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                                                                                                   September, 2016 Dear Friends and...

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sunsets, Once Again

                                                                                                            February 1997

Dear Family and Friends:

I’ve always had a special feeling, a fascination with sunsets.  For me, no matter what the day brings forth, a dramatic sunset is a sign of hope.  As I think about it, I realize that I’ve gone out of my way to watch sunsets wherever I’ve been.  Sunsets are glorious spectacles of elapsing time dramatically punctuated by their slowly changing color schemes.  They inspire me with their magnitude, make me feel small and part of something big, all at once.

When I was a Unit Head at Olin-Sang-Ruby up in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin I had a private Erev Shabbat ritual.  At a certain point during Shabbat dinner, I would quietly leave my unit and walk out back of the Chadar Ochel.  There I would take my seat, all alone, on a wooden storage box and watch the Western skies turn to fire as Shabbat descended. I liked to think that the colors in the sky were the train on Shabbat’s royal gown.  Later I’d think about the prayer in the evening service which credits God with causing the evening to fall and setting the stars in their heavenly courses.  It’s hard to feel Shabbat peace when you are a camp staff member with ongoing responsibilities, but those Shabbat sunsets out back of the Chadar Ochel were my fifteen minutes of Shabbat Shalom.  I was a Unit Head for six summers.  Every clear Erev Shabbat I managed to make it to my designated sunset spot.  I remember the calm and the beauty of it.

Last spring, Juca and I spent a week on the West coast of Florida.  We joined all the others in that beautiful place each evening quietly watching the sun touch down on the water.  We always thought and sometimes remarked at how quickly the sun went down.  It seemed to plunge into the Gulf and disappear.  One almost expected to hear it sizzle.  But what came next was the clincher.  After the sun was gone, a full half-hour of reds turning to purple turning to wisps of pastels.  Someone told me the colors are just the sun’s reflection off of the air pollution.  “Finally,” I thought, “something good from pollution.” 

Yesterday I spoke to my son Michael on the phone.  It was a big deal for me because he’s away, far away studying for the semester in Tel Aviv.  That was the first time we had spoken since he left.  It’s true that I hear his voice speaking the words he writes me on the e-mail, but in my heart, not my ears.  So it was great to actually hear him yesterday.  He had a lot to tell me, but one of the stories was about going to the beach to watch the sun set.  I think he told me this because he knows that I am moved by the thought of it.  And now I have these thoughts too; thoughts of my son in Israel, celebrating his independence, touching his Jewish roots, growing up, sitting on the beach taking it all in, in Technicolor.

Each evening we bless God for making the evening fall and setting the stars in their heavenly courses.  And in our hearts a special blessing for alowing us to witness this greatness; and living to hear our children tell of this majesty, from 8,000 miles away.

Ron

So now it's 2015, eighteen years later, and  I'm still looking at sunsets with awe.  As Thanksgiving approaches, being in the sunset years of my life, I can't help but be thankful for two wonderful and successful sons, two amazing daughters-in-law, two (I can't say enough about) granddaughters, and,  in all caps, JUCA .

Here's a sunset (a bit enhanced) from our porch in Bloomington...Awesome!



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN… (Or) THE TUNE CAME BACK, I THOUGHT IT WAS A GONER





                                                                                             October, 2015
Dear Family and Friends:

Working with Jewish college students on a big campus is always interesting. Or, maybe I just find things interesting...as they say: “Whatever.” I am fortunate to advise a group that leads a once-a-month all music Shabbat service. Like so many other Jewish outfits we call it “Shabbat Rocks.” Our leader couldn’t be with us so I filled in the other night when the group got together to plan this Friday's musical service. As most know, I'm no song leader and certainly not that kind of musician, but I've worked with a lot of great ones and have a sense of what's good and what may not be. So I led the meeting but the group made all of the musical decisions. It was a good meeting.

Michelle Bennett, Jim and Amy's youngest was great.  She stepped up to the plate to suggest tunes and put together the program. She's a freshman here at IU. At one point toward the end of the evening as we discussed the final prayers of the Shabbat service, she told us that she had learned a new melody, call and response, for the Aleynu. She began, “LET US ADORE,” we responded, “Let us adore,” she, “THE EVER LIVING GOD,” us, “The ever living God,” she “AND RENDER PRAISE...” us, “And render praise...” and so on. I was floored. When I asked Michelle where she learned this new tune she replied that Dan(ny) Nichols had taught it to the campers and staff at Goldman Union Camp Institute last summer. I could only smile.

