APRIL | 2021
Included in this month’s LIGHT

•     President’s Message
•     Kosher Food Bank Donation Drive
•     Meet New Member Rita Kaplan
•     65 Beth Orians Attend PACT Nehemiah Action
•     April Coming Attractions
•     Tributes
People Coming Together To Care For Each Other

By Mel Tenen
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
—Winston Churchill

It took me a long time to understand and fully embrace the wisdom of that statement. 

The obligation of giving comes from the Torah: “Tzedek, tzedek you shall pursue. Hundreds of years later, the Talmud taught: “Tzedakah is equal to all the other commandments combined”.

And at Beth Or, our tradition has built a practice to express this notion of giving - Tzedakah, which is often translated as “charity.” The truth, though, is that it is not charity. Charity comes from the word meaning “affection” or “love.” Now, while there may be affection and love in Tzedakah – the word Tzedakah comes from the Hebrew word that means “righteousness.” Doing Tzedakah is engaging in a righteous act, whether we are feeling charitable or not.

And at Beth Or, over the past 40 years, we have shown our ability to give in so many different ways.

We give of the heart. The true gifts of our hearts: soulfulness, supportiveness, and being surrounded by community.

Those who suffer understand the importance of being understood. They need others to be soulful; soulful of their own blessings, soulful of their gifts, soulful of the words they utter and soulful that though misery may love company, those in pain need respect and love to give them strength to break out. That is the Tzedakah of the heart that makes us so special here at Beth Or.

We need to be supportive even if we are sometimes disinclined to be, for we don’t know how the Tzedakah from our heart will change a life.
And, finally, the Tzedakah of the heart which is expressed in community. When we suffer, we have an instinctive need to feel protected and warmed and told that we are loved.

Tzedakah is not limited to the giving of money, although that is certainly part of it. Our real tzedakah is the gift that comes from the need we feel deep inside to want to give a gift, be it of our funds, of our time, our energy, our heart, our soul; no matter how small or how insignificant we may think it is.

And by giving in any of those manners and fulfilling the most important commandment of Tzedakah, we can truly feel whole.

I often refer to our Beth Or community as being very special – a community of givers in so many different yet important ways. Rabbi Harold Kushner sums it up best.

“Understand that religion is about community and about people coming together, then you realize you don't come to the synagogue to find God. There are 20 places you could find God more conveniently than at the synagogue. You come to the synagogue to find a congregation to make something special happen, something that happens only when people come together questing for the same thing. And somehow, magically, miraculously, something that nobody brought with him, everybody finds.”
Beth Or Comes Through For KFB

Dozens of Beth Or members answered the call on March 21st from Jewish Community Services to re-supply the Kosher Food Bank with toiletries and cleaning products. The drive-in drop off took place in Beth Or’s parking lot on March 21st, with many volunteers helping to load up receiving vehicles to transport the donated items. In addition to Beth Or members, Ahavat Olam Rabbi Danny Marmorstein, and some Ahavat Olam members, also contributed to the effort.

Headed up by Social Justice Co-Chair Andrea Loring, folks who volunteered to help were: Ossie Hanauer, Diane Barkow and Dick Dorn and Cathy and Bert Tesserot.
Demonstrating the giving nature of Beth Or through Social Justice
Volunteers and some of the folks donating to the KFB
New Member Rita Kaplan Jumps Right In
Beth Or new member Rita Kaplan has decided that she’ll do anything with Beth Or “as long as Randy Fisher is the bartender.”
 
Having great fun with Purim antics this year, Rita enjoyed the bartending prowess that Randy demonstrated and was also a major star in the Purim Spiel. She played Mordechai in the stellar Zoom production.
 
Technically, Rita is a returning member. Decades ago, she was a member, but didn’t feel it was a good fit. One of her good friends, Vicki Brail, has consistently urged Rita to return to Beth Or. All these years later, she feels very different and is very glad she’s back at Beth Or.
 
No shrinking violet, she’s gotten very involved as a member of the Community Support Committee, Red Tent, PACT and contributes to the Kosher Food Bank drives. Very significantly, she is also in the Adult Mitzvah class.
 
“The class is filled with a great group of women,” she said. “And, Jen Berse said I’d be reading Hebrew almost immediately, and she was right.”
 
Rita regularly attends the Zoom services, commenting that she particularly likes Rabbi Robyn’s sermons and the community’s active involvement. As much as she gets a lot out of the Zoom services, Rita hopes normal in- person gatherings return soon.
 
“I am really looking forward to seeing folks in person. I think we should take advantage of the outside area under the chickee. We could create events with a limit of attendees and rotate the people so eventually everyone can participate.”
 
Rita even thought of a way to reinstitute in person Onegs. “We could create Oneg boxes to go, so to speak,” she said. “Everyone gets their own box of snacks so there’s no chance of contamination.”
 
Rita taught Special Education for 42 years in Miami Dade County Public Schools with the majority of those years at Miami Southwest Senior High.
 
Her daughter Rebecca, and son-in-law Jay, live in Naples. Rebecca is a dental hygienist and Jay is a private chef and owns a catering company. They have three children, Andie, Joshua, and Elayna. Rita truly enjoys her role as Safta with her grandchildren and misses seeing them.
Pictured here is Rita and two of her grandchildren, Andie and Joshua. Elayna (not pictured) is a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University. Rita is quick to add that Elayna made the President’s honor roll with a 4.0 grade point.
Beth Or Was in the House at
PACT Nehemiah Action
 
Beth Or was very represented at the March 15 PACT Nehemiah Action. (People Acting for Community Together)
 
Holding elected leaders accountable for social justice initiatives in Miami Dade County, 65 people representing Beth Or were counted among the 1300 people in attendance.
 
