Welcome Grayson Neff Family!

Our family is excited to join AARC! We are a family of four: myself (Adrianne Neff), my wife Carla Grayson, and our children Noah Grayson Neff, age 18, and Sylvie Grayson Neff, age 11. We have lived in Dexter for the past 8 years and before that were Ann Arborites for many years. Carla and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this summer. We were married at TBE by Rabbi Levy in 1998, and he re-married us legally when it became possible in 2015.

We live in rural Dexter Township and have a property where we keep chickens and turkeys and enjoy gardening and watching the wildlife in our woods and small pond. I am a Physician Assistant working in urgent care. I enjoy cooking, home improvement projects, boating, and working with our pets and farm animals.  Carla is a lecturer in the Psychology Department at University of Michigan. She enjoys watercolors and coloring, yoga, and gardening.

Our son Noah graduated from Dexter High School in June. He will be with us for Rosh Hashanah at AARC, and then will be moving to Flagstaff, Arizona, where he will be joining the Conservation Corps and working on environmental restoration projects in national parks, forests, and our other public lands. Our daughter Sylvie is entering 6th grade in the Dexter schools. She spent 3 weeks at Camp Tavor this summer and met some other kids from AARC there. Sylvie plays lacrosse and field hockey, enjoys video games, photography, and playing with her pet cat and dog, and just started her own business selling eggs from our free-range chickens at the Webster Farmer’s Market.

Carla and I were married at TBE, Noah celebrated his Bar Mitzvah there, and the congregation was a happy home for us for many years. However, in recent years we allowed our involvement to lapse as life events moved us to become less involved with TBE and our Judaism in general. We are currently renewing our commitment to Jewish practice and community, and after much reflection, we realized that our desires, needs and values most closely align with the Reconstructionist movement, and we made the decision to join AARC. We are looking forward to being members of a smaller congregation.

Although we are new members, we already have deep ties to AARC including many dear friends and acquaintances who are members. We spent the High Holidays at AARC last year, and we loved the services and Rabbi Ora. We are eager to meet new people, make new friends, and join in the community and spiritual life of AARC.

Selichot/Rabbi Ora’s Elul Playlist

Music helps crack open hearts. This Saturday evening September 1, 2018, open up to the radical love and change available in this season with a musical Selichot service.

Together, we’ll learn two new niggunim (wordless melodies) that will be used as a refrain throughout Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur services. If you’d like a head start learning the melodies, here they are:

BeShem HaShem
‘Sheves Achim Niggun
Selichot Service  Saturday, September 1
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

More on Selichot here and here

 

And, if you’re looking for more music to accompany you through these last weeks of Elul, have a listen:

Joey Weisenberg and the Hadar Ensemble’s ‘Eil Adon

Leon Bridges’ ‘River’

Shir Yaacov Feit’s ‘Brokenhearted/Psalm 147

Aretha Franklin’s ‘Spirit in the Dark

John Moreland’s ‘Break My Heart Sweetly

A Hidden Niggun for Yidden

Birdtalker’s ‘Outside the Lines

Joey Weisenberg and Mattisyahu Brown’s ‘Yearning Niggun

Eitan Katz’s ‘Elul Niggun

Cry Cry Cry’s ‘Lord I Have Made You a Place in My Heart

Yom Kippur Afternoon Sessions 2018

AARC Yom Kippur practice is to have afternoon sessions of learning, discussion, meditation, and song between the morning service which ends about 2pm and our community Yizkor service, which begins at 5:30pm.  The hour-and-a-half sessions are at 2:15 to 3:30pm and 3:45 to 5pm.

Workshop led by Rev Joe Summers and Anita Ruben-Meiller

Poor People’s Campaign in Washtenaw County

Justice, justice, you shall pursue…” (Deuteronomy 16:18-21)

2:15-3:30pm

In this time of increased exposure to, and awareness of, the injustices in our world, our country, our state and our community, we may feel called upon more than ever to engage in activities and causes that promote justice. I know I was when I was exposed to a presentation by Rev. Joe Summers and others about the Poor People’s Campaign in March of this year.  Please join me and Rev. Summers to hear about the local and national impact of this past Spring’s 6-weeks of action, “the Call for a Moral Revival” and to find out how the Washtenaw County chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign is moving forward to have an impactful presence as we head towards midterm elections.


Text study led by Michal and Josh Samuel

Jonah, the very odd prophet

What is the book of Jonah trying to tell us?

2:15-3:30pm

 

 


Sing, Chant, Walk led by Deb Kraus

3:45-5pm

For the past two years on Yom Kippur afternoon, I have found myself outside with other members, singing and chanting our way through the afternoon between services. It’s been deeply meaningful to us, and a great way to pass the time. You are welcome to join us for all or part of this time. I’ll provide some song sheets but we will also have machzors nearby to aid us in our efforts.  We’ll meet outside if we can and inside if we can’t.


Workshop led by Deborah Fisch

Reproductive Justice: Who is Offered Up to Molech?

Do not allow any of your offspring to be offered up to Molech … (Leviticus 18:21)

3:45-5pm

 

 

Concern for children ranks high in our sacred texts, particularly around Yom Kippur. The Binding of Isaac (the Akedah) rejects child sacrifice, in contrast to prevailing custom at the time. This rejection is codified by the verse in Leviticus.

Fast forward several thousand years to see what Jewish law and American law have to say about the primacy of children’s welfare … and a figure who is absent in these conversations: the mother. Who knows what is best for the child? Whose welfare matters more? This workshop uses the lens of Reproductive Justice to examine law and custom around pregnancy and childbirth. The mother/birthing person and fetus: whose rights prevail?

Introducing Bec Richman, our High Holiday guest Song Leader

My name is Bec Richman, and I am so excited to come to Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation for the High Holidays as your Song Leader. I am currently living in Philadelphia, PA with my beloved partner, Josh (who is also excited to join AARC for the High Holidays).

We are both graduate students – I’m studying to become a rabbi at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and Josh is getting a PhD in Urban Planning at the University of Pennsylvania. I am heading into my final year of school with an immense amount of gratitude to my teachers and my program for affording me the flexibility to pursue folklore, calligraphy, sofrut (ancient scribal arts), and mashgichut (kashrut supervision) as part of my studies. In tandem with my academic program, I have worked as a rabbinic intern for college students, as a hospital chaplain, and as congregational student rabbi. This year, I am honored to be the recipient of a grant that will allow me to build a beit midrash (house of learning) in Philadelphia.

When I’m not in school, I am often training for a triathlon, throwing pots in the ceramic studio, practicing writing Jewish sacred text on parchment, or reading quietly at a cafe. Thank G!d, my life is full and vibrant.

I am honored and excited to come to AARC for the High Holidays. This season in the Jewish calendar calls on us as individuals and as a community to tune into our relationships, behavior, and intentions. I appreciate the annual reminder of our fragility and encouragement to think with care about how to live, and I love the way the High Holiday nusach (musical theme) reflects this holy work. I have so enjoyed working with your incredible rabbi, Rabbi Ora, to plan High Holiday services, and I can’t wait to come sing with you.

Toby Citrin and Phyllis Blumenfeld: Old Friends and New Members

Phyllis and I are approaching our 25th wedding anniversary next year. She’s a retired professor of education, having researched, taught and practiced educational psychology, student engagement and project-based learning at the UM School of Education for almost 40 years. I’m a “nominally retired” adjunct professor at the UM School of Public Health, having researched, taught and practiced public health policy, genetics policy and community engagement for 37 years. Phyllis grew up in Brooklyn (Brighton Beach), studied at Brown (then Pembroke) and received her Ph.D. at UCLA. I grew up in Detroit, attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and spent the next 10 years working in our Detroit-centered family business. After the business was sold I transitioned into academe when a series of voluntary positions in Detroit’s and Michigan’s health systems led to my being invited to join the UM Public Health faculty. Now that I’m reducing my university work-load, I’ve been increasingly active coordinating the Michigan advocacy activities for J Street.

