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voices Spring 2010 • Aviv, 5770 www.kolotchayeinu.

org

Co-creation: A Jewish Metaphysic of Wealth


By Seth Borgos

R
eading 19th century history sonal claim has certain limits – wealth spectrum. Regrettably, it is both false and
offers unexpected pleasures. acquired through violence, theft, or de- pernicious.
One remarkable feature of that ception is illegitimate. But absent gross It is pernicious because identifying the
bygone age was a passionate violations of moral norms, the drive to current distribution of wealth with a natural
public debate over the origins of wealth. create value and maximize profit is an order puts the cause of justice at a perma-
From the agrarians to the socialists, from ethically neutral process, subject to natu- nent structural disadvantage. Yes, one can

$
the robber barons to the acolytes of Henry ral rather than spiritual laws. argue that the natural order is unfair and
George, every thoughtful person seemed we have a moral obligation to provide for
to have ideas about how wealth was cre- those who suffer from it. Many of us have
ated and who had a legitimate claim to it. spent years doing just that. But within that
Nowadays the very word ‘wealth’ has ac- frame, the burden of proof rests on those
quired a musty, Victorian aroma, and open who presume to redistribute wealth from its
debate about it has become taboo. But the rightful creators to such “non-producers” as
issue has not disappeared, it has simply gone mothers, artists, government workers, the
underground. There is an implicit story of disabled, and the unemployed. In that battle
wealth – so deeply embedded it is barely dis- 2. Once wealth is earned, ethics kicks in. We the forces of the status quo will always have
cernible – that sets the boundaries of public are encouraged, on a purely voluntary ba- the upper hand.
discourse today. It goes something like this: sis, to share some of our personal wealth The story also rests on a false premise.
in line with our private values – this is In truth, wealth is created by whole societ-
1. Wealth is the product of individual effort ies and communities, not lone individuals.
and belongs, in a fundamental sense, to “charity.” We also grant government the
power to tax private wealth on behalf of Personal effort plays a role, of course, but it
the person who generates it. This per- is impossible to isolate the individual con-
the common good – but because taxation
is coercive rather than voluntary, it must tribution from the social contribution; the
be justified by a strong moral claim. two are inextricably linked. Activities often
in this issue viewed as ancillary to economic production
3. Conservatives say that meddling with –scholarship, art, science, public service, so-
Co-Creation...............................1 the natural laws of the market impedes cial work, caregiving – are integral to wealth
From The Rabbi.........................2 economic efficiency and growth, so taxes creation. Societies that invest broadly in
Takhlis.......................................3 should be kept low. Liberals say that the child welfare, education, health care, envi-
Good With Money......................4 cold logic of the market must be leav- ronmental protection and other “collective”
ened by equity and compassion, and goods are not just fairer, but ultimately more
Coming Back to Money.............4
the winners need to share their earnings prosperous. The conflict between economic
Ethics of Business....................6 growth and social equity, the alleged bone of
with those less fortunate. The conflict
Shabbat Shekkalim...................8 between these two positions defines the contention between conservatives and liber-
Community of Givers..............10 contours of our politics. als, is more myth than reality.
Meaning of Tzedakah..............11 Problematic as it is, the governing story
That, crudely stated, is the contempo- of wealth is not easily supplanted. It clearly
Donations................................12
rary story of wealth. With minor variations
it is accepted across the social and political continued on page 10
FROM THE RABBI
Dear Friends, thought perhaps the man’s heart had broken
at that moment of having to yell his shame

I
t was 1987. I had recently returned as everyone around stopped to stare. Later
from a year of study in Israel and I wept.
began commuting to rabbinic school Every week this fall I have spoken to or
in New York via the Broadway-La- counseled or met with a Kolot member who
fayette F train station. Some of you will has lost a job or seen a job diminish due to the
remember that in 1987 President Reagan’s recession. The shame middle class, formerly
cuts had taken hold and the Broadway- comfortable people feel in this circumstance
Photo courtesy of Ellen Lippmann
Lafayette station was a de facto home- parallels that felt by that man shouting at his
less shelter, where people slept, lived, and of feeding someone a meal and advocating son in the middle of the street.
asked for food or money. I began to think for change in the circumstances that create Recently I have realized that I was see-
it was impossible to study the basic texts hunger. ing more people sleeping on streets and in
of Jewish ethical behavior without doing Enter the recession of 2008-09. Some subway stations than I had in a long time.
something about people in such desperate of you heard me tell this story during Rosh One word for a poor person, “ani,” is relat-
need three blocks away so I worked with HaShanah services this year: ed to the word for oppress or humiliate. It
fellow students, faculty and administra- I was meeting a Kolot member at a café also sounds very much like the word “ani,”
tion at Hebrew Union College-Jewish In- me. Each poor person is an individual, feel-
stitute of Religion to start a soup kitchen. ing the oppression or shame of poverty in
It opened its doors in the fall of 1988 and
has operated steadily since then, a fact
which I find affirming and appalling in
C his or her own way. ‘Ani’ is also very like
the Hebrew word for answer, “anah.” Rabbi
Jill Jacobs, in her book, There Shall Be No
equal measure. I will say that one of my
proudest moments came when my Tal-
And finally the man Needy, reminds us that “the psalms regularly
describe the ‘ani’ as suffering not only from
mud professor, teaching us about a tam- financial need but also from illness, oppres-
hui, the soup kitchen that was ever present spoke the truth: sion, loneliness, and depression. This ‘ani’
in the shtetls and towns of Jewish Eastern calls out for divine help, on the assumption
Europe, stopped his lecture to say, “And
now we have one here at HUC.” Com-
“I don’t have any that God intervenes to redeem those who
are suffering.”
munal assistance to those in need was an So what now, God? We need some
obligation in the 19th century and still is, money.” strength for heshbon ha-nefesh, taking stock
in the 21st. of our souls. Our task is not only rebuke of
That experience led me to become an
active member of Interfaith Voices Against
Hunger, taking part in monthly protests at
c others, but also of ourselves. What is each
of us doing that keeps the ‘ani’ needy? What
in our choices in homes, meals, clothing,
City Hall against reductions in food stamps in a neighborhood near here earlier this year, and more keeps the poor ‘ani’ – humiliat-
and the shutting of food programs which something I often do as a rabbi without a ingly poor? What small measures can I take
could not keep their doors open. We learned real office. As I approached the café, I saw to help the man on the Brooklyn street who
about Native American corn ceremonies, we a man walking into the street and yelling at cannot buy his child a sweet or a toy or the
engaged in Buddhist walking meditation, we a small boy, presumably his son, to come on Kolot member who needs help paying the
listened to the shofar blast, we gathered in but the boy was near tears and hung back. rent or food? And what can I do – rak ani –
a Christian circle of prayer, and more. We The man kept walking and kept yelling. I just me -– to keep those new to poverty from
enjoyed each other and those rituals, but in suspected child abuse – the man was so harsh feeling the humiliation that is so often the
fact they did very little good for the people and the child so small and fearful. As I got lot of the poor?
who still lived in desperate straits in subway closer, I could hear that the boy was saying How do we allow the society – country,
stations and homeless shelters and piled up he did not want to come, because he wanted state, city, neighborhood - in which we live
10 in an apartment meant for 3. something in the store behind him. Over to come to such a moment? I have been
When I was ordained, I went to work for and over he cried, “I want, I want.” Over working on these questions for more than
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. and over, the man yelled, “Get over here! twenty years. I have wept and raged, writ-
There, presented the opportunity to give Get here right now!” One more time the boy ten letters and written sermons, made calls
grants to organizations across the country cried, “I want…” And finally the man spoke and made stew. And yet here we are again, as
that work to end hunger and feed the hun- the truth: “I don’t have any money.” forces well beyond most of our control wreak
gry, I learned a lot about the relative value I thought my heart would break. I continued on page 10

