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Purim spectacular!!

The Village Temple is rocking the house for Purim this year! 

Last night’s Megillah reading and Purimspiel made for an incredible evening, thanks to the talent, creativity, hard work, and enthusiasm of our choir kids and the many adults who planned and performed. Special kudos to Mickey Rindler, who wrote the VT adaptation of “Frozen” with great panache; the performers who put on a chillingly fabulous show; Tina Ball who did a masterful job of herding cats and other delightful creatures. The sanctuary was packed with adults and children. You could see how much fun everyone was having by the fact that it seemed like half the kids in the audience tried to climb up on stage at one point or another. And hats off to Alex Tansky, the best sport ever, onstage and off. 

Cantor Nancy Bach led a lovely service. And while Anita Hollander is performing in Chicago, her incredible daughter Holland Hamilton carried on in style, leading the children’s choir to new heights (with a lovely assist from guitarist Jonny Kunis). Talk about l’dor v’dor!!! The choir was just amazing—truly a sign that spring is here. 

Special thanks to Sandy Albert, who has been working double/triple-time to keep things running, publicize our events, handle our books, and represent the VT with singular grace and intelligence. 

By the time the evening was over our faces hurt from smiling so much. Thank you all for demonstrating so beautifully what a dynamic community we are blessed with at The Village Temple. 

And the fun continues on Friday, March 25, with our adult Purim Celebration. Come in costume, mask (or not), and join the fun, with services followed by Haman’s hat hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, live music and dancing. Childcare provided!

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Parshat Pikudei: Dvar Torah by Alizah Brozgold

At services on Friday night, March 11, lay leader Alizah Brozgold beautifully captured the moment of transition we are experiencing at The Village Temple. Please read her inspiring words:

 

Dvar Torah

Parshat Pikudei

3/11/16

 

         This week's Parsha contains an image that has always held a great sense of awe and mystery for me. The Torah describes that after the Tabernacle or Mishkan is built, a description is given of a pillar of cloud that covers the Mishkan by day and a pillar of fire that burns by night, indicating God's Presence and leading the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land. (40:33-38) 

         Of the two pillars, it is the one of fire that would seem to offer the most impressive symbol of God's presence. Fire and light would literally 'show the way', illuminate our path, inspire wonder in the Israelites and anyone we passed on our journey.The pillar of cloud, on the other hand, has the potential to obscure and hide, although as such, it also serves a protective function.

         Thinking of these two pillars led me to muse on the aspects of cloud and fire both in a psychological and spiritual context, as well as in the context of our synagogue. 

         In the two types of pillars, we can see represented different types of spiritual revelations. One is bright, fiery - a sight that no one can miss. I think of it as the kind of psychological insight that comes in the form of a joyful spark or celebratory "Aha moment". 

         Then there is the cloud revelation. It is the quiet understanding that comes in a darker, more somber moment. It may come to us when we reflect on the challenges of life or experience illness or the loss of someone we love. 

         In the life of our synagogue, we also have these two pillars accompanying us as we proceed on our journey to find a new Rabbi and figure out what our community's future should look like. 

         In the example of our synagogue, the pillar of fire can be seen as representing our hope and aspirations, our need for light and warmth that will bring healing and closeness and clarity. We want that light to embrace us, as well as draw others in. 

         The pillar of cloud also follows us. In the cloud are our hurts and our confusion. The cloud doesn't disappear - as much as we may want it to. We may want to hide in the cloud for a while, just as when we grieve, we may want to withdraw into ourselves for a time. Yet, in the darkness, we can also find insight, and wisdom in the wake of loss. This is beautifully described in the Tanhuma Midrash:

"The eye has a dark part and a light part. One can only see through the dark part." 

         The fire and the cloud are states of being that have their time or season in the life of a human being and in the life of a community. 

         May we make use of our cloud and our fire revelations, and remember in the words of Shlomo Yehoshua aka Stephen Sondheim:

"Where ever we go, whatever we do,

We're gonna go through it together."

 

Shabbat Shalom!

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In Memoriam – Paul Aiken

On Tuesday, Feb. 2, The Village Temple sanctuary was packed with friends, family, and admirers of Paul Aiken, a VT congregant who died on January 29, one day before his 57th birthday. Paul spent the last two years of his life battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He approached the diagnosis the way he lived his life—refusing to accept conventional wisdom and trying to make the world a better place. He was not Jewish but lived and breathed the values of tikkun olam. Paul established a blog, n=2.com, to record his fight against the disease which included taking a number of alternative cures. In addition to the blog, Aiken made n=2.com into a foundation with the aim of “building a global ALS community.” To remember Paul, donations can be made to MAC Angels and Project ALS. Rabbi Koster led a beautiful memorial service which elicited as many laughs as tears, appropriate to Paul’s character and his beautiful, spirited family: Stefanie his wife and his children, A.J., Will, and Melanie. His college roommate and lifelong friend recalled Paul as a man who took deep satisfaction from everyday pleasures—a satisfying bike ride, a sunny afternoon in New York, the Chicago Cubs playing baseball, a hot dog and papaya drink from Gray’s. “This is a good day,” Paul would declare. But his impact was far from ordinary. As executive director of the Author’s Guild for almost 20 years, Paul led the guild in a lawsuit against Google that charged the company’s library book scanning project was copyright infringement. The case continues in the courts. In a statement about Paul, guild president Roxana Robinson noted that "Brilliant and fierce can change the world, but it's generosity that makes it a better place. For twenty years Paul worked to make the world a better place for writers, readers and everyone else affected by the written word.”  

