Upcoming Calendar of Events involving Social Action/Social Justice, of interest to congregants of Temple Beth Miriam

 

  • Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Week Activities January 16-21, 2019
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    Join fellow TBM congregants as we attend the interfaith event at Congregation Torat El on Wednesday January 16 at 7 pm. And be welcome and enjoy any or all events during the MLK celebration week.

    Click here for web page that lets you launch your smartphone GPS with directions to any of the MLK Week events.

     

  • Rabbi Cy is hoping to reprise during 2019 the memorable Shabbat service of January 19, 2018, when Temple Beth Miriam hosted Trinity AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church, West Long Branch.
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    TBM’s guests included Trinity AME’s senior pastor Reverend Dr. Lesly R. Devereaux who shared a d’var Torah with Rabbi Cy. Complementing Cantor Marni’s music, the church’s rousing choir entertained us all, and we had the opportunity to talk during the oneg with a large group of the church’s congregants. For 2019 if you might have a suggestion for an eminently sharable Jewish liturgical celebration to which we might invite our Trinity AME Church neighbors, please talk to Rabbi Cy.

     

  • Don’t pass up the opportunity to study with Rabbi Cy and fellow congregants at the Rabbi’s Sunday 8 am class on Talmud, also Wednesday 10 am class on the Talmud’s Pirkei Avot volume, and additionally Wednesday evening 7 pm January 23rd when a new evening class continues to explore a recent book, Pirke Avot: A Social Justice Commentary. You can show up anytime… no need to register or have attended prior classes. See ‘read more’ below for a brief summary of a January 9th evening class, and also to explore several resources that either examine or challenge the very notion of Social Action/Social Justice in a Jewish context.
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    The book Pirke Avot: A Social Justice Commentary by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz is available in hard cover or on Kindle at Amazon
    Reviewer Rabbi Joseph Telushkin notes that “Pirkei Avot is the Talmud’s premier collection of the great ethical and spiritual teachings of the Rabbis over a period of hundreds of years.” and lauds Rabbi Yanklowitz for “a work of intensive and wide-ranging research informed by his own active and extraordinary commitment to justice.” Another review notes that “Pirkei Avot (literally, “Chapters of the Fathers,” but generally translated as “Ethics of Our Fathers”) is one of the best-known and most-cited of Jewish texts. Even those who claim to know little about Jewish literature are familiar with maxims such as “If I am only for myself, who am I? (1:14)” and “Say little and do much (1:15).” Popular Hebrew songs take as their lyrics lines such as “The world stands on three things: Torah, service, and acts of loving kindness (1:2)” and “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it (2:21)”. 
     

    At the January 9th class, Rabbi Cy explained that Pirkei Avot is completely comprised of short, memorable and repeatable maxims called “mishnahs” that focus on familiar, real life challenges. This contrasts with the rest of the voluminous Talmud which is focused on the details of Torah, with Rabbis at the beginning of the common era interpreting and extending the sometimes obscure, metaphorical or not easily understood passages and parables of Torah, in order to build a foundation for Jewish practices.

    Challenging Rabbi Yanklowitz’s interpretation that Judaism, ethics, and social action/social justice are intertwined, is Jonathan Neumann’s book To Heal the World? How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel
    which as described by one review “argues that those radical proponents who feel obliged to fix the world actually weaken devotion to the true Jewish mandate.” Another review says that Neumann “is not just wrong. He’s also way out of his league.”
     

    “Israel Drazin offers an interesting commentary entitled Maimonides Disparages Morality in which Drazin argues that “Morals describe proper conduct, what is good and bad. They inform people how to live a blameless life. Morals ‘seem’ to show how all people should act. But is this true?”

    “Maimonides (1138-1204) disagreed. The best life is not the moral life, but a life based on reason. Like Aristotle, Maimonides stressed in his Guide of the Perplexed 1:1 that people must develop and use their intellect. In 1:2, he interpreted the Garden of Eden story as a parable that distinguishes “[the tree of] good and evil” from “truth and falsehood,” and emphasized that scripture is teaching that intelligent people must not focus on good and evil, but on what is true and false. And it is “through the intellect [that] one distinguishes between truth and falsehood.”

    “Maimonides, Judaism’s greatest thinker (1138-1204), wrote a commentary on parts of the Talmud and sometimes introduced his commentaries with extended essays. One book of the Talmud, devoted to what the rabbis considered proper behavior, is called in Hebrew Pirkei Avot and in English Ethics of the Fathers, the “fathers” meaning the ancient rabbis. Maimonides wrote an extended essay on Pirkei Avot containing eight chapters and is called “Eight Chapters”. In this work, Maimonides tells readers that he will give the thinking of the philosophers regarding the subject of ethics.”

