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Carrying a Backpack of Bricks: An Interview With Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein


It was like looking at a backpack filled with bricks and suddenly I was able to take the backpack off. I thought it was me. It was not me.”

Yom Ha’atzmaut at BJ


From left, Shelley English, her son Jay Siegal, and Amy Schrader drumming at at the BJ celebration of Israel@65. See pages 2-3 for article and more images from the day.

Anne Landsman, one of the members of BJ’s Inclusion Committee, and the mother of a son with dyslexia, talks to Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein about his dyslexia. ANNE: How did you first find out you were dyslexic? MARCELO: I found out that I was dyslexic as an adult. I was at the School of Psychology doing one of the practice tests that you do on kids. The teacher who was administering the test said, “Do you know that you’re dyslexic?” And I said, “Oh, that’s what I am. I thought I was stupid.” It took me back to my childhood, which was very painful for me—all elementary school and the learning of writing in particular. My writing was always untidy. I confused letters and forgot things as well as struggled to pay attention. But there was no language for that when I was a kid. So, when I say I thought I was stupid, I can say this after many years of therapy and suffering. For a long time, I was certain that there really was something wrong with me. Also, I have a brother who has the memory of an elephant and can read something and just repeat it word for word, and was fluent in more than one language as a child. So, if that is normal, I was not normal. Later, when I entered high school, the first year was really painful and I had to get a tutor for a few classes. And I remember I had a meltdown with this tutor who, by the way, was an amazing guy. I told him, “I’m stupid. My mind doesn’t work.” And he told me something that changed my life. I was 13. He said, “You’re not stupid, you’re a coward. You have a wiring problem. You’re afraid of proving how brilliant you are.” And he said, “You’re brilliant, you’re thoughtful, you’re imaginative,” and he began to describe me in a picture that I didn’t recognize. I thought, “He’s got the wrong guy.” He gave me some clues of how to study, how to operate. From then on, I never failed any more classes. But still I didn’t have a diagnosis. The diagnosis came much later, when I was in my 20s. And out of that test that I mentioned before, I was given a real diagnosis. This teacher made an analysis of all the techniques that I had developed as a student to get around my dyslexia, which I had done intuitively without much help. ANNE: Do you remember how you felt when you found out? MARCELO: I felt devastated and relieved and sad and happy. Very mixed feelings because first of all, suddenly I understood. Everything made sense. There was really nothing wrong with me in essence. It was just a wiring problem. So, all the pain of my childhood regarding school came back to me. All the sadness, all the sense of feeling discriminated against, the sense of (continued on page 6)

Israel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-3 Inclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4-9 Board of Trustees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

inside: inclusion issue

Simhat Torah. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

BJ Celebrates Israel@65 with the Upper West Side................................................... 2

High Holy Days. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

A Special Bar Mitzvah: Thanks From his Mom ........................................................... 4

Community. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

Inclusion: Or Doing the Right Thing............................................................................ 7

BJ Rabbinic Fellows . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

The PEARLS Project: Picturing Inclusion.................................................................... 8

Announcements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

Introducing Your Simhat Torah Honorees................................................................ 10

Contacts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

Shalom BJ: A Welcoming Initiative........................................................................... 12

synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :

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BJ Celebrates Israel@65 with the Upper West Side By Robin Fleischner and Orli Moss, Director of Israel Engagement t’s hard to believe that the Jewish synagogues, schools, and organizations of the Upper West Side of Manhattan (a location not infrequently called “the New Jerusalem” for its large Jewish population’s dynamic reinterpretation of Judaism for the 21st century) had never celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, together. This year, however, was different. Following an idea initially pitched by Roly, the UWS joined together and celebrated as one community. BJ was not only an initiator but also a leading force in this enterprise, along with 27 other organizations which collaborated on events all around our neighborhood to rejoice in the culture, history, and people of Israel.


Events took place all over the Upper West Side from April 14 to 16 culminating in a community-wide concert and street fair. BJ hosted an Israelfest on Sunday, April 14, and a Tekes Ma’avar (a ceremony marking the transition from Israel’s Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day to Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day) on Monday, April 15. BJ’s Israelfest began with a Hebrew song session for children led by the talented Shira Averbuch playing on her ukulele in the sanctuary. At the same time older children attended a drumming workshop in the BJ community house on 89th Street, while other children attended the arts n’crafts activities in Frankel Hall.

More than two dozen committed volunteers helped throughout the day to make it a success. At BJ’s Community House on 89th Street volunteers Debbie Lerner, Shelley Simpson, and Paul Freireich warmly greeted people of all ages and directed them to workshops on drumming, Israeli jazz, and Piyut (liturgical poems).

BJ was not only an initiator but also a leading force in this enterprise, along with 27 other organizations which collaborated on events all around our neighborhood to rejoice in the culture, history, and people of Israel.”

“The beauty of this,” explained Shelley, “is pulling the greater community together so that it’s an Upper West Side experience.” Entering the Community House, 13-year-old Noa Mintz, who celebrated her Bat Mitzvah at BJ last year, expressed her support for Israel: “Israel is really important! All Jews care about it. All Jews can celebrate it.” In a drumming circle led by Shoshana Jedwab, singing Israeli songs to the beat of their drums, youngsters and adults looked captivated by the rhythms. Jedwab masterfully directed the group—many of whom were first-time drummers—to produce pulsing, infectious music.

Amy Schraeder and her 9-year-old daughter Hannah thoroughly enjoyed the drumming circle. “We’ve never done drumming before and it’s fun!” remarked Hannah. “These are songs we always sing at BJ, ‘Shehekhianu’ and ‘Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu,’ and it felt different to drum with them.” Musicians Itamar Borochov and Yair Harel, founder and Director of Invitation to Piyut and co-director of Piyut North America with Roly, led a workshop on Piyut in today’s Israeli identity and culture. Joined by Omer Avital, they later performed in the culminating performance of the day at BJ, as well as the community-wide concert in Symphony Space on April 16, along with other Israeli musicians. Yair spoke about the significance of his partnership with BJ and the American community: “This partnership between Israel and the American community is crucial for our future. I am so glad to share visions together, and this collaboration teaches me so much.” Jazz critic David Adler conversed with Israeli musicians Dan Nadel and Daniel Ori about jazz, the unexpected heart of Israel. Nadel and Ori spoke of “the circle of openness between Israel and the United States, openness between East and West, embracing



synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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The UWS celebrates Israel@65 was a collaboration with and funded by UJA-Federation of New York. Page 2, from left: (1) Chaim welcoming people into the sanctuary. (2) The teens and Mira Rivera play Israeli music led by Jerry Korman. (3) Meredith Berkman and daughter, Yael, enjoy the drumming workshop. This page, top left: Shoshana Jedwab leads drumming in the sanctuary. Below: Yair Harel and Itamar Borochov playing at the Piyut workshop. Bottom, from left: (1) Shelley Simpson, Paul Freireich and Debbie Lerner. (2) Barbara and Ava Schwartz make cards for children at Nigun Halev, our partner community in Israel. (3) Jonah and Bina Geffen in the groove. (4) Families enjoy the drumming workshop. PHOTOS, ABOVE AND RIGHT: MAX ORENSTEIN

