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Shofar Sivan/Tammuz 5771

Jewish Family Congregation

July 2011

From the Rabbi’s Desk As you may know, a small group of JFC people have been gathering to watch some New DVDs about the Holocaust. So far, we have seen the footage about the creation and evolution of Auschwitz, from a facility for political prisoners into an extermination camp primarily for Jews. The DVDs feature actual film taken by the Nazis themselves, and some re-enactments of meetings and other occasions ,the dialogue taken directly from diaries and other records kept by the Nazis. They also include interviews with Jewish survivors and some men who served in the Nazi army; these latter seem unrepentant about their part in the Holocaust, which is stunning, all these years later. At the same time, I recently read The Invisible Bridge, a novel by Julie Orringer, set in Hungary before and during the Holocaust. This book vividly exposes the way the war and the Holocaust upended people’s lives, and it also shows without flinching the horrors of starvation, disease and torment that the Nazis imposed on their victims. But it is also and foremost a love story, a story of determination and devotion; if you have not read it, I highly recommend this book. Some months ago, I began an enormous volume called Lethal Obsession, a history of anti-Semitism from antiquity to today, written by Robert Wistrich, who is the living authority on this subject. The history is fascinating, but the portrait he paints of contemporary anti-Semitism is quite frightening. There is clearly a resurgence of acceptability of anti-Semitism all over the world, these days. You just have to follow the news to hear about academic boycotts of Israeli scholars, to hear about the outrage expressed From the Rabbi’s Desk Service Schedule July’s Oneg Hosts President’s Message Confirmands’ Speeches Answer that “Voice”! Kids Ask the Rabbi Donations to JFC JFCAdults Early Childhood Center

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when Israel recently defended its borders against Palestinian and other Arab demonstrators, to hear the subtle innuendo in the comments about certain Jewish public figures when they self-destruct. The antiIsrael rhetoric often seems to be a mask for antiSemitism, which may not yet be ok in all venues. It’s out there, all right. But we who live in northern Westchester can grow complacent and comfortable, because all of these things seem to be emerging at some remove from us. Then there is an incident involving high school students and the painting of swastikas on the home of a Jewish family in our community. Now, I don’t know all the details involved in this occurrence, and I have no interest in dredging it up again. What interests me in this is the swastika symbol used as a means of communication. While it is true that the swastika is an ancient symbol, it is also true that the Nazis took it for their own, and invested it with ideas and implications that override any other significance it may have had. When we see a swastika, we immediately connect it to the Nazis, to the Nazi policy of genocide, to the death of six million Jews. And Jews are not the only ones who react to the swastika that way. So when some teenagers raised in our area, educated in our schools, choose to deface someone’s property with swastikas, it should give us pause. The swastika is a symbol of hatred, of rage, of power. There is nothing benign about it. I cannot think of any other symbol that conjures up so much pain, humiliation, or terror. So I wonder why that was the symbol the alleged

Yahrzeit/Annivs/Birthdays The Religious School Social Action Committee JiFTY Ask the Rabbi 4’s Moving-Up Ceremony Summer Fun form Donations Form JFC Calendar

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Page 2 Jewish Family Congregation 111 Smith Ridge Road P.O. Box 249 South Salem, NY 10590 Phone: (914) 763-3028 Fax: (914) 763-3069 e-mail:

Rabbi Carla Freedman Cantor Kerry Ben-David School Director Leslie Gottlieb Early Childhood Center Director Jane Emmer Temple Administrator Jolie Levy Board Of Trustees* Richard Mishkin, Co-President 914-764-8305; Jeanette Sanders, Co-President 914-763-0311; Mark Lavin, Vice President; Polly Schnell, Vice President; Bill Pink, Secretary; Andrew Serby, Treasurer; Carrie Kane David Marceau Beth Tessler Debra Verbeke Elisa Zuckerberg and Johanna Perlman, Past President *Newly elected board and officers will be installed at the July 7th Board Meeting.

Shofar Editor Jolie Levy Shofar Printer EnterMarket

Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

July 2011

SERVICE SCHEDULE JULY Friday, July 1/ Sivan 30

7:30 pm

Parshat Hukat Laurence Furic chants Torah

Friday, July 8/ Tammuz 7

7:30 pm

Parshat Balak

Friday, July 15/ Tammuz 14

7:30 pm

Parshat Pinkhas

Friday, July 22/ Tammuz 21

6:30 pm 7:30 pm

SITGO*** …bring your own picnic musical service

7:30 pm

Parshat Mas’ay

Friday, July 29/ Tammuz 28

***Shabbat In The Great Outdoors:

bring your own picnic dinner, blanket/ chairs to sit on, and bug spray. JFC will provide candles, wine and challah. Following dinner, we’ll have an entirely musical service, and then we’ll go indoors for the Oneg Shabbat. PLEASE NOTE: JFC OB OBSERVES SERVES TORAH TORAH--KASHRUT KASHRUT,, SO PLEASE: NO PORK, NO SHELLFISH, AND NO MEAT MEAT--AND AND--MILK COMBOS, EVEN OUTDOORS OUTDOORS!! THANKS!

