Sukkot Retreat 2014, Save-the-date!

Lulav, pointing right

WHEN: Fri. Oct. 10 to Sun. Oct. 12


WHAT: A weekend full of learning, community, celebration, rest, and fun


  • Build and decorate the sukkah; celebrate sukkot.
  • Music and folk dancing with the fun and fabulous house band, Dan Peisach and the Mazel Tovs
  • Workshops (more details soon)
  • Yoga
  • Walks to the lake
  • Shabbat service
  • Share great meals and relaxing time

WHERE: Emrich Retreat Center (Brighton Recreation Area), just 45 minutes from Ann Arbor by car


  • Sleeping is in bunk beds
  • Child care provided Saturday morning and afternoon
  • Cost:  TBA (you can come for the whole weekend, or for just Shabbat lunch or dinner)



Under the Sukkah, 2013

Under the Sukkah, 2013

Recipe: Chavurah Challah

By Jennifer Cohen

[Note: Jen Cohen bakes challah for most of our Fourth Friday Shabbats. She says “I think this is the most current recipe.  I confess that I change it all the time.”] 

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water, separated
  • pinch of sugar
  • 3 large or extra large eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5–6 cups flour (I typically use 1-2 cups whole wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • cornmeal
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with a little bit of water
  • sesame or poppy seeds
  1. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat, set aside to cool a bit.
  2. Pour about a tablespoon of butter into a large bowl and swirl it around to coat the inside.
  3. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water, with a pinch of sugar and set aside to proof.
  4. In a stand mixer or other large bowl, beat together eggs, honey and melted butter. Add remaining 1 cup warm water and mix well. Add yeast mixture and blend well. Add flour, with salt, 1 cup at a time, blending well after each addition until dough is thick enough to work by hand.
  5. Spoon dough onto floured work surface and knead for several minutes. If you’d like to add raisins (1-1 1/2 cups), here is where you would incorporate them, along with enough additional flour to make a smooth elastic dough.
  6. Rub the top of the dough in the buttered bowl, then flip the dough over and nestle inside. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm place until doubled in size. I let this part go on for quite a while—like 5 hours or so.
  7. When ready to bake, line a baking tray with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal. Set oven to 350 degrees.
  8. For the Chav, I divide dough into 3 pieces and roll each into a long rope. I braid the ropes and then curve the braid into a circle, pinching the ends together. For a smaller gathering, I divide the dough in half and then make 2 smaller braided loaves.
  9. Cover with that clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes.
  10. Brush the top and sides of the challah with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds if desired. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, depending on loaf size, until golden brown.

**Pumpkin Challah for Challoween: Replace 1/2 the butter and 1 of the eggs with a cup of pumpkin puree. Add a little pumpkin pie spice to the dough.

**Apple and Honey Challah for Rosh Hashanah: Add 2 finely diced granny smith apples to regular challah. Brush the top with 1 stick melted butter and 1/2 cup honey, before baking and again when just out of the oven.

**Thanksgiving Challah: same as Challoween Challah, but add 1 cup of dried cranberries. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds after the egg wash.

Challah Musings

By Jennifer Cohen

[Note: Jen’s delicious challah, fresh from the oven, its smell wafting though the room at the close of Friday night services, has been an AARC tradition for almost 20 years.]

I used to say that I came into this religion through the kitchen. Growing up in Ohio, I knew very, very few Jews. Sure, I read the All of a Kind Family books, but I never imagined that any of that (kosher dishes! dressing up for something called Purim!) was still going on. I read those stories and absorbed that information the same way I did Little House on the Prairie–historical fiction. Then I moved to NY, met Adam, fell in love and a bit through the looking glass. I got a crash course on keeping kosher and the relentless holiday schedule.


This challah was not made by Jen, but it was made with Jen’s special recipe

Soon I was checking hot dog bun packages to see if they were parve and trying to figure out how to make a dinner without butter. I learned to make latkes; Adam was not impressed with my first attempts. I think he said something like “those look like bird’s nests”. I found a kosher butcher, made peace with the idea of no bacon or shrimp, and got a cheap second set of dishes. It was fairly easy to do this on Long Island. Things were set up there.

When we moved to MI, I had to search and hunt to find some of my, by then, staples. Missing some of the good bakeries, I decided it was time to learn to bake challah. I consulted several cookbooks (this was before you could go on-line!) and gave it a shot, every Friday. There were some success and some dismal failures (a potato challah that slumped off the baking sheet). I persevered and came up with a version of what I bake today. The trick was in the rising time. Earlier recipes had the rising time set at short intervals–1 hour, then punch down, then rest 40 minutes, then bake. At that time, I had two busy little boys and couldn’t sit around and wait for dough to rise. I used to make the dough, take it along with us to the park. After an hour, making sure the boys were engaged in an important excavation in the sandbox, I’d punch it down and pop it into 2 loaf pans. (I had a little work station set up in the back of the mini-van.) Then, 1/2 an hour later, we’d drive home and bake. Warm challah for teatime and a fresh loaf for dinner.

[Read more…]

Our Washtenaw Jewish News ads, over the years (2009-2014)

These are AARC’s ads in the Washtenaw Jewish News from 2009 to 2014.  You’ll see lots of our members and some of what we think makes us a lovely community.


Member Volunteer Opportunities at the Community Kitchen

AARC Members volunteer to help prepare lunch at the Community Kitchen at the DeLonis Center on the first Saturday of every month. Our time slot is noon to 2:30 P.M. The Delonis Center is located at 312 W. Huron St, 48103 (near First Street).

We are currently scheduling volunteers for September 6. Please sign up here.  Enter each volunteer’s name on a separate line. Entries and changes are automatically saved.