different cultures, paralleling transitions happening in Israel.” Asya Berger expressed how stirring the musical performance of Uri Sharlin and Inbal Hever was: “Inbal is an incredible Israeli singer, creating beautiful Israeli music! Seeing the slide show of BJ Israeli trip photos really made us want to go back to Israel.” Harriet Abraham, a volunteer greeter at the 88th Street workshops, echoed appreciation for BJ trips to Israel: “I had such an amazing experience going to Israel with BJ for the ordination of our Israeli fellow Rabbi Chen Ben Or-Tsfoni. It was so special being in Israel with BJ members.” A highlight of the BJ Israelfest programs was a performance of Israeli music by BJ teens. Ronen and Binah Schatsky, Grace Friedman, Arielle and Benjamin Korman and Daniel Kerner led by the Maestro, Jerry Korman with accompanist Mira Rivera. The young musicians inspired the audience with their mastery of Hebrew and their enthusiasm.

Daniel Lerner, who played guitar and who has been a regular accompanist at BJ’s Junior Congregation, explained: “Playing music with fellow Jews feels like being accepted into the Jewish community, feels like home. Playing Israeli music opens me up to Israeli culture.” Arielle Korman both played violin and belted out a complicated Israeli jazz song. She expressed her enjoyment at performing: “I lead services at BJ on the High Holy Days, and I don’t ordinarily get a chance to sing modern Israeli music, which is spiritual yet contemporary.” A proud mom, Ellen Bender, applauded the BJ celebration and the teens’ performance: “I came to Israelfest not knowing what to expect. I loved the drumming circle so much I want to continue. It was so great to see my kid’s teen group performing. ‘Yerushalayim shel Zahav’ brought tears to my eyes.” Another highlight was Israeli dancing led by former MTM rabbinic fellow, Rabbi Ezra Weinberg who skillfully helped BJ dancers seem like they have been dancing since 1948.

Judging from BJ members’ joyful responses, the Upper West Side’s celebration of Israeli Independence Day together as one community was a resounding success. n Robin Fleischner served as a past Vice President of the BJ Board of Trustees, Co-Chair of the Israel Steering Committee, and Chair of the the Hebrew School Board. An adoption and assisted reproduction attorney, Robin recently presented a workshop at BJ with Rabbi Felicia Sol, “Paths to Parenthood.” Robin, her husband, Ted Metzger, and their sons, Adam and Jesse, are longtime BJ members.


synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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A Special Bar Mitzvah: Thanks From his Mom By Deborah Antar-Ehrlich hank you to the B’nai Jeshurun community for opening the door that made it possible for my son Sam to celebrate his “better late than never” 17-year-old Bar Mitzvah!


When Sam was diagnosed with autism at the age of 24 months, I had to adjust to my new life as a parent of a child with special needs—whew! many many special needs! I pretty much forged ahead with my life and all of the ups and downs of raising a child. I went through some pretty challenging times as a mostly single parent. I found a wonderful school for Sam, and I tried to make his life experience as normal and beautiful as possible. We shared family time with Sam’s loving grandparents, my brother

I was blessed with a boy that is smart, funny, loving and happy and he has my sense of adventure and humor (yay)! I took him everywhere and never held back because I thought he couldn’t adjust or fit in. I just thought Sam could try new things and pull something out of each experience and that all of this blended together would make him a stronger, smarter boy.


Shoshi and Marcelo leading the service

When I went to Ari Kantor’s Bar Mitzvah at BJ (Sam’s friend from school) a few years ago, I cried my eyes out and really felt the love in that beautiful room and in those amazing joyous moments.

compassionate friend); she was really invested is Sam’s success and happiness! Rabbi Marcelo, Ari Priven, and Emily Walsh supported the idea, loved the idea and never for a moment thought this could not happen.

I listened to his mom and dad speak about their child Ari as his community, the rabbis and cantor and congregants looked on. It was overwhelming and something I will never forget. As the years went quickly by my 13-year-old became 16 and I thought the ship had sailed for that “special Bar Mitzvah,” but then something strange happened.


Sam asked me over and over again about being a Bar Mitzvah. He really wanted it, he wanted to do this, sing the prayer, become a man, invite his friends, be “up on the bimah.”

and sister in law, their children, and all of my friends who loved us and came along for the ride.

He literally forced me into Rabbi Marcelo’s (the coolest, smartest, most compassionate rabbi ever) office to discuss all of the details.

My love for Sam brought constant joy into my life, and I always have felt blessed and proud to be his mom.

I joined B’nai Jeshurun with Sam and looked ahead.

I thought the more stuff Sam could see and experience the more full his life would be.

Aviva Pearlman, from Camp Ramah New England’s special program, signed on as his tutor (ultimate Bar Mitzvah tutor and


Above: Steven Kantor and son Ari Kantor. Right: Dylan Singer and Marcelo. Left, top: Sam Antar with his mom, Deborah and his stepdad, Jerry Ehrlich Left, bottom: Hilary Schumer and Emily Walsh



synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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First-Person Experiences Since 2010, there have been six Special Needs Havdalot organized by BJ’s Inclusion Committee. They have drawn participants from within the BJ community as well as beyond. Two have taken place during snowstorms, and one was centered around the celebration of Sam Antar’s Bar Mitzvah. Each service has been carefully constructed to allow for a wide diversity of special needs and each participant’s full participation in the beauty of Shabbat’s ending. All have been filled with a remarkable spiritual intensity, everyone inhabiting the blessed present with joy and excitement.

Above: Sam Antar


They patiently talked to Sam, listened to him recite, read and sing and randomly talk about other stuff like traveling all over the globe (as he likes to do a lot!!!). They encouraged him, practiced with him, and brought him along until he was ready. Emily thought that we could include all the children in the special needs community at a “special Havdalah” service. She asked me if I liked the idea; I loved the idea!! My husband and I planned a huge party for Sam, our family and our friends/his friends after the service. If you were there, you know the night was beyond amazing, you could not help but be moved by the sound of his voice and the way he stood with pride next to his Rabbi and the beautiful Shoshi. She sang with him and together they could have won a Grammy but I don’t think there is a B’nai Mitzvah Category.

Touching and Feeling Lori Beth Singer

When I arrived that night, I was highly emotional and sad. It had been a rollercoaster week managing Dylan’s impulsivity. I needed that moment to embrace him. Marcelo got all the children involved in different ways, by identifying each child’s capacity to participate. I loved the visuals, and the prayers, the Shema. It was the first time Dylan had experienced it in that way. Emily’s d’var Torah was very creative, and Shoshi’s singing so beautiful. They had identified ways to creatively structure the service to make it appropriate.

Dylan was very drawn to the mic and all the tactile opportunities. I was afraid he wasn’t going to let go of the spice box when it went around but Marcelo helped him to let go. He was also able to touch the Torah and got the opportunity to help Marcelo put it back in the ark. I was afraid with his apraxia that he was going to trip but Marcelo was right there alongside him. I felt so proud of Dylan. It was a very healing moment for me.