2 . V O I C E S
Good with Money
search market data, punch some numbers
into my calculator or excel spreadsheet, pro-
duce a $60 million or a $30 million dollar
By Amanda Aaron value. The change in value is only a different
number on a page to me. I’m sure this loss

A
lthough it feels crass to admit equivalent of winning the housing lottery? in value means more to the owner who lost
it, I’ve always loved money. I Although I majored in history and Eng- all of its equity investment in the property
love organizing it, counting lish in college, and the even more abstract and to the bank that gave the owner a $40
it, saving it, planning around Cinema Studies in grad school, it feels million or $50 million loan, but is difficult
it, listening to podcasts about it. I liked somehow inevitable that in my career, I have to imagine the troubles of a large property
the tactile feel of coins as a kid, and en- ended up working with money. For the past owner or a multinational financial institu-
joyed making tall piles of each kind, roll- 11 years I have worked as a Real Estate Ap- tion. These numbers are so large they be-
ing them up and trading them for dollar praiser, and the focus of my job is assigning come just numbers in my mind. Although
bills. When I worked the cash register at a dollar value to real estate. the fee for my work is pennies compared to
a Hallmark store in the mall as a teenag- But often I wonder, what does this love of the dollar value of the property, the reduc-
er, I prided myself on my speed making money say about me as a person? And what tion of my fee by half between last year’s ap-
change and on my mental calculations of does our culture’s obsession with money praisal and this year’s packs much more of a
the tax and the change without the help of mean for our quality of life and our obliga- meaningful impact for me.
the register. I always took care to store the tions to one another as a community? But one of the lessons I learn from Juda-
bills face up, with all of the heads pointing In my job, I clearly see the dangers of ism at Kolot is to try to put myself in the
in the same direction. abstract thinking about money, especially shoes of others, to try to translate my own
I have also always been lucky with money. when dealing with large numbers. How can experience into empathy for the experience
I have always managed to earn enough mon- an office building I appraised a year ago at of others. It may be difficult to feel sorry for
ey to cover more than just basic needs, and in $60 million dollars be worth $30 million to- the Madoff victims who lost millions that
a huge stroke of luck, I bought a Park slope day? What is the meaning of value when it most of us never had, but surely their pain is
apartment in 1999 instead of waiting a few so easily changes? For me, arriving at these as real as ours. Since the economic collapse,
years longer. Who knew that would be the colossal numbers is purely mechanical: I re- the desire to rage and blame has been so

Coming Back to Money


“Mom,” I said slowly, stunned. “You just
said this morning that we only have $80 to
live on for the next 2 weeks, and how we
By Jenny Aisenberg have to be really careful, and not eat out or

M
anything.” My mom had never been practi-
y parents told me they were a credit card that would be billed directly to
cal, but I couldn’t believe she was suggesting
getting divorced the sum- them – for medical expenses and emergen-
that we should invest in a four-foot statue of
mer after my Bat Mitzvah, cies only, they said.
liberty in lieu of food.
sending our fairly comfort- So there we were, walking down the street “Oh, sweetheart,” she chuckled, shaking
able middle-class existence into a tailspin in Maine, trying to carry on with the busi- her head at me. “It’s not money – it’s the
that would have ended with bankruptcy if ness of normal life while our heads were still MasterCard!”
not for my grandparents’ intervention. My ringing with shock. For me, the most impor- Those words – it’s not money, it’s the Mas-
dad had quit his job due to clinical depres- tant piece was taken care of – I could keep terCard, have haunted me my entire adult
sion, and my mom, who is severely bipo- going to the school I’d attended since kin- life, as I’ve attempted to make my way in
lar, hadn’t worked in almost 5 years. Our dergarten. I was more than willing to scrimp the world as a woman on my own. That
house and my college fund were gone. So on everything else. As we walked down the my mom couldn’t be trusted with even the
the mayhem was equal parts emotional street toward the public beach, we passed a most basic financial planning was reinforced
turmoil and financial crisis. knickknack shop with an enormous, four- constantly throughout my adolescence,
Before the dust had even settled, my foot-tall statue of liberty displayed in the when she’d come home with bizarre items
mom whisked me off to my grandparents’ window. “Ooh,” my mother squealed, “we (like a real, freeze-dried alligator head) that
house in Maine, where she could fall apart have to go inside!” I humored her, knowing she’d spent our grocery money on, perfectly
without worry. My mother’s parents stepped that resistance was futile. Statues of liberty happy to rely on Grandma’s “emergencies
in and dutifully took over as our providers, were her latest craze; she already had at least only” MasterCard for all the necessities our
paying my mom what was essentially an “al- a dozen figurine-sized ones at home. After “living allowance” should have covered. I
lowance,” taking over the payment of that conferring with the salesman, she ran back gave up trying to change Mom’s ways, even
part of my school tuition that wasn’t cov- to me, beaming – “It’s only $80! Can you though my grandmother blamed me for my
ered by a scholarship, and giving my mom believe it?” mother’s spending habits. My grandparents

