Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Yasher Koach to Rabbi Tamara Cohen, Covenant Grant Winner 2023

Congratulations to our own Rabbi Tamara Cohen, recipient of the Covenant Foundation Award. Here is her talk, presented on November 8, 2023:

Hineni, here I am, Tamara Rut bat Esther Rachel v’ Shachna Pinchas, Zichrono Livracha.  

Hineni, here I am, a Jewish feminist educator, nurtured by beloved mentors and community and passionately committed to transforming Jewish education by centering the experiences of Jewish women and girls, LGBTQ+ Jews and Jews of color.

My work is the weaving together of ancient and new, the grafting of tradition and innovation, the invitation to others to join me in sacred play and holy community building. I gather and create texts, ideas and rituals that have been rescued, excavated and revealed to us by Jewish feminist historians, theologians and scholars and I offer them to Jewish young people, their parents and educators, as keys, as pathways, as doors inviting our youth, especially those who feel on the margins, to come inside, to make themselves at home in Judaism, a richer, more multifaceted, more whole Judaism that with their presence and creativity, can and truly serve as a home for all of us in our diversity.

Jewish feminism starts by recognizing the vibrant Jewishness of women but it doesn’t end there. It challenges structural inequity, asks us to re-think our core assumptions, dares us to name what is sacred in ourselves and in every being we encounter with ancient and new language.

Jewish education grounded in feminism is a practice of hope. Born of necessity, loss, exclusion, oppression, revolution, it invites us all to hold complexity, to dream that more is possible, and to trust that we have and can create the tools we need, even for this intensely challenging moment.

We have practices of empathy and listening, midrash, ritual and Torah study. We know how to honor each other’s experiences and embrace each other’s questions, how to hold ourselves and others accountable, how to walk the path of teshuva, how to envision justice and enact compromise, how to cultivate the courage for the hard work of collaboration and connection across difference, how to praise and cry out to God using Her many names.

The Israelites in the desert are said to have been sustained by Miriam’s Well. Perhaps it was the same well that Hagar saw when God opened her eyes in her moment of despair. That ancient mythical well is what I want to help our youth see, drink from, and when needed, help us refill. It is a well of sustenance, healing and hope.

Jewish youth need us to walk with them into the pressing questions and challenges of our era as guides and as partners. They need us to be honest, brave, and moral cultivators of hope even as we take seriously the threats we face. They need us to see in them what they can’t always see in themselves or in one another.

Hineni, here I am. Filled with gratitude and ready to answer the ongoing call to teach, to lead, to widen the tent, to insist on a third way, to do justice, love goodness and walk humbly with God.

The Covenant Foundation's Covenant Award, honor three exemplary Jewish educators who are each meeting a complex moment in Jewish communal history with a powerful blend of courage, commitment, and compassion.

The 2023 Covenant Award recipients are: Rabbi Tamara R. Cohen, Chief Program Officer, Moving Traditions, Philadelphia, PA; Allison Cook, Founder and Co-Director, Pedagogy of Partnership, Powered by Hadar, Cambridge, MA; Nicole Nash, Head of School, Hannah Senesh Community Day School, Brooklyn, NY.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Parshat Bereshit - by Rabbi Ellen Bernstein - 2023/5784

Bereshit, Genesis I
, by Rabbi Ellen Bernstein www.ellenbernstein.org


I want to apologize first for not giving a d’var related to the tragedy in the Middle East. Bereshit comes around just once a year and I’ve been waiting 2 years to give this d’var, since the slot was already taken last year. However, wrapped up in this d’var—but perhaps not so explicit—is the resilience of the natural world, so I hope that in this time of great sorrow, she can whisper some measure of comfort to you.

My decision to take Judaism seriously and my entire career in the field of religion and ecology is a result of my first encounter with Genesis 1 as a young adult. In college in the 70’s, I studied in one of the first environmental studies programs in the US at Berkeley. Science seemed like only part of an answer to our environmental crisis, so I also embarked on a spiritual search that led me to studying the parsha with a friend; Having no prior relationship with the text, I was stunned to find such an elegant environmental manifesto in this very first chapter of the Bible.

In case you have never studied this chapter before—a brief overview. God creates light on the first day, divides up air and water on the second; earth and trees appear on the third, stars and planets on the 4th, swimmers and flyers on the 5th, land animals and people on the 6th ; and on the 7th, God rested, creating Shabbat. In an elegant design the habitats/elements of air and water on day 2 and earth on day 3, give rise to their inhabitants--the air creatures and water creatures on day 5, and land creatures on day 6. If you plot out the creations of the days, you will see this simple and orderly design.


