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CM Teens 2Day: News from the Chai Mitzvah Teen Program

NEWS FROM THE CHAI MITZVAH TEEN PROGRAM

Inspiration, Celebration, and Happy Summer from Chai MItzvah

June 2017

Inspiration, Celebration, and Happy Summer from Chai MItzvah

June 2017

5 Ways to Celebrate Your CM Journey

May 2017

Chai Mitzvah May newsletter

May 2017

FREE Passover sourcebook, and more, from Chai Mitzvah

MARCH 2017

          THE ULTIMATE CHAI MITZVAH SESSION:
          A SEDER! By Rabbi Richard Plavin

Why did Jacob and family spend 230 years in Egypt (with rather unpleasant results) and then wander for 40 years in the desert before they wound up back where they had begun 270 years earlier, in the Holy Land? What gives? What could have been in the mind (so to speak) of the Holy One to take us on this unpleasant journey? Wouldn’t this be a great discussion question for a Chai Mitzvah session?

 

What if I suggested we do a Chai Mitzvah session on Monday night, April 10th? What? You won’t be available because you’ll be at the Pesach seder. But the point is, the Pesach Seder is the ultimate Chai Mitzvah session!

 

Think about it; all the elements are there. We begin with an in-depth discussion of our question: Why the long detour? We look at texts taken from classic Jewish sources pulled together not in the monthly Chai Mitzvah curriculum booklet but a booklet we call the Haggadah. We take those sources and we examine them from every angle. We dig deeper and deeper into what they mean to us personally and how they affect our lives. The text explicitly tells us that the more we talk about them the better. Then, depending upon the Haggadah we choose to use, we read what some contemporary thinkers have to say about these texts, and we talk even more – on and on into the night. 

 

But what about the “Bucket List” - a crucial element in the Chai Mitzvah program and those three domains mentioned at the beginning of Pirke Avot – the Ethics of the Sages? They are all there as well. 

 

First is the learning piece, what Avot calls “Torah.” Clearly there’s a lot of that going on at the Seder table as we study texts from Exodus, Deuteronomy, Midrashim and the commentaries of the Rabbis.

 

The second aspect of the Bucket List is what Avot calls Avodah, spiritual practice. The seder is full of mitzvot as we make a Motzi, eat Matzah and Maror, chant the Birkat Hamazon, and look forward to welcoming Elijah.

 

And the third element, what Chai Mitzvah calls Tikun Olam, and Avot refers to as Gmilut Chesed, acts of loving-kindness? That comes at the very beginning of the seder when we say “May all who are hungry come and eat,” and we make that ideal a reality by donating “Maot Chittin” (wheat money) to organizations such as Mazon, Leket and our local food pantries and soup kitchens. 

 

And finally, we celebrate. We have a magnificent meal to honor the anniversary of our liberation and still pray for the ultimate liberation. That will come on the day that all people are free. That’s why we end the seder singing LShana HaBaah B’Yerushalayim – Next Year in Jerusalem. Those lyrics are not meant to be a travel plan. They are a prayer for ultimate redemption; not only for the Jewish people but for all humanity. That will be the ultimate Tikun Olam, the repair of the world.

 

Enjoy your Seder/Chai Mitzvah session, and may the coming year bring redemption for us, all Israel and all humanity.

 

Click here to order a free Chai Mitzvah sourcebook:

Adding Insights and Meaning to the Passover Seder.

 

              CHAIlight: Through a Business Lens -
                              Elliott B. Pollack

Elliott B. Pollack is a member of the Chai Mitzvah Lawyers' group meeting in downtown Hartford taught by Rabbi Jeremy Bruce, Head of School at the Hebrew High School of New England.

The group, part of the Ignite Hartford initiative, is using the Chai Mitzvah Business Ethics overlays as a lens through which to explore the Chai Mitzvah topics this year.

 

Elliott has been an active and committed member of the Hartford Jewish community with a strong interest in Jewish education. He is a member of both Beth El Temple, and Emanuel Synagogue, and has served in a variety of leadership positions with the Jewish Historical Society, Jewish Federations Association of Connecticut and with Jewish Family Services Organization.

 

CM: What inspired you to join your Chai Mitzvah group?

EBP: I decided to join this Chai Mitzvah group based on the great publicity that the Ignite Hartford movement has received in the community. I recognize the exceptional talents of the leaders who are involved and wanted to support them and their efforts to advance Jewish engagement. I also wanted the opportunity to learn with Rabbi Bruce who has been in the community for a couple of years and has earned a wonderful reputation. 
 