JULY ONEG HOSTS July 1 Brian Besterman & Alison Ganis Christopher & Barbara Boies BOARD HOST: Debra Verbeke (914) 763-0016 July 8 Robert Bolgar Kevin Brand BOARD HOST: Richard Mishkin (914) 764-8305 July 15 Peter & Liza Breslin Dan & Alison Brodoff BOARD HOST: Bill Pink (914) 763-4684

Please find a substitute if you cannot host your assigned Oneg.

July 22 - SITGO TBA Jonathan & Lisa Buchman Kenneth & Cindy Carson BOARD HOST: Bill Pink (914) 763-4684 July 29 Richard & Jennifer Carter Jeffrey Berg & Debra Paget BOARD HOST: Bill Pink (914) 763-4684

Please contact the JFC Office with the names of the new hosts.

Please contact your Board Host if you have any questions.


Sivan/Tammuz 5771

Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

The President’s Message For the last 15 months, I have served the congregation as interim board president and co-president. For personal reasons, I will not continue in the capacity of co-president for the coming year. I will remain on the board as a Trustee and will assume the executive position of Secretary, a position that was vacated by exiting board member Bill Pink. I would like to take a few moments to reflect on my experiences as one of the Leaders of the congregation. When I took on the role, I knew that there would be an increased time commitment, greater responsibility and higher visibility to the congregation, but I didn’t fully comprehend how complex the operations of the temple are. Things to juggle include: staff and clergy management, oversight, and fiscal reporting. Then there is the responsibility for security, management and maintenance of a nine-acre piece of property with an age-old, moderately used structure. There are committees to be staffed and run, an Early Childhood and Religious School program, and a website to be maintained and reviewed. We have leaders for each of these subsidiary temple programs and an able-bodied administrator, but the President of JFC needs to know what is going on with every one of its programs. There are communications with the URJ and with our congregation. We need to insure there is publicity for our events and social programs. In addition, we are charged with trying to come up with ways to raise funds. We are in contact with new members, and when there are issues or disputes, we are at the helm in trying to resolve them. We reach out to families with special financial situations to try

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by Jeanette Sanders

to make special accommodations so that JFC can be a welcoming place, even for those who cannot make a full financial commitment. Each board member agrees to host at least one month of Shabbat services and also to host two of the many bnai mitzvah on Shabbat mornings each year. The list goes on. These responsibilities are handled by the Board of Trustees, and a great deal of the burden falls to those who agree to be on the Executive Board or accept the role of President. Incidentally, these are volunteer positions and are held by individuals who have full-time jobs as well as demanding family responsibilities. From my limited time as president, I can honestly tell you that it is exhausting in the best of times. In times that are not economically prosperous, the leadership role is doubly challenging. The Board of Trustees needs the congregation to step up their involvement and be more involved in staffing committees and demonstrating commitment to the longevity of our temple. This is necessary if anyone is to continue to volunteer to serve in the leadership capacity and maintain passion and enthusiasm for JFC. I would like to thank my co-president for his support and friendship and all the members of an incredibly dedicated board who I have had the pleasure of working with during my tenure. I’d also like to thank the staff and clergy for their devotion and professionalism. Everyone of them is essential to making me feel as if JFC is my Jewish home.

ShopWithScrip! And help support JFC at no cost to you while shopping at the same stores you already visit! If you have not yet created an account with ShopWithScrip, please contact the JFC Office and we’ll get you started! It’s easy! It’s free! And there are many exciting offers!

