LADDER OCTOBER 2018
And Jacob dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to the heavens...
WITH INSTALLATION OF
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19 6:30 PM Details Page 5
Temple Presidentâ€™s High Holy Day Remarks Pages 2-3 High Holy Day Sermons Pages 14-27 October Adult Education Events
Emergency Shelter Partnership
PRESIDENT’S REMARKS Congregation President’s Yom Kippur Remarks Gut Yontiff. I am honored and delighted to address you today as president of our congregation. Thank you all for being here; we are grateful for your presence. A central tenet in Judaism is the strength of community; it is wonderful to see the sanctuary filled. Fifteen years ago, after I took a class at Beth El called “A Taste of Torah with desert”, my sister in law looked at me and said. “I bet you will become a Bat Mitzvah one day.” Considering I had never attended Hebrew School, gone to a Jewish camp or been active in any Jewish organization, that was a pretty far out prediction. Go on the bima as a Bat Mitzvah? How would I ever learn Hebrew and why, with my voice would I want to get up in front of the congregation and try to chant? And really, public speaking was not my thing. 220 SOUTH BEDFORD ROAD CHAPPAQUA, NY 10514
WWW.BETHELNW.ORG 914.238.3928 T 914.238.4030 F BEGINNING YEARS 914.238.5735 RELIGIOUS SCHOOL 914.238.5641 TEMPLE@BETHELNW.ORG
TEMPLE STAFF JONATHAN JAFFE Senior Rabbi MAURA H. LINZER Rabbi-Educator ELIZABETH STERNLIEB Cantor GENNIFER KELLY Executive Director RABBI NORMAN COHEN, Ph.D. Scholar-in-Residence HOPE BLAUNER Early Childhood Director AMY ROBIN President
A Proud Member of the URJ
To be perfectly frank, Fred and I joined Temple Beth El in 1994 because it was on the school bus route. My parents chose not to affiliate with a temple when I was growing up but we wanted to give our sons Michael and Will the Jewish education that Fred had received. How fortuitous it was that we picked Beth El. Michael and Will became B’nei Mitzvah and were confirmed as planned, but what wasn’t expected was my growing interest in Judaism. The magical and, for me, transformative, experience of standing on the bima as our older son became a Bar Mitzvah eventually led me to that first class. The fact that I, someone who barely knew the correct way to hold the prayer book, was so warmly welcomed into the community, beckoned me to come back. As to my sister in law’s prediction, yes, I became a Bat Mitzvah about four years ago. The congregation was very tolerant of my voice and I had a great sense of pride after doing something difficult and challenging but most importantly, fulfilling. One of Temple Beth El’s greatest strengths is that it offers people of many different backgrounds the chance to make a meaningful connection with Judaism, which is what Beth El did for me. In the last five years, Beth El has created new and innovative ways for congregants to make that meaningful connection. One of the biggest innovations has been to encourage our members to connect to Judaism outside of the synagogue walls. • Rabbi Jaffe has led family trips to Jewish Cuba, Israel, and Jewish Spain with a family trip to Israel set for December of 2019. Similarly, our students have traveled to Washington, DC, Alabama, Atlanta and Los Angeles to explore the roots of the American Jewish community. Last year the student’s Civil Rights tour of the south with members of Antioch Baptist Church was so engaging that there will be an adult trip this February. Fred and I will be going and we hope you will consider joining us. Please see the back cover of the Adult Education catalog on your seat for more info. • This summer many of you attended one of our summer neighborhood Block Parties. These events gave neighbors a chance to get together, have a glass of wine and meet our new cantor. Other popular out of the synagogue social events over the years have included the Annual Chanukah party at Heritage Hills, Sukkah and S’mores for teens in the rabbi’s backyard, Tu B’Shevat Wine Tasting and the T. Boomer social events. Meanwhile, inside the walls of TBE at our religious school, the positive energy and excitement starts on Sunday morning when our children are welcomed in the lobby
