AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM OUR CONGREGATION PRESIDENT, LAURA WEISS

Editor’s note: AN IMPORTANT message from Aitz Chaim Congregation President, Laura Weiss:

All our gatherings will be canceled until further notice.

This is unfortunate but an appropriate and responsible response to the crisis at hand.

The first Friday Shabbat gatherings and also the community Passover Seder will be canceled.

Thanks all.
-Laura

IMPORTANT UPDATE FROM RABBI CHAIM BRUK, BOZEMAN

Dear friends,

I hope this finds each and every one of you in good health. I know this email is somewhat long, but please read until the end.

Firstly, I beseech you to heed the instructions of your local health department and hunker down and wait out the storm. I don’t like the term “social distancing”, as we are blessed to live in an age of technology that we can be socially active, while still maintaining “physical distancing”. Chavie and I are so grateful to the tens of friends who reached out to check on us and to offer a helping hand.

The Shul of Bozeman is closed and all of our “normal” Chabad Lubavitch activities are suspended until further notice. Please DO NOT come to the Shul or our home. If you need to come by to get your Talit or Siddur, please call/text/email in advance to confirm that it’s ok and how to arrange it in the most sensible way. The women’s Mikvah is still open but will be used only by those who are well and in discussion with Chavie, our Rebbetzin and Mikvah attendant.

We are here to help . If you are at home and cannot visit your local pharmacy or grocery to get what you need, please reach out to us and we will do our best, while following the health department recommendations, to bring your items to your doorstep without any physical contact. Whether you’re in Dillon or Great Falls, Whitefish or Missoula, anywhere in Montana and beyond, if you need our help, please reach out.
If you are in good shape and would like to volunteer to bring items to those in need, please let me know ASAP and I will add you to the volunteer list.

While at home, I highly recommend that you do what Jews have always done: pray to G-d. Take out your Siddur (prayer book) or Tehillim (book of Psalms) and plead with the Almighty to end this horrible plague. While surfing the web for the never ending supply of negative news, pause and take some time to learn Torah: visit http://www.Chabad.org for a wide array of online Torah classes. I will be also broadcasting my class on Facebook as I do each week, but perhaps will add more classes as the weeks of isolation progress.

I know that Passover is on everyone’s mind. It is on our minds too. We don’t have a plan yet, but one thing is certain that will make sure Shemurah Matzah will get to every family that needs it and as of now the Kosher food delivery is still on schedule to make it to Bozeman sometime next week. As for Kosher for Passover food, especially for the Seders, we will have more answers on this matter in the next week or so.

The Rabbis and Rebbetzins at our three Chabad centers in Bozeman, Missoula and Kalispell, are here for each one of you. Though we can’t see you in person, we are here to help in any way possible. Many programs and classes will be shared online, Montana’s Jewish Voice will still reach you before Passover G-d willing and we are here for one-on-one phone calls anytime.

Personally, I’ve set up a system where you can sign up for a 15-minute chat with me to study Torah, chat about life or seek guidance in this challenging time. Click on this link to set up your 15-minute slot.

For over a decade Chabad Lubavitch of Montana has a devoted local advisory board consisting of Mrs. Robin Bequet, Dr. Sarah Bronsky, Mrs. Paola Feher, Rabbi Amram Phelps, Dr. Mick Lifson, Mrs. Kinerette Martin and Mr. Seth Robbins. They along with me and Chavie will work together to figure out a plan for this odd time and see it through recovery.

This is a very hard time for us financially. Many of our regular donors and Passover donors are hurting due to the economic slowdown. We would like to remain stable through this era, so If you are blessed to be in a place that you could help others, please help us do our holy and vital work. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE MAKE A DONATION HERE: http://WWW.JEWISHMONTANA.COM/DONATE
Friends, we will get through this, but it will be a rough period. Don’t despair, don’t give up, don’t stop praying; we are resilient, and we’ve been through worse. WE SHALL OVERCOME!
Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Chaim Bruk

MESSAGE FROM BETH SHALOM, BOZEMAN

Shalom, Beth Shalom and Friends:

The Hebrew word for crisis is Mashber, meaning “broken times or crisis.”

Historically, Mashber has been translated as a “birthing stool,” a specially-designed, semi-broken chair intended to assist a woman in posture and support during childbirth. In other words, this ostensibly misshapen, broken stool actually symbolized opportunity and new life, created despite the pain and strife of childbirth. We must not be broken down by this virus, this modern-day Mashber, but rather, we should meet the challenge and become a better community because of our resilience and our humanity.