     

  • Watch the TBM Calendar for when the TBM Membership Committee sponsors renowned gastronomic gatherings, buffet-style, such as the Chanukah Shabbat dinner, wintertime diaspora Canadian Picnic next scheduled for Sunday January 27, 2019 at 12 noon (click here for details on TBM home page), summertime Beach Service BBQ, and Sukkot Havdallahcue. PLEASE invite friends and neighbors. The expense is modest, and as always, there are special deals for families.

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    Please contact the TBM office for event registration which helps membership chair Steve Silver get an accurate count for the food. Contact Steve steve.silver@gmail.com about volunteering for an event or to join Kathy Cohen, Mark Cohen, Sandra Maseda, Roy Dressner, Pat Shapiro, Phil Falcone, Steve, and the Rabbi on the membership committee.

     

  • Watch for TBM Programming Committee Movie Nights that generally attract an older crowd of congregants for a buffet dinner followed by an Israeli or other Jewish-themed film on TBM’s big screen along with some enlightening discussion. Next movie night is Saturday January 26, 2019 at 6 pm, click here for details on TBM home page.
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    Please contact the TBM office for event registration which helps membership chair Mark Cohen get an accurate count for the food. Contact Mark imarkcohen@comcast.net about volunteering for an event or to join the programming committee.

     

  • Temple Beth Miriam continues the Purim tradition of Misloach Manot, giving friends and family yummy gifts to spread the joy of the holiday. A letter of explanation and order form for Purim baskets at $4 each will be sent to all members soon, due back to the temple by Thursday, January 31, 2019 with full payment. Thanks to Wendy Sloter and the Purim Committee for their efforts.
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  • Harmony Coffee House at Temple Beth Miriam on Sunday March 3, 2019 at 2 pm.
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    Enjoy the music of a wide-ranging and gifted lineup of musicians volunteering their talents to raise money for the Axelrod Theater and the Asbury Park Music Foundation. Produced by Michael and Elliott Topper, Jacob Gerbman, and Maya Restifo. Contact Michael and Elliott’s mom Gayle Topper rqggtopper@aol.com for more information, or to get in contact with the producers regarding suggestions for performance acts at the Harmony Coffeehouse, or to volunteer your help.

     

  • The annual Trenton information and lobbying session organized by Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey (RJVNJ) is March 18, 2019 from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
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    The Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey (RJVNJ) is an extension of the Religious Action Center, focused on issues impacting New Jersey that reflect our values as Reform Jews. The annual Trenton information and lobbying session organized by RJVNJ is March 18, 2019 from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Rickie Kashdan kashdan@comcast.net is TBM’s contact person for RJVNJ.Rickie strongly advises registering in advance with Reform Jewish Voice of NJ for NJ Advocacy Day on March 18th, to be able to get appointments with NJ state legislators, and to carpool. Participants will learn about important issues, and meet in Trenton with respective NJ State Assembly men and women and our State Senators, to convey a progressive Jewish Voice. TBM congregants usually plan to carpool, which Rickie can arrange, whether you can provide a ride or if you would prefer to get a ride. Also, members of NFTY and our young people from TBM are invited to attend.

    The cost in the past has been $25, (bring a check with you on the 18th), however, please don’t let the cost keep anyone home – it will be covered by RJVNJ as needed.

     

  • Please think of bringing a non-perishable food donation to drop off in the bin by the front door, whenever you are coming to Temple Beth Miriam for services, Hebrew School, or a special event.
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    Your food contributions are taken weekly to the newly expanded food pantry at The Lutheran Church of the Reformation at 992 Broadway in West Long Branch. If you are interested in volunteering there, you might consider joining fellow TBM congregants one day a month at the food pantry, and/or help serve meals to two senior groups. Regular congregant participants are Pat Shapiro, Gail Kass, Susan Hodes, and Amy Goldman, along with TBM’s long-time and dedicated organizer Gayle Topper rqggtopper@aol.com who you can contact for more information, or to sign up to volunteer at the food pantry.

