Will you be spending holiday break at home with family this year? Why not try a delicious recipe from some of the fantastic cooks in our congregation!
If you have a recipe you would like to share, type it in the comments below!
Will you be spending holiday break at home with family this year? Why not try a delicious recipe from some of the fantastic cooks in our congregation!
If you have a recipe you would like to share, type it in the comments below!
“Mitzvah comes from the root word tzavta, which means connection. There are 613 mitzvot, and therefore, 613 ways to connect to G-d.”
– Rabbi Zushe Greenberg
I appreciate this definition of mitzvah, which goes beyond doing a good deed or following a commandment, and adds connection as an essential ingredient. When I became chair of the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation (AARC) Mitzvah Corps several years ago, I knew that what we could offer to the larger community would best be generated by what we offered each other to build connection, support, and a sense of being known. Towards that end, we began having quarterly meetings, which moved to Zoom during shutdown and have been in person since the availability of the vaccine. The meetings begin with a personal sharing of a blessing and a challenge since we last met. In this way we have supported each other through health challenges, losses, changes in career or living situations, family stresses. Through that feeling of being connected it is easy to feel moved to connect to others when they are in need. Connection is the heart and soul of our mission – “to mobilize support when needed” and our vision – “to create a non-judgmental community in which it is natural to ask for and receive help.”
Connection is the heart and soul of our mission – “to mobilize support when needed” and our vision – “to create a non-judgmental community in which it is natural to ask for and receive help.”
Early on the Pandemic showed us that support might have to arrive in ways that we were unaccustomed to. We were placed in lockdown in March, 2020 and a month later, a former beloved member of our congregation notified me that she had just lost her mother and was seeking support for one night of Shiva. She and her family had other resources for Shiva as well, but it was especially important to her during this time of “virtual only” contact to be with people who knew her, her family and may even have known her mother. She had been an active member of the congregation for many years and had celebrated the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs of her children with us. It was a certain joy to be able to connect her with Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner and know that her needs in the midst of grief would be well tended to. The Mitzvah Corps notified the congregation of the chance to offer support, and our first Zoom Shiva was manifested. While a Zoom Shiva could never substitute for the in-person hugs, warm personal exchanges, and provision of food that happen in person, for this woman, seeing familiar faces, in a religious context that meant a lot to her, “felt like home”.
Another request prompted by the societal circumstances we found ourselves in was from a long time AARC member with chronic health issues that impacted her mobility and sense of safety. At the start of the pandemic, she was experiencing greater physical difficulty, and had had a couple of falls. It was also just barely a year since she had lost her beloved husband, and her loneliness and isolation was acutely felt. At the suggestion of a good friend, she contacted the Mitzvah Corps and explored what support could be offered. We created a chain of daily phone calls with a combination of AARC members and personal friends, that continues to this day. She says she is “so thankful” and that through these calls she has come to trust that “someone cares about me”.
Some needs met by the Mitzvah Corps, such as helping families host services for B’nei Mitzvah have been unnecessary during these past 2 years. Other needs have remained the same. We have organized meal chains for families bringing home a newborn and for individuals moving through significant illness or injury. We have provided rides to medical appointments and assisted with grocery shopping. We have been grateful that when a need is made known, many members of our congregation rise to the occasion to pitch in.
As it is designed now, the five Mitzvah Corps members carry the responsibility to mobilize support when and where it is called for. All requests come through the chair person and are either met by her, or assigned accordingly. We have been glad to be available during these difficult times, but at times have also felt the strain of higher demand, as when two of our members were significantly injured and another’s family was ill with Covid.
The pandemic also thwarted initial efforts from some Corps members to start new offerings, a support group for families caring for their elders and a support group for parents of teens. Hopefully these will happen in the future.
“You don’t always think of yourself as someone who will need something, but we are all vulnerable and there are times we will need help.”
