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Support the Book of Remembrance

09/13/2022 01:21:24 PM

Sep13

The Book of Remembrance is a meaningful way for our congregation to remember our loved ones and Temple members who were part of the foundation of our community. This book lists the yahrzeit observance dates for the close family members whose yahrzeit dates are listed in your ShulCloud account. It also includes memorial prayers for you to recite as you observe your loved ones’ yahrzeiten.
 
The publication of this book is made possible by the donations and sponsorships we receive. As of September 6, we have raised just over $6,000 in donations, made in memory of the loved ones listed in its pages. Donations from some of the partners we work with when planning funerals also help fund the Book of Remembrance. Cress Funeral Services has been a major sponsor of this book for many years, and DiRienzo Monuments also gladly sponsors this publication. We are also grateful for our community sponsors, Chevra Kadisha and the Jewish Burial Society. All donors will be listed in the Book of Remembrance as well as in the High Holy Day program.

The Book of Remembrance is distributed at Yom Kippur services. It is mailed to those who donate to the book and to members who request a copy, and the electronic version is made available to TBE members on our website (tbemadison.org/tbemembers). If you would like a Book of Remembrance mailed to you, please contact Melissa Osborne at office@tbemadison.org.

This memorial book holds a special place in the TBE community. Its publication each year would not be possible without your thoughtful donations. 

Closing the Books on Fiscal Year 2022

09/13/2022 01:06:14 PM

Sep13

Temple Beth El’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30. Our report to the Board of Trustees on FY 2022 included these details.

  • Membership contributions increased by 1% in FY 2022 over FY 2021. We always appreciate any increase in contributions, and we will continue to emphasize the need for increases each year. Annual membership contributions are our biggest source of revenue.
  • Our total revenue decreased by 13% in FY 2022 from FY 2021. This was due to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan of $180,000 which was 100% forgiven in 2021.
  • Our total revenue for FY 2022 was $1.16M.
  • Personnel compensation, our largest expense, increased by 1%, or $11,000, over FY 2021.
  • Our total expenditures increased by 5% over FY 2021. Most of these increased expenses came from program expenses now that we have resumed in-person events, and we are incurring other building-related expenses as well.
  • Our total expenses for FY 2022 were $1.25M.

Our fiscal year ended with a deficit of $96,249. The board voted to close the year with a deficit and not fund it, at this time, from any of our endowments.

As expenses continue to rise, increasing our revenue is the only way to combat our deficit. For this fiscal year, FY 2023, we are working to find new streams of revenue. New income sources, along with increased annual contributions and a successful Endowment for Spiritual Leadership campaign, will create a secure financial future that allows Temple Beth El to thrive.

If you have any questions about our financials, please contact Stefanie Kushner at exec@tbemadison.org.

 

 

Endowment for Spiritual Leadership

09/13/2022 11:44:54 AM

Sep13

We hope you have had time to read the mailing outlining the newly established Endowment for Spiritual Leadership. We’re energized by the excitement the mailing has generated, and by the generous response of so many congregants.

Recognizing the enormous value of our spiritual leaders, TBE members have been inspired to support the newly formed endowment: a resource that will ensure our ability to sustain a vibrant Temple community, led by clergy who will continue to inspire and energize TBE.

Generous lead donors have contributed over $4 million toward our aspiration of an $8 million endowment, which will fund the costs of providing spiritual leadership for the foreseeable future. These inspirational donations are the sparks that helped kindle this important endeavor. Now, we are seeking the active participation of every member of TBE to help us reach our goal.
 
Your donation will allow the clergy of TBE to continue to enrich our Jewish experiences.
 
Your gift will transform our future.
 
Read more about the Endowment for Spiritual Leadership

Please return the card you received in the mailing indicating your pledge or donation. To learn more about this opportunity or to make a gift, contact Stefanie Kushner at 608-238-3123 or exec@tbemadison.org.

Thank you for contributing to this endowment. 

Summer Internship Program Is a Big Hit for Students—and Employers

08/15/2022 09:39:10 AM

Aug15

The second year of Temple Beth El’s summer internship partnership with the Boys & Girls Club interns came to a successful close at the end of July. Through this project, 11 high school and college students were placed in summer internships with employers from Temple Beth El and the broader Jewish community, up from six students last summer. 

The project is a five-way partnership: 

  • Temple Beth El conceived of the project, found willing employers, and applied for a grant to fund stipends for the interns, led by Betsy Abramson of the Racial Justice Action Team. 
  • The Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County (BGCDC) selected the interns, matched them with employers, and worked with employers on job expectations. 
  • The Jewish Federation of Madison provided a $10,000 grant from the Cheryl Rosen Weston Fund to pay for some of the stipends. 
  • The host employers provided meaningful work, supervision, and encouragement. In addition, most of the employers generously donated between half and the full $1,800 stipend to support the students’ work. 
  • Last but not least, the 11 students worked hard and came away with valuable job experience.

The 11 TBE-initiated sites and the supervising employers from the Jewish community were Books4School (Amy, Marty, Molly, and Randy Fields), Community Justice Inc. (Carousel Bayrd), Frank Beverage Group (Elizabeth Frank Friedman), Frank Productions (Marla and Larry Frank and Jesse Sherman), General Beverage Group (the Minkoff family), Jewish Social Services (Jim Mackman), LIFT Wisconsin (Marsha Mansfield), Madison Youth Arts (Mike Ross), Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (Joe Loehnis), Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice (Rabbi Bonnie Margulis), and Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (Aleksandr Kladnitsky).

The employers provided a combined $11,000 toward the stipends. The full $1,800 stipend was donated by Books4School, Frank Beverage Group, General Beverage Group, and Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association. Partial stipends were paid by Jewish Social Services, Madison Youth Arts, Frank Productions, and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

On July 29, TBE hosted a Shabbat dinner celebration for the interns, their families, employers, and staff from the partner organizations. While enjoying their first tastes of challah and kugel, the interns spoke about what they learned and enjoyed about their experiences, and what they hoped to do in the future:

  • Abae Fobate, who interned at Books4School, noted that she learned a lot during her internship in the book warehouse. She realized that even the routine job of packing books is really exciting when you see how important these books are for the schools and children receiving them.
  • Peyton Barber, who interned at Frank Productions, thought it was amazing that she got to learn so much of the nuts and bolts of running performances at four different Madison venues.
  • Claudia Salgado, who interned with LIFT Wisconsin, said she felt pretty overwhelmed at first, jumping into two direct service clinics for clients, but her supervisor’s assistance and support helped her get up to speed and learn a great deal.
  • Olga Gatesi, who interned with Jewish Social Services, initially thought she wouldn’t be interested in learning about social services. But having been born in Rwanda, she became especially interested in the work when she discovered that JSS helped resettle and support refugees. The experience strengthened her interest in becoming an immigration attorney.

Similarly, the employers uniformly noted that the students were delightful, added new perspectives to their work sites, and demonstrated impressive focus and commitment.

According to TBE’s Betsy Abramson, “At this point, the sites TBE has recruited represent over 20% of the sites that BGCDC matches interns with. We are totally delighted at the success and growth of the program, and we are confident that the model we have created has great potential for expansion. We are enormously grateful to the Jewish Federation of Madison for providing the seed money and to our most generous employers in the Jewish community for their donation of time and funds to support these impressive young people in gaining valuable job skills and knowledge.”
 

