Pre-High Holiday Picnic

The Membership Committee is hosting our annual pre-High Holiday picnic on Sunday, September 15 from 5:00-7:00 pm at Riverside Park, 2001 Monroe Ave., Grand Rapids, 49505.
•Please bring your favorite dairy dish to pass.
•Drinks, plates, napkins, and cutlery will be provided.
Go north of Ann St. on Monroe, to the second park entrance with the "Island Shelter" sign.
You can park right in front of the picnic shelter, near the pedestrian bridge, lagoon, and playground.

Ahavas Israel Reading Group

Our next book discussion will be on Tuesday, September 16 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss: 

Our next book selection is The Orchard by Yochi Brandes.
This spellbinding novel, which was a publishing sensation in Israel, tells the story of Rabbi Akiva and his contemporaries from the perspective of Akiva’s wife, the long-suffering Rachel. The novel offers a brilliant narrative solution to the story of the four sages who entered a metaphysical orchard and were terribly damaged by the experience, except for Rabbi Akiva…or so we think.
Yochi Brandes, one of Israel’s leading authors, takes on the literary challenge of novelizing key turning points in Jewish history. The Orchard seeks to understand the revolution that transformed Biblical Judaism into Rabbinic Judaism after the destruction of the Second Temple.
We believe that The Orchard can introduce modern Jews to the Yavneh period much as Milton Steinberg’s As a Driven Leaf did. It would be most enjoyable and valuable for synagogue book clubs, adult education classes, and religious schools.

Also put Thursday, February 13, 2020 (book to be determined) on your calendars.

Please contact Sandy Freed for more information at 616-540-2030, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Selihot movie - Saturday, September 21

Please join us for The Fisher King, a Selihot-themed film at 9:00 p.m., followed by a brief Selihot service at about 11:30 p.m.

Dejected and remorseful after an on-air rant leads to tragic consequences, a DJ strikes up a friendship with Parry, a former professor who became unhinged and then homeless after witnessing his wife's violent death. The DJ seeks redemption by helping Parry in his quest to recover an item that he believes is the Holy Grail and to win the heart of the woman he loves.

Kever Avot cemetery visits - Sunday, September 22

It is customary to visit the graves of parents and other relatives at the season of the Yamim Nora’im, Days of Awe, and recite a memorial prayer. Rabbi Krishef and Cantor Stuart will be available to say personal memorial prayers at the graves of your loved ones.

1:00 p.m., Ahavas Israel cemetery

1:45 p.m., Greenwood cemetery

Torah Study Shabbat - September 28

Please join us for a Torah Study Shabbat/Abbreviated Shabbat service on the 4th Shabbat of the month. The schedule is:

  • 9:30 a.m. Torah study
  • 10:30 a.m. Service
  • 11:55 a.m. (approximately) Kiddush

Future study dates are October 26 and November 23.

Beginning December 14, Torah study Shabbat will be on the second Shabbat of the month.


Thank you Grand Rapids Police Dept. Shabbat

On, Monday, October 21, (the festival of Shemini Atzeret), we are inviting members of the Grand Rapids Police Department to Kiddush to thank them for their keeping an eye on our property and responding to our requests for special event coverage. Please join us for Yom Tov services at 9:30 am and stay to greet and thank the officers!

Creating Shabbat Community - Creating Adult Shabbat Tables (CAST)

We all have a role to play in creating a vibrant Jewish community for the next generation. Are you an individual or couple in your mid-forties and up, with adult children (or no children)? Would you like to meet other individuals or couples in the community for Shabbat dinner? We want to facilitate meet-ups among this segment of the adult population and encourage sharing of Shabbat tables -- we want to Create Adult Shabbat Tables (CAST). Please contact Rabbi Krishef to add your name to the CAST list.

CRASE (Citizens Response to Active Shooter Events) Security Training

Monday, October 28, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) course, designed and built on the Avoid, Deny, Defend (ADD) strategy, provides strategies, guidance and a proven plan for surviving an active shooter event.

The training will be presented by Deputy Thomas McCutcheon, a school resource officer with extensive training and experience helping institutions develop emergency plans. We encourage everyone, especially Shabbat morning regulars and synagogue leaders and volunteers, to participate in the training.

Scholar in Residence - November 1-3

elana zaiman approved autumn-azure

Our scholar in residence, Elana Zaiman, loves connecting with people. In her book, The Forever Letter she encourages us to deepen, heal, and uplift our relationships with the people who matter to us most. Elana is the first female rabbi from a family spanning six generations of rabbis. She travels throughout North America as a scholar-in-residence, inspirational speaker, and workshop facilitator. She’s a chaplain at The Summit at First Hill, a retirement community in Seattle; a certified Wise Aging instructor (IJS), and Adjunct Faculty at Seattle’s Harborview Hospital CPE Program. In addition, she is the Ethics and Spirituality columnist for LivFun, a publication for Leisure Care retirement facilities in 10 states, and she has been published in The Gettysburg Review, The Sun, Post Road, American Letters & Commentary, and elsewhere. Elana also volunteers as a co-partner in the Seattle Limbe Sewing Circle, an intergenerational and interracial community which brings together Jews, Muslims, and Christians to create feminine hygiene kits for girls in Cameroon, Africa. Elana lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and their son.

