Directors Report – July 2012 July 19th, by Cleveland Hillel
July 18, 2012
28 Tammuz 5772
In the midst of summer our Jewish calendar focuses on “The Three Weeks” (Ben Hametazrim) the period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av where among other tragedies we remember and mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Our tradition informs us that the destruction of the second temple by the Romans on the 9th of Av in 70 C.E. was caused by senseless hatred among our People. My understanding is that this occurred because of zealots who were convinced their way was the only way. From this I learn that destruction of society can happen when people think they have the only answer. The “tikkun” (solution) for this seems to be the willingness to listen to others, to compromise, and build consensus. Of course problem solving is not that simple.
To understand the complexity we can look at an interesting paradox. The Torah reading that is usually read on the first Shabbat of the three weeks is Pinchas from the Book of Numbers. At the beginning of the “parsha” we read that Pinchas is viewed as a hero for being a zealot, taking action to stop a plague by killing two people who were publicly acting in a way that violated the covenant with Gd. From the text we think that being a zealot is a good thing. The Rabbis and commentators go to extreme lengths to tell us not to learn from Pinchas. They tell us that his actions were right, but they should not be copied by others. Why did the Rabbis feel the necessity to teach this? Possibly our tradition is telling us not to take the law into our own hands even if an individual is sure that s/he knows what is right. We have learned the hard way that zealotry can lead to demagoguery and that often leads to destruction.
So what can we learn from this and how does it influence the way we work with students. We know that we live in a world where too often we look for quick results and want immediate gratification. This can lead us down the wrong road. We talk about doing the right thing, but often it is just talk. Results are not immediate and too many “things” get in the way, so we easily get sidetracked. We know the difference between right and wrong, but …
This is where our calendar and tradition play an important role in giving us direction and help focus us for the work we do with the students. As a people and as individuals we should take the long view of history and teach that quick answers and results while tempting often do not work. We should clarify that while there is much to celebrate in Judaism, there have also been tragedies that we need to mourn. We should clearly state that those who try to oversimplify things and teach that the choices are simple are wrong. Living a just and good life is not easy, never have been, and probably never will be. There are many challenges and unanswered questions. No individual has all the answers and finding the balance is not easy.
This is where we bring added value to students. An answer to the zealots is to develop leaders who are passionate moderates who think before they act, take in multiple perspectives, and work to develop consensus. We do this by encouraging students to take charge of their own Jewish journey. Each student can develop their own unique identity and decide what they want to add to the mosaic that is Jewish life and Jewish community. By doing this we are also fixing the problem “repenting” for the sin of senseless hatred. A community where each person is viewed as a welcome addition and we celebrate our commonality while respecting our differences is a just community. This is the action we should learn from the historic tragedy of the destruction of the Temple.
In an article on Jewish leadership that appeared in the Jerusalem Post on June 14, 2012 Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth concludes by saying “Never in history has there been a better time to be a Jewish leader. However, there is a right way for future Jewish leadership to go, and a wrong way. The wrong way is to emphasize antisemitism and the assaults on Israel, to exaggerate the tensions between the different streams in Jewish life and to bemoan the lack of Jewish leadership. The right way is to make friends within and beyond the Jewish community, to emphasize the ethical and spiritual dimensions of Judaism, to find social action projects we can work on across other divides and to find ways of making Jews feel proud to be Jews.”
It is in our hands to make the world better.
As always I am interested in hearing your comments and ideas,
P.S. During the summer our work is community focused through the Summer Internship Program and social events we sponsor for the interns, other students, and their peers living or studying in Cleveland
Recent Program Highlights
Cleveland Hillel Foundation programs reach hundreds of students, their peers, and others monthly through a wide variety of programs in our four program divisions.
Cleveland Metro Undergraduate
Hillel @ CWRU, Hillel @ CSU, Hillel @ John Carroll
Social Programming for students during the summer is being planned and sponsored by both the Cleveland Hillel Foundation and Let My People Know Cleveland of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. These include:
- Attending Avenue Q
- Going to an Indians Game
- Shabbat lunch in the community
- Party at a bowling alley and other downtown spots
- Happy hour at a local restaurant
- Pottery program at a local venue
- Ice cream social
- An evening of sushi
Upcoming summer events include an outside Shabbat dinner, restaurant nights, and movie outings.
