Our house in North Asheville has a great craftsman style front porch facing south and a bit east, looking out towards the hill between us and the Grove Park Inn. Our one minor complaint until recently was that we didn’t have quite enough of a landscaping screen between the porch and the road. So, when we all went on lock down in March, at our house we also embarked on a front yard improvement project. The major addition was a bench with an arbor near the sidewalk. Instead of facing the bench in towards the yard, we built the seat facing the road in the hope and expectation that our neighbors would use it. We have since started to call it “Jerry’s Bench” because our neighbor Jerry frequently takes a break at it on his climb up our street, which is close to a twenty percent incline. As the summer has progressed, flowering vines have climbed up the sides and it has become a nice vegetation screen between our porch seat and the road. It looks vaguely like a bus stop shelter, though we have yet to attract a bus.
I bet you have heard, as I have, of other quarantine projects. I believe our Rabbi mentioned someone giving out free flower bouquets in a neighborhood in North Asheville. I have also observed a proliferation in sidewalk libraries offering free books (though it seems that 50% of the books in the libraries are by Tom Clancy). In early April, I walked by a newly-opened restaurant in downtown Asheville giving away hundreds of box lunches over many days.
There have not been many feel good stories in the news lately, but the “good” news seems to me to always have one or two people at the heart of it making the best of a hard situation by serving their extended family, neighbors or immediate community in some small or large way. Often, it is someone with a particular talent, sharing that talent in a new or creative way to support and stay connected to their community.
So, I want to ask you: What have you been up to the last few months that you were not doing last summer that has helped you stay connected to your family, neighborhood or community? Please email me a description of your project, or an anecdote of a new connection you made through a new experience you had because of social distancing rules, or because of the extra time you may have had staying home. If you’ve just been thinking about a quarantine project, but are uncertain how to get it going, tell me your ideas on how you might get it going. I can’t promise I will know how to help, but maybe just writing it down will create the momentum needed to move to the next step. Maybe think of it as the mid-summer version of the question, “Why is this night different from all others?” I very much want to hear your story of your good news from this summer, if you are willing to share. Send me an email, write me a letter; whichever you choose, I look forward to reading it.
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Previous messages from the President
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 … Continue reading President’s Message June/July 2020
By the time the first night of Passover arrived, I was a near expert zoomer. I knew how to touch up my appearance, insert a cool background, and mute and unmute people in seconds. So, there we were, the four of us semi-quarantined, all lined up in front of my IPad, being “together” with others … Continue reading Presidents Message May, 2020
The following is the printed version of my remarks at our Shabbat observe March 13, 2020, when we closed the temple due to Covid-19 concerns. I want to welcome you to our first Quarantine Shabbat —or virtual Shabbat. Normally, I’d ask you to check your cell phones, find a comfortable seat, and finish up your … Continue reading President’s Message – April 2020
If I gave you the CliffsNotes version of my Jewish experience, you might ask me, “Are you Reformadox?” With the same cursory information about any one of my sisters, you might ask them, “Are you post-denominational, or Jewish-adjacent?” If you asked my father what movement or term he felt best applied to him, he’d probably … Continue reading President’s Message-March 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, … Continue reading President’s Message- February 2020
The bigger picture. That’s what I saw in a room with 5000 or so Reform Jews, all in Chicago convening at the URJ Biennial. If you have ever been to a large gathering of Jews anywhere—at the western wall, Biennial, or large synagogue event—you’ve probably felt what I was feeling, the power of so many … Continue reading President’s Message – January, 2020
The security of our temple has been a frequent topic of discussion in temple leadership for some time. We want to be safe, and feel safe, so that we can experience our congregational home free of fear. It has not been easy for the CBHT Board and Security Committee to make security plans for our … Continue reading Presidents Message- November 2019
Just about 26 years ago, I climbed the steps to the brass doors and entered the CBHT sanctuary for the first time. You might not have recognized me then, with my long hair hanging in a bushy ponytail. (I knew nothing about man-buns.) I don’t recall who greeted me at the door, but I know … Continue reading President’s Message- October, 2019
It may be summer, but a lot has been happening at CBHT in the office, in the “boardroom” and behind the scenes. The office staff and Board have been busy keeping the wheels of the temple business well-greased. We recently entered the new fiscal year in July; thank you to all of our members who … Continue reading President’s Message – Sept. 2019
Since being elected president of CBHT a few weeks ago, I have had the opportunity to reflect on why I serve on the board and what it means to me in the context of my connection to our temple community. Let’s be honest: our board has occasionally had meetings that have gone on too long, … Continue reading President’s Message – August 2019
Over the past two years, when I have spoken to people about my role as president of our temple, I would get that “Oh, I am so sorry” look. They most always say something about how tedious it must be to deal with the complainers, the naysayers. I can honestly say that has not been … Continue reading President’s Message