Learning from Each Other This Summer

Dear Friends,

In Pirkei Avot, a section of the Mishnah which contains various Rabbinic sayings and teachings, one of them reads as follows: “”I have learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues, and the most from my students.” This wisdom is truly being put into practice at B’nai Tikvah this month.

On Friday night July 13, Louis Polcin, one of our returning college students who you may know from our High Holiday choir and from his participation in Tikvah Tones gave a D’var Torah that was heartfelt, articulate, and wise beyond his years. He is an exemplary community member in whom we can all take pride. Everyone in attendance, including your rabbi, learned something from him about the multi-faceted dynamics of being Jewish on campus in 2018… including the fact there are blessings along with the struggles. I’ve taken the liberty of excerpting some of what he shared at the end of this email.

This coming Shabbat will be our third annual congregant-led summer service at 7:30pm, with Donna and Barry Brian. Please come and share the joy and much needed peace of Shabbat together while supporting your fellow CBT members at the same time. What could be a more winning combination?!

And finally, on Saturday July 22 from 7:00-8:30pm, my colleague Rabbi Jay LeVine and I will be leading a new program called “Beyond Brokenness: An Exploration of Tisha B’Av Through Poetry, Song and the Practice of Justice.” Our observance of this traditional day of commemorating the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple will reach back into our history and forward to touch on the ways in which personal and communal brokenness impact us today. It will be a memorable and meaningful evening. We’ll be meeting at Temple Isaiah (specifics) and I very much hope to see you there

With best wishes for continued rest and rejuvenation this summer…

Rabbi Gutterman

And now, as promised, a few words from Louis!

Last May, I got back from my first year of college at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. I vividly remember waiting to board my plane to Portland in August. I had no external guidance of the future; I was walking into something completely unknown. I had no idea what to expect, or how I would fare with the solemn task of re-creating my life in a place I had never been before. Everything from my friendships to my networks of support to my Jewish identity itself would have to be reconstructed.

As daunting as this journey may seem, it is possible. This year has been one of the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life.

There are lots of horror stories about what happens to Jews on college campuses, which usually point to Christian fundamentalism, BDS and anti-Zionist movements, and flagrant anti-Semitism. I am not here to deny these challenges; they are real. But what I can also say is that there is another side to Jewish college campus life that unfortunately is much less seen; one of acceptance and tolerance by non-Jews, support from the Jewish community, and even great spiritual growth. If we can look just a little bit further than the Israelites did in this week’s Torah portion, we will notice that after a period of difficulty comes a period of great growth and happiness, and I know that, as much as it may seem impossible, we can get there.