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Ma Nishma JRF News for March 2009

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Dear Ma Nishma Subscriber,

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Lisa Kelvin Tuttle
Editor, Ma Nishma / JRF Senior Communications Consultant


March 2009 / Adar - Nisan 5769

Ma Nishma
News from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

In This Issue






JRF Remembers Cantor Susan Wehle

[img_assist|nid=2204|title=Cantor Susan Wehle, zl. |desc=|link=none|align=left|width=165|height=240]With the deepest sadness, we want to let you know of the tragic death of Cantor Susan Wehle, who was among those who died in the plane crash of Continental Flight 3407 on Thursday evening, February 12. Susan was a dearly beloved cantor in the Buffalo area, where she previously served JRF congregation Temple Sinai in Amherst, NY for nine years, working alongside Rabbi Jamie Arnold. She was currently serving as cantor at Temple Beth Am, where she had worked for the last seven years.

Susan is remembered with tremendous love, devotion, affection and beauty by those across the country who knew her and have been sharing their sadness and remembrances following her untimely death. As Temple Sinai President, Adrienne Crandall, said “Susan was a part of so many organizations and groups. Everyone knew her. She was very well respected, loved and very devoted to her music.”

Our collective hearts beat as one in sympathy with Susan’s two sons, her family, friends and colleagues, the communities of Temple Sinai and Temple Beth Am and with all those in the Buffalo area who lost loved ones in this tragic accident. Condolences may be sent to Temple Sinai, 50 Alberta Drive, Amherst, NY 14226 and Temple Beth Am, 4660 Sheridan Drive, Williamsville, NY 14221.

Those who knew Susan are invited to share your memories of her by writing a comment to this story, and to pay your respects at

Register for the JRF Leadership Workshop on Congregational Growth

The Dynamics of Growth: Membership, Outreach, and Financial Resources
Sunday, March 29, 2009, 1 pm to 6 pm at Beth Israel, Media, PA
Tuition: $45

All JRF affiliates are invited to send representatives to this special one-day leadership workshop with Rabbi Shawn Zevit, JRF Director of Outreach & External Affairs/Tikkun Olam, Marla Friedenberg, Assistant Director of Development, and other experts in the field.

Goals and Benefits

  • Learn how to use a congregational systems approach to understand the dynamics of congregational growth.
  • Discover how a congregation’s stage of development relates to issues of membership and financial resources.
  • Come away with important skills and ideas about how to effectively reach out to attract new members, reach in to strengthen existing members and volunteers, and to creatively grow the congregation's financial resources, qualitatively and quantitatively.

This workshop will benefit congregational presidents, Board members, chairs and members of membership, programming, and development committees, treasurers, planned giving and capital campaign advocates, rabbis, cantors, senior administrators, educational and program directors, up-and-coming leaders, and all concerned with congregational growth and development.

Check for updates at

What’s Up from the Reconstructionist Press

JRF's Reconstructionist Press is in the middle of reprinting Kol Haneshamah: Shabbat Vehagim Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book and our Kol Haneshamah: Nashir Unevareh Songs and Grace After Meals bentchers and we expect both of these popular titles to be available soon.

We are also in the middle of negotiating our reprint of the Kol Haneshamah: Mahzor Leyamim Nora'im Prayerbook for the Days of Awe, so if you know your synagogue needs to reserve copies, call the Press and preorder today. If you’d like to preorder, please call 1-877-JRF-PUBS and speak to Hattie. She’ll be happy to put your name down on the reserved list!

JRF’s Sustainable Synagogue Initiative

With the enthusiasm around JRF’s Omer Learning Initiative, as well as the solid response of JRF congregations in the Climate Change Initiative, JRF is continues to deepen its greening work with member communities next year. Our hope is to motivate and educate our congregations in sustainable practices, with the goal of reaching 100 percent participation in the years ahead.

