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Religious Education

Oct. 2016: RE-flections from Beryl Aschenberg

By Beryl Aschenberg, Director of Religious Education


I remember being pinned with a two-inch scrap of black ribbon at my grandmother’s funeral. One of the traditional Jewish acts of mourning is the tearing of our clothes — the act called kri’a — literally “tear” in Hebrew. By ripping the fabric of a lapel, a pocket, a sleeve, or a black ribbon opposite our hearts, we acknowledge through a physical act of tearing, the emotional and psychological pain that can rip one apart when a beloved dies. Kri’a is an act of healing and of hope — that we might by this means be returned in some small measure to wholeness.

Symbols can be powerful things. I wore my torn ribbon for months on my winter coat, until the tatters fell away and I felt I could go on with my life, complete with my grief.

For months now, I have felt a tearing of sorts as I bore witness to the pain of young African Americans in my Sherman Park neighborhood, and to so many of us who are struggling to find a shred of hope in the current political environment. It is as if the fabric of our society and world has torn apart. How shall we react when the way we understood the world and our place within it is rendered unrecognizable and we can’t go back to the way it was? And how do we begin to make our world whole again? How do we contribute to the process of healing and hope?

Children have an incredible capacity to weave the threads of love into tangible actions for change. Our First Church kids will have that opportunity in October as we re-establish our church’s efforts to support the work of UNICEF, the original “Kids Helping Kids” campaign! Here is our plan for the campaign:

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16—UNICEF RE CAMPAIGN KICK-OFF: Children and youth will learn about the work of UNICEF in both the classroom and the Time for All Ages during the Sunday Service.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23—Children will create unique crafts that will be for sale at the RE UNICEF Bazaar and Bake Sale to be held the following Sunday.

Also on October 23:

  • Classes will receive recipes to make at home for our October 30 bake sale.
  • Children will “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” during the coffee hours: bring plenty of pocket change!

OCTOBER 30 THE RE BAZAAR AND BAKE SALE FUNDRAISER: COSTUMES ARE ENCOURAGED! This event will be held after both services, from 10:00-10:30 a.m., and again at 12:00-12:30 p.m. The congregation is invited to join in the fun, check out the classrooms, and make purchases from among the UU and multicultural crafts the children have made that will raise money for the work of UNICEF. All items will sell for $1.00-$5.00, so bring plenty of singles. We will also be selling baked goodies in packages for $1.00, or whole items like cakes and quick breads made by our teens for $5.00 or $10.00.

The children at First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee have in previous years been named as UNICEF Ambassadors by that organization, and have been among the highest donation providers in the city. Thanks to all of our grown up friends for making it possible for our kids to help heal our world!


Beryl Aschenberg is First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee’s Director of Religious Education.

First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee  is a home for spiritual community, social justice, and intellectual freedom, active in Milwaukee since 1842. Unitarian Universalism is an inclusive denomination; core principles include recognition of the worth and dignity of every person; respect for the interdependent web of existence; and the goal of world peace, liberty and justice.


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