In the Washtenaw Jewish News

AARC made a few appearances in the Washtenaw Jewish News this summer.

Here’s a profile/interview of Rabbi Ora, by Emily Eisbruch:

wjn-Sept-17-Rabbi-Ora

 

Here’s an article about the Beit Sefer:

WJN-JJA-17-Beit Sefer

 

Here’s our profile in the Summer Guide:

Guide-Jewish-Life-17-edited2

 

And here are the ads we ran, to go with the above.

WJN Ads Summer 2017

 

 

Shavua tov!

About our Selichot Prayer Service, Sat Sept 16

by Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner

The practice of Selichot goes back at least 2,000 years, and may be even older: Legend has it that when King David realized the Jerusalem Temple would eventually be destroyed, he begged God to tell him how the Jewish people would be able to connect with God while in exile. God told King David that the people could recite ‘selichot’–penitential prayers–to bring them closer to God, and that they should include a recitation of the “Thirteen Attributes of God,” a passage from Exodus evoking God’s compassionate nature–and one that we now recite throughout Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur: “Adonai! Adonai! A God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, rich in steadfast kindness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He does not remit all punishment…”

As Jewish tradition evolved, it became customary to recite Selichot prayers in the days and weeks leading up to Rosh haShana. In Eastern Europe, Selichot were originally recited early in the morning, prior to dawn. There was a custom in Eastern Europe that the person in charge of prayers would make the rounds of the village, knocking three times on each door and saying, “Israel, holy people, awake, arouse yourselves and rise for the service of the Creator!” It later became common practice to hold the first Selichot service–considered the most important–at a time more convenient for the masses. Therefore, the Selichot service was moved to Saturday night.

For our own Selichot service this Saturday night, we’ll end Shabbat together with Havdallah, and then learn a few soulful niggunim – wordless melodies – that will form an aural backdrop to our Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur services. If you’d like to get a head-start on learning these melodies, or if you’re not able to make it to Selichot, here are 2 of the tunes we’ll be learning: Joey Weisenberg’s Shochein Ad and Nishmat Kol Chai.

Selichot Prayer Service
 Saturday, September 16
8pm
each bring a candle (we’ll have extras if you forget)
 Touchstone Common House
(yellow building at the front right behind the Touchstone sign)
 560 Little Lake Drive (off Jackson Rd between Wagner and Zeeb)

please park on the street

 

Tashlich New Time and Place

Tashlich

Friday September 22, 2017

6:30pm

begin at JCC, 2935 Birch Hollow Dr.

walk to Mallets Creek in Mary Beth Doyle Park and Wetlands

A heron at Mary Beth Doyle Park, photo Sept 7 2017 by Evelyn Neuhaus

This year we will be doing Tashlich (the Rosh Hashanah custom of casting into running water the things we want to be free of) on Friday September 22, as part of our Fourth Friday Kabbalat Shabbat service and potluck at the JCC.

Mary Beth Doyle Wetlands in early August 2017

We will gather together at the JCC at 6:30 for brief song and prayer, drop off our potluck, and walk to Mallets Creek, about three blocks due east of the JCC on Birch Hollow. If you are running late, meet us there. Everyone welcome.

Butterflies love the vegetation in Mary Beth Doyle Wetlands

Rabbi Ora asked if there might be a location for tashlich within walking distance of the JCC so that we could combine our Fourth Friday service, Shabbat Shuva (the Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), and tashlich. Well, it turns out, there is!

Mary Beth Doyle Park and Wetlands (formerly Brown Park) was reopened in 2008 with major changes, including planting tens of thousands of plugs of 25 species of grasses and forbs (herbaceous flowering plants). The idea for the new seeding and planting was to attract wildlife to this new wetland area. Ten years later, the project has succeeded!

Learning at Mary Beth Doyle Wetlands

On a recent walk through Doyle, I saw several herons, egrets, ducks, butterflies and more quietly and gracefully enjoying the gently flowing water. The park had a delightful atmosphere, a bridge over the water, and couldn’t have been more lovely.

As always, AARC High Holiday services are open and ticketless and (except Selichot and Tashlich) are held at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, 4001 Ann Arbor-Saline Road, the red brick building on the southeast corner of Ellsworth.

Services this year will be led by our new rabbi, Ora Nitkin-Kaner. As in past years, many members of the congregation will participate in the service by doing readings, chanting Torah and haftorah, and leading workshops.

We will have a fish and dairy Break-the-Fast at the end of Yom Kippur, as in past years. You must make a reservation for this. Here is the link.

