2018 Annual Campaign is Launched

This past year we were able to reach a new generation of young people and adults, sharing important lessons about the Holocaust.  We are teaching school children and teens constructive ways to non-violently stand up against hate and intolerance in our society today.  We are making a lasting impact and helping to build stronger relations with the local and regional interfaith community.  The work in which we are engaged has never been more important (more…)

Join Us To Welcome the New Year 5779

At Temple Beth Israel, we draw on our proud history to fashion rituals that are authentic, progressive, meaningful and provocative. We welcome everyone. You need not be Jewish or read Hebrew. Just bring an open heart.

We create a safe and supportive environment in which to contemplate our place in the universe and consider whether we are living up to our expectations and values.  We do this with a unique blend of traditional prayers, contemporary poetry, old and new songs, lessons and ideas. And this year, on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we warmly welcome the Reverend Jonathan Chapman, pastor at the Westfield Congregational Church as our guest speaker.

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Ray Gawendo (1915-2018)

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our dear friend and founder, Ray Gawendo.  Ray died on Tuesday, April 3 in Norwich, Connecticut.  She was 103 years old.  Ray was a proud supporter and adviser of the Preservation Society.  We will miss her. (more…)

Board Passes Anti-Hate Resolution

Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society

(Adopted by Board of Directors August 27, 2017)

The High Holy Days are an opportunity for reflection and introspection.  As the holidays approach, we at the Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society (TBIPS) are deeply engaged in considering the events of the year that is ending and preparing spiritually for the year to come.

A key element of the mission of TBIPS is to honor the builders of this community, among them Jewish Holocaust Survivors and resistance fighters who experienced first hand the consequences of hate, prejudice and evil.  They came to the United States confident that they would never again experience the terrifying sight of a torchlit parade by angry men and women giving the Nazi Salute, carrying Nazi signs and shouting Nazi, racist and anti-Semitic slogans.  But we all saw it in Charlottesville a few weeks ago.  Not surprisingly, the consequences included terror, death and injuries.  Responsibility for the violence that occurred in Charlottesville does not lie with many sides but with one side: the Nazis, alt-right and white supremacists who brought their hate to a peaceful community.  We add our voices to those who have roundly condemned these hate groups.

We at TBIPS for ourselves and in honor of the courageous and principled founders of our temple, applaud and join with the Central Conference of American Rabbis, The Rabbinical Assembly, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, representing over 4,000 rabbis who have condemned the suggestion that there is any moral equivalency between the White Supremacists and neo- Nazis in Charlottesville and those who objected to their repugnant messages and actions.

The High Holy Days are a season of t’shuvah for us all, an opportunity for each of us to examine our own words and deeds through the lens of America’s ongoing struggle with racism.  Our tradition teaches us that humanity is fallible yet also capable of change.  We pray that President Trump will recognize and remedy the grave error he has made in abetting the voices of hatred.  Whether intended or not, leaders of the hate groups are delighting in the message that they have heard from the White House.  A correction is in order.  We pray that those who traffic in anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia will see that there is no place for such pernicious philosophies in a civilized society.  And, we pray that 5778 will be a year of peace for all.

Based on a resolution recently adopted by the rabbinical groups identified above.

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Oh, Those Sweet August Breezes – Elul

Each year at this time I am flooded with fond memories of this time of the year – I recall a sense of new beginnings.  I remember during my youth on the farm in Moosup – feeling regret about the summer coming to an end, but also starting to think about the promise of the New Year.

As we enjoy these beautiful (and slightly cooler) August days leading to the Jewish High Holidays, I want to share (again) some thoughts based on a message some years ago from my Chabad rabbi, Mendy Uminer:

We are free to make changes in our lives every day of the year, but the Hebrew month of Elul is a time when the spiritual atmosphere itself is a proactively helpful force, beckoning us to think about and improve our lives.  God is much more palpably present, subtly encouraging us in our reflection, smilingly and lovingly cheering us on.

When we pause for a moment from life’s many distractions and turn to matters spiritual, those Elul breezes we’ll fee may be God’s hug.

Of course, a breeze is just a breeze, and – ultimately – the most important things in life are our choices.  At the same time, certain breezes can put us in a better place, creating an opportunity for enriching our lives.  

For the next month, the winds of change will be at our backs.  This can be a time of inspiration. Sometimes it may be as subtle as a faint breeze, but it’s always perceptible if we’re spiritually alert.  

Let’s savor those August breezes and be stirred by them.  I’m looking forward to the Holidays and to sharing them with you.

Norm