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The Legacy of Leon Klinghoffer

On Thursday evening, October 8, 2015, many Village Temple members joined a huge crowd at the Center for Jewish History, for an emotional, fascinating, inspiring gathering to celebrate and commemorate Leon Klinghoffer. Thirty years have passed since he was murdered by terrorists, during a vacation trip with his wife and friends. His legacy might have been simple, a Jewish entrepreneur out of the Lower East Side who invented the Roto-Broil Rotisserie, a popular kitchen appliance in the 1950s. But at age 69, retired and wheel-chair bound, Mr. Klinghoffer took a cruise with his wife Marilyn to celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary. Palestinian terrorists hijacked the ship, shot Mr. Klinghoffer in cold blood, and ordered his body thrown overboard. In that horrible moment, he became a catalytic part of history, changing the way many in the United States and the world viewed terrorism and its consequences.

 The Klinghoffers’ two daughters, Ilsa and Lisa, have transformed this devastating loss into a profound legacy for their father—and their mother Marilyn, who died of cancer a few months after the death of her husband. The sisters, who are long time Village Temple members (Lisa is married to co-president Jerry Arbittier), have dedicated themselves--through their foundation and working with the Anti-Defamation League--to fighting terrorism through educational, political and legal means.  At the 30th anniversary event, Lisa and Ilsa recounted their experiences in a performance-dialogue that was heart-rending, funny at times, riveting throughout. It was humbling to witness their courage in recalling these events. Most amazing, from a narrative propelled by a hateful act, was the palpable love the sisters demonstrated for one another, their families and the extraordinary cast of characters they have met on this amazing journey.

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L’Shana Tovah

As co-presidents of The Village Temple, we wish all of you a sweet and hopeful New Year! Our services for Rosh HaShana were lovely and we are looking forward to Yom Kippur. Hope you can join us. Here is an adaptation of Julie’s Rosh HaShana welcome: 

We had lots of backstage excitement/anxiety before the High Holy Days this year. Less than three weeks before Rosh HaShana, Gerard Edery, our cantorial soloist extraordinaire, had emergency back surgery—big stuff, spinal fusion. Two weeks later Anita Hollander, our Shabbat musical director, fell and severely broke her hand—more surgery.

But these turned out to be the days of awe in more ways than one. Gerard sang beautifully all three days of Rosh HaShana services, and Anita was back for Shabbat services last week and Children’s services at Cooper Union.

Rabbi Koster pulled together services that were beautiful, meaningful, heartfelt--not knowing until the last minute whether she would be singing as well as praying! Thanks to all for this heroic effort.

And thanks to all of you for joining together for services. For some of you, this is an annual pilgrimage to childhood ritual. For others, this is part of a continuum, a spiritual journey that takes place throughout the year. Whatever your reasons, we all have one thing in common. In this space we find connections to some part of our souls that we can’t make anywhere else.

I love the fact that our High Holy Day services take place in the Great Hall at Cooper Union, where Abraham Lincoln gave the speech that foretold his future as the Great Emancipator. The Village Temple respects the past-...in the Jewish calendar this is 5776! And this synagogue has been here for 67 years.

We also believe in the future. You can see that in the faces of the 140 children who attended our religious school this past year—and in the many young people who were part of Rosh HaShana services.  You can see the seeds being planted, week after week, at The Village Temple, through conversation, prayer, study. Check us out in Kesher, our newsletter, or on the website—or drop by for a Friday night service—6:45, every week throughout the year.

As for the now, please join us in saying thanks to all the people instrumental in the massive task of moving our synagogue temporarily fro East 12th Street to Cooper Union, for the High Holy Days:

To Lisa Loren, who organizes this production, and has done so for more years than we can count.

To Sandy Albert and Sandy Gonzalez-Wilson, our wonderful office managers, and to Santiago and Ivette, as well as Chris and Julio, our kind and hard-working custodians, who keep the machinery running.

To all the ushers, greeters, and ticket takers—volunteers all, who make sure everyone is given a warm welcome.

To Alex Tansky, Anita Hollander, Holland Hamilton and Daniel Stein—and Rabbi Koster, of course-- for children’s services that are edifying and entertaining!

Finally, on the first night of Rosh HaShana, Rabbi Koster talked about the importance of being connected not just to one another, but to the world at large. In the past year, The Village Temple has welcomed speakers seeking peace in Israel, groups working on behalf of immigrant rights, heard from our congregants who bring to the bimah an impressive assortment of experiences and wisdom—as recently as September 11, Holland Hamilton—VT religious school bat mitzvah/now occasional Shabbat soloist—spoke about what she learned at a conference in Berlin this summer, which brought young Jews and Muslims together from around the world to discuss better paths to the future.

L’Shana Tovah, with warm wishes for a healthy and hopeful New Year!!

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