Spiritual Checkup

Make sure your spiritual life is in good health.

Call or email Rabbi Krishef to schedule yours.

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616-949-2840

It’s never too late to join or create a Havurah!

Movie Lovers, Vegan Topics, Gaming, Young families, Outdoor Activities, and more!
You want to join in on the fun? Find the Havurah selection form at http://forms.gle/quaZxLaDoWSDq5VX7. Or you can send your responses to the Synagogue office, or submit your responses to Melissa Hillman (616-540-0103 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Shoshana Jackson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 734-709-3434). Questions, suggestions? Contact Melissa or Shoshana.

 Havurot listed in Bold are currently active:

Personal/Family-Based Groups:

Topic-Based Groups:

•Young Families Havurah •Board & Card Games Havurah  
•LGBTQ+ Havurah •Hiking, Biking & Outdoor Activities Havurah
•Mother's Havurah •Movie Lovers Havurah (Jewish/Israeli, etc.)
  •Photography Havurah
  •Vegan Cooking & Topics Havurah

Gemilut Hasadim/Social Action Projects

 CAI supports the community in which we live. Be a part of it:

The Center for Community Transformation is a collection of organizations working primarily with young people of color. Their mission is to develop, rebuild, and restore that sector of our city.  If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Rabbi Krishef at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 616-949-2840.

The Corners of the Field Garden on the Northeast side of the building grows food for the Temple Emanuel Food bank and the Baxter Community Center.
Contact: Allyson Cole-Strauss, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (616) 406-6536.


• We are a support congregation for the Family Promise of Grand Rapids, helping Trinity Lutheran church feed families who find safe shelter in the church about four times a year.
Contact: Allyson Cole-Strauss, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (616) 406-6536.

• We participate in the National Wildlife Federation Sacred Grounds Program with All Souls Congregation, and have devoted a plot of land behind the Social Hall as a native plant and wildlife habitat.
Contact: Diane Rayor, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (616) 791-8929.

• We are a member of the Grand Rapids Climate Resolution Coalition, working towards achieving community-wide carbon neutrality for Grand Rapids by 2030.
Contact: David Hast, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (616) 791-8929.


Family Promise

We provide meals and support to our partner congregation in the Family Promise shelter program, Trinity Lutheran Church, 2700 Fulton St E. For information on how you can help, contact Allyson Cole-Strauss, ‭(616) 406-6536‬ or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Environmental Awareness / Social Action

The Imperative of Environmental Quality of Life for All: Jewish Perspectives and Resources
Karen Libman and Diane Rayor
We still have an opportunity to join in the “Exodus Alliance,” which began March 19 and continues to May 6, with faith communities from across the world mobilizing for a livable planet. See the March Voice article with more details and visit the website at The Shalom Center https://theshalomcenter.org/.

We encourage participation in their actions during Pesach and checking out Haggadot that center the Earth and Justice, like the Earth Seder or the Freedom Seder Haggadah at
https://opensiddur.org/compilations/table-guides-and-haggadot/passover-seder/the-freedom-seder-haggadah-for-passover-by-the-shalom-center-and-rabbi-arthur-waskow/.

In January, I attended a session in the Jewish Climate Fest about engaging young people in the struggle to mitigate the damage from climate change. The panel spoke about young folk caring about issues more than institutions, having a very broad definition of giving such as within mutual aid and community networks, and focusing on community. For folks to engage there needs to be transparency and trust, as well as building hope and empowerment. This message seems to me to be true of many people of all ages.

That panel also recommended the book All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson. That sounds worth exploring. How can we help our congregation become more active in environmental work? Join international actions such as the Exodus Alliance? Partner with Temple Emanuel or All Souls for specific local projects?

In April, notice the Sacred Grounds native garden budding around the back patio. Let Diane know if you’d like to get your hands dirty.

Delving Into Our History

With the help of Peg Finkelstein from the Temple Emanuel Archives, significant progress has been made on Ahavas Israel's Gen and Jack Finkelstein Archives, generously funded by Mort and Peg Finkelstein and Raleigh Finkelstein in memory of their parents. Contributions to the Gen and Jack Archive Fund provide continued support. Are you interested in working on the archives? Contact Rabbi Krishef, who will put you in touch with Megan Yost (Peg's daughter), for training.

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. There is no charge for this service which provides you with a legal, reliable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Living Will.

Building Use Policy

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.

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