Page 1

A quarterly publication of Temple Emanu-El of Tucson, Arizona’s First Congregation Volume 1 Issue 2

Winter 2012/2013

The Education Issue


Bilgray Lectureship Series

Mysticism, Spirituality, and Kabbalah Rabbi Arthur Green, February 7-9 By Richard D. Solomon The Bilgray Lectureship Committee is delighted to welcome Rabbi Arthur Green, Ph.D., as the 28th Bilgray Scholar-in-Residence from February 7-9, 2013. Rabbi Green is “one of the preeminent authorities on Jewish spirituality, mysticism, and Hasidism. Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 7:00 PM, U of A Hillel, rooms M1 & M2: “The Origins of Neo-Hasidism” Friday, February 8, 2013 at 7:30 PM, Temple Emanu-El: “Reclaiming the Mystical Tradition: Why and How” Saturday, February 9, 2013, at noon, Temple Emanu-El (Rabbi’s Tish): “Re-Reading the Hasidic Masters: A Study of Sources”

Here are a few highlights of Rabbi Green’s distinguished career: • Ordained as a Conservative Rabbi from the Jewish Theological Seminary, 1967 • Received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University, 1975 • President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, 1987-1993 • Brandeis University, Center for Ethics and Justice in Public Life, Director, 1996-1998 • Hebrew College, Visiting Professor of Jewish Mysticism and Dean of the Rabbinical School, 2003-2005 All events at the Bilgray Lectureship Series are free and open to all.


Courtesy of Jon Wolf Photography

Why Education? Hanukkah is a great time of year, but we don’t usually associate it with education. Candlelight, songs, and latkes, but not learning. The Hebrew word Chanukah means dedication, based on the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees. But it actually comes from the same root word as education, chinuch. Hanukkah celebrates both the dedication that we must make a center point of our lives, and the education that makes us wise and able to grow and change and mature. So what better time than Hanukkah to explore education?

“Talmud Torah k’neged kulam— The study of Torah is equal to all the other commandments.” --Mishnah Peah 1:1, quoted in the morning prayer service

While Eskimos are supposed to have a hundred words for snow, we Jews have that number of words for learning. Most of our holy books are called by some variation on the word for study: Torah, Mishnah, Gemarah, Talmud, and Midrash all denote styles of study. Through reading, lecture, discussion, and argument we have been deeply engaged in the learning process as our way of finding God and morality. Education in nearly every form is at the heart of the Jewish experience. We are not so much “The People of the Book” as the people of the books: from the time Moses brought the Ten Statements down from Sinai until today we have been busy exploring, analyzing and debating the content and meaning of every Jewish text. Study is so important that the Mishnah teaches that it is actually equal to all other mitzvot, the positive commandments that frame our human interactions: deeds of kindness, respect for parents and teachers, praying sincerely, giving tzedakah to others, even making peace. We sing this passage in every Shabbat morning service, saying that the study of Torah is equal to all other commandments, a clear justification to place learning above all. It’s like saying, “Study Torah!” as a command in and of itself. But there is another way to understand this famous quote. The Hebrew word k’neged can mean several things: equal to, opposed to, in front of, behind, against. In Genesis it is even used for the description of the creation of the first woman as an ezer k’negdo, “a helper alongside him.” If we think of Jewish learning in this way it opens up a new and deeper understanding. Real knowledge, the ongoing commitment to broaden and enrich our Jewish understanding while we attempt to do ethical acts and live good lives, is a kind of ezer k’negdo, a true “helper alongside” us. When we learn Torah in its many beautiful forms we add meaning and holiness to the acts of goodness we perform, even those which otherwise might seem merely dutiful. One of the central missions of our historic congregation is to create educational opportunities for everyone, from the youngest to the most mature. May you be inspired by this issue’s thoughts and ideas about Jewish education to find your own way to incorporate the study of Torah into all the best parts of your lives!

Winter 2012/2013 CONTENTS Bilgray Lecturship............. 2 Why Education?.............. 3 Learning & Questioning, Early Childhood Education.. 4 Learning Through Play, Upcoming Events............ 5 Youth Education.............. 6 B’nai Mitzvah Program.. 7 Stepping Stones to a Jewish Family................. 8 Adult Jewish Learning.... 9 Annual Retreat.............. 10 Tu B’Shevat................... 11 Greatest Hanukkah....... 12

L’Shalom v’Rei’ut, in peace and friendship, Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon


Learning and Questioning by Rabbi Jason Holtz The old joke is that whenever there are two Jews there are three opinions. What some don’t realize though is that it’s not just a cultural observation, but also a religious practice. For millennia, Jews have placed learning Torah and the pursuit of knowledge, both old and new, at the center of their lives. Whether it is discovering ancient wisdom or capturing new insights, Jews have traditionally believed that the best learning atmosphere is one that is open to questioning and disagreement. We have never shied away from that. Classic rabbinic literature records many differences of opinion, oftentimes very profound, amongst the greatest sages. Almost two thousand years ago, a rabbinic text, Pirkei Avot, said that disagreements for the sake of Heaven have enduring value. What is a disagreement for the sake of Heaven? When those who disagree do so with the best intention of advancing knowledge and wisdom. This tradition of open and honest debate is particularly attractive. We all have unique insights and experiences. Everyone has a Torah, a teaching, that is all his or her own and belongs to no one else. When we bring our different ideas together, we may disagree, but our learning is deeper and broader. At Temple Emanu-El we put a large emphasis on learning in groups, and many of our classes are structured for discussion, with an open, inquisitive approach. When we learn, we are not asked to sit quietly and give up on what we have already come to know. Rather, we bring our insights, add them to the teachings of Torah and the opinions of others, and see what comes of it. This is the classic method of Jewish learning, and it lives at Temple Emanu-El.

Early Childhood Education by Lyn Henry, ECE Director

Your children shall be students of God and great shall be the peace of your children. Isaiah 54:13


Judaism considers children a great gift. The brit milah welcomes a child into the world and signals to the parents and community their responsibility to raise the child spiritually as well as physically. Early Jewish Childhood Education holds the greatest potential for the viability of the Jewish community. It instills a Jewish identity in children that is permanently imprinted in their brains and will remain with them throughout life. Teach a child in the way he should go and he will not stray from it even when he gets older. – Proverbs 22:6 The Strauss Early Childhood Education Center of Temple Emanu-El represents the incubator for the next generation of congregational members and leaders. The children in our school animate the spirit of the Temple during the day, and with their families they form meaningful bonds within the Temple. Early childhood Jewish identity impacts both the identity of the child and the Jewish identity of the parents. An awareness of the Jewish calendar is developed and rituals are practiced in the home as parents become interested in what Judaism can offer in terms of meaningful tools for living. The Strauss ECE cultivates an environment of warmth, caring and compassion. We provide developmentally appropriate activities and enriched experiences in an inclusive, nurturing environment that encourages all children and families to make lifelong Jewish connections. The most important and decisive age in education is early childhood. – Yesodot ha Chinuch

Learning Through Play the Babies and Bagels Way

December 2012 Events

by Mila Vasser, Program Coordinator

Hanukkah Candlelighting

We all know the adage, you’re never too old to learn, but the flip side is also true you’re never too young to learn. Especially if you’re too busy playing and exploring to know that you’re learning. One of my favorite programs here at Temple is our monthly Babies and Bagels Club, which is designed to teach preschool age children about Judaism in a fun, interactive way. We learn about Jewish holidays, rituals, and values through doing - we understand Passover so much better after we get our hands in dough and make cookies, a trip to the planetarium and a glow-in-the-dark sign helps us remember to say the Shema at bedtime, and a trip to the zoo emphasizes how hard of a task Noah had. Sometimes the learning at Babies and Bagels events is more for parents, such as the “Raising a Moral Child” discussion series we’ve had. Both kids and parents learn at the Babies and Bagels Club is that they are part of a vibrant, thriving Temple community in which they are welcomed to receive the rich, beautiful traditions of our people that, along with the painted Shabbat candlesticks and cardboard Noah’s arks, they can take into their homes and make a part of their lives. It’s exciting for the families to go to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, but after we read about Tu B’Shevat and God as the creator of our beautiful world, when that magical butterfly lands on a child’s sleeve, it also becomes a Jewish moment. And that is a lesson we’re never too young to learn.

Each Night of Hanukkah December 8, 10-15, 5:30 PM December 9, 4:30 PM Millstone Menorah Country Club Road

Greatest Hanukkah on Earth! XIV Sunday, December 9 4:30 PM Show 6:15 PM Dinner - RSVP

Lentils with Yentl

Monday, December 24 Middle Eastern Food & Film 6:00 PM – RSVP

“New Year’s” Black-Tie Champagne Chardonnay Shabbat

Photos by Julie Zorn

Friday, December 28 5:00 PM Pre-Oneg 5:45 PM Service


Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ru ler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments, and commanded us to be immersed in the words of Torah.