My daughter Ana, from my first marriage, went to the University of California Santa Barbara and “never returned.” She’s now a public interest environmental lawyer defending the California coastal environment from the constant threats of developers. She and her husband, Tim, have given me two awesome grandchildren, Toby “the Younger” and Kaia (pictured here with Ana). Phyllis and I escape the Michigan winters by moving to Santa Barbara for several months each year.

Joining AARC marks for me the fruition of a spiritual path that included the birth of Temple Israel in the 1940s, the creation of Congregation T’Chiyah (now the Reconstructionist Congregation of Detroit) with Carl Levin and our friends in 1977, and a period of membership at Temple Beth Emeth. I’ve had a growing interest in AARC, where I have several valued friends and associates. Visiting a recent service and meeting Rabbi Ora made it clear that AARC would become a cherished spiritual home for us.

Welcome the Hall family to AARC

We are very excited to be new members of AARC! We are a family of four and more, living in two households and with multiple faiths, but united in our journey through life together. We are: Noah, Jennifer, Ella (age 14) and Miles (age 11).  Noah is a law professor at Wayne State University and University of Michigan, Jennifer works at Zingerman’s Delicatessen, Ella is a freshman at Skyline High School, and Miles is a 6th grader at Forsythe Middle School.

Our path to AARC is the result of Miles wanting to explore his Jewish heritage. Noah grew up culturally Jewish in New York and Connecticut, made his bar mitzvah in a Reform temple, but other than that experience, didn’t really spend too much time in a temple at any point in his life.  Jennifer grew up Catholic, attended church every Sunday with her family and graduated from a Catholic high school, but then as a young adult, decided church and religion wasn’t an important part of her life.

When our kids were young, we sought out a faith community to be part of and joined the First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor, where Jennifer is still an involved member.  This congregation is very welcoming, inclusive of all people, whatever their story and is very much focused on serving the needs of our community.  When our son Miles started asking about his Jewish background and a desire to make his bar mitzvah, we were very pleased to find AARC because it welcomed our family as we are and spoke to all our values of community, inclusivity, and service.

Miles joined the Beit Sefer last year and is looking forward to starting again this fall.  We’ve joined the congregation for a few events, have appreciated how welcomed we’ve already been, and look forward to getting to know everyone more in the future.

Selichot 2018, Sept 1

Even the days of ‎Selichot before Rosh HaShanah are not days of judgment – just the opposite, they are days of ‎mercy and desire, the last set of forty days when Moshe Rabbeinu was on the mountain and the ‎Holy One showed him favour. It is only on Rosh HaShanah that the judgment begins… Moreover, ‎the Ten Days of Repentance are not called “days of judgment”. Just the opposite, they are days of ‎mercy, during which Hashem avails Godself to every individual. Only Rosh HaShanah and Yom ‎Kippur are “days of judgment”…Nodah B’Yehuda I Orach Chaim 32:3

The Jewish calendar gives us many opportunities to get ready for the new year. Reciting Psalm 27, a declaration of faith, each day of Elul is one practice. Another practice is reciting special prayers on the Saturday evening before Rosh Hashana, known as Selichot.

If Rosh Hashana feels like it’s fast approaching and you’d like to slow down and begin turning towards the new year, come to AARC’s second annual Selichot Service on Saturday September 1; we’ll celebrate Havdallah together and then learn some new tunes to carry us into the High Holiday season.

Selichot Service  Saturday, September 1
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
The full schedule of AARC High Holiday services is here.

Welcome new members Gillian, Alex, Wesley and Wade Jackson

We are so glad to be new members of AARC! We are a family of four: Myself (Gillian), my husband Alex, our 5-year-old Wesley, and our 3-year-old Wade.

We recently relocated to Chelsea from Asheville, NC. We wanted to be closer to family and soon after setting that intention, Alex found his dream job doing sustainable architecture in Ann Arbor. Before living in NC, Alex and I both did undergrad at U of M and Alex got his Masters of Architecture at U of Oregon. Before becoming a stay at home mom, I worked as a medical assistant.

As a family we enjoy gardening, canoeing, hiking, spending time with friends/family, cooking and general adventuring. Wes is starting kindergarten this year and Wade is starting preschool. Wes will also start his second year of Beit Sefer this fall.

