WEEKLY NEWS / Oct. 13, 2020
Office Hours
(Suspended For Now):

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

248.477.1410
PHYSICALLY APART.
HUMANISTICALLY TOGETHER.
Published weekly. Deadline for submissions: Mondays at noon.
Scroll down for Rabbi Falick's commentary :
IS THE U.S. A DEMOCRACY?
THIS FRIDAY AT 6PM
(or anytime after that)
BOOK CLUB
THIS SUNDAY,
OCT. 18, 2PM
Facilitated by Rabbi Falick

On Zoom:
(Password sent under separate cover. Contact rabbi@birminghamtemple.org if you need it.)
"The Weight of Ink" by Rachel Kadish

Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents’ scribe, the elusive “Aleph.”
StartsTHIS Sunday!

JEWISH HISTORY
with Natan Fuchs

"FROM ROMAN RULE TO THE GREAT EXILE:
HOW JUDAISM BECAME CENTERED IN THE DIASPORA"

Sundays at 10:30am!

On Zoom:
(Password sent under separate cover. Contact rabbi@birminghamtemple.org if you need it.)
NEW CLASS!
BEGINS TUESDAY,
OCT. 27, 7PM
SEE SCHEDULE BELOW
On Zoom, Link TBA

BEING JEWISH:
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE JEWS & THEIR JUDAISM(S)
with Rabbi Falick

Eight Sessions:

1. The Quandary: Who, What & Why is a Jew (Oct. 27)

2. The Textline: Origin Stories & Texts (Nov. 10)

3. The Wanderings: Diasporas (Nov. 24)

4. The Laws, Pt. 1: Doing the Jewish (Dec. 8)

5. The Laws, Pt. 2: Celebrating the Jewish (Dec. 22)

6. The Beliefs: Religious and Other Ways of Jewish Thinking (Jan. 12)

7. The Troubles: Antisemitism Throughout the Ages (Jan. 26)

8. The Modern Days: Israel, America, Europe and Beyond (Feb. 9)
The Film & Television Group is "Going" to the JCC's Virtual Detroit Jewish Film Festival!

On Sunday, Nov. 8, 2pm
JOIN US FOR A DISCUSSION OF THESE FILMS ...
Discussion Facilitated by Prof. Fran Shor
LINK TBA
HERE'S HOW TO SEE THE FILMS:
TICKETS GO ON SALE OCT. 4

Films will be available for rent on-demand throughout the entire festival (Oct. 4-30) and you can watch them any time.
PLEASE JOIN US THIS SATURDAY!
October 17, 11:15 am

On Zoom:
(Password sent under separate cover. Contact rabbi@birminghamtemple.org if you need it.)

Learn of upcoming projects and participation opportunities. New Committee Co-Chair Rene Lichtman will also report on region-wide efforts.

All are welcome!
NEW INITIATIVE:
PROTECTING THE RIGHT TO VOTE!
Social Justice Committee Co-Chair Rene Lichtman working with a number of local organizations - under the banner of the Election Defenders, including Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and Never Again Action, a Jewish-led organization, to train and deploy teams to provide resources (e.g., PPE, other necessities) for the Nov. 3 election.

If you are interested in joining or supporting any of these efforts, please contact Rene at renelichtman@gmail.com or 248.986.3466. He'll also present more details at this week's meeting.
NOAH PROJECT CLOTHING COLLECTION DRIVE
We are collecting warm socks (not cotton), hats, gloves, mittens and all types of travel-sized toiletries which NOAH (our Winter Mitzvah beneficiary) desperately needs. They are also looking for: washcloths, underwear, bandages, Depends (prefer small, medium or large), and cough drops. A collection box is available at the east temple entrance (to the Pivnick Center and SHJ offices).

If you have been or are now knitting, crocheting or gathering winter wear, you can start to bring in items.

Also, if you want to donate but are unable to shop, contact Audrey (audreypleasant@gmail.com), who will shop for you. NOAH also maintains an Amazon Wish List and you can donate specific items at this link.
JOIN THE SOCIAL JUSTICE MAILING LIST!
Sign up for the Social Justice Committee email list for information about what's happening at BT and beyond. Meeting agenda and copy of the monthly report to the board is emailed to all list members. Send your request to audreypleasant@gmail.com.
HAVE YOU RETURNED YOUR MEMBERSHIP PACKET? Membership Renewal is No Longer Automatic! Please Renew Today!

Our new model invites you to actively renew your membership each year as you determine your own pledge. If you've been waiting, please take this opportunity to keep your membership active by returning your pledge & membership form today!

THANK YOU!
CALLING ALL GARDENERS!
Volunteers are needed to beautify our temple grounds!

SUNDAYS at 10AM!
Please join us! There is something for everyone to do. We remain socially distanced but still able to enjoy each other’s company, all while improving our Temple home.

Bring your own gloves, mask, and, if you have, any gardening tools. We have lots and lots of green space and we are committed to staying at least 6 feet away from each other!