High Holy Day Food Drive 5783

08/15/2022 09:30:37 AM

Aug15

The High Holy Day Food Drive is a long-standing holiday tradition at Temple Beth El. Every year we ask the congregation to honor the new year and our day of fasting by making a monetary contribution to hunger relief. 

This year we hope to raise at least $14,000 to help address hunger in our community. We generally give most of the money to Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, the region’s largest and most cost-effective food bank, which distributes millions of pounds of food each year in southern Wisconsin. Temple Beth El has been recognized as a bronze-level sponsor of Second Harvest and NBC15’s Share the Holidays drive, the only nonprofit organization to achieve this recognition. It’s our goal to reach that level again this year. The funds will also be used to support our hunger relief efforts through community partners such as food pantries, community centers, and schools.

Look for the food drive envelope in your High Holy Day entry card mailing. You can donate on the Temple website either here or here (choose “High Holy Day Food Drive” as payment type). Or bring or mail a check made out to Temple Beth El with “High Holy Day Food Drive” in the memo.

Thank you for your continued donations each year to help us minimize food insecurity in Dane County.
 

Explanation of the Observances That Mark the Seven Weeks Leading to Rosh Hashanah 

07/15/2022 03:36:38 PM

Jul15

by Cantor Jacob Niemi

Within the Jewish calendar we find a variety of “cycles,” periods of time that have layers of meaning and opportunities for spiritual growth and reflection associated with them. The two largest cycles in our calendar are the one that culminates in Shavuot in the late spring and the one that culminates with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the early fall (arguably extending through Sukkot and Simchat Torah). In the second of these cycles, three major observances frame the seven weeks leading to Rosh Hashanah. 

Tishah B’Av

The first of these observances, Tishah B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, marks a spiritual low point in our year, when we recall a variety of tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, including the destruction of the First Temple (circa 586 BCE), the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE), the expulsion of the Jews from England (1290 CE), the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (circa 1490 CE), the beginning of World War I in 1914, and the beginning of operations at the Treblinka death camp and the start of deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. 

This fast day, on which we read from the book of Lamentations, teaches us about the importance of making space for grief and brokenness. Yet even by its end, there is already a suggestion of the possibility of rebuilding and renewal. In the final service on Tishah B’Av afternoon, the Torah reading includes verses about forgiveness that are included in the High Holy Day liturgy. When chanting those verses, the Torah reader customarily switches to the melodies used when chanting Torah on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Rosh Chodesh Elul

The second major milestone in this seven-week period is Rosh Chodesh Elul, the beginning of the month of Elul. While the few rituals for this day are similar to those marking the beginning of other months in the Jewish calendar, the day does introduce certain customs that continue throughout the month, the most notable of which may be the sounding of the shofar. The shofar, a ram’s horn that is sounded during Rosh Hashanah services, every day during Elul (with some communities excluding Shabbat), and at the end of Yom Kippur, reminds many people of a crying voice. 

Hearing the shofar’s call reminds us to look inward and to engage in the spiritual process of cheshbon hanefesh (literally “accounting of the soul”), as we take stock of the last year and think about ways that we might want to improve ourselves, our lives, and our relationships in the year to come. 

S’lichot

The third major moment preceding Rosh Hashanah is S’lichot, a service of penitential prayers that occurs in many Jewish communities on the Saturday evening immediately preceding Rosh Hashanah (or, if Rosh Hashanah falls on a Monday or a Tuesday, the Saturday evening the week before). Many Jewish communities continue to recite S’lichot prayers in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah. Sephardi and Mizrachi Jewish communities observe S’lichot on the second of the month of Elul and continue reciting these prayers throughout the month. Regardless of when it occurs, this ritual combines prayers connected to the liturgy of Yom Kippur with additional poetic writings and meditations, as well as a beautiful focus and midrashic expansion on the 13 attributes of God’s mercy. 

In addition to introducing prayers and melodies that are carried throughout the High Holy Days, it is also customary to use S’lichot as an opportunity to change the mantles on the Torah scrolls to those specifically designed for the holiday season (often white). This is thought to be in reference to the prophet Isaiah (1:18): “If your offenses be like scarlet, like snow shall they turn white. If they be red as dyed cloth, they shall become like pure wool.”

Night in the Tropics

07/11/2022 10:01:16 AM

Jul11

On Saturday, June 25, over 70 people put on leis and TBE sunglasses for a beautiful night under the tent on our terrace, listening to the steel drum music of Toco Beach Steelpan. We enjoyed poke bowls generously donated by our neighbor restaurant Miko Poke, and we moved on to ice cream generously donated by Chocolate Shoppe. Linda Berman’s homemade chocolate fudge topped off the delicious frozen treats. We were moved by Cantor Jacob Niemi’s thoughtful Havdalah service from the National Council of Jewish Women titled “After Roe: A Havdalah Ritual for Losing Abortion Access.” After pausing for personal reflection, we enjoyed each other’s company in a casual, fun atmosphere—just what we needed at the end of a Shabbat that was troubling for many of us.
 
Thank you to all staff and volunteers who made this night possible. We were pleased to raise more than $1,200 for TBE programs and services. 

New Fiscal Year, New Budget

07/11/2022 09:43:11 AM

Jul11

Summer is a time for TBE staff and leaders to evaluate last year and look to plans for the coming year. We welcome the new trustees who were installed at our annual meeting on June 8. The combination of new leaders coming together with continuing ones gives us consistent leadership with fresh eyes on governing for our future.

Summer also means the start of a new fiscal year and budget cycle starting on July 1. Staff and leaders, once again, stepped up to create a tight budget. We looked at all our expenses carefully to be fiscally responsible, especially in a time of rising costs. Approximately 80% of our expenses come from personnel and building costs. The only way to a balanced budget, especially at a time of continued rising costs, is to increase revenue. With about 70% of our revenue coming from membership renewals, we ask each household to do what is possible to increase your 2023 membership contribution. 

Membership renewal packets will be mailed to you later this year. As always, automatic renewals will continue for members who do not actively renew by the start of the calendar year. In January 2023, however, we will include a 10% increase in contribution when automatically renewing members’ contributions. If you want to choose how much to increase your contribution, it’s important that you actively renew your membership when those materials are mailed to you. As always, you’ll have the options of returning the renewal card in the mail, managing your renewal online, or calling Executive Director Stefanie Kushner to discuss the amount you are comfortable giving. 

We understand that not everyone is able to increase their contribution by 10%, and we will continue to remind you of this change as we approach the renewal period later this year.

Sylvia and Herb Frank Endowment

07/11/2022 09:26:45 AM

Jul11

Sylvia (z''l) and Herb Frank became TBE members more than 50 years ago. Their son and daughter-in-law, Larry and Marla Frank, shared these reflections: “Sylvia and Herb were totally devoted to their family’s happiness and well-being. They helped us understand the importance of a spiritual community, and they set a wonderful example for their children and grandchildren of how to be contributory members of our TBE community.” Their three sons—Larry, Fred, and Michael Frank—were all students in Temple Beth El’s Religious School. Larry and Marla have been active members for almost 40 years.

Marla was on the Board of Trustees for over 10 years, serving as treasurer for many of those years. They raised their children, Aaron and Sarah, at Temple Beth El. Marla and Larry want to honor the legacy of Sylvia and Herb by establishing an endowment in their name.
 
