WEEKLY NEWS
January 11, 2022
Office Hours: Monday -Thursday: 10am-2pm
Phone: 248.477.1410
"DUE TO ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT"

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CHJ Quick Guide to WHAT'S ON & WHAT'S NOT

  • In-person Shabbat services are on hold until Jan. 28. (ZOOM ALTERNATIVE ... SEE BELOW)
  • Natan Fuchs' Sunday class is suspended, expected to resume on Jan. 30.
  • Mahjong continues on Tuesdays, 1-2:30pm. Covid safety rules in effect.
  • "Daytimers" Planning Program - TBA.
  • Spinoza Sunday Program scheduled to resume on Jan. 23. Updated Covid protocols in effect.
  • Yoga suspended until further notice.
  • Knitting group canceled for Jan. 15; next session TBA.
  • Office will remain open at regular hours.

ALL OF THIS IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE ... PLEASE CHECK THIS NEWSLETTER AND YOUR EMAIL FOR UPDATES!
IMPORTANT FRIDAY NIGHT SERVICE SCHEDULE CHANGES
Due to the unprecedented rise in cases of Covid, in-person Friday night services are suspended for Jan. 14 and 21.

We hope to re-start our in-person Friday programs on Jan. 28 (please watch this space for confirmation).

This week and next, please join Rabbi Falick on ZOOM for an alternative "Kabbalat Shabbat (Welcoming Shabbat)" program at 7pm.

We'll light candles, share a few readings, and hear the current Yahrzeit names. Join us at this link:


(Please use the usual password which for security reasons we do not publish in the newsletter. If you need a reminder, email: rabbi@chj-detroit.org.)
WHEN WE (hopefully soon!) RETURN IN PERSON:

January 28: National "Repro Shabbat" (in cooperation with the Nation Council of Jewish Women). Rabbi Falick will speak: "Why I'm Not Just Pro-Choice. I'm Pro-Abortion"

February 4: MOVIE NIGHT (no service)
In advance of next week's Book Club selection by Mel Brooks, we'll screen the documentary...

"The Last Laugh"
... about the limits of humor ... with discussion led by Prof. Fran Shor

February 11: Book Club Shabbat - Discussion Led by Rabbi Falick about ...

"All About Me!" by Mel Brooks

(SEE BOOK CLUB ANNOUNCEMENTS BELOW FOR DETAILS 👇👇👇)
PLEASE NOTE the new (anticipated) schedule!
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 7PM

ALL ABOUT ME! MY REMARKABLE LIFE IN SHOW BUSINESS
BY MEL BROOKS
All About Me! charts Mel Brooks’s meteoric rise from a Depression-era kid in Brooklyn to the recipient of the National Medal of Arts. Whether serving in the United States Army in World War II, or during his burgeoning career as a teenage comedian in the Catskills, Mel was always mining his experiences for material, always looking for the perfect joke. His iconic career began with Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, where he was part of the greatest writers’ room in history, which included Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, and Larry Gelbart. After co-creating both the mega-hit 2000 Year Old Man comedy albums and the classic television series Get Smart, Brooks’s stellar film career took off. He would go on to write, direct, and star in The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, and Spaceballs, as well as produce groundbreaking and eclectic films, including The Elephant Man, The Fly, and My Favorite Year. Brooks then went on to conquer Broadway with his record-breaking, Tony-winning musical, The Producers.
 
All About Me! offers fans insight into the inspiration behind the ideas for his outstanding collection of boundary-breaking work, and offers details about the many close friendships and collaborations Brooks had, including those with Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Gene Wilder, Madeleine Kahn, Alfred Hitchcock, and the great love of his life, Anne Bancroft.
NEW DATE!
FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 7PM

THE CONSTITUTION OF KNOWLEDGE
BY JONATHAN RAUCH
In this pathbreaking book, Jonathan Rauch reaches back to the parallel eighteenth-century developments of liberal democracy and science to explain what he calls the “Constitution of Knowledge”—our social system for turning disagreement into truth.

