United Hebrew Congregation is committed to maintaining the Jewish presence in the Wabash Valley by providing religious, spiritual, educational and social programming. We strive to broaden and strengthen our connections with all members of the Jewish
community. We value our historical role as an integral part of the wider Wabash Valley.
community and endeavor to contribute to its welfare.
December in America is unlike any other month. The cold bite of winter finally sets in, the sky grows dark earlier and consumerism abounds.
A confluence of all these factors gives way to the general feelings of cheeriness that characterize this holiday season. In just about every city, it seems as though we are inundated with fake icicles and the fresh smell of evergreen furs while Nat King Cole takes over the radio and becomes the elevator music a la mode.
Nativity scenes fill suburban lawns and neighbors quietly compete for the best display of Christmas lights in the neighborhood. Every year around this time, many American Jews begin wondering, "What is my relationship to this joyful holiday season that purportedly stems from a holiday that is not my own?"
Preparing for last wishes and estate administration is a topic relevant to us all and one most of us tend to delay or avoid confronting. Over the next several months (with the approval of the UHC board), I intend to present a series of articles about things we all can do -- no matter what age or phase of life -- to assist our families in the event of our incapacity or passing.
There are simple steps we can all take to help our families should we be unable to make decisions about our care or final arrangements. We need not fear these steps or hesitate to take them.
Although these moves ultimately deal with our passing, they are essential life choices. These choices convey our thoughts about how we wish to handle difficult decisions and take the stress of such decisions away from our families or life partners who otherwise might be forced to confront them due to a lack of clear communication on our part.
As communities observed the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht on Nov. 9-10, the attack on Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue and rising incidences of hate crimes across the western world added urgency to the declaration, "Never again."
In Terre Haute, UHC member and Kristallnacht survivor Walter Sommers spoke at CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, where he serves as a docent, and participated in a candle-lighting the honor the victims of the Holocaust.
A day later, UHC and Theater presented a staged reading of This Side of Eternity: The Story of Kristallnacht, by former Terre Haute resident Christopher Bibby.
UHC religious school students may be few in number, but they’re always game for a holiday challenge. When the call goes out, the class is on the scene to build a sukkah, set the Pesach table or, when a new Hanukkah book arrives over the transom, step in as literary reviewers.
Race Up Mount Ram: A Hanukkah Story (48 pages) from Eclectic Ivri Press, by Melissa Berg, tells the story of Chayim, a resolute underdog who calls upon all his resources to climb Mount Ramon in Israel’s Negev Desert and become Champion of the Maccabees.
Chayim’s opponent is the popular favorite Rimon, who, needless to say in this tortoise-vs.-hare story, learns to regret his lackadaisical approach to training.
Sunday school elementary school instructor Jennifer read Race Up Mount Ram to religious school students Sophie and Garrett on the morning of Hanukkah eve and patiently moderated the thoughtful discussion that followed.
November is a changing of the time, a changing of the leaves and definitely a turn to cold weather. It's also a time for turkeys, pumpkin pie and family gatherings. But everyone doesn't have a big family that gathers for the holidays, as you see on the Hallmark Channel.
So, if you have a few empty chairs around your table for Thanksgiving and you know someone who will otherwise be alone for the holiday, now is a good time to think about them.
Speaking of holidays, Hanukkah will begin the evening of Sunday, Dec. 2, and Sisterhood has set up the gift shop in the Vestry Room. Contact me or Norma at the Temple and stop by any weekday to shop!
The massacre on October 27 at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh has struck much fear into the entire American Jewish community, including ours in Terre Haute.
In the face of such tragedy, many communities around the nation have expressed support for their Jewish friends and neighbors.
Last Friday night, our own United Hebrew Congregation in Terre Haute experienced an outpouring of love from members of the Wabash Valley Christian and Muslim communities, when some 100 people joined us for our weekly Shabbat service.
Two days after the fatal attack on Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, UHC Secretary Norma Collins arrived at the Temple to find, beneath the weathered wooden door, beside one Ionic pillar and at the top of the old limestone steps, a single bouquet of flowers.
Later, a member of a local church stopped by to offer words of support. “You are so welcome in Terre Haute and please call this your home,” the man told Norma. She added, “Everybody seems very caring.”