New Parenting Group during Beit Sefer, other special January events

Seth and Kathy Kopald

AARC is starting up a new parenting group twice a month on Sunday mornings during Beit Sefer/Religious School. Parents with kids of any age are welcome, including parents of preschool and toddlers. We will offer childcare during the group meetings.

This free, parenting discussion group will be facilitated by Seth Kopald, an Internal Family Systems (IFS) practitioner, parent educator, former Montessori teacher, education consultant, and former Head of School. The Sunday morning groups will run from 9:30-11 every other week, beginning January 14th at the JCC. Seth, Kathy and their family joined AARC this past year.  You can read their New Member Profile here.

Seth will introduce the IFS model in conjunction with Attachment Parenting theory. He will facilitate enriching and generative discussions about parenting with a focus on helping parents discover how their internal world affects their parenting and their level of peace and joy while parenting. Discussion will also include strategies for loving yet clear child discipline/guidance practices.  Coffee available!

On January 28th, AARC Beit Sefer is co-planning a special Tu B’shvat environmental conservation program with the Jewish Cultural Society.  Parents and all other members of AARC are invited to come for the event,”Bats of the World,” presented by the Organization for Bat Conservation. The fun begins at 10:30am at the JCC.

January Calendar of AARC Events

Sunday January 7, 11am JCC: AARC “Third Age” group. Friendly discussion on enhancing Jewish life for members 60 (more or less) and older. This is the second get-together of a new group initiated by the Membership Committee co-chair Marcy Epstein.
Saturday January 13: Second Saturday Shabbat Morning Service. Signup for member lunch here.
Sunday January 14, AARC Book Club9:45-11:30am, home of Greg Saltzman. The book will be: Mohsin Hamid, Exit West (2017) – fiction, short list for Man Booker prize.
Sunday January 14, Parenting Group led by Seth Kopald during Beit Sefer, 9:30-10:45. This group will meet every other week during Beit Sefer through February.
Sunday January 14, during Beit Sefer, Amit Weitzer, Executive Director of Habonim Dror Camp Tavor, will present about camp to students and parents.
January 26Fourth Friday Kabbalat Shabbat, with tot shabbat and potluck, at the JCC.
January 28th 10:30am, JCC: Beit Sefer and all congregation “Bats Around the World” environmental conservation program co-sponsored with Jewish Cultural Society.

Hanukkah 2017 blog: Latke fry-off and more

As I write this 2017 Hanukkah blog, the first snow of the season has skimmed the porch with white. I realize that all the serious stuff I want to say about Hanukkah, I wrote in last year’s blog, with links to various other thoughtful writings.

 

 

Here’s an annotated schedule for the rest of 2017:

This Saturday, December 9, is our Human Rights Shabbat, focusing on the light we bring through our activism. Rabbi Ora has invited our members to signup to speak for no more that 4 minutes each. Please read about it here and sign up here. There will be childcare!

Sunday December 10: Beit Sefer gets ready for Hanukkah!

Sunday December 10: Over 50 (yrs old) AARC members getting together at Morgan and York, sharing ways to enrich Jewish life. Look for a doodle poll soon to pick a Saturday morning to meet again. Questions? email Memberchip Committee co-chair, Marcy Epstein at dr_marcy@hotmail.com.

Friday December 15: Home hosted potluck and candle lighting at Debbie Zivan’s (limited, you must RSVP here.)

Saturday December 16: Home hosted potluck and candle lighting at Carole Caplan’s (limited, you must RSVP here.)

Sunday December 17: Home hosted potluck and candle lighting at Kira Berman’s (limited, you must RSVP here.)

Just gotta say, the description of this photo is “Martha Stewart, Thanksgiving leftovers on a platter.” Okay then.

Tuesday December 19: Last Candle Latke Party and Fry-Off: We are having an all congregation and friends Hanukkah party at the JCC, 5:30 to 7:30pm (Clean-uppers should plan to be there till 8pm). We need you to bring latkes: prizes for the best in every category! For ideas, here’s the winning recipes from  last year’s fry-off at Jewish Senior Life’s Fleischman Residence/Blumberg Plaza in West Bloomfield. And, here’s Jen Cohen’s Latke Secrets from our own past. Three people have already signed up to make latkes, but we need several more!! We’ll eat, light the hanukiot (bring your menorah and candles), sing songs and make a craft. Fun for all! RSVP and tell us what you are bringing.

Friday December 22: Fourth Friday Kabbalat Shabbat with potluck and tot shabbat, at the JCC.

