Category Archives: Community Interest

Rabbi Lia Bass Speech from Rosh Hashanah – Day 2

Today in the Torah we read the story of the binding of Isaac. I have spoken about this story many times, since it is a story that tugs at my heart strings. This year, I realized that this is a story that happens among Hinenis.

There are 3 times in Chapter 22 of the Book of Genesis that our ancestor, Abraham, says the word Hineni, which means “Here I am”.  In the first verse of the chapter, we read (Translation by Robert Alter):

“And it happened after these things that God tested Abraham. And God said to him “Abraham!” and he said, “here I am – hineni!”

When God calls Abraham, he responds immediately with Hineni!– Here I am! I can almost hear Abraham saying: God, so good to hear from you! I am excited to hear your voice, and to know what you have in store for me.

Abraham and Isaac travel with attendants for 3 days, and leave the attendants behind, walking up the rest of the way, just the 2 of them alone. In verse 7, we read:

And Isaac said to Avraham his father, “Father!”, and he said, “Here I am, Hineni, my son.” And he said, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the offering?”

There is kindness in this Hineni, as Abraham shows tenderness to his child, trying to respond to him, to be present, even though he knows fully well what lies in the future. After the altar is built, and Abraham binds his child to the altar, Abraham takes the knife, ready to do what he believes God commanded him, which is to slaughter his son. In verse 11, we read the word Hineni for the 3rd time:

“And the Eternal’s messenger called out to him from the heavens and said, “Abraham, Abraham”, and he said “Here I am”, Hineni.”

The messenger of God showed up just in time, and before he did the unthinkable, Abraham listened to him.

Abraham had 3 meanings for his Hineni: to be present and excited, to show kindness, and to listen.

What is your Hineni?

The word Hineni, Here I am! is a term that conveys readiness, presence, concentration, attention, and listening. It gives a sense of excitement, an exclamation point following the words. Hineni, Here I am, ready to participate, work, do things, be present! Hineni is about being “All in”. Being all in is to be passionate about life, to grab the opportunities that life presents us, to fully accept the challenge of living an examined life. To be all in is to act with the belief that there is potential in our deeds, openness for wonder, a commitment to participate and perform to the best of our abilities, a willingness to listen, and a desire to show kindness. Every day we pray the Amidah 3 times, and at every Amidah we recall our ancestors, Abraham Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. I take this to mean that just as my ancestors had their unique relationship with God, I must find my own relationship with God, my own Hineni, following in the footsteps of my ancestors. In our tradition, we are supposed to learn from the example of our ancestors – but not follow them blindly. We don’t follow Abraham’s example as a husband or a parent. We follow Abraham’s Hineni moments as a brave, spiritual, loyal, and gifted statesman. A few examples are:

  • Abraham doesn’t hesitate to change as he listened to God’s voice, to leave his place and go to the place that God showed him.
  • Abraham showed kindness as 3 angels (disguised as 3 men) approached his tent in the middle of the day.

He made sure to feed them and make them comfortable.

  • Abraham fought for his family, showing loyalty during the war between the Kings.
  • Abraham did not shy away from bargaining with God for the fate of the two doomed towns, Sodomah and Gomorrah.
  • And he trusted in God and God’s promise, again and again, even as he aged, and the promise of offspring seemed to be more and more difficult to come true.

We learn many lessons from Abraham’s journey.

As Abraham trusted in God’s promise, we can together trust in God’s message of love and understanding between all, and usher a time of peace, creativity, and joint abundance, even when that promise seems to be so elusive and far-fetched.

As Abraham bargained with God for the fate of the cities, we can speak truth to people in power and stand for the rights of all people.

We can also continue our long tradition of speaking to God and being in relationship with God as we pray together in our Sanctuary.

As Abraham fought for his family, so we together can fight for our human family, for ensuring that we do not demean, dehumanize, and humiliate others, instead propping the downtrodden, raising the fallen, providing a helping hand to the oppressed.

In the same way that Abraham opened his tent for the visitors, as a community of faith, we can remain loyal to his example and open our community to other people of faith. We can open our community to the poor, the needy, and the immigrant.