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Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

July 2011

Mazel Tov to this year’s Confirmands Samuel Ceissler and Matthew Tessler! SAMUEL CEISSLER’S SPEECH


I am Jewish. I know it’s hard to believe, as I stand here, in front of the Jewish Family Congregation, my Jewish Family Congregation. This place has given me a Jewish identity that few people get to experience. 12 of my 14 years have had some aspect of them centered around this congregation. Whether it’s preschool, with turtle challas, and pharaoh saying no no no I will not let them go. Whether it’s studying my torah portion with Linda in 7th grade, or whether it’s 9th grade, with mentoring and taking the confirmation class and mentoring class. I have to admit, I wasn't always the most excited or, awake, person, at my classes, Rabbi Carla might remember one day when I was so tired I was having trouble listening to the insightful conversations, and kept nodding off. Thankfully, Matt, my fellow confirmee, was able to keep jogging me awake. I will carry everything I do here with me for my entire life. My 3rd grade class that I helped Ruth with was amazing, it was hilarious and filled with characters. I looked forward to teaching every week, and I had the greatest connection with my students. Our mentoring class with Leslie was thought provoking and forced me to think about issues in a teachers world. And then there’s confirmation class. Without this class, I would not know what was going on anywhere whatsoever. I wouldn’t have known our government was about to shutdown, that bombs were going off in new Jerusalem, and that the Achmedinijad, or as Rabbi Carla would say, Immadinnajacket, was committed to wiping Israel off the map. Like I said before, I am Jewish, and because of that, I can take a different view on current events. When some small country is attacked, or enslaved, or a population or group is murdered, I can relate to it, because I am Jewish, and my ancestors, and our religious brothers and sisters have gone through the same thing. At times it is hard to relate, and although we sometimes find it easy to be critical, everything I’ve done has widened my lens and made me able to think about what’s going on around each situation. Like with the big forest fire in Israel a while ago, most people would glance a blind eye, and just say, well, they should’ve paid for a fire service, but how do you have the money to do that, when you’re busy funding a military that’s stopping bombs from entering residential areas every single day. Everyday I am reminded of who and what I am with current events, and I can honestly say, I’m proud to be a Jew. The Jewish population has endured, and will continue to endure and support its causes. They will still vie for Israel, and like the k-3rd graders did every Thursday, ask God to help them be a person who brings peace

My Jewish Identity At first, when I was confronted with the task of writing a speech about my “jewish identity,” I was a little perplexed. “Jewish identity” seemed like a daunting, as well as quite general phrase. So, for inspiration, i looked identity up in the dictionary. Identity, according to Oxford American Dictionaries, means “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.” So, if I am what I am, that means I am Jewish. Now this is quite obvious to me, but why? Well, I go to Friday night services, sometimes. I went to Hebrew preschool and school for more than 10 years combined. I light the Shabbat candles, and eat challah sometimes. I go to services for and celebrate Jewish holidays, as well as sing in the choir, and go to youth group every other week. But that is pretty much it for practicing the Jewish religion. Those activities, however are more incrementalized. What about the stuff that I don’t really pay much attention too. I found that those are more my jewish identity than other things. When I'm reading a textbook, and Israel is mentioned, I usually pay attention a bit more. If it is a section on how Jews faced misfortunes, I will feel some sympathy for them, or if it is one on their accomplishments, I will be proud of the person. On Facebook, my religious status is, Reform Judaism. I made a homemade challah one day, just because I felt like it. And If I meet somebody, and I find out that they're Jewish, I will inadvertantly feel closer to them. Those are the things that really shape my Jewish identity. However, this identity was also shaped by people. One of the groups who shaped my identity is my family. Ever since i was young, I was told I was Jewish. I had explained to me the shabbat candles, challah, wine, and why Jews do the shabbat ceremony. During holidays, my family got together, and said prayers, read passages, and ate food that I was told was Jewish. I read the four questions, lit the candles, searched for the affikomen, made charoset with my grandmother. These influences shaped my Jewish identity. At hebrew school I was taught Jewish stories about Noah's Ark, the idol shop story, the near sacrifice of Isaac, and countless other stories that taught about Judaism as well as morals and how to live life. I learned the hebrew letters, tunes and chants, and learned all the prayers I needed to know, all with the help of my teachers. When it came time for my bar mitzvah, I was hesitant, but with (Continued on page 5)

Sivan/Tammuz 5771

Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

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MATTHEW TESSLER’S SPEECH (cont’d) (Continued from page 4)

the persuasion and advice of Leslie I decided to go through with it. I was tutored by my tutor, Linda, and was bar-mitzvahed by rabbi carla with music from Cantor ben David, who seems to make every song in the service seem better. These people helped furnish my jewish identity. I would like to thank many people here tonight, however, I will thank only a few. The first two are my parents, thank for you driving me to and from hebrew school every day nearly for the past decade, and when you

couldn't drive me, finding a ride for me. Thank you Leslie to helping me learn enough so I could have gotten where I am here today. And thank you, to Rabbi Carla, for guiding me through Confirmation class. You introduced me to things that I would have never known about Israel and the world. Your insight into these topics is phenomenal and they have helped me tremendously, and enlightened me to maany things I would not have known about the world. Thank you for putting up with me for these 2 hours each Thursday, for the past 2 years.