You old timers in the crowd may be able to put the melody to the call and response Aleynu Michelle taught the other students. It is the one we all grew up with in our classically Reform synagogues. Here it was again. Now it was new.

Thinking back on it, it seems to me that Dan Nichols, phenomenal Jewish songwriter, performer and (always) song leader, one of the greats at creating new and exciting Jewish music, is taking our camps, synagogues, teens, college students and adults back to the future (I wonder if he has a musical flux capacitor), creating new music and remembering the music that was. Evidently, some of that music may be again. He's guiding our Jewish communities toward new musical experiences with two eyes looking forward and one looking back. I loved that the group thought it was a cool version of the prayer. Am I reading more into this than I should? Probably.

When we actually had the Erev Shabbat service a nice crowd gathered and sang with gusto.  I was assigned the D’var Torah (short sermon) which came just before the old/new Aleynu.  Since it was a music service I decided to lead a few folk songs instead of talking about the Torah portion of the week.  I explained that it seemed to me that our world is in quite a bit of turmoil what with situations in the Middle East, Europe, and here.  I said that when I sat in those college student seats the world unfortunately was also in great turmoil and we sang songs that expressed certain hopes for peace, solidarity and equality.  Civil rights, Vietnam, poverty etc. were our themes.  Then we sang.  First it was for solidarity, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” Then for peace, “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” Then for hope, “This Little Light of Mine.”  I’m happy to say that, once again we sang with gusto…and the banjo sounded pretty good as well.

Then came Michelle to teach the Aleynu.  I was transported back even farther than the time of “We Shall Not Be Moved,” when I was a youngster and, at least for me, there was no turmoil; just my family and me in our little B’nai Jehoshua synagogue on 20th and Ashland, standing and singing the prayer together.

 Now it’s new.  Thanks, Michelle. 

When Friday rolls around, have a rockin' good Shabbat.


Ron

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The waves roll and so does G.U.C.I.





                                                                                                            October, 2015

Dear Family and Friends:

“The waves roll out and the waves roll in.”  Bob Gibson sang it and I’ve been thinking about it lately.  You old folk music fans out there may well remember the late, great Chicago folk singer Bob Gibson.  His voice rings clear in my memory and this sea chanty speaks to me.
 
Last week I attended the retirement luncheon for Susan Dill.  Susan just completed her 37th year as Secretary/Registrar at our beloved Goldman Union Camp Institute.  She wondered into my office in January, 1978 looking for a job.  I was desperate to find help.  In those days Union Camp Institute (that was our name back then) was a two person operation; Director and Secretary.  My secretary had retired leaving me on my own to run the office, recruit campers etc.  I needed help, badly.  Susan had never been a secretary before and I had hardly been a camp director.  She began that January and we worked side-by-side for the next 34 years.  We grew into the jobs together.

1978 was a time pre-computer when we actually dictated, typed, proofed, re-typed with carbon paper and finally mailed letters.  It was a time consuming process but one that demanded attention to language, punctuation, spelling etc.  Mass mailings went out after stamping each envelope with an addressograph metal plate, each with the name and address of a family on the mailing list.  It often took two or three days to stamp the envelopes, stuff them with letters run off on the mimeograph machine and then stamp each in the post office’s electric postage machine which sat out in the outer office (we had to take that machine in to the post office each month to deposit funds into it so it could stamp postage onto envelopes).  In this time of emails and blogs, can you imagine that it could take a week to send a mailing to a few hundred families?  What about packing and shipping several thousand camp brochures to the synagogues in Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri and Kansas?  We did it all, sometimes hoodwinking family members to come in and help stuff envelopes or pack up brochures. 

Susan quickly became much more than a secretary.  She was my sounding board for ideas and programs.  She has the ability to react just as any mother might to a new policy or program.  If Susan frowned at an idea (I had plenty of them and she frowned many, many times) I immediately knew that parents around the region would as well.  In those days camp was small, simple and broke.  We squeezed every dollar and stretched every budget line.  We made it work.  Together we built Union Camp Institute into the Myron S. Goldman Union Camp Institute.  Susan was the voice of reason and confidence on our end of the phone.  She helped calm countless worried, Jewish parents who had dropped children off at camp and received their first “homesick-come-and-get-me” letter.  She was a friend and mom to countless staff people over the years.
 