Most of all, as Abraham had the courage to change, we have to be able to change, too.

Rosh Hashanah, in the Jewish tradition, is a time where we examine our actions in the year that passed, take a hard look at the parts of ourselves that need to change, ask for forgiveness from those we have hurt, and when faced with a similar situation, don’t fall prey to the same bad choices. Our traditions praises our ability to grow and change.

These are a few of the ways we can be inspired by Abraham’s Hineni moments to create our own Hineni moments.

Let me share a Hineni moment with you.

I have been here for 17 years. I came here on August, 2001. A few weeks after I arrived, September 11 happened. Today, September 11, we remember the devastating blow to our sense of security, and all the people who lost friends and family members in that cowardly attack. Yet, this Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of my 18th year with our congregation. My Hay year!

As most of you know, the Hebrew letters of the word Hay, which means being alive, have the numerical value of 18. The 18th year is a time to take stock, and also the beginning of a new cycle of life. We all have had plenty of Hineni moments together in the last 17 years, and I believe that as we go forth and move into this new hay, this new life, we can have plenty of new Hineni moments together.

The Talmud, in Massechet Bava Metziah (28b), tells us that in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, there was a stone, called Even To’an, the Lost and Found Stone. Whoever found an object went there. Whoever lost an object did the same. The finder stood and proclaimed that s/he found something, and the other would call out the identifying marks of the object, and then receive it back.

In our lives, we all experience losses, from the banal –our keys – to the loss of our loved ones.

Sometimes we lose our hope in the future, and sometimes we lose our innocence when historical events of the proportion of 9/11 happen. A lot of times we have reserves of happiness and optimism that can be shared. Having a Lost and Found Stone– a place of meeting, a place of sharing what we find and what we lose – is an amazing gift. Our congregation can be our modern Lost and Found Stone, a cornerstone of gathering, of restoring relationships and our faith in each other, in the power of community, a place of being all in, in a world so unpredictable.

A solid rock that is a place for giving and receiving, for saying Hineni to each other.

As we starts our 18th year together, our hay year together, what is our Hineni, our all in? Can we be that Lost and Found  Stone, in this complicated world? Can we believe in a culture of possibilities for our congregation? Can we dream up a culture of love, creativity, growth? Can we create a true place of meeting, full of motivation, of beautiful tefillah, belief in the future, openness to change and growth?

I believe in us, and I believe that we are that Even To’an, that wonderful place of meeting where we share our best, worship together,where we prop each other up, where we follow in Abraham’s footsteps and say Hineni to creating a better world.

May we learn from all the positive examples of our ancestor, stressing all that we share.

May we create our own Even To’an, dreaming about the possibilities of all the things we can do together, committing to each other, being all in, opening our hearts, ears and capabilities to each other.  May this be a time of Hineni, of being all in, for our community, our people, our country, and our world.

Rabbi Lia Bass Speech from Rosh Hashanah – Day 1

Take another look to the beautiful words she said during our Rosh Hashanah Celebration!

The author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delivered a TED talk titled “The Danger of a Single Story”, about how stereotypes limit and shape our thinking. At the age of 9, she had read only classic British books, about princesses and castles, long flowing blond hair and valiant princes. As she started writing her own stories, they all involved white, blonde, blue eyed people that talked about the weather – a very far stretch from her middle class, Nigerian reality, where you never needed to talk about the weather, since it was always the same.

She tells a story of speaking at a US University where, during the question and answer session, a student said that it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers, like the father character in one of her novels. With a hint of irritation, she responded that she had just read a novel called American Psycho – and that it was such a shame that young Americans were serial killers.

The student had a single story about Nigeria – in his mind, based on his reading of a book, Nigeria was a whole country of people who abused and were abused. Ms. Adichie wanted him to see that her reality was as varied as his, and that one cannot create an image of a whole country based on a single story.

Our tradition is quite conscious of the dangers of a single story.