I was delighted to find AARC last year during the high holidays. I was raised Reform but hadn’t found a synagogue I resonated with personally until now. I appreciate how the Reconstructionist tradition upholds our culture and traditions with a more humanist and naturalist tilt. I spent a lot of time in Hebrew school as a kid and it was an important part of my identity. I’m glad to be back in the fold and to share it with my own family. I’ve enjoyed everyone I’ve gotten to know over the year and look forward to years to come!

AARC Beit Sefer/Religious School 2018: Building Bridges

Rabbi Ora singing with the Beit Sefer

Enrollment is open for the 2018-2019 AARC Beit Sefer/Religious School year! On this page you will find links to both the enrollment form and the tuition form. Teachers Aaron Jackson, Shlomit Cohen and Beit Sefer Director Clare Kinberg are looking forward to a great year of building bridges. In fact, that will be our theme for the year: Livnot Gesher/Building Bridges. Bridges to our better selves, bridges to new friends, to our diverse communities, and to other faith communities.

We hope to see everyone (and any friends you have who may be thinking of joining the congregation or enrolling in Beit Sefer) at our

Annual Congregation Picnic and BBQ
August 26th, 2018
Noon to 3pm
Lillie Park North Shelter (closest to Ellsworth)

Members and Beit Sefer families, you can sign up to help with the picnic here.

The fall offers many opportunities for new families to connect with AARC and our Beit Sefer. In addition to to the picnic, we will again be having children’s services during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The first day of Beit Sefer will be September 16 at the JCC. That’s right in between Rosh Hashanah (erev RH is Sept 9) and Yom Kippur. The next weekend we’ll be building our sukkah at the Farm on Jennings as we do every year, but this year we are trying something new! We’ll build the sukkah on Saturday afternoon and stay for an optional sleep over! Please contact Clare Kinberg (ckinberg@gmail.com) or Beit Sefer Committee chair Stacy Dieve (stacyweinberg@gmail.com) with any questions, suggestions of potential new students, or with offers to help with the picnic and sukkah building/sleep over.

 

#MoralEmergency

On July 2, 2018 in La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States, Bend the Arc published a translation of the Declaration of a State of Moral Emergency, signed by over 200 Jewish organizations and more than 18,000 American Jews in response to the Trump administration’s separation and detention of immigrant families.  Reconstructing Judaism, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, and many Reconstructionist congregations are among the signers. Here is a link to a pdf of the full-page ad.

For more ways to get involved with other local Jews organizing to serve our immigrant neighbors threatened with deportation, see the blog and website “We Were Strangers MI.”

 

To this country, in whose promise we still believe, to the millions of people who are outraged and horrified, and especially to the thousands of children who have been separated from their families, we declare our nation to be in a state of moral emergency.

This Administration has established border policies unprecedented in their scope and cruelty, that are inflicting physical, mental, and emotional harm on immigrants and punishing those seeking refuge at our borders.

We are anguished by the stories and images of desperate parents torn from their babies and detention facilities packed with children. We shudder with the knowledge that these inhumane policies are committed in our name, and we lift our voices in protest.

The Jewish community, like many others, knows all too well what it looks like for a government to criminalize the most vulnerable, to lie and obfuscate to justify grossly immoral practices under the banner of “the law,” to interpret holy scripture as a cover for human cruelty, to normalize what can never be made normal. We have seen this before.

When crying children are taken from their parents’ arms, the American Jewish community must not remain silent.

To those who are targeted by these cruel policies, know that the Jewish community hears your cries. We will take risks to support you, and we will demand that our nation’s leaders take action. We will not abide the claim that people didn’t know or understand the extent of your suffering; we will not allow your torment to be in vain.

Our government can persist in this inhumane behavior only if good people remain silent.

And so we declare a state of moral emergency, and we rise to meet this moment. Even as our democratic institutions are under duress, we raise our voices and take decisive action. United by the wisdom of our tradition, we stand with immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, with the children, and with their parents. We declare: Not here. Not now. Not in our name.