The opposite of good is not evil, it is indifference

Rabbi’s Shabbat Message
May 29, 2020

 
As our festival comes to an end and we enter into Shabbat, let us take a moment to pause and reflect.  On Shavuot we open our hearts and accept the Torah anew.   We celebrate revelation, coming face-to-face with a vision of the world as it could be.   We reaffirm the most fundamental of God’s commandments, law that shapes our worship of God, both directly and indirectly.  God’s presence is everywhere: in every person and in the relationships we cultivate among us.  When we give honor to others, we give honor to God.  It is good to be reminded of such a basic idea, especially as we consider the acts of racism that occured this week, including the unjust death of Mr. George Floyd.  
 
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a legendary voice for justice, taught: “The opposite of good is not evil; the opposite of good is indifference.”  He explained that “…morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” It is important that we take heed of this lesson.  We are all responsible for bringing about the world as it should be and may not allow ourselves to find any form of injustice tolerable.   God’s presence is in every human being.  To worship God means we must acknowledge God’s presence in all human beings.  Like the Israelites, today we reaffirmed “naaseh v’nishmah,”  “we will do and we will hear.”  We have sworn to uphold the values handed down to us at Sinai.  Now we must bear witness and come to fully understand the state of brokenness in which we live.  May doing so give us the courage to honor God by standing up against all wrongs inflicted on others.

Worthy of a Special Moment

A Message from Rabbi Bodney-Halasz
May 26, 2020

One of the most meaningful responsibilities I have is teaching our Confirmation students.  Confirmation is a relatively new tradition that began in the late 1800s to honor young adults for their commitment to Jewish learning and community.  Metaphorically, B’nai Mitzvah is getting your learner’s permit and Confirmation is receiving your driver’s license.  Students put in many years of study and demonstrate a deeper, more meaningful understanding of Judaism.   The Reform community chose to associate Confirmation with the holiday of Shavuot, as our children reaffirm their commitment to accepting the weight of the Torah and represent the first fruits of each year’s harvest to the community. (Learn more about Shavuot here.)
 
We have a remarkable class of Confirmation students this year.  In fact, earlier this year, before the novel coronavirus hit the U.S., they suggested we continue meeting next year.  While we have traditionally held Confirmation on Shavuot, I have chosen not to do so this year.  We will postpone this event not because these students lack depth of knowledge or commitment to our community, but precisely the opposite.  I want to offer them the honor of receiving Confirmation when they may safely do so before the ark in our sanctuary.  We may still need to have that moment in an individual fashion with social distancing, but these remarkable youth are worthy of this special moment.  I look forward to sharing more information about this opportunity in the fall.  In the meantime, please join me and the rest of the worship team this Thursday night and Friday morning for our Festival Services and Yizkor.

Honoring the Fallen

Honoring Those Who Gave All

by Scott Halasz

As Memorial Day quickly approaches, Ethan Zied wants everyone to remember that all gave some, and some gave all.

As part of his Eagle Scout project, Ethan created a database of the 2,500 veterans buried at the 25 Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati. The ultimate intention of the project was to be able to place markers and flags at each of the gravesites.

“We started working with the database,” Ethan said. “We started trying to get markers. We want to get flags before Memorial Day, which was the goal, but not part of the project.”

Close to 1,000 graves have been flagged and marked. About half of the Walnut Hills cemetery was marked last May and another chunk was completed within the last week. And Ethan, a crew of helpers from the Valley Temple Men’s Club as well as some other Cincinnati-area families didn’t let the coronavirus keep them from getting all of the Montgomery cemetery marked recently as well.

Ethan is hoping the job is completely finished by Memorial Day 2021. There are 23 cemeteries left but many are near each other, much like the Temple Israel and Beth Abraham cemeteries in Oakwood, and some may only have one or two graves to mark.

“The markers will stay at the grave forever,” Ethan’s father, Eric, said. They are hoping to have the flags stay up year-round as well, but Mother Nature may have something to say about that.

“We’re certainly experimenting at this point,” Eric said, adding that they will replace any flags annually around Memorial Day.

Ethan’s effort earned him the Dan Beard Council’s Eagle Project of the Year Award. There were more than 350 Eagle Scouts in the 2019 class.

“It’s pretty cool,” Ethan said. “I had a very good feeling. I think my project was pretty solid. Lots of projects aren’t really impactful or meaningful to the scout.”

Many projects are temporary and involve building something that may affect a small group.

“I think mine is meaningful, impactful, long lasting and sustainable,” Ethan said. “I figured it had a pretty good chance of winning.”

While marking graves, Ethan and Eric were approached by cemetery visitors asking what they were doing. 

“They were definitely moved by that,” Eric said. “People definitely appreciated it.”

Ethan also received some serious validation from a fellow scout, who had actually been working on a similar project but stopped because he thought it was too difficult.

“When he found out the fact that I won the award, I guess he tried to work on it again,” Ethan said. “That’s pretty neat.”

