Prof. Saul Wachs Retiring After 42 Years at Gratz College

Dr. Saul Wachs, the Rosaline B. Feinstein Professor of Education and Liturgy, is retiring at the age of 85, after 42 years of teaching at Gratz College. Described as a legend within the field of Jewish education, Dr. Wachs will be honored with a tribute at the Gratz annual gala, an honorary doctorate at commencement and a scholarship prize created in his name. He has also been granted emeritus status by the Gratz College Board of Governors.

Dr. Saul Wachs

Dr. Saul Wachs

[Read more…]

Shul Night Live (SNL)

Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El cordially invites you to our annual gala, Shul Night Live (SNL), honoring Holly and Norm Nelson, recipients of the 2017 Dor Chadash Award. The event will feature cocktails, dinner and dancing, and all proceeds will benefit Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El programming.

Attire: Wear Saturday night casual or dress as your favorite SNL character.
Registration: $180 per person (adults 40 and under); $275 per person (all other adults)

Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El Torathon

Get ready for a lively evening of Jewish learning and discovery at Temple Beth Hillel Beth El’s 31st annual Torathon. The Torathon committee has organized three hour-long sessions of learning, each offering enticing choices from one of five tracks.

Participants will choose from several rabbis’ perspectives on liturgy and  tshuva and repentance. They will be inspired by talks on  person-to-person connections and reaching out to those who are sick through the mitzvah of bikkur holim. They will be able to enjoy Jewishly inspired music and learn about medical contributions from Israel. Discussions about maintaining Jewish identify in the face of challenge in several different communities over the ages, and selected topics in biblical history, psalms and archaeology will round out the evening of discovery.

Back by popular demand are familiar faces of rabbis, scholars and talented individuals from our community, as well as new faces with topics never before presented at Torathon. Participants will also be able to enjoy hands-on events, such as a cooking class.

Please join us for an enlightening evening of study, socializing and snacking. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. The event is open to the public. Free babysitting is provided.

MLK Jr. Day of Service at TBH-BE

To honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El will hold a day of service on MLK Day. From 10 a.m. to noon, the program will be geared to families with young children, and will include activities such as making get-well cards for members of the community, making TLC bags for hospitalized children, making Purim decorations for senior centers and engaging in a variety of other educational activities and service projects.

The afternoon projects will have a culinary focus: from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., volunteers will be preparing meals for seniors, as well as making sandwiches and soup for those in need.

Leading up to MLK Day, there will also be a toiletry collection taking place at the synagogue.

Find out more and register here to participate in any of these activities. The link also provides information about the opportunity to volunteer on January 15 at the Jewish Relief Agency (JRA).

Children Teach Us Something Important on the Basketball Court

I recently went to the Wells Fargo Center to watch some kids play a pickup game of basketball. It was not your typical basketball game, however, but not because the kids were playing on the home court of the Philadelphia 76ers. This was a game involving students from the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr and the Al Aqsa Islamic Academy in Philadelphia. It was also the bar mitzvah project of Ari Abramovitz, a middle-school student at Barrack. [Read more…]

Tikvah/AJMI’s 25th Anniversary Celebration

Tikvah/AJMI will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a reception, catered by Goscov’s, at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Wynnewood. The Hon. Jonathan Saidel will serve as master of ceremonies.

All past Righteous Person Award winners, plus longtime supporter Paul Lichtman, will be honored at the anniversary celebration. Other awardees will include Richard Gold; Jeff Wilush; Mia Marcovici, M.D.; Larry Real, M.D.; Michael Covone; and the Hon. Estelle Richman.

Tikvah/AJMI is a grassroots non-profit Jewish organization established by concerned parents and mental health professionals committed to improving the quality of life for adult individuals with mental illness. It began as a forum where families could cope with mental illness positively and purposefully, and it quickly evolved into a social program aimed at promoting community opportunities for individuals with mental illness. The program aims to reduce isolation, increase independence, provide educational opportunities, enhance Jewish identity and promote recovery for individuals.

Since its inception, hundreds of men and women have found a loving and warm environment through the organization’s social programs and vocational opportunities. Tikvah/AJMI’s current membership consists of over 200 individuals, including a growing number who are without formal or informal family and community supports. The organization’s membership includes non-Jewish individuals with mental illness who are drawn to the organization because it provides a social and support network that is unique to the area. Social activities provided to members include travel opportunities to museums, plays, concerts and sporting events. Other activities include religious events held in partnership with various synagogues, educational forums for individuals and family members, as well as part-time employment activities for a limited number of individuals

Ticket prices for the 25th anniversary celebration: $50 for Tikvah members; $100 for non-members.

Information and reservations: Call 267-241-4487.

Photo Caption: The individuals in the photo are some of the members of the 25th Anniversary Committee. They are, seated from left to right, Joyce Kravitz, president of Tikvah/AJMI, and Rabbi Ephraim Levin, of Wynnewood, chair of the 25th Anniversary Committee, and standing from left to right, Barry Jacobs, of Broomall, and Michael Solomon, of Lafayette Hill.

In-depth Intro to Judaism Class Starts This Week

Carrying the Torah scroll.

Carrying the Torah scroll.

By Charles B.

I’m the product of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. While my father had a bar mitzvah ceremony, and I was brought up in a primarily Jewish neighborhood, I had no formal religious upbringing or training. What I learned about Judaism, I learned from my friends who were b’nei mitzvah, and my neighbors who observed the Jewish holidays and attended synagogue. When I was 18, I left home for college, and for the next 40 years was totally divorced from any religious affiliation or practice.

While I have had a successful career, married a wonderful woman, have two grown children that I am very proud of, and have good friends, I have expressed the feeling over the last several years that there was still something missing in my life. My wife, a Presbyterian, encouraged me to explore and take the first steps to rediscover the “faith and rituals” I had experienced as a child living in a Jewish community.

Lighting Shabbat Candles

Mother and daughter lighting Sabbath candles.

I decided to take a course in introductory Judaism and Hebrew sponsored by the Conservative movement and taught by local Conservative rabbis. It is a 30-week course that is taught annually at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Many of the students who took the course were there to convert from the outset (mostly because of marriage commitments). I did not make the decision to convert until I had almost completed the course. What I learned from this course was that the beliefs and principles that took me almost 60 years to formulate, are the tenets and practices, and the moral and spiritual compass that Judaism provides.

As importantly, this course provided me with the tools and foundation to move forward on my journey. I am now studying with a rabbi, attending services regularly, and incorporating the lessons learned from this course into daily practice. The overall experience from this course has been transforming, both intellectually and spiritually. The practice of Judaism nurtures me, and provides me with the fulfillment and guidance I have searched for.

Editor’s Note: Charles has successfully completed the Introduction to Judaism class, and will soon be taking the step of formally converting.

The Rabbi Morris Goodblatt Academy is a 30-week “Introduction to Judaism” course sponsored by rabbis of the Conservative movement in the Philadelphia region. The next cohort will begin on Wednesday, September 14, 2016. The course is designed for Jews and non-Jews, singles and couples to learn more about Judaism (history, language, culture). Interested students have the opportunity to convert to Judaism under Conservative auspices following successful completion of the course.

The Reform movement also has an Introduction to Judaism class.

An Appetizing Tribute

The Torah Fund Brunch sponsored by the Sisterhood of Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El (TBH-BE) in Wynnewood was a culinary tribute to this year’s honoree, Aliza Shaya. She was selected by the Sisterhood for having enhanced the “kiddush culture” at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El. By encouraging people to linger after services, the synagogue has become even more open and welcoming. [Read more…]