Dancing and Spices

Mark Puddington (responded to questions by spelling out the letters of the words on a communication board)

It all went off without a hitch and filled me with joy that I cannot express (sorry). To parents of “special needs kids” believe and hope and surround yourselves with family and friends and a congregation who also believe and hope. Sincerely yours,

Lori Beth and Michael Singer with Dylan and Jonah


Mark and Margaret Puddington

Deborah Antar-Ehrlich n

Being Yourself

Deborah Antar-Ehrlich is a mom and is the owner of “Deborah Antar Design,” an interior-design firm here in town. She and her husband, Jerry, and son Samuel live on the Upper East Side.

In these services, people with disabilities can be themselves. They don’t have to behave nicely or follow what’s going on. The Jewish content, the immersion in Jewish life, becomes the focus.

Margaret Puddington

Anne: Do you enjoy the Havdalah services? Mark: Yes, I do very much. Anne: What’s your favorite part? Mark: The dancing! Anne: Why do you like coming here? Mark: Because everyone is so nice to me and I love the music. And I love the spices. I have them all in my room at home. Anne: Which do you prefer—the Havdalah services or the regular services? Mark: The Havdalah services are my favorite. Anne: Why? Mark: Because they are easier for me. Anne: Why are they easier? Mark: Because I don’t have to be quiet. (continued on page 9)

synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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An Interview With Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein continued from page 1 hopelessness that I had regarding the future. The sense of failure, the sense of shame. All this came back to me.

understood that it was something in my wiring. ANNE: What was the punishment?

And then I had a sense of pride that in spite of that I was able to finish elementary school, high school, and I was in a dual program of psychology and rabbinical school. It was like looking at a backpack filled with bricks and suddenly I was able to take the backpack off. I thought it was me. It was not me. I realized, “It’s a backpack. These are bricks that I don’t have to carry all the time.” So, then it was a sense of relief. So, joy for understanding, and pain, sadness, looking at all the suffering that I endured that maybe wasn’t necessary. But my parents didn’t know and my teachers didn’t know. ANNE: Later, did you tell your parents and how did they deal with it? MARCELO: They didn’t have the capacity to understand this. Before my mother died, I had a month with her. I went to Argentina and was in the hospital with her. We had many conversations during that time, including a talk about what had happened during my childhood. At one point, she asked me for forgiveness. She said, “I really didn’t know.” And it was a moment of beauty and encounter, forgiveness. My mom never finished high school. She was not an educated woman. She was raised on a farm. Some of the Jews from Argentina farmed. There were Jewish gauchos … she was part of that. So, my parents didn’t have the tools to know … ANNE: Was there another person in the family who was dyslexic? MARCELO: I don’t know. None of my kids are. And I don’t know in the past. ANNE: So, there was no family experience with dyslexia? MARCELO: You were smart or not—or lazy. I heard, “You don’t pay attention. You’re lazy. You’re in your own world, your daydreaming world.” And unfortunately in those days, failing in school and being “lazy,” was accompanied by punishment. Because, in theory, I was guilty of something. If only I had the will, I could change. It wasn’t


MARCELO: You’re not to go out, you’re not to go on playdates, not to be with friends or, after a certain time, not to watch a favorite TV program ... different types of punishment. ANNE: Do you think the tutor changed your life?

writer.” So, my imagination, my creativity, really began to expand and was appreciated. I had different parabolic antennae. I was more sensitive to things than other people. By the way, regarding sensitivity—and I think every dyslexic kid has that quality—I developed a tremendous sensitivity towards suffering, the pain of the other. I understood that place. Not by chance did I become a psychologist who specialized in working with teenagers.

I understand now that it [my dyslexia] is a challenge and have transformed it into an opportunity. ”

MARCELO: He opened a gate. He is the first one who said there’s something in your wiring. There were also other teachers who pointed out my capacities to me and that challenged me. I wrote a play, which was performed. I did things that surprised me … according to my diagnosis I shouldn’t have been able to do them. I also became a youth leader. Camp Ramah in Argentina and the Youth Movement of my childhood synagogue played an important role in my life. Things were happening to me that challenged my assumption of myself. ANNE: This was as a teenager? MARCELO: I was beginning to blossom as a teenager and then later in college. It was very helpful that 90 percent of the final exams in college in Argentina are oral. I didn’t have to write. I could sustain a philosophical argument verbally. I was reading a lot. When I came to the States to finish rabbinical school, it became a problem again because the majority of the work was writing and also writing in English. But by then I knew where it came from. I knew how to compensate and how to work around it. ANNE: You pick up a lot by listening when you’re dyslexic. MARCELO: I remember a literature teacher saying to me at the end of high school, “You not only read what’s on the lines, you read between the lines. And very few people can do that. You imagine the world of the

Marcelo as a boy

ANNE: What is the most difficult thing for you with regard to having dyslexia? MARCELO: It has changed. Grammar doesn’t make any sense to me in any language although I speak, write, and read three languages fluently. I know the rules and that for other people they make sense but for me it’s arbitrary. Writing is painful although sometimes I love it. I mix up words and letters—F and P always. I turn numbers upside down all the time. I reverse them. Don’t ever trust me with a phone number, ever. I make huge mistakes with documents—passport numbers, flight information, you name it. When reading, I tire very easily. All my books have notes in the margin. Every so often I need anchors to (continued on page 7)

synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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Inclusion: Or Doing the Right Thing By Hilary Schumer, Coalition Educator nclusion at BJ means meeting all students wherever they are and helping set every child up for success in the Hebrew School community.


As the Inclusion Intern I make every effort to find the best approach for each child. In some cases, this means coaching teachers on how to work with a student’s aides/shadows, and in others it involves using specific language and visual cues.

I speak with families to determine what strategies work in the home and secular school. For one child who struggles with impulse control this led to specific expectation and goal setting before each class. A personal visual schedule helped to structure the day of another child. In addition to working with individual families with special learning needs, I also facilitate programs for all students designed to promote inclusion and understanding—particularly in grades with a child with learning and behavioral challenges. In one class each child was prompted to share one thing about themselves that makes them proud and one thing that is a challenge for them. We then had a discussion about the importance of supporting each other in our successes and struggles. As the theme that month was derekh eretz, the discussion focused on the emphasis


(continued on page 8)

An Interview With Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein continued from page 6 understand what the paragraph was about. I need to synthesize the idea in my own words.

ANNE: You have dyslexia but still learned three languages.

ANNE: Do you remember learning to read in school?

MARCELO: As a child, I studied Hebrew at Hebrew school. But I only really learned Hebrew—and very fast—when I went to Israel at eighteen. I went to a place where there were no Latin Americans, and I didn’t speak any English at that time. In a few months I was able to have a conversation. I was studying in a yeshiva. So, living in the language and listening to the language was fun. The same happened with English. I studied English my whole life but I learned to really speak, read, and write English when I came to study in the States for rabbinical school. I learned by listening, by being immersed in the language.

