As we get closer to our Karaoke & Kibbitz event, it’s time to vote for your favorite video! If you vote, you’ll be entered into a random drawing for a free entry to Karaoke & Kibbitz!
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Happy Chanukah from the staff at Temple Emanuel of South Hills!
Last week, a group of seven people from Temple Emanuel left Pittsburgh for the URJ Biennial in even colder Chicago.
“The URJ Biennial offers an opportunity to compare notes with similar congregations, learn best practices from around the movement, connect with colleagues and friends, and grow even more excited about the future of progressive Jewish life in America,” Rabbi Aaron Meyer says. “All Biennials feature amazing scholars, great educational sessions, moving worship opportunities, and more. The 2019 Biennial focused on issues of inclusion. Our communities, our religion is stronger when it makes intentional space for all.”
Kathy Ginsberg, a member of Temple Emanuel’s Board of Trustees and Worship Chair, attended for the first time. She heard about Biennial before she even became Jewish. Some of her Jewish friends had gone and reported what a remarkable experience it was. “This year, with my taking on a larger leadership role at Temple, I felt the time was right,” she says.
Ginsberg knew it was the largest gathering of Jews in North America, but she was unprepared for the number of folks roaming around. “It was amazing to sit in the plenary sessions and Shabbat services with 5,000 other Reform Jews!” she recalls. “Talk about the power of community!”
Tracy Barnett was also a first-time attendee. She says she decided to go for a couple of reasons. She’d also heard from prior attendees what a wonderful experience it was. Then, when she reviewed the schedule, she saw how many classes applied to her position on the Temple Board as co-treasurer and hoped to learn new things to help her be a better board member. She mainly took classes regarding governance and temple finances, since those are her areas of interest.
“I learned new approaches for fundraising and governance approaches,” Barnett says. “I wish the breakout sessions had been longer to be able to hear more about what other congregations were doing. But I do feel that we at Temple are ahead of the game in the way we get input from the whole congregation in major decisions (rabbinic transition and mission/vision).”
Ginsberg enjoyed a session by Ariel Burger, an Orthodox rabbi who was Elie Wiesel’s teaching assistant for many years. Other sessions she attended were on worship, social justice issues like climate justice and gun violence prevention, and helping to integrate both Jewish adjacent members and members with disabilities into temple life. “I was very impressed by the number of young people there who were doing important social justice work while still in college,” she says, calling it very inspiring.
This was Temple President David Weisberg’s second Biennial. He says it was great connecting with other presidents, of whom there were 250 in attendance. “We were able to share ideas and common issues,” he says. “Best practices can be brought back and potentially utilized at Temple.”
In fact, two other synagogue presidents reached out to Weisberg after they heard about the success of our interim and settled rabbinic searches. Both congregations have long-tenured rabbis soon to be retiring and asked about our processes. Temple’s Tashlich & Tacos was also recognized as a top innovative program. “Many other congregations loved the idea and would consider a version of it for their own synagogue,” reports Weisberg.
High school junior Anna Schwartz, NFTY-PAR VP of Programming, also attended. She spent her time with other NFTY teens and NFTY programming, but participated in the general Biennial programs as well. She called it an amazing experience.
When asked how this Biennial compares to others, Rabbi Jessica Locketz says every Biennial has its moments – the ones that make their impact and inspire her. This one was no different. “To name a few…hearing about the interfaith efforts in Omaha, NE was a powerful reminder of the importance of building a larger religious community that includes all faiths and all peoples,” she says. “When President Rick Jacobs spoke about ‘widening our tent’ to include Jews of color, Jews on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, Jews with disabilities, etc…it made me feel good about all we have accomplished and ready to take on all the work we still have to do to make a diverse Jewish community a reality.”
Rabbi Locketz was able to network with educational colleagues about innovations in their schools and talk to vendors about new curricular resources that she hopes to share with the Torah Center Advisory Board as they navigate changes to the Torah Center program. “I am excited about what is in store for our students and their families!” she says.
She most enjoyed seeing colleagues and friends, as well as spending time with the lay leaders that attended as part of the Temple delegation. “Attending sessions and sharing meals together gives us the rare opportunity to deepen relationships and engage in conversations about Temple’s future,” she says.
Rabbi Aaron agrees. “The Biennial is designed to expose lay leadership to the best and brightest in the Reform Movement,” he says. “While I enjoyed seeing friends, connecting with congregants from previous cities, and some personal growth opportunities, the highlight by far was traveling with our great delegation from Temple, comparing notes after provocative and inspiring sessions, and thinking about the future of Temple Emanuel.”
Likewise, this was the most important thing that Ginsberg feels she got out of attending Biennial. Executive Director Leslie Hoffman also enjoyed the introspection. “For me, one of the best parts of attending the Biennial is having the opportunity to step away from day-to-day operations and take the time to reflect on why we (Temple) do what we do,” she says. “A recurring theme in the sessions that I attended was the importance of making sure that everything that we do aligns with our mission and vision. As we are in the midst of reshaping our congregational mission and vision right now, I am excited to work with our rabbis and lay leadership to shape our future.”
