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A Reform Jewish Community for all of Tucson
225 North Country Club • Tucson, AZ 85716
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Yom Chamishi, 17 Nisan 5774

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Shema Koli - שמע קולי

Hear My Voice

Shema Koli - שמע קולי

Loving life is how I move through both good and challenging times.

As a Jewish Educator and seeker, as a writer, and a mother, I look explore my world, my community, and my world. My ultimate goal is to work towards embracing a life filled with conscious living, sustainability, simplicity, and a sacred space within Judaism. My writing will delve into Jewish teachings as well as share tools for bringing Judaism home to families as well as individuals.

Map Out Your Future

on Saturday, 01 February 2014. Posted in Temple Times Articles

"Map out your future, but do it in pencil."
~ Jon Bon Jovi

As parents, teachers, children and human beings, we all have plans. Sometimes we are so certain how things should and will turn out that we don't consider that there is another option. Life is full of many moving parts, and with that comes a need to be flexible as we navigate our plans.

Here is one of my favorite writings by Emily Perl Kingsley:

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

Havdalah's Lessons for Our School and Our Community

on Friday, 16 August 2013. Posted in Temple Times Articles

In our tradition, we mark each and every occasion with a blessing. Recently, while doing Havdalah, the brief service that marks the end of Shabbat and welcomes the new week, I found myself reflecting how many of the blessings from Havdalah are blessings I want to give to our Kurn Religious School students, their families, and the entire Temple Emanu-El community.

During the opening of Havdalah, it says, "For the Jews there was light and joy, gladness and honor. So be it with us." Isn't this what every Jew and/or person wants in their life, to fill their lives with pure happiness surrounded with meaningful relationships. My hope for each of us is that our lives are full in this way and that we bring that into the Temple Emanu-El community. I want our Religious School learning to excel as it encompasses a feeling of pure joy.

Creating Community

on Thursday, 01 August 2013. Posted in Temple Times Articles

Over the last few months I have been taking the time to explore what it means to create a warm and welcoming community for the Kurn Religious School and the Temple at large. While our community encompasses kindness and warmth, it is now time to build lasting connections amongst our students, our families, and the larger Temple community.

While growing Jewish literacy and building a strong Jewish narrative is not optional in any way, we also need to build connections within the community. Our students and families need this knowledge in order to thrive as part of the Jewish people and they need relationships to sustain their connection with Our People. Jewish literacy encompasses knowledge of holidays, Hebrew, prayers, Jewish vaules/ethics, life cycles, Jewish History, Israel, Torah, etc. There is no shortage of what to learn or ways to learn it! And with each step, it is our job to nurture the relationships within the community or we will fail in our mission to grow Jewish souls.

We're Going On a Bear Hunt

on Saturday, 15 June 2013. Posted in Temple Times Articles

The first time I heard Michael Rosen's song/book, We're Going on a Bear Hunt, I knew this story was a perfect metaphor for life! I love it so much that through the years I have made many of my classes/campers learn the words. I think I even translated it into Hebrew once!

This single folk story guides every aspect of my life. Life is full of experiences and sometimes challenges; we have a choice how we move through each part of the journey. Each of us (children and adults) are on pathways to gain knowledge, perspective, materials, or even the intangible. We are searching for something; the bear hunt is a metaphor for that something.

Any trek is much easier when you move forward while seeing the potential for success.

Environmental Teaching: The Story of My Snack

on Monday, 04 March 2013. Posted in Environmental Teaching

The story of my snack – Ultimate goal Think globally, act locally

What is the life story or history of your snack?

(planting, natural fertilizer, people picking fruit, transport, prep, etc)

This past Sunday, I showed the children an apple and bag of Doritos.  The great thing about having visual objects was that our children were really engaged and thinking about what goes into making both the apple and the Doritos.  They also spoke about how we get those foods to our house.

Creating a Lively Passover

on Thursday, 21 February 2013. Posted in Holidays and Festivals

Each year, the same scenario looms as we get ready Passover.  I get thoroughly stressed about every aspect of the preparation and yet my family is always ready for the holiday just in time.  When I say just in time, that is exactly what I mean.  Our cleaning is completed just before it is time, our seders are ready just as everyone walks into the door, and I usually kvetch until the moment the seder begins.