Significantly, God sees everything that comes into being as “good.” In Genesis 1, the goodness of the biodiverse world is the pre-eminent value. Each creature is inherently valuable—each has value in and of itself—whether or not we humans deem it useful or valuable. The rabbi, philosopher, physician Maimonides, writing in the twelfth century, said that the goodness of all the creatures is a testament to their intrinsic value. Each organism has integrity, each contributes to the whole and is required for the whole. The world is built on the foundation of the goodness of the creatures, without which it could not exist.

This alone is a fundamental ecological idea, but there are several more that permeate the text.

The centrality/agency/meaning of Earth: Eretz

Go to Gen I.11; The idea that the Earth is alive in some way—is a second fundamental ecological idea in Genesis 1. Many environmentalists argue that our environmental problems are rooted in our haphazard treatment of the earth. Since we don’t regard the earth as alive or life giving, we can innocently exploit and pollute her with no thought of the damage we may be inflicting or the consequences of our lifestyles. The scientists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulies understood earth as a self-regulating living system and called this idea the Gaia hypothesis—after the Greek goddess of earth, Gaia, mother of all life. This was considered a radical idea in its time about 50 years ago. And yet Genesis I portrays the earth as the mother of life, generating life, centuries before Lovelock, but most of us don’t recognize the aliveness of earth in the Bible, just like we don’t recognize the aliveness of earth beneath our feet. The construction of the Hebrew in verse 1:11 points to her lifegiving nature. On the third day, the text proclaims, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation.” The earth here has agency; she partners with God in the “bringing forth.” The earth has the ability to grow the creatures that will inhabit her. She is prolific. She is alive. We see this unusual construction again on the sixth day when the earth partners with God to bring forth animals. The 12th century rabbinic commentator Nachmanides recognized the aliveness of the earth, stating that the very word for earth, eretz, suggests a force that causes growth.

Its worth noting as well that the word eretz occurs 10 times in the creation story—a kind of magic number—again highlighting her significance.


Third, the ecological idea of sustainability or flourishing appears over and over throughout Genesis 1. Sustainability is communicated in several ways—first, through the attention to seeds, or zera, given on the 3rd day in Genesis 1:11-12. Most people familiar with the creation story will tell you the third day is all about the trees and vegetation, and while all this green growth is incredibly significant, what is actually emphasized on day 3 is the word zera or seed. Zera, in various forms, is repeated 6 times in these 2 verses, telling us to pay attention; seeds are significant. The plants will seed seeds and fruit trees will make fruit with seeds in them. Seeds are, after all, the way that life is able to sustain and diversify itself from one generation to the next; This is what the biblical author seems most eager to convey on the 3rd day.

Sustainability is also communicated through the phrase “after its kind” used repeatedly throughout Genesis 1 after almost every creature is created, pointing again to the biblical regard that life must be able to perpetuate itself.

The concept of blessing is another way in which the sustainability—the perpetuation of the species line—is articulated in Genesis 1. Most people assume that the Torah’s first blessing was given to humans—but in fact it is given to the fish and the birds. Take a look at verse 1:22 . God blesses the flyers and swimmers with the ability to be fruitful and multiply.

With so many references the idea of living beings reproducing themselves, it’s clear that the biblical author was concerned—perhaps first and foremost—with the perpetuation of life on earth. The first creation story concludes with Genesis 2:3, and those of you who are facile with the Hebrew should be able to find a clue that this whole story ends with yet another declaration of the significance of sustainably. We can come back to this later if we have time.

Very Goodness=Kol

One more ecological idea that I want to mention today comes at the conclusion of the 6th day. While on all other days, God sees each creation as good, on the sixth day, God makes a proclamation that God’s creation is “very good,” tov maod. Without looking at the text, what category of creation do you imagine is called “very good”—or lets’ say, what would most people who have not studied the text say?

Verse I:31 clearly declares: And God saw everything –kol—that God had made and behold it was very good. Each individual creation was called good and now all the creatures, everything altogether is deemed “very good.” The repetition of the two-letter word kol or everything seven times in verses 29 and 30 evinces the importance of all the creatures, all together. There is a sense of indivisibility of all the creatures involved as one living breathing whole. Every organism is bound up in the life of every other organism.

