KOL HADASH . new voIce
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010 • HESHVAN/KISLEV/TEVET 5771
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Drama
... The bar/bat mitzvah ritual is an incredible and magical rite where the community witnesses, in a true drama, the emergence of a nascent adult. ”
RABBI MARCELO R. BRONSTEIN
At the age of 13, according to the Talmud, boys are obligated to fulfill the commandments. Later, this obligation was determined to commence at the age of 12 plus one day for girls. At BJ we are egalitarian, and it is “equal opportunity for all” at 13. The tradition of the bar mitzvah came much later in Jewish history. We know that none of our biblical characters had a bar/bat mitzvah, and it is not clear what really happened during the Talmudic times. The earliest record of a bar mitzvah is in the 15th century and of a bat mitzvah in the 19th. One thing is certain: In the past, at the age of 13, boys were seen as mature enough to take on the responsibilities of adulthood. The gap between childhood and maturity that we have today called adolescence, and later “young adulthood,” did not exist.
6th Grade Tefillin Workshop Our children are not adults at the age of 13, not even close. They barely understand the heavy weight of the word “responsibility.” Are they going to pay taxes soon? Get married? Have children? They are not even ready to go to college. They are children who are thrown into a momentous rite of passage. There is the major challenge of learning to chant their parasha and to reflect on it in the D’var Torah. We also encourage families to engage in a Mitzvah project. Unless we understand and transmit to them the depth and the beauty of the bar/bat mitzvah, it becomes just a mega birthday celebration.
PHOTO: IVY SCHREIBER
See pages 4-10 for more images of the bar/bat mitzvah journey at BJ.
Our children are not adults at 13, but our tradition says to us: I don’t know when you are going to become an adult, but I know that this is the beginning of the process of becoming. As such, the bar/bat mitzvah ritual is an incredible and magical rite where the community witnesses, in a true drama, the emergence of a nascent adult. This rite of passage is as meaningful as we make it. The process leading toward the bar mitzvah is what matters (even if sometimes we have to drag our kids). We have sent the child to the ancient text to hunt for ideas and meaning, and the child has now returned, heroically, with her/his D’var Torah and the chanting of the sacred text. Then, scarily, (continued on page 6)
Social Action/Social Justice . . . . . . . .2 Limud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Member Spotlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Bar/Bat Mitzvah Journey . . . . . . . . . .4 Staff Profile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
inside: The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Issue A Family Tree Grows at BJ. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Announcements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
Personal Moments in a Family’s Bar Mitzvah Journey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Youth & Family Education . . . . . . . .8-9
Arlene Brandon: BJ’s B’nai Mitzvah Maven. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Communications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
The Path to the Bimah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Donations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
My Bat Mitzvah: Not Just One Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Contacts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
B’nai Mitzvah Projects Online. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
SYNAGOGUE: 257 W. 88th St. • OFFICE: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • TEL : 212.787.7600 • FAX : 212.496.7600 • WEBSITE : www.bj.org
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SOCIAL ACTION/SOCIAL JUSTICE
Camaraderie in the Campaign Against Hunger
hat do a retired florist, an art teacher, and a cookbook author have in common? A passion for providing food for Upper West Side Community members in need of a meal, and building community within BJ. The Judith Bernstein Lunch Program, named in loving memory of a BJ member who was tragically killed on Pan Am Flight 103, has been an ongoing program for 18 years. Created by Rabbi Marshall Meyer and a small group of congregants in 1986, it
From left, Susan Samuels and Robin Tunick
began with the distribution of brown-bag lunches. Today, we serve a nutritious sitdown meal to an average of 150 guests. Our guests represent a diverse cross-section of New York City’s population. We welcome families with children, homeless men and women, seniors unable to cook for themselves, and members of the working poor—regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity, or background. We collaborate with many local organizations like City Harvest, the Jewish Board of Children and Family Services, and the West Side
Campaign Against Hunger. Additionally, Doug Leblang (sometime accompanied) fills Frankel Hall with classic show tunes and Yiddish favorites. “We are the only soup kitchen in the city where native Spanish speakers know all of the words to ‘Hava Nagila,’ ” jokes program co-chair Susan Samuels. Every step of preparing the lunch meal, from ordering supplies to washing the pots, is devotedly fulfilled by volunteers from our community. Robin Tunick has been with the lunch program for almost six years. In addition to volunteering with BJ, she also helps to run the soup kitchen with the National Council for Jewish Women and teaches an art class at the Jewish Guild for the Blind. What does she find meaningful about volunteering at BJ? “The guests are wonderful, the volunteers are wonderful, and it’s a good, nutritious meal that we serve. All the food groups are represented, plus PHOTO: CHANNA CAMINS dessert. And having the CSA extras this summer has really increased our guests’ access to fresh, organic produce. It’s a very rewarding experience.” When Susan Samuels retired from her floral design business after 23 years, she was looking to meet people at BJ. Susan particularly wanted to focus on making volunteers feel welcome and creating community. Today, she is incredibly proud of how far the program has come: “BJ is our home, and we treat our guests as such. Most volunteers have established a rapport
We welcome families with children, homeless men and women, seniors unable to cook for themselves, and members of the working poor—regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity, or background.”
