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The Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Committee


  • 1st Friday each month from 1-3 PM @ MANNA– CBHT volunteer team. Contact Sandra Layton to help.
  • 3rd Friday each month @ noon – CBHT Vets shelter meal serving. Contact Hilary Paradise to help.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Shabbat–
    • at CBHT, Friday, January 11th
    • at St. James AME, Sunday, January 13th
  • Monday, February 4th @ 4:30 PM—next L.M. Tikkun Olam meeting.
  • Sunday, February 17th – Souper Bowl – Chefs Needed–RSVP:

Hanukkah and the Refugee Crisis Republished from

As Jews across the world celebrate Hanukkah, we commemorate the Maccabees’ victory over the tyrannical King Antiochus.

Prior to his defeat, Antiochus had desecrated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and forbade Jewish religious observance. Thus, the miracle of a meager amount of oil lighting the menorah in the Temple for a full eight days signifies to us the righteousness and wonder of overcoming a regime of persecution and violence.

Today, refugees have fled their homes seeking an opportunity for the hope that lies at the core of our celebration of Hanukkah – to live freely according to one’s own beliefs and conscience. In Central America, gang warfare and weak government institutions have led to a situation in which kidnapping, torture and murder are all too common. Many have embarked on a treacherous northward journey in order to reach a place where they will be free of constant fear.

In the midst of the Hanukkah celebration, we should remember the hardships facing today’s refugees, who unlike the Maccabees do not have the military might to resist the systemic violence inflicted against them both at home and during their travels to safety. As we reflect on the global refugee crisis this week, we can also take action by telling our elected officials that we support a robust refugee resettlement program that places humanitarian assistance and mercy over xenophobia and fear.


The weekend of January 11th-13th will kick off a week of community celebrations in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and will be twice as joyous this year. On Friday, January 11th, CBHT will be joined by the St. James African Methodist Church community, with the Reverend Brent L. Edwards as guest preacher, and the St. James Perfecting Praise Choir and the Prophetic Dance Ministry; on Sunday, January 13th, the CBHT community will join the Sunday morning worship at St. James AME Church, with Rabbi Meiri as the guest preacher, and the Kol Simcha Choir.

This will be a Sabbath of unity and friendship between the communities — which we hope will be the beginning of a lasting relationship with our fellow house of prayer.

Please welcome the St. James AME Church Community when they come to celebrate with us and enrich our worship on Friday, January 11th, at 7:30 PM and continue the celebration by supporting their community, the Rabbi and the Kol Simcha Choir by participating at St. James AME Church, Sunday, January 13th, at 11 AM.

Between You and Me – December 2018

Light the lights…but replace them with LEDs!
Hunkering down for the dark, cold winter, our ancestors knew we needed to add light and warmth to our lives. Today, light and heat come to us at a high cost – in dollars and in impact on the world. I invite you to consider these easy ways that you can tighten the belt, as it were, and make a personal difference.
1. LED bulbs and tubes not only consume a fraction of the energy consumed by incandescent bulbs, they have the double benefit of being mercury free and long lasting. By doing nothing but switching to LEDs in your home, it is possible to reduce your carbon footprint by a whopping 6 tons and save 6% in lighting costs annually. This savings is equivalent to reducing your gasoline consumption by 700 gallons per year! Fun fact: In 2017 the world saved 570 million tons of CO2 by converting to LEDs.
2. Lowering your thermostat by two degrees during winter nights can save 10% of your energy usage for heating and cooling. And depending on what mix of energies your house uses, that could translate into a 2000 pounds of carbon savings!
3. Did you know that 2 minutes of the shower running without you in it (5 gallons of water times 365 mornings) wastes 342 lbs. of CO2 per year? Get into the shower as soon as it is hot and reduce your shower time to only what is necessary to get the job done!
4. Play with your washing machine settings. See if it makes a difference in your laundry when you turn the water setting to warm with a cold rinse, instead of warm wash with a warm rinse. You could be saving 62 lbs. of CO2 per year.
5. Call all those venders who send you unwanted catalogues. Remember the trees which give their existence to become catalogues are our best defense against CO2. Canceling 10 catalogues is a net savings of 154 lbs. of CO2 a year.
6. Unplug all your energy vampires – appliances like coffee makers, toasters, cell phone chargers that use energy even when you are NOT using them. Turn off your computer at night and when you go away on vacation. You could drop hundreds of pounds of CO2.
7. Call Duke Energy and get an efficiency evaluation of your home. You never know what simple fixes you might do that could save you money and save the planet.
None of the above suggestions takes the place of advocating for the most impactful ways we can limit our human contribution to climate change. Did you know reducing food waste, eating an increased plant-based diet, tropical reforestation and educating girls and teaching them family planning are the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh best ways to reverse climate change? Nevertheless, every pound saved by you now is a wonderful Hanukah present for your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. Happy Festival of Lights!

