Monday, January 22, 2018

Message from  Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman January 19, 2018 - 3 Shevat , 5778


This week, our colleague and teacher Rabbi Larry Hoffman wrote a powerful essay on memory and Auschwitz (see the full article in the link below), observing that for many travelers, visiting Auschwitz has become just another tourist attraction. Visitors walk through the gates, museum headphones on, and hear a disembodied guide's voice - a voice from "guide school" - discussing the horrors of the death camp with the clinical detachment of someone describing the use of shadow in a Rembrandt portrait.  The experience has no context, no relationship to history, and thus only the faintest comprehension of the enormity of the events that are recalled. 


A visit to Auschwitz is, of course, a part of the itinerary of Temple Beth-El's trip to Eastern Europe (May 5th to the 17th, 2018). And while there is no way to see Auschwitz other than to participate in the "guided tour" experience (it is forbidden to see it on your own or at your own pace), our trip will provide the history and context of European Jewry, including visits to the phenomenal Jewish History Museum in Warsaw and the Schindler factory in Cracow, where you can learn about the vitality of the civilization that once was, not just its tragic demise. We will also be visiting the beautiful cities of Prague and Berlin, as we explore both the past and the future of European Jewry. 


In Judaism, we are often inspired by the questions we ask, and how the answers we receive impact our Jewish identity. This is particularly true of the Exodus, and the commandment to experience it as if we ourselves had left Egypt and stood at Sinai. But sometimes the questions we ask are inadequate to the task of remembering. As Hoffman reminds us with these thoughtful words. "But I like best the child who "knows not what to ask." I have come to admire that child as no simpleton at all, for what can you ask, if you begin to grasp what Auschwitz really was? And how can we respond, except to do the impossible: to convey the Auschwitz story as if we still remember it, the way we remember the Exodus, as if we ourselves had been there?"


Come and join us on our trip to Eastern Europe so that we might experience this lost world as if we ourselves had been there. Our deadline is fast approaching, and if you are considering joining us, please call or email me as soon as possible.


Thank you and Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Howard


Cracow, Auschwitz, and Egypt: Lest Memory Fail

Dear Friends,


The deadline for our trip to Europe is fast approaching, but, we still have available space for you to join us. This trip - to Poland, Prague and Berlin promises to be an unforgettable journey into our Jewish past : the civilization that once was and the challenges we face today. The trip will also give you an opportunity to bond with members of your TBE family and with Annie and me. 


If you are interested, please click on the link below for more details, including the itinerary and the cost. Then contact me or Judith as soon as possible so that we can assure your place on this adventure. 


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Howard

TEMPLE BETH-EL IS GOING TO EUROPE! from Temple Beth-El on Vimeo.

Full Trip Details 


Temple Beth El tours historic Charleston SC Trip 2018

The fee of $150 for the weekend will include all entrance fees, Shabbat dinner, and Saturday lunch. A $50 deposit will hold your place on the trip as space is limited. Participants will be responsible for making their own flight and hotel arrangements. 


If you would like to join us, please be in touch with Judith Gilson

(, 401-331-6070) who will share the hotel information and other details about the itinerary as they become available.


Full Details

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