Devastation and Plagues

Rabbi's Message - February 4, 2022

Rabbi Tina Sobo

In our weekly Torah reading last week and this week, we are reminded of the 10 plagues in Egypt; though it hardly feels like we need such a reminder.  Over the past week I have seen the news reports of 1,600 acres of land being consumed by a wildfire in Boulder County, Colorado.  The pictures are heart breaking.  

For me, sitting here, at a safe distance, it is a reminder.  NBC News quoted Colorado’s governor saying, “It’s like the neighborhood you live in.  It’s like the neighborhood that any of us live in.  1,600 acres near a population center can be – and is, in this case – absolutely devastating.”  It’s a reality we know – the Memorial Day tornadoes of 2019 tore homes and lives apart and wrecked devastation on our own community.

What stands out about these wildfires is the rapidity with which they spread.  Climate scientists believe this is due to the severe droughts that the West coast areas have experienced due to climate change (global warming).

We are commanded in the Bible to have empathy and compassion on the most vulnerable because we were once slaves in Egypt.  The implication being that we know what it feels like to be oppressed, to be more vulnerable to devastation from natural events.  We carry that legacy as Jews and as a community that experienced a similar event.

And for many of us, it hits even closer to home.  Alan Halpern, our former executive director, who now lives and works in Boulder, lost his home to the fires.  He and his family escaped unharmed, but will be rebuilding in the weeks and months ahead, along with so many others.

The plagues of Egypt are not just fantastical stories of the past.  And as much as I may have joked over the past two years about swarms of locusts, killer bees, and COVID being a new set of plagues, there are very real, very devastating events.  It is not up to us to complete the work of rebuilding and supporting the victims, but we cannot stand idly by.

We have been in contact with Alan, and he has told us the best way to help right now is to donate to The Community Foundation of Boulder County or to the relief fund established by Jewish Colorado.  These organizations are assessing the needs of those affected and working quickly to help.  We are grateful that Alan and his family are safe and healthy, and we pray that he and all those affected find the support of community and feel at home while rebuilding physical homes.

Temple Israel Information During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Temple Israel Information During the Covid-19 Pandemic

For centuries, synagogues have played a central role as places of holy gathering, learning, prayer and service.  Our Sages teach there comes a time when the Jewish community is confronted with sha’at had’chak, an hour of duress, when lives and safety are at risk and the kehillah must adjust accordingly. Traditionally, sha’at had’chak occurred when Jews, specifically, were threatened. But the moment in which we find ourselves is not limited to Jews or synagogues, nor even Americans or Israelis. The spread of COVID-19 has continued to be a global crisis, and our faith demands of us that we stand now as citizens of the world.

Our team of congregational leaders and staff will continue to develop and periodically review policies to ensure that we can maintain our essential functions, programs, and activities in a safe and responsible manner. This group communicates regularly and makes necessary adjustments to our policies in response to current developments of the pandemic and the latest advice from public health organizations.  Under the current guidelines, the following policies have been implemented:

  • Friday night Shabbat services in November will meet in-person in the sanctuary.  Masks are required and social distancing is encouraged.
  • Due to building construction, Friday night Shabbat services will take place online in December and January.  We look forward to welcoming you back to the building once the renovations are complete.
  • Saturday morning Torah study will continue online through the end of 2021.  Email for Torah study Zoom link.
  • Programs and activities will be presented both in-person and as a livestream whenever possible, or via Zoom when needed.  Check our calendar for the most up to date information.
  • Temple Israel administrative offices will continue to be open during regular hours for business.  Any changes will be communicated through our newsletters.

Meetings of the synagogue, such as committee meetings – particularly those of larger groups – will be held remotely via telephone or video conference. Check the calendar or check with the chair of the committee for more information.

We recognize that “social distancing” makes it difficult to accomplish the rich community-building to which we aspire at Temple Israel. These are temporary measures to deal with the situation at hand. We will need to find new ways to express our appreciation for and support of one another. When possible we will use technology to bridge the divide.

Rabbis Bodney-Halasz and Sobo remain available to anyone who is in need of pastoral care. In addition, our congregation continues to think through how best to support our most vulnerable members through this crisis. Please contact Rabbi Bodney-Halasz at if you wish to be part of that conversation. 

During this “time of duress,” may we continue to hold each other from afar, and may the bonds of friendship that unite our Temple Israel family continue to grow even as we endure this difficult congregational, national and global moment.

For specific information about Covid-19, please visit our resources page.  

