With Purim just past, and Pesaẖ looming on the horizon,
things are as busy as ever at Beth Tzedec.
When I last wrote, I was getting ready for our family’s first trip to Israel, and now that trip feels like a distant memory—an incredibly special memory. This family mission proved to be a fantastic experience for all five families who participated. For my kids, the highlights were picking oranges with Leket Israel (Israel’s National Food Bank) for distribution to Israel’s under privileged children and families in need; digging for archaeological treasures in Beit Guvrin and floating in the Dead Sea. I found myself fascinated by the Museum of the Diaspora in Tel Aviv which tells the story of the Jewish people and how we have kept our traditions for hundreds of years, in communities all over the world, while adapting as needed to local culture, climate and norms. In sharp contrast, our visit to Yad Vashem was extremely moving and informative, focussing in part on Jews who were persecuted and murdered even though they had abandoned Judaism and its practices. Both of these museums have been completely renovated and rebuilt since I last visited over 20 years ago. Returning after all this time reminded me why connecting with Israel is so critical to shaping our Jewish identity (which was the topic of our recent family friendly Shabbat dinner at the shul). We were fortunate to meet up with our current shinshinim, Alon Reichman and Inbar Erez, who were home for a visit over the break, and with last year’s shinshinit, Shira, who is now midway through her army service. Seeing “our” shinshinim in Israel was a special treat for the kids and further solidified the feeling of connection to them. I am so pleased that Beth Tzedec continues its active participation in this program, which brings a dynamic, living, breathing part of Israel into our community each year. In addition to their work at Robbins Hebrew Academy, their programming in the shul on Shabbat and holidays, and time with the kids in the Congregational School and in our many youth programs, Alon and Inbar have embarked on new initiatives for adults, such as Israeli Movie Nights and Hebrew language classes. Don’t miss out on a chance to get to know them. And if you’re interested in sharing your ideas about how Israel can be further woven into the activities taking place in and around Beth Tzedec, please get in touch with me.
Still Willing to Volunteer?
Speaking of getting in touch, if you told us you wanted to get involved at Beth Tzedec, you should have received a one-page Volunteer Engagement Form from the office—please fill it in and send it back so we can help match your interests and expertise to a meaningful Beth Tzedec committee, project or initiative. The form is also available here.
And speaking of the website...getting that up and running has been a more difficult task than anyone ever imagined. As I write this, we are uploading the most current information with a view to going live in days. Look for the website’s birth announcement in an upcoming eblast.
Many people have asked why this has taken so long. It took a great deal of coordination to ensure we will provide our members and the community with all the information they seek, while promoting all that our vibrant shul has to offer and, at the same time, facilitating the transaction of business with the synagogue (reservations, donations, etc.). In addition to collecting, drafting and editing content for the site (which has been a momentous, collaborative task involving Rav Baruch Frydman-Kohl,Rav Adam Cutler and Lorne Hanick, almost every other member of our staff and numerous volunteers), we have revised the processes by which events and programs will be planned, budgeted and marketed going forward. Unfortunately, delays have also been caused by changes in our marketing and communications staff; we are currently seeking to hire a new Communications Coordinator & Writer. So, please be patient, and checkout the new site when you receive the long-awaited announcement of its arrival.
Last year, I’d asked you to send me your family photos taken on the steps in the foyer which face the Hendeles Chapel—I just noticed one such photo on the wall of our dentist’s office! Thanks to those of you who sent those in. We would welcome others. But even more important, as we launch the new site, are photos of ceremonies and simhahs celebrated at the shul, whether they include people or just show the room set-up. Both amateur and professional shots are welcome—please send them to me or to the office.
As we collect photos to show the history of our community’s use of our historic building, we also are continuing to plan for its renovation and restoration, working to complete design sketches that we can present to you for comments and input. Our guiding objective throughout this process is to create a variety of flexible, functional spaces which will allow us to meet the continually changing needs of Beth Tzedec, for our members, and as a Community Destination for Jewish Living. In developing the plans so far, we have incorporated input received from clergy, staff and members, recently and historically, and we are consulting with Robbins Hebrew Academy about its needs, now and in the future. We look forward to hear your feedback when we present the plans in the coming months.
We enjoyed a busy Purim with three fantastic performances of The Ultimate Purim Megillah, featuring the best songs and characters from the last seven productions. As always, Cantor Simon and Aliza did a phenomena l job writing, directing and producing this show, and I thank them for their tireless efforts and enthusiastic creativity. We also hosted a terrific Carnival and Purim Seudah which was attended by many families, not to mention two lively megillah readings. I hope you got to experience Purim at Beth Tzedec this year, one way or another. No sooner have we stopped eating hamentashen (although I must admit I had one last night), we start to plan for Pesaẖ. With our recent Israel trip in mind, and the knowledge that coming together as a family for the seder is one of the most observed traditions of Jews around the world (regardless of the degree of their observance), I am thinking about ways to change and enrich our family’s experience of this holiday while protecting and preserving the traditions which we cherish. That’s a theme that carries through much of what we are doing in re-envisioning the Beth Tzedec of the future.
My best wishes to you and your family for a happy and healthy Pesaẖ —with my hope that you find a way to change it up just a little this year and enjoy your seder all the more.
—Carolyn Kolers, President, Beth Tzedec Congregation