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Weekly Message
June 12 - June 19

June Dates to Remember

June 15th Shabbat Sacharit and Torah Services 10 am
June 19 Mah Jong 2 pm
June 21, Unveiling for Loren Landis, BAJC Cemetery, 5:30 pm
Musical Kabbalat Shabbat services and pot luck dessert, 7 pm
June 22, Annual Meeting and BBQ — dinner at 6:30pm, meeting at 7 pm
June 24, Community Potluck to celebrate the life of Loren Landis, 6:30-8:30 pm
What's in This Week's Message? 
The Importance of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah by Kate
Summer Newsletter Note
Peace Building 
High Ledges with David Arfa
Gardening at BAJC
Cantor Kate- House Rental Opportunity
Search for a Metal Detector

The Importance of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah

What is the importance of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah? We know this marks the moment when a child accepts the ritual responsibilities of Judaism. But what does this accomplishment mean for families – and for the young person? For each child and each family it may be somewhat different. Still, in most cases there are commonalities. The family gets to kvell over the Bar or Bat Mitzvah, admiring his or her skills and accomplishments, but also simply loving him or her for who he or she is. Perhaps the young person in unusually poised – or perhaps not poised at all. Perhaps she or he has a beautiful singing voice, or shows a great aptitude for music – or perhaps not at all. Perhaps there is a thoughtful davar (speech), or perhaps the davar is delivered with drama and flair. 

No matter what, a young person arrives as the Bar or Bat Mitzvah having achieved something remarkable. Some conquer tremendous fears – fear of appearing in front of a crowd, fear of learning Hebrew, fear of simply not being good enough. Many contend with a lack of personal faith, with doubts about what all this religious ritual could possibly mean, and sometimes with a feeling of resentment toward parents who are putting them through a seemingly unnecessary ordeal. Some must learn in spite of significant learning difficulties. In the end, all manage to do something they very probably never thought they could – to chant from the Torah, without vowels or trop – after having learned, in must cases, both to sound out Hebrew and to sing the trop. Most also chant all or part of a Haftarah, a portion from the prophets, in Hebrew with a different trop. Most learn several Hebrew prayers, and often lead them with aplomb.

And what about their teacher? I have been teaching B’nai Mitzvah for more than a decade – since before I became BAJC’s Cantor and Spiritual Leader. Although our shul is small, I have actually lost count of numbers of kids I’ve seen through te process (and that’s not counting the two huge classes Rabbi Tom coped with during his tenure, during which I was away at school and teaching elsewhere. Every class is different, every student is different – and every year I encounter new challenges and new rewards. I can confidently say that I have learned vastly more from my students that they have learned from me. They have pushed me to be a better teacher, they’ve invited me to loosen up and not be such a perfectionist, they’ve been patient with my foibles, and they’ve been encouraging about my gifts. I hope I’ve been able to do half of that for each of them.

BAJC has had the first Bat Mitzvah of the season – the incomparable Lena Clark – and we are expecting two more wonderful Bat Mitzvah services in August with Amanda Moryadis and Priya Kitzmiller. And then I’ll be going off to be a student for a while.  Of all the things I do at BAJC, teaching the B’nai Mitzvah will be one of the ones I miss the most. For me, the importance of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is that I get to be part of a young student’s life, and to help them achieve something amazing. What could be better than that?

Summer Newsletter

The next newsletter will be a summer issue covering July and August and it may not come out until after the July 4th holiday weekend.  Please send anything and everything you want to see in the summer newsletter to Faith by June 23rd.  Anyone can submit information or suggestions, but committee chairs, in particular, are asked to tell us about their committee’s accomplishments this past year and/or plans for the new year.  It is also a good time to share our blessings — let us know about graduations, new jobs, engagements and weddings, and other recent good happenings in our BAJC family.  Since the newsletter might go out a little late, please be aware that there is a Saturday morning service scheduled for July 6th at 10:00, service leader TBA.
Peace Building

The Windham World Affairs Council, together with 118 Elliot and the Jerusalem Peacebuilders, will present a screening of “Within the Eye of the Storm” on Thursday, July 25th, at 6:00 at 118 Elliot Street in Brattleboro.   The film tells the story of Palestinian and Israeli fighters who turn from enemies into brothers when facing the tragic loss of their daughters in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The film will be followed by group discussions led by members of the Jerusalem Peacebuilders’ Vermont Leadership Institute.  For more information, visit

High Ledges Shabbat with David Arfa

 All are welcome to this quiet, contemplative forest blessing journey this Saturday, June 15th, at 10am.  Directions below.    

This is an easy hike filled with walking meditations and wonder; restful sounds of songbirds and wind and soothing sights of trees and forests, field and brook will help renew our hearts.  Please RSVP if you would like to join in. We'll meet at the second parking area, down the hill and linger by the cars a tad longer if we are expecting you.  Bring your own water, and snacks to share at Kiddush- Grape juice and Challah provided.  Please share this note with anyone who may be interested- as always, these services are offered free of charge.  All are welcome.  This year, these services are again supported by the Tiferet Center.  Future services will be July 20, August 24 and beyond through the Fall.  

Directions: and what else?

BAJC has a multi-season project to improve the path from our overflow parking in the lower field up to the sanctuary and to spruce up our outdoor classroom and event space.  Thanks to some amazing volunteers (Thank you Amanda, Eric, Moss, and scouts Phil and Zach!) we've removed multiple wheelbarrows worth of invasive plants and started planting out the hillside with low maintenance plants benefiting our native pollinators.  This year we'll be working more on the actual pathway and planting out the event space with flowers that our deer neighbors (ha ha, get it?) have indicated they'll let us grow.

Have more ideas for this year?  Please share!

Come help on the Second Sunday in the Summer, May 12 and June 9 from 3:30 - 5:15.  That's during Hebrew School, so stay, schmooze and work in the great outdoors.

Continue to join us for gardening in the heat of the Summer from (tentatively) 8:30-10am on Sundays July 14 and August 4 (1st Sunday due to Tish'a B'Av).  

Can't come but want to help?  Need more information?  Call Andrea 829-0811.

House Rental – September through May
Cantor Kate is looking for one or two people to rent her furnished home in West Brattleboro from Sept. 2019-May 2020. The house has two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a basement with a washer and drier. On a country road, 1.5 acres with gardens and lawn. No pets.

Please contact Cantor Kate for more information. 380-1677
The BAJC Cemetery Committee is looking for a pre-owned used working metal detector for finding the pins marking plots in our cemetery, when selling a plot, or identifying pin markers for burial, and monument placement.  The pins were placed by the surveyor a number of years ago, and some are now well underground, especially in areas that are less populated. Since BAJC is a nonprofit organization. A donation of one that is no longer being used can be tax deductible.  
Contact: Carol Levin, 802-258-1723 <> for the Cemetery Committee. 
ARE YOU STILL A BAJC MEMBER? Your “gift from the heart,” no matter the size, signifies your intention to continue to be a member of BAJC, and to support its programs. Gifts can be sent to:
PO Box 2353, Brattleboro 05303.


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