We also became part of each other’s families.  We celebrated together and even did some mourning together.  When I retired Susan spearheaded a great retirement party for me.  I was very grateful.  When Susan retired all I could do was go up to Indianapolis, declare October 1st Susan Dill Day and say thank you for all she has done for me, for us, and for our camp.  Not much in comparison, but heartfelt.

So eras come and eras go.  Susan marks the end of the pioneer spirit of Union camping.  She served with great dedication and love.  And it didn’t hurt that she had a great sense of humor to boot.  We often talk about making the world a better place.  Few have done as much as Susan, in her quiet way, to make that a reality.  Decades of campers and staff are better for having worked with, learned from, and laughed with Susan Dill.

Man, the waves certainly do roll out, but thankfully they also roll in.  G.U.C.I. rolls on. From strength to strength.
 
That’s the way I see it,


Ron

Sunday, August 30, 2015


The High Holidays are coming up...pretty serious stuff.  Here's a reprint just so we don't take ourselves too seriously.

A Yom Kippur Laugh


                                                                                       September, 2012


FOR ADULTS ONLY  Please skip this if you are offended by certain language

Dear Family and Friends:

Well, footballs are ascending and leaves are descending.  Must be Fall.  Almost everything about this time of the year is great, except that the Cubs are 34 games out of first with just a few games left in the regular season .  In Chicago we like to say, "Wait 'til next year,"  but maybe this time we should be saying, "Wait 'til the Messiah comes."  But we'll keep the faith for the boys in blue.  All Northsiders and Northside refugees (like me) will, I expect, be wearing our  Cubbies caps, blue with the red C, next April when spring training once again ignites our  hopes and fills our daydreams with visions of post season victories.

Shannah Tovah, hopes for a sweet new year to all of you who celebrate at this time of the year.  the High Holidays are a wonderful time in the Jewish community.  But we don't go to parties or shoot off fireworks to mark the new year, we begin to redirect our lives in order to be better people in the year to come.  That all culminates on the most solemn day of the year, Yom Kippur,  our day of atonement (ten days after Rosh Ha Shannah, the Jewish New Year).

I had the honor to lead synagogue services again this year for Hillel here at Indiana University.  Hillel is the Jewish Students organization on campus.  Literally hundreds of students attended our High Holiday services.  

It is not unusual for me to get up early on Yom Kippur morning, have a cup of coffee (strictly against the rules, I know), and read the paper just to quietly get my head ready for the heavy morning worship service soon to commence.  This is the day of our confession.  Pretty solemn.

I once told a Ba'al Shem Tov story called "Why the Ba'al Shem Tov laughed three times."  As a matter of fact when Danny Nichols and I were editing the great camp music CD we called, "L'Vracha, For a Blessing," and realized we had space left over on the CD, I recorded that story into a mic sitting in his living room.  Anyway, it's a great story about how looking at the brass buttons (one was missing) on a rich man's coat reminded the great rabbi of his parents and their love for each other, and it caused him to laugh several times during Shabbat services.  This Yom Kippur I laughed more than three times.

Just prior to leaving for Hillel last week to lead Yom Kippur morning services, my wife handed me a red envelope that had just come in the mail.  I knew it was a Rosh Ha Shannah card, and I was right.  But the front cover of the card rocked my world.  To paraphrase, it said in bold red letters, F*CK YOU, YOU F*CKING  F*CKER.   Inside was the nicest wish for a Shannah Tovah  a sweet year for me and my family. The card was from a friend, a young rabbi, someone who had worked at camp for years....AND IT MADE ME HOWL.  All day long, whenever there was a break in the reading at the synagogue, I thought of that card and could not suppress a smile.  I felt so like the Ba'al Shem Tov, but on the opposite side of the fence.    Irreverence at its best.  Hey, whatever floats your boat, you know...that floated mine.

SHANNAH TOVAH,

Ron

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hey Buddy, Can I Borrow Your Hula Hoop?

                                                                                                            June, 2015


Dear Family and Friends:

It has been raining off and on here for the past two weeks.  Today’s sogginess forced me to walk indoors on the track at our local YMCA.  Not just me.  The entire “Y” day camp population was there playing games, shooting hoops, even eating lunch on the four basketball courts.  Cute kids all over the place and a lovely din and racket.  I was reminded of blessing number seven in the Sheva Berachot recited during Jewish wedding ceremonies.  It equates the joy of bride and groom and the shouts of young people celebrating with the songs of children at play in the streets of Jerusalem.  That beautiful image resonates with me whenever I hit that spot in the ceremony under the Chupah.  Well, we certainly heard the songs of children at play on the courts of Bloomington this morning.  It was music to my ears.

