Night of Hilarity and Charity

“This event gives all of us who benefit so much from YAD’s programs a chance to give back to our Jewish community,” says Elissa Miller of the upcoming Second Annual Night of Hilarity and Charity sponsored by the Jewish Federation’s Young Adult Division. Miller and Rebecca Levin are co-chairs for the event, which will be held once again at the Improv Inferno, located in downtown Ann Arbor, on Thursday, September 22, 2005, and this year features comedian Randy Kagan.

Both Miller and Levin are somewhat new to the Ann Arbor Jewish community. Miller, a real estate agent with Reinhart, is originally from the Detroit suburbs, and lived in New Jersey and New York before moving to Ann Arbor with her husband, Rabbi Jason Miller, who is Assistant Director of the University of Michigan Hillel Foundation, and their son Josh in 2004. Levin is a Milwaukee native who moved to Ann Arbor with her husband Josh, a resident at the University of Michigan Medical School, when she began her studies at the Law School in 2003. They became involved with the Young Adult Division because they wanted to give back to their new community. “A vital Jewish community that offers innovative programming to young adults and young families is important for me. Ann Arbor’s YAD is great — it has helped us meet so many great families this past year,” says Miller.

The two hope to build upon the great success of the first Night of Hilarity and Charity last December, by filling every seat in the room, and encouraging members of the community between the ages of 25 and 40 to support the Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign.

“We’re also very excited about the fact that Randy Kagan will be performing this year,” says Levin. Kagan’s intelligent and off-the-cuff humor has landed him on numerous television shows, including In Living Color and Weekly World News, performances with Gary Shandling and Dennis Miller, and at stand-up showcases including Comic Strip Live, The Dennis Miller Show, VH1 Stand Up Spotlight, Late Night with Craig Kilborne. This will be his first trip to Ann Arbor.

“The needs of the Jewish community here in Ann Arbor and abroad are always growing,” says Levin. “With Night of Hilarity and Charity, we hope to share the serious message of the Jewish Federation’s mission, provide people with a great time and the chance to celebrate the great work we make possible when we give to the Annual Campaign.”

YAD’s Night of Hilarity and Charity at Improv Inferno begins with hors d’oeuvres at 6:30 pm. The show begins promptly at 7:00pm. You will be asked for your commitment to the Jewish Federations 2006 Annual Campaign at this event. The minimum level of annual giving for this event begins at $18. Gifts to the 2006 Annual Campaign can be paid through December 31, 2006. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased online at or by calling 677-0100. Improv Inferno is located at 309 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Daylight Savings extension not good for minyan

US Jews pray time change won’t harm morning worship

It’s 6:45 a.m. and the carpeted study room of the Kemp Mill Synagogue in suburban Washington is already abuzz with the clicking of tefillin and the murmur of worship.

Twenty men and women stand as the prayer leader recites the opening blessings of Shacharit, the morning prayer, leading the Silver Spring, Md., congregation in the thrice-daily ritual that is an integral part of the lives of observant Jews.

By March 2007, the 40-minute commute that many of the Kemp Mill supplicants take to get to their jobs in Washington may present them with a Hobson’s choice: morning services or getting to work on time.

On July 21, Congress approved an amendment to the Energy Policy Act that will extend daylight-savings time by four weeks starting in spring 2007 – three in March and one in November.

Jewish groups aren’t smiling.

On July 19, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism urged members of Congress to oppose the provision.

“The proposed change in daylight-savings time from April through October to March through November would result in a later sunrise that will produce an undue hardship on religious Jews,” wrote the USCJ’s public policy director, Mark Waldman. “Our prayers that cannot occur until after sunrise last about 30-40 minutes. The later sunrise will place a hardship on observant Jews that are required to recite their morning prayers and then must commute to the workplace by 9:00 a.m.” Waldman also cited child-safety concerns in opposing the measure.

“The extension of daylight-savings time will force children to walk to school in pitch black streets during the time of year when inclement weather is more likely,” he wrote. “The last time daylight-savings time was extended, in the early 1970s, there were numerous reports of children being injured in the streets as they walked to school in the dark. It is not unreasonable to think that this will happen again.” The following day, the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs called on its members to oppose the proposal.

“Pushing sunrise back to 8:00 a.m. or later would make it impossible for those in certain parts of the United States to pray Shacharit (morning prayers) before work,” the O.U. said.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |