- Everyone who is eligible to do so must be fully vaccinated and boosted to participate in in-person TBO activities.
- Vaccine and booster status should be updated at http://templebethor.org/
vaccine-reporting as soon as possible and prior to in-person participation.
- We continue to require proper masking. Appropriate masks include one of the following: KN-95, KF-94, N-95, double surgical masks, or surgical masks doubled with a cloth mask.
- Anyone who has attended a TBO service/event/activity, visited the building, or had a pastoral visit, and tests positive for COVID-19 within 5 days of that interaction should notify the President, Rabbi, or Office Administrator immediately, by text or phone. The identity of the person who has tested positive will be kept confidential, unless they have given permission otherwise.
Last year I shared my goals for the year ahead in the February issue of the ORacle, so I figured I would do that again this year. When I agreed to take this position, back before we had ever heard of COVID-19, and before the duplex fire, I had lofty goals that included big ideas. Now I am much more pragmatic – basically, I just hope that we stay intact and afloat. Slightly more specifically, I have 4 primary goals as President for the coming year.
- Find more ways to gather and engage that are COVID-19 safe and satisfying for the community.
Many have had it with Zoom and virtual activities and are craving in person opportunities. Others are still uncomfortable being with people outside of their immediate household in person indoors, even in small groups. Finding meaningful ways to connect that draw people together, whether in person or virtually continues to be a challenge. I hope that as we continue to wrestle with this challenge, we will get better at finding multiple ways to connect that work for more and more members of our community.
- Move the remodel project forward.
Now that the results of the facilities vote are in, I am anxious to see us move forward. We need to complete the financial feasibility assessment and launch our capital campaign in the coming year. We will need to revisit the construction plan and create a design whose construction costs match the estimate of the funds we can raise. This is also a golden opportunity to begin to lean into the neighborhood and really be a part of the solution. I look forward to robust conversations with the congregation as to how we’d like to do that. (See the article in the January ORacle to learn more about What’s Next and how to get involved.)
- Inspire and empower new leaders in the congregation.
Looking at our new board it is fantastic to see so many fresh faces, newer members and younger members and even some longer-term members who are stepping into leadership for the first time or after a hiatus. All this wonderful new energy and the varied perspectives are so exciting! A big thanks to the Nominations Committee for putting together such an inspiring new board. This is a great trend that I want to see continued. There are still many opportunities for members who want to get more involved. I hope that we continue to recruit and engage more and more new leaders from among our membership. If you are interested in stepping up and joining in, please reach out to me and I will help you find the perfect spot for your interests and talents in our active and vibrant volunteer community.
- Be more welcoming and inclusive.
Our DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion) Task Force has been folded into our Social Action Committee and will continue to help our congregation find ways to be more inclusive and welcoming. It is important to make all our members feel comfortable and valued. We want everyone at TBO to feel that they have a place and truly belong here.
I appreciate your suggestions about ways to advance the effort to reach any of these goals (or other goals too). Feel free to share your ideas with me.
Here’s to reaching our goals in 2022!
The name Israel, Yisrael, means ‘the one who wrestles with God.’ In addition to being a people that wrestles with God, for thousands of years, we have wrestled with our sacred language, Hebrew, too.
The first account we have of a public Torah reading is in the Book of Nehemiah. After fifty years of exile in Babylonia, when Ezra the Scribe led the Jewish people back to Jerusalem, he gathered the community and read aloud from Torah. There is a detail given about this first pubic Torah reading that I find comforting. “They read from the scroll of the Teaching of God, translating it and giving the sense; so they understood the reading” (8:8). Yes, just like today, the Jewish community that built the Second Temple struggled to understand Hebrew.
The Jewish people have always lived in a dynamic relationship with the Hebrew language. Hebrew was utilized for religious purposes only until the Zionist movement and Eliezer Ben-Yehuda revived it as a spoken language in the late 19th century. The Hebrew language is ever evolving to respond to the modern world. There is even a special academy (founded by Eliezer Ben-Yehudah) that helps create new Hebrew words. Perhaps my favorite is pele-phone, ‘cellphone,’ which literally translates as ‘miracle phone.’
Other Hebrew words are more difficult to decide upon. Hebrew is a gendered language and until the 1980s there was no feminine for the word rabbi (rav in Hebrew). Some women rabbis use the title rabbah which is a feminized version of rav. Others, like myself, prefer simply using rav as a title, citing the precedent that the titles doctor and professor are used in Israel without gendered distinction.
Just as American English is changing and adapting to be better inclusive of nonbinary gender identity, Hebrew is working to be more inclusive too. Gender inclusive Hebrew linguists have created a third non-gendered tense. For example, a student could be a talmid (masculine), talmidah (feminine), or talmideh (gender nonbinary).
Eyal Rivlin, one of the scholars trailblazing the work of gender inclusive Hebrew shared why this is an important project for him as a cisgender male: “I bristle at the idea that a language is for some people and not for others; for us, not them. Language is a major part of identity, and for centuries Jews fought to hold on to Hebrew, often at the expense of their lives. It is strange to claim that Hebrew is only for non-minorities when Jews have long been the world’s ultimate minority.”
Our tradition teaches that God spoke and the world was created. While adapting language can be difficult, I am proud that our TBO leadership is exploring best practices with regard to gender nonbinary language. The language we choose to use, whether Hebrew or English, has the ability to build sacred, inclusive community.
Rabbi Rachel Kort (she/her)