Photo by Hannah Gaber Saletan

Youth Education by Chava Gal-Or, Youth Education Director, Kurn Religious School


Planting seeds of knowledge is only the beginning of creating a strong Religious School as we look for ways to positively impact each and every student within our programs. Each seed, once nurtured with water and light, has the possibility of growing strong roots and an amazing Jewish spirit. While the Kurn Religious School teaches many fundamental skills and knowledge so that our students and their families can feel at home as Jews, within Temple Emanu-El, and within the larger Jewish community we work towards developing strong connections between our students and their families in a fun and exciting environment. Children start in our Torah Tots program as young as 3 years old and continue through Confirmation in grade 10. After Confirmation, many of those students continue on as madrichim, teaching assistants, in the Kurn Religious School. There is so much to learn in Judaism, and our hope is to create lifelong learners by planting seeds that will ultimately sprout. Our students learn Hebrew and prayers; they also learn about Israel, Jewish holidays/lifecycle, Jewish values, Jewish history, and so much more. As we continue to water the seeds we have sown, we connect our students with experiences in tikun olam, repairing the world. Living Jewishly means that we have the responsibility to live consciously as we actively care about not only for ourselves; as Jews and as human beings we look for ways to take care of the larger community and the world, too. One way we can do this is through our new initiative in Environmental education. Our students are exploring many of our teachings and how to bring those teachings into practice by walking more gently in the world. Our Jewish teachings can impact each and everything we do within our lives. The Kurn Religious School is full of opportunities to grow Jewishly, build friendships, and to have meaningful and fun experiences at Temple Emanu-El. Photo by Gary Tenen

January and February 2013 Events

B’nai Mitzvah Program by Marjorie Hochberg, Cantorial Soloist One of the most rewarding responsibilities of being the Cantorial Soloist of Temple Emanu-El is training B’nai Mitzvah students. Beginning a year in advance of their date, I met with students to teach Shabbat liturgy, and their Torah and Haftarah portions as well. In our comprehensive lessons with students, Rabbi Cohon, Rabbi Holtz and I strive to build relationships with students that help them feel a permanent connection to the Jewish trinity—God, Torah and Israel. The first descriptions of Bar Mitzvah date from the 14th century, although many scholars believe the ceremony originated several centuries before. Upon reaching the age of maturity, the 13 year-old Bar Mitzvah was considered old enough to learn a trade, and to be responsible for his own vows. According to the midrash, “Until the thirteenth year it is the father’s duty to train his boy; after this he (the father) must say: ‘Blessed be He who has taken from me the responsibility for this boy!’” Back then, as today, the young man assumed the responsibility for all the mitzvot of Jewish adulthood, including fasting on Yom Kippur and being counted as part of the minyan at religious services. The ceremony of Bat Mitzvah is considerably more recent. The very first Bat Mitzvah was Saturday morning, March 18, 1922, when twelve-year old Judith Kaplan, the daughter of Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, stepped to the bimah of her father’s synagogue, the Society for the Advancement of Judaism. She recited the Torah blessings and read a portion of the Torah sidra in Hebrew and English. “That was enough to shock a lot of people,” she later recalled, “Including my own grandparents and aunts and uncles.” Today at Temple Emanu-El the experience of boys and girls is identical. All B’nai Mitzvah students learn the liturgy and ultimately lead Shabbat evening and morning services, chant the Torah and Haftarah portions for that Shabbat, and deliver a speech in which they share what they have learned from their studies of the text and from the process of becoming B’nai Mitzvah. It is astonishing to see how my students change and grow physically, mentally and emotionally in their year of preparation with the rabbis and me. The sustained effort, time and commitment required turns the most nervous, shy, or reluctant student into a confident and competent leader of services and student of Torah; giving the young person a host of new skills and boost of confidence and self-assurance during the emotionally vulnerable adolescent years. Feel free to contact me at (520) 327-4501 or at mhochberg@templeemanueltucson. org if you have any questions about the B’nai Mitzvah program at Temple Emanu-El.

