WHAT RABBIS, CONGREGATIONAL LEADERS, JEWISH COMMUNAL PROFESSIONALS,
AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS ARE SAYING ABOUT GATHER THE PEOPLE
Moshe and Khulda's paper (“Public Powers for the Commonweal: A Challenge to Faith-Based Organizing”) is timely after an election season (Fall 2014) marked by results that are both deeply disappointing and bizarrely contradictory. They push community organizing to think beyond issues, and beyond policy, to take on the very process of democracy itself. The implications of the paper are profound for both theory and practice.
“Unified Community Organizing Theory” (by Moshe) . . . is a very exciting paper for me. There has been very little written trying to really think deeply theoretically about community organizing. It’s filled with stuff to think about.
“Relationship-Building Questions to Clergy in Congregational (Faith-Based) Community Organizing” (by Moshe) . . . is just what it's title says it is and shows that Moshe can also write great practical concrete stuff too.
Randy Stoecker, Moderator/Editor, COMM-ORG: The On-Line Conference on Community Organizing
I think your materials and your website are great! I want to add that your downloadable articles and drashim provide a wealth of fascinating, thought provoking and inspirational relevance . . . especially to those of us who are synagogue activists who are engaged in community (shul) building . . . lay and professional alike. Thanks and kol hakavod on an interesting and useful website!!!
Executive Director, Beth Israel Congregation
What a fantastic site! Thank you for making so many wonderful resources available to the public.
Director, Spokane Area Jewish Family Services
I found Gather the People very useful in explaining to my congregation just what we were trying to do in the congregation organizing process. Gather the People presents the organizing process in a way Jewish congregations can understand it, and put it in the context of Jewish tradition, something absolutely necessary for any Jewish congregation serious about Tikkun Olam or increasing its sense of community.
As an organizer, training young Jewish community organizers, it is the only source I know of that presents the elements of a congregation building drive within a Jewish context and within Jewish tradition. Gather the People is a useful tool for anyone serious about community organizing in Jewish congregations.
Michael J. Brown
Coordinator, Jewish Organizing Initiative
Your project is fascinating. I enjoyed the two melodies on your web site.
Yishar Kokhakhem. . . . Great project!
Rabbi David Shneyer
I just want to let you know that I checked out your web site and it has a lot of interesting items that I might use in the future. B'hatzlachah with this project.
Rabbi David Steinberg
This is an incredible website. Came upon it by accident. Very interesting organization. I am a board member of a synagogue in Essex County, NJ, and look forward to visiting your site often.
I wanted to tell you that I love your "Gather the People" website. I used the training on negotiation recently and it worked out great. Thanks for taking the time to put together such a wonderful resource.
Co-Director, Mothers on the Move South Bronx, NY
I thank you for a beautiful downloadable haggadah. I have been preparing my own family's haggadah, and I am using yours as one of my resources.
Thanks for the good idea! Though I'm retired I passed it along to a few colleagues still “on the line.” I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd send me more information about GTP.
Rabbi Stephen A. Arnold
South Easton, MA
Thank you for the great link to the Gather the People site.
Rabbi Eitan J. Weiner-Kaplow
THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! for giving breath to what I have been feeling for many a year! I will DEFINITELY bookmark your site for future visits. Thank you for being there and let me know if there is anything I can do for you!
Just wanted to say thanks for an interesting site. I've done neighborhood organizing and am now with a non-profit doing the same thing. And I really enjoyed the site.
Thank you very much for you excellent advice. Our congregation is affiliated with. . . . However, we have been treated very badly by that organization. Once again, thank you for taking the time to write back to me and for the great wealth of advice.
Your web site and writings are really interesting!
Rabbi Eric Lankin
United Jewish Communities
Rabbi David E. Fass
Temple Beth Sholom
Thank you for sharing these wonderful, wonderful [drashot and iyun tefillot] resources. Todah raba.
I am a Community Development executive from London, England and would like to compliment you on the [GTP] website and its organization.
Chaim Moshe haLevi
The [GTP] web site is really wonderful.
Dr. Tamar Earnest
Rabbinical Student, AJR
I would like to express my appreciation . . . for the wonderful work you are doing. The [Gather the People] manual was replete with excellent programming ideas and presented in a most creative fashion.
