The Jews of the Seacoast NAACP

OK, I know Jews are all about justice. It shows in our giving tzedakah, community activities, even when making academic and career choices. Such involvement is definitely not unique to the Jewish community, but Justice is one culturally-ingrained Jewish value that parents begin instilling in their children at a very young age (although maybe Bibi’s parents didn’t get the memo).

I also know that each time Jews face hate and hardship themselves, they have the opportunity to reevaluate their responsibility to ensure that all people are treated justly. What I did not know, however, was that Jews make up 90% of my local NAACP chapter’s membership. Michelle Obama This past week I spoke informally with Fred Ross, President of the seacoast chapter of the NAACP, who is in the midst of planning an exciting regional event. He says that local members of the Jewish community are huge supporters of his organization, often contributing to advancement efforts well into retirement.

We New England Jews and our friends have a great opportunity to show support for our African-American brothers and sisters this coming May 15th in The Unity Relay for Justice that starts in New Hampshire. It is an eight-day, 130 mile relay march from the State House in Concord to Beacon Hill, and then to the State House in Providence, Rhode Island. During the march, participants may walk however long they wish, from a single block or the whole distance. The NAACP is looking for participants of all ages, religions, colors, and lifestyles to unite in this cause. Organizers say the event will “address disparities in the criminal justice system and law enforcement policies and procedures.”

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in forming or being part of a seacoast NH team of walkers. librarian@templeisraelnh.org

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Summer @ the library

Library Committee with Rabbi and Wife

Library Committee and Special Guests; Left to Right: Al Spaien, Elissa Senter, Rabbi Senter, Allison, Meryl Wein, Sara Lesley Arnold

We had great feedback from some of the attendees of the Book Thief screening and discussion with Rabbi David Senter that took place on July 17th. Some members of the group had either read the book or seen the movie previously, so the discussion included valuable input from many perspectives. The consensus seemed to be that even though the general idea of Death as a narrator is morbid, that element lets the viewer take the role of a similarly helpless onlooker, seeing as objectively as possible the characters build relationships and come of age.

With an audience comprised mostly of Jews, we discussed the generalities commonly associated with holocaust survivors, bridging those experiences to those of the main character of Liesel Meminger, a non-Jewish German girl who experiences her own horrific tragedies.

Viewers agreed that although the film depicts such a tragic time in world history, it provides a reminder of the humanity that can shine through a blanket of darkness.

I must say, it was wonderful to watch the film in a room of engaged viewers, after watching it on my own the first time. Geoffrey Rush and the other actors give amazing performances; the filmmakers really do a tremendous job transmitting the biblio-centric world of the novel into a new medium, allowing the audience to take part in the story and fall in love with the literature.

We have a few thoughts about additional programming this coming year and will keep you informed as events are scheduled. We are currently planning new religious school programs and will have our annual book sale going on in the Schmooze beginning September 7th for the start of school.

 

May Doorpost Column

 Nancy Mae Shaines Memorial Library

Sara Lesley Arnold, librarian


The library has seen a lot of action the past few months, with the religious school’s HaSefer Basakit (book-in-a-bag) program thriving and lots of new books and DVDs coming in. Sara and the library committee have been continually finding ways to better your library experience and have seen great results. The congregation’s regular support for the library has helped increase circulation by 75% this last year! Please continue to give us feedback to help us serve you better.

The book Bagels From Benny by Aubrey Davis sparked some complex thinking by our first grade class recently. In the story, a boy named Benny leaves bagels in the ark as a thank you to Gd, ultimately finding out that he is inadvertently feeding an impoverished man stricken with hunger. With guidance from his grandfather, he learns that helping others is the best way to thank Gd.

Bagels From Benny Cover art

Bagels From Benny by Aubrey Davis

The wonderful, thoughtful children listening intently to the story began to ask questions… How did Gd make us? How did Gd make the planets? What does Gd look like? We discussed how important it is to continue to ask such questions, and that we will find some answers and ask more questions with each book we read.