Commentators and many readers of the text have long presumed that the designation of “very goodness” on the sixth day referred to the human creatures who were created on this day. They assumed that humanity was the crown of creation, and that the creation was established solely for people to use for their own benefit. Such an assumption leads to a utilitarian and anthropocentric stance towards the world. Curiously, human creatures, unlike all the other animals, do not receive the designation of “tov.” From the beginning, the biblical author was circumspect about humanity. Indeed, the midrash teaches that God consulted with the angels to determine whether or not to even create human beings. (Bereshit Rabbah 8:8).

There’s more I can say about Genesis 1’s ecological vocabulary (I wrote a whole book on it 20 years ago: The Splendor of Creation) but I want to make sure to leave plenty of time for a discussion of humanity’s role Genesis 1:28. Perhaps—if you are familiar with the text, you will recall that when humanity was created—last after all the rest—God gives them mastery over the earth and dominion over the other creatures. Read Gen 1:28.

In 1969, the historian Lynn White wrote a famous article in Science Magazine, “The Historical Root of the Ecologic Crisis,” blaming the Bible and the Judao-Christian tradition for our environmental crisis: He claimed that God’s giving humanity dominion meant that God gave humanity a mandate to dominate and exploit nature. This has become a very common reading in liberal and environmentalist circles, including among environmentalist rabbis.

For example: The esteemed Israeli soil scientist and irrigation expert, Daniel Hillel, (author of The Natural History of the Bible and many other books) referring to Genesis I:28 wrote, “His [the human’s] manifest destiny is to be an omnipotent master over nature, which from the outset, was created for his gratification. He is endowed with the power and right to dominate the creatures toward whom he has no obligation.”

There are legitimate reasons that so many people are suspicious of Genesis 1.28. The idea of dominion as domination has endured a long and dark history that has led to terrible suffering and disastrous consequences. The verse was appropriated by the pope in 1493 to justify the Doctrine of Discovery and legitimize the confiscation of native lands everywhere. Tragically, this ideology persists.

Lynn White’s assumption that the Bible—and the idea of dominion—was responsible for the environmental crisis had a profound effect on a whole generation of environmentalists and their students and it had a profound effect on me. It caused me to question how Judaism understood our relationship with the natural world. Yet once I began studying the parasha with a friend, I realized pretty quickly that those who argue that dominion means domination take the verse out of context, paying no attention to the verses that precede or follow this one. Many of them are biased against the Bible to begin with.

If you read the context of this chapter, as we have been doing, you might ask, as the farmer poet Wendell Berry did, “Why would God want to give humanity a mandate to exploit nature after God worked so intentionally to create such a beautiful world”— a world that could sustain itself on its own in perpetuity, without any interference from people?

The Bible itself hints that dominion is not given to people arbitrarily. It appears that dominion is conditional as it certainly is later in the Bible. Dominion is given and can be taken away. The Hebrew word for dominion, RDH, points to this conditionality. Since Hebrew words are built on a system of three-letter roots, and one root can lend itself to multiple meanings, sometimes even a word and its opposite share the same three-letter root.

In certain grammatical forms (in the imperative form and the plural imperfect for 2nd and 3rd person) RDH looks exactly like another Hebrew word, YRD “to go down.” When RDH appears in one of these ambiguous forms as it does in Genesis 1:26, you must determine the word’s meaning by its context. Rashi, the foremost medieval rabbinic commentator, points out the wordplay inherent in this 3-letter root and explains that if we consciously embody God’s image, if we stand up-right and rule responsibly with wisdom and compassion, we will RDH, have dominion over, the creatures, insuring a world of harmony; but if we are deny our responsibility to the creation and thoughtlessly take advantage of our position and the creation, we will YRD, go down below the other creatures and bring ruin to ourselves and the world.[1] If we upend the blessing to further selfish goals, the blessing becomes a curse. If dominion becomes domination, then we are no longer worthy of the role we have been bestowed. We lose our kinship with God, and we lose our kinship with earth.

Significantly dominion is bestowed as part of a two-fold blessing or bracha. The word bracha in Hebrew is related to the word beracha, a pond of water. A blessing is enlivening and regenerative, like an oasis in the desert. The blessing in verse 1:28 is for both fruitfulness and dominion. It lays the foundation for the two basic necessities of life. Fruitfulness promises generativity of the body and dominion—through the human creature’s benevolent rule—promises generativity of the earth and its creatures. Barrenness of body and barrenness of land (famine) would be the greatest threats to the Israelite people, while fruitfulness in both would be the greatest gift. The two-fold blessing for fertility and land reverberates through the Torah in the promise that God makes to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Israelites.

