Erev Rosh Hashanah Message

Rabbi Michal Woll

Rabbi Michal Woll
Photo: Stephanie Rowden

Rosh Hashanah may be the most complicated of our holy days, for its identity is fractured. In biblical tradition it was simply “day of blowing the horn.” Over millennia other purposes and themes have been layered upon it – the new year, the day of judgment, the day of remembrance, the day of crowning God, the day the world was made. I was inspired some months ago to focus this year on the last one – RH as the anniversary of creation, and tomorrow we will read a traditional alternative to the conventional torah reading – the first chapter of genesis, the original creation story.

Jews don’t seem to need to argue so much with this version of creation. One possible reason is that our tradition recognizes that the world is constantly being recreated and renewed. We sang at the opening of the service – chadesh yameinu kekedem – renew our days as of old, like at the beginning. We find in the morning liturgy: b’tuvo m’chadeish bechol yom tamid ma’aseih v’reishit – with divine goodness you renew, each day, continually, the work of creation. We too are renewed each day, reminded with the elohai neshamah – each morning we find a pure breath, a clear soul, ready for a new imprint that we make with our daily lives.

And our obligation following the second biblical creation story – the expulsion from Eden, which will be read and discussed a few weeks from now – is not to atone for the mistake of Adam and Eve but to strive to repair the gap between the world as we find it and the original vision of paradise. Unfortunately our job is not as easy as God’s was. God exclaimed: let there be light, and there was. As we will sing in the morning – baruch she’amar v’hayah ha’olam – blessed is the one who spoke and the world was. Wow – like magic. In fact, this moment is imbedded in the common language of conjuring and magic. Abra-cadabra is not merely gibberish syllables, but Talmudic Aramaic. A’bra – I create – the same root as the first line of torah – breishit bara elohim – in the beginning god created. Dabra – I will speak – related to the most common phrase in torah – vaydaber adonai el moshe – and God spoke to Moses. Abra cadabra – I create just as I speak. [Read more…]

Land Conservation – Through a Jewish Lens

In conjunction with Pardes Hannah and our Shmitah observance we are offering another great learning and touring opportunity to explore our relationship to and responsibility for our land:

Legacy Land Conservancy’s
Annual Fall Bus Tour
  Oct. 19th 11-4PM

Do you wonder about the Greenbelt and care about local ecology issues and how to best conserve our valuable farmland and wild places? Join us at 11am for a short discussion at REI’s community room about Jewish values related to resting the land, stewardship and more. We’ll board the bus at 11:30 for a day of learning with others about local efforts to protect lands that make our community a great place to live, work and play.

Cost is $20, includes lunch of your choice (veg/non veg)
For Tickets call 734-302-5263 (Credit cards accepted)
Call and reserve as part of the Food/Land/Justice group (AARC/PH)
Checks can be mailed to: Legacy Land Conservancy, 1100 N. Main St. #203, Ann Arbor, 48104

This annual tour sells out fast!

Read more about our Food, Land and Justice program

The Sukkot Retreat is Coming! (Sign up here)

Sukkot Retreat, 2014

Fri, Oct 10 to Sun, Oct 12

What:  Relax and enjoy a weekend full of learning, community, celebration, rest, and fun:


• Build and decorate the sukkah
• Celebrate Sukkot
• Friday night songs and games
• Yoga
• Workshops
• Beit Sefer Sunday morning
• Bonfire with s’mores
• Havdalah
• Music and folk dancing
• Children’s activities and child care on Saturday

All with wonderful meals and beautiful walks!

Where: Emrich Retreat Center, 7380 Teahen Rd, Brighton, MI 48116

Directions and Map for Emrich Center:

New this year:  Eight more rooms of extra space, to allow more privacy, ability for kids to be near each other, etc.

Questions?  Contact Mike Ehmann,

[Read more…]

Rosh Hashanah with the AARC

By Carol Lessure

The Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation invites anyone who is looking for a home for the High Holidays to join us at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, 4001 Ann Arbor-Saline Road at the corner of Ellsworth Road. Whether you are a newcomer or long-time resident, curious about Reconstructionist Judaism or looking for a community, you are welcome to join AARC for the holidays. No tickets are needed to attend our musical, participatory High Holiday services, although donations from non-members are appreciated.

For Rosh Hashanah, there will be opportunities to gather informally as well with an oneg following Erev Rosh Hashanah services on Wednesday evening, September 24 and lunches hosted by congregants following services on Thursday, September 25. We will also gather for Tashlich at a home on the Huron River in the early evening where we will use pebbles for our ceremonial casting away of our past deeds. All the details at the links below:

Looking for Hosts for New Year’s Lunch

By Carol Lessure

After Rosh Hashanah morning services, we’d like to offer members and friends the chance to have lunch together at various locations.

You could “host” at a local restaurant or at your home.  Only have room for a couple of people? Don’t worry, no gathering is too small. If you are interested in hosting an event, just add your invite to this list by clicking on the bottom tabs to find an empty tab and filling in your info.

We’ll remind everyone where to find the list of hosts here on the blog and in the Monday Mailer, as well as at the High Holiday registration table.

Let’s revive this tradition from years past and keep the “hav” in the Havurah.

Shana Tova, Carol

And welcome to the Bramsons, too!


