Tag Archives: Israel

Israel is calling – let’s go! BY RABBI JONATHAN FREIRICH

Register for the TBE Family Trip to Israel by March 6, 2015!

Trip dates: June 21 – July 2, 2015

Link to trip details and registration information: Click here

With all of the news about Israel we often lose sight of the best aspects of our relationship with Israel as Jews – the senses of wonder, home, belonging, and connection to our extended Jewish family that we get when we visit.

My first trip to Israel as an adult was in 1990 and my romance with the place continues after more than three years of living there at three separate times, through multiple trips with congregations, leading three Birthright trips, and the opportunities to dwell in diverse parts of the country: Jerusalem, on a Kibbutz in the north, and in Arad, a small city in the Negev desert.

Through work in kiwi fields, study in both modern university and yeshiva settings, time learning from the vivid and evocative locations – every place in Israel speaks to us – and exploring the tangled difficulties of creating a Jewish democracy, I feel my life even more intertwined with the destiny of our people through my relationship with Israel.

Join me and many Temple Beth El families this summer for an amazing tour of Israel. We will go many places, touching on the most important highlights as a trip for first-time visitors. We will also spend enough energy and attention in each of our destinations so we can get a profound glimpse at the layers of the people and history that saturate our Jewish homeland.

Please register soon, as the deadline approaches:

March 6, 2015 is our deadline

and the link to register is here: TBE Family Trip Registration


Image source

Our Jewish Values in Israel – Vote Now!

In a world where we feel that we need Israel more than ever, as a homeland, a source of pride and inspiration for all Jews everywhere, and in the worst situations (God forbid), a refuge for us all, our voices have never been more important in helping to determine the Jewish values of our shared national home.

Judaism asks all of us to stand up for the rights of the oppressed, and to stand up for our own rights to a place that is for all Jews. The values of Reform Judaism deserve a home in Israel too.

Please join Temple Beth El in casting your vote for Reform values in Israel – here is the easy way to do so.


Cast a Vote for Reform Values in Israel

The 2015 World Zionist Congress elections are vital to the future of progressive Judaism in Israel. ARZA, representing Reform Judaism, is asking every American Jew who holds the values of religious pluralism, gender equality and support of the peace process dear to stand with us by voting for the ARZA slate which includes both Rabbi Judy and me in the current election. You support is important and you are encouraged to do three simple things:

  1. Vote today: Register with the American Zionist Movement and vote at https://www.reformjews4israel.org/ for the ARZA-Representing reform Judaism today.
  1. Spread the word:  Share this link (https://www.reformjews4israel.org/) with your friends on Facebook. Let them know that it is important to you and that you voted.
  1. Send a copy of your Thank you for voting! page along with your name and address to kwilson@carolina.rr.com.  Please let us know if the registration fee of $10.00 for those over 30, and $5 for those between the ages of 18-30, is a hardship for you.

Our Temple Beth El goal is 100% participation.  Register, vote, share and send us your voting confirmation so that we may track and report our progress!


Marathon for Peace – Stories for Peace

This week at Temple Beth El University we begin a three week series about the current situation in Israel and what we can do about it.

Here are all the details: link to full TBEU description.

If you haven’t registered already, come by on Wednesday evenings, November 5, 12, and 19, and you can still attend.

Our purpose in bringing this conversation about Israel to TBE is to shift our focus on the debate between competing ideas of nations, and instead move towards a dialogue between peoples. In speaking with Israelis and Palestinians, most of whom seem to have opinions in the middle of the spectrum, there seems to be an overwhelming desire for real co-existence.

I believe that peaceful co-existence may be achievable, perhaps even necessary, before a formalized peace is finalized. People may need to see the fruits of working together – in terms of concrete improvements to the lives of Israelis and Palestinians – before the leaders of either people may feel forced to make the necessary compromises for peace between nations.

So, in addition to having conversations about this idea in November, I am also running our local Charlotte Marathon, Thunder Road, on November 15, in support of the Peres Center for Peace, which promotes projects of collaboration and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Please take a moment to spread the word about this effort to complete my 6th marathon, and also raise resources and awareness for peace between Palestinians and Israelis: click here to support the Rabbi Run for Peace.

Here is a fun and inspiring video from the Peres Center.

Heavy Hearts for Ayal, Gilad and Naftali

by Rabbi Judith Schindler

“Baruch dayan haemet”
We are called to say
when news of a death
reaches our ears.
“Blessed be the True Judge.”