PRESIDENT’S REMARKS by our cantor, rabbis and song leader, playing guitars and singing. Rabbi Linzer has designed the curriculum so that our children learn by doing, whether it is studying the Jewish Life cycle through a model bris, model wedding and visit to a Mikveh or learning about Israel by flying drones based on Israeli air force technology. The results of innovation in our Nursery School and Religious School are impressive: •Our Early Childhood Center, under the directorship of Hope Blauner, continues to be well subscribed. •Our entire religious school grew for the fifth straight year; this year we will welcome 100 students more than we did five years ago. •Over the last four years, our K-2 enrollment, the foundation of our program, rose from 24 to 72 students and this year we expect over 100. •The majority of our preschool students immediately enroll in religious school and the majority of B’nei Mitzvah graduates enroll in 8th grade programs. • Five years ago, we did not feature a teen teacher or madrichim program. This year, 42 of our teens have made the choice to be teachers and role models in our Religious School. They were all here last Sunday, training to serve in the classrooms. • Adult study continues to grow as well. We now have 6 learning circles of adults who gather with the rabbi periodically in homes or the synagogue to study and socialize. Rabbi Jaffe has a standing offer that if you gather 10 of your fellow congregants, he will meet you in a location of your choice to organize a discussion. • On Saturdays and Sundays, over 60 adults participate in Torah study and classes led by clergy and distinguished scholars. Many new classes will be offered this year including one co-taught by Rabbi Jaffe and Rabbi Doctor Norman Cohn on Bible Stories for Adults. Don’t forget to take home the Adult Ed brochure on your seat. As you can see, our congregation has made incredible strides in education, social justice and community building. Now, with the installation of Cantor Sternlieb, who brings her gorgeous voice and spiritual presence, we are focusing on revamping the Shabbat worship experience. A ten week prayer initiative will begin October 1- December 15th in which we will explore alternative models and modes of Tefilah. It will include two 6:30 PM “Shabbat Unplugged” musical services, which will have you dancing in your seats. It will also include a sermon one Friday night a month and reading from the Torah one Friday night a month. We are handing out magnets as you leave the sanctuary today to remind you of these details. Please try out a service and let us know what you think. As we innovate and explore as a community, it is important to remember that growth demands investment. To keep our momentum going, we must raise funds. Last year our dedicated Development Committee launched an Annual Fund which raised $287,000, 43% more than we collected the previous year before the Annual Fund. We saw a 61% increase in participation and over 14% of our gifts came from first time donors. This year we need your help to greatly increase our participation rate and reach our new goal of $350,000. These funds will strengthen our Early Childhood Center, support our religious school, provide additional educational opportunities across all age groups, and expand social justice and volunteerism in our community. Please be on the lookout for our Annual Fund brochure in the mail. Earlier this year, we launched a Major Gifts Initiative for those who, along with their Annual gift, are able to give a gift of greater impact or target a particular project or priority. Although the program is just getting off the ground, we are grateful for the very generous pledges we have already received. These contributions help us towards our goal to enhance programing, support major renovations and strengthen our financial future. At a time when many synagogues are declining, we have grown 10% over the last four years and although the year has just begun, we have welcomed over 30 new families this year alone. Our Nursery School is thriving, our religious school enrollment is up significantly and we are able to retain our students from Kindergarten to High School Graduation. When we gather on Rosh HaShanah one year from now, we will mark the 70th anniversary of Beth El’s very first service which was held in the basement of a church. I am so grateful for the hard work, and fund raising of our visionary founders and our current members, clergy, lay leaders and staff for building this Jewish home for all of us. We have come so far and now it is time for each of us to help Temple Beth El thrive for the next 70 years and beyond. Today, as we take stock of our lives, let us remember why we have chosen to be part of Beth El-to share life cycle events, for Jewish education, for community, for spirituality, to connect to something larger than ourselves and to confirm our role in the continuity of the Jewish people. G’mar chatimah tovah- may you be inscribed for a good year. Thank you.
