Hamentashen for Iraqi Detainee Families

Support for MI Iraqi Families During Deportation Crisis

During Purim week, AARC Beit Sefer and congregation members will be baking hamentashen for the families of Iraqi detainees. On March 3, the detainees’ legal team, which includes AARC members Margo Schlanger and Sam Bagenstos,  is hosting an informational dinner for the families of detainees, and we will be providing dessert. This will be our congregation’s way of fulfilling the Purim mitzvah of mishloach manot, giving gifts of tasty treats to friends and strangers.

 

Opportunities to Bake

Here is some background on the detainees’ situation from the ACLU of Michigan. In June 2017 hundreds of Iraqis in Michigan and throughout the country were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which intended to deport them immediately to Iraq, a country where many have not lived since they were young children. Most have been living in the United States for decades, but were previously ordered removed to Iraq—either for overstaying visas or for previous criminal convictions.

As a matter of policy, the United States has not deported people to Iraq because of dangerous country conditions, and because the Iraqi government has refused to issue travel documents. In March 2017, however, Iraq agreed to accept Iraqis deported by the United States back into the country, in exchange for being removed from President Trump’s travel ban list. Suddenly, any Iraqi with an open removal order was a target.

The ACLU filed a class action lawsuit in federal court to stop the deportations on the grounds that they would likely result in persecution, torture, or even death for those deported, either because they are members of minority religions or because they are Western-affiliated.

“When the clerk calls him forward, Attorney Ed Bajoka explains he has three paths to pursue in seeking release of his client, Mukhlis Murad, who’s been detained for nearly six months. Murad is a 59-year-old suburban grandfather with numerous health problems. His adult children and his sister are in the waiting room. When asked how it’s been at home without her dad there, his 23-year-old daughter, Summer, answers swiftly and directly, ‘He’s our best friend. Murad is one of several hundred Iraqi-born U.S. residents now facing detention and deportation. Many are married to U.S. citizens. Most speak English. At least half are Chaldean and speak Aramaic — not necessarily Arabic. They are parents and grandparents, business owners, and taxpayers. Many are churchgoing Catholics.” (From the ThinkProgress article “Trump’s travel ban puts a religious minority he promised to protect in the cross hairs.”)

Hamama legal team, December 2017

In June 2017 Judge Mark Goldsmith ordered a temporary stay of deportation for Iraqis in Michigan. In July 2017 Judge Goldsmith granted an expanded preliminary injunction barring deportation of Iraqis throughout the country while they access the immigration court system, giving them time to file motions to reopen their immigration cases based on the changed country conditions or legal developments in the decades since their cases were decided.

The legal team went to court in December and asked Judge Goldsmith to order the release of these Iraqi Nationals absent a showing that any of them are a flight risk, danger to society, or face an imminent removal to Iraq. Judge Goldsmith then ordered that the government must provide bond hearings for the detained Iraqi nationals and must show by clear and convincing evidence that the detainee is a danger or a flight risk and if no bond hearing is provided, the individual must be released.

Most of the bond hearings have been completed. There have been 182 bond hearings. 119 have been granted, but 63 have been denied. However, there also a good number who were granted bond hearings, but cannot afford the bond amount.

In summary, progress has been made with reuniting many families, but a big chunk of families are still separated from their loved ones. Getting released on bond is not the end of the battle. Release just allows the individuals to work and be with their families while their individual immigration process continues.

The legal team in Hamama v. Adducci is ACLU of Michigan Attorneys Miriam Aukerman, Bonsitu Kitaba-Gaviglio, and Michael J. Steinberg; Legal Fellow Juan Caballero; National ACLU attorneys Lee Gelernt, Judy Rabinowitz, and Anand Balakrishnan; ACLU of Michigan Cooperating Attorneys Margo Schlanger and Sam Bagenstos of U-M Law School; Kimberly Scott and Wendy Richards of Miller Canfield; co-counsel Nadine Yousif and Nora Youkhana of CODE Legal Aid; Susan Reed of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center; and William Swor.

Purim with AARC 2018

Who is that masked woman? (2017)

Celebrate Purim with AARC

Friday evening February 23, beginning with a brief Purim-inspired (aka upside-down and backwards) Fourth Friday Kabbalat Shabbat.

Then we’ll read the Megillah/Scroll of Esther, have a Potluck, enjoy a shpiel and a homegrown Talent Show.

The fun begins at 6:30pm at the JCC.

You can volunteer to read an English language chapter of the megillah and/or entertain us with your talent by clicking here.

We have noise-makers, masks and hats in our box of tricks at the JCC….but feel free to bring your own!

