Welcome Rachel and Bryan

Our newest members are Rachel Baron Singer and Bryan Singer. Here’s Rachel’s introduction:

“Bryan is a postdoctoral student in the Biopsychology Department at the University of Michigan, and I’m currently working towards a Masters degree at Wayne State University in Library and Information Science.

Bryan and Rachel

Bryan and Rachel

We moved from Chicago to Ann Arbor in January 2013 with our pet rabbits, Pierrot and LeFou, and have settled in relatively well, despite our firm refusal to switch allegiances from the Chicago Dog to the Coney.

Because neither of our hometowns had Jewish communities large enough to support more than one synagogue, we were both raised in the Reform movement by default. However, we’ve long identified with the tenets of Reconstructionism, and are very excited to finally belong to a Reconstructionist congregation.

Outside of his research, Bryan’s passions include hiking, photography, travel, and the Chicago Bulls. Meanwhile, I enjoy writing about film studies, collecting vintage Nancy Drew novels, learning about mid-century modern architecture, and supporting West Bromwich Albion F.C. in the English Premier League (don’t worry, nobody else has heard of them, either).

Pierrot and LeFou

Pierrot and LeFou

We very much enjoyed attending AARC services for the high holidays and look forward to meeting the other members!”


Welcome Back, Ellen!

Ellen Dannin, our once and now-current member, is back to Ann Arbor from State College, Pennsylvania.  She writes:

Ellen Dannin

Ellen Dannin

I first joined the Reconstructionist movement as a member of Congregation T’chiyah in Detroit (and was also then a member of  the National Havurah movement). Over the years, and many moves, I have been a member of Reconstructionist congregations of Dor Hadash in San Diego, the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Havurah, and now back to Ann Arbor after a stint in State College, PA. For many years, I’ve written liturgy, divrei Torah, rituals, and other work focused on Judaism. A year ago, I gave myself a challenge of searching for water in each week’s parasha. I figured that the story of people traveling around a dry area of the world was unlikely to have water as a theme. Little did I know that water in some form existed in almost every week.

In my non-Jewish life, I have taught labor and employment law at various schools and write on privatization, including infrastructure privatization.

I am so happy to be back in Ann Arbor and to reconnect with friends and make new ones.



New member intro: Welcome the Nelson/Spindler family!

In our ongoing series of new member intros, I’m happy to introduce the Nelson/Spindler family:  Cara Spindler, Dave Nelson, and Aziza and Otto.


Dave says:  “I’m the tall one; Cara is the pretty one.”






Some Q & A’s:

What brought you to Ann Arbor and how long have you been here?

Cara and I both came to Ann Arbor as U-M undergrads twenty years ago, and have been here ever since.

Tell us about your prior involvement in the congregation:  

We’ve been skulking around the periphery of the AARC for several years (Otto’s been in Beit Sefer for, I dunno, maybe three or four years now).

What are some things you like to do? 

Um . . . being outside? The kids are very into imagining insane things and playing made up games that I find totally inscrutable (as well as Pokemon–ugh), while my wife and I hope to get to see a movie again some day. And we all read a fair bit.

Many of us already know Dave, Cara, and their kids — if you don’t, say hi the next chance you get!

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.

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.


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. (www.livebychoice.com)

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!”