Rabbi's Message: Shalom Temple Tifereth Israel

Temple Sisterhood Shalom Temple Tifereth Israel,

My name is David Joslin, and I am excited to be your rabbinic intern for the next year. I look forward to serving our vibrant community through holidays, life cycles, and other events as we both learn and grow together. I recently returned from Israel, where I led another successful Birthright Israel trip. On the trip, I was honored to officiate several adult B’nai Mitzvahs at the top of Masada, for members of our group, who weren’t privileged with the experience as children.

As part of the Bar/t Mitzvah ceremony, each participant explains how this Birthright trip has changed them, in any small but meaningful way. A few central prayers and blessings are recited and then each participant explains what their next steps will be in developing their Jewish identity on this new, exciting journey of self-discovery. Some are resolved to connect with Jewish family members, cook more Jewish dishes, attend a Kabbalat Shabbat, or find a social justice cause to pursue. The symbolism of a new generation taking steps to ensure the survival of our people at the top of Masada, the ancient site of Jewish death and defiance, was lost on no one.

The Birthright experience is real and it doesn’t end when the trip is over. These effects are intentional and well documented. The generous philanthropists, who make the trip possible, hope that been the love of the land, Jewish people, Jewish history, and maybe a fellow participant, a dormant spark of Yiddishkeit will ignite in one’s Jewish life. The trip does this all on its own, but I could not help but wonder who I could harness this new found excitement in Judaism and transfer it on the congregational level, for all ages?

The answer is a mixture of modernizing and reinventing new found passions, interests, and ideas from the larger Jewish world while maintaining the comfortable rituals of our shul life. We can appreciate? the power of coming together under one building to celebrate the familiar traditions of Shabbat, Seders, B’nai Mitzvot, and honor our congregants when their loves one’s pass, stand under the chuppah, or gather for a baby naming. These are elements we already do well at Temple Tifereth Israel, but we can strive to do better. Over the next year, I pledge to bring many different, new, creative ideas to our Temple Tifereth Israel community. I have received some initial inquiries into creating a book or movie of the month club. With so many new, young professionals living in the greater Winthrop area, we’d love to launch a monthly Gen X & Y Friday Night service and dinner for young professionals on the North Shore. We’re also interested in starting a Brotherhood Society where the men of Temple Tifereth Israel come together, schmooze, eat, play cards, and engage in bagel breakfasts, sporting events, and guest speakers. Lastly, please let me know what aspects of Judaism and Jewishness you want to discuss: holidays, life-cycles, weekly Torah portion, or something less traditional: current events in Israel/Middle East, Judaism, or gender/sexuality?

If you’re interested in any of these ideas, please contact me. I’m still learning so many new names andfaces, so let’s meet for coffee!

Excited to begin this journey together,

David Joslin


Please see below pictures from my last trip to Israel.


A Bit of Israel - The Hula Nature Reserve

     The Hula Nature Reserve is a site of world-wide importance for water birds and is a most important wet habitat in the Middle East. It is located in northeast Israel in the lower Galilee.

     The Hula Lake and its marshes were one of the major sources of malaria, and therefore human settlement in the valley throughout history was limited. In 1883, the Moshava Yesud Ha'Ma'ala was founded on the banks of the lake, and Kibbutz Hulata was established in 1936 a little further away from the reserve. The members of Hulata engaged in commercial fishing in the lake. Malaria was eradicated during the British Mandate. Upon the establishment of the State of Israel, the decision was made to drain the lake and the marshes and to utilize the exposed fertile land for agriculture.

     The drainage works commenced in January 1951, and almost immediately aroused the objections of nature activists, who were concerned for the fate of the wonderful fauna and flora of the Hula. These objections led to the establishment of the Nature Protection Society in 1953, as well as the decision to allocate land for a nature reserve, the first of its kind in Israel. In 1957 the water was drained from the lake and the marshes (excluding the region of the reserve, which was surrounded by an earthen embankment), and most of the land in the valley was prepared for agriculture. At first the reserve was managed by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). In 1964 the Nature Reserves Authority was established, and on November 26, 1964, the first nature reserve in Israel was declared.

     The Hula reserve is not only the first nature reserve in Israel, but is also the place where the most extensive preservation, rehabilitation and restoration activities have been performed in Israel in the last 50 years.

     When the Hula was drained, serious problems arose in connection with the ecological function of the nature reserve. These problems caused a serious decline in the quality of the water in the Hula lake and this decline led to the extinction of some of its unique species.

     The 1st rehabilitation project of the reserve began in 1971, and lasted seven years. In this project, new banks were built around the reserve, and a system of channels and dams was established to regulate the water levels in the reserve.

     The Hula region possesses a varied mosaic of habitats, distinguished from each other by the quantity of water and the character of the vegetation. Since the original lake was drained, the preservation of the habitats has been a deliberate and artificial activity. This work ensures the existence of a diversity of water scenery – open lake; shallow-water channels on the western side of the lake; wet meadow, kept open by grazing activities of buffalos; a shallow wet region (marsh), rich in water plants and birds; spring-water pools, and a flowing water habitat.

     A limited part of the reserve has been made accessible for visitors, including pedestrian paths, some of them in the form of floating bridges. Bird watching stations have been integrated into the pedestrian paths. There is also a tractor-drawn ride for tourists through the reserve.

     Within the reserves there are 3 herds of large grazing mammals, consisting of species that typified the landscape in the past. The grazing helps to keep down unwanted plant growth. These species are: (1) Buffalos, (2) "Baladi" cattle, and, (3) Persian fallow deer.

     Buffalos were typical of the marsh landscape in Palestine up to the War of Independence. After the 6-Day War, a herd of buffalos was found north of the Sea of Galilee and was moved to the Hula reserve.

     The "Baladi" cattle herd was typical of the region up to the 20th century. Preserving this species is of genetic importance – it has the potential for future improvement of the agricultural cows. The herd's grazing activities serve to regulate the vegetation in the dry parts of the reserve.

     In the wild, Persian fallow deer live in woods and forests. They became extinct in Palestine in the 19th century, but after the establishment of a breeding nucleus in the Hai-Bar Carmel reserve, a small breeding group was also established in the Hula region. This herd serves as back-up for the Hai-Bar group and is designated to be released into the wild in the northern part of the country.

     During the autumn migration season, for about two months, the north-west pool in the reserve is populated by about 60 tons of fish. Migrant pelicans land for a "refueling" and resting stop at this pool before continuing on their journey southward. The existence of a sheltered resting stop containing rich food within the boundaries of the Hula reserve is vital for the migrant pelicans, because other traditional rest stops in the Middle East (Turkey and Syria) have dried up. The supply of fish also helps to reduce the "conflict" between the water fowl and the nearby farmers who grow fish in ponds. In 2013, 46,500 pelicans passed through the reserve, and 38 tons of fish were supplied.

     The reserve is the preferred stopover for a broad range of waterfowl in winter, among them thousands of cranes who stay over in the shallow waters of the reserve, thousands of large cormorants, and dozens of raptors of various species.

     A large rodent originating in South America, called the Nutria, was brought to Israel to supply pelts for the fur industry. However, a few individuals were released (or escaped) into the wild and have spread all over the country. The Nutria population is currently thinned a few times a year.

     Otters are fish-eating mammals, living only in wet habitats with clean water, mainly in the Hula Valley. Otters are critically endangered in Israel, and the Hula reserve is one of the most important activity sites of the species in the country.

     A visit to the Hula Nature Reserve is well worth while and is a nature lover’s joy. It has a fine visitors' center which features dioramas and 3D films on wildlife and bird migration.

Hula Nature Preserve

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