The Sylvia and Herb Frank Endowment will be a named endowment under the umbrella of the Endowment for Spiritual Leadership. The donated funds, which will add to the total amount of the Endowment for Spiritual Leadership, will be invested and used to support Temple Beth El clergy in the future. Marla and Larry know that the money they are investing at TBE in Sylvia and Herb Frank’s name will help to secure the financial future for Temple Beth El’s clergy. They believe that “spiritual leaders are the face, voice, and moral compass of our congregation. They have the ability to shape social and spiritual values by influencing attitudes, behaviors, and practices. That’s why it’s critical for TBE to have the resources to continue attracting the best spiritual leaders possible.”

Creating this endowment has deep personal meaning for them. Clergy has played a significant role in their TBE life, both in good times and when they needed support. “We’ve relied on the support and guidance of TBE clergy many times in our lives, mostly for happy life-cycle events but also during times of difficulty. During Sylvia’s illness and after she passed, Rabbi Biatch, Debby Martin, and Larry Kohn were always there to support us spiritually and emotionally, and they guided us patiently and compassionately through the burial and mourning process.“

Marla and Larry told us they were inspired to create an endowment to secure TBE’s financial future. “TBE has played a significant role in our lives for many years, but especially as we were raising our children. Clergy, administrators, teachers, and congregation members were all part of a very supportive community that helped instill spirituality in our children. We now want to pay it forward to a new generation.”
 
We are grateful for the generosity Marla and Larry Frank are providing to TBE and the legacy this creates in Sylvia and Herb Frank’s name. 

Endowment for Spiritual Leadership

07/08/2022 04:16:53 PM

Jul8

To ensure our long-term spiritual vitality, Temple leadership has taken the bold step of establishing the Temple Beth El Endowment for Spiritual Leadership. Our aspiration is an $8 million endowment to fully fund the costs of providing spiritual leadership for the foreseeable future. We have successfully secured just over $4.1 million in pledges in the foundation-building phase of the campaign.
 
This endowment campaign was established in early 2022 out of our tremendous admiration and appreciation for our clergy and a strong desire to continue to ensure outstanding spiritual leadership for the foreseeable future. The purpose of the endowment is to fully fund the costs of our spiritual leaders, which will provide financial stability for them and the congregation. While this is a tremendous undertaking, we know that this community is very forward-looking and committed to the success and financial health of the congregation. 

To reach our goal of $8 million, we are seeking the active and generous participation of every member of the congregation. Please look in your “snail mail” mailboxes in August for an invitation to participate in this transformational opportunity to secure the financial future for clergy at Temple Beth El. 

What’s an Endowment? 

07/08/2022 04:08:01 PM

Jul8

An endowment fund is an amount of money that generates interest income to be used for a specific purpose.

When you contribute to an endowment fund at TBE, you are participating in an opportunity to help grow an invested fund that builds our financial foundation by providing income to our operating budget. Many TBE members generously support our endowments, including the Larry Kohn Chair of Jewish Learning Fund and the Yerusha Fund. These giving opportunities honor our community while ensuring that your giving solidly supports our operating budget.

The total amount of an endowment is invested with Johnson Financial Group with oversight by our Trust Committee. Each year a percentage of each endowment is distributed to our operating budget. The growth of the endowment yields essential financial support for TBE in perpetuity.

Thoughts on “East West Street”

06/28/2022 02:02:19 PM

Jun28

David Feingold

David Feingold is a lifelong member of Temple Beth El. After graduation from UW–Madison and University of Chicago Law School, he returned to practice law in Janesville. David marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and trained as a community organizer with Saul Alinsky.

Based on lifelong friend Jon Lampman’s recommendation of the moving book “East West Street” by Philippe Sands, we find new ways to understand the concept of human rights.
Whatever the terminology—war crimes or crimes against humanity or genocide—history is rife with instances of mass human destruction.

War crimes have been recognized as far back as the 15th century (no doubt much further), when a tribunal of the Holy Roman Empire convicted and beheaded a Western European knight for ordering barbaric acts of rape and murder during a military occupation.

Opposition to slavery at home stimulated 19th-century language that affirmed human rights. The Republican Party platform of 1856 called slavery a “high crime against the Constitution, the Union, and humanity.”

The slaughter of a million or more Armenians by the Turks occurred in the early 20th century. This truth, slowly acknowledged, was shocking. Even though such barbarity has occurred throughout history, our language lacked a word to describe it.

Ultimately the Holocaust revealed that an advanced Western society would choose to annihilate entire peoples. This reality is undeniable, but it is still denied by those who thirst for the blood of others.
When it happened, millions remained in communities scattered throughout Eastern Europe, where Jews had been forced to live for generations. Millions of others, including all four of my grandparents, had escaped to safety and freedom around the turn to the 20th century, decades before their old world and own people were decimated.

“East West Street” follows two Jewish men, both scholars of international law, who were born near but did not know each other. Their communities lived under constant abuse and rising hatred. Researching this book, the author discovered that his own family also derived from the same city—today known to the world as Lviv, Ukraine.

Separately the two observed society and studied law, then managed to leave before annihilation was unleashed. Both of them searched for words to describe the violent denial of human rights. Finding the correct words would enable people to grasp and react to such horror.

What is the name for it? Hersch Lauterpacht chose “crimes against humanity”; Rafael Lemkin coined a new word: genocide. The former focused on individual victims, the latter on tormented groups of people. Both concepts were employed in the postwar Nuremberg conviction of Nazi leadership. Legal scholars currently debate the relative usefulness of their alternative words for future prosecutions.

Do the words matter? Certainly, but not so much as our commitment to root out all that is inhumane.
Now, every day the news is horrible. Maybe it has always been that way. Old friends fondly remember our youthful years struggling to extend civil rights along with Martin Luther King Jr. and to end the war in Vietnam.

In anguish we observe Ukraine, Buffalo, Uvalde, and more. It’s hard to realize such human destruction is occurring in this month of May, all happening in this 21st century.

While most people of European ancestry have found a path forward, an escape to safety and justice is still obstructed for those viewed as people of color and an array of others treated as outsiders in lands beloved for democracy.

The seed of humanity is within all of us. Taking action to nurture it is natural. But the potential for growth is often ignored, and sometimes twisted.

We can do little, but always something. It’s great that we, and so many others, have never given up.

On the overturning of Roe v. Wade

06/24/2022 01:21:16 PM

Jun24

Rabbi Jonathan Biatch

The Supreme Court of the United States has just removed from our treasured collection of constitutional rights one’s ability to access abortion. I object unequivocally to this ruling, which overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, and I hope that you will join me by participating in some of the actions I mention below. Fifty years ago, we believed that we had clarified and determined the sacred privilege of bodily autonomy. Now, that right has been taken away from all Americans, regardless of their gender. I believe this is an alarming moment in the life of our country, and I am determined to advocate on behalf of people who wish to control their individual reproductive lives. 
 
Let me briefly review what Judaism says about abortion: 

  • In the viewpoint of the Torah, life is surely sacred.  
  • The Mishnah (the second-century CE commentary on the Torah) regards abortion as necessary medical care, not only permitting the termination of a pregnancy but also requiring it when the pregnant person’s life is threatened.  
  • Accordingly, any procedure that involves potentially life-saving medical treatment and/or supports a pregnant person’s bodily autonomy aligns with our commandment to protect life. 

