Tag Archives: memorial

May This Phenomenal Woman’s Memory Be a Blessing

maya_angelouThis morning, the world learned that we lost a great voice in literature and civil rights.

Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, but raised in rural Arkansas. She lived many lives in many places, and died peacefully in her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In its memorial to her published this morning, the New York Times hailed Angelou as a “lyrical witness of the Jim Crow South.” She was so much: a Southerner, a traveler, a poet, a dancer, an activist, a leader, a reader, a teacher, a champion. She used her words as a tool to inspire change.

Many of her quotes talk about how we approach service, and how we think about those “in need” in a more human, nuanced way. I chose this quote to think about today:

“My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.”

May Maya’s memory be a blessing.

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Posted on May 28, 2014

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With Love for Mr. Awesome

MR-AWESOME-POSTERThe relationships that are forged at Jewish summer camp last forever. As a URJ Jacobs Camp camper, staff member, and camper-parent for many years, I’ve enjoyed using Facebook to reconnect with those that I spent so many great summers. However, last week, there was an outpouring of shock, heartache and love as an old camp friend/former Jacobs camper Carla Kaufman Sloan posted the following:

As some of you know we lost our awesome, big-hearted, and brilliant oldest son Calder on Sunday in a tragic and bizarre accident.

What do you say to anyone who has lost a child, a week after his 7th birthday? How do you console his mom, dad, younger brother and countless friends and relatives as Calder touched so many in his short life? In this case, some gentle guidance came from the family, and their friends, and even their son.

After the family began a fund in Calder Sloan’s memory, a friend of the family began a social media campaign with this self portrait that Calder had created just a few months ago. Thus began the “Mr. Awesome” campaign.

So here it is, with great love and respect, the staff of the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, remembering the joy that Calder Sloan, “Mr. Awesome,” brought into the world during his short time here. We send loving and caring thoughts to Carla, Chris, and Caleb Sloan.

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Here’s to Adventure. Laughter. Kindness. All in honor of Mr. Awesome.

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Posted on April 25, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Labyrinth: Going Green (Hint: It’s Not What You’re Thinking…)

Today’s post was written collaboratively by Education Fellows Elaine Barenblat, Dan Ring, and Allison Poirier

Greenville, MS

Remembering Linda Pinkus in Greenville, MS

This February, the ISJL launched the Linda Pinkus Memorial Labyrinth in not one, but TWO locations!

First, Elaine, Allison, and Rabbi Marshal Klaven took the labyrinth to a launch party in Greenville, Mississippi. There in the heart of the Delta, we celebrated the memory and legacy of Mrs. Pinkus with several generations of her family. In the same weekend, Dan brought our second labyrinth all the way across the South to Greensboro, North Carolina.

A labyrinth is a two dimensional meditative device. Unlike a maze, which twists and turns into dead ends, a labyrinth has a single path to its center and back. Their history goes back at least 3,500 years, and in Judaism they are often connected with the battle of Jericho. Today, we are using our labyrinth (pictured somewhere on this blog post) as a meditative exercise. We walk the paths in silence, concentrating on slow, even, steps, and reflect on spiritual matters. This project is the brainchild of Rabbi Marshal Klaven, created in memory of Mrs. Pinkus as a way to bring new spiritual experiences into the lives of Jews in the South.

Elaine and Allison check in from Greenville:

“We enjoyed seeing how different participants approach this new experience. We expected children to try to race through, but were also pleased to see that they enjoyed it when we encouraged them to slow down. We were surprised to learn that some people saw the labyrinth as a coordination challenge, and feared they were too clumsy to attempt it. Many adults who did try found that walking so slowly and purposefully did, in fact, change their sense of balance. But all who attempted it were pleased to have had this new experience and said they enjoyed learning about a new Jewish spiritual practice.”

Dan checks in from Greensboro:

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Exploring the Labyrinth in Greensboro, NC

“The labyrinth was a huge hit!  I used it as a religious school program on Sunday morning, and thanks to the help of Beth David Synagogue’s religious school director and the religious school teachers, it worked out perfectly.  It was fantastic to see rambunctious, energetic students completely transformed into contemplative, introspective scholars, discussing in detail the intricate differences between a labyrinth and a maze, and bringing these complicated ideas into a larger discussion about our own lives and life decisions.  With the tool of the labyrinth, I believe the students also truly began to understand the power of silence and meditation – a benefit which I’m sure will resonate with most any religious school teacher!”

The two labyrinths will be making the rounds throughout our ISJL region, and we hope you will be excited to bring it to your community soon. In the meantime… did you catch the “Green” connection? Don’t worry – it’s not a community requirement or anything! ;-)

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Posted on February 10, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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