Every Monday morning I take the G train to the Bedford-Nostrand stop and walk to the Dr. Peter Ray School to tutor a third grader as a volunteer for Reading Partners. I enjoy my weekly visits thoroughly, and have been very gratified to see real improvements in my student’s reading ability. The Dr. Ray School has an invigorating, positive vibe. The hallways are full of colorful motivational messages written by the students. On a recent visit, one message caught my eye. It said, “I balance courage for what I want with consideration for what others want.” The elementary student who wrote these words has come up with a philosophy of life remarkably similar to that of the great sage Hillel who said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I?” The only element missing from the student’s phrase was Hillel’s call for urgency, “And if not now, when?”
This month, on June 21, members of PTBAS must make a choice; should PTBAS consolidate with Temple Beth Emeth? Please read carefully Eric Platt’s well-considered and impassioned message in this edition of the Voice. Then, keep in mind the words of Hillel and the students of the Dr. Ray School. Take the courage to ask for what you want by coming on June 6 to talk to the consolidation committee from Beth Emeth, and then remember that you are part of a larger community. You are making your decision for the good of our entire temple family, and indeed for the Reform movement. Although we are blessed to welcome three new members - Elaine Moss, Sally Brown and Sylvia Kaplan - at the Erev Shavuot dinner this year, our membership continues to decline. Hillel’s question resounds: “If not now, when?”
As this is the last issue of the Temple Voice before the summer break, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Lillian Schwartz for her excellent and extraordinarily patient work as the editor. Because she waited until the very last possible minute for my contribution this month, I am able to tell you about several recently created events that are happening this month:
- Tuesday, June 6, 6:00 PM: Vigil to remember the voyage of the S. S. St. Louis on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall, sponsored by HIAS and the Brooklyn Synagogue Refugee Coalition. I will be leading the community singing.
For more information: https://www.hias.org/st-louis-vigils - Monday, June 19, 7:30 PM: After break-the-fast dinner at the Kings Bay Y on Nostrand Avenue. Muslims and Jews join together for this festive dinner during the month of Ramadan, with music and inspirational speakers. Please tell me if you are coming by Wednesday, June 14. The dinner is free, but please express your thanks by donating in support of the Young Peace Builders of the Kings Bay Y. Finally, Harvey Wang, author, photographer, film maker and member of Temple Beth Emeth, would like to make a film about the history of the member congregations of PTBAS. He hopes to interview our members and hear their stories. This is an amazing opportunity to document the rich synagogue life of Brooklyn in the 20th century. I look forward to introducing you to Harvey. Check out his website:
Chazak v’ematz! Be strong and courageous for this month of challenges and opportunities.
Cantor Suzanne Bernstein