 
A more complete explanation of Jewish thought and tradition is available at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. You can read more at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, where you will find links to historic resolutions and current positions of the Women of Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Union for Reform Judaism. Because these are complicated topics, I would be happy to discuss any of these materials with you. 
 
Another implication of this decision is abhorrent and terrifying to our modern society: the breaching of our right to privacy. A concurring opinion seems to dismiss 50 years of precedent grounded on a constitutional right to privacy. The potential abrogation of this right that we have all come to count on is frightening in its implications, as it might foreshadow further erosion—or even excision—of rights to contraception, same-sex marriage, gender-affirming health care, interracial marriage, and more. 
 
This ruling effectively enshrines into law a religious viewpoint that is at odds with other religions’ opinions about abortion. Severely curtailing reproductive options as it does, the ruling thereby violates the Constitution’s explicit protection of the free exercise of religion. People of faith believe many different things about the beginnings of human life or the status of the fetus, so no one single religious concept should guide American practice and law, especially concerning so personal a consideration. The decision to terminate a pregnancy should not be subject to someone else’s restrictive religious or philosophical viewpoint. 
 
We also know that prohibitions on abortion will not curtail the number of abortions taking place; they will simply make abortions dangerous and life-threatening. Join me, therefore, in standing with patients, their physicians, and their loved ones. We know that when proper medical care is available to those making these decisions, the possibility of positive outcomes for health and life increases. 
 
We should not allow the issue of abortion access, reproductive rights, and individual bodily autonomy to disappear from the public arena, neither in Wisconsin nor across the nation. We can push back against these incursions on our freedom by speaking out, pursuing legislative changes, and educating voters. We can also contribute money to organizations that help patients access abortion in states where it remains legal, and support individual patients by offering transportation, childcare, and other practical assistance. 
  
With our active involvement, we can begin to regain our freedoms. Please contact me at the Temple office with any questions or concerns. 
  
Faithfully, 
Rabbi Jonathan Biatch 

“Ben-Gurion, Epilogue”: History

06/14/2022 08:27:53 AM

Jun14

by Joanna Berke, co-chair, Kesher Israel Committee

The Kesher Israel Committee of Temple Beth El attempts to bring Israel to our community through speakers, discussions, and films. This year we are focusing on the good Israel has to offer. The upcoming viewing and discussion of “Ben-Gurion, Epilogue” is a highlight of our efforts. Its importance to our community and the diaspora at large is clear. 

Movie reels of Ben-Gurion, spliced with the recently discovered soundtrack and archival material, bring us Ben-Gurion, vibrant and alive, as he shares his life and the legacy he bequeathed to us as the first prime minister and founder of Israel. Ben-Gurion’s words, thoughts, and feelings have meaning for us all.

Here, we share with you some of Ben-Gurion’s history. David Ben-Gurion was born David Gruen on October 16, 1886, in Płońsk, Poland.

In 1906, Ben-Gurion emigrated to Israel, which was then Palestine, where he worked as a farm laborer.

In 1910 he began writing for a Zionist journal. At that point he changed his name to Ben-Gurion. His life was greatly influenced by the temporary takeover of the region by the Ottoman Empire, and by the ever present Palestinian Arabs.

In 1919 Ben-Gurion participated in the establishment of the Achdut Ha’avoda party, and between 1921 and 1935 he served as the secretary general of the Histadrut, the national federation of Jewish laborers in Israel. 

In 1930 he participated in the establishment of the Mapai party and was its representative in the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency. 

From 1935 to 1948 he served as chairman of the Jewish Agency, and in 1946 he assumed responsibility for matters relating to the security of the Jewish community in Israel.

At the onset of the 1948 War of Independence, as the leader and a founding member of the Zionist movement, Ben-Gurion formally proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel and offered to the world Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

As George Washington is referred to as the father of the United States, Ben-Gurion is remembered as the father of the nation of Israel.

In “Ben-Gurion: Epilogue,” Prime Minister Ben-Gurion emerges from the screen alive and vibrant as he walks and talks with us, sharing his thoughts, his feelings, his disappointments and joys. Join him on a brisk walk through desert sands. 

“Ben-Gurion: Epilogue” will be shown via Zoom on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, beginning at 6:30 pm, followed by a discussion about this amazing man, the founder of the State of Israel. Register here. 

Volunteer opportunities

06/13/2022 01:53:46 PM

Jun13

Looking to volunteer? Need a b’nai mitzvah project? Here are ways to help people in our community. 

Mitzvah Day Planning Meeting

In the spring of 2023, Temple Beth El will revive our tradition of Mitzvah Day, when members of all ages work together on projects for the benefit of our community. We will have our first meeting for those interested in planning the event on Tuesday evening, June 21, at 7:30 pm by Zoom. Over the next few months, we will meet as needed to plan the event, recruit volunteers, and select projects. Contact Aleeza Hoffert if you want to be added to the Zoom call or for more information.

Serving Meals at the Catholic Multicultural Center 

If you are looking for a fun, easy opportunity to help the community and spend quality time as a team or group, you can help serve a meal at the Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC). Our TBE team is signed up to help on the third Tuesday of each month. Our next days will be Tuesday, July 19, and Tuesday, August 16, from 3:30 to 5:30 pm.

The CMC provides free meals every day to community members on Madison's south side and people experiencing homelessness. Our volunteers set out and serve the food, join the meal, and then do the dishes and clean up. The center serves about 80 people daily. The Catholic Multicultural Center is located at 1862 Beld Street, Madison, WI 53713. 

Interested in engaging with other TBE members to meet this critical community need? Click the sign-up link and tell us when you are available. Please contact Sue Levy, if you have questions.

Items Needed at Porchlight Emergency Men’s Shelter

Here are the current needs for residents of Porchlight’s emergency shelter program:

  • Shower shoes
  • Boxers—any size
  • Socks—white
  • Laundry detergent/pods
  • Notebooks
  • $5 Kwik Trip gift cards
  • Reusable water bottles

Items can be dropped off directly at the shelter 200 N. First Street any day, 4:00–8:00 pm, or at the Porchlight offices at 306 N. Brooks Street, Monday–Friday, during business hours.
 
Court Observers for Criminal and Eviction Court

Several Temple Beth El members act as court observers under a program run by the Nehemiah Center for Urban Development, watching and reporting on criminal and/or eviction court hearings. Observers make their own schedules and are expected to observe about four hours each month. For more information, you can contact any of those currently involved: Betsy Abramson, Lynn Silverman, or Cari DiTullio.
 
Middle School Literacy and Math Tutors

The Racial Justice Action Team is partnering with the Urban League of Greater Madison to recruit adults as literacy or math tutors in Madison’s middle schools. Volunteers complete online trainings and then select the middle school of their choice to commit to at least one hour each week working with individual students. You can begin to explore this opportunity by completing the volunteer tutor application. To learn more about it from a tutor who participated this spring, please contact Betsy Abramson (608-332-7867), who tutored in algebra twice a week at O’Keeffe Middle School. She learned a lot of algebra herself and reports great satisfaction in helping a 7th grader catch up on critical skills lost during the year of online school during the pandemic.

Volunteering through Jewish Social Services 

Jewish Social Services of Madison (JSS) is looking for volunteers to help with Shabbat services for seniors, in-person events this summer, friendly visitors, shopping partners, and other tasks.