Candace, Elliot, Eric

New AARC members Eric and Candace Bramson have lived in Ann Arbor over 20 years.  They met at the University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Club in the mid 90s, and still enjoy dancing today.

Eric is an engineer at Ford Motor Company and enjoys photography, biking and bird watching. Candace works for Pfizer doing clinical research and likes learning languages (currently studying French), biking, and running. Their son Elliot, who has attended the Beit Seifer for the last 3 years, is in 4th grade at Angell Elementary and loves legos, stuffed animals, and anything University of Michigan.

The Bramsons look forward to strengthening their connection to the Jewish community and becoming involved in the congregation’s celebrations and activities.


Welcome the Angus family!

Here’s how our new members, the Anguses introduce themselves:

We are the Angus family, Dale, Orna, Aden (12) and Sara (9). We met the Reconstructionist Hav in 2013. I (Orna) grew up in Ann Arbor. Dale grew up in Marysville, MI. We met when he attended EMU. We are an interfaith marriage.

We recently moved back to Dexter in 2010 to be closer to my parents. Dale works for Thule in Manufacturing Sales, and I work at Pittsfield Charter Township as the Deputy Treasurer.

Our children love sports and various activities. Aden enjoys playing basketball & golf, and Sara is a gymnast. They both enjoy school and spending time with friends. As a family we enjoy biking and kayaking in the local parks. We have two dogs Catcher, and Kelly they love to cuddle. The family favorite books & movie would be the Harry Potter Series.. Favorite Foods: (Dale) BBQ, (Orna) Italian, (Aden) BBQ or Buffalo wings, (Sara) Chinese Food.

Selichot and High Holiday Highlights

As the moon of Elul begins to wane, the new year approaches. Rosh Hashanah begins at the new moon, awaiting the new light, just as the creation story does, in the potential of darkness and void.

We will begin to explore this theme and the liturgy of the season in our Selichot gathering, Saturday evening September 20th. We will meet at 7:30 for pot luck dessert and then continue with Havdalah and the ritual. The gathering will take place at 2960 Lakeview Drive, Ann Arbor. Positive RSVPs always appreciated for planning purposes to or 734 845 2361.

Other highlights of our high holidays together will include:

  • Personal reflections on the special themes of Rosh Hashanah.
  • Tashlich with pebbles for the health of our river and wildlife.
  • Song and study of the Akedah for the second day of Rosh Hashanah on Friday September 26th.
  • Fourth Friday/Shabbat Shuvah service Friday September 26th, featuring seasonal music and a d’var Torah on the Akedah.
  • Inclusion of the Yiskor liturgy in Yom Kippur morning services.
  • A full afternoon of movement, learning and remembering on Yom Kippur day.
  • Sukkot retreat at the Emrich Center in Brighton October 10-12.

As always. everyone is welcome to join AARC for all or part of our celebration/commemoration of these special days.

Welcome to Becky, Brian, Sam, and Joey!

Our newest members are Becky and Brian Ball and their sons, Sam and Joey.

I asked Becky if she’d introduce her family to us, and she wrote this:

I was actually born and raised in Ann Arbor, but my husband is from Rhode Island (we met living in Los Angeles). We’ve been back in Ann Arbor for 12 years, but finally begun to look for a congregation to belong to. My husband teaches special education in Saline, and I teach social studies at Skyline in Ann Arbor (World History, World Humanities, Economics and Government). We are an interfaith family – I am Jewish while Brian was raised Catholic. I love quilting, kayaking and medieval history. My husband enjoys writing and gardening. Sam (8) and Joey (5) both went to preschool at the JCC, but both are now at Eberwhite Elementary. They are obsessed with legos and superheroes. We have four cats and are a vegetarian family. Our favorite movie is the original “Star Wars.” My favorite book is “The Lightbearer,” a novel about the Roman Empire. Brian’s favorite book is “The Great Gatsby.” We live in Scio Township between Ann Arbor and Dexter, and love the natural setting of wildlife and being near the river, but also being close to the libraries and museums of town.

Welcome to Becky and Brian!

Welcome to Becky and Brian!

Sam and Joey

And to Sam and Joey, too.


Join the Food, Land and Justice Bus Tour to Detroit

[Members Idelle Hammond-Sass and Carole Caplan have been working with others in the community to organize a bus trip to Detroit and day of learning as part of the Food, Land and Justice grant. They pass along this note with details,  printable flyer and the link to purchase tickets.]
honeyAs part of a year of programing grounded in the Jewish practice of Shmita  you are invited to join with members of the Ann Arbor Jewish community for an exciting visit to Detroit on Sunday September 14, 2014.

So much is happening around the issues of food systems, security, accessibility and affordability in Detroit–let’s take the day to learn about it first-hand! After meeting at the Ann Arbor JCC, we will travel by bus to D-/town Farms, and learn how their work is making important healthy change both personally and communally.

We will then arrive at historic Eastern Market where we will hear from several speakers as to their important roles in the food movement. We will enjoy a healthy lunch and have time to shop the artisans’ market as well. We will study together, laugh together and then brainstorm how we might be part of this important movement moving forward.

Details of  the FOOD, LAND and JUSTICE trip to Detroit:

Space is limited—reserve yours today! Contact Carole Caplan (caplan.carole AT, or Idelle Hammond-Sass (Hammond_sass AT for more information.

This program is generously funded by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Ann Arbor.