From the Presidents – November 17, 2023

Hello Everyone!

As Rabbi Dean had mentioned, this past weekend, in addition to being Veteran’s Day, was also the anniversary of one of the most blatant and vicious acts of anti-semitism in European history: Kristallnacht.  Also known as the “Night of Broken Glass,” gangs of thugs, with the full backing of the Nazi government, sought out Jewish homes and businesses in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland, smashed windows, destroyed property, and assaulted Jewish individuals and families.  In addition, many synagogues were destroyed and thousands of Jewish men were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.  Then to add insult to injury, the Nazi government then blamed German Jews for the riots and imposed a fine of a billion marks.  The savagery showed the anti-semitic rage coursing through the heart of Europe at that time.  Nevertheless, a measure of hope came out of the disaster precisely because of its savagery.  For the previous five years, ever since the Nazis came to power, much of the rest of the world, including the United States, either looked with indifference upon the sufferings of Jews in Germany or believed reports of those sufferings were exaggerated.  Kristallnacht, which was carried on the front page of newspapers all over the United States, shocked Americans out of their complacency.  Public opinion shifted toward opposing Germany, Franklin Roosevelt gave a speech denouncing the violence, and efforts were made to modify immigration quotas to allow more Jewish refugees.  Though the modifications were not adopted, the American public was now fully aware of the extent of Nazi persecution and helped contribute to the support for war against Germany several years later.  Thus, even the worst kinds of darkness, beacons of light can still burst through.  

In other news, we are pleased to announce that we will have special guests for our upcoming Shabbat service on Friday, November 17.  Members of the Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville will be coming to our synagogue to worship beside us in a show of solidarity for our congregation in response to the measure passed by the Richmond City Council a couple weeks ago.  Let us all make them feel welcome.  And for our new members, we will be holding a special Shabbat service for TBH members in January.  

Our next major event will be the Hanukkah Party coming up on December 3 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m..  We are looking for volunteers to help out with set up, running games, helping out in the kitchen to make latkes, etc.  Thank you to everyone who will contribute their time and effort to make this event a joyous occasion for the end of the year.

Also, we wanted to express our deepest gratitude for all our members who volunteered to serve on the newly created search committee to look for TBH’s next rabbi. We will all miss Dean very much after his retirement next year but this also marks the next chapter in the story of TBH.  We and the members of the committee will be working hard to find a worthy successor for our beloved Rabbi Dean. We will provide plenty of updates as the process unfolds. And for those who wish to make a difference in our own community, we highly encourage you to consider joining the Temple Beth Hillel Board of Directors next year. Our Board is always on the lookout for members who have ideas for the future of the temple and the ability to carry out that vision. Serving on the Board makes us appreciate how much Temple Beth Hillel means to us and our children. And for those who wish to volunteer for Food for Thought this year, there is a sign up sheet in the main hallway. 

   Finally, our next regular Shabbat Service will take place on Friday, November 17, at 7:30 p.m. The next Family Shabbat will occur on that same day, starting at 6:15 p.m. so please help spread the word.  Torah Study will resume every Saturday at 10:15 a.m. on Zoom. And of course, we encourage everyone to come to our wonderful Tefillah services at Religious School every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Thank you everyone!      


If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

If I am not for others, what am I?

And if not now, when? -Rabbi Hillel

~ Anna B Stein and David Zimring, Co-Presidents, Temple Beth Hillel