At our most recent quarterly meeting we began to address the issues of increasing membership in the Mitzvah Corps and being better able to know, and meet, what the needs of the congregation’s members truly are. As we puzzled over what we’d want others to know about our efforts, one member, Caroline Richardson, observed: “You don’t always think of yourself as someone who will need something, but we are all vulnerable and there are times we will need help.” Our board liason, Debra Gombert, observed:” the act of bringing a meal to congregation members in need was about connection, not cooking; about being in community and creating community.”
It seems that the Covid pandemic and other factors in the past few years have highlighted great need in many areas for many people. It can be overwhelming to know where you can have an impact that matters, if that is your desire. But, as it says in the Mishnah, “Anyone who saves a life, it is as if they saved an entire world.” The AARC Mitzvah Corps offers an opportunity to lighten the burden of one individual, or family, and by doing so increase your own sense of well -being and joy.
If you would like to learn more about the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation please visit aarecon.org, or contact Gillian Jackson at email@example.com or Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see this article in the December 2021 Washtenaw Jewish News, scroll to Page 19 here. https://washtenawjewishnews.org/PDFs/WJN-12-21-web.pdf
At this time of year, as our membership cycle begins anew and we contemplate the Jewish new year, we ask you to please reaffirm your commitment and connection to the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation by renewing your membership.
We are entering this new year of 5782 with both hope and anticipation after more than a year of upheaval and unprecedented physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual stress. As the landscape of the pandemic shifts, there is a lot we still do not know. But there is a lot we do know. We know that our community has continued to stay connected. We know that as individuals and as a congregation we have been strengthened by our connections. And we know that we will continue to be a caring and connected community.
AARC has worked hard to ensure that we continue to be a source of strength and support for our community. Our Rabbi, our staff, our Board, and our many many committee members, volunteers, and lay leaders have stepped up to keep us connected and growing. We have all responded to COVID-19 with changes to our individual and communal lives, and we enter this year with a strong commitment to continue our work to keep our community healthy, safe, and vibrant. With every Shabbat service, every mishpacha meet-up, every class, every workshop, every song and niggun we sing, we have a chance to connect more richly to one another.
We trust that you find these connections meaningful, and we hope that you will choose to renew your membership. If there are ways that our congregation can better serve you, or ways you would like to become more involved, please reach out to us at email@example.com. If you have financial concerns about renewing your membership this year, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are committed to staying connected. Your support makes all this possible.
We look forward to being with you, whether in person or online, during the High Holiday season and throughout the year.
B’Shalom and wishes for a sweet new year,
Rebecca Kanner & Rena Basch
Co-Chairs of the Board of Directors
Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground. You cannot always tell by looking at what is happening More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet. Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet. Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree. Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden Gnaw in the dark, and use the sun to make sugar. Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses. Live a life you can endure: make life that is loving Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in, a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us it is interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs. This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always. For every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting, after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.
Written by Rebecca Kanner and Emily Eisbruch for the Washtenaw Jewish News
Lots changed during the COVID 19 pandemic, including, for many of us, how we worshiped and how we socialized. What a joy to experience the happy reconnections in the summer of 2021, as vaccines enabled the resumption of many in-person events. Now, on the brink of the New Year 5782, the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation (AARC) is taking stock of lessons learned during the pandemic and taking steps to capture and continue some of the positive innovations.
As one example, the pandemic inspired an increase in creative outdoor activities for the AARC Beit Sefer (religious school). A Tu B’Shvat program centered on Ann Arbor’s champion trees and a bike/hike relay experience connecting Beit Sefer families are two examples. “The healthy connection with the outdoors, and focus on Jewish environmental education is an emphasis we plan to continue,” says Beit Sefer director Clare Kinberg. “For the upcoming school year we have plans for a monthly Beit Sefer program at The Farm on Jennings, a farm providing a diverse selection of certified naturally grown produce and flowers, owned and operated by AARC member Carole Caplan.”