Answer that “Voice”! By Cantor Kerry Ben-David So many of you have stopped by after services and shared a secret desire with me. Yes, many of our congregants want to sing!! Well, as I’ve already told many of you, answer that voice deep within and join our amazing Adult Choir! Now is the time. We are gearing up for the High Holy Days, so this is the perfect opportunity to fulfill your dream of singing with the best choir in the Northeast. JFC is so lucky to have all the ingredients for perfect harmony; subtle phrasing; great articulation and powerhouse endings! Of course it is the leadership of Kathy Storfer, “maestra extraordinaire” who is the energizing force inspiring our remarkable ensemble. Barbara Orwick, our brilliant pianist, is right behind Kathy in creating and sustaining the high level of singing that is now the choir’s hallmark. The Adult Choir even has a resident composer in tenor, Michael Horwitz. One of the most powerful moments during our recent Yom HaShoah Observance was his hauntingly beautiful reading of his own composition, “Smoke.” Additionally Paul Storfer and David Kane bring their musical gifts through their fabulous guitar and rhythm section accompaniments. Yes, we have all bases covered! Of course, at the heart of everything wonderful that you hear at Shabbat and High Holy Day Services are our fantastic choir members!! Please remember, they are folks just like you. Let me thank our gifted and dedicated singers: in the Soprano Section: Sandi Auerbach, Samantha Berg, Martie Gordon, Carrie Kane, Debbie Lavin and Susan Kaufman; our Altos: Laurence Furic, Jeanne Shanin and Shelagh McLain; Tenor Section: Mark Albert, Michael Horwitz, Matthew Tessler, Matthew Kaufman and David Kane; our Basses: Paul Storfer, Curt Shulman, Dan Bloch and Ted Bloch. Of course, there are often beautiful solos amidst the choir splendor and I want to thank these gifted singers, too. I look forward to another wonderful year!

CHOIR If you would like to join the choir, or for more information, please contact Kathy Storfer at We welcome all adults -- 13 or older!

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Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

July 2011

Kids Ask the Rabbi Question: At a Bar Mitzvah I was at recently, I

heard some people chanting the Torah blessings, but pronouncing the words differently than I have learned here at JFC…instead of “et” they said “ess”. How come? And which is correct? Answer: There have been two systems of pronunciation of Hebrew for a long time, Ashkenazic and Sefardic. “Ashkenaz” is the Hebrew term for Germany, and by extension, it has come to mean Eastern European Jewish communities and their customs. “Sefarad” is the Hebrew term for Spain, and by extension it has come to refer to North African and Arabic Jewish communities and their customs. The Jews of Spain were expelled from that country in 1492, and some went to places like North Africa and the Arab countries, while others went to the Netherlands and from there moved steadily eastward in Europe, settling in Germany, Poland, Russia, etc. The Jews who settled in Arab countries were surrounded by people speaking languages related to Hebrew, so their pronunciation of Hebrew was influenced by languages that had similar sounds. The folks who settled in Ashkenaz were surrounded by people speaking languages totally unlike Hebrew. They picked up some of the local languages in order to be able to do business, etc. And their pronunciation of Hebrew was ultimately influenced by these very different languages. So two different pronunciation systems evolved. Which is correct? Neither is perfect. The Ashkenazic system distinguishes between the dotted “tav” and the undotted “sav”…which explains

why you heard “ess” where you expect to hear “et”. For some (unknown to me) reason, the Sefardic system does not distinguish between these two letters, which is probably just plain wrong. But the Sefardic system was adopted by the European pioneers who came to settle the Land of Israel in the 1880s. They regarded the Sefardic system as more “authentic” sounding, than the Ashkenazic system they had grown up with, because it had not been influenced by other unrelated languages. (like German, Polish, Czech, etc). Just after the State of Israel was established, Israelis began to come to North America to teach in our religious schools; they introduced the Sefardic system into our communities, where the Ashkenazic system had dominated unchallenged for a long time. Gradually, North American Jews brought the Sefardic system into their synagogues, happily getting rid of the Ashkenazic pronunciation because it sounds a lot like Yiddish, which they associated with Eastern Europe; they were pleased to identify more with the vigorous, youthful image of the Israelis. So, as the Israeli pronunciation system took root in our schools and synagogues, it replaced the Ashkenazic system almost entirely, and today we hear the occasional Ashkenazic pronunciation as you did, at Bnai Mitzvah. If the Ashkenazic system survives at all, it will be in the Orthodox world, where Yiddish itself is still in wide use, and where the Ashkenazic pronunciation seems right at home. I hope that clarifies this mystery for you!

