Welcome Cantor David Fair!

We will welcome Cantor David Fair to Grand Rapids on July 1. We invite you to a “Meet and Greet” Shabbat service, led by Cantor David, on July 31. The service will be followed by a Kiddush lunch, to give us time to get to know Cantor David and welcome him to Ahavas Israel.

Graduates Congrats!

Mazal Tov to our Graduates!

Willow Cook (Hudsonville High School) Willow plans to attend Eastern Michigan University in the Fall. Everyone is invited to her Graduation Open House on Sunday, June 27 from 12 - 4 PM at 3478 Perry St, Hudsonville MI 49426. This is an outside event with Covid-friendly catering.

Arend Vyn (East Grand Rapids High School) Arend plans to attend the University of Michigan in the Fall.

Cong. Ahavas Israel Havurot/Small Groups

The Board of Congregation Ahavas Israel recently replaced our mission statement with a Core Values statement. We want to:

  • Be a caring, connected community
  • Be a community of Jews engaged in becoming more fully Jewish, embarking on a lifetime journey of Jewish discovery

Towards this end, the Board directed an ad hoc Havurot Committee to create a number of small groups, Havurot, within the congregation.

The primary purpose of the groups is to create social connections among our members.

Each person and household within the congregation will be invited to become a part of one of these Havurah groups. Initially, we are asking only that you try it for three months. If you (and the group) like the experience, you may continue to meet for a longer period of time. If you decide that it’s not working, you might switch to a different group, the group might change its focus or disband, all of its members choosing a different group.

Each Havurah will have an initial leader, whose role will be to convene the Havurah with an initial activity, engage the group in a discussion to clarify its purpose, and schedule future meetings. In addition to the social function, some groups might have a more explicit Jewish learning component - watching Jewish movies, celebrating Shabbat and holidays, exploring kosher food, studying Jewish topics, etc. The Havurot Committee will provide some materials for Havurot to use for study and discussion, but it will be up to each Havurah to decide the nature of the Jewish component of their time together.

The Havurot Committee compiled some possible Personal/Family-Based Havurot (families with young children, LGBTQ+), Topic-Based Havurot (cooking, crafting, gaming, etc.), and Time-Based Havurot (Friday night meetings, Havdalah, weekday Coffee meetings, etc.). We’re asking each member of the congregation to complete a brief form indicating three ranked choices for a Havurah.

Based on the responses, the Havurot Committee will assemble people into small groups. If you haven’t indicated a choice, we’ll invite you to participate in one of the groups that we think you’d like.

Periodically, the Havurot Committee might create new groups. Existing groups which attract new people might grow large enough that they would split into two smaller groups. All Havurot will be open to people who are not (yet) members of Congregation Ahavas Israel.

You can find the Havurah selection form online, or you can fill out the form in the Voice (or below) and send your responses to the synagogue office,
or you can submit your responses by email to Shoshana Jackson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone to (734) 709-3434.

Please respond by June 18, 2021.




Age Bracket:       ( ) Under 30      ( ) 30-64      ( ) 65+

Are you a current member of Congregation Ahavas Israel?      ( ) Yes      ( ) No

Please list your top three Havurah Group choices from the list below




Personal/Family-Based Groups:

Time-Based Groups:

Topic-Based Groups:

•Families w/Young Children Havurah •Weekday Coffee  Havurah •Outdoor Activities (Hiking, Biking, etc.) Havurah
•LGBTQ+ Havurah •Sunday Morning Havurah •Gardening Havurah
  •Shabbat Afternoon Havurah •Jewish/Israeli Movie-lovers Havurah
  •Friday Night Havurah •Gaming (Online, Board, Cards, etc.) Havurah
  •Havdalah Havurah •Photography Havurah

•Crafting Havurah
•Vegetarian/Vegan Havurah
•Cooking (Kosher, Vegetarian, Vegan) Havurah
•Wine Tasters (21 and up) Havurah





Community Collaboration

Leaders from the Jewish community have been meeting for over a year to explore ways to unite and strengthen the Jewish community. Our goal is to be proactive and forward thinking in exploring collaborative, short-term and long-term community planning. We have presented the idea of collaboration to the boards of each organization and received their support of this initiative.