CANTOR’S CANTOR’S CORNER CORNER Welcoming Cantor Elizabeth Sternlieb to TBE! It was wonderful to have an opportunity over the High Holy Days to see and meet so many members of Temple Beth El. I am so grateful for the warm personal greetings and the expressions of love and support both by phone and email. I must send out a huge THANK YOU to all of our synagogue members who: Chanted Torah and Haftarah so beautifully on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur- Janet Levy, Alissa Wilson, Arielle Wilson, Sarah Wilson, Sarah Albert, Emma Diller, Caroline Lerner, Charlotte Lerner, Bertha Shipper, Jamie Lynch, Sam Hamroff, Marc Stern, Kayla Singer, Ellen Portman, Stacey Pfeffer, and David Rappaport. Joined me on the bimah to sing anthems with me- Emma Diller, Alexa Googel and Sasha Murray. Dedicated so much time and energy to enhancing our music by singing in our TBE volunteer choir: Meryl Adler, Heidi Auerbacher, Amy Berger, Ruth Clark, Hillary Davis, David Dreilinger, Valerie Hale, Gary Kibel, Andrew Laden, Gloria Meisel, Stephanie Rosen, Steven Ross, David Ruzow, Carol Saltzman, and Carla Sereny. You are an inspiration to us all and TBE is so very blessed that you are willing to share your gifts with the community. The Torah tells us “The heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. On the seventh day God finished the work that God had been doing, and God ceased on the seventh day from all the work that God had done. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy.” (Genesis 2:1-3) Often we forget to take a Shabbat for ourselves. Work, chores, and technology can wait for a few hours so each of us can have an opportunity to re-charge ourselves. If you connected to our music during the holidays, consider taking some time to unwind and unplug with us here at TBE to close out your work week. I hope to see many of you for our new Shabbat Unplugged music services. Save the dates: October 19 and November 16 (both services will begin at 6:30 pm and we will have some guest musicians with us these two evenings. Musically yours,
Cantor Elizabeth Sternlieb
JEW-BE-GLEE Calling all 1st–4th Graders! The first date to gather (info session) and to get to know one another and sing a little will be Sunday, October 14. We will sing together on Sundays October 21 and October 28, sharing our voices in song- gearing up for our family Shabbat service on Friday, November 2. Jew Be Glee will meet on Sundays from 11:00 -11:30 am and our group will be featured at all monthly family Shabbat services. Questions? Please email Cantor Sternlieb: firstname.lastname@example.org
PRAYER EXPLORATION SERVICES Ten Weeks of Prayer Exploration October 1 - December 15, 2018 Try out a new experience and let us know what you think!
1st Friday Family Shabbat with Scout Welcome Friday, October 5 5:45 pm Tot Shabbat 6:15 pm Shabbat Family Dinner 7:15 pm Family Shabbat Worship Service with Scout Welcome Next First Friday Family Event: November 2 RSVP for dinner: bethelnw.org/DinnerNov2018
2nd Friday Shabbat Service with Torah Reading Friday, October 12 at 8:00 pm 3rd Friday Shabbat Unplugged Musical Service with Installation of Cantor Sternlieb Friday, October 19 at 6:30 pm In just a few short months, Cantor Sternlieb has lifted her voice and our spirits to reach toward holiness with joy and praise. We invite you to join us as Rabbi Norman Cohen, Ph.D. leads the installation of Cantor Elizabeth Sternlieb at our very first Shabbat Unplugged Service. Come experience the Shir joy of this musical service and stay for the celebratory Oneg and dessert reception following services.
4th Friday Shabbat Service with Formal Sermon with 7th Grade Participation and Israeli Soldiers Welcome Friday, October 26 at 8:00 pm
NEW MEMBER WELCOME
A warm welcome to our newest members: Jonathan & Camilla Adelman David & Dena Altizio Jonathan & Vanessa Baker Marty & Lindsay Bennett Craig Berzofsky & Emily Guthman Jared & Stephanie Bixler Evan & Tracy Brown Paul & Lori Calat Thomas Card & Stephanie Gold Victor & Ally Chemtob Rich Downey & Lexi Maxwell Yoni & Cyd Falkson Ben Fastenberg & Teddi Ginsberg Jarett Feldman & Veronica Mestre Darren & Lauren Gabel Seth & Erin Gabrielson Marc & Amanda Garfinkle Matthew Gluck & Lindsay Soyka Jason & Dana Gold Alan & Lisa Goodkin Mark & Dana Ipri Seth & Stacey Iskovitz Scott & Samantha Johnson Craig & Jennifer Lifschutz Michael McMullan & Jennifer Weitzman Carlos Perez-Hall & Lauren Selsky Mitch & Amanda Polikoff Michale & Lizzy Reed Paul Riegelhaupt & Lauren Wendelken Daniel & Valerie Robbins Stuart Rosen & Rebekah Gospin Greg & Danielle Salant Brian & Sarah Seidman Greg & Danielle Shalov Chris & Shira Sinclair Andrew & Jennifer Skala Jake & Brea Sussman Dan Tepper & Rebecca Rufo-Tepper Bette Travin Andrew & Jill Urban Gony Weiss Jason & Kimi Winter
We invite our newest members to join us for a Special Welcome Shabbat on Friday, November 2. Tot Shabbat begins at 5:45 pm Shabbat Family Dinner at 6:15 pm Family Shabbat Service at 7:15 pm All are welcome to join us at services or dinner to celebrate our newest members and welcome them into the community! RSVP for dinner: bethelnw.org/DinnerNov2018
SPECIAL SERIES FOR OCTOBER CANCER AWARENESS MONTH A Special Series for Cancer Awareness Month: Issues Facing the Jewish Community As October is Cancer Awareness Month, we are partnering with Sharsheret, a national not-for-profit organization supporting young Jewish women and their families facing breast and other forms of cancer. We are thrilled to welcome medical experts from within our own Beth El family to openly discuss matters that far too often are reserved for the private realm, if addressed at all. Please join us in learning about issues facing the Jewish community and options for both prevention and treatment. All sessions are open to the public. Bring a friend – you might just save a life!