with several different regular guests, which has led to their greater understanding that our guests don’t just need a tuna fish sandwich. Rather, they have an opportunity to listen to their stories and gain perspective of the complicated systems in which they exist. I feel lucky to be able to serve on the board of the West Side Campaign Against Hunger and continue to gain a larger understanding of hunger issues at a city, state, and national levels. It all confirms how important our program is in the context of larger hunger issues.” The creative and extensive menu is prepared by a dedicated team of volunteer sous chefs each Wednesday night, led by our very own chef, Carol Gelles. Among her seven published cookbooks is 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes, which earned her both a Julia Child and James Beard award. So, why does this award-winning chef come to cook at BJ? “How could I not come?” she says. “It is the highlight of my week! There is a beautiful camaraderie among the volunteers, and by the end of the evening I feel like we have really accomplished something. We leave tired, sweaty, and happy.” The lunch program, like other BJ Social Action/Social Justice direct service programs, welcomes b’nai mitzvah students to become involved in a volunteer project. More information about setting this up will be available at the Youth and Family Mitzvah Fair (see page 9). If you are interested in learning more about the Judith Bernstein Lunch Program, please contact Susan Samuels at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ariel Schneider at email@example.com. n — Ariel Schneider
SYNAGOGUE: 257 W. 88th St. • OFFICE: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • TEL : 212.787.7600 • FAX : 212.496.7600 • WEBSITE : www.bj.org
asj kue LIMUD
The World Through the Lens of Salons wo hundred participants. Eight dynamic themes. Intimate conversations in living rooms around town. Delicious snacks. What does that add up to? During the 2009-10 season, Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein facilitated eight Beit Midrash Salons instead of teaching traditional Limud classes. His reflections on these Salons appeared midway through the year, in the December Kol Hadash.
Members who attended the Salons reflected about how much they enjoyed gathering in small groups, getting to know their fellow
congregants through meaningful conversation. Sparked by the enthusiasm of the first Salon series, this year the community can look forward to Marcelo’s Salons, which will focus on Israel. Featuring documentaries and films from Israel, these sessions will stimulate conversations about the Jewish homeland. Each of the six salons will focus on Israel in new and unexpected ways. We invite you to learn more about the salons by visiting the special section of the BJ website, where you’ll read comments from
Tiberius from Galilee, Israel
past participants and learn about the target audiences for each salon series. To register for the salons, contact Naomi Goodhart at firstname.lastname@example.org. n — Belinda Lasky
The Chaplain is at the Door
hen I tell people I work as a hospital chaplain, often the first two questions they ask me are “Have you converted?” and “How do you introduce yourself?” Eventually people ask more experiential questions about the substance and the work of chaplaincy itself, but first it’s usually about how I identify myself. Identity is a tricky thing in general, and working with identity is a big part of Clinical Pastoral Education, the training process for becoming a chaplain. I am a lay Jewish woman with a Reform and Conservative background, trained and working as a multi-faith chaplain in a hospital with diversity reflective of New York City. Add to that the public’s impression that chaplains are mostly Christian and there is a lot going on before I even cross the threshold to see a patient! A few starts: A. Good morning, my name is Linda. I am the chaplain on this unit, and I am coming by to say hello and see how you are today. May I come in? B. Buenos dias! Mi nombre es Linda y estoy una pastora para este seccion y vengo digar hola. C. Hello, my name is Linda Golding, and I am a chaplain here …. D. Hi, my name is Linda and I am a chaplain
on this unit. What a great view you have here. May I admire it with you? And a few responses: 1. (Mild look of surprise.) Uh, sure. Come in. 2. Well, my priest has already been here. 3. All prayers welcome. 4. No thanks, I’m Jewish. 5. Si, si, como no? 6. I’m not religious.
The introduction can be crucial—it is the few seconds during which a patient senses if I can be trusted, and it is the beginning of my assessment of the patient’s concerns and needs, expressed as well as observed. I bring my Jewish identity to every patient encounter, but it is an identity supported by the multifaith training and perspective. The introduction is the doorway to a shared spiritual journey. Once each of us puts something into the center of the room, creating an overlapping space in which we both stand, we are not strangers. We are surrounded and lifted up by the spirit that animates each of us, the spirit that ultimately knows no differences, no denomination. n — Linda Golding Linda Golding recently left the classical music industry to train and work as an multifaith Chaplain at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and attends the Graduate School of Jewish Theological Seminary, where she is a candidate for a Masters Degree. She lives in Manhattan with her spouse, Diane Wondisford, and has been a member of BJ since 2002.
SYNAGOGUE: 257 W. 88th St. • OFFICE: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • TEL : 212.787.7600 • FAX : 212.496.7600 • WEBSITE : www.bj.org
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BAR/BAT MITZVAH JOURNEY
A Family Tree Grows at BJ hile our son Gabe undertook a major journey of discovery preparing for his bar mitzvah, I made an important and surprising discovery of my own. I related the following story about our shared journey at our son’s bar mitzvah celebration at BJ on June 12, 2010.
I grew up among a very small group of relatives, my grandmother (on my mother’s side), my father, my mother, and my sister. My father was estranged from his family for reasons I never understood. My mother was an only child, whose father died before I was born and whose mother was somewhat of a recluse. So, I never knew any of my other relatives or ancestors. All of these people died before our son, Gabe, was born. The only other knowledge I have of my ancestors comes from a yellowed family
tree from an anniversary party in 1915, almost a century ago, one of whose branches ends with my grandmother being born.
So, although Gabe did not grow up knowing any of my ancestors, we discovered that many of them were actually present, in a way, for his bar mitzvah ...”
