Barbara Streisand did it again! Yet another #1 album for Babs. Her new album, Partners, features duets with male singers and includes her signature song from Funny Girl, “People”. It is always a haunting melody for me but more so this year, after a summer where we as a people experienced unity during Operation Protective Edge and during these High Holidays with its core theme of achriyut, responsibility for one another.
While in Israel, I always visit the Museum of the Diaspora and a space called the “Minyan Corner,” conceived by Abba Kovner, one of the founders of the Museum. Nine wax figures stand together, representing the in-gathering of Jews from all over the world. Nine Jews, waiting for the tenth to constitute the holy community through which we reach out to God by embracing other Jews. Each viewer and visitor becomes the essential tenth person, without whom the community is incomplete.
During his first week in Israel, Abba Kovner, a poet, and commander of the Vilna Ghetto, recounted his visit to the Western Wall: “I felt distant, like I did not belong. I felt connected to another experience and hesitated to take another step. But someone tugged my coat sleeve and asked me to join a minyan. I accepted and recited the mincha service and came to the prayer ‘Bless us our Father, all of us as one.’ That was unique, the most unique in Judaism, to be one of a minyan.”
It always takes a group to foster the institutions vital to Jewish continuity, whether or not you are an actual part of a praying minyan. With the arrival of the 23 hapless Jews who settled in New Amsterdam in September of 1654 and asked asylum from Peter Stuyvesant, the refugees from Dutch Brazil set about acquiring a cemetery and eventually a synagogue, the religious aquifer of an organized Jewish community. To live Jewishly, one needs other Jews. Not for us the life of the hermit. We need sacred spaces, sacred books, sacred ritual objects, and a sacred cipher, the number 10. In a culture awash with secularism, materialism, and rampant individualism, we affirm that we are indeed part of a people, a community that promotes the axiomatic value of our responsibility for one another, of the shared and mutual responsibility of each and every member of the house of Israel. We are people who need people.
Since the Exodus from Egypt when we became a people, since we stood at Sinai and received the Torah as “one people with one heart,” we forged a community which has at its core the principles on which the entire enterprise of the Jewish people rests. Our reciprocal responsibility is not a slogan developed by some marketing Madison Avenue genius for the Federation, it is not a technique to raise money. It is who we are and what we are about.
The forging of a community, with its essential services, was as vital as the founding of a house of study and a house of prayer. If the later two sustained the inner life and the intellectual life, the former attended to the material and social needs. We need our synagogues, our schools, our JCCs. These are the religious acquifers from which we draw sustenance. And we need the agencies which carry out the very values which the Torah instills in us: caring for the elderly, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, celebrating the bride and groom, comforting the mourner. The power of the Jewish community made Jews a model of self-reliance throughout the ages. Conversely, the settling of a solitary Jew in a land untrodden by other Jews leaves no footprint.
Abba Kovner ended his reflection on the minyan with this conclusion: “My prayer is to always be one of the many… I ask for nothing else.” We need each other to complete our holy work. The work we do is not about us in the singular; but in the plural. Not I, but ‘we’. As members of a community, we in New Haven need to be mindful that our limitations as individuals are expanded when we work together to create limitless possibilities for the future. We are like the nine figures at the Museum of the Diaspora. We await the tenth person to make us whole. We are part of something greater than ourselves. WE ARE WAITING FOR YOU!
Hands on Hanukkah Festivities Take Over the Mall Dec. 14
What happens when you go to the mall around Hanukkah? The Festival of Lights is often obscured by everything Christmas. This year is going to be different! Kids in the New Haven area have the chance to take part in the holiday season festivities with a Jewish experience that they will remember forever.
On Dec. 14, the JCC of Greater New Haven is bringing Hands on Hanukkah, a Jewish winter wonderland of Hanukkah activities, to the Westfield Connecticut Post Mall in Milford from 12 to 4pm. Everyone is welcome to explore many activities and games designed to entertain the entire family, including a dreidel spin-off, Hanukkah singers and musicians, photos with Dizzy the Dreidel, and amazing raffles and giveaways for great prizes. And everything is free!
The mall and JCC are partnering to provide a much-needed interactive Hanukkah shopping experience and to engage community members in a new and innovative way with the help of Big Tent Judaism, a branch of Jewish Outreach Institute, an independent, national, trans-denominational organization that reaches out to communities across the United States.
Hands on Hanukkah, Dec. 14, 2014, 12 – 4pm, Westfield Connecticut Post Mall, 1201 Boston Post Rd., Milford, Free.
Learn more about Hands on Hanukkah at jccnh.org or contact Laura Ross, (203)387-2522 x317, email@example.com.
On Sept. 17, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven hosted its annual campaign kickoff event at the JCC in Woodbridge.
The gala event featured keynote speaker Dr. Stephen M. Berk, widely recognized scholar and speaker on Russian history, Russian Jewry, and anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. The organization honored area resident Dr. Milton Wallack with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Wallack, a retired periodontist, has served in many capacities in the Jewish and civic communities
“Dr. Milton Wallack has served the community with a lifetime of diligence and competency that is unequalled,” said Sydney Perry, Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven. “We can’t help but commend his service. His leadership is worthy not only of honor but also emulation”
Community Gears Up for Annual Arts & Culture Festival
Every November and December, the JCC and Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven bring art, music and author events to the Greater New Haven Jewish community. The months are packed full of tributes to historical performances, stories by contemporary authors and exposure to local artisans. Programs take place at the JCC at 360 Amity Rd., Woodbridge unless otherwise listed. Read more at jccnh.org/arts-culture-festival.