Donations to JFC Last Month Early Child Center Fund Jeffrey & Naomi Heftler

Toward new playground equipment

General Fund The Andrade Family

In Memory of Barbara Stoll

Music & Choir Fund Jeff & Cyndi Dodes

In Honor of Cantor Ben-David on the Occasion of Evan’s Bar Mitzvah

Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund Jeff & Cyndi Dodes Allan & Alice Gottlieb

In Honor of Rabbi Freedman on the Occasion of Evan’s Bar Mitzvah In Memory of Ludwig Sternberger

Religious School Director’s Fund David & Phyllis Amerling

In Memory of Helen Bergson

Religious School Scholarship Fund Jeff & Cyndi Dodes

In Honor of Ruth Ossher on the occasion of Evan’s Bar Mitzvah


Sivan/Tammuz 5771

Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

JFC  Adults

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By Jeanne Shanin, Adult Program Coordinator

Jewish Family Congregation Early Childhood Center Where Family is our middle name

WE ARE CURRENTLY REGISTERING FOR 2011-12! Please visit our website at OR call (914) 763-3028

From the Rabbi’s Desk (Continued from page 1)

perpetrators chose. Some have argued that these boys did not mean to evoke the Nazi ideology, that they are not, in fact, anti-Semites. I don’t know the boys, and as I said above, I do not know all the details of this story. What I do know is that they chose a symbol with great and ugly resonance. Perhaps it is the DVDs I’ve been watching; maybe it’s because of the books I have been reading. Maybe it’s because of the disturbing increase in antiSemitic incidents in this country and the world at large, as documented by the Southern Poverty Law

(cont’d) Center, or the Anti-Defamation League. Whatever the cause, I think it wise to take note that the swastika as a symbol conveys some very specific messages, and its random or deliberate use in our community is not to be tolerated. As I said in my letter to the Lewisboro Ledger, I hope that the perpetrators will receive punishment for their actions, as well as counselling and education, so that they come to understand the significance of what they did, regardless of their intent. The Holocaust did not begin with Auschwitz, and we must remember that.

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Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

July 2011

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Early Childhood Center By Jane Emmer

July 1st begins my life as Director of JFC’s Early Childhood Center. It is certainly not the beginning of my life in the field of early childhood, and it also is not the beginning of my involvement in JFC’s ECC. It is still a new beginning. I hold a Master’s Degree in Education and have been the teacher/director of South Salem Enrichment for over a decade. I also have been facilitating Creation Station at JFC for many years. I have summered with our tots at the Summer Fun program here at the synagogue, as well, for a long time. My son, Matthew, is a JFC ECC graduate, and my other son, Andrew, attended the parentchild early childhood program before the nursery school existed. I am excited about joining the team that brings quality Jewish education to our youngest family members. This summer I will again run the JFC Summer Fun program as well, busily getting ready for our new classes in September. At the ECC, we believe that play is the work of young children and that preschoolers learn from a wide variety of teacher-directed and childinitiated learning activities. A well-organized and engaging environment encourages preschoolers to interact, play, and share with each other. The classroom environment should encourage children's exploration and curiosity so they evolve into competent life-long learners.

My vision for our Early Childhood Center is one where we can include our larger Jewish community. I would like to extend an invitation to you to become involved and share your talents. I am in search of mystery readers, who are willing to enthusiastically come and share a favorite book with our students. If you are interested please give me a call. Here are some interesting ECC facts:  Did you know that our very first ECC class just graduated from high school this June?  Did you know that we have a raised bed, fenced-in organic garden in the back of the playground?  Did you know that we have a nature trail that winds through the woods behind the parking lot?  Did you know that we have an outdoor classroom? Do you have an interesting fact to share about our ECC… or a special memory (all of you alumni out there)?? Please e-mail it to me! If you meet someone this summer that might be interested in our wonderful program, or if you would like a tour and information session so you can confidently refer a friend or colleague, please give me a call. I look forward to speaking with you soon…

Don’t forget to stop in and check out the JFC Gift Shop!

Have you checked out the JFC Blog recently?

The items change do frequently!

Go to

If you are interested in purchasing anything, please let us know in the JFC Office.

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Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

July 2011

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Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

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Please call the JFC Office when any relevant information arises or changes so all Birthday, Anniversary and Yahrzeit listings are accurate and up to date. JFC can only list names/dates that have been reported to us.

ANNIVERSARIES Neil & Holly Alexander David & Phyllis Amerling Joshua & Michelle Blum Gary & Paula Levine David & Dara Marceau Richard & Beth Sklarin Jeremy Tubbs & Daniela Goldman Marc & Jill Waldman Alex & Bonnie Wattles

Have you considered celebrating significant birthdays and anniversaries with a leaf on our Simcha Tree of Life? Call the JFC Office for details.