B'hatzlacha in all your endeavors for amcha.
Rabbi David E. Vorspan
Congregation Shir Ami
Thank you for responding to my question about Torah quotes. Your [Gather the People] manual is amazing and useful for far more than the quotes!
Heather G. Stoltz
Community Services Coordinator
Stephen Wise Free synagogue
I spent some time on your websiteI love it! Thanks for sharing it with me.
I couldn’t resist skimming through your CD this morning. I also listened briefly last night and then couldn’t get your melody for “L’sheim Yikhud” out of my head. Very lovely. And your “Hodu L’Adonai” won’t leave me. Of course, when this happens a composer knows he has written something very special. How can I not use this for Hallel? I’ve been humming it throughout the day. After Pesach I will take the time to learn some of your melodies I feel my congregation would enjoy; I might use some simply as a niggun. I have already numbered each of your tracks on the insert and am looking forward to working with your material. Incidentally, I can already hear my congregation singin your "Baruch Sh’amar." Lovely!
I hope that with your Blessings CD and your presence on the internet, many others will enjoy your music. Kol ha kavod for bringing us such soulful music!
I believe that what they [Moshe ben Asher and Khulda bat Sarah] have developed as a strategy for strengthening covenantal community touches on matters that we recognize as important to our work, and to the Jewish people.
When I first met Moshe and Khulda and heard from them about congregational organizing, I couldn't see how to make it Jewish and make it matter personally to members of OU congregations. After reading what Moshe and Khulda have written [Gather the People], I came to believe that the approach they have developed to stimulating Jewish life holds hope for strengthening covenantal community in many of our congregations.
Rabbi Dr. Abner Weiss
I always look forward to your . . . writings. They uplift me and I need that.
You have such wonderful stuff [on the GTP web site]. Yishar kochakhem!
Rabbi Dennis Beck-Berman
So excited to come across your web site. I am a teacher at a small Jewish day school in Birmingham, Alabama. Although a member of a Reform congregation, our school has a traditional T'fillah. Therefore, I needed a version of Az Yashir that I could learn. Your web site provides the best choice of the several I have viewed. Please send me the Become A Blessing CD.
Paul C. Miller
I am currently on an Independent Study to do community organizing. . . . I am very glad to have your instructional piece on how to chart progress notes in macro practice. Wish I could have had them earlier in the semester, but glad to have them now.Janice Hayward
Access to the Gather the People web site was "filtered" (blocked) by the government of the Peoples Republic of China as of November 2002.
The Gather the People web site was listed as one of the “Web’s Best Sites” by the Encyclopedia Britannica.
WHAT CONGREGATIONAL LEADERS AND OTHER STUDENTS ARE SAYING
ABOUT LEARNING WITH RABBI MOSHE BEN ASHER
AND MAGIDAH KHULDA BAT SARAH
Thanks to the Temple Ner Shalom Rabbi Team [of Moshe ben Asher and Khulda bat Sarah], I have derived a deep and abiding understanding of Torah such as I have never acquired before. Better still, they have given me the tools so that I can continue to study Torah on my own. That also goes for their examination of Judaism.
They are the kinds of teachers that never simply lecture and expect you to absorb and accept their views at face value, but rather gently push you to question and think deeply of what those concepts mean to you, how they fit into your life. I’m often amazed at the questions they formulate and put to us.
We have been blessed with some wonderful Rabbis in the past, each one of whom has left his mark on our lives. But this Rabbi Team has helped us search our souls for a wider, deeper and different understanding of the role that Torah can play in bettering our existenceour relationship with G-d, our family and friends and above all to the "strangers" in our midst. Each of us is on a journey and the Rabbi Team has helped us along our paths, different as each one is to every other. There’s no one cookie-cutter.
For example, they have gently forced me to reexamine my belief systems and to state them openly, something I’ve been too embarassed to do in the past. (This has happened to other attendees.) They have gently pushed me to redirect the goals of my life. All to the better. For this, I’m eternally grateful.