In addition the staff is involved in university orientations for incoming students, evaluating last year’s programming, and planning for the fall semester.
Oberlin College graduation was on Memorial Day so since that was also Shavuot there was special programming for Jewish students, parents, alumni, and faculty including learning the Book of Ruth, Tfila, and celebratory meals.
During June the staff reviewed the year and started planning for the Fall. They are also involved in orientations for first year students that occur at the end of August.
JCLE/Graduate Student Programming
- Preparations for the Summer Soiree co-sponsored with the Young Leadership Division of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland
- Farwell Shabbat dinner for our Israel Fellow
- Happy hour for Street Team involved in the Summer Soiree
- Summer Soiree event
- JCLE wine tasting programming
Upcoming events include Shabbat dinners for graduate students, JCLE Jooze Cruise, and the start of the civic engagement initiative.
In addition the staff is involved in university orientations for incoming students, follow up with the participants who were on the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s birthright trip, evaluating last year’s programming, and planning for the fall semester.
Summer Internship Program
We are thrilled to inform you that our Summer Internship Program has 60 interns. The program began with an orientation is Sunday June 10 and the interns staring at their placements on Monday June 11. We want to thank the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and other supporters who have helped us significantly increase the number of interns and placements for this summer.
In addition to the variety of social programs mentioned earlier that the interns can take part in there is also a “Cleveland Immersion” program that we sponsor. These seminars include:
- Evening and day retreat that included meeting one another, team building, e-mail and wardrobe etiquette, and a call to social action
- Learning about different aspects of Cleveland today; law & politics, culinary, arts & entertainment, and healthcare followed by a discussion on the future of Cleveland
- Visit to University Circle and meeting with leadership there
- Learning about Cleveland’s Jewish community; history, some of the institutions, and a variety of denominational Rabbis
- Rising seniors attend an evening focused on job and living opportunities in Cleveland
- Service day on the West Side of Cleveland and a visit to Gordon Arts district
Future seminars include a professional development day and a reflection on the program that includes a keynote speaker.
We are starting to plan for the summer 2013 program. If you have ideas please contact Ilana Mandel the director of the Summer Internship Program [email protected]
Also video of Summer Internship Program participants speaking at last summer’s luncheon finale can be viewed at our website http://clevelandhillel.org/videos.htm Molly Rzepka speaking is the second video and Josh Davidson is the third video
- The 4 minute video on Cleveland Hillel can be viewed at http://player.vimeo.com/video/36924490?portrait=0&color=0026ff or you can see it on our website http://clevelandhillel.org/videos.htm It is the first video there.
- Our annual report can be viewed by going to http://www.clevelandhillel.org/annual-report.htm
- Please visit our web site www.clevelandhillel.org and Facebook page. We are interested in hearing your feed back
- A list of our board members can be found by clicking here http://clevelandhillel.org/board.htm and a list of staff can be found here http://www.clevelandhillel.org/staff.htm
- Visit the Hillel site on CWRU’s web site at www.case.edu/hillel You are also welcome to visit JCLE at www.jclecity.org, Hillel at Oberlin www.oberlin.edu/ojc and the Hillel at John Carroll facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hillel-at-John-Carroll-University/219823914697398
- Together with the Case Western Reserve University Alumni Association we are developing a CWRU Jewish Alumni Group. For more information about this please contact me at [email protected] A mailing will be going out soon from CWRU and Hillel announcing inaugural events to take place during Homecoming September 27-30, 2012
Fundraising Request, Thank you, and Donor Recognition
Please consider partnering with us by making a donation on line through our website www.clevelandhillel.org or by mailing a check to:
Cleveland Hillel Foundation
11291 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland OH 441
We thank the Jewish Federation of Cleveland for their annual allocation. In addition to the help of our donors, funders, and stakeholders, this level of support enables us to staff and continue to grow our programming.
With the help of all of you we are able to continue bringing quality programs to the students at the universities we serve and “twenty something” young professionals as we assure a brighter Jewish future
A list of donors from July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011 is posted on our website at http://clevelandhillel.org/pdf/donor.pdf.
Linked here is a short video thank you from our students for all the support we receive from our donors And now, a few words from our friends at the Cleveland Hillel Foundation