Caring for BRCA Carriers: Strategies to Promote Health and Preserve Fertility Sunday, October 14 at 9:15 am with Dr. Matthew Lederman, Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York
Understand BRCA and the Jewish Community. As BRCA carriers are faced with complex challenges and need health care professionals to discuss not only the medical implications of their carrier status and risk-reducing options, Dr. Lederman will present on the most up to date medical findings on fertility preservation and the use of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) to prevent transmission to their offspring. After all, it is important for BRCA carriers to know that there are ways they can safely build a family. Please join us for this informative session. Dr. Matthew Lederman is a board-certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist. He serves on the Medical Advisory Board of FORCE: Facing our Risk of Cancer Empowered, the Scientific Advisory Board for TEAL: Tell Every Amazing Lady About Ovarian Cancer and, is a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Endocrine Society, Westchester OB/GYN Society, and Resolve. He has extensive clinical experience in all areas of fertility, including unexplained infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, in vitro fertilization, egg freezing, preimplantation genetic screening and fertility preservation for patients recently diagnosed with cancer (oncofertility) and those who are predisposed to hereditary cancer syndromes (ie. BRCA).
Breast Cancer: Myths & Facts Sunday, October 28 at 9:15 am
with Dr. Bonnie Litvack, Medical Director, Women’s Imaging Center, Northern Westchester Hospital This session will discuss the common misconceptions and the facts as we know them in 2018 surroundings breast cancer screening and diagnosis. Under Dr. Bonnie Litvack’s leadership, the Women’s Imaging Center at Northern Westchester Hospital has been acclaimed as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. Dr. Litvack is fellowship trained in MRI and brings extensive experience in all aspects of women’s imaging, including mammography, to Northern Westchester Hospital. Dr. Litvack has served as the president of the Westchester County Medical Society and as president of the Westchester Academy of Medicine. She has also served as the New York State Radiological Society’s delegate to the Medical Society of the State of New York and is a counselor to the American College of Radiology.
SUNDAY MORNING ADULT EDUCATION Israel Bonds and Temple Beth El Invite You To A Sunday Morning Lecture Sunday, October 28 at 10:30 am
with Bizu Riki Mullu, Ethiopian Jewish and Israeli Social Entrepreneur and Representative Community Activist for Ethiopian-Israeli Jewry My Amazing Story
Richard and Lee Laster Annual Lecture Series Presents: Understanding the Changing Relationship between Israel and the American Jewish Community Sunday, November 4 9:15–10:30 am with Batya Ungar-Sargon, Ph.D. opinion editor for The Forward
Batya Ungar-Sargon, Ph.D., serves as Opinion Editor for The Forward. She is an award winning journalist who lives in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and other places. She holds a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century studies from UC Berkeley and writes frequently on issues within the Jewish community and Israel.
SATURDAY MORNING TORAH STUDY Saturday, October 13 9:00 am
Saturday, October 27 9:00 am
Yael Seidemann has years of experience teaching Torah at Solomon Schechter Day School in White Plains. We are thrilled to welcome her back as a guest teacher.
Our study of the weekly Torah portion will be aided by the recent volume published by Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom: Essays on Ethics – A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible. Together, we will discuss the ethical dimensions of the given week’s Torah portion and its bearing upon our own lives. Please join us – no prior experience or Hebrew knowledge required!
with Yael Seidemann
with Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe
ADULT EDUCATION Westchester Jewish Community Services Jewish Spiritual Healing Center Invite You To The Art and Practice of Mussar Thursday, October 11, 12:30–2:00 pm
with Rabbi Pamela Wax, Spiritual Care Coordinator, WJCS Mussar is a contemplative Jewish practice of refining one’s middot, qualities of heart and behavior. We will study texts, practice various techniques for cultivating these virtues, and return each month to share our soul’s journey. Suggested fee: $120; $150 for non-members. Contact Rabbi Pamela Wax at email@example.com or 914.761.0600 x149. Jewish Spiritual Healing Center The WJCS Jewish Spiritual Healing Center is dedicated to promoting the spiritual, intellectual, physical and mental health of Westchester’s Jewish community by infusing our many programs and services with the intrinsic power of Judaism’s history and tradition. We provide the community with opportunities that foster health and healing for the mind, body and spirit within a Jewish context. Jewish Spiritual Healing Center is funded through UJA Federation of New York and the generosity of individual donors.