MARCELO: It was very hard for me to read, and when we had to read out loud, I would have a panic attack. It was physical—I would start to sweat, or blush. When I’m tired, it still happens to me when I’m leading services and I know the service by heart. I’d better have a finger on the text that I’m reading, because if not, the letters begin to switch around in front of me. ANNE: How old were you when you learned to read? MARCELO: When I started reading? I don’t remember it being an issue of “Marcelo’s not reading.” It was an issue of “Marcelo’s not reading well.” At the beginning, there was a question of whether I could handle elementary school. There were conversations about taking me out and getting tutors because I couldn’t keep up with the work. And again, it was because I was seen as lazy. There was one teacher in particular—who today would be understood as a sadist—who would make people like me feel ashamed. He would shame us in public when we weren’t able to read. I don’t know how somebody like that could become a teacher.

ANNE: How has dyslexia shaped you? MARCELO: I would have never chosen this path. My childhood was very painful. But after the fact, I wouldn’t change it. It gave me a sensitivity that I appreciate very much. When somebody’s in pain in front of me, I can connect in a way that comes straight from my pain but transcends it. I understand now that it [my dyslexia] is a challenge and have transformed it into an opportunity. And that’s my message to all the kids that I talk to about this. I say to them, “Go to your potential. Don’t accept labels or limitations.”

And that’s my message to all the kids that I talk to about this. I say to them, ‘Go to your potential. Don’t accept labels or limitations.’”

ANNE: Do you see yourself as someone with a disability or a difference? MARCELO: Yes. There are things that I cannot do. For instance, I cannot chant easily from the Torah. The written trope symbols are actual musical phrases, which I have trouble understanding on the page. But at this moment I’m actually more aware of the benefits of my experience. I love to be with people, I love the opportunity to spiritually help people to reach their potential. The BJ mindfulness retreats in nature are based on these healing possibilities that we all have. And I love to be with kids. I love to be with teens. I love to go on service learning trips with them and help them to blossom. n Anne Landsman is the internationally acclaimed novelist whose most recent novel, The Rowing Lesson, won South Africa’s 2009 Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the 2009 MNet Literary Award for English fiction. It was also short-listed for the $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize. She has been a BJ member since 1995.

synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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The PEARLS Project: Picturing Inclusion By Kristen Kersey, Administrative Assistant for Youth and Family e are all made in God’s image.” A common quote, a lovely sentiment, but what does a third-grader think that means? How do we teach children not to fear those who are different from us, but to embrace them as another human being? With the growing special-needs population in this country, as well as growing concerns around bullying, intimidation, and discrimination against those who cannot always defend themselves, these are clear lessons that need to be taught to our children and families. So, where do we begin? We start small: with a picture. After all, it speaks a thousand words.

through blog posts and video recordings to learn more about his or her life. The class will then correspond with the Ambassador, becoming pen pals and learning more about one another. Instead of being a kid with a disability, students get to know the Ambassador for who he or she really is. The Ambassador will talk about his or her interests, hobbies, and some of the struggles that stem from their disability.


PHOTO: Rick Guidotti

This fall, the BJ Hebrew School is excited to participate in the PEARLS Project, a collaborative effort with the UJA-Federation of New York. The PEARLS Project is an educational program designed to allow students and their families to learn about the real life experiences of individuals and their families living with genetic, physical, cognitive, and behavioral differences. This project is an offshoot of Positive Exposures, a not-for-profit that utilizes photography and video to transform public perceptions of people living with genetic, physical, and behavioral differences. The word PEARLS was chosen for the name of the project because it evokes pearls of wisdom and also encompasses the idea that all pearls are

beautiful and yet no two pearls are alike. Together with the UJA-Federation, Positive Exposures is developing a curriculum that will allow for the program to be used in a Jewish setting and have recruited youngsters with disabilities to be PEARLS Ambassadors. These kids were photographed and created video self-portraits and blog posts to share. Through their words and audio/visuals, PEARLS Ambassadors share their stories with our families. The project begins with students being shown photographs of a child they will be learning about. From there, they will “meet” an Ambassador online

As students interact with the Ambassador, their perception of him or her changes from “That Kid Who’s Different” to “Bobby, who uses a wheelchair, and likes soccer and TV just like I do.” From there, the class works with another student, then another, until they’ve widened their circle of friends and have learned a lot about people they may have not encountered in their lives before. By inviting students to see young people living with difference first-hand, we hope they will gain a deeper understanding and respect for the many different people living in the world around them. The PEARLS Project will take place over eight to 10 weeks in our school. The Hebrew School is thrilled to be continuing its work toward education around Inclusion, and we hope to bring more stories about the PEARLS Project to the BJ Community after we dive in this fall. n

Inclusion: Or Doing the Right Thing continued from page 7 Judaism and the Torah place on community and (as the children put it) “doing the right thing.” At another program I asked the children to consider potential obstacles to full participation at synagogues, and to design creative solutions. Some children designed braille siddurim to welcome those who cannot see, while others invented Shabbat-friendly robots that amplify words of Torah and bring physically disabled congregants to various places around the synagogue. After dreaming big, the students hung drawings of their


Students will interact with virtual and physical depictions of disabilities and have the opportunity to reflect on inclusion and tolerance in the Hebrew School.”

designs around their classrooms to remind them of the many ways they can show derekh eretz by including and welcoming everyone in the BJ Hebrew School community. Next year we will involve the entire Hebrew School in a groundbreaking educational program through the PEARLS Project. K-12

students, teachers, and healthcare providers will learn about the real life experiences of individuals and their families living with, genetic, physical, cognitive, and behavioral differences. Students will interact with virtual and physical depictions of disabilities and have the opportunity to reflect on inclusion and tolerance in the Hebrew School. It is incredible to work in a setting that not only strives to accommodate children and families with special learning needs but also seeks to integrate them into the fabric of the community. n

synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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The Changing of the Board By Denise Waxman, Director of Communications


he BJ community expressed its thanks to retiring board members Henry Meer, Sofia Hubscher, and Joel Kazis for their service to B’nai Jeshurun at the May 30 Annual Meeting. We are incredibly fortunate to have such talented and dedicated members willing to give of their time and expertise to help BJ grow and flourish.