At the congregational worship level, we recently invested in state-of-the-art equipment to deliver hybrid worship experiences that are meaningful both for in-person and online participants. According to Seth Kopald, who is a Board member and part of the AARC’s Tech Committee, “We bought quality equipment so everyone will hear and see things clearly, and hopefully it will help those on Zoom engage on a deeper level. We really want people to feel a part of the services and other events. We are together even when we are apart.” In July, the AARC was pleased to convene an outdoor Kabbalat Shabbat service and to kick off using the new sound system, with the event streamed live on Facebook.
In another innovation, color-coded name tags (using green, yellow or red circle stickers) were offered for those in-person at the July Kabbalat Shabbat. The colorful stickers were applied on name tags to indicate an individual’s comfort with hugs versus handshakes versus socially distanced smiles. The stickers provide an easy mechanism for people to signal their level of readiness (or not) for friendly physical connection. The congregation will decide whether to continue offering the stickers moving forward.
Mishpocha groups, formed during COVID to facilitate AARC members keeping in touch, have proved highly successful. AARC members serve as hosts for small groups that meet weekly or biweekly on Zoom, providing a cohort for check-in, support, and even sometimes for sharing music, poetry and short stories. The friendships and new bonds continue as we emerge from the pandemic, and the Zoom check-ins may also continue.
Here’s a friendly reminder that High Holiday services are a great time to check out the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation. Our live-streamed services are open to all. For more details, we invite you to visit the AARC website at https://aarecon.org/ or reach out to Gillian Jackson at email@example.com.
To see this article in the September 2021 Washtenaw Jewish News, scroll to Page 8 here.
Dear Chevra –
We moved temporarily to Ann Arbor for six months in 2008—and we showed up at the Hav (as this group was then known) pretty much right away. Our children, Harry and Leila, were 8 and we didn’t want a gap in their Jewish education, so getting them enrolled in the Beit Sefer was a priority for us.
Very quickly, the Hav became not just a source of Jewish acclimation/education for our kids but a crucial community for all of us. We didn’t move to Ann Arbor for permanent till 2011, but AARC meant it felt like coming home.
A decade on, we’re moving away, temporarily, to DC. Sam has started a new job in the Biden/Harris administration, and Margo is luckily able to work remotely for the UM Law School. The current pandemic has little by way of silver lining, but for us, it does have one: because AARC’s activities are still all virtual, we’re able to remain active members of the community from afar. Virtual services are obviously different from in-person gatherings—but we have already found them to be a really meaningful way to stay connected to our haverim at AARC, and we are thrilled we can continue to do so.
So we just wanted to tell everyone that we’ll be away but not gone, and we hope to see you and to stay in touch.
Margo Schlanger and Sam Bagenstos
Rabbi Ora asked me these questions: “What is a metaphor/image that speaks to your experience of simcha (joy), and why? And what, if anything, is Jewish/spiritual about simcha for you?”
From my personal experience, and based on the work I do with people everyday, Joy seems to emerge when we return to our natural, birthright qualities of our true Selves. I believe our natural qualities include curiosity, compassion, creativity, playfulness, and the capacity to feel joy. I believe we are all born with a light inside, connected to G-d, the universe, to life itself. That light carries and supports our freedom to express who we are. A light that allows joy to flourish, if it is allowed to shine unencumbered.
Yet life seems to carry hurtful experiences that appear to dim or almost extinguish our light, sometimes beginning in the womb. On the other hand, when children receive unconditional love, when people around them value what they bring, their uniqueness of expression and thought, children don’t need to take on beliefs like feeling they are too much or not enough. They can shine their light with joy and perhaps carry that into adulthood. Simultaneously, our culture and even our religion can impose burdens on us as well. Of course, Judaism carries many gifts, rich in tradition: learning, sacred rituals, and resilience. For me, I realize that I have taken on intergenerational burdens tied to my understanding of what it means to be Jewish. I have always felt like I have to look over my shoulder for my own safety, and perhaps I need to hide, like our ancestors did in caves.