JSS is also receiving more refugee families for resettlement, and there are a number of ways you can help: setting up apartments for arriving refugees, driving the JSS bus to transport larger families, and teaching English language and literacy skills. New volunteer opportunities are posted here

If you have time and would like to help, please contact JSS volunteer coordinator Paul Borowsky at 608-442-4083.

Voter Engagement Efforts Step Up in Advance of Midterm Elections

06/13/2022 01:13:55 PM

Jun13

The TBE Civic Engagement Action Team is gearing up now for the summer and fall, making sure voters are registered for the August primaries and the November general election.

At the state level, we are active participants in the Wisconsin Interfaith Voter Engagement Campaign (WIVEC), a project of Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice and the Wisconsin Council of Churches. WIVEC has an important Call to Action Webinar on Thursday, June 16, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. Hear from WIVEC partner organizations such as Souls to the Polls, Supermarket Legends, VoteRiders, and others. These nonpartisan partner organizations will present their overall goals and specific plans and needs for volunteers. WIVEC is 400+ strong in faith leaders and congregational lay leaders. Join us as we come together to support voting rights right here in Wisconsin! Please click here to register. 

Nationally, we participate in the Every Voice, Every Vote campaign of the Union of Reform Judaism. This campaign is a nonpartisan effort, grounded in our Jewish values and commitment to racial justice, to strengthen our democracy by encouraging and protecting voter participation. As Reform Jews, we believe democracy is strongest when the electorate reflects the population—and it suffers when citizens are shut out from the democratic process. When we choose the people who act on our behalf, essentially every issue of importance to our movement is on the ballot! Now is the time to use our voices and our votes to protect the issues that are core to our Reform Jewish values.

In May, nearly 700 people joined together to learn about what’s at stake in this election and made commitments to act through this nonpartisan voter mobilization effort between now and November. If you were not able to join us live, we invite you to watch the inspirational launch recording

The next step in this campaign is their Foundational Training: Moving into Action. This will be held on June 15 at 7:00 pm CDT, or alternatively on June 16 at 2:00 pm CDT. This training will be recorded and available for later viewing. Contact Marcia Vandercook if you would like to see it at a later date. 

Locally, we support our local clerks of court by serving as poll workers. Poll workers check in voters, help people register to vote, check photo IDs, and process absentee ballots. Students aged 16 or 17 and enrolled in secondary school with a GPA of at least 3.0 may be appointed as poll workers if they have parent and principal approval. Areas across Wisconsin are looking for poll workers for the August and November elections, so click here to see how you can help!

We also work with the League of Women Voters of Dane County to provide voter outreach. The League offers regular training for beginners and refresher training for experienced volunteers. They have a number of video training modules available online. After training, volunteers provide voter registration and information at libraries, food pantries, senior centers, farmers markets, and colleges. See scheduled volunteer events.

More action opportunities will be available this summer and fall for training, postcarding, and voter mobilization. Contact Marcia Vandercook if you would like to join this important team!

This Fall, Join Us for a Guided Tour of “Ain’t I A Woman?” at MMOCA

06/13/2022 01:04:59 PM

Jun13

TBE Sisterhood and the Racial Justice Action Team invite you to a private guided tour of the art exhibition “Ain’t I A Woman?,” currently showing at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMOCA). Our tour is scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, October 2, with discussion and refreshments to follow. 

This exhibition highlights Black women artists in Wisconsin working across different disciplines, including murals, printmaking, sculpture, painting, performance, textiles, and more. According to the MMOCA website, the exhibition, curated by guest curator Fatima Laster, “draws much-needed attention to the fact that most racial and gender-based equity and inclusion opportunities in the arts have been dominated by Black men and white women to the exclusion of Black women. Ain’t I A Woman? expands the discourse and highlights trailblazing women and their work.” You can read more about the exhibition here.

We will provide more information in the coming months. If you have questions, please contact Marsha Mansfield or Betsy Abramson.

“Raisin in the Sun”: Housing Discrimination Then and Now

06/13/2022 12:50:42 PM

Jun13

On September 15 the Racial Justice Action Team will be hosting a discussion on housing discrimination in Dane County. The starting point for our discussion will be the extraordinary play by Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun, which first premiered in 1959.

A Raisin in the Sun is playing from August 5 to October 7 at American Players Theater (APT) in Spring Green. See here for tickets and more information. It is also available as a film on Netflix, and the play can be found in multiple forms at any public library. APT describes the play as “a stunning classic that examines the ways racism suppresses the lives and aspirations of Black families.” We encourage you to see or read the play before September 15.

Using the play for historical context, Austin Johnson, employment specialist with the Urban League of Greater Madison, will lead a discussion about the barriers to home ownership for African Americans, including discrimination, federal policies, and discriminatory lending practices.

Juneteenth Drive for Allied Wellness Center Essentials Pantry

06/13/2022 12:38:24 PM

Jun13

Juneteenth has recently been designated a federal holiday to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S. and a celebration of freedom. This year it will be celebrated on the weekend of June 18–19, and the federal holiday will be observed on Monday, June 20.

Twice each year Temple Beth El members raise funds to purchase critically needed personal hygiene, cleaning supplies, and gas and grocery gift cards for Nehemiah’s Allied Wellness Center Essentials Pantry. The first drive is in January around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the second is right now, at Juneteenth. We raised over $2,500 in January and hope to match it this month. 

You can make your tax-deductible donation on the TBE website by choosing “Allied Wellness Center” as the type of donation. If you’d rather purchase your own items and drop them off, please consider purchasing toothpaste, bar soap, shampoo, dish soap, or laundry detergent and drop the items off in the Temple coatroom. Thank you! 

Juneteenth commemorates the time when the last enslaved African Americans in the United States learned they were free, two years after the end of the Civil War. Juneteenth events are being planned in many places in Dane County. In Madison, the annual Juneteenth Parade & Celebration will be held on Saturday, June 18, in Penn Park. This is a wonderful opportunity to experience the rich history of Black Americans through various forms of entertainment, lectures, visual presentation, food, and other activities. 

Climate Change as a Driver of Human Migration

06/13/2022 12:27:39 PM

Jun13

Climate change is an important driver of human migration, as catastrophic flooding, drought-induced crop failures, and other events displace people from their homes. 

Dr. Angie Dickens is an environmental scientist who has worked at the interface of environmental science and policy at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and a six-state regional planning organization. She also leads a social justice group at Christ Presbyterian Church. 

On Wednesday, June 29 at 7:00 pm, Dr. Dickens will discuss how climate change is impacting different parts of the world and how it affects migration. She will also help us explore ways that we can respond to these crises as people of faith. 

Please register to join us in person or to receive the Zoom link for this event. Review TBE’s in-person guidelines before attending this event in person. This event is co-sponsored by the TBE Immigrant and Refugee Rights Action Team and by the Dane Sanctuary Coalition. 

Interested in learning more about migration issues? Try a new online course, “Understanding U.S. Immigration from the Border to the Heartland,” offered by the Poynter Institute. Though this course is geared toward journalists, it is also open to other interested parties. Half the course is available now, and the second half will be released in August. Learn more about it here

Bike Around Lake Wingra and Learn How to Protect It

06/13/2022 12:01:37 PM

Jun13

Start your day by learning about how the Lake Wingra watershed is impacted by runoff from different sources and what we can do to promote its health, followed by a bike ride around Lake Wingra or a walk to Wingra Beach with friends. 