Tu B’Shevat Wine-Tasting Seder and Gertrude, Fred and Bernard Rosen Sabbath of Song The Music of Baruch J. Cohon Friday, January 25, 2013 5:30 PM Seder - RSVP 7:30 PM Service

Bilgray Weekend

February 7-9, 2013 Rabbi Dr. Art Green: Mysticism, Spirituality, and Kabbalah Thursday, February 7th 7:00 PM UA Hillel Friday, February 8th 7:30 PM Services Saturday, February 9 12:00 PM Tish

Annual Temple Retreat March 8-10 Esplendor Resort Rio Rico, Arizona


Photos by Hannah Gaber-Saletan

Stepping Stones to a Jewish Family by Chava Gal-Or and Mila Vasser

Stepping Stones Hanukkah Kick-off Event Saturday, December 15 9:00 AM


Temple Emanu-El is excited to offer a new program “Stepping Stones to a Jewish Family,” which will provide interfaith families an opportunity to learn about Judaism and explore rituals, synagogue life and community participation in an open, supportive environment. Temple is partnering with the Tucson Hebrew Academy on this program, which is sponsored by a grant from the Steve Lightman Foundation. Starting mid-January, interested families can experience Judaism in a relaxed, informal setting twice a month on Saturday mornings at Temple Emanu-El. Stepping Stones includes open discussions about Judaism, hands-on activities, and interactive experiences. This program provides an easy, comfortable way for interfaith families to take those first “steps” towards Jewish learning, and bringing Judaism into their home. Stepping Stones is designed to embrace interfaith families who are considering how to begin their journey into Jewish life. “Stepping Stones to a Jewish Family” has a lot to offer those exploring how to make Judaism a part of their lives. Our Hanukkah Kick-Off Event will take place on Saturday, December 15th at 9 am. This morning will be fun-filled with new and old Hanukkah traditions including making latkes, spinning dreydels, and eating Hanukkah delights. Together we will also explore the Stepping Stones program and answer any questions. If you or someone you know might be interested, please contact Chava or Mila at 327-4501 or by email or

Photo by Ron Spiegel

The more I search for a rational, possibly existential, understanding of Judaism and life, the more complicated it seems to get. For me, Judaism is the quest for this understanding. --Harold Blatter

Adult Jewish Learning By Rabbi Jason Holtz and Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon There is an ancient rabbinic saying, “The Torah has seventy faces” (Midrash Numbers Rabbah, 13:15). One way to view this is to understand that different people participate in adult Jewish learning for different reasons, and in many different ways. This is certainly true in our extensive Adult Education Academy at Temple Emanu-El. Some sign up for Taste of Judaism or Basic Judaism because they may wish to convert, becoming Jews-by-Choice, accepting a new faith and a new people. Some take that same course because they were born and raised Jewish, but feel that they could use a refresher from their childhood religious school. Others enroll in that very same class who are born Jewish but never really “learned the basics.” Others take a class on Zohar and Jewish mysticism so that they can explore their own spirituality and faith in God, although their backgrounds may range from almost no Jewish learning to extensive study of Talmud and Kabbalah. Often adult learners are motivated to achieve personal milestones by progressing to Intermediate Judaism, and eventually Adult Bar or Bat Mitzvah or Adult Confirmation. We have students who regularly study Mussar, Jewish moral virtues, as they seek to explore and strengthen their character. Some sign up for Hebrew classes, unlocking the ancient sacred language of our people, the Bible, the prayer book, and the State of Israel. And many adults study Torah Lishmah, Jewish learning literally for its own sake, enjoying the process of exploring the treasure house of our great tradition. While our Adult Education Academy offers many paths, there is a unifying principle: through Torah, we become better Jews as our knowledge broadens, our commitments deepen and our souls grow. “The Adult Confirmation course has been exceptional, as I learned about Jewish history from the very beginning right up to the present time. However, my learning will be an on-going, never-ending process. Because of this process, I have become a student of Mussar. Soul traits such as humility, patience, gratitude, compassion, order, honor, simplicity, generosity, trust, truth, and loving kindness are examined, meditated upon, discussed and applied to one’s life. “I must thank Rabbi Cohon from the bottom of my heart for offering the three part course “A Taste of Judaism”. During this course, my life was immediately changed and I finally realized that my journey was over and I had found what has been in my DNA all along. I am a Jew by choice but feel as though I have been a Jew since birth.” -- Corinne Forti

Torah Study Saturdays, 8:30 - 9:30 AM Rabbi’s Tish Saturday, December 22 Noon


At age seventy, I have experienced an epiphany... Acquiring a depth of understanding and perception I have never had before, ... Understanding my relationship with God, and God with me... - Carol Blatter