The bottom-line of my Passover craziness is that by the time the holiday begins, my entire family (including me) is so excited about the seders.  Our seders begin at sundown and go sometimes as late as 2 AM in the morning.  They are dramatic and active from the moment they begin until the moment they end.  Part of the reason for this is because each year we develop our seder as a family.  That means that we listen to our children and our guests and we build it from wherever they stand.  OK, I am an educator too!  Which means that I also have some ideas of how our Passover seder will develop ahead of time.

My hope is that I can share some of our family traditions with you as well as turn you on to a new book that came out last year called Creating Lively Passover Seders:  A Sourcebook of Engaging Tales, Texts and Activities by David Arnow, PH. D at Jewish Lights Publishing.  This book is a solid source of ideas that can help you add spark to your seder.  It is good for families with young children, adults, and anyone in between.

Environmental Teaching: One Generation Goes ... Earth Stays

on Friday, 08 February 2013. Posted in Environmental Teaching

One generation goes and another generation comes; but the earth remains forever. (Ecclesiastes 1:4)

Teaching children is always a partnership. In order for learning to take place, the children and the parents, the educators, and the mentors need to work together in a partnership.

Last Sunday, I loved hearing the wisdom of the children as they discussed what the quote above means to them. The beauty of children is that say what they think and they usually have the best of intentions. One child expressed that, while people live and die, the earth will always be here; we have a responsibility to always remember the earth.

Environmental Teaching: PAIR

on Tuesday, 22 January 2013. Posted in Environmental Teaching





With Tu B'Shevat, the New Year for the Trees, coming, I wanted to have our Religious School community reflect on what being an integral part of the bigger picture could mean for each of us when we talk about the environment and all interconnected relationships. So, I taught them about the acronym PAIR.

Environmental Teaching: Doing Our Part for Tikun Olam

on Tuesday, 15 January 2013. Posted in Environmental Teaching

A new tradition has begun. Each Sunday morning, I will be sharing an environmental teaching to the Kurn Religious School community and then blogging about it on our updated Temple Emanue-El website within the week. My hope is to offer a bissel, a little, Torah and an insight on how to take the teaching home.


It is not up to us to complete the task (of repairing the world).
Yet neither are we free to desist.
~Pirkei Avot 2:16

In order to make this world the best that it can be, we have to begin by doing our part wherever we can. While each of us has a job to do, we can't do it alone. In order to make a difference, we have to work as a team with others. Essentially that means that while you have to do your part to make the world stronger, healthier, better, you don't have to do it alone and you don't have to complete the work you started. Just take one step and begin the journey. Ultimately you will find if you are doing the work, others will join you.

Considering the Environment

on Thursday, 20 December 2012. Posted in Environmental Teaching

New Environmental Curriculum for the Kurn Religious School

"One generation goes and another comes, but the earth remains forever."(Ecclesiastes 1:4)

Suggested Discussion Questions:

  1. What is our responsibility to maintain the earth for future generations?
  2. What does it mean that the earth remains the same forever? Is this true? Must we sustain it or can it sustain itself?

(adapted from American Jewish World Service's http://www.on1foot.org)

As we embark on the questions above, my goal as the Youth Education Director is to mirror the values of our larger Temple Emanu-El community. This, of course, becomes easier when we share similar values. With the help of dedicated lay leaders including Jerry Shulman and the Men's Club, Micki Shulman, Sol Brody, Scott Arden, Mona Gibson and the Youth Education Committee, I am embarking on creating a Jewish Environmental Curriculum to utilize within the Kurn Religious School. Here is a plan of how we will be moving forward:

  • Opening/TefillahWeekly blog based on Sunday's teaching and email link home in News You Can Use emails

    • 3 minute teachings each Sunday morning
    • sharing an action plan for how to take that teaching home (show and tell)
  • Monthly – Students will have an experiential lesson to incorporate environmental teaching from a Jewish perspective

  • Two classes (grades 4 and 5) will have outside fieldtrips to experience Jewish Environmental teachings. (Spring 2013)

  • Encourage Trash to Treasure Mentality with teachers and students for class and art projects

  • Create library with books that support the teachings and environmental consciousness

While I am focusing on teaching our students during Religious School, all of these Jewish and universal teachings will be accessible through my blog each Monday morning following Sunday morning classes. May the many Jewish teachings become a springboard for walking more gently on our earth. As Jews and human beings we can make a difference.

Together through our learning, we are planting seeds in our children's minds to keep our earth.