VOICES 3
great in our culture. But as someone whose that my income was greatly reduced, but for-
work is a cog in the wheel of the capitalist tunately I was still employed. Cutting back
machine, I also see clearly how individual on spending forced me to reconsider the val-
decisions, which can be rational or reason- ue of things I spent money on. Every $100
able, can lead to disastrous outcomes in a
dysfunctional system. How can we fix things
for the future when we are fixated on blame
C or $200 expense that can be easily elimi-
nated is meaningful. The first impulse of
many of my friends in similar circumstances
instead of true understanding? The money
involved in large real estate transactions
Oh, sweetheart,” was to cut back domestic workers. Cutting
housekeeping seems like a no-brainer thing
seems like an entirely different entity than to do, eliminating a luxury that seems hard
the actual money I spend and save day-to- she chuckled, to afford any longer, and which many of us
day. And my own, personal relationship to feel guilt about having in the first place. But
money, involving a Quicken budget with a
variety of spending categories, a 401(k) plan,
shaking her head what would that reduction mean to our em-
ployees? Surely the $100 or $200 per month
multiple bank and investment accounts and means more to our immigrant housekeeper
insurance policies, is surely unrecognizable at me. who travels two hours each way from New
to those who get by on little. Through Ko- Jersey for the income than it does to my
lot’s social justice work on behalf of domes-
tic workers, we are reminded of our ethical
“It’s not money – family.
My daughter is in 2nd Grade and is learn-
imperative to treat those who work for us ing all about numbers and about money. She
fairly and equitably. But sometimes the scal- it’s the MasterCard!” loves numbers and I can see already that she
ing down of money in our society, from the will be “good” with money. The question is,
trillions of our federal budget and deficit, to
the dollars and pennies that are meaningful
to domestic workers in our homes, is a chal-
c how can I teach her to be good with money.
I’m not sure I always set the best example,
but I do know that our involvement in Juda-
lenging mental task. ism and community at Kolot will help us in
During the recent financial crisis, I found this struggle.

have never stopped supporting my mom fi- sponge that they can’t afford to subsidize in- I’ve ever needed. I wanted to live more than
nancially, and it doesn’t seem to trouble her definitely. But I also knew it wasn’t as black I wanted to plan.
at all that she’s living off what ought to be and white as they were making it: either get At the same time, I knew it would be nice
their retirement cushion. They are 84 and 82 an MBA and live a long and comfortable life to have more money – take exotic vacations,
now, and every month they still pay all her or, in my grandma’s words, “die in the gut- have cable TV, savings that could eventu-
bills (but not rent – 3 years ago, they bought ter.” ally finance the having of babies. And now
her a house). It has never been made clear So I did something that no one in my it seems like I may finally be able to do both.
to me exactly how much money they have, family has ever done: I ignored my grand- Since I started my first post-grad school job
or when, if ever, they’ll be tapped out. What parents’ advice (and their bribe money), and last August, I suddenly have a lot of things
was made clear to me from that summer struck out on my own, in search of a life I’ve never had before. A private office, health
when my parents divorced was that my mom based on something more meaningful than insurance, life insurance, paid vacation days
and I didn’t have much; just enough, really, making heaps of cash. I took the scenic route and sick days (none of which I need to use
to get by. through my 20’s, trying on different kinds of for the Jewish holidays, as those are auto-
I had my own money from babysitting lives in the hopes of finding one that felt matic paid holidays). Suddenly, I don’t have
and after-school jobs, and always earned right. I never had much in the way of fi- to worry about how I’ll make the rent from
enough to cover my teenage expenses (what nancial stability; there were times, as when I month to month; I don’t have to stress about
I referred to as “the 3 C’s” – coffee, cigarettes was living in Santa Cruz and working in the whether or not I can afford to stay home
and concerts). I’ve always done my best to be Farmer’s Market, that I wouldn’t have been if I’m sick. I don’t have to cheat my way
frugal, avoiding unnecessary luxuries rather able to eat if not for the fact that I was get- into museums with my old student ID, or
than focusing my energies on trying to make ting all my groceries on the barter system. agonize (as much) over the choice between
more money. My grandparents pressured me But I did get by. And I did it on my own. I’ve healthy food and cheap food when I’m out
heavily to choose a career path that would lived in big, dirty coop houses with no heat, with my friends.
assure financial security early on, and we studio apartments, off-the-grid communes And the flipside: I have to start paying
fought for many years over our differing with full solar power and composting toi- dues, literally and figuratively. I have to
opinions of what would be in my best inter- lets, and even in tents. I was never homeless, start figuring out what I can now afford to
est. I understood – and I still do – their fears but I knew that if I ever was that my family
that I might turn out just like my mom, a would take me in, and that’s all the security continued on page 10

4 . V O I C E S
Ethics of Business – An Oxymoron?
By Emma Missouri

One who wishes to acquire wis- As the Torah is given as a covenant, so was People can produce goods, create wealth
dom should study the way that mon- work given as a covenant. – Rabbi Nathan. and do business without Torah. It happens
In his book, Jews, Money and Social Respon- every minute. But as we do business, it is
ey works, for there is no greater area sibility, Lawrence Bush elaborates on Reb through Torah that we can understand our
of Torah study than this. It is like an Nathan’s idea: “Within Jewish thought, the dependence on others as well as our respon-
ever-flowing stream… wresting of our livelihood through labor sanc- sibility to our community and the world. Our
– Rabbi Yishmael. tifies the connection between the human being teachers point out that “the longest (spiritu-
(Adam) and the earth (Adamah). Work is one al) path is from the heart to the pocket.” The
Ethical business? A Torah of money? of the means by which Jews participate in the rabbis taught when two individuals establish
Aren’t these oxymorons? According to the recreation of the world, as a partner with the a business exchange in good conscience and
rabbis these ideas are not contradictions in Divine.” work to optimize the gain for both parties,
terms. It is ironic that stereotypes of Jews The rabbis magnify our purpose on this is a sacred moment recognized in Gan
and money, Jews and wealth and Jews in earth through their interpretation of Gen- Eden. People everywhere have been fooled
business have fueled anti-semitism. The be- esis 2:15: G-d took Adam and placed him in into believing that the value of money lies
havior of people like Bernard Madoff is to- the Garden of Eden, to work it and to guard it. in the money itself rather than in this ethi-
tally opposite of what our sages teach about They say we must work to survive and we are cal exchange. So money becomes for some
creating wealth. In all our texts rabbis and here to protect G-d’s work. Survival means a golden calf, when in reality money is a
sages deal extensively with money, business to support and nourish ourselves physically. means to fair exchange and the optimizing
and work. Survival also means to act upon our respon- of gain for all involved.
Our ancestors are shown as active par- sibilities as laid down in Torah. The Torah In the beginning of our history land,
ticipants in the market place. Whether it is of work might be state as the sanctification crops, livestock and slaves were measure of
Abraham buying a tomb for Sarah or Joseph of creation and the amelioration of the hu- wealth. G-d promised our ancestors land.
creating a development plan for Egypt, the man condition. Over the centuries money replaced land
torah is filled with tales of commerce, the ex- In the Pirke Avot the sages reflect, “Where as the primary measure of wealth. Money
change of money for work, work for brides, there is no flour, there is no Torah. Where there started out as an actual valued metal with
generous gifts, trades, greed and swindles. is not Torah, there is no flour.” The first part of weight – a shekel was a measure of weight as
Our texts point explicitly to the fact that the statement is clear enough. When we do was the English pound or the Spanish peso.
Judaism concerns itself with every aspect of not have adequate livelihood we cannot be Now money has become an agreed-upon
daily life. involved in anything but physical survival. value of exchange of goods and work. We
all operate with faith that a dollar is worth
something. Every day, except Shabbat, we
act on that faith.
7 Principles of Eco-Kashrut Is money “the root of all evil?” as my
mother used to quip? Are money’s products
Kavod HaOlam­– Honor the Earth: This law comes from Genesis 2:15. It greed and competition? Is it a tool of op-
is our work to guard (protect) all of G-d’s creation. pression? The Kabbalist believed that money
Pikuach Nefesh – Save Life: “I have set before you life and death, bless- is the product of people’s desire for justice
ing and curses, therefore choose life, so you and your children may live.” and tikkun olam (healing the earth). These
Deuteronomy 30:19 sages created a concept of real money. Real
Bal Tashcheet – Do Not Be Wasteful: In Deuteronomy 20: 19-20, G-d en- money is fair exchange among people, which
joins us that during a war we should not cut down the trees of an enemy optimized the gains for all involved directly
– thus depriving them of their livelihood. and indirectly. Real money actualizes the ex-
change.
Tza’ar Baalie Hayim – Be Kind to Living Things: Using Parsha Ki Tetze,
Rabbi Nilton Bonder concludes that for
Deuteronomy 22: 4-10, the rabbis broadened the law to respect animals,
the rabbis, the use of money “represents the
into a principle which encompasses all life on earth.
interdependence of people, a desire for civili-
Lo Tonu – Do Not Oppress Others Economically: Leviticus: 19: 13 reads “ zation, organization, peaceful coexistence and
You shall not oppress your in or steal from him.” ecology.”
Tzedakah – Act of Justice: The rabbis expand the law to include sharing Remember that we are taught that work
the Wealth. is part of our covenant with G-d. One He-
Shmirat Shabbat: Keep the Shabbath brew word for work is parnassa. It can be
translated as livelihood. Parnassa brings us
into the marketplace. Here we earn real