” Annual Congregational Retreat

“Tikkun Olam” - Heal the World March 8-10, 2012

I started studying at Temple Emanu-El in 2008, and I knew it was where I belonged. It’s been a long road, but I know that I was destined to be here – it was inevitable that I would end up Jewish… I love Reform Judaism. I love that I am free to choose what is important to me, and what is not. I love that it treats all of us, men and women, the same. I love that it embraces all who are part of the tapestry of humanity and treats them all as equal. - Rita Stolzenberg


by Mila Vasser, Program Coordinator Our annual Congregational MultiGenerational Retreat to Rio Rico is an amazing Shabbaton where you have a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Jewish living and learning for a full Shabbat, only 45 minutes away from Tucson. From the Kabbalat Shabbat welcome orientation on Friday evening through the concluding program on Sunday morning, we are engaged in learning and sharing together as a community through activities, Shabbat services, classes and study sessions, interactive programs, but also through music and song, leisurely meals, games, hikes, baseball, Mah Jongg marathon, swimming or lounging poolside, ice cream party and Israeli dancing into the night. For the sixth grade class the retreat is a starting point for their bar/bat mitzvah preparation. The sixth graders and their parents have separate programs throughout the retreat – a chance to work on their Torah portions, discuss the B’nai Mitzvah process and Kiddush club, and bond as a class. For children under 6th grade there are separate special programs and activities. This retreat is a chance to celebrate Shabbat as we are meant to – with family, friends and your temple community, relaxing, reflecting, and connecting to our faith and community. Call 322-4501 for more information, a detailed schedule and to register.

Sensational Tu B’Shevat Environmental Wine-Tasting Seder Hosted by the WRJ and Gertrude, Fred and Bernard Rosen Sabbath of Song The Music of Baruch J. Cohon Friday, January 25

Temple Emanu-El celebrates the holiday of Tu B’Shevat in a unique, wonderful way with a special Tu B’Shevat Wine Tasting Seder and Dinner led by Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Friday, January 25th at 5:30 pm. Hosted by the WRJ, this year’s celebration includes songs, stories, and a tasting of the finest kosher wines and non-alcoholic gourmet juices. A special menu of delicious family recipes will be prepared by WRJ members. Prepaid reservations are required for the Seder ($22 per person for members, $26 for nonmembers). Tu B’Shevat falls on Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song. The Song of the Sea, chanted by the Israelites as they escaped the Egyptians after crossing the Red Sea, is chanted this Shabbat. Our 7:30 pm Shabbat service – the third annual Gertrude, Fred and Bernard Rosen Sabbath of Song – celebrates Jewish music. Our service will particularly feature the music of the revered Jewish composer Rabbi and Cantor Baruch J. Cohon. With Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Cantorial Soloist Marjorie Hochberg, and the Temple Emanu-El Adult Choir under the direction of Chris Tackett, it is not to be missed. The service is open to all at no charge. Tu B’Shevat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, is called the New Year for Trees, as it marked the date at which the tithe for fruit-bearing trees was calculated. Unlike our contemporary dread of “tax day,” Tu B’Shevat is a joyous occasion celebrating the magnificent natural world with which God has blessed humankind and emphasizing the importance of caring for and preserving our environment. Jewish mystics interpreted the New Year for Trees as an anniversary for the Tree of Life—like the Sephirotic chart describing the emanations of God’s creation as a tree whose roots are in heaven and whose fruit is all of the universe. Just as trees begin to bud in the middle of winter, the Tu B’Shevat Seder describes a re-awakening of the mystical Tree of Life honoring the four worlds: Acting, Relating, Knowing and Being. For more information or to register for the dinner, call the Temple office at 327-4501. Free childcare is provided for this event; you must RSVP for childcare by January 22nd.

Tu B’Shevat Seder and Sabbath of Song Friday, January 25 5:30 PM


Published Quarterly by Temple Emanu-El of Tucson 225 North Country Club Road Tucson, AZ 85716

Greatest Hanukkah On Earth! XIV: 8 Nights, 8 Lights Sunday, December 9th at 4:30 PM

Lighting of the huge outdoor Millstone Hanukkah Menorah, followed by a spectacular program of Hanukkah songs, stories, theatricals and dance, the Avanim Rock Band, Hanukkah music from around the Jewish world, including two brand new Hanukkah songs, with special guest appearances by the Desert Voices Choir and singer Sam Golden. Co-sponsored by KVOA-4, the celebration is free and open to all. Bring a Hanukkah menorah and 3 candles. A great traditional brisket and latke dinner prepared by the Temple Emanu-El Men’s Club follows with children’s activities and gifts. Dinner is by reservation and there is a charge. Call (520) 327-4501 for more information. The Greatest Hanukkah On Earth! XIV will also be broadcast following the show on Access Tucson (Cox 20/Comcast 74) on December 17th, 24th, and 31st at 8:00 PM.


Nonprofit Organization U.S. POSTAGE PAID Permit No 63 Tucson, Arizona

Simcha Issue 2  
Simcha Issue 2  

Second issue of a magazine-format brochure for Temple Emanuel in Tucson, Arizona.