WEEKLY NEWS / May 19, 2020
Office Hours
(Suspended For Now):

*Monday/Friday 
9:30am-2pm
*Tuesday-Thursday
10am-3pm

248.477.1410
Published weekly. Deadline for submissions: Mondays at noon.
Scroll down for this week's commentary by Rabbi Falick
WELCOMING SHABBAT ONLINE ...

@YouTube

WATCH LIVE ON FRIDAY AT 6PM!
THIS WEEK:

AN INTERVIEW WITH SASHA SAGAN, AUTHOR OF FOR SMALL CREATURES SUCH AS WE


WE  DO  READ YAHRZEITS AND EXTEND WELL-WISHES!
Send yours in advance to  rabbi@birminghamtemple.org.
THIS WEEKEND!
FILM (& TELEVISION) DISCUSSION GROUP

Featuring a Discussion of "Unorthodox" led by Rabbi Falick

Sunday, May 24, 11am

Dial-In Meeting ID: 81837292731

Password required ... sent under separate cover.
Email: rabbi@birminghamtemple.org if you need it re-sent.
CONGREGATION-WIDE PRESENTATION

Membership Model Change Proposal
Tuesday, May 26, at 7pm

Join leadership for a congregation-wide presentation about anticipated changes to Birmingham Temple’s membership model. 

Hear about the work of the Board’s Membership Committee to modernize our membership structure to better reflect our values and to expand our Temple’s outreach.

All members are invited! 
Watch for the Zoom link in an upcoming special email.
THANK YOU ALSO TO ALL OF THE PERFORMERS AND HARD WORKING VOLUNTEERS ... AND A HUGE SHOUT-OUT OF GRATITUDE TO OUR "EXECUTIVE PRODUCER" DENISE PARKER!
THURSDAY, MAY 28, STARTING AT 4PM

CELEBRATE SHAVUOT WITH HUMANISTIC TEACHERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD !
(Including Rabbi Falick's segment at 7pm which will be simulcast on JewishLIVE - the worldwide portal of Jewish learning!)

PRESENTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR HUMANISTIC JUDAISM
ZOOM NOW REQUIRES A PASSWORD!
The password was sent under separate cover. Please contact rabbi@birminghamtemple.org if you misplaced it.
ONGOING CLASSES / PROGRAMS

RABBI FALICK'S INTRODUCTION TO TALMUD
Discover one of the greatest works of Jewish literature!
ONLINE @ 11AM, WEDNESDAYS
Dial-in Meeting ID: 969 634 481

RABBI FALICK'S SATURDAY CLASS ("REBBE'S TISCH")
Join him for a historical look at Jewish texts throughout the ages.
ONLINE @ 10AM, SATURDAYS
Dial-in Meeting ID: 759 671 597

RABBI FALICK'S "BELIEFS OF THE JEWS" CLASS
"Mordecai Kaplan and the Birth of a New Judaism"
ONLINE @ NOON, MONDAYS (NEW TIME!)
Dial-in Meeting ID: 214 102 965

SOCRATES CAFE
Now on Zoom!
ONLINE @ 10:30AM, EVERY TUESDAY!
Dial-In Meeting ID: 182 488 428
ZOOM IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK!

NO DEVICES?
DIAL-IN WITH ANY PHONE & ONE OF THESE NUMBERS!

Zoom's mobile app works on most smartphones. However, you can also dial-in the old-fashioned way from ANY phone using one of these numbers and the Meeting ID provided for each group or class:

646.558.8656 / 312.626.6799 / 253.215.8782 
301.715.8592 / 346.248.7799 
SUNDAY, JUNE 14, 11AM
RSVP REQUIRED:
Join BT Member Prof. Fran Shor for the kickoff of our new Book Club.

The first book is For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World by Sasha Sagan.

