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The Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Committee June/July 2020



UPCOMING SCHEDULED LOTTE MEYERSON TIKKUN OLAM PROJECTS:

1st Friday each month from 1-3 PM @ MANNA– CBHT volunteer team. Contact Wendy Capelouto to help.  (currently suspended)

3rd Friday each month @ noon – CBHT Vets shelter meal serving. Contact Hilary Paradise to help.  (currently postponed)

June 7th –13th Room in the Inn; CBHT cancelled.   Contact Sherrill Zoller for info.

Monday, August 24th – 4:30 PM, Next L.M. Tikkun Olam Meeting

Insuring Fair and Safe 2020 Elections

With all of the uncertainty during these unusual times, it is not too early to work on what must be done between now and Election Day – Tuesday, November 3, 2020.  We must demand that our state legislatures engage in proper planning and funding for the unprecedented measures needed to insure fair and safe elections during this corona virus pandemic.  We anticipate a huge increase in the use of absentee ballots, perhaps the state even going to all mail-in ballots.  If state legislators opt to keep polling places open in November, they need to add protection and many social guidelines for both voting places and workers.  Such new measures will cost money.

The federal government, through the CARES Act, has allotted North Carolina extra grant money which requires matching state funds to be accessed.  In their April-May short session, the NC Legislature (as of this writing) had not provided such state funding which the NC Board of Elections requested as absolutely necessary for the November elections.  This will not be the usual election process.

At stake in November are not only vital political, economic and moral issues, but an assurance needed that every registered voter will have a totally safe and fair voting experience.  The NC Legislature is scheduled to reconvene as early as mid-May, then again in July and August; and we need you to let them know that without these funds, both voters and election officials may well not have the protection they need to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Voters may even find their polling place closed due to lack of necessary protection.

Please contact Gov. Roy Cooper, NC Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, NC House Speaker Tim Moore, and your local state legislators to demand that necessary and timely funding for our 2020 elections be added to their agenda.

Please ACT NOW!

 EVERY VOICE EVERY VOTE

As Reform Jews, we believe democracy is strongest when everyone participates – and it suffers when citizens are shut out from the democratic process or choose not to engage.  Every Voice, Every Vote is the Reform Jewish Movement’s 2020 civic engagement campaign, a nonpartisan effort to strengthen our democracy by encouraging everyone to participate in the U.S. election and ensuring that Reform Jewish values are represented in the public square.  The CBHT Tikkun Olam Committee encourages all congregants to get involved in these three focus areas:

Mobilize our Voters: Compelled by Jewish history and values, we take citizenship and the right to vote seriously. With outreach in our congregations and communities, our goal is 100 percent voter participation.

Combat Voter Suppression: For more than a century, RAC has worked with partners to ensure equal voting access.  This year, we’re working in coalition to achieve universal voter access and encourage universal participation.

Engage Student Voters: As part of our dedication to ensuring under-represented groups have a voice in the voting process, we’re working with youth leaders to significantly increase the number of young voters.                     (Adapted from rac.org)

Room in the Inn Host Week for June — CANCELLED.

When COVID-19 set in, the RITI women were allowed to take up shelter at Harrah’s Cherokee Civic Center in town.  As of May 11th, the women were transferred to a local hotel where they will stay for at least a month.  Whether they remain there after that time remains to be seen, but whatever the situation is for our originally scheduled host week June 7-14, we will not be hosting the women that week.  Our RITI partners at Congregation Beth Israel and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church agreed that due to our temple likely to still be on shutdown at that time plus the unlikelihood that it will be safe for volunteers to help out in early June, that we would not be comfortable attempting to host by early June.  Our scheduled June date was our final host week for the 2020 calendar year.

When I asked the RITI director how our temple could still assist the program, we were told that if you would like to donate food you can do that through Asheville Poverty Initiative.  They are working in partnership with the community to provide meals for all 60 clients who will be at the hotel.  They can be reached at ashevillepovertyinitiative@gmail.com.

Thanks, and stay safe everyone.

Sherrill Zoller, RITI liaison for the L.M. Tikkun Olam Committee

 

 

Religious School News June/July 2020



Find Your Jewish Joy has been the motto of our Religious School this past school year.  In planning the year and developing the programming, your teachers and I worked hard to cultivate a sense of joy, so that when we began Sunday School you would be able to feel it.  This group of madrichim is a particularly joyful and spirited crew, so I knew they would have no trouble finding and expressing their Jewish joy!  With both groupings of people, we talked a lot about what kind of joy comes from being a Jew.  We brainstormed ways of making our teaching time exciting and enriching.  But, to no surprise, the real joy came on the first day of Religious School when all of the students came streaming in to Unger Hall.  They were ready to buy their bagels and sing out loud!

As much as we prepared to find joy, the students were already bringing it!  Quickly we realized that as much as the students were going to learn from us, we were going to learn from them–and that is as it should be!