A full listing of the 7 weeks of teaching packets from the JRF Omer Initiative is available at and the three related Tikkun Olam conference calls held as part of this year's PEARL initiative, available at

Please refer to the following additional links to find specific resources for tikkun olam:

Information on JRF’s Sustainable Synagogue Initiative can be found on the JRF website’s environment pages at

For more information contact Rabbi Shawn Zevit, director of outreach and tikkun olam,

News from Camp JRF for Summer 2009

Camp JRF is Filling Up - Register Now!

[img_assist|nid=1418|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=120|height=76]More than 325 campers are already registered for the summer of a lifetime at Camp JRF! Some units are full and are now taking waiting lists, so sign up today to save ensure a spot for your child. Watch the Camp JRF video and download the 2009 brochure and registration forms on the web at or call us at 877-CAMP-JRF.

Camp JRF Launches Bonim Summer Leadership Program for Entering High School Seniors

Bonim is a new program geared towards preparing entering twelfth graders for leadership roles in camp and beyond. During the first session, participants will learn what it takes to make camp run, to work as a counselor, and to facilitate programming across camp. Those teens who stay for the entire summer will have the opportunity to do significant hands-on tikkun olam work in the community and will begin to make the transition from camper to staff member in real and meaningful ways. With a small group of participants and a highly experienced staff, Bonim is sure to be a defining experience for all. Bonim will engage entering high school seniors in a significant leadership development experience that allows participants opportunities not only to learn but also plenty of chances to put that learning into practice.

The program is in two parts:

  • During the first session, participants will spend their morning participating in a havaya (our experiential educational programming) and will then work in one of the behind-the-scenes areas of camp (kitchen, maintenance, office, etc). The afternoon will be spent apprenticing in a program area (general counseling, aquatics, sports, art, drama, etc.) and then in a debriefing session that will allow for ongoing learning and growth from the apprenticeship. Evenings will be spent as a unit participating in some of the fun of camp during evening programs created specifically for this group.
  • During the second session, mornings will be spent working in a camper unit or program area (putting the skills learned in the first session apprenticeship to good use). During the afternoons, the group will go out into the community to do significant hands-on tikkun olam work. Evenings will continue to be spent as a unit.

Our hope is that teens will join us for the entire summer (June 30 - August 16); participating in both sessions will allow the most opportunities for growth, learning, and an incomparable capstone experience to years as a camper, not to mention incredible preparation for following summers as a staff member. If teens are unable to commit to the entire summer, they may join us for the first session only. (It is not possible to come only for the second session.) In recognition of the work Bonim participants will do on behalf of camp, we have worked to keep tuition for this program as low as possible. For those who participate successfully in both sessions, we will provide a small stipend as an additional “thank you” for a job well done.

We are excited to be offering this new program this summer – we hope that having a relatively small cohort will allow for a close-knit group that can truly see how its work in all areas of camp can really have an impact on the way camp runs.

For more information, visit or call 877-CAMP-JRF.

Camp JRF Seeks Talented Staff

Staff applications are being accepted for counselors, program specialists, and support staff. If you know a talented young person looking for a rewarding summer leadership experience, have him or her download the staff application in the Staff section at or call Julia Tauber, Camp JRF's Assistant Director, at 877-CAMP-JRF, ext. 32.

Camp JRF is Available for Your Special Events

Planning an annual Shabbaton or retreat? Consider holding it at Camp JRF on the Aaron and Marjorie Ziegelman Campus. This beautiful facility in the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains is now available for rental for our JRF congregations, boards, religious schools, JRF regional programs, teens, and the like.

For more information, please contact the Camp JRF office at 877-CAMP JRF (877-226-7573).

Reconstructionist Teen Weekend! The No’ar Hadash North American Teen Kallah April 17-19

On April 17 - 19, 8th - 12th graders from JRF congregations across North America will have the opportunity to attend the exciting No’ar Hadash North American Teen Kallah. The weekend is a great opportunity for teens to meet other Reconstructionist teens, have fun, take part in experiential Jewish learning, sing and dance together, hang out, and be part of our exciting and growing youth movement.

To register or to check out pictures from past kallot log on to If you have any questions please contact No’ar Hadash Program Coordinator Alanna Sklover at or 215-885-5601, ext. 26. We can’t wait to see you!