Like last year, we will have services for young children (toddler through elementary) from 10:30-11:30am on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, with childcare during adult services and an activities coordinator for the tweens.

You need to let us know if your children will need childcare. Here is the signup for childcare.

Everything you need to know about AARC High Holiday Services is at this link on our website.

 

Annual BBQ Picnic and Start of Beit Sefer

AARC Weekend September 9 and 10

Dates to put into your calendar

Torah Table tapestry at Ann Arbor Reconstructionist CongregationSecond Saturday Shabbat Morning Service
Saturday September 9, 10am-noonish
Jewish Community Center of Ann Arbor
2935 Birch Hollow Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Our once a month Shabbat morning service is informal and relaxing, a lovely way to learn and share Jewish tradition while forming closer bonds of community. September’s Second Saturday will be Rabbi Ora’s first as our new rabbi.
Everyone welcome!

 

Annual BBQ Picnic
Sunday September 10, Noon-2ish

From the Annual Picnic 2015

Lillie Park
4365 Platt Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48108 (Platt and Ellsworth)
Accessible North Shelter
AARC will provide drinks, charcoal and paper products. You bring something to grill, a side dish to share, and your summer stories! The BBQ will be at a new location this year, Lillie Park.
Our annual BBQ picnic is a very nice time for all ages to relax together, introduce new people to the congregation, reconnect after summer travels.
Thinking of joining? New member? Want to meet Rabbi Ora? Everyone welcome!

 

First day of Beit Sefer/ Religious School
Sunday September 10, 10am – noon
 Lillie Park, gather at the North Shelter.
Parents meeting 10:45-11:45
Since Beit Sefer Director, Clare Kinberg is teaching the K’tanim (Little Ones) this year, Beit Sefer Committee Chair, Becky Ball will convene the meeting.
Please, at least one parent from each family attend.

Yom Kippur Workshops 2017

It’s our Yom Kippur tradition at AARC to have several afternoon sessions for study, meditation, and discussion. This year, there will be three sessions; two from about 2:15 to 3:30 pm, and one from 3:45 to 5 pm.

 

 

Barbara Boyk Rust

Meditation and Sacred Chant for the Quiet of the Day
led by Barbara Boyk Rust
2:15pm

One of the blessings of Yom Kippur’s fast is the cleansing, purifying and opening we experience as we abstain from food and other routines.   Giving ourselves over to a day of prayer and reflection in community affords us a unique opportunity to deepen our spiritual contact.  Through sacred Hebrew chant and meditation this time together will support our entering a state of deep meditative consciousness to quiet our mind that we might hear the still small voice within and receive guidance for the year that is beginning.

 

 

Margo Schlanger

American Immigration
hachnasat orchim (welcoming the stranger)
a discussion led by Margo Schlanger
2:15pm

Margo Schlanger will facilitate a discussion on American immigration enforcement and the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim (welcoming the stranger). Margo is a member of AARC and a law professor whose recent work has focused on challenging the Trump Administration’s ramped-up immigration enforcement; she is counsel in federal cases challenging the administration’s “Muslim ban” executive order and its effort to deport hundreds of Detroit-area Iraqi nationals who have been here for decades.

 

Danny Steinmetz

 Jewish burial and mourning practices
a workshop led by Danny Steinmetz
3:45pm

Over several millenia, Jews have developed distinctive practices for dealing with death.  Traditionally, Jews do not leave the deceased unattended before burial, and use simple shrouds and coffins. After burial the focus shifts to the mourners and their obligations to console and care for mourners. The presentation will cover some of these practices (as well as their origin and rationale) and consider implications for a Reconstructionist community. The presentation will be by Danny Steinmetz is an ex-rabbinical student and a former chair of the AARC board. 

 

What AARC members are reading about Charlottesville

Charlottesville, VA August 12, 2017. Photo by Andy Campbell from an article by writer and parent Jen Margulies suggested by Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner: White Supremacy Is Bad for the Jews. Let’s Be Bad for White Supremacy

Most of us read a lot, and we’ve probably read plenty about Charlottesville. But we don’t all have the opportunity to think about these things with others in our Jewish community. As a beginning, I asked several AARC members what they have read this week that they found thoughtful, representative of what they are thinking, or want others in our Jewish community to read. Many of the pieces below were new to me and I’m grateful to have read them. Please add your own links in the comments.

