New Year, New Acting Chair

By Sarah Waslow-Washington, Active Chair, CSJO

As I enter in to my third month as acting chair, I have taken the time to reflect. The November board meeting will be happening in two weeks and I am excited to see the ideas come to life that have been coming up over the past couple of months. We have recently been announced in a press release from the Secular Coalition for America as their newest member -- exciting! We also launched a CSJO Board Facebook profile. While it is slow to start, it is starting. It would be great to see it gain more friends and responses on our page. 

While this may not seem like a lot, for me, someone who has been a member of CSJO for 16 years, has been the vice chair for the past eight years and now is acting chair, this is progress. Seeing the changes, no matter how small, are monumental in my eyes. I look forward to more positive progression and change for our organization within the coming year.

Wandering Jew Looking for a Home

By Joan Kurtz

My husband and I moved from New Hamsphire to western Massachusetts in April. Since then, I have been looking for a Jewish community. There are at least three synagogues within a half hour but none are secular. I have found, though, two interesting groups which might meet my expectations.

The first is called MA.-ASH. This stands for Massachusetts Atheists, Secularists and Humanists. They meet twice a month -- midweek for a happy hour at a local restaurant and the last Saturday of the month for either a guest presenter or a group discussion. The most recent meeting was attended by around 25 people. We discussed such diverse topics as spirituality, social activism, and the 12-step program for alcoholics. Attending were at least six secular Jews. Interesting and open-minded people.

The other group appears to be similar to a chavurah -- Jews without a synagogue who meet for various reasons. They held an outdoor service for Rosh Hashannah, ending with tashlich at a nearby stream. I attended a community sing where we sang Hebrew, Ladino and English songs, danced one Israeli folk dance and ended with a vegetarian potluck dinner. Again, people seem very nice and welcoming.

I enjoyed both groups, each with a different focus, but together they might satisfy my needs. I will continue to attend their events and see where it goes.

CSJO is My Community

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By Madeline Burns CSJO is my community. It is my assurance that no matter where I am, I am connected to the people who make me feel Jewish, my friends, my family. It is the community that supported me when my mother was sick and passed away. It was the community who gave my sister and me our Bat Mitzvahs when we never thought we'd get one. It's the community who not only allowed, but encouraged and welcomed, my family to join because my father's church wouldn't accept my mother and my mother's synagogue wouldn't accept my father. It is the community that showed me that being a strong person is what you should strive for. It is the community that showed me how to be Jewish in a way I understood and accepted. It is the community that I could never live without. From my first conference when I was 13 years old, it has been my community, my home.