All posts by editor

The Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Committee-February 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.

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

Monday, February 10th – 4:30 PM, Next L.M. Tikkun Olam Meeting

February 16th –23rd Room in the Inn; CBHT helps St. Mary’s host.  Contact Sherrill Zoller to help.

COLLABORATION WITH ST. JAMES CHURCH

 On Sunday, January 12th, St. James hosted a Unity Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Our choir collaborated with their choir to provide a program of beautiful and inspirational music.  Reverend Brent Edwards welcomed attending CBHT members warmly and Rabbi Meiri provided a moving sermon on the long connection between African-American and Jewish communities, weaving it into the weekly Torah portion from Exodus.

On Friday, January 17th, members of the Tikkun Olam Committee welcomed members of St. James for a “Shabbat at Home” dinner.  We had the chance for much one-on-one conversation with the hope of strengthening our future collaborations with St. James.  We hope to continue partnering with them around issues of social justice. Contact Sam Hausfather at tikkunolam@bethhatephila.org for more information or to get involved.

HEBREW IMMIGRANT AID SOCIETY (HIAS)  WELCOME CAMPAIGN

In response to the largest refugee crisis in human history, the LMTO committee and Temple, with full approval of the Board, has joined over 400 congregations across all denominations countrywide in support of refugees and asylum seekers.  Perhaps your grandparents were brought to this country with the aid of HIAS?  I know mine were.  We will educate the congregation on HIAS’ involvement with refugees, advocate with local officials, hold events and raise awareness.  When and if the time comes to support refugees, we know CBHT members will be at the forefront helping them as we were with our Sanctuary support.

ROOM IN THE INN February 16th – 23rd

Our next RITI program for homeless women is on the calendar for Sunday evening February 16th through early Sunday February 23rdThe host site for February will be St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.  We are looking for assistance with any of the following: help provide a homemade dinner one night; drive the St. Mary’s van to bring the women to/from the A-Hope Day Center to St. Mary’s one evening or morning; provide for 12 paper bag lunches; and 2 overnight people to oversee the women and set out a light breakfast for the women.  All volunteers are encouraged to stay at the host site to share dinner with the RITI women on our assigned evenings.  You can be part of their transition by being a CBHT volunteer for any of the above assignments.  For more information, please contact: Sherrill Zoller, Tikkun Olam liaison for RITI.

UPCOMIMG SCHOLAR-in-RESIDENCE:

September 10th –13th

The LMTO committee announces an exciting program to prepare us for the High Holidays.  Rabbi Neal Gold will teach and enlighten us for four days with the emphasis on Tikkun Olam, Tzedakah and Social Justice.  Rabbi Gold has been a Scholar-In-Residence across the country.  He is a leader, counselor, teacher and social activist.  His teaching is inspired by the beauty of Jewish texts and he uses texts and traditions as a means of transforming the world.  In order to bring Rabbi Gold to CBHT we are looking for patrons to defray his expenses.  Please contact LMTO member Ellen Fisher to join us in this exciting program.  To read more about Rabbi Gold you can access his info at www.nealgold.net.  Read his blog, his CV and accolades from across the country.

 

 

 

Religious School News- February 2020



I have vivid memories from my childhood of being sick with the flu on cold winter days, gazing out the window from my bed, staring at the bare trees.  I remember, in the hazy state that only a real flu can produce, watching as the tree limbs of the several, ancient oak trees swayed and the empty branches created new geometric shapes when layered on top of each other.  When would I feel better?  When would this never-ending winter end?!

And then in February, Tu B’Shevat would come around.  More thoughts of trees!  Still bare!  I would fantasize longingly about climbing the giant pine in my backyard or finding relief in the shade given by a tree on a hot summer day.  It became almost unbearable.  Right then in February, all I wanted was to be at camp or running through the sprinkler, like any good child of the ‘80s!  Thanks a lot, Tu B’Shevat!

The reality of those midwinter fantasies was that I was simply experiencing my love and appreciation for trees and all they gave us.  As a child, trees meant play.  As an adult, trees mean so much more.  I’m reminded of the vulnerable state our environment is in.  And how every tree counts!

This year at Beth HaTephila Religious School we will let both sides of this story fuel our celebration.  Thanks to Jenny Mercer, we will be planting a new tree at our Temple.  As a new tree enters the Earth, we will sing to it and decorate it with thank you notes as we welcome it to our beautiful community!  Please visit our new tree and be sure to thank it.  And if you feel like it, sing to it as well!

Seth Kellam,

Director of Religious Education & Sacred Music

 

President’s Message- February 2020



Many years ago, a Jewish friend said to me, “Jews don’t go camping.”  What I think she meant is that, in many North American Jewish families over the last few generations, the kids go camping at summer camp, so why should the family go together?  Camping is for the kids, they like it the most, so why should we parents have to suffer through it?

I never went to summer camp, Jewish or otherwise, which may explain why I still like to go camping.  Car camping, backpacking, and even wilderness middle-of-nowhere camping.  Here in Asheville, we are all very fortunate to live in a place surrounded by beautiful mountains and rivers, so accessible to camping and other outdoor activities.

Like many people, I’m not so good at putting away the connected devices or totally unplugging.  I’m also not really that interested in silent retreats or meditation.  But, I very much like being in true wilderness, where there is no possibility of connection to any media, or technological distraction.  When I’m disconnected in this way, I imagine the many generations of our ancestors who experienced only what their own senses supplied in each moment.  I think many of our spiritual practices and traditions as Jews have meaning in part because they help us focus on our primary senses, on what is happening immediately around us.  I suppose some of you might tell me this is just spiritual awareness, and what do I think meditation is anyway?

