Reports from Around the Country
Rabbi Chefitz was invited by our new Rabbi, Linda Joseph, to speak and install her on Friday night, as well as facilitate a text study on Shabbat morning. On Shabbat eve, he told stories from his own writings which appealed to both children and adults. On Shabbat morning, his teachings were both well attended and well received. He brought with him a blanket of Jewish learning that warmed everyone's hearts. He was a pleasure to listen to and learn from. Our only regret was that he was not with us long enough! We would welcome him back anytime.
Marshall Medoff, Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation, Ashland, VA
Rabbi Chefitz's "Jewish Explorations Weekend" at Temple Shir Tikva was one of the best yet. He started us off with a drash at Friday night services and followed through with a dinner that set the tone. Saturday morning he led the community of adults and teenagers through a new approach to prayer and learning. In the afternoon, he explored stories with families and then led the community in Havdallah. For dinner he challenged the community and gave us a few things to think about for the future of Judaism. On Sunday morning all were invited to participate - from 10 to 120 years old. Mitch led an intergenerational learning that touched everyone and made us all think. The weekend was a smashing success. He was able to teach the serious student, spiritual seeker and mildly curious alike. Not only was this a good weekend of learning but it is a great beginning of relationship we all hope to foster as we explore our Judaism together.
Michael T Pullen, Adult Learning Committee, Temple Shir Tikva, Wayland, MA
The weekend with Mitch Chefitz was amazing. A fantastic speaker and
storyteller, Mitch captivated everyone with his insights, stories, and
humor. His intergenerational teaching at our Sunday morning Beit Midrash
managed to speak to both adults and children. Although many teachings
strive to be intergenerational, Mitch's succeeded at a very deep level,
increasing not just comprehension but enjoyment in learning as well.
Parents and their children were still discussing it days later. His
workshops on unpacking Hassidic stories enabled people to learn to see
the hidden meanings in the stories, and develop a deeper appreciation
for the Jewish mystical tradition. We are definitely planning to invite
him back for another Scholar-In-Residence weekend.
Rabbi David B. Thomas, Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley, MA
Rabbi Chefitz's visit to our congregation had a tremendous impact on every congregant who attended one of his sessions. His storytelling during Shabbat Evening services had both adults and children, some quite young, sitting very quietly, mesmerized by every word. The group that attended our Torah discussion session on Saturday mornings learned how to read the biblical text in a different way, understanding some of the complexities of the text, and realizing that once you study Torah in such a manner, your view on Jewish concepts is forever changed. The service without a Siddur led by Mitch was an amazing lesson for all of us. People were able to understand the true meaning of kavanah. We will take some of Mitch's teachings into our weekly services. His intergenerational program with our Religious School children and their parents, grandparents, and adult friends, was fantastic. We had 100% satisfaction in our feedback forms. Many people have asked us if we can have him come two or three times a year! All in all, this was one of our best scholar-in-residence programs!
Sandra Lilienthal, Director of Lifelong Learning, Congregation Kol Tikvah, Parkland, FL
We heard overwhelming positive feedback on the entire weekend with Rabbi Chefitz -- the most enthusiastic response ever for events I have organized. Many could not recall a more engaging weekend. Temple members were enthralled with his stories and teachings. Everyone I spoke to was very excited about the creative and involving style of prayer he showed us. We will never be able to look at a prayer book in the same accepting way, and we think that's a step up to a higher level for us. We feel that exposure to these ideas must gradually bring change. We felt the way in which he gave completely of himself for us. Indeed, he left a lot behind here!
Riva Shulman, Executive Director, Temple Emanuel of South Hills Pittsburgh, PA
Mitch's presence in our community brought together many disparate groups. A very high-level lay group, composed of "bleeding heart Liberals" and "hard nosed Republicans" were drawn together by their fascination with his books. Together they created an ambitious and dynamic program. Mitch drew a very large audience, with every congregation in the city participating. Every part of the process was exciting and satisfying.
Joyce Litt, Book Fair Coordinator, Jewish Community Center, Austin, TX
Mitch was wonderful. We totally enjoyed it! On Friday night, we drew a record crowd in spite of extreme cold. The Sunday program, using the "bean bag of tradition," also went very well. I had a ball and both parents and kids enjoyed themselves.
Rabbi Paul Caplan, Temple Anshe Sholom, Olympia Fields, IL
A wonderful speaker, very engaging, just a pleasure to work with, warm and gracious, gladly took all the time necessary after the talk, in spite of having a long day. The people who took him back and forth to the airports thought of it as a privilege. We wish he could have stayed longer.
Lynn Fleischer, Book Fair, Jewish Federation of Nashville, TN