Features taken from our Kol Bet Am monthly issues, Temple Members, and other fun and interesting Jewish topics!

Hoop Dreams Coming True In Israel For Randolph Basketball Star

By Alexandra Lapkin, Jewish Advocate staff

Dolgin played center for Bridgewater State.Only three years ago, when Max Dolgin, who is now 25, went on a Birthright trip to Israel, joining a basketball team there seemed nothing but a “pipe dream,” he said. “I thought it would be great to play in Israel, but it didn’t seem too realistic.”

Dolgin proved himself wrong as he prepares to sign a contract to play basketball for Maccabi Ra’anana, a professional team based in Ra’anana, a city about 15 miles north of Tel Aviv. He made aliyah when he went to Israel for tryouts this summer and is getting ready to move there as soon as arrangements are made.

Dolgin has been playing basketball for as long as he can remember. He honed his skills at Randolph High School and at Bridgewater State University. After he graduated, he started work as a financial analyst for a consulting company in Boston. Basketball no longer took center stage, but he continued to play whenever and wherever he could, including at the YMCA branches in Cambridge and Chinatown, the Equinox sports club downtown, and a community basketball league in Roxbury.

At the Equinox, he made a few friends who had previously played for Israeli basketball teams. They introduced Dolgin to their agents and got him involved in several recruiting events. At one such event in Las Vegas, Dolgin placed 13th out of 100 players and gained exposure to scouts and coaches. “It was a networking game from there,” he said.

Dolgin met an Israeli agent, who helped him apply for aliyah. He explained that having Israeli citizenship makes it easier to join a team. Each team makes spaces available for American players (who are often considered the best), and so making a team as an Israeli leaves those slots open for American players.

In Israel, basketball is played similarly to the American college system. There are three divisions, with the first division being the best. Depending on performance, teams can move up and down the divisions. A national team gets assembled with the finest players who then play against European teams during the Euro Cup. Maccabi Tel Aviv is usually the top team in Israel.

Ra’anana, which has a large population of American and European Jews, “is a great place for me to start,” Dolgin said. “There is a great ulpan program [Hebrew classes], which I plan on taking.” His team will pay for his apartment and possibly a shared car, and provide a salary.

Dolgin signed his contract for one season, which is about nine months. If he has a season-ending injury, Dolgin will still get paid for the rest of the season. He is not yet sure what his plans are after the season ends. “I will feel out the first year and see how it goes,” Dolgin said. If his contract is extended for another season, “It’s something I will consider doing.”

“While I’m there, I’ll try to make the most of my time, not just playing basketball,” he continued. In addition to Hebrew classes, Dolgin will study for a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam, as he eventually plans to return to the United States and resume his work. “Basketball as a living isn’t realistic for me right now and my finance career takes priority over that,” Dolgin said. “I just think it’s a great opportunity, still being young and in shape. I figured I’d give it a shot and make a great experience out of it.”

Channukah Centerpiece from The Huffington Post

Hanukkah will be here before you know it. And if you're looking for easy ways to incorporate the festival's traditions and style into your holiday decor, then this gelt-filled arrangement by Alish from Felt So Cute, is perfect.

One of the most popular Hanukkah ideas on Pinterest, this "sneaky centerpiece" as Alisha calls it, is not only festive but also elegant. All it took was two vases and some chocolate coins to make it look as if your flowers are floating in a sea of goodies. And if you're not celebrating Hanukkah, you can use candy canes instead! For the full tutorial, head over to Felt So Cute.

Together, we will craft a new beginning to our rich history - By Andrew Azer

We are at crossroads for our congregation, testing whether that Temple, or any Temple so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We have come together to pray, atone and repent, in a time of self-examination and reflection to prepare for the coming year. 

In paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, I don’t mean to exaggerate our situation by comparing the obstacles in front of us to those of the great Civil War. However, clearly, we are at a historic and significant juncture for Temple Beth Am. 

Over the years, we have seen a sharp decline in many of our key revenue items. In 1999, Bingo revenue was in excess of $200,000 per year, we had close to 500 membership units, and our family annual dues were approximately $950. 

Today, 15 years later, Bingo will struggle to reach our reduced budget figure of $70,000, membership has dropped to below 230 units, and I don’t want to remind you where our family annual dues now stand. 

Without question, we are asking significantly more from a significantly smaller group of members. If nothing changes, where will we be in, not another 15 years, but in 2, 3, or 5 years? Further warning signs include the decrease in the number of ads and donations listed in our monthly bulletin, or the fewer number of minyans we can offer or the reduction in occupied seats today. Our fundraising opportunity at Gillette Stadium has almost completely fizzled out and the scrip gift card program has never even closely reached the substantial earnings power that it should have. And for many reasons, it has become increasingly difficult to fundraise, attract and retain the necessary level of volunteers to sufficiently run the operations and programs of our Temple. 

On the positive, we control our own destiny, but as Maya Angelou proclaimed, “Nothing will work unless you do!” It is up to us, all of us, to determine what our future holds and the path we choose. We are extremely fortunate to have Reb Dawvid leading us in prayer and I look around at a room full of members with a wealth of knowledge and experiences, I see a room full of ideas and potential that can be drawn upon to change the status quo, to craft a new beginning to our rich history. It may not sound like it, but again, I’m not proposing or advocating a particular option.

My family has only known TBA as our place of worship and our home, and we would love to see us prosper into the future, but the realties are making that extremely difficult. My intentions are to move many of you from the sidelines into action, from spectator to contributor, to become involved and play a role in improving our future outlook – there is power in numbers, but we must all be willing to lend a hand in support of our Temple community. 