TZAHAL SHALOM CAFE JOE AT TEMPLE BETH EL
RELIGIOUS SCHOOL Welcoming Our New Assistant Principal, Heather Satin My name is Heather Satin and I am thrilled to be the Assistant Principal of the Religious School here at Beth El. I have my undergraduate degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in special education and general education, birth through sixth grade. For the past four years I was a teacher in the Bronx at a special education school for preschool-aged students on the autism spectrum. Teaching students with a diversity of abilities, I worked to create and implement lesson plans tailored to their individual needs so as to ensure each student thrived and received the most out of the program. Every student deserves the chance to succeed and my work at the school helped me gain great knowledge on how best to accomplish this. As assistant principal, I will work closely with and act as a liaison between students, teachers, and parents. I will oversee and help teachers with individual learning plans and needs for students who receive outside support. I will also be assisting with daily scheduling and behavior management within the classroom. This year we are starting a “camp” based first grade program. In this program, the students will initially be divided into two teaching groups—one focused on Judaica and the other on the Hebrew letters. The children will then switch groups after 25 minutes. We hope that the smaller groups will promote better learning and cooperation among the students. After the group sessions, all the students will come together for an art project to reinforce what was taught in the Judaica section. We are very excited about this new program and are looking forward to implementing it this year! Having worked in education for many years, I hope to use my past experiences to help create a welcoming and inclusive learning-friendly environment for teachers and students alike. I want to make sure that every student receives the best possible Religious School education. I know that students work best when they are comfortable, having fun, and know that their needs are being met. I hope to be able to bring a new sense of well-being to all students and let them learn in the way the works best for them individually. Everyone learns differently and the students in each class are different from year to year. As such, we strive to provide teachers with the necessary tools to accommodate the ever growing diverse Temple Beth El Religious school population. It is my hope to uphold and cultivate the already strong sense of community and inclusion here at Temple Beth El, to help students succeed as a life long Jewish learner. As a mother of two young boys myself, I see their smiles and curious minds in the children that walk through the synagogue doors. Just as I work hard to give my boys the chance to flourish and grow, I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to actively watch and help the children at Temple Beth El grow into extraordinary people they are destined to become.
Religious School Committee
EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER Our New Teaching Staff Members By Hope Blauner, TBE ECC Director I’m thrilled to announce our newest members of the preschool’s teaching staff: Meri Alexander, Rebecca Gordon, Amy Miller, Garynn Rodner and Jen Lifschutz. We’re extremely fortunate to add these hard working and experienced teachers to our already excellent teaching team. We are also moving Sheri Bloch, who was our floater, into Meri Alexander’s classroom to be her assistant with the Fours and Pre-K program.
Meri Alexander Meri comes to us from Westchester Jewish Center in Mamaroneck and has over ten years experience working with young children. She holds a Masters Degree in Education and has spent the majority of her teaching years working with four & five year olds. She loves watching them learn and grow. Meri lives in Chappaqua with her husband, three children and their dog, Harley. She enjoys spending time with her family and summers at Camp Wayne for Girls. She is excited to be joining the Beth El family. Meri will be a Head Teacher in the Fours working with Sheri Bloch. Rebecca Gordon Rebecca is not new to our school but is taking on a new role as a teacher in the Temple Tots. For the past two years, she worked as an ECC sub, enrichment teacher and as a Head Counselor in our camp program for our incoming twos. Rebecca has her Master’s Degree in Education and, prior to starting a family; she taught kindergarten in New York City. Rebecca and her husband Josh live in Chappaqua with their two daughters, Allison (9) and Elizabeth (7). Rebecca enjoys reading, taking walks, traveling and spending time with family and friends. Rebecca will be working with Amy Miller in Temple Tots. Amy Miller Amy has her Master’s Degree in Elementary and Special Education from Hofstra University. She taught at Ogden Elementary School in the Hewlett-Woodmere School District for 6 years prior to starting a family. For the past few years, Amy has been a substitute teacher in grades 3-8 at Byram Hills School District in Armonk. Amy lives in Armonk with her husband, Jon and their two sons, Matthew (17) and Andrew (15). She enjoys travel, cooking, running, reading, spending time with friends but mostly being a mom! Amy will be working with Rebecca Gordon in Temple Tots. Garynn Rodner Garynn lives in Bedford with her two children: Taylor who is a sophomore in college and Hunter who is a junior in high school. She loves to ski, play tennis and work out. Garynn enjoys watching sports and spending time with friends and family. Garynn will be working as an assistant in the Twos with Lisa Field and Maria Milton. Jen Lifschutz Jen has her Master’s Degree in Education and worked as a kindergarten teacher at Rodeph Sholom School in NYC. She most recently worked as a substitute in the Byram Hills School District. Jen lives in Chappaqua with her husband, fifteen-year-old twins and their dog. Jen loves to cook, play tennis, ski and walk. She especially enjoys spending time with her family. Jen will be the floater for the Fours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
