As I prepared to leave Santa Rosa to travel to Poland and Israel, many friends and family members wished me safe travels and an incredible summer across the world.
And an incredible summer I had indeed; I made new friends from all over North America, visited breathtaking historical sites, and experienced the Holy Land’s culture from North to South.
Yet something about leaving the U.S. stuck with me: I felt like most everyone who wished me goodbye focused on my safety. I’m not complaining that people seemed to care about my well-being, but it was peculiar to me that people worried so much about my security in the world’s only Jewish majority state. I’d been to Israel before, although I had yet to lose all my baby teeth at the time. But I’d always hear how people felt safer in Israel than in the States, despite whatever external force the IDF would be fighting off at the time. So I had to find out for myself. And throughout the majority of the trip, I felt just the same as I would at Camp Ramah in Ojai, California. So despite the geographical difference, I felt as comfortable as I do every summer. It wasn’t until I went to Sderot, the southernmost Israeli city bordering the Gaza Strip, that this sentiment began to change.
The night before my Israel Advocacy track was scheduled to go there, I heard that a rocket was fired into a rural area just outside the city, which was shocking to hear during a recent period of relative peace. Of course I knew details about the political climate, but you can’t really understand the situation until you see it for yourself.
Touring the city, I began to fully realize how Israel isn’t just about eating schwarma or Chasidim walking to Shul, but that people do live in a constant state of threat and distress. Every apartment in Sderot has an attached bomb shelter. We saw videos of kindergartners walking to bomb shelters like they do it every day. It hit me the hardest when we visited a playground and saw giant caterpillar-shaped tunnels that doubled as a shelter; if kids stood beyond a certain point in the structure, they’d be safe. Yet, despite all that may have seemed life-threatening, what I heard about Israel stood up to the test. Shortly thereafter, my group hiked up a small hill and looked out over a road into Gaza. Just a mile or so away from me was a place where I wouldn’t be able to live as a Jew, to live free of hate and terrorist threat. I turned around, and really felt as safe as I ever had.
And I know I’ll cherish the day, whenever it is, when I get to return to Israel. You won’t need to worry about me then.
As summer comes to a close, we all look forward to the High Holidays and the beautiful Sonoma County autumn.
The Social Action Committee is hoping to have another successful year building community within the Beth Ami community and helping those in need in our larger community. We are committed to Tikun Olam to make the world a better place.
This year Bobbie Rosenthal will be co-chair of the committee as she is now a member of the Beth Ami board and we want to make sure that we are represented. Thanks Bobbie. We have many new and continuing projects this upcoming year.
We will have our annual food drive during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for Jewish Family and Children Services. We have provided a huge amount of wonderful food every year as we fill up their pantry. Let’s do it again. Remember heathy, low sodium items are needed. For a full list please check the info on the bins. Thanks so much for your continued support.
We continue to go to the Redwood Empire Food Bank on the first Wednesday of the month. Attendance is down and we are thinking of having a evening packaging so we could get a better turnout. More info to come.
We will make hygiene packages for the homeless again this year. So please start collecting toiletries, hygiene products and socks so that we can prepare the bags in the fall. Also small purses and backpacks will work. Containers will be in foyer.
In November we will have our annual Winter Clothing Drive with Shomrei Torah.
We are very interested in doing something for homeless Veterans. We are planning to go to The Palms where homeless veterans are living. We also plan, with Adult Education, an educational evening on homelessness.
We started Compassionate Conversations, Heart to Heart, in the spring. The conversations are meant to give us an opportunity to speak and to listen to each other in new and more thoughtful ways.The hope is to create stronger relationships and build community. The group has about 20 participants who have come at various times. Because of the intimacy of the group, we decided to continue as is through December. Hopefully, more groups can be formed later. If anyone is interested, please contact Rabbi Miller, Ellen Mundell, Lyla Nathan. We would love to have many people join in. We are a small group and always looking for new members. If any of our ideas speaks to you, please let us know. You can call the Elizabeth in the office at 360-3000 or contact Lyla at 526-7438.