I also grew up without much of a connection to Judaism, both by upbringing and by choice. I never saw my grandmother attend synagogue. My parents were members of a very Reform temple where I was confirmed (not bar mitzvah’d), and I haven’t set foot in that building in almost 40 years since. I had never even heard of B’nai Jeshurun until I met Marj. We joined when we got married in 1994. Attending synagogue was, and still is, a command performance for me. Yet both Marj and I recall that when my grandmother heard that Marj attended services at BJ, she mentioned that some of our ancestors had been active members in the BJ community during its heyday around the turn of the century. When we were selecting the location of Gabe’s bar mitzvah, the one thing I was sure about was that I wanted to have it in the minha service so we could be in the beautiful sanctuary and home of the BJ community since 1918. I now realize that something else may have moved me … Earlier this year, while standing in the sanctuary, Marj noticed the names Bertha Bauman, Hyman Bauman, and David
PHOTO: DENISE WAXMAN
Bauman on one of the stained-glass windows and remarked that the names sounded familiar. When we got home and looked at the old family tree, we discovered it was The Bauman Family Tree, and that those four people were my great, great, great aunts and uncles. Later, during Gabe’s final run-through with Ari, we noticed another window with the names Louis and Ricka Bauman, and found, again on the family tree, that they were my great, great, great grandparents, Gabe and our daughter Rebecca’s great, great, great, great grandparents. Further research uncovered Louis Bauman’s obituary, from which I learned that he was the president of BJ when he died in 1922. His funeral was held in the same 88th Street sanctuary where our son was called to the Torah on June 12th! So, although Gabe did not grow up knowing any of my ancestors, we discovered that many of them were actually present, in a way, for his bar mitzvah and that he has a connection to Judaism and BJ way beyond my own. I made another discovery during the manyyear process of becoming a bar mitzvah that Gabe fully committed himself to and embraced. From Gabe, whose growth during this period has amazed me, I have learned the value of these traditions and the importance of this connection to our community and history. n — Richard Fields Richard Fields is the husband of Margie (Marj) Vandow and the father of Gabe and Rebecca Fields. Richard and Marj have been members of BJ since 1994.
PHOTO: DENISE WAXMAN
Personal Moments in a Family's Bar Mitzvah Journey
t the outset of our son Gabe’s bar mitzvah preparation, Rabbi Felicia advised us that the essence of this milestone is about a child taking his or her place in the congregation as an individual, with thoughts and ideas that count. This idea was the touchstone that guided us during the planning process and ultimately led to Gabe’s choice, despite a reserved personality, to stand before his congregation on the day he became a bar mitzvah rather than doing it in Israel, as we had been planning.
What a gift all of that training was! It gave Gabe the confidence to stand up and chant Torah clearly and crisply on his big day ... ”
Ari managed the delicate balance between asking for more from our son, yet not overwhelming him. He zeroed in on Gabe’s shyness and coached him on how to project his voice, recommending additional practice with cantorial intern, Shira Wallach. What a gift all of that training was! It gave Gabe the confidence to stand up and chant Torah clearly and crisply on his big day, despite his newly installed upper braces and dreaded palate expander. Rabbi Marcelo motivated our son to study his parasha closely and consider its deeper meaning by emphasizing that Gabe’s thoughts and ideas count and that the congregation would be poised to listen. Gabe
the microphone. He encouraged Gabe to practice as many times as he needed using the actual Torah in order to feel completely comfortable, as if he had all the time in the world, though we of course knew otherwise. My husband and I marveled at how tender Ari was even though he goes through this process most weeks with PHOTO: DYANA VAN CAMPEN PHOTOGRAPHY different b’nai mitzvah inspired us by seriously delving into the children. As I watched Ari teach my son how meaning of the rituals of the red heifer and to don his new tallit, practicing both the delivering a d’var Torah that compared those recitation of the blessing and how to fold it in rituals to the sacrifices that BJ members half the long way so that it wouldn’t slide off make to maintain the shelter and the lunch of his shoulders, the intimacy of the program. I was moved that the small moment brought tears to my eyes. amount of time we had devoted to these initiatives had made such an impression. There was a like intimacy in the work that Gabe did with Marcelo and Felicia which Gabe’s “dress rehearsal” with Ari stood out gave him a deep sense of belonging to BJ. as truly magical. In our gorgeous sanctuary What our rabbis, cantor, and synagogue with Ari we watched our son on the bimah staff accomplish week after week, with for the first time reading from the Torah kivun and impeccable planning is truly scroll, yad in hand. Ari was quietly remarkable. The roadmap we were given supportive as he encouraged Gabe to fill the three years before was followed to the T, sanctuary with his voice. He attended to even to the preparatory meetings with Ari each and every detail: the exact and Marcelo that started right on time. choreography of the service, the weight of the silver on the Torah scroll that Gabe I have concluded that youngsters at this age would be carrying, and how to properly use are not only developmentally ready for this challenge, but that reaching for and accomplishing such a high goal augments their growth and boosts their confidence to share their ideas and opinions in the greater world. Going through the process also helped me understand how continuing this tradition in our family contributes to keeping our religion alive. We’ll be starting the whole cycle again in just a few months with our daughter Rebecca! n — Margie Vandow Margie Vandow is married to Richard Fields and the mother of Gabe and Rebecca Fields. The family have been members of BJ since 1994. Gabe Fields was called to the Torah for his bar mitzvah at a community minha service on June 12, 2010. PHOTO: DYANA VAN CAMPEN PHOTOGRAPHY
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Arlene Brandon: BJ’s B’nai Mitzvah Maven
emember your bar or bat mitzvah? Good times, right? Good memories. For you it meant a party and presents, with a little haftarah mixed in. What you may not have been aware of is that your parents were probably going quietly crazy at about the same time. There’s a lot for parents to do, a million details, big and small, when planning such a momentous event for their child.
lifetime developing. After getting undergrad and graduate degrees from Brooklyn College, she taught young children until she married and started a family. Later, when her own kids were in school and she began thinking about being in the workplace again, she became a paralegal. She worked in the law field for some time until she became aware of BJ and applied for the executive assistant job.