A week or so ago, I looked inside myself and asked my system if I carried such legacy burdens. I saw myself sitting at the Passover table as a young child. I heard a voice in me say, “we must suffer” and when I asked why, it said, “in order to survive.” I looked around the 1970s table. I was with my family, no joy and little unconditional love, but there was more heaviness. The story of Passover. The gift of freedom came with a cost – the suffering we endured – slavery, witnessing plagues, death of sons, seas swallowing people, angels shushed for cheering, and we decided to never go into the promised land. To this day, my system has never allowed me to go to Israel, as if I still carry the burden of slavery in Egypt. This young part of me showed me the burdens that cover my joy during Passover, burdens I still carry today.
This inner experience happened the same day I saw Rabbi Ora’s email inviting me to give this dvar torah. The depth of the timing felt sublime. I asked myself: Where is the joy? Where is the joy of the Jewish people? Is it in Israel, where people feel they have a homeland? I cannot say. Is it in the siddur? The one I was forced to get through in Hebrew school? No. As I explored this topic more deeply within myself, I saw the contrasting Jewish experiences I have had in my life.
You see, Joy was in the siddur at Summer camp. There was a loving Jewish community in which I lived for four weeks at a time. I went to both sessions, so eight weeks of Joy. We prayed every morning in a circle, swaying together, our voices filling the Beit Am. The dancing, the discussions, the ease of being together. Joyfully singing the birkat hamazon after every meal. The machine of Society gone, our burden of suffering paused. The sadness carried in the songs we sang felt more like a beautiful sadness, one that tied us all together. Then it was time to go home again, back to Hebrew school where I wanted to say to the Rabbi, “This isn’t being Jewish! This is a fashion show. We are running through the motions. No kavanah. It’s not from the heart.” Ironically, when I studied for my bar mitzvah, which was shared by another boy, an old school rabbi showed up for me and helped me learn my torah portion. He literally slammed his fist on the desk and shouted with passion, “You have to sing loud, and slow, From Your Heart!” One of the best moments of my Jewish life – sitting across the table from this mysterious rabbi. He felt like a wizard to me. And there we were on my bar mitzvah day, the other boy racing through, I drummed up my courage and sang from my heart.
At camp, on kabbalat shabbat, we heard a story of a young boy who lived in an orthodox village. He walked into the synagogue one day, the old men davening in a murmur. The boy, not knowing the prayers, started singing what he knew, the Hebrew alphabet. He sang the alphabet with joy, no words, a nigun from the heart — and he was hushed by the men, shaming his natural love for G-d. The Rabbi stopped the service and shared what he saw: the boy was the only one truly praying.
In our Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, I see heart connection often. Rabbi Ora is a model for us. She allows her natural light to shine. Her words take us to deep understanding and compassion and she shares her heartfelt niguns with us all. One of our congregants led us in a nigun over the high holidays, her heart open and her voice connected deeply. She let her light shine.
On this day we celebrate Simchat Torah with our new friends at Congregation Agudas Achim.
The torah itself seems to hold the light that we all share inside, I feel its resonance. It’s not the words or the stories inside the torah scrolls, it’s the gestalt of it all that resonates with me. And today we roll it back to the beginning, B’reshit, when G-d sparked the first light of creation, the light that is within all of us. “G-d saw the light that it was good.” Yes, when I feel my light and the light of others, it does feel good.
Our light may be covered, like the clouds cover the sun, but it is there nonetheless. Perhaps today as we roll back to the story of creation, the beginning of what we see as life itself, we can begin to unload the burdens we gathered along the way and those given to us by our lineage. Let the clouds part even briefly, so we can go back to our natural state and feel our light and the innate birthright qualities of that light. To me this is Joy, the return to ourSelves, and that is what I wish for all of you today.
The Jews of old had light, and happiness and joy — may it be so for us! Esther 8:16
Inspired by my ancestors and the work of Richard Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems (IFS) Model and all the wonderful IFS leaders.
This year—in this unusual and uncertain year—unable to gather in community, I chose instead to pray outside.
