Today is 01/24/2022 -

Congregation Beth Israel

A spiritual oasis for the Jewish community

6 Dundee Park
Andover, MA 01810

(978) 474-0540
Office@BethIsraelMV.org

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The Leadership’s Corner

TU B’SHEVAT HIGIAH, CHAG HA-ILANOT (TU B’SHEVAT IS HERE, THE HOLIDAY OF THE TREES)

Just a little over 10 years ago, Gayle and I had the privilege of going to Eretz Yisrael – the Land of Israel. We wanted it to be special, more than “just another vacation trip”, so we purposely signed on to a trip that was being run by USCJ. It provided many special “hidden gems” that we probably would not have encountered on a regular touring trip. One of these many jewels for me, was our visit as a group to Yad LaKashish – “Hand to the Elderly”, in Jerusalem.

They are dedicated to reaching out to as many elderly residents as their facilities will allow and helping integrate them into a very caring community, providing food and friendship and a sense of purpose. Most of the participants have come from other countries. Only a few of them knew Hebrew when they arrived in Israel, making for potential isolation. Yad LaKashish helps integrate them into Israeli society by helping them discover their hidden artistic talents with appropriate guidance. Everything they create is then available for sale in their gift shop. All proceeds go back into the program to help sustain them further.

With that background in mind, I knew I wanted to buy something in the gift shop, but what? I found a small wall hanging of a special tree, that I now use as my primary backdrop, whenever I’m on any Jewish Zoom event. It has a large trunk with many interconnecting branches, several weaving together to form a Star of David. All the branches have fresh green leaves while the roots are spreading outwards, to keep the tree stable.

As we prepare to mark the observance of Tu B’Shevat (15th of Shevat), this month, the CBI Board, Committee Chairs, the Rabbi and Amy will be participating in a guided self-evaluation and workshop from USCJ. The focus of this endeavor will not only be to reaffirm our guiding pillars that were identified through our Strategic Planning Committee’s efforts, but also to help us become more focused on our green leaves of the future, while maintaining a strong trunk and solid roots!

Our Strategic Planning Committee members are trying to reach out to all members of the Congregation, as we seek to further strengthen our strong “trunk”, so that many more branches can sprout forth. If you would like to help us grow our Annual Fund efforts, please reach out to Bob Moverman for further information.

Our Program Committee has been continually attempting to create great (and safe) programs that appeal to a variety of those who make up our CBI family. If you have an idea for a program or activity you would like to see, please contact Caren Jacobson. If you don’t feel that you are that “creative” yet, join us in as many of the exciting programs already planned for the year ahead that you can. Don’t forget our next book review on January 27 where the topic of Anti-Semitism will be front and center, as the discussion revolves around a best seller written by Dara Horn, entitled “People Love Dead Jews”. Our monthly calendar is being enhanced even as this bulletin is reaching you. We are also still hoping to take a virtual tour to Israel in the near future. Our Social Action Committee is also planning a number of meaningful activities in the coming year and would love to have your participation and presence. Please invite friends and family that might like to join us for any and all events.

After a brief hiatus, our minyanim are now back on the first and third Thursdays each month, from 7-to about 7:20pm. Please consider joining us so that those observing a Yahrtzeit or in mourning may have more opportunities to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish. Join us also for Shabbat mornings and take a break from the grind of the week. Reinvigorate your spiritual self! On Friday night, January 14, our own Bashert will guide us in a special Shabbat Chai (virtual) service and we will also be joined by guest speaker, Mark Ayers, who was greatly influenced by Rev. Martin Luther King. On Saturday morning, January 15th, after our regular Shabbat service, we will have a special Tu B’Shevat (brief) Seder/Oneg. Further information will be coming forth shortly on this.

In addition to all of the above, we are also undertaking a big enhancement of our Social Media presence, which will hopefully soon “bear fruit” in the near future. In the meantime, our Back-to-Shul Task Force has been working hard to keep us safe when we do gather together in person. With the ever-changing nature of the Coronavirus and its variants, guidelines are frequently being updated which may affect certain planned activities moving forward. Additionally, we are making upgrades to our security presence to help combat a virus of a different sort.

These are just some brief highlights of what’s going on at CBI. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to any Board member or to Amy for further information, expressing any concerns, or offering new ideas. Even better, consider helping to plan an event, join a committee, or find your CBI connection where you least expect it, by reaching out to others. The rewards may surprise you! Help the seeds we plant together now grow into sturdy branches that may even turn into an ETZ CHAIM – A Tree of Life!

Jeff Tye, President