זִכָּרוֹן לְמַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית
זֵֽכֶר לִיצִיאַת מִצְרָֽיִם
zikaron l’maaseih v’reishit
zecher litziat mitzrayim.
There are two lines in the Friday night Kiddush that stand out for me as I sit here writing to you. The first zikaron l’maaseih v’reishit reminds us that shabbat is a day to remember the works of creation and the second zecher litziat mitzrayim, a call to remember that God took us out of Egypt.
Each shabbat when we sanctify the day, we are called upon to remember these two foundational principles of our lives. Last Friday night we enjoyed our second shabbat potluck dinner and service of the season. An Italian theme, it was a learner service and the older children in the congregation were with us as we entered shabbat. Talk about the works of creation. Watching the faces of these children, as they discovered the gifts of shabbat, exploring the music of the Kabbalat shabbat service and taking their place among the shelshelet kabbalah the chain of generations took my breath away. The children, some on shoulders of their parents and some hanging on the Shulchan, stood around the Torah as Margie Elsberg and Toby Borzekowski chanted Torah. They saw first hand what the Torah means to us and Chazak Chazak v’nitchazeik as we completed the book of Genesis. May we go be strong and together be strengthened.
This week we begin reading and studying the book of Exodus, the story of our people as we crossed the sea and came into the Promised Land. On Sunday evening we had the honor of hosting both the Ukrainian family and the team of volunteers that has been working so intensely to help them to feel welcome. As the family shared their story of leaving behind their world, crossing borders with suitcases and walking over mountains, we were reminded of our own foundational story, and the stories of so many of our more recent refugee ancestors. When I went to Thailand in 1987 to spend a year working with Refugees International, my retired US Army Colonel boss said, “of course it makes sense….” We are instructed over thirty times in the Torah to reach out and to welcome the stranger. The gift of living our Torah values, is something that inspires me and sustains me each and every day. zecher litziat mitzrayim.
The first weekend in February we will participate in HIAS’s refugee shabbat. It will be a potluck dinner and we hope that all of you can join us as we come together, remembering the miracles of the works of creation and the call to care for the stranger. We are also working on an interfaith service devoted to prayers for peace in Ukraine. Stay tuned for details….
Chazak Chazak v’nitchazeik together might we go from strength to strength and be strengthened.
With love as the days are getting longer
Rabbi Ilene Harkavy Haigh
From the President's Desk
The new year, 2023, started off with two Shir Shalom bangs, so to speak, reminding us how wonderful it is when we come together. The first “bang” was another fabulous Pot Luck Shabbat Dinner, this time with great Italian Jewish food. Big thank you to Sheena, Holly, Abby, and Hannah for putting this together and to Jenn for providing support to everyone. And a big thank you to all the cooks. This is our second Shabbat Pot Luck and we plan to continue them, once a month, each one having a different theme. We have had about 40 people at each dinner, which seems about the right size. The dinners are great in their own right, but they also make the Friday Night services that follow so much warmer and more meaningful. I met some people new to the synagogue and that is always delightful. If you haven’t come to one of these, think about coming next time. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to start Shabbat.
The other big bang to start the year was meeting the strangers that we came together to welcome. I met the Ukrainian family that we have helped to come to the US. They had quite a harrowing journey to get here. One daughter is a student at Dartmouth, so she was safe when the war started. But the other daughter, still in Ukraine at the start of the war, got out through a study abroad program in Germany with the help of some other wonderful strangers. The parents had to cross two borders to finally get on a plane to the US. When they arrived at the second border, they encountered a 20-mile-long car line and had to cross mountains on foot for more than 10 miles. It is hard to imagine what life has been like for this family, navigating through war-torn areas, children separated from parents, dodging forced conscriptions, and still maintaining a positive, fearless attitude. Big thanks to Mickey, Andrea, Elliot, and Jessie for organizing our assistance with the help of some terrific local people and a lot of support from members of Shir Shalom. An even bigger thank you to Halley and Curt who opened their home to the family, helped the younger daughter get into school, and provided a place for the family to live. We invited the family to come to one of our services in the early Spring to meet the congregation. It was a joy to meet them and I think our congregation will enjoy getting to know them too.
