Fleming notes that the two core themes that run through all the chavurah activities are Judaism and learning. The group recently finished a yearlong theme entitled “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay.” During Y’Dodium’s monthly gathering, one family came prepared to give a presentation about an assigned Jewish rock star. Singers and stars included Neil Diamond, Gene Simmons, David Lee Roth, Robbie Krieger, and Matisyahu. Creating Connections with Similar Interests While some chavurot have a common theme of longevity, others are bonded through the activities that have become their traditions. That is the case for Chavurah L’Chaim. Every January, the group gets together at the home of Bayle and David Goodman for a potluck dinner and its annual prediction bash. “We make guesses regarding the stock market, the presidential campaign and elections, the economy, peace with the Palestinians, nearly anything that comes to mind,” said Vivian Rich, L’Chaim member. “Then we all vote on the predictions. The written predictions are then carefully written down and ensconced in an
empty toilet paper roll and put in a secure place at the Goodman’s home.” But for L’Chaim, the fun does not stop after the predictions have been made. Rich notes that last year’s predictions are retrieved and read aloud. “Were we right?” Rich asked. “Were we wrong? Does it matter?” What matters is how much the members of Chavurah L’Chaim enjoy this lasting tradition. Creating Connections with Goals In April, 12 women were called to the Torah to become B’not Mitzvah. For two years, they came together to study, learn Hebrew and enhance their Jewish experience. Six of these women - Debbie Ditter, Michele Breier, Laura Preisman Spitzberg, Jody Newlander, Julie Gardener, and Dawn Rosenberg - originated in a group who call themselves the Unofficial Chavurah and who decided to achieve this milestone together. “We were all sitting around Debbie Ditter’s pool one day and started talking about how none of us became a Bat Mitzvah growing up,” said Julie Gardner. “We all decided this was something we wanted to do together.”
For Jody Newlander, it was the group participation that motivated her to participate. “I would never have done this if it weren’t for the others doing it too,” said Newlander. Creating Connections Beyond Chavurot Creating connections doesn’t have to start through chavurot. There are other ways to create those lasting bonds and relationships. Many of the congregation’s preschool and religions school families get together regularly to celebrate milestones and celebrate holidays. One way some members create lasting connections is to join together around common interests and hobbies, such as cycling, gardening, cooking, running, and for activities with their dogs. Whether it is coming together to study, celebrate or to mourn, members agree that participating in these groups have enhanced their connection to Beth Israel and to Judaism beyond their expectations. “It’s been a really terrific way to stay connected to the temple, to Judaism, to our love of learning, and to each other,” said Fleming. “It’s just been a great experience.”
Leah R. Singer is a writer and marketing strategist who helps businesses and entrepreneurs tell their story. She writes regularly for The Huffington Post; Red Tricycle; and her own blog about family, motherhood, traditions and cooking at Leah’s Thoughts, www.leahsthoughts. com. Leah and her family have been members of Beth Israel for more than five years. Her daughter, Sophie, recently “graduated” from our Bill and Sid Rubin Preschool.
Beth Israel members who live in zip codes in Carmel Valley and Del Mar get together for a Del Mar Summer Twilight Concert at the Powerhouse Park last June.
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