The Forever Letter The Forever Letter book-cover

Inspired by the medieval tradition of the ethical will, forever letters are heartfelt letters we write to the people who matter to us with the hope that, even if our letters aren’t kept forever, the wisdom and love that we share will be.

Schedule and topics

Friday Morning: Temple Emanuel

10:00 a.m. Parenting and Grandparenting Through Story

Rabbi Zaiman will lead a group for mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. There will also be a play groups for young kids. In this session, we will study texts about stories and talk about how we can intentionally use stories to enrich our parenting and grandparenting. We will discuss the power of stories to highlight meaningful family moments, share ritual and tradition, communicate wisdom and guidance, and teach life lessons. RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Friday Evening: Temple Emanuel

6:00 p.m. Shabbat service

6:30 p.m. The Transformational Power of Forever Letters

Rabbi Zaiman will be our guide on a journey into forever letters—what they are, why write them—and how they can be powerful tools to connect us with the people we love.

Saturday Morning: Ahavas Israel

9:30 Shabbat service

approximately 11:15 a.m. D’var Torah

Lunch following services. No charge. Reservations requested, 616-949-2840 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Text Study Workshop after lunch

12:45 p.m. Letters Old and New

We will look at excerpts of letters from medieval and modern times as templates for the forever letters we will begin to craft during Sunday’s forever letter writing workshop. We will pay particular attention to tone and content; values, wisdom, and experiences shared; and what does and does not resonate for us as we read these letters imagining ourselves as the intended recipients and as writers of our own forever letters.

Sunday Morning: Temple Emanuel

10:00 a.m. - Bagels and coffee

10:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Workshop, Forever Letter Writing Workshop

You don’t have to be a writer. You don’t have to love to write. You don’t even have to know to whom you will write. The only requirement: show up and be yourself. We will talk about tone, content, and how to write to be heard. We will write to prompts to reflect on ourselves, the people we love, and our shared relationships. Feel free to bring a special notebook and pen you like to write with or your laptop.

OneTable is an organization dedicated to helping people in their 20’s and 30’s with no children, to slow down, unplug, join together, and have a meal together on Friday night. Sign up at to scroll through open dinners, or create and post your own. From a traditional Shabbat experience to a picnic or Karaoke Shabbat, OneTable will help you make it happen.

You will see dinners hosted by people in Rapids Rapids posted on Sign up and meet some new people. Or create a OneTable account and register as a host. They’ll match you with a Shabbat Coach, provide you with ritual guides, a potluck organizing feature, recipes, playlists, Nourishment Credits, and more.

If you are not in the target demographic but know someone who is, please let them know to check out the web site.

Ahavas Israel and the Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids have teamed up to bring into Grand Rapids. Check out their FAQ page for all of the OneTable details. Need a bit more? Reach out Rabbi Krishef (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.); Marisa Reed, Jewish Federation Grand Rapids (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.); or Associate Director, National Community Expansion Sara Fatell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Study Groups

Rabbi Krishef’s study groups:

• Thursday Tanakh study, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m., Schuler Books and Music, 28th St. (either in the back of the store or in the café). We are studying the books of Kings. Exciting narrative! Intrigue! Politics! Backstabbing! Join us.

• Jewish mysticism/Zohar study group, Mondays, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m., Ahavas Israel library. We are reading through Daniel Matt’s translation and commentary of the Zohar.

Betzalel Art Group

BETZALEL ART GROUP, Thursdays, 2:30 - 4:30 p.m., room #1

Join the fun at the Betzalel Art Group and be inspired by others as you work on your own projects. Bring your fiber art project or oil painting or any other art or craft you enjoy doing. Everyone is welcome. This is an open and flexible group, so come as your schedule allows.

For more information, please contact Pat Weller, 453-2954 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Delving Into Our History

With the help of Peg Finkelstein from the Temple Emanuel Archives, significant progress has been made on Ahavas Israel's Gen and Jack Finkelstein Archives, generously funded by Mort and Peg Finkelstein and Raleigh Finkelstein in memory of their parents. Contributions to the Gen and Jack Archive Fund provide continued support. The committee is working at the synagogue Wednesday mornings from 10AM until noon.  If you are interested in being a part of this important project, please contact Toby Weiner Dolinka at 949-6528.
If you have materials (especially photographs) that would be valuable for the archives, please contact Toby.

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