This article on the AARC book group and AARC members with personal connections to Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared in the January 2023 Washtenaw Jewish News. See page 10 here.
Thanks to Etta Heisler for this article in the January 2023 Washtenaw Jewish News. See page 11 here.
“Metaphors make the mind.”
By: Rena Basch
After having Rosh Hashana lunch at Zingerman’s Deli, the title of an article in the Zingerman’s newspaper caught my eye: “Replacing the Great Resignation with the Great Regeneration. New metaphors can change our minds and lives.”
The concept of “regeneration” is what got me to pick up the paper, as it feels like our congregation is in a period of regeneration. Upon reading the article, however, I was truly moved by founder/author Ari Weinzweig’s proposal: when you change the metaphor in your mind, you change the world or at least change the culture of your organization. He proposes to change the metaphor of an organization to an “ecosystem,” and he calls the metaphor of Zingerman’s a “poetic organizational ecosystem.”
When you change metaphors you literally change your mind and your ways of thinking. Research shows that metaphors you use shape how you think, creating the frames in which you see things. If you think of an organization as an ecosystem, it creates a holistic and generative mindset, more aligned with nature and natural processes.
With business, people inside and out of that world describe, think and speak about business organizations in metaphors of competition, sports, machines, and even war. These metaphors lead people to think primarily in terms of winners and losers, of efficiencies, of control, and creates a culture around these things. Even non-profits and congregations tend to use similar metaphors, thinking of the organization as a business, team or family. Even these metaphors of team or family still contain elements of control, competition and hierarchical thinking that influence culture and decision-making.
While it is true that both businesses and nonprofit organizations have to make some decisions based on the bank account or profit and loss statements, they could also consider other components and elements of the organization. What if factors that create and support the health of every aspect of the system could be equally weighted? What if organizations could make measures of “success” more than just the finances, and more like the overall holistic nurturing and growth of the whole poetic organizational ecosystem?
AARC is not producing Reubens or selling high quality foods, but we are growing people and cultivating community. We are growing the values of nurturing, support, care, spirituality, tikkun olam, kindness and love. Let’s try to embed the ecosystem model in our minds as we think about AARC, as we participate in AARC, as we make decisions about AARC. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the Annual Membership meeting on Sunday, December 4 at 10 am!
-Rena Basch, AARC Board Co-Chair
You are invited join the AARC Book Group on Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 11:30am on Zoom as we discuss the new book by the AARC’s Aaron Ahuvia, The Things we Love: How Our Passions Connect Us and Make Us Who We Are.
Aaron and his wife Aura were founders of the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Havurah, which later became the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation (AARC). It’s always great to feature books by an AARC member at the book group!
Please email Greg Saltzman at firstname.lastname@example.org for the AARC book group Zoom link.
Below is an interview with Aaron Ahuvia from the October 2022 Washtenaw Jewish News.
Thanks to Dave Nelson for this article in the October 2022 Washtenaw Jewish News. See also this blog on the Kavanot (members sharing reflections) from Rosh Hashanah services.
This article appeared in the July 2022 Washtenaw Jewish News.
UPDATE: Washtenaw County Jewish Community Survey Begins November 7
Recognizing the need for valid and actionable data that serves the entire community, the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor, in partnership with local Jewish communal organizations and congregations, is conducting a study of the Washtenaw County Jewish community.
This study is being conducted by an experienced research team at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University and NORC at the University of Chicago.
Starting in November, you may be contacted by letter, phone, or email with an invitation to participate in the survey. Invitation letters will have logos for NORC and Brandeis. Email messages will be sent from NORC at WCJCS@norc.org. Reminder phone calls will come from Brandeis University, with a phone number starting with 781-773-3535.
Because this is a scientific survey with a defined sample frame, you may not receive one of these calls or emails; however, if you do, we encourage you to respond and participate in this important project to better understand our community.
This study is made possible by collaboration of all local Jewish communal organizations, with financial support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor, the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Ann Arbor, the JCC of Greater Ann Arbor, Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County, Temple Beth Emeth, Beth Israel Congregation, Jewish Federations of North America, and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
For more information about this study, visit the community study webpage at jewishannarbor.org/communitystudy. If you have any additional questions, please contact McKenzie Katz at email@example.com or 734-677-0100.
Thank you for your participation!
Repost of Washtenaw Jewish News article by Rachel Wall. (Note: more info on the study to come from AARC.)
The Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor, in partnership with the Jewish communal organizations and congregations in Washtenaw County, is pleased to be launching a demographic study of the Jewish community in the greater Ann Arbor area. The goal of this study is to collect, analyze, and report accurate and actionable data to inform community planning and enhance the vibrancy of Jewish life in greater Ann Arbor.
Studies like this are conducted by Jewish communities all over the country to estimate the size and characteristics of the local Jewish community. The data then serve to assist Jewish communal organizations to make well-informed, data-driven decisions for the benefit of the entire community. Results can also assist organizations like Jewish Family Services (JFS) in applying for grants and funding that require detailed projections of the reach of their programs. Because of the present lack of data, these funding sources may not be available to our community at this time, but could significantly enhance the work done by JFS in Washtenaw County.
