President’s Post – April 2021

Generosity Abounds at Temple Beth El

Linda Rubin

Marla Shwarts

Generosity of spirit, heart, and action know no limits here at our spiritual home. When a need arises and a call goes out we step up with the intention of doing what is good for our TBE Family and just as significantly, what is good for those outside of our place of worship and Jewish connection. Whether it is a call to donate clothing, food, blankets and more, our community fulfills the request without question and does so without any expectation of a “return on their investment”. We know it is the right thing to do and our Jewish value of helping our own and the stranger is our loving task done with open and caring hearts.

When we receive that “meal train” request, we are not bound by a reason as to why there is a need; we just do it. We hear the call and we respond. When we are informed about what a family would like in order to help memorialize their loved one, we respond with donations in their memory without hesitation. When we are asked to contribute in order to serve as a life line to a community harmed by natural disasters, we respond and send in our donations knowing it is the Jewish thing to do.

As individuals, when we hear of someone’s struggle to sign up for the Covid19 vaccine, Tom Rosenberg steps up to help them. Peter Herwitt offered to answer Covis-19 / vaccine related questions for our members. As our temple lives have become saturated with technology, our Tech Team –Gale Swartz, Andrea Lawrence, Eric Imley, Lillian Imley, Shoni Gramcko, Matthaniel Cowell, Sharyl Holtzman, and Karyn Zafran- stands up and helps; they hear the call and they respond.

Sometimes the call to help is not even a whisper as in the case of Nelly Mitzvah Igdal who works at Green Hills.  On Friday mornings, she visits Har Shalom and Har Shalom II, leaves a few stones, and says a prayer for all the loved ones who have been lost to honor their memory on behalf of our Jewish community.

When concerns surfaced that some of our community members were feeling less connected due to the quarantine restrictions, your temple Board of Directors stepped up to contact every member of our TBE Family to check in and see how everyone was doing.  A need was determined, hearts and arms opened up via the telephone and an action took place to assist in connecting with each of us.

Perhaps most importantly, we give of ourselves as we say the names of those who need our voices weekly in the Mi Shebeirah prayer as we ask for strength to heal those who are in our hearts. Yes, we are a generous community and we go from strength to strength as we give to one another.

Generosity is our nature. Generosity is our value. Generosity is our Torah way of living life.

Volunteer of the Month

Generosity of spirit is one of the most important qualities Judaism urges us to develop. This month we honor someone who has it in spades. Chaplain Bonnie Leopold is April’s volunteer of the month. When the pandemic led to shut-downs a year ago, Bonnie did not hesitate to reach out, offering to help in any way possible. Bonnie is a woman with enormous talent. She is a certified grief counselor, Morei Derech (spiritual director), and energy healer. She was ordained as an interfaith minister, specializing in sound healing, mediation, and mussar (character trait study).

Deeply intuitive and empathic, Bonnie recognized that the community was suffering and wished to create an opportunity for healing. For an entire year, she has offered sound healing every Friday morning. Using sound bowls and careful insertion of Jewish prayers, and kavana (intention), she leads people through a beautiful, meditative, and soothing ritual that provides an exquisite entry into Shabbat. On Friday mornings, Bonnie’s Contemplative Sound Healing has become a staple in Shabbat preparations for its participants. Her dedication to providing this program is a labor of love. Students who have participated in similar Sound Healing in their lives tout Bonnie as one of the most talented practitioners of this type of healing that they have ever experienced, even surpassing some of Bonnie’s beloved and respected teachers in this practice.

As if that weren’t enough, Bonnie also regularly bakes desserts handed out at lunches for unhoused or food-insecure people. The care that she puts into her delicious treats is so deeply appreciated and brings smiles to recipients’ faces. These are just some of the ways Bonnie continues to enrich our Temple community.

Temple Beth El is blessed with many volunteers with generous hearts. The Torah calls them kol n’div libo, everyone whose hearts moves them to act to better the community. Each month we will recognize a volunteer, understanding that it will take us years to acknowledge everyone. Have someone you’d like to honor? Please write an email to Carrie. Don’t forget to include information about why you wish to nominate them. We are so appreciative of your help!

L’Chaim to Our Tree of Life

You heard at our Shabbat recognition service on March 5th, that Eliot Swartz was honored with a leaf on our Tree of Life structure here at Temple Beth El for his remarkable ten years of service on the National Board of Trustees of the URJ. And then you may have thought, “Huh, what tree of life?” We are so very pleased to announce that our TBE Tree of Life has been refurbished and rehung; it is located in the alcove area just as you walk out to the courtyard. When we rehabbed our temple, the tree was taken down and stored for safe keeping and now we have reinstalled it. The etched words on its leaves are reflections of memories that are meaningful in the lives of our congregants. We are excited to invite you to invest in a leaf to add to this loving recognition piece as an opportunity to recall a simcha, an accomplishment, or another special moment in your life. As you make your decision to purchase leaves, please contact Shoni in the TBE Business Office to complete your request.