New Books Display

New Books Display

Incoming titles for us older folks include the following: My Promised Land, This is Where I Leave You, The Book Thief on DVD, The Story of the Jews vol. 1, Countrymen, and Monuments Men. In case you missed some of the movies shown at the New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival, you will soon be able to borrow some of the titles at the temple library. Keep an eye on Sara’s librarian blog for other interesting resources and stories– https://saranit.wordpress.com and contact her with questions and requests at librarian@templeisraelnh.org.

 

Krembo

Limmud Boston

Along with my fellow staff members at the Temple Israel Hebrew school (with the initiative of Joan Nagler), I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend Limmud Boston yesterday, a conference with seminars celebrating Jewish identity and learning.  I chose to check out the following bunch of seminars, mostly library and education related, but some for fun. Even though I enjoyed these, I did leave the conference with an uneasy feeling.

In Open Source Judaism 2.0 we explored the openness of Jewish resources, as well as references to such openness in Jewish texts. Marc Stober, the presenter here, pointed out that the Torah was given out for free in a public place, one important aspect of our culture that we should remember when considering sharing our work with others.

Marc Stober teaching seminar

Marc Stober’s Open Source Judaism Presentation

In addition, the talmud explains that a candle for one is a candle for one hundred– we may share information with our community without depriving ourselves of that information. At the same time, however, we learn in Leviticus that we shalt not steal… In this information age, there is sometimes a fine line between sharing and stealing, so we must be cognizant of others’ intellectual property rights while consciously contributing information for use by our brothers and sisters.

Rabbi Charlie Schwartz

Rabbi Charlie Schwartz

In Masculinity and Marshmallows: the Role of Krembo in Israeli Cinema, we met Rabbi Charlie Schwartz, who runs some of the Brandeis High School programs. After studying cinema in college, I was tickled that this seminar was offered.  I had no idea, however, that Krembo was a tasty marshmallow treat with a chocolate shell and a cookie bottom:

Krembo

Krembo

We looked at three films in which Krembo appears, analyzing those scenes to determine how the treat diminishes characters’ masculinity, making them seem more juvenile. Information on these films can be found by following these links:

Mivtza Zavta (Operation Grandma)     |       Beaufort      |      Close to Home

I also attended my colleague’s presentation on Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences in the Jewish classroom, where Cheryl Berman shared some useful tools for addressing various learning preferences in the religious school classroom.

Cheryl Berman

Cheryl Berman, Temple Israel Portsmouth

Although my purpose in posting this was to share these wonderful experiences, I feel compelled to also share my disappointment in many members of the greater Boston Jewish community. One important reason for attending such an event as Limmud is to find camaraderie from within your Jewish community– to be as one for a day, sharing common interests in our common heritage. As a first-time attendee I felt as if this was not an important factor to those around me, that everyone was in it for himself and not the greater good.

The behavior of those attending the seminar on the two-state solution in Israel was abhorrent, including hateful language and disrespect to other Jews in the room. These thirty people share more than just a religion, and should be ashamed at their blatant disregard of the peace process and their negative effect on human kindness. We should all be working toward a peaceful world. Let’s remember that this begins with how we treat each other.

Good Deeds Day 2013

Good Deeds Day is coming up everybody! What project are you planning to help somebody in your community?

Since its inception in 2007, Good Deeds Day has grown to have 250,000 participants in Israel last year, and thousands more worldwide. Apparently MTV has been involved in marketing the cause, and several large sponsors help the organization to continue growth and outreach.

You can help too! Need some ideas?? Check with a local nonprofit or religious organization to see how you might be able to help out on March 10th, or visit a neighbor to see if they need help with any home projects! Grab some friends and make someone else smile. You can make it happen.

BTW, if you’re in Israel you get to do your mitzvah early on March 5th 🙂