Posts from Purims Past….

Be Happy! It’s Adar! But Why? (2016): Purim is a harbinger of spring. Like spring holidays celebrated in other cultures and religions–the Hindu celebration of Holi, Carnivale in Brazil and the Caribbean and Mardi Gras in New Orleans for examples–the elation over the departure of winter and the rebirth of the Earth is intoxicating. And Purim is clearly a holiday to be observed in the millennium, where identifying the difference between good and evil is at times totally challenging.

A Purim Vocabulary (2015): The whole megillah means “something long, complex, and possibly tedious,” as in when Jews read the Megillah Esther (Scroll of Esther) from beginning to end, all ten chapters, with breaks for hooting and hollering, each Purim. And yes, AARC is going to read the whole megillah this year….well almost. Because of the age-old “tedium” problem, there are many abridged, English language, family-friendlier, megillot to choose from. But you can still expect all ten chapters.

Friendship Scroll (2017) by Barbara Boyk Rust: For my part, this scroll is a remembrance of friendship, of beauty, of sharing in community. It is a way to offer the power of this artist’s rendering into the annual cycle of our congregation’s celebration of this holiday that asks us to marry the opposites: Haman and Mordechai, forces of good and forces of evil. May we each have a chance to dance our beauty and our joy with the rhythm of blessing and celebration for years to come.

Purim Gifts: Welcome Baskets for Refugees (2016): by Sharon Alvandi: There are many reasons to celebrate Purim and sort through a narrative that’s truly unlike any other in Jewish scripture. On Purim- the holiday of “lots”- we celebrate more than simply the idea of chance. When we listen to Esther’s story, we collectively celebrate character, resolve, and integrity. By presenting her true self–her Jewish self–to king Ahasuerus to appeal for the fate of the Jewish people of Shushan (present day Susa, Iran), Esther is a model of advocacy for herself and others. As a developing social worker, this story helps me think  about what it takes to act in a way that integrates all parts of who I am. (We will have a similar initiative this year, announced soon.)

The Self Behind the Mask (2017) by Rachel Baron Singer: It’s often said that Purim is about “the hidden” being revealed. Haman revealed his wickedness, just as Queen Esther revealed her identity to save the Jewish people. Some Jewish scholars also say the story of the Megillah is about hidden miracles or the “hidden hand of Hashem.” And when we dress up to celebrate Purim, we must also contemplate who we are when the charade ends, and then move forth with that knowledge firm inside us throughout the rest of the year.

For more the holiday, see Reconstructing Judaism’s Purim Resource Page.

 

 

 

 

 

Purim in Pictures, 2017

Pictures telling the story of AARC Purim this year. Thank you Nancy Meadow, Fred Feinberg, Keith Kurz, and Emily Eisbruch for the photos.

 

A week before Purim, Marcy Epstein hosted several families in a hamantashen, hotpot and havdallah party

 

 

 

Shlomit taught the Beit Sefer kids to sing Mishenichnas Adar/When Adar arrives we increase our Joy!

More hamantashen baking, by Rose and Rena Basch in the Feinberg kitchen. Thanks, Greg, for running them over to TBE!

 

Because of the big power outage, we had to move our Purim celebration and Temple Beth Emeth graciously opened their doors. Our megillah reading organized by Dina Kurz, with terrific music accompaniment organzied by Debbie Gombert, was concluded with a display of the Friendship Scroll, with new megillah case built by Alan Haber with bronze crown by Idelle Hammond-Sass (blog post on this coming soon).

Alan with the case closed.

Is it Esther or is it Dina Kurz?

The “Persia High School” drama…..

 

 

The shpiel writers and directors.

 

 

We continued the fun the next day at Beit Sefer, when the kids all donned hats, exchanged shalach manot bags, and of course, told the story of Queen Esther saving the Jews of Persia.

 

 

 

 

The self behind the mask

by Rachel Baron Singer

For many Jews, Purim is synonymous with raucous celebrations; it’s a time to be festive, to indulge in sweets, and to maybe get a little shikker before the night is over. But it’s important to note that Purim is also a time for personal reflection—a time to consider our motives and deeds, and who we really are beneath the surface. The costumes we wear on Purim, whether we’re dressed up as Mordecai or Magneto, serve as a reminder of this principle.
It’s often said that Purim is about “the hidden” being revealed. Haman revealed his wickedness, just as Queen Esther revealed her identity to save the Jewish people. Some Jewish scholars also say the story of the Megillah is about hidden miracles or the “hidden hand of Hashem.” And when we dress up to celebrate Purim, we must also contemplate who we are when the charade ends, and then move forth with that knowledge firm inside us throughout the rest of the year.
In a tumultuous political climate that has many people feeling as though their moral is integrity being tested, this contemplation of ‘the self behind the mask’ is especially important. Dressing up is extremely fun, but it’s the revelation of who you are underneath it all that is ultimately what Purim is all about. So when you put on a cape or a funny hat this weekend, also consider what parts of yourself you don’t wish to conceal, and how you can go forward after Purim to bring that truth to the light…after you’re all done noshing on Hamantashen, of course!

