CBHT and St. James AME Church Joint MLK Shabbat and Unity Service



The Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Committee initiated what turned into a fantastic exchange and collaboration for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday recognition.

On Friday, January 11th, the choirs of both houses of worship collaborated to provide music and the Rev. Brent Edwards provided the sermon for our CBHT Shabbat service.
Rev. Edwards’ sermon emphasized that we all walk with God through our daily ups and downs. The combined choirs and the St. James dancers made for a deep and meaningful experience.

On Sunday, January 13th, many members of CBHT attended a Unity Service at St. James AME Church. The two choirs again joined their voices and Rabbi Meiri provided the sermon. She spoke of Dr. King’s words that “Unity is the great need of the hour.” She went on to describe the weekend events as “an affirmation that we are better together – as a congregation and as a community.” It was an exciting and profound service! Special thanks go to Vivian Ellner for working tirelessly to initiate this collaboration, and to Rabbi Meiri and the CBHT choir for making our shared services a reality. The Tikkun Olam Committee hopes to continue to work on collaborating with St. James AME Church.

Texas Hold ‘Em Poker & Game Night




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Between You and Me – February 2019



A foundation of spiritual practice is the truth that we can hold two opposing feelings all at once. We can feel joyful as we grieve, we can experience hope in our despair, we can be certain in our uncertainty and, if we are wise, always be uncertain in our certainty. The weeks leading up to, and following the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday were both incredibly simple and infinitely complex.

Simple was the joy we felt both welcoming and being welcomed by St. James African Methodist Episcopal Congregation over the weekend prior to Dr. King’s birthday. Our choirs seemed to blend effortlessly to offer devotional song in both houses of worship. Both Reverend Edwards and I had a chance to speak to our congregations as we joined in Sabbath prayer on Friday and Sunday. Some of our youth children went to church and some of their youth came to temple. In my experience nothing felt forced, people met the unknown with openness and everyone came away moved, wondering whether reaching out across social, racial and religious lines to find friendship, healing and reconciliation can be as simple as that was.

Concurrently, during those same weeks I was part of a group of Jewish and African American leaders who were preparing for the very high-profile visit of Tamika Mallory, activist and leader of the National Women’s March, who was invited to speak at UNCA to honor Dr. King’s legacy. The event drew national coverage as it came to light later that Mallory’s relations with the Jewish community became strained over anti-Jewish remarks she allegedly made as well as her refusal to distance herself from ties to Louis Farrakhan, who is known not only for his organizing and support of vulnerable African American communities but also for his extreme hate speech against Jews. Whether or not the allegations against Mallory were true, the layers of identity politics that required navigating that were instigated by her visit were anything but simple. People who are not friends of the Jews often point a finger at us for our privilege and our economic and political power. When members of the Jewish community were insisting that nothing short of Chancellor Cable rescinding Mallory’s invitation to speak would suffice, that unfortunately played right into that harmful stereotype. And yet, in the current climate of division and hostility against Jews, how could the Jewish community turn a blind eye?

As I write this, we are still preparing for that visit. But here’s what I know ahead of it all. I know that the truth is complicated and people are complicated. Some things are easy for us to agree on, and some actions are easy to take. Others are difficult and the way forward isn’t clear. But I do believe that right now, people sitting down together, in dialogue or in prayer, gets us closer to where we hope to be. In the words of Kohelet, “There is a time for everything under the sun.”

President’s Message – February 2019



I’ve been thinking a lot about Jewish food lately. My daughter is planning her wedding and is designing the menu around ‘Jew-ish’ food — pastrami and rye, falafel in pita, black and white cookies, Israeli salads — a little of this and a little of that, mixing what we think of as culturally Jewish food and food from Israel. I have two new Israeli cookbooks filled with amazing pictures and recipes, and I want to try them all. Before we know it, I’ll be thinking about our Seder for Passover. And, The Souper Bowl is just around the corner!

I laugh when Rabbi reminds us that ‘oneg’ doesn’t mean cookies, but ‘joy’. But that actually sums up all of my thoughts around Jewish food — joy. For me, whether I’m learning a new recipe or having cookies at an oneg, it really comes down to the joy of sharing. We might be sharing recipes — I will never forget how privileged I felt when a special bubbe shared her famous and delicious brisket recipe, only to find that she used Lipton Onion Soup Mix! Or, we might be sharing the cooking experience — I love having the whole family in the kitchen helping to get a holiday meal on the table. I also love the shared food preparation for Hard Lox! Or, we might be sharing stories — small and insignificant or hugely important, when we’re having a little nosh at an oneg. And, we share lots of meals – I can distinctly recall every Shabbat at Home we have hosted or attended. Every one of those meals has given me the opportunity to get to know someone from our congregational family a little better. The Souper Bowl gives us another reason to share our recipes and a meal, all the while getting to know each other.

My new Israeli cookbooks, especially “Jerusalem – A Cookbook,” authored by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, make a point of explaining that it’s futile to try to attribute really any of the food of Israel to one ethnic or religious group. They have fused together in so many ways, over so many generations, that it’s impossible to unravel who invented a particular food or who brought it with them to Israel. They also ask, “Why does it matter?” The true beauty of food is its immediacy. The pleasure we take in eating great food is what matters. That thinking is what makes us not hesitate to serve both Israeli food and New York Jewish food at our upcoming celebration. It all tastes great and it all evokes, and creates, wonderful memories.

I have another book I love, called “Matzoh Ball Gumbo – Culinary Tales of the Jewish South”. In it, Marcie Cohen Ferris explains how African American women who cooked for affluent and middle-class Jewish families influenced their recipes. Jewish and African American women created dishes that blended Southern and Jewish cooking, like lox and grits and sweet potato kugel and Pesach Fried Green Tomatoes. (No surprise there, matzoh meal makes the best “bread crumbs”!) She also explains why Crisco was the answer to the prayers of Jewish cooks in the South. They finally had something to make their biscuits and pie crusts almost as flaky as those made with lard, by their Gentile neighbors.

I can’t write about Jewish food without considering the role of kashrut laws in our private lives and in the temple. As Reform Jews, particularly in the South, we may not be invested in keeping Kosher, but I believe it’s important to follow our Kashrut policy both in and outside the temple walls if an event is sponsored by CBHT.

Jewish food plays many roles in our lives. It enriches our relationships and is wrapped up in our memories. I wish you the best in all your Jewish food experiences!

My Best,
Karen

Humor Corner – January 2019



Julius: How many Commandments are there?

Julia: Ten, of course

Julius: What would happen if you,-er- well- you know- if you broke one of them?

Julia (encouraging): So, there’d be nine.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Poetry time for young lovers:

A romantic Jewish young Mr.
Had a girl and he often KR
But he asked her to wed,
and she solemnly said:
“I can never be more than your Sr.”

Both from Encyclopedia of Jewish Humor
From Biblical Times to the Modern Age
Compiled and edited by Henry D. Spalding
2001

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