Moving Forward with Light

Moving Forward with Light

Program Director’s Message – December 22, 2020

Courtney Cummings

The darkest day of the year has passed us.  Starting today, we are officially heading towards days filled with more light.  (Whew!)  My hope is that this additional light in the world will inspire us to focus on bringing light and joy to everyone, especially those in need.   As Jews, we are taught to treat others with dignity and respect and “that which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man.” (Hillel)  It seems simple enough.  Treat others with the same kindness you hope to receive.  We all have the power to do good and make this world a better place, one act at a time.  Wondering where to start?  Here is a list of 6 things you can do to make a difference in our Dayton community:

1. Donate Blood – About one in seven people entering a hospital needs blood.  With the increase of hospitalizations due to Covid, this need could be even greater than usual.  Blood donation takes about one hour of your time. When you give blood, it gives someone another smile, another hug, another chance. It is the gift of life.  Find out where you can donate blood.  If you are a first-time donor, learn more about the donation process.

2. Make Mac & Cheese – Yep, that’s right!  Time to get cooking.  Jewish Family Services of Greater Dayton is organizing a Mitzvah Mission on December 25 for St. Vincent de Paul.  One piece of this program is making mac & cheese using a specific recipe.  If you plan to make something or attend the event, be sure to RSVP so they know you are coming.

3. Drop off food at Temple Israel for The Foodbank – For over 40 years, The Foodbank has served as the primary source of food for the hunger relief network in the Miami Valley. The Foodbank – the only one of its kind in the area – relieves hunger in the community through a network of partner agencies by acquiring and distributing food.  Temple Israel is proud to be a drop-off location for those who wish to donate non-perishable items.  In addition, you may drop off items directly to the Foodbank. No one should go hungry, especially during this pandemic.    

4. Donate an item from Dayton Children’s Wish List – Children admitted to Dayton Children’s and their families receive the finest medical treatment, emotional support and loving care available anywhere. But children have other special needs. Your gift of toys, books, games, and activities help brighten a child’s stay at Dayton Children’s. These gift items are used for birthday presents, end-of-treatment gifts and to stock our play and waiting areas.  Shop their Amazon Wish List.  Help bring a smile to a child’s face.  

5. Volunteer at St Vincent de Paul or purchase items from their wishlistSt Vincent de Paul aids the homeless and impoverished by providing emergency shelter, transitional and permanent supportive housing, food, clothing and household items, and guidance to leading a self-sustaining life.  On average, they shelter nearly 400 men, women and children every day. Guests receive clothing, personal items and three meals a day. Donating personal items is a great way to help ensure guests’ needs are met.  Download their needs list and consider a donation, or sign-up to become a volunteer

6. Donate money to Temple Israel – Our rabbis and staff are always here for you.  In addition to our regular programs and services, we provide assistance to those in need in our congregation, as well as ongoing emotional support and spiritual guidance.  Consider a donation to Temple Israel as this year comes to a close, so that we can continue to meet the needs of our community.

In these current times, it is easy for us to think that we can’t make a difference.  We can.  One small gesture can change someone’s day, lift their spirits.  Many acts of kindness can brighten the world.  Together let’s shine as much light as possible.  What are you waiting for?

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday

Rabbi’s Message – December 1, 2020

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

This year has sent us into such unchartered territory, but fortunately, we have been able to weather this storm together as a congregation.   As we continue to navigate these waves of challenges, we can reflect on the ways we have adapted to our new environment.  
Our caring committee spearheaded outreach efforts to help alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness.  We also developed new methods to continue meaningful Jewish living as a community.  It was a year of firsts: our first online annual congregational meeting, a “Zoom-Mitzvah,” virtual High Holiday services, and even holiday drive-thru experiences.  Our regular, ongoing programs such as Shabbat worship services, Torah study, and religious school look different, but still evoke the essence of Temple Israel.  While we may be physically separated, we are finding creative ways to lift one another up, increase our connectedness, and grow in our knowledge of Torah.
All of these things have only been possible because of members like you who have stepped up your participation and giving.  Your donations directly support the work of our rabbis and staff, and the programs and services that directly impact you, our friends, and our neighbors.  Thank you for your continued generosity even as you, too, have experienced the impact of this pandemic. 
Today has been designated as “Giving Tuesday,” which reminds us that we all have gifts to give and every act of generosity, big or small, makes a significant impact.  Please consider lending a helping hand to those most impacted by this pandemic by making a year-end donation to Temple Israel in honor of Giving Tuesday.  Your support will enable us to remain connected through kindness even without physical proximity.  Together we can continue to provide the financial, emotional and social supports that nurture our families and communities. 
Every act of giving, big or small, moves us closer in our quest of tikkun olam, repairing the world.  One day the storm will be over, but until then we must walk together in the rain.  Thank you for considering a year-end donation to Temple Israel.
May we all go forward in strength and good health.