Opinions expressed in Teruah do not necessarily represent the views of Beth Shalom Board of Management.
Affiliated with the Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ)
Charities Commission Registration Number CC29542
PO Box 26 052, Epsom, Auckland 1344, New Zealand
Tel: 09 524 4139 Fax: 0282 552 3027
Office: Christine O’Brien firstname.lastname@example.org
Board members and portfolios
I have been sitting here working on this message for way too long now. Maybe it is because it is cold out and I have the fire going. Maybe it is because it is the longest night of the year. Maybe it is because I just wrote a message to the community yesterday and I don’t want to repeat myself. Maybe it is because there are just so many things going on in the world that this message seems small. Maybe it is because I don’t know just how many people actually read this anyway. After waffling off in many directions, I think I’ll direct this message to joy. It seems something that there is just not quite enough of in the news right now (bar the arrival of the Prime Minister’s new baby girl!).
Several years ago I was attending a chapel service out at St Kentigern College. I quite like listening to the Reverend out there as he directs his sermons to the students - always making a point that is relevant to their lives. This particular sermon was on the difference between being happy and being joyful. It has stuck with me for all of these years, so I figure it must be worth sharing.
Reverend Smith started by exploring the idea of happiness. Most people said what they wanted out of life was to be happy. He then pointed out that when people’s lives didn’t go the way they planned, when happiness wasn’t achieved, that these same people were often found to blame others for their lack of happiness. He argued that happiness was a byproduct of “things.” Your puppy could make you happy, but then it might chew up your shoes and you wouldn’t be so happy anymore. It would be the puppy’s fault. Money could make you happy because it could buy you stuff you wanted. But money could run out or that stuff might cost more than you have. Not happy again thanks to “the Man,” or the IRD or any other number of organisations that limited your disposable income. It is easy to see that the opposite of happy is sad.
But joy was something that came from within. It was an outlook. An attitude. Nobody could take joy away from you. It was always yours to cherish and share with others. It wasn’t dependent on anything external. You could find joy in the tiniest of G-d’s miracles or the most spectacular. This idea spoke to me and I’ve never forgotten it.
So, tapping into my desire to be joyful, I will point out that the days are now getting longer; that the fireplace has warmed up my house nicely; that there have been many babies born since I started writing this; and that you just finished reading my message so it was worth writing after all.
PLEASE REMEMBER TO BRING A NON-PERISHABLE FOOD ITEM FOR THE TZEDAKAH BOX.
Leah Jacobs and Howard Rabinowitz were married on 17th June in London. Leah was a member of Beth shalom whilst she was living in Auckland from 2013-2016
As you all know, Rabbi Chava Koster was with us for 2 weeks at the beginning of May. Since her visit, the Rabbinic Search Committee has been been reflecting, collecting and collating input from many of you. They made their formal recommendation to the Board last week and we therefore would like to notify you that the Board has accepted their recommendation and has decided not to offer the position to Rabbi Chava. It was not an easy decision, but in the end it was felt that she wasn’t a good fit for what our community needs right now.
I want to publicly thank Alistair Kirk, Julie Dick, and Chris Shiller for all of the hard work they put in screening, interviewing and researching rabbi’s for the community. It has been a very long process and they have gone above and beyond the call. The Board will now focus on a comprehensive strategic plan with the thought that it will give us a better idea of the direction we should be headed in. Your input will be requested via survey and interview. Please be a part of this process. It is vital that the board hear your voice so we make Beth Shalom a place you want to be.
JEWISH IFTAR DINNER: From left front: Naomi Johnson, Nazife Basar, Taner Basar, Debbie Swiatek, Emily Swiatek, Rachel Zussman, Ayse Demirbas, Paul Wilton.
On 9 June we held a Ramadan Iftar dinner at the home of Debbie Swiatek and Emily. We brought together Jewish people from Beth Shalom with Turkish Muslim people from Pearl of the Islands Foundation, a Foundation that Naomi has close links to. She was appointed to their Advisory Board at the end of 2017 which shows their commitment to diversity and enthusiasm to mix with other religions. It was a wonderful evening where new friendships were formed and existing ones strengthened.
Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle. This year, Ramadan fell between 16 May and 14 June. During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn to sunset.
Muslims are greatly encouraged to share the breaking of the fast meal with others. This gathering is called an ‘Iftar’. Ramadan is a time of community. Muslims aim to connect with neighbours, friends and family; they reach out to their surrounding communities. Through fasting, Muslims aim to develop deeper compassion and a greater level of patience and reflection. Fasting introduces a sense of social responsibility by promoting empathy with the less fortunate. Acts of charity are among the traditional practices of Ramadan, and many Muslims carry out this tradition frequently throughout the month.
This Ramadan the Pearl of the Islands Foundation hosted a large number of Iftar dinners including a Parliamentary Iftar dinner in Wellington, a dinner for newly arrived refugees and they co-hosted a dinner at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell.
So this was the first Jewish Iftar dinner we have jointly held with the Foundation. Next Ramadan let’s work towards hosting one at Beth Shalom open to anyone who wishes to participate.
“Flamingo”, is now in New Zealand. Exclusive cards and gift wrap. Beautiful, unique designs by over 40 artists.
Made in the United Kingdom - very ‘eco’ friendly, great quality and value. Cards for everyone and all occasions (sorry, no Jewish themes).
Look forward to hearing from you.
A group of Beth Shalom members has commenced, to think of and pray for individuals in our community, who are in need of healing.
The idea is that this group is not an organised group or minyan. Simply, caring people who, when made aware of the need, help healing with the power of prayer.
And that families in distress might receive comfort from the knowledge that this is taking place.
Caring for the unwell is part of being a community.
For those interested, I can supply articles: “The Jewish Way in Healing”, and some scientific research on the positive power of prayer in healing.
If you wish to be part of this group
Or, if you know of someone who is unwell that would appreciate our prayer
Please contact Leon Goldwater or Christine O’Brien at shul office
Leon: email@example.com 020 403 88054
Christine: firstname.lastname@example.org 524 4139
Many of our congregants will fondly remember Rabbi Patti Kopstein and of course her husband, Rabbi David Kopstein.
One of the lovely things that Rabbi Patti introduced us to was Kaddish for Critters. While this was primarily to help children at the time of the loss of a much-loved pet, it is such a beautiful concept, one that I have used each time I have lost a pet and and have also given it to both Jewish and non-Jewish friends to help them at this sad time.
Rabbi Patti says “the death of a much-loved family pet, whether it’s a cat, dog or a mouse, can be a traumatic event in a child’s life. It can also be used to help children and their parents learn to grieve when the one they love is no longer alive. Through it we learn also to honour life, both human and animal”.
Rabbi Patti and a friend put together a kaddish for critters, joining some thoughts and reflections from various sources including the mourners’ kaddish.
Rabbi Patti says “the kaddish for critters is part of the cycle of love, respect, caring, protection, responsibility and bereavement. As it evolved through time, adults really began to want to be part of the whole process, having had no place to mourn the loss of their beloved pets”.
Kaddish for Critters by Rabbi Patti Kopstein and Mickey Zeldes:
Barukh ata Adonai
Elohaynu melekh ha-olam
Shekakha lo b’olamo.
Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe
Who has created creatures such as these.
Today we think of the animals we love
Those who are with us still And those who are not.
We remember the happy times we shared with them
And the many things they taught us
About love and life,
About grief and death.
We thank God for the time we had together
As we say: Yehay sh’may raba
M’vorakh l’olam ul’ulmay almahya.
May God’s name be praised forever and ever
Thank you, Rabbi Patti, for leaving us with this wonderful way of saying goodbye to our fur babies when their time is up.
Naomi Johnson for Ritcom
The LIMMUD Season 2018 is well underway and we are eagerly awaiting the big weekend at the end of August.
Taste of LIMMUD was held in Auckland on 6 June at Dio and in Wellington on 7 June at the Holocaust Centre. As always, we had a top class line-up and feedback was very positive.
