Shalom KJ - Purim 2024

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Spring issue • Adar & Nissan Volume XCV, Issue No 4 March & April 2024 2 articles 10 KJYD 14 PURIM 20 Classes/events 24 community 28 Zmanim contents

Purim and Pacifism, God and Goodness

I wrote this article last year, but sadly, it is now more relevant than ever. At the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1946, Julius Streicher was sentenced to death for Crimes Against Humanity. The editor of the Nazi newspaper, Der Sturmer, Streicher’s constant incitement against the Jews helped whip Germany into a genocidal frenzy. A Nazi until his last breath, Streicher entered the death chamber in a fury, loudly shouting “Heil Hitler.”

According to the Associated Press report, in his final moments “Streicher was swung around to face the witnesses. With burning hatred in his eyes, he looked down at them and shouted: “Purimfest 1946.”

It might seem odd that a Nazi war criminal would mention Purim in his last words, but this was not an isolated outburst. The Nazis were obsessed with Purim. In a speech right after Kristallnacht, Streicher spoke to the crowd about how “in one night, the Jews butchered 75,000 Persians,” and that if the Jews “defeat” Germany, they “will institute a new Purim festival.” On other occasions, Streicher claimed that the Damascus Blood Libel was a “Purimmorde,” in which Jews murdered non-Jews to use their blood on Purim. Hitler, in a 1944 speech, said that if Germany loses the war, the Jews of Europe would make a “second triumphant Purim” to “celebrate the destruction of Europe.” Jewish power looms large in the paranoid mindset of anti-Semitism, and the Purim story of the Jews killing their enemies alarms the enemies of the Jews.

One would expect anti-Semites to hate Purim. The Book of Esther tells how the Jews defended themselves, and refused to oblige anti-Semites by disappearing. But there are idealists who are deeply uncomfortable with Purim, and see it as a holiday that romanticizes the killing of 75,000 people. Elliott Horowitz, in his book Reckless Rites, cites multiple scholars and authors in the 19th and early 20th century that found fault with the violence displayed in Megillat Esther The influential Bible scholar Samuel Rolles Driver wrote that "much fault has been found with the temper displayed in the Book of Esther... (which

can be) said to breathe a spirit of vengeance and hatred without any redeeming feature." The noted rabbinic scholar Claude Goldsmid Montefiore wrote that Purim “lacks an inward and essential religious justification… (and it) is surely a doubtful propriety to give public thanks to God for a triumph... that is yet not lifted up out of the religion of crude vengeance...” The wellknown American literary figure Mary Ellen Chase expressed her distaste for “the atmosphere of hatred and lust for blood which runs throughout” the Book of Esther. These authors would prefer a different holiday with different heroes, focused on love instead of war, inspiration instead of intrigue. Even the Talmud says that some of the Sanhedrin criticized Mordechai for his political aspirations. These critics see the realpolitik of the Book of Esther as too vulgar for religious tastes; violence has no place in the house of the Lord.

Pacifism makes good religious sense. Isaiah tells us that the ultimate dream is of a time when all people “shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not take up sword against nation; they shall never again know war.” To the pacifist, holiness and war are polar opposites, never to reconcile. And there were significant rabbinic figures who argued for pacifism. Aharon Shemu’el Tamares, a wellknown early 20th century Polish rabbi, wrote a sermon for Passover about the importance of non-violence. Tamares explains that “a person who focuses solely on protecting himself, and is constantly preparing to protect himself from the attacks of others, undermines his righteousness, and (actually) awakens in himself the attributes of wickedness; because he imagines only frightening thoughts, that other people want to swallow him up, and therefore he can depend only on his own power... and this means that he denies the sovereignty of truth and justice, and instead elevates to the throne the power of his own fist.” Tamares further expounds that for this reason the Jews were told to remain indoors during the plague of the firstborn; God may be punishing the Egyptians, but the Jews had to stay away from any act of revenge and war. To Tamares, pacifism is obvious, an answer that comes innocently from the heart, without the twisted logic of politics and politicians. The proper path in life is for one to avoid bloodshed at all costs

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Pacifism is morally seductive, but it is wrong; human goodness is not identical with angelic innocence. The Torah doesn’t expect us to transcend life; instead, it demands that we grapple directly with evil. Rav Chaim of Volozhin explains that the central commandment of Judaism, Torah study, is not about an otherworldly experience of the divine; it is rather an attempt to bring God into the mundane world to help refine human life. Rav Chaim offers as an example the Talmudic passages about how a judge can assess the credibility of litigant; he focuses on what a liar might claim, and how one might perpetuate a fraud. Clearly, meditating on the mindset of mendaciousness is not a spiritually transcendent experience. But by teaching judges how to lie, the Talmud also teaches them how to do justice; studying these passages brings goodness into this world. The same is true with war. To avoid violence simply allows the forces of evil to triumph. Pacifism is impractical idealism at its worst; it insures that the evil shall inherit the earth.

Perhaps this is why God's name is not mentioned in the Book of Esther: to emphasize how one can do God's work in the ugliest, most ungodly of situations. The lesson of the Book of Esther is that the conniving maneuvers in the palace and the horrific bloodshed in battle served the cause

of goodness; without them, a genocide would have occurred, and the Jewish people would have vanished. In the human realm, what is spiritually repulsive can sometimes be morally necessary. In the Book of Esther, in a setting that is truly profane, deceit and killing are necessary to prevent a true moral outrage; God may not be visible, but goodness is.