You can purchase it AT THIS LINK for Kindle or Amazon delivery ... or support independent bookstores by shopping at BOOKSHOP.ORG .
WATCH THE SASHA SAGAN INTERVIEW WITH RABBI FALICK THIS FRIDAY ON OUR YOUTUBE SERVICE!
SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE ANNOUNCEMENT
EMERGENCY CLOTHING DRIVE:
FOR SURVIVORS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
WOMEN & MEN’S CLOTHING
  • Stretchy yoga or sweat pants; athletic pants/shorts
  • T-shirts / cotton shirts
  • Lightweight zip-up hoodies / jackets
  • Flip-flops; running shoes

CHILDREN’S CLOTHING
  • Newborn to size 10

HYGIENE PRODUCTS;
  • New, unused personal hygiene items, including full size

NO CONTACT DROP-OFF
First Methodist Church (Parking Lot)
45201 N. Territorial Rd., Plymouth

WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 6 - 7:30pm

Or by prior arrangement with Audrey Pleasant:
MEANING & PURPOSE IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC, PART 2
(For those of you who missed it - or were unable to hear due to our technical difficulties - here's my presentation from last Friday night.)

Whenever I’ve had the opportunity to meet with young people for a basic introduction to Humanism I always start with a provocative statement:

We Humanists have discovered the meaning of life.

After I let that settle in for a moment, I go through a few of the traditional religious ideas about the meaning of life until I get to my real point. What we have actually discovered is that the real meaning of life can only be found in one place, inside of ourselves.

We Humanists know that there is no single purpose or meaning to our lives. We were not “created.” We were not “placed here.” We just are. We exist as a happenstance. Or perhaps it would be better to say a “happy accident.”

Nevertheless, the nature of our existence, our intelligences and emotions and physical and psychological interdependencies, suggests that fashioning meaning in our lives is an existential necessity. It is what keeps us going.

But it is not a “one size fits all” kind of thing. It is different for each individual. Nor is it a “one off." It is a lifelong journey.

In last week's commentary, I shared a little about Dr. Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist, neurologist, and author of one of the most important books on the subject of life’s purpose, “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

Dr. Frankl’s career was committed to a process he called Logotherapy. While you may not be familiar with that term, its ideas are fundamental to those who work in mental health. His approach is founded on the belief that human nature is motivated by a search for meaning in life, by the striving for a life purpose. It is part memoir, part psychological analysis.

A survivor of Auschwitz, Dr. Frankl's convictions were affirmed by what he saw and experienced there. In the midst of the horrors he discovered that the search for meaning and purpose played a critical role for those who were fortunate to survive.

In the end, he was one of those lucky few and, combining that experience with his insight, he shared the wisdom he could with his patients and all of us.

He believed that what he learned and taught was by no means unique to the kind of extraordinary suffering of the camps; that every human being – no matter the causes of their problems or predicaments – could benefit from uncovering the internal resources and wherewithal at their command which might help them to frame their own meaning.

As we navigate through this difficult and challenging period, his teachings have become even more important to me and many others.

One of these, perhaps the most critical, is that no matter our circumstances, no matter what is denied us or taken away, we always retain one basic human freedom: to choose our own responses to any situation.

We are not always free to choose our circumstances. If that wasn’t clear to everyone before, it certainly is now. Life always presents obstacles. Dr. Frankl recognized – as Humanism acknowledges – that the world is filled with suffering. Even a world with less conflict and human evil would never be free of accidents or diseases or death.

Nevertheless, said Dr. Frankl, this existential reality does not deprive us of the singular freedom to choose our own inner path; to be guided by our character and obligations to ourselves and others; to pursue meaning and purpose.

He wrote: "If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death."

And so we can – in fact, we must – also find meaning in suffering.

As he noted:

The way in which one accepts fate and all the suffering it entails … gives ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to … life.

When I read his work I am constantly impressed by the importance he places on reaching out to others. So much of his ability to find meaning in suffering was informed – throughout his career, not just at Auschwitz – by seeing how people fulfilled their duties to one another. It was in selflessness more than anything else, that his patients reported overcoming feelings of helplessness.

By taking care of family or reaching out to friends and neighbors, by tending to community needs or working for social justice, by taking action on any of the myriad things that we can do for ourselves and others, we, too, can rise above despondency. As Dr. Frankl wrote:

We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answers to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

Sometimes our concerns will be drawn to one need, sometimes to another. But in each and every instance in which we rise to some higher aspiration, we are choosing our own response to suffering. We are refusing to allow our situation to define us.

Our hardships and our pain may pose obstacles, may constitute stumbling blocks. But they are no barrier to our inner choices. Those remain under our control. Suffering cannot deprive us of that freedom.

