President’s Message – February 2015

I hope all of you are enjoying the “Indian Summer.” In some cases, as is this, we do not have a choice.  The snow is light and the warm days are plentiful. As we prepare and one towards Passove and Seder we need to embrace the seasons and our future.  As the book of Exodus is in our readings this month, we need to be thankful…for many things. And accept the changes of Seasons, and our exodus from dreadful  times to a time of opportunity and freedom.

Many things are going on this month and next so check our web site for all the activities.

Thanks you, Bob

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November 2014

As we come to wintertime we recall all that we are thankful for. Our health, our beautiful surroundings, our community and our friends.  At our recent HHD services,  Ernie Grossman and I discussed our successful transformation from having a large outstanding mortgage when our building was completed, to now where our outstanding balance was at $50,000, and our appeal to pay off the mortgage so we can have a mitzvah; a Bnai Mitzvah celebration and service for our temple next year,…it’s 13th year of life!  I am extremely pleased to tell you that we are over halfway there into reaching our goal.  I again ask for you thoughts and support in reaching our goal, and our opportunity to “burn or mortgage.” Please let Ernie, myself, other Board members or by calling Sheila at the Temple know of you participation and support. If all of us give a little (or a little more…or a lot !!!) then we can reach and achieve our goal. Please consider this as we approach the end of the year.

Share a little, achieve a lot . 🙂

Thanks you,

Bob Langsfeld

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July 18, 2014

With the ongoing conflict in Israel that is happening as I write this, I think an article from Janet Torah, who lives in Tel Aviv, presents many of my thoughts and prayers these days. I have a number of friends I think about and worry every time I hear about the ongoing conflicts.

Here are her thoughts and fears:

An Account of Life in Israel Right Now
BY JANET TOAR , 7/14/2014

How can I write an account of what it is like to live through alerts, sirens, and constant worry? To be so immersed in minute-by-minute reporting; thoughts of soldiers, political and military decision makers, children’s reactions, world opinion, and the effect on tourism, economy, quality of life, our personal and national security, and our future here? I’m proud to be a leader of the largest Progressive Jewish congregation in Israel, and I cannot represent anyone other than myself – but in my story there may be a common thread with others who are psychologically and physically swept up with the dangers literally on our front steps.

The summer began for me on June 28th at the closing event of Nagshim, our wonderful sisterhood at Beit Daniel in Tel Aviv. We met on the roof of a member’s home for an evening meal and to close our programming year in our traditional, relaxing way. However, that date also coincided with the enormous rally in Tel Aviv for the safe return of the three kidnapped young men. The street we were on was an access to the rally, so it was closed by police to traffic. As we joined together, streams of quiet, concerned Israelis moved along to form an enormous collective of prayer, concern, song, and hope and so it was part of our focus that night, too.

The next evening, with the discovery of the boys’ bodies, the troubled hearts of all in Israel and around the world shuddered in horror and mourned with tearful eyes. Afterward, there was the incomprehensible and horrific killing of an Arab teenager and the hunt for the perpetrators, who are now facing charges.

This situation felt like a terrible blow to my identify as a Jew and an Israeli. Never could I imagine that forces within Israel existed that could be so charged with hate as to take a life and violate human law. Thus, it seemed to squeeze out our many humanitarian acts and make us seem as if we lacked morals because we could raise young people so filled with violence.

And then the rocket attacks began, unfortunately not new to many Israelis. But this time, it was a threat to all Israelis. It didn’t matter whether you lived in Sderot, Be’er Sheva, the Negev, or Tel Aviv, you would be shaken by each rocket entry. It became a severe awakening that you cannot take your presence here for granted as there are dangerous people committed to destroying our lives.

So how do my days look? I now reside in the northern part of the country and apparently, for now, I am under no immediate military threat from Gaza, as I may be out of range. I have been listening to the news and radio and reading updates on my phone from when I wake in the morning to when I go to sleep at night. I am flooded with opinions, advice, guidelines, experts, announcements, and alerts. There is a strong consensus here that Israel must protect itself.

I switch to the U.S. news occasionally to see if the reporting is favorable to Israel and try to imagine what my friends, family, sisterhood members, and others may be thinking. I watch the trajectory of these rockets almost in live time, and while feeling heavy and frustrated from these attacks, I also am also in awe at the success of the Iron Dome, the rocket of ours that tracks Hamas’ rockets, meets it in the sky, and pulverizes it before it touches earth, destroying it before it destroys us. I am rightfully proud that Israel, so full of tension and fear, is acting to save innocent lives in Gaza. Yet all the time the question keeps pumping away in my heart and mind: Can we really function this way?