YAHRZEITS Susan Aufsesser Annette Belsky Judith Birnbaum Estelle Bloch Henry Block Josephine Blumberg Ruth Drawec Richard Dutka Helen Eydenberg Louis Freedman

Joseph Goldberg Jonas Kardish Lillian Kutscher Abe Lederman Anita Mishkin Hannah Rabinowitz Max Schattner Fannie Schoenholz Hyman Sherr

Hannah Vandervelden

BIRTHDAYS Karen Acker Rachel Africk-Clott Maxwell Andrade K. J. Aufsesser David Berger Stephanie Blum Alexander Carson Samuel Ceisler Chuck Cohen Lucy Dockter Jeremy Fischer Samuel Fischer David Fried Sam Friedlander Jacob Furic Jasper Gitlitz Kathleen Goldman Alice Gottlieb Leo Grossman John Grzymala Lydia Hellinger Spencer Hellinger Laura Kaplan Susan Kaufman Elizabeth Klotz Deborah Kurlander

Linda Lederman Ian Leitner Aaron Lichtman Eliza Lichtman Ruby Lichtman Lorraine Malamet John Mucciolo Ken Okamoto Ryan Pink Hillary Raimondi Nicole Rose Max Sanders Dory Quoya Schnell Gordon Schnell Elise Serby Cheryl Shainmark Curt Shulman Beth Sklarin Claudia Smith Leslie Smith Ashley Sobel Susan Stillman Debra Verbeke Zachary Waldman Eliza Wein Jay Zaslow

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Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

July 2011

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for all you’ve done for us! Good luck! PLEASE come visit us before we get too big!

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Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

July 2011

The Religious School by Leslie Gottlieb

Even among Jews, not everyone agrees when it comes to the big political picture concerning Israel-or when it comes to Jews getting along in a much smaller community. Is that because when you bring two Jews together you get three opinions—as the saying goes? In The New York Times last month, I read a very upsetting account of a worshipper in New Square, NY who decided to pray outside his community at a residence for the elderly. He used to pray at a shul in the ultra-Orthodox Skver Hasidic community of Rockland County, NY. “Before long, a rabbinical court ruled that praying outside the synagogue was a serious violation of community rules.” The worshipper was Aron Rottenberg. He now suffers from third degree burns all over his body—burns incurred when an assistant for the Grand Rabbi, allegedly, set gasoline-soaked rags behind the Rottenberg house… which blew up in the face of Mr. Rottenberg after his son noticed some suspicious activity and encouraged his father to investigate. The case is now in the courts and hopefully justice will be meted out-although like so many other cases involving bodily harm, really restitution will never be had. In another article that appeared last month in The Jewish Week’s Text/Context section, entitled “House Divided,” we hear that “The history of the synagogue in America… is one of rifts, splits, factions and the ever-evolving tension between tradition and modernity.” The article takes a critical look at how synagogues in this country have split and merged in an effort to represent worshippers whose needs were not being fulfilled. Many of these shuls have survived the splits and have been successful on their own for hundreds of years. “In 1825, for instance, some of the members of New York City’s Shearith Israel, the oldest synagogue in America, decided to break away and start a new congregation.” The original synagogue was built in 1695. B’nai Jeshurun was the new spin-off and years after the creation of that temple, another group fractured its membership and created Ansche Chesed. Two hundred years later and these two incarnations of the original shul are still operating. Change and reformation are integral to Jewish life outside of the Orthodox tradition, and even the Orthodox community has splintered into various factions. It’s unfortunate, though, when religious groups that break away from their origins find it impossible to respect the desires of others as we see in the Rot-

tenberg case. Religious tolerance within a religion is not something we have come to expect by any means. If you look at Islam, there is additional evidence of this principle. Sunnis and Shiites cannot seem to come to much of an understanding even with the entirety of the Muslim world up for grabs politically. Religion and politics go hand in hand on a small scale between neighbors-- and among nations. It has always been this way and always will, sadly. It seems that even within a copacetic religious community, there are many opinions as to how to conduct Jewish ritual life. Even the word “traditional” has taken on a specific meaning within the context of practice. Not all Reform synagogues pray the same way, use the same siddur or utilize Hebrew evenly in their worship. In 1891, the rabbi who led Richmond’s Beth Ahabah, Edward Nathan Calisch, decided to move practice toward his “pursuit of an Americanized Judaism.” Following in the tradition of Issac Mayer Wise, the father of Reform Judaism from the 19th century who transformed ritual life for so many Jews, Calisch turned even Reform Jewish practice on its head. He “did away with the kipa, the bar mitzvah, the chuppah at weddings, Friday night Kiddush, and almost all Hebrew prayers.” Sound extreme? Too good to be true? Where do you stand? How we as Jews practice and understand our roles is a topic worth considering. Here at JFC, the founders of this congregation set out certain values and created by-laws to represent that vision. Of course, individual rabbis along the way have helped to set standards of their own. The congregation is like a wave of water— individuals all flowing in concert in one simultaneous direction-- and this direction changes over time depending on the leadership from the board of trustees, the rabbi, and school director with everyone trying to keep in step with the other.