VOICES 5
money, make exchanges for goods or services
and communicate through commerce. Rabbi
people, which optimize gain for all the par-
ties involved. More than Thirty
Arthur Waskow brings the marketplace into Rabbi Zalman Schachter coined the
perspective: “The rabbis insisted that the mar- term eco-kashrut. The concept of eco comes Million Americans
ketplace as well as the workplace operate within from ecology – understanding the inter-
a basic commitment to justice, loving-kindness,
fairness and community.”
dependence of life on earth. Kashrut come
from our dietary laws which define what is are currently
Halakhah (law) demand actions,which permissible to consume and what is treyfe
fulfill the principles outlined by Rabbis or not permissible to consume. Therefore, unemployed.
Bonder and Waskow. One such example of eco-kashrut translates into a concept of what
the law of ona’ah – wronging or oppressing. is morally and ethically imperative. A great
The law comes from Leviticus 25:14: If you example of this occurred in Massachusetts
It is part of our work covenant to do tik-
sell anything to your neighbor, or buy from your in the 1960’s. The rabbis declared iceberg
kun olam, repairing the world. And the busi-
neighbor’s hand, you shall not wrong (oppress, lettuce treyfe. They declared that iceberg let-
ness partner of tikkun olam is esher olam –
overreach) each other. To strengthen this law, tuce was not permissible to consume because
wealth of the world.
the rabbis add, “You shall not wrong each of the working conditions of the farmer
The rabbis are emphatic that our liveli-
other, but you shall fear your G-d: I YHWH workers who planted, picked and packed it.
hood not just be about the accumulation
The principles of eco-kashrut (see box)
of wealth. So we come to tzedakah. Rabbi
come directly from the Torah and create an
Bonder states, “Wealth without giving im-
excellent framework for creating an ethical
poverishes the market.” We understand that
business. Let’s focus on the principles sur-
The typical rounding the creation of wealth and Tze-
tzedakah is not merely giving. The root of
tzedakah is justice. Rabbi Bonder calls it the
dakah as they relate to the accumulation of
“act of justicing.” How we use our personal
chief executive in the wealth.
It is considered a mitzvah to create abun-
gives and talents is the true measure of our
livelihood. According to Maimonides, the
dance for people and the earth. However,
US earns on average we are also admonished to create abundance
highest form of tzedakah is providing some-
one with the means to make a living.
without creating scarcity for someone else.
Thus tzedakah represents the real mean-
$10.4 million in total The rabbis believe that it is “better to not
have abundance if it brings about scarcity
ing of wealth. It demands of us involvement,
creativity and all our wisdom. It is our op-
anywhere else.” This idea of ecological abun-
compensation. dance could be derived from the principles
portunity to express our gratitude for life,
consciousness, opportunity and prosperity.
of Bal Tashcheet and Lo Tonu.
The “acts of justicing” express our under-
In the coffee business, we see the largest
standing that all we have is really G-d’s. In
coffee companies clear cutting rain forest to
am your G-d” Leviticus 25:17. From these Leviticus, G-d utters, “The land is Mine
plant coffee bush. They use toxic chemicals
passages the rabbis of the Talmud derived and you are but wayfarers on it, visitors with
to control the “weeds” and pests. They pay
the law of oppressive prices. For them there Me.”
their workers very low wages. These workers
is no such thing as just “doing business.” Just as we can never really own the land,
live in extreme poverty.
Commerce is not a separate amoral reality. so what we have accumulated is really the
So these big coffee companies are mak-
Over charging – price gouging – is equated sum total of all the wealth of this earth and
ing a lot of money for themselves and their
with humiliating another person through its people – G-d’s wealth.
shareholders. But they create scarcity by
speech or action. If you would like to know more about
destroying the environment and oppressing
My experience in the organic, fair-trade ethical business principles and practices
their workers. Organic farmers grow their
coffee business gave me the opportunity to check these books out.
coffee bush amongst banana, avocado and
participant in another economic model. A Kabala of Money
nut trees. They do not use chemical her-
fair-trade network facilitates the purchase by Rabbi Nilton Bonder
bicides or pesticides. Many organic coffee
of organic coffee from the farmers, and
farms are worker cooperatives. Many organic Jews, Money and Social Responsibility
then distribution and sale of green coffee
farmers belong progressive trade networks. by Lawrence Bush and Jerry Dekro
to importers. The farmers who participate
The organic coffee business represents cre-
in the network are guaranteed fair market Down-to-Earth Judaism
ating abundance while minimizing scarcity.
value for their product. If the commodities by Rabbi Arthur Waskow
The eco-kashrut principles add up the “
market price goes up after the contracts are
non-predatory use of resources.” Dean Cy- She Who Dwells Within
signed, the farmers receive a percentage of
con, owner of Dean’s Beans Organic, Fair by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
the increase. If the price goes down the still
Trade Coffee, likes to say, “I’m in the organ-
receive the agreed-upon price. This network The Challenge of Wealth
ic coffee roasting business to make a living
operated on the law of “not wronging an- by Meir Tamari
not a killing.” As we generate abundance or
other person” and on the rabbinical idea that
wealth we must generate healing – repair.
commerce should be a fair exchange among