On one of my loops around the courts a little fellow, maybe five years old, sitting near the track, looked up at me as I went by, pointed his finger at me and shot his imaginary finger gun.  He also made the universal noise all imaginary guns make, “P’shu, p’shu.”  I, being the responsible adult that I am pointed back, cocked my thumb and returned fire (along with the required sound effect).  On my next loop he was waiting in ambush.  Kneeling next to the curtain that divides the courts he fired when ready as I walked on by.  I was indeed caught by surprise and my imaginary return fire missed by a mile.

For a minute I thought, “Maybe, in this day and age, with so much real shooting going on in our world, I shouldn’t be playing such a game.”  It’s not very PC, right?   But, the heck with that, I decided to be ready for him as I rounded the turn on my next loop.  I would quick draw and shoot from a crouch just like Doc Holliday at the OK Corral.  But the kid surprised me again.  As I approached the court he was nowhere to be seen.  There were no shots, no sound effects.

 I glanced around and saw the little bandit.  No longer interested in our showdown, he had joined another little outlaw and both were trying to figure out how to twirl hula hoops and keep them from falling to the floor. They just couldn’t hula them fast enough.   At first I was a bit disappointed, having lost my rival to another.  But then I couldn’t help but smile and think, what if all the shooters traded their guns for hula hoops?  What if our imaginary shoot sound effects were erased by the giggles of hula hoopers trying to keep their hoops up over their hips?  What a silly thought.  

What a wonderful thought.

The sun finally poked through as I walked out to the car.  I’m sure my little adversary had not even the slightest memory of our YMCA duel this morning.  It was just a couple of imaginary shots at an old dude walking the track in his beat up Cubs cap.  Nothing important to remember there.  But for me, imagining the world doing the hula rather than killing each other on the streets of our cities or in its churches…well, that was a taste of the Messianic era we sometimes talk about.  Sweet.

Aloha,


Ron

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thinking of Springs Long Gone

Allow me a bit of nostalgia.  Been thinking about this as the warm weather has hit town.      


                                                                                           Feb. 1990


Dear G.U.C.I. Staff:


I've been sending you these letters for a few months now, and I've even
received some responses.  They have been very positive, I'm happy to say.  I am
always happy to hear from you and if I stimulate some thought--all the better. 
These letters are just my own personal thoughts, with no hidden meanings or
agendas.


I'd like to tell you about something very important to me; fishing.  You
probably were not aware of the my interest in this sport, nor did you know that
I have been on several fishing expiditions in the past few years.  OK. I admit
it. I do not particularly like to fish.  But my son Michael does.  Somehow he
has become fascinated with fishing and wholly committed to the quest of
bringing in the "big one."  So for the past three years, for a week in the
spring before we gear up for camp, and for a week in August right after camp
closes, off we go with tent, rod and reel, all kinds of strange looking things
called crankbaits, spoons, etc., and a canoe, to threaten the gilled
populations of our local lakes.  I might add at this point, we are the worst
fishermen ever to buy a nightcrawler.  We have never brought in the big one. 
Not even the middle sized one.  "Why," you might ask, "would I invest so much
time and energy to something in which I am not particularly interested, and do
so poorly?"  The answer is simple.  Although I do not love to fish, I love to
go fishing with my son.  His enthusiasm for fishing gives us the opportunity to
spend two weeks a year alone together.  For that, I'm happy to call myself an
angler.


Michael is the expert.  He knows everything there is to know about fishing from
books, magazines, and even the fishing shows on TV (how is it that they are
able to catch twenty or so monsters in a half-hour show, while we haven't
landed one in three years?).  The biggest thing we have ever caught was me,
when Jeremy (he begrudgingly joins us on occasion) hooked my finger.  There we
were, out in the middle of a lake, the three of us in a canoe, and me with a
barbed fish hook embedded in my finger.  I was thinking that we must be doing
something wrong, as I ripped out that hook with a pliers.  Jeremy and Michael
admired their Dad's fortitude...(I almost puked).


Well, it's almost April and off we go again.  You know?  I can't wait. 
Michael's eyes are bright with anticipation.  He's planning the "safari" every
evening, with thoughts of different types of lures, a new reel, visions of
taxidermists dancing in his head.  I'm excited too.  We'll bring along our
Charlie Parker and Buddy Rich tapes (perhaps I can sneak some Bruebeck in there
as well).  We will talk about jazz, and high school, and the Bears, and----what
the hell, we will just have all that time to talk about nothing.  It doesn't
get any better than that.  
I'd like to see Michael catch that big one, just to see the look on his face.  But if it doesn't happen, I really don't mind.