By explicating the Constitution of Knowledge and probing the war on reality, Rauch arms defenders of truth with a clearer understanding of what they must protect, why they must do so—and how they can do it. His book is a sweeping and readable description of how every American can help defend objective truth and free inquiry from threats as far away as Russia and as close as the cellphone.
PLEASE READ THESE BOOKS IN ADVANCE OF THE SHABBAT BOOK CLUB PROGRAMS!
This year our Spring Fundraiser will be a fantastically fun celebration of Purim featuring Five-Fifteen's world-famous Drag Queen Bingo and ...

  • The first large screen showing of "The Shushan Files" Purimspiel AND
  • Your costumes AND
  • Great food AND
  • SO MUCH MORE!

WATCH FOR MORE DETAILS SOON!
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:

AN EFFORT TO HELP A FAMILY OF AFGHAN REFUGEES
Can you help?
WHAT WE SEEK TO DO:

CHJ is exploring an effort to "adopt" an Afghan family by forming a Support Circle in cooperation with HIAS, the national Jewish refugee aid organization.

WHY WE WANT TO PARTICIPATE:

Our congregation has a track record of helping immigrants, notably our support for the Qaddo family.

There are currently tens of thousands Afghan men, women, and children living on U.S. military bases around the country. Resettling so many people in a short period of time is unprecedented in recent history and has strained the U.S. resettlement system.

In cooperation with the federal government's resettlement efforts, private organizations - including HIAS - have been invited to help with this enormous effort. They need congregations like ours in order to succeed.

WHAT IT ENTAILS:

  • HIAS Support Circles are being formed inside synagogues and other Jewish organization, made up of volunteers who will have close contact with Afghans they are sponsoring. All participating sponsors will be vetted and approved by HIAS (including complete background checks).

  • HIAS Support Circle participants will commit a minimum of six months of support for Afghan refugees as they begin to settle into communities. Ours will also receive wider congregational support as needed.

  • HIAS Support Circle members will meet new Afghan arrivals at the airport, help find housing and furnishings, help to find jobs, register children for schools, and sign individuals up for public benefits such as TANF and SNAP among other responsibilities.

  • HIAS Support Circles will raise money (with the help of the congregation) and gather in-kind services as needed to help set our new neighbors on a path to self-sufficiency.

HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO OUR RECENT EFFORTS?

Our sponsorship of the Qaddo family quite literally saved their lives. In the face of anti-immigrant policies, it was not easy and required a great deal of money and time, but in the end the family survived (ultimately reuniting with their dad in the Netherlands, their new home).

Unlike our experience with the Qaddos, the HIAS effort does not leave us on our own facing hostile policies and the cut-off of all public support. Afghan refugees have been brought here and are being welcomed by the current administration. They will receive public benefits. Additionally, HIAS - one of the most significant American Jewish orgs - will provide us guidance along the way.

HOW DOES OUR CONGREGATION GET STARTED?

Participation in the program requires that we gather eight households with at least one adult in each who is willing to to take on the central duties of the Sponsor Circle. The Circle will receive CHJ support, particularly in fundraising and resource development. Members must undergo an easy background check and at least one must participate in an online knowledge program to better understand the culture and needs of Afghan people.

INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE?

If you would like to explore becoming a Circle leader, please contact Rabbi Falick, rabbi@chj-detroit.org, to set up a conversation and receive additional materials. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE ... so if you are interested, please reach out soon!

THANK YOU FOR CONSIDERING THIS IMPORTANT MITZVAH!

NEXT COMMITTEE MEETING:
Saturday, January 22, 11:30am via Zoom (link TBA)
Winter Mitzvah plans are in progress: tentative dates: final prep Sunday Feb. 20, delivery Monday morning, Feb 21 with lunches provided for Feb. 21 and Feb 22.  

Volunteers needed: to put together sandwiches at home, to bake desserts, to shop for needed items, to deliver lunches. Cost reimbursement and some supplies can be provided. It is not too early to sign up, the sooner, the better.