6 . V O I C E S
Shabbat Shekalim
By Cindy Greenberg

This D’var Torah was delivered in February years up, shall give the Lord’s offering: 15 the of community obligations. I have to support and
to kick off our Spring Up! From Galut To Geluah rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay sustain it. I get it that one can indeed “opt out”
campaign. less than half a shekel when giving the Lord’s of being Jewish or being in community: here at

S
offering as expiation for your persons. 16 You Kolot we share an expansive view about what
habbat Shekalim is literally the shall take the expiation money from the Isra- it means to be Jewish and the many ways Jews
shabbat of shekels. This special elites and assign it to the service of the Tent connect, identify, engage with, select and yes
moment of the year – which is of Meeting; it shall serve the Israelites as a sometimes reject what Jewish means to them or
about the taxes that are levied to reminder before the Lord, as expiation for pieces of our traditions and histories that feel in-
support the community – takes your persons.” congruous with our experience. But for us here,
place on the Shabbat prior to right here, in this minute, we all opted in – to
A few things in particular jumped out at me
Rosh Chodesh for the month of Adar or on this Shabbat, to being here, and for many of us,
from this parsha.  First, that there is a census,
Rosh Chodesh Adar itself, which is about a to being part of this community all year long. 
a count, a taking stock of how many are in our
month before Passover. It is a reminder that As I wrestled with this troubling ransom
tribe. It seems wise in any community to do that
the due date for these taxes is approaching on piece, our rabbi shared this note from the hu-
at least once a year. And it had a lot of resonance
the 1st of Nisan. This timing is also interest- mash Eitz Hayim with me:
for me here at Kolot where our community con-
ingly aligned with our American experience tinues to grow – by about 20-30 members each Ransom, in Hebrew kofer, refers to a mon-
of tax season which approaches in April; that year – and in this American census year, reflect- etary payment made to offset an incurred
moment in the year when our financial obliga- ing on the implications of being counted or physical penalty.   Apparently, it was taken
tions as citizens are most present, and when I overlooked. Keeping track of all our people and for granted that a census jeopardizes the lives
know many of us wrestle both with the per- our needs, opening up space for our dreams and of those counted; therefore, each individual
sonal financial implications involved and with questions is no small task. Without a count, how must redeem his life through payment of a
the moral and ethical questions of how our tax could we do that? And the act of counting seems half-shekel. (See 2 Samuel 24 where a plague
dollars are spent – which wars are they fuel- to me also about affirming one’s connection to follows a census undertaken by David)
ing, what after-school and anti-poverty pro- the community. About, in essence, opting in.
grams are not getting their fair share. How our I found that really interesting. The act of
Saying as Abraham said “hineini” – “Here I am.”
dollars and our values are or are not aligned. counting jeopardizes those who are counted. Is
Hillel’s words also come to my mind here: “If I
That’s what I’ll talk about today. that because they are then identified with the
am not for myself, who will be for me?” That
In a special haftarah for this Shabbat, King community and so, then, visible to the communi-
there is power in affirming one’s connection to
Yehoash commanded that all these funds of ty’s enemies? Or because if you are counted, then
our tribe – whether it was all those years ago or
our ancestors were brought to the Temple to be the obligations of the community become your
if it is just this week as you say, yes, I want to be a
used for its repairs and renovations. As Michele obligations and some of those obligations might
member of this community and join Kolot.
Alperin from My Jewish Learning explains, this be risky?  What would that mean here at Kolot?
But then came that strange word “ransom,”
included “both the required contributions and Do we have any enemies? And what risks do we
and to make it worse, a ransom that one has
the free-will offerings.” So you can see how this take as a community? Are there risks we should
to pay directly to G-d so “that no plague may
Shabbat was a natural fit when the rabbi and I be taking? 
come upon them through their being enrolled.”
met recently to think about when and how we The rabbi shared with me her read on this: 
Huh? Sounds like paying to offset the original
could begin talking more about fundraising and sin to me nd that seemed strange. Why do we This section is the beginning of the portion
Kolot, what is needed to support and sustain our have to pay a ransom to G-d because we part of Ki Tissa, in which the people make and be-
community all year long. It was bashert! a community that, as our stories say, G-d chose? gin to worship the Golden Calf, before G-d
The name for this shabbat comes directly Clearly the stakes are high because if we don’t, a and Moses discover that, Moses comes down
from the maftir reading in Exodus 30:11. plague is coming our way – and a month before and smashes it, makes them drink it, kills a
Here are those words of Torah: Pesach, that plague stuff is serious business! To lot of them.  Then G-d and Moses have a
“11 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 12 my mind, a G-d who has a covenantial relation- beautiful make-up session which is read on
When you take a census of the Israelite people ship with us doesn’t ask us to pay a ransom – a Pesakh and Sukkot; she often thinks it is
according to their enrollment, each shall pay sort of bribe as if we’d been abducted.  read as a reminder that we Jews have to think
the Lord a ransom for himself on being enrolled, When I try to think about the modern sig- about re-upping twice a year, with this pas-
that no plague may come upon them through nificance of that for us here at Kolot, a commu- sage that is in many ways a renewal of the
their being enrolled.13 This is what every- nity we have chosen for ourselves, I don’t want to covenant.   So, a long way of saying that it
one who is entered in the records shall pay: view the financial support I give as a “ransom.” sometimes seems the ransom – the expia-
a half-shekel by the sanctuary weight – twenty But I do share the notion of obligation that is tion – is to be paid forward, for the sin of the
gerahs to the shekel – a half-shekel as an of- embedded in all this: that it is not optional. That Golden Calf.  
fering to the Lord. 14 Everyone who is en- being in the community, being part of this Kolot I like that notion of “paying it forward,” as it
tered in the records, from the age of twenty tribe once I’ve chosen it, means I can’t “opt out” were. But I also hope that at Kolot being count-

