With safety in mind, Beit Sefer plans Jewish learning

AARC’s Beit Sefer will begin its 2020-21 year on August 23, the first Sunday in the Jewish month of Elul, when Jews around the world are preparing for the Days of Awe, the Yamim Noraim.

Beit Sefer will be different this year, of course. Instead of meeting in person at the Jewish Community Center, we will hold short Zoom classes on Sunday mornings with some dedicated time studying Hebrew with Shani Samuels. These lessons will be augmented by learning in “family chevruta,” for which each family is paired with another for backyard and other outdoor learning activities.

During Elul, our Beit Sefer will undertake an all-school read of Out of the Apple Orchard, a Rosh Hashanah story of mistakes and forgiveness set in the Catskills in 1910.

The school will observe the Rosh Hodesh ElulNew Year of the Animals” with a visit to an animal sanctuary – either in our family chevruta or virtually – and with a shofar blast to wake us up to the coming year!

Our Beit Sefer will also help with several items for the congregation’s “Tishrei Boxes,” kits to help with home celebrations of the High Holidays. We plan to visit a U-Pick orchard (again in our family chevruta) and create Rosh Hashana cards. We will also find and paint small smooth stones to include in each box for the observance of the Yizkor memorial service on Yom Kippur.

All this is just the first month! This Beit Sefer year will wow you with new learning, new creativity, and new togetherness. We look forward to making new experiences and new history with you.

Beit Sefer B’Aviv B’Yachad באביב ביחד Sunday Relay

This Sunday, Beit Sefer students participated in a social distancing relay, B’Aviv B’Yachad (Spring Together!), that symbolized our ancestors’ journey through the desert. Education scholar and Beit Sefer teacher Shlomit Cohen created the relay journey with the goals of involving every family, celebrating Spring, and challenging the students (and their families) – all while observing social distancing requirements!

The race began with one family traveling by foot, bicycle, car or wing (?!?) to another family’s home. In front of that home, the traveling family took a photo of themselves and sent it to the group of Beit Sefer students. The arrival of the photo acted as the “baton,” prompting the family whose home was pictured in the photo to set out for the next household. Beit Sefer families are located in a long string between Ypsilanti Township and Chelsea, but the distance from one home to the next was easily manageable. School Director Clare Kinberg separately carried a replica tablet of the Ten Commandments to each household.

Please enjoy photos from each stop below. It was a joy to watch the photos come in over the morning and see the smiling faces in our beloved community.

Does this post inspire you to join Beit Sefer for next year? If so, please check out our religious school’s website!

First stop at the Pritchards’!
Zander and Eleanor thought it was a great day for a bike ride to stop number three.
Stop number three was a surprise!
Cara made scones and then got the sillies.
The Feinbergs were prepared for us!
Lovely to see Ava and Noah, Aaron and Erika on this spring day.
Thanks to Shlomit for planning the whole thing!
After Shlomit, we got to see Marcy’s Spring flowers.
Next stop, Aaron’s house.
Miles got his picture taken and hopped on his bike.
Next stop, Sappho and Bass.
Onward to Jack and Brenna.
Time for a socially distanced group pic.
Next stop Meadows!
We made it to the edge of town – hey, Sam and Joey!
Last stop, Wes and Wade!

Beit Sefer Celebrates Tu BiShvat at the Botanical Gardens

Beit Sefer spent last Sunday morning enjoying the Matthaei Botanical Gardens. AARC member Drake Meadow led the group on an informative tour. Students learned about many of the beautiful and bountiful plants at the Botanical Gardens. Drake described three categories of fruits that feature in Jewish lore: Beriah (fruits with soft cores), Yetzirah (fruits with a pit) , and Asiyah (fruits enclosed in an inedible shell). The students enjoyed categorizing the different fruits they found around the gardens.

After the tour, families gathered to eat a special Tu BiShvat snack of trail mix, fruit, and hot cocoa, accompanied by Jewish folktales told by Clare Kinberg and Drake.

What a lovely way to celebrate the “birthday of the trees,” with both fun and learning! If you know of a family that might like to participate in similar events with our lively Beit Sefer program, please direct them to our website.

Please enjoy the photos below!

“Jews Wandering In The Desert.” Photo credit: Fred Feinberg.
Drake teaches AARC students and families about the edible plants at the Botanical Gardens. Photo Credit: Clare Pritchard.
Marcy adds some interesting tidbits of knowledge to Drake’s tour! Photo Credit: Clare Pritchard.
Drake shares a story about using the low view when making plans for environmental sustainability.
Clare shares Jewish folktales with Beit Sefer students during a special Tu BiShvat snacktime.

Upcoming Dates To Put On Your Calendar: Annual BBQ Picnic, Fourth Friday Shabbat, The First Day of Beit Sefer, and a New Blog Series

Annual BBQ Picnic

Sunday August 18th, Noon-2ish. Olson Park.