We also nominated and unanimously elected three new members to the Board of Trustees. Here is a short introduction to each. Alan Mantel Alan and his family have been members of BJ since 2001. Currently Alan serves on the Finance Committee. Since its inception, Alan has been a Partner of Snow Phipps Group, a private equity firm. Previously he was a Managing Director at Credit Suisse and Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette. Alan is a Director on several corporate boards in the business services, financial services, and apparel industries, a member of the Deans Advisory Board of the School of Business at SUNY Albany, and current Board President of his co-op. Alan is married to Jessica Feder Mantel, and they have three children, Lauren, Rebecca, and Joshua. Suzanne Schecter Suzanne has been a member of BJ since 2007 and is currently Co-chair of the Membership Steering Committee and the Dues Task Force. She previously sat on the Potential Members Team and has been preparing monthly meals for the shelter since joining in 2007. Suzanne is a freelance TV producer, making programs about food and food lifestyle. She started her career after completing

her MBA in 1986 as a money manager but in 1995 decided to follow her passion for food and went to culinary school and thus took a circuitous route to the television world. But she is still passionate about cooking and spends whatever spare time she has in front of the stove cooking for her husband, Todd Ruback, her stepson Grant, and lots of friends. Scott Weiner Scott and his wife, Beth Siegel, have been members of BJ since 2007. Scott is the President, CEO, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation that develops affordable, supportive, and senior housing for individuals engaged in the performing arts and entertainment industry. Prior to being elected to those PHOTO: DENISE WAXMAN positions, Scott served as the Chairman of the AFHDC and as a Trustee of its parent organization, The Actors Fund. Scott is an active participant in the Men’s Havarah. He is a Trustee of the American Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and has previously served as a Trustee of the Barnert Temple and Har Sinai synagogue in New Jersey. When you see them take a moment to introduce yourself and to thank them for all they do. n


First-Person Experiences continued from page 5 Blessing Sam Antar

Anne: Did you like the service? Sam: It was cool, guys! My favorite part was blessing—and doing the Havdalah with Shoshi and Marcelo. My favorite Judaism is the Torah!

Transparent Joy Steven Kantor

Ari doesn’t speak much, and when he does, it is usually limited to “yes” or “no.” But he loves

BJ, and somehow he and Marcelo have transcended the limitations of the spoken word to celebrate the wonders of being a Jew by enjoying the majesty of the rituals. Our religion has many deep meanings for us, but it can even be more profound to those who have special needs. I will never know what Ari thinks when he holds the Torah, but in a sense it doesn’t matter. His joy is transparent, and I am honored to belong to a community that values the contribution of all. PHOTO: Hilary Schumer

synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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A Monumental Homage: Introducing Your 5774 Simhat Torah Honorees By Nancy Wolkenberg Greenblatt and Jeremy Hamburgh ach year, the blessing of Simhat Torah Hatan (groom) and Kallah (bride) is bestowed upon two members of the BJ community. On Simhat Torah morning, the Hatan Torah has the honor of reading the last chapter of the Torah, whereupon the Kallat Bereshit reads the first chapter of the Torah as we start the cycle once again. Mazal tov to Robert Pollack and Susan Fishman, who will share the 5774 accolades!



In the Buddhist tradition life begins anew every 60 years. Within a week of his 73rd birthday Dr. Robert E. Pollack received a call from his rabbis advising of the honor to be blessed as Simhat Torah Hatan. Bob has never leyned1 and “really wants to do this.” Bob views this honor as beginning Jewish life anew, a celebration like a Bar Mitzvah. This will be a challenge for Bob, who relates having no family history of traditional religious Jewish life, no sense of “belonging” in the Jewish world. Rather, he describes a double life of secrets: being Jewish and being the son of a Communist. He declares with pride that, during his tenure as professor of Biological Sciences

at Columbia University since 1978, he was appointed the first Jewish dean of an Ivy League college, in 1982. Bob is deeply involved in asking questions and seeking answers. He believes the scientist starts with “I don’t know something” and then pursues scientific means to test a hypothesis. In the process he must have the discipline to show himself wrong. The question has to be subject to disproof—like Torah study. Over the years Bob has come to believe that “the facts of natural science are so painful, the more I know, the more I need Torah.” He has been engaged in Torah study for 20 years, many with Rabbi Adin Steinsalz. It is not possible to write about Bob’s evolution from scientist to Founding Director of the Columbia University Center for the Study of Science and Religion in 1999 without considering the role of and partnership with Amy, whose avoidance of Jewish involvement as a youth and young adult was “in the service of preservation.” They had grown up in the 1940s hearing about the risks and dangers of being a Jew—if you are a Jew they will kill you. The burning question was, “What was so sacred to our ancestors that they defended to the death?” Amy and Bob, with a yearning to be participating, practicing Jews, married in 1961 determined to establish in their home a Jewish family with their daughter, Marya. They were Jews without knowledge of shul and davening. They read and became cultural, scientific, artistic Jews who were pious … until they came to BJ in 1994 where they found a sanctuary, literally and figuratively. Bob is dedicated to tikkun olam, making sure other people are better off. From the beginning Bob has been a quietly loyal supporter and troubleshooter in many domains at BJ. Active in coordinating aliyot for Yamim Nora’im, he served for years as an assistant gabbai, a role now assumed

... The Hatan Torah has the honor of reading the last chapter of the Torah, whereupon the Kallat Bereshit reads the first chapter of the Torah as we start the cycle once again.”

by his son-in-law, Mark Lehrman, who met Marya at BJ. Grandson Eilam Lehrman, who became a Bar Mitzvah on Shabbat Balak this year, inspires Bob as he learns to leyn. Bob quotes Talmud: “For one walking on a dark path, if he has a torch in his hand, it is like two were walking on that path.” His grandson’s passage to Jewish manhood and his own renewal of Jewish life as Simhat Torah Hatan exemplify the meaning of “from generation to generation,” and have given Bob a sense of completion and wholeness. When Bob reads the closing verses of Deuteronomy, an honor that acknowledges Bob’s active involvement in the BJ community and in the Jewish community at large, it will also be emblematic of the passing of the Torah from one generation to the next, and from Bob to Eilam.


Susan Fishman will be honored as Kallat Bereshit. Through her leyning, we will be reminded of God’s undertaking to create (continued on page 13)

1. To chant Torah, haftarah or megillah, from the Yiddish “leynen”, “to read”.


synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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Membership Renewal and High Holy Day Information 2013 A Note From the Membership Department … Entrance Cards • Entrance cards will be mailed July 24-August 16. Keep your cards in a safe place; requests for replacement cards will be subject to a reprinting fee.

Membership renewal season is here! Renewal applications for 2013-2014 are currently available on our website. High Holy Day Information At BJ, we take all measures to make your High Holy Days comfortable and safe. We trust you will do your part by carefully reading the High Holy Day information on this page and on our website.

• In order for us to provide entrance cards for Rosh Hashanah, membership applications must be in our office and date-stamped by Friday, August 23.

Reminders: 1. Entrance cards required for children aged 6+. 2. Reserved signs per family will be available and can be used until 11:00AM. 3. Special Needs and Ushering forms will be available online. Your location for High Holy Day services is assigned on a first-come first-served basis. ■■ The earlier you return your membership forms, the more likely it is you will be placed at your preferred location. ■■ Space at some locations fills up within a

few weeks so please consider sending your location request via membership application as soon as possible. ■■ If your family and friends wish to be at

the same location, you must all renew at the same time.

• In order for us to provide entrance cards for Yom Kippur, membership applications must be in our office and date-stamped by Friday, August 30. • Beginning Monday, August 19 entrance cards will ONLY be available for pick up in the B’nai Jeshurun office. Safety and Security at Services • Entrance cards are required for admission to all services, including Family Services. All three types of entrance cards will be accepted at the Family Service. • Seating at services is first-come firstserved. Please arrive on time to assure seating; we cannot guarantee seats will be available for latecomers. Up to two seats may be reserved for family members until 11:00AM and additional reserved seating will be available in the balcony of each location.