Between You and Me – November 2018

…we cannot reach any higher if we can’t deal with ordinary love. -Bono

I read a lot of high holiday sermons…other people’s. It’s nice to see what other rabbis choose to speak about when so many are present and listening.  This year, I also read a flurry of news articles on the subject of whether High Holiday sermons should or shouldn’t address politics.

Since I began serving Congregation Beth HaTephila, this question has been a machloket l’shaym shamayim, a worthy and vigorous debate.  Should the rabbi (me) talk about current issues (not candidates) or focus on Torah, Jewish tradition, the life of the spirit?  There are folks who expect a rabbi to explicitly address what is happening in the world, and offer leadership on issues about which Judaism offers a perspective.  Jewish values live and breathe anew when we can see how they influence and offer guidance for us to navigate today’s challenges.  And some might even argue that if Judaism doesn’t address our lives today, it is just a relic.  Others come to worship looking to have a couple of hours off from newspapers, radio and television and don’t want punditry to invade the bima and certainly don’t want politics to divide the congregation.  They want to learn Torah and experience tradition for its own sake and be left on their own to draw the connections between ancient Jewish teachings and their own lives.

There is value to both of these points of view.  As you may have noticed, there are times when I will speak about issues of the day, quite explicitly.  But in general, I haven’t found that making those kinds of sermons a staple in our spiritual diet is nourishing or impactful.  At worst, doing so entrenches people more comfortably in their political camps and at best, it raises awareness for a scant few.

Instead, I’ve comfortably set my sights on offering you something I believe we need even more in these trying times.  We live in a goal-driven society that values productivity and busyness.  And because we are so busy trying to know enough and do enough (and inevitably failing), we don’t have time or space enough to adequately nurture our humanity.  As a result, I see too many of us who are hungry to feel safe and accepted, thirsty for wellbeing and ease, starving for affection and love.  I firmly believe our Temple is uniquely positioned to nurture these human capacities, creating the context where we see what’s possible for us individually and collectively, when we feel still enough to drop in and pay attention to our hearts.  If the human heart is where all transformation begins, then what could be more vital to us than regular opportunities to feel warmth towards our fellow human beings, compassion upon encountering the suffering of others, gratitude for our blessings and the strength of spirit to face our struggles?  I agree wholeheartedly with Bono: we cannot reach any higher if we can’t deal with ordinary love.

Between You and Me – October 2018

This month, I was late in turning in my Menorah article.  After the volume of writing and thinking I was engaged in to prepare for the High Holidays, I just kept putting it off.  I’ve even procrastinated on adding procrastination to the list of qualities I must address in myself this new year.

In their studies of procrastination, psychologists Dr. Jane Burka and Dr. Lenora Yuen found that one of the major reasons people procrastinate is fear of failure.  When we feel that so much is riding on what we accomplish that we can’t finish or even start a project, we literally become paralyzed.  This is even worse for perfectionists because they set sometimes impossibly high standards for themselves.  We all know someone who wanted to write a book, but didn’t get past the first few pages because they thought their writing stunk.  We all know someone who went to a yoga or exercise class, but never went back when they discovered they weren’t an instant yogi.  I know many people who yearn to learn Hebrew or know more about being Jewish but don’t come back to Temple because they feel they will never understand as much as those who have been coming longer.

A second reason people procrastinate ironically comes from fear of success.  People fear being criticized for being ambitious or are afraid to compete for a  promotion because if they win, someone else loses or people won’t like them.  A friend of mine lamented to me recently that she’s been staying in an abusive work environment, because she doesn’t want to abandon her co-workers who are depending on her.

Some use procrastination like a weapon.  They procrastinate on tasks that others expect or require of them to prove to themselves that others can’t control them.  In other words, if one’s self-worth comes from one’s sense of autonomy or independence, then he procrastinates in order to resist letting someone else have control.

