The Voice Pesach 5784

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CAI Stands in Solidarity with Israel

This publication would not have been possible without the help of Abby Meth Kanter, who edited the articles, and Caryn Snerson, who consulted on the design and layout. We also thank everyone who created content, chaired the programs featured on these pages, advertised, and subscribed to the Voice. This is truly a community-led project.


Click to move to the pages you’d like to read.

4 | Rabbi Ari Lucas

Welcome to ‘Siddur Lev Shalem’

5 | Rabbi Ari Lucas

Spring/Summer Reading List

6 | Rabbi Sara Blumenthal

Observe the Omer with Masorti’s Environmental Sustainability Initiative

7 | Cantor Joel Caplan

My brother, David

Calling all congregants to weigh in on new mission statement

Agudath Israel members think the inevitable

From kugels to Mahjong, gefilte fish to blintzes

A leader in protecting and sustaining our planet

Another great year of Men’s Club events

Yachatz break
8 | Susan Werk Feeling the
9 | Welcome New
10 | Geula Zamist Early Childhood Center “Dayenu”
11 | Karen Frank Mindful of blessings even in the
12 | Create for a
14 | Mission Statement Task Force
14 | Israel Committee Standing with Israel
16 | Combating Antisemitism Initiative
Providing guidance on fighting the scourge
16 | Social Action Committee
Summer Family Promise Week
18 | Cemetery Association
20 | Sisterhood
22 | Environmental Committee
23 | Men’s Club
24 | Tzedek Initiative
Working to ‘repair the world’
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26 | The CAI Legacy Circle
an ECC
Seder on April
you a peaceful Passover! Chag sameach! Service times and holiday resources can be found at
Cover photo: Joan Bronspiegel with
4s student during this year’s Grandfriends
17. Wishing


Welcome to “Siddur Lev Shalem”

This June, our congregation will welcome a new siddur (prayer book) for Shabbat and festivals. We will say goodbye to the blue “Siddur Hadash” (Moreshet Edition), which has served our congregation well since our return to the renovated building in 2008. We will welcome “Siddur Lev Shalem” (it’s red).

For 2,000 years, the siddur has been one of the most important books in any Jewish library. Its pages contain the distilled theology and practice of Jewish communities, with variations reflecting the vast span of history and geography of our people. Prayer is a fundamental form of Jewish expression — offering us words and rituals that help us find meaning and purpose in our lives. Over the centuries, the siddur has evolved and expanded, creating a rich tapestry of Jewish poetry and literature.

As beautiful as the language of the siddur is, its meaning is often difficult to access — even for the most experienced daveners among us. How we pray to God is an immensely personal endeavor, but one that is pursued together with other members of our community. As such, the choice of a communal siddur is a significant undertaking. At CAI, we have a blessedly diverse congregation — Jews of varied backgrounds and Jewish education — with different beliefs about God and Judaism. We strive to be as inclusive as possible while maintaining our commitment to traditional Jewish observance. We pride ourselves on combining uncompromising love with uncompromising standards. I believe “Siddur Lev Shalem” reflects those commitments, and I am excited about how the arrival of this siddur will enhance the spiritual life of our congregation.

The change of a siddur can be filled with many (sometimes conflicting) emotions. Many of us feel connected to the prayer book we use, as it has been our trusted companion for so many significant occasions. We may also feel excited by the possibilities and opportunities that a new siddur represents. “Siddur Lev Shalem” will feel familiar to

many of you because it is in the same family of publications as “Mahzor Lev Shalem,” which our congregation already uses on the High Holy Days. It has many of the same features and design layout (Sample Pages). Including:

An updated translation, while maintaining a full, traditional liturgy

A sensibility and attunement to the poetry of Jewish prayer

Meaningful commentary in the margins that deepen and enhance the understanding of and connection to the prayers

Transliteration to support those with more limited Hebrew reading skills, enabling them to join congregational singing

Egalitarian sensibilities, including the option to say the Amidah with the imahot — matriarchs — and translation that uses gender-neutral language for God.

I am grateful to the ritual committee, led by Howard Rabner, whose members undertook a process of over a year to consider this decision and ultimately voted in January to approve the adoption of “Siddur Lev Shalem.”

I am grateful to the donors (who prefer to remain anonymous) for enabling us to purchase these new siddurim. Their request, which we will honor, is that the new siddurim be dedicated to the memory of the victims of the October 7 attack. The dedication template, which will be pasted on the inside cover of each siddur, will also have space for dedicating individual copies of the siddur, a means of raising funds to benefit our congregation.

