Aliza, Our Holocaust Survivor, Addressing the Mission. Photograph by (ret.) Lt. Col. Peter Lerner in April 2011.
Aliza Goldman-Landau buried her cousin’s son the same day she served Shabbat dinner to six members of our tour. She had agreed to be a host for the evening meal after services at Kehillat Mevasseret, a reform synagogue in a Jerusalem suburb. That Aliza continued with her commitment was incredible to us, but was a minor feat for this quiet, tiny woman—small in stature but large in spirit. Even more astonishing that evening was hearing her life story.
Aliza emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine from Poland, arriving in 1947 by way of Cyprus when she was 9, an age when our children are considering treats, swimming pools, soccer in the park, and the secret comfort of a parent’s lap. Aliza’s life was much different. By the age when she was old enough to enjoy outdoor sports, her family had left Lodz to hide in the woods during the Nazi occupation. They hid in the forest for months and ate what they could find around them while the Nazis destroyed Jewish culture and lives throughout Europe.
One aspect of my relationship with Israel has always included my interest in languages. My year-long stay in Jerusalem in 1974-75 was primarily to learn Hebrew. On the recent CBE congregational trip to Israel, language took many forms.
The light in Israel is brilliant. It floated over the Mediterranean, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River (which is neither deep nor wide). It reflected off the Dome of the Rock, emanated from the candles held in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and reflected off the Kotel; men and women praying in their separate sections. The light danced off faces: white, beige, brown, black, sparkling in the blue and brown eyes.
The light in Israel is mystical. Wandering through the cobbled streets of Tzfat, one of the four Holy Cities, I took in the blue doors, gobbled down a delicious Yemenite sandwich, and visited art galleries with work inspired by the messages of Kabbalah, and old synagogues each with its own story.
Marrion W. is a member of our incredible maintenance staff. He can often be seen helping set up at events, fixing anything that needs to be fixed, and working to ensure that CBE is safe and clean for everyone. Be sure to say hi the next time you see him!
I remember the first Dyke March, organized by the Lesbian Avengers in 1993 during the LGBT March on Washington. I was there, and I remember feeling that I was finally free — that we dykes could claim all of who we were — our full and complex identities, our bodies, our love, our commitments to equality and justice for all — and be utterly unashamed. It, and the subsequent marches since all over the country, have been profoundly liberating for so many people.
Parshah B’midbar begins with an accounting/a census of military age Israelite men.
“So Moses and Aaron took those men, who were designated by name, and on the first day of the second month they convened the whole community, who were registered by the clans of their ancestral houses—the names of those aged twenty years and over being listed head by head.” Numbers 1:17
As the mother of a twenty-year old, whom we named for Jonah, the reluctant but effective prophet to the people of Ninevah, I think a lot about who counts, who serves, and what courage, service and peace-making look like.
After a comprehensive and thoughtful process led by a committee chaired by Danielle Mindlin with members Leslie Lewin, Marc Sternberg, Mara Getz Shaftel, and Jonathan Spear, and in close consultation with our clergy team and Yachad staff, we are thrilled to welcome Tehilah Eisenstadt to CBE as our new Director of Yachad and Family Engagement, effective July 15.
Rabbi Leora Ezrachi-Vered recently joined us as part of her Golden Fellowship through HUC-JIR, which brings Israeli rabbinical students and recently ordained Israeli Reform Rabbis to intern in North American Reform congregations. Read Rabbi Ezrachi-Vered’s heartfelt reflection to CBE.
In the past week you may have noticed me around. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to visit CBE as a “Golden Fellow” (thanks to the generosity of the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion), getting to know your wonderful community, learning from your spiritual leadership and joining activities.
A CBE member for 30 years, Carol Shuchman organizes our annual Respite Bed Shelter, which she helped to launch eight years ago. The five-week shelter – operated in conjunction with CAMBA – is hosted in the Rotunda; it provides 12 homeless men with a warm, safe place to sleep, and a hot, protein-based meal prepared and served by CBE families and volunteers.
One of my favorite aspects of the seder is that we eat reclining. In this one move, the seder invites us to act out the release of stress from the body. The four questions tell us that on other nights we might eat sitting upright — tense — our minds on the work or hardships of the day, full of worry about what tomorrow will hold. But tonight, the freed slave experiences the psychic safety to recline, and we re-enact that sense of emotional and physical release. When my kids were little, they’d decorate their own special pillows for this purpose, which led them to nestle in to the shoulders or onto the laps of their neighbors. We’d make sure that everyone around the table had a pillow in order to fully lean on one another. This leaning on others reminds us that we’re connected, and the people around us can help hold us up.
First reported on by The Brooklyn Paper, “students at [St. Saviour Catholic Academy] trekked to a local synagogue to gift their Jewish neighbors an orange tree, in memory of a massacre that claimed 11 lives at a Pittsburgh temple last year.
Rabbi Timoner recently wrote an op-ed for the Forward on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming appearance at the AIPAC Policy conference, expressing major concern for Netanyahu’s recent embrace of the controversial, extremist Jewish Power Party.
As we prepare for Shabbat, our hearts are broken from the murderous hate that killed 49 Muslims during prayer at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Before killing and wounding innocent worshippers, the murderer released a manifesto citing American white nationalism as his inspiration. With Pittsburgh still so clear in our memories, we know how threatened and vulnerable all Jews felt after our own people were targeted in one of our holy places. We also know what it felt like when the larger community stood with us to make clear that we were not, and would not be, alone. We remember in particular how the Muslim community encircled us with their love and support.
Rabbi Rachel Timoner recently appeared on an episode of the Beliefs Podcast, a weekly news podcast covering religion, faith, and ethics. Rabbi Timoner and Dr. William Baker had a meaningful conversation about progressive activism, Zionism, the great potential of the progressive Jewish movement in America, and the crosswinds and squalls for American Jews during the Trump Administration.
CBE is excited to announce its first annual Unleavened Plays Festival.
The Festival is seeking six 10-minute plays, each reflecting the underlying theme of “PLAGUE(S).” The plays will be performed as an evening of staged readings at CBE on Sunday, April 14, 2019 — the weekend before Passover begins, as people around the world begin to think about the Jewish people’s efforts to escape Egypt and head out into the desert toward freedom.