We must adapt or become extinct. Do not fear the unknown, but embrace the new opportunities that will be cultivated. Whether physically at 871 North Main Street or elsewhere, alone or combined, our community and our family will persevere through our dedication and commitment to Judaism and our family. 

We all have a vision and strong feelings about what lies ahead. But it’s been said that “vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. But Vision with action can change the world.” 

I can guarantee you that in my vision, Temple Beth Am is not going anywhere. Yes, we may move, and even change our name, but to me, and I know that you will all agree, Temple Beth Am has and will continue to be the home for my family, our family. Temple Beth Am is much more than the brick and mortar. As Marvin Gaye sang, “wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home.” 

While we are all full of questions and concerns, we need to be open to all the possibilities and remain committed to continuing the operations of Temple Beth Am even during this period of transition. We cannot lose site of the here and now - this must be a time that we all rally together to support our congregation. Any change will take time and while we debate, deliberate, and decide our future, we need you to help our Temple, today, by giving in our annual High Holiday Appeal. 

Only you can shape the future of our Temple, everyone sitting in this Sanctuary. To those sitting in the back, some who come year after year, to those who have not donated in the past, today, I urge you to make this pivotal year, the time that you contribute and help the cause - stop assuming that everyone else can and will continue to provide the needed financial support so that you have a place to worship on these High Holy Days.

Women Rejoice! A lesson from Reb Dawvid

Women Rejoice 

Shalom! As we prepare for the joyous celebration of Hanukkah, we should take note of the prominent role that women played in this event. Rabbi Joshua Ben Levi stated, “Women are obligated to light the Hanukkah menorah for they took part in the miracle”. 

How is this so? Two stories are told: 

1. The Syrian governor demanded that Jewish brides be first given to him on their wedding nights. When the daughter of the Kohane Gadol, the High Priest, finished her wedding ceremony, she tore off all of her clothes and stood naked before all of her guests. Her brothers became enraged with her and wanted to kill her. She said, “Over my nakedness you become angry, but over what the governor will do to me you remain silent.” Roused to fury, her brothers went to the governor and killed him. Thus began the revolt. 

2. The Syrians were besieging a city and the Jews had no hope. Then a woman named Judith left the city and entered the Syrian camp, the enemy. The Syrian general desired her, and that night Judith prepared a feast for him, including many cheeses to enhance his thirst. He drank wine until he fell asleep, and Judith then beheaded him. When the Syrians discovered their leader dead and saw the Jews bearing his head aloft while advancing to the attack, they fled. This is a basis for eating cheese on Chanukah, not just latkes. 

There is a custom that women should not have to do any work while the candles are burning. Some carry this honor further, saying that women should not work during the entire festival of Chanukah. That would probably be the greatest gift of all! 

Whether you are a woman or otherwise, have a Happy Hanukkah!

President's September Message

Soon Temple Beth Am members, along with fellow Jews throughout the world, will be welcoming the year 5776. Rosh Hashanah is a holiday that celebrates forgiveness, renewal and change.  As we approach the holiday I ask that you embrace our future as it brings many exciting things.

One of the most exciting is that B'Yachad, our joint Hebrew school with Temple Beth Emunah, has found two locations to host the school for the coming year. The best news is that Temple Beth Am will be hosting B'Yachad, its students and teachers in our building on Tuesdays every week from 4 to 6 PM, starting in late October.  In addition, on Sundays we have an agreement in principle to house B'Yachad at the Westfield Academy on Torrey Street in Brockton (literally across the street from Temple Beth Emunah.)  I want to thank Karen Reiser, Josh Tolub and the rest of the Joint School Committee for making this happen.  There was a tremendous amount of work in the last few months talking to and visiting over a dozen potential venues to get this done.  So when you make a High Holiday donation this year, please keep in mind that we still have a thriving Hebrew School that needs your support.

In other exciting news, the leadership of Temple Beth Emunah has asked us to look at merging the two Bingos into one at Temple Beth Am.  I have asked Scott Belgard, Gene Avrus and Andrew Azer to lead that process for TBA and we hope to have that ready in late October. 

The biggest news, though, is that we have contracted with Mark Donahue Realty to be our broker for listing our Temple for sale.  We have started meetings and looking for potential purchasers for our location.  Thanks to Zelda Barron and Marty Packer for running the committee that helped us pick a realtor.

I know what you are thinking, how can we sell the building if we have no place to go?  In addition to being our listing broker, Donahue Realty has been contracted by TBA and TBE jointly to serve as the broker searching for a new home for us.  Currently we are actively trying to find a buyer for Temple Beth Am and looking for a new location for a merged temple

with Temple Beth Emunah.  We have started this process, but you will be the decision makers.  All members will have a vote on any potential sales of our building and on potential new locations.  I will keep you posted on any updates.

We are also having discussions with Temple Beth Emunah about moving in with us once they sell their building.  I hope to give you some news on this very soon.  They do have a formal purchase & sale agreement in place now with their buyer and are still looking to close at the end of October.

So there is a lot going on.  In the background there are almost a dozen merger committees from TBA and TBE working together on the ongoing merger process.  Susan Lit has stepped up to be the head of the Formation Committee for TBA.  She is working with her counterparts from TBE, Reva Castaline and Susan Wolfthal; together they are driving all the merger committees forward.  Yes, we always need more people to help, so be a part of this and let me know if you are interested in helping on a merger committee.

I am very excited about all that is happening - I hope you are as well.   Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.   I wish you and your families a happy and healthy New Year. 

Lshanah Tova Umetukah (A good and sweet year).