The Environment and Climate Change Action Team is excited and honored to have Phil Gaebler, water resources engineer for the City of Madison, join us to give a short talk about his work on behalf of the City of Madison and how we can be better stewards of our lakes. All are welcome to join us as we gather in Wingra Park near Arbor Drive (Temple) at 9:00 am. Our bikers will head west first, along a route that’s a little over six miles. Please bring your bike, helmet, and filled water bottle. 

Please register for this event so we know to look for you at the park.

Sustainability and the High Price of Fuel

06/13/2022 11:38:45 AM

Jun13

by Richard Peidelstein

With gasoline prices at record highs, the fossil fuel industry is front and center in many of our minds. As the world begins its transition away from an energy sector dominated by fossil fuels, many of us wonder what we can do in the meantime. Here are a few ideas both immediate and long-term.

First, consider your modes of transportation. Obviously the least energy-intensive method is walking. Although I am now retired, when I was working I walked the 2.2 miles to work on most days and drew the line at severe weather. Aside from the effects on the climate, I found my walk gave me valuable time for thinking and easing into my day.

Carpooling is a great way to get to work and share the cost of fuel. Even coworkers who do not live near each other can meet at a midway point and share part of the journey.

Another way that many people consider is cycling. Many areas are improving their cycling infrastructure to make this easier. Aside from the carbon reduction and economic gains, biking has good physical benefits. Electric bikes also are increasingly popular as an alternative to cars for shorter distances. Obviously it’s best if you charge your electric bike from electricity generated by renewable energy if possible. 

Second, consider investing in alternative sources of energy. How do you know if the electricity is from renewable sources? There are two main methods. 

  1. Join a renewable power offset program through your utility. MG&E, Alliant Energy, and We Energies all have programs that will meet a certain percentage of your usage from their renewable sources. Be aware that these programs do have a surcharge added to help the utility in its transition to renewables. 
  2. Install a small stand-alone solar panel with a battery and inverter and charge your electric bike from this. There is an initial cost for the equipment, but it has the added benefit of giving you an independent source of power for your transportation. 

As time goes on, many utilities are shifting away from fossil fuels and generating energy from carbon-free sources. In general, moving toward electrical energy is the best avenue to decarbonize.

At our home, we have been participating in Alliant Energy’s Second Nature program and have offset all of our electricity to renewable sources. Rather than purchasing an electric bike, I added a front wheel with a hub motor and a battery to my existing bike. This gives me the options of pedaling, using the motor, or a combination of the two.

One of the logistical benefits of renewables is the ability to have them locally based. The pricing structure of the global fossil fuel industry is subject to controls and pressures that often come from outside our region. Renewables such as solar, wind, and groundwater systems are more immediate and can be subject to local controls. Also, the ability to self-generate electricity is a benefit that cannot be duplicated with fossil fuel. 

The future appears more and more to be an electric one. Through a return to biology-based transportation such as biking and walking, and through greater use of electric bikes, cars, and mass transit, we are moving toward a carbon-neutral future. The more of us who participate in this change, the faster the industry will move in that direction. 
 

Why I Give

05/09/2022 10:08:55 AM

May9

Temple Beth El members recognize the value of donating to TBE. There are many opportunities to give, and many reasons to do so, but all reflect the desire to see our community flourish. These testimonials demonstrate a sampling of what motivates us to give. 

Why I give to TBE for special projects
I’ve enjoyed giving Temple Beth El money for projects like ShulCloud and the greatly improved building/security systems. These special projects are “under the radar” and make a difference for all of us. 
—Jeff Levy

Why I give to Greatest Need throughout the year
We like the idea of giving where the need is, and we know that the needs may change over time.
—Anonymous

Why I chose to honor a family member with a simcha plaque
I thought it would be a nice, lasting way to honor my wife, Marta’s, stewardship of many Temple activities visibly within the Temple space.
—Glenn Karlov

Why we increased our membership contribution this year
We are continually impressed by and appreciative of Temple Beth El’s (and the rabbi’s) ability to build and support our community, as well as to engage with important social issues in our community and in the world. We increased our membership contribution to further support this important role of the Temple and its clergy, and hope others will do the same.
—Anonymous

Why we purchase yahrzeit plaques for our loved ones
We purchased yahrzeit plaques to commemorate the lives of our loved ones, to see their names when we visit Temple, and to support the yahrzeit remembrance reminder practiced at Temple Beth El.
—Amy and Marty Fields

We are grateful for the impact that every gift has on our congregation. Please talk to Executive Director Stefanie Kushner for help in choosing the best way to give.
 

Increasing Membership Contributions

05/09/2022 09:45:54 AM

May9

As we described in the previous Giving Spotlight, the fiscal year at Temple Beth El begins in July. We’ve been busy preparing the budget for the coming year, and while we continue to fine-tune our projections and plans, we do know this: personnel and building costs make up the bulk of our expenses, and these costs continue to rise faster than our revenue.

Approximately 70% of our revenue comes from our community through membership contributions. When we introduced the Temple Community Contribution program in 2021, we asked all of our member households, as partners with Temple Beth El, to give from the heart and determine a giving amount that feels comfortable and meaningful. For 2022 membership renewals, TBE members were encouraged to increase contributions to help meet rising costs. The response to the 2022 renewals is gratifying: 40% of our members completed their membership renewal by December 31 (an increase from the typical average of 30%), and 90% of those who renewed did so at an increased or sustaining contribution level. We are so appreciative of these generous responses. And, per our current policy, memberships that were not actively renewed by the start of 2022 were automatically renewed at the same contribution level as the previous year.

To keep the renewal process simple for everyone, automatic renewal will continue for members who do not actively renew by the start of the calendar year. In January 2023, however, we will include a 10% increase in contribution when automatically renewing members’ contributions. We understand that not everyone is able to increase their contribution by 10%, and we will continue to remind you of this change as we approach the renewal period in late 2022. If you want to choose how much to increase your contribution, it’s important that you actively renew your membership when those materials are mailed to you. As always, you’ll have the options of returning the renewal card in the mail, managing your renewal online, or calling Executive Director Stefanie Kushner to discuss the amount you are comfortable giving.
This is an important step toward increasing our revenue to meet rising costs. We are all grateful to be part of this community that continues to be supportive in so many ways, including financially.

Volunteer opportunities

04/28/2022 01:13:03 PM

Apr28

Looking to volunteer? Need a b’nai mitzvah project? Here are ways to help people in our community. 

Serving Meals at the Catholic Multicultural Center – Back in Person!

The Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC) will again be serving dinners daily in their cafeteria beginning April 1! If you are looking for a fun, easy opportunity to help the community and spend quality time as a team or group, you can help serve a meal. Our TBE team is signed up to help on the third Tuesday of each month. Our next days will be Tuesday, May 17, and Tuesday, June 21, 3:30–5:30 pm.

CMC provides free meals every day to community members on Madison's south side and people experiencing homelessness. The center buys and prepares the food, and volunteers serve the food and clean up. Volunteers set out and serve the food, participants join one another to eat at café tables next to the center's kitchen, and then our volunteers do the dishes with a restaurant-style dishwasher. The center serves about 80 people daily. 

With the return to in-person dining, TBE will again partner with a variety of congregations and community groups that provide the volunteer corps to support this effort. With the sponsorship of the Social Action Committee, we provide six to eight volunteers (age 12 and above), for two hours one day a month. You can sign up for one or more days. The Catholic Multicultural Center is located at 1862 Beld Street, Madison, WI 53713. 