JRF Chesapeake Annual Celebration – Sunday, March 22, 2009

[img_assist|nid=2158|title=Historic Savage Mill|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=240|height=183]Plan to join us on Sunday, March 22nd for the JRF’s Chesapeake Annual Celebration in support of Reconstructionist Judaism, our congregations and the JRF.
Tzadik Award and Ira & Judith Eisenstein Service Award
Special honoree Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat, Founding Director of Youth and Camping - Yehudit Award for Leadership and Creativity

The Chesapeake region's Afternoon of Honor and Celebration will take place this year at Savage Mill, a 19th century textile mill between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington DC, at 4:00 pm on Sunday, March 22nd, 2009. Special honorees will be Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat, Founding Director of Youth and Camping, Avi West, and campers and staff from the Chesapeake Region.

Our Afternoon of Honor this year is honoring Master Educators, and we are thrilled to be honoring Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat, the founding Director of Camp JRF, with the Yehudit Award for Leadership and Creativity. As part of our event we will also be doing a special tribute for all campers and staff from Chesapeake JRF that have attended Camp JRF since its' inception in 2002. There will be a special fee structure for campers, and more information will follow as soon as it is finalized.

In addition to honoring Rabbi Jeff and campers, we will also be honoring Avi West, our teacher, consultant and friend with the Tzadik Award, and we will be honoring representatives from each congregation with Ira and Judith Eisenstein Service Award. Please plan to attend this great event, and plan to put tributes in the Regional Tribute Journal for the Regional honorees and the National Tribute Journal for Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat to show your support for our honorees and the movement.

JRF New York/New Jersey Region Evening of Celebration and Theatre – Thursday, April 2, 2009

[img_assist|nid=2170|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=120|height=68]Plan to join us on Thursday, April 2nd for the JRF’s New York/New Jersey region Evening of Celebration in support of Reconstructionist Judaism, our congregations and the JRF.
Keruv / Next Generation Awards and Theatre
Special honoree Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat, Founding Director of Youth and Camping
Geoffrey Chinn, SAJ, Chair, 2009 Evening of Celebration

Plans are underway for another amazing evening of theater as the New York/New Jersey region gathers to see the Broadway revival of the classic American musical West Side Story!

This year’s event honors those who are dedicated to outreach, with the Keruv for an Inclusive Community award. There will be a special Keruv/Next Generation tribute to Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat, Founding Director of Camp JRF and No’ar Hadash—the Reconstructionist youth movement. The awards reception and a light supper, beginning at 6:15 pm, precede the show, curtain at 8:00 pm.

The tale of Romeo and Juliet is transported to the turbulent streets of New York City in the 1950s as star-crossed lovers are caught between rival street gangs. Directed by the show’s librettist, Arthur Laurents, the show features Leonard Bernstein's and Stephen Sondheim’s legendary score.

For more information contact Melanie Schneider, Director NY/NJ Region at 212-870-2483 or

JRF Midwest Region Family Journey to Israel in Summer 2009

JRF Midwest Region Family Journey to Israel - June 23 - July 7, 2009
Led by Rabbi Eitan Weiner-Kaplow and and Dawn Weiner-Kaplow of Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Synagogue, Northbrook, Illinois

Come to Israel to discover your Jewish historical and spiritual roots in the land and its people. Starting and ending in Jerusalem, we will track Jewish civilization from Biblical days to the bustling and exciting modern State of Israel. Our tour will explore Israeli society, culture, art, technology, spirituality, politics and more.

Get all the details and download the flyer at

To register or receive more information, contact Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Synagogue at 847- 498-8218 or


Birkat HaHammah - The Blessing of the Sun, April 8, 2009

[img_assist|nid=2207|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=240|height=240]North American Solar and Renewable Energy Campaign in the Jewish Community - Events throughout North American and Israel

The year 5769 (2008-2009) will be the little known Jewish year of “Birkat HaHammah” the “blessing of the sun.” Every 28 years, the ancient rabbis demarked a time in the Jewish calendar that celebrates the ceremonial return of the sun to its original place in the cosmos during creation.