To volunteer or for more details about this project, contact Audrey (audreypleasant@gmail.com or text 313.478.6414. )
WINTER WEAR COLLECTION
PLEASE ... Bring hats, scarves, mittens, and men's warm socks (no cotton) for those in need when you come to services or other programs.
THE KNIT / CROCHET / CRAFT FOR A CAUSE GROUP
Next Date: TBA
All skill levels (including beginners) are welcome: friendly socializing as we do good work!
REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM IS A JEWISH AND HUMANISTIC VALUE!!

Repro Shabbat - Friday, Jan. 28 is an opportunity for us to join congregations, organizations, and communities across the nation to celebrate the critical importance of reproductive health access, reproductive rights, and reproductive justice, and to learn more about Judaism’s (and, in our case, Humanism's) approach to these issues.
19TH ANNUAL DETROIT MLK DAY VIRTUAL RALLY AND MARCH

Monday, Jan. 17, 11am - 12:30pm

For more information, visit MLKdetroit.org.
JOIN THE SOCIAL JUSTICE MAILING LIST!
Sign up for the Social Justice Committee email list for information about what's happening at CHJ 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.
"DUE TO ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT"
Last April I woke up to news of the death of Michael Cook, a professor of mine from the Reform movement’s seminary, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). A scholar of biblical criticism whom I admired, Cook was particularly influential on my world view and I took several courses with him. Saddened by the news—and because I still keep my membership in the Reform rabbinate’s professional association up to date—I went to the group’s Facebook page expecting to find many tributes and memorials. Instead, I found posts like this one (paraphrased and edited so as not to identify the writers):

We don’t mourn this death. It’s too kind to call him a sexual harasser. He preyed on female students and caused substantial trauma. The male hierarchy that was in charge of HUC-JIR protected him due to his talents and value as a teacher. To those who continue to hurt from his advances and misogynistic behavior, I wish comfort and peace.

Needless to say I was shocked. But perhaps I should not have been. It wasn’t the first time that I’d heard allegations like this about professors—some of them rabbis—at HUC-JIR. Over two decades ago, Sheldon Zimmerman, one of the movement’s most prominent rabbis and academics, was forced out of the school’s presidency when it was revealed that he had also engaged in “sexual misconduct” in his previous positions at Central Synagogue in New York and as head of the rabbinical association.

And then there was the resignation in 2018 of sociologist Steven Cohen who left the school in the wake of “several complaints of sexual misconduct” that resulted in an investigation. He did not dispute the findings. Cohen was so well known in Jewish academic and lay circles that his resignation made headlines in the mainstream press.

As it turns out these were not isolated incidents. In the wake of the Cook revelations, the school hired a prominent law firm to investigate. What they found was shocking. It included detailed accounts of what he had done and those of similar crimes perpetrated by famed cantorial composer Bonia Shur and by Alfred Gottschalk, the man who ordained me and several generations of rabbis. There were several others, too.

On top of all of this, the report went further, outlining decades of cover-ups, gender discrimination, LGBTQ discrimination, bullying and disrespect of students and younger faculty, and on and on and on. (If you’re interested you can read the whole thing here. Now the Reform movement is engaged in a process of teshuvah (repentance) that its leaders hope will right the ship. I wish them the best.

The sad truth that lies behind this story is that HUC-JIR is not really unique in this tale. It merely mirrors the sorry state of affairs that is seemingly everywhere. From Clinton to Weinstein to Cosby to Cuomo to this week’s news about Lee Chatfield in the Michigan House of Representatives to innumerable unnamed perpetrators everywhere, our society continues to be plagued by men who abuse their positions to harass, exploit, and otherwise prey on women.

It would, of course, be nice to think that committed Humanists could never be involved in anything like this, but just because it’s nice to think doesn’t make it true. If we’ve had fewer cases it’s only because our organizations are smaller. Happily, at least in the few cases I’ve learned about, we’ve seen positive responses. For example, following allegations similar to those at HUC-JIR, in 2018 the American Humanist Association (AHA) withdrew its 2015 designation of (former) Arizona State University physicist Lawrence Krauss as “Humanist of the Year.” 