     

  • Stay tuned for Temple Beth Miriam’s annual soup-making and soup selling fundraiser.
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    The Soup-A-Thon will again benefit the newly renovated food pantry at The Lutheran Church of the Reformation. A recent tally was 100 quarts of soup and 3 kinds of treats that were sold after religious school. Chef volunteers, home-made soup lovers, and other supporters are needed to make this a successful event. Contact organizer Gayle Topper rqggtopper@aol.com for more information.

     

  • Each Friday night at 7:30 pm (sometimes earlier, particularly in summer) please come to TBM to celebrate Erev Shabbat, joining Rabbi Cy and fellow congregants, along with Cantor Marni often accompanied by other TBM musical talents. Erev Shabbat services are usually traditional, but sometimes feature a Bar or Bat Mitzvah reading prayers, celebration of baby-naming, birthday or other blessings, new music from Cantor Marni, or the participation of a group from among TBM youth. Erev Shabbat services are always followed by a delicious oneg. Summer services frequently are outside on the patio.
     
  • For many of us, the holidays such as Purim, Passover, Selichot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, and Hannukah are what tie together our Jewish religious practice, Jewish culture, and our daily lives. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity for social action that is absolutely for each of us ourselves, as we are nurtured, and simultaneously help to nurture by celebrating together.
     
  • Rabbi Cy and Cantor Marni are sponsoring at the Temple a Passover second-night Seder on April 20, 2019 starting at 5 pm. Call the TBM office for details.
     
  • Stay tuned for when Temple Beth Miriam congregants lead a Passover Seder (during a weekend afternoon not the first or second day) at The Atrium Assisted Living residence in Tinton Falls.
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    This annual event attracts approximately two dozen of Atrium’s Jewish residents and their visiting family members. The Atrium prepares a delicious menu of traditional Passover Seder dishes and ritual items. TBM volunteers help lead the Passover Seder service, though you’ll be amazed at the knowledge and humor of Atrium residents themselves. Contact TBM organizer Gayle Topper rqggtopper@aol.com for details and to volunteer, and also to honor TBM’s near-centenarian congregant and teacher Milt Ziment who hopefully will join us, and who for many years has volunteer-led Shabbat and holiday services at local assisted living facilities.

     

  • Formally join Sisterhood or Men’s Club to be on the inside track of these happy and satisfying excuses for TBM congregants to engage in social action — getting together — sometimes for serious purpose, and sometimes for fun, or sometimes both, such as the Men’s Club Softball Team organized by Barry Edison which currently is undefeated. Or please, at least sample some of their many sponsored events and activities (click here for details on TBM home page) that promote social action closest to home, among congregants within our own Temple community. The expense is modest, and as always, there are special deals for families.
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    Contact Sisterhood leaders Debbie Gerbman dgerbman@comcast.net or Cindy Singer cinsing@aol.com or contact Men’s Club president Al Goldman alvingoldm@aol.com for more information.

     

  • Watch the calendar for the occasional very-well-attended Sunday Breakfast with the Rabbi events that invite a guest speaker who has a significant role in the lives and fortunes of all TBM congregants, to address us and answer our questions, in an up-close and personal setting.
     
  • TBM’s Bar and Bat Mitzvahs undertake a Kishrei Halev (project of the heart) social action activity of their own choosing as part of their preparation during this exciting coming-of-age time for themselves and their families. There are volunteer opportunities for TBM congregants to advise on these projects as part of the Kishrei Halev Committee, and also to take on a leadership role.
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    Contact Liza Restifo lrestifo@icloud.com for more information. A list of projects undertaken in the past along with additional related resources can be found at TBM’s Kishrei Halev webpage.

     

  • TBM-based youth groups and North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY, the Reform Jewish Youth Movement) that grow out of TBM’s religious education program also promote social action among our youth that is close to home, within their Temple and the broader Jewish community.
     
  • PLEASE invite friends and neighbors to participate in any of TBM’s events and activities (TBM-congregant-only gatherings are rare). Your extending an invitation would be a social action mitzvah. Expense for events is modest, and as always, there are special deals for families. Please talk to Rabbi Cy if you think TBM should welcome your guests gratis.
     
  • Mark your calendar for ‘United we Sing’ held each November, sponsored by Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought (MCWRET) and held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County.
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    Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought (MCWRET) strives to enhance the acceptance of religious and cultural diversity.The Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought was established in 1994 by individuals in Monmouth County from various religious and ethical traditions. It is led by a Board of Trustees comprising members of our diverse religious communities, including the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, which serves as the host organization. For 18 years, MCWRET has celebrated, usually on Sunday just before Thanksgiving, a public event featuring music, song, dance, talks, and readings called “United We Sing: Music of Gratitude, Voices of Different Faiths Raised in Joy and Happiness”.