This moment represents an opportunity for our community to renew our connection to prayer and God. To that end, I invite you to join me and the clergy for a series of upcoming

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adult education lessons in which we’ll delve more deeply into the content of the siddur. The schedule is as follows (all classes are on Wednesday, 8-9 p.m.):

May 1 | Meet “Siddur Lev Shalem” (Rabbi Ari Lucas)

May 15 | Every Age and Every Stage Can Engage with the Siddur (Susan Werk)

May 22 | Topic TBD (Rabbi Sara Blumenthal)

May 29 | Piyyutim (poems) in the Margins (Cantor Joel Caplan) plus Modern Prayers for Yom HaShoah, Yom Ha-Zikaron, and Yom HaAtzma’ut (Rabbi Richard Hammerman)

June 5 (Yom Yerushalayim) | Prayer for Israel and Egalitarianism (Rabbi Ari Lucas)

You can register for all sessions here.

Stay tuned for more information about: Dedicating individual copies of “Siddur Lev Shalem”

Purchasing your own personal copy of “Siddur Lev Shalem”

The welcome ceremony for “Siddur Lev Shalem,” which will take place on the first day of Shavuot (June 12)

With blessings for a kosher and sweet Passover,

Rabbi Ari Lucas is CAI’s senior rabbi.

What I’m Reading This Spring/Summer

I thought you might be interested in knowing what else — in addition to “Siddur Lev Shalem” — I’m reading this spring/summer. The list is to the right. If you’re also reading any of these books, let me know; I’d be happy to chat about them with you.

Rabbi Lucas’

Spring • Summer Reading List

“The Amen Effect: Ancient Wisdom to Mend Our Broken Hearts and World”

Rabbi Sharon Brous

“Judaism is About Love: Recovering the Heart of Jewish Life”

Rabbi Shai Held

“Up Home: One Girl’s Journey”

Ruth J. Simmons

“Thinking, Fast and Slow”

Daniel Kahneman

“The Oppermans”

Lion Feuchtwanger (with introduction by Joshua Cohen)

“The Anxious Generation:

How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness”

Jonathan Haidt

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Observe the Omer with Masorti’s Environmental Sustainability Initiative

Starting on the second night of Pesah, we count the Omer each night and day for seven weeks until Shavuot, as commanded by the Torah. The Omer was a measurement of grain brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem as an offering for the start of the barley harvest. Although the Temple is no longer standing, we still engage in this meaningful daily practice.

The Omer has been on my mind for the last few months; it’s never too early to start thinking about Pesah! In all seriousness, several months ago, I was invited to join the Masorti Environmental Sustainability Initiative (MESI), a taskforce of rabbis, educators, and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism lay leaders. Created as part of a grant to put the climate crisis front and center in the Masorti (Conservative) movement, the taskforce has been planning a kick-off series of webinars and a weekly Omer calendar for the period of Sefirat HaOmer

I am humbled to share that I am the author of two pieces for the Omer calendar. Each week, a new piece will be debuted on the Exploring Judaism website and emailed to the list of people who opt in to receive the Omer calendar. Our Omer calendar aligns with the mystical kabbalistic attributes assigned to each week, while also reflecting aspects of environmental consciousness through textual, spiritual, and action-based lenses. Whether you count the Omer every year or have never done it before, I encourage you to sign up to receive the Omer calendar in your inbox each week. My hope is that the MESI Omer calendar will enhance your new or renewed Omer practice through the intertwined filters of Kabbalah and the environment.

Fascinating webinars comprise the other component of the Weeks of Learning and Doing. Organizations from all over and adjacent to the Masorti movement are hosting conversations and panels, ranging from

building spiritual resilience for the climate crisis to using the halachic framework of “Bal Tashchit” (the prohibition against wasteful destruction) for understanding climate change. Our own Diane Edelson, who has conducted nationwide research on synagogue sustainability initiatives, is also slated to speak on a webinar on Tuesday, May 7, at 3 p.m. Details are below. I hope you will attend any and all webinars that are of interest to you.

It has been an honor to participate in this important project, which we hope is just the beginning of a worldwide effort to increase climate action in the Masorti movement.

Wishing you a meaningful Pesah and Omer!