TIKKUN OLAM THE TEMPLE BETH EL CARING COMMITTEE Our congregants have volunteered to drive to a doctorâ€™s appointment or temple services, prepare a meal of consolation or family meal during the shiva period or an extended illness, pay a friendly visit or help fellow congregants in any way possible. The TBE Caring Committee is there for you. Please contact Penny Hamlet if you or someone you know is in need of our services: (914) 666-2826.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP? We understand how busy everybody is, so if you are unable to help on a particular day, donâ€™t be concerned! We will check back with you another time! You can help us once during the year, or more if your schedule permits. Needs do not often arise, but when they do, assistance is greatly appreciated. The feeling of doing a good deed for a member of your temple family will far outweigh the time and effort required to do it! Please fill out the Volunteer Sign-Up form in this pamphlet and mail or bring it to the temple. A member of the Caring Committee will contact you. ******************************************************
CARING COMMITTEE VOLUNTEER SIGN-UP Please mail or e-mail to temple office:
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
(Please check activities of interest.) _____ Pick up and deliver food for meals of consolation _____ Set up house for a meal of consolation _____ Provide or purchase a meal for family during shiva _____ Be part of a shiva minyan _____ Be trained by rabbi to lead a minyan or other temple functions _____ Prepare or purchase a meal _____ Shop for food _____ Drive to a doctor, treatment, etc. _____ Drive to service or any other temple functions _____ Drive homebound or elderly _____ Make a friendly visit to the homebound or elderly _____ Assist with delivering a gift to family on the birth of a child _____ Assist with tree planting certificates _____ Other ideas? Please describe:
NAME:__________________________________________ ADDRESS:______________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ PHONE:_________________________________________ E-MAIL:_________________________________________ _________________________________________________
I AM GENERALLY AVAILABLE: _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
_____ Mornings _____ Afternoon _____ Evenings
You can also sign up online! Visit our website: bethelnw.org/Community/Caring_Community 13
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS I Wish Wakanda Was More Like Israel Erev Rosh Hashanah Sermon 2018 Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe To offer my own High Holy Day confession, I occasionally utilize my mid-week day off towards taking in a movie matinée. Just me and one or two strangers, engaging in preferably low brow entertainment. And so earlier this year I went to see Black Panther, the African superhero box office sensation. Now in case you are one of the few Americans who have not seen this movie, Black Panther imagines a fantasy world in which deep in the heart of Africa exists a secret nation blessed with technological and military strength. Hidden from sight, the nation of Wakanda boasts a flourishing culture and scientific marvels. The movie illustrates the ascension to the throne of King T’Challa and the challenge posed by his bitter rival, Erik Kilmonger. The pejoratively named Kilmonger criticizes T’Challa for living the easy life while his brethren of the African diaspora suffer throughout the world. He urges T’Challa and the people of Wakanda to come out of hiding and utilize their resources in defense of the African people. Ultimately, and yes, I think it’s fair to spoil a movie that is now nine months old, T’Challa defeats Kilmonger and overcomes the militant faction he represents. Sitting nearly alone in the theater, I noticed myself becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the plot. While the intention was to establish T’Challa as the hero and Kilmonger the villain, I found myself rooting the other way. I agreed with Kilmonger and wanted him to win. Moreover, I found the movie’s philosophical leaning towards appeasement and conflict avoidance to be unappealing in a familiar way. And then I realized the source of conflict: I wanted Wakanda to be more like Israel; yes, a technological and military marvel, but one willing to utilize its strength in support and defense of its people, even beyond its own borders. Today, I wish like to explore this dissonance in hope of understanding the confrontational roots of Zionism in a way that seems out of place in a culture that lauds the passive T’Challa and denigrates his rival’s willingness to utilize force. Stepping back, the conflicting ideologies of T’Challa and Kilmonger echo the opposing choices faced by the African