Tag Archives: partnership

Friends with Benefits

What do you do when you have a mission to promote Southern Jewish history, but you have no physical place in which to do it?

Well, I think it’s a good idea to make friends… with benefits!

Specifically, friends with access to a beautiful art gallery, who want to team up and host a photograph exhibit about an important historical event that happens to have an interesting Jewish connection.

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Dr. Stuart Rockoff  explaining an exhibit photo to visitors

As I previously mentioned on this blog, Scottsboro Boys: Outside the Circle of Humanity is a powerful exhibit curated by the Morgan County Archives. The ISJL helped bring this exhibition to Jackson though a collaborative partnership with the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University.

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Jed Oppenheim of the Southern Poverty Law Center, speaking on current practices within the criminal justice system

These types of collaborative connections are the standard for Jewish programming in the this region. Small populations and limited resources inspire communities to look outside the box for new “friends with benefits,” creating partnerships to make programs possible. Whether it’s a new congregation using a church space for services, or an academic institution sponsoring a Jewish scholar, outreach is a strong and important tool for our communities.

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Adorable first time dreidel players

And the results can be pretty fabulous. In my case, we were able to plan three unique events that attracted diverse audiences from across the city. I’m partial to the party that we managed to throw on the last day of Hanukkah in conjunction with a lecture on Jewish lawyers and activists involved with the Scottsboro case. I have yet to check the official university records but I’m pretty sure it was the first Hanukkah party ever thrown at Jackson State.  Even though the latkes were a little mushy (had to prep them the night before!), we were able to pull of a successful cultural exchange that may not have happened if we were within a traditionally “Jewish” space.

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Hanukkah at Jackson State University!

Have you ever partnered with a non-Jewish entity to create a shared space where Jewish programs can be enjoyed by all? We’d love to hear about it!

 

Posted on December 16, 2013

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

Heschel’s Host: “Don’t Tell Me Religions Can’t Get Along!”

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                              Rabbi Klaven, Ms. Jackson, Rabbi Dreffin

“Do you know a rabbi by the name of Abraham Joshua Heschel?”

The question was asked of me by Jean Jackson, a life-long resident of Selma, Alabama.

I was setting up in Selma that hot August Saturday preparing to officiate a Bar Mitzvah, and was a little caught off guard by the inquiry. I replied:

“I didn’t know him personally. But, who doesn’t know his enduring words from this very town, where he marched with Dr. King? In recollecting on that moment, he said his ‘feet were praying.’”

“Well,” Ms. Jackson responded, “when they weren’t praying, they were resting at my home. I hosted him for the night and the next morning I saw one of the most amazing sights these eyes of mine have ever seen.”

I grabbed my colleague Rabbi Matt Dreffin who was on the road with me for that trip, and together we listened to her enthralling tale:

The Rabbi came into my living room, where the Russian Orthodox Priest (also staying at our home) was sitting. They nodded to one another in reverent silence. Then the Rabbi put his prayer book on my mantle and recited his morning prayers. All the while, the Priest listened intently, prayerfully. When the Rabbi finished, he closed his book and took a seat. Then, the Priest stood up, went to the mantle laid out his religious items and opened his prayer book. He too recited his morning prayers, while the Rabbi sat there, intently, prayerfully, taking it all in.

Picturing this historic scene, we were mesmerized by her words. When she went silent for a moment, the real world returned, along with the warm, stiff Southern air in the synagogue building that had no air conditioning.

Rabbi Heschel with MLK

Then, Ms. Jackson added: “So, don’t tell me religions cant’s get along!”

I assured her I wouldn’t dare. After all, Heschel’s host had just reminded me of the powerful changes that happen when strong interfaith guests, hosts, and partners in progress come together in places like Selma, Alabama.

Posted on August 14, 2013

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

It’s a Trans-denominational, Multi-congregational, Inter-generational Havdalah Service

By Education Fellow Amanda Winer

The title of this post sounds like a Broadway song, doesn’t it?

It actually describes a recent program that we had the pleasure of organizing for two partner congregations in South Texas—Temple Beth El in Brownsville (unaffiliated) and Temple Emanuel in McAllen (Reform).

Second year Education Fellow Erin Kahal and I coordinated our spring visits to Brownsville and McAllen, respectively, and we put together this great Havdalah service on South Padre Island as a joint program for our communities. We thought it would be nice to share some pictures from the event.

The beautiful sea side setting for Havdalah

The beautiful seaside setting for our Havdalah service.

Notice the braided border on this invitation.  Very Havdalah-themed.

Notice the braided border on this invitation. Very Havdalah-themed.

Me and Erin at the beach.

Me and Erin at the beach.

We had participants of all ages.

We had participants of all ages.

The ceremony distinguishes between the holiness of Shabbat and the everyday nature of the new week.

The ceremony distinguishes between the holiness of Shabbat and the everyday nature of the new week.

Tessa Galloso, 13, headed up the snack committee.

Tessa Galloso (center), 13, headed up the snack committee.

Each student was responsible for one of the Havdalah sets.

Each student was responsible for one of the Havdalah sets.

Participants reading from a handout with appropriate songs and blessings.

Participants read from handouts with appropriate songs and blessings.

We had an amazing time bringing these two communities together!

We had an amazing time bringing these two communities together!

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this program possible!

Posted on April 24, 2013

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