The Masorti Environmental Sustainability Initiative (MESI) of the Conservative Movement is leading a Weeks of Learning and Doing webinar series, taking place throughout the Omer (between Pesah and Shavuot). The webinar content is inspired by the concepts of Head (learning), Heart (spirituality), and Hand (action/advocacy). The series offers topics about the environment, Judaism and spirituality, food, greening your synagogue, and climate change that educate, inspire, and motivate. CAI's Diane Edelson is speaking on a panel during the webinar: Climate Change: How Synagogues Respond (May 7, 3 p.m.) - Adamah and Synagogue Representatives. This series is free and open to all. Register Here

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Rabbi Sara Blumenthal is CAI’s assistant rabbi


My brother, David

In February, Nancy and I joined Rabbi Lucas and others on a very moving trip to Israel. I thought for sure that for this issue of the “Voice,” I’d be telling you some of what we saw and did. But that’ll have to wait.

My older brother, David, died this past March 4. My genuine thanks to all of you who reached out before, during, and after shiva with your condolences and your donations — it has been a great comfort.

In November 2002, David — husband to Joni and father of Ben and Shoshannah — was diagnosed out of the blue with a nasty form of leukemia. After all other treatments failed, they went to the Last Resort: Kill off all his bone marrow — and immune system — and get him a bone marrow transplant. I flew to Iowa to donate marrow. If that hadn’t worked, he would have died then — but it did work. He survived, but had further medical troubles.

In 2021, he needed a kidney transplant, but doctors felt that the only way he would survive that procedure was if the kidney came from me. That’s because he already had my marrow, and therefore my blood, so he’d have to take only a small amount of anti-rejection drugs afterward. Commercial #1: Consider kidney donation. All I really had to do was lie down. Advocates say, “Share the Spare”; you’ve got two, and you really need only one. Talk to me for details.

At a shiva, I often say to a mourner, “What should I know about them?” Here’s what you should know about David, and it’s not How He Got Sick or How He Died.

David was an early bloomer. He hit puberty early, and got big early. By the time of his Bar Mitzvah, he was 5’10” and strong. He played guard on the high school football team, was proud of his ability as a champion eater, and made part of his living as a stagehand, hauling around pieces of theatrical sets. He was a business owner, McDonald’s manager, fishing enthusiast, professional blackjack dealer, and more, and he often used his physical strength

to get things done. He had an attitude of “Sure, I can do this” — it shaped who he was. If you’ve seen “Encanto,” think Luisa.

You could hear that “I can do this” confidence when he spoke. He had many firm opinions and tended to speak with authority (“even when he was wrong,” says Joel, his annoying little brother). But at the same time, his own strength made him feel like he needed to Watch Out for the Little Guy. For instance, he took pride in heading the local synagogue’s team in providing 200 meals a month for Iowa City’s Free Lunch program and in driving for Table to Table, getting unused food to the hungry.

Commercial #2: Help with doing Tahara, ritually preparing dead bodies for burial. I mean it. I had never done this before, but I did it for David’s body. (As a Kohen, I’m not allowed to do this except for a close relative.) It was particularly meaningful and even beautiful, and very worthwhile. It’s not for kids. But adults, I think it helps you appreciate life differently. Talk to me, or contact Anita Finkel, head of our Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society), at

In mourning David, it has helped me to come say Kaddish at minyan morning and evening.

And if you’ve seen me with a scraggly beard, that’s not a fashion statement. It’s a minhag, a custom, not to shave during the Shloshim, the first 30 days of mourning. That beard will be gone before Pesah.

May David’s memory be a blessing. And a happy and meaningful Pesah to all of you!

Cantor Joel Caplan

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Joni and David Caplan


searchers of all ages would set off to find the missing “afikoman.”

Then, one year, not long ago, our afikoman managed a complete tzafun and hid itself; it’s officially missing, somewhere, we suppose, in the building!

I’ve always loved the interpretation of Yachatz, the fourth step in the seder “order,” our ritual of dividing the middle matzah. When we do that, we are acknowledging — even in the midst of celebrating the blessings of freedom — the brokenness that afflicted our people in enslavement and all people, whenever or wherever they are, who are not free, in body and mind.

After making our way through the heart of the seder — the magid, or telling, of the Exodus story and the suffering and ultimate freeing of the slaves — we celebrate by eating a delicious meal. The restoration of the missing piece of matzah to serve as the afikoman — whether found or “bought back,” depending on your family tradition — allows us to complete the meal. Besides being a fun activity for the youngsters, the ritual symbolizes our ongoing search for shalom, wholeness. But note that we are not mandated to re-affix the afikoman to its other half, to repair the matzah, make it whole again; rather we break it further so everyone at the table gets a piece to eat.