CM: What do you enjoy most about your group? 
EBP: I enjoy the learning and our exchange of ideas. 
 
CM: What is on your "Jewish Bucket List"
EBP: I have been part of the program for only two months so far, so I am still considering what I will choose in the areas of social action, spiritual practice and further Jewish learning. I look forward, however, to the opportunity for enrichment on all those levels.
 
CM: In what ways has your participation in Chai Mitzvah impacted your Jewish life?
EBP: After just two sessions I can see that the topics generate thought and introspection which will undoubtedly influence my Jewish life tremendously.
 

                  Mussar for Chai Mitzvah Teens

Mussar, the Jewish spiritual practice of character development, is a wonderful way for teens to explore who they are and who they will become.

 

This past year, thirty groups of teens from across the country explored the Chai Mitzvah topics through special teen materials. Led by talented educators, they brought curiosity and creativity to the pilot program, Responding to the need for a second year of programming, Chai Mitzvah will offer brand new teen materials next year emphasizing a different virtue, or middah, each session.

 

We are working on the materials with Rabbi Pamela Wax, staff rabbi and spiritual care coordinator at Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS), a social service agency in White Plains, New York. She has been practicing and teaching Mussar for 15 years, and is also a current rabbinic global justice fellow for the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), marrying her spirituality to her quest for social justice in this global world.

 

Chai Mitzvah is offering a stipend to groups who will pilot the program. For more information, please contact Nina Woldin, nina@chaimitzvah.org.

                         Welcome New Groups

We welcome these new groups
to the Chai Mitzvah family:

Congregation Or Atid

Henrico, VA

 

Synagogue Emanu-El

Charleston, NC

 

Join more than 100 groups
that are running this year!
 

                               Topic Webinars

Topic Webinars

Chai Mitzvah provides monthly webinars to inspire group facilitators and exchange ideas about each topic.

 

Webinars focused on the April topic, Israel and the Jewish Spirit, will be held in mid-March, to discuss themes and activities for the topic, ask questions, and exchange ideas.

 

Click below to register:

Israel and the Jewish Spirit (standard adult)

Israel and the Jewish Spirit (teen webinar)

 

For more information, contact Nina Woldin: nina@chaimitzvah.org

 

      GOOD NEWS: Supplemental Materials
      for April's Topic, Israel and the Jewish Spirit

There is a biblical connection between Jewish people and the land of Israel. Jewish people live all over the world, and the relationship between individual Jewish people and Israel is complex. This topic explores that relationship, and these supplemental materials expand on that journey.

 

Tired of hearing only about Israel’s problems?

Read this weekly blog about all the wonderful things happening in Israel :

 

Five Eli Talks on Israel… all worth watching:

  • Shifting the Paradigm: Student Empowerment and the Start up Nation
  • Contemporary Israel: A Language of  People and Sounds
  • Timely Issues Timeless Values
  • Between Unity and Uniformity: The many lenses of Israeli Education
  • It’s Not just about Money: The Honest Truth about Giving to Israel

From The Jewish Week, by Chai Mitzvah Board President Scott Shay:

How we invest (or don’t)  in Israel

 

Interactive Map of Israel:

Take a tour of Israel from your living room.

Be Part of the Global Conversation

What is Chai Mitzvah? Chai Mitzvah is a unique Jewish engagement initiative for exploring and developing Jewish living.  Participants commit to group study once a month for nine months with a set curriculum.  On their own, they explore an independent study, bring a new ritual into their lives, and engage in a social action activity. Through this integrated, experiential approach, participants define what their own meaningful Jewish lives look like, and deepen their connections to their congregations and their communities.

Chai Mitzvah

106 Timberwood Road

West Hartford, Connecticut 06117

 

Contact Us

info@chaimitzvah.org

860.206.8363

 

About friends and family...

More Friends and Family

Supplemental Materials for Chai Mitzvah
Topic #4, Interpersonal Relationships


Interpersonal relationships between parents, children, and friends are complex and evolving, involving tensions around favoritism, competition for attention, and tensions between generations.

 

These interesting and varied sources will help you further explore the relationships of family and friends.

 

 

This  Harvard study reveals that strong social networks are the best predictor of life span and happiness over money, and fame.

The Secrets to a Happy Life, From a Harvard Study

 

 

Anita Salzman Silvert, formerly of Chai Mitzvah, addresses the topic of how we create relationships with our children to sustain them long after we have any meaningful control over the details of their lives.

Parent as a Verb: Our Adult Children

 

 

The sages advise us to study Torah lishma—“for its own sake”—rather than to impress others with our scholarship. A paradox of parenting is that if we love our children for their own sake rather than for their achievements, it’s more likely that they will reach their true potential.

