With Pesach coming up, I have been thinking a lot about slavery and redemption. The Israelites spent 400 years as slaves in Egypt after moving there to escape famine in their homeland. They were refugees who were initially taken into a new land and given an opportunity to build a life where they might survive and even thrive. Eventually, when resources became scarce and a new Pharaoh came to power, the Israelites were seen as the “other,” a threat to be vilified and enslaved.
Every year, at this time, I try anew to ascertain the lessons we are to learn from the Pesach story. This year, the one thought that has been dogging me incessantly is not the slavery part of the story, but the redemption. The older I get and the more life I have lived, the more I am convinced that everyone has periods of slavery in their lives. Hardship takes different forms, but no-one is immune. Whether we can recognize and understand that which enslaves us – I will leave that up to the therapists. But what is it that makes us worthy of redemption? How do we bring about our own redemption?
I have been spending time lately with a chabadnik neighbor, a baalat teshuva who has experienced a great upheaval recently in her life. She sees her crisis as something to learn from and hopes that the lessons she takes from her experience allow her to merit personal redemption. She believes that everything comes from Hashem and once she understands and learns G-d’s lesson, redemption and blessings will follow.
By contrast, Rashi posited that the Israelite slaves did not merit redemption based on something they did or something that they learned, but rather that they merited redemption based on what they would do in the future – to accept the Torah and mitzvot. In other words, they were redeemed because of what was expected of them.
My hope for all of us is that we earn redemption from our own personal slaveries by both learning from our experiences as well as setting and meeting the expectations in our lives that will allow us to thrive.
Wishing you a joyful and meaningful Pesach.
Mazel Tov and Yasher Koach to the newest members of our steering committee:
Membership – Jerry Krautman and Jackie Weiss
Social and Hospitality – Diane Herman (co-chair with Miriam Prum Hess)
Special Thanks to Dianne Shershow for coordinating Operation PB&J which prepared and distributed hundreds of lunches and survival kits for the homeless on Purim. Special thanks to Jerry Krautman and Casey Stern for organizing this year’s Purim seudah – a great time was had by all! And a big Yasher Koach to Stan Goldstein and Jerry Krautman and all of the Megillah readers for their amazing work in giving the minyan a freilich and mitzvadike Purim.
— Sandra Lepson
Rembaums Return from Berlin to TBA
Fall/Winter 2016-2017 was quite a year to be living in Germany, looking at the U.S. from afar. This was our second year of spending the Fall semester in Berlin, where Joel has the privilege of teaching rabbinical students in the Masorti Movement’s Zacharias Frankel College, which is affiliated with the School of Jewish Theology at the University of Potsdam and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University. Like last year, it is a most meaningful experience to be a part of rebuilding Jewish life in Germany by creating a new cadre of future rabbinic leaders.
While we deeply miss our family and Temple Beth Am friends, we now have a second Jewish “home” in Berlin at the Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue, known as the Neue Synagogue. We arrived just before Yom Kippur and were greeted, after an absence of six months, like returning family. Rabbi Gesa Ederberg, her husband Rabbi Nils and their children have become extended family, as have many of the regulars with whom we daven.
Joel loves his teaching, and I enjoy “mothering” the students. In addition to their formal classes, we host them for “Essen und Studieren” in our apartment most Wednesday evenings throughout the semester, which gives us an opportunity to not only get to know them personally, but also to impart some practical wisdom from years in the pulpit. A fairly new program, the Frankel College currently has four full time rabbinic students, one of whom, Nizan Stein-Kokin, has spent this year in Los Angeles at the Ziegler Rabbinical School. Nizan is married to Daniel Kokin and is the daughter-in-law of Library Minyan members Allan and Larraine. We are very proud of her and will be present with her and her family as she is ordained on June 18, 2017 in Berlin as the first Masorti rabbi to be ordained in Germany.
Germany, as you know from reading the news, is going through some of the same political turmoil experienced in America, and it was difficult to be an American there this year. In a country where the shame of the Holocaust continues to impact daily life and attitudes, most of those with whom we had any contact could not understand how Americans could be, seemingly, going down the “populist” path that was unearthing such racial hatred. But Germans will face their own elections in September. Let us hope that the lessons of the past will prevail and sustain their commitment to the post-WWII democratic order. For the future of the growing Jewish community in Germany and Jewish life in Europe, this is of paramount importance.