Author Laura Silver
Knish, In search of the Jewish Soul Food
Friday, Nov. 7, 12 p.m.
Explore the knish with the world’s current leading expert on this iconic Jewish food staple. Samples provided by Edge of the Woods. Free
Bar Kochva Art Exhibit
Nov. 9-12, Sunday 10 AM-6 PM,
M-W 10 AM–8 PM
Peruse and purchase outstanding artwork found in galleries and fine stores internationally, and support more than 45 different Israeli.
Bagels & Books
Author Tracy Newman,
Shabbat is Coming! (Ages 3-8)
Sunday, Nov. 9, 10:30 AM
Storyteller Tracy Newman who shares the story of a family and their pet puppy preparing for Shabbat. Includes snack and craft. Free. Contact: Laura Ross, firstname.lastname@example.org, (203)387-2522.
Irving Fine Centennial Concert
Sunday, Nov. 9, 4 PM
Performed by composer Irving Fine’s daughter, Emily Fine, and friends. Free
Author Tova Mirvis, Visible City
Thursday, Nov. 13, 7 PM
Bestselling author of The Ladies Auxiliary shares her most recent novel, Visible City, which is about the intersecting paths of three Jewish couples living in a glass apartment tower. Cost: $6
Global Day of Jewish Learning: Author Naomi Schaefer Riley, Got Religion?
Sunday, Nov. 16, 10:30 AM
Got Religion? How Churches, Mosques and Synagogues can Bring Young People Back examines defection and how the solutions for one religious group can be adapted to work for another.
Sponsored by Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.
Global Day of Jewish Learning
Noah’s Bed with PJ Library
Sunday, Nov. 16, 12 PM
This year’s Global Day of Jewish Learning revolves around the theme of courage. PJ Library presents Noah’s Bed, an enchanting retelling of the Ark tale and a little boy’s courage. Free.
Contact: Laura Ross, email@example.com, (203)387-2522
Author Judith Frank,
All I Love and Know
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 11 AM
A searing drama of a modern American family on the brink of dissolution that explores adoption, gay marriage, and love lost and found. Suggested Donation: $6. Sponsored by Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, firstname.lastname@example.org, (203)738-0033.
Diane Cypkin, A Tribute to the Star of Yiddish Theater: Molly Picon
Sunday, Nov. 23, 2-3 PM
Diane Cypkin presents a lecture and concert celebrating the star of Yiddish theater, Molly Picon. $6. Co-sponsored by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven.
JCC Holiday Craft Fair
Sunday, Dec. 7, 10 AM-4 PM
A spectacular smorgasbord to complete your holiday shopping with gifts, accessories, home décor, pottery, jewelry, and more from more than 60 local artisans! Babysitting available. Edge of the Woods Café open.
Events on the Shoreline
The Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven’s Shoreline Office in Guilford serves the entire Shoreline/Lower Connecticut Valley region. Our mission is to provide the Jewish population from East Haven to East Haddam with meaningful programs and opportunities. Here are three fall programs to enrich your Jewish experience through current events and contemporary writing. For more information: Jill Lesage at email@example.com, (203) 738-0033.
Gil Hoffman of The Jerusalem Post on Current Events in Israel
Tuesday, October 28, 7-9pm
Gil Hoffman is the chief political correspondent and analyst for The Jerusalem Post. His writing and TV appearances provide a behind-the-scenes look at the intrigue and humor in the Israeli political arena.
Location: The Guilford Yacht Club, 379 New Whitfield St., Guilford.
Arts & Culture Festival: Author Gail Sheehy, Daring: My Passages
Thursday, November 6, 7 PM
Library of Congress calls Daring one of the ten most influential books of our time. Sheehy tells the story of her unconventional life and gives a bold perspective on all of life’s passages. Cost: $6
Location: R.J. Julia Booksellers, 768 Boston Post Rd., Madison.
Arts & Culture Festival: Author Daniel Goldhagen, The Devil That Never Dies
Sunday, November 23, 1:30 PM
A groundbreaking and terrifying examination of the widespread resurgence of anti-Semitism in the 21st century, with book signing. Free.
Location: Guilford Free Library, 67 Park St., Guilford.
What’s Happening at the JCC
The 11th Annual Holiday Craft Fair on Dec. 7 is one of the JCC’s most popular events, drawing thousands of holiday shoppers each year. Limited spaces are available and filling up fast. Artisans and crafters need to register at jccnh.org/holiday-craft-fair by Nov. 3.
Edge of the Woods Café is up and running at the JCC. Check out the vegetarian smoothies, hot meals and grab-and-go meals. The bakery is taking orders for holiday challah. Conveniently pick up your Shabbat breads at the JCC each Friday. eotwm.com/bakery
Did you know that the JCC Fitness Center offers karate, swim, dance, and many other classes for kids and adults? You can get enrichment classes for the whole family in one place at a discount with a JCC membership. Fall classes are in full swing but there’s still time to sign up. Registrar: (203) 387-2JCC x250.
New programs and events are always popping up at the JCC. Learn more at our NEW website: jccnh.org.