Thanks to everyone at Beth Ami for making our community a giving and welcoming Kehilla.
Dear Religious School Friends and Families, For 3 years, I served as Madriach in the Beth Ami Religious School, and the whole time, I loved it. I enjoyed not only an amazing set of leaders and teachers but also bright students that were always eager to participate as well as an incredible network of fellow members and parents. Despite my position being most like a teacher’s, there was much learning of my own to be had, whether it was discovering how to make great educational art project ideas for the kids, or figuring out that I was not nearly as adept at the Aleph Bet as I thought I was…
Friends, working as a Madriach was absolutely wonderful, and thanks to all of you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this exceptional community. While this may be the end of my work in the Religious School, I look forward to seeing all of you around Beth Ami while I continue to manage the Social Action/Tikkun Olam position in the Sonoma County USY chapter.
If you’ve ever visited Houston, TX, you couldn’t help but notice what a great city it is, in size and grandeur. Even its airport displays its importance as a hub for many thousands of travelers who exchange flights there every day. Observing the footage on television of so many magnificent homes with their first floors now sunk in a lake created by the waters of Hurricane Harvey, is a humbling experience. With all the modern resources at our beck and call, nothing could stop the sheer power of such mighty waters.
As a commentator noted: “So many personal possessions – from a child’s drawing on the refrigerator door to family records – have been washed into oblivion.” I think of all the businesses – their inventories and physical plants – destroyed. Above all, there are the lives that have been lost, the families and communities that will have to struggle to rebuild their lives – the universal nature of the destruction that a flood brings.
In the Tanach – the Hebrew Bible – the book of Job discusses the question of “Why do bad things happen to good people?” It describes a righteous man – Job -who suffers tremendously, first in losing his children and subsequently in being afflicted with painful blisters from head to toe. On hearing of his situation, three of his friends come to console him.
The expression “Job’s comforters” describes the attitude of those who would like to suggest that people in distress somehow deserve it.
In glancing at some of the related news items I noticed one that suggested that the Texas floods were a kind of Divine “punishment” for the way in which people voted in the last national election. (Incidentally, this same type of attitude was and is still being used to profess that HIV is G’d’s punishment against the Gay community.)
What this tragedy calls for – beyond all the tremendous efforts of relief workers and organizations – is a sense of compassion for all the loss encountered by the people who experienced this wave of destruction. For the rest of us, who are able to go about our daily tasks, for the most part unaffected, we can only look into ourselves and our own resources and seek ways to offer whatever help we can for those who are suffering.
Living in California, we are always conscious of our own unique ways in which we can suffer at the hands of nature. For us the question isn’t “if,” it’s “when?” Knowing this, we can only open our hearts to those who are currently facing the universal horror of natural disasters. If you’re so moved, please consider donating to the JFNA, Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, American Red Cross or Nechama. All of these organizations are supporting search and rescue and providing shelter, clothing, medications and food to those who need it.
In creating the universe one of the first acts of the Divine Creator is to make distinctions: light and darkness, day and night, heaven and earth, dry land and seas, plants, birds, fishes and animals after their kinds, Shabbat and the rest of the days of the week. On further reflection, it appears that making distinctions is the very essence of claiming to know something. The more you know about a subject, the more capable you are of seeing differences between what’s good and what’s not so good—where others may be oblivious. An expert wine-taster, for example, is so aware of subtle distinctions in the wine that he or she may be able to distinguish thousands of wines one from the other, not only by variety, but by region and vintage. This vast knowledge puts such individuals in a position to rate the quality of these wines. There may well be disagreement between experts when it comes to the finer points, but I would suspect that there is an overall consistency in their judgements.
Obviously, in various degrees, this kind of expertise applies to every discipline: the ability to draw distinctions and set up a scale of values. This is the very nature of judging.