Just this week, new olim (immigrants) from the U.S. arrived in Israel to build lives here and identify with the Jewish State, no matter what. This feeling of strengthening our ranks, of common destiny and support, is heartening.

Last week, in a radio interview, clinical psychologist and television personality Zippy Gon-Gross explained how her young granddaughter, while attending Beit Daniel’s nursery school program, practiced going into the designated shelter areas and received a “hero” sticker at the end of the routine. This is part of our reality here.

Twenty-two years ago, sitting with gas masks here in Israel during the Gulf War, I wrote this to my then-5-year-old child:

And so, my precious child
This kiss will surely show
That there are things in life
I wish you didn’t know.
This saga, this strange story
Release us from its pull
To let you live your lifetime
As a child; to its full.

May we know days of peace and comfort for the children, for the children of the world, for the State of Israel.

Janet Toar is co-chair of Nagshim at Beit Daniel in Tel Aviv.

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Welcome to NTHC and the Passover Celebration Season

 

Recently a learned scholar from ARZA, the Reform Zionists Movement, wrote an article about our traditional Seder celebration.  He introduces the concept of a “fifth cup.”

As we celebrate Passover, and remember the traditions of our heritage, we have the opportunity to think in a larger scale, rather then our “small seder table.” I encourage all of you to introduce the “fifth cup.”

Here is his thoughtful message:

A Fifth Cup – Going Beyond What is Required
BY RABBI JOSHUA WEINBERG
 
Growing up, I struggled with the impression that being a Reform Jew meant that we did less. Fewer mitzvot, shorter holiday observance, and less time spent in Jewish education. It was a stigma that I carried with me as I wrestled with and contemplated my own Jewish identity. This lead me to a realm of experimentation with halachah (Jewish law) – pushing and pulling my ‘red lines’ as I grew and learned more.Today, as many of us are busy preparing for Passover, I find myself less occupied by the meticulous aspect of the holiday’s demanded mitzvot, but searching instead for ways to supplement the narrative and to find meaning in a modern context. I commend those who find deep meaning in cleaning out their kitchens and sterilizing their homes, making sure that all leavening ceases at the 18-minute mark and [in the Ashkenazi tradition] nothing that could resemble wheat flour – such as legumes – will be consumed during Passover. However, I would like to offer an additional perspective on Passover by suggesting some meaningful ways to supplement the seder.Zionism and living in Israel were the answers to my search for Jewish identity, and to me, Passover became a holiday of peoplehood. The central narrative became the one that we clearly state after we sing “Dayenu,” that B’khol Dor VaDor: “In every generation we must see ourselves as if we went out from Egypt.” In the traditional Haggadah this statement is followed by a biblical and liturgical reading.In the recently published Israeli Reform Haggadah, A Haggadah for Our Day, each page is supplemented with modern readings and interpretations. It includes a wonderful poem by Amir Gilboa (who many of us will recognize from the music set by Shlomo Artzi) entitled “Shir Baboker BaBoker” (Song of the Morning). In his interpretation of history, Gilboa talks about a man who “suddenly wakes up in the morning, feels that he is a nation and begins to walk. And everyone who he meets on his way he calls out to them ‘Shalom.'” The poem ends with the same narrative – that this man has woken with the newfound revelation of nationhood – and he “sees that the spring has returned and the tree is turning green since last fall’s tree-shedding of leaves.” There’s no more appropriate metaphor for Passover in my mind than the Spring being a time for awakening, discovery, and the realization that we are indeed a people and have the opportunity to come out of “Egypt” (literally ‘out of narrow places’) and enter the Land of Israel as a nation.As we have collectively left Egypt and entered the Land of Israel, as Reform Jews who increase our observance as we adapt to our modern circumstances, we now need a fifth cup at our s’darim (plural of seder). There are many interpretations to the additional fifth cup, including Happiness Inside the State: Toward a Liberal Theology of Israel, by Rabbi Michael Marmur.Rabbi Marmur suggests that the fifth cup is the “Cup of Confidence,” an understanding that comes from needing “the confidence to appreciate all that has been achieved so far, and the confidence to acknowledge that which is still at fault.” I suggest that we adopt a fifth cup for the fifth “verb” of redemption, which revolves around two verses in Exodus (6:6-7) commonly referred to as “The Four Expressions of Redemption”:

 

Say, therefore, to the Israelite people: I am the Eternal. I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements. And I will take you to be My people, and I will be your God…

 

However, in verse 8 there is a fifth verb used: “I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession, I the Eternal.”

As Reform Jews and as Zionists let us use this verse as a way of saying that our fifth cup is the cup of peoplehood and our people are connected to the Land. This Passover, while we sit at our seder tables surrounded by family and friends, let us affirm that this is the time to remind each other that it is our obligation to go beyond our own families and communities and connect to our people and our land. And as the Haggadah says, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

Chag Pesach Kasher V’Samei-ach!