JRF is part of a national coalition that will use this rare event to focus on solar power and energy stewardship.


JRF Support of Immigration Reform: Progress by Pesach 2009 Initiative

Progress by Pesach is the national Jewish campaign to encourage the new administration and congress to choose humanitarian immigration reform over the failed policy of exclusively relying on raids and enforcement tactics as a means of controlling immigration.

Passover is a time when we celebrate our freedom from bondage and remember when we were strangers in a strange land. Connecting our history to the struggles of immigrants today is the inspiration behind Progress by Pesach.

Read "A Faith Leaders’ Statement on Immigration" supported by the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, 2008, at

JRF Supports 2009 JCPA Child Nutrition Seder

For Passover in 2009, the JCPA is offering a phenomenal mobilizing event through which JRF communities, congregations from every Jewish stream and local JCRCs can engage community members in meaningful anti-poverty advocacy: The Child Nutrition Seder.

If you have any questions on the Child Nutrition Reauthorization and mobilizing your community around the legislation, please contact Melissa Boteach at If you have any questions on implementing the Seder in your community and/or how to best partner with your local Jewish Community Relations Council, please contact Becky Eisen at

Get all the details at


JRF is proud to announce that the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) in Evanston, Ill. has been awarded First Place (tie) in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency's Greenie Beanie Awards, a special competition in honor of Tu B’Shevat. And on February 6-7, at JRC's Tu B'Shevat Seder & Scholar-in-Residence Shabbat, the congregation was presented with the Shalom Center's Green Menorah Award. Starting with nothing more than a commitment to define themselves as stewards of the Earth and to take seriously the Jewish value of bal tashchit (do not waste), members of the shul's board passed a unanimous statement declaring their intention to build as green as 'feasible' as they planned for their new communal home. In 2008, this 475-member congregation became the first house of worship to secure a Platinum LEED certification, widely seen as the most difficult and expense "green" standard. To learn how JRC is leading the way in “Sustainable Judaism for the 21st Century visit and

Members of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland, will once again be participating in Sukkot in Spring, a volunteer home repair program sponsored by Yachad, the Jewish Housing and Community Development organization of Greater Washington. Last April, guided by two professional contractors, members of Adat Shalom as well, they built a sidewalk, a new deck, hung doors and did other necessary repairs to the dwelling of a low-income homeowner who couldn’t afford to pay for such essential work. Each April, about twenty congregations and other Jewish groups sponsor or co-sponsor the renovation of a house. Adat Shalom members, especially those who volunteer, also contribute funds to pay for supplies, appliances and the technical work that amateurs aren’t able to perform. Adat Shalom is one of Yachad’s most active! Learn more at

Many exciting things are going on at Bet Am Shalom Synagogue in White Plains, New York. The synagogue's Social Action Committee invites all to our Annual Benefit Concert featuring Doug Mishkin, a singer-songwriter in the tradition of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger on Saturday, March 7 at 8:00pm. All proceeds from the concert will be donated to the "Children's Center for Learning" and the "Midnight Run". Tickets in advance are $25/adults, $10/children (grade 12 and under). At the door tickets will be $30. Refreshments will be served.

The celebration of Rabbi Lester Bronstein and Cantor Schiller's 20th Anniversary at Bet Am Shalom Synagogue continues with a Scholar-in-Residence weekend, March 13 - 15. Rabbi Arthur Green will teach "Inside and Outside: Working on the Inner and Outer Jewish Mensch". The full schedule of lectures and events are on the congregation’s website, Reservations are requested at some of the events, but all are welcome to join!

The Bet Am Shalom Theater Project will be performing an original work entitled "Deja Vu" on Saturday, April 25 and May 2 at 8:45pm, and Sunday, April 26 and May 3 at 1:30pm. "Deja Vu" is a musical play of epic dimensions spanning thousands of years from Abraham to present day as told by a writer visiting Israel. The book, music and lyrics were written by a group of creative and talented members of Bet Am Shalom, R. Vincent Park, Ilene Semiatin, Richard Woodrow, Merrill Rotter and Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller. Admission is $25. For all events, call the synagogue office at (914) 946-8851.