We remain hopeful in the face of COVID-19 and its challenges to our lives, livelihood, education, social interactions, and congregation. Many thanks are due to Beth Shalom’s leadership for being proactive and cautious, and for putting plans in place to keep us connected. We will continue to follow the most current information on the virus, remain in contact and maintain our supportive community.

As your Rabbi, and your Jewish voice of Bozeman, please know that I am available to meet in person (six feet apart, of course!), online, by phone, or email, and am committed to offering support at anytime. Amber and I will lead the March 27 service from our Beth Shalom sanctuary, which will be streamed via Zoom. More instructions for accessing the service will be available Friday afternoon. Please plan to join our Zoom Shabbat.

On Thursday evening, March 26th, at 7:00 p.m., I will teach a Zoom class on how to lead a Passover Seder. Stay tuned for more specific information.

One balm for the anxiety we experience due to Coronavirus uncertainty is to feel the comfort and hopefulness expressed in prayer. I do my best to tap into this sacred capacity even when there is evidence to despair.

Here are prayers I speak and sing on these challenging days:

I pray that my family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and those unknown to me know good health.
I pray that all those helping the sick be free of illness and have strength to serve.
I pray leaders in government, industry and science be blessed with wisdom and compassion to make the best decisions.
I pray we find a vaccine soon and remedies for those already sickened by the virus.
I pray that during quarantines and limited social gatherings we remain connected to each other.

The Source of all that is good, send healing to the ill and weakened, eliminating the coronavirus from our midst.

When we gather for services, we recite the Mi Sheberach-Healing prayer.

Please recite the words with me: Bless those in need of healing with Refuah Shlaymah—the renewal of body, the renewal of spirit and let us say, Amen.

Let us be resolute, in the face of Mashber, in the time of COVID-19, to show our kindness and resiliency as a Temple, community and world.

Rabbi Mark Kula

A MESSAGE FROM CONGREGATION BETH AARON, BILLINGS

Shalom CBA Members and friends,

There will be some more emails going out in the coming days from the Board and myself regarding how CBA will be operating going forward in the face of issues related to COVID-19. For now:

– Adult Education on Monday and Wednesday will continue. This week, you may come to the synagogue, but are highly encouraged to join us online. Beginning next week, classes will be held ONLINE ONLY. If you need assistance setting up for this, please contact me and I will do my best to help. All classes are accessible through this link
Later on in the week we will hopefully have a plan in place for future services and events, including Shabbats, Passover, and the Centennial. Many synagogues across all streams of Judaism have been shutting down public gatherings out of a sense of caution, and we are evaluating how this might work for us.

– We are evaluating how best we can help and support each other in the coming days or weeks. Several of our members have already reached out to me to see how they can assist with things like basic grocery delivery, and other support to our members who have less mobility or who must remain homebound. Watch for an email later this week about what is needed and how you can help.

– If you need or want to talk to me for any reason at all, whether to just check in, to “vent”, or for moral, emotional, or spiritual support, please do not hesitate to contact me via email uriarte.huc@gmail.com or by phone (406-413-5367) 24/7. I can’t promise that I’ll always pick up immediately, but I will absolutely get back to you as soon as I’m able. Out of an abundance of caution, I won’t be meeting in person for longer than a minute or two, but I’ll definitely make sure that we can talk.

– Stay Safe. Be prepared. Help Each Other. We will get through this.

Erik L Uriarte, MAHL
Student Rabbi and Director of Religious Programming
Congregation Beth Aaron – Billings, MT
Cell: (406) 413-5367

A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM LAURIE FRANKLIN- HAR SHALOM, MISSOULA

March 17, 2020
21 Adar, 5780

Dear members and friends,

The Har Shalom Board and I will meet this evening (virtually) and confirm the results of our ongoing planning for our community’s response to Covid-19.

We will announce all the measures, which will include streaming of services, learning and pastoral appointments by zoom, plans for Atidaynu, and special online support sessions during the week. We can weather this together; even if we are physically separated, we can stay connected. PLEASE let us know if you are shut in and need something, whether material or virtual.

I am grateful for the beautiful spring that is clearly coming on and for all the offers of “may-I-get-something-for-you-at-the-store”. I am grateful for sheltering beneath the wings of Shekhinah. May we all experience blessings of health and happiness!!!

–Rabbi Laurie Franklin

WE’RE ALL CONNECTED – B’NAI SHALOM, KALISPELL

Dear friends,

I am not a scientist, I am a rabbi. I am not a doctor, I’m a mom and a Crohn’s patient. I am not a miracle-worker, but I know my actions have power and consequences.