Greg Saltzman contributed an 2016 article with background to the President’s connection to the Klan:  In 1927, Donald Trump’s Father was Arrested after a Klan Riot In Queens

Sarai Brachman Shoup suggested the The VICE video Charlottesville: Race and Terror

Margo Schlanger says she learned from these two articles

Kira Berman brought  Hymn: A New Poem by Sherman Alexie

[excerpt]

I will silently sit and carefully listen to new stories
About other people’s tragedies and glories.

I will not assume my pain and joy are better.
I will not claim my people invented gravity or weather.

And, oh, I know I will still feel my rage and rage and rage
But I won’t act like I’m the only person onstage.

I am one more citizen marching against hatred.
Alone, we are defenseless. Collected, we are sacred.

We will march by the millions. We will tremble and grieve.
We will praise and weep and laugh. We will believe.

We will be courageous with our love. We will risk danger
As we sing and sing and sing to welcome strangers.

Culinary historian Michael Twitty reading from the Torah.

Marcy Epstein wanted to make sure LGBTQ perspectives are included such as this piece by Michael Twitty: I’m Black, Jewish and Gay and Food is my Weapon Against Bigotry 

Deborah Fisch found this both informative and hopeful: Life After Hate: Trump Admin Stops Funding Former Neo-Nazis Who Now Fight White Supremacy

For a long read and deep analysis on racism and antisemitism, Eric Ward’s Skin in the Game: How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism is a must read.

If you have any thoughts on these pieces, or additional suggestions, please add in the comments section.

 

2nd Michigan Jewish Food Festival

Click on postcard for details

Did you know that Metro Detroit is at the forefront of both the urban agriculture movement (and here) and the Jewish food movement? In 2000, there were about 80 farms within Detroit city limits; in 2016 the number soared to an amazing 1,400 urban farms in Detroit. Detroit’s number of black urban farmers is growing, and cooperation with Jewish organizations such as Hazon and the Isaac Agee Downtown synagogue, is on the uptick. Here is a nice reflection on this cooperation by rabbinic student and Hazon fellow Zoe McCoon.

On August 4th, Hazon and Oakland Ave Urban Farm hosted a “Resilience in the North End” Shared Shabbat Experience

The Jewish food movement connects food accessibility, eating, cooking and sustainable agriculture with Jewish tradition. For 3,000 years, Judaism has been encouraging us to think critically about the food we eat, the land our food comes from, and the ways our food choices affect the health of our community and our planet. Hazon organizes from the principle that the more people are able to understand their own relationship to food and land, and simultaneously, to Jewish tradition, the more they will engage in creating healthier and more sustainable communities for all. Hazon does this by building connections and relationships between farmers, entrepreneurs, farm workers, consumers, distributors, rabbis, Jewish leaders, business leaders, and other faith leaders.

On Sunday August 27th, Hazon Detroit will sponsor the 2nd Annual Michigan Jewish Food Festival.

The Festival will be at Eastern Market and will run from 11am-4pm. Carpools will be meeting at East side of Arborland Sunday at 9:45am, leaving at 10am. RSVP to Idelle hammond_sass@msn.com,   or Martha  marthakransdo@umic.edu.

Last year, 5,000 people came to the first Michigan Jewish food festival  This year’s event will bring together over 60 Jewish organizations and more than 60 food entrepreneurs and food justice organizations to share traditions and to build relationships.

You will be able to meet and learn from chefs

  • Joan Nathan
  • The Gefilteria’s Liz Alpern
  • Taste of Ethiopia’s Meskem Gebreyohannes

There will be speakers and demos on:

  • Jewish Ethics and Eating Meat;
  • Water Issues from Flint, Detroit and Southeast Michigan
  • Detroit and Regional Food Policy and Food Sovereignty
  • Demo tent for hands-on learning and skill sharing
  • Single Flower Honey Tasting
  • Making your own Herbal Teas for Health
  • Oral History Story Booth (on the Topsy Turvy Bus) where immigration and food stories will be recorded by the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan and the  Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archive.
  • Plus lots of activities for kids, free guided walking tours of the Eastern Market, music, and a health  area sponsored in part by Henry Ford Medical Systems.

Isabel Ahbel-Rappe’s bat mitzvah d’var on D’varim

Shabbat shalom.

In my portion, D’varim, the Israelites have arrived on the other side of the Jordan River, near the Promised Land, after spending 40 years wandering around in the desert. Moses is talking to the people, telling them the story of their whole journey, from Horeb to their current location on the other side of the Jordan. First Moses told how God had said to them: Go to the Promised Land and claim it, take it away from the Amorites. God promised this land to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their heirs.