Monday December 25th: Dinner and a Movie: Our annual December 25 “Dinner and a Movie” on Monday, December 25 (Christmas Day) at 5:15 pm, will again take place at Madras Masala (328 Maynard St, Ann Arbor) followed by movies at Michigan and State Theaters.
We will pre-order the food and you need to fill out this SignUp Genius so we can send the order in. Have cash available for payment. Madras Masala has increased business in the last two years and management needs us to pre-order to efficiently serve us as well as their walk-in and take-out customers. With this in mind, we will have our usual very fun dinner, with less wait for food and more time for enjoying and schmoozzing. Restaurant cooks will begin to prepare our orders early and wait staff will bring each individual and family your specific order.

Calling all justice-seekers and justice-pursuers!

On Shabbat morning, December 9th, AARC will be celebrating Human Rights Shabbat along with more than 140 congregations across the globe. The centerpiece of our Shabbat service will be YOU. Whether you’re involved in local activism or global human rights work, you are invited to share your work and inspiration with our community.

 

Please sign up to present as part of our Human Rights Shabbat here. We’re excited to hear from you! On Shabbat morning, you’ll be given 4 minutes (total) to address the following questions:
  1. How does your Judaism inform your activism?
  2. What gives you hope?

Speaking of ‘justice-pursuers,’ this unusual turn of phrase comes from the Hebrew ‘tzedek tzedek tirdof’ – ‘justice, justice you shall pursue, so that you might live’ (Deuteronomy 16:20). Various commentators have asked why the word ‘justice’ (sometimes translated as ‘righteousness’) is repeated in the verse. Some have interpreted the repetition as a subtle reminder that the pursuit of justice must also be pursued with justice.

Rav Elya Meir Bloch, a 20th century Orthodox rabbi, elaborates:

“Many times we pursue that which is righteous and fair. Our goal is to ensure that what is right prevails. We are often tempted to let the ends justify the means. We may overlook the fact that we have to step on a few laws here and there as long as in the end ‘righteousness will prevail.’

We know unfortunately how many times throughout history the pursuit of justice was carried on with unjust ways. This has caused terrible destruction. The message of our verse is that we may not overlook unscrupulous methods to achieve lofty goals. Righteousness must be pursued with righteousness. Achieving tzedek in any other way is not tzedek.”

Human Rights Shabbat is organized to coincide with International Human Rights Day, which celebrates the December 10, 1948 signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This years marks its 70th year. You can participate with people from around the globe in marking this anniversary by recording your voice (with your kids!!) reading one of the articles. Here is the website to do this. If you do, let us know in the comments!

 

 

Repair the World invites us to Act Now Against Hunger

The director of Education for Repair the World, Rebecca Katz, sent an email to Rabbi Ora last week inviting AARC members and friends to participate in their Act Now Against Hunger campaign this Thanksgiving. Detroit is one of seven active sites for the non-profit organization Repair the World, which was founded in 2009 to encourage young Jewish people to participate in meaningful service and engagement in social change rooted in Jewish values and learning.

This year they have put together special resources for Thanksgiving  to help us have conversations about hunger at our Thanksgiving dinner table, or another appropriate time.

“Transform your table into a place of generous learning, listening, and action.  As we gather around a table of plenty, commit to opening your table to conversations about food insecurity and hunger. Use these three discussion guides and DIY resources to root your discussion of food insecurity in Jewish values and foster a brave space for people to meaningfully engage with each other’s experiences and ideas.”

The discussion guides and resources below are very nicely put together and will be relevant throughout the year. Take a minute to look through them and download for your family’s use.

Discussion Guides:

  • A Plateful of Grateful
    • Untangle the impact of food waste and hunger using this guide co-created with 412 Food Rescue, a Pittsburgh non-profit that believes that good food belongs to people, not landfills.
  • Addressing Hunger Together
    • Discuss root causes and strategies to address food insecurity through traditional and modern food justice texts
  • Bringing Generosity to a Tough Table
    • If you are heading into a tense or divisive space and want to foster a generous and open conversation at your table, check out this guide we developed in partnership with Lab/Shul, an everybody-driven experimental Jewish community in NYC.
  • Food Justice Glossary
    • Build a shared language around food justice

 

Welcome Sherry and Steve Lessens

Sherry and Steve Lessens returned to Ann Arbor this past summer after a forty year “break.”  Sherry grew up in a Cleveland suburb, and Steve is from the small town of Lowell, MI. They met as undergrads at the University of Michigan and married during grad school.  Steve went to U of M med school and Sherry got a Masters in Counseling while working in Plymouth.  Steve’s residency took them to Milwaukee for a short time, and they finally ended up in Shelby, MI for thirty-eight years.  Shelby is a very small town (1800 people!) along Lake Michigan that is very rural, very conservative, and quite poor. While Steve served as a family doc, Sherry worked as an elementary school counselor. Their temple, B’nai Israel was 30 miles away in Muskegon, but it grew to be an important part of their lives. The membership is less than 80 families, but it includes all denominations of Judaism, and the members became dear friends. Leaving was hard.

