Passover Message from Our New Cantor

Shalom, Bet Shalom!  

I just finished “Zoom Tefillah” with the current Year In Israel students of Hebrew Union College who abruptly had to scatter all over the world to finish their year because of the pandemic.  They began singing the words of Rebbe Nachman of Batslav’s -”Kol Haolam Kulo Gesher Tzar M’Od/Lo Lfached Klal” – The entire world is but a very narrow bridge; the most important thing is not to be afraid. 

I sat in my kitchen and sang along and listened to one rabbinic student explain how we reach our most sacred moment in our Jewish narrative each day twice in our prayers.  We cross the Red Sea and rejoice in the miracle of being freed from slavery and sing the Song of the Sea: “Mi Chamocha Baeilim Adonai,Mi Chamocha Ne’edar Bakodesh! – Who is like You, O God, among the gods that are worshipped?”  

As I was praying with our students, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the astounding blessing of our Jewish rituals.  They never let us down in times of great joy, distress or sorrow. I was struck by the beauty of community and how we are commanded to sit down together next week at our Seder tables and “retell the story”.  We sing, we laugh, we argue and discuss and eat of course, we eat. I finished the zoom and took out our seder plate and Matzah cover and all of our Pesach recipes and began planning the meal. I checked my pantry to see if I have all of the ingredients and I suddenly became excited for the Passover meal and ceremony.  Our Seders will look different this year, but we will all be re-telling and re-connecting and REJOICING.  

I also became very aware that when we say at the end of our Seder meal, “Next year in Jerusalem,” that I am saying to myself “NEXT YEAR IN MINNETONKA!”  Not to say that I will not miss Jerusalem at this time as all of the flowers and trees are in bloom, but my Jerusalem will be with all of you on the shores of Lake Minnetonka.  

At this time I pray for all of our strength, health and eternal HOPE.  I look forward to singing, praying and learning with all of you very soon at Bet Shalom.  May you all be blessed with the wisdom from our collective Exodus story, that all of us will cross to the other side of the Red Sea and dance towards FREEDOM.  

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Pesach Sameach! 

Happy Passover!

Cantor Tamar Havilio 

COVID 19 – Updates

Dear Bet Shalom Community,

We are taking the potential spread of the Coronavirus very seriously and are assessing every day how we can best serve the needs of all our members. Our goal is to mitigate the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve” of infection. We now believe the best way to help each other is to limit our physical contact to the greatest degree possible for a period of time.  

Beginning tomorrow after Erev Shabbat services, we will be limiting programming at the Bet Shalom building to our preschool community for two weeks and will reevaluate the situation in time to make plans for Shabbat on March 27. Please be in touch with one of us for specific questions. Here is some information to keep at hand:

  • -Bet Shalom Yeladim Preschool: Starting this Wednesday, March 18, we plan to serve the families that are in absolute need of our child care services. Some of our parents are healthcare and emergency workers, others are in need in other ways. If your need goes beyond these critical care workers, please contact Amber Brumbaugh (Preschool Director) or Steve Barberio (Executive Director).
  • -Meetings & Individual appointments:  During this time, we will meet by phone or video conference when possible.  
  • -Religious School: We are now holding our programs and classes virtually. All families will receive links to join from afar. 
  • -Congregational Shabbat Services: We will continue to stream services as we normally do. You can access the video stream by clicking here or by going to the website directly.  
  • -Adult Education: Our weekly Torah study classes will be held online by video conference, and we’ll be in touch after Shabbat with that access information. Our Hasidic Masters class on Shabbat mornings is canceled for this week, and we’ll resume next week in a virtual classroom. Professor Zmora’s class on Sunday mornings is on hold until further notice.
  • -Pastoral Needs: The Health Department recommendation is to limit contact with vulnerable members – older adults, those with chronic disease, and individuals who are immunocompromised. As such, we will be connecting with you in times of need by video or by phone. Please contact Rabbi Locketz or Rabbi Crimmings if you are in need. You can also call our after hours emergency number: 612-564-3572.
  • -Lifecycle Events: For events such as funerals and shivas, please contact  Rabbi Locketz or Rabbi Crimmings, or call our after hours emergency number: 612-564-3572.

The CDC and other medical experts are telling everyone that social distancing and cancelling public space gatherings can help slow the rate of infection so we do not overwhelm our health care system. We feel what is stated above is our best contribution to that notion. While we cannot gather at the Bet Shalom building for a couple of weeks, we can “gather” in other ways. Look for us on Facebook and Instagram, as well as our website. We’ll “see” each other there until we can see each other in person, back at Bet Shalom.

Please see below our names for a communal statement from the Minnesota Rabbinical Association (MRA) and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC).