Discussions of Jewish self-defense were theoretical for much of the last two millennia. But since 1948, they are practical questions. Even when discussing selfdefense, it is critical never to lose sight of idealism. For a student of the Torah, that goes without saying. Yet at the same time, it is important to recognize that protecting the Jewish people is an act of idealism, as well. Those who live on earth should not imagine that they inhabit the heavens.

Daniel Gordis shared an anecdote about an army presentation he attended. It was for parents of army age daughters in the religious Zionist community. Until recently, young women in this community did not serve in the army; many still don’t. The feeling is that the army requires religious compromise, and that it is best that the young women pursue national service instead.

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Perhaps this is why God's name is not mentioned in the Book of Esther: to emphasize how one can do God's work in the ugliest, most ungodly of situations.

on Shabbat.” And then, after a second’s pause, she added, “Gam ha’oyev oved beshabbat” –the enemy also works on Shabbat.

He explained that as the evening started, some of the parents were downright hostile, clearly opposed to the prospect of their daughters joining the IDF. At one point, an obviously angry father stood up, turned to the base commander and asked (or more accurately hissed), “Do you make the girls work on Shabbat?” The room was perfectly silent, for everyone knew the answer. No one moved. Even the base rabbi said nothing. He stood at the podium, leaned into the mic and, lost in thought, played with his beard.

Suddenly, one of the three soldiers who’d been brought to address the parents, a young woman with her uniform shirt buttoned up to her chin, her sleeves extending to her wrists and her army-issued skirt down to her ankles, looked the father right in the eye, and without being called on, said to him, “Of course we work

It was a game changer. “What?” she essentially asked. “You think we do this for fun? There are people out there trying to destroy us. Either we’re as serious about this conflict as they are, or they’re going to win.”

Shabbat is meant to be a taste of the world to come, a divine realm detached from the crass concerns of day-to-day life. And yet there are times when one must work on Shabbat, one must fight on Shabbat; without it the enemy might win, and without it goodness might disappear.

That is the lesson of the Book of Esther.



Reflecting on rejoicing

As we coast through the month of Adar and stand on the cusp of Purim, we are reminded of the rabbinic adage החמשב םיברמ רדא סנכנשמ - when the month of Adar enters we increase our joy (TB ta’anis 29a). We ask ourselves a basic question. How can we really be expected to increase our joy when the Jewish people is hurting so badly? When these past five months have brought such tragedy to so many bereaved families of our brothers and sisters in the land of Israel? Are we really expected to feel happy at this moment? Is that even the right thing to do?

The answer to the question, I believe, is yes and yes. We can feel happy at this moment, and we should feel happy at this moment. The explanation to this seemingly perplexing demand lies in the meaning of the term “ החמש” . We translate it as “happiness”, but what is the deeper significance of the term? Towards the end of the megillah, after Haman has been hanged and after the Jews have defeated their enemies in battle, the megillah declares: רקיו ןוששו החמשו הרוא התיה םידוהיל - and for the Jews there was light and happiness and mirth and honor (Esther 8:16). On a simple level, the Jews rejoiced in their redemption, in being freed from the shackles of fear and the very real threat of annihilation. However, our sages (TB megillah 16b) have a fascinating interpretation of this verse that adds another dimension. Rav Yehudah there states that “ הרוא” (light) refers to Torah, and ״החמש ״ (happiness) refers to yom tov. Rav Yehudah understands that the celebration in

the aftermath of the miraculous redemption of our ancestors was not merely a celebration of physical redemption. Rather, it was a celebration of the very essence of what it means to be Jewish. We rejoiced in the Torah that God gave our people, in the incredible way of life that we live, in the rich tradition that we inherit from our parents and hope to bequeath one day to our children. We rejoiced through a “ בוט םוי”, a holiday, whose very purpose is to focus on our relationship with God and to connect with our Judaism in a deeper way, freed from the distractions that typify our daily lives.

Indeed, there is no contradiction between these two feelings; the sadness we feel at the ongoing situation in Israel and the loss we have experienced on the one hand, and the inner happiness and sense of purpose that we feel as proud Jews, honored to be the bearers of this great tradition and unafraid to stand up for our values and our heritage. We dare not cower at this moment, we dare not cave in to the modern incarnation of Haman that is Hamas, we dare not forget our identity as Jews despite our living, like Queen Esther, in the “palace of the king”. And so, as we enter into the holiday of Purim, we do so with gladness and rejoicing. Not, Heaven forbid, to engage in escapism in an attempt to drink away our problems and our sadness, but rather, with true simcha, rejoicing in the knowledge that ultimately the Jewish people, and the Jewish tradition, will prevail. Am Yisrael Chai!

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A Comprehensive Guide to Commandments and Customs


The holiday of Purim celebrates the saving of the Persian Jews from the genocidal plans of Haman. Through the wisdom and grace of Mordechai and Esther and the behind-the-scenes machinations of God, certain death was replaced with victory, security, and religious freedom. Because Haman is such an obvious predecessor of Hitler and because the Purim story occurs in the Diaspora, it can resonate deeply with us. We, too, live far from Israel in an assimilated environment. Though we enjoy great privileges, we recognize that our fortunes could change in an instant under the wrong political or social conditions. We, too, must seek God’s presence in a world where (S)He is hidden.


