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Our Town: Suttons Bay

Rabbi Chava Bahle, a resident of Suttons Bay with her husband Karl Bahle, reflects on life, people and places around the village, with an interest in lesser known stories, nature, and quirky reflections on news affecting the area.

Ringing the bells properly

Our Town: Suttons Bay, by Rabbi Chava BahleI haven’t written a blog in quite some time, but recently someone smart and lovely said, “You should pick that up again.”   I am a sucker for a good should.

Since writing last I have been spending a lot of time in contemplation, a kind of quiet, reflective series of practices inspired by the monks at the Catholic monastery I’ve taken to visiting regularly the last few years.   (Perhaps next blog I will share the story of how a Jewish rabbi ended up being a regular visitor to a Trappist  monastery.)   More »

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Old trees, new trees

Our Town: Suttons Bay, by Rabbi Chava BahleSometimes change is wonderful.   When the autumn leaves start to turn, and the beauty of the underlying colors is revealed, I love change.   I love the movements between seasons, and the unsleeping face of Lake Michigan during a high wind.

Some change I love. Other times change is not so easy.   More »

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In-between days

Our Town: Suttons Bay, by Rabbi Chava BahleWell, friends, I have officially survived Rosh HaShana and am hours away from the   REALLY BIG DAY of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement: a day of fasting, prayer and self-reflection.   These days between the Rosh and the Yom (the slang we use in the biz)  are their own kind of sacred time, when the gates of heaven are open and everything takes on special significance.    They are work days with no prohibitions on activity but plenty of additions to the daily prayer service. More »

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The Jewish New Year in Suttons Bay: A Village of Love

Our Town: Suttons Bay, by Rabbi Chava BahleAt sundown on Friday, September 18, the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShanah, will begin.   Every year this is a time of tremendous focus for rabbis everywhere: preparing for our biggest (best attended) and supremely important (spiritually speaking, that is) “Days of Awe,” as they are called in Hebrew. More »

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Mazal Tov at VBS?

Our Town: Suttons Bay, by Rabbi Chava BahleIf anyone had told me that a gaggle of young kids, at a Christian Vacation Bible School in Leelanau county, would leave the story telling tent shouting “mazal tov!”, I would have thought she or he was crazy, but that is how my day at the Suttons Bay Vacation Bible School (VBS) ended earlier in the week.

Some months back my colleague Rev. Robin Long asked me if I would participate in in VBS and I agreed.   Growing up Jewish metro Detroit, I had never heard of VBS but I figured this would be a great adventure for me and for the kids. More »

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An Epiphany at Epiphany

Our Town: Suttons Bay, by Rabbi Chava BahleOn the eve of the Feast of Epiphany, I had the pleasure of attending the Saturday evening mass at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Suttons Bay. I simply went as guest, to be where the prayer was, with a dear friend who had never been there. The church was so beautiful, still decorated for the Christmas holiday, with lights and greenery adoring this already beautiful house of worship.

It also happened to be Fr. Jim's birthday, and the congregation surprised him with a pizza and cookie party in the basement after the service. Here, perhaps, is an important place where Jews and Catholics converge: at least half a dozen of the St. Michael's women insisted that I come and eat after the service. I felt right at home. More »

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Earth, teach me

Our Town: Suttons Bay, by Rabbi Chava BahleThe beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me. …
The trail of the sun,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me,
and my heart soars.

– Chief Dan George, My Heart Soars

I got to Martha’s (a newer Suttons Bay breakfast and lunch place) early enough to have a few minutes to sit and sip a Dirty Chai, watch the sun slant in the windows and enjoy the brightly-colored chairs while locals and tourists came and went.

There was nothing special about those few minutes: a woman having a chai, sitting in her home town, watching the leaves in the sun, and yet that unspecial moment felt so sweet to me. To pause, enjoy and simply soak in some beauty and sunlight felt like a sacred thing. More »

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Rabbis for Norsemen: I love a parade

Our Town: Suttons Bay, by Rabbi Chava BahleCaveat: As I write, it is less than 36 hours before the holiest days of the Jewish year, the “Days of Awe,” begin. Like many other pulpit rabbis who work an insane schedule over the next several weeks (as if Christmas and Easter were 10 days apart for our ministerial colleagues), I am getting a little slap happy. Please forgive any ludicrousness on my part.

Suttons Bays’ homecoming game took place this weekend, and the festivities began with a truly charming parade down St. Josephs (aka “Main Street”). As far as parades go, this one is pretty sweet and simple: a few EMS rescue vehicles, a police car, some wonderfully homemade floats, the marching band and our teams in various trucks, convertibles and tractors.

I love this. More »

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The dog who became Sheila

Our Town: Suttons Bay, by Rabbi Chava BahleWell, it’s official. The dog Kathy found in Bahle Park is now at home at the Cherryland Humane Society, waiting for a family to adopt her. She has been given the name “Sheila.”

The whole incident has made me reflect on the topic of assumptions; more precisely, the assumptions we make about other people. When the dog thing happened, I was sure at first that “Sheila’s” faithful family was out roaming the streets, looking for her, sitting by their picture window each night sobbing and waiting for their little friend to come home. I felt so sorry for them, losing their furry friend like that. More »

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Lost dog, found spiritual course

Our Town: Suttons Bay, by Rabbi Chava BahleI recently read this by Gunilla Norris in Journeying in Place:   “I wonder how different life would be for me if I could be as lacking in self-doubt and self-judgment as Putnam [the author's dog].   His whole being demonstrates an assumption that he is a lovable creature, a deserving  creature, and an enjoyable one …   to as act as if one had the total endorsement of the universe behind one’s particular existence would be extraordinary!”

Earlier this week I decided to try to resume some sort of exercise regime — more on this later, dear readers — and began with a walk up to Bahle Park.   When I got there my neighbor Kathy was there with her dog  and another dog.   The other dog, wearing no collar,  came running up to me, jumped up, wrapped her paws around my waist and starting kissing me like we were long lost friends, so glad to see me,   a dear old buddy, and without hesitation it felt that way to me too. More »

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