Schedule for our Purim Fun  Saturday March 11 at the JCC 

4-6pm Hamantashen-baking party in the JCC kitchen from 4:00-6:00 PM  gsaltzman@albion.edu

• 6-7 pm Megillah reading lead by Dina Kurz and Debbie Zivan, with Debbie Gombert leading the Purim musicians.

• 7-8:30 pm Pot luck dinner AARC style with Purimspiel writtten by Livia Belman Wells and Shani Samuels. No nuts, no meat, fish okay.

• 8:30 pm — Havdalah (Can you volunteer to lead the Havdallah? contact Dina Kurz dinakurz@gmail.com

Purim Fun on Saturday, March 11, 2017

Reading the Megillah, 2016. The megillah readers are: l-r Drake Meadow, Rachel Baron Singer, Barbara Boyk Rust, Rena Basch, Harry Fried, Dina Kurz, Dave Nelson, and Paul Resnick.

Costumes, Purim spiel, witty fun, Megillah reading, potluck dinner with hamentashen… what could be better?

Please join the AARC as we celebrate Purim this year with a participatory, family friendly, lay-led service on March 11 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center. All ages are invited to join in the reading of the Megillah, reveling in their costumed attire, followed by a vegetarian, nut-free potluck and a ‘dinner theatre’ congregational Purim spiel. The fun and witty evening will conclude with Havdalah.

Purim’s theme of the difficulty in discerning good from evil is especially contemporary. Come celebrate the Jewish tradition of booing the Hamans of the world, and cheering the Esthers and Mordechais.

Purimplayers, 2016, left to right Ruby Lowenstein, Jacob Schneyer, Eli Kirshner (foreground), Livia Belman-Wells (hidden)

 

Purim celebration schedule

6:00 – 7:00 pm Megillah reading in Hebrew and English

7:00 – 8:30 pm Potluck with ‘dinner theatre’ Purim spiel

8:30 pm Havdalah

Join the fun!

Anyone who would like to have a specific role in the evening, please contact dinakurz@gmail.com .  Debbie Zivan will be chanting parts of the service in Hebrew and there are many roles for English readers.
Interested in hosting a hamentaschen baking gathering?  Let Clare know and she’ll put out a call for other bakers!
We are looking for musicians, old and young, who want to enliven the festivities. Again, get in touch with Dina if you have not already done so.
Looking for costume advice: Contact   Nancy Meadow  for the young and Rachel Baron Singer for the older set

Friendship scroll

By Barbara Boyk Rust

scroll image

Come hear the Megillah read Friday March 25 at the JCC and see this beautiful scroll up close

One of the joys of friendship is sharing each other’s interests, perspectives, and experiences. For me, one of the joys of being friends with an artist is the beauty that I learn about, enjoy, and benefit from that I would not be likely to encounter otherwise. Spiritual teachings claim beauty as the perfection of love and that rings true to me.

When Idelle Hammond-Sass called me several years ago and told me about the beautiful megillah scroll she saw at the Jewish Community Center of West Bloomfield, Michigan I was so taken with her verbal description alone that I welcomed her invitation to share the cost with her for purchasing it.

The scroll is on heavy paper and every segment is adorned with colorful renderings evocative of the spirit of Purim. The artwork is a party unto itself. It was created by Israeli artist Enya Keshet, and Idelle was drawn to the designs which reminded her of Persian miniatures. She was fascinated by the embellishment, so rare in most Judaica, but allowed on a Purim scroll.

Purim has long been a special holiday for me in light of another significant friendship in my life. Many of you knew Nancy Denenberg, of blessed memory. Nancy and I together created high holiday services, Shabbat retreats, and celebrations round the entire sacred cycle. We were also involved in spiriting prayer circles for healing and life cycle transitions over the years of our friendship, from her move to Ann Arbor in the late 1980’s until her death in 2006.

Nancy had a drive to make Jewish meaning in her life relevant to the immediacy of her understanding of loving and healing and sharing in community. She had practiced yoga for many years; later moving into work with Feldenkreis Method, a technique created by an Israeli physicist. She had a strong affinity for dance and became adept at Middle Eastern beledi, belly dance, fostering for herself and others more direct contact with Middle Eastern traditions. These are a few of the many ways Nancy intentionally cultivated Jewish spiritual means to endow her life with beauty, healing, art and creativity.

photo of Nancy Dennenberg

Nancy Denenberg in beledi regalia.

On more than one Purim, Nancy donned her full regalia for belly dancing, and brought others from her troupe to the Hav celebration. Some years ago The Ann Arbor News featured a picture of her leading our costume parade.

For my part, this scroll is a remembrance of friendship, of beauty, of sharing in community. It is a way to offer the power of this artist’s rendering into the annual cycle of our congregation’s celebration of this holiday that asks us to marry the opposites: Haman and Mordechai, forces of good and forces of evil. May we each have a chance to dance our beauty and our joy with the rhythm of blessing and celebration for years to come.

 

AARC Purim Questions and Answers

Our kids getting ready for Purim fun

Our kids getting ready for Purim fun

Come welcome Shabbat and have some Purim fun

Are we reading the Megillah/Scroll of Esther? Yes! This year, the AARC will be reading the Megillah, the scroll of Esther, during the 4th Friday Shabbat service, on March 25 beginning at 6:30 pm. Rabbi Michael Strassfeld will lead us in Shabbat songs and members of the congregation and the rabbi will chant and read an abbreviated version of the Whole Megillah, primarily in English.  You won’t want to miss being part of the beautiful, creative and fun costumes of kids, members and service leaders alike.  Plus you will be thrilled by the Band’s scoring of the evening.

Will there be a Tot Shabbat beforehand like usual? Yes! There will be a Tot Shabbat from 5:45 to 6:15 preceding the service.

Will we have a potluck afterward service? Yes, but with a Purim twist! We’ll be serving Middle Eastern food, and we need you to bring salads, some little kid friendly dishes, and desserts! Nutfree, please.  Potluck at 8 pm.

Will there be a Purimshpiel? A special addition to the evening will be “All the World’s a Stage” a brief, family-friendly Purimshpiel (play) presented during the potluck dinner by the post-Bnei Mitzvah group while we munch away on home-made hamantaschen.

Speaking of Hamantaschen…. You can make them at home, or join the baking fun at the Lessure/Engelbert’s on March 19, 3-6pm. Get the full deal here and rsvp.

Should I come in costume? Yes! Not required of course, but so much fun. Need ideas? See Rachel’s blog on that!

What should I bring?  Come, one and all.  Bring a friend, a generously portioned vegetarian, nut-free, potluck dish (salad, kid-friendly main dish, or dessert), come in costume or grab a mask at the JCC, come ready to laugh and sing. Come for the service, stay for the Purimshpiel.

Should I bring the household items I have bought for the Welcome baskets? Yes! Read about it here. Sign up here.

Is this evening appropriate for young children?  This family friendly service will be fun, entertaining,  less formal, and certainly more noisy than a traditional Friday night service.  That said, it is great if parents remain mindful of their children’s participation during the service, the potluck and the Purimshpiel.  Please let me know (ckinberg@gmail.com) if your kids need childcare or pizza before the service.

 

 

Purim Costume Dos! Purim Costume Don’ts!

by Rachel Baron Singer
Rachel Baron Singer Punk Rock Queen Vashti

Rachel Baron Singer Punk Rock Queen Vashti

With Purim fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about costume Dos and Don’ts! Friday March 25 Megillah/Scroll of Esther reading at the JCC is an all-family costume affair. Here are some tips to get ready for the festivities:

  • Do: Have fun mixing classic Purim characters with more modern themes and trends. Steampunk Queen Esther. Grunge Rock Mordecai. Kylo Ren Haman. The possibilities are endless!
  • Don’t: Use cultures as costumes. If a culture isn’t yours, it’s not appropriate for a costume! Native Americans, Roma, and other groups often have to endure seeing watered-down versions of their customs and traditions disrespectfully packaged into costumes; let’s not contribute to these transgressions during our celebrations.
  • Do: Get crafty! Homemade Purim costumes are simple and enjoyable to make. Superhero paper plate masks are easy to construct and homemade face paint is a snap. You would be surprised at what you can whip up with a few household items or cheap dollar store finds!
  • Don’t: Use genders as costumes. It’s totally fine to costume yourself as a character or figure whose place on the gender spectrum is different than your own, but please don’t simply dress in drag as a cheap “gender swap” gag. We want Purim to be welcoming and safe to Jews of all genders!
  • Do: Get in the Purim spirit even if costumes aren’t your thing. You can always join in the fun by simply wearing bright colors, some flashy scarves, strings of beads, or a silly hat. It’s Purim—be ridiculous!
  • Don’t: Wear blackface or any racialized makeup. Unless, of course…JUST KIDDING! NEVER EVER DO THIS!
  • Do: Have fun with whatever you choose to wear. Chag Purim Sameach!

