Thanks to Leora Druckman for this article in the August 2021 Washtenaw Jewish News. Please join for the Joey Weisenberg concert on Sunday, August 8, 2021 at 3pm ET (on Zoom).
Throughout history we as Jews have leaned on our traditions to lead us back to ourselves in times of trouble or uncertainty. The month of Elul is one of those traditions: a time of cheshbon hanefesh or an accounting of the soul.
Elul has come at a perfect time this year; many of us are carrying a heavy emotional load due to the current state of affairs. Elul encourages us to take time to look inward and prepare for what’s to come. In this spirit, we are offering a multi-modal Elul experience:
LEARN: “How Do We Emerge from A Long, Dark Time? Or, What the Book of Jonah Can Teach Us About This Moment,” Sunday August 15, 4-5:30 pm. ON ZOOM.
Many of us know how Jonah came to be swallowed by the whale, but what was it like inside the whale, and how was Jonah changed once he emerged from his period of isolation? Join Rabbi Ora for a close read of the book of Jonah, a snappy and surprisingly funny prophetic text that can help us navigate this latter stage of the pandemic with a little more ease, lightness, and hope. Zoom link will be emailed to members the week before the event. If you would like to attend and do not receive our mailers, email firstname.lastname@example.org
LISTEN: Songs of Return, A High Holiday Community Playlist
Our community playlist features gorgeous niggunim, new melodies, and High Holiday favorites to get us in the teshuvah mood. Listen and enjoy, and add your favorites tunes so we can all hear them. To listen, all you need is a free Spotify account. To add music, you’ll need to open the Spotify app on your phone, tablet, or desktop.
BREATHE: Elul Meditation Offerings
A series of pre-recorded meditations from Rabbi Ora and members are now available to stream, below. These themed meditations vary in length and style, and can be listened to on your schedule as many times as you like.
Blessing This Moment (16 min)
Sitting in Divine Light (10+ min)
Gam Zeh Kadosh/This, Too, Is Holy (9+ min)
WRITE: Daily Reflection Prompts
Sign up to receive daily reflection and journaling prompts for the entire month of Elul (August 8-September 6). Created by Rabbi Jordan Braunig, these prompts may serve as “a little more space than we are used to to dig in and do the work of cheshbon nefesh/soul-accounting.”
Elul Concert with Joey Weisenberg, Sunday August 8, 3-4 pm
AARC’s Elul programming begins with a musical-spiritual Zoom concert with Joey Weisenberg, prolific composer, author, and director of Hadar’s Rising Song Institute. Between participatory niggunim, Joey will dip into his book The Torah of Music, showing how singing is a spiritual practice accessible for all. Join the song circle to draw strength from our collective voice and lift you into the High Holiday season. This event is co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor Orthodox Minyan and Beth Israel.
Selichot Services, Saturday August 28, 8-9 pm. IN PERSON AT THE JCC.
Our selichot services will ease us into the High Holy Days with beautiful melodies led by Rabbi Ora and members. We’ll lean into some soulful niggunim that will form the aural backdrop to our Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur services, then end Shabbat together with Havdallah. Sign up to attend HERE.
Gather: Annual Summertime Potluck Picnic, August 22nd, 11am-1pm.
If you have any questions about any of these Elul offerings, please email Gillian.
The day has come for our first hybrid in person and streaming Shabbat service, and we are all excited for this momentous event! Volunteers and staff have been working hard to make this a safe and enjoyable event for everyone. It has truly been a monumental team effort; many thanks to our board, re-opening task force, tech committee, and event volunteers. See below for details and safety protocols, and don’t hesitate to email Gillian with any questions.
- Services will begin at 6:30 at the JCC, 2935 Birch Hollow Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.
- Services will be on the side of the JCC in between the building and the soccer field. After parking, head to the right of the front doors, you will see the greeters when you round the corner. If you need help with wheelchair/handicap access, please email or call Gillian.
- Bring a blanket and/or lawn chairs to set up on the JCC lawn. We will have some folding chairs if needed. There are some semi-permanent tents for shade over parts of the lawn; let’s save the shady parts for folks who may have less tolerance for sun exposure.
- Services will be streamed onto our Facebook page.
- The amazing Seth Kopald will be running sound over a brand new speaker system so that everyone can hear from various locations on the lawn.
- There will be childcare provided on the JCC playground
- If there is a high chance of rain, we will move to Zoom services. This will be announced by Thursday night.
COVID Safety Guidelines:
- All are welcome at outdoor events, both members and non-members.
- When entering the JCC’s outdoor area, ALL attendees will be asked to use hand sanitizer and then sign in, providing their name, the names of anyone attending with them, email, phone number, and completing a short health and safety checklist.
