Sunday, May 27, 2012

From the Children's Center to the Teens

The Children's Center students are expert challah makers; many bake their own challah every Friday morning as part of their classroom Shabbat experience.  This past Friday the four year olds in the Tel Aviv class were charged with an extra responsibility:  making a challah for each of the 10th graders who would be confirmed on Shavuot on Saturday night. The four year olds love looking at the photos in the hallway featuring past years of confirmation students, and look forward to the day when it will be their turn for this special day. So the chance have an important role in this year's confirmation service was quite an honor.  What a wonderful way to connect our youngest TBS students with some of our oldest. As you can see, the confirmands were delighted to receive this gift from the Children's Center students.

Thanks to Rabbi Todd for capturing the moment on video!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Our TBS Chavurah

The mail just came. Our wait was over finally. We matched! A month earlier I had completed a simple survey sent out by Temple Beth Shalom looking for those interested in joining a chavurah*. My husband, Jeff, and I had one young child and already knew many people in town but thought it would be a great opportunity to meet even more local families. We were setup with 3 other families with children around the same age. The mailing contained a packet of information including phone numbers and emails. I hopped on the computer right away to email our new friends and organize a “first date.” We decided to meet as couples only for a dessert and wine at one of our homes so we could really get to know each other without interruptions. It was amazing how well we all hit it off from the start.

Our chavurah tries to meet every other month and it could be in any combination; a couples dinner, last minute pizza party for the families, Ladies night out, pool parties and Sisterhood/ Brotherhood events. Our next outing is usually determined at the end of each get together. We rotate who takes the lead on organizing the event.

At the beginning of the 2nd year we added 2 new families who were interested in joining a chavurah. It appeared to me like a seamless transition even though the 3 original families had already been together a year. We are a big group at family events and they can be a little chaotic at times. We don’t stand on ceremony with anyone and all believe more the merrier. Paper plates, plastic silverware and take-in are totally acceptable.

My parents who are in the 60-70 year old demographic also decided to join a chavurah after hearing my success story. They had been temple members for over 20 years but were at the stage in their life where retirement had just set in and their social calendar was more open than usual. Theirs is an adult only group of 5 couples who attend Shabbat services, plays, museum exhibits and many other social events together. I know they have thoroughly enjoyed their group and always look forward to their next get together.

I was asked to write about my chavurah experience as the next enrollment will be this fall. I encourage you to consider this great opportunity to connect with other temple members. You can decide the time commitment that works for you and what you hope to get out of it. Remember it’s not always possible for everyone’s schedules to line up so if you miss one event, you’ll just make the next one. Jeff my kids and I are looking forward to the 3rd year with our extended temple family. (For more information about the chavurah program, contact Jenny Small, Co-Chair of Member Relations, 781-559-3153 or

Lauren Greenstein

*The word chavurah means a group of friends. In this program, people that sign up are matched to other families/couples from the temple to spend time with, either at temple programs or outside of the temple. It's a way to make the community smaller and more friendly.

Lynne Dockser Cornell, Lauren Greenstein, Dana Lewis, and Tricia Sherman at Taste of the Town May 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Shavuot Flower Walk

And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubim and palm-trees and open flowers, within and without. (1 Kings 6:29)

On Shavuot there is a custom to decorate the insides of our synagogues and homes with beautiful flowers. Shavuot is also a wonderful opportunity to enjoy some time in nature.

But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom-tree. (1 Kings 19:14)

Go on a walk in a park or area of conservation land, or find a place that sells flowers or fruits grown locally. See how many different colors you can find, and how many of the seven species are available to pick or buy (Deuteronomy 8:8 enumerates these: "A land of wheat and barley and vines and fig and pomegranates a land of olive oil and [date] honey").

The desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. (Isaiah 35:1-2)

Go for a walk around the neighborhood or in the woods! Collect wildflowers and other colorful flowers and fruit to make a centerpiece for your holiday meal, or take pictures of fruits and flowers and create a special Shavuot collage. You may wish to write (in English or Hebrew) one of the biblical quotations above on a large piece of paper, and then decorate the border with wildflowers, leaves, or juice from deep colored berries.

More family Shavuot ideas at My Jewish Learning.