President’s Monthly Message



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


Email: president@bethhatephila.org

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Previous messages from the President

President’s Message – January, 2020

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Presidents Message- November 2019

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President’s Message- October, 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

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President’s Message – Sept. 2019

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President’s Message – August 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

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President’s Message

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

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President’s Message – May 2019

As I wrote to you back in March, at the recommendation of the Executive Committee, the Board of Trustees authorized the sale of the property that CBHT owns on Washington Road, behind the playground.  Since then, we had measurements taken to assure that we had enough green space on temple property to meet city requirements, … Continue reading President’s Message – May 2019

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President’s Message

How fortunate we are to have such a ‘deep bench’ at CBHT.  We have a considerable number of very talented ‘players’ who can step up during a transition or help fill a knowledge gap when we’re sailing in uncharted territory.  Some of this is by design.  By the time someone moves into the president role, … Continue reading President’s Message

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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 … Continue reading President’s Message – February 2019

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President’s Message – January 2019

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Presidents Message – December 2018

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