In our case, we have a shared vision that has served us well as individuals and as a whole. Still, there needs to be an openness, that I believe exists, that attempts to consider all disparate views when and if they arise. Folks need to know that their opinions

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The Religious School (cont’d) matter and that there is a forum for which their concerns can be heard. That is something of which I am proud to be a part. We are a living breathing movement of our own. The school is a reflection of this value system at every level. JFC’s Religious School is a unique place for our children to learn. It is a place that teaches what is necessary for individuals to feel Jewish; it is not simply a school that teaches facts and figures. One can read that in a book. It is a place that explores ideas. It is a

place where children (and adults) can feel heard, can feel connected, can feel an authentic Jewish soul being formed and reformed over time. For all of the trouble out there in the world among ostensibly like-minded people, here at JFC we are something specific and formed, but something evolving, too. That is something special!


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Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

July 2011

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Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

JFC Social Action Committee We had a very successful Midnight Run on June 11. We served approximately 70 homeless people, the largest number we've seen yet. We distributed clothing, toiletries, bag dinners and most important conversation and respect. We have a photo of our group: Reyna and Adam Cohen, Samantha and Tammy Shulman, Stephen and Donn Henshaw, Sierra, Skylar, Aspen and Pat Shafer, and Debbie Lavin. Thanks to the Runners who also made bag

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by Debbie Lavin ASPEN: The Midnight Run was a tiring experience, but it was one of the most meaningful. I had not realized how many homeless and underprivileged people there are. It felt so good to actually give something out to people. I knew that they appreciated it, and I was more than happy to help. Every time someone came looking for shirts or pants, I loved every minute of searching through bins of clothes. I had an unforgettable experience doing the Midnight Run and can’t wait until it comes around again.

We are renovating the old garage at JFC to become our new Midnight Run storage and staging area. A couple of weeks ago, Pat Shafer spearheaded a group of volunteers to clean out the garage. They included: Alan and Jan Sanders, Sierra Shafer, Jeff Berg, Samantha Shulman and Tammi Jacobs-Shulman. We will be needing volunteers to help with the fixing up of the building -- we will need to patch the leaky roof and possibly frame out the space with new ceiling or walls. Please let Pat know if you would be willing to help with these tasks -- AND we are eager to get donations of roofing materials, wood and other building materials. So time to check in your garages to see what might be lying around and could be useful!! You may email Pat at Our next Midnight Run will be in the fall. We are happy to take donations, but please, only practical, usable MEN's dinners, plus dinner-makers Carrie Kane, Barbara Boise clothing: shirts (long and short sleeved), hoodies and and her kids, Robyn Cohen, Laura Levenson and thanks to sweatshirts, pants and jeans, belts, shoes, backpacks. For Susan Andrade for her delicious soup! toiletries, we could use washcloths, disposable razors, To give you an idea of the impact that participating on mini-toothpaste tubes, and toothbrushes. We also enthe run has, please read Skylar and Aspen's thoughts: courage you to donate a package of new men's underSKYLAR: The Midnight Run was a great experience for wear. me. I loved giving out the clothes and hearing thanks even Thanks for all your efforts! if it meant we were pretty much trashing the van, trying to keep everything from falling so we could give stuff to the The Tzedakah of the Month people. It was a lot of fun to be able to speak to them and hear their jokes and all of their stories. It was really nice to For JULY Is hear people say “God bless you” and I heard this one guy HOMES FOR HEROES FOUNDATION say that we were like heroes. Their purpose is to provide or coordinate financial This is only my 2nd time on the midnight run, but so far assistance and housing resources to our nation’s there's always at least one person that stands out to you. heroes such as military personnel, police/peace This time I heard one guy say, “First comes the love and officers, firefighters and first responders in need. peace of the people, then after that comes the food and the money and so on." He kept saying that everybody Selected by the should be grateful for everything they have in life. That really was nice to hear because this came from someone in JFC Social Action New York City without a house or much food. Now whenever I'm at school or at home and I hear people whining Committee about not having a phone or they don't have enough pretty clothes I think of this guy and what he said. For me the Midnight Run is a life-changing experience. Want to help? This is definitely something that I will always want to be Contact Debbie Lavin ( involved in because I really like the feeling in my heart of or Jeanette Sanders ( giving food, clothes, and toiletries to people.