Several times in his book Dr. Frankl echoes Neitzche, who said: “One who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Think of all the whys we have to live for: family, friends, and community that depend upon each of us; people who are in need of our strength and people we can depend upon for theirs. We cannot be there for each other when we are sinking ever deeper into a meaningless pit of despair.

Only when we choose to exercise our essential freedom to take control of our reaction will we find the courage to resist despair and the strength to carry on. When I am disheartened – as I have found myself throughout this pandemic – I try to remember that no matter my pain this can never be taken from me. I remember my duties to my loved ones, to my friends, to my community and I find both my purpose and resolve renewed.

In a particularly moving passage, Dr. Frankl shares that in his moments of greatest distress, he directed his heart to his loved ones. Unsure of whether they were alive or dead, he recognized that his love for them nevertheless revived him, reminding him of the meaning and purpose of his own life:

For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.

Recently I saw a t-shirt bearing the slogan, "Love is our superpower."

May each of us renew the meaning and purposes of our own lives. And may love help guide the way.
* REFU'AH SHLEIMAH (SPEEDY RECOVERY)
Best Wishes for a Speedy Recovery to:

Ceci Stone, Joan Mann, Patty Becker, Titus Mendell, Lonnie Fleischer, Karen Tremper Harris, Alan Misch, Robert Liebhaber

Please inform us if you know that someone is ill or in need.
* ONGOING CLASSES & PROGRAMS
ADULT CLASSES
See above for what we're doing online!
 
SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
  • Next meeting: TBA.
  • Please help Team Qaddo assist the Qaddo Family. You can donate HERE
  • Toiletries collection continues, but Winter Wear collection is over for the season. You can keep knitting and collecting, but save items for the fall, when collection resumes. (Will resume when we re-open.)
  • Sign up for Social Justice Committee email list for information about what's happening at BT and social justice programs all over. Send your request to audreypleasant@gmail.com.

YOGA
Connie's class is suspended until further notice.

ONLINE VIDEOS OF PROGRAMS & CLASSES
Visit LibrarySHJ.com for videos of classes, lectures, and more!
* THIS WEEK'S CARTOON
By Marilyn Rowens
* BT COMMUNITY SHARING
SUZANNE PAUL AWARDED THE "HUMANISTIC HERITAGE AWARD" BY THE AMERICAN HUMANIST FOUNDATION

Congratulations to a great woman who is a true role model of Humanism! Suzanne, who has contributed her wisdom and leadership to our congregation and many other Humanist causes served as president of the American Humanist Association and in recent years on the board of the American Humanist Foundation which surprised her with this well-deserved recognition. We are so proud!
MAZEL TOV TO SARAH DORÉ BROOKS!
We announced last week that Sarah earned her Master's Degree and Certification in Teaching by the University of Michigan. We are delighted to share this "safe distancing" picture even as we share in her and her families joy!
PLEASE HELP THE GRODSKY FAMILY
So many members of our community have asked if there is some way to help Jerry's family.

Supporting each other is one of the most important things a congregation does for members in need.

Please consider taking advantage of this GoFundMe campaign to show your love and support for the Grodskys.

* DETROIT COMMUNITY SHARING
HELP FEED OUR COMMUNITY!
Among the hardest hit during Covid-19 have been the organizations we rely upon to feed the most needy in our community. Please consider extending your generosity to one of the following ....
Gleaners operates five distribution centers in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Monroe counties and provides food to more than 500 partner soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and other agencies throughout southeast Michigan. Each year, Gleaners distributes more than 45 million pounds of food to neighbors in need! This results in an average of 100,000 meals distributed each day to families in need across our region. Gleaners also provides nourishing food and nutrition education to more than 200,000 children a year. Every dollar donated provides three meals and 92 cents of every donated dollar goes to food and food programs. CLICK HERE TO HELP.
Yad Ezra provides supplemental kosher food, necessities and enhancements of holidays and lifecycle events to those in need in the Jewish community. We are committed to operating a high quality food pantry through hard work and support of staff, volunteers and donors. CLICK HERE TO HELP.
J & E Community Relief runs an important food pantry that provides individuals and families with basic necessities such as food, hygiene products, professional attire and back to school supplies.  CLICK HERE TO HELP.