Now let me tell you how I felt last night watching Jeremy play tenor sax with
the North Central H.S. Jazz Band....well, maybe next time.


Ron

Friday, March 27, 2015

And Now For Something Completely Different; Sacrifices and Priests





                                                                                          March, 2015
 Dear Friends and Family:


I’ve never prided myself on being a biblical scholar, but these days I do find myself studying each week’s Torah (The Five Books of Moses) portion in order to prepare short “Divrei Torah” (literally, “Words of Torah;” lessons or sermons based on the portion of the week).  I am often asked to speak at Sabbath and High Holiday services at Hillel.  The books of Genesis and Exodus are easy.  They are filled with drama and family conflict.  Genesis begins at the beginning (…In the beginning God created…) with creation of the world followed by great C.B.DeMille-type stories of Noah and the flood, Abraham almost sacrificing his son Isaac, Jacob and Esau fighting over and tricking Isaac out of the father’s blessing and the first son’s birthright, Joseph, who’s brothers throw him in a pit and sell him, then slavery in Egypt and Moses receiving the Ten Commandments and leading the Hebrews for forty years in the wilderness.  Great stuff, no?  Anyone could relate these conflicts and experiences to modern-day life. 

But, just when one might begin feeling comfortable sermonizing on each week’s section of the Torah, we come to Leviticus.  Leviticus goes on and on with laws regarding institutions that no longer exist; sacrifices and the Jewish priesthood.  It has always seemed to me that this is the book we skip or at best skim.  I’m thankful that we are no longer a People who brings animals to the tabernacle or Temple so the priests can slaughter, sprinkle blood, and burn them up.  What kind of deal is that?  Nothing to learn, not even an Oneg afterwards.

Last week we attended Sabbath services at our local synagogue, Beth Shalom.  Lana E. led the service and gave the sermon, based on the first chapters of Leviticus.  I will forever be in her debt.  She demonstrated a different way of understanding biblical sacrifice and the priesthood.  Here’s my take on her words. 

It may be difficult for us to empathize with our ancient ancestors because we see them through 21st century eyes.  Of course their practices seem at best strange to us.  But consider that Moses had just taken about 400,000 Jews out of Egypt, out of slavery.  They are no yet a People.  They do not know what it means to be moral, to be responsible, or to be accountable, at least not in a nation kind of way.  Neither does this People Israel have the leadership to show the way.  Lana taught that in order for the Jewish multitude to become the Jewish People it had to be taught how to acknowledge life’s experiences, both positive and negative.  The institution of these several types of sacrifices did just that.  There was a sin offering, a meal offering, a peace offering, a guilt offering, etc. The sacrifice was the action which taught our ancient ancestors that behavior was important and needed to be acknowledged.  Today if we sin we ask for forgiveness (Al Chet on Yom Kippur), if we wrong someone we ask for their pardon, if we fell blessed we recite Sh’Hechianu.  We try and repair the negatives and appreciate the positives.  A slave nation had to be taught right from wrong, that behavior was important, and that we should appreciate life.  A system of sacrifices teaches a People to observe, appreciate and acknowledge.

What of leadership?  Leviticus is crammed full of instructions for the family of Aaron, Moses’ brother.  They took on the duties of the priesthood, caring for the sacrifices that took place in the Tabernacle in the wilderness and the Temple in Jerusalem.  It seems more reasonable to understand that where no leaders have existed, and where they are desperately needed, a manual of operations for new leaders is a must.  In this way, Moses commands each detail of dress, behavior, and ritual to the fledgling priests.  They couldn’t Google, “vestments” to find out what a priest wears to work.  There were no sacrifice instruction books to refer to.  Had there been a Hebrew Union College back in those days, our priests might have studied there for five years and learned how to “operate” as leaders in the Jewish community.   They had no rabbis’ manuals to tell them how to help the people celebrate good things in their lives or make amends for wrongs that had been done. Leviticus is the manual.

Wow Lana.  Thank you.  You gave me so much to think about last Friday night.  I am so glad I didn’t stay home and watch Blue Bloods. 

Ron

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bloomington Weather

If you don't like the weather in Indiana just wait a few minutes...