American community in the 20th century. As African Americans experienced the post Reconstructionist and Jim Crow eras that would lead towards the civil rights movement, the community debated the efficacy of non-violent resistance versus active self-defense. Although over generalized, the non-violent ideology would come to be idealized under the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. On the other side, armed confrontation became associated with leaders such as Malcolm X, Stokley Carmichael, Huey P. Newton and Fred Hampton. A no less vigorous debate consumed the Jewish community at the turn of the 20th century. The European enlightenment had brought with it the rise of the nation state and the eventual emancipation of European Jewry, who were now free to exit from behind the ghetto walls and claim their status as citizens. However, early optimism quickly faded as the plight of the Jews only became more severe. Now fully exposed to the state’s citizenry, Jews were quickly blamed for the negative ramifications of Europe’s urbanization and transition towards capitalism. The pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, combined with the postWorld War I closing of possible emigration destinations such as the United States, awakened a desperate fear within European Jewry. And so European Jews faced a similar choice: incremental progress through non-violent means or in Zionism, armed self-defense and autonomy. Whereas the pacifist fantasy of Wakanda abstains from armed conflict in defense of its brethren, the actual Israel was founded upon the idea that never again would Jews around the world depend upon others for their safety and security. The era of the homeless, desperate Jew would be over. And here, I had discovered the root of my discomfort with Black Panther. When Kilmonger spoke, I heard David Ben-Gurion. I heard him saying that for too long we have stood idly by as our people have suffered, and now is the time to act. And my feelings of being out of place in the movie theater paralleled my own lonely experience in American society as being both a progressive and an ardent Zionist. In either scenario, I often feel alone. This past Spring, I joined our 11th and 12th graders alongside Reverend Earle McJunkin and his students from Antioch Baptist Church, for a four day civil rights tour of the south. Together, we visited Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma Alabama, walked over the Edmund Pettus Bridge and attended services at Martin Luther King Jr’s church in Atlanta. We learned about the African American community’s ongoing struggle for
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS equality and the participation of American Jews in support of their African brethren. While in Montgomery, footsteps away from the square in which African slaves were once auctioned off, we visited the Equal Justice Initiative, which seeks to support death row inmates who have not received proper legal defense. The building’s interior features a shocking display of hundreds of jars of dirt, each taken from the site of a lynching. The name of the victim and date of his or her death is marked on each jar. As we stood in silence taking in the display, my mind wandered back to Black Panther. Were we to believe that in this fantasy world, an empowered nation stands by as such atrocities are committed? Is this really the ideal we wish to espouse? As a Jew and a Zionist, I disagree. What did I wish to see from the leaders of Wakanda? Well, when the Jews of Yemen came under attack following Israel’s founding, the fledgling state instituted Operation Magic Carpet, in which 50,000 Jews were secretly airlifted to safety. In 1991, when Ethiopian Jewry was jeopardized by its disintegrating government, Operation Solomon brought 14,000 Jews to Israel in a span of 36 hours. When an airplane full of Jewish passengers was hijacked and brought to Uganda in 1976, the IDF carried out the famous raid on Entebbe, killing the hijackers and freeing their prisoners. Or in a story that only recently was unclassified and is now being made into a movie, Israel’s Mossad spent three years in the 1980’s constructing a scuba diving resort on the Red Sea as a front for bringing Jewish refugees to Israel. As the resort gained acclaim, it became profitable and took in as guests members of the Egyptian and British armies as well as numerous African diplomats. In the process, the Mossad also introduced windsurfing to the Sinai Peninsula. And so staring at those glass jars and the names of lynching victims, I felt deep gratitude and pride for the Jewish State and its willingness to make sacrifices in defense of the Jewish people. The problem is that we often fail to explain this basic rationale behind Zionism. The young Chaim Nachman Bialik was dispatched as a reporter to record his account of the 1903 Kishinev pogrom, in which 42 men, seven women and two babies were slaughtered by angry hordes. Rather than submit an article, Bialik offered his response through a poem entitled, “City of Slaughter”. And rather than blame the violent anti-Semitic masses, Bialik reserved his greatest scorn for the meek and feeble Jews who failed to offer a token of resistance. Bialik describes the basement of a house, where a gang of Cossacks assault the Jewish women mercilessly. While the savage attack unfolds, the Jewish men hide behind casks, like frightened mice. Once the attack is over, the Jewish men step over the broken bodies of their