The Fast of Esther:

Esther commanded the Jews to fast for 3 days before she appeared before the king to plead for him to cancel Haman’s plan. Luckily for us, we only fast the day before Purim. It is appropriate to have a solemn day of prayer before entering the joyous celebration of Purim. Some say we fast on that day because we had to fight a war and lives – both ours and theirs – were lost. We only celebrate the peace, not the war.

The Reading of the Megillah (Scroll of Esther): Esther and Mordechai were convinced that Purim was critically important for the future of the Jews -

“these days should be remembered and done in every generation, every family, every country and every city and that these days of Purim should never pass away from the Jews

and their memory should never cease from their children.” (Esther, Ch. 9)

They petitioned the Men of the Great Assembly to require that the story of Purim be read publicly once a year, as if it were an urgent letter sent from the capital city announcing that we were saved from certain death. In the uncertain times in which we live, it is good to remember that God has our back!

The Megillah should be heard by every Jew twice, in the evening and morning of the Purim holiday. The reading of the Megillah is considered a form of the joyous Hallel prayer (Psalms 113-117) and so Hallel is not said on Purim.

Gifts to the Poor (Matanot la-Evyonim): One of the specific directives (see Esther 9:22) made regarding Purim was to give special gifts to the poor (minimum 2 gifts to 2 poor people) so that no per-son lacked the means to have a special Purim feast. Some have a custom not to turn away any person who asks for assistance on this day. Some authorities say the mitzva is only fulfilled when the money is giv-en to the poor on the day of Purim itself, so there are special groups that collect money for distribution on Purim day. If you give charity money to any of the KJ Rabbis, we will make sure it is delivered on Purim day. [There is also a custom to give the half shekel, which was a Jewish communal tax given once a year during Temple times. Though both are used for charitable purposes, they should be given separately.]

Deliveries of Food (Mishloach Manot):

In Esther 9:22, it also mandates that Jews send prepared foods to their neighbors and friends on this day, to increase the joy and unity among Jews. The minimum requirement is to give two kinds of food (i.e. a fruit and a chocolate bar) to one person.

Purim Feast (Seudah):

Jews are known to mark special days with food, so that no spiritual joy should lack its physical counter part. Esther specifically required that Purim be a day of “feasting and drinking.”

The Purim meal should be a complete and lavish one, including bread and the Grace After Meals. It is also customary to make merry at the meal, telling jokes and performing humorous skits etc. It is also among the observances of the day to become too “drunk” to tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai (or two people dressed as them). While some people scrupulously observe this precept, others content themselves with a glass of wine and/or a short nap. While both are legitimate practices, one must surely be aware

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that excessive drinking carries other serious risks, both as far as transgressing Jewish law and one’s personal welfare.


Reciting a Prayer of Thanks (“al ha-Nisim”): We insert a special prayer of Thanksgiving in the Amida (Silent Devotion) and in the Grace after Meals on Purim day. This prayer summarizes the Purim story and thanks God for allowing Haman’s plans to be thwarted.


It is customary to dress up on Purim, because of the theme of “v’nahafoch hu,” that everything was turned upside down on Purim. The Jews were going to be destroyed, but in the end, they were saved. It was going to be a day of mourning and death, but it was flipped into a joyous celebration.

In addition, God’s role is a hidden one in the story of Purim. Though God is clearly in control, His/Her presence is never clearly felt. God is, so to speak, in disguise, using Esther and Mordechai as representatives to channel divine benevolence to the Jews.

In other words, by dressing up, we affirm that God is sometimes hidden in our lives, but that just as we can see behind the costume if we try, we can also see the hidden face of God.

Purim Torah/Purim Spiel:

The humor and lightheartedness of Purim is found in intellectual ways as well. Many have the custom on Purim of creating elaborate Purim spiels, sing-ing funny songs, and poking (harmless) fun. Among some, this resembles Saturday Night Live or stand- up comedy with a Jewish twist, but among the Ye-shiva crowd, the humor is often more high-brow. There have even been several ersatz Talmudic trac-tates published – such as Masechet Bubbe Ma’aseh (“the Tractate of stories your grandmother told you”) – which look and sound just like regular Talmud, but are much funnier.

“For the Jews there was light and joy and happiness and glory” (Esther 8:16)


When Purim falls on a Saturday night, there are several important adjustments to bear in mind:

• The Fast of Esther is scheduled for Thursday, March 21st, as fast days never coincide with Erev Shabbat.

• Following Shabbat, it is advised to recite Baruch HaMavdil Ben Kodesh Lechol before using any technology.

• Havdalah will be recited at the conclusion of Maariv after the Megillah reading.

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Israeli soldiers band headlines kj annual dinner on feb 24

Not only do they put themselves on the front lines in defense of our beloved homeland, but they also have the musical chops to get their audience jumping out of their seats to dance to Jewish and Israeli favorites. The Israeli Soldiers Band recalled instances of heroism and comrades who fell in battle and interspersed these inspirational stories with songs appropriate to the stories and videos that were shown to heighten the message of the music at this year’s Annual KJ Dinner Concert.

The spirit of Chazakim b’Yachad was apparent all Shabbatfrom Kabbalat Shabbat and morning services, when the band members joined Cantor Chaim Dovid Berson in uplifting tefillah to the stage sets to the band in concert on motzei Shabbat. The electricity in the room was palpable that night as emotions swung from sadness to joy depending on the nature of the songs that were being preformed.