When BJ parents take a deep breath and turn their attention to their kids’ b’nai mitzvah celebrations, they are fortunate to have a formidable ally—organized, informed, patient—in Arlene Brandon.
On the subject of BJ, Arlene allows a touch of the rhapsodic to color her otherwise resolutely calm and capable demeanor. She talks of attending Yom Kippur services at SPSA one year when the crowds were so overwhelming that she and her husband had to stand in the foyer and just listen to most of the service. “Looking at the people,” she recalls, with a light in her eyes, “they weren’t all dressed up; I loved it. People were coming to pray. And they were; I heard all these people, not just the rabbis and Ari. The congregation was singing and praying.” She was hooked.
Arlene’s been working at BJ in some capacity or other since 1993, when she first took a full time job as the assistant to the executive director. So indispensable did she prove to be for our community that she even filled in as ED during periods of transition, while still doing her director of administration duties. In 2000, she decided to retire and did. Her retirement lasted exactly two weeks: She proposed a new position to Deborah Pinsky, and Deborah promptly advised her to take the new job herself. So, Arlene was back, after almost never having been away, coordinating space rentals and b’nai mitzvah events. In retrospect, this job dovetails perfectly with skills and interests Arlene had spent a
She loves dealing with the bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah kids’ families. She enjoys informing and advising the sometimes harried and nervous parents, answering myriad questions, coordinating meetings with rabbis, rolling with frequent scheduling punches, and explaining the rules about what can and can’t be done at the celebrations. More than anything, she really
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Drama
is a rock for these moms and dads. “I try to keep them calm so they are focusing on PHOTO: DENISE WAXMAN the joy of the event,” she says. Just getting all the kids on the b’nai mitzvah calendar presents a challenge sometimes, even with a threeyear lead-in time. Space is limited, and as she says, “Everyone wants to have their celebration at BJ because they love the space and love the community.” When I ask her about pastimes and hobbies, she promptly says: “I have a granddaughter.” After a minute she adds, “ … and I tango.” A lifelong dancer, she took up tango several years ago and fulfilled a dream of celebrating her 70th birthday in Buenos Aires bailando, dancing. She lists her interests definitively in this order. Granddaughter; tango; gardening. She says, of being so involved in a religious community now, “I went to college at a time when it was very smart to badmouth religion. I was Zionist, but the religious part of it … we didn’t go near it. My kids had no Jewish schooling,” she says. Then she smiles. “But now I have a fund already started for my granddaughter’s Hebrew School education.” n — Sian Gibby
RABBI MARCELO R. BRONSTEIN continued from page 1
they stand before the community, confronting all these faces and having to say something coherent and meaningful, to prove themselves. They succeed, and the community welcomes this child into the world of adults by telling them: “From now on, you count. If there are nine Jews and one of them has to say kaddish your presence transforms that group into a kehillah, a community. You count and your ideas count!”
Shabbat after Shabbat the bar and bat mitzvah stand in front of the community and experience the culmination of a personal drama. Those in our community who attend services at BJ and listen to our children chanting Torah and sharing their interpretation of the texts (and who may sometimes feel that they would like to have an adults-only service) should know the mitzvah you are doing by being there and by listening attentively.
To know that we count is one of the most important certainties of our existence.
To say “I am a bar/bat mitzvah” is to be empowered, to be trusted with the wisdom of the Jewish people. We say to our
children: “Now this is yours, this tradition; these values are there to help you and to be your moral compass through life.” Although they are not yet adults, the bar/bat mitzvah really happens when they begin to realize that we human beings are, in great measure, the architects of our own lives and that we need the wisdom of the Torah, Shabbat, our traditions, and celebrations to become the best that we can be. This ritual drama is one that makes our kids stronger and healthier and our community more loving and inclusive. n
Condolences (through October 1)
Mazal Tov To the following members and their families on their b’nai mitzvah (September and October): Joshua Verbitsky
The community of B’nai Jeshurun mourns the death of our beloved member Shelley L. Bernard and extends sincere condolences to her family and all her loved ones. The community of B’nai Jeshurun mourns the death of our beloved member Gittel Silverberg and extends sincere condolences to her husband, Mervin Silverberg, her daughter, Lori Silverberg and their entire family. The community of B’nai Jeshurun mourns the death of our beloved member Jack Fried and extends sincere condolences to his wife, Anne Fried, his son and daughter-in-law, Adam Fried and Barbara Leiterman and their entire family. The community of B’nai Jeshurun mourns the death of our beloved member Morty Levine and extends sincere condolences to his wife, Bernice Levine and their entire family.
To the following members and their families (through October 1): Alexandra Ackerman and David Thomas Stern on their recent wedding.