Following an extensive and competitive search process, the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies/Steinhardt Social Research Institute (CMJS/SSRI) of Brandeis University, the preeminent academic research center for the social scientific study of Jewry in the United States, will be conducting the study on behalf of the greater Ann Arbor community.
The Cohen Center team is in the process of conducting nearly a dozen similar studies in other communities around the country and has assessed large cities like Boston and Orlando, as well as cities more comparable in size to Ann Arbor, like Long Beach, CA.
According to an article published in the online publication eJewishPhilanthropy in April of this year, the Cohen Center has developed an “index of Jewish engagement” that identifies Jews by their activities, no matter how nontraditional they may seem, rather than creating demographic categories like Jews who have married someone not Jewish.
“We want to talk to the folks for whom doing Jewish is about volunteering…or eating your ham and cheese sandwich on Yom Kippur,” Matthew Boxer, assistant research professor at the Cohen Center, told eJewishPhilanthropy in the April 6th article titled “U.S. Jewish communities are commissioning a flood of new population studies — and figuring out how to use them.”
While informal estimates suspect around 8,000 Jewish individuals in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and the surrounding areas, there has never been a formal investigation into how many people are part of the local Jewish community, nor is there empirical evidence of our community’s priorities for Jewish life. There is much to be learned from an endeavor like this to benefit those who may not feel particularly connected with the local Jewish community; this study is an opportunity to share how Jewish communal organizations can better meet their Jewish needs.
The study will be conducted in the fall and winter of 2022-2023, with results distributed publicly in mid-2023. The researchers will work closely with local Jewish institutions to ensure that diverse perspectives are represented. Survey responses will be confidential and findings will be reported only in the aggregate. The more households that participate, the more information will be available to help Jewish organizations in the community make data-driven decisions about the future.
For questions about the community study, please contact either AARC’s representative on the community – Greg Saltzman at firstname.lastname@example.org or Federation’s Executive Director Eileen Freed at email@example.com
A quick primer in light of recent news regarding Roe v. Wade
The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA) and Reconstructing Judaism (RJ) put out a statement on May 3rd condemning the leaked documents indicating that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade. Reconstructing Judaism strongly conveyed the movement’s belief that access to reproductive choice is a human right and must be protected at both the state and federal level. The RRA and RJ will be participating in a Jewish Rally for Abortion Rights on May 17th at Capitol Hill. Read the full statement and get details on the rally here.
Amongst the current political turmoil surrounding the overturning of Roe v. Wade, it might hearten you to know that Jewish thinkers have been pondering the morality of abortion for millennia. According to Tomas J. Silber, a Jewish physician and medical researcher, Jewish law puts fetuses and embryos in a different category than infants. This is exemplified by the fact that Jews do not say Kaddish for a fetus, but do perform the ritual for an infant. Additionally, if a mother converts to Judaism while pregnant, the baby is considered Jewish, and therefore the baby does not need to immerse in a mikvah (Talmud Bavli Yevamot 78a).
Some of you may remember Rabbi Ora’s Shavuot teaching in 2019 on Jewish perspectives on abortion. Our congregation looked at multiple historical Jewish texts that discuss abortion, including:
Talmud Bavli Yevamot 69b:
Rav Chisda says: And if she is pregnant, until 40 days from conception the fetus is merely water.
Mishna Oholot 7:8:
If a woman is having difficulty in giving birth [and her life is in danger], one cuts up the fetus within her womb and extracts it limb by limb, because her life takes precedence over that of the fetus. But if the greater part was already born, one may not touch it, for one may not set aside one person’s life for that of another.
The National Council for Jewish Women (NCJW) has stated that “Jewish sources explicitly state that abortion is not only permitted but is required should the pregnancy endanger the life or health of the pregnant individual. Furthermore, ‘health’ is commonly interpreted to encompass psychological health as well as physical health. NCJW advocates for abortion access as an essential component of comprehensive, affordable, confidential, and equitable family planning, reproductive, sexual health, and maternal health services.”
There is strong support for abortion rights in Reconstructionist and Reform Judaism, as well as historical precedent that supports women’s access to abortion. The Conservative movement has condoned abortion “if a continuation of pregnancy might cause the mother severe physical or psychological harm, or when the fetus is judged by competent medical opinion as severely defective.” The Orthodox movement supports abortion when a mother’s life is at risk, but leaves further discretion on a case-by-case basis. Outside the Jewish world, the PEW research center has found that 60% of American support access to reproductive choice.
If you feel inspired to take action regarding access to reproductive choice, consider donating to Planned Parenthood or sign the petition circulating locally to amend the Michigan constitution to establish reproductive choice and codify Roe v. Wade in Michigan.
Thanks to Hannah Davis for this article in the March 2022 Washtenaw Jewish News. Congratulations to Idelle Hammond-Sass on winning the Shmita Prize in the ritual object category.