The words and songs of the service streamed out of my phone which sat neatly tucked into my tool belt
I had been weeding as I prayed along, enjoying the morning sunshine and the cool fall air.
I think it was out somewhere between the rows of fading sunflowers and the newly planted kale that I surprisingly ran into God…or perhaps it was that God, equally as surprised, ran into me.
The familiar tunes had tugged at my heart, and suddenly—without thinking—I had sprung up and began to dance, twirling to the music with the sun on my face and laughing like a little girl.
As the laughter turned to tears—you know, as it often does when we allow ourselves to open past the veneer of the everyday—I had an undeniable sense of being connected to these growing and dying things around me, to the cycles of the seasons they follow—and to the rhythms they look to teach me about year after year.
Similarly, I felt connected to a growing and dying peoplehood, a Jewish project spanning space and centuries that was reaching out to me there in the field that very day.
For a moment I felt completely a part of, not apart from, and I felt it deep inside my bones.
As a farmer, the agricultural content of our Jewish teachings and rituals are not lost on me as I steward this small piece of land.
On Sukkot we are told to build huts to dwell in—structures consciously designed to be unstable—a roof which lets the rain in, and walls fragile enough to be blown over with the next big wind. We wave water-dependent species in all directions, and as Sukkot closes, we beat water-loving willows on the ground as we pray for rain—rain that might come at just the right time and in just the right amounts. At the same time, as farmers we are gathering in the harvest, the tactile abundance of the year which might nourish us through the cold months ahead. We buy seed and we plan for a harvest we can only trust will one day come to be.
As Jews, I think we are called to live precariously amidst the plenty precisely to remind us that despite our efforts for control, the future remains unknown. And even given that unknown, we are called to remember that this is not to be the time of our worry, but rather it is called the time of our rejoicing. The teachings seem eager to imply that joy is the fertile ground in which we can plan and plant for happiness. Happiness that might come from choices well made, and from a life well lived, but one that nonetheless, is not guaranteed.
In the bounty of the winter squash piled high in the barn awaiting market, gratitude comes easily for me and helps me access that type of joy. And with that joy, there inevitably comes hope. Farmers are incredibly hopeful people, you know. We have to be. The odds of seeds growing and plants reaching maturity against the realities of droughts, of floods, of untimely frosts and heat spells, of pests and disease…well, it’s all a practice of patiently tending what is in front of you today, despite the knowledge that disappointments and failures abound. Yet what remains certain to the farmer is that growth is possible, and that alone seems to provide the energy for one to endure, to remain adaptable, and to do the hard work that needs to be done.
If hope holds space for possibility and roots itself in joy, then perhaps joy is a fertile and abundant attitude waiting for us right outside the doors and walls we build as we attempt to keep ourselves safe. So, I invite you to join me outside. Come out to the farm sometime. Put your hands in the dirt. Soften. Connect. Find yourself to be a part of life. And listen. Joy dwells here, I am sure, and is calling out to each of us echoing our ancient texts: May we be grateful, may we be blessed, and may we merit to live many days upon the soil.
Shabbat Shuvah is the Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. As the name implies, it continues the holiday themes of t’shuvah, repentance and return.
Before I begin, I want to say something because as I struggled to write this drash, I couldn’t quite rid myself of the thought, “people don’t want to hear about this. They want something really political that speaks to the moment.”
Nonetheless, I persisted, and wrote this anyway. Primarily because it’s what I agreed to write, but also because of my strong belief that if we don’t figure out how to help ourselves in times like this, we can’t have the energy to help others or the world.
In this week’s Brene Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us (which I highly recommend) she refers to an article by Adrian Farrow, entitled “Your Surge Capacity is Depleted; it’s Why You Feel Awful.” It’s about how we cope (or don’t) when an acute situation, like the pandemic, becomes a chronic one. It includes the term “resilience bank account,” which for most of us was depleted a long time ago and discusses how to get it back, most notably “to step into a more spacious mental space that allows you to do things that are constructive instead of being mired in a state of psychological self torment.”
And with that intro, here goes.