— Fredi Rembaum
Join Team TBA at April 30 JWW Walk/Run to End Genocide
It's not too late to sign up for the Jewish World Watch Run and Walk to End Genocide on Sunday, April 30, 2017. 8:00 AM is the Run start time & 9:15 AM is the Walk start time at Pan Pacific Park.
We will walk to educate, mobilize, and advocate for policy change. Build a strong TBA team by joining our team as a runner, walker, or virtual member. Non TBA members are welcome to participate. The funds raised help ongoing projects in Congo and the Darfuri Refugee Camps such as the preschool program, vocational training, school funds, medical treatment, and tutoring support.
— Dianne Shershow
A Hold-the-Date: Annual Shavout Picnic Lunch on June 1
Our traditions help anchor us and keep us connected. So in the spirit of keeping a beloved tradition going, the Library Minyan Diaspora Potluck (DPL) team will once again be coordinating a potluck dairy picnic following services on the second day of Shavout, Thursday, June 1 at La Cienega Park.
Plan to bring a dairy lunch and a blanket, plus a dessert to share. Supervised childcare will also be provided. Please let Michelle at email@example.com
or Deborah at firstname.lastname@example.org
know if you have of a teen who wants to help out with childcare (and receive a small honorarium and community service hours). Also, we are looking for a volunteer to share a D’var Torah and also one or two people who can lead us in singing.
— Michelle Wolf & Deborah Blum
April 1 Panel with Rabbi Dorff
With Freedom Comes Great Responsibility.
On 4/1, the Rembaum Institute and Library Minyan will present a post-Kiddush panel on Tikkun Olam in Other Faith Traditions
moderated by Rabbi Elliot Dorff, author of The Way into Tikkun Olam.
The concept of Tikkun Olam also figures in other faith traditions and has fueled the actions of many prophets. For example, Muhammad was a social activist of his time. He said: "The best people are those who are most useful to others" and today Muslims still aspire to that maxim through participating in social and community project. The Sikh Holy Scriptures, Sri Guru Grant Sahib Ji (SGGS), developed the concept of "Sarbat Da Bhalla" which simply translates to mean the importance of all human life, care for the environment, and living in harmony with the rest of God's creation.
Come join us on 4/1 to hear rising interfaith leaders Tahil Sharma (Hindu/Sikh), Marium Mohiuddin (Muslim), and Jason Chu (non-denominational Christian) share how this idea of Tikkun Olam translates in their own faith traditions and how they’re putting these central beliefs into action in today’s world.
— Lia Mandelbaum,
Dir. of Programming and Engagement
Schedule of Pesach Services
Pesach Day 1 (Tuesday, April 11): Combined service in the Sanctuary.
Pesach Day 2 (Wednesday, April 12): Combined service in the Chapel organized by Library Minyan. There will also be an experimental breakout service in Pilch Hall by the TBA clergy.
Pesach Day 7 (Monday, April 17): Combined service in the Chapel organized by Library Minyan.
Pesach Day 8 (Tuesday, April 18): Library Minyan will conduct a separate service in the Chapel.
Please mark June 3 and June 10 as graduation Shabbatot. One will be for Middle School grads and the other for High School grads. Please contact Sandra Lepson if your child will be graduating and you would like to help organize this celebration shabbat.
Pressman Middle School Performs Annie Jr.
This year’s Pressman Academy Middle School play, Annie Jr., was performed to great success on March 19th and 20th by a talented cast of students, who acted, danced and sang in two shows on Sunday, and one on Monday. The 6th-8th graders regaled an audience of parents, teachers, siblings, and community members with heartfelt scenes and pitch-perfect solos. The cast, too numerous to list here, deserves A1 praise for putting-on this fantastic show. With Carin Arbib staring as Annie, and Georgie Reder playing a hysterically mean Miss Hannigan, this heartfelt orphan-drama was a joy to watch for all – including the many kids in the audience.
Wanda Peretz worked with students in the Stage Craft elective to the craft spectacular sets, and other artists from the Beth Am community including yours truly and Chaim Singer-Franks – whose daughter Adinah played Daddy Warbucks – stepped in to help as well. Beloved director, Cory Volovar Wexler, received warm hugs from the cast after the last show, as did assistant director, Rebecca Feld, who will be sorely missed next year when her family moves to Seattle.
The Beth Am sisterhood supports this production every year, so if you wish to make a contribution, please do so via the Beth Am Sisterhood. If you missed the show this year, there is always next year!
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