Interested in engaging with other TBE members to meet this critical community need? Click the sign-up link and tell us when you are available. Please contact Sue Levy if you have questions. Sign up here

Thoreau Food Home Deliveries Scheduled for Fridays in May

In May, Temple Beth El volunteers will be delivering food to families whose children attend Thoreau or Lincoln Elementary Schools. Our upcoming delivery dates are Friday, May 13 and May 27. Volunteer drivers will meet at 8:30 am at Westminster Church, 4100 Nakoma Rd., to receive the food and delivery routes. We expect each route to take about one hour to deliver. For details, see here.

Each car should be able to hold up to 16 boxes in the trunk and back seat, so an SUV is helpful but not necessary. You can sign up as a single driver, but it is helpful to bring a friend to help with navigation and schlepping. If you can help us deliver food, please tell us what day or days you can come, using the sign-up link below. If two people are signing up using a single car just enter one driver's name and enter a quantity of two when the second screen appears. If you have any questions, please contact Vic Levy at 608-273-4527. Sign up here

Healing House Meals Needed the Week of June 26–July 2 

Healing House provides medical respite care to people experiencing homelessness who are too sick to be on the streets or in a traditional shelter. The program is run by Just Dane, with case management provided by The Road Home. TBE volunteers cook meals for the residents and staff on a quarterly basis. Volunteers are asked to assist by cooking and dropping off meals at 5:00 pm each day at Healing House, 303 Lathrop St., Madison, WI 53726.

Our team has signed up to provide meals for the week of June 26–July 2. Volunteers are not currently being allowed in the house so we will not be serving, visiting, or cleaning up. We are asking for two volunteers for each night to cook a meal for up to eight people. Menu items (not specific recipes) will be assigned to you by Linda Berman, our dinner coordinator, the week before. The sign-up link is below. Please contact Cathy Rotter with any questions.

To help with this mitzvah, please sign up here

Volunteering through Jewish Social Services 

As more of us are vaccinated and there are expanded ways to safely interact, requests for volunteers are coming in quickly. Jewish Social Services of Madison (JSS) is looking for volunteers to help with Shabbat services for seniors, in-person events beginning this summer, friendly visitors, shopping partners, and other tasks.

JSS is also receiving more refugee families for resettlement, and there are a number of ways you can help: setting up apartments for arriving refugees. driving the JSS bus to transport larger families, and teaching English language and literacy skills. New volunteer opportunities are posted here

If you have time and would like to help, please contact JSS volunteer coordinator Paul Borowsky at 608-442-4083 or paul@jssmadison.org.

Host families needed for high school exchange students from Muslim countries

Volunteer host families needed for exchange students coming on the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program next school year! YES is a scholarship program funded by the U.S. Department of State. It gives exceptional high school students from countries with large Muslim populations the opportunity to spend a year living with a host family in the U.S. and attending an American high school. Host families provide meals, a bedroom (can be shared with a host sibling within five years of their age), and a supportive home environment. Families are not required to have high schoolers or any children living at home in order to host. YES students come with health insurance and a monthly stipend to cover personal expenses. They arrive in August 2022 and stay until June 2023, and attend the public high schools local to their host families. Please contact Parthy Schachter to learn more about hosting.

Celebrate Pride with TBE

04/28/2022 12:20:46 PM

Apr28

June is Pride Month, and TBE is celebrating! You'll notice a few more rainbows here and there, and please join us for two special events. On June 10 will be our annual Pride Shabbat, where we'll use a few melodies by LGBTQ+ writers and composers as well as songs with relevant themes, and of course our worship space and Oneg Shabbat will be decorated with lots of color! The worship service begins at 7:30 pm. 

On June 26, please save the afternoon to join us at Warner Park for some outdoor family-friendly fun. Join our congregational education team to learn what's Jewish about baseball before exploring our Pride in the Park stations, including art and advocacy options. End the day attending Fairytale Night at the Mallards Game, so come dressed for pride or your favorite fairy tale. Look for details coming soon!

Want to join our PRIDE planning team? Have questions? Contact Aleeza A. Hoffert or Gwen Jacobsohn.

Concern for Ukrainian Refugees Leads to Community Advocacy Effort

04/28/2022 11:59:23 AM

Apr28

by Erica Serlin

Motivated by the refugee crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Action Team initiated a postcard advocacy project in support of Ukrainian refugees and other immigrants. The idea for this project began as a conversation between TBE member and artist Kathy Mazur and Rabbi Renee Bauer, the director of chaplaincy and outreach for the Refugee Resettlement Program at Jewish Social Services (JSS). Kathy explained how the idea began:

I, like all of you, have been painfully watching and listening to the news regarding the war in Ukraine. Feeling deep pain and despair for the Ukrainian people, I desperately wanted to do something, anything to bring awareness and hope for the Ukrainians. 
As a visual artist, all I know is to create. 
One particular photograph I saw on the news grabbed me. It was a mother and daughter fleeing their home, walking down a street, framed by tall grasses, one bare tree, all steeped in vast emptiness. The little girl carried two backpacks and a bag. The mother had several bags and a purse. I thought to myself, that could be any one of us! This image became my inspiration for the painting that I titled: WE ARE UKRAINE. My hope was to create an art piece that would move people to action. 

Kathy then created a beautiful and powerful artwork that we used on postcards to be sent to the responsible federal officials: President Biden, DHS Secretary Mayorkas, Senators Johnson and Baldwin, and Representative Pocan. The text, suggested by HIAS advocacy requests, urged support for the resettlement of Ukrainian refugees in the U.S., as well as a pathway to safety for Afghans and passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act. We also encouraged creating a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants and ending Title 42 and the “Remain in Mexico” policy. 

The postcard project took off beyond our wildest expectations! Postcard packets have been made available to Shaarei Shamayim, Beth Israel Center, JSS, Jewish Federation of Madison (JFM), and Christian member congregations of the Dane Sanctuary Coalition, including Christ Presbyterian, First Baptist, Midvale Lutheran, Plymouth UCC, and Madison Christian Community. TBE, JSS, and JFM also provided postage assistance for this project. Postcards were also distributed to countless individuals—some of whom even carried this project to other parts of the country. Over 1,150 postcards have already been distributed.

On March 31, we gathered at Temple Beth El and on Zoom to work on our postcards and hear about the refugee situation in Ukraine, with Kathy appearing by Zoom and Rabbi Renee Bauer and Becca Schwartz speaking in person. Rabbi Bauer noted that the crisis in Ukraine has had the effect of opening people’s hearts and minds to what’s happening in the lives of refugees and immigrants worldwide. She and Becca Schwartz elaborated on the more general immigration advocacy requests included in the postcard text and reminded us that immigrants of color and those coming from Africa, Latin America, and Muslim countries face especially difficult obstacles to entering the U.S. We shared a list of strongly endorsed relief organizations currently providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine and countries resettling Ukrainian refugees, including HIAS and our own Jewish Federation of Madison.

Since the postcards were created, we were gratified to learn that President Biden has pledged to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees to the U.S. and has sought to end the use of Title 42, a public health policy that has been used unfairly since 2020 to prevent asylum seekers from entering the U.S.

To learn more about what life is like for immigrants to the United States, the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Action Team recommends the Netflix documentary Living Undocumented, a 2019 documentary series on Netflix that follows the lives of eight undocumented immigrant families living in the United States. They come from six different countries, including one family from Israel, and have a variety of problems with their immigration status. 