 

 

From measuring teens’ internet usage to finding out what devices they own, Pew Research Center has been examining the digital lives of teenagers for over a decade. 

The latest report focuses on how teens, who often live tech-saturated lives, develop and sustain friendships in the digital age, including where they meet, communicate and spend time with friends.

Teen Friendships in the Digital Age

 

 

As a member of the sandwich generation, Charles Passy has come to realize that his daily “burden” is also a daily reminder of how blessed he truly is.

Six Lessons for the Sandwich Generation

 

Chai Mitzvah

  106 Timberwood Road

  West Hartford, CT 06117

  860.206.8363

  info@chaimitzvah.org

Sharing the Journey....

NOVEMBER 2016

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Chai Mitzvah family. 

CHAIlighting Teens

Thirty seven Chai Mitzvah teen groups are running this year, and each one is passionate - full of new ideas and new ways to express them. October's topic was Rites of Passage.  Rabbi Moshe Rudin tells of a new Rite of Passage created by eighth graders at Adath Shalom in Morris Plains:

 

"Our teens designed a Jewish ritual for voting for the first time...

1. Get a sticker that says "בחרת"  (bacharti, I chose) and wear it.

2. Say the Bracha "Baruch... asher natan lanu democracy."

3. Wear a kippa like the one above at the voting booth.

4. Pray for our country!

CHAZAK CHAZAK"


WELCOME NEW GROUPS

 

We welcome three new groups to the Chai Mitzvah family:

 

Beth Sholom B'nai Israel
Manchester CT
 
Beth Am Women/ Congregation Beth Am
Los Altos Hills CA
 
Interfaith Families Project of Washington DC
Rockville Maryland
 
Join more than 100 groups
that are running this year!
 

 

 

Chai Mitzvah on the Road

Ilana Bernstein and Audrey Lichter at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Washington DC

Nina Woldin at the Jewish Educators Assembly in Los Angeles, CA

Audrey Lichter and Ilana Bernstein were among the more than 3,000 attendees from 150 communities at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Washington, D.C. The sessions were wonderful learning opportunities and the most valuable part of the conference for us was to meet new people and show off our fantastic engagement program.

 

Nina Woldin joined 300 educators from Conservative synagogues around the country at the 65th Annual Conference of the Jewish Educators Assembly in Los Angeles, hosting a table and holding a Chai Mitzvah study session.

A Special TIME in Georgia
 
Marsha Fish and the 14 others in her Chai Mitzvah group at Congregation Beth Shalom in Atlanta had a beautiful experience this past year and still can't stop talking about it. They have another group going this year!
 
At their graduation ceremonies at Shabbat services this past month, all 15 of them participated in the service.
 
The group commissioned an artist to create a clock depicting the many facets of their Chai Mitzvah experience and donated it to the synagogue. The artist was Robin Singer an art teacher at the Epstein School in Atlanta, GA.
 

Supplemental Sources: Individual and Community

Ted Talk Monica Lewinsky: The Price of Shame

https://www.ted.com/talks/monica_lewinsky_the_price_of_shame

"Public shaming as a blood sport has to stop," says Monica Lewinsky. In 1998, she says, “I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.” Today, the kind of online public shaming she went through has become constant — and can turn deadly. In a brave talk, she takes a hard look at our online culture of humiliation, and asks for a different way.

 

Eli Talk Seven Habits of Highly United Jews: David Bratslavsky

http://elitalks.org/7-habits-highly-united-jews

How often are we conscious of our group identification as Jews?

How can we use it to create real unity and work toward shared goals together? David Bratslavsky answers these questions by exploring by exploring concrete ways to cultivate unity and peoplehood, laying out examples of successes froma ll areas of Jewish life and detailing the benefits of bridging the gaps that divide us.

 

Eli Talk The Dignity of Difference: A Place for Everyone at the Shabbat Table

http://elitalks.org/dignity-difference-place-everyone-shabbat-table

 

Are our Jewish institutions reflective of the diversity we see in the Jewish community? Abby Knopp challenges the audience to recognize diversity within their own communities and questions whether our Jewish institutions are as inclusive as they could be. Ultimately she asserts that individuals and professionals can do more to practice the Jewish values of hachnasat orchim (hospitality) and ahavat Yisrael (love of fellow Jews).

