the work we do at Beth Ahm and in the larger community.

 

Participating is simple.  Click here to view the Beth Ahm membership list.  Then, send an email to bahmsisterhood@gmail.com with a list of names to whom you want a card sent.

 

  • For a donation of $5, a card will be mailed to one household.
  • For a donation of $36, cards will be mailed to 10 households.
  • For a donation of $50, cards will be mailed to 25 households.
  • For a donation of $100, a card will be mailed to every household in the Beth Ahm family.

 

To participate, your response is required by Friday, March 8th Checks and credit cards accepted.  Your check, made payable to the Beth Ahm Sisterhood, can be mailed to the synagogue office.  Or, to donate with a credit card, use the Venmo App @BethAhm-Sisterhood. Contact bahmsisterhood@gmail.com with questions.

 

We hope that you will participate in this project and fulfill the mitzvot of Purim while supporting the Beth Ahm Sisterhood.

Catch - 67 - What I'm Reading

by Rabbi Rubenstein

I’ve been reading a good deal of Israeli fiction lately. Most of the books are not wrapped up in the ‘big ideas’ of the State of Israel; just books about people who happen to live in Israel. Last fall at Kol Nidre services I encouraged people to think of Israel as more than a place that needs our support, a place that we need to worry about. Of course, I do want our congregation to support Israel in a host of ways. But part of the original Zionist dream was for Israel to be a cultural center that would nurture Jews throughout the world. Israel can certainly be that today if we drink from the waters of Israeli culture.

 

I won’t do more than mention the novels I’ve been reading because I want to focus on the one non-fiction Israeli book that I read recently as well. Here they are:

 

Three Floors Up by Eshkol Nevo – If you’d like to read this one, you can also join us on Sunday, March 3rd for the 1st of our Israel Book Club events. More info. here: https://www.cbahm.org/event/three-floors-up.html

 

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu – Interestingly, this book about three friends growing up and the way their service in the IDF changed their friendship and their lives overall, was written in English even though the author is Israeli.

 

A Horse Walks Into A Bar by David Grossman – This one won the Man Booker International Prize

 

One Night, Markovitch by Ayelet Gundar Goshen – This is from the same author as Waking Lions that I’ve spoken about at the synagogue.

 

Enough about fiction. I’d like to strongly recommend Micah Goodman’s book Catch-67: The Left, The Right, and the Legacy of The Six-Day War. This non-fiction book was a best seller in Israel and is both a primer for the development of Zionist/Israeli political thought from the time of Theodor Herzl up to today and a pragmatic look at the way the Six-Day war’s legacy is a contemporary politics where everyone is right and everyone is wrong.

 

Perhaps the most far-reaching insight that Goodman has is related to the Israeli psyche, not its politics. Early in the book, Goodman dwells on the fact that Israelis have opinions about all sorts of things, but their opinions about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians isn’t only emotional, it is about their identity. As he puts it, “to object to an Israeli’s position on the conflict is to object to his or her core identity.” By presenting the attitudes and approaches of both the right and left fairly, and by suggesting that one possible way forward is to work for a less-than-final peace plan in the near-term, Goodman is trying to encourage true dialogue.

 

Goodman’s title references Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and the sense that there is no way out of the current dilemma. But he does so while suggesting that understanding each other is a good first step towards progress.

Kvetch or Complaint

by Beth Nadis


This has always been one of my favorite cartoons. To me, it highlights the importance of open communication; of sharing our opinions, needs, concerns, and feelings.  Effective communication isn’t easy, but it’s fundamental.

 

As President, I am eager to know what our members are thinking and feeling.  So, you have an idea, constructive comment, or opinion you’d like to share please feel free to contact me.  Hopefully it’s a kvetch, rather than a complaint, but both windows are always open.


Beth Nadis (bnadis@cbahm.org)

Hanukkah Resources

by Nancy Kaplan

                                                                                    

 

Wonderful resources are available to enhance and enrich your celebration of Hanukkah.  Here are a few online resources:

Click here to view Hanukkah Nights from The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Click here to explore Hanukkah with the scholars from The Shalom Hartman Institute.

Click here to view the Pardes Hanukkah companion.

Click here to access Hanukkah materials from My Jewish Learning.

Click here to view resources from Hadar.