My family is not really planning for greater spiritual awareness (that might be self-defeating), but we are planning for camping season this coming spring and summer.  It might even be our most ambitious summer of camping yet as a family.  Our kids may well mark each disconnected day, hour by hour.  My hope is that they will nonetheless develop a type of muscle memory of the experience of having no technological distraction.

As Reform Jews, we have no mandate to be shomrei Shabbos, but I think we all long for periods of freedom from our devices.  Even if you meditate or keep Shabbat every week, I invite you to consider new ways to disconnect from the digital experience and reconnect with your own sensory experience.

Tikkun Gottschalk,

CBHT President

Religious School News – January, 2020



Al Shlosha D’vorim “The world is sustained by three things: Torah, Avodah and Gemilut Chasadim

When considering the gifts of moral guidance that we, as parents and adults, can give to our children, we are provided with the most important concepts of all; Torah, the wisdom of our Creator and the sages that proceed us; Avodah, the work that satisfies our souls and makes a better world; and Gemilut Chasadim, acts of love and kindness!  These are the things that will sustain us as a people and quite frankly, sustain the world as a whole — not too bad for a framework!

The great news is that we all are committed to teaching these three things, whether you know it or not!  At home and at Religious School, we teach stewardship to the Earth and we teach the Golden Rule — we are teaching Torah!  At home and Religious School we teach prayer and gratitude to Gd — we are teaching Avodah!  And at home and at Religious School we teach kindness and sharing and acceptance — we are teaching Gemilut Chasadim!

Do you want to know how I know this?  The Religious School teachers and I get to watch your children embodying these middot (values).  We watch it in the way they honor things sacred, in the way they work on their Tephila and certainly in the ways they treat one another.  As a community we see it in their self-advocacy each Sunday when they fill out the leaves in the back of Kehila Tephila.  With these leaves they are recognizing and celebrating their own moral successes.  The self-celebration motivates our children to perpetuate and further embody these values!

This year we added an opportunity to celebrate one another with an acorn, a seed.  This kind of recognition serves as a seed on which more great things can grow.

Mitzvah Tree
Mitzvah Tree by Meg Winnecour

And, with anything Jewish we want to enact Hiddur Mitzvot, we want to beautify our commandments!  CBHT Religious School is so fortunate to have the beautiful artwork of Meg Winnecour!  In celebration of our awesome children, Meg has painted a beautiful Mitzvah Tree, on which we will hang out Mitzvah leaves full of Torah, Avodah and Gemilut Chasadim!

Thank you, Meg, and thank you Mitzvah Makers!

Seth Kellam,

Director of Religious Education & Sacred Music

Between You and Me – January, 2020



It takes time to integrate the experience of spending five days with 5000 Jews learning from our movement’s thought leaders and encountering our talented artists, collating wisdom from session after session offered by experts in Jewish text and culture, organizational psychology, and education.  However, I can already say that this year’s Union for Reform Judaism Biennial was jam-packed with jewels.  And while I’m not yet sure how all this will translate into an infusion of new spirit and action into our congregation’s life, I can share with you some personal highlights.

I was invited to participate in a training offered by Resettling the Table, an organization that has developed a highly structured technique for helping communities engage in difficult conversations.  They observed that in the highly networked world in which we live, we rarely learn what personal experiences led a person to hold a position on a given issue.  More likely, we are confronted by their deeply held beliefs before we ever know what events in their life mapped their coming to their particular viewpoint.  Taking the time to find out why someone feels so deeply that immigration policy needs to be addressed, or why they feel so out of touch with Israel, is the route to creating receptivity on both sides of the table to having a deeper conversation, especially when we disagree.  Consider inquiring after someone’s personal connections to an issue and when they came to understand what they do about it and see where the conversation goes.

In a Shabbat program, AJ Jacobs, author of “Walking the Bible”, spoke about his latest book, “Thanks a Thousand,” his quest to thank all the people responsible for his cup of morning coffee.  While his five pieces of advice about becoming more grateful were sweet, the best part came when he invited us to share something for which we may not have offered enough gratitude.  Suddenly the audience wasn’t hearing about what gratitude is, we were experiencing it.  A woman from Hong Kong stood up and said, “I can’t ever say thank you to him, but I am grateful to the police officer who picked me up off the street and brought me to the orphanage.  I’m literally a foundling.”  In the sharing, a sixth lesson emerged for me: we can get the benefits of gratitude not only first hand by offering it, but second hand, too.  I look forward to finding more opportunities to cultivate our collective gratitude.

Deborah Lipstadt, who spent forty years studying and fighting Anti-Semitism, was cautionary.  After Pittsburgh, Poway and Jersey City, what we do as Jews should never be shaped by those who hate us.  Rather, Jewish life should be determined by quality and merits of our rich tradition.  It would be a shame, offered Lipstadt, if we cowered behind armed guards or worse stayed home altogether, but it would be equally wrong to become more “Jewish” in protest of those who hate us.  We should be Jewish not because of what they do to us, but despite it.

As with all Jewish gatherings, there was the requisite handwringing about who we aren’t yet reaching (millennials), and who in our midst needs more or different attention (baby boomers).  These remain the most challenging questions that our leadership will continue to address in the coming months and years.  We welcome your continued partnership in building our temple into a home where all can nurture their highest aspirations, confront their deepest beliefs in community with others and shape their lives to be bearers of light and peace.