January 7, 2010
An Active December
Shabbat Shalom! Tomorrow we will read the beginning of the book of Shemot (Exodus). The first parasha, which is named after the book’s title, is one that deals with the beginning of Moses’ leadership, but also highlights many women of strength, courage, and great values, who were involved in saving and raising Moses. Among these extraordinary women were, Moses’s mother Yocheved, his stepmother Batya-the daughter of the Pharoah, as well as the midwives, Shifra and Puah, and Moses’s sister, Miriam.
Here at Or Hadash we have many exceptional women who take a very active leadership roles in the congregation, and we are all very proud of them for their great work. We also have had many outstanding women visit us in December and January, who among some of our most distinguished guests.
Also, at Or Hadash, a new year has been welcomed with the continuation of our numerous Jewish Education, social action, social action, and Tikkun Olam programs, as well as our many on going Bnei Mitzvah lessons and ceremonies. Below you will read about new developments in our various projects and programs.
1. Late December/ Early January Visitors
In late December we enjoyed the company of many visiting groups at Or Hadash, among them:
A group of teens, lead by Rabbi Debbie Bravo, of Temple Emanu-El in Edison, NJ on December 23rd;
A five-day youth mission, lead by Rabbi Eric Gurvis and Director of Lifelong Jewish Education, Julie Vanek, of Temple Shalom of Newton, MA, December 24th-29th;
A group of visitors from Temple Beth David in Westwood, MA lead by Rabbi Jeffrey Wildstein, A group of visitors from Temple Sinai in Brookline, MA lead by Rabbi Andi Vogel, and a group of visitors from Congregation Bnai Torah in Sudbury, MA lead by Family Educator Debby Kardon Schwartz, all on December 25th;
A group of visitors from Congregation Bnai Torah of Sudbury, MA lead by Rabbi Boaz Heilman, and Debby Kardon Schwartz on December 29th;
A group of visitors from Temple B'nai Shalom in East Brunswick, NJ, lead by Rabbi Eric Milgrim on December 31st; and
A group of education students from HUC in New York, lead by Professor Lisa Grant on January 1st.
A visit from Professor of Law, Michael Krauss, of George Mason University of Law in Arlington, VA, today, January 8th;
And a visit from Lauren Joseph Cohen, also on January 8th. Lauren is the daughter of good friends David and Abby Joseph Cohen. Abby, is one of the top financial analysts for Goldman-Sacks, and most importantly, the head of the Board of Trustees of the JTS. Lauren is also an outstanding woman; we are glad that she and all of our other guests are are able to spend time with us in these winter months.
All of these groups helped bring a warmth and feeling of camaraderie to Or Hadash during the cold winter season, and for this we are thankful. Of the many special moments, was the sound of 5 synagogues total, 4 from the Boston area, all praying and singing together under one roof at Or Hadash for Kabbalat Shabbat on December 25th.
Of course our time hosting the youth mission participants of Temple Shalom was a particularly wonderful and memorable experience as well, that helped to solidify the great connection Reform Jews in Haifa have with our Reform Jewish friends in Boston. This is a connection that is not just felt by me, but is now felt by our children and congregants as well on a personal level. We thank all the groups who came to spend time with us in the end of 2009, and invite you all to join us in Haifa with your congregations and families in the new 2010 year!
2. Condolences to Neil and Diane Exter
Myself, the executive board, staff, and members of Or Hadash, send Neil and Diane Exter our deepest condolences on the recent passing of Neil’s mother. Neil and Diane are our our main benefactors for our 22 Jewish education, social action, social justice, and Tikkun Olam projects, and have done so much for the congregation over the past 10 years. While I did not know Neil’s mother, she must have been an extraordinary person to raise such a kind man as Neil. We will say Kaddish this Shabbat in her name and memory.
3. Or Hadash on National Television
I wrote you all many months ago that as a result of the great initiative of the Or Hadash Sisterhood, we are able to work with ELI (The Israel Association for Child Protection [against abuse]) as one of our 22 social action projects. As part of our project, the Or Hadash Sisterhood has volunteered their efforts to run a very successful hotline to report abuse and deal with abusive behavior in the home. I know that as a result of this, many children have been saved, thus proving what an important thing is being done.
This week, Israeli Channel 2 came to film a special public service announcement for preschool aged children, to teach them how to prevent abuse from happening in the home, and to help parents to become aware of the symptoms and signs of an abused child. We are all waiting to see the ad as it will air this Saturday night at 8 PM, on Israeli national television. For this wonderful mitzvah, I would like to give a big thank you to our Executive Director, Ami Perelman, Sisterhood President, Anat Perelman, as well as all the women of the Sisterhood, and Preschool Director Hani Pachmanit. We are all very proud of them and their accomplishments.
4. The production of Or Hadash’s 4th Children’s Music CD
This winter marks the start of the production of Or Hadash’s 4th music CD, which is being made in conjunction with the Boston-Haifa Project, with the support of the Reform Jewish community of Boston, and is being produced by musical producer, Doron Tovim. We have already been able to record a few songs, with the help of Rabbi Eric Gurvis and Julie Vanek of Temple Shalom, Newton, MA, and their youth who visited for a week in late December. Thanks to everyone who has been involved in the making of this new disk and to Doron for his always wonderful and inspiring leadership.
5. Group of New Russian Immigrants Find their Footing at Or Hadash
As many of you know, one of our 22 social action projects involves helping to acclimate new Russian immigrants to Israel by teaching them Hebrew, Jewish history, and Israeli customs. Yesterday I was very surprised and happy to be brought a lovely bouquet of flowers and a very thoughtful thank you note from this year’s group of new immigrants, who range in age from 60-80 years old. We would like to thank Natasha Manoosevich for her hard work in coordinating this program, and to the group themselves, for their hard work and positive attitude towards a new life in Israel.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend and a Shabbat Shalom in this new year!