Like many of us, I think of High Holidays as being the great time of resetting. If we only do it once a year, this feels like the right time.
How have we gone off our course?
How might we even want to redefine our course?
Is our course even possible any more?
Of course, this has been a particularly challenging year, even for those of us privileged enough to not have the rug pulled out from under us on a regular basis (I count myself among you if that is not yet clear)! Think back to March and the frantic search for disinfectant wipes and toilet paper, when we were first confronted with the question of what is truly necessary to sustain us through what we thought was just going to be the next few days, maybe weeks.
And as days and weeks turned into months, and plans changed and were canceled, when we all started to ache for our connections and began to feel trapped in our homes, when those in our midst began to really annoy us—we did another reckoning of what was truly necessary, this time to sustain us through the few next months.
And, need I remind any of us that the problems of the world didn’t stop. There were more black people killed with the subsequent long awaited beginning of a racial reckoning, there have been wildfires and disastrous hurricanes, there’s a recession, and of course there’s the almost complete erosion of democracy and the culture of caring in our country. Topped off by the passing last Friday night of our hero and icon, Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
While “reset button” is not the word most people think of first in referring to 2020, (I believe that word would be…never mind; you fill in the blank), this whole year has been one long series of reset buttons as COVID has magnified every single crack in ourselves, our families, our communities, our nation and our world.
We have proven to ourselves both how adaptable we can be, as well as how inflexible we can seem when there’s even just a little extra stress, a little unexpected anything. At some point in the last 6½ months, we have all been at our breaking points a few times.
In fact, rather than being THE resetting time, the High Holidays this year feels like a time to look around us and inside ourselves and all breathe a sigh of relief for having gotten though to this occasion. Shehechiyanu!
Nonetheless, when Rabbi Ora asked what I’d like to do a reflection on for High Holidays this year, I suggested this concept of reset buttons. I think of bowling alleys from my youth, impatiently pushing the button when the pins got stuck or my preferred bowling ball did not immediately return. Or we could think about the restart mechanism on our laptops and phones: we’ve learned that the first thing to try when something freezes or malfunctions is to restart it.
For some of us this reset has meant taking inventory.
What is truly essential to live a contented life?
Who is essential, both to society and to us?
How are we adjusting?
What have we learned from this experience?
And I figured since I posed the questions and have another couple of minutes, I should answer them!
First, I have a renewed sense of my privilege. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home and that I have a home that I love. Much as I miss my daughter, I am glad she is launched, because anyone who is in transition has had such a harder time. I have enough money to see me through. I live, as most of us do, in a bubble that has kept us safe because others take their health seriously and have the resources to do so. And most of us have skin color deemed not threatening. I’m absolutely not trying to minimize what this pandemic has been like for anyone with a less full backpack of privilege.
Next, I have become even clearer on what I need to be psychologically OK and that is connections. At least once a day, I need a quality connection, outside of my work (which is full of them; I am a psychologist and connecting is my job). And connections have abounded. My close friends have become closer, generally through our weekly walks, usually, but not always, on the phone. In fact, one of my closest friends moved to NJ during this time and I venture to say that in terms of our connection, I barely noticed.
Third, there’s been a renewed commitment to my health. Being of the age bracket deemed vulnerable, and having had some health concerns that make me more so, I doubled down. Walking at least my 10K steps and logging my food every day has turned into a discipline that reminds me to “change the things I can” when there’s so much of this world that I need to “accept that I cannot change.”
Fourth, I have learned I can do with less. Life is simpler. And I’ve been relieved to have more time to myself. There has been less FOMO; I mean we’re all missing out! The great equalizer!
But the next one is in direct contradiction to this last one. While I can do with less, and my history is to “adapt, adapt, adapt,” my newest realization is that I some areas, pushing for more is a radical act. None of us know how much time we have left in the world, and as Nadine Stair’s poem says,
“If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.