If you are interested in welcoming our new neighbors to Madison or have questions about what we are doing to support refugees and immigrants, please contact one of the co-chairs of our action team, Lynn Silverman or Erica Serlin. We will be happy to answer any questions. 

Supporting Racial Justice by Supporting Local Children

04/28/2022 11:51:03 AM

Apr28

by Betsy Abramson

The Racial Justice Action Team has completed recruitment of employers for the 2022 summer internship program of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. This program provides summer internships for high school and college students at places of employment of Temple Beth El members. The project was a resounding success last summer, and we are grateful that the Jewish Federation of Madison has awarded funds for the project again this summer, using funding from the Cheryl Rosen Weston fund. In addition, seven of the eleven host sites are paying for part or all of the stipend for their interns.

This summer we will have eleven host sites, all six that participated last year and five new ones. The six returning host sites (and participating TBE members) are Books4School (Fields family), Frank Beverage (Joel Frank family), Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (Joe Loehnis), LIFT Wisconsin (Marsha Mansfield), Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice (Rabbi Bonnie Margulis), and Madison Youth Arts (Michael Ross). We have added two new host sites supervised by TBE members: Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (Aleksandr Kladnitsky) and Frank Productions Concerts (Marla and Larry Frank). We also welcome three new host sites from the greater Jewish community: Jewish Social Services (Dawn Berney, Jim Mackman, and Becca Schwartz), General Beverage Companies (Minkoff family), and Community Justice Inc. (Carousel Bayrd and Mara Bridgman). 

The Urban League of Greater Madison runs a volunteer tutoring program for middle school math students called Schools of Hope. In response to a request from Urban League about the urgent need for middle school tutors, four members of Temple Beth El will begin volunteering this spring: Martye Griffith, Betsy Abramson, David Seligman, and Vic Levine. Although there has been limited time this spring for volunteers to be present in the schools, we hope that this small trial will lead to more extensive tutoring efforts next school year. If you are interested in doing this next year, please contact Betsy Abramson.

Preview of coming attractions: This fall the Racial Justice Action Team will be hosting a discussion on housing discrimination in Dane County. We will begin by discussing the famous Lorraine Hansberry play "A Raisin in the Sun." You can see it live late this summer and early fall at American Players Theater, watch it on Amazon Prime ($3.99), or read the play. Discussion date to be announced.

Learn Social Justice Leadership Skills at Leading Change: A URJ Summit

04/28/2022 11:35:46 AM

Apr28

As we work to create a world in which all people experience justice and equity, we know that we must make changes to the way our communities operate. In pursuit of these changes, the Union for Reform Judaism invites you to register for Leading Change: A URJ Summit. This is an exciting opportunity for learning, skill-building, and networking.

The Summit is focused on leadership development, with a special track emphasizing leadership in service of social justice. The conference will be virtual, making it easy to fit into your schedule and more affordable than many similar conferences. It will run for three afternoons, from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, from noon to 5:15 pm central time. You can join for one or all of the days.

Here are a few highlights of what you can expect:

  • Hear from keynote speakers related to big ideas about change.
  • Explore and engage with core concepts related to change, including racial equity, diversity, and inclusion; building capacity and power; and developing relationships.
  • Share and reflect alongside other social justice and congregational leaders to prepare for what it will take to be a change leader in your congregation or community.
  • Connect with leaders like you through affinity spaces, discussion groups, and interactive presentations on the topics you care about.
  • Learn about the Reform movement’s 2022 Civic Engagement Campaign and how you can mobilize your community into action as part of this effort.

The Leading Change Summit is for people motivated to make change in their congregation or community. All participants will hear from expert keynote speakers at general sessions, find opportunities for networking and meaningful discussion, and commit to creating more racially equitable, diverse, and inclusive communities. Programming has been specifically designed to help participants mobilize for change in their selected areas. If you see yourself as a current or emerging leader for social justice, Israel, or congregational transformation, the Summit is for you. 

Registration is $180 and is open through April 30. For those interested in the social justice track, the TBE Social Action Committee has limited scholarship funds available. If financial help would make a difference in your decision to attend, please speak with Rabbi Jonathan Biatch. The URJ also has a quick and simple grant application process online here.

Register today 

Social Action Shabbat: How Dane County Is Taking Action on Climate Change 

04/28/2022 11:18:15 AM

Apr28

by Marta Karlov and Aleeza Hoffert

Climate action was the focus of this year’s well-attended Social Action Shabbat on April 8. We were honored to hear from Dane County Executive Joe Parisi about how climate change is impacting Dane County and what Dane County is doing to increase climate resilience and reduce countywide emissions. Dane County has been recognized as one of the top local governments in the world for its environmental transparency and action. 

County Executive Parisi began by acknowledging that the challenges of climate change sometimes seem overwhelming, but his message is one of empowerment: “People should understand that there is so much we can do.” For instance, the county has been working with the University of Wisconsin–Madison to study how climate change will affect us locally so that we can plan for these changes and adapt, protecting the people who will be most vulnerable to the changes. 

In addition to adaptation, prevention is possible by improving our local energy efficiency. Dane County has installed 17 solar arrays in the last six years and is now saving $2 million each year in energy costs, not to mention the fossil fuel use avoided. Once a new solar field is completed near the landfill, 100% of the county’s energy use will be from renewable sources. Changes at the landfill will reduce the amount of methane released and will save money by converting the methane to fuel, changes that will pay for themselves in a few years. Local leaders from schools and municipalities have formed a leadership group to discuss short-term and long-term goals.

The county is also considering ways to help homeowners and businesses retrofit buildings and factories to save on energy costs and pay back loans with the savings. Much of this work may be done through Operation Fresh Start, a program to help youth learn trades. You can listen to Executive Parisi’s talk here  (his introduction is just after the 1:21 time mark).

Prior to Shabbat services, the TBE Environment and Climate Change Action Team hosted an Eco Fair in the Weinstein Community Court at TBE. There we learned about products and simple changes we can make in our daily lives to lead a more sustainable life and lessen our impact on the earth. 

We also held a drawing to win some of these products, chosen from the people who signed up:

  • Prize 1, winner Marsha Mansfield: a pack of see-through mesh produce bags in three different sizes to use at the grocery store or at summer farmers’ markets. (Donated by Betsy Abramson.) 
  • Prize 2, winners Dale Kaufman and Roxane Spitzer: two reusable grocery tote bags to replace a plastic or paper bag. These bags included one roll of Reel bamboo toilet paper, one metal straw, one Swedish dishcloth, and one package of four mesh produce bags. (Donated by Liz Whitesel; most items sourced locally from Orange Tree Imports.)
  • Prize 3, winner Maureen Mross: “One: Pot, Pan, Planet” cookbook by Anna Jones, with delicious vegetarian recipes and information on how to reduce food waste, eat sustainably, and save energy. 

You can see read about these eco-friendly products and ideas, with shopping links, on the TBE “eco-portal” here. After the Shabbat worship, many people stayed late to study the products and enjoy the Oneg Shabbat. It was great to be back together in person and to see so many people there! 

Want to do your part to help the planet? Come join the Environment and Climate Change Action Team! Contact Marta Karlov or Aleeza Hoffert, or join our monthly meeting.
 

September 27, 2022 2 Tishrei 5783