 

There is also great printed material for the festival of Lights.  Here are recommended books:

A Different Light: The Big Book of Hanukkah

A Different Light: The Hanukkah Book of Celebration

by Noam Zion and Barbara Spectre


Hanukkah (2nd edition): The Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration
by Dr. Ron Wolfson and Joel Lurie Grishaver

 

The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays

by Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg

 

The Jewish Holidays: A Guide & Commentary

by Michael Strassfeld

 

Celebrating the Jewish Year – The Winter Holidays (Chanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, Purim)

by Paul Steinberg

 

Thanksgiving Prayers

by Rabbi Steven Rubenstein

 

Beth Ahm would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.  While Thanksgiving isn’t Jewish, giving thanks certainly is. 
We offer these resources (click here) for your Thanksgiving celebration.

 

Interfaith Vigil and Remembrance

by David Stryk

Last night’s interfaith vigil was a powerful evening of community unity and powerful comments from a wide array of religious leaders. Their comments were heartfelt and thoughtful. Beth Ahm was, as usual, fortunate to be represented by our Rabbi who likewise addressed a crowded synagogue. The end of the night included a candle lighting ceremony. I had the incredible honor of lighting a candle on behalf of Beth Ahm for Melvin Wax. Lighting a candle for an 88-year-old, whose life was cut short in synagogue was not easy. We all know how Mr. Wax died but I wanted to know about the life of the person who our congregation was collectively memorializing. I also wanted to make sure I shared with you the story of this gentleman's life (as described by the Washington Post). He would have been a welcome and warm addition to our congregation...or any congregation.

Melvin Wax was the first to arrive at New Light Congregation in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood — and the last to leave.

Wax, who was in his late 80s, was among those killed when a gunman entered the synagogue Saturday and opened fire during Sabbath services. Fellow members of the congregation, which rented space in the lower level of the Tree of Life Synagogue, says Wax was a kind man and a pillar of the congregation, filling just about every role except cantor.

Myron Snider spoke late Saturday about his friend who would stay late to tell jokes with him. He said “Mel,” a retired accountant, was unfailingly generous.

“He was such a kind, kind person,” said Snider, chairman of the congregation’s cemetery committee. “When my daughters were younger, they would go to him, and he would help them with their federal income tax every year. Never charged them.

“He and I used to, at the end of services, try to tell a joke or two to each other. Most of the time they were clean jokes. Most of the time. I won’t say all the time. But most of the time.”

New Light moved to the Tree of Life building about a year ago, when the congregation of about 100 mostly older members could no longer afford its own space, said administrative assistant Marilyn Honigsberg. She said Wax, who lost his wife Sandra in 2016, was always there when services began at 9:45 a.m.

“I know a few of the people who are always there that early, and he is one of them,” she said.

Snider said Wax, who was slightly hard of hearing, was a pillar of the congregation. “He went Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, when there were Sunday services,” said Snider, a retired pharmacist. “If somebody didn’t come that was supposed to lead services, he could lead the services and do everything. He knew how to do everything at the synagogue. He was really a very learned person.”

Snider had just been released from a six-week hospital stay for pneumonia and was not at Saturday’s services.

“He called my wife to get my phone number in the hospital so he could talk to me,” Snider said. “Just a sweet, sweet guy.”

What I Learned At the Conservative Yeshiva

by Dr. Sharon Havis

My Time At The Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem This Summer

I had never heard of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem until I received an email asking if I wanted to join their summer program. They run two summer sessions, each for three weeks. While there are other opportunities for adults to learn in Israel, CY seemed the best fit for me.

The program at CY has Hebrew Ulpan, Jewish studies and volunteer opportunities.

I did the Hebrew Ulpan and Jewish studies program. I really enjoyed my time there. I met Jews from all over the world and there were even Christians who came to study there too. It is a welcoming place with wonderful teachers. You are able to pick and choose the classes that suit you. I chose Halacha, Tanach, Contempory Israeli issues and stories from the Zohar.

I really enjoyed learning at the CY. Aside from meeting people from all the world, being in an environment where it's all about the learning is very special. The rabbis, support staff and coordinators that work at the CY are very helpful, approachable and knowledgeable.

I loved being in Jerusalem and the connection it brings to our history and faith.

I would highly recommend this program if you love to learn and want to connect with other Jews in a safe, academic environment and have the ability to spend 3-4 weeks in Israel.
For more information about The Conservative Yeshiva, contact Rabbi Rubenstein or go to www.conservativeyeshiva.org

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Thu, May 23 2019 18 Iyyar 5779