From the Rabbi’s Study

An Appreciation of the Legacy Fund

rabbisingertorahsmallMy column this month is an appreciation of Temple Beth El’s Legacy Fund. Thanks to this fund, and sometimes supplemented by the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund, we have been able to bring some really interesting programming to our synagogue. At the end of January, for example, my good friend and colleague, former physicist Rabbi Michael Lotker, presented several inspiring lectures, including “Science and Religion” and “Demystifying Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism.” These sessions were very well attended and drew enormous praise from attendees, both for the accessibility and usefulness of his material, and for the engaging way in which it was presented. Late last year, thanks to the Legacy Fund, we brought Rabbi Jill Zimmerman, once TBE’s student rabbi, who taught us Jewish spiritual practices that offer ways to bring serenity and awareness to our busy lives.

For Selichot, we were able to bring Dr. Marcia Falk to discuss her new book, The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season. This volume is “a companion for travelers on the to-and-fro journey of…the Ten Days of Returning – inward to the self and outward to relationships between self and others” (xxii). Dr. Falk helped us prepare for the Days of Awe, providing us with a different perspective on the meaning of the holidays. In February, Beth Hill-Skinner, who was trained at the Deepak Chopra Center, is offering three sessions on meditation (February 1, 8, and 22, 10-11:30 AM).

Coming in March, we will be offering two important programs:

Israel’s Security in an Age of Terror: presented by our congregant Ian Oxnevad and by Beth Hill-Skinner. Oxnevad is earning a Ph.D. in Political Science from UCR with emphases in International Relations and Comparative Politics. On March 5th, 7 PM, he will present “Climate Change and its Impact on the Middle East and Israel.” Hill-Skinner has two Masters degrees, one in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and one (cum laude) in International Diplomacy with a specialization in Transnational Terrorism from Norwich University. On March 26th, 7 PM, she will present “Terrorism in the Middle East and Its Impact on Israel.”

The Exodus of Middle Eastern Jews from Arab Countries to Israel. On March 12th, 7 PM, we will screen the documentary “Forgotten Refugees,” followed by a presentation on March 19th, 7 PM, by Dr. Daniel Khazzoom, a retired economics professor from UC Berkeley and the author of the memoir, No Way Back: The Journey of a Jew from Baghdad. He will discuss the situation of Jews from the Middle East who were expelled from their home countries, emigrating to Israel where they faced discrimination. Included will be the rich culture these Jews left behind in countries such as Iraq. 

And in April, for Yom Ha-Shoah on April 15th, 6:30 PM, Dr. Sylvia Flescher, a psychoanalyst whose Jewish father was rescued by her non-Jewish mother during the Holocaust, will present “Googling for Ghosts: a Meditation on Writer’s Block, Mourning and the Holocaust.” Dr. Flescher has written about her parents’ experience while also thinking deeply about what challenges await the Second Generation as they embark on “memorializing” their parents’ experiences.

In the past, the Legacy Fund has brought us luminaries such as Rabbi Zoë Klein, author of Drawing in the Dust; filmmakers Aviva Kempner (“The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg,” “Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Goldberg”) and Gaylen Ross (“Killing Kastner”); and the Kirtan Rabbi.

These are just some of the riches made possible by this fund. I am very grateful.

Rabbi Suzanne Singer