With the withdrawal of its award, AHA Director Roy Speckhart issued this statement that sums up how I feel about my Jewish colleagues and why it’s so important for individuals and organizations to speak out and stand with the victims:

It’s deeply disappointing when someone we’ve honored, and who regularly speaks to the world representing humanists everywhere, fails to meet our expectations. When a prominent humanist’s commitment to reason, compassion, and egalitarianism appears to be fundamentally compromised by his or her behavior, we must act on our disappointment to ensure that the world understands humanists at large don’t condone such misconduct.

The professors and colleagues who let me down did immeasurably more harm to the women they preyed upon. My disillusion is real but I want to add that what I or anyone who was not violated might feel must never be the focus. Yes, they disappointed us and yes, we may be personally saddened by the loss of the person we thought we knew. Nevertheless, our sole responsibility must be to support the victims by amplifying their voices and experiences and by calling the perpetrators to task, exacting a price for their offenses.

These issues are far from behind us. I’m gratified that the Reform movement is finally addressing their problems in a meaningful way. And as a humanist—who maintains that the truest test of anyone’s beliefs lies in their actual behavior—I was especially relieved to see the AHA’s response to Krauss. Let’s hope that more organizations will emulate HUC-JIR and the AHA in their total commitment to the (mostly) women who have suffered at the hands of these predators. 

No matter how much we once admired them.
*REFUAH SHLEMA (SPEEDY RECOVERY)
Best Wishes for a Speedy Recovery to:

Joe Gadon, Rabbi Peter Schweitzer

Please inform us if you know that someone is ill or in need.
MOVEMENT NEWS
EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY IN METRO DETROIT

MICHIGAN COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
(P/T Independent Contractor)

Jews for a Secular Democracy seeks a part-time Michigan Community Organizer—ideally based in the Metro Detroit area—to oversee all aspects of the state-based program. The position is paid as an independent contractor at $1,600/month for an initial 10-month contract with the potential for extension / expansion and will work in close collaboration with the SHJ executive director, JFASD staff, and board leadership.

Jews for a Secular Democracy (JFASD) is a pluralistic initiative of the Society for Humanistic Judaism (www.SHJ.org) to counter the influence of religion on government, by galvanizing the Jewish community to defend the constitutional separation of church and state. JFASD provides a uniquely Jewish perspective on religion-state separation by drawing on Jewish teachings, history, and experience to educate, advocate, and mobilize the Jewish community into action on the issues.

CURRENT COVID-19 SAFETY POLICY

VACCINATION & MASK REQUIREMENTS IN EFFECT
All visitors to our building who are eligible for inoculation must be fully vaccinated. Members may provide verbal confirmation of this. Guests who are not members may be asked to show proof of vaccination. Masks are required for everyone in public areas. At congregational events where a meal is served, when seated at a table participants may eat and drink without masks.
For more details on safety and mitigation efforts, please click here.

(Those who are unable to be vaccinated - due solely to medical reasons - may contact the office to make advance arrangements for socially distanced participation at certain public gatherings; email office@chj-detroit.org or call 248.477.1410.)
ONLINE, IN-PERSON & BOTH!
In-person classes require full vaccination; see above

RABBI FALICK'S SATURDAY CLASS ("REBBE'S TISCH")
Join him for a historical look at Jewish texts throughout the ages.
Saturdays, 10am, Zoom Only

UNROLLING JUDAISM WITH RABBI FALICK
A deeper look at Jewish customs, traditions, and historical events ... from ancient times to today! See above for more information.
Mondays, Noon, Zoom Only

JEWISH HISTORY (& CURRENT EVENTS DISCUSSION) CLASS WITH NATAN FUCHS
SUSPENDED UNTIL JAN. 30
The History of Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewry: From the Iberian Christian Reconquista to the European Enlightenment
Sundays, 9:30am, In Person (see Covid Safety Above)

SOCRATES CAFE
Every Tuesday of Each Month, 10:30am, Zoom Only

YOGA
On hiatus until further notice
ZOOM REQUIRES A PASSWORD!
The password was sent under separate cover. Please contact rabbi@chj-detroit.org if you need it.

ONLINE VIDEOS OF PROGRAMS & CLASSES
Visit LibrarySHJ.com and our YouTube page for videos of past services, classes, lectures, and more!