                                                               TWO WEEKS AGO


                                                             LAST SUNDAY


                                                              IU WINS 5-4

Friday, March 13, 2015

Baseball vs. Hebrew

(sorry for formatting problems)

Dear Family and Friends:

When I was a kid I hated Hebrew. I remember my mother sending me to an orthodox after-school Hebrew class, but after a short while I refused to go. I wanted to play baseball (same thing kept me from piano lessons). Now that I think of it, I am surprised
that my parents didn't insist. No, they let me play ball.

Throughout my childhood I successfully avoided Hebrew classes. As a camper at Union Institute in Oconomowoc, in the late 50’s, there was no Hebrew to speak of. So,
no problem. But later on, during my staff years, from 1963 to 1974 Hebrew became an
integral part of the camp’s program. I was always able to find something that had to be
done during “Ivrit.” I remember talking Jim Marx, the camp maintenance person, into
teaching me to drive the tractor. That was my major out of Hebrew. Since I was the
only staff member who knew how to drive it, I was usually out mowing, clearing, doing
something to some part of the back little-used areas of camp. Funny, I always needed
to do that work during Hebrew. I also learned how to take care of the docks and all of
the boats. I remember negotiating with the camp Director and saying that I’d give up my
free hour to work on these projects but they needed more attention than a mere hour a
day. I asked if I could use the Hebrew hour in addition. I think the he was happy that
someone wanted to help Jim Marx. And so I was home free; no Ivrit (Hebrew).

That all changed in 1969. Rabbi Allen Smith convinced me to go to Israel for the school
year and attend the Hayim Greenberg Institute (Machon Greenberg). There I learned
Hebrew five hours a day, five days a week. My teacher, Ephraim, an Argentinean/
Israeli proved to be a creative and engaging instructor. He spoke no English. It was
“Roc Ivrit” (only Hebrew) in that class, and all of it conversational Hebrew. Learning
Hebrew in Israel was the way to go, but my roommates at the Machon were a major
factor as well. I lived in a suite of rooms with eight boys from Argentina, Columbia,
and Ecuador. They spoke no English, I spoke no Spanish. We had to speak Hebrew
all that year. Every word, every expression I learned in Ulpan (conversational Hebrew
class) in the morning, I used at home in the evening. I was the only North American
living with South Americans and my suite-mates kind of adopted me. They took me
along to play soccer on the weekends (I was obviously the weakest player…unless I
played goalie (remember all those wasted years playing baseball), taught me how to
play their brand of poker, introduced me to several bars in Jerusalem, etc. And it was
all in Hebrew.

 In 1972 Juca and I returned to Jerusalem for a year at the Hebrew Union College. I was in the rabbinic program. I made it into one of the higher classes because my Hebrew was pretty OK. But I could hardly read it, and had virtually no biblical or liturgical
Hebrew at all. I spent a good part of that year taking extra tutoring just to be able to
read out loud. That was no easy task for me.

But in January of that year I learned that I really could speak the language. Jerusalem was hit with a major snowstorm, 9 or 10 inches. We had just bought groceries andordered them to be delivered to our apartment in Rechavia. They never arrived. I
remember going next door to our neighbor and asking to use the phone to call Ha
Mashbir, the grocery to see what had happened to our food. For fifteen minutes I
argued with the manager of the store over the phone. When I got off the line I realized
that I had done so all in Hebrew. That convinced me that I could really speak.

 Over the years I spoke little Hebrew, just some to the Israelis who came to camp each summer. I infrequently led worship services so I wasn’t practicing like my HUC classmates who were working in synagogues and reading prayers and Torah every
week.

The irony of it all is that now I am a Hebrew teacher. That’s right. The kid who never went to Hebrew is now the teacher. A few years ago our Hillel Director here at Indiana University asked me if I would teach some of the adults in her conversion class to read
Hebrew. I agreed. That class is still meeting three years later along with four other
classes of adults all learning to read Hebrew and to understand the language of the
prayer book. In the process I’ve learned a lot too. It certainly has been good for my
Hebrew and things that I learned forty years ago bubble to the surface more often than
I would have ever have imagined. My students very much like our classes (or they
would have been long gone). Mostly I’ve learned that I love teaching Hebrew. Who
would have thunk it? I always loved being able to speak Hebrew, but never imagined
that I’d thrive teaching reading and classical Hebrew.  

I should have taken the Hebrew and piano lessons when I was a kid. Oh well, I was a pretty good baseball player.


Ron  

Monday, January 19, 2015

After all of the terrible things that have befallen our country in the past several months, the following Bloomington Herald Times front page picture brings a bit of hope for the future.