Allison Kaplan Sommer, award winning journalist at Haaretz, was on a panel and led a session about Israel. She had this to say about her experience:
“ The Limmud events were well-organized and the participants eager to learn and discuss current events in Israel as well as the relationship between the Jewish State and the Diaspora.... I think the most thrilling aspects of travel are the things you don’t anticipate. And so the invitation I accepted so casually turned out to be a truly special gift and pleasure. My only 'problem' - now that I’ve tasted what New Zealand and its unique Kiwi Jewish community have to offer, I want a bigger bite! ”
Yair Rosenberg, also a top journalist from New York, gave a fascinating talk about dealing with antisemitism in the social media, where he has had some success in turning the tables on "trolls" who target Jewish journalists.
Viv Josephs, our programme director, gave a presentation of what to expect at LIMMUD itself and it promises to be an event not to be missed.
Once more, we have some impressive speakers coming from overseas. These include: - Kinneret Shiryon who was the first woman rabbi to practice in Israel, where she established the Yozma congregation in Modi’in;
- Manny Waks, who covered the sexual abuse scandal in Melbourne, will be dealing with difficult issues in the Jewish community. He will also be speaking about his movie, Code of Silence and will be giving a talk on travelling the religious spectrum;
- Rabbi Steven Greenberg is described as the first openly gay Orthodox Jewish rabbi;
- Jessica Deutsch in a unique and creative way; and
- Hagai Segal, a leading authority on geo-political issues, strategic risks in the Middle East and counter terrorism.
As always, there will also be a feast of interesting talks from national speakers and this year, we are offering opportunities for presenters to provide short, pithy, "Ted talks". If you have a talk, story or ideas that you would like to share, please contact Christopher Dempsey, LIMMUD Administrator, by email at info@Limmud.org.nz.
Register now to catch the early bird discount at www.limmud.org.nz.
In last month’s Teruah, we took a brief look at how our funeral services characteristically start-off in ways that are authentically Jewish but nevertheless inclusive. Let’s continue in the same vein this month, with a look at some of the options for service content provided by our favoured source, the Rabbi’s Manual of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
But, first, it’s worth considering why the B&B’s rules insist on the central role of this slim volume in providing the framework into which any additional material needs to be slotted.
One reason is that, just like with most other Jewish rituals, our funeral services have developed gradually down the generations in ways that can be profoundly inspiring and comforting. They are the work of centuries and have a natural, emotional dynamic that no committee, let alone any single individual, could ever devise for themselves. The Rabbi’s Manual recognises and reflects this heritage, albeit in ways appropriate to our own time.
But we also insist on the manual’s centrality in order to reduce the likelihood of items inconsistent with core Jewish beliefs or sensibilities being accidentally included in a service. Obviously, this consideration is of much less significance when Beth Shalom has a rabbi available to officiate. But when, as often happens, the task falls to a lay person, it helps if they don’t have to make off-the-cuff theological judgements when time is short and the grief of bereaved family members still raw.
And, last but by no means least, we like to keep the manual at the heart of proceedings, because of the numinous beauty and dignity of so many of the English translations it contains.
To return to the service itself, the opening section will typically consist of psalms and other biblical readings. A frequent choice is the passage from Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), which starts with the line: “For everything there is a season, a time for every experience under heaven”. When read with appropriate feeling, this item seems appropriate at just about any funeral other than that of a very young person.
Another familiar passage is the Eishet Chayil (A Woman of Valour). When recited in English, at the funeral of a woman who has not had children, it’s now customary to substitute the phrase “Her good deeds rise up and bless her” for the traditional “Her children rise up and bless her”. Similarly, the term “partner” can be substituted for “husband”.
The Rabbi’s Manual also contains a series of more modern readings which complement those of biblical origins. Collectively, they prepare the ground emotionally for one of the most important parts of the service, the Hesped or Eulogy. But that’s a topic for another month.
The conference website is now up and running and registrations are being accepted.
Check out the programme and speakers led by Scholar-in-Residence Rabbi Larry Hoffman. Highlights include:
Early-bird registration runs till August 17th, including great rates for first time New Zealand registrants - contact your Board to find out what support is available.