Let me give you an example. For Benjamin’s Bar Mitzvah, I made his tallit. In the Atarah, the neck piece, I quoted a verse from the Book of Deuteronomy: “And to Benjamin (Moses) said, you are a friend of God.”

In the end of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses blesses all the tribes, and since Jerusalem, and therefore the Temple, was in the territory of the Tribe of Benjamin, the tribe is depicted as a friend of God, and guardian of the Temple, our people’s main source of relationship with God during many centuries.

Yet, the Torah doesn’t want us to see a single-sided story. No one is one-dimensional.

In Chapter 49 of the Book of Genesis, Jacob calls his sons together before dying and gives each of them a “blessing.” I put quotation marks around the word blessing because while the Torah text defines it as both prophecy and a blessing, it is really more a curse. Here are the words to the Tribe of Benjamin: 27. “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the booty.”

What happened to the Tribe of Benjamin being God’s friend?

This description only makes sense when we know the gruesome story found about the tribe of Benjamin in the end of the Book of Judges, Chapters 19-21. In that part of the narrative, men from one city in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin are responsible for a savage attack on a young woman from the Tribe of Judah. That attack motivates a counter act from the other Israelites, escalating into a civil war. In the end, the tribe of Benjamin is almost wiped out from the people of Israel. Even in the Torah, there is no single story. The tribe of Benjamin has elements of both; a friend of God and a ravenous wolf. Had we only the Deuteronomy description, we would have a peaceful image of the Tribe of Benjamin. It wouldn’t be a full image. It would be a stereotype.

If we had only the story that uses the image of a ravenous wolf, we would be stereotyping, also, and we would be opening the possibility for a dangerous situation. The act was committed by some men, in one city, in the territory of one tribe. By depicting the whole tribe as animals that can be hunted, the Torah ends up creating fertile ground for a bloodbath. In the book Less than Human, Dr. David Livingstone Smith explains that when we equate people with animals, we limit our vision, and shape our perception in a way that has difficult consequences.

We dehumanize them, believing that while people may look like humans, where it really counts, they are animals, either vermin or beasts of prey that must be eliminated, one way or another. While we might be tempted to see comparisons of people to animals as mere talk, as nothing more than degrading metaphor, we must understand that dehumanization is not a way of talking. It’s a way of thinking that, sadly, comes all too easily to us. Dehumanization acts as a psychological lubricant, empowering us to perform acts that would, under other circumstances, be unthinkable.

We lose the perspective of what other people are: a collective of individuals that have an identity and community, people who can make choices, entitled to live according to their own goals. The danger of a single story, the danger of seeing people as less than human, is that it allows us the moral justification to commit atrocities and destruction. The psychologist and Harvard professor Herbert Kerman knew from bitter experience what happens when inhibitions against violence are lifted, since he survived the Nazi Holocaust. He concluded that there are psychological and social mechanisms that caused this to happen. The first is authorization: When people in positions of authority use demeaning language, and then verbally endorse acts of violence, the individual that carries out the savage act is less inclined to feel personally responsible, and therefore, less guilty in performing them. What follows is routinization. Following a rigid routine eliminates any need for making decisions, and with that no need to ask awkward moral questions. In other words, what we hear conditions our thinking, creates the single story that allows us to see others as non-humans, which then gives us the moral justification for their elimination. Before we say to ourselves that we don’t demean, dehumanize, and exterminate other people, we have to acknowledge the role of violence in our culture.

Professors Alan Page Fiske, from the University of California, LA, and Tage Shakti Rai, from Northwestern University, in their book entitled Virtuous Violence, explain that most violence is motivated by moral sentiments.

They write:

“Most people do not simply justify or excuse their violent actions after the fact; at the moment they act, people intend to cause harm or death to someone they feel should suffer or die.”

Most violence is intended to regulate relationships, and the one that does the violence, as well as the community around the perpetrator and the victim, perceive the action as correct, consistent with their cultural rules.