Because of this show of people power, PACT was able to win the following important commitments: 
 
Miami Commissioner Ken Russell
Committed to requesting a proposal from Miami City Manager Art Noriega for an Affordable Housing Finance Corporation - including structure, governance, and oversight - to be presented to the City Commission within 90 days. This is a big step towards the plan that PACT has been advocating for - to build or preserve 32,000 affordable homes by 2030.
 
Miami Assistant Police Director Daniels (on behalf of Police Director Ramirez)
1. Committed to support expanding the adult civil citation program to include Petit Theft under $300, Vandalism under $300, and drinking in public. 
2. Committed to strengthen the implementation of the group violence intervention program in South Dade according to best practices.
 
However, they did not commit to making driving with an expired tag or driving on a D-6 suspended license (for nonpayment of fines and fees) a civil citation. They also did not commit to supporting screening for all arrested persons at the County jail to determine if they are eligible for a civil citation. PACT representatives will follow up to continue pushing them on these issues.
 
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava expressed her support for Community IDs
1. Will set a meeting between her office, the FaithAction ID Network, and PACT leaders in the next month. 
2. Will discuss the Community ID program with each county commissioner. 
 
Commissioner Eileen Higgins
Will bring forth legislation for a Community ID program in the next 90 days.
 
Community ID programs help homeless persons, immigrants, the elderly, and others without a state ID access local services, and remove barriers to Covid-19 testing, vaccination, and other healthcare.
 
Executive Officer Eldys Diaz
The City of Miami Police Department is working on a grant to cover all costs of the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategy for implementation in the City of Miami. Work has already begun with strategy creators, John Jay College on the data analysis portion of strategy.
 
GVI is a proven gun violence intervention strategy that PACT got Miami-Dade County to launch back in 2018. It is also being implemented in South Dade County.
 
PACT’s Next Steps: 
 
Response to State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle: 
On Monday night, PACT also planned to hear from the State Attorney's office on the expansion of the adult civil citation program to help lower unnecessary arrests. The State Attorney promised to send her Deputy Chief and three other staff members in her stead, but canceled their attendance two hours before the event. 
 
Pastor Robert Brooks shared powerfully on Monday night how we are "powerful, angry and tired... and we didn't take the time out to be snubbed." You can share your thoughts of disappointment with State Attorney Rundle by contacting her in either one of the ways listed below. 
Twitter: @KathyFndzRundle
While most people Zoomed into Nehemiah action, a crowd of
more than 300 cars filled the drive in lot in person.
Miami Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava addresses PACT Nehemiah crowd
Site of 2021 PACT Nehemiah Action
The drive in portion of the event took place at the North Dade drive in entertainment center, Dezerland. The majority of participants did so through Zoom.
 
PACT’s next major Zoom event is May 17. Details to follow, but circle your calendars now!
Train your photographic “eye” on location with one of our fav professional photographers to guide you through the Beth Or meditation garden. Discover inspiration in the beauty of nature and learn how to capture and enhance your images. This small group session will be personal and tailored to your needs and equipment. Register now to save your spot in one of three sessions. April 11, 18 or 25. 4:00 PM - $25 per person. Telephone: 305-235-1419.
April 9 - Live, Love, Laugh with Nancy Kirsner ***
Shabbat with Amy Lomaskin leading*
 
April 10 - Gallery of Light Passover: Visions of Freedom
7:15 PM -9:00 PM
 
Zoom Link:
April 12 - Monday Movie Night - Barton Fink
7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Zoom Link:
April 13 - Tuesdays With Nancy**
 
April 14 - Jewish Book Review
7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Zoom Link:
April 16 - Live, Love, Laugh***
Shabbat with Rabbi Robyn leading*
 
April 17 - Torah Study with Rabbi Robyn
10:15 AM - 11:30 AM
Zoom Link:
 
April 20 - Tuesdays with Nancy**
 
April 23 - Live, Love, Laugh***
Shabbat with Ellen Siegel leading*
 
April 27 - Tuesdays with Nancy**
 
April 28 - Jewish Book Review or Executive Board meeting
 
April 30 - Live, Love, Laugh***
Shabbat with Jeff Tucker leading*
 
 
*TBO Shabbat - Zoom Link is the same for every Friday in April
     Apr 9, 2021 07:30 PM
    Apr 16, 2021 07:30 PM
    Apr 23, 2021 07:30 PM
    Apr 30, 2021 07:30 PM
Zoom Meeting
 
Meeting ID: 819 1684 0540
One tap mobile
+16465588656,,81916840540# US (New York)
 
 
**Tuesdays with Nancy - 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
Zoom Link for every session:
 
***Live, Love, Laugh with Nancy
12 Noon - 1:00 PM
Zoom Link for every session:
The following is our tributes list:
General Mitzvah Fund

Tom, Marti and Joshua Gammon, in honor of the makers of the Purim Gift Bags
 
Andrea Loring, in honor of Randy Fisher who ‘gets’ the awesomeness of the Beth Or community
 
Vicki Brail and Jeanne Covert, thank you Annette and Steve Katz for your generous sharing of baby items!
 
 
Phyllis Winnick, in appreciation
of all Zoom events
 
Marti and Tom Gammon,
in honor of Michael Henry for his generously sharing of his musical talent with all of us
 
Rabbi's Discretionary Fund:
 
Amy Lomaskin, in honor of Rabbi Robyn for a fabulous Torah Study on the little aleph
 
Amy Lomaskin, in honor of Pat Barron for being my co-stage manager for the Purim Spiel. YOU ROCK, my friend
 
Yahrzeit Fund:
 
Donate to this fund to honor the memory
of a loved one or friend
Be sure to visit Beth Or's website at BethOrMiami.com
and view our calendar of upcoming events
305.235.1419 email: bethormiami@aol.com