BUILDING RENOVATION UPDATE
A letter to the congregation from our president, Donna Thalblum
Dear Friends, Every so often, an event occurs in our lives that has the power to transform who we are and what we do. Sometimes, it is a life-cycle event - birth, graduation, wedding, even death. Sometimes, it is a life event - new job, relocation, or new home.
We write today to share such an event. Our Congregation's Board of Trustees has approved a "Final Master Plan" for our building's renovation.
As we have shared with you over the last 18 month, we asked a Building Renovation Task Force (BRTF), chaired by Mary Davidson and Ira Stolzer, to determine the needs for our community for the coming years. They worked with Rogers Krajnak Architects to complete a building analysis (understanding the "health" of our physical structure), a program analysis (understanding the current and future programming needs of the congregation), and a design recommendation to carry us into the future.
As you may remember, our current facility was never meant to be a full-service building. It was meant simply to be a school. For the last 14 years, we have been using it beyond its capabilities and we are immensely grateful to our professional staff for making it seem so easy to do so. In truth, it has not been. We have put stress and strains on our building and it is showing its wear. At the same time, we knew that three important elements needed to be addressed for our congregation - increasing security, building community, and enhancing tefillah (prayer). Each needed added dimensions in order to fulfill our core purpose: to nurture Jewish meaning, connection, and continuity.
This past week, we took the historic step of voting to accept a design recommendation offered by the BRTF. In our congregation's 146-year history, such a vote has been passed - perhaps - 6 times. And as it has each time in the past, such a vote propels B'nai Jehudah along a journey of hope and excitement. And change. As we begin the next phase of the work - putting together a Building Task Force and a Capital Campaign to fund our dreams - we ask for your patience. At the beginning of our work we committed to take things one step at a time. That is what we have done. Now, we approach the next phase. That will include many more details that we will share as our process unfolds. Our next step is to share with you the design and its transformational impact on who we are and what we do. We invite you to join us on Shabbat afternoon, January 21, 4-6 pm. We will offer a "seudat shelisheit" (literally, "a third meal"). In our tradition, it is a way to extend the spirituality and communal aspects of Shabbat - two of our goals for this renovation. We will have some light refreshments, some communal singing, a little Torah teaching, and...of course...an opportunity to view the approved design and hear what we hope will happen within our re-imagined space. For those unable to be with us that afternoon, we will record the session and have it available via our website. For now, we want to say thank you to the BRTF. It's members included Lisa Brower, Bill Carr, Amanda Morgan King, Tim Iseman, Ken Sigman, Donna Thalblum, and Gary Weinberg. Their work has placed us on this path of our journey. It will now be our privilege to continue the journey and the work. We know such a decision carries with it many questions. We are sensitive to the challenges of change. We promise to be in touch on a regular basis, answering questions as we have answers and updating everyone with our progress as we move forward.
We look forward to celebrating Shabbat afternoon with you on January 21 and sharing our vision for our future.
As we find ourselves in the darkest days of winter, what could be more welcoming than the lights of the chanukiah (Chanukah menorah)? We, at B'nai Jehudah, are ready to celebrate the Festival of Lights! Our congregation will celebrate in two ways this year - one virtual and one real.
Virtual: Each morning before the next candle is lit, we will post on our Facebook page something that one of our staff wishes to share. It may be a story, a video, a recipe, a teaching. We hope you will enjoy/learn/grow and feel free to "like" it, to share it. It is our small Chanukah gift to the community.
The first posting will be FRIDAY morning, December 23, in anticipation of lighting the first candle on SATURDAY evening, December 24. Because we do not post on Shabbat, this first posting will be a day early. Look for the second post on Sunday morning, December 25 and each morning thereafter.)
Real: What's Chanukah without B'nai Jehudah's annual 180 Menorah Celebration? This year it will be on Erev Shabbat, Friday, December 30. We will light seven candles. With 180 menorahs, that means 1440 candles will light up our Social Hall. Because of our large service, there is NO Bisseleh Nosh that night. Our service starts PROMPTLY at 6:00 pm. Don't be late because we will light our chanukiot within the first 5 minutes of our service. And we want everyone to be there. We want everyone to bring one, two - as many as they have - Chanukah menorahs to light up our Chanukah celebration!
After a fun service filled with Chanukah and Shabbat music, we will enjoy our traditional brisket and latke dinner. Reservations and details for the dinner can be found by
See you on Friday, December 30,
for our annual Shabbat Chanukah service.
P.S. We will send out a special Chanukah email to everyone on Friday afternoon...just to say: Happy Chanukah! Look for it. There will be a surprise or two inside.