Sadness and grief
touch us with every death.

Anger and anguish
touch us with tragedy.

Wordlessness and helplessness,
challenging God and questioning humanity   touch us with death by terror.

In all cases we utter a prayer:
“Blessed is the True Judge.”

Today, as a Jewish family
we mourn and weep                                                        as we watch the funeral in Modiin
of these three boys

Even as we fail to understand,
may we act to bring God’s goodness and righteousness
and truth into this world.

Even as we cry out
at their murder,
may we affirm our commitment to break the cycle of violence
and work to bring about peace.

Even as we weep,
may we do all we can
to honor the memories
of Ayal, Gilad, and Naftali,
and to honor God.

Baruch dayan haemet.
Blessed be the True Judge.

Baruch Atah Adonai
Oseh Hashalom.
Blessed are You O God,
the maker of peace.

Apples to Apples – America to Israel

imageby Rabbi Judy Schindler

Haifa is Israel’s San Francisco. Both are port cities with hills, spectacular views, and mellow co-existence.

Tzfat is Israel’s Asheville. Here it’s mysticism, there it’s hippies, and both have art and mountains.

Tel Aviv is Israel’s New York. Here’s it’s beaches on the Mediterranean and there it’s high rises on the Hudson. Both are major metropolises with fashion, nightlife, businesses, and fun.

But Jerusalem has no match. The Talmud says, “Ten measures of beauty were given to the world, nine were taken by Jerusalem.” (Babylonian Talmud Kiddishin 49b)

Writing our Past, Writing our Future – from Rabbi Judy in Israel

“Days are scrolls, write on them only what you want to be remembered,” Bachya Ibn Pakuda taught.

Digging at a tel (an archeological site) in Israel, coins and stones are found with writing that confirms that our roots on this land are deep.

Proving our past does not secure our future.

We are the next layer of the tel, the archeological trail, that leaves evidence of a Judaism that transformed the world.

May the Jewish life and values we live, become the scrolls and shards that inspire the generations to come.


TBE in Jerusalem!

After stormy delays from Charlotte, and mechanical delays out of Philly, the thirty members of Beth El arrived happily and safely to Jerusalem. Israeli bagels, falafel, a late night hike through the Old City to enjoy the annual light festival and now an early morning archeological dig at Beit Guvrin mark our first 24 hours.

Today, we are literally digging  in our past and tomorrow we will celebrate our future with the B’nei Miztvah of Ellen Garfinkle, Sophie Levy, Hannah Schwartz, and Jacob Stein.

TBE Jerusalem 2014

To fast or not to fast – Summer mourning?

Today is the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz – one of a series of holidays in the summer that most Jews have never heard of.

This one begins a three week period remembering the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem that culminates in the observance of Tisha b’Av – the 9th of Av – arguably the worst and saddest day in Jewish history. On this day both Temples were destroyed, the First Crusade started, the Spanish Expulsion began, and more.

Why fast and/or maintain these days when we have Israel, when perhaps the reasons for our fasting – the longing for a return – may be obsolete?

Tal Becker reminds us in the article below that longing for a repaired world is part of the fundamentals of the Jewish psyche, and I agree – the metaphor of being lost and needing to find our way, to repair ourselves and our community, may not be removed from our Jewish consciousness.

Thanks to Rabbi Judith Schindler for pointing out this piece, and don’t forget to join us for a detailed discussion of this and other topics around the 9th of Av on Monday evening, July 15 – a pre-fast dinner and start the fast learning starting at 6pm at Temple Beth El in Charlotte.

Tal Becker on Summer Fast Days


Image source:



Soul Prints – Rabbi Judy Returns from Interfaith Journey to Israel

It is great to be home after a most inspiring journey to Israel with our decades long partner in dialogue Myers Park Baptist Church. I missed my husband and kids.

Here is the poem I wrote this morning called
“Soul Prints (Interfaith Journey 2013)”

Toward the altar of old, Jews travelled from the farthest places to Jerusalem.
With sacrifices in hand, they hoped to appeal to the Divine.
Toward the altars of today, Jews and Christians travel to the holy land.
Some bring empty offerings – tourists snapping pictures and purchasing postcards.
Others bring sincere sacrifices – pilgrims saying prayers and meditating on their purpose.
Tourists leave foot prints.
Pilgrims leave soul prints.
The sacred dust that attached to the cloth where they dried their weeping eyes
Is their souvenir calling them to act.
Jerusalem JDKling