Moses then reminded the people of how the time came when he couldn’t handle all of their complaining. As their leader, he had been in charge of judging all their disagreements. Moses suggested each of the 12 tribes pick a representative or chief to be the judge for their tribe. The people said that was a good plan and the representatives were appointed.

Moses gave each chief important instructions—to be kind and fair to each other and to strangers, and to treat everyone equally. Moses told them if they had any problems in the tribe and the chiefs couldn’t handle it, they should bring that problem to him. Next Moses reminded the people of how they left from Horeb and traveled through the terrible but great wilderness to the hill country of the Amorites. They went there because Moses was following God’s command to go to this land that had been promised.

When they neared the Promised Land, the people wanted to send scouts ahead to check things out. Again they picked a representative from each tribe, and sent them to the hill country to spy on the Amorites. When the spies returned, some of them said it was a really wonderful country that God was giving them. But the people refused to go into the Promised Land because other scouts said that the people there were stronger and taller, with large cities with sky high walls.

Moses said, You guys aren’t listening to the Eternal our God. God will go first to help you with everything you do. God’s the one who got you out of Egypt. Moses compared God watching over them to how a parent watches over their child. But the people didn’t have faith in God or what Moses was telling them.

God was listening to the people complaining and refusing to go into the land, and God got angry and vowed that none of that generation would see the Promised Land. Not even Moses. The only exceptions were Caleb, because he remained loyal, and Joshua, who took over for Moses as leader.

The people were sorry and some now wanted to fight. But it was too late. God didn’t protect them because they hadn’t trusted God. The Amorites crushed them like bees.

The people wept for God to help them, but God did not help them because they weren’t loyal. Instead, God ordered them back into the wilderness, where they were to stay for 40 years. Moses himself complained that, although he hadn’t done anything wrong while they were deciding whether to go in the Promised Land, God was still furious with him. Moses would be banished to the wilderness along with all the other adults.

One thing that got my attention in my portion is the idea of God speaking and acting. The whole time I was reading it, I imagined God as a little cloud over Moses’ ear. How can you show that God would protect the people against the Amorites if they were loyal, since there is literally nothing to represent God? Or what does it mean to say that God was speaking to Moses?  How God was telling Moses where to go and what to do?

I think God is sort of like your mind, because you can choose where to go and what to do. God being like your mind is not when you decide to do something you shouldn’t do, and it is not like your parents telling you what to do. God doesn’t tell you what to do, but God helps you through problems, especially when you are making a major change or getting ready for a new life. God always believes in doing the right thing.

I also thought about what the “Promised Land” means. I think it’s a place in your mind where everyone can be safe no matter what. In God’s Promised Land in my portion, only good people made it to the Promised Land. In my Promised Land it doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad, you can still live there.

The idea of treating everyone fairly reminded me of my work at High Point School. I attend Honey Creek Community School. Our school shares a building with High Point, a school for children and young adults with disabilities. Almost every Thursday during the school year, I work in a High Point classroom. High Point students communicate in different ways, like with movements and facial expressions. If one student pulls on her jacket, that means she wants her jacket off. If she’s smiling, that means she’s happy. We learn a hand-over-hand method. For example, for baking, you put your hand on top of their hand to use a spoon.

I really like working in the High Point classroom. Some of my friends can only say hi to High Point students in the halls between classes, but I get to spend a good amount of time with them and make friends with them. In our school, High Point students are treated the same as other students–they just learn differently. I learn differently, too. I am a visual learner.

For my service project, I did extra work at High Point, and I am going to make a donation to them from my Bat Mitzvah gifts.

I would like to thank: Deb, for helping me learn Torah. Reb Aura, for helping me prepare for the service and for leading the service. Members of our Havurah, my family, and my friends for being here to support me. My parents, for always being there for me and supporting me on my Bat Mitzvah journey.

Shabbat shalom.

 

Bulletin Board Artists Needed!

Yesterday I represented AARC at a planning meeting for the August 25th Community-Wide Shabbat at Hillel. It looks like most of the Ann Arbor congregations–Temple Beth Emeth, Beth Israel, the Orthodox Minyan, Pardes Hannah, and AARC–are coming together at Hillel to welcome Shabbat with song and have brief services and a meal. The evening will begin with activities for families with kids. The Hillel staff is arranging for extra parking. I hope many members of AARC will come out for this inaugural annual Community Wide Shabbat.

