Donut Wars Recap

On Wednesday, December 5, we celebrated Hanukkah with a donut decorating challenge called “Donut Wars”. We had a total of 45 people!

Students were randomly divided into teams of 4. Each team participated in 3 rounds of donut decorating, ala the cooking show “Chopped”. Each round had a theme (“Lights”, “Maccabees” and “Miracles”) and a mystery ingredient. In addition to the donuts and the mystery ingredient, students could use items from a central pantry. The pantry held treats such as chocolate chips, frosting, candy sprinkles, and colorful cereals.

Students had 8 minutes for each round to decorate their donuts. The donuts were judged by an esteemed panel of CEH Religious School teachers. Teams were judged on presentation, taste, and creative use of the mystery ingredients. Prizes went to the 3 top teams, plus a special prize to the team that kept their workplace the cleanest.

Our students worked together beautifully and created surprising interpretations of our Hanukkah themes. During the second round (“Maccabees”), several teams decorated their donuts with a hammer motif. In all three rounds, there was an abundance of creativity, enthusiasm, and sugar. Food Network watch out – we have some stars on the rise!

Thank you to RS Teachers: Adam Wassell, Robyn Norrbom, Lital Burr, Amanda Sky, Emma Rosman, Hannah Rosman, Jeana Kimelheim, Rabbi Bass, and Edgar Rendon.

–Laura Naide                                                                                                                Director of Religious Education

 

Volunteer Arlington MLK Day of Service

Congregation Etz Hayim is a SPONSOR for this family-friendly event to benefit over 20 local non-profit organizations. Join your CEH friends as well as other community members to make this holiday a “day on rather than a day off” and work together to move closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community”.

Anyone can join us! There will be volunteer opportunities for people of all ages.

Location: Washington Lee High School

When: Monday, January 21, 8:30am – 12:00pm

Afterward, CEH friends will meet for lunch at Chesapeake Bagel Bakery at Lee-Harrison Shopping Center – around 1:00pm.

Please, CLICK HERE and register as soon as possible to get the volunteer job of your choice – especially if you are trying to sign up as a group of friends. This is a popular community event that fills quickly. For more information: https://volunteer.leadercenter.org/MLK

Questions, email Paula Levin-Alcorn: plevinal@gmail.com

–Paula Levin-Alcorn

Giving Back

As a member for over 25 years, I am always touched by the closeness of the congregants here and the spirit of Tikun Olam that so many of us share.

Several years ago, the congregation lost one of those special people that made CEH unique and special and while Alan Youkeles is no longer with us swaying to V’shamru on Friday nights, his commitment to Tikun Olam has been carried on by many others including John Howard and Dan Rosman. Below is an article written about John and Alan. Thank you, John and Dan, for having such big hearts and carrying on Alan’s legacy.

–Scott Burka                                                                                                                         President

WOW-That’s Cool! Featuring John Howard
Sometimes we serve our community in memory of a friend whose generous spirit burned so brightly we want it to live on after they are no longer with us. That is the case for John Howard, the Federal Lead in EM’s Correspondence Control Center. John volunteers at        So Others Might Eat (SOME), a nonprofit organization fighting poverty in Washington, D.C. Every 3rd Thursday, John along with other volunteers from his synagogue, cook and serve breakfast (French toast, sausage patties, and chunky applesauce) to 400 people in SOME’s dining room at 71 O Street, NW, then clean up the kitchen, and come into work. They do that partially because it is good to give back to those in need, but also in memory of their friend Alan.

Alan was an amazing guy. He spent his years after college with the Peace Corps working in sub-Saharan Africa bringing irrigation to villages with no water. After that, he moved from California, joined the Environmental Protection Agency, and began volunteering at SOME in the late 1980s with a group of friends he met when he first arrived in the DC area. Fast forward some 30 years later, Alan was the only original group member left, but through his generous spirit, he brought many new people into the circle of friends giving back each month at SOME. His warm heart just drew people in! He was most happy when he was making the world a better place.

Alan firmly believed in service and that feeding the homeless through SOME’s dining room was an excellent way to make a difference in the community. He believed in this so deeply that, following his death, his friends donated a freezer to SOME in his memory. John and the other volunteers continue to be inspired when they see the memorial plaque to Alan on the freezer being used to help others in need.

According to SOME’s website, in 2016 with the help of caring supporters, they provided 388,213 meals (breakfast and lunch), 14,546 free sets of clothing, and 10,941 showers to homeless men and women from its facilities. Volunteers, such as the group that John belongs to and Alan began, prepare and serve the meals to hungry men, women, and children in SOME’s Main Dining Room and in the Dining Room for Women and Children every day of the year at its O Street facility.

Thank you John, for continuing to follow Alan’s philosophy of paying it forward! That is a small thing with a BIG impact-the highest form of wisdom is kindness.

 

 

What’s Jewish About Bubbies? Recap

On Sunday, November 18, 2018, grandparents, parents, and children gathered at CEH to learn “What’s Jewish About Bubbies?”