VOICES 7
ed doesn’t feel quite so treacherous. Our notion that more closely for the year ahead. but this But the piece of this parsha that speaks most
of “redeeming our life” through payments to the disparity in our overall kolot pie is also where our deeply to me is this last one: “the rich shall not pay
community is more in the frame of our commit- fundraising comes in: helping us meet the gap be- more and the poor shall not pay less.” Everyone is
ment to Gemilut Hasadim or l’dor v’dor; that by tween what our fees and dues cover and what obligated and everyone is obligated equally. I’m
supporting our community and what it provides we actually need to spend for the year. At Kolot, not sure if these words of Torah mean that, in
to us and all who are in it, we are engaged in an that gap is pretty significant – this year just over fact, our ancestors didn’t recognize that economic
act of loving kindness and one which will sup- $100K – and that’s one reason why we’ve spent burdens are felt differently by people of different
port our continued life together from generation so much energy strategizing about creative ways means. This mandate is not written, for instance,
to generation. to fill it. Creative things like the “last night for as “each according to each” or “each according
But coming back to those plagues... as some- Kolot” Chanukah campaign and year-end out- to the means they have.” But I hear that senti-
one who spends a lot of time thinking about and reach we recently conducted that helped us raise ment echoed in these words that all members of
yes worrying over what Kolot wants, needs and over $32,000. We hosted a “Seder Rebound on the community are needed to sustain it and that
dreams for and what our financial resources will the third night of Pesach and, in May, there will the obligation itself is the same, and holy. That
allow, I am right there with the plagues. As I be the special, “Practicing, Concert with our own those with great means are not more obligated
shared with you all before Chanukah, Kolot is and those with less means are not less obligated. 
running a planned $30K deficit in our budget
this year. What if we hadn’t had reserve funds
– built through many years of people’s generos-
ity to our community – to help us do that? We
C At Kolot, we share this value: “all hands are
needed,” we say in our mission statement and
that belief and value is deeply embedded in all
that we do. As we head into the second half of
would have had some much tougher decisions to
make this year. And I bet some of them would
Being in the 5770 together, today kicking off Spring Up:
From Galut (Exile) To Geulah (Redemption),
have felt like plagues. Imagine if we’d had to a special spring campaign of events and activi-
scale back anything you love here at Kolot? Or community… ties tied to our Jewish calendar, beginning today
chose among our staff who we could keep and with Shabbat Shekalim and ending in May with
who we must let go?
And then in the parsha, there is the standard
means I can’t “opt Shavuos, that equality of obligation and neces-
sity that we all pitch in holds true. Kolot needs all
of measure of what everyone pays to support of us and both the obligated taxes we contribute
the community: “a half shekel by the sanctuary out” of community -- our membership dues and the fees we pay for
weight.”  That struck me in two ways. First, and Kolot programs like adult and children’s educa-
a bit sarcastically, I wondered how our ancestors
could have determined how much the sanctu- obligations. tion -- and the “voluntary” gifts we make, both
of our time and creativity in the ways we people
ary weighed so that they could then fix a half the many projects at Kolot from our siddur selec-
a shekel in relationship to it. I have this im-
age of them lifting up the Temple or the Tent
of Meeting and standing there like Hercules or
c tion committee, to our Eitz Kehillah social justice
work, to Gemilut Hasadim and our care of com-
munity members in need, to the financial gifts we
Athena, the Temple in one hand and the Tent share when we honor a friend who is becoming
in the other, “ah, yes, this year the Tent’s little Jewish musicians. b’nei mitzvah, or we buy a ticket to Off the Bimah
heavier than last, must be all those branches and But this nitty gritty of weights and measures or the Dinners event, or we bring a friend to the
boughs from Sukkot we left laying around, but in a parsha about taxes during a series of parshot author series or Purim celebration. Without all of
boy, the Temple seems a little lighter than last (Mishpatim) about laws and regulations, also re- us contributing--the rich shall not pay more and
year, maybe we went overboard with the fast- minded me of the wisdom our ancestors had in the poor shall not pay less--Kolot cannot keep our
ing during Yom Kippur?” But I know that’s not talking about the intricacies of what it takes to little engines running and keep our mishkan and
what’s being conveyed.  live a Jewish life and be part of our Jewish com- holy, beloved community intact and growing. 
Instead, the Torah teaches us that each is munity: “Set them as a sign upon your house.” This Shabbat Shekalim is the first of several
paying the same: a half shekel and that we’re us- “Do not oppress the stranger.” “If you lend mon- special shabbatot in this season from just before
ing a standard measure that everyone recognizes: ey, especially to the poor, do not take interest.” Purim to Pesakh. Why do they start with this
the scale in the sanctuary. This spoke to me a “Bring no harm the widow or orphan.” Being one--Shabbat Shekalim--and why is Kolot start-
lot about our life together at Kolot. In thinking clear about things is important. Setting the rules ing, drawing attention and marking it? Maybe
about our dues, we set a 1% structure so that of engagement and obligation. Especially if you because without affirming that we are in com-
everyone is paying the same percent, but with want to build something – community, trust, munity together--doing that count and opting
recognition of the differences in economic ca- relationships, holiness – together. That’s part of in--and then offering our support (in this case,
pacities and realities among us. So some of those what I’m trying to do today right here and now. financial payments), we can’t yet do anything else.
1 percents will be more shekels than others.  Talking about money and our community. That That we need that tally and those taxes and gifts
One thing we’ve been learning in analyzing we can’t have our beloved Kolot in the way we and sense of obligation and community to lay the
our membership dues is that this system we put love it without the funds to support it. “Im ain foundation for us so that we can then observe our
in place is maybe not perfect and is not necessar- kemakh, ain Torah” – without bread there can be rituals together, mark the season, learn and cel-
ily doing for Kolot what we need it to do, mean- no Torah. And our ancestors knew that, which ebrate together. I know that’s true for us at Kolot-
ing that the total amount of money we are bring- is why they created a tax to keep the community -in this complicated economy but also the rest of
ing in from membership dues is not enough of they loved – and which we have inherited – alive the time.
our overall financial pie. We will be looking at and thriving. All hands are needed, all year long. n

8 . V O I C E S
A Community of Givers
Kolot is about the “hau,” the spirit that ac-
companies the gift and that reflects so much
more than the thing given. Not that we don’t
By Phyllis Arnold want and need the thing given. We do. But
in asking that you dig as deep as you can to
I will speak to you about the hau…The hau quoted in The Gift, by Marcel Mauss help close our deficit or that you consider
is not the wind that blows – not at all. Let us Long ago and far away, giving even one (and hopefully affirm) the relative priority of
suppose that you possess a certain article (taon- gift was a mutual act. The spirit of the gift Kolot in your overall scheme of giving, we
ga) and that you give me this article. You give accompanied it and dwelled with the recipi- ask that you create a relationship with Kolot,
it me without setting a price on it. We strike ent until returned to the gift-giver by a recip- a bond, that transcends the money. The re-
no bargain about it. Now, I give this article rocal act of giving. One can apply a variety lationship created y that gift is rooted in the
to a third person who, after a certain lapse of of analytic frameworks to the phenomenon, obligation it engenders in Kolot to give its
time, decides to give me something as payment from functional (the reciprocity generated spirit back to you, to shape that spirit into a
in return (utu). He makes a present to me of by giving creates social cohesion necessary community of reciprocal giving and support.
something (taonga). Now, this taonga that he to sustain the group) to symbolic (the reci- We create our Kolot community with
gives me is the spirit (hau) of the taonga that I procity both mirrors and prescribes a set of every act we take, whether it’s eating to-
had received from you and that I had given to moral standards that shapes the everyday life gether, learning together, or praying to-
him. The taonga that I received for these taonga of participants – “it would not be fair (tika) gether. That community is there to help
(which came from you) must be returned to you. on my part to keep these taonga for myself ”). cushion the impacts of tragedy or illness, to
It would not be fair (tika) on my part to keep Any way you look at it, “gifting” in traditional help rejoice in the milestones that we cel-
these taonga for myself, whether they were de- cultures was a whole different thing than it is ebrate, to pray for those forgotten, and to
sirable (rawe) or undesirable (kino). I must give in American culture today. lend our voices in support of those in the
them to you because they are a hau of the taonga When we talk about giving at Kolot, world around us whose needs are too often
that you gave me. If I kept this other taonga we’re talking about a lot more than asking neglected by the dominant culture. And to
for myself, serious harm might befall me, even for a flow of cash from your pocket to ours, just hang out and talk.
death. This is the nature of the hau, the hau of a lot more than asking that you pay a fee for So let us all consider the reciprocal obli-
personal property, the hau of the taonga, the hau a service, whether it’s sending your child to gations created by giving. Please join us in
of the forest. Kati ena (But enough on this sub- the Children’s Learning Program or attend- creating a community of givers – of life, of
ject). –Tamati Ranaipiri, Maori informant ing Shabbat services each week. Our “ask” at sustenance, of joy and, of hope. n