The community of B’nai Jeshurun extends sincere condolences to the following members and their families:
Harriet and Marc Suvall on the engagement of their daughter, Cara Hillary Suvall, to Joseph Peretz Fishman.
Rhonda, Robert and Felicia Kuhnreich on the death of their beloved father, father-in-law, and grandfather, Saul Mitron.
Max Orenstein and Sarah Goodis on their recent engagement.
Samuel, Ellen, Eliza and Madeline Bender on the death of their beloved mother, mother-in-law and grandmother, Eileen T. Bender.
Marie Sevy on the birth of her granddaughter, Harper Claire Neville. Linda Golding and Diane Wondisford on their recent wedding. Sara Meyer and Danny Loya on their recent engagement. BJ Rabbinic Fellow Jason Fruithandler and his wife Jessie on the birth of their daughter, Liba Shifra.
Nancy, Ellen and David Greenblatt, Margo Ohana and their entire family, on the death of their beloved brother and uncle, Warren S. Wolkenberg. Anne Landsman and James, Adam and Tess Wagman on the death of their beloved mother, mother-in-law and grandmother, Ruth Landsman. Meryl Zegarek on the death of her beloved father, Morris Zegarek.
Barbara Schwimmer on the birth of her granddaughter, Ruby Allison. Associate Director of Development Erzsébet Ragyina and Sanjay Arora on their recent wedding.
Steven, Kristen and Eliana Nitsberg on the death of Steven’s beloved grandmother, Ruth Schwartz. Steven, Andrew and Michael Sklar and Amy Wallace on the death of Steven's beloved mother, Martha Sklar. Marvin Israelow and Dorian Goldman on the death of Marvin's beloved mother, Ruth Israelow.
Larry, Susan, Emily, Jason and Amy Chinitz on the death of their beloved mother, mother-in-law and grandmother, Jenny Chinitz. Ellyn Rabinowitz and Richard Sussman, and their entire family on the death of Ellyn's beloved father, Joseph Rabinowitz. Vivian and David Port and Stephen and Hazel Shulman on the death of Vivian and Stephen's aunt and uncle, Bess Spiro and Sid Gottler. Victoria Schonfeld and Victor, Jared and Rumyana Friedman on the death of Vicki's beloved father, Sidney Schonfeld.
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YOUTH & FAMILY EDUCATION
The Path to the Bimah t is that moment: standing at the bimah, Rabbi at your side, parents beaming with pride, surrounded by friends and family who have come to hear you chant the Hebrew words you have repeated endlessly for the past six months and to learn from the wise teaching you will deliver in your d’var Torah. It seems as if everything has pointed to this transformative moment. Yet what you come to realize is that the path to this place is what has been so transformative.
During this journey, students and families learn together during Shabbat morning programs, continuing to unroll the Torah and its teachings until they realize they will eventually share a teaching with the community. Tutors work with students to prepare them not only to chant their Torah and haftarah portions, but to also give a d’var Torah. Tutor Cara Kantrowitz describes this experience, Having the opportunity to work one-onone with students preparing for their b’nai mitzvah is such a treat. Throughout the process of teaching the trop as well as Torah and haftarah portions, we get to watch these young minds acquire a new
PHOTO: BEN SHYKIND
Each spring the process begins; fourthgrade students and their families gather, acknowledging the importance of the lifecycle journey on which they are embarking, and learning what Torah portion they will read three years later. Parents carefully unroll the entire Torah in a large circle with the students inside where they search for the Torah portion they will read three years later. They are literally embraced with the words of Torah as they begin this journey together.
Rabbi Roly Matalon leads a workshop with Sixth graders about the meaning of tefillin and how one puts it on each morning. In his own words: I try to awaken in the students an interest and a sense of reverence for this ritual practiced through the generations. I examine with them the function of different pieces of technology that are part of their lives, such as their cell phones and iPods, and show them how tefillin are a piece of “spiritual technology” designed to bring us into contact with our spiritual longings and aspirations, our Jewish identity, and God. “We want to give students multiple gateways to connect to the b’nai mitzvah journey.” Ivy Schreiber, director of education, explains.
Above: Tutor Zach Fredman works with Hanna Shykind. Right: At the Sixth Grade Retreat.
At the Sixth Grade Retreat this past spring, I found myself surrounded by a lively conversation about how the mitzvah of lo ta’amod al dam al re’eha (not standing idly by the blood of others) applied to standing up against bullies. What I initially thought would be an abstract discussion turned out to be one of the most relevant in these preteens’ lives. This is just one example of the many experiences over the course of four years that lead to the making of b’nai mitzvah at BJ.