So instead of saying an automatic “no” to my wants, I’m figuring out what parts of my wants can be possible. Which is why I’m coming to you tonight from Glen Arbor, aka “my happy place,” where I have been since second day Rosh and will be till next Wednesday. Yup, I’m spending Yom Kippur contemplating at the lake.
This great idea wasn’t mine. But I’m glad someone asked me why, if I hadn’t gotten enough lake on my vacation, why I couldn’t go back up, since work is portable right now. That’s the thing: despite my persona, I just don’t think outside the box enough.
I imagine that’s what Nadine was thinking when she wrote that poem.
Because if not now, when?
In summary, I’ve stopped saying, “I can’t wait till things get back to normal,”
because no one knows if that will ever happen, or what the new normal will look like,
because I believe that the real test of this reset button and this time of reflection is in what we will automatically go back to by next year,
because I believe that if we have learned nothing in this time– if we reset automatically to how things were– that will have been the true missed opportunity.
What are the things you have learned through this pandemic and which of these lessons do you want to keep or expand upon as we think about post-pandemic?
Despite all the death, financial problems and governmental heartlessness, are there ways that the pandemic has been good for the world?
Does this concept of extended time of reset resonate for you, and if so, has it changed your high holiday experience? If so, how?
Tisha b’Av (literally the 9th of Av) is a day of collective mourning, the saddest day of the Jewish year. It marks the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE and the Second Temple in 70 CE, but also symbolizes other tragedies, including the Holocaust and Pograms. The day is traditionally observed by fasting and reading the Book of Lamentations. Lamentations is a collection of five poems about the destruction of the Temple. Its theology is straightforward: God inflicted this terrible punishment because Israel was sinful. According to the Babylonian Talmud, the sin was sinat inam, baseless hatred, that is, the cruelty of our speech and actions toward others. However, the rabbis taught that transgression is also the ill feelings we carry in our hearts, which damage those who hold them and destroy those they are aimed against. Today, Tisha b’Av serves as a call to name systemic racism as the source of baseless hatred in our time and to take action to eradicate its roots and results. Mourning what is lost should inspire us to build a better future.
This Tisha b’Av, Bend the Arc Jewish Action: Greater Ann Arbor invites AARC to mourn the overwhelming violence against Black people in this country and commit to working to transform the systems and institutions that uphold and perpetuate this violence.
Join Bend the Arc for a protest that is also a religious service, with lay-led rituals and readings connecting our Jewish mourning with calls to #DefundthePolice. No knowledge of the holiday or the Jewish ritual is needed; explanations will be provided. If you have them, we encourage you to wear kippot and/or tallit. Note that a tradition of this holiday is sitting on the ground.
Time: Wednesday, July 29 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Location: East Ann Arbor, outdoors, exact location information available to registrants only.
*** Plan on wearing a mask and keeping 6 feet away from fellow attendees***
As an alternative to this in-person event, or in addition to, contact your county commissioners and city councilmembers. Ask them to defund the police and redirect those funds to social services like public health. Questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-written by Gillian Jackson and Martha Kransdorf.
On Thursday, May 14th at 1pm, Rabbi Arik Ascherman will give an online lecture about the work of the Israeli human rights organization Torah Tzedek and social justice in Israel in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic. AARC will co-host the event, along with the Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann Arbor, Beth Israel Congregation’s Social Action Committee, the Jewish Cultural Society, Pardes Hanna, and Temple Beth Emeth’s Social Action Committee.
AARC’s Martha Kransdorf has been instrumental in the organization of this event. Martha urges AARC members to sign up on the JCC’s website to reserve a spot for the lecture.
Rabbi Ascherman was scheduled to visit us in late March but like so many, had to cancel his trip. We hope to reschedule his in-person appearance at some point in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, we are lucky to be able to hear his perspective on the current complex developments in Israel. Perhaps you have had a chance to hear and learn from Rabbi Ascherman during previous visits; perhaps this will be your first time. Whatever the case, we are certain you will find him to be an inspirational speaker, particularly in his insistence that peace and human rights are achievable.
We look forward to seeing you there!