July 27, 2020
After careful consideration, the Preservation Society Board has decided that our High Holiday services will be held remotely this fall. In light of the current circumstances, we will take this unique opportunity to have a meaningful, albeit different, experience.
While the specifics of our holiday observances are still being shaped, we are excited about the creative possibilities and energy this situation presents. We will likely use recorded and live-streamed elements including singing and reflection. Our ritual committee is hard at work preparing the observance. It promises to be a fresh, progressive and meaningful connection to a rich tradition.
We did not arrive at this decision lightly. We are guided by the CDC and the State of Connecticut as well as the Rabbinical Assembly.
We will miss being together in the same room in our historic and beloved Temple and the casual interactions which make this annual reunion of our community so special. At the same time, we are excited by the opportunity to try something new. Traditions begin somehow—perhaps we will discover something that will become a memorable feature of future holiday observances.
Throughout our long history as a people, our ability to adapt to adverse circumstances while holding on to what is most important, accounts for our enduring vitality and relevance. We will do this in a sensitive and caring way – together.
May this year’s High Holidays be meaningful for everyone. With wishes for health and strength – zeit gezunt un shtark! Stay healthy and strong!
A post by David Fetterman, advisor to the Board of Directors
A House Built by Hope is a story about the Holocaust, compassion, and community and a stand against institutional racism. It is a film about a small Jewish community in Connecticut, where I grew up. It was special in part because many of the families were Holocaust survivors. The synagogue, now an historic site listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the community gave them hope for a new life, in stark contrast to the atrocities they witnessed and experienced in the concentration camps. The video is a product of the Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society.
The story differs from many others in that it highlights the support and compassion of the larger non-Jewish community. Community members donated money and auctioned livestock to help this new fledgling Jewish community build a temple and worship according to their faith. They welcomed people who were different on the surface, practicing another religion with unfamiliar customs. Many spoke another language. All too many were tattooed with numbers as permanent reminders of the inhumanity they had experienced first-hand.
It was a time when Jews were under attack and the moral order of the world in question. However, as Norman Berman, former President of the Society, explained while introducing the premiere of this documentary film and its historical context: “Anyone with a sense of decency, anyone who cares about history and truth (both of which are under serious attack these days) knows that the Jew is not the cause of problems any more than the Christian, the Muslim, the feminist or the immigrant. They know that the Holocaust was real, and that the real problem is hatred and intolerance, antisemitism, racism, white supremacy, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia – all stemming from ignorance.”
This film shares a story of particular poignance in light of the death of George Floyd, the African-American man killed by the police in Minneapolis. In the spirit of the Preservation Society’s mission, they have issued a clear statement in support of social justice and against racism.
We grieve the loss of George Floyd and so many others whose names we know and so many more who are unknown to us. We firmly believe that America’s racial and religious diversity is its strength and that we are weakened by our failure to appreciate, respect and celebrate that diversity. Our mission at the Preservation Society is bound up with the fight for tolerance and civil rights and against discrimination and racism. WE STAND with all who grieve. Today, we renew our commitment to confront injustice and to continue to work for a more just and beautiful world.
This film is a story of hope and what we as Americans aspire to be. This 30-minute film, accompanied by a curriculum guide that is being developed, will be used to educate high school students, teaching them about religious freedom, tolerance and understanding.
Board of Directors’ Executive Committee members providing guidance concerning these efforts include Paula Rosenberg Bell, Evert Gawendo, Rosa Drobiarz Goldblatt, Sheri Abrams, Joel Rosenberg and Norman Berman. My mother, Elsie Fetterman, helped secure support for these efforts from the Daughters of the American Revolution and a Mass Humanities grant. Jim Lescault, executive director of Amherst Media, produced the film. Simon Leutz, Amherst Pelham Regional High School, is leading the effort to create a cohesive curriculum to accompany the film.
The Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society is here today because our parents, grandparents
and great grandparents fled persecution and discrimination and found sanctuary in America.
We are fortunate that our families were welcomed to this country and the Danielson
community. We know, however, that America’s history of racism and segregation and injustice
remain sources of great pain and are a blemish on the promise of a free and just society.
We grieve the loss of George Floyd and so many others whose names we know and so many
more who are unknown to us. We firmly believe that America’s racial and religious diversity is
its strength and that we are weakened by our failure to appreciate, respect and celebrate that
Our mission at the Preservation Society is bound up with the fight for tolerance and
civil rights and against discrimination and racism. WE STAND with all who grieve. Today, we
renew our commitment to confront injustice and to continue to work for a more just and
Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society
June 2, 2020
We cancelled our Community Seder. We suspended our programing. We have turned to Zoom for board meetings and rituals. We are experiencing isolation, separation from friends, organizations, programs and entertainment. Culture, information, social connection have all been squeezed into a narrow bandwidth – delivered by cable, internet or wireless signals.
For some of us, the break in our routines has focused our attention inward. Relieved of our usual schedules, we suddenly have time and opportunity to reflect. How did we spend yesterday, last week? Are we making the most of this pause in life as usual?
In spiritual tradition, it is called “living counted hours.” A ‘counted hour’ is an hour lived on purpose. Whether we devote the next hour to introspection, spending time with loved ones, reading, exercise or binge watching something on tv, we might just take a moment to consider whether we have made that hour count. Living counted hours can add up to living counted days. And with the passage of each day, as we take a page off our conceptual wall calendar, we might consider whether that day gets tossed in the trash or whether it has value. Counted days become “days that count.”
At the Preservation Society’s last board meeting, we asked “what can we do to help?” We decided to encourage members to donate to three local food distribution organizations. That is a start. We will continue to ask that question and we’re confident that there will be many answers that will count.
Dear Friends: Please join us on Sunday, March 29 at 2:00 pm as we observe this ancient tradition, celebrate our freedom and welcome the arrival of spring. Now more than ever we need to ask the questions and work together to make the world more just, more free and more beautiful. Our Community Seder is the highlight of our year and we open our doors to the community to celebrate together with songs, stories, ritual foods, coffee and traditional desserts.
Join us to celebrate the Preservation Society’s 10th birthday! We will gather at Temple Beth Israel on Sunday, January 26 at 2:00 pm for cake, candles and a screening of our new documentary: A House Built by Hope followed by a Q and A panel discussion. It’s free. RSVP by January 22, 2020. TBIPSturns10.eventbrite.com, email@example.com, or call or text Paula at 860-377-7101.