Bubby (plural: bubbies or bubbes) is a Yiddish term for grandmother. The Yiddish term for grandfather is Zayde. We call our grandparents many other terms of endearment (e.g., granny, pop-pop, savta, saba, mimi, grandpa), but bubbe and zayde are very well-known terms among many Jewish families.

Jewish law and tradition emphasize the responsibility to honor our parents and grandparents. From the Ten Commandments (“Honor Your Mother and Father”) to the recitation of our ancestors at every prayer service, we are reminded to show respect and reverence to the generations before us. Grandparents play an especially important role in teaching Jewish traditions to their families.

To celebrate grandparents, we ate cookies and milk, sang songs, read stories about Jewish values, created grandparent awards, and played grandparent bingo. We learned that the group strongly preferred chocolate chip cookies although gingerbread/ginger snaps were a strong runner up. Moreh Will taught us the Hebrew words for family members such as father (Abba) and mother (Ima). We also played several exciting games of dreidel in our new “spinagogue.” We had around 30 people ranging in age from newborn to grandparents.

The most important lesson of the day was how special it is to spend time with our families. Based on the success of this event, we are now planning another grandparent-focused celebration for Spring 2019.

Next Event: What’s Jewish About Libraries?

When: 02/10/2019

–Alexis Joyce, Laura Naide, Will Rivlin

Making Our Voices Heard: Jewish Community Relations Council

I represented CEH at the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) Northern Virginia Commission Fall meeting in late October. As stated on its website, “The JCRC works within our four pillars (government relations, Israel advocacy, inter-group relations, and social justice) to advocate for Jewish institutions and values, educate the community about key issues of concern, and reach out with our neighbors to build a better world for us all.” Discussion centered on prioritizing the many competing issues for which JCRC will advocate during the 2019 Virginia General Assembly session, including expanding hate crimes protections, protecting immigrant communities, preventing gun violence, and support for Israel.

Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn provided the insider’s view of the goings on in the legislative body. She noted a current court case on redistricting that will lead to a new legislative map of Virginia, and that could affect party leadership in the House of Delegates, which would likely lead to progress on some of JCRC’s issues after many years of disappointment.

Want to get involved? Mingle with federal, state, and local Virginia elected officials at the “Lox and Legislators”breakfast, to be held at Temple Rodef Shalom on Wednesday, December 12, 7:30 – 9:30 (individual tickets $36, can be purchased at www.jcouncil.org/Lox). Also, consider participating in Jewish Advocacy Day in Richmond on Wednesday, February 6. Buses will leave the Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center at 6:30 a.m. The long but exciting day includes lobbying our elected representatives and hearing from the Governor and others high level officials over lunch. For more information on JCRC and its activities, please see: http://www.jcouncil.org/site/PageServer?pagename=involved_novaadvocacy

–Rachel Waldstein
Social Action Committee Chairperson

Meet the Clarendon Coffee Shop Rabbi!

Rabbi Rami Schwartzer is the founder of a new Jewish community for those in their 20s and 30s in the greater D.C. area. Rami is currently working as a community rabbi in Northern Virginia. You may catch a glimpse of him if you frequent coffee shops or bars in the NoVA area, where he can often be found chatting with friends and neighbors and sharing Jewish wisdom. He is a wonderful resource for those in their 20’s or 30’s who may not feel comfortable or ready to join a synagogue, chavurah, or other “official” Jewish institution.

A lifelong camper, Rami is also Director of Ramah Day Camp of Greater Washington, D.C., with over a decade of experience creating immersive Jewish environments. Rami has served congregations in New York, Texas, and Israel, and as a chaplain at MJHS Hospice & Palliative Care in New York City. He is the recipient of the Gladstein Fellowship in Entrepreneurial Rabbinic Leadership, the Myers Foundation Rabbinic Initiative, and the Leffell Israel Rabbinic Fellowship with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Rami holds degrees from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he received rabbinic ordination.

Rami can be reached at rschwartzer@gmail.com

–Naomi Harris

VP, Membership

 

CEH Professionals Attend Family Programming Conference

On October 30, 2018, five CEH staff members attended The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Family Programming Professionals Conference. CEH was represented by Laura Naide, Director of Religious Education; Alexis Joyce, Preschool Director; and Linda Lichtman, Milena Serrato and Ana DeMaree, Preschool Teachers. Altogether more than 50 Jewish professionals from the Greater DC Metro area met to learn and share ideas about family programming.

We started the day with a text study led by Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, the Federation’s Scholar-in-Residence. Our text (Brachot 10a) was the basis of a discussion about how we deal with perpetrators of evil. Do we blame the perpetrator? Or do we embrace the idea that every person created by God has the capacity to do good in which case we focus on the sin and restitution/rehabilitation. We were able to share our thoughts on this dilemma in light of the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh.

We next learned from a diverse panel on “Creating an Inclusive Community.” The participants included a same-sex couple with one Jewish and one non-Jewish spouse, a Jewish parent of developmentally-delayed children, and a transgender Jew of color. The panelists shared the best and worst experiences of their Jewish journeys. The overarching messages were: 1) never assume that you know someone else’s journey, and 2) engage the person, not the “category.”