We consume the brokenness so that its role as a reminder of the bitterness and sorrow we may encounter in life becomes part of our body and soul. And then we act — as individuals, as a family, as a community — to continue the journey toward “wholeness” together.

The seder relays through dynamic storytelling and symbolic gestures lessons to be learned from the episode of the Israelites’ harsh slavery and their dramatic first steps into freedom.

At this year’s seder, we will feel more intensely the Yachatz break; we will not be able to extract from the narrative reminders of the current challenges our people are facing. We will have the horrors of October 7, the terrible losses of war, as well as the tragic plight (though we may pray it will be over) of the hostages in our minds and hearts.

We must always work on tikkun olam — repairing the world — but this year the ruptures

Feeling the Yachatz break
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seem particularly deep and wide. While young Israelis continue to fight and die, while the aftermath of October 7 still plagues the entire State of Israel and the Jewish people, while antisemitism has reared its ugly head — we may regard our duty to confront this brokenness as an outsized task.

But as Jews have always done, we will gather in the sacred space of our Passover seder to recall the struggles, recommit to the unity that propels us forward, acknowledging the brokenness while seeking to restore the afikoman to the table and ingesting its message of our unabating hope for peace.

And what will we do about George Greene’s missing glass afikoman? In the spirit of “rodef shalom” — the yearning for peace and wholeness — we will not give up the search.

Chag Pesah kasher v’sameyach — Happy Passover!

Susan Werk is CAI’s education director.

Thank you for helping to spread the word about our special community at Congregation Agudath Israel and all that we have to offer. Being invested in Jewish community is more important now than ever. Keep telling your friends, family, and neighbors about your positive and meaningful experiences here. YOU are our most successful advertising.

Contact Membership and Community Relations Director Debbie Lurie at 973-226-3600, x118 or

We extend a warm welcome to our newest families in 2024…so far!

David & Jill Goldman with Townes

Gary & Ariel Goldstein with Emerson and Jackson

Brian & Naomi Rindenau with Maya, Ben, and Jack

Steven Schonfeld and Amy Rothman


Brian & Samantha Shepard with Leni

Jon & Alycia Stockman with Paige and Brody

a friend and Be a friend and Be a friend and invite a friend! invite a friend! invite a friend!
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Early Childhood Center “Dayenu ”

A highlight of the Passover seder is the singing of “Dayenu!”

In my family growing up, it was the signal to start warming up the soup. But whoever went into the kitchen to warm up the soup was quickly summoned back to join in the singing of this significant song.

Dayenu — “It would have been enough” — reminds us to focus on the greatness of every single step along the way to the Israelites’ final redemption from Egypt and entry into the Land of Israel.

As we recall all the different wonders that G-d provided for us, let us be reminded to be mindful of each of the blessings in our own families and the many blessings our Early Childhood Center provides in our life.

Leslie Scheck, Director of Early Childhood Education at Temple Solel in California recently published an article titled “Beyond the Dollars and Cents: The Great Impact of

Early Childhood Centers”

It sparked great discussion and has led many of us in the field to follow her lead.

Let us be inspired by the words of “Dayenu” and take time to acknowledge all the many good things the CAI ECC does for us.

It provides a rich, developmentally appropriate education for our youngest learners at a time when the brain is most significantly affected — from birth to age six.

ECC classes offer a fully integrated Jewish curriculum that gives children a lifelong foundation.

The ECC fills the whole building with energy and joy and singing.

We connect our young children to nature, to community, and to the world around us.

The ECC brings young families into the synagogue to participate in events and programs.

The school provides intergenerational encounters that connect all the different demographics of the community.

The ECC is the gateway to Religious School enrollment.

ECC parents become synagogue leaders, board members, and volunteers.

We support families in building connections, making friends, and experiencing life as part of the greater Jewish people.

And yet we do not say, “Dayenu” — because enough! We continue to build and grow and innovate and add new dimensions to our Early Childhood Center experience.

A sweet and joyous Passover to all!

Geula Zamist

Geula Zamist is director of the CAI Lerner Early Childhood Center.

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Mindful of blessings even in the midst of troubles

As we dip our karpas (greens) into the salt water at our seder table, we joyfully announce that spring has arrived. Sometimes at Pesah, we feel uplifted and rejuvenated. And sometimes the darkness of our times makes even this moment feel heavy.

How do we reconcile the welcoming of the spring, the gratitude for our liberation, the lift of being taken out of servitude, when there is so much happening in our world, in our families, in Israel that it creates dissonance and a diminishment of our joy? We learned at Purim to be happy — it’s Adar! But what if it feels wrong to let go of our sadness or anxiety in troubled times?

