Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Long Ovedue Update

Well, it's been close to a month since my last post. I've been extremely busy with Hillel and several other commitments including teaching the History of Judaism at MSU and SYNergy at Adat Shalom (where I've also created their new website).

I have also been consulting Congregation Beit Kodesh in Livonia, Michigan as their Rabbinic Adviser. I'm delighted that on Monday they were officially voted in as an affiliated congregation of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

The SYNergy program at Adat Shalom has received some great press in the Detroit Jewish News including an editorial by Robert Sklar and a wonderful article by Alan Hitsky. The first SYNergy Shabbat begins tomorrow evening and will be highlighted with our guest Noam Neusner who worked in the White House as the liaison to the Jewish community and as a key speechwriter to President George W. Bush. I'm looking forward to gaining some insight into "The Jewish West Wing."

Today's cover story of the Detroit Jewish News is about Michigan rabbis and their preference to use informal rabbinic titles to be more accessible. Click on the cover photo below to view the article:

The Jewish Learning Center at Hillel has some great courses to offer this year for U-M students and Ann Arbor community members. I am also very proud that our new Beit Midrash will open soon and be dedicated as the Brodsky Beit Midrash. What else is new at Hillel? We've added two great people to our staff with Lori Hoch (Berman Fellow) and Jacob Kander (Program Associate). And we are also excited about the weekend in honor of Michael Brooks upon his reaching twenty-five years as Executive Director of U-M Hillel.

2The nine-day experience I had in Ukraine at the end of August was both eye-opening and exciting. Watching our fifteen U-M students interact each day with their counterparts in Kharkov was amazing, and being able to help the Jewish communities in Kharkov, Konotop and Sumy was truly exhilarating. While the Jewish communities in these areas, including the capital city of Kiev, are rebuilding, there is no hiding the virulent anti-Semitism that still occurs there. As soon as we arrived in Kiev we held a memorial service at Babi Yar (34,000 Jews murdered in a few days) and were "welcomed" to this burial ground by a Ukranian teen who greeted us with the Heil Hitler sign and then told us we were number one with his middle finger. The day before we left two Orthodox Jewish teens were assaulted in a train station and a Ukranian rabbi and his fourteen-year-old son were badly beaten just yesterday in Kiev.

As we approach the new Jewish year of 5766 I pray that the dedicated Jewish men and women all over Ukraine and the rest of the FSU will celebrate the Jewish renewal they have been passionately working for and so very much deserve.

I pray that those in Louisiana and Mississippi who have lost their homes as a result of Hurricane Katrina will find the courage to rebuild and move on, and that humans everywhere will continue to reach out and help those who are in need. I pray for Shalom al Yisrael - a lasting peace in the Jewish homeland and that the sukkah of peace will spread out over the entire region. Rabbi Jason Miller and University of Michigan students at Chesed Ester in Konotop UkraineFinally, I pray that our men and women in uniform serving our country all over the world will be able to return safely and quickly to their families...

...and to that we all say:


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