If there was ever a time when we each have to take stock of how we are living our lives and how our actions could impact each other, now is the time. Consider this time in our lives like the preparation period for Yom Kippur, called “cheshbon ha-nefesh” or “accounting of our souls.”

In this moment, let us take an accounting of our actions/ma’asim so that we can then take an accounting of our souls. Ask yourselves: what am I doing that is helping to heal the world? What am I doing that is hurting the world? What can I do to preserve life?

Right now, the answer is clear. Stay home and stay safe.

While there is so much that is unknown about the COVID19 virus, there is one thing that is clear. It is spreading across the world, across the United States and across Montana. There is no place that will be untouched by the virus. The challenge is slowing down its spread so that our healthcare systems are not overwhelmed and people at risk are not able to be helped. The challenge is doing all that we can so that the fewest number of people die from this virus.

We are all responsible for doing what we can to keep ourselves safe, our loved ones and our communities safe, our state and our country protected.

So, please, if you can work from home, stay home. If you do not work regularly, stay at home. If you feel just fine, stay at home. If you are not feeling well, stay home and call your doctor.

Once we are taking care of our physical needs, we need to remember our emotional and spiritual needs. The level of anxiety is frequently high for many of us. The more we read or hear about the disease, the scarier things seem. As word arrives that people you know and care about are affected by the disease, it can be even scarier. Please take care to limit your time reading and listening about the virus and balance your day with refreshing actions like listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or doing an art project!

What I can offer to you is a listening ear, relatively quick text responses, and presence by virtual meetings. In the next couple days I will be sending out word about how we can connect virtually so that we are staying safe, socially distant, yet also virtually connected.

What to do while you are staying at home and isolating? I highly recommend that you schedule a regular time to sit in prayer or meditation to help ground your spirit and reset your nervous system. There are various apps that will offer you timers for meditative sitting or guided meditations of various themes and lengths of time. Below is website information for the Institute of Jewish Spirituality that is holding a daily sit and offering resources for spiritual comfort in troubling times.

Soon, I will be offering learning sessions on skills to manage anxiety and regulate our nervous systems as well as lessons from Jewish tradition about life, Torah, resiliency and the power of the human spirit. I am also happy to start up a study group on the basics of Jewish life, in preparation for our Adult B’nai Mitzvah celebration July 25th–virus-willing. If you want to learn about Torah, prayer, Shabbat and Jewish holidays, please email me at rabbi@glacierjc.org. Even if you have had a bar/bat mitzvah in the past, I am creating a service to share each other’s learning and spiritual journeys!

There are many people in our community who have wisdom and experience to share and I would love to create a way for us all to share with each other. I will be in touch about ways we can share experiences, learn together and laugh together. We can’t hug each other but we can smile and share and support each other.

We are all in this together. If you know of someone who is ill and needs support, please reach out to them. If you know of someone who is elderly, please reach out to them. If you need something and think I might be able to help, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. You can email, text or call me at rabbi@glacierjc.org or 973-787-7846.

In closing, there are traditional prayers for waking up in the morning that help us express gratitude and remember the gift of life, health and spirit. They are below and click here for a PDF if you would like to print them out for your bedside table or morning coffee spot. I invite you to take a moment when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night, to recount your blessings and focus on the many resources we can all access, at any time, from any place.

Please stay tuned for more resources from me and Glacier Jewish Community and please stay in touch and stay safe!

With love and blessings,

Rabbi Francine Roston

Now’s the time to explore Meditation!

If you always wanted to explore meditation, now might be the time!

If you are finding yourself struggling with uncertainly and anxiety, I encourage you to consider growing or expanding your meditation practice. Daily meditation can be a way to anchor your day and help give you a sense of calm and stability in these uncertain times.

The Institute for Jewish Spirituality offers many different courses and options for study and meditation integrating Jewish tradition. I encourage you to browse around their website http://www.jewishspirituality.org One of their offerings is a “Meditation Starter Kit” which includes all the tools and resources you’ll need to feel confident, prepared and inspired as you begin your Jewish meditation practice, including:
• A sample text teaching – connecting the wisdom and inspiration of scripture to everyday life
• A guided meditation practice connected to the text – that you can use again and again
• Simple tips for how to begin meditating – and how to integrate Jewish mindfulness meditation into your life
Click here for more information on the meditation guidance offered by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

A Poem & A Prayer for You

Pandemic
by Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

A Prayer of Hope During this Pandemic
by Rabbi Naomi Levy

We are frightened, God,
Worried for our loved ones,
Worried for our world.
Helpless and confused,
We turn to You
Seeking comfort, faith and hope.

