Welcome to Temple Israel
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Virtual Temple Israel
Monday, March 16
As we move into this intense period of social-distancing in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, we want to update you on the steps Temple Israel is taking to safeguard the health and well-being of our congregants and to continue to be a source of comfort, strength, and spiritual sustenance to our community. We appreciate your taking the time to read to the end of this email.
First, Rabbi Stoller, Cantor Alexander, and Andie Gordman remain in a 14-day self-quarantine in compliance with instructions from the Douglas County Health Department. The good news is that both Rabbi Stoller and Cantor Alexander are feeling fine. Andie, while feeling a bit under the weather, has tested negative for the coronavirus. Several other Temple Israel members are also under quarantine due to their exposure to the virus and our clergy team is in touch with them. So far, we are not aware of any cases of infection in our community. For that, we offer gratitude to God with Judaism’s traditional blessing for good news: Baruch Atah Adonai eloheinu melech ha-loam, ha-tov v’ha-mayteev – Blessed are You Adonai our God, ruler of the universe, who is good and does good.
Our building is currently closed and will remain so at least through Tuesday, March 31. We will continue to assess the evolving situation and make a determination as that date draws closer regarding when to re-open. In the meantime, as we shift to our “Virtual Temple Israel” mode of operation, we will be focusing on the following three priorities:
- Spiritual Sustenance. We will be offering a number of opportunities for virtual (online) worship, learning, and engagement. In addition, our clergy will be posting a daily Facebook blog, entitled “Spiritual Nuggets,” with a short teaching, quote, and/or question for contemplation. We invite you to make this your daily spiritual practice by following this blog.
- Caring for Members in Need. With several of our members under quarantine and many more feeling lonely and isolated, we are asking you to get involved by offering to make check-in calls, reaching out to your friends and classmates, and offering a helping (virtual) hand. Please contact Membership Engagement Coordinator Mindi Marburg if you are in need of assistance or you would like to help.
- Social Justice. We will be launching an effort to help families and children in the greater Omaha community who will suffer from food insecurity due to extensive school closures. Our plan is in the process of development and we will be in touch soon with more details about how you can get involved.
Please keep reading below for information about upcoming events, programs, holidays, and youth learning programs.
The great sage Hillel taught, “Do not separate yourself from the community.” In this time of anxiety, fear, and darkness, it is more important than ever that we hold on tightly to our loved ones, our friends, and our congregational family. May God watch over all of us and bring strength, healing, and peace.
In gratitude and friendship,
Rabbi Brian Stoller
Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin
Cantor Joanna Alexander
“Virtual Temple Israel”
- Our aim is to continue operating as usual and as fully as we can without being in our building. Many meetings and classes will be held virtually, in a way that you can participate from home or work.
- For as long as our building is closed, our professional team will be working from home. All our professionals will be available to speak with you and conduct ongoing business by phone, email, or Zoom. If you would like to speak with a member of our team, we ask that you use email for initial contacts rather than the phone, since each team member will be working in a different location. Our email addresses are as follows:
- Rabbi Brian Stoller – email@example.com
- Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cantor Joanna Alexander – email@example.com
- Misty Weidner, Office Manager & Clergy Assistant – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dennis DePorte, Executive Director – email@example.com
- Cassandra Hicks Weisenburger, Director of Communications – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mindi Marburg, Membership Engagement Coordinator – email@example.com
- Ben Mazur, Director of Congregational Learning – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Michelle Shea, Administrative Assistant – email@example.com
- Jeff Schweid, Bookkeeper – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Scott Anderson, Building Supervisor – email@example.com
Worship Services and Life-Cycle Events
- We will continue our practice of livestream-only services this weekend and until we re-open our building for regular operations. Each Friday you will receive an email that explains how to watch services and participate in classes online and contains additional resources.
- Friday night services will be streamed at 6 p.m.
- Joe Scioli’s Bar Mitzvah will be rescheduled. His family thanks everyone for their kindness and support.
- Tot Shabbat will be led by Rabbi Berezin and Ben Mazur this Friday at 5:45 p.m. on Zoom.
- A participatory Torah study, led by Rabbi Stoller, will be held on Saturday at 9:15 a.m. on Zoom. To participate, please click here to download the Zoom app. (For Zoom tutorials, please visit the Zoom support page.)
- Our bold experiment in alternative Shabbat morning worship experiences will be suspended until we resume normal operations.
- Funeral services, should they occur during a time when our building is closed, will be held at the cemetery. Our clergy will discuss additional details with families privately.
Classes, Programs, and Events
- More Than a Joke – A Tri-Faith Adult Learning Symposium on Wednesday, March 18 at noon will take place online. Click here to join this learning session led by Rev. Dr. Eric Elnes.
- The Omaha Beit Midrash on Wednesday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. will also take place online. Please join our online discussion here.
- The Israel Forum with Ron Lugasy on Thursday, March 19, at 10 a.m. will be taught via Zoom here.
- The following events have been postponed: Havdalah Soiree with Tish, Family Camp, and April Rosh Chodesh.
- The Passover Family Seder will move from a gathering in the social hall on Thursday, April 9, to a virtual experience held on Wednesday, April 8. Watch our communication channels for more information.
Youth Learning Programs
- 3rd-6th grade Hebrew classes and 7th-12th grade teen night on Wednesday, March 25, will take place online. PreK-6th grade will have an online “assembly” on Sunday, March 29. Instructions for how to join these online programs will be posted on ParentSquare.
Click here to read the congregational email sent this weekend regarding coronavirus exposure at Temple Israel.
We would like to invite you to share your Simcha Celebration moments with us so that we can offer you a blessing during Friday evening or Saturday morning services. For example, if you are celebrating a birthday or an anniversary, or a child’s or grandchild’s graduation, or a promotion at work, or doing something exciting for the first time, or going to Israel, or any other kind of success or mazal tov moment in your life, we would love for you to let us know about it and tell us when you’re planning to be at services so we can share in your joy with a shehecheyanu blessing. Once you’ve let us know about your simcha, the Temple Israel office will be in touch to set up a short phone conversation with one of us clergy so we can learn a little more about your special occasion and offer a personal blessing for you when you come to services. Sign-up today!
As you know, on Tuesday, November 5, it was discovered that numerous headstones had been toppled or dislodged from their foundation, and some of them had been irreparably broken. We have been working carefully and meticulously to account for each headstone.
Here you will find the current list of names from the headstones impacted by this vandalism. Please take a moment to review the list, as we are working on locating and notifying family members. If you recognize a name and can help us in finding living family, we would be grateful.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Executive Director Dennis DePorte, firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-556-6536.
It is our hope that the restoration will be completed sometime in the spring of 2020, at which time we will hold a communal ceremony of re-dedication and renewal of this sacred place, where our loved ones endure in spirit and in our memories.
We are ever grateful for the outpouring of love and support for our community.
Our Mission: We will engage our community with a modern spiritual, educational and social Jewish experience that uplifts our lives.
Our Vision: To be an inclusive, connected and expanding Reform Jewish community.
Our Goals: Torah, Tzedakah, Tikun Olam
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