Very often it is the act of looking at the whole picture that allows us to celebrate, feel grateful, and be aware of our very real blessings. We get caught up in the problems, that are also real, such that we don’t even see the good things. We are good at focusing on the tragic, the worrisome, the anxieties — but that focus is at the detriment of seeing and feeling the hope.

We have to learn mindfulness that teaches us to say, yes AND. The problems are here, yes, AND so is the spring, the laughter of our children, the births, the simchas. This is how we build our resilience and maintain the


Do you need help getting to the doctor or running errands? Would you like to attend Shabbat services or events at the synagogue but don't have a way to get there? Are you temporarily unable to cook meals due to an injury or illness? Are you unable to leave your home and would enjoy visitors during the day?

Our Caring Committee volunteers may be able to help you If you have a need that we may be able to help with, please email the Caring Committee at or leave a message on our confidential voicemail at 973-226-3600, ext. 142, and our coordinator, Cheryl Bernstein, will be back in touch with you.

strength to fight our battles.

Spring is the perfect time to take full advantage of the healing properties of nature, of moving our bodies, of eating fresh, unprocessed food. We can elevate our moods as we treat our senses and practice expressing our gratitude.

Jews learn the tradition of saying 100 brachot a day. Bringing to our lives this awareness of the things to bless, to be grateful for, could help us reset our outlook. Let’s begin with the karpas; as we bring it to our lips, let us really think about all there is to be grateful for as we look around our table. And don’t stop there: Keep noticing and keep thanking. You will be better — happier and healthier — for it.

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Karen Frank is CAI’s synagogue nurse.
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Standing with Israel MISSION STATEMENT



Calling all congregants to weigh in on new mission statement

As you are aware, as a critical step in reexamining CAI’s mission statement, the Mission Statement Task Force has been busy gaining an understanding of how our congregants view CAI and what they see as priorities for our future. To date, the task force has conducted two different surveys and led more than 20 listening sessions with groups of congregants of every stage and age (including a session with the four-year-olds in our ECC). In these sessions, congregants have been generous in sharing their personal experiences as part of the CAI community and their hopes for our future.

To those of you who answered the survey, participated in a listening session, or spoke with a member of the task force, we thank you. As the task force closes out the informationgathering part of the process, we want to make sure that any congregant who hasn’t weighed in has one final opportunity to do so. Please feel free to take our brief online survey or reach out directly to Morris Lewis at or Jackie Haney at if you are interested in a brief one-on-one discussion.

Jackie Haney and Morris Lewis are cochairs of the Mission Statement Task Force.

If there ever was a time to be connected to Israel, now is that time. At CAI we are dedicated to promoting our connection to Israel by supporting programs and projects related to the Jewish state. The Israel Committee has organized speakers and events throughout the past year, and we will continue to bring informative Israel programming to CAI.

A Yom Ha-Zikaron program on Monday, May 13, will lead into a Yom Ha-Atzma’ut program, with Israeli folk songs and dances. On the next page is a resource guide listing all the Israel events around our community, SundaySunday, May 12-19.

Nurit Brown and Moshe Wolberger are cochairing a committee tasked with creating a database of volunteer opportunities in Israel. Whether you are interested in working on a farm or would like a less physically demanding way to help, you are certain to find something on the list. Reach out to Nurit at and Moshe at for more information.

Finally, we are beginning to plan our annual Israel Walkathon — please put it on your calendars — Sunday, November 3. Through this wonderful community gathering to show support for Israel, we will raise money for organizations that help our Israeli family as they continue to heal from the horrors of October 7.

Thank you for your support of these important events. If you would like to get involved, please contact me at

We wish you all a Chag Pesah sameach!

Stephanie Z. Bonder is chair of the CAI Israel Committee.
—MEMBER OF CONGREGATION AGUDATH ISRAEL— DEBORAH RABNER, M.D., F.A.A.D. Diplomate, American Board of Dermatology 1129 Bloomfield Aveunue Suite 205 West Caldwell, NJ 07006 Tel. (973) 575-6880 Fax. (973) 575-1616 14 VOICE Spring 2024

YomHa-Zikaron • YomHa-Atzma’ut CommunityEvents

12 May


JFedGMW Yom Ha-Zikaron Ceremony

7:00 pm | West Orange | Register

Join your Greater MetroWest community and our rishonim and shlichot as we remember Israel’s fallen soldiers, victims of terror attacks, and all who gave their lives for the state of Israel. This year’s ceremony will also honor the victims of the October 7 attacks and those who fought bravely to defend their homes and families.

