Category Archives: Uncategorized

Shabbat Reminder

Chevre,

A quick reminder for tomorrow night:

Jessica Schaffer will be our guest teacher, speaking of the work that HIAS does in helping immigrants to settle in the United States.

Melinda Remaly will host us: 505 Mors Ave., Wheeling.  Her contact info is: phdmomof2@gmail.com; (847) 638-1928.  Please use this link to indicate your participation in our potluck dinner; when you do, please indicate who/how many are coming: Remaly Potluck Shabbat Dinner.

6:00     Wine & cheese
6:45     Kabbalat Shabbat
7:30     Blessings & Dinner
8:30     HIAS: Jessica Schaffer
9:30     Dessert

I hope to share Shabbat with you tomorrow night.

L’shalom,
Marc

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Announcing: Our New Website!

Chevre,

I’m very happy to let you know that we have launched our new website, which has been many months in the making.

Why did we choose a new website?  For two primary reasons.  First, to reflect our new look, as designed by Larry Heisler.  Second, to provide more features for your use.  For example, our new site has a program calendar as well as a “Members’ Only” section for the benefit of our members.

What does it feature?  As did our old one, it includes the Rabbi’s Blog, a collection of member resources, and a list of FAQ’s.  New to our site is the program calendar (which will augment regular announcements of our programs), program photos, and a place for online donations.  The “Our Members” section includes an augmented list of our members, including contact information, as well as giving us the ability to post and email announcements that are pertinent only to our community (and not public to our other subscribers and the internet at large), such as births and funeral arrangements.  You’ll also be able to renew your membership here.  Login information to this section will be emailed to you separately.

What do you need to do? Just click on this link to look around: New B’Chavana Website.  You should already be subscribed, receiving future posts as you always have.  Please check your personal member contact information by clicking on your name in the membership list to ascertain its accuracy and completeness.  If something is wrong or missing, please let me know via email (and not by comment on this site): ravmarc@aol.com.

We will continue to develop the site.  There are many features that we have yet to explore; we wanted to get this operational as soon as possible.

Quite a bit of work has gone into this project.  I’m grateful to: Mark Rangell for launching the process by connecting us to our web designer; Melinda Harris for serving tirelessly and patiently as project manager; Ron Harris for shepherding us through the financial pieces; Larry Heisler for his beautiful design work; Stew Campbell for helpful suggestions along the way; Beth Rosen for the gift to underwrite the site; and Stella McGovern, our web designer (Brooklyn Design Studio) for her help, resourcefulness and persistence in bringing this to conclusion.

L’shalom,
Marc

Our Project Supporting Immigrants

Chevre,

With the whirl of political events unfolding around us, we often have the feeling that we are powerless to make a difference.  Now, in our own small corner of the world we have an opportunity to practice the mitzvah of  gemilut chassadim (acts of loving kindness).  Jane Grossman and Gail Wright have been working with HIAS to create this project.

HIAS has been protecting and serving refugees & immigrants for over 130 years, dating back to 1881.  Initially, HIAS stood for “Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society,” coming to the aid of Jewish refugees in crisis. Over the years that acronym no longer represents their mission, which is to protect and aid refugees of all faiths and ethnicities.  They kept the name HIAS, which currently is the only Jewish (non-profit) organization whose mission is to help refugees globally.

To this date the organization has served over 4.5 million in need.  It is likely that HIAS has in someway impacted all of our lives.  From serving new arrivals to Ellis Island to reuniting and resettling families from Hungary, Cuba, Afghanistan, Egypt, Vietnam,  Iraq – the list is endless.  As she has shared with us, Rachel Levin and her family were supported by HIAS upon their arrival in the country.

We are excited to be working with HIAS and supporting a family from Iraq that will be arriving in the US sometime in February:

  • Ali Kareem Ali Kahn (father, age 33)
  • Asma Al Hamadani (mother, age 24)
  • Abbas Ali Kareem (son, age 9)
  • Abdulkareem Ali Kareem (son, age 6)
  • Asinat Ali Karem (daughter, age 5)

We have been given a list of items that HIAS puts in the apartment for the family. We decided to use Perfect Potluck (Perfect Potluck for Immigrant Family) as a way to keep track of items that we will provide the family.

On Sunday January 22nd, at the end of the program with Lonnie Nasatir of the ADL, we will collect all the items as well as join together to create something special for each of the people in the family.

If you are not able to attend the program on January 22nd, please get the items you are donating to Jane Grossman or Gail Wright prior to the event. If shopping isn’t your forte and you’d prefer to make a donation to put towards items on the list, that works too. Again, please get any financial donation to Gail or Jane by January 17th.

  • Jane Grossman: jane.gro@me.com; (847) 754-6424; 207 East Saint Andrews Lane, Deerfield, IL 60015
  • Gail Wright: Gailwrig@gmail.com; (847) 612-7387; 159 Timber Hill Rd., Buffalo Grove, IL 60089

Jessica  Schaffer, of HIAS, will provide more information about the family as well as HIAS at our learning program on Friday night January 6th.

Thanks in advance for your support!

L’shalom,
Marc, Jane and Gail

Upcoming Shabbat: The Immigrant Imperative

Chevre,

Happy new year.  I hope that you knew joy in whatever way you celebrated.

This coming Friday night we will continue to learn about challenges facing immigrants and opportunities we have to address those challenges.  Following Gail Wright’s moving presentation during Sukkot, she and Jane Grossman have been working with HIAS to explore actions we might undertake to support a family relocating to Chicago.