Temple Beth Sholom in Salem, Oregon, is celebrating member Ellen Eisenberg, author of a new book that has been recognized as a Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in the category of American Jewish Studies. Ellen is a Dwight & Margaret Lear Professor of American History at Willamette University. Her book, The First to Cry Down Injustice?: Western Jews and Japanese Removal During WWII (Lexington Press, 2008) explores the range of responses from Jews in the Pacific West to the removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. To see a full list of winners and finalists, visit Kol HaKavod!

Also at Temple Beth Sholom is an historic exhibit of handcrafted dolls that were once part of "Dolls for Democracy," a national outreach program of the B'nai B'rith Women, launched in the 1950s to promote tolerance and understanding of other cultures, religions, and ethnicities. Each doll (meticulously recreated in period dress) represents a historical figure who had a significant effect on the world. Dolls include Martin Luther King Jr., Ann Frank, Helen Keller, Jackie Robinson, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Hidden away for years, the dolls were discovered in a closet at the congregation’s previous home in northeast Salem. Three Temple Beth Sholom members -- Evelyn Rubel, Marilyn Johnston, and Helen Cowan – have fond recollections of taking part in this program, and Evelyn has put together a scrap book to share the dolls’ story with visitors. Come learn about this little slice of Jewish American history!

Congregation Beth Israel of Media, PA, is hosting a series of lectures on tikkun olam by respected local leaders on the front lines of social services, environmentalism, and fighting hunger and poverty. Each lecture will be associated with a regular Shabbat service and the general public is warmly invited to attend. The series, entitled “Messages from the Front,” kicks off on Friday, February 20 with Shabbat Services at 8 pm and a presentation by Karen Reever of the Philadelphia Jewish Family and Children’s Services, speaking on the spectrum of services for mature individuals, and how people can connect to these services as a participant, volunteer or supporter. On Saturday, March 21, following Shabbat services that begin at 9:45AM, the annual Raz Lecture welcomes Rabbi Larry Troster, who will explore the Jewish texts and traditions that support the environmental movement. Rabbi Troster works with Greenfaith, the New Jersey interfaith coalition for the environment. Rabbi Troster’s presentation will start after a luncheon scheduled for 12:45 pm. The series continues on Friday, March 27, during the 8:00 pm Shabbat service, when Rabbi Shawn Zevit, JRF Director of Outreach and Tikkun Olam, addresses his work fighting poverty and hunger. Rabbi Zevit will also survey the roots of Jewish approaches to social justice and explore current tikkun olam efforts by the JRF. Congregation Beth Israel is located at 542 South New Middletown Road. For more information, contact the synagogue office at (610) 566-4645 or

Members of Temple Beth Or of Miami will experience a day of history and interfaith dialogue on a Black Miami History Tour, Sunday, March 22. The tour, led by congregant Marvin Dunn, will include stops in historic Coconut Grove, the heart of Miami's Bahamian community, Overtown, formerly called Colored Town and the black entertainment center of the South in the 20s and 30s. It will also include a riding tour of Liberty City including the site of the catastrophic race riot of 1980. Participants will travel by chartered bus and will leave from Temple Beth Or at 9:00 am and return to the shul at approximately 4:00 pm. The cost for the tour will be $20.00. During a catered lunch with members of St. Johns Baptist Church in Overtown, Rabbi Marc Kram will engage the group in dialogue and will invite several members of that church to join the tour as guests of Beth Or. Come on board for a fun and educational day. For more information, contact the synagogue office at 305-235-1419.

Temple Bnai Israel of Willimantic, Connecticut invites you to its 100th Anniversary Gala Celebration on March 21, 2009. The festivities begin at 7:00 pm with a Havdalah service and 7:30 program with music and dancing with the Wholesale Klezmer Band. Come enjoy hors d'oeuvres, desserts, wine, a historical presentation and general merry making! For more information, contact Tierney Tully at 860-423-3743 or

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