The Lessens family includes two children.  David is a family doc in Anchorage, married with two small children, and Jennifer and her husband with two boys live nearby in Okemos.
Once both Steve and Sherry retired, they immediately chose to return to Ann Arbor. They missed the culture, the people, the music, and the availability of great public transportation, to say nothing of being so much closer to a temple, to their daughter,  and getting away from ALL THAT SNOW!! AARC seemed like the perfect fit once they attended the small Friday night service this August at Hillel. They are both anxious to meet new people and expand their religious experiences.

Welcome Kopald Family: Seth, Kathy, Ahava, Clara, and Levi

We are very happy to be a part of AARC.

Our families easily merged together over the last three years, but officially this past July, Kathy and I were married.  At the end of October,  we moved into our renovated home.  We have three wonderful teenagers: Ahava, Clara, and Levi and our dog Hazel.  I was born and raised in the Detroit area, moved to Oregon after college and then to Ann Arbor when Ahava was two.  Kathy, born and raised in Port Austin, came to Ann Arbor to study at U of M.  She fell in love with Ann Arbor and made her home here.  I feel like the luckiest guy in the world that Kathy and Clara have come into our lives and we are truly one happy family.  I have been in the field of Early Childhood Education my working life and now design and build specialty construction projects.  I also work with people as an Internal Family Systems Practitioner.  Kathy is a designer and artist, who works at U-M designing websites and leading and designing high profile campaigns for the Office of the Vice President for Communications.

I found AARC in my search for the right fit for a Jewish community.  I have tried many and like parts of each, but nothing felt just right, until now.  After attending AARC High Holiday services in the past and many events as a member, I believe I found our community.  I think the AARC is an accepting and welcoming group that allows people to be themselves and let their light shine. We look forward to meeting all of you.

About Lincoln’s Nigun

Cover of Joey Weisenberg and the Hadar Ensemble’s 2014 album, “Nigunim Vol IV Brooklyn Spirituals.”

At our October Fourth Friday Kabbalat Shabbat, Rabbi Ora introduced a new to us nigun [a mystical musical melody] for “L’cha Dodi.” Composed by Joey Weisenberg, it is called “Lincoln’s Nigun,” which immediately generated speculation, Why Lincoln?

Evidently, we are not the only ones curious about the nigun’s title. Just last month, Tablet Magazine published a story on the background of “Lincoln’s Nigun,” “If You Like the Music at Brooklyn’s Hippest Shul, Thank Abe Lincoln.” If you have the time, read the article. But to summarize, Weisenberg’s composition was inspired by both a story related in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln about respect the troops showed President Lincoln (the soldiers would part to the left and right to make way for Lincoln) and a phrase in “L’cha Dodi”: “yamin u’smol tifrotzi/to the left and to the right they part ways” expressing respectful welcome for Shabbat.

Weisenberg also characterized the music as influenced by Civil War Americana, as well as traditional Jewish melodies. For some, the melody brought to mind the song “Ashokan Farewell” from Ken Burn’s Civil War miniseries, composed by Jay Ungar, the only song in the soundtrack not composed during the Civil War. (In writing this blog, I also found out that Jay Ungar played at Paul Resnick and Caroline Richardson’s wedding!)

May we enjoy singing this together for many Shabbats to come.

 

 

Zichronot/Memories

Memories by Josh Samuel, on Rosh Hashanah 2017

My family moved to Israel when I was eleven. Israel is built on shared memory.

The memory of the Holocaust permeated my coming of age in Israel, building a wall of justification.

Memorial ceremonies in white shirts on Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers, the day before Independence Day, with wisps of flute music snatched by the wind and solemn poems about the youth being a silver platter on which the country was served.

But there was an earnest sense of belonging, a feeling that our path was right. I remember standing with friends in a clutch of bicycles, shortly after the Yom Kippur war, discussing seriously what we would do if we were invaded and how we would resist.

Years later, at my farewell party in Albuquerque NM, heading back to Israel after my two-year postdoc, we heard that Yitzchak Rabin had been shot and killed. We returned to Israel, but that sense of belonging had evaporated.

There is a hole where that feeling of belonging was, like a missing filling, huge when probed with the tongue, but seemingly imperceptible when viewed from the outside.

I no longer celebrate Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s independence day, nor do I celebrate the 4th of July.

There is a sense of loss when a place leaves you, or maybe it was never actually there from the beginning.

