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December 26, 2003 - Image 56

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-12-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Community Spirit

Beth Emeth's new staffer offers welcoming programs.

Cancer Support
Through Judaism

KAREN SCHWARTZ

Special to the Jewish News

Ann Arbor

D

evon Fitzig, Temple Beth
Emeth's new director of
congregational services,
says she was influenced by
Jewish heroines, such as Hadassah
founder Henrietta Szold, who were
models of perseverance and achieve-
ment in the face of adversity.
"I think they definitely set a
model to really know yourself, know
what you are passionate about and
strive to make a difference," she
said.
Fitzig, 28, oversees Temple Beth
Emeth's Caring Community, which
acts as an umbrella program for 13
social and service groups . led largely
by congregants. Her position gives
her the opportunity to use her
Brandeis University training in
Judaic studies and Jewish communal
services by teaching and working
with lay leaders to put together pro-
grams and services for congregants.
She also organizes educational
opportunities for adults and pro-
grams for families with young chil-
dren, such as Tot Havdalah and the

"I really want people
to feel very good in
this place and feel
like its a second
home.

— Devon Fitzig

recent Tot Chanukah dinner. She
coordinates monthly meetings for
seniors that include trips and pot
luck dinners, often centered around
holidays, and similar events for the
TNT group of people in their 20s
and 30s.
Fitzig credits the positive Jewish
experiences she gained growing up
in the tight-knit Wichita, Kan.,

Devon Fitzig passes spices to Melissa, Jeremy, 21 months, and Ellie, 4, Simon
during a Nov. 1 Tot Havdalah program.

community for sparking her interest
in teaching others about Judaism.
These experiences included the
Wichita Temple Youth Group in
high school and going to Goldman
Union Camp, a Reform summer
camp in Indiana. At Brandeis, she
was involved in Hillel: The
Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
The network of friends she estab-
lished through these Jewish activities
connected her with young people in
other states and with Judaism, she
said. Today she works to create a
similar environment at Beth Emeth,
she said.
"I think the most important thing
is that people feel a sense of commu-
nity, that they feel welcomed and are
able to connect," she said. "The pro-
gramming is what brings them in,
but I really want people to feel very
good in this place and feel like it's a
second home.
The intimate family feel first
attracted Ann Arbor resident Linda
Greene to Temple Beth Emeth in
1981.
"The temple has tripled in size
and that's why the role that Devon

is playing is so critical to maintain-
ing the closeness and sense of a
close-knit community," she said.
"Devon has just jumped right in and
participated, and is providing leader-
ship and energy to keep that feeling
growing, and w=e're very grateful."
Temple Beth Emeth now has 700
member units.
The Caring Community program
began with Temple Beth Emeth .
Cantor Annie Rose, with other staff
members contributing and address-
ing the needs of specific groups.
Fitzig started work in August, in a
position that expands the scope and
responsibilities that had been carried
out by a part-time programming
assistant.
"Now that she's here, that's her
whole job — to devote time to adult
education and caring community
and programming," said Ronnie
Simon, temple administrator.
"When she came, she got
involved with things very quickly.
She made it her job to meet with all
the subcommittees and to meet with
people. That area is really bloom-
ing."

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer
Institute, in collaboration with Rabbi
Joseph Krakoff, announces registra-
tion for "NSiah: A Journey," a faith-
based spiritual sup-
port group for
Jewish cancer
patients, survivors
and family mem-
bers.
Led by two can-
cer survivors, thera-
pist Brenda Beron
and social worker
Krakoff
Patricia Milner
Sachs, the group
will meet 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays for 10
weeks at Congregation Shaarey Zedek
in Southfield beginning Jan. 20.
Participants will explore how
Jewish beliefs and practices can be
used to help one feel more in control
and to reframe negative thoughts into
positive ones. Sessions will also
address topics such as uncertainty,
helplessness, the doctor-patient rela-
tionship, the effect illness has on fam-
ily, reordering life goals and "Why
me.
To register, contact Pat Sachs at
(800) 527-6266 by Jan. 13. There is
no charge.

Jewish Issues Series
At Emanu-El

Temple Emanu-El in Oak Park will
begin its Issues in Judaism series,
which focuses on important personal
issues facing Jewish congregations.
The dates are: Jan. 4,
"Intermarriage and Judaism;" Feb. 1,
"The Role of the Non-Jew in the
Synagogue;" April 4, "Gay and
Lesbian Unions;" May 2, "The
Return to Tradition."
All of these free discussions will be
at Temple Emanu-El at 9:30 a.m.
Sundays and will be - led by Rabbi
Joseph Klein. Coffee and bagels will
be served.
For information, call
(248) 967-4020.

12/26

2003

57

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