Each spring the process begins; fourth-grade students and their families gather, acknowledging the importance of the life-cycle journey on which they are embarking, and learning what Torah portion they will read three years later. ”
PHOTO: LEORA FRANKEL
skill that they can continue using throughout their adult Jewish lives. Studying Torah together and hearing the ideas they develop in order to write their divrei Torah is also a meaningful and enlightening process that I love to be a part of. They participate in individual and communal prayer opportunities. Junior Congregation gives students the chance to lead prayers before their peers and engage with the morning and Torah service to gain understanding. At Hebrew School and during retreats students can literally “try on” ways to connect to prayer, learning how to wrap tefillin and wear a tallit. Each spring
Over the years the students engage in many conversations about mitzvot and think about how they can to give back to the world in a way that fits their passion. In November the Mitzvah Fair introduces students to BJ’s Social Action/Social Justice activities including BJ Reads, the Judith Bernstein Lunch Program, and the AIDS walk as well as to outside Jewish organizations that students can work with. BJ would like all bar and bat mitzvah students to learn how to “pray with their feet,” as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said. These years are filled with many magical moments that help students and families affirm and develop their Jewish identities. The process of becoming a b’nai mitzvah is in fact a journey that models that of a full Jewish life. The three pillars on which becoming b’nai mitzvah is based—Torah (study), Avodah (prayer), and Gemilut Hasadim (action)—will be present in their lives as they continue to learn and grow in their Jewish practice, and just as they grew throughout the transformative bar/bat mitzvah preparation. n — Emily Walsh
My Bat Mitzvah: Not Just One Day grew up in a Jewish home, so I always knew a bat mitzvah was coming to get me. Ever since I was little, I’ve been going to BJ children’s services, Junior Congregation, and, as my parents called it when I was little, the “grown-up services.” Later, I pushed my way through years of Hebrew School, where we learned about the Jewish life cycle as well as many prayers. I had never really thought much about my bat mitzvah when I was little, even though I remember going to the fun, late-night parties of my older cousins who had them. While I went to what seemed like thousands of these celebrations, the only thing I really learned was that sitting through the service quietly would mean cookies were waiting for you when it was over.
Even though I had been waiting for (well, not exactly waiting but expecting) this day to come, it still felt like a humongous surprise. Was I really turning 12? ”
Later, when I was about 10, going to Junior Congregation services, and attending my fifth year of Hebrew school, I started to notice a buzz around me concerning bar and bat mitzvahs. Planning, dates, caterers, tutors, and more swirled around my friends and me. Even though I had been waiting for (well, not exactly waiting but expecting) this day to come, it still felt like a humongous surprise. Was I really turning 12? I thought I started lessons next year! It all felt way too soon. After my first week of lessons with my amazing tutor, Bronwen, I remember going to my mom crying, “I don’t wanna have a bat mitzvah!!!” I was so upset! It just felt like so much work and too much responsibility. I told my mom all this, and she simply said to me, “OK, Amelia. You don’t have to have a bat mitzvah, it’s OK.” I remember immediately sitting up and thinking Wait a minute; I really do want a bat mitzvah. I think I said something like, “No, no, Mom. Its OK. I’ll do it.” I think that having my mom actually give me the option of not having a bat mitzvah (and of course my mom really knew I wanted to have one, she wasn’t really giving me the option) made me realize how
PHOTO: DENISE WAXMAN
Ari works with Tsivya Laurence and Tamzen Naegele, who became b’not mitzvah on October 9, 2010.
important this step was in my life cycle and that I really had been waiting for it my whole life, and it was my responsibility to do this. Later, after my bat mitzvah, I said to my mom, “That was really worthwhile.” I think I meant that it wasn’t just my responsibility do this, but it was my responsibility to make it worthwhile. I had tried not to rush through my work and writing and wait until the party, like I had when I was little. This really was a meaningful and important day, but it was also something I had anticipated my whole childhood, and I’m happy I did make it worthwhile. n — Amelia Geser Amelia’s parents, Ilene Rosenthal and Louis Geser, met at BJ so she has been a member her whole life. She had her naming on the bimah when she was 8 days old, was a member of the original Reach for Shabbat pilot program, became a bat mitzvah on January 16, 2010, leads activities for children as a volunteer at Tot Shabbat dinners, and will be an ozeret in the Hebrew School this year.
Youth and Family Mitzvah Fair Thursday, December 2, 2010 4:00 – 6:00PM | 88th Street Sanctuary Calling all 5th-, 6th-, and 7th-grade students who will become b’nai mitzvah at BJ (and their parents)! No chat. No email. Talk to real people, in person! Find out about the many opportunities to make a difference in the world and get started doing it! Get the information you need to plan a great project in preparation for your bar/bat mitzvah. Representatives from BJ groups and other Jewish organizations will be available to discuss their work and how students can become involved.
4th Grade B’nai Mitzvah Parent Orientation Meeting Wednesday, November 17 | 7:00PM 88th Street Sanctuary
new voIce • KOL HADASH .
B’nai Mitzvah Projects Online
s several articles in the issue note BJ’s b’nai mitzvah students are encouraged to begin a lifetime of performing mitzvot by concrete action during their b’nai mitzvah year. In other words, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s, to be exact, to “pray with their feet.” Finding the volunteer opportunity that suits your interests, abilities, and availability is a challenge for busy adults and it is perhaps even more challenging for 12- and 13-yearolds. The BJ Mitzvah Fair in December is a great venue for learning about these opportunities, and the BJ website, www.bj.org, will make this information available online as well. For those who want a head start, here is a partial list of
UJA-Federation of New York, Give a Mitzvah—Do a Mitzvah www.ujafedny.org Teva Learning Center www.tevacenter.org Jewish Association for Services for the Aged www.jasa.org
(received as of August 23, 2010
Adult Education Fund Helena Diamant Glass in memory of Jack Brawarsky ASL Interpreting Fund Susan Haiman in honor of Rae-Carole Fischer's birthday Beba Bronstein Scholarship Fund Vicky Kahn and Philippe Lambert in celebration of the birth of Felicia Sol's son Jonathan and Micki Reiss in celebration of the birth of Felicia Sol's son Toni Siegel and Peter Sturtevant in celebration of Aiden Dror Sol
organizations with which we have developed partnerships that b’nai mitzvah students may want to consult.