An example:

Many years ago, when my son, Benjamin, was 3 years old, I was in line at a children’s store to buy something for him. In the line right next to me, there was a mother, speaking to her children in a language I did not recognize. She had a sleeping baby in a carriage, a boy that seemed to be the same age as Benjamin, and 3 other older children. She was obviously not paying much attention to the 3-year-old, so he did what children his age do – jumped on the baby carriage, and woke up the baby, who started wailing. The mother immediately screamed at the boy, and slapped him hard across the face, sending him flying a few feet away. I was horrified. My first instinct was to scream at her, in moral outrage. After all, her hurt and broken child will be sharing this world with my child! Yet, not too long ago, parents and teachers had no hesitation to spank a child. Spare the rod and spoil the child, was the saying. After some reflection, I understood that I did not know the cultural norms for this other mother. I believe we were both acting according to our definitions of what is moral and what is not.

Today, all around the world, we are locked in a battle of moral claims, in points of view that accommodate only a single story.

And that is dangerous.

A single story is dangerous because it allows us to use language that dehumanizes the other, seeing them as not fully human. A single story does not give us the room to question the moral ground that regulates social relationships according to cultural norms. We forget that every group is created by human beings, that every human being is created in the image of God, and that we are not defined by one single story. We don’t celebrate the world for what it is – a mishmash of people, who live, learn, love, and breathe the same air we breathe, drink the same water we drink, eat the produce of the same earth we eat.

It is dangerous when people in positions of authority revert to a single story to define other people. It is dangerous to generalize and assign blame to whole groups, and not see people as individuals who are part of a group. It is dangerous to incite morally righteous violence. Today, in the world we live in, we must truly listen, and decide if we are listening to a single story, or a story that represents the full gamut of reality. Do we have a balanced point of view, or are we just listening to one version of reality? In our version, do we see others as just one monolithic group, defined in ways that can lead to their extermination, or are we seeing them as people like us? We can get stuck in the single story of hatred, name calling, and anger. We can get stuck in the single story of us versus them. In the vast majority of cases, no human being is purely good, and no human being is purely evil. No human being has the monopoly on acting perfectly, correctly, at all times. We are all motivated by our culturally-determined morals. We all have multiple stories.

In the Talmud, (Massechet Sanhedrin 37a) we read that witnesses in Capital offense cases were lectured sternly before they would give their testimony. The speech of the Judges centered around the idea that every human being was important. One of the examples they would give was that when people create coins from a mold, they are all the same. But when God created us, even though modern science tells us that 99.9% of our DNA is the same, we are still individuals, with different tastes, likes and dislikes, opinions, abilities, and dispositions.

Even though we are all created from the same mold, none of us has a single story. May we, in this coming year, use our mental capacities to listen to multiple stories. May we reject the stories that limit our understanding of the variety and potential of people, that incite violence, that generalize and erase the humanity of others.

May we take an active role in pointing out when and where the story restrains our capacity to love and understand our fellow human beings. And may we rejoice in the multiplicity of stories that makes our world more interesting, richer, and peaceful.

CEH Booth at the Arlington County Fair – Recap

Familiar faces and many Arlington neighbors stopped into the Etz Hayim booth at the Arlington County Fair! A number of passersby specifically asked about Membership, Preschool and High Holiday tickets, so we will follow up with those folks in the next few days.

Our booth is an important part of participating in Arlington community events, raising our profile, and reaching out to prospective members. Prospective members are often hesitant to walk into our synagogue doors without previously having met a friendly face. When we meet at the Fair and tell them about our dynamic programming and welcoming atmosphere, they are much more likely to walk through our doors and check us out.

Many thanks to the following volunteers for making this all possible! Carol & Alan Schwaber; Deborah Meyers; Paula Levin-Alcorn; Dan & Elisa Rosman; Bard, Caleb & Mira Malovany; Sue Hamm; Steve, Courtney, Daniel & Edward Schwartz; Jill Clark-Foulkes.

Upcoming event: Bring yourself, your friends and neighbors to the Congregational Picnic and Membership Open House on Sunday, September 23 at 12:00pm!  Learn about how you can become more involved at Etz Hayim committees, chat with friends, bring prospective members by the Welcome Booth for some CEH goodies…And enjoy a free picnic!