Following the meaningful program, the band then joined the audience in a transformed gymnasium for a delicious dairy repast from Foremost Caterers featuring mac and cheese, eggplant parmigiana, sushi, and salmon as well as a wonderful dessert bar. The whole evening was a muchneeded departure from the anxiety and concern that have been front and center in our lives since October 7. For a few moments, despite our current troubles, we were able to immerse ourselves in the music and feel the pulse of a living and joyous nation. Am Yisrael Chai.




• Scheduling a one on one Dvar Torah writing session with Ruthie. Torah comes with candy!

• Sharing an idea for the next Simon Clay comic

םינוכדע הרות רבד


Faith Is A Relationship

When I think of Purim, I think of when the Jews found out that Haman wanted to kill them but they won against him. Purim has a message about good and evil: good wins.

We know that good wins because Esther told Achashverosh that Haman was trying to hurt the Jews — and she said, I’m Jewish — and Achashverosh fired and executed Haman.

Hamas is in Israel right now, came into people’s houses, and hurt and kidnapped them. We need this message with what’s happening in Israel because we need to remember that evil never wins. We read in Tehillim that “though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever.” Even if it right now looks like Hamas is getting stronger, we can — and we will — win. We’re going to have a lot of happiness when we win the war against them, just like the happiness we feel on Purim. Our sadness will be transformed to happiness, like in Megillat Esther, when this time was “transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy.”

This is a message about faith, too. We have to have faith in Israel and have faith that good will not lose. Esther didn't just give up — she had faith and she prayed; she spoke up and talked to Achashverosh.

That’s what we need to do to win the war: right when it seems the absolute darkest, we can find a way to make it bright. We can make this time bright not just for us, but for

There is a quote from Rabbi Nachman of Breslov that “the whole wide world is a very narrow bridge, and the main thing is not to be afraid.” It’s important that we believe we are going to get across this bridge, and that we can only get across it with faith in Hashem. Hamas doesn’t have that faith, so at one point they’re going to lose and fall off that bridge.

The Jewish people have faith in Hashem and they have always succeeded. The Purim story isn’t the only time they were threatened by other nations and won. If people say lashon hara about the Jewish people and have faith they will win against the Jews and the Jewish God, they won’t succeed — that’s a different kind of faith, but it’s also faith: evil faith.

The Jewish people have faith in God and have faith in good. We have faith in what we believe, we pray, we give tzedakah, we don’t say lashon hara — and God saves us. If we are saying lashon hara, stealing stuff, breaking the ten commandments, and giving up on God — then someday, when we need God to help us, He won’t. We need to believe in Him.

Faith is a relationship. Let’s say you’re playing a basketball game and someone on your team isn’t doing well even though they usually do well. If you say “I have faith that you can do it” it gives them more confidence and it’s a big help and may even help you win. If you scream at your teammate “you’re so bad at this!” they’re not going to do well. We have to continue to say to Hashem, please help me. If we’re losing, we need to pray.

We need to continue to have faith in God and hope that everyone has a good, happy Purim. I have faith that the hostages will be freed by then!

Purim With Simon Clay

To be featured in next month’s Adventures of Simon Clay, or to share an idea for the next comic, email!

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Purim Maze

Purim Megillah Readers:

A very special thank you to our Megillah Readers!

Isaac Fishman

Andrew Gage

Aryeh Goldstein

Elijah Goldstein

Liam Gomberg

Charles Gribetz

Eitan Kraus

Berel Landerer

Lyon Levin

Michael Massel

Gabriel Mittler

Jonah Pike

Jeremy Propp

Jack Strauss

Alex Sultan

Jacob Yashar

Shoshy Ciment

Caroline Efron

Micole Friedman

Charlotte Farber

Juliette Kashanian

Sara Kleinhaus

Kira Kraus

Karen Lerman

Leora Mogilner

Andrea Schwartz

Sophie Slonim

Tzipi Slonim

Maya Yashar

Ayla Zwillinger


SCHOLAR-INRESIDENCE With Rabbi Dr. Jeremy Wieder



Featuring Rabbi Dr. Jeremy Wieder, Rosh Yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University and KJ Scholar in Residence. He will speak 3 times over Shabbat: At 9:00 am Main Sanctuary services, at a Pre-Mincha shiur, and at Seudah Shlishit. Join us in welcoming the 21st century voice of Modern Orthodoxy.

20 classes & events

KJ Sisterhood Book Club

MONDAY / MARCH 18 / 7:00 PM

Meet author Francine Klagsburn, who will discuss her books “Henrietta Szold - Hadassah & The Zionist Dream” and “Lioness - Gold Meir and the Nation of Israel. Hosted at the home of Bonnie Silvera. Light Refreshments to be served. Address to be provided upon RSVP & Zoom option available.


Co-Chairs - Nicole Fisher, Lorraine Gold.

Francine Klagsburn was born in Brooklyn in 1931. She is the author of more than a dozen books and countless articles in national publications, and a regular columnist in two Jewish publications. She has succeeded in making an impact on both American and American Jewish culture.



Bret Stephens, New York Times op-ed columnist, will share his thoughts on the war in Israel, the future of the Jewish state, and rising Antisemitism around the world. Learn about UJA’s work in response to these major challenges and how we’re securing Jewish institutions, empowering college students to stand up to hate, and promoting pro-Israel and pro-Jewish voices in traditional and social media.