- If you currently have or have recently experienced a cough, sore throat, aches, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, or loss of sense of smell or taste, or have had close contact within the last 14 days with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, please stay home and access the service via livestream.
- If you or someone in your home or social circle is considered at high risk, either for health or reasons of advanced age, we encourage you to keep them safe by staying home yourself.
- For vaccinated people, masks are optional at outdoor events.
- For unvaccinated people, masks are recommended at outdoor events.
- People should please feel free to wear a mask if they are concerned in any way.
- Color-coded (green/yellow/red) stickers for name tags will be available for helping communicate one’s personal social distancing needs. The “key” to the color coding will be posted prior to and at every event, e.g. green = handshakes and hugs OK, yellow = elbow bumps only, red = social distance please.
- Parents with children are asked to ensure that their children are playing in a low-risk manner.
- Although there will be chairs available, attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets.
- For now, food and drink will not be served. However, if you or your children need to eat or drink for health reasons, please feel welcome to do so, but be sensitive to maintain at least 6 ft of distance from attendees who are wearing red stickers.
- For services, members with AARC siddurim are asked to bring their siddurim with them and return home with them; for those without, siddurim will be available for use. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own tallitot and kippot.
- With the JJC building remaining closed, a Porta Potty will be available.
July is an exciting month for us here at AARC! We will be having our first in person hybrid Shabbat Service on July 23rd at 6:30! We will also be having a joyful Saturday service with Etta Heisler and Hannah Davis on July 10th followed by our second summertime social on July 11th. More details below!
Second Saturday Morning Shabbat Service. July 10th, 10:30am-12. Please join us for this lay-led community Shabbat service. This service will be led by Etta Heisler and Hannah Davis. There will be lots of singing and an abundance of joy! Join us!
July Summertime Social and Seed Bomb Station, Sunday July 11, 11AM-1PM: During this social we will have a seed bomb station loaded with native beneficial plant seeds. You can make some seed bombs and throw them around your neighborhood to populate the area with beneficial plants! Of course, if you are not interested in making seed bombs and would like to come just to visit, there will be friends there ready to shmooze! Sign up here.
Fourth Friday HYBRID In Person and Streaming Shabbat Service. July 23rd, 6:30-8pm. This service will be held outdoors and in-person at the JCC. For those not able to attend in-person, we will also be broadcasting the service via livestream. Families are encouraged to bring their own blankets and chairs, but there will be folding chairs available for those who need them.
We look forward to seeing everyone soon!!
This Sunday, June 20th at 2pm, AARC will be hosting a workshop that will take a deep dive into formative moments in LGBTQ Jewish history. The workshop will be hosted by Hannah Forman, a trainer with Keshet. Keshet is an organization that works for the full equality of all LGBTQ Jews and our families in Jewish life. Keshet strengthens Jewish communities, equips Jewish organizations with the skills and knowledge to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, creates spaces in which all queer Jewish youth feel seen and valued, and advances LGBTQ rights nationwide.
This workshop assumes some basic familiarity with LGBTQ identities and will not provide an introduction to gender identity and sexual orientation. Participants may familiarize themselves with these terms and concepts through Keshet’s LGBTQ Terminology sheet, available in the Keshet online Resource Library.
Keshet has a lot of workshops coming up including some teen pride events. They are a powerful workhouse that tirelessly organizes for the LGBTQ community. Learn more about them and check out their calendar of events here.
LGBTQ Jewish History Workshop with Keshet: Sunday June 20, 2-3:15 PM. This interactive workshop explores key moments in LGBTQ Jewish history in the United States and the implications of this history for our work on LGBTQ equality and belonging in Jewish life today. If you would like to attend, please email email@example.com for the zoom link. We look forward to seeing you there!!
Join us for our first IN PERSON social events since the COVID-19 shutdown!!!
Earlier this month, AARC members were asked to fill out a survey to assess how and when we should re-open for in-person activities. Based on the survey responses, it was clear that many members would like to start gathering together for outdoor, COVID-safe activities over the summer! In an effort to answer that call, we have organized a series of monthly outdoor social gathering for the summer, as well as hybrid Fourth Friday Services in July and August.
We will host a Summertime Social once a month and pair the event with a tikkun olam activity. The Summertime Socials will take place on the east side of the JCC grounds, under Hebrew Day School’s outdoor tents. You can access the space by heading around the right side of the building towards the soccer fields. We will have signs directing you for those who have not spent much time at the JCC, as well as a welcome table staffed by volunteers. If you have accessibility needs, please contact Gillian.
- June Summertime Social and Pride Poster Painting, Sunday June 13, 11AM-1 PM : AARC will provide paint, markers and poster board for you to paint your own pride poster. Please feel free to bring your own supplies if you would like to avoid use of communal supplies. Bring your beautiful posters home and put them in your yard and windows to show your PRIDE!! Of course if you are not interested in making posters and would like to come just to visit, there will be friends there ready to shmooze! Please sign up here to participate and volunteer.
