I'm Jon Spira-Savett, rabbi at Temple Beth Abraham in Nashua, New Hampshire. This website and blog is a resource for Jewish learning and Jewish action. It is a way to share my thoughts beyond my classes and weekly Divrei Torah. You'll find blog posts, standing resource pages with links and things to read, and podcasts as well.
Dedication, take 7: One of the great Jewish organizations in the U.S. working in support of Jews overseas has been the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. "The Joint" was founded in 1914 by American Jewish philanthropists Henry Morgenthau Sr. and Jacob Schiff to aid the Jews of Ottoman Palestine, who had been cut off by the start of World War I from their usual sources of support. Over the years, the JDC has supported vulnerable Jewish populations in Europe and Israell. n addition to material help, the Joint has helped to rebuild Jewish life in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, working with communities on the ground and sending young Jewish adults from the West as fellows who teach and offer all kinds of programming.
If you're looking for something to help people who are not Jewish understand Chanuka, here is a 13-minute TV interview I did this month for Londonderry's public access cable TV program "Londonderry Heart, Home, and Soul" with host Mark Oswald.
Jewish dedication for the sixth candle: The Young Judaea Zionism movement's "Year Course" has been for a long time one of the very best programs in Jewish education. Young people go for the gap year between high school and college. The program combines study, volunteer work, travel, communal living, and leadership development. In recent years the Year Course has developed special tracks in everything from arts to medicine to yeshiva study. Year Course alums are leaders in Jewish life in all kinds of organizations (they turn up as U.S. Supreme Court clerks as well!). Here's to quality Jewish programming worth supporting, or investigating if you are in high school or have a child who is.
Another profile in Jewish dedication: The American Jewish World Service is the major Jewish organization working on the ground in the developing world. They are the lead Jewish organization in the coalition to "Save Darfur", they provide grants as well as expert assistance to on-the-ground organizations doing economic development, education, and women's empowerment in developing countries. If you have relevant expertise, they arrange for long-term Peace Corps-style volunteering overseas. They also take groups on shorter experiences working for a week and reflecting from a Jewish angle on what people see there. Consider a year-end gift, or getting on their e-mail contact list -- when issues come up before the Congress or administration about justice or development they reach out and mobilize.
There is a modern tradition that for each candle of Chanuka, the Holiday of Dedication, we might think about or direct a gift of tzedakah to people who exemplify dedication to justice, freedom, or hope. Today I learned that my friend and colleague Rabbi David Rosenn will be moving on from the organization he founded some fifteen years ago called AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps.
Avodah began in New York and now operates as well in Chicago, New Orleans, and Washington. In each place, a group of post-college Jewish young adults live in a "bayit" together and are placed in anti-poverty organizations. They learn about organizing and advocacy, as well as Jewish teachings about social justice. They create their home and their Jewish community. Here's to David, and to Avodah!
Here are some miscellaneous musical resources for Chanuka:
If you've found this particular post by web search or Facebook, you may be a new or recent Jewish graduate in the Boston area. Mazal tov! If you're still trying to figure out where to live after college, graduate school, or professional school, or are looking for a more affordable way to live near Boston -- this is an unabashed ad for Nashua, New Hampshire where we have a lovely Jewish community centered around Temple Beth Abraham. (If you're not a grad but know one, send this post along to her or him!)
Nashua is a small city right on the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border. Compared to places closer to Boston, New Hampshire has much lower costs for housing, as well as no state income or sales tax. We're only about half an hour by car from Rte 128, and on the weekend you can be in Concord, Newton, or Harvard Square in 45 minutes or less. The ocean and the mountains are within an hour, and there are terrific hiking, local produce and orchards right in the surrounding towns. Many people from here commute to the Boston area, even to downtown (there's a direct express bus).
And our Jewish community here is warm and haimish! We would love to welcome you here, even for a year or two. Save a little money, enjoy many invitations for Shabbat dinner, lend us your young Jewish energy and creativity! Our synagogue is made up of people from all over who have found a second family here. There are opportunities for all kinds of Jewish experiences -- services, yoga, Jewish study, speakers, Israeli dancing, arts and music, social action. I am even working on a series of podcasts you can download if you are commuting.
If you'd like to learn more, send a note to me or give a call to the synagogue (603-883-8184). If you're free, join us for an open house brunch on Sunday, June 28 -- let us know if you'd like to come. At 10 AM join me for an informal conversation to get acquainted and discuss the topic of "Finding Spirituality in the 21st Century." Or come between 11-1 for brunch to meet people and learn about the area, the community, and the synagogue. We can help you find a ride here, and if you're interested we'd love to host you for the Shabbat of June 26-27.