 

How to Accept and Embrace Disagreement

http://www.wikihow.com/Accept-and-Embrace-Disagreement

Accepting and embracing disagreement is difficult for some people who seek harmony and cooperation all of the time. Yet, without dissent and differing opinions, the world would be a very bland and conformist place. Embracing disagreement is a valuable way of learning new ideas, tempering your own ideas into workable outcomes, and reaching solutions that everyone can benefit from. Learn how to change your perspective about disagreement and your interactions with others will improve greatly.

 

 

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/disagreement

Quotes from great authors thinkers and everyday people on disagreements. These will resonate with the texts on tochecha you will study.

Be Part of the Global Conversation

What is Chai Mitzvah? Chai Mitzvah is a unique Jewish engagement initiative for exploring and developing Jewish living.  Participants commit to group study once a month for nine months with a set curriculum.  On their own, they explore an independent study, bring a new ritual into their lives, and engage in a social action activity. Through this integrated, experiential approach, participants define what their own meaningful Jewish lives look like, and deepen their connections to their congregations and their communities.

Chai Mitzvah

106 Timberwood Road

West Hartford, Connecticut 06117

 

Contact Us

info@chaimitzvah.org

860.206.8363

 

Give Some Thought to Giving: Supplemental Materials for Chai Mitzvah's Topic #2, Tzedakah/Philanthropy

Give Some Thought to Giving: 

Supplemental Materials for Chai Mitzvah
Topic #2, Tzedakah/Philanthropy


Donating to the poor is not a prerogative act, but rather an expected act of each and every Jew. Jewish law has set clear priorities in terms of giving food, clothing, shelter, and medicine to fulfill the obligation to save life and preserve health. Jewish law is concerned with meeting the needs of the poor and at the same time safeguarding the dignity of those in need.

 

These interesting and varied sources will help you give some thought to giving.

 

Have I given more than I've taken, or taken more than I've given?  Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz examines this questions by reflecting on his own experience with kidney donation.

How Far Will You Go to Give? Judaism and Organ Donation

 

Is altruism the best reason for giving? Yossi Prager argues that, in fact, selfishness is a better motivator for giving.

Yossi Prager: What's in it for Me? Selfishness in Philanthropy

 

Bill and Melinda Gates on why they give: 

 

Classic Danny Siegel

10 Quotes about Tzedakah from All Kinds of Sources

 

Wonderful organization that encourages people to give Jewishly and provides many resources for doing so:

The Jewish Funders Network

 

 Interesting compilation of statistics from the Pew Research Organization on Income Inequality:

10 Facts About American Workers

 

Chai Mitzvah

  106 Timberwood Road

  West Hartford, CT 06117

  860.206.8363

  info@chaimitzvah.org

REGISTER WITH CHAI MITZVAH TO:

Participants of Chai Mitzvah groups should register here to:

• Receive your free JNF tree certificate
• Take part in the global Chai Mitzvah conversation
• Receive curriculum updates and the monthly Chai Mitzvah newsletter
• Provide important feedback to improve Chai Mitzvah for future participants

TAKE THE CHAI MITZVAH PRE- AND POST- PROGRAM SURVEYS, AND RECEIVE A STARBUCKS GIFT CERTIFICATE!

Chai Mitzvah: Checking In

Let's get started!

Thank you for registering with Chai Mitzvah to begin a group this fall. It's time to start forming your groups.

 

We want to let you know that we are available to help with any questions that you may have.

THINGS TO DO:

 

a personal invitation

Chai Mitzvah is great way to bring together a group of people in a more meaningful way. Consider inviting your board or committee members to form a group. Or invite some empty-nesters or others who may be on the periphery of involvement to join your "inner-circle". 

 

celebrating 100 groups

We are so happy that you are participating in the Chai Mitzvah program. You have joined with over 100 groups, nation-wide, who are using the Chai Mitzvah program as a tool for Jewish engagement!

Chai Mitzvah: Checking In

Let's get started!

Thank you for registering with Chai Mitzvah to begin a group this fall. It's time to start forming your groups.

 

We want to let you know that we are available to help with any questions that you may have.

THINGS TO DO:

 

a personal invitation

Chai Mitzvah is great way to bring together a group of people in a more meaningful way. Consider inviting your board or committee members to form a group. Or invite some empty-nesters or others who may be on the periphery of involvement to join your "inner-circle". 

 

celebrating 100 groups

We are so happy that you are participating in the Chai Mitzvah program. You have joined with over 100 groups, nation-wide, who are using the Chai Mitzvah program as a tool for Jewish engagement!

Having an Impact on the World

Please let us know what you think of our blog.
We'd love to publish your thoughts and experiences. 
 

 

Wed, August 23 2017 1 Elul 5777