One Couple, Two Faiths, Endless Flavor – Jewish Food Experience by Stacey Viera

Plantain latkes at Chanukah. Arroz y habichuelas (rice and beans) on the Rosh Hashanah table next to Big Mama Tillie’s roast brisket. Flan de queso crema (cream cheese custard) for Shavuot.

While those might be run-of-the-mill Jewish holiday dishes in some parts of the world, it was completely unheard of in my Ashkenazi upbringing in Silver Spring, Maryland. Of course, that is before I met Luis.

Seventeen years ago, I dragged myself off of my sofa in my apartment on Capitol Hill to go to a party in Ballston. Why? Because a friend told me that a cute Jewish guy was going to be there.

I met the Jewish guy. Eh, he wasn’t for me. But the person who really impressed me was his roommate, Luis, a Puerto Rican man who spoke with kindness and humor in heavily accented English.

We started dating with few expectations about where the relationship would go, though after a few months, it became clear that this was It. However, Luis wasn’t Jewish, and I wouldn’t ask him to convert. What would this mean for my Jewish identity—and the eventual children I hoped to have and raise as Conservative Jews?

Dr. Marion Usher’s new book, One Couple, Two Faiths: Stories of Love and Religion, contains scores of personal stories, like my own, illuminating the different paths that couples and families follow when deciding how to build relationships based on—and despite—religious differences.

Usher takes decades of expertise in counseling interfaith couples and their loved ones in Washington, DC, and provides a practical guide to making Judaism a “center of gravity” in a family, as it was in hers growing up in Montreal, Canada.

As Usher describes in detail and through multiple anecdotes, Judaism isn’t just a religion or an ethnicity; it’s a myriad of things to myriad people who identify as Jewish in their own way. The question she prompts the reader to ask herself is: How do I express my Judaism?

This is the same question I had to ask myself once my relationship with Luis got serious. I went to my grandma Tillie (aka Big Mama), who was a spry, lucid 88 at the time (she’ll be 103 this October, kinahora) and asked her, “Mama, can I marry a non-Jew?”

What would my deeply traditional Big Mama—who had as dedicated and loving a Jewish marriage as anyone could dream for—say about marrying a non-Jew?

In her frank and honest manner, Mama said, “Is he kind? That’s what matters. You found a nice man who is nice to you and good for you.” And in her not-so-subtle way of reminding me that I am far from a perfect person, she added, “I hope that you’re good for him.”

Our interfaith and interracial Jewish marriage is not without its challenges, yet over the past 13 years we have chosen to work together and use our trials to strengthen our partnership. I’ve learned Spanish to better communicate with Luis’ family, and Luis took Hebrew classes with our synagogue’s Adult Education program. He also learned a little Yiddish, much to Mama’s delight and amusement. While he’s never developed a taste for gefilte fish, Mama always makes sure there is a bowl of tuna salad on our holiday table just for Luis. And so many culinary delights, such as plantain latkes, have sprung from our union of Jewish and Puerto Rican cuisine.

Luis and I use our shared values to keep the Jewish home and raise the Jewish family that is right for us. Conservative Judaism didn’t lose a daughter when I intermarried; it gained a son.

We recognize the responsibilities that come with the privileges afforded to us. It is not enough that we signed a ketubah and danced the hora at our wedding. Several months before we decided to marry, we promised each other that it is our sacred responsibility to teach our eventual children about Jewish values and Torah, as well as the value of building significant relationships with the local Jewish community and with Israel.

We are blessed to have found Congregation Etz Hayim in Arlington, Virginia, a welcoming spiritual home based in Conservative Jewish liturgy with a rabbi who is open to meeting families where they are in Jewish observance. Accepting our intermarried status inspired Luis and me to become involved in the community and, as a result, more rigorous in our Jewish observance.

This is absolutely key, according to Usher: “The greater Jewish community must take responsibility for including and incorporating interfaith families and allowing the families to experience what Judaism has to offer as a religion and as a caring community.”