Hanukkah: Looking at Hanukkah through an Environmental Lens

on Tuesday, 13 November 2012. Posted in Holidays and Festivals

Temple Emanu-El is consciously growing more eco-friendly. That means that over the coming months you will be introduced to an environmental curriculum that will enhance our current Judaic curriculum within the Kurn Religious School as well as some new steps taking place within our greater Temple community. With that in mind, I want to look at Hanukkah through an environmental lens.

In the story of Hanukkah, the Macabees can be seen as an environmentally conscious and savvy group of warriors. Although few in number, it was because they knew where to hide, when to attack, how to feed themselves so that their enemies could not detect them. Their ability to function in their environment as they did made it possible to rededicate the Temple, ultimately allowing us to celebrate Hanukkah today.

How to Get More Out of Being Jewish

on Wednesday, 24 October 2012.

In Gil Mann's book How to Get More Out of Being Jewish Even If:

  1. You are not sure you believe in God,
  2. You think going to synagogue is a waste of time,
  3. You think keeping kosher is stupid
  4. You hated Hebrew school, or
  5. All of the above!

In Chapter 7: "Hebrew School Was Worthless and Boring", Gil Mann lists eight key points that can help guide us towards growing a healthier Religious School and embracing the realities of our times. I do agree with each of Gil Mann's points and realize that in order to proceed in the most effective way; we will need to address these points over time. At this time though, I want to focus on only three of his points:

Sukkot and her Symbols

on Friday, 05 October 2012. Posted in Holidays and Festivals

Sukkot is one of my favorite holidays. To me, it represents finding the gifts in life as well as valuing the simplicity of what is. While we can say that Sukkot סֻכּוֹת is a biblical harvest holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei and is also known as the Festival of Booths. Sukkot is also the holiday of profound symbols that remind us of how important is is to walk through the world consciously.

As a both a Youth Education Director of Temple Emanu-El Kurn's Religious School in Tucson and as a mother, I thrive on the symbolisms of Sukkot; in recent years I refer to each symbolism as life's metaphors. While each symbolism has a name and concept associated with it, they can also be an awareness for what's most important in life. This reality was brought home to me this week by one of my third grade students Selina Feldman who drew a picture for her parents showing what she learned about Sukkot during Religious School.

Insights on Yom Kippur

on Wednesday, 19 September 2012. Posted in Holidays and Festivals

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish year. Our tradition encourages us to confront ourselves during communal prayer by sincerely acknowledging errors and pledging to overcome them to the best of our abilities.  Each and every one of us have the opportunity to come together within our community to grow spiritually as we both individually and collectively look at our mistakes and go through a teshuvah, repentance, process.

The communal aspect of the High Holy Days always brings me joy even if the day has a solemn energy.  I love seeing many people dressed in white as they join in prayer, in fasting, and in community.  Even as a little girl, I loved the stories, the music, and the many congregants that came together for the High Holy Days.  I remember feeling that I was part of a special group, a loving community of Jews.

When I came to Tucson, I was told it is a lot more relaxed than Washington DC; for the most part I have found this to be the case.  Although in Washington DC, I don't think I experienced any of my students or the families going to school/work during the High Holy Days.  Yet in Tucson, I heard from some students and families alike that they had chosen to keep to their normal routines on Rosh Hashanah.  While I understand life schedules can be challenging, I found myself perplexed that some people missed services; those of you that were not at services were truly missed as part of our Temple Emanu-El community.

In spite of our crazy schedules, as Jews we have the sacred responsibility to take Yom Kippur as a day of reflection and be at one with Jews throughout the world.  For some people, communal prayer might not work, but hopefully you can find some way to connect with our Jewish lifecycle.  While my hope is that I see each and every one of you in services or hear about your unique Yom Kippur experiences, I also hope that you have a meaningful Yom Kippur and an amazing year too.

Elul Reflections - Day 29

on Sunday, 16 September 2012. Posted in Elul Reflections

The Time is Now

     The world is full of infinite possibilities, but still I have to take the first step.
                    ~Chava Gal-Or

elul 29 new-toe-shoes

My hope is to relive my running days by beginning a new running/jogging journey with these awesome new shoes. Took the first step by purchasing the shoes...now for the rest of the journey. . . .

Writing Elul Reflections has been a profound practice for me. Thanks for joining in my journey and sometimes sharing your thoughts.

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