As weeks turned into months, the joy factor only increased.  With Kitah-led family services, classroom learning and Kehila Tephila, the ruach grew and grew.  Participation in all of these areas was fantastic!  Adults wanted in as well and our wonderful Religious School Committee developed Kibbitz Café for the grown-ups!  There was an exciting vibe that was happening downstairs at Congregation Beth HaTephila.

When we are cultivating a culture it’s difficult to see beyond the immediate effects.  Our knowledge was growing, friendships were being made and our connection to our faith was strengthening.  However, as we discovered, that was not the greatest outcome of the school year.

As it became clear that COVID-19 was a reality and we were going to be in quarantine for the last few months of the school year, no one could predict what would happen next.  I feel so proud and honored to be working with people who are so passionate about what they do and recognize the value of community that is an essential part of our roles.  Our staff began working hard and diligently to provide fun and thoughtful Judaic content that would carry us through the rest of the school year.  We knew that families may decide that with the new quarantine situation, there might not be the time or space in their lives to take advantage of the activities.  But the teachers continue to produce.  We also agreed that there may be a time, once the school year ends that families may be looking for additional enrichment to occupy their time and the teachers have been glad to provide!

And, our Religious school families continued to show up.  Whether to Friday Night Shabbat Services, Havdalah with the Jonases, Kehila Tephila or Laila Tov on Wednesday evenings, many of our families were seen, showing up and even calling out to each other through the comment section!  It was a complete joy to watch as all of the Kitah Bet students shouted out to one another via Facebook Live!  It was at that point that I saw the real payoff of finding our Jewish joy!  When we find our experience to be joyful and meaningful, we are motivated to show up and connect with one another, even during a time of separation.  Finding our community as it transitioned into a new paradigm is very Jewish and I am so proud and grateful to have watched this happen!

Seth Kellam,

Director of Religious Education & Sacred Music

President’s Message June/July 2020



It seems obvious that these last few months will be very memorable, and the topic for many stories of family and community hardship, resilience, and perhaps even joy.  I’ve been thinking about the stories I might tell of these pandemic times to others in the future, and about the stories told to me about historic times, like my own father’s stories of immigrating to the US from Germany in 1939.  Since the stories we hear from others help us tell our own stories, I thought I’d share a story from my father’s early life in the US during the last few years of WWII.  I believe this story illustrates the self-reflection and perspective that I hope to have myself when I tell my own stories:

“In the early 1940s, we had a ‘kvutzah’ affiliated with Hashomer Hatzair.  We aimed to go to Palestine together, to live in a kibbutz.  We dared to do things at the age of 16, 17 and 18 that, in later years, I could never have imagined my own children doing.  We hitchhiked all over the eastern part of the United States – to New York, Chicago, Montreal, New Hampshire and elsewhere.  We ran a rustic summer camp, Shomria, for children only a few years younger than ourselves, first in Massachusetts, and then New Hampshire.  At camp we built and lived on wooden platforms placed under second-hand army tents.  The camp had almost no plumbing, so we washed ourselves in the lake.  Camp Shomria, in Henniker, New Hampshire, was a place of dreams.  It was a 175-year-old dairy farm with a house, silo, and barn.  We had no electricity, only a rickety old generator that worked spasmodically.  The telephone was an old, hand-cranked instrument on a phone line shared with 17 other patrons.  I remember that we would listen to each other’s conversations, waiting to get a free line.  We had to hand-crank the instrument in order to alert the operator who would then connect us, after a brief, friendly chit-chat.”

“When I initially joined Hashomer Hatzair, in the spring of 1943, at the age of 14, I only had a general idea of what was happening in Europe at the time.  In the ‘movement’ I was made aware of the revolt of the Warsaw Ghetto.  I learned about Tosia Altmann and Mordechai Anilewitz, leaders of the ghetto uprising.  They became our legendary heroes; they had been members of Polish Hashomer Hatzair, who were only 18 or 20 years old.  We read letters and diaries coming out of Europe.  We idolized the partisans; indeed, we decided to call our group, Partisanim, the partisans, seeking to thus identify with our distant heroes.  I now realize the way we were youthful idealists, proud, and somewhat arrogant dreamers.  Hashomer Hatzair was patterned after other romantic youth movements of the early 20th century, such as the Wandervoegel in Weimar Germany, the early American Boy Scouts, the Young Communist League in the Soviet Union, and also the Hitler Youth.  Our ideal was to create a more perfect society in a kibbutz where there was no private property, men and women were equal, we lived and worked close to nature, and our children were educated to live in joy and sharing in a new Jewish homeland.  We were entirely sure of our cause and of ourselves.  Never again in life did I have such certainty.  Today, I am inclined to be more critical of what we thought and what we did.”

My father’s reflection on his experience as a young kibbutznik shows how perceptions of historical times can shift and mellow over years.  I cannot help but wonder how we will view these pandemic times years from now.  For myself, I hope to retain in my own stories of these times, the bits of newness and wonder that have softened the anxiety, the newly discovered neighboring woods, the seemingly endless spring, the best kitchen garden ever.  I wish the same for you.