I fight against the cynicism and anger that the loss of belonging to a country can invoke.

I strive to find belonging in a community for myself and my family.

Because that is all there is.

and it is enough.

[Editor’s note: Each year we extend the learning from the High Holidays by publishing some of the talks given during services. You can find other Rosh Hashanah talks from past years here.]

 

Miriam Chava Berman Stidd dvar on Bereshit

Shabbat Shalom!

My parsha is Bereshit, which as most of you know, tells the story of the creation of the world. We read today the first chapter of Genesis, verses 1 through 23, which takes us from Day 1 through Day 5, from the creation of light and darkness all the way through the creation of birds and fish.

I wanted to read this last Aliyah because it reminded me of the Marc Chagall stained glass windows in Nice, France, at the Marc Chagall Biblical Message Museum, which feature birds and fish. These stained-glass windows mean so much to me because they are by one of my favorite artists. His art pieces about creation almost make me think they are not just about the creation of the world, but about Marc Chagall creating himself through his art, because his visual interpretation of the creation story tells you so much about who he was as a person. It wasn’t just that Chagall was expressing himself, he was creating who he was right then and there, in that moment.

So, who was Chagall? Born into a very religious Jewish household on July 6, 1887, there weren’t any pictures of anything, because according to his family and tradition, any representations were idolatry. Despite his parents not wanting him to, he still left his home in Belarus and went to art school in France and eventually became a great artist. (This clearly shows the importance of listening to your parents). He is well known for his paintings and stained-glass windows that depict biblical stories and other things. This was a way he displayed his spirituality.

Out of respect for his parents, he didn’t want to display them in his art, so the fish represented his father (he sold fish at a local market). His mother’s name in Yiddish sounded like the Yiddish word for chicken or rooster, and if you look closely, there is a rooster in almost every one of his paintings. Chagall is creating himself through including these elements by letting you see a piece of his parents’ and his childhood, which are still a part of him at the time he creates the art. [Read more…]

MCIRR Loan Program for Immigrant Filing Fees

Thank you for quick action, straight-forward help

MCIRR is a membership organization made up of more than forty nonprofit and faith groups committed to building capacity within Michigan’s advocacy community, supporting immigrant rights, and promoting a more positive and inclusive atmosphere for immigrants and refugees. See MCIRR.org for more details

 

The Michigan Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (MCIRR) sends its thanks, in a letter from the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center’s director, Susan Reed.  Susan writes:

When Attorney General Sessions announced the end of DACA on September 5, 2017, he gave a one month window for many with DACA to renew.  Many of our members’ first thought was: how will those eligible to renew be able to raise the $495 fee in time?  Enter our good friends (and perhaps also yours), University of Michigan Law School Professors Margo Schlanger and Sam Bagenstos.  Margo and Sam wanted to know how to support those facing this cost and we told them about the fee bank.  They made a generous gift and also shared the giving opportunity with members of the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, Temple Beth Emeth, and others in the University of Michigan community.  The outpouring of generosity was amazing, and in a few days, we had received more than $18,000 for our little loan fund.  Checks are still finding their way to us. This meant that we were able to assure our advocacy community that NO ONE in Michigan needed to miss the DACA renewal deadline for lack of the fee.  At the same time, some major national funds providing grants emerged.  So, ultimately, we only needed to make four loans for DACA renewal because most people in need got national grants.  In one case, an applicant had been rejected by a grant fund because she needed assistance to replace her DACA work permit rather than renew it and she didn’t meet their parameters, but she met ours and she was extremely grateful to have access to at least another year with DACA!

The fee bank used to be an occasional solution to an ever-present problem. In 2010, with a very small gift of $2,000 from the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters and support from pro bono banking lawyers at the Honigman law firm (recruited by Michigan Community Resources) we launched our fee bank. Because the filing fee for a green card can be as much as $2070, that initial $2,000, plus a few other small gifts we were able to add, had only become about six loans.  But, every loan was repaid by our clients on time or well in advance of the repayment schedule and the loan program had been extremely helpful to those who had been able to access the funds.  (We ask borrowers to pay $10 per month until 90 days after the “work permit” arrives and $40 per month after that time.)  Each time we had enough money back in the fund, we let our members know that a new loan was potentially available and the loan was snapped up.  Blue Ox Credit Union, based in Battle Creek services the loans at no cost and there is no interest.

Now, you have made the fee bank loan program robust.  We have already been told that two applications are on the way for clients who need filing fee loans for immigration benefits other than DACA.  Because we make loans rather than grants, the transformation made by your generosity will make this resource last forever!

Thank you for your rush to generosity.  You are truly repairing our world.