CAI’s Yom Ha-Zikaron Commemoration and Yom Ha-Atzma’ut Celebration

7:00 pm | Sanctuary/Livestream/Social Hall | Register

Sponsored by CAI’s Israel Committee, the program will transition from Yom Ha-Zikaron to Yom Ha-Atzma’ut with prayer and readings led by the clergy. Hear the Israeli Declaration of Independence, remember those fallen, dance traditional Israeli dances, and sing along to modern Israeli music written post-October 7 Dessert will be served

13 May


13 May


JFedGMW Yom Ha’Atzmaut Celebration

We Will Dance Again

7:30 pm | JCC MetroWest, West Orange | Register

A joyous celebration of Israel’s Independence Day, featuring live performances, dancing, and food. Join us to honor Israel's rich heritage and embrace the spirit of unity and resilience. $36/Person

Livingston Celebrates Israel’s 76th Independence Day

4:00 pm | Livingston Community Center | More Information

A fun festival free and open to all with live music, Israeli dancing, activities for children, and kosher food for purchase At 7:00 pm, the Israeli flag will be raised at Livingston Town Hall.





JFedGMW Yom Ha’Atzmaut Israel Block Party

19 Noon | Whippany | Register


It’s time to paint the town blue and white! Join your GMW community in celebrating Israel’s birthday at a fun-filled block party. Show your Jewish ruach and support for Israel Enjoy a delicious Israeli-style kosher barbecue lunch, shop at the authentic style shuk, and take part in activities for the whole family! $18/Person; $54/Family


Providing guidance on fighting the scourge

In the wake of the October 7 massacre of Israelis and the attendant pro-Hamas demonstrations taking place on college campuses and in the public square, it’s clear that antisemitism in the United States has reached unprecedented levels as measured by the FBI, the ADL, and the American Jewish Committee’s annual survey of antisemitism.

As an ADL signature synagogue, we have partnered with the organization in sponsoring programs for adults and youth to identify antisemitic incidents and to provide guidance on combatting antisemitism using media, political interventions, dialogue, and other tools.

In addition to the ADL and AJC, we have partnered with CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), the Jewish Community Relations Council, Rutgers Hillel, and other agencies to educate our congregants about the scourge of antisemitism.

A recent program with ADL included a presentation of the organization’s “report card” on the progress toward implementing the recommendations of the Biden administration’s U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.

Members are encouraged to contact Max Kleinman at with any suggestions for future programs or issues we should address We will keep the community informed of future programs or actions to combat antisemitism and antiZionism

Max Kleinman is cochair, along with Grace Sumka, of the Combating Antisemitism Initiative.


Summer Family Promise Week

CAI's Social Action Committee engages the synagogue in activities that promote justice and compassion within the Jewish Community and in society at large. It also makes common cause with other religious and non-religious groups and diverse communities in these activities.

The Social Action Committee facilitates Family Promise Week twice per year. Family Promise of Essex County takes care of families experiencing homelessness. Their network of churches and synagogues provides resources so that these families can focus on moving forward.

Our next Family Promise Week is the week of July 7. We will be collecting food, hygiene items, and gift cards, and preparing meals. Please look for more information and the signup to donate or volunteer to cook in upcoming eblasts.

Karen Eisenberg is chair of the Social Action Committee.

The Combating Antisemitism Initiative now has a page on CAI’s website. Learn more at

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Agudath Israel members think the inevitable

The Congregation Agudath Israel Cemetery Association reports that during the past 12 months, CAI members have provided for 41 cemetery plots for themselves or their loved ones and family members. These plots purchased through our association are at the King Solomon Cemetery and the Menorah Section of the East Ridgelawn Cemetery, both in nearby Clifton. Not only are these CAI members easing the burden of their family at the time of death, but they are also taking advantage of the wholesale prices our association provides for our members. In addition, they are heartened to know that these burial plots will be surrounded by those of fellow Agudath Israel congregants.

For over 90 years, Agudath Israel’s Cemetery

Association has been here to assist with “the inevitable.” In addition to special prices for our members, we can work out extended payment plans. If a family decides they no longer want to own the purchased plots, the association will buy them back at any time for the original price.

For more information, contact or call the synagogue office.

Rabbi Richard Hammerman is a trustee of the CAI Cemetery Association.

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From kugels to Mahjong, gefilte fish to blintzes

Twenty-eight delicious noodle and vegan kugels were served to the lucky people who came to Shabbat services on January 6 for the results of the Sisterhood cook-off. Every dish was yummy. Next year’s event will feature chili, both meat and pareve.