Jennifer Mollenhauer

Teacher, Dancer, and Nature Lover

by Courtney Cummings

We sat down with Jennifer Mollenhauer to learn a little more about her life outside of Temple Israel.  Jennifer began teaching Jewish dance at Temple’s religious school when Rabbi Bodney-Halasz was developing new curriculum for the school.  The material was something that Jennifer loved, so she continued to teach for 15 years, finding joy in all of the ways that the students connected to the class and seeing which aspects of the movement inspired them the most.  Her life began in Northern Virginia, and when she was in high school, Jennifer had the chance to study dolphin behavior at the Dolphin Research Lab in Grassy Key, Florida.  It was a truly unique experience and one that she cherishes to this day.  Her love of nature takes her and her husband of 26 years, David, out on hikes to different parks, and (when permitted) travel.  When asked about her dream travel destination, Jennifer said, “I want to go see the Mach Loop in the United Kingdom where jet fighters fly through the mountains at high speed.”  That would certainly be a sight and sound to hold.

An art lover at heart, she delights in attending the ballet and the opera, but also finds a creative outlet in decorating her house and creating flower arrangements.  This quarantine period has shown Jennifer that she was already home a lot and appreciates her time with family. One thing that she thinks people would be surprised to know is that she really hates mushrooms.  (So don’t offer her any!)

Looking back on her teaching time at Temple, she laughs at a moment when one of the older grade students quoted her choreography instructions as they performed Tzaddik Katamar on the bimah.  One might say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, and it’s always nice to share a little laugh together.

Thank you, Jennifer, for your service to our Religious School and for infusing all of our students with the movements and steps of our people.  This embodiment and expression of Judaism is something they can carry with them wherever they go.

Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations

Special Film Screening

Wednesday, May 20 at 7:00 p.m.

Join CET, ThinkTV, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton and Temple Israel on May 20 at 7:00 p.m. for an advance online screening of a new documentary, Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations. This documentary explores the recent rise in antisemitism, which is increasing in ways not seen since the 1930s. Hear firsthand accounts from victims, witnesses and others who have experienced it. The film makes it clear that hate, like a virus, thrives with a receptive human host. Stay with us after the film for a Q&A panel discussion, including the filmmaker, Andrew Goldberg, and Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz from Temple Israel, Dayton.

Find more information on Facebook.

Register for the virtual screening event and discussion here.

Stay Connected!

Be sure to check your email!  

A Message from Rabbi Bodney-Halasz
May 8, 2020
 
When this quarantine began, I chose to produce TIDBITS myself.  I wanted to communicate more directly and more regularly with you during these difficult times.  To call attention to these changes, my TIDBITS emails did not specify TIDBITS in the title and were sent from my email, not “Temple Israel.”  
 
As we know, change is never perfect.  It has come to my attention that for some of you, this has had the opposite impact.  You may not be seeing my communication at all now. Our computers are used to filtering out important messages in certain ways and this change may have altered the efficacy of this system.  So, our TIDBITS email today is in the more recognized format so that you might see the message and begin to look for TIDBITS on Tuesdays and Fridays (for Shabbat). 
 
Each of these TIDBITS is filled with unique and time-sensitive content and I don’t want you to miss out on what is happening at Temple.  Mention this to anyone who feels they haven’t heard from Temple in a while and please pay attention.  If you haven’t received TIDBITS by Wednesday or Saturday, be sure to run a search for any messages from my email address.
 
The several weeks have been incredibly hard for all of us.  Know that you are not alone.  You may always send an email to info@tidayton.org or call the Temple office at 937.496.0050. Your Temple is here for you.  

Teacher Appreciation

Together We Thank Our Teachers

On Friday, May 1, we honored our teachers and madrichim for the amazing role they have played in shaping the Jewish identities of our youth.  This year has proven even harder than others with the sudden disruption from the COVID-19 outbreak.  We are forever thankful for their continued creativity to engage our students in learning.  Enjoy a short video from Rabbi Tina Sobo with musical guest, Grant Halasz, as they thank and honor our educators.  

Coffee with Clergy

Craving Connection?  

Our wonderful rabbis are always here for you, but we have carved out a special space for conversation and time to catch up.  Join Rabbi Bodney-Halasz or Rabbi Sobo on Zoom each week.  Coffee not required…

 

A Message from the Rabbi

With Gratitude and Appreciation

April 28, 2020
 
For the past few weeks, we have included a “Look for the Helpers” section in our TIDBITS email newsletter. As we near the end of the school year, we turn our appreciation this week towards our teachers and madrichim, who have dedicated themselves to creating fun and memorable lessons all year. Our teachers haven’t stopped developing creative ways for our children to continue their learning online. It has been tough on all of us – parents, teachers and students of all ages. While parents and teachers miss daily routines and adult interaction, our children miss their friends and are anxious about a dangerous virus they can’t even see. How lucky we are to have such a dedicated group of educators to serve as the glue keeping us together during these tenuous times. Their efforts have brought a sense of normalcy and intrigue into our lives. At a time of many questions, our Jewish educators remind us of eternal truths and sacred beliefs, drawing us closer to God and to one another. We are blessed by all that they do and all that they are. 
 
Be sure to check out our Shabbat TIDBITS on Friday, May 1 when we will shower our appreciation on teachers in music and prayer.