Notably the verses that follows add further context to the meaning of dominion. Immediately after God grants dominion to the human creature, God assigns the seed plants for food for the humans, and the leafy greens for the animals. Dominion, then, ensures that not just people, but that animals too, can eat and thrive. Notably, dominion over the animals does not include the right to eat them.

Some of the rabbinic sages, read dominion allegorically and suggested that people must have dominion over their own desires, and master the tendency towards gluttony. Dominion over the earth first requires dominion over our selves. Seventy years ago, the great environmentalist Rachel Carson eloquently wrote "We, in this generation, must come to terms with nature. We're challenged as [hu]mankind has never been challenged before to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature, but of ourselves."

There’s much more to say about all of this and I’m happy to refer you to resources if you are interested.

I want to conclude by saying that I always had this idea that Genesis I is an overture to the whole bible. You know the book, “Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten,” That’s how I feel about Genesis I.

I always intuited that if Genesis 1 offered such a profound ecology, that these ideas must—like invisible mycelia--undergird the whole Torah, but I had never heard any Jews talk about a creation theology before—Creation theology isn’t even a thing in the Jewish world. If anything, the very language of creation is off-putting to most people I know. Mentioning creation theology in certain circles, and people assume you are a fundamentalist. There are many reasons that these ideas haven’t found their way into contemporary Jewish thought, but that’s a conversation for another time.

Questions for discussion:

Are there certain ideas in Torah that you recognized as an adult that have caused you to change your mind about something? In other words, have you had an insight from the Torah as an adult that caused you to change your mind and your behaviors?

Is there a time when you changed your mind to take a new position on something? Want caused you to change your mind?

How are you influenced by ideas? In what way do they affect your life?

[1] Rashi, Commentary on Genesis I:26

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Shabbat Nachamu - A Positive Viduii (by Avi Weiss) - Betsy Teutsch D'rash

Parshat V'etchanan/Shabbat Nachamu -July 29, 2023 - Shabbat Shalom.

I want to dedicate this D’rash to two of our minyan teachers whose Torah has stuck with me, Rabbi Avruhm Addison and Christina Ager and informed my davar.

As we read Parshat Vaetchanan, we are in the first Shabbat of the seven known as the Shabbatot of Consolation, named for today’s Haftarah’s words, Nachamu - Comfort. After the tragic destruction commemorated on Tisha B’Av, and for many the events in Israel this week, we reach a liturgical nadir. 

Now we look ahead seven weeks to the High Holidays. This is the beginning of the reverse 49 Omer, if you will, to complete our Chesbon HaNefesh, the accounting of our soul, and then we will confess our bad deeds on Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur.

In this parshah God is the source and enforcer of a code of behavior, in a manifestly hierarchical system. God has all the power. We should not disobey God’s laws. There’s no justification or explanation for the Torah’s laws; it’s because God Said So. You want proof? Look at creation. Who else could have done this?

And if you don’t obey, you will be punished big time.

If you stick with the program, you and your progeny will thrive.

 “For your God יהוה am an impassioned God, visiting the guilt of the parents upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generations of those who reject Me,

וְעֹ֥֤שֶׂה חֶ֖֙סֶד֙ לַֽאֲלָפִ֑֔ים לְאֹהֲבַ֖י וּלְשֹׁמְרֵ֥י (מצותו) [מִצְוֺתָֽי]׃ {ס}    

but showing kindness to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

This world view and theology is obviously not how we moderns think. It reflects a period of competitive local Gods, with tribal clan structure. YHVH is an all powerful, non-local, God. This was a new concept. As is the idea of God’s abstract nature. Hence the Ten Commandments, in today’s parshah, emphasize worshiping one God, and no others. No idols, like the other peoples!

Deuteronomy reviews all that God did for our people, and our indebtedness. Fidelity is required; infractions will be punished. 

This is why the middle paragraph of the Kol Haneshamah Shma has a different choice - it’s not about reward and punishment. We think in terms of  behavior and consequences.

We must find a balance between the God of Judgment, so present in this Parsha, and the God of Compassion and Mercy, whom we continually seek, especially as we approach the High Holidays.

Din is the strict and severe aspect of God judging us and doling out punishment for what we did wrong and reward for what we did right. And Rachamim (which comes from the word “womb” or “rechem”) is the soft aspect of God’s love and caring for us, no matter what, just because we are God’s children. - Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg

In our world we emphasize examining our behavior, not worrying much about our ritual infractions. Average people cut corners more than they sin big! We don’t typically worry about God keeping score.