This is a great opportunity for adults and for youth over 12 years old to participate in this wonderful team meal prep experience. Keep in mind that only 2 of the 5 volunteers may be between 12-18 years of age. Food Gatherers and Community Kitchen staff are very grateful for our participation.

New Member Profile: Carole and Rose (& Cleo)

Rose Brown and Carole Caplan

New Members Rose Brown and Carole Caplan

Carole Caplan and her daughter, Rose Brown, are new members who have recently relocated to Ann Arbor from the suburbs of Chicago, IL. With their new kitty, Cleo, they are currently renovating a home that sits on a dirt road on 11 acres on the far north side of Ann Arbor. Carole’s dream of living rural is enhanced by the farm being only 12 minutes from all that Main Street has to offer, and by the fact that Ann Arbor is home to the like-minded Jewish, yoga and “green” communities that have been such an important part of her and her families’ life in the Chicago area.

Rose currently attends Washtenaw Community College and is looking to work with horses through the summer before studying Equine Management at MSU in the fall. Carole’s son, Max, is hard at work for IBM in Chicago, and her daughter Elana graduates from Hampshire this spring.

When not working the farm, Carole teaches yoga and meditation, trains yoga instructors, and offers Thai Bodywork sessions as well. Believing that sustainable living starts with physical and mental health that is heavily influenced by our environment, Carole also offers Healthy Home consulting for building and renovating spaces that people can truly thrive in. (

Raised as a cultural Jew in a reform community outside of Detroit, Judaism initially failed to offer Carole the spiritual connection that she had been seeking since a young age. After years of practice and study in Eastern systems, Carole feels grateful to have found her way back to Judaism through Reconstructionism. An active member of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, IL for many years, Carole is both a Wexner Heritage Fellow and a Greenfaith Fellow, and has a passion for helping people explore the important intersection between spirituality and environmentalism.

Carole and Rose are excited to get to know the AARC!

Seasoned Member Profile: Mac Moore and Deborah Dash-Moore

Deborah Dash Moore and MacDonald Moore joined the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Havurah in 2005 when they moved to the city to teach at UM (Deborah is Director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies). Both had long been members of a Reconstructionist congregation in New York, West End Synagogue, participating in a family tradition on Deborah’s side that extended to her maternal grandparents’ support for Mordecai Kaplan and membership in the Society for the Advancement of Judaism (SAJ). Deborah attended Hebrew school at the SAJ and became Bat Mitzvah, a ritual not widely available in those years.

Deborah and Mac write: “Our sons, Mordecai and Mikhael, mostly grew up as the fourth generation of Reconstructionists. Because of strong ties with family in New York City where Mordecai and Mik (now married men with children) and Deborah’s parents live, we tend not to stay in Ann Arbor for the major holidays, but we appreciate AARC and try to attend Shabbat.”

Mac Moore

Mac Moore

Deborah Dash-Moore

Deborah Dash-Moore

Meet the Dieves!

The Dieves are Mark, Stacy, Bass (age 5) and Lev (age 5 months).  Some Q&A’s:

Otto and Lev Dieves cute at home. Photo: Stacy Dieves

Bass and Lev Dieves cute at home.         Photo: Stacy Dieves

How long you’ve been in Ann Arbor, and what brought you here?

We moved to Ann Arbor in July 2013 from the San Francisco Bay Area. Mark is from Ann Arbor originally and was homesick. We both last lived here almost 20 years ago and are very happy to be back!

What brought you to our congregation?

The AARC is a perfect fit for our family. We were members of a very similar congregation in California. It was a post-denominational synagogue that had a Reconstructionist rabbi with similar values. We were so happy to find the AARC.

Some favorite things?

  • Novel: Go by John Clellon Holmes (Mark); The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem (Stacy)
  • Movie: Igby Goes Down (Mark); Shawshank Redemption (Stacy)
  • Food: Mongolian Beef (Mark); All things cheese (Stacy)

Anything else you feel like adding?

We are so grateful to the AARC members for being so welcoming to our family. Thank you to everyone that helped us get acclimated, brought meals when Lev was born, invited us to events, and introduced themselves to us at services. We could see right away what a special community it is at AARC, and we are so happy to be a part of it!

Meet Genna Cohen, Who Met Us Through Jana Hirsch!

Genna Cohen

Genna Cohen

Genna writes: “I moved to Ann Arbor in 2010 to start a Ph.D. program through UM’s School of Public Health. Prior to that I lived in Washington, DC, and Atlanta, GA. I love to spend my nonworking time at yoga, rock climbing, baking, and stopping strangers on the street to say hi to their dogs. I really appreciate the energy at AARC. I am grateful to Jana Hirsh, another new member, for introducing me!”

Meet Jana Hirsch, Nice New(ish) Girl & Epidemiologist

Jana Hirsch

Jana Hirsch

Jana Hirsch moved to Ann Arbor in 2010 (from Philadelphia, and before that New York). Here’s what she says:

I moved here to start a Ph.D. in Public Health. I am in the department of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan, where I work in the Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health. I am eager to defend my dissertation about how neighborhood environments influence walking—that happens on March 14, 2014, at 1:30p.m. A video I made about some of my research can be found at:  Anyone who wants to come watch my defense should join in on the event!

Jana reports that she was drawn to AARC by our High Holiday services and by the fact that not all of us are students or faculty at U of M.

Here are some of her favorite things:

  • Favorite novel: Watership Down.
  • Favorite movie: “Anything so terrible that someone else would turn it off.”
  • Favorite food: “Ras Malai (a sweet Indian cheese dessert), because it’s one of the few things I can’t cook/bake myself!”

Welcome to Jana.