This is the time of the year when we might ask each other: do you have any plans for the summer? For many, the summer provides a welcome break from the routine of school and work. For me, summer provides an opportunity to go back to school, and that’s exactly what I’m doing this year.
Rabbi Jennifer Jaech's blog
May June 2017
Last March, on a chilly morning in Atlanta, I stood with a group of other rabbis outside of a nondescript building in a neighborhood of the city undergoing significant gentrification. The sign on the building read "Pencil Factory -- Shops Parking."
My faith in our Temple community’s willingness to respond with compassion to help those in need has been affirmed. Earlier this month, I asked for volunteers to help host and feed a small group of men who will sleep at Temple Israel for one week owing to an effort coordinated by the Briarcliff Ossining Ministerial Association. I’m happy to say that Temple Israel’s leaders and members responded warmly and positively to this request. As I write this, we are preparing to welcome our guests for their week with us.
This year’s theme for the annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis is “Being a Rabbi in Turbulent Times.” Like many of my colleagues in the Reform rabbinate, I am alarmed at the rise of hate crimes directed against vulnerable people and by the news that the recent election has inspired white supremacist groups to feel newly emboldened. On the one hand I want to believe that “it will all be all right” – and that is what I say to people who come to me for comfort. But on the other hand, I know that the only way that “it will be all right” is if we
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending time with our 8th graders in our Center for Jewish Learning (CJL). We played a game that was a cross between “gaga” (a camp sport loosely based on dodgeball, but much gentler) and Jewish trivia. One of the trivia questions I asked the 8th graders was “what is the literal meaning of the Hebrew word ḥanukkah?” They knew the word ḥanukkah from the holiday of the same name, but they did not know that ḥanukkah means “dedication.” The holiday gets its name from the story i
The elderly woman is this photo is Lucy Braun. She is standing with our Budapest guide, Ági Antal. Lucy and Ági are two of the remarkable people we met on our congregational trip to Eastern Europe this past July.
Ági told our group the following story:
In my Yom Kippur sermon last year, I spoke about how mental illness is stigmatized in our culture. People whose family members are struggling with mental illness often do not receive the care and support that those suffering with a physical illness might receive. The “Mental Health Support Group,” capably facilitated by one of our congregation’s members, is designed to provide that care and support. Please see the message from the members of the group below, and know that you are welcome to join us in this New Year.
As the High Holy Days conclude people sometimes offer compliments about the services. They love the music, they note the participation of many lay members in the services, and they say nice things about my sermons. But not once has anyone said to me: "And the prayer book! I just love using that prayer book."
There’s a great scene in Annie Hall when Annie askes Alvie Singer if he loves her, and he replies: “love is too weak a word…I luurve you, I loave you, I luff you…” As I considered how to thank you for the celebration of our decade together, I thought of that scene. Gratitude is too weak a word to express how I feel at this moment.
When I was a child, I loved to look at a glossy black-and-white photograph of my paternal grandfather. In the photograph my grandfather sits at an impressive desk under a huge crystal chandelier. The family lore was that he had a friend who worked for the Vice-President of the United States, and this friend let my grandfather sit at the Vice-President’s desk and have his photograph taken. When I looked at the photograph I thought how it would feel to pretend to be someone important, even just for a moment.