• High Holy Day services this year will be open to members with valid entrance cards and their guests for whom they have purchased entrance cards. • Children will not be permitted to be in any of the service locations unsupervised. Please make arrangements for your child when children’s services are not in session. Unsupervised children will be sent back into the main service to sit with their parents. To discuss membership dues or ask High Holy Day questions, please contact Belinda Lasky, Assistant Executive Director, at x224 or High Holy Day Locations Adult and Children’s Services will be held at: • 88th Street Sanctuary—88th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue • Jazz at Lincoln Center—60th Street and Broadway • Symphony Space—95th Street and Broadway Family Services will be held at 86th Street (Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew) at 86th Street and West End Avenue. n

Important High Holy Day Dates and Deadlines: August /September 2013 Sunday












Aug. 23 Deadline to request entrance cards for Rosh Hashanah







30 Deadline to request entrance cards for Yom Kippur


Sept. 1




5 Rosh Hashanah 6 Rosh Hashanah 7





Erev Rosh Hashanah

Day 1


Day 2

13 Kol Nidre


Yom Kippur

synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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Shalom BJ: A Welcoming Initiative By Sheila Bleckner, Susan Fishman, Belinda Lasky, Debbie Lerner, and Suzanne Schecter


e are embarking on a great venture, called Shalom BJ, and shining a spotlight on welcoming at B’nai Jeshurun to open wider our doors and our hearts to members, guests, and visitors in our desire to be a more welcoming community. On Shabbat Va’era, Rabbinic Fellow Adam Roffman framed our efforts in the light of Torah with his extraordinary commentary on the parasha. The Va’era tells us of Abraham Aveinu who is recovering from circumcision and sitting before Adonai at the entrance to his tent in the sweltering heat of the day. When he sees three travelers approaching him, he essentially says to Adonai, “Please wait while I go and greet my guests.” He welcomes them eagerly with the understanding of what they need after traveling in the desert—bathing their feet, resting in the shade, and a good meal. He and Sarah and their household move into action to provide great generosity of heart in welcoming their guests. We learn from the parasha and from looking closely at Abraham and Sarah and their conduct in performing this mitzvah that it emulates the qualities of Adonai. We may even consider that it is as if the Torah is stressing that the characteristic that made Abraham so uniquely worthy to be the spiritual parent of mankind was how he exerted himself in this mitzvah of extending welcome and hospitality to his visitors.

Picture entering the sanctuary and being greeted by a BJ volunteer warmly welcoming you. Or being a guest, greeted by a volunteer who will educate and guide you so that you will feel that you belong from the moment you enter. ”

Adam goes on in his D’var Torah to add another dimension to this mitzvah of welcoming. We learn from a wonderful midrash about the great Rabbi Yehuda Ha’Nasi, a third-century scholar who codified the Mishna. The Rebbe prepares


to meet with his students for study on Shabbat and comes to the realization that there will not be enough space to welcome all of his students. Although it is Shabbat, he clears the field and moves the grain to make more space. Clearing a space takes precedence over the laws of Shabbat. This midrash looks at what it means to clear a space metaphorically within ourselves and to make room. It asks the questions, how willing am I to open up to make space for people who may be different than I am in the way they look, the way they think and the way they live? What would it take for me to make that space so that, for someone who walks in the door to stay, there is not just a chair but there is a place and a space for them? Finally, it asks the question, how does this make us feel about ourselves?

s Ha LOm

We want to ensure that all BJ members and guests feel at home within the BJ space during services, classes, and at other functions. ”

welcoming initiative is called Shalom BJ, and we hope that members will keep their eyes open for the new beautiful Shalom BJ logo in the KJ with very personal and heartfelt quotes of “I love BJ because ... ”. Maybe you will be moved to let us know why you love BJ.


Both of the spiritual models provided by Abraham and Yehuda Ha’Nasi teach us not only to emulate our Creator in welcoming, but to care for each other, to be comforting, and to create that sense of community that reinforces our Jewish Identity. The mitzvah of Hakhnasat Orhim, or welcoming the stranger, is considered to possess a higher level of holiness than even welcoming the Divine Presence. Understanding the importance of this mitzvah, the Membership Steering Committee (MSC) is undertaking a threeyear plan (2012-2015) to assess welcoming and engagement. It is our hope that through our initiatives we will be able to provide opportunities for our members to forge deeper connections, to get involved in meaningful ways, and to both feel welcome and to welcome others at all BJ events. This

We want to ensure that all BJ members and guests feel at home within the BJ space during services, classes, and at other functions. The largest and most captive audience that we have is at the Kabbalat Shabbat service, which paradoxically shows BJ at its best and worst. We want to frame entering and leaving the building with positive energy and make it more logistically seamless. Picture entering the sanctuary and being greeted by a BJ volunteer warmly welcoming you. Or being a guest, greeted by a volunteer who will educate and guide you so that you will feel that you belong from the moment you enter. This new model of having Greeters at services will build on the successful Kabbalat Panim program, which was developed and implemented in early 2011

synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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Look for the ASK ME buttons on BJ greeters at services and events.

s Ha L


ASK to welcome and educate visiting groups on Friday nights about BJ’s Kabbalat Shabbat service. Wishing each other Shabbat Shalom during services, turning to a neighbor who might be feeling alone or having someone reach out to you, turns our large community into a smaller neighborhood. And having the opportunity to wish our rabbis Shabbat Shalom upon leaving the beautiful service connects us to them in a personal way, offering many of us the path we need to get to engage with them.

The MSC has organized teams and working groups in order to address the challenge of making our large synagogue feel more inviting and to design an improvement strategy. We look forward to continually sharing our findings and projects with the community. According to Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai, both the hosts and guests have roles and responsibilities. We hope that as you see these changes taking place, you will be



inclined to follow our lead. We invite you to join us in making BJ the warm and welcoming place for which we all strive. n The authors are on the Membership Steering Committee and are committed to fostering a welcoming atmosphere for current and future members of the BJ community.