Bikkur Holim Fund Amelia Korn in memory of Shelley Bernard Irma and Robert Radus in memory of Irving Radus Harriet Seiler in honor of Elaine Nevins' 75th birthday Barry and Elain Waldman in memory of Howard Feuerwerker Barry and Elain Waldman in honor of Libby Forman Zal BJ/SPSA Homeless Shelter Fund Judy Geller-Marlowe and Glenn Marlowe in memory of Lore Jarmul Children's Service Fund Ernesto Brodschi in memory of Aida Brodschi
Helena Diamant Glass in honor of Ruth Jarmul and Irv Rosenthal's 35th wedding anniversary Susan Viuker Landau in celebration of the birth of Felicia Sol's son Daily Minyan Fund David Ettinger and Kitty Calhoon Helena Diamant Glass in honor of Irv Rosenthal's 60th birthday Bernice Levine in memory of Jack Brawarsky Elaine Nevins in memory of her father, Joseph Goldstein
Online opportunties for adults also abound, giving parents the chance to model the mitzvot. You may be amazed at the range of opportunities available that are right up your alley. n — Denise Waxman
General Fund Sharon Anstey in memory of Jack Brawarsky Sharon Anstey in honor of Glenn and Judy Geller-Marlowe's anniversary Altanese Cato Joel and Ulrika Citron in memory of Zillah Goldstein Susan Dess in appreciation for support from the BJ community Micki Eisenman David Ettinger and Kitty Calhoon Harold Goldman and John Bonavita in honor of David and Nancy Gad-Harf's son's wedding Hyman Grossman Bernice Levine in memory of Nancy Greenblatt's brother Mortimer Levine in memory of Lore Jarmul
Sara and Andrew Litt in memory of Lore Jarmul and Zillah Goldstein Nancy Melzer in memory of Ruth Frank Ellen Pall in honor of The Appel Family Lilli Platt Rosalie Radomsky Ronnie Reden Jonathan and Micki Reiss in memory of Jack Brawarsky, Lore Jarmul, and Micki Reiss' aunt, Gert Gilbert and Janet Spitzer in honor of their son's Bar Mitzvah Carl and Miriam Stern Hevra Kadisha Fund Burton Reiner in memory of Ruth Frank Judy Rosenberg in memory of Ruth Frank
Judith Bernstein Lunch Program Daniel Berkowitz and Martha Banwell in memory of Beverly Jablons Martha Faibisoff David and Nancy GadHarf in memory of Zillah Goldstein Judy Geller-Marlowe and Glenn Marlowe in memory of Jack Brawarsky Helena Diamant Glass in memory of Lore Jarmul Faye Levey in honor of Judy and Glenn Marlowe's anniversary Mahzorim Fund Susan Viuker Landau in memory of Joseph and Florence Viuker Marshall T. Meyer Memorial Fund Andrea Lucas and Monica Adams in honor of Ted Berger's 70th birthday Music Fund Gilbert and Janet Spitzer Yizkor Fund Harriet Abraham in memory of her father, Saul Abraham William and Vicki Abrams in memory of Zillah Goldstein and Nancy Greenblatt's brother Gail Amsterdam in memory of her grandfather, David Burwick and her father, Theodore Amsterdam Isabel Berkowitz in memory of her mother, Helen Berkowitz Jeanette Brizel in memory of her father, Irving Brizel
Renee Cherow-O'Leary and John O'Leary in memory of Abraham Cherow and Eli Cherow Robert Davidoff in memory of Jack Brawarsky Debra Fine and Martin Schneider in memory of Phil Fine Ted Fisher in memory of his parents, Irwin and Lucille Fisher Jon and Alice Fisher in memory of Ernest Fisher Linda Frankel in memory of Gary Femmer Harold Goldman and John Bonavita in memory of Harold's mother, Rebecca Bronstein Goldman, Ezra Weinberg's grandfather, Lore Jarmul, and Rae Janvey’s mother Dorothy and David Goldstick in memory of her mother, Pauline Dorfman Hilda Greenberg in memory of Abraham Weiss Sonny Greenwald in memory of his sister Lisa Halprin Fleisher and Arthur Fleisher in memory of Lisa's father, Gerald Halprin and of Arthur's father, Norman Fleisher Nina Horak in memory of her father, Mikulas Horak Martin and Halina Igel in memory of his sister, Sarah Weisglass Paul and Carol Jackson in memory of their daughter, Linda Wanger Sandra Katz in memory of her mother, Shirley Katz Stephen Kaufman and Marina Pinto Kaufman in memory of Ellen Siegel-Kaufman
Gail Landis in memory of her father, Norman Landis Ellen Landsberger in memory of her father, Murray Landsberger and mother, Gleniss Loventhal Harold and Helen Lehrman in memory of Jessie Bernheim Richard Lieberman and Susan Farkas in memory of his grandfather, Samuel Gottlieb Jules and Judith Love in memory of his mother Miriam Lox in memory of her mother, Elsie Lox Linda and Marc Luxemburg in memory of her parents, Bernice and Irwin Novograd Allan Malz and Karin Bruckner in memory of his mother, Manya Malz Gerald and Shirley Margolis in memory of Tammie Fogel Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon and Talia Hatzor in memory of Roly's grandmother, Celia Matalon Renee Melzer in memory of her father Ellen Metzger and Marvin Lange in memory of Ellen's grandparents, Kate and Jack Sultan, and Esther Motta Peggy Moss in memory of her father, Martin Moss James and Barbara Munves in memory of his mother Alexander Nacht and Laurie Basch in memory of his mother, Pauline Nacht