The Meaning of Tzedekah


contribution made to a shul was measured
in dollars. Service was important but ser-
vice did not pay the rent. But since I joined
by Susan Kranberg Kolot three years ago and also seen my fi-
nancial situation radically altered in the past

G
eneva, New York, circa 1954. helped the congregation to stay alive. year, my thinking has changed. How did this
When I was four, my family So I grew up understanding the obliga- happen?
moved to this upstate town tion to support a congregation. This extended Over breakfast at Dizzy’s several months
of 17,000. There were about further to supporting Israel Bonds, United ago, Rabbi Lippmann asked how I was do-
30 Jewish families in a twenty-mile radius. Jewish Appeal and a host of other Jewish or- ing. I mentioned that I did not know how
The shul, Temple Beth-el, was a house on ganizations. I recall vividly the blue and white I was going to pay my rent and she said,
Main Street with a view of Seneca Lake pushke my mother kept in the kitchen, the “Kolot can help. How much do you need?”
from the back windows. Hebrew school contents of which went to a yeshiva. We were I was stunned and moved to tears. Without
was upstairs in the “bedrooms.” constantly receiving appeals from yeshivas – I my asking, help was offered. What had I
We got a big crowd for the High Holi- don’t know how they found our family in Ge- done to deserve this? Deserve according to
days, but otherwise there were a small group neva, New York but they did. the dictionary means “to be worthy of: merit;
of machers who supported the congregation So fast forward thirty years to the 1990’s synonym earn.” Merit, in this case, came be-
with some arm-twisting from my father Joe. when I found myself, after a long absence, in cause I was part of a caring community and
He served as President forever and I remem- a synagogue on Yom Kippur and in tears. I this was not something I had to earn. In-
ber him calling up a handful of regulars and mentioned this experience to my father and stead of feeling humiliated, I felt gratitude.
asking them to donate a few thousand dol- he suggested I become a member. “If you go And now I know what paying dues and
lars each to keep the place running. He was to synagogue,” he said, “you must support it”. supporting a community really means – it
always complaining that people didn’t give To my surprise, I did, following in his foot- goes for much more than rent and salaries;
as much as they could afford. There was one steps and becoming increasingly involved. I it goes towards people. Receiving tzedakah
big donor who was the mainstay – Eddy served on the Board of Directors, my name is a gift just as giving it is. So now, I will give
Guggenheimer. Eddy Guggenheimer’s went up on the donor wall, I received honors in the different ways I can to the community
name did not appear anywhere on the build- at the High Holidays…I was a macher. and hope others continue to do so that we
ing and he rarely came to services but he Throughout my life I believed that one’s can all prosper. n

VOICES 9
co-creation continued from page 1 ism, wealth creation is not distinct from the rabbi continued from page 2
spiritual realm but integral to it. This view is
serves the interests of society’s winners, who havoc they may not intend and do not repair.
embodied in the famous biblical injunction
wield disproportionate power over the cur- Hunger is the tip of the iceberg of pov-
to leave the fallen grain in the fields. This
rency of ideas. And it is rooted in a worldview erty, the symptom that makes us all know
passage, it seems to me, has been consis-
central to western culture, a worldview that there is serious illness at hand. When our
tently misread through the lens of our con-
assumes a radical separation between the in- trusty editor asked me to write about money,
temporary story of wealth, with the point
dividual and society, the creator and the cre- hunger is what came to mind and keyboard.
being that you should give away a bit of what
ated, the profane and the sacred. For that rea- The statistics are grim beyond belief. Chil-
you’ve earned to charity. But the injunction
son, a narrowly political or ethical argument dren across the country and the world are
does not say: maximize your yield, and then
has little power against it. Only an alternative hungry every day. So are old people. So are
donate a small portion to feed the poor. It
worldview, a different metaphysic of wealth, many able-bodied adults who want to work.
says: even though you have tilled the field
can provide an effective challenge to it. So are some Kolot members who may feel
yourself, you shall not harvest all of it. You
Judaism, taken seriously, offers just such too ashamed to ask for help. The New York
didn’t create it alone, and it doesn’t belong to
an alternative. In the Torah and subsequent City Coalition Against Hunger remind us
you alone. In today’s world that is a deeply
texts, wealth is co-created by individuals, that in New York City, 1.3 million New
radical notion.
the community, and God, and ownership is Yorkers (one in six) live in food insecure
To be clear, traditional Judaism does
shared in the same fashion. Individual pos- households. 417,000 of them are children.
not deny the legitimacy of personal wealth
session of wealth is intrinsically contingent. My prayer is that they get help, that the
– it is not “collectivist.” It recognizes ten-
Hence the Jubilee year, when all debts – not shame diminishes in the face of true com-
sion, but not contradiction, between private
just “unfair” ones – are erased. Hence the munity, that the economy picks up, that jobs
ownership and social ownership of wealth,
rabbinic concept of tzedakah, often trans- return, that Kolot’s dues return to normal
and this is precisely what makes it speak
lated as “charity” but fundamentally differ- levels, that we get through this bad time as
powerfully to us today. In the ancient Jew-
ent because, while you may choose who and we got through the one of the late 1980’s,
ish idea of co-creation there is the germ of
how to give, the obligation to share is not but without the greed and unbridled risk
a new story of wealth in which justice is not
voluntary but binding. and use of people as pawns that marked the
an add-on, an afterthought, but embedded
Another way to say this is that in Juda- recovery of the 1990’s. My prayer is for more
in its very core. n
regulation, more compassion, more interest
in people than in mortgage rates, more jobs
and fewer soup kitchens.
coming back continued from page 3 In 1987, I looked around at people in
need and began a soup kitchen. 22 years
give to the causes I support; how much to Now, having more than the bare mini- later I look around and ask, “Who is mak-
pay for my Kolot dues, how much I ought mum I need to survive, I feel obligated to ing all those people hungry?” The answer is
to be saving every month, which retirement give back in a much more urgent, immedi- multi-faceted, making it hard to know how
plan I should choose – what does the word ate way. It’s a strange sort of feeling; not the to help. I am back to thinking one hot meal
“annuity” mean? I’m not all that freaked out desire to give tzedakah, which feels normal, can make some difference. It just doesn’t
about it, honestly. Maybe I should be, but I but the realization that I have tzedakah to solve anything. n
just can’t bring myself to feel anxious about give. And I understand more deeply now the
the fact that I am more cushioned and secure rules of tzedakah that were taught to us in In tarnished hope,
than I have ever been before. Hebrew school; how giving money directly
But I wonder whether I’m really earning to someone who needs it, from your hand Rabbi Ellen Lippmann
all this comfort and usefulness. My room- to theirs, creates a chasm of power between
mate works much longer hours than I do, you, and how easily that’s abused.
and makes significantly less. I know it’s not You’d think I would’ve learned that from
I am endlessly grateful to Connect
really as simple as that, but I can’t stop my- a lifetime of struggling with my grandpar-
self from suddenly wanting the world to be ents, and their implicit assumption that they to Care, a program of UJA-Federation
fair, in a way I didn’t really before. Is that could buy the right to make all my decisions of New York, which provides help
strange? Now that I’ve moved closer to the for me. I don’t ever want to use money that
haves than the have-nots, I feel more urgent- way; and I also realize how much easier it (social work, legal, financial) to Jews
ly the need for global pay equity. It seems is to say that I won’t when the question is hurt in this recession. Do you need
like it should be the other way around. I purely academic – when I didn’t actually
this help? Find it here: http://www.
never realized how comfortable I’d gotten on have any money. I just hope that, someday,
the margins – I knew I didn’t owe the world if I’m lucky enough to have grandchildren ujafedny.org/connect-to-care/
anything because I didn’t have anything. I and the financial resources to support them,
still wanted to contribute, but I didn’t feel I’ll be able to honor whatever choices they
indebted to do so. make for themselves…even if it’s business
school. n