A corner cutting example: our great nephew Zeke included an early grade school song in his Bar Mitzvah davar, “Do The Right Thing Because It’s RIght, even if no one’s watching!” He got us all to sing it.

Later that week David and I debated about how to handle our VRBO. We had paid for two adults for a week, but for a few days our kids and grandkids were with us. There wasn’t any method to reserve for a partial week of added guests on the website. Our host wasn’t watching, but we weren’t following the rules.

As we wrapped up our rental, I texted our host the facts: 2 adults and 2 kids had joined us for 3 nights. His reply was, “Don’t worry about it!” It felt right to have been truthful, though we well might have owed more.

The opening of the season of seven weeks of pre-High Holiday preparation, focusing on self-reflection to accomplish tshuvah, returning ourselves to the right path, goes about things in ways that I find personally ineffective. 

Today I want to help us get started by using what we know from behavioral science - I am not alone in resisting negative assessment: People need positive reinforcement. In a d’rash many years ago, Christina Ager, a professor of education, taught us that to help students improve their behavior, they need 5 times as much positive feedback as negative. Our hand is a handy digital counter.

Beating up on ourselves is not very effective.

We need to recognize what we have done correctly to motivate us to keep on doing it, and doing it even more. We of course shouldn’t highlight positives while failing to hold ourselves accountable for bad deeds, but flipping the balance of positive to negative can be more efficacious.

Cultivating and emulating God’s compassion to God’s creatures, and extending it to  ourselves, is important. We need to extend it to others, as well, moving when we can from judginess to generous love, tempering our judgements by dan bcaf z’chut, withholding judgment and ascribing good intentions to the actions of others.

“According to midrash Pesikta Rabbati 40, “Initially, God intended to create the world with the attribute of Justice. But then God saw that the world cannot exist [with only Justice], so God gave priority to the attribute of Mercy, and joined it with the attribute of Justice.” 

When I shared my frustration with the negative tone of our liturgy with Rabbi Avruhm Addison, he shared a Positive Vidui written in 2016 by Rabbi Avi Weiss [it's at the beginning of this post. ]I keep it in my machzor. For today, I reformatted it so you can more clearly how beautifully the Hebrew and English connect.

We’re going to experiment today with sharing positive messages about: OURSELVES. That is something we are socially conditioned to avoid, as it might be perceived as bragging. 

In small groups, please share:

  1. A positive change you have been successful in making, and stuck with. It could be big, or it can be as small. “I always have dollar bills to share with people on the street”, or “I compost”. You might say, “I go to morning minyan every Thursday.” 

  2. Or, something you have stopped doing, and managed to stick with. You may   have managed to refrain from something for decades - give yourself credit.

No judgments, but you need to take turns saying things you have managed to do (or not do) consistently, through making an effort.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Happy 36th Anniversary, Dorshei Derekh!

Longtime member, Rabbi Robert Tabak, as a historian and lover of ritual, has kept track of our milestones. He encouraged us to celebrate 36 years and pulled together a committee to do so: Jane Century, Fredi Cooper, Rachel Falkove, Dick Goldberg, Malkah Binah Klein, and Bob. 

Rabbi Malkah Binah, our service leader, shared:

We agreed that our priorities are to build a strong and loving sense of community, to have a musical service with a strong spiritual focus and a lively Torah discussion, to be open, creative and flexible, and to reach out to and include new people.   (From minutes of planning meeting in 1986 for what would become Dorshei Derekh)

Rabbi Tamara Cohen, unable to be with us in person, shared a poem:

Mizmor l’dorshim

    A psalm for the seekers

    Seekers of the path 

    With tambourine and tallit 

    With dishes to wash and stories to tell

    We call on one another alternating gender or not, muting and unmuting on our zoom squares, visiting     the sick, learning how to welcome and how not to harm.

    We call one another to Torah - for birthdays and yartzeits, for gratitude and healing, for wonder and        honor, pebbles and milestones.

    We call on the Source of Life, on foremothers or six.

    Choosing not chosen, we arrive at thirty six, hai plus hai, two strands of life, original members and         newer ones, the ones that left and came back and the ones that stayed. 

    Lidrosh: to seek, also to interpret and reinterpret.

    Seekers of the path,  

    through quiet and talk,

    Prayer and song. 