Tikkun Gottschalk,

CBHT President

Between You and Me June/July 2020



Like you, there is nothing I’d rather do than to put this uncomfortable and unfortunate Covid-19 chapter behind us.  As challenging as it has been to practice socializing from a distance and translate our Temple’s spiritual life to live streaming and Zoom platforms, it has proven far more daunting to get clarity on the right steps we should take to return to in-person congregating.  As much as I’ve enjoyed “seeing” so many more of you online at services and as precious as the conversations I’ve had with those of you to whom I’ve reached out to as I go through the temple roster, I still long for the time I’ll be able to see you all in the flesh, to hug you and to tell you how much I’ve missed you.  I desperately want to return to having services together in our sanctuary and outdoor amphitheater.  I’d love to be able to kibbitz with you at an oneg or Sunday brunch.  I’d like to resume learning together and see our building return to being the lively hub of Jewish life that it was.

That said, there is only one measure that will matter to me in our decision making moving forward.  We, like synagogues all over the United States, will be guided by one longstanding, traditional Jewish standard: that above all else, we must preserve life.  Those of you who have been pregnant or in ill health during the High Holidays know that you were obligated NOT to fast because doing so might endanger your health.  Those of you whose baby boys were jaundiced or had other health complications on their eighth day of life were required to delay his brit milah until his conditions stabilized.  This principle, in Hebrew called pikuach nefesh or preserving life, stems from a verse in Leviticus which states, “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them…”  Talmudic sages explained that what the Torah intended by this verse is that Jews should live by the laws of Torah rather than die because of them.  In short, we will get back together to pray and to play when we know that doing so doesn’t put anyone’s life or health in jeopardy.  Before we have credible evidence-based information on how to keep everyone safe, inviting people back into the building might be tempting but isn’t feasible under the standards of our tradition.  Instead, resuming in-person gathering might be tantamount to violating another principle in Leviticus: placing a stumbling block before the blind.

I am fully sensitive that the preservation of life is not the sole consideration that our civic leaders must weigh, and therefore the Temple opening may not happen with as much speed as other sectors of public life.  I pray that you will practice patience and fortitude as we navigate our congregation’s next steps.  Please take advantage of the virtual offerings.  Those who are tell me it is making a difference for them during this most challenging time.  In fact, our attendance has skyrocketed!  Our services remain uplifting and your presence in them uplifts everyone else.  [And feel free to chat during services with reckless abandon!  It’s fun and it enlivens these most precious relationships.]

CBHT remains your temple home and you belong here.  If you are in crisis, because of the virus or otherwise, please reach out to me by phone.  In the meantime, the staff, lay leadership and I are committed to continuing to create ever more ways to bring you here in spirit until we can be together in person.

 

Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Lifelong Service Award Received by Jackie & Chuck Itzkovitz



Jackie and Chuck Itzkovitz received the Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Committee Lifelong Service Award. Well deserved!

Mazol Tov to Jackie and Chuck!

As a way of learning more about the Itzkovitzs’ and their trailblazing involvement and contribution to CBHT and the Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Committee, here is background of this dynamic couple for your interest and reading pleasure.
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As a young person, Jackie went to a social justice camp for several years where she met her ‘future’ husband, Chuck. After their marriage and having children of their own, Jackie and Chuck went back to work at the camp during the summer. Jackie attributes those experiences for earning her Masters of Social Work degree. Jackie started the PFLAG chapter in Savannah 22 years ago, which is still going strong. What gives her the most pleasure is that she and Chuck instilled those values learned and lived by, in their children.

So many current temple practices and events can be attributed to the love and good work of Jackie including: starting Shiva practices after funeral (now tended to with love by the CBHT Caring Community), creating and nurturing the beginning of the Hard Lox Jewish Food Festival, writing a Women’s Haggadah, led Women’s seders and writing the Sisterhood Shabbat service, still in use. Jackie was the President of Hadassah for 2 terms sitting on the Southeastern board of Hadassah, and served on the JCC Board for several years. She went to the first community immigration meeting where 17 faith communities came together to investigate possibilities for sanctuaries.

Chuck grew up in Savannah,Georgia. In his professional life he worked with intellectually-challenged teenagers in a state institution to help them move into the community through a Vocational Rehab grant, directed a community based residential treatment program for seriously emotionally disturbed teens in state custody, and ended his professional career working for the US Army in their child and spouse abuse program.

After retiring with Jackie to Asheville and joining CBHT, Chuck became involved through the Tikkun Olam infrastructure, to pursue his social work professional values and Jewish values of social change, social activism and Tzedakah. For several years Brotherhood had sponsored an annual clergy seminar, as part of an active interfaith program, inviting well known Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish scholars to come for a weekend and the local faith communities were invited to attend. At its height this program drew over a hundred clergy and laypersons. This gave rise to Brotherhood efforts, to which Chuck contributed, to form an interfaith clergy and lay action group. This group continued for several years and created important relationships and actions.

Now in Asheville close to 19 years, Jackie and Chuck Itzkovitz have always been connected in some way to helping others. CBHT is honored to have had so many of the temple practices, programs and events attributed to their early nurturing, participation and support.