Humor Corner – January 2020

Joey Bishop’s quip:
Back in 1942, I said, “Mama, I’m going into the Army.”

And she told me, “All right, but don’t come home late.”

A rabbi said to six-year old Bobby: “So your mother says your prayers for you each night. Very commendable. What does she say?”

And Bobby replied: “Thank God he’s in bed.”

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.

The Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Committee – January, 2020

Upcoming Scheduled Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Projects:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Committee Updates

Racial Justice and Jewish Values

In the Torah, Jews are taught to accept others, without prejudice or bias.  The Torah states “You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart.  Reprove your kinsman, but incur no guilt because of him.  You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen.  Love your fellow as yourself: I am the Eternal.” (Leviticus 19: 17-18).

In the Talmud, we learn that all people are descendants from a single person so that no person can say, “my ancestor is greater than yours.”  God created humanity from the four corners of the earth – yellow clay, and white sand, black loam and red soil.  Therefore, the earth can declare to no part of humanity that it does not belong here, that this soil is not their rightful home.  (adapted from

The Lotte Meyerson Tikkun Olam Committee has participated with approximately 30 Asheville faith communities who are part of the Interfaith Initiative for Social Justice Dismantling Racism working group.  Using their Action Plan, we are beginning work on initiatives to educate our congregation to understand systemic white supremacy in our community, state and nation and to become allies to change it where we can.  In the coming months you will be hearing about our plans for a CBHT field trip to the Montgomery racial truth sites, collaborating with St. James AME Church, as well as planning for speakers and discussion groups for the fall.  We welcome others to join in our LMTO efforts to dismantle racism in ourselves, our communities, and our nation.

Room in the Inn 2020

It’s a new year and our first 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 at Charlotte St. and Macon Ave.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this Tikkun Olam project, volunteers from the temple, along with volunteers from our RITI partners St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, the Ethical Humanist Society, and Congregation Beth Israel, provide the following for up to 12 homeless women: a homemade dinner each evening at 6 pm; drive the St. Mary’s van to bring the women from the A-Hope Day Center to the host site each evening as well as an early morning driver to return them to the Day Center; provide for 12 paper bag lunches; and 2 overnight people to oversee the women and set out a light breakfast (provided) for the women.  We will determine the exact assigned days of our assignments early in January.  All volunteers are encouraged to stay at the host site to share dinner with the RITI women on our assigned evenings, or any evening during our host week.

This is a wonderful opportunity to sit and talk one on one with the women and really see how much they are just like us.  The Room in the Inn program gives these women a safe and loving place to be each week (host site changes to another faith group weekly) while they seek services and/or work or go to school as they await permanent housing.  The majority of RITI clients eventually are housed with an impressive 95% retention rate.

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, at  Note:  Our second host week will be held at CBHT the week of June 7th-14th.

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