AARC Adult Hebrew Class soon to Graduate!

For the past three months AARC members Odile Hugonot-Haber, Mike Ehmann and Sally George Wright have been learning the Aleph-Bet in a weekly gathering graciously hosted by Odile (and Alan.) Coffee, tea, and Washtenaw Dairy donuts, as well as other goodies brought by students or by Rav Michal, who guides them, accompany an hour or so of learning Hebrew phonetics as well as some prayer and translation.

hebrew study

The motivation for the class began with Odile, who wished to learn Hebrew in preparation for her conversion after 20+ years of her activity in the Jewish community. Indeed, Odile will celebrate her formal entry into the Jewish people on Shabbat morning April 11. All are welcome for the 10 am service at the JCC and a light lunch. RSVP’s appreciated for space and food planning purposes (to Odile Hugonot Haber <odilehh@gmail.com>)

How an AARC Member Helped Strike a Blow against Discrimination

by Jonathan Cohn

Women who are pregnant now have stronger protection against workplace discrimination, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court–and a member of the AARC who argued before the Court late last year.

On March 25, the Court issued its decision in Young v. United Parcel Service,  a case in which a pregnant woman (Young) claimed her employer (UPS) would not offer her the same kind of on-the-job accommodations it offered other employees with medical conditions. Young prevailed, winning the right to sue UPS under a law called the “Pregnancy Discrimination Act.”

Young’s lawyer was none other than Sam Bagenstos, who has been a member of the AARC since 2011. Sam, the Frank G. Millard Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, is a nationally recognized expert on constitutional, civil rights, and employment law. A graduate of the University of North Carolina and Harvard Law School, he has worked at the Justice Department and been a clerk to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This was his third time appearing as an advocate before the nation’s highest court — and the second time that his client prevailed.

In academic and legal circles, Sam is probably best known for his work on laws about disability and discrimination. And it’s that expertise he brought to bear in the Young case, which called upon the Justices to parse the meaning of a 1978 law and what Congress had in mind at the time of enactment. By a 6-to-3 majority, with two conservatives joining the Court’s liberals, the Justices ruled that Congress wanted to make sure employers treated pregnancy no different than other medical conditions.

Sam Bagenstos

Sam (blue tie) outside the Court after the argument.

“The Court made clear that employers may not refuse to accommodate pregnant workers based on considerations of cost or convenience when they accommodate other workers,” Sam said. “The Court recognized that a ruling for UPS would have thwarted Congress’s intent in passing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This decision is a big step forward towards enforcing the principle that a woman shouldn’t have to choose between her pregnancy and her job.”

AARC members who don’t recognize Sam from his presence at congregation activities may know some of his family members — including his children, Harry and Leila, as well as his wife, AARC Board Chairperson Margo Schlanger.

Margo also happens to be a Michigan law professor and former Ginsburg clerk. No, they didn’t meet while clerking. But if you want the actual backstory, you’ll have to ask them.

By the way, you can listen to Sam delivering his oral argument at the Supreme Court here.

Challah Rising

challah risingAARC member Lori Lichtman is launching a new baking company, Challah Rising Baking Company: “Blessing the World One Challah at a Time,” on March 20 (the Spring Equinox, Solar Eclipse, Super (New) Moon). Lori has been baking challah every Friday since October 25, 2008. She learned from Jen Cohen and continues a tradition that was passed on to her by her father and grandfather. Her grandfather, from Hungary, became a baker when he came to the U.S. Lori uses local ingredients that connect her challah to our very own Michigan farms. Lori’s challah stands alone as she infuses the dough with blessing chants of love (Ahava Raba), Peace (Oseh Shalom), Abundance (Peleg Elohim), and Connecting to G-d’s light (V’eristich li). She does a meditation before kneading each batch of dough, connecting G-d’s light through her crown, heart, hands and into the dough. You can also order special blessings for pre-ordered loaves. Lori has been in prayer circles and uses the challah baking as one of her spiritual practices. She has taught workshops and after her first workshop stood in her garden and the inspiration came to start the business. Lori will be selling her challah (gluten free too!) on Fridays at Argus Farm Stop on Liberty. Please come out to try the deliciousness and blessings! We will also have a Challah Rising loaf at our Fourth Friday Shabbat on March 27, the last Shabbat before Pesach. Challah-leuia!