The 2017 Greater Washington Jewish Community Demographic Study revealed that as intermarried couples outnumber those who are in-married, more Washington-area Jews attend services and programs than belong/pay dues to synagogues. Just 31 percent of area Jews belong to a synagogue, below the 39-percent national average.

Usher sees this as less of a challenge than an opportunity for traditional “brick-and-mortar” synagogues, particularly within the Conservative movement. “It’s all about nuance,” she said, “Pushing the edges where they can be pushed and where people can feel included.”

She states that if individual synagogue boards of directors are open to inclusion, the congregation will follow. She uses the example of the interfaith aufruf performed by Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, formerly of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC, to illustrate this point. Usher recalled, “While he couldn’t marry the interfaith couple, he made a blessing on the bima to bless the couple. That was a huge statement.”

Whatever our martial status, we each have unique circumstances and challenges that require varied solutions. Usher explains what binds us as Jews: “Being charitable is one of the three important tenets of Judaism. These pillars are tefillah, teshuvah and tzedakah—studying, remembering what gives meaning to our lives and doing acts of kindness.”

Ultimately, this all comes back to food and the power of food to draw people together. We could be called the People of the (Recipe) Book. Unsure how to reach out to an interfaith family in your community? A meaningful, low-barrier way to make them feel welcomed and build relationships is through sharing recipes and meals. This theme crops up time and again in One Couple, Two Faiths. Try making one of Dr. Usher’s family recipes, my interpretation of tuna noodle kugel, or a dish based on your heritage and that of the couple you wish to honor.

These small gestures, Usher says, are “not earth shattering; it’s just once inch at a time.” As Big Mama Tillie would advise, it’s the kind thing to do. And that’s what matters.

Dr. Marion Usher’s guide to interfaith relationships, One Couple, Two Faiths: Stories of Love and Religion, is available locally at Politics & Prose Bookstore and on Amazon.

–Stacey Viera

Stacey Viera has held multiple leadership positions at Congregation Etz Hayim in Arlington, VA. She currently serves as Secretary. She is a Communications Strategist, Storyteller and Food Writer & Photographer.

Website – www.StaceyViera.com
Blog – www.everyfoodfits.com
Twitter – @staceyviera

What’s Jewish About Swimming? Recap

The Jewish people love to ask questions! If you were at Upton Hills pool on Sunday, August 5, you would have learned “What’s Jewish About Swimming?” There were approximately 25 people at the event.

To start the conversation, we turned to a classic Jewish text. The Talmud, in Tractate Kiddushin 29a, enumerates a list of obligations parents have to their children. These include teaching them Torah, helping them find a suitable spouse, and preparing them for future employment. At the end of the list of obligations, Kiddushin 29a states: “And there are some who say that [parents] must also teach [their children] how to swim.”

We asked the children why it would be important to learn how to swim. One said it would be important because it would help you if you had to travel to new places. The Jews are a wandering people and have settled in many new places so this response was right on target. Another child said it was important to know how to swim so you wouldn’t drown.

The adults surmised that the metaphor of swimming means we are obligated to teach our children skills that will allow them to survive independently of our help when the need arises. Our children need to build confidence, physical fitness, and be willing to take risks. Our job as parents is to support and encourage them. In this context, teaching children how to swim is a metaphor for launching them on a successful path to Jewish adulthood.

Although our actual swim time was cut short by heavy rains, we enjoyed our time together learning and building community. We look forward to more “What’s Jewish About . . . ” events over the course of the school year!

Thank you to Alexis Joyce for planning the program and the craft and Naomi Harris and Stacey Viera for helping with publicity.

Upcoming event: What’s Jewish about Bubbies? on November 18, 2018

 

CEH Booth at the Arlington County Fair

The Arlington County Fair has lots to do for families, and is great for individuals of all ages, families, neighbors and friends. Bring neighbors and friends over to the Etz Hayim booth to say hello! We especially want to meet local Jewish folks who might be interested in checking out all we have to offer: social programming, worship, social action, preschool, religious school, adult education….etc.

Especially for young children: Our booth will have a Duplo Lego table this year!

Where? Located at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center – indoor exhibit area, Etz Hayim’s booth hours are Friday, August 17, 4-5:30pm and Sunday, August 19, 11am-7pm.

Questions? Contact: Naomi Harris: VP.Membership@etzhayim.net

Andy and Eleanor Lovinger Honored for Volunteer Work

The CEH Monthly Mitzvah Mission to Feed the Homeless (in association with Central United Methodist Church (CUMC) and A-SPAN) is a social-action activity that resonates strongly with members Andy and Eleanor Lovinger. Although the Etz Hayim commitment is only once a month, they both participate on a weekly basis!

Both Andy and Eleanor were honored by Arlington County for their volunteer hours with a Volunteer Arlington Recognition Award signed by the Arlington County Board Chair. These are given to people who have contributed 100 hours or more in the past 12 months.

Andy says: “It is so important to do everything we can to help our indigent brothers and sisters and try to address the horrible tragedy of homelessness, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to do so in a tiny way. Many thanks for having initiated this outreach with CUMC.”

To participate in this meaningful activity, volunteers should go to Central United Methodist Church (CUMC) at 4201 Fairfax Drive (Arlington, VA) on Thursdays from 5:30-6:30pm, and/or Fridays from 5:30am-11:30am.

Tu B’Av Potluck Picnic and Family Concert Recap

We had a rockin’ and rollin’ good time at our Tu B’Av celebration on July 15! Tu B’Av is the Jewish Day of Love. This event was co-sponsored by PJ Library and included music, crafts, ice cream and a performance by the children’s band “Here Comes Trouble!” Approximately 50 people were in attendance!

Special thanks to Natalie and Rich Roisman for donating the band’s performance. Listen to a special birthday song by the band here: https://youtu.be/csX_ZFd1EHE.

Thank you to Alexis Joyce, Laura Naide, Naomi Harris, Stacey Viera and Edgar Rendon from CEH, Sarah Rabin Spira from PL Library, the band “Here Comes Trouble,” and Natalie and Rich Roisman.

Upcoming event: What’s Jewish About Swimming?

When: Sunday, August 5, 2018, 4:00-6:00pm

Register here for What’s Jewish About Swimming?:  https://tinyurl.com/cehswim

Capital Pride 2018 Recap

On June 10, 2018, Congregation Etz Hayim proudly participated in Capital Pride 2018 with an information booth and CEH giveaways. We met a wonderful array of individuals and families interested in our welcoming Conservative synagogue, and we made important connections with the local community. The Communications & Membership Committee followed up with each person interested in CEH, and we look forward to welcoming these folks through our doors soon!

Many thanks to Cheryl Whitehead for making this event possible and for doing so much hard work at the Festival! Thanks also to the volunteers who staffed the table: Sophie Whitehead-Thomas & Naomi McQuaid, Naomi Harris, Stacey & Dagny Viera, Alan Savada & Sam Savada-Stevenson.

Be sure to join us for Shabbat services and your Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Board of Directors Installation this Saturday, June 16, 2018.

Election of 2018-2019 Board of Directors

Mazal tov to the fiscal year 2018-2019 Congregation Etz Hayim Board of Directors and Executive Officers who were elected at the spring State of the Membership meeting on May 6, 2018.

President: Scott Burka
1st Vice President: Mike Stein
VP, Religious Affairs: Naomi Halpern
VP, Youth & Education: Deb Cohen
VP, Membership: Naomi Harris
VP, Fundraising: Jerry Jacobs
VP, Operations: Jonathan Golner
Treasurer: Jeremy Bronheim
Secretary: Stacey Viera
Board Member: Jeanne Briskin
Board Member: Jill Clark-Foulkes
Board Member: Jordan Fried
Board Member: Leslee Friedman
Board Member: Barry Ginsberg
Board Member: Jeanne Howard
Board Member: Mike Jacobs
Board Member: Ron Rosenberg
Board Member: Stephen Schwartz
Board Member: Jill Shenk

Please join us to install the new Board during Shabbat services on Saturday, June 16, 2018. Stay afterwards for kiddush and kibbitz.

Thank you to everyone who served on the Board this past year.