In February, women, men, and children joined Jeffrey Yoskowitz — coauthor of “The Gefilte Manifesto” cookbook and founder of The Gefilteria — to learn how to make pickles and sauerkraut. Some people loved the pickles so much they are reported to be hoarding them; others swore they would never get store-bought pickles again!

Mahjong and game night drew the biggest crowd ever (maybe it was the wine!). Several people came to learn how to play.

Sisterhood will sponsor two programs with Caldwell Hadassah: On Wednesday, April 17, Janna Rosenberg, a certified financial planner from Morgan Stanley, will present “Financial Literacy for Women,” highlighting what every woman should know about money, planning for retirement, and how to better manage one’s finances. All questions are welcome.

And on Sunday, May 19, CAI social worker Andrea Malmud will lead “You Are Not Alone,” a discussion about mental health concerns. This program is dedicated to the memory of Gail Kleinman, a social worker, congregant, and leader who died earlier this year and who really wanted to see Sisterhood provide this forum.

Just in time for Shavuot, we will make mushroom and mashed potato blintzes, a savory stir-fry vegetable blintz, and a sweet blueberry and ricotta cheese blintz — all adapted from Jennie Grossinger’s “Art of Jewish Cooking” cookbook. Join us in my kitchen — via Zoom or in person — to learn how to make delicious blintzes. (Grandma Hammerman taught me!)

Summer programs include another Mahjong and games program and another opportunity to participate in putting together postabortion care packages as we did in January together with CAI teenagers, National Council

of Jewish Women members, and members of the CAI Tzedek Initiative committee.

The annual Torah Fund fund-raising campaign to support the education of future professional and lay leaders of the Conservative movement will begin in late fall. The theme for this year’s pin is “Am Yisrael Chai.” Susan Werk was the first woman to be given the honor of the Kohen aliyah at CAI — we hope other women will have the Kohen and Levi aliyot at next fall’s Sisterhood Shabbat. Each Sisterhood program this year has attracted new participants and energized more people. If you wish to become more involved or have program suggestions, please contact Rebecca Glass, at, or me, at

Sharon Hammerman is president of CAI Sisterhood.

20 VOICE Spring 2024


A leader in protecting and sustaining our planet

CAI’s Environmental Committee now has 30 members who are committed to efforts to protect and sustain our planet for us and future generations.

Here are a few of the activities we are working on:

LED lighting project: We applied for and received grants from the Jewish environmental organization Adamah and from PSE&G as well as interest-free loans — so we now have the opportunity to switch CAI’s lights to all-LED. This will help reduce CAI’s carbon footprint and save 43%-47% of CAI’s costs for lighting the building. Thanks to Diane Edelson and Adam Kaufman for their efforts on this important project. Recycling bins: We now have two at CAI. Gerry Buchoff collects used ink cartridges and used batteries from the bin that’s under the first-floor stairs leading up to the Education Department classrooms. Mark Kushner takes small electrical appliances that are no longer working from the bin in front of the CAI office. Thanks to Gerry and Mark for taking these items to recycling

centers and for their commitment to this project.

Plant/seed exchange: CAI members who farm or garden now have the opportunity to obtain plants and seeds and to exchange extras with others — at no cost. This is a great way to meet others who are planting this spring and to enhance what you are able to grow. We appreciate Michael Brown’s organizing and facilitating this project; contact him at to learn more and participate.

CAI is now a member of Adamah and the Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition, joining with other major Jewish organizations to combat climate change. All CAI members are encouraged to check out the work being done and to take note of the other Jewish organizations we are connected with in this work to protect and sustain our environment


Our next meeting is on Wednesday, May 29, 8-9:15 p.m. (both in person in the chapel and on Zoom). We welcome new members and invite you to join us and share your ideas and recommendations for the committee’s projects and activities.

Harriet Sepinwall is cochair, along with Mark Lipsy, of the CAI Environmental Committee.

22 VOICE Spring 2024


Another great year of Men ’

s Club


The Men’s Club continues to have a great year with tremendous turnout at our events.

At the annual blood drive on January 14 more pints that usual were collected. Thank you to all who participated and to Chuck Rettig and Joseph Kelmanovich for taking charge.

A great time was had by the 36 players who came to our Texas Hold ‘Em event on January 30. Delicious food was catered by Holy Schnitzel. Even novices learned how to play the game and had a fabulous guys’ night out.