     

  • See the webpage MRT Social Action: Repairing the World in So Many Ways!  from Monmouth Reform Temple, Tinton Falls NJ website, for ideas on Jewish initiatives for Social Action/Social Justice.
     
  • See the webpage Social Justice – Unitarian Universalists have a legacy of “deeds not creeds.”! from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, Lincroft NJ website, for their perspective on faith-based Social Action/Social Justice.

    Also, you might contact Sarah Klepner to request to get on her mailing list. Sarah does an amazing job facilitating the publicizing of social justice-related presentations, discussions, and other events taking place at the Unitarian Church and around our geographic area.
     

  • Monmouth ResourceNet offers a database of community resources, along with a searchable list of volunteer opportunities in Monmouth and other counties. While resources on this website are wide-ranging, Monmouth ResourceNet is specifically anchored by MonmouthCares, a private non-profit organization that partners with families to facilitate care for children with complex needs.
     
  • A Google search for Monmouth County volunteer organizations provides links to specific organizations such as Lunch Break in Red Bank, United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs, Habitat for Humanity, and Volunteers in Parks that are in need, as well as websites that facilitate connecting volunteers with projects and groups that need help.
     
  • Monmouth County’s official website

     

 

Who’s Who in Social Action/Social Justice movements in Reform Judaism (sourced from Wikipedia)

  • The Religious Action Center (RAC) is the political and legislative outreach arm of Reform Judaism in the United States.The Religious Action Center in Washington, DC is operated under the auspices of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism (CSA), a joint body of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union for Reform Judaism. It was founded in 1961.
  • The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) (until 2003: Union of American Hebrew Congregations or UAHC), founded in 1873 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, is the congregational arm of Reform Judaism in North America. The other two arms established by Rabbi Wise are the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. See the following Wikipedia links for RAC and URJ
  • The Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey (RJVNJ) is an extension of the Religious Action Center, focused on issues impacting New Jersey that reflect our values as Reform Jews. See calendar above regarding the annual Trenton information and lobbying session.

 

Social Justice listening campaign house meeting report

In early December 2018 TBM former president Judy Berg organized a house meeting that was hosted Rabbi Cy and Stella Stanway, attended by TBM Board members and other congregants who have had a variety of roles as social justice leaders.

Judy’s agenda was an initiative from the CSA that involves 360 congregations across America, to devise strategies for future efforts of the Reform Movement concerning issues of social justice.

The house meeting at the Stanways featured a guided engagement conversation to brainstorm about which issues are most broadly and deeply felt. Judy’s goal was to assess the role, interest, and capacities of the Reform Jewish community on issues of social justice to influence RAC’s next social justice initiative.

Participants shared personal stories of experiencing or witnessing injustice. Concerns included anti-semitism, women’s rights, racism, gun violence, abuse, mental health and homelessness.

What is it that empowers and unites Jews, that might engage us regarding issues of social justice? We heard at the meeting about the importance of community, our desire to debate and discuss, our compassion for others, out need to give back, our acceptance of others, our openness and our command to repair the world. This sets the tone for all we could accomplish.

Some participants felt it was better to stick with local initiatives like getting involved with food pantries and community kitchens to support those who are food insecure, dealing with homelessness and mental health issues, confronting sexism and racism, addressing women’s issues, promoting legal justice including voting rights, and helping immigrants. But the group seemed open to explore and pursue additional broader issues that are shared with Jews and others nationally and globally, such as anti-semitism, climate justice, gun violence, defense of Israel, security at houses of worship, interfaith families, and engagement of unaffiliated and all Jews to make the synagogue and Jewish practice more meaningful.

Judy will report back key findings and takeaways from the TBM meeting to the RAC. The RAC will then analyze the findings from many such engagement conversations and develop a strategic campaign that will take RAC’s social justice efforts through 2019 and beyond.

A selected RAC campaign plan will be announced at the Consultation on Conscience event sponsored by the RAC in Washington DC in May 2019.

Additionally, TBM’s Social Action Committee has the opportunity to move both RAC and local initiatives forward.

Judy can be reached at:
judy@judithbergassociates.com

 

TBM board member and Social Action/Social Justice chair Phil Falcone pffalcone@gmail.com is coordinating this web page. Please send an email to add your initiative and information to this page, or for any other questions or suggestions.