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Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

- - - Lots of new vendors! - - Check website for details.

July 2011

Sivan/Tammuz 5771

Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

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WJCS Offering Free Workshops to Women Looking for Jobs WJCS Women-Helping-Women is offering free workshops for women seeking jobs. Registration is required. Contact W-H-W Project Director Lenore Rosenbaum at 761-0600, X308 or lrosenbaum@ The following will be held from 9:30 – 11:30 AM at WJCS Headquarters, 845 North Broadway, White Plains, NY: Wednesday July 13: Mastering LinkedIn: Connect, Engage & Learn the Powers of a Job Searcher's Most Powerful Tool Monday, July 18: Preparing For Your Interview: Advice From an HR Professional Thursday, July 21: Managing Your Finances While Unemployed in the Current Economy

WJCS Offers ‘Special Needs’ Babysitting Workshop WJCS is offering Babysitting Children with Special Needs for Teens Workshop Participants will learn various tools to use with special needs children. Beginning July 12, the three-week workshop will meet on Tuesdays from 3 – 6 PM at the WJCS Autism Family Center, 845 North Broadway, White Plains. There is a $40 fee. Those who complete the training and two hours of volunteer work will receive a certificate and be referred to parents seeking babysitters for special needs children. Contact Bonnie Graham, LMSW, at 914-761–0600, ext 228 or e-mail at

The items in the JFC Gift Shop have changed again. Please stop in and take a look!

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Jewish Family Congregation Shofar

July 2011


SO MUCH FUN!! ASK THE RABBI any need to observe the dietary laws in the 19th century, and again in the 20th century, there has been a reversal of this sentiment more recently, and there is now a trend toward exactly the standards that we observe; some individuals and some congregations actually go much farther, and accept the full range of the dietary laws. The movement now encourages people and congregations to explore the dietary laws and find a practice that suits their spiritual, ethical and realistic goals. One aspect of this current trend is an interest in eating To make this simpler to follow, we do not allow meat organic food, locally produced food, and ethically proat all most of the time. The two standard exceptions are: duced food. Combining these ideas with the notion of a the Passover seder, when we serve a meat-only meal; diet that is spiritually satisfying can be both uplifting and and SITGO, when families bring their own picnic meals challenging. It seems that, if we were to create a dietary (not to share with others). practice based on ethics and organics today, it would be Even at SITGO, we expect families to respect our very different from the laws of kashrut but would have kashrut policy and not swap foods so that folks with a the same goal, to ennoble our nourishment practices and dairy meal are eating chicken nuggets, for example, from invest the daily matter of eating with a greater consciousthe family next to them. ness of what we eat and how it comes to us. We do not follow the Talmud-based rules about time There is a fascinating new book on this subject , publapses between eating meat and milk, and we do not re- lished by the CCAR Press, called The Sacred Table, edited quire that meat (at our seder or a Temple dinner party) by my colleague, Rabbi Mary Zamore; the book explores be kosher. Nor are we much concerned with the issues both the laws of kashrut and the evolution of Reform of separate plates and cooking equipment. thinking on the subject, and includes a thoughtful article This is quite consistent with the practice of many Reaffirming the long-standing Reform objection to the dieform congregations. But that practice represents a sigtary laws. It also describes some congregational and nificant change within the movement over the last couple some personal eating practices, which gives the book a of decades. Though the Reform movement disavowed real down-to-earth quality. I encourage you to read it! Question: What is JFC’s practice concerning the Jewish dietary laws? And does the Reform movement have a formal position on this? Answer: JFC, like many Reform congregations, follows what is often described as Torah-kashrut. That is, we accept the clear prohibitions mentioned in Leviticus 11:123 ; this comes down to prohibiting pork (and pork byproducts), shellfish, and the combination of meat and dairy in one meal.

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July 2011 Sun









Service 7:30











Bd Mtg

Service 7:30





Service 7:30








SITGO (Shabbat in the Great Outdoors)

6:30 Picnic 7:30 Service







Service 7:30




Jewish Family Congregation 111 Smith Ridge Rd/Rte. 123 P.O. Box 249 South Salem, NY 10590


Non Profit Organization Postage PAID White Plains, NY Permit No. 9022

Shofar - July 2011  
Shofar - July 2011  

Jewish Family Congregation Newsletter - July 2011 - Tammuz 5771