Location 125 East 85th Street


Men's kiddush club discussion

All are welcome (Men and Women) to the Men's Club Kiddush Discussion which sponsers various cultural speakers

Annual Synagogue Shabbaton

Shabbat / Following Kiddush

Barry & Barbara Rosen

Barry Rosen is an American former diplomat who was held hostage with 51 other people, during the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis. Rosen was the press attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when it was seized by militants on November 4, 1979. He was held for 444 days, until the hostages' release on January 20, 1981.


Stay tuned for more information on upcoming events and speakers!

SHABBAT HAGADOL / APR. 20 “No Cooking Before Pesach”

Featuring David Schizer, Dean Emeritus and Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law & Economics at Columbia Law School

6:45 PM: Evening Services followed by Friday Night Dinner

RSVP REQUIRED (form live March 23)

9:00 PM: Post Dinner Lecture "Campus Antisemitism and Other Challenges at Nonprofits” (All are welcome to attend.)


Location 125 East 85th Street

Sponsored by Suzanne and Dr. Norman B. Javitt


Guest choral prefomance by the Harvard acapella group, Apichorus

Weekly Classes


Dr. William Major Memorial

Advanced Shiur in Talmud

Continuing our study of Masekhet Brachot with its classical commentaries.

Exploring Jewish Thought

What is the foundation of ethics?

How did Orthodox Jews understand the Holocaust? Dive deeply into questions of Jewish philosophy and wrestle with challenging ideas. Appropriate for intellectually curious students of any background. Translated texts provided.

Reading the Prophets:

The Book of Samuel

Read Sefer Shmuel closely and explore the literary and philosophical aspects of this book.

Back to Basics - Understand Prayer

Take a deep dive into the amida.

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch

A classic, concise work of halacha that covers the complete spectrum of Jewish law. The class is a text based class and open to all.

The Weekly Parsha Class

A textual analysis of the parasha with the help of classical commentaries and modern Biblical exegesis.

Beginners Hebrew

For those who want to start building a foundation in Hebrew to help them read Jewish Prayer.

Intermediate Hebrew

This popular class enables those with no previous background in Hebrew to learn to read Hebrew in just a short time.

Advanced Hebrew

Designed for those with some ability to read Hebrew, students practice reading skills using the siddur and other Jewish texts.

Meaningful Jewish Living

A comprehensive year-long course covering major themes in Jewish law, practice and thought. Explore how a 5,000 year old religion is more relevant today than ever before.

23 classes & events
Wednesdays @ 12 PM Lunch & Learn for Seniors

Bnei Mitzvah


Genevieve Werthenschlag

Mazal Tov to Maeira and Michel Werthenschlag upon the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Genevieve, which took place on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Adar Aleph, February 10. Genevieve led a Women's Tefillah in the Ramaz Upper School during Mincha, read Parshat Terumah and delivered a Dvar Torah after the service. Genevieve is a sixth-grade student at the Ramaz Middle School. Mazal Tov as well to delighted KJ grandparents Cheryl and Fred Halpern.

R yan Connor Ausubel

Mazal Tov to Nicole and Tzvi Ausubel, upon the Bar Mitzvah of their son, Ryan, at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on Thursday morning, March 14, at which time he will read Parashat Pikudei. Ryan is a seventh-grade student at the Ramaz Middle School.

Jacob Hirschfeld

Mazal Tov to Sarah and Elie Hirschfeld upon the Bar Mitzvah of their son, Jacob, on March 23, at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun at which time he will read Parashat Vayikra and deliver a D’var Torah entitled “The Leadership of Two Kings.” Jacob is a seventh-grade student at the Ramaz Middle School..

R afaela Kushner

Mazal Tov to Kim and Jonathan Kushner upon the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Rafaela, in Manhattan, on March 28, at which time she will deliver a D’var Torah entitled “A Celebration of the Jewish Woman.” Rafi has curated a gallery of 12 influential Jewish women, biblical and modern, that she is exhibiting, to dovetail with her talk. She is a sixth-grade student at the Ramaz Middle School. Mazal Tov as well to delighted KJ grandparents Lee and Murray Kushner.

Elliot Cohen

Mazal Tov to Lisa and Richard Cohen upon the Bar Mitzvah of their son, Elliot, in Jerusalem, on the first day of Chol haMoed Passover, at which time he will read the Torah portion and participate in the tefillah. Elliot is a seventh-grade student at the Ramaz Middle School.

24 community

Within Our Family

Mazal Tov to –


Stephanie and Dr. Craig Basman upon the birth of a son, William Maxwell (Aharon Menachem).

Deborah & Barry Berg and Beth & Abe Rosenberg upon the birth of a grandson, Charlie Jack (David Yisrael). Mazal Tov, as well, to the overjoyed great grandmother, Lili Goldberg.

Evan and Dr. Bruce Charash and Daveda & Matthew Lipman upon the birth of their third grandson, born to their daughter Dalia Lipman Feder (Ramaz 2002) & Gary Feder.

Mindy and Dr. Jay Cinnamon upon the birth of a grandson, Adam Emanuel, born to their children, Ariella Pultman and Michael Cinnamon. Mazal Tov as well to delighted KJ great grandparents Audrey and Rabbi Haskel Lookstein.

Lindy and Josh Dembowitz upon the birth of a son, Morris Seth (Moshe Shmuel).

Alexandra & Jack Gindi upon the birth of a baby boy, David Jack (David Yaakov). Mazal Tov to the proud grandparents, Judy & past KJ Board President David Lobel and Sharon & Elie Gindi.

Michele and Ronald Jaspan upon the birth of a grandson, Gavriel Nachum, born to Nava and Danny Jaspan.

