The stillness of the ground and the trees is what strikes me during the winter months. Sure, the chill in the air, the fewer tourists, the early setting sun are also indicative of this time of year. But, the quietude found when sitting in the park is unmatched in other months. The creepy crawlers are burrowed underground. The adventurous critters are nestled deep in their dens. And only the heartiest of birds remain in the trees.
So, what of us then? How do we acknowledge this natural rhythm? Some of us too will head for warmer climates (hi Floridians!).
Some of us will find ourselves snuggled under layers of blankets and fuzzy socks. There are also those who may not feel the change so intensely. Each of us must find our own balance.
Here at Agudas Israel, we slow down ever so slightly. We plan fewer programs and gather less frequently as a community. But we are here. Judaism does not hibernate. Shabbat services will continue. Learning will continue. Community will continue (see the calendar for specifics of each of these). Beyond events that happen at the synagogue, our Jewish lens can also guide us in the greater community. On Martin Luther King Jr Day, January 16, 2017, several area congregations are coming together to celebrate the unity which was part of the legacy of Dr. King. After the MLK breakfast (hosted in Hendersonville by Blue Ridge Community College), we will be meeting noon at St. James Episcopal Church for a “Day On, A Day of Service.”
Our Jewish lens helps us to see that there is much work to be done in the world, and each of us contributes to repairing it in ways that suit us as individuals. I hope you can join us; however you are able, on this day (see additional flier for full details).
Why? Because Judaism does not hibernate. May this coming month be one of rejuvenation and renewal. May we put on our fuzzy socks and go about helping others.
Wishing you abundant blessings,
Rabbi Rachael Jackson
As I am writing this message, 2016 is coming to a close and we are looking ahead to 2017. This year has been a good year for Agudas Israel. We’ve had new members join our community, had many opportunities for study and learning, experienced the joy of Shabbat and the High Holy Days led by Rabbi Jackson, and had several successful fundraising efforts.
The coming year, 2017, looks to be exciting. We will be celebrating B’nai Mitzvahs every month this year through April with more to follow in the fall and winter. Due to a generous donation, we now have Mishkan T’Filah siddurim for Shabbat. We are well on our way to funding the purchase of new Machzor for the High Holy Days and are exploring the possibility of acquiring Visual T’Filah. Rabbi Jackson is planning to start Tot Shabbat, an initiative to attract and engage young families to our community. So… lots going on. With that said, we will be focusing on two specific initiatives this year, strategic planning and an ongoing effort to organize our efforts at Tikkun Olam.
After several years of uncertainty, Agudas Israel is in a good place. Why then do we need to engage in strategic planning? Strategic planning is important to an organization because it provides a sense of direction and outlines measurable goals. Strategic planning is a tool that is useful for guiding day-to-day decisions and also for evaluating progress and changing approaches when moving forward. A strategic plan will help us develop strategies for membership growth and retention, for financial stability, ongoing ritual enhancement, study and learning experiences. The identification of clear goals and objectives, allows us to make thoughtful decisions in the best interest of the congregation. I am delighted to say that Bill Lavine and Alan Cooper have agreed to chair this initiative. This will be a long term project and will require the involvement of many of us. We will be hearing from our Co-chairs about their plan and how we can participate.
For several years now, we have held very successful annual Mitzvah Days. My thanks to Judi Levinson and Linda Reihs for their leadership and excellent feedback on last year’s event. In addition to Mitzvah Day, many of us participate in ongoing Mitzvah activities through our individual volunteer efforts. An organized effort at Tikkun Olam can provide opportunities within our temple community, our local community, the nation and even the world for acts of mitzvot. You have already seen in last month’s Chai Lites the “Mitzvah Opportunity of the Month”. This will be an ongoing feature and I hope that some of the activities identified will spur you to action. I believe this approach will offer opportunities for Agudas Israel members to practice tikkun olam at varying levels of intensity, from our once-ayear Mitzvah Days to individual volunteer activities. I would like to see these efforts coordinated throughout the year by a Mitzvah committee. If you are interested in leading or participating in this effort, please let me know.
As always, I thank each of you for the contributions that you make to our synagogue community and the greater community. You always make me proud. Peter and I wish you all a new year filled with peace and joy.
Shalom, Dr. Linda Perkel, President
Read the our Newsletter "Chai Lites" for January by clicking Chai Lites January 2017
Rabbi Jackson's High Holy Days Sermons 5777 (Chick here to read all four sermons from this year's services)
See what books we have in the Agudas Israel Library for you to check out by clicking here: AGUDAS ISRAEL LIBRARY
See photos of our Mountain Jewish Festival from August 21, 2016 by clicking here: Mountain Jewish Festival photos 2016.
See photos from our Annual Sisterhood Fashion Show, August 2, 2016 by clicking here: Sisterhood Fashion Show 2016