Contact Sarah Markowitz, 1luciann1@comcast.net or Cathy Radner radner210@gmail.com with any questions. 
ZOOM REQUIRES A PASSWORD!
The password was sent under separate cover. Please contact rabbi@birminghamtemple.org if you need it.
ONGOING CLASSES / PROGRAMS

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
Dial-in Meeting ID: 214 102 965

**************************************
RETURNING THIS SUNDAY,
OCTOBER 18, 10:30AM!
(see full notice above)

JEWISH HISTORY CLASS
with Natan Fuchs

"FROM ROMAN RULE TO THE GREAT EXILE:
HOW JUDAISM BECAME CENTERED IN THE DIASPORA"

**************************************

SOCRATES CAFE
On Zoom!
ONLINE @ 10:30AM, EVERY TUESDAY!
Dial-In Meeting ID: 182 488 428
IS THE U.S. A DEMOCRACY?
At last week’s vice-presidential debate, Sen. Kamala Harris spoke about her belief “in the American people” and “our democracy.” This anodyne comment triggered Utah senator Mike Lee (R) who promptly climbed aboard Twitter to announce, “We’re not a democracy.”

Was he decrying voter suppression? Making an argument for more civic participation? Damning the betrayal of our democratic institutions? No, no, and no. Sen. Lee was informing those of us who are under the delusion that we are living in a democratic nation that we should disabuse ourselves of such thinking. In subsequent tweets he made this clear: “The word ‘democracy’ appears nowhere in the Constitution, perhaps because our form of government is not a democracy. It’s a constitutional republic.”

It seems that for the past several years, whenever someone speaks about American democracy someone on the conservative side of things pops up with the now-tired whine, “We’re not a democracy. We’re a republic!” 

It is absolutely true that the founders were concerned about “democracy.” However, when read in context, their concerns were primarily about the abuses of pure democracy in the Athenian sense. They expressed their anxieties – filtered through their elitism – by sometimes bad-mouthing “democracy,” by which they meant mob rule. They created a democracy, nevertheless, albeit a representative democracy with checks and balances. Since then, the American tendency has been to push for an expansion of our democratic institutions. This led to the incorporation of universal suffrage and direct election of senators into the Constitution itself. Even the Electoral College, though not (yet) abolished by amendment, was made a wee bit more democratic when states bound their electors to the popular vote.

Maybe it’s because the word republic sounds like the name of their party while the word democracy sounds like the name of the other one, but this phony distinction is helping no one except those who stand to benefit from disenfranchising their fellow Americans. As New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz noted, “Typically, Republicans invoke America’s status as a ‘republic’ to justify the arbitrary structural advantages that our archaic constitutional framework happens to award their party. When Democrats ask why the vote of an American who lives in Wyoming should count for orders of magnitude more than the vote of one who lives in California, Republicans reply, ‘Because we’re a republic not a democracy.’”

The United States is, indeed, a republic and a constitutional one at that. What this meant in the 1780s was that rather than vest sovereignty in the person of a monarch, Americans would entrust it to “We, the People.” This was a very important distinction in the 18th century when Europe was dominated by questions surrounding the power of kings. Today it means next to nothing. Consider this: North Korea is a constitutional republic (it really is) and the United Kingdom is a monarchy. But only one of those is also a democracy and it isn’t North Korea. The U.K. settled the question of sovereignty by retaining a monarch whose sovereignty is merely symbolic, subordinate to the actually sovereign will of the people expressed through Parliament. The U.S. settled the question by rejecting a monarchy, instead adopting a written constitution that dictates how the actually sovereign will of the people will be expressed. What binds the U.K. and the U.S. – what drew us into two world wars together – is that both are liberal democracies.

In the not-too-distant past, Sen. Lee defended a rather controversial floor vote in the Senate with this language: “At the end of the day, this government does in fact stand accountable to the people. This government is of, by, and for the people. We’ve sworn to protect and defend that system of government. And that means standing up for the American people, and those who they have elected….” 

Though I disagreed with his vote, I could not have chosen better words to describe democracy in the United States. Lamentably, what he said back then boldly underscores the utter incoherence of his tweets last week.
(If you’re interested in some of the dangers inherent in this garbled thinking, check out this New York Times story about the recent battle over Michigan’s social studies guidelines: “Is the U.S. a Democracy? A Social Studies Battle Turns on the Nation’s Values” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/07/us/usa-democracy.html)
*REFU'AH SHLEIMAH (SPEEDY RECOVERY)
Best Wishes for a Speedy Recovery to:

Bernice "Bunny" Lasker, Ceci Stone, Julie Eliason, Karen Tremper Harris, Myron Tink, 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!

YOGA
Resumed as outdoor distanced Yoga as long as the weather holds. Wednesdays at 9:30am on the lawn

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
PIANO LESSONS WITH EZRA DONNER

BT Music Director Ezra Donner is offering piano lessons!

Ezra writes: "Students between the ages of 8-12 usually do very well with piano in my experience, and older and younger students and adults are welcome as well."
Lessons begin at $19 per half-hour and are currently offered in-person at Ezra's home studio in Ypsilanti as well as remotely on Zoom.
You can contact Ezra at pianist4486@yahoo.com.