Teach us God, to turn our panic into patience,
And our fear into acts of kindness and support.
Our strong must watch out for our weak,
Our young must take care of our old.
Help each one of us to do our part to halt the spread of this virus

Send strength and courage to the doctors and nurses
In the front-lines of this battle,
Fortify them with the full force of their healing powers.
Send wisdom and insight to the scientists
Working day and night across the world to discover healing treatments.
Bless their efforts, God.
Fill our leaders with the wisdom and the courage
To choose wisely and act quickly.
Help us, God, to see that we are one world,
One people
Who will rise above this pandemic together.

Send us health God,
Watch over us,
Grace us with Your love,
Bless us with Your healing light.
Hear us God,
Heal us God,
Amen.

Glacier Jewish Community/
Bnai Shalom |
PO Box 615, Kalispell, MT 59903

OUR RESOURCES FOR A SAFE AND MEANINGFUL SEDER – HAGADDOT.COM

Dear Great Falls Hebrew Association Aitz Chaim,

As we adapt to new daily routines, it may not seem like the season of freedom is upon us. We know that our seders will look different this year, but one thing is certain: Passover is far from cancelled. We’re here to help you make this holiday one of the most meaningful to date.

So how’s this going to work? Do you host a cozy seder at home? (No guests means less stress!) Or do you host a virtual seder for loved ones from across the country? Join us on Zoom as we discuss these questions and The Art of Virtual Gathering this Friday, March 20 at 12pm EST. Expect tips for feeling connected and inspired at your seder, whatever form it takes.

Ready to be a guest instead of a host? Join Haggadot.com’s first-ever virtual seder on Sunday, April 12 at 2pm EDT / 11am PDT. Why Sunday? So Eileen can join us all the way from London, while our super-special co-host, Esther Kustanowitz can join us from Los Angeles. Plus, some of you prefer to unplug on the first two nights, and we want to include you too. We’d love for you to invite friends and family of all faiths to join us. We welcome everyone. (If you’d like to help us plan our virtual seder, you can join our Seder Planners Facebook group.)

Finally, we can address your ongoing questions in our virtual “office hours” on Friday, March 27 and Friday, April 3 at noon EDT. We’ll help you work on your haggadah and imagine new rituals for celebrating in these uncertain times. Check our Facebook page for ongoing updates.

Remember to check out our 2020 Favorites Haggadah, an ongoing collection of the most up-to-date content for this Passover season that feels… well, oh so different from every other Passover season. Now is a great time to contribute your clips for us to feature in this compilation.

Questions? Email us. We’re here for you and we’re ready to celebrate everything that makes this community special and wonderful.

Wishing you healthy and safe days ahead,
Eileen, Rebecca & Dave
The Haggadot.com Team

AITZ CHAIM COMMUNITY PESACH SEDER CANCELLED

Due to the current restrictions on group gatherings and for the safety of our congregation members during this Coronavirus crisis, the Aitz Chaim Board has made the decision to cancel our community Seder this year. Other seders and gatherings around the state are also being cancelled. Congregation President Laura Weiss said in an email: “Stay home, read a good book, stay well.” Rabbi Ruz said in an email, “… we’ll reschedule when it becomes possible! Take care, everyone!!💜

PESACH AND THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE

Shavuah tov, my friends!

So it looks like best practices, as dictated by the CDC, state regulations, and my children, dictate that I NOT fly there for the Pesach community gathering. 🥺 It’s looking like we have to push our plans back about six weeks.

Let’s turn the lemons into lemonade: we can have an amazing Shavuot celebration! It would be wonderful to learn about and enjoy this holiday together, a first!!
Please let me know what you think about that idea ASAP, so that rather than getting a refund on my ticket I can switch it to that time.

Meanwhile, I beg you to observe the social distancing and hygiene practices that Washington state had to wake up to on our own, thanks to that orange menace!!

Life here is so strange: everywhere is deserted, and grocery stores are barely half stocked. No school, no Shul, no anything.
☹️
My daughter’s partner works for a funeral home, transporting dead people from their homes to the mortuary. He has been, obviously, way too busy. And as my daughter is immunosuppressed with a chronic illness, we are really scared. Dystopia indeed!

Please check on my Facebook page to find some wonderful prayer and healing services that are being broadcast online by some incredible musicians and clergy!

Stay safe and, as everybody keep saying, WASH YOUR HANDS!!

Love, Ruz
Sent from my iPhone March 14, 2020

FROM HADASSAH’S NATIONAL PRESIDENT

HADASSAH CORONAVIRUS UPDATE