Every once in a while I stop and marvel at the time, thought and energy that obviously goes into the preparation of every class they conduct. They eschew the trivial and the ordinary; they conduct every session with joy and originality. It is truly a mitzvah that they bestow on us and a mitzvah for us to be the recipients.
Those who have not experienced a class with the Rabbi Team have deprived themselves of a valuable and precious part of our Synagogue life. I urge you to attend their classes the next time they are here. You owe it to yourself.
Temple Ner Shalom
San Luis Obispo
Working with Magidah Khulda bat Sarah is a supportive and pleasant experience. Her approach is a far cry of the unpleasant taskmasters that I instinctually associate with bad bar mitzvah memories. Her approach to my learning is gentle, progressive and encouraging. Magidah Khulda's always-encouraging feedback and emphasis on my individual pace of learning aided me in overcoming the personal learning hurdles that cropped up regularly.
The techniques that Magidah Khulda used to help me master Torah reading are especially helpful. Magidah Khulda taught me a Torah reading technique that doesn't focus on memorization, but on a systematic approach that uses the reappearing patterns of trope, which aids and simplifies my learning a Torah portion. Magidah Khulda's technique of visioning ahead the next grouping of trope from the one that is currently chanted is a great aid in my calm and confidence when I chant Torah in front of a congregation.
I've learnt that I can gently unlearn bad habits and techniques that evolved in my attempt to restart chanting a long while after my initial bar mitzvah experience. The inefficiency, fear and anxiety that came from relying primarily on memorization of recorded portions have been replaced by the ability to sight read trope and learn portions with far less effort and the ability to retain it longer.
What I like about working with Magidah Khulda is that I can do it from my home at hours that are convenient to me. The phone is a great aidall I have to do to get ready for a lesson is sit down at my trope sheet, put on my phone headset and dial, and when Magidah Khulda answers the telephone it's only a few seconds until I feel that we are sitting next to each other. The phone seems to facilitate a true sense of one-to-one instruction. I have no worries about phone bills as I have a $5 per month unlimited long distance plan on my home phone. I prefer to have my lessons at 6 a.m. my time because of child care, carpool and work responsibilities, and Magidah Khulda accommodates my schedule. I like that I am able to choose the physical environment that I feel comfortable learning in. I choose to call from my garden where I watch the hummingbirds, blue jays and other birds going about their morning routine as I go through my trope singing exercises with Magidah Khulda. My five year old when asked by his mom where daddy is, said, "He's in the garden singing." I have a feeling that my studying is imparting something to my son, especially since I sometimes sing trope when I drive him and he likes to try to sing along.
What I like best about working with Magidah Khulda is that she is calm, warm and supportive, and has a lot of patience.
The rabbi team [of Moshe ben Asher and Khulda bat Sarah] has a great ability to inspire us to be better Jews . . . be a better person, working harder to bring holiness into my life—not just on Shabbat, but in my daily work as a doctor and healer as well; working harder for justice in the world, doing things that contribute to Tikun Olam ("repairing the world"); being more compassionate in all aspects of my life and interactions with others, etc.
Through the Torah study classes and the Sunday Judaism class, I've learned to distinguish what Rabbi Moshe often calls the "wallpaper of Christianity" in our society—the pervasive Christian views—so pervasive that many of us never learned differently. For example, the view of prayer as "emergency bail-out requests to G-d." I now understand the Jewish view that prayer is there for us to connect to G-d's purpose for us and to inspire us to go out and do G-d's work in the world—not to observe Shabbat as a day of denial of shopping or other things we're forbidden to do, but to observe Shabbat as a celebration of our connection to our heritage, to G-d and to doing our part to bring the world to a better place; that Shabbat exists as an "island in time" to help us to re-connect to spirit, G-d, and family—the truly important things in our lives that can get lost in the daily battles.
I now also undertand, for example, that the minyan exists because many things need to be done by a spiritual community—that there is only so much a single person can do—so Jewish prayer requires community to bring people together and that that togetherness and community should be the foundation that we bring out into the world and the platform on which we stand as we go about our work of making the world a better place for all people to live in.
For anyone out there that hasn't been to one of these classes, if you're someone who considers yourself open to spiritual growth and interested in having more meaning and connection in your life, check it out soon.
Temple Ner Shalom
San Luis Obispo
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