Ilene and Eugene Nadel in memory of her mother and father, Helen and Louis Trager Andrea and Amos Neufeld in memory of her father, Joseph Sallie and Sherwood Newman in memory of her mother James and Laurie Oestreich in memory of his father, Abraham Oestreich Lilli Platt in memory of her mother, Hanna Platt Charlotte Rashti and Richard Cooper in memory of Florenze Rashti Michael Roffer and Susan Lerner Roffer in memory of Celia Roffer Sonia Rosenbaum in memory of George Foot Joseph Rubin and Corinne Winston in memory of his mother, Geraldine Rubin Susan Sanders in memory of Dora Sanders Ellen Schecter and James Altman in memory of her father, George Schecter Alfred and Renee Schwartz in memory of his mother and father Shelly Sherry in memory of her mother, Sylvia and Jack Sherry Leonard and Barbara Sugin in memory of Herman Gruberg Bernice Todres in memory of Jack Brawarsky, Lore Jarmul, and Ruth Frank Mim Warden in memory of her husband, Jack
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Scott Weiner and Beth Siegel in memory of his father, Leonard Weiner and his stepfather, Irwin Goodglass Barbara and Robert Willinger in memory of her mother Sharon Zane in memory of her father, Manuel D. Zane
KOL HADASH new voIce November/December 2010 The Kol Hadash is published every other month. We would love to print your stories and articles about BJ! For submission guidelines, contact email@example.com. All material is the property of B’nai Jeshurun and cannot be reprinted without permission. The Kol Hadash is printed using soy-based inks on 50% recycled paper by an eco-friendly printer. Designer: Harriet R. Goren
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KOL HADASH new voIce • . SYNAGOGUE: 257 West 88th Street OFFICES: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), #203 Main Telephone Number 212-787-7600 Fax Number (2109 Broadway) 212-496-7600 Website www.bj.org
Rabbis: J. Rolando Matalon Marcelo R. Bronstein Felicia L. Sol Hazzan and Music Director: Ari Priven Marshall T. Meyer Rabbinic Fellow: Rabbi Michelle Dardashti Rabbinic Fellow: Jason Fruithandler Cantorial Intern: Shoshi Rosenbaum Executive Director: Harold Goldman, x248 Assistant Executive Director: Belinda Lasky, x224 Director of Education for Youth and Family: Ivy Schreiber, x225 Director of Social Action/ Social Justice: Channa Camins, x259
Committees & Services: Accounts Payable.......................227 Accounts Receivable ..................237 Adult Education Information .....233 Bar/Bat Mitzvah .........................223 Bekef ..........................................255 Bikkur Holim..............................233 BJ Reads ....................................391 Communications........................275 Community Programs ...............255 Conversion .................................264 Daily Minyan...............................232 Development & Donation Information ........228
Program Director: Guy Felixbrodt, x255 Major Gifts Officer: Nancy Gad-Harf, x262 Associate Director of Development: Erzsébet Ragyina, x228 Communications Manager: Denise Waxman, x275 Director of Administration & Finance: Ron Seitenbach, x226 Director of Facilities: Roma Serdtse, x258 Assistant to Rabbi Matalon and Communications Associate: Sarah Guthartz, x234 Assistant to Rabbi Bronstein and Hazzan Priven: Naomi Goodhart, x240 Assistant to Rabbi Sol and Executive Director Harold Goldman: Elizabeth Stone, x233
88th Street Rental......................223 Family Activities: Hotline ...........318 Hakhnasat Orhim.......................255 Havurot.......................................255 Hevra Kadisha ...........................233 Homeless Shelter .....212-339-4250 Interfaith Committee ............... 379 Kiddush Scheduling ...................255 Kol Jeshurun...............................275 Kol Hadash .................................275 Ledor Vador................................224 Life Cycles..................................233 Lunch Program ..........................338
Membership Information...........224 Ralph Bunche School Partnership ...........................301 Social Action ..............................259 Teen Programming ....................253 Torah/Haftarah Reading ............232 Tze’irim ......................................264 Ushering ....................................305 Visiting Groups...........................234 Volunteer Information................255 Youth & Family Education ..........225
Board of Trustees: Jonathan Adelsbergº President
Debbie Lerner Andrew Litt Henry Meer Samara Minkin Andrea Newman Bernie Plum Benjamin Ross Emily Weiss Michael Yoeli
Susan Kippurº* Chair Jeannie Blausteinº Vice President Joel Kazis Vice President Stephen Stulmanº Vice President Debra Fineº Treasurer Andrew Litt Secretary Robert Buxbaum Gene Carr Anne Ebersman Rochelle Friedlich Christina Gantcher Barbara Glassman Sally Gottesman Sofia Hubscher Richard Kalikow Beth Kern
Honorary Trustees Virginia Bayer* Ted Becker* Frederic Goldstein Marcy Grau* David Hirsch* Richard Janvey* Robert Kanter Joan Kaplan Sara Moore Litt* Naomi Meyer Judith Stern Peck* General Counsel Richard Kalikow º Executive Committee Member * Past President