We concluded the morning with two professionals from PJ Library who shared four family engagement principles. First, “The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.” This means that frequent social interaction builds lasting relationships. Second, “Stop, look, and listen.” Make time to reflect on your programming and question it – does it meet family’s needs? Third, “PJ Library is a GPS for parents in the driver’s seat.” While PJ Library and other Jewish institutions can guide, support and incentivize Jewish engagement, parents ultimately choose their destination. And, fourth, “Jewish content, quick and deep.” It is important to offer accessible Jewish content that addresses parents’ deepest needs and inspires them to learn more.

The afternoon was similarly busy, with workshops on experiential programming, building relationships, marketing and family education. At the end of the day, we had the opportunity to meet in small groups and put together action items and follow up with a colleague

This opportunity to learn and build relationships with other Jewish professionals will help us to continue to provide excellent family programming at CEH. This year’s programming, “What’s Jewish About . . . “ provides opportunities for families to learn about life through a Jewish lens at different locations throughout Arlington. We invite you to join us at our next event, “What’s Jewish About Bubbies,” at CEH on Sunday, November 18 at 1:30 PM.

PJ Library offers FREE books delivered to your home for children ages 6 months to 11 years. Visit pjlibrary.org to sign up.

— Laura Naide & Alexis Joyce, Family Programmers

 

Shabbat-Hanukkah Party

Our monthly first-Friday night potluck is turning into a Hanukkah party on December 7! And we’re serving up the latkes!

Join us for Shabbat services which begin at 6:15pm and end around 7:30pm. After kiddush and motzi, we’ll serve latkes to complement the potluck, sing songs with Moreh Will and play Hanukkah games. Bring your entire family!

When: Friday, December 7 here at CEH

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! If you can help serve latkes or lead a Hanukkah game, please contact Naomi Harris at vp.membership@etzhayim.net

 

2018 Artist Expo Recap

On November 4, hundreds of congregants and members of the greater Arlington community attended the 14th Annual Etz Hayim Artist Expo and Bake Sale.

The 14th Annual Etz Hayim Artist Expo and Bake Sale was once again a great success as a fundraiser and community-building activity. On Sunday, November 4, from 11:30am to 4pm, more than 30 vendors filled our converted sanctuary space with fine art photographs, pottery, jewelry, glassworks, Judaica, and so much more.

Several generous artists donated handmade textiles and other items to the raffle, which generated additional funds.

Though the bake sale was scheduled to begin at 11:30, the purchasing and noshing began well before then. Homemade cookies, cakes, challah, and other treats crafted by our own talented congregants earned more than $350 for our synagogue.

New in 2018, religious school families were further enticed to linger after school with opportunities to purchase bagged lunches made by CEH volunteers and free face painting for kids of all ages.

Preliminary estimates show that the artist expo and bake sale earned more than $4,000 for Etz Hayim, and the camaraderie generated was priceless.

Thank you to Naomi Harris and the Malovany family for their leadership and support to make the art expo such a success as well as the scores of volunteers who aided exhibitors, worked in the kitchen, toiled over ovens for the bake sale, and did so much more to execute a marvelous event!

Kislev is for Kindness

Once a month, I leave just before noon and drive to Rockville for a meeting with my fellow preschool directors. These meetings are a great way to connect with peers and offer an opportunity for personal, professional and spiritual growth. Each meeting starts with a d’var Torah (word of Torah) followed by a text study and discussion. It is a wonderful way to prepare ourselves for what we consider to be sacred work: work with children.

But lately, I’ve been dreading meetings because Pittsburgh… or swastikas on the JCCNV…or fill in the blank tragic event. Our precious time together has been hijacked by responding to this tragedy or that act of violence or hate. Yesterday was no different, but the discussion took a different turn.

One of my colleagues stated, “We all want to feel better, but I don’t want to. I want to keep this hurt and pain with me.” She was saying that keeping the hurt and pain put her sacred work into a different and clearer context. This led to a deeper discussion on our roles as teachers.

How do we reach the troubled child? Am I doing everything to meet his needs?

Am I giving this child a voice? How can I help her find her voice?

Am I creating a stable and routine environment for children in unstable world?

Am I creating a community mindset of caring for the children in my care?

We can and do have a hopeful response to tragic events. We can teach our children Derech Eretz (common courtesy), Chesed (loving kindness), and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). We teach them in the ways that we treat them and others. And when complacency creeps in, we hold onto the hurt and the pain, so hopefully one day they won’t need to.

The month of Kislev began on Thursday, November 9th, and Facebook gave us Kislev is for Kindness at just the right time. Every day this month, you can practice a random act of kindness. Each of us has the capacity for kindness and is deserving of kindness. How many acts of kindness can you do this month? For more information on #kislevisforkindness, please visit www.kislevisforkindness.com.

-Alexis Joyce, Preschool Director