    Debbie Field 2008

    Debbie Field begins her reign as co-chair

Purim Gifts: Welcome Baskets for Refugee Families

welcome basketAARC Beit Sefer teacher Sharon Alvandi is a student in the UMich Jewish Communal Leadership Program, and an intern at Jewish Family Service learning to work with refugee families. Sharon has been very inspired by our AARC congregation, particularly the ways that the Beit Sefer students, parents and other community members come together to share learning and activities, investing in the character of the children. Through her work with JFS, Sharon is organizing a way for us to practice the mitzvot of Purim, giving gifts of tasty treats to one another/mishloach manot, and gifts to the poor/mattanot le-evyonim (for more about how these two mitzvot are related see this). Sharon writes:

There are many reasons to celebrate Purim and sort through a narrative that’s truly unlike any other in Jewish scripture. On Purim- the holiday of “lots”- we celebrate more than simply the idea of chance. When we listen to Esther’s story, we collectively celebrate character, resolve, and integrity. By presenting her true self–her Jewish self–to king Ahasuerus to appeal for the fate of the Jewish people of Shushan (present day Susa, Iran), Esther is a model of advocacy for herself and others. As a developing social worker, this story helps me think  about what it takes to act in a way that integrates all parts of who I am.

Purim also commemorates what it means to survive genocide or the threat of genocide. Each day when I work at JFS, I have the opportunity to observe the strength of character of the clients and the meticulous work of the case managers to serve a community of refugees in making the best choices in their first days in the U.S.   

JFS has resettled over 350 refugees since 2009.  Countries range from Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Iran, Syria, and Burma. JFS is set to resettle 150 individuals by October 1, 2016. AARC can help with the resettlement of families by joining with JFS  to assemble and donate Welcome Baskets for refugee families in Washtenaw County. We can do more than discuss violence that is taking place abroad. We can  welcome those in our community who have found refuge in a new place. This Purim, we can help make a space of comfort for their true selves.

Sharon has put together a list of personal care and household items the new families need upon arrival to set up their new homes. Check with this registry to see what is needed. We ask that you buy these items new and when you have, check off the registry. We will assemble the Welcome Baskets some time during the Purim Shabbaton March 25-27.

Be Happy! It’s Adar! But why?

FullSizeRender (3)Purim is a joyous, chaotic and raucous holiday. In this Jewish leap year, there are two months of Adar (I and II) and we celebrate Purim in Adar II. This year that will be in late March. Even in leap years, Purim is followed one month later by Passover (they both occur on the full moon).

Purim is a harbinger of spring. Like spring holidays celebrated in other cultures and religions–the Hindu celebration of HoliCarnivale in Brazil and the Caribbean and Mardi Gras in New Orleans for examples–the elation over the departure of winter and the rebirth of the Earth is intoxicating. And Purim is clearly a holiday to be observed in the millennium, where identifying the difference between good and evil is at times totally challenging.

So MARK YOUR CALENDARS!  The AARC brings you a smorgasbord of preparatory events leading up to our Purim observance, which will culminate with Rabbi Michael Strassfeld joining us for the 4th Friday in March.  Stay tuned for RSVP details!

  • Throughout March:
    • costume and mask consultations
    • preparing Shalach Manot — the gifts of Purim
  • March 19–  Lessurbert Annual Cookie Baking (read hamantaschen) and pizza baking
  • March 25–  4th Friday Service and Potluck unveiling the beautiful, whole megillah for the whole family and dinner theater Purim Spiel. (Tot shabbat prior to the service)
  • March 26– Mincha service and learning with Rabbi Michael
This image and the one above are decorative sections from the Megillat Esther/Scroll of Esther used by AARC courtesy of Barbara Boyk Rust and Evelyn Neuhaus

This image and the one above are decorative sections from the Megillat Esther/Scroll of Esther used by AARC courtesy of Barbara Boyk Rust and Idelle Hammond-Sass

Have an idea of how to add to the fun? Contact Dina Kurz [dinakurz@gmail.com] (on behalf of the Purim Planning Committee) if you want to add an event (such as baking, costume or mask workshop, sangria making, etc.) to increase the merriment in advance of March 25.

Links to Purim last year here and here.