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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A mother’s guidance might have saved Joseph and his people from a whole lot of of tsuris

By Susan Kray

Judging by our ancient, sacred tradition, it seems possible that Joseph and his brothers and their families all wound up in Egypt evolving into a slave population for one reason: Joseph had grown up motherless.

Joseph was deprived of appropriate female influence. His mother Rachel died right after she gave birth to his little brother Benjamin.

As a result, Joseph grew up without proper female guidance. We all know what a mess that motherless boy made of his relationships to his brothers, a mess leading to generations of slavery.

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Mi Shebeirach directs hope for strength and restoration to our loved ones, and to ourselves

Bu Student Rabbi Remy Liverman

Prayers for healing are deeply embedded in our Jewish liturgy and tradition. The practice began with the holy words Moses prayed to God after his sister Miriam had been stricken with the affliction of tzara’at.

Moses pleaded: El na, refa na la — “Please God, heal her” (Numbers 12:13).

When we join together for Kabbalat Shabbat, we pause during our service to include the Mi Shebeirach, our communal prayer for healing.

Continuing to recite this prayer during services spreads the support to the larger community. This act of chesed sends the message that those who suffer are not alone.

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