Beth El was proud to host this years Women’s League Central Great Lakes Region Spring Conference. From start to finish, the event was filled with engaging presentations and discussions, prayer, and socializing. The conference began on Sunday afternoon with the Opening Plenary. Later that evening, the conference attendees and many Beth El congregants joined together to honor Karen Weiss at the Valued Volunteer Dinner.
On Monday, the day began with Shacharit, followed by several breakout sessions with our own Ali Drumm and Rachel Kamin. Artist Howard Schwartz gave a tour of his current work in the Rissman Kol Ami Collection. Rachel Heger spoke about “I Support the Girls” and guest speaker Hazzan Steven Stoehr spoke at the Torah Fund Awards Lunch. The conference continued on Tuesday, when attendees took a trip to the Illinois Holocaust Museum for a docent-led tour.
Kol hakavod to Sisterhood Co-Presidents Rachel Ferber, Mary Ellen Bowers, and Karen Weiss for their hard work organizing this tremendous event!
At 9:00 this morning, after having their passports stamped, our Steinberg Preschoolers boarded an El Al airlines flight to Tel Aviv! Carefully following safety instructions, they landed at about 9:20, and headed off to destinations throughout Eretz Israel. They visited a vineyard in Rishon L’tzion, where they learned about products that come from grapes! Fun activities included stomping grapes, carrying grapes across the room on a spoon, and a tasting room where they sampled grape juice, grape jelly and grapes! They visited the Negev where they rode camels, sat in a Bedouin tent, and played in the sand. There was a trip to Eilat, where tropical fish from the sea swam all around them! Just to make sure they could appreciate the incredible history of ancient Israel, students had a chance to build walls with bricks, legos and other materials. In Tel Aviv, the children decorated the walls of the city as “street art” and made jewelry. And finally, after working up an appetite, our travelers were able to sample traditional falafel just as it might appear from a cart on the streets of Jerusalem. Thank you to each and every teacher in the Steinberg Pre-School along with our parent auxiliary team that helped create this unforgettable travel experience for our pre-school children!
Our Yom HaShoah observance began with a moving rendition of “My Zadie” by Hazzan Tisser. Joe Adler introduced Beth El Holocaust survivors Ruth Fischer, Amos Turner, Edith Turner, Ruth Stern, and Nicole Terry who lit six memorial candles in memory of the 6 million. Nicole Terry shared her childhood memories being hidden in a convent in France, and how her Jewish identity was as important to her then, as it is now. High school students Gabriella Cooperman and Emma Halfin spoke about their experiences in Poland last year and how deeply impactful it was to visit the places where so many Jews had perished. They were both grateful to the Men’s Club for giving them the opportunity to take this trip, which will forever stay in their memories. Through pictures submitted by the participants of the March of the Living trip currently taking place in Poland, we were able to see some of the sights that Rabbi Kurtz and the Beth El group had witnessed that same day! The evening concluded with “Eli, Eli,” inspired by a poem by Hannah Szenes, and beautifully led by Tovah Goodman, Gabriella Cooperman and Emma Halfin.
The Steinberg Pre-School held two consecutive Seders on Tuesday and Wednesday for our 3-4 year-olds followed by our 2 year olds. Students, their parents, and grandparents were all invited to participate in a short Seder where they read and sang songs from the haggadot, tasted the traditional food of Passover, and danced together as we all hope to celebrate next year in Jerusalem! Each table in the room was adorned with special Pesach symbols created by the students, which included Elijah’s cup, decorated plates, flower centerpieces and Miriam’s tambourine. The Seder even included a hunt for afikomen, which was found by Mrs. Katz and Mrs. Zacharias. A special thank you to the Paul S. & Sylvia Steinberg Parent Auxiliary who worked hard to make these special Seders come together. We wish you all a wonderful and meaningful Pesach!
Sunday was an exciting day for our Vav (6th grade) students in the Jack & Mildred Cohen Religious School. After many weeks of hard work on their My Family Story Projects, they presented their work to parents and judges. Students were tasked with creating a three-dimensional work that represented their family story. Students got very creative with the assignment by designing games, puzzles, albums, recipes, charts, toys, and food! Judges Rolly Cohen, Marla Hand and Judy Solomon, had the difficult task of selecting two winning entries to send on to the Worldwide Jewish International Heritage Competition. Representatives of 155 Institutions, 28 Countries; a total of 20,0000 Jewish Youth send their entries to the Annual “My Family Story” Competition in Memory of Manuel Hirsch Grosskopf at Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People in Israel. Our own Vav students will compete with other youth entries from around the world. The winning entry will win a trip to Israel! The Jack & Mildred Cohen Religious School has been participating in this project for the last 6 years; four students had won a trip to Israel in the past and participated at the Award Ceremony at the Museum.
The 2nd Challah Bake, put on by the Cohen Religious School Committee, took place on Thursday, March 8. Close to 140 participants, comprised of NSS Beth El School parents, synagogue members and outside guests, came together to mix, knead, and braid the challah dough. Religious School parent, Anya Viner, led the demonstration and shared many interesting facts and tips to making challah. All the participants enjoyed the night of community building and socializing and left with challah to bake at home to help enhance their Shabbat celebration.
On Wednesday, March 7, Michelle Brafman, author of Bertrand Court and Washing the Dead, joined our Writing Workshop to help our writers with prompts and ideas to inspire their writing. She will return on Sunday, March 10 at 12:30 pm to participate in our Sisterhood Torah Fund Book Club where she will talk about Bertrand Court. We hope you will join us!
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On Tuesday, March 6th, our USY group and the Men’s Club, joined together to pack Yom HaShoah candles to send out to the congregation. They boxed and labeled a total of 1,026 candles, to be mailed to the entire Beth El community. Joe Adler, the Men’s Club member who organizes this packing event noted: “Every day of the year, all 365, is a Yahrzeit for close to 18,000 Jews, 4,100 of whom were children, for whom Kaddish is not said and no Yahrzeit candles are lit!” Additional candles are available in the front office, if desired.
We had an amazing time at the Purim Carnival on Sunday, March 4. There were five giant inflatables, games, prizes and most of all fun! A big thank you to the Men’s Club for helping with food, the Youth Commission for running tickets and our prize booth. A big shout out to USYers and Sokol Hebrew High School students for running all the booths. We had record attendance and volunteers this year – all due to our wonderful Beth El community.
Over 300 people turned out last night for an incredible Purim Celebration! Two Megillah readings took place – one in the Sager, and one in the Field Sanctuary. Attendees were able to enjoy either an early Pre-Megillah dinner, or a post-Megillah Seduah -thank you Circle of Life Catering! Costumes that crushed it: dinosaurs, jesters, clowns, Philadelphia Eagle fans, and Rabbi Kurtz look-alikes. Yasher Koach to our multi-generational Megillah readers! The evening concluded in high spirits (yes, the bottled ones too!) and an outstanding performance by the Beth El house band!