Temple counters social distancing with seder, Shabbat, Torah study via Zoom teleconference

By Betsy Frank

As I was thinking about a topic for this month, the title of one of my favorite novels came to mind, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Coronavirus is our modern-day cholera or plague. To say the least, we live in interesting times.

And these times call for creative ways to stay connected. We have begun to make those connections by purchasing a Zoom videoconferencing account for our Temple community.

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Betsy and Dick help Mikve Israel Curaçao continue a Shabbat tradition that began in 1732

By Betsy Frank

So many of us travel to warmer climates during winter to escape the cold. This year, Dick and I made our escape with a cruise to the Caribbean.

During this most recent cruise, we joined 30 passengers for Erev Shabbat services on ship led by a gentleman from Mobile, Ala. Yes, there are Jews in Alabama!

On Saturday morning, about half those from Friday’s session joined Shabbat services at Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, 40 miles from the Venezuelan coast on the Dutch Caribbean Island of Curaçao.

The synagogue was consecrated in 1732 and has been in continuous operation ever since, making it the oldest in the Americas.

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Small congregations contribute to big turnout at URJ Biennial in Chicago

By Betsy Frank

As I write this month’s column, I am still experiencing a “high” from attending the Union of Reform Judaism Biennial convention at McCormick Place in Chicago.

There is nothing like celebrating Shabbat services with 5,000 people. But the most rewarding feature for me was to see all the high school and college students enthusiastically participating in services and other sessions.

I took part in sessions targeted at small congregations and gained useful ideas that we can initiate at UHC.

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Presence is the foundation of relationships, helping to build a strong congregation

By Betsy Frank

Presence involves more than just occupying a seat at a religious service. Presence is the foundation of relationships.

Judaism, meanwhile, is a religion predicated on relationships — with the Creator and to the Torah, including mitzvot directed toward relationships with our earth and all its inhabitants.

Even our religious practices are built on relationships. We can pray alone, but our liturgies are built upon the notion that more than one individual must be present.

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