Congratulations to the winners: first place: Jeffrey Ettinger; second place: Idan Keren; third place: Matthew Levine; and fourth place: Ofer Steinberg. A big thank you to Arthur Bocian for all his hard work organizing this event. Since it was such a fun night, we are considering having another poker night in the fall. Please let us know what you think.

On March 20, we held our ping-pong tournament and March Madness watch party — with more delicious food and drink and lots of fun for the 65 guys who attended.

Congratulations to winner Eli Kaufman and runner-up Gennady Voldez. Thank you to Ofer Steinberg and Jared Root for again organizing such a spectacular event.

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, is Sunday evening-Monday, May 5-6. This year the yellow memorial candles were not included in the Purim baskets. Candles can be picked up from the CAI office. We hope that by receiving the candles closer to Yom HaShoah, more people will light them in memory of the victims. Given today’s circumstances, it’s especially important.

Men’s Club Shabbat is on Saturday, June 1. (As always, Hawaiian shirts are encouraged.) The annual Jack Lippe Scholarship winner will be announced, and a delicious kiddush will be served. For more information or to take part in the service, contact Aaron Solomon at

Sign up early for the annual trip to Citi Field for a Mets’ game on Sunday, June 30. If we get enough people, we will have a bus; a bagel breakfast will be served at the synagogue before we leave. For information, contact Adam Shandler at

We Stand With Israel lawn signs are available at the CAI office.

We are always looking for help and leaders for events and welcome your participation.

Jonathan Mehl is president of the CAI Men’s Club.

VOICE Spring 2024 23


Working to ‘repair the world’

The Tzedek Initiative has had a quiet fall, as our focus shifted for all of us dramatically after October 7. At the same time, the pursuit and promotion of social justice and racial equality remain important as the work of “repairing the world” hasn’t gone away.

This year, we are focused on issues that are near to us as Jewish people: Israel and antisemitism. But we must not lose sight of our commitment to fulfill Hillel’s challenge: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” In that spirit, we offer this seder supplement, with reflections and suggestions for your Passover observance.

Several working groups have ongoing projects and programs.

On Thursday, May 2, at 8:30 a.m., we will meet via Zoom for a planning session. We welcome new participants. Please join us by contacting Debbie Rosen at, Debby Miller at, Morris Lewis at, or Ruth Jaffe at for the Zoom link.

This year we will hold Juneteenth Shabbat on Friday-Saturday, June 14-15, just a few days after Shavuot. To help plan this commemoration, please join our May 2 session or contact us.

We have partnered again with the First Presbyterian Church in Caldwell on a food insecurity project. The church has invited us to join in their long-standing project of providing food for the soup kitchen at Our Lady of the Valley, a Roman Catholic Church in Orange, which has faced a large increase in the number of people they serve. We have agreed to provide meals every Thursday. Volunteers supply entrees, sweets, hard-boiled eggs, and side dishes, and/or volunteer to serve at OLV. Food may be dropped off between 4 and 5 p.m. every Wednesday in the staff parking lot of First Presbyterian Church on Westville Avenue. Click Here to sign up on the church’s website for recipes to use. (Note: Because this is a First Presbyterian project, instructions don’t

assume a kosher kitchen; please volunteer for meals you can prepare in your own kitchen.) To get involved, contact Karen Eisenberg at

The Reproductive Rights working group meets regularly to plan events and share information on this important issue. Contact Natalie Peck at for details.

The Voting Rights group’s ongoing effort to bring the League of Women Voters’ “Why Voting Matters” program to local high schools and Essex County College continues. Working with the League of Women Voters ensures that all voting rights efforts are nonpartisan. Contact Karen Eisenberg to take part.

The Educational Inequality group is collaborating with the Succeed2gether organization in tutoring local low-income students to close the opportunity gap. Tutoring takes place either virtually or on-site at the Montclair Public Library. We are seeking additional volunteers, including teens and adults. The application to become a tutor is at Succeed2gether. If you are interested, please contact Leah Sterman-Kabrt at at or Sue Goldberg at for more information.

Please join us. We welcome all participants and are always looking for new ideas to further the important work of the Tzedek Initiative.

Morris Lewis is cochair, along with Ruth Jaffe, Debby Miller, and Debbie Rosen, of the CAI Tzedek Initiative.

24 VOICE Spring 2024
26 VOICE Spring 2024
Join us to honor members of the CAI Legacy Circle during Legacy Shabbat on April 27!
Congregation Agudath Israel 20
Road Caldwell, NJ 07006 FOLLOW

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