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!
Our fall season of holidays came to a close with our wonderful Simchat Torah celebration on Sunday, September 30. With our service led by Rabbi Don and Rabbi Locketz, we marched and danced with the Torahs to music by the Hot Matzohs. Our younger folks enthusiastically waved their flags, while the adults carried the Torahs throughout the Sanctuary. A highlight of the morning was our Torah service with 16 congregants each reading or chanting a line! With our Torah Center teachers and madrichim chanting the aliyot, it was truly a special time for all.
Many thanks to our teen videographer, Harrison Pittle, who captured the spirit of the morning for us in this great video!
Last Shabbat we gathered in Bird Park for a “welcome to summer” picnic and service. It was a beautiful evening in a beautiful place, surrounded by friends of all ages. For many of us, it was truly the start of summer break – a perfect way to begin the ‘lazy days of summer.’ Running through the park, sharing a meal, talking to each other as the the evening cooled and the busyness of the week faded… Shabbat, and the sense of calm that it brings descended as we prayed together – led in worship by Rabbi Mahler, Rabbi Locketz and Rebecca Schwartz. We were inspired through singing songs and sharing the spirit of Shabbat with each other. Thank you to Rebecca for a powerful message about the work that needs to be done within a community; and for reminding us that we should all be proud of our contributions to it.
After the service, it was time for s’mores….what could be better than that?!?!?!
Join us for our next Service in Bird Park on Friday, September 7th. We will once again come together for a picnic dinner at 5:45 pm followed by a brief Shabbat service at 6:30 pm. And of course there will be S’mores….yum!
Mark your calendars; be sure not to miss it!
One of our focal points in the Torah Center this year has been building community – looking for opportunities for students of all ages to learn and grow together.
This past Sunday, the 5th grade class joined the Kindergarten students for story time in the Sifriyah (the library). This was the third time they have joined classes during this school year to read Jewish books together. Sometimes the 5th graders read the books, and sometimes, our newest readers like to show off what they can do! Is there anything better than sharing a good story?!
Remember all those bags of food under the stairs that you couldn’t help noticing when you went upstairs? Thank you to everyone who brought in food during our annual drive for the SHIM food Pantry. On November 6th, after filling ours cars with donations, our 4th grade families brought it all to the food pantry and helped sort it and restock the shelves. What a mitzvah!
It’s the weigh in – did we bring more food than our 4th graders weigh? We did! [Once again, parents did not get on the scale!]
The 4th Graders weighed 710 pounds. The food? 854 pounds!!!! Incredible!
While we were there, we learned how a family “shops” at the Food Pantry and gets much needed assistance. We realized how much we can help and how fortunate we are to be able to support our community through our donations and volunteer time. It was a great morning – a worthwhile experience for all.
Our High Holiday Food Collection may be over…but don’t forget that you can donate year round!
Learning has come to life for Melinda Freed’s 7th grade Making Meaning From our Food class. Yesterday, they reaped Temple’s first harvest for SHIM (South Hills Interfaith Movement): A large bag of swiss chard and a smaller bag of kale.
A few years in the making, the garden was the brainchild of Social Action Team chair Marty Altschul, who calls it “a dream come true.” When Freed needed a sub for this particular class, she knew Altschul would be perfect.
“I am so glad we have this garden to tie into my curriculum – the mitzvot of feeding the hungry and caring for the earth, knowing where our food comes from,” says Freed. “[The kids] got a hands-on experience picking the vegetables.”
A huge thanks goes out to everyone who made this garden possible. “Its mission goes beyond SHIM — it educates my students, Temple members, and the people who drive past it on Bower Hill Road,” says Freed. “May it ‘grow and grow.'”
Our shofar blowing workshop was a huge success! Thank you to Ron Schneider and Harvey Rubin for teaching our students (and a few parents as well). We were amazed at quickly they learned and look forward to some new shofar blowers at our High Holiday Family Services this year!
While all of the grades have been busy with classroom activities………..
visiting the Art room………..
and exploring Hebrew music……….
There have also been some special family events for some of our students! Pre-K Family Day saw our youngest students sharing the fun with their parents and participating in Hebrew games.
Sixth graders and their parents spent the morning with Rabbi Mahler as he showed them each the Torah portion that they would be reading at their B’nei Mitzvah.
And all of Torah Center gathered together for the Model Seder last Sunday, led by our very own Melinda Freed!
A happy Passover time was had by all….even the Madrichim!
The end of the school year is fast approaching. We hope to see you all on May 15th as we end the year with a special family program. Until then, have a Happy Passover.
Make Temple Emanuel part of your Passover celebration this year!
- Join us for Torah Center’s Model Seder, led by the always amazing Melinda Freed, on Sunday, April 17 at 10:45 AM. Please RSVP via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Leave the cooking to us and bring your family to our Community Second Seder on Saturday, April 23 at 6PM. RSVP by April 11 to the office or online at http://www.templeemanuelpgh.org/event/2nd-seder-at-temple/.
- Ladies (and young ladies ages 10+), come and be inspired at our Women’s Seder on Thursday, April 28 at 7PM. RSVP by April 21 to the office or online at http://www.templeemanuelpgh.org/event/womens-passover-seder/.
- Stop by the gift shop and browse our selection of beautiful seder plates, matzah covers and more. Shop for yourself or find the perfect hostess gift. Sundays 9:30am-noon, Mondays 6:30-8:30PM, Wednesdays 4:30-6:30pm.
- Worship with us at our Yom Tov and Shabbat Morning service at 10:30AM on April 23 and join us for our Concluding Passover, Yizkor and Shabbat morning service at 10:30AM on April 30.
- And, do a mitzvah! When you’re cleaning out your kitchen, donate your chametz to SHIM. Drop off your food donations any time at Temple.
…And the excitement is growing!
We made hamantaschen With Ms. Freed during Family Cooking:
And Shaloch manot – (gift baskets) to give to friends and family:
And masks to wear:
We also practiced for the ‘Big Show,’ learning the song that will end it all (and many are joining in for just the last few verses):
Can’t wait until our ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Purimshpiel this Saturday night? Here are some pictures of the AWESOME cast to tide you over until then:
See you on Saturday at Temple for the Purimshpiel and on Sunday at the JCC for the Community Purim Carnival. Have a Happy Purim!