- July Summertime Social and Seed Bomb Station, Sunday July 11, 11AM-1PM: During this social we will have a seed bomb station loaded with native beneficial plant seeds. You can make some seed bombs and throw them around your neighborhood to populate the area with beneficial plants! Of course, if you are not interested in making seed bombs and would like to come just to visit, there will be friends there ready to shmooze! Sign up will be sent out in July.
- August Summertime Social: Annual Picnic and Food Drive, Sunday August 22 11AM-1PM. This social will be a combination of our annual summer potluck picnic and a tikkun olam food drive. Prior to the event we will get a list of foods needed by local food pantries and send them out to participants. Sign up will be sent out in August.
Fourth Friday Hybrid Shabbat Services:
- July Fourth Friday Shabbat Hybrid Service: July 23, 6:30-8PM. This service will be held outdoors and in-person at the JCC. For those not able to attend in-person, we will also be broadcasting the service via livestream. Families are encouraged to bring their own blankets and chairs, but there will be folding chairs available for those who need them.
- August Fourth Friday Shabbat Hybrid Service: August 27, 6:30-8PM. This service will be held outdoors and in-person at the JCC. For those not able to attend in-person, we will also be broadcasting the service via livestream. Hopefully we will have worked out the kinks for this service and will be ready to roll into the High Holidays with our hybrid wheels under us! As with July’s service, families will be asked to bring their own blankets and chairs.
As we move into fall, we will work with the congregation to plan future hybrid/virtual services. We will update everyone as soon as we can!
The AARC Reopening Task Force has outlined some best practices for us while gathering outdoors this summer. You can review them in their entirety here. Here are some of the highlights:
- All in-person attendees must pre-register for each event or service, providing their name, the names of anyone attending with them, and their email and phone number; those who have not pre-registered will be asked to register on arrival.
- If you currently have or have recently experienced a cough, sore throat, aches, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, or loss of sense of smell or taste, or have had close contact within the last 14 days with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, we ask that you stay home.
- If you or someone in your home or social circle is considered at high risk, either for health or reasons of advanced age, we encourage you to keep them safe by staying home yourself.
- Everyone, including children (age 4 and older), must properly (i.e., fully covering nose and mouth) wear at least one mask at all times.
- All attendees should maintain 6 feet of distance between themselves and anyone else who is not a member of their family/pod.
- Parents with children are asked to keep their children with them, and/or to ensure that their children are playing in a low-risk manner with other children. Children will have access to the JCC’s outdoor playground.
- Although there will be chairs available, attendees are also encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets.
- For now, food and drink will not be served due to the requirement to remain masked. However, if you or your children need to eat or drink for health reasons, please feel welcome to do so, but be sensitive to maintain at least 6 ft of distance from other attendees when temporarily taking off your mask.
- For Fourth Friday Shabbat services, members with AARC siddurim are asked to bring their siddurim with them and return home with them; for those without, siddurim will be available for use. Attendees are asked to bring their own tallitot and kippot.
- With the JCC building remaining closed for the summer, a wheelchair-accessible Porta Potty will be available for everyone’s use.
Although our doors are always open, we make a special effort once a year to reach out to the community and share what makes our congregation special. If you would like to participate in any of this month’s events and do not subscribe to our mailer, please email our event coordinator.
Second Saturday Shabbat, Saturday May 8, 10 AM. The Second Saturday Shabbat morning includes ‘Ta’Shma Come and Learn’ at 10 am. Ta’Shma is a monthly learning opportunity that is participatory and based on Jewish texts. For more information about Ta’Shma, check out Clare Kinberg’s blog. Our Shabbat services (beginning at 10:30 am) are inclusive and participatory. We spend an hour and a half singing, praying, learning with Rabbi Ora, and participating in community discussion. Please join us!
What IS Reconstructionist Judaism? Wednesday May 12, 7:30 PM. Join Rabbi Ora for a conversation about the history and values of Reconstructionist Judaism. If you have a friend that has been curious about our congregation, please invite them to this event! Sign up here to participate. To learn more about the Reconstructionist movement, visit the website, or watch the video below:
70 Faces of Justice: A Community Shavuot Celebration. Sunday May 16, 7:30 PM. Join area rabbis and lay leaders for a Zoom Tikkun Leil Shavuot. Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney Eli Savit will kick off the evening with a keynote address, then choose from multiple learning sessions, including text study, embodied movement, and creative cooking. BYOC (Bring Your Own Cheesecake) and prepare for a night of learning and connecting to our Jewish community. Co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, Beth Israel Congregation, Congregation Kehillat Israel, Pardes Hannah, Temple Beth Emeth, and the University of Michigan Hillel.