Simhat Torah Honorees continued from page 10 order in a chaotic world. There is a traditional symbolism in bestowing the honor of Kallat Bereshit upon a woman whose selfless service has been a study in creating order in the world.   After Hurricane Sandy wrought its devastation upon the Rockaways, Susan was front-and-center, spearheading BJ’s effort to clean up Congregation Beth El and help it regain its footing. Under her command, an army of volunteers cleaned out the synagogue, removed its moldy walls, safeguarded its holy books, and provided moral support to its congregants. From garbage, waste, confusion, and sadness, Susan began a congregation’s recovery. From tohu vavohu,2 Susan created order.    Susan has been creating order within the BJ walls for almost a decade. As co-chair of the Membership Steering Committee (MSC), her newest initiative is Shalom BJ,

a communitywide effort to make BJ a more welcoming place. Where others see disparate ushers, employees, publications, and social media platforms, Susan sees a network ready to be built. That is exactly what she is doing. With her at the helm, every facet of BJ will be working toward the goal of hakhnasat orhim (welcoming guests).   Mulling over Shalom BJ, Susan has raised the importance of gathering and analyzing data, which seemed to be antithetical to our synagogue’s Senate-like tradition of debate and deliberation. (What was the MSC if not a body of active members from whose varied opinions a path forward could be forged?) Susan feels otherwise. BJ possesses a slew of data that hasn’t been well used. By analyzing it, Susan sees potential for making informed decisions. From a jumble of data points, Susan sees order.   Susan’s ability to connect with the community is underscored in the creation of Yozma, the new group for people ages

35-55. Understanding the need to identify and cultivate leadership in this population resulted in dozens of well-received focus groups, events, and meetings. Many people recognize Susan as a gabbai during the Yamim Nora’im, a role that gives her personal holiday experiences exceptional purpose. On Simhat Torah, Susan will be called up to the Torah, covered by a huppah, surrounded by the community she loves. As she re-tells the story of God creating light from darkness, we will be thinking of Susan’s worldly efforts to do the same. Please join the community as Bob and Susan escort us through the end and beginning cycles of the Torah on Simhat Torah on Friday morning, September 27. n   Jeremy Hamburgh and Nancy Wolkenberg Greenblatt, 2012’s Simhat Torah Hatan and Kallah, are starting a tradition of writing about the new year’s honorees.

2. Meaning “unformed and void,” from Genesis 1:2 which describes the condition of the earth before God said, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3).  synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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Rav Todot: Many Thanks From the BJ Rabbinic Fellows By Rabbis Adam Roffman and Jonah Geffen


psalm of thanksgiving. Shout joyously to Adonai, all the earth. Serve Adonai with joy. Come before God with jubilation … Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, God’s courts with praise.” Several months ago, together with the chairs of the Minyan Committee, we made a small addition to the matbeah, or order of service at Morning Minyan to include Psalm 100 before Ashrei, otherwise known as the Mizmor L’Todah. The psalm is an opportunity to connect us to gratitude; we say Todah, or thank you, as we acknowledge and celebrate our relationship with God and the world God created. Through repetition and reflection, this seemingly small addition, just 43 words, has stood out for each of us as a representation of our feelings throughout our two years working in the BJ community. Indeed, as our final weeks at BJ draw closer, it is an overwhelming sense of gratitude that has overtaken both of us. In keeping with the spirit of this psalm, we want to share just a few of the experiences that have, in particular, sparked our feelings of gratitude to each of you, who have given so selflessly by teaching both of us so much over the past two years. In the Talmud, Masekhet Ta’anit, Rabbi Hanina says: “I have learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues and most from my students.” We have been fortunate to teach in a variety of subjects, in different settings, to different people. What unites each of these experiences is the moment when the teaching transcends the material and discussion reflects the soul of each learner through the prism of our tradition. Each of you has given us your trust, your passion, and your vulnerability


and through your sharing has moved us, inspired us, and lifted us up. It’s no secret that BJ is known for its vibrant prayer life. However, it might appear to many that much of the depth of our communal prayer is a result of those who lead it—the shlihei tzibur, or representatives of the community—clergy and musicians. Yet, as we have stood at the amud “leading” prayer, it is the joy, energy, and most importantly commitment

Rabbis Jonah Geffen and Adam Roffman

of all of you, the tzibur, who have truly been “leading” us. Both of us believe very deeply that prayer is central to the revitalization of the synagogue in this country. Praying with you at BJ has empowered us to believe that this revival is not only possible, it is already happening. BJ is a large place, but its footprint is even larger. In less than two years, we have seen and been a part of the extraordinary variety ways that BJ members give not only to the greater New York area but also to a number of communities around the world. From the shores of the Rockaways, to the bateyes of the Dominican Republic, to the Ethiopian

community of Gedera—there are people in each of these places that know of BJ as a place where Jewish values are not just discussed or thought about but put into action. Most of all, though, we are grateful for the never-ending opportunities we have had to get to know so many of you personally. From the moment our Fellowship began, we have felt an incredible sense of warmth and care—a true investment both in our learning and in our wellbeing. We have celebrated with you PHOTO: DENISE WAXMAN both the achievements of this wonderful place and significant markers in our own lives. As we transition to the next phase of our careers, we know that we are not just taking with us memories of a place we once worked, but real, lasting relationships with people who have become our teachers, our friends, and exemplars of the Jewish communities we hope one day to build. n Jonah Geffen and Adam Roffman were ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary in May. Beginning in July, Adam will serve as Associate Rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas, Texas. Jonah will join J Street as Rabbinic Director in New York.

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The Kol Hadash is published four times a year. We would love to print your stories and articles about BJ! For submission guidelines, contact All material is the property of B’nai Jeshurun and cannot be reprinted without permission.


Each of you has given us your trust, your passion, and your vulnerability and through your sharing has moved us, inspired us, and lifted us up. ”

The Kol Hadash is printed using soy-based inks on 50% recycled paper by an online, eco-friendly printer at a substantial cost saving compared to traditional printing methods. Designer: Harriet R. Goren

synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


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Condolences (through May 17)

Mazal Tov To the following members and their families on their B’nai Mitzvah (April, May, and June): Clara Zucker

Joshua Mantel

Ariella Greenberg

Samuel Fishman

Samuel Tecotzky

Talia Kurlansky

Samuel Stephenson

Maxwell Murray

Maya Scholnick

Jason Berger

Michael Greenberg

Lucio Vainesman

Taylor Alimari

Hannah Butcher

Theodore Canter

Emma Ruskay-Kidd

Julia Desch

Eilam Lehrman

Natalie Katz

Julian Golden

To the following members and their families (through May 17):

• Sara Meyer and Danny Loya on the birth of their son, Eli Dov Meyer Loya. • Saskia Lane, Julian Porta, and Luna Porta on the birth of their daughter and sister, Ines Cecilia Porta. • Joan Kaplan (BJ Honorary Trustee), Joseph Kaplan and Catherine Kim, Nathan Kaplan, Edward and Nathalie Kaplan, Bella, and Lily and Chloe Kaplan on the birth of their grandson, son, nephew, and cousin, Richard Minjoon Kaplan. • Alisa Doctoroff on her nomination as President of UJA-Federation of New York. • Bena Medjuck-Bruckner, Gustavo Bruckner, Noam, Ayelet, and Yaffa Medjuck-Bruckner on the birth of their daughter and sister, Sivan Lilit. • David Schalop, his parents Lee and Lisa Schalop, and his sisters Samantha and Alison, on David becoming a Bar Mitzvah in Israel. • Myriam Abramowicz, whose family history throughout the Shoah is the subject of the exhibition “Uprooted” at the Holocaust Museum Houston. • Marc Salomon Ohana, his parents Margo and Michael Ohana, his brother Adam, his grandmother Nancy Greenblatt, and Jack Richard on Marc becoming a Bar Mitzvah at Shaarei Tikvah in Scarsdale, NY.

