Rabbi's Letter

December 4, 2018
26 Kislev 5779

Derech eretz, is a Jewish concept that is translated as,  the way of the land.  It is a concept that describes not, the way things are, but the way we are commanded to make them. Derech Eretz describes the walk of decency, tolerance, civility, empathy, compassion and respect that is believed to have preceded the giving of the Torah. Imagine!

During Hannukkah, we illumine the derech, we light the way. On the year’s shortest days, we come with light to celebrate the miraculous capacity to set increasing brightness against the backdrop of meager light that so much of the human race sees by. We take heart from the miracles made real by our ancestors in those times, ba-yamim ha-hem, during these days, ba-zeman ha-zeh. We take heart from all humanity, that strives to hold the light up, so that all may be warmed by its rays.

These day, we must remember the courage that makes the Maccabees story timeless for time matters not, what was will be again, its all in the cycles of human development.  It is only how we will walk as time turns us upside down and around again. Don’t wait to speak, don’t hide that menorah from the window. It is a burden being a Jew but what a burden of joy it is. Standing as light on the side of RIGHT.

The American Jewish poet, Muriel Rukeyser, taught us that we should bring those times forcefully to these days—step by step, act by act—not imagining that we can skip easily from a storied past to a pristine future:

This is not the past walking into the future,
The walk is painful, into the present, the dance not even visible as a dance until much later. This is how wisdom moves and expands through time.

The past is gone, the future just beyond the horizon, we are the bridge between the two.
The steps we take become the dance of God’s light. Or we dance not and the future falls farther and farther away into the darkest memory of days lost to time.

Light your Hanukiah tonight and be proud, what a legacy of light we have been given. Light it up!!!!! With joy!
Dear Friends,

I hope your Hanukkah is filling up with happiness. The One Room Shul House sure had a fabulous Hanukkah party at the Fikry’s this past Sunday. My clothes smelled like potato latkes after I got home, that’s when you know it was a good party. The children had a wonderful time as did the parents. This little school is truly the love of my life. (okay second to my grandchildrenJ)

One of our activities was to write letters to a little boy named Ben Goldberg who is in the hospital with a grave sickness. His mother went on Facebook looking for children his age who might want to be his pen pal, well the One Room Shul House got right down to business writing letters and stuffing envelopes. I sent off twenty letters yesterday to Ben from the One Room Shul House. His mother was beyond herself with gratitude. How easy it is to bring light and joy to another person. Here’s a picture of Ben and a pic of the kids writing to him. SWEET!
I am also extremely excited to introduced you to and to welcome to our newest congregational family, Jeremy, Alexa and Aiden Revell. 

Both Jeremy and Alexa were born in southern California, they met while working together after Jeremy completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai and Alexa was working in pharmaceutical research. Shortly after, Jeremy took a job that brought him to Jacksonville, North Carolina, and they decided to buy a house in Topsail Beach. That’s what brought them out of the West and into the South, where together they navigated their new marriage and welcomed their son Aidan in 2013. Family is the most important thing to them and that includes their two giant French mastiffs, a boy named Russell and a girl named Ponyo. Think “Turner and Hooch” but twice the slobber. They miss their friends and family out west, but are grateful for the welcoming friends and families that they have met in our community and they look forward to continuing their growth as a family at B’nai Israel. 
We welcome you all with open arms and loving hearts.  Can’t wait to welcome Aiden into our One Room Shul House. We are thrilled that you finally made it home!
The kids of our little school will be in the Sanctuary this coming Shabbat the 15 th . It’s a TGIS,  Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat and the kids will be participating in the service.

This is a special Shabbat, three Torahs! We’d love to share our beautiful Shabbat with you.
I also wanted to share with you a beautiful article that was in the Star News a few weeks back over Thanksgiving weekend. Our own congregants Mike Huckman and John Klekamp.
Thank you Mike and John for doing such kind and noble work in our world. My heart is full of gratitude for you both!
Please join us for our joyous celebration of Hanukkah
 our Festival of Lights
Where: Bnai Israel Synagogue
When: Sunday December 9 th at 4PM

We will begin promptly with a Hanukkah ceremony in the sanctuary, words by Mayor Saffo, lighting of the Menorah together, the music of the Kavanotes, Rabbi’s “story of Hanukkah” and the talented BBYO singing a song. 
From there we will head into the Social Hall for latkes, dreidles, food, music, drinks, dancing, raffles, photo booth, (Manned by the wonderful BBYO kids) story telling for the children (By the wonderful Sharon Spivak) and much much more.

Cost of entry, $10-member
Family cap at $20
Bring your friends, all are invited!

Please RSVP to Kate in the office so that we have an idea of how much food to have prepared.

Don’t forget to bring an unwrapped gift for TOYS for TOTS. I also have found a few families who have been terribly affected by the Storm and who will receive a delivery of toys as well.
Last evening, I had the wonderful pleasure of having dinner with a group of Jews who are affiliated with an organization named  the Jewish Volunteer connection.

They have come down to North Carolina from Baltimore to help tear apart a cul-de-sac of destroyed homes from hurricane Florence. Once they leave another group will arrive to do the rebuild. They were so lovely and generous. They wanted to know all about the storm and the needs that still exist. I took Cedric Harrison along with me, the organizer and founder of SUPPORT THE PORT, because he has so much first hand knowledge of the state of those at the bottom of the economic scale so that he could report on the conditions of so many still in need. It was a lovely evening, informative and heartwarming. They inspired me with their dedication.
I am so thrilled to report that Roberta Eichenholz is doing wonderfully following her knee surgery last week. Her spirit has returned after months of terrible pain. Her recovery will take some time but she is in great spirits and hopeful for a full recovery. We are cheering for you Roberta.

Please keep Mimi Bloch in your prayers as she is in the hospital fighting an infection. And then, our own Howard Neuwerth is having back surgery tomorrow so keep him close to your heart and prayers as well. And last but not least our beloved Fred Feinstein has begun a series of medical procedures that will not be easy. So send your love his way. 

Prayers and good wishes have an energy of their own, send them out in every direction. May it be that between the skill of the Doctors and the love of the congregation, all of the above will soon return to full health.
Can’t wait to see you at the Hanukkah Party. I am a bit sad that our Klezmer band can’t make it this year due to illness of a family member. They have guaranteed me that they will be back next year, yet, have no fear, I’ve hired a great DJ and we still plan to dance the night away! Please know that we will have a whole slew of items to raffle off so come prepared to have fun.

Sending you all love and light,

Happy Hanukkah

Hag Sameach Hannukah
באהבה ושלום

Shabbat Shalom to all!
הרב אלישבע בת דוד ודבורה
Rabbi Julie Kozlow
(910) 762-1117 ~ B'nai Israel phone