As always, do not hesitate to contact any of us.  

Rabbi David Locketz, Rabbi Jill Crimmings, Steve Barberio, Executive Director, Phil Ecker, President of the Board of Trustees
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~MRA/JCRC Statement:         
In the face of an unprecedented global health crisis, we are committed to protecting the health and safety of the Jewish community and our neighbors, comforting those in need of support, and providing opportunities for sacred connection during this time of need. 

The value of pikuach nefesh , (saving a life) whether it be our own life, the life of a loved one, or the life of someone we have never even met, is a value that supersedes all else.  We must do our part to save lives by promoting measures that are known to curb the spread of COVID-19. Please review the common-sense guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health. We wish to act with deliberate care, not with fear, in facing this new reality. 
We call upon all in the Jewish and greater community to practice social distancing.  In our own synagogues and organizations, we are taking proactive measures, including suspending large gatherings and non-essential small gatherings in our physical spaces. We remain committed to finding alternative ways for our communities to feel connected. 
Even as we create physical distance, we must use this moment to draw close in other ways. We recommend reaching out to family and friends to let them know about mental health, financial, safety, and preparedness resources through our work and that of Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS) and Jewish Family Service (JFS). We recommend reaching out to neighbors to check in and help those who might not be able to afford or access food and medicine. This is also a time to work with other communities in an effort to enhance security, address misinformation, dispel rumors, and fight prejudice and bigotry that make our whole society ill.

As we learn about the grave impact of COVID-19, we pause to notice that anxiety is real and we must be present for one another with kindness and love. As rabbis and community leaders, we are here for you as our community navigates the emotional, spiritual, pastoral, and communal challenges we now face.  We pray our words and our actions allow us to look out for one another in all the seasons of life.

Minnesota Rabbinical Association, Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, Minneapolis Jewish Federation,St. Paul Jewish Federation

Congregation Convening with Beacon on January 30

Bet Shalom Congregation is a collaborative congregation of Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. Last year in January we hosted Beacon’s biannual convening which included Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan as speakers. Beacon and their supporters have been involved in advocating for the need of affordable housing and addressing the needs of our homeless citizens which in part has help support Gov. Walz to recently propose a Local Jobs and Projects Plan which includes a major investment of $276 million for safe and affordable housing projects across the state.

Attending the convening is a great way to become more aware of the work in which we are collaborating with Beacon to address the needs of our communities regarding homelessness and affordable housing and find out how you can involve yourself with our team supporting Beacon.

Join congregations across the collaborative at Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church, 3611 N. Berens Rd. NW in Prior Lake at 7 p.m on Thursday, January 30. Hear from Scott County Commissioner Barb Brekke and Rep. Michael Howard as we focus on building our power to create Prairie Pointe in Shakopee and advocate for bonding and rental subsidy for everyone who needs it. Plus we will practice advocating for this tikkun olam project.

To learn more about Beacon, CLICK HERE.

There are many ways to become more involved with social action Tikkun Olam through Bet Shalom’s Social Action Committee. Our areas of focus include Domestic and Gun Violence, Racial and Social Disparities, Homelessness, Hunger and Food Insecurity and Climate Change and Environmental Abuse.

You can contact our SAC Chairs Katey Powers and Lou Kidder at socialactionchair@betshalom.org

IJS Live Stream Event

Dear Friends,

I pray that your celebration of Thanksgiving was fulfilling for you and your loved ones. Did you happen to notice, in this week’s HaEtone, the inclusion of an event entitled The Inner Light of Hanukkah: A Celebration of Practice and Learning? Bet Shalom will be hosting a live-stream, world-wide broadcast on Sunday, December 8between 12:30-2:00 pm Central Time presented by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Let me tell you a little bit about it and why you might want to attend. 

In 2002-3, I had the privilege to attend four, week-long retreats that featured mindfulness practice, Hasidic text study, spirited singing, yoga, silence, prayer, and deep conversations with rabbis and cantors from around the country and from multiple denominations. Although I had already worked as a full-time cantor for over 10 years, my participation in the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s 18-month program profoundly affected my faith, broadened my perception of Judaism as a spiritual path, and helped me recognize how blessed I am to be a cantor. 

