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On Wednesday, November 30th, our community came together for a night of fellowship in support of the inaugural Lisa Lerman Community Bridge Award, named in memory of the Federation’s late president Lisa Lerman Z”L, who selflessly gave her time to bring together all Jews of our community.

Nature constantly reminds us how to orchestrate change. Inevitably, trees let go their leaves. There’s no fuss. It’s expected. And for our part? We plan for the change every year.

But, before a forest lets go the leaves, it dazzles us with a final burst of glorious color. This, after all, is a celebration. Leaves are like the memories from which trees receive energy. The forest celebrates this good fortune each autumn.

And so today, I talk about orchestrating change in our own Jewish community. Change presents itself whether it’s welcomed or not. And just as in nature, we too celebrate the memories that give us strength.

On the evening of Sunday, December 18th, nearly a hundred people showed up to celebrate the beginning of the festival of lights by lighting the giant Chanukiah in the Jon Hunt Plaza outside the Morris Performing Arts Center -- an annual tradition in South Bend thanks in large part to the organizing efforts of Jody Freid.

Recent antisemitic events involving well-known celebrities have drawn widespread attention to a disturbing trend in American society. We have seen this develop over the past several years: the resurgence of antisemitism. According to the ADL (the Anti-Defamation League), “Antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021… This represents the highest number of incidents on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979…”

In Israel of 2022, most people will not only know the phrase ‘Novi Godd’ means ‘New Year’ in Russian, but they will recognize it as a holiday. Before I talk about how and why it is so relevant to Israel, and to me personally, let me give you some background.

NEXTGen is constantly redefining what it means to be young and Jewish in the Michiana region, creating space for Jewish young adults (age 21-45) to build connections beyond religious affiliations. The NEXTGen group provides the opportunity for Jewish Young Adults in our community to Learn, Grow, and Lead together to build a better future for our community.

Whenever I ran into a particular friend of mine, I asked what he was doing, and he would retort, “Just trying to remain relevant.” I always got a kick out of that response, but never thought much about it. I figured it was a cute throwaway line. That was until I did my Chaplaincy residency.

This month, I’ve decided to share one of my very favorite recipes with you. It is the recipe I use for rugelach. If you are not familiar with this delicious pastry, rugelach are cookies that are made from dough that is rolled into circles, cut into wedges like pizza, and rolled into crescents. The most popular fillings are chocolate and cinnamon, but fruit filings are very common as well.

The group agreed that Anne Tyler, while being obtuse, is a master of characterizations and relationship nuance. We discussed in great detail aspects of protagonist Willa’s quirky new family-of-choice as opposed to her family-of-origin, which is the crux of the story.

As World War II drew to a close, South Bend and Mishawaka Jewish leaders organized to address the vital issues and concerns of the day. Their efforts led inevitably to the founding of our own Jewish Federation.

On the weekend of November 11th, our Federation was honored to host "Women Leading a Dialogue," an interfaith delegation from Israel comprised of fifteen Muslim and Jewish women who came to share their inspiring project that promotes coexistence in Western Galilee. Their visit was sponsored by Partnership2Gether (P2G). Here in South Bend, the members of the delegation were provided home hospitality by members of our Jewish community.

Rare is the person who’s fearless about food, especially when traveling. Bourdain’s memoir begins eating his first oyster as a child, thus setting off a lifetime of culinary adventures.

The Michiana Jewish Historical Society is proud to announce 2023 as our YEAR OF THE STORY with the kickoff at our annual meeting on December 11, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. at The History Museum, 808 West Washington Street, just west of downtown South Bend.

I am excited to share this recipe with you today. I know I almost always say this…but only because it’s true!

Sometime this past weekend (journal­ism time), I was combing through my emails when I came upon an article reviewing a recipe for a one-pot risot­to. Hmm, I thought. I like risotto. The article said something to the effect that “this was the best rice dish this blogger had ever made” and perhaps something more about it “hitting all the right notes.” It was an Ina Garten recipe from her newest cookbook, Go- To Dinners, and the blogger was giving it a rave review.

On October 23rd, the Jewish Federation opened its campus to the broader Michiana community for our 2nd annual Fall Fest! Thanks to everyone who showed up to enjoy a beautiful afternoon on our Federation campus, not to mention all of the volunteers who helped make this event possible. You are appreciated!

A year has passed since I wrote about my goals as program director at the Federation, and before I made my “New Year’s resolution,” I thought it right to look back at how we did as a team with my past goals. Helping our community discover (or rediscover) their Jewish identity was top on my list when planning and implementing programs in my first year on the team. I believe we achieved this through youth and adult programming, and of course, summer camp activities. We gave the community insight into how our Jewish lives are relevant in South Bend through programs involving Jewish food, harvest season get-togethers, kosher dates nights, and so much more.

Chanukah has one overriding theme, namely “Do your best and Hashem will take care of the rest.”

If the Maccabees, before they began their campaign, would have considered the overwhelming odds against their victory against the Assyrian-Greeks, they would never have started the rebellion. They would have given up before they began and just tried to survive by lying low. But, instead of lying low or assimilating, which is all the Hellenists wanted, they chose to trust Hashem to help them, as had happened throughout our history, and decided to ignore the odds, and fought.