Judy and Dr. Hirshel Kahn upon the birth of a grandson, Oscar (Ozzy) Zion (Yehudah Tzion), the first child born to their children, Nathalie and Jordyn Schoenfeld.

Lana and Benjamin Kantowitz upon the birth of a son, Jacob Efrem (Efraim Yaakov).

KJ’s former Israel Bond representative, Robert & Pam Lunzer, upon the birth of their fourth grandchild, a son born to their children Rena & Eliyahu Kitay.

Abigail and David Peyser upon the birth of their first child and son, Paul Jack (Pinchas).

Lauren & Mitchell Presser upon the birth of a grandson, Marcos Gilad (Gilad Mordechai), born to their children, Talya & Ilan Portnoy.

Shterni and Rabbi Motti Seligson upon the birth of their first child and son, Avraham Abba.

Ashley and Dr. David Rapaport upon the birth of a daughter, Eunice Lea Odelya Rapaport. Mazal Tov to KJ grandparents, Robin Davenport and Steven Davenport.

Debbie & Daniel Schwartz and Nicole & Raanan Agus upon the birth of a grandson, Saul “Solly” Gerald, (Shaul Gershon) born to their children, Elianna & Alex Agus, their first child and son. Mazal Tov, as well, to the overjoyed great grandparents, Gabriella Major, Faygie & Phil Schwartz, Renee & Avie Schreiber and Marcelle Agus.

Dr. Meg Rosenblatt and David Stein upon the birth of their first grandchild, Ezra Matan, born to their children Natalie Stein and Isaac Benjamin.

May these children grow up in the finest tradition of Torah, chupah, & maasim tovim.

Bnei Mitzvah

Sandy & Dr. Robert April upon the Bar Mitzvah of their grandson, Andrew Lauchheimer, son of Pamela & Aaron Lauchheimer of Scarsdale.

Terry and Michael Jaspan upon the Bat Mitzvah of their granddaughter, Naava Jaspan, daughter of Hila and Steven (Ramaz 1997) Jaspan on December 24, 2023.

Terry & Michael Jaspan upon the Bar Mitzvah of their grandson, Aaron Jaspan, son of Joseph (Ramaz 2001) and Arielle (Ramaz 2001) Jaspan on January 6, 2024.

Alan Tuchman & Shera Aranoff Tuchman and Pat & Neil Koslowe upon the Bar Mitzvah of their grandson, William Calev, son of Micole Tuchman (Ramaz ’97) and Oren Koslowe. The Bar Mitzvah will take place in Jerusalem.


Marilyn and Greg Adler upon the engagement of their son, Mark, to Allison Lax, daughter of Orly & Robert Lax of New York City.

Faith and Andrew Charles upon the engagement of their son, Benjamin, to Haley Moritz, daughter of Melissa and Steven Moritz of Los Angeles, California.

Miriam and Eric Feldstein upon the engagement of their son, Max, to Maia Cotton of New Zealand.

Debra and Barry Frohlinger upon the engagement of their son, Josh, to Emily Weisbrot, daughter of Bev and Josh Weisbrot of Scarsdale.

Dr. Even Lieberman, son of Dr. Andrea Thau and John Lieberman, upon his engagement to Dr. Miriam Klar, daughter of Dr. Yaffa and Naftali Klar of Bergenfield, NJ.

Esther and Marc Sholes upon the engagement of their daughter, Hanna, to Jonathan Haims, son of Tobi and Joel Haims.

May their weddings take place in happiness and blessing.


Rosie and Dr. Mark Friedman upon the marriage of their granddaughter, Eleora P. Fine, to Matthew Ganchrow, son of Banji and Ari Ganchrow of Teaneck.

Sue and Dr. Norman Javitt upon the wedding of their granddaughter, Anna Rose Osofsky, daughter of Gail Javitt (Ramaz '86) and Samuel Osofsky of Silver Spring, MD, to Raphael Hallerman, son of Dr. Elizabeth Hallerman and David Hallerman of Milwaukee, WI.

May the newlywed couples be blessed to


Congregation Kehilath

Jeshurun warmly welcomes the following new members who joined the Congregation between the printing of the last Bulletin and this Bulletin:

Cindy Askowitz

Sarah Bley

Edan Elias

Dr. Ira Haimowitz

Jennifer and Yale Isaacs

Johanna Chetrit

Moghaddam and Arash Moghaddam

Nina and Benjamin Rapaport

Limor and Joshua Senker

Lexie and Joseph Tuchman

Emily and Michael Zaken

build homes faithful to the traditions of the Jewish people.


Congratulations to: Jacob Bergfeld (Ramaz ’13), son of KJ Members Alison & Sylvain Bergfeld, who just returned from four months of IDF reserve service. We are grateful that he has come home safely.

Jamie Lassner’s “Accessibility Accelerator” charity upon winning a Bronze Medal in 2 different categories of non-profit leadership and collaboration at the 2024 Anthem Awards, recognizing their sui generis work saving the lives of people with disabilities while supporting Israelis and Ukrainians in the midst of their respective humanitarian crises. The competition vetted more than 2,000 entries from over 30 countries. Their Purple Vest Mission (arranged through “Access Israel,” their Israel-based collaborative partner), was hailed as instrumental in providing accessible evacuations, information, and humanitarian aid. Jamie’s primary mission is hastening society’s embrace of individuals with disabilities by accelerating the pace of access-enhancing improvements such as ramps, elevators and hands-free interfaces. To support their good work, click here

academic achievementS

Drs. Rachel and Craig Title upon their son, Benjamin (Ramaz ‘27) making it to the American Invitational Examination (AIME). Best of luck as he takes the next set of exams.

