temple beth shalom
A month into the new year and starting it off with the Eagles beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl! That’s a big “Whooo Hooo Iggles!” for Pennsylvania. As a Philadelphia native who was old enough to see the Eagles win the championship before the Super Bowl was invented, I listened to conversations about the name “Super Bowl” in its first year and heard people say that’s got to be the dumbest name for a bowl game ever; dumb or not, today, I’m proud as could be. On the last Sunday of January, a lifetime before the Super Bowl, we had our General Membership Meeting. The turnout was good, not quite like the big game, but good. The meeting was convened to decide on a proposed arrangement with Rabbi Choper. We are entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rabbi Choper and the Religion and Society Center with a contract for limited rabbinical services and supports for TBS. After presenting the content of the agreement and much discussion, we called for a vote. The vote was unanimous to enter into this agreement. Rabbi Choper will preside over life cycle events, provide counsel for the president, the board and our members and bikur cholim for those who are sick. Carl is highly respected for his work in the area. Over the years he has been a strong voice for interfaith relationships, he serves as a Rabbi for the Jewish Home, the state prison, and he is a frequent speaker at area churches, mosques, and temples. The Religion and Society Center is a concept and organization formed by Rabbi Choper to foster positive community relationships. Through Carl, TBS will have a closer relationship with the Jewish Home. TBS will have regular Saturday morning services available to us with the residents at the Jewish Home. Through Carl, TBS will also have greater connectedness with the Rabbinical council, the Jewish community and the greater community around us. I am looking forward to working with Rabbi Choper and appreciate his willingness to forge this bond with TBS.
Michael Tickner, President
Temple Beth Shalom
Introduction to Rabbi Amita Jarmon:
Shalom to all members, friends, and potential High Holiday shul-goers at Temple Beth Shalom in Mechanicsburg.
I had the pleasure of being your Chazzanit (cantor) two years ago, and am looking forward to returning this fall as your Chazzanit and Rabbi.
A little bit about me:
I grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. I spent a year in Israel after high school, and several years later, I came on aliyah in December 1982. After a stint on a kibbutz, I received a degree in Physical Therapy from Tel Aviv University in 1987. For a variety of reasons, I returned to the US several months later. I worked as a physical therapist for 11 years in Philadelphia and Western Mass, and entered the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1999. From 2004-2009, I served as full-time rabbi of Adas Yoshuron, a non-affiliated synagogue in midcoast Maine. Throughout the 21 years that I was back in the US, I felt a call to return to Israel – at times faint and at times very strong. I finally took the leap and moved back to Jerusalem in July ’09.
In these 8 years, I have worked as a physical therapist in 6 long term care facilities. What I love most
about working in Jerusalem nursing homes, is that the residents (my patients) are Jews from all over
the world, and the staff are Jews from secular to Orthodox, Russian, Ethiopian, native Israeli, many Palestinians, and assorted others. We all work together harmoniously for the good of the patients. I also
work as a private massage therapist, and as a dance therapist for groups of people with dementia. I officiate at life cycle events in Europe and Israel, tutor Hebrew via Skype, and recently completed a unit of
Clinical Pastoral Education — known in Israel as Spiritual Care. In addition to participating in a variety
of Jewish prayer communities – Conservative, Reform and Renewal, I am involved in several meditation
groups, and taught Mindfulness meditation at the Jerusalem Center for Independent Living.
I have participated in various projects of Rabbis for Human Rights and Seeds of Peace, and I serve on the Steering Committee of the Sulha Peace Project, which brings Israelis and Palestinians together for Listening Circles. Instead of discussing positions, which so often leads to arguments and conflict, in Sulha we share personal experiences and feelings, creating bonds of empathy and affection. Living in Jerusalem, I feel that by simply smiling, making friendly eye contact, and saying a few Arabic words of greeting to Palestinians on the street and on public transportation, I can bring some Light into this polarized city every day.
For the past 7 years I have served various North American communities as Rabbi and/or Cantor for the High Holidays. I look forward to being with you – both those of you whom I met two years ago, and those whom I did not meet — during the Days of Awe, which are just around the corner.
Rabbi Amita Jarmon
Jerusalem ~ Elul 7, 5777 ~ August 28, 2017
Shalom Chaverim of Temple Beth Shalom in Mechanicsburg [note: in Hebrew, Member and Friend both translate as Chaver God willing, I will be observing and celebrating the High Holidays with you very soon.
As I write this message, we are 6 days into the month of Elul – 6 days into the period of Cheshbon HaNefesh “Accounting of the Soul” leading up to Rosh Hashanah. We are all busy, and it can easily happen that we walk into services on Erev Rosh Hashanah without having given any thought to the Teshuvah “Returning” that we want to do this year. I hope that amidst the current storm of political activity in the USA, both in the streets and on the internet, we will be able to pause during the Days of Awe and look inward.
Ideally, we are in a continual process of self-reflection and self-correction. Ideally, we go to bed each night feeling that all of our important relationships are in order, and that we have brought more positive than negative energy into the world today. Ideally, each time we have an interaction with someone in which we feel that we were “off” – nasty, irritable, reactive, or simply not fully present – we clear the air immediately. But most of us are not living “ideally” every day. The Jewish calendar gifts us with a full month to devote to this Cheshbon HaNefesh. And then the Ten Days of Teshuvah in which the process intensifies, and we return fully to ourselves and to God.
It takes time and energy to reflect and self-correct. But think about it: Doesn’t it drain our energy when we don’t take care of the little messes in our lives? Even if we are not always conscious of the ways we have acted unskillfully, the things we have not done as well as we could have, the ways we have hurt people, the promises and commitments we have not followed through on – this stuff is all taking up space in our unconscious and weighing us down. Pirkei Avot 2:21 (Ethics of Our Fathers) famously teaches: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” While we cannot expect ourselves to take care of ALL of our psychic debris this month, we have an opportunity here and now; let’s take advantage of it!
I have been making a list of people with whom I want to do some kind of a tikkun (repair). Fortunately, my most important relationships – with my family and closest friends and co-workers – are clear. I do make an effort to keep these most precious relationships loving at all times. But there are other, less important relationships, that I don’t necessarily take good care of. Just before Shabbat, I emailed a woman whom I met 2 summers ago at a retreat in Germany — a Swiss Jew, living in Zurich. I saw her once after that a few months later when she came to Israel with her family. She was very supportive, enthusiastically encouraging me to write a book I told her I wanted to write. She offered to pay me $20/week to support me in my writing process. Not a lot of money, but I was very touched by her belief in me and her generosity. I did not follow through with my writing project, and I also did not keep up with her. I wrote to her on Friday evening to thank her, to apologize for not being in touch, and to tell her that I will always feel our heart connection regardless of whether we maintain a correspondence. ~ Tonight I phoned a man whom I had provided spiritual support to in 2016 as part of my Chaplaincy training. I had seen him in passing this past winter when I didn’t have time to speak with him, and I told him I would be in touch soon. I felt I had been remiss in not following through. [Note to self: make fewer commitments!] He had no hard feelings, but was very happy to hear from me. Now this minor loose end has been sewn up. ~ I am still working on my list.
Whether there are people who are especially important to you with whom you want to clear things up and or make amends, or less important relationships in which you dropped a ball or had a minor misunderstanding, may we all succeed in doing some of this interpersonal clearing in the coming weeks, and may we all come to synagogue on Rosh Hashanah with a less cluttered heart-mind than we are living with today.
Rabbi Amita Jarmon
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