Drawing distinctions isn’t limited to professions and disciplines; whenever we face any kind of decision we are called to make judgements. As we have seen, the validity of any judgment is proportional to amount of information and the familiarity with that information—call it experience—that one has.
At the same time there’s always the subjective side of judging, too.
A woman is speaking to her friend, “I heard both your children got married last year. How are they doing?”
Her friend,“I’m afraid only one of them really did well. Stephen’s wife is so needy. He’s constantly having to cater to her. She expects to eat out three times a week, she sleeps until 10 o’clock in the morning and then spends the rest of the day shopping. She’s always buying clothes and jewelry.”
“So how’s your daughter?”
“Oh! She married such a wonderful man. He takes her out for dinner three times a week and she gets to stay in bed until late morning. She spends her afternoons at the mall, meeting her friends and keeping her wardrobe in style. Can you imagine a more thoughtful husband?”
Truth is, it’s so easy to overlook our own subjectivity—regardless of the knowledge we (think) we have.
Am I looking at all or both sides of the situation?
How would I like it if that judgement were made about me?
Do I have different relationships with each of the two (or more) sides?
How do I react if someone disagrees with me?
As I’ve said so often,“I’m an expert when it comes to everyone else!”
May your summer be safe and enjoyable!
–Rabbi Mordecai Miller
Rabbi Nachman said,“Even if you can’t sing well, sing. Sing to yourself. Sing in the privacy of your home. But sing.”
Some Benefits Of Singing
Singing exercises our lungs. It tones up our intercostal muscles and our diaphragm.
It can improve our sleep.
We benefit our hearts and circulation by improving our aerobic capacity and we decrease muscle tension.
Our facial muscles get toned.
Our posture improves.
We can become more mentally alert.
Sinuses and respiratory tubes are opened up.
There is a release of pain relieving endorphins.
Our immune system is given a boost enabling us to fight disease.
It can help reduce anger and depression and anxiety.
Increase in self esteem and confidence.
It increases feelings of wellbeing.
It enhances mood.
Useful as a stress reducer.
It is uplifting spiritually.
It can increase positive feelings.
It can be energizing.
It evokes emotions.
It is healing.
My wish is for everyone to sing and bring out joy in your family and with your friends!
Religious School has a plan to bring special guests each month to teach us songs on Friday afternoons.
Judy Kupfer, Director
From Joanna at the Person/ Finley Center: First off, for those who have lost their homes, have been displaced or know those who are impacted by this terrible disaster, I sincerely hope that you are safe and taken care of, my thoughts are with you. I have been reassigned to an emergency position and that is my top priority at this time.
Please see memo below about the Finley Center:
The Finley Community Center is a designated Evacuation Shelter so any programs taking place at this location will not take place while it remains a shelter. Check srcity.org/emergency for shelter updates.
At this point I don’t know when we will resume normal programming and courses. My guess is that we will remain a shelter for at least another 5-7 days. As soon as I know the exact date I will email you. After things settle down, I will follow up with any refunds to participants or rescheduled dates.
We will dance on a wood floor starting August 30! We’ll be dancing in room 25 in the Person Senior wing of the Finley Community Center. The Israeli folk dance class is in their catalog, so everyone will have to register and pay for 6 to seven classes at a time with santarosarec.com .
The catalog is online and registration is open. 7 sessions every other week from August 30 to November 29, and a winter listing from December 13 to February 21. Classes will range from $17 (for Santa Rosa Residents) to $27 dollars for 6 sessions. Though we are in the Senior Center, all ages are welcome.
Hours are every other Wednesday 7 to 9:30 p.m., with beginner lessons 7 to 7:30.
Starting on August 30 as an official class at the Person Senior Center at Finley rec center.
You will have to register for the class through Santa Rosa Recreation and Parks, and in return we will get a nice wood floor.
Registration begins August 3. If you’re not registered, you can come to class and register later.
Web page: https://srcity.org/1194/Browse-the-Activity-Guide
pdf of catalog: https://srcity.org/DocumentCenter/View/16484 we are on page 29
Hope to see you,