Rabbi Ora hosts Nachamu (Comfort Us): A Havdalah and Healing Service for the End of Av

Saturday, August 15, 8-9:15pm via Zoom

Karov, by Batya Levine

On Saturday, August 15th, at 8:00pm, we will come together as a community to hold one another in our grief, sadness, and hope. Nachamu (Comfort Us): A Havdalah and Healing Service for the End of Av is an opportunity to put down all we’ve been carrying the last few months and give voice to our experiences.

The healing service will be a mix of meditation, singing, and opportunities to share one-on-one. We’ll conclude with a havdalah that will move us from the emptiness and loss that the Hebrew month of Av commemorates into the powerful call to introspection of the month of Elul.

A zoom link will be sent out the week of August 10th. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to attend, email us for the link.

A prayer for healing:

God of consolation,
Surely you count in heaven,
Just as we count here on earth,
In shock and in sorrow,
The souls sent back to You,
One-by-one,
The dead from the COVID pandemic,
As the ones become tens,
The tens become hundreds,
The hundreds become thousands,
The thousands become ten-thousands
And then hundred-thousands,
Each soul, a heartbreak,
Each soul, a life denied.

God of wisdom,
Surely in the halls of divine justice
You are assembling the courts,
Calling witnesses to testify,
To proclaim
The compassion of some
And the callousness of others
As we’ve struggled to cope.
The souls taken too soon,
Whose funerals were lonely,
Who didn’t need to die,
Who died alone,
Will tell their stories
When You judge
Our triumphs
And our failures
In these hours of need.

God of healing,
Put an end to this pandemic,
And all illness and disease.
Bless those who stand in service to humanity.
Bless those who grieve.
Bless the dead,
So that their souls are bound up in the bond of life eternal.
And grant those still afflicted
With disease or trauma
A completed and lasting healing,
One-by-one,
Until suffering ceases,
And we can stop counting the dead,
In heaven

And on earth.

The prayer above, entitled “One-by-One: A Prayer as the COVID Death Toll Mounts,” is by Alden Solovy, liturgist, poet, and teacher. He is the author of Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing. © 2020 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. Reproduced with permission.

Visit Another Congregation Online for this Saturday Morning’s Shabbat Services

As is customary, AARC will not host Saturday morning Shabbat services this weekend while Rabbi Ora on break. However, since we are not limited by physical location during this pandemic, we can visit other congregations to honor Shabbat. Please enjoy this list of possibilities and let us know afterward how it went!

The following congregations (all in our time zone!) will hold services this Saturday morning:

We hope these opportunities pique your interest! AARC Saturday services will return on August 8th. In the mean time, we look forward to seeing you on July 24th at Friday evening Shabbat services with guest host Etta Heisler.


AARC to Join Virtual Shavuot with Reconstructing Judaism’s Recon Connect

Thursday, May 28th, and Friday, May 29th. AARC will join Celebrating Shavuot @ Sinai, a virtual Shavuot celebration for the Reconstructionist movement. 

Rabbi Elyse Wechterman, Reconstructing Judaism, and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association will host a Shavuot evening program, beginning with Kabbalat Hag Song Fest and Candlelighting.

The celebration begins on Thursday, May 28, 7:30 pm Eastern Time, and continues with a Tikkun Leyl (translation: “nighttime study session”) Shavuot of teaching, learning, movement, and musical offerings through Friday morning, May 29, 7:30 am Pacific Time.

Reconstructionist communities and individuals are welcome to join the Zoom webinar or view the Facebook live stream for as much or as little as they wish. You can register here or watch on Facebook here

Want to get a jump on the learning? Take a look at Shavuot offerings from Reconstructing Judaism in previous years at the bottom of this page. You will find articles and, in some cases, audio presentations. Go ahead – revel in edification!

AARC To Co-Host Rabbi Arik Ascherman Lecture on “The Challenges For Torat Tzedek”

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!

Your Virtual Seder Resource!

Passover is quickly approaching; the first night falls on Wednesday, April 8th. And this year, the holiday comes during an extraordinary time.

The central commandment of Passover—retelling the story of the Exodus–asks that we consider ourselves as if we, too, had journeyed from narrowness to openness and from oppression to liberation.

This year, more than any in recent memory, that narrative rings true. We are currently in a narrow place; and, for that very reason, we must take the opportunity to make this year’s holiday one of engagement, connection, and celebration.