The next URJ Biennial is December 8-11, 2021 in Washington, DC (National Harbor).
by Sara Wulff
Now that my girls are a bit older, I have been searching out age appropriate and meaningful ways in which we can contribute to our community. Rabbi Locketz and I met at the beginning of the school year to discuss various ways that we may be able to bring mitzvah opportunities to Torah Center students. After our brainstorming session, I contacted SHIM (South Hills Interfaith Movement) to discuss potential off-site activities.
The greater Pittsburgh community offered several opportunities this past weekend to commemorate the anniversary of the tragedy at the Tree of Life congregation. I loved the idea of offering a mitzvah project right here at Temple Emanuel as an extension of this effort.
On Sunday, October 27, several families gathered after Sunday’s Torah Center classes to work together in order to better our community in honor of the victims. Our project was to portion out 150 pounds of bulk rice so that SHIM’s food pantry can disperse them to families in need in the South Hills. Approximately 20 volunteers tackled this endeavor and finished in less than an hour! It was amazing to watch the Torah Center students hard at work and to see their sense of pride in knowing that they accomplished this mitzvah.
Overall, I would say that this mitzvah project was a great success! Look for more social action projects in the future!
At the end of June, Fran Rossoff coordinated a special project cooking matzoh ball soup for the Temple Emanuel Caring Community. A team of Temple members (Bonnie Benhayon, Stephanie Claypool, Sara Frey, Deb Madaras, Amy Pardo) and Fran gathered at 9 am in the Temple kitchen and got to work cutting chicken and vegetables, cooking broth, and making matzoh balls.
Twenty quarts of soup later, the work was finished, and the products were separated into three containers – chicken soup broth, matzoh balls, and chicken/vegetables.
This delicious matzoh ball soup is now sent home with Shabbat Bags to Temple members who are ill or have recently returned from the hospital.
Our next project will be to make more soup or a pasta dish to be frozen and sent home.
If you know of someone who would benefit from a Shabbat Bag, please contact Linda at email@example.com.
Kulanu is back again for the second year!
Kulanu is Temple Emanuel’s “small groups” program in which Temple members join together in small groups around a shared common interest. It’s time to sign up to be part of a Kulanu group. We’ve added new groups based on your feedback and requests. We expect that there will be a group for everyone, and if there isn’t, we’ll work to help you create it.
We expect there are questions about Kulanu; we’ve provided answers to the ones we’ve anticipated. However, if we missed your question, feel free to reach out to us – we’re always happy to talk, email or text!
Kate Louik 412-999-0188
Q: What is Kulanu all about? What is the purpose?
A: Kulanu is about connecting Temple members with shared interests. It’s a way to help Temple members get to know each other, either to meet new people or to develop deeper ties with members they know a little bit. The groups are based on different interests, so members all share something in common from the outset. The focus groups and surveys that were done as part of the Sr. Rabbi Search process revealed that Temple members are looking for opportunities to develop deeper connections with each other. Kulanu is one of the initiatives we developed to respond to this need.
Q: I’m eager to join a Kulanu Group! How do I sign up?
A: Joining a Kulanu group is easy – simply complete an interest form to let us know which group you (you and your partner, or your family) want to join. Simply click here to complete the sign up form! You can also sign up by completing the interest form that is in the bulletin. There will be links to the online form in our weekly Temple Happenings emails. And you can always link to it from the Temple Emanuel website. Just go to the Community section.
Q: What kind of a commitment am I making when I join a Kulanu group?
A: Kulanu groups generally meet every 4-6 weeks, but the exact frequency is up to each group. The success of the group depends on the commitment of the participants, so we do ask that you be prepared to commit to being an active participant. Generally, the groups are designed to stay together for a year. Some groups may continue beyond a year if the participants so choose.
Q: My wife and I have different interests. Are Kulanu Groups designed for couples or individuals? Or are we supposed to all join as a family?
A: Kulanu groups are for all of the above. There will be groups for families, groups that are all couples, and groups that are all adult members (individuals and/or couples or a combination of both). When you sign up, you will specify whether you are doing so as an individual, couple or family. We’ll group you accordingly. And you can join more than one group – so you can join a family Kulanu group and one that just you are interested in.
Q: What are examples of some of the Kulanu groups?
A: We have a wide variety of offerings. The actual groups that form will depend on what people are interested in. Many of the new groups added this year came at the recommendations of our members. A SAMPLING of this variety includes: Dining, Shabbat/holiday observance, cycling, walking, dog walking, social action projects, cooking/baking, running and Jewish study (combined), family playdates, music jam sessions, clay shooting, theater, and so on. Check out the sign up forms to see the full listing (on the digital form, you need to start the sign up process to get the list of group offerings).
Q: I have an interest that isn’t listed on the sign up form. How do I create a Kulanu group for it?
A: Let us know what you want to do – others might have expressed interest. (Fill out the “other” option on your sign up form). Also, feel free to ask other Temple members if they are interested in your group. We like to say that it takes three to Kulanu! If you can find two other people who are interested, you can start your Kulanu group (we’ll help you find them too). And we’ll include your idea on next year’s sign up sheet.
Q: How do I know I’ll be placed in the group that I want to be in?