Jessica Schaffer of HIAS will be our guest teacher.  She is a HIAS representative who has been with the organization for over a year.  She has more than nine years’ experience serving refugees with their protection and resettlement needs.  HIAS has personal meaning for Jessica; the organization answered the call for help for her paternal grandfather.  For those who don’t already know, HIAS also helped Rachel Levin and her family settle here in Chicago when they first came to this country.

We’ll follow this up with a project that will culminate on Jan. 22, immediately following our morning with Lonnie Nasatir of the Anti-Defamation League.  I’ll post something soon detailing that opportunity to do some tikkun work in support of a refugee family coming from Iraq.

Melinda Remaly will host us: 505 Mors Ave., Wheeling.  Her contact info is: phdmomof2@gmail.com; (847) 638-1928.  Please use this link to indicate your participation in our potluck dinner; when you do, please indicate who/how many are coming: Remaly Potluck Shabbat Dinner.

6:00     Wine & cheese
6:45     Kabbalat Shabbat
7:30     Blessings & Dinner
8:30     HIAS: Jessica Schaffer
9:30     Dessert

Wishing you a good week, I look forward to seeing you then.

L’shalom,
Marc

Derek Black & Loving Your Neighbor

Chevre,

As this year comes to an end, I am struck by how many papers, magazines and commentators are noting what a bad year it’s been. Read Facebook for a few minutes – you’ll see a lot of the same.

The exhilaration of the Cubs’ World Series victory seems long forgotten. Anger, sorrow, pessimism have taken its place.

To help you welcome the new year with a different outlook, I offer you this.

I urge you – as strongly as I can – to read an opinion piece in the NY Times Sunday Review of Nov. 26, by R. Derek Black, titled: Why I Left White Nationalism.

Then, read an article in the Washington Post that fills in the whole story: The White Flight of Derek Black.

In short, you’ll find that a young man who once was considered a leading light of the white nationalist movement – his godfather is David Duke – has rejected his former beliefs in order to embrace a pluralism that earlier he would have found anathema.

And you’ll discover that the event that began the change was an invitation to a Shabbat dinner by an Orthodox Jewish (fellow) student who decided that the best path was to include him – rather than ignore or confront him. Matthew Stevenson asked his friends – many of whom were neither Jewish nor white nor American – to treat Derek with respect, “like anyone else”. Through a slow and long process of respectful engagement, Stevenson and his friends were able to bring about a revolution in Black’s thinking.

Black recalls it this way: “Through many talks with devoted and diverse people there – people who chose to invite me into their dorms and conversations rather than ostracize me – I began to realize the damage I had done. Ever since, I have been trying to make up for it.”

I mention this not simply because it’s a story with a happy ending, meant to give hope and uplift during this season that is dark in so many ways. I mention it because at the heart of this story is the precept “love your neighbor as yourself”.

What is the great crime of white nationalism and other such movements? In the language of Martin Buber, the transformation of others into “others”, people who are no longer subjects, to be respected in and of themselves, but, rather, who have been turned into objects in someone other’s malevolent fantasy.

What Matthew Stevenson and his friends did was to reverse this. Rather than treat Derek Black in the same fashion, they refused and instead treated him with the koved, the respect, due any other person created in the image of God.

That is a powerful message to bring into a darkened world. That is behavior that will bring light into a darkened world. This is a story worth spreading . . . and emulating.

On this, the seventh night of Chanukah, as we think of the many times throughout our history that we, Jews, have been dehumanized and turned into an “other”, we commit to a different way of being, one that recognizes that there is humanity to be found even in the places and people where we least expect to find it. That is a way to shine light into the darkness.

Shabbat shalom and chag urim l’simcha,
Marc

First-Ever B’Chavana Asseyfah (Community Meeting):  RSVP required by 12/30/2016

All:

Please let us know we can count on you to attend our very first membership meeting on Sunday, January 15th, from 10-12 by sending your RSVP to Renee at rfhochberg@gmail.com by December 30.  Once we have a count, we’ll let you know the details.

In advance of the meeting we’ll share the interesting results of our successful membership survey. During the meeting we’ll divide into groups to address key aspects of B’Chavana (for example: spiritual, learning, social action, social events, hosting, membership) and gather your input.  Everyone will be able to participate in two groups.

Your voice is critical to continuing to make B’Chavana meaningful. When you respond to Renee, if there are key topics you want to make sure we address, let her know.

Have a wonderful, warm Hannukah. We look forward to seeing you on the 15th.

Renee Hochberg and Melinda Harris

First-Ever B’Chavana Asseyfah (Membership Meeting)

All:

Please let us know we can count on you for our first-ever B’Chavana Asseyfah (membership meeting) on Sunday morning, January 15th, from 10-12 by sending a note to Renee Hochberg at rfhochberg@gmail.com. Once we have a count, we’ll let you know the place.

In advance of the meeting we’ll share the results of our successful membership survey and ask you to review the data. During the meeting we’ll divide into groups to address key aspects of B’Chavana (for example: spiritual, learning, social action, social events, hosting, membership) and gather your input for consideration by the Va’ad (leadership team). Everyone will be able to participate in two groups.

Your voice is critical to continuing to make B’Chavana meaningful. When you respond to Renee, if there are key topics you want to make sure we address, let her know.

Have a wonderful, warm Hanukkah. We look forward to seeing you on the 15th.

Renee Hochberg & Melinda Harris