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Rabbi Message: January 28, 2020

This is Us.
Working at the heart of Temple Israel, I get to see the many different facets and organs of what we do. The weekly newsletter must seem like a laundry list of Come to this... and Come to that... But when we stand back and see the whole picture, it is very rich indeed, as we express our mission to be the vibrant center of Jewish life in Franklin County.
I want to share with you a bit of the vibrancy I see:

Shabbat Community
6 temple members (including Friends and committees) have hosted ReKindle Shabbat dinners this year with financial support from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Some were hosted at TI and others at private homes. You don't have to get a grant to have Shabbat dinner with friends...but the special feeling of a Shabbat dinner is such a good community builder. We all need community - never more so!

Learning
Members are reading several books in parallel: Finding God: Ten Jewish Responses. This book is an overview of the different ways Jews have spoken of God throughout history. In its examination of 4,000 years of Jewish thought, it presents the broad spectrum of theological opinions that have been explored and affirmed by great Jewish thinkers, ancient and modern. Sure to broaden the mind.
Wounds into Wisdom by Rabbi Tirzah Firestone is a ground-breaking book on healing intergenerational trauma. In her deeply observed and researched work, Rabbi Tirzah compassionately analyzes the "epi-genesis" of trauma and describes ways that people can become aware of and heal from it. There is a copy available in the library and the book is available for purchase from TI at $20 - I got a discount from the author!
I have also forced a number of people to read A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell. It is a deep and funny historical fiction, spanning the period between Freud and the Warsaw Ghetto.

We've offered Hebrew, 2 siddur classes, a series of programs on anti-Semitism, a training on safety practices for building use, a climate change event, a book review and workshop on conscious grieving, a cooking class for families. All of these classes attracted members and new friends to TI.

Arts
Creativity and play are important for social and mental health. TI is proud to be in the second year of production of a readers' theater. We are preparing for our next presentation of 25 Questions for Jewish Mothers and picking our next play. The teen program this year is also built around theater arts. The teens (and some playful adults) are deepening their work with improve and other production skills.
In addition to theater arts, we plan to add baking, craft, music and clay into our offerings for all ages: A Jewish Make It-Take It.

Bereavement
Sadly we have buried quite a few members this year. In each case, we accompanied the families with love and grace.

Ritual/Spiritual
We have a rotation of Shabbat services and have added a Tuesday morning minyan to our tableau of offerings. We have (and will continue) to offer interfaith and public gatherings for shared responses to tragedies and cahllenges.

These are few of the many ways we have been a resource to our members and community.