Divrei Tikvah

From Rabbi Johanna Hershenson

Thank you, Temple Beth Tikvah, for a magnificent High Holy Day season. Kathy Schindel, once again you manage the big picture seamlessly. Thank you. Membership committee, thank you for filling tables with greeters and collecting information from guests so we can invite them back. Lester Dober, thank you for inviting members to read parts in the services and easing nerves.

All our readers, blessers, ark openers, Torah holders, Torah chanters, service greeters…thank you. It is an honor to share the bima with you. Julie Geveshausen and your team, Jo and Eileen, Janet and Kathi, thank you for weaving our services together with your instruments and total presence. Your generosity in learning our liturgy and opening your hearts and minds to its fruits seems infinite. Zoe Hershenson for scanning the service texts into PDF’s so the musicians could integrate the liturgy into their music and engage in the service as well as play and sing. Sheila Luber, thank you for recruiting Paul Jacobs and tailoring our security protocol to High Holy Days service scale. 

Thank you, Pastor Steven Koski and First Presbyterian volunteer greeters who brought a spiritual and hospitality-based element to our security protocol. Finally, thank you to all of our book plate donors. Your generosity funded our new High Holy Day prayerbooks, Mishkan Hanefesh. Its introduction into our congregation generated a whole new feeling during our services. Its words and ideas, its explanations and simple structure allowed us to connect with the themes of the season in a tangible and relevant manner. And finally, thank you, Evie Lerner, for hosting a break-fast full of flavor, warmth and good company.
 
Of course our High Holy Days linger beyond Yom Kippur. Kudos to our members who braved the unpleasant forecast and celebrated Sukkot out on the ranch with me and Mark and Zoe. Thank you for allowing me to share my mohair harvest and Mark to share his renovation progress on our old homestead house. As for Simchat Torah and our Torah and Tequila trivia quiz and happy hour at Barrio on Wall Street, thank you, to members, Amy and Steve Draheim for allowing us to congregate in your establishment. Next quiz night, we will be sure to have a big screen so every one can follow the game.
 
The season is past. Just like that. November is here, bringing with it Mar Cheshvan, the bitter month of Cheshvan. Why is it bitter? Because it contains no holidays. On the heels of the High Holy days, it sounds like an oasis in time to me.
 
This November I am turning my attention to catching up with teens and tweens in Temple Beth Tikvah. We began building a youth group a couple years ago. Jerry Greenbach, Naomi Chudowsky, Jillian Frankl, and Kerrie Zurovsky have all worked tirelessly to try to keep momentum. We have just recently pulled out of BBYO affiliation in favor of mentoring our teens locally. All youth programs have their up seasons and down seasons. We have a strong base and I am enthusiastic about bringing our young adults together for fun and purposeful activities.
 
The one thing we learned about our teens and tweens is that they appreciate opportunities to engage in community service. Accordingly I hope to see them choose a couple projects for the remainder of the school year and see them through. Our teens have been well appreciated volunteers in Family Kitchen and Bethlehem Inn. This month we invite them (and you) to meet The Giving Plate, Bend’s local food pantry, at Havdallah with a Purpose, November 2nd at 7 PM.
 
Social action engagement also meant a great deal to me when I was a teen. I lived close to Washington, DC, and was fortunate to spend a great deal of time with a rabbi who was a role model for me. He directed the Religious Action Center, the Union for Reform Judaism’s lobbying arm. There I learned to research political issues and discuss them with Senators and Representatives. I practiced lobbying on Capitol Hill. The Religious Action Center runs weekend retreats for teens in the Reform Movement. Perhaps our teens would like to work toward taking such a trip together. Or maybe we take a trip to a densely populated Jewish center and see the sights? Or a North American Federation of Temple Youth convention or kallah? As we get to know each other, our young adults will tell us what they most need from us and what they can contribute to our community. I look forward to seeing this chapter unfold.

~~ Rabbi Hershenson’s office hours are by appointment. If you would like to set up an appointment, please contact her by email at: johannahershenson@gmail.com, or by phone/text at 541-213-9880.