As a child, I wondered how could it be. Sailboats move forward into the wind – a seemingly impossible obstacle.

Eventually I learned that if you embrace the headwind for power and use a rudder to steer, you can go just about anywhere. The ‘impossible obstacles’ are actually a source of energy.

For me, it was a great lesson. I now see headwinds as energy waiting to be harnessed. In fact, the Jewish people have always embraced headwinds to move forward. We’ve done it for thousands of years. And it’s our values that work like a rudder to keep us on course.

It’s no different today. We embrace the headwinds of change so we can move forward. But as a community, where are we going? And how will we get there?

Turning leaves, one of the few things you don’t see on a fall trip to Israel. It is good to be home after a three-week mission to our Partnership regions of Budapest and Acco/Matei Asher. The goal of this trip for us was to make personal connections with communities within our partnership and especially those in Hungary. What we got from the trip was so much more.

Our partnership will be celebrating 25 years this year, a nice number to go along with Israel’s 75th anniversary. This first meet up since the beginning of the pandemic meant a lot of new faces, but plenty of familiar faces as well. I have been a part of the partnership family ever since I moved to Israel, and through these connections, I have always had a second home in Israel if I needed it. However, now the same can finally be said about Budapest as well. Shirlee and I had so much we wanted to share with you but had to choose just a few details for this format, though I encourage you to reach out to us if you would like to hear more.

The Jewish month of Marcheshvan has begun, which means this last cycle of Jewish holidays has ended. In the entire month there are no holidays or fast days, just the Shabbat, our perpetual island in time. The High Holy Days provided us with a spiritual energy burst that we can carry over into our normal lives in the coming month.

The PBS Documentary, “The U.S. and the Holocaust” was a major achievement on many levels. As a student of history, I see one of its many accomplishments as providing a historical perspective on the situation of the Jewish people before, during, and after World War II.

The tragic results of the closed door policy of America – and the world – to Jewish immigration in the 1930s were encapsulated by the words of Chaim Weizmann, the leader of the Zionist movement. In the series, Ken Burns quoted Weizmann who said: “The world seems to be divided into two parts—those places where the Jews could not live and those places where they could not enter.”

Like it or not, we are getting closer to the cold winter weather. One of the best things about winter is a snowy day when you don’t have to go any­where and can look out the window at big snowflakes falling. That scenario is even better if you are drinking a hot beverage or eating soup. And, if you have a fireplace it should definitely be in use. The scene I just described is one of my favorite parts of winter. (Driving on icy roads is my least favorite part, but let’s not go there.)

The New Year comes as a gift — every new year offers an opportunity to take a deep look at all aspects of our lives, our community, the things we treasure and want to keep close, what needs improvement and polish, and what should be discarded.

We pray. We meditate–for the power of clear thought–so that our deeds and words are in accord.

In my last edition of Minute with Moshe, I spoke about the importance of the Federation being a Bayit Chazak–a strong and courageous “house” as we work towards fulfilling our 2025 Community Vision.

This vision will be my legacy project. What is a legacy project?

This year our Federation’s Community Relations Committee (CRC) is spearheading an outreach initiative to Monroe Elementary School. The school was identified as one of the South Bend public schools most in need of help. We are asking for volunteers from our community to join us in helping Monroe Elementary School as mentor/tutors.

Sukkot is a busy holiday. We have to procure a kosher (ritually fit based on several factors) Lulav and Etrog (citron) and build a sukkah in which we will eat, relax, and sometimes sleep for the entirety of the holiday (7 days, unless it rains or snows). It is the holiday on which we march around the Synagogue with our lulav & etrog, while reciting prayers for rain in the proper season. A lot is going on and every element is full of meaning!

On the weekend of November 11th, our community will be privileged to host a delegation from Western Galilee called, “Women Leading a Dialogue” (WLD). The program is sponsored by Partnership2Gether (P2G) for Western Galilee. Many of you will remember that we hosted a similar group from the program in 2018. Their visit had a major impact on our community. That is why we are excited to host this delegation with a new cohort of women.

The harvest season, what is it all about? Time to reap from the fields, collect our crops and prepare for a harsh winter ahead? Is it the end of the year, or the beginning? With Rosh Hashanah just behind us, we know the answer is a new year. So instead of thinking about what is ending, as the color fades from the leaves, it must be that we think of the new year to come and prepare for its arrival. Speaking of arrivals, Shirlee and I sit now at O’Hare awaiting departure. We will have already returned from the Partnership2Gether with Israel Summit in Budapest by the time you read this. We sat to plan with leaders across the globe for the future of our Jewish communities, and our relationships with each other. What a perfect time for the event to take place.

I just love when someone shares a family Heritage Recipe with me. There is something very special about making a recipe that has deep personal value and rich history attached to it, especially when you know the people involved. With permission, I am going to share one such recipe with you today, gifted to us by the Shemesh Family.