WEEKEND UPCOMING EVENTS
Friday, December 23
5:30 pm - Bisseleh Nosh
6:00 pm - Erev Shabbat Service Rabbi Nemitoff will speak
Saturday, December 24
10:30 am - Shabbat Morning Service Gary Boxer will teach Chanukah begins at sunset
Monday, December 26
9:15 am - Daily Minyan
Click Here To View All Upcoming Events
CLICK HERE for a copy of this month's Bulletin
B'nai Jehudah: To Nurture Jewish Meaning, Connection, Continuity
Support our home with your gifts of presence, energy, and resources. Together, let us find how to make B'nai Jehudah OUR home. Call us and look us up on the web: 913-663-4050; www.bnaijehudah.org
My formative years were Israel's, as well. I grew up believing that Israel's existence was a miracle. My home had framed the certificate that a grove of trees were planted in Israel by JNF in memory of my grandfather. In 1967, when I became a Bar Mitzvah, Israel expanded her territory by 300% in the Six Day War - which, at the time, was seen as a modern miracle. And one of the happiest years of my life was spent in Jerusalem, while studying to become a rabbi. As I have studied our traditions and history, the personal meaning Israel has held over me has grown stronger. Over the years, my connections deepened through the friendships I formed, the places that became familiar, and the deep family roots in the land that discovered.
So...as I come home to Israel for a week (I am participating in the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) Conference), I will relish my moments...and as with those whom we love...I will both struggle and embrace my "happy place."
A Snow Story
I called a congregant, who offered me a place to stay for the night.
That "night" turned into 48 hours. For instead of 12" of snow (on top of their already 3' of snow), the area got 40" of additional accumulation. I was stuck in my congregant's home for two full days.
Once the snow stopped, I opened the front door. The snow drift was taller than the door. The same for all the windows and for the garage. I asked my congregant: "How do we get out?"
So, while we are (hopefully) blessed with good weather and no "Snowmageddon" in the coming weeks, let us remember the lesson of the snow: We may not be able to get over what troubles us. But with work and diligence, we can get through it
THIS IS THE SPEECH I WANT TO HEAR
A TWISTED (SPAGHETTI) TALE
My flight was the least expensive I could find, and it took me through Paris, with a 14-hour stopover. What do I do for 14 hours? Having never been to Paris, I knew I had to explore the "City of Lights."
I landed mid-morning, took the train into the city, and walked around. I walked and I walked and I walked. Eventually, tired and hungry and night descending, I decided I wanted a real Parisian meal in a real Parisian bistro. Walking into to the first place that seem to fit the requirements, I found myself in a small, dark restaurant. The menu was in French only...and not fluent in French, I passed on even looking at it. I told the waiter I was there for just a few hours, said I was vegetarian (it was easier than explaining my specific kashrut requirements), and asked him to bring me the most popular dish that they had. I was ready for a French gastronomic delight.
Ever since then, whenever I have had a big bowl of spaghetti, I reminisce on my less-than-successful Paris dining adventure.
However, it also reminds me of another thing that happened during my 14-hour layover in Paris.
Walking out of my Italian restaurant and getting back on the train, I sat next to 8- or 9-year-old girl and her mother, also going to the airport. The girl was fascinated with my English and asked continual questions. When I asked where she was going, she replied, "New York." When I asked why, her answer surprised me: "My parents know a doctor at a famous hospital in New York and I hope they can find a way to cure me. You, see, I have cancer." It turns out they were headed to Sloan-Kettering for some experimental treatments. When they learned that I was studying to be a rabbi, the mom asked if I would say a Mi Shebeirach for her daughter. (Yes, it turns out that they were Jewish!)
Our fabulous senior youth group, PBnJ, will be joining us in leading our Shabbat Chadash (Erev Shabbat) service, at 6:00 pm. We will feature many of NFTY's favorite Shabbat tunes, as we hear some inspiring readings as part of our service.
And he lived... In this week's parasha, called Vayechi ("and he lived), we read of the death of the patriarch Jacob. This is the second Torah portion in the book of Genesis that has "life" in its title but its subject is death. In parashat Chayei Sarah (the life of Sarah), we learn how Abraham buries Sarah. Now, at the end of Genesis, we read of Jacob's death and his (at the time) un-Jewish burial. He is embalmed and then Joseph and his brothers take his body back to Canaan and bury him there.
As a rabbi, I think about funerals a lot. Our funerals reflect much about the way people have lived (thus the names of the two parshiyot mentioned above), as well as the values of those who are left behind.
For most of us, funerals for our loved ones are just part of the obligation/privilege we have when those close to us pass away. However, there are those in our community for whom even a modest Jewish funeral is impossible. They simply do not have the resources.
That is where our Jewish community places its values front and center. Whenever there is an indigent member of the community, we come together to offer them the kavod (dignity) they deserve, even in death. And it is important for all of us to know the chesed (lovingkindness) and tzedakah (financial giving) that is a part of what is done.
Do you know why Louis Memorial Chapel, Jewish Family Services, the synagogues, and the rabbis do what they do? Because that is what Abraham did for Sarah. Because that is what Joseph and his brothers did for Jacob. Because that is what it means to care about family. And every Jewish person IS our family.
As we begin to think about the new (secular) year, let us pause and think of those whom we have lost this past year. Some had no ability to have a dignified Jewish farewell. Our community saw to it. In that manner, we assured that when each of these men and women were buried, it could be said of them, "vayechi," they lived with dignity and were buried with honor.
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03.26.2017 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Machane Jehudah Family Program
03.27.2017 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
03.27.2017 5:45 pm - 6:15 pm
03.28.2017 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
03.28.2017 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
The Temple, Congregation B'nai Jehudah 12320 Nall Avenue Overland Park, KS 66209 Phone: 913-663-4050 Fax: 913-906-9544