In accordance with recent guidelines from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, we urge our community to restrict in-person seders to household members AND open up our seders to connect virtually with loved ones near and far.

***

Below, you’ll find articles, classes, videos, and links to help you prepare for Passover 2020:

I want to host a seder. How do I plan for that?

Wonderful! If you’d like to try online hosting a seder this year, there are resources available to help you plan (see below).

While you’re planning your seder, please consider the holy mitzvah of welcoming others to your virtual table: Sign up here if you’re able to open your seder to members of our community.

I want to be hosted. How do I find a virtual seder to attend?

  1. Be on the lookout for an email later this week that will allow you to sign up to attend AARC members’ online seders.
  2. Sign up in advance to join Jewish Women International’s Virtual Seder on Thursday, April 9 at 8 pm EDT.
  3. Havaya (Reconstructing Judaism’s summer camp) is hosting a one-hour Virtual Family Seder on Thursday, April 9 at 7 pm EDT; sign up here to register.
  4. Join the Haggadot.com team, journalist Esther Kustanowitz, and other special guests for an everyone-welcome, fifth ‘night’ Virtual Seder on Sunday, April 12 at 2 pm EDT (join via Zoom or Facebook livestream).

How do I plan my own virtual seder?

  • Alma.com has a fantastically comprehensive guide for putting together a collaborative, meaningful seder — even when the guests are physically far away.
  • Watch the video ‘The Art of Virtually Gathering: Passover 2020.’
  • Attend a free online class this Thursday April 2 on ‘Practical Pesach Seder Ideas and Suggestions in Response to Corona’ (you’ll need to register in advance).
  • From OneTable, myriad resources for Passover 2020, including a Solo Seder Guide, Passover Recipe Guide, Passover Playlist, and links to a curated selection of haggadot.

Which haggadot should I use?

….And consider these of-the-moment additions:

How do I plan a kid-friendly seder?

  • AARC member Carol Levin has generously made her delightful Haggadah Regatta into a PDF for anyone to use.
  • Check out Reform Judaism’s many family-friendly Passover resources, including crafts, coloring pages, fun quizzes, 8 great haggadot for young people, a chocolate seder (!), and model seders for kids of all ages.

How do I prepare my home for Passover?

How do I spiritually prepare for Passover?

  • Attend a free online class next Monday April 6, ‘Soulful Passover Preparation’ (you’ll need to register in advance).
  • Explore some of the articles in this Passover 2020 reader from Uri Le’Tzedek.

Blessings for healthy, joyful, and connected zman cheruteinu (season of our liberation),

Rabbi Ora

Bring a Friend Shabbat!

AARC hosts ‘Bring a Friend’ Shabbat on March 27th at the JCC of Ann Arbor.

Being together in holy community is an integral part of Judaism. The community, or kehilla, is the crucial element that has sustained us as a people over years of diaspora. It is such an important part of our religious practice, that we are not even allowed to study Torah without a minyan, or ten people of the community.

AARC is blessed with a warm, loving, and intellectually vibrant membership. Nothing beats welcoming Shabbat in a room filled with friendship, prayer, and joyful song!

Your friends and acquaintances might well be waiting for an opportunity to explore a congregation like ours. ‘Bring a Friend’ Shabbat provides an event just for them. They may feel more comfortable knowing there will be others there who are unfamiliar with the congregation attending along with them. Or perhaps you have been talking to a friend about AARC, but haven’t found the opportunity to bring them to services – this is your chance!

Members will benefit from meeting one another’s friends from outside AARC. We may in fact discover that even more connections within the Ann Arbor Jewish world than we imagine!

I look forward to seeing everyone and their new friends and loved ones on March 27th at the JCC of Ann Arbor. If your friends have young ones, please encourage them to attend Tot Shabbat at 5:45pm. Regular Shabbat services will begin at 6:30pm, followed by our usual potluck. (It wouldn’t be a bad idea to double our recipes for this potluck!)

Get Ready for Purim 2020: Make Some Noise!

Written by: Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner

Purim is a story of revolution and social transformation. The megillah recounts how two Jews worked within an oppressive system to allow victims of persecution to rise up, defend themselves, and claim their rights.

One of these Jews was called Esther; the other was Mordechai. Both of them were inspiring (and not-uncomplicated) ancient radicals. 

