|Thanks to all those who attended the General Meeting on December 12 and suggested ideas for our standing committees. We will hand those suggestions off to the new chairs to be elected soon, and our new committees can work towards their implementation.
I’d like to use this space to invite your individual reply on a question that has generated some debate, namely the location to hold joint services (with all minyanim together) on the chaggim. For the past two years we have rotated the location for joint services among Dorff-Nelson chapel, the Main Sanctuary, and the Ballroom.
Please send your email to Rosh@LibraryMinyan.org
stating which location you prefer (or that they are all OK) and how strong your preference is, as well as offering a short rationale for your sentiments. I would like to hear from ALL of you, including those who may not care so much, so that I can gauge the significance of this issue. We will compile the results and use them to guide possible adjustments to our practice in the future.
— Carl Sunshine
Getting Back from The Giving Spirit
On the ride home, I revealed to my son Joshua that I often avert my eyes when walking past a homeless man or woman on the street. Sometimes I even cross the street to avoid the encounter entirely. I tell myself that these are sensible safety precautions for navigating around drug users and schizophrenics. But perhaps interacting with homeless people is just scary. You can imagine my anxiety when I signed up for an end-of-Chanukah event that required me to search for homeless people all over Los Angeles.
As part of a Temple Beth Am-B’nai David Judea partnership, Rabbi Tureff led a Pressman Academy Middle School expedition to The Giving Spirit’s annual winter outreach event that delivers filled kits and blankets to homeless people. Pooling volunteers from churches, synagogues and elsewhere, The Giving Spirit spends an entire December weekend packing thousands of duffle bags full of supplies, and then it spends a second weekend coordinating the distribution of those bags. Each bag contain 60-70 items — items that aid in health, hydration, hygiene, nutrition, getting around, and weather protection.
Our expedition started at the Brentwood Presbyterian Church, where The Giving Spirit founder, Tom Bagamane, educated us about the 44,000 homeless people in Los Angeles and the fragility of their situation. He instructed us where to search for them (pretty much everywhere), how to approach them (smile and be friendly) and how to give them the kit and blanket (show and tell). Most importantly, he implored us to engage, be open, and hear their stories.
Having loaded our cars with kits and blankets, we set off to find homeless people. Joshua and I met a man from Ghana, who contrasted his experience in the United States with his country of origin. We were surprised to meet a homeless person who smiled so brightly. We met a young woman who was effusive in her gratitude for our just-in-time delivery, which appeared to be exactly what she needed when she needed it. I had not expected to find women or children. We met men with chronic medical conditions who, surprisingly, seemed reasonably well-organized in knowing how and where to get their medications. I did not anticipate that there would be homeless individuals who were so… responsible in managing their chronic conditions. We met a homeless grandfather who shared his desire to find two pink winter coats as Christmas presents for his granddaughters. I was particularly touched by the last man we met, who offered us one of his cartons of orange juice as a gesture of hospitality. That he should offer us hospitality on Skid Row was mind-bending.
On the ride home, Joshua and I knew that our relationship to the homeless would never be the same. It would no longer be so easy to just look away. When it rained that night, I thought about the ponchos and umbrellas that we had distributed; helpful yes, but painfully insufficient. It definitely makes one appreciate the simple things that get taken for granted, like sleeping in a warm, dry bed.
— Eric Weissman
Jan 9: Abe Berman's third Bar Mitzvah & Kiddush
Jan 23: Refugee Shabbat with joint Dvar Torah, Musaf, extended Kiddush and Q&A
Feb 6: After Kiddush lecture by Rabbi Aryeh Cohen
Feb 27: After Kiddush lecture by Rabbi Adam Kligfeld
March 12: Torah Club, extended Kiddush & lecture by Rabbi Daniel Bouskila
TBA Refugee Shabbat on January 22 & 23
|During the High Holy Days and Succot, Library Minyan members rapidly and generously raised nearly $2500 to support refugee resettlement by Berlin’s Masorti Oranienburger Strasse synagogue. (Soon we’ll get an update on how the “Joining Hands” project has gone from Rabbi Gesa Ederberg; in the meantime, look at or-synagoge.de/html/en_news.htm.)
Since then, the human drama of homeless people fleeing violence has continued, exercising a special pull on Jews because of our own history of being persecuted and seeking new homelands. Rabbi Kligfeld’s 12/24/15 message announced the existence of the TBA Refugee Task Force, a group co-chaired by the Library Minyan’s own Kathy Rosenblatt along with Jill Sperling. It also announced January 22-23, 2016 as the shul’s “Refugee Shabbat.” Details and sign-ups will follow, but it’s not too early for LM folks to put these dates into their calendars. Taken together, the programs on Friday night and Saturday will aim to provide people with a rounded, informed sense of what’s happening and how they can help.
Friday night will feature a Shabbat dinner and program following the Neshama Minyan. Over dessert, it will be my honor to moderate a panel of four other rabbis, each bringing before us a short Jewish text that captures their sense of the current refugee situation. Those attending the dinner will join me in asking questions. Soon you’ll be able to sign up and pay for this dinner — we’re sorry that it can’t be complimentary.
On Shabbat morning, Riva Silverman, Vice President for External Affairs of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), will present a Dvar Torah in the sanctuary, with all minyanim joining together for this and Musaf. Then those who can stay on are invited to a sit-down expanded Kiddush in Hersch and other downstairs rooms (the Ballroom will already be set up for the Un-Gala). Over lunch, Ms. Silverman will answer your tough and easier questions. Continuing Childcare will be available until 2 p.m.
Please address questions and suggestions to Kathy, Jill, Rabbi Kligfeld, or myself. Joining us on January 22 and/or 23 is a good way to start 2016 on the right foot.
— Susan Laemmle
The Adult B'nei Mitzvah Journey
My Adult B'nai Mitzvah, Holkhei Derekh, journey took over a year of learning, during which I gained greater understanding of the Shabbat Service. We studied Hebrew and Torah Trope under the watchful and supportive eyes of Rabbis Lucas, Kligfield, and Chorney. We created a beautiful Program Book where each of us described our path to participating in Holkhei Derekh and offered a short D'var Torah.
The culmination of the class was at a Shabbat Service where we used our new skills with the support of our friends, family, and the entire TBA congregation. Some of us acted as B'aalai Tefilah leading services while others came to the Bimah for an Aliyah and/or to read Torah for the congregation.
In the TBA tradition of a Tzdekah project, we created table center pieces for the Kiddush meal, made up of books and toys for the children serviced by Chai Lifeline.
We traveled this path together as a group, and I am happy that we want to keep up the spirit and camaraderie that were generated. Plans call for our meeting in January. I for one want to retain the memories forever, so I am putting together a scrapbook to remember my journey.
— Arlene Milrad
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