10V V O I C E S
KOLOT CHAYEINU/VOICES OF OUR LIVES
INVITES YOU TO

SPRING UP!
FROM GALUT TO GEULAH
FUN, COMMUNITY, FUNDRAISING
FROM SHABBAT SHEKALIM TO SHAVUOS

SATURDAY MAY 15—PRACTICING: A CONCERT AND


CONVERSATION WITH CREATIVE JEWISH IMPROVISERS
With renowned musicians Marc Ribot, Jessica Lurie, Marty
Ehrlich, Roy Nathanson and friends. Jazz, Jews, spirituality,
musicology, Brooklyn—all under one roof. At Kolot. 8-10pm.
Further details TBA. To sponsor the evening or to reserve your
ticket, email info@kolotchayeinu.org.

SATURDAY JUNE 5—SPRING UP! FOR SUPPER


Kolot’s annual community dinners event. Join friends from
Kolot and beyond for terrific dining, conversation and
connection all over Brooklyn! Further details TBA.
Interested in hosting? Want to reserve your seat at the table?
Email info@kolotchayeinu.org.

Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives is at 1012 Eighth Avenue at 10th


Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn. Visit us at www.kolotchayeinu.org or contact
info@kolotchayeinu.org or 718-390-7493 for more info, rsvps/tickets, updates or
to get involved with any of these SPRING UP! events.

V O I C E S 11
If There is No Bread Kolot
Im ain kemakh, ain Torah, learn, laugh, cry, act, and build take on the Torah that leads to
Chayeinu
we learn in Pirke Avot, the together? our sustenance, physical, emo-
Sayings of our Fathers. If there But Pirke Avot gives us a tional, spiritual. We want to Staff
is no bread, there is no Torah, second part of this important have fun too, so we’re having an Rabbi Ellen Lippmann
no learning. teaching, mirroring the first: amazing jazz concert (May 15) Founding Rabbi
This crucial teaching echoes Im ain Torah, ain kemakh. If spearheaded by noted musician Lisa B. Segal
down the centuries to my com- there is no Torah, there is no and Kolot member Marc Ribot. Chazzan/Music Director
puter as I contemplate Kolot’s bread. And we like to get together just Ora Wise
ambitious fundraising plan for If there is no learning – no so, so we are hosting our many Director of Education
this spring. It echoes because community celebrations, no dinners on one night again, in Diane Kirschner
it is so true: we literally could holiday services, no learning June. We may go to the movies Administrative Director
have no Torah – no Torah for children or adults, no action together, too, or to the theater. Molly G. Kane
scroll, no Torah commentaries, for justice – then why would And all the while we are raising Student Rabbi
no Torah study, and no Torah anyone give to support a hol- the funds that Kolot – meaning Miriam Attia
reading – if we had no bread, low shell of a congregation? all of us – need to strengthen Shabbat & Facilities
Coordinator
meaning no sustenance, which For just this reason, our spring the foundation of our mishkan,
in our time means money. And campaign connects to the ways our traveling tabernacle. Efrat Baler-Moses
Administrator
so while some separate the we want to celebrate or learn or Terumah is the Torah term
spiritual from the financial, I enjoy anyway: You who came to for contributing to build the Carlos Albino Nunez
Custodian
cannot understand how such enjoy Purim already gave more mishkan. It comes from a He-
separation is possible or why then we imagined you might! brew root that means to lift or Board of Trustees
it is desirable. If I cannot sepa- We came together again for a elevate. When each of us gives Cindy Greenberg
rate my family’s budget from first at Kolot: a Pesakh non- for our tabernacle, it becomes a President
our ability to be together in joy seder party on the third night true mishkan, a place God can Adrienne Fisher
and work and recreation, how of the holiday. We will cele- dwell among us. Treasurer
can I separate my community’s brate Shavuot together as well, Seth Borgos
budget from our ability to pray, standing again at Sinai as we – Rabbi Ellen Lippmann Secretary
Phyllis Arnold
Vice President
Margie Fine
At-Large Member
of Executive Committee:
Sally Charnow
Cathy Einhorn
Ellen Garvey
Melanie Holcomb
Lisa Jakobsberg
Josh Rubin
Shira Sameroff
Eric Sloan
Laura Srebnik
Bob Usdin

Teachers
Johanna Bronk
Daniele Kohn
Shanie Israel
Hannah Mermelstein
Leah Sasha Schwartz
Tehila Wise

Voices Staff
Trisha Arlin
Editor
Sarah Sills
Layout & Production

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