No matter why we procrastinate, we all suffer similar consequences.  We miss deadlines, antagonize coworkers, partners or family members who were counting on us.  We carry anxiety and dread knowing we are falling behind in our responsibilities and commitments.  We feel lousy about ourselves because of the things we leave to the last minute or leave undone forever.  But the worst crime we commit by procrastinating, a colleague of mine preached this Rosh Hashanah, is that we waste time.  And one of the greatest gifts Judaism gave to the world was the concept that time itself is sacred.  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught, “Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time… There are no two hours alike.  Every hour is unique … exclusive and endlessly precious.”  May we sanctify the hours we have in the coming year by letting go of our fear of who we may not be, by fulfilling our responsibilities and becoming who we really can be.  And in so doing, may we discover new, sacred, life-affirming ways to fill the hours we gain.



Presidents Message – October 2018

Excerpted from President’s Erev Rosh HaShanah Speech

I’d like to take a minute to tell you a little about my personal Jewish journey.

I converted to Judaism in 2004, but my journey began in 2001, in the weeks right after 9/11.  My sister’s husband was killed that day, while he was working at the top of the World Trade Center.  In the weeks directly after, as my family and I were at my sister’s side, dealing with all that ensued, I had what others have called a crisis of faith.  I felt seriously adrift.  During my brother-in-law’s memorial service, on the bank of the Hudson River, with their friend Pete Seeger singing and playing his guitar, I heard person after person commit to making some significant change in their life to honor his life.  I have to say that I felt kind of hopeless–that sounded so righteous and I wished I could say the same, but I had no idea what change could possibly be meaningful enough.  What could fill that void?

That very day, someone brought me a couple of books.  I had asked her if I could borrow something on the basic concepts of Judaism.  We were bringing our boys up in the Jewish faith, we were attending family services here at Beth HaTephila, and I was more and more curious.  And, as weeks passed and we struggled with the personal impact of 9/11 on our family, I started to read.

When I showed up at Rabbi Ratner’s door with my books in hand, I had one basic question.  Is what Milton Steinberg wrote about Judaism back in 1947 true?  I showed him Rabbi Hillel’s famous quote, totally new to me at the time.  When he was asked to describe Judaism in the few moments he could stand on one foot, Hillel answered “That which is hurtful to thee do not do to thy neighbor.  This is the whole doctrine. The rest is commentary”.  It blew me away in its simplicity.  It felt like a step forward.

I can’t describe how fortunate I felt to have all of those oneon-one meetings with Rabbi Ratner, as I studied for my conversion and I slowly learned some of the ‘commentary’ that Hillel referred to.  But, the truth is that I was ‘in’ from the beginning.  This was a religion that encouraged me to think on my own, and at the same time spoke to me, deep in my soul.  It filled that void.  I’ve heard others who have converted say this–there’s something inside me that feels like I was always a Jew.  And, in fact, I have since found out that my family actually has some Jewish roots.

I’m not the first president who is a Jew by choice, and I’m not the first female president, but clearly, if it wasn’t for our movement’s and our temple’s ‘audacious hospitality’ – a central tenant of acceptance and welcoming – I would not be standing here today.

My sons grew up in our religious school and became bar mitzvot here.  Rabbi Meiri married Ed and me under the Chuppah here.  I take my commitment to this temple, which I call my home, very seriously.

I guess this is my way of telling you why I was prepared to do what had to be done, when I asked Larry Weiss to once again be our treasurer when I started my presidency, and he helped me understand the financial situation we were facing.  It was clear that, even if it wasn’t going to be a popular move, even if it was going to cause some confusion and mistrust, it was the executive committee’s responsibility to make sure that the board of trustees and every one of you understood where things stand AND to ask you to step up and help.   And, so many of you HAVE helped.  Of course, you have, you also have so many reasons to love this community, as I do.

Last year’s special assessment raised much-needed cash, and as annual commitments started coming in for this year, it has been gratifying to see so many people increase their gift.  One hundred and thirty households have increased their annual commitment by some amount for this year, and 37 households have given at our new ‘Enhanced Giving’ levels.

Looking ahead, I am both excited and challenged by what lies before us.  There is still opportunity to help, both in your annual commitment and in upcoming fundraising events.  Not only is HardLox nearly here, but a grassroots group is planning several special fundraising events whose goal is to ‘close the gap’.

I couldn’t be more proud to be a Jew.  I couldn’t to be more proud to be among the leaders of this amazing congregation.  I couldn’t be more inspired by Rabbi, our executive director Craig, the staff, the executive committee and the entire board for embracing this challenge. And I couldn’t be more grateful to all of you for listening, for asking hard questions, for offering suggestions and for taking action.  Thank you


Karen Hyman, President