Rabbi Fredi Cooper bestowed an original blessing upon us:

A Blessing for Dorshei Derekh on the Occasion of the 36th Anniversary

               Shabbat Parashat Naso: June 3, 2023/ 14 Sivan 5783

And so, today, we have lifted up each head

We have been lifting up each one of us for thirty- six years

And in this lifting, we have been sure to count carefully, each one

This is the blessing that has marked the vitality of our minyan

We have been seekers together through these years

And in our seeking we see each other….taking on a bit of the almighty

Thirty- six is a number so rich in it’s meaning and it brings blessing to our kahal, our sacred community

It marks now, that the minyan has lasted a double portion in life

But even more thirty- six is equal to Lamed, Vav

We learn that the world must contain at least 36 righteous individuals

At Dorshei Derekh we embrace the righteousness in each one of us

We help the other to step in the right direction in life

We embrace and recognize that at any time, any moment, one of us who is present

Could be one of those thirty- six

And if it is so, we hope to learn from that righteous one

On the first day of creation, God created the light

It is said that, that light burned for exactly 36 hours

May we continue to be lifted together toward the best light

And may we continue to come together in celebration, in prayer, in righteousness and justice

And together, may we always seek what is best in life

And find it here

With full hearts we say, Amen

And Student Rabbi Maria Pulzetti shared a teaching from her 2019 Bat Mitzvah in abstentia:

In Ahavah Rabah we pray,

v’haeir eynenu btoratecha –

light up our eyes with Your Torah.

That phrase evokes Sinai,

when our people gathered at the mountain, early,

seeking a glimpse of the Divine.

In place of the unseeable, the face of God,

we received the light of Torah.

Each day we pray that its glow will fuel us anew

as we listen, learn, and teach,

keep, perform, and fulfill,

with love.

We push and stretch and birth;

lean out, and draw our edges together.

Maybe today, we pray, we will dare

to love our neighbor with the deep love that bathes us.

Maybe today we will confront the legacy of slavery;

we will stop standing idly by;

we will center the needs of the poor, the sick, the mourners;

we will illuminate the laws of Torah

with the love poured upon us,

and with light in our eyes

we will listen.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Adina Abramowitz: Community Development Finance Mighty Woman


From https://www.facebook.com/cdfifriendly :

As #WomensHistoryMonth comes to a close, we want to feature a woman who has been in the Community Development Financial Institution industry since its inception—our very own, Adina Abramowitz! Adina began her career in this field in 1987, working for a new nonprofit small business lender in Camden, NJ, known as CBAC. Today it would be called a CDFI, but the term "CDFI" was not established until 1994. 

Adina was drawn to the position because of a desire to make a difference and she saw that financing could be a tool to address social justice issues. She was instrumental in the early development of the CDFI industry through her work at Opportunity Finance Network, and in 2006 she launched her own consulting firm to help CDFIs develop and implement transformational strategies.

In 2018, Adina was contacted by her former colleague Mark Pinsky to help with a project in Bloomington, IN, which became the 1st CDFI Friendly city and helped form the CDFI Friendly strategy. After years of working with individual CDFIs, Adina enjoys how working at CDFI Friendly America has given her a fresh perspective—seeing and trying to solve for all of the credit needs in underserved communities. We at CDFI Friendly America are very grateful to have access to her wisdom and experience. Her advice to anyone entering the Community Development Finance space, "Be about positive change. Be about abundance. Be about spreading out opportunity. Be about expanding the pie."

Monday, March 6, 2023

Purim 5783/2023


Happy Purim!

This year we have raised over $1000 towards to split between charities who feed people. One is in our neighborhood, the Germantown Community Fridge. The other supports low-income women in need of assitance procuring Passover provisions, the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society.

The baskets are made of coconut fiber. They are used as liners for hanging plants, but you can really use them just as a bowl or basket. If you're not finding a use for them, just give yours back. We can use them again next year!

The lace is fairtrade, from a company that went out of business, sadly, and we were able to purchase them at steep discount. Irish nuns originally taught the women of this community in India to make lace. Machine-made lace tanked their business but they did revive it.

Sheila Erlbaum's crane

Thanks to all who worked on this project, one of the most joyful of the year:


Phyllis Berman, Jane Century, Fredi Cooper, Dayle Friedman, Pesha Leichter, Ruth Loew, Jennifer Paget, Sharon Strauss, and Esther Wiesner

Contributors of contents:

Lynne Jacobs, Irene McHenry, and Sharon Strauss.

Origami artists: Eleanor Brownstein and Sheila Erlbaum

Assemblers and Deliverers:

Eleanor Brownstein, Chana Dickter, Grace Flisser, Lynne Jacobs, Sharon Strauss & Sonia Voynow

Captain: Betsy Teutsch

                                            Eleanor demonstrating how the origami frogs jump.