A: When you sign up, you will rank order your preferred groups 1, 2, and 3. We will make every effort to place you in your first group, then 2nd, then 3rd. If we have questions or are having difficulty accommodating your interests, we’ll be in touch! And if only one group interests you, just sign up for one.
Q: I really like my Kulanu group from last year. Can we stay together?
A: Your group can stay together. Or some of the participants can continue and others can “drop out” while others continue. Your group can also bring in new participants if some or all of you want to continue but you could also benefit from some new participants. (If that is the case, let Beth or Kate know that you want some new people).
Q: I was in a Kulanu Group last year that never took off. How will I know that this year will be better?
A: Many of the Kulanu groups that we formed last year worked very well, but unfortunately some did not. While there is no guarantee that any group will click together perfectly, we learned a lot from how things went last year and have changed the way we are forming the groups this year. We hope that this year will see greater success for all of the groups.
Security issues facing Temple Emanuel were discussed at the Temple Emanuel Congregational Security Update Meeting, held December 17. Panelists included Brad Orsini, Director of Jewish Community Security for the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh, Mt. Lebanon Chief of Police Aaron Lauth, Mt. Lebanon Deputy Chief of Police-Operations Division Paul Petras, and Mt. Lebanon Deputy Chief of Police-Support Services Division Jason Haberman.
After Temple Emanuel President David Weisberg outlined the steps Temple has taken since the tragic event at Tree of Life, Brad Orsini reassured those in attendance that Temple is taking appropriate measures to secure the building and ensure that our members, guests, and staff feel safe when they are here. Chief Lauth talked about the police department’s excellent relationship with Temple Emanuel, which is longstanding and ongoing. He noted that Temple was one of the first religious institutions to offer ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training for its staff and teachers.
Orsini spoke to the need for the layered approach to security including but not limited to:
Deterrents: Guards, cameras, greeters, improved lighting, effective and enforced policies & procedures
Infrastructure: Hardening: bollards, protective window film, secure doors, entry portals
Response: Panic buttons, intercom systems, emergency plans, situational awareness
Intelligence: Surveillance cameras, “If you see something, say something”
Be prepared, not paranoid, Chief Lauth said. To that end, Temple is pleased to announce that the Mt. Lebanon Police Department will offer ALICE training to all adult and teen members on Monday, January 14 at 7PM at Temple. Please RSVP to the office if you plan to attend.
If you have questions regarding security at Temple, please contact David Weisberg, Leslie Hoffman or Nate Eisinger, chair of our Security Task Force.
In its quest to make Temple Emanuel more inclusive, the LGBTQ+ Task Force feels that the Pollon Family Library is in need of LGBTQ+ resources. And we need your help!
We created an Amazon Wish List of books for the library. The list only has 11 books at the moment, but we plan to add more. The choices range from picture books to adult fiction. Some of the messages are subtle, like in Red: A Crayon’s Story, which is about “being true to your inner self and following your own path.” Most of the books have a Jewish connection, like The Purim Superhero, which is about a boy who loves aliens and really wants to wear an alien costume for Purim. His friends are all dressing as superheroes, though, and he wants to fit in. His two dads help him make a surprising decision.
Purchasing a book from this list is a great way to help Temple Emanuel in a small yet meaningful way. With Chanukah approaching, you can even buy a book in someone’s honor or memory – we’d be happy to put a placard inside. This list is like a bridal registry; please order directly from it so others can see what’s been bought. Currently the prices are as low as $6.99 and as high as $16.19. This is truly an example of a little going a long way.
If you have any suggestions for items to add to the list, please email Lisa Steinfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We welcome new members who want to help! Contact 412-835-1783
Within Temple Emanuel, there is a group of temple members who are available to help other temple members when they are in need, and to remember our temple members during life cycle events, such as the birth of a baby, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, weddings, and funerals.
WAYS WE CARE:
- When a baby is born someone from the caring community writes a note of congratulations, and the parents receive a gift – a child’s book of Jewish prayers
- When a Torah Center student has a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, someone from the caring community writes a mazel tov note to them.
- When temple members have a wedding someone from the caring community writes a mazel tov note to them.
- When a temple member comes home from the hospital, the caring community delivers a Shabbat bag on the Friday before Shabbat begins. Inside the bag, there is a Challah and challah cover, a mini grape juice, Shabbat candlesticks, a get well card, and a small prayer book.
- When a temple member dies we bring a cookie tray to the house where there is a Shiva.
- We provide rides to the doctor for temple members who don’t drive.
- And the caring community makes phone calls to older temple members to see how they are doing, and to invite them to events.
The Temple Emanuel Caring Community is partnering with the Adult Education Committee to present a Bagels & Bites Sunday Brunch Series. There will be brunch style foods served along with a most interesting talk!
The first speaker at this event is scheduled for 12/16/18 from 10:30 am -12, with Philip Terman, an award-winning poet who teaches creative writing and literature at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, where he directs the visiting writers’ program. Also, he co-directs the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival. Philip Terman’s most recent selection of poetry is entitled: Our Portion: New and Selected Poems (Autumn House Press, 2015).