From the Annual Picnic 2015
Olson Park https://www.a2gov.org/departments/Parks-Recreation/parks-places/pages/Olson.aspx
1515 Dhu Varren Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
AARC will provide drinks, charcoal and paper products. You bring something to grill, a side dish to share, and your summer stories! The BBQ will be at a new location this year, Olson Park.
Our annual BBQ picnic is a very nice time for all ages to relax together, introduce new people to the congregation, reconnect after summer travels.
Thinking of joining? New member? Want to meet Rabbi Ora? Everyone welcome!

_____________________________________________________________________________

Fourth Friday Kabbalat Shabbat

August 23rd 6:30pm, JCC of Ann Arbor

Come connect with community, rest, recharge, rejuvenate. Everyone welcome. Please volunteer to buy or bake challah, help set up, greet people, and do dishes after the meal.
  • Tot Shabbat, 5:45-6:15. With Rabbi Ora and Clare, singing and a story. RSVP requested but not required, by emailing Clare, ckinberg@gmail.com Opens in new tab Opens in new tab. Pizza for tots and other children at 6:15pm.
  • Kabbalat Shabbat/Welcoming Shabbat musical service with Rabbi Ora begins at 6:30. Elementary age children are encouraged to join the adult service during first half hour.
  • Potluck dinner for all, 8pm. Please bring a delicious, generously portioned, vegetarian dish to share after the service. **Nothing with nuts! The JCC is a nut-free building.**

______________________________________________________________________________

First day of Beit Sefer/ Religious School

Sunday September 15, 9:30am-11:30am

There will be a parent meeting during the first session of Beit Sefer beginning at 10:00 in the Gelman Lounge. Clare Kinberg will be in touch with families prior to the start of Beit Sefer to discuss class assignments.

______________________________________________________________________________

Blog Series on what it means to truly be a ‘Welcoming Congregation’

AARC will be hosting a new blog series that explores how we might truly engage in the process of making everyone feel welcome in our congregation. Some topics we will be exploring will include gender inclusion, accessibility, and appropriate touch.

Lots to look forward to ahead, and all of this is leading up to the High Holidays! I look forward to seeing everyone soon at these fun and engaging events!

Beit Sefer Picnic and Native Tree Planting

Photos and Article Credit: Fred Feinberg

On Sunday, May 5, Beit Sefer students, teachers, and parents congregated (as congregations do!) at Country Farm Park for not only our annual picnic, but to help plant indigenous fruit trees at County Farm Park’s Pollinator Garden. We all first learned about indigenous vs. non-native species, then donned protective gloves and took up hoes, handsaws, and strangely powerful branch clippers. 

Implements in hand, we helped take several non-native honeysuckle trees down to stumps, clear away debris, and prepare the ground for planting trees and shrubs native to our area — paw paw, American plum, persimmon, and chestnut — learning about each from a park representative. While Gdolim and Yeladim cut away and hauled large branches, Ktanim cleared a patch of ground shrubs and aerated the soil, under the watchful eye and aching backs of parents and teachers.

Afterward, Stacy Weinberg Dieve presented our hardworking teachers and helpers — Clare, Shlomit, Aaron; Zander, Avi, Rose — with tokens our our collective appreciation. We all then gathered at the Pavilion to sing a Hebrew prayer and learn a two-part round from Rabbi Ora, after which we feasted on a variety of seasonal, vegetarian dishes prepared by Beit Sefer families: vegetable casserole, brioche, fruits, challah. The weather was literally perfect, and the children spent the time afterward running and frolicking in the playground. All in all, a wonderfully successful day!

Planning to Plant Trees

AARC Plans to Plant Trees to Celebrate Tu B’Shvat

It may be hard to imagine a bright sunny day in spring where AARC’s Beit Sefer students will frolic in a green meadow, picking out spots to plant new trees. But worry not! Under the guidance of Beit Sefer director, Clare Kinberg, students and their parents are making plans to do just that!

Entrance to our planting site, County Farm Park

Plans are in the works to plant fruit trees in County Farm Park’s Permaculture garden. Stay tuned for more info about our very exciting planting day!

Tu B’Shvat, or the New Year of the Trees, reminds us that in these dark days of winter, our trees are resting a slumber necessary to foster new growth. Tu B’Shvat is often celebrated as an ecological conservation day in which Jews around the world plant trees in honor of the holiday. We will remember this moment with gratitude in the spring when we are reveling in our advanced planning to enjoy this special tree planting activity.

An example of a Sugar Maple tree available through the Washtenaw Conservation District

Beit Sefer will be planting some fruit trees. If you are inspired by this and would like to order your own native trees or shrubs visit Washtenaw Conservation Districtto order for your home.

In the Washtenaw Jewish News

AARC made a few appearances in the Washtenaw Jewish News this summer.

Here’s a profile/interview of Rabbi Ora, by Emily Eisbruch:

wjn-Sept-17-Rabbi-Ora

 

Here’s an article about the Beit Sefer:

WJN-JJA-17-Beit Sefer

 

Here’s our profile in the Summer Guide:

Guide-Jewish-Life-17-edited2

 

And here are the ads we ran, to go with the above.

WJN Ads Summer 2017

 

 

Shavua tov!