The community of B’nai Jeshurun mourns the tragic death of our member Cindy Wachenheim, and we extend our sincere condolences to her husband Hal Bacharach, their son Keston, and their entire family. The community of B’nai Jeshurun mourns the death of our member Nirdi Relis, and we extend our sincere condolences to her mother, Nurie Relis, and her entire family. The community of B’nai Jeshurun mourns the death of our member Maria Warech, and we extend our sincere condolences to all of her loved ones. The community of B’nai Jeshurun mourns the death of our member Robert Weinberg, and we extend our sincere condolences to his wife Rochelle Ostroff-Weinberg, their daughter Daniella Weinberg, and their entire family. The community of B’nai Jeshurun extends sincere condolences to the following members and their families: • Martin and Audrey Zelonky, and their children Philip and Reina Zelonky, on the death of Martin’s mother, Barbara Zelonky. • Gary and Sara Levin, and their sons Jonathan and Ted Levin, on the death of Gary’s mother, Lois Levin. • Don Isler on the death of his father, Werner Isler. • Reed Corderman, his wife Daniela Sciaky, and their daughter Sara Corderman on the death of Reed’s mother, Lorraine Corderman. • Marjorie Vandow, her husband Richard Fields, and their children Gabriel and Rebecca Fields on the death of Marjorie’s step-mother, Blanche Vandow.

• Debbie Leiderman on her engagement to Ted Geiger.

• Rocky Greenberg and Susan Popper, and their son Misha Greenberg, on the death of Rocky’s mother, Stella Greenberg.

• Danielle Litt, her parents Richard and Barbara Litt, and her sister Tamara Litt on Danielle’s engagement to Moshe Halpern.

• Michele Rubin and David Zagorski on the death of Michele’s mother, Selma Rubin.

• Four amazing BJ women, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Barbara Dobkin, Sally Gottesman and Rachel Tiven on being honored as Women at the Vanguard, at the JCC annual benefit to be held on May 7 at the JCC in Manhattan.

• Sarah Fendrick, Jonah and Naomi Shifrin on the death of Sarah’s father, Alan Fendrick.

• Hannah Kass, seventh-grade teacher at the BJ Hebrew School, on receiving the 2013 Young Pioneers Award as an innovative educator from The Jewish Education Project. • Uri and Maya Sharlin on the birth of their daughter, Michaela Rona Sharlin. • All the students of the BJ Context class who graduated on Sunday, May 19 at Jewish Theological Seminary.

• Sara Nathan and Joel Kazis, and their sons Josh and Saul NathanKazis, on the death of Sara’s father, Edgar J. Nathan, 3rd. • Susan and Vanderlei Pereira on the death of Susan’s mother, Beatrice Davis. • Jonathan Zhukovsky and Emily Benedek, and their daughters Hannah and Noa Zhukovsky, on the death of Jonathan’s mother, Lina Zhukovsky.

• Vicki and Bill Abrams on their granddaughter, Jane Leff, becoming a Bat Mitzvah. synagogue: 257 W. 88th St. • office: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), Suite 203, New York, NY 10023 • tel : 212.787.7600 • fax : 212.496.7600 • website :


Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Permit No. 530 New York, NY

2109 Broadway (Ansonia) • Suite 203 • New York, NY 10023

new voIce • KOL HADASH . ­ YNAGOGUE: S 257 West 88th Street OFFICES: 2109 Broadway (Ansonia), #203 Main Telephone Number 212-787-7600 Fax Number (2109 Broadway) 212-496-7600 Website Rabbis: J. Rolando Matalon Marcelo R. Bronstein Felicia L. Sol Hazzan and Music Director: Ari Priven

Committees & Services: Accounts Payable........................227 Accounts Receivable...................237 Adult Education Information..... 233 Bar/Bat Mitzvah..........................223 Bikkur Holim...............................233 BJ Reads.....................................272 Communications.........................275 Community Programs................255 Conversion..................................261 Daily Minyan................................232 Development & Donation Information.........228

88th Street Rental.......................255 Family Activities: Hotline............318 Hakhnasat Orhim........................255 Havurot.......................................255 Hevra Kadisha . ......................... 233 Homeless Shelter...................... 272 Interfaith Committee ................ 379 Kiddush Scheduling....................255 Kol Jeshurun................................275 Kol Hadash...................................275 Life Cycles...................................233 Lunch Program...........................272 Mekusharim................................224

Membership Information............224 Panim el Panim..........................259 Ralph Bunche School Partnership........................... 272 Social Action...............................259 Teen Programming.....................242 Torah/Haftarah Reading.............232 Tze’irim ..................................... 250 Ushering.....................................233 Visiting Groups............................250 Volunteer Information................255 Youth & Family Education..........225

Director of Events: Guy Felixbrodt, x255

Board of Trustees: Jeannie Blausteinº President

Jack Stern Judith Trachtenberg Scott Weiner Emily Weiss Anna Winderbaum Michael Yoeli

Director of Israel Engagement: Orli Moss, x229 Director of Development: Lisa Steinberg, x228

BJ Rabbinic Fellows: Alex Braver, x262 Sarit Horwitz, x261

Director of Communications: Denise Waxman, x275

Cantorial Intern and Teen Educator: Shoshi Rosenbaum, x242

Chief Financial Officer: Alyce Gunn, x226

Executive Director: Steve Goldberg, x266

Director of Facilities: Roma Serdtse, x258

Assistant Executive Director: Belinda Lasky, x224

Assistant to Rabbi Matalon and Executive Director Steve Goldberg: Monique Rucker, x234

Director of Education for Youth and Family: Ivy Schreiber, x225 Director of Social Action/ Social Justice: Channa Camins, x259



Assistant to Rabbi Bronstein and Hazzan Priven: Naomi Goodhart, x240 Assistant to Rabbi Sol: Beth Tarson , x233

Jonathan Adelsbergº Chair

Irv Rosenthalº Treasurer

Honorary Trustees Virginia Bayer* Ted Becker* Frederic Goldstein Marcy Grau* David Hirsch* Richard Janvey* Robert Kanter Joan Kaplan Susan Kippur* Sara Moore Litt* Naomi Meyer Judith Stern Peck* Stephen Stulman

Andrew Littº Secretary

General Counsel Richard Kalikow

Anne Ebersman Nancy Freireich Moshe Horn Franklin Kern Debbie Lerner Alan Mantel Bernie Plum Suzanne Schecter

Hebrew School Advisory Members Katie Boyar Melanie Sherman

Robert Buxbaumº Vice President Sally Gottesmanº Vice President Debbie Lernerº Vice President Emily Weissº Vice President

Tze’irim Representative Jason Herman º Executive Committee Member * Past President

Kol Hadash Summer 2013  

Kol Hadash Summer 2013 The bi-monthly magazine of B'nai Jeshurun in New York City. Featured articles include: Carrying a Backpack of Bricks:...

Kol Hadash Summer 2013  

Kol Hadash Summer 2013 The bi-monthly magazine of B'nai Jeshurun in New York City. Featured articles include: Carrying a Backpack of Bricks:...