 

Happy Calendar New Year, January 1, 2014

Our Temple has made great strides over the last few months. Rabbi Beth Beyer has become our strong, committed and uplifting leader and contributor to the many facets of our lives.  She has energized our Religious School, along with the ever-committed Bonnie Meyers, and the school has evolved to be a strong center of learning.  I also owe thanks to Arron, Lisa, Cookie and Devi to being essential to this success.

Rabbi Beth services are always a pleasure…they are always a learning event and a musical experience.  Her voice is really a pleasure as well. But, I must confess, without Tom, Beth’s amazing husband and partner, we would not be able to have moved forward as we have.  And, his culinary skill are always a strong contribution (aka, Yummy).  Rabbi Beth has also allowed us to move forward with the Torah and Ski program, which has been well received.

Our many events, Hanukkah, our Final Friday program,  the Sisterhood Chanukah Brisket Dinner, the Global Day of Jewish Learning, and on and on have been a great source of tradition, learning and enjoyment. Our Sisterhood and our Mens Club have been active with meetings, book reviews, as well as keeping Jason’s in business. I must thank the entire Sisterhood for helping in our Shabbats and in “keeping things going;” and the Mens’ Club for building the Sukkah, and of course, Mark Sonnenshein for his ever enjoyable Men’s Club News. Many of us always look forward to Mark’s next issues..it has become, and is a monthly event.

I could go on and on (maybe I already have!!) but I want to thank all those who continue to contribute to our success. If I have left anyone out it was not intentional.  I’m sure I will catch up with you in the next issue!

It was my extreme pleasure to have attended the URJ Biennial in December. I can’t put into words how great the event was and what I was able to learn and to absorb.  It is difficult for me to quantified the magnitude of my experience, and  attending services with 5000 others for the Friday and Saturday services. It was magnificent. A personally moving and energizing event. I met with many other congregational representatives, from large and small congregations and was able to exchange experiences and lessons learned.  One opportunity and achievement was that I found several “Visual Haggadah’s” which we are now starting to use in our Friday services, and starting this month, our Family services.

Another thing I learned from the Biennial Saturday Service was an interesting and enjoyable description of our ever evolving reading and learning from the Torah.  It was called “The longest rerun in history,” aka, we are going on our 5774th reading.  How appropriate as a title and description. We have continued to learn and absorb the teaching of our forefathers and our sacred document. We continue to learn as we travel through our source of inspiration and teaching.

Finally, we have begun our “travel” from Genesis to Exodus this month. We learn how we were able to move from oppression in Egypt to our Exodus, and to our journey into freedom. Our people experienced many things as they moved towards freedom and a new land.  We need not forget where we came from, and were we are now. Our journey needs to be remembered. One lessons for us is to relish and to treasure our freedom.  To have learned that we need to appreciate what we have achieved, and to work to retain it.  Our journey is an ongoing one and can, and will bring us great satisfaction. We need to value our freedom, our achievements and to continue to move forward, and to grow!

I encourage you to recommit to this thing we call “freedom,” and to help others to grow and achieve the same.

My very best wishes to you for a safe, fruitful and plentiful year of 2014.

Bob Langsfeld

 

 

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October 2013

With the Resignation of Rabbi Cahn we found ourselves as a Congregation without a Rabbi and without religious guidance.

Therefore, an ad hoc committee, assigned by the Board, went down to Reno to speak with Rabbi Beyer. We were all impressed to see and hear her, since some of us haven’t met her in several years. We found that she was and is there to help us in our time of need, and offered to help us in any way possible.

At this time, Rabbi Beth Beyer has joined us as our Interim Rabbi. I can’t be more pleased to have her help and guide us in our journey. She will be helping us and our children at our Religious School, the B’nai Mitzvah class, our weekly services, adult education and with our life cycle needs.

Because of her generosity and support, we now have the opportunity to heal, to reflect and to move forward. One of the first steps we need to do is to clearly define our Rabbinic needs and by polling our congregation members so we can best understand our needs and wants.

We will then, with consensus, move forward with a definitive and methodical rabbinic search. We also have the support of the URJ and other knowledgeable and experienced resources to assist us.

Please check out our revised schedules, events and resources on our web site, www.tahoetemple.org. As you know, we have just finished a complete revision of the site and we are commencing our regular updates to the site at this time

Again, please welcome Rabbi Beyer at her first Friday night service on October 18th, and as we move forward.  Her contact information can be found on the web site as well.

We, the Board, welcome all support, ideas and suggestions as we commence this new chapter in our ongoing journey.  Please feel free to contact us at any time.

Bob Langsfeld

President

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