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.


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!

Welcome to the New Bet Shalom Website!

Welcome to the new Bet Shalom website! We’ve listened to our members about what they want and need from the website and have been working with Grossman Designs to build a new, user-friendly site. Many thanks to our Marketing Committee for their help in putting it all together.

On our blog page, you will find weekly updates from Rabbi Locketz, Rabbi Crimmings, Cantor Schwartz, Steve Barberio and other members of our staff. Occasionally, you’ll find sermons presented by the rabbis and commentaries written by clergy and staff.

Enjoy the new website and please let us know if there’s something missing or new that you’d like to see by sending an email to info@betshalom.org. Thank you!