25 community

In Memoriam

Irma Clark

Irma Clark, together with her beloved husband, James, who passed away twenty years ago, had been members of KJ for almost fifty years. The mother of three beautiful daughters, Susan, Terry, and Shelly, whom she raised in KJ and who lovingly recalled sitting with her in the first row of the front section of the ladies balcony. She herself was a regular worshipper in her place.

A radiant lady who had an ever-present smile on her face, Irma was extremely active in many facets of congregational life, especially the Sisterhood. She continued that kind of activity into her 90s in South Florida where she was a cherished friend and a favorite presence for her many admirers. Always a generous contributor to the congregation and its affiliates, Irma was a wonderful example of an involved, creative and enthusiastic member of the Jewish community.

William Etra

Dr. Etra, together with his late wife Rene, was a member of KJ for well over forty years. He sat in the family pew, proudly, and happily, together with his brothers, Lionel and Richard. His son, Ian, is an alumnus of Ramaz with many friends from his school days.

William Etra was an outstanding urologist and surgeon whose patients adored him because he was not only an expert diagnostician and medical practitioner, but also an extremely caring and loving physician. He was also a devoted son to his extraordinary mother, Reba Etra, now in her 107th year. He was a proud member of one of the most active and involved families in the history of our congregation.

Hedwig Heller

She came to KJ with her unforgettable husband, Joseph, late in life. She actually had a relationship with us many years ago when she sent her daughter, Diana Friedman, one of the most active members in the KJ and Ramaz communities, to Ramaz for high school. This began a long relationship which included having Diana’s and Robert’s three children, Michael, Rachel and Rebecca as Ramaz alumni, and now,

Michael’s children as students in Ramaz.

Hedwig Heller was a survivor of the Holocaust. A deeply religious woman, with a very positive attitude toward life, her positivity was reflected by the brilliant smile that always lit up her face. She was gracious, generous and loving - a remarkable Jewish lady.

Judith Rudoff

We were privileged to have Judith Rudoff as a member of KJ, and a regular worshipper in our shul, for over twentyfive years. She moved here after the passing of her beloved husband, Stanley. Judith was an exceptionally religious woman who raised her five children as committed, observant Jews and lovers of Israel. All of them are graduates of Yeshivot, and her many grandchildren and great grandchildren are alumni of Yeshivot or students in Yeshivot, here and in Israel.

In a visit to Judith Rudoff in the hospital, in September of 2017, Rabbi Lookstein found her very depressed by a fall which necessitated a hip replacement. She told him she was very angry at God for what He did to her. This woman, who davened every single day of her life, could no longer daven. Rabbi Lookstein told her that she should push herself to daven even if she didn’t believe in it. She should daven as if she believed in it and slowly, but surely, she would begin to believe again.

In a subsequent visit to her home, Rabbi Lookstein found her still having a very hard time davening. She said that she remembered the advice to daven as if she believed and she was trying to do that, but it wasn’t easy. What a woman! Even in her most trying moments, her fundamental, religious nature came forth.

She was very upset with what she was putting her children through in her care. And yet, she said to Rabbi Lookstein that she felt that God gave her a mission in life, and it was to raise five children in the right way: morally, ethically and religiously and she said she thought she fulfilled the mission. “They are all wonderful children and they married wonderful children-inlaw. I am truly blessed.”

These are the words of a woman who thought she didn’t believe in God. If we all had such non-belief, we and our world would be so much better.


Nicole Gruenstein upon the passing of her mother, Leda C. Goldsmith.

Warren Teichner upon the passing of his mother, Judy Teichner.

May they be comforted among all those who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem.

Chevra Kadisha

Join a dedicated group of men and women performing the sacred mitzvah of preparing the recently deceased for proper, dignigied burial in accordance with Jewish Tradition and law. Contact Riva Alper for the women’s Chevra Kadisha at and contact Isaac Pollak for the men’s Chevra Kadisha at isaac@

Synagogue Memorial Plaques

Visit to order plaques for deceased loved ones (or to reserve for yourself after 120 years of health and blessing).

26 community

Community Resources

Yoetzet Halakhah

Ellin Cooper serves as the KJ Yoetzet Halakhah. This position of great responsibility falls to a woman with recognized expertise in the field of Taharat Hamishpacha and women's health issues who can advise women on topics such as niddah, fertility problems, and sex education for teens. Contact Ellin at 646-598-1080 or

Community Mikvehs

The Jacques and Hanna Schwalbe Mikveh: 419 East 77th Street (1st & York Ave); 212-359-2020

The Rennert Mikvah at 5th Ave Synagogue: 5 East 62nd Street (Fifth Avenue); 212-753-6058

The West Side Mikvah: 234 West 74th Street (Broadway and West End Avenue); 212-579-2011

Bikur Cholim

For over 35 years, a dedicated group of KJ members have been visiting patients at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital. For more information, contact Volunteer Coordinator Karen Lerman at

Judaica Shop

Judaica Classics by Doina is at 1248 Lexington Avenue, between 84th and 85th Streets. The store has a great selection of Judaica for all gift and holiday needs, including exquisite silver, embroidery, ceramics and all manner of artistic expression.