My life continues to be nourished by teachers and colleagues of the Institute who are attuned to their inner lives and committed to guiding others in deepening their connection to Judaism through prayer, words, actions, and song. Although the Clergy Leadership Program remains its centerpiece, IJS offers bountiful opportunities for any person interested in creating “a vibrant, enduring Judaism now and for generations to come.”  To mark its 20th anniversary, the Institute is presenting this live-stream event to celebrate with those who have benefited from its work and provide those who are curious with an opportunity to experience some of what IJS offers. The program will include, among other things:

  • -A guided meditation led by Rabbi Sheila Weinberg 
  • -A reflection by Rabbi Arthur Green  
  • -An accessible Hasidic text study with Rabbi Jonathan Slater 
  • -Inspirational music with Cantors Benjie Ellen Schiller and Richard Cohn

Please accept this invitation to join me and other Bet Shalom-ians for this unique, cost-free event. If you plan on attending, please RSVP to Rachel Calvert and arrive at 12:20pm.

Here’s a link to the IJS website with more details: https://www.jewishspirituality.org/20-years-of-practice/. Finally, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

B’shalom, Cantor Schwartz

Response to Hate Speech

Jewish tradition takes the spoken and the written word very seriously, so much so that there are entire law codes dedicated to the concepts of slander and tale-bearing (lashon harah and rechilut). In one passage of the Talmud, we learn that slander is more dangerous to humanity than individual acts of idolatry, adultery, and murder. The commentary notes that it is slander, tale-bearing, and other forms of hate speech that bring humans to quarrel and which very often lead to bloodshed. 

These texts are warning us about the power of words. They are reminding us that the promotion of hate speech can have grave effects, and we must not only be careful about the way we speak as individuals but also be alert and responsive to the words of others. As the 13th century commentator Chizkuni taught, “Do not spread evil tales that have come to your attention, but rather be the one where this practice stops from gaining further ground.”

We are seeing a new level of slander and tale-bearing gaining ground in our country and around the world. This week, the Jewish community has been a target of such hate speech, and we are starting to see that these words are, like our rabbis warned, bringing our community to quarrel. They are also producing a warranted fear that the words could lead to more violence. Unfortunately, the Jewish community has been here before. We have seen and experienced the worst of humanity. We have survived and have resolved that the spread of hatred against the Jewish community, and against all people, will stop with us. Let us be the ones to stop this speech from gaining ground and instead turn to one another in tolerance, acceptance, and love.

Volunteers Matter at Bet Shalom

By Stephen Barberio


Upon joining the leadership team at Bet Shalom, Rabbi Locketz and Julie Sprau helped me become aware of the importance of volunteerism at Bet Shalom. They impressed upon me how important volunteers are to the future of our synagogue and wanted to explore how we could strengthen our approach to volunteerism. During my first year in this position, I spent a lot of time learning about how volunteers help carry out the mission of the synagogue. There are three critical ways in which Bet Shalom depends on volunteers to sustain itself as a thriving congregation.

Governance

The role of the Board of Trustees has been strengthened tremendously over the past year. As I said during our town hall meetings last month, I have never seen a more engaged and involved Board of Directors in my 30+ years working in the nonprofit sector. Our Board has evolved from a hands-on, managing group of leaders, to an oversight body that delegates to its professional staff the day-to-day management of the synagogue.

Advisory Role

We have committees and membership engagement groups, made up of volunteers, that mostly serve in advisory capacity to the Board and senior staff. While the charter of each of these groups is distinct, the common purpose is to help the synagogue be successful. Some examples include the Ritual Forum, which provides Rabbi Locketz with a sounding board for ideas he may wish to pursue and the Marketing Committee which serves as a resource for staff, as it designs and implements marketing strategies to improve internal and external communications. A last example is the Youth Engagement Committee, which offers insights and feedback to Rabbi Crimmings, Ali King, and Amber Brumbaugh about youth programming.

Member Engagement

It is through our member engagement groups that our members can become actively and directly involved in some of the tasks that serve Bet Shalom’s mission.  Our group of ushers (we need more!), led by Peggy Garberick and Vera Levit, provides invaluable support to the congregation by ushering during services on Shabbat and holidays. A group of volunteers (we need more!) helps keep our landscape looking beautiful. And, of course, our Kitchen Committee is dedicated to building community at Bet Shalom through cooking. The proceeds of their work support the upkeep of the kitchen equipment. Did you know that the Kitchen Committee and other volunteers baked more than 4,500 hamentaschen this spring?!!

Two areas where we need to improve volunteerism at Bet Shalom are recruitment and recognition. This commentary is one step in building awareness about volunteerism, and you can continue to look for other communication about how to become more involved. The second area is in volunteer recognition. While I don’t think Bet Shalom volunteers donate their time to be recognized for doing so, it is important that we acknowledge those who contribute in this way. Over the next few months, I hope you’ll notice ways in which we call out the tremendous work of our volunteers.

Please feel free to contact me at steve.barberio@betshalom.org or 952-933-8525 if you’d like to become involved as a volunteer at Bet Shalom.  Thank you!