At the end of September, in the month of Tishrei, we dip a slice of apple in honey and awaken anew with the shofar’s blast. Such tradition signals new beginnings each year.

A new beginning for our Jewish community in Michiana is always exciting -- always full of promise.
But how will we ensure a bright future in a world so increasingly challenged by the things that tear us apart – the things that make us different?

Yes! FED TALKS – not the world renowned TED Talks. The purpose of FED TALKS is to welcome curious people and build community. Are you a curious soul? Do you like to engage with ideas and be part of the conversation?

Relationship. As we approach the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe, of what should we be in Awe? Should it be days filled with wonder at G-d’s cycle of creation, destruction, and forgiveness? Should we stop in reverence at all that has been, all that is, and all that will become? Sure, that is a big part of these days, but maybe it could be a bit simpler than that. What if it was about astonishment and respect for our relationships. Our relationship with G-d, our relationship with others, or our relationship with the world. That is what I plan to focus on this holiday season through work, family, and personal life.

One of the highlights of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is the prayer “Unetaneh Tokef.” The refrain of this Piyut (liturgical poem) is “It is written on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur.” After reciting the ways one can die and one can live (always end on a positive note!) the congregation recites in unison “But teshuva (repentance) tefillah (prayer) and tzedakah (charity) avert the evil decree!”

There’s a saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That saying was first said in the mid-1800s. This quote really applies to the recipe that I am sharing with you this month. The first two times I attempted to make the recipe I did not succeed in following the directions. Funny thing is, though, we really liked the recipe despite my errors.

During Operation Breaking Dawn in August, we saw Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) - an Iranian proxy force based in Gaza- launch nearly 1,000 rockets at Israeli civilians. In May 2021, we saw Hamas and PIJ launch more than 4,300 rockets at Israel during Operation Guardian of the Walls. To add to the multiple security challenges facing Israel, there is a new and growing threat from Iran and its regional proxies: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s).

“L’shana tova”. These two Hebrew words are well-known by most Jewish people. This expression is usually translated as happy new year. However, this is not a faithful translation of these words. They literally mean “for or to a good year”. You may be asking yourself - so, what does it matter? A happy year, a good year – same thing. But are they really the same thing?

A colleague of mine, Rabbi David Goldfarb, in Israel met his new neighbor on the stairs of his apartment building, a fellow rabbi, and asked him during this month of internal accounting before the Days of Awe, how is your teshuvah going? The neighbor responded that he had heard a lesson by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook that relates to the word teshuvah, which means not only return and repentance but also answer.  If teshuvah is the answer then what is the question?

On Friday, Israel launched Operation Breaking Dawn to defend Israeli civilians from imminent attacks from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Iranian backed terror organization based in Gaza. More than 1,000 rockets were launched at Israeli civilians. As many as 20% of the rockets fell short, landed in Gaza, and some killed Palestinian civilians. A cease-fire is now in effect. In the meantime, below are links to reports and analysis from the Israeli media, Israel Defense Forces and Ministry of Foreign Affairs that provide analysis and context. 

Many of us planned summer trips a long time ago. If you’re like me, you planned a trip to Happiness. No, it’s not on a map. But Happiness is here on our campus all summer long. It’s called Camp Ideal.

Over the period of Covid, Partnership Together (P2G) provided us with many meaningful virtual programs that connected our local Jewish community in northern Indiana with our friends in Western Galilee in Israel. This June, we were so happy to be back live and in person to meet our friends in Western Galilee as part of the Temple Israel tour of Israel led by Rabbi Shoshana Feferman.

In Pirkei Avot-The Ethics of our Fathers, we find the dictum of “Shammai said, “Emor m’at v’aseh harbeh” which means “Say little and do much.” Today’s colloquialism, made famous by Nike, would be “Just do it!”

I’ve been going to Camp Ideal for what feels like my whole life. This is my second summer as a CIT (counselor in training), and my 10th summer overall. The first thing I think of when I think of summer is Camp Ideal and it’s always been like that, which is why it has made this year very bittersweet.

We sang them in, we sang them out. Camp Ideal came to an end last week, and the lack of singing voices and running campers is noticeable to say the least. With the largest camp turnout in recent memory, our Camp Ideal family continues to grow, allowing for bigger and grander programs and a growing Tsevet (camp staff). Speaking of grandeur, did anyone hear about our firework show to conclude our first Maccabia of the summer with a bang? What about our medieval themed Yom Gaga, with an entire day dedicated to a camp sport favorite? But none of this would be possible without the counselors we had these past 8 weeks, and they deserve much more praise than my words can offer.

As I write this article, it is a delightful 83 degrees, the sun is shining brightly, and there is the slightest whisper of a breeze gently caressing the leaves in the garden. I love summer! Some of my favorite summertime memories revolve around family trips to the lake. Every summer, my family, extended family, and even a few close family friends who rotated in on occasion, would spend two sun-drenched, glorious weeks together in South Haven, Michigan. Some owned places, most rented units very nearby—lakefront—the beach just a few short steps from our doors. It was an idyllic way to spend the summer holiday.

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