Business hours: Sunday 10 am–5 pm, Monday-Thursday 10 am–6 pm, Friday 10 am–2 pm, and by appointment. Call Doina Bryskin at 212-722-4271 or email

Manhattan Eruv

The Manhattan Eruv includes an expanding number of neighborhoods in the city. Please call the hotline to check on the weekly status of the Eruv at 212-874-6100 x 452.

JYC - The Hebrew School with HEART

The Jewish Youth Connection (JYC) is the Sunday morning Hebrew school founded by KJ members Susan and Scott Shay with the goal of providing a meaningful Jewish education to unaffiliated families. A total reinvention of the Hebrew School experience, its focus is to help foster a quality connection to Judaism for students and families alike.

No synagogue membership is required to attend JYC or participate in any of the school programming, and JYC families are invited to take advantage of congregational offerings. Visit jyc. info to learn more.

KJ Caring Initiative

At KJ you are not alone. Homebound? Isolated? Ailing? Our helpful volunteers are available to visit, call, and give emotional support. All interactions are strictly confidential. If you know someone who might benefit from our attention, or if you would like to be called, please contact Leah Modlin at 212-722-6575 or leahm23@gmail. com


The Upper East Side Division volunteers volunteer EMTs and provides immediate response and the highest quality emergency medical and life-saving services to our community, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 212-410-9796 for information. For emergencies, dial 212-230-1000.

Shabbat Hospitality

Let’s build a warm and welcoming KJ community! Are you new to the community? Do you still feel like you’re new to the community or not sufficiently connected? If you’re interested in meeting new people, hosting members, or being hosted, please contact


Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Dorot has distinguished itself as a bastion of support for the frail elderly. We encourage our community to participate in their many volunteer initiatives–both holiday related and year-round–that forge bonds between the generations. See for volunteer opportunities.

Mitzvah Toy Campaign

This heartfelt program encourages children from Nursery School through Grade 8 to donate one or more of their birthday presents to children in need. For information contact volunteer coordinator Joanna Kleinhaus at

W Connection

A grassroots organization created to meet the needs of widows. To learn more about the KJ/Ramaz chapter, contact 212-879-4783 or Gabriella Major at

Career Network

The KJ/Ramaz Career Network endeavors to help members find jobs, or fill a vacancy with a qualified shul member. Contact Larry Kassman at


UJA @ KJ is a partnership between KJ members and UJA-Federation of New York that facilitates KJ Members receiving unique opportunities to utilize the resources of UJA-Federation. With an assortment of causes and agencies in need of our support, UJA @ KJ enables KJ Members to become involved in and exposed to the important work of UJA-Federation in New York, Israel and around the world. For more information or to register, contact Atara Burian at 212-836-1267.

KJ Food Pantry

One of the few kosher food pantries in Manhattan, it provides weekly (every Monday) staples as well as fresh fruit and vegetables to those in need in our community. For more information or to volunteer, contact Bernice Kahn at

Cemetery Plots on Paramus, NJ

KJ Grounds

To purchase burial plots at Beth El cemetery in NJ, visit If you would like to speak with someone about this opportunity, please contact Sy Yanofsky in the synagogue office at 212-774-5620 or


DAtes to remember

Thursday, March 21st

Ta’anit Esther

6:50 AM Morning Services

7:00 AM Sephard Morning Services

6:40 PM Evening Services

7:40 PM Fast ends

Sat night, Sun, March 23 - 24


(See Schedule on Page 15)

Tuesday, April 9th

Rosh Chodech Nisan 7:00 AM Morning Services

Monday, April 22nd

Erev Pesach Siyum Bechorot

7:00 AM Friday Morning Services

April 23 - 30



Mar 31 - April 4 6:45 PM

April 7 - April 11 6:45 PM

April 14 - April 18 6:45 PM

April 21 6:45 PM

Creative Direction by Esther Feierman, Custom Art & Graphics by Rebecca Silverman

Read online at

Date Weekly Candle Friday Shabbat Shabbat Parasha Lighting Mincha Mincha Ends March 22-23 Zachor/ Vayikra 6:52 pm 6:45 pm 6:30 pm 7:49 pm March 29-30 Parah/ Tzav 7:00 pm 6:45 pm 6:50 pm 7:56 pm April 5-6 Parshat Hachodesh Shimini 7:07 pm 6:45 pm 7:00 pm 8:04 pm April 12-13 Tazria 7:14 pm 6:45 pm 7:05 pm 8:12 pm April 19-20 Shabbat Hagadol / Metzora 7:22 pm 6:45 pm 6:40 pm 8:20 pm April 26- 27 Shabbat Chol Hamoed 7:29 pm 6:45 pm 7:20 pm 8:28 pm May 3-4 Shabbat Mevarchim / Achrei Mot 7:36 pm 6:45 pm 7:30 pm 8:36 pm May 10-11 Kedoshim 7:44 pm 6:45 pm 7:35 pm 8:44 pm May 17-18 Emor 7:50 pm 6:45 pm 7:40 pm 8:52 pm May 24-25 Bahar 7:57 pm 6:45 pm 7:50 pm 8:59 pm May 31-Jun 1 Bachukotai 8:02 pm 6:45 pm 7:55 pm 9:05 pm DAILY EVENING SERVICES
May 1 - 2 6:45 PM May 5 - 9 6:45 PM May 12 - 16 6:45 PM May 19 - 23 6:45 PM May 26 - 30 6:45 PM
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