Join Me In My New Year Resolution

The beginning of a new calendar year is the time when we are inspired to make resolutions, to lose weight, to exercise, or to start a new hobby. Although these good intentions are fueled with optimism, other responsibilities often intervene and prevent us from fulfilling them. So I stopped taking part in this well-meaning tradition, despite the many areas where I could make improvements. My abstinence ended when I saw the article in My Jewish Learning “Get Your Daily Dose of Talmud” ( 


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Stability in the Midst of a Tempest

It has been a tumultuous few weeks. The Aalst Carnival redoubled its anti-Semitic offensive, with new floats mocking Jews echoing Nazi imagery from the 1930s. A new scare looms, coronavirus. A stormy winter reminds us that the danger of climate change is mounting. The war in Syria is intensifying, threatening a new refugee crisis. The list of calamities is long and depressing.

Amid this madness, we long for stability - for things we can trust.

Working Together Make us Stronger

My name is Anu Ristola. At our Annual General Meeting in June, you elected me as Steve Brummel's successor as president. This a huge honor and I want to begin by thanking Steve. For more than a decade, Steve has displayed deft diplomatic skills building and growing our diverse community. He has overseen three moves and three rabbis - allowing us to emerge stronger than ever. Although many of you already know and have worked with me, let me introduce myself.

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Hallah and Politics

When does Hallah become a political act?  A couple of weeks ago I took part in a Mega Hallah Bake in a posh hotel in Brussels with other women from IJC. Chabad and other Jewish Orthodox groups organized the event, part of a global movement targeting Jewish women. The challah bakeoffs are popular and the Brussels hall was packed.  This was a women-only event. Except for the security guards, no men were in sight. For years, I resisted attending the Mega Hallah Bake event because they are gender-specific.

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A Brief Interval

If, when strolling through Jaffa, Israel, you suddenly find yourself in a neighborhood with 19th Century wooden houses reminiscent of 19th Century New England, you will have stumbled upon a footnote in history.   An American Protestant sect from Maine decided to move in the mid-1860s to Jaffa. They brought all they would need, including disassembled houses that were reassembled in Jaffa.    Palestine at that time was a harsh place with little in terms of infrastructure or amenities.

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State of the Shul

By tradition, the president of the IJC delivers a state of the shul speech on Rosh Hashanah. This year it’s my honor and pleasure as the new president of the IJC.

When I look back to this past year, I realize that the news is all positive. This community is thriving. We have put our finances in order and finished our first online fundraiser successfully. The move into Beth Hillel is working well. We have a new active, engaged and mostly female board in place. Rabbi Brian is, I dare to say, loved by all. Our numbers are growing. Our Hebrew School has doubled in size. Shabbat attendance is up. Some of our events attract close to 100 people and more.

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Sticks & Stones

Just before September 11, 2001 (in many ways another era), I was in New York with my nine-year old son Salomon. I decided to take him to the newly opened Museum of Television to show him some TV shows from the 1950s which fascinated me as a child (youtube did not yet exist). Top among them was Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone", a sci-fi series with a strong moral message. And, indeed, Salomon loved it.

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