RABBI ARIANN'S WEEKLY MESSAGE DECEMBER 4, 2012 This week: GIMMEL (3rd grade) parents-only Education Shabbat morning at 9am, Gimmel classes will run on regular schedule. HAY (5th grade) parent-child Family Education on Sunday morning 9:30-12:30, no classes on Shabbat. Our Chanukah-themed Pre-K Holiday Workshop series began last week - 8 little ones getting ready for 8 joyful, awe-filled nights! If you have children under 6, please join us this week and next for Tot Shabbat at 11:30am. We will be using our beautifully renovated Childcare Room, M'kom Yeladim, on the second floor of the Main Building. Our third graders have completed a tzedakah project, "Cups of Warmth," preparing ready-to-cook, nutritious soup mixes for the Kosher Food Pantry. Inspired by their year-long partnership with Toni's Kitchen last year, our students are continuing to find ways to fight hunger. For many families, service projects are the best opportunity for meaningful Jewish engagement. Cooking and serving our guests at Monday night MESH meals or making food for St. Paul's shelter in Patterson can be part of your family's path toward turning Jewish learning into Jewish living. Sign up by clicking the links above! Meet two recent b'nai mitzvah who made MESH a centerpiece of their mitzvah projects: Charlotte Glessner-Fisher (November 17th) and Gabriel Finnell (December 8) The recent conflict in Israel/Gaza has sparked deep conversations and debates in our sixth and seventh grade classrooms. Our sixth graders have used the conflict as a lens through which to read the Book of Amos. Side by side with calls for social justice, Amos seems to glorify military conquest and the complete destruction of Israel's enemies. Our sixth graders have dissected Amos, dwelling on the way our personal and national experiences guide us in thinking about the world. We are looking forward to two more classes in our Wednesday night cooking series Baking with Jen Zinman this Wednesday (Dec. 5) and Cooking with Max Polaner next Wednesday (Dec. 12). Let's celebrate the season with oil, oil, and more oil! And speaking of oil, we hope to see you all at Latkepalooza/KugelFest on December 14th - bring your own menorah for lighting, sing with our children's chorus, eat the best kugels, hear stories for young children, taste olives, dance exuberantly, and eat some latkes! We'll see you there!
Meet our Bat Mitzvah: Charlotte Glessner-Fischer Charlotte became a bat mitzvah on November 17th. Her mom Debbie is a private librarian and her mom Ivy is a lawyer. Her older sister Annie became a bat mitzvah at Bnai Keshet in April of 2009. Charlotte says her family has been members of Bnai Keshet "for a really long time." Charlotte's Torah portion was Toldot. In this parsha, Esau sells his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of lentil soup. One of the commentaries Charlotte read said that Esau only looked to fill his immediate needs and was distracted enough by his minor hunger and forgot how important his birthright was. But Charlotte argued in her d'var Torah that maybe Esau was really starving. She spoke about how hunger affects people and her mitzvah project helping with MESH (Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless). Charlotte's mitzvah project involved serving food at MESH several times and also providing food for a men's shelter in Patterson. Also, she took extra responsibility toward helping to support MESH by participating in a planning meeting. Charlotte says that it was surprising to her to discover that the guests who she served at MESH and in Patterson looked like normal people, just like everybody else. She said that many people make assumptions and judgments about homeless people. Besides serving at MESH dinners, Charlotte enjoys hanging out with friends, reading, listening to music and playing the violin. Charlotte also plays tennis and swims. She says she loves her cell phone and in general, just likes talking to people. One thing people may not know about Charlotte is that she gets stage fright and is afraid to sing in public - nobody could tell at her bat mitzvah, but she was shaking on the bima! Mazel tov to Charlotte and your whole family! Meet our Bar Mitzvah: Gabriel Finnell Gabe Finnell will become bar mitzvah at Bnai Keshet on December 8th. His parents are Janice, who teaches writing at Essex Community College, and Ian, who has worked in finance. He also has a brother, Daniel, who is in the fifth grade. Gabe's Torah portion is Miketz. In his parsha, Joseph is called up from prison to interpret Pharaoh's dreams. Joseph interprets the dreams to mean that there will be seven years of plenty in the land of Egypt followed by seven years of famine. Gabe was really impressed that Pharaoh would pick a person who he thought was a criminal and trust him to interpret the dreams. Pharaoh recognized Joseph's wisdom even though he came from bad circumstances. Gabe's mitzvah project involved working at the Montclair Animal Shelter and serving meals at MESH. He chose to work at the animal shelter because he loves animals, especially dogs, and wanted to experience firsthand what it was like to care for a dog. His work included cleaning cages, walking dogs, and feeding cats. For fun, Gabe plays baseball, tennis, and swims. He also likes to play the drums and sing and hang out with his friends. Gabe will be celebrating his bar mitzvah at a minchah service and will be the first in his class to do so. He explains that this means the service will be in the afternoon on Shabbat instead of the morning. The service is different from the morning service in many ways - there is no haftarah reading (from the Prophets) and Gabe's service will include havdallah and lighting the first candle for Chanukah. Everyone is welcome to come and join the Finnell family to celebrate at this special service! Mazel tov to Gabe and his family!