Fourth Friday Kabbalat Shabbat: Friday, May 28, 6:30 PM. Our 1.5 hour Fourth Friday services are joyful, participatory, and filled with music! Following services, breakout rooms are opened for new and old friends to shmooze. For this Open House Shabbat, we will pair visitors with existing members so everyone can get a chance to get to know one another. We hope that you will join us.
PLEASE NOTE: WE DO NOT POST ZOOM LINKS ON OUR WEBSITE FOR SECURITY. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND ANY OF THIS MONTH’S EVENTS AND ARE NOT ON OUR MAILING LIST, PLEASE EMAIL AARCGILLIAN@GMAIL.COM.
As the days get longer and warmer and we welcome spring, we have many opportunities to gather together. We hope that you will be able to join us for this month’s events!
Songs of Freedom: Sunday April 4, 4-5:30 PM. We’ll close out our holiday of liberation singing classic freedom songs together, led by musicians Laurie White and Paul Resnick. To participate, sign up here.
Second Saturday Shabbat Morning Service. Saturday April 10, 10:30 AM. Ta’Shma Come and Learn 10 AM.
AARC Community Book Club: Sunday April 11, 1-2:30 PM. Rabbi Ora will lead a discussion of Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, a compassionate and compelling book about unfair treatment by the American criminal justice system of those who are impoverished or Black.
EKAR Farms Shmita Series: Creating Justice for Immigrants: April 18, 12-1 PM. Sarah Jackson, Executive Director of Casa De Paz and Rosa Sabido, founder of Rosa Belongs Here speak about food justice in relation to immigration rights. To learn more and sign up for this months events, see the EKAR farms website.
Fourth Friday Shabbat: April 23, 6:30 PM. Come connect with community, rest, recharge, rejuvenate. Everyone welcome. Shabbat musical service with Rabbi Ora. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the zoom link.
Virtual Tour of Jerusalem’s Silwan/City of David with Emek Shaveh: Sunday April 25, 12:30-1:30 PM. When thinking about the political issues of Israel-Palestine, we may not think about the way politicized archaeology plays a role in the shifting of facts and narratives around land, history, and access. Join Emek Shaveh for a virtual tour of Silwan/City of David, an area of Jerusalem where this matter is at the forefront. The program includes a virtual tour from archaeologist Yonathan Mizrahi, as well as time Q+A. Zoom link will be sent out the week prior to the event on our mailer.
We hope to see you at one of this month’s exciting events!
There are two opportunities for a fun addition to the Afikomen Hunt portion of your Seder this weekend! If you are having a virtual Seder and would like to engage your guests with a ‘virtual’ Afikomen hunt, we have a hid an Afikomen on our website!
The Afikomen hidden on the website will look like the image below. Comment at the bottom of the blog if you found it!
If you would like to get outside with your guests this weekend, AARC has partnered with other area congregations to host a geo-cache outdoor Afikomen Hunt.
If you take part in either Afikomen Hunt, tell us how it went in the comments below!
This time around for our ‘virtual’ seders, we have compiled a list of COVID-safe options for catered meals, curbside pickup grocery, and online haggadot. Enjoy the list and if you have any suggestions, please add them in the comments!
Restaurants Catering Passover Meals:
Plum Market: Visit plummarket.com/springcatering to see their Passover Menu.
Zola Bistro: Visit https://www.bistrozola.com/family-passover-celebration-menu/ to see their catered meal and seder plate.
Zingermans Deli: Visit https://www.zingermanscatering.com/passover/#Passover-Menu to see Zingerman’s catered seder plate, seder meal for one, and seder meal for the family.
Cornman Farms: Visit https://shop.zingermanscornmanfarms.com to see their catered meal for two.
Grocery Stores with Passover Supplies:
Plum Market North and West has your regular Passover fare including matzoh, gefilte fish, and Manischewitz cookies in a can!
Kroger on Washtenaw has an online Passover selection you can find here.
Meijer locations in Ann Arbor are currently having a sale on many Kosher for Passover items. You can order these items online and pickup curbside!
Online Haggadah Resources:
If you’re looking for something simple and ready-made, download this Zoom-gaddah, a ready-to-use Powerpoint Haggadah!
Haggadot.com has an online tutorial and many resources for creating your own Haggadah online.
Clare Kinberg compiled an excellent list of creative themed Haggadot in 2018, and Avodah put together an extensive list of Haggadot and seder supplements for adults and kids; the list includes rituals and readings for COVID, immigrant rights, food justice, racial justice, gender justice, and more.
And of course we would be remiss to discuss Haggadot without mentioning our own Carol Levin’s beautiful family Haggadah.
If you have some resources you would like to add to the list, please comment below!