From the Hebrew School Director's Desk
If you have ever spent time in the Detroit Jewish community, you know that EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE attends Jewish summer camp. While Michiganders are usually defined within the construct of the MSU vs UofM debate, the true Michigander understands that the real divide is between Ramah Canada or Camp Tamarack. As a transplant from Chicago, and never a camper, I was an enigma.
My kids also did not attend camp. I’m not sure if this was because it was an experience that was not woven into the fabric of the Silverman-Gawel families or because my kids were homebodies. As teens, when my kids found their Jewish home in USY (a Jewish youth group), both Sophia and Sam expressed that they wished they had gone to camp. It was a missed opportunity.
As time passed and I began working in synagogue schools and Jewish day schools, I realized that my students’ proud Jewish identities were NOT a reflection of their upbringing or surprisingly, not even because they attended Jewish schools, but because of the RAMAH and TAMARACK emblems that adorned their t-shirts, water bottles, backpacks, and hearts. Jewish campers attach to their camps much in the same way adults’ eyes grow misty as they don their favorite college hoody and recount stories of the ‘good old days.’
Jewish camping is more than canoeing, archery, friendships, and 20 lbs of dirty clothing that returns at the end of August. For young Jews, Jewish camps breathe the spirit and soul - the neshama - of Judaism within them. When a young Jew attends a Jewish camp, the foundational elements that synagogue and home have built within them become fleshed out, whole. I am not saying that one must attend Jewish camp to become a fully established Jewish adult, but research shows that when one looks at the commonalities between engaged Jewish adults, a Jewish camp experience is one of the shared factors.
While camp is not for everyone, it is absolutely worth exploration and consideration. Here, in the Northeast, the URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) runs incredible programs, and there is considerable financial aid to help make these camps a reality for our kids. So, as you snuggle up by the fire and dream of summer sunsets, warm winds, and cool lakes, take a peek at what the URJ has to offer: https://urjnortheastcamps.org/summer/.
May the lure of Summer Shabbats bring you warmth this winter.
Jennifer Malloy Combs
James W. Calk
Anna Niusia Dlgui
Florence "Mimi" Fein
Sylvia D. Giles
Peter J. Kaplan
Stephen B. Kardon, MD
Irene R. Lappin
Irving D. Meltzer
Robert A. (Bob) Roberts
Edythe Grossman Seigal
Nancy (Annabelle Warmflash) Weinberg
For all the gifts of the heart that have been given between December 9, 2022 - January 11, 2023. We could not have done it without you!
Click for list
Sat. Jan 14 @ 10:30 AM
Shabbat Morning Minyan
Sun. Jan 15 @ 6:00 PM
Vermont Youth Climate Group: Effective Public Speaking Seminar to honor MLK
Wed. Jan 18 @ 8:30 AM
Virtual Minyan on Zoom
Thur. Jan 19
Rabbi Learning Series: Torah Study @ 10:00 AM, Hebrew I @ 12:15 PM, & Hebrew II Study @ 11:00 AM
Fri. Jan 20 @ 7:00 PM
Shabbat Worship with Rabbi Haigh
Sat. Jan 21 @ 9:30 AM
Sat. Jan 21 @ 5:15 PM
Teen Pizza Party, Havdalah, MLK Day Mitzvah Project
Sun. Jan 22 @ 10:00 AM
Sun. Jan 22 @ 11:00 AM
Rabbi's Round Table: Va'era: Whose Covenant is this anyway?
Fri. Feb 3 @ 5:30 PM
Sat. Feb 4 @ 10:30 AM
Upper Valley Shabbat Jewish Kidz Club
Shir Shalom VT has successfully brought a Ukrainian teenager and her family to the Upper Valley. The need for help continues while they get settled in.
Please contact Mickey Elsberg or Andrea Felix if you wish to help.
This will be used for Rabbi's teaching including Torah Study, Hebrew I and II, Adult Education, Wednesday and Saturday Minyans, Social Groups, etc.
Meeting ID: 725 948 2096
This will be used for larger group events such as the 1st and 3rd Friday Night Shabbat Services, B'nei Mitzvahs, and Events
Meeting ID: 219 902 8045