It was interesting to learn at the meeting, for the 3rd of 4th time this month, that many people who work at the JCC don’t know that the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Community (AARC) and the Jewish Cultural Society (JCS) are different organizations. I do love JCS: “Ann Arbor’s Secular Humanistic Community,” and we do both rent space at the JCC and have Sunday morning schools for our kids. But Reconstructionist Judaism is distinctive in our approach to building community that emphasizes spiritual aspects of Judaism, commitment to evolving religious practice, and inclusivity of a wide range of relationships to God and godliness. There are some great resources on these ideas on our website.

We need more opportunities for the local Jewish community to get to know us. Which leads me to the bulletin board.

Last year, the G’dolim and K’tanim designed a Tu B’Shevat bulletin board that celebrates nature and the seven species of foods in the Torah. We are ready for a new one!

We have some prime wall space at the JCC which needs some updating. We could be using the bulletin board to put ourselves out there in eye-catching informative fashion. Do you have any ideas? Is graphic design a forte of yours? We have lots of photos of activities, our handmade and distinctive ritual objects, our members. The bulletin board could highlight our  new rabbi, the upcoming High Holidays, our dynamic school for kids. Plus thoughtful, fun people in the congregation. Can you help design some of this into a bulletin board, soon, before the end of August? Contact Clare ckinberg@gmail.com.

Solar Eclipse, Rosh Hodesh Elul, Resetting the Communal Clock

by Clare Kinberg

Yesterday I got all excited when I realized that the upcoming total solar eclipse (August 21) coincided with Rosh Hodesh Elul, the new moon of the Jewish month in which we prepare for the High Holidays. What meaning could I derive from this momentous coincidence? Almost immediately my friend Max Jasny informed me that solar eclipses always occur on the new moon, but not every new moon. Max and I have a lot of things in common, for one, he works as an administrative assistant at Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center, a small congregation in a beautiful place, with a Reconstructionist rabbi. But clearly, he knows more about astronomy than I do!

Still, a total solar eclipse on Rosh Hodesh Elul has been viewed only five times in the last 250 years. It is a moment that can be grabbed to acknowledge the grandeur of the universe and the many opportunities the Jewish calendar cycle gives us to reset our personal and communal clocks.

This week I had two important meetings in planning for next year: The High Holiday Logistics Committee (Allison Stupka, me, Idelle Hammond-Sass, Mike Ehmann and Rebecca Kanner) kicked into gear with a potluck on Allison’s back porch. We planned the “big move” of all our prayer books and ritual items from the Jewish Community Center over to the UUA building which we rent for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. We are so looking forward to having the services led by our new rabbi, Ora Nitkin-Kaner. As in all past years, AARC ticketless HH services are open to all and are smoothly run with lots of volunteer energy. You can view the volunteer sign up here. At least, put the dates in your calendar.

The Beit Sefer/Religious School Committee also met this week. Allison Stupka (busy girl!), me, Becky Ball and Stacy Dieve met at Becky’s home and planned two upcoming events for prospective, new and returning Beit Sefer families. We will be having a “popsicle party” on Wednesday August 30th at 6:30pm at the JCC for all returning Beit Sefer families and all families who are checking us out as a possible place for their kids to attend religious school. We’ll play on the playground (or gym if the weather is bad), share summer experiences, reacquaint the kids, and take the opportunity to show prospective families the school.

We also planned a religious school Open House at the JCC during Sukkot on Sunday Oct 8 for prospective families who may have connected with us during High Holidays and are still needing a religious school for their kids.

Coming Up in July…

  • July 28, Fourth Friday: Kabbalat Shabbat and Vegetarian Potluck at the JCC. This will be the last Fourth Friday that Rabbi Alana will lead for us at the JCC.
  • July 29Saturday, Isabel Ahbel-Rappe’s bat mitzvah: Rabbi Aura Ahuvia will lead services.

August Notes…

September Notes…

  • September 10: First Day of Beit Sefer, and Annual BBQ Picnic, this year at Lillie Park. More details soon.
  • Saturday September 16, Selichot
  • September 17: Apples & Honey: The Ann Arbor Jewish Community puts out the welcome wagon at the JCC and we will be doing a table.

High Holiday Dates

  • Wednesday September 20th, Erev Rosh Hashanah
  • Thursday September 21st, Rosh Hashanah
  • Friday Septtember 29th, Erev Yom Kippur
  • Saturday September 30th, Yom Kippur
  • Sunday October 1, Sukkah Building

Clare Kinberg is AARC Events and Communication Coordinator, and Director of AARC Beit Sefer/Religious School. You can reach her at ckinberg@gmail.com