Friday, January 20, 2012

Shabbat-O-Gram for January 20

We have lots of guests coming to TBE this Shabbat. 

Each year for the past few decades, dozens of TBE congregants participate in the preparation, delivery and serving of Christmas Eve dinners at local homeless shelters.  It’s not just a one-time thing, as we service the needy of our community throughout the year, including monthly lunches served at New Convenant House food drives for Person to Person and numerous mitzvah projects supporting the Food Bank and other organizations.  But once Christmas Eve comes and goes, many of us tend to push the issue of homelessness to the back burner. 

On Friday night we welcome Carol Walter, Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness.  In 2011, over 13,693 adults and children were homeless in Connecticut; and 4,451, including 531 children, managed each day without a place to call home.  During times of economic stress and plunging temperatures, we need to better understand what is happening and how we can help.  Carol comes to us from upstate, but her roots are right here at Beth El.  Carol’s grandparents were founders of TBE and, as she puts it, her favorite aunt was Claire Redniss, of blessed memory, who passed away not long ago. 

Carol will be speaking at the conclusion of tonight’s 7:30 PM Kabbalat Shabbat service.

That’s’ not all…

On Shabbat morning, Rabbi Yonatan Yussman will be giving the d’var Torah at our main service, which will be held in the chapel this week.  Rabbi Yussman is the new Head of School of the Jewish High School of Connecticut, which, in its second year, is making a huge impact on our community.

And there’s more…

This Shabbat we’ll also be welcoming staff from Camp Ramah in New England, who will be running programming for our grade 5,6 and 7 Shabbaton.  We’ll also be welcoming students from other Conservative synagogues in Fairfield County.  So our building will be buzzing throughout this Shabbat.

On Shabbat morning, Shabbaton attendees will participate in our Family Service for grades 2nd and up.  Since the Ramah staffers will be participating in the program, along with Rabbi Dardashti and Cantor Mordecai, it gives our families a chance to see the Ramahniks in action and, afterwards, to ask them about the flagship camp of the Conservative movement.  Ramah has always been close to my heart.  I was a camper and staff member there, sent my son Dan there, and even met Mara there!  Camp Ramah has become one of the enduring success stories of the Conservative Movement.  Kids love it!

And speaking of my sons… Ethan, a junior at Brown, has gotten involved in a new project, an app that will change how people follow sports online. It will be launched this week and you can join me in beta testing it by clicking here.  Perfect timing for the local sports-crazed populace, salivating at the possibility of a Giants-Patriots Super Bowl rematch.

Finally, as Oscar season approaches, this week’s portion of Va’era has some fascinating ties to last year’s Oscar Winning film, “The King’s Speech” on the topic of leadership.  You recall that Moses was “slow of speech and slow of tongue,” in other words, a stutterer.  You can read about it (and other aspects of this portion) here.

Shabbat Shalom – and enjoy the expected snow!

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