So who are our modern-day Esthers and Mordechais? 

On Monday, March 9 at 7 pm, we’ll celebrate Purim 2020: Make Some Noise. In addition to megillah-reading, noshing, laughing, and noise-making, we’re planning a Moth-style storytelling moment, and asking YOU to tell us a (1-minute) tale of when YOU took a stand, made some noise, got the attention of people in power, or nudged a community one step closer to justice. 

Give us a forshbeis (a nibble/appetizer) of your story in the comments below! 

***

Looking forward to celebrating Purim 2020: Make Some Noise with AARC? We’re looking forward to celebrating with YOU! Sign up here to read a chapter of the megillah in English, bring hamantaschen, or contribute to our dessert potluck.

How else can you prepare for Purim 2020: Make Some Noise?

  • learn more about Purim-as-revolution
  • prepare a costume on the themes of Speaking Truth to Power, Which Jew Are You, or Big-Topsy-Turvy 
  • craft your most creative noisemaker
  • start thinking of yourself as your own personal Purim hero!

Lots of Chanukah Fun in Store!

A 2018 home-hosted Chanukah celebration.

Believe it or not, the winter holiday season is upon us! The Festival Committee has been hard at work planning loads of Chanukah fun for us.

Our celebration begins with home-hosted Chanukah gatherings from December 22nd to December 29th. Each day, members can gather at a different family home. Hosts might choose to offer dinner, deserts, lunch, tea, or a special activity. In previous years, hosts have shared cookie-making parties, latke dinners, cocktails, and so much more! Members can sign up to host or attend a Home Hosted Shabbat on a day that works for them. Home-hosted Chanukah celebrations are a fun way to get to know AARC families in an intimate, haimish setting.

In addition to our home-hosted Chanukah celebrations, AARC will hold a Chanukah party on December 27th at the JCC. The evening’s events begin with candle lighting at 6 pm. Everyone is encouraged to bring a menorah/hanukiah. A regular Kabbalat Shabbat service follows, but in addition to the usual potluck, you can expect a latke contest, music, and dreidel games. If you would like to participate in the latke contest, please sign up here!

Many thanks to our hard-working Festival Committee for planning these Chanukah events! We hope to see you at one of them. Happy holidays!

High Holidays 2019

Shofar

Please join the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation this year for the High Holidays. All the information you need is on our High Holidays website.

High Holidays Schedule

  • Saturday, September 21st, 7:30-8:30pm. Selichot gathering at Amy Rosenberg’s House (1501 Avondale Avenue).
  • Sunday, September 29th, 7:00-8:30pm. Erev Rosh Hashanah services.
  • Monday, September 30th, 9:30am-1:00pm. Rosh Hashanah First Day services.
    • Children’s service from 10:30-11:30am.
  • Monday, September 30th, 5:00pm. Tashlich. Gather at the JCC to walk to Mallets Creek.
  • Tuesday, October 8th, 6:45pm. Kol Nidrei gathering and candle lighting. Kol Nidrei begins at 7:00pm sharp.
  • Wednesday, October 9th, 10am-2:00pm. Yom Kippur morning and Torah service.

Please remember to sign up to volunteer! We need lots of help to ensure that High Holidays services run smoothly.

If you are planning to make use of our childcare services, please sign up here. We need accurate numbers in order to staff the childcare center correctly!

Finally, Rabbi Ora encourages members to participate in services by reading and sharing reflections. If you would like to participate, please sign up here.

I look forward to seeing everyone in the coming weeks as we welcome the New Year!

Meet Our Guest Cantor for the High Holidays: Gabrielle Pescador

I am a rabbinic student in the Aleph Ordination Program for Jewish Renewal and plan to join its cantorial track next year. The part of Jewish tradition that I connect to most deeply is davening. I am transported by its potential to crack the heart open and invite healing and personal transformation. I feel the interplay of prayer and music in every cell of my body and want to share this experience in a prayer community to lift all of our prayers together. 

Before entering rabbinic studies, I spent several years working on community projects that integrate art, education and social justice, including making documentary films on incarcerated youth and LGBTQ concerns and creating public art events focused on victims of harsh U.S. immigration policies. I am excited to have the opportunity to serve the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, a spiritual community that values diversity, inclusiveness, tolerance, respect, social consciousness, and artistic expression.