Our Jewish Community has a track record of success with collaboration by:

• Establishing a combined United Jewish School
• Creating the Community Endowment Funds Committee
• Offering joint programming for the entire Jewish Community

Using these successes as a model, we can capitalize on past collaborations to improve our collective community. Each organization is currently financially stable and each has a strong core of commitment with longevity in the community. With these strengths, we have an opportunity to work together to minimize duplication in the areas where we overlap, create financial savings, and use our resources effectively for the greatest positive impact on the community.

We encourage you to consider the following questions and share your suggestions and input.

• What do we want our legacies to be?
• How can we create a successful future for our organizations?
• How can we create a successful future for our greater community?

While respecting each organization’s autonomy, practices, and identity, we are exploring the possibilities of a shared physical space. We envision one campus where all organizations can come together while maintaining their individual spaces to worship, practice their respective customs and traditions, and maintain their own rabbi and board leadership. As we have learned from other forward-looking Jewish communities, successfully collaborating in a single facility would make our community more connected
and stronger.
We recognize that this is not going to happen overnight. We need broad community support to reach this goal: a united Jewish Community. There are opportunities now and in the future for the community to participate in this process, and we hope that you will share your thoughts, questions, concerns, and suggestions with any of the leaders listed below, now and along the way.

You can find a collection of documents and images describing and supporting the possibility of creating a shared physical space herehttps://jewishgrandrapids.org/community-directory/community-collaboration

UPDATED - NEW ITEM - Feasability Study: A 35-minute video of Scott Vyn walking the viewer through his space study has recently been added. Please take the time to watch Scott’s presentation as he explains the rationale for his space study. 
The space study is focused on two questions: 1) what are the necessary additions and renovations needed to make both the Fulton and Michigan St. campuses equitable, in order to make an apples:apples comparison of cost and space needs, and 2) what are the projected costs for this project?
The space study is not an architectural rendering. That will come later this year once the congregations approve moving forward and sufficient major donor pledges are made to ensure the likelihood that the project can be adequately funded. Both congregations will have additional input in the architectural plan.

Building Use Policy Update

The Congregation Ahavas Israel building is heavily used, by both the synagogue and by those who rent space, including the Federation, All Souls Community Church, and the Children’s Workshop preschool. Ahavas Israel’s office manager, Deb Johnston, manages the building-wide calendar and schedules building use. All scheduled classes, meetings, programs, and events need to be cleared with Deb in advance. If a building request requires setup and cleanup, she schedules that with our custodian and takes that into account when considering other building requests.

In order for Ahavas Israel’s building request system to work, Deb needs all requests, including a detailed setup plan, to be submitted at least 14 days, (two weeks) before the event. If the information is not submitted on time, we reserve the right to say no to the request. She makes every effort to accommodate all requests. If she says that a room is not available on a particular date, it is because it has already been scheduled by another group or another event. Please understand that in matters of building use, she speaks with the authority of the Ahavas Israel board of Trustees. Please respect both her deadlines and her decisions.

Thank you,

Barb Wepman, President
David Krishef, Rabbi

Making Choices Michigan

No one can predict when a sudden illness or accident may occur, leaving a person unable to make personal healthcare decisions. Currently, far too many people enter the last stage of life without ever having a conversation about their preferences for end-of-life care, documenting those preferences, and informing loved ones or a patient advocate of their desires. When you cannot speak for your self, the health system’s default is to provide every treatment available to extend life. The alternative is a reliable, documented plan called an Advance Directive.
When your wishes for care are known and have been honored, surviving family members experience significantly less anxiety, stress and depression. Thus, making your health care choices known is a gift that gives beyond one’s death.
Making Choices Michigan, established in 2010, is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit community collaborative committed to helping people determine their end-of-life preferences, documenting those preferences in an advance directive (AD), developing a system for storing and retrieving the AD, and educating the healthcare community to honor a person’s AD to ensure that end-of-life preferences are respected. Congregation Ahavas Israel is an active participant in an interfaith outreach program of Making Choices Michigan. For more information, please contact Making Choices Michigan at 421-4840 or Sandy Freed at 540-2030. There is no charge for this service which provides you with a legal, reliable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Living Will.
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