wives, sisters and daughters, and run to their rabbi and ask if their wives are still permitted to them. The early Zionists accepted the critique of anti-Semitic Europe upon the weak and passive Jew. But Bialek and his counterparts laid the blame squarely at their tormentors’ feet. “You made us this way”, says Bialek. “You did this, when you stripped us of the ability to own land, pursue professions and participate fully in society. You have transformed us into a shadow of who we once were. And so the only way we can reclaim our identity is through self-determination and self-defense within our own homeland. You will never have to worry about us. And once we create our own army, we will never have to worry about you.” Zionism was not only about creating a nation but more importantly a new Jew, strong and resolute. Not the timid Jew of the yeshiva, hiding in the corner. A Jew that could defend herself. A Kilmonger Jew. It is for this reason that Israel’s Declaration of Independence begins with the words, “B’eretz yisrael kam ha’am hayehudi”, often translated as “In the land of Israel, the Jewish people were born” But the carefully chosen word “kam” carries the literal meaning of “arose” or “got up”. Israel’s founders made no secret of their intentions in founding the Jewish state. “B’eretz yisrael kam ha’am hayehudi” - “In the land of their ancestors, the Jewish people got up off the matt of history, wiped the blood off their lip and said, No more”. That is the essence of Zionism. I believe this distinction might help us to understand the growing disaffection expressed by American Jews towards Israel. Following his assassination in 1968, the non-violent philosophy of MLK became an enduring ethic within American society, which largely resonated with the Christian celebration of the meek pacifist who suffers and yet still turns the other cheek. Generations of Americans have been raised according to this philosophy, all too ready to equate powerlessness with morality and power with injustice. This often leads us towards a fundamental bias in support of the underdog and against those seemingly in power. But Zionism is based upon the principle that there is nothing admirable about powerlessness. We do not hearken fondly towards memories of the shtetl or ghetto. True nobility comes from the ethical use of power.
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS If anything, American Jews hold a conflicted view of Israel’s might. On one hand, we scold Israel for utilizing force to protect its people. And at the same time, we fetishize this power. We travel to Israel and dreamily visit soldiers and sit in their tanks. We buy IDF shirts saying, “Don’t worry America, Israel is behind you.” The comedian Sasha Baron Cohen has recently demonstrated this strange obeisance towards Israeli militarism through his show “What Is America?” and his fabricated alter-ego Colonel Erran Morad, who utilizes his phony Mossad credentials to prompt American politicians into absurd actions. We admire Israeli power in a vacuum, but then offer criticism when its use becomes necessary. The collective American Jewish community only awakened to Zionism after the six day war of 1967 and its images of heroic Jewish soldiers. But now that these images have been replaced with the realpolitik of tanks shooting tear gas at rock throwing children, American enthusiasm for Israel wanes. We want Israel to look like the underdog David that took on the Goliath of five Arab armies in 1947. We want T’Challa and instead find ourselves strange bedfellows with Kilmonger. Truth be told, Zionism does not venerate the words of Martin Luther King in the same way as we Americans. Those Jews who gathered in Basel, Switzerland in 1897 for the First Zionist Congress were ostensibly saying, “We have tried non-violent protest. We have turned the other cheek for 2,000 years and what has it brought us? We have tried to assimilate but the goal posts are always moved further back. And in the meantime, we as a people have eroded and frayed into a passive, timid and weak nation. And so we are going to claim the mantle of power and re-enter history, once and for all, judgment be damned.” Perhaps the best example of this ethos is the way in which Israel chooses to commemorate the Holocaust. You may not realize it, but there are actually two different days dedicated to the memory of its victims. The nations of the world, including our own, mark the date of January 27th, the day on which Auschwitz and Birkenau were liberated by Allied forces. The message is clear: the world rose up and came to save the powerless Jewish victims (albeit five years and six million too late). There is only one country that does not commemorate the Holocaust this way: Israel, which marks the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan as Yom HaShoah to commemorate the date of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, in which a small and out-gunned group of Jewish young adults and children rose in armed resistance, killing nearly 300 German soldiers. The Nazis eventually burned the ghetto, killing the rebels alongside the 13,000 remaining inhabitants. The contrasting messages of these conflicting Holocaust Remembrance days is stark. For the world, it’s a pat on the back for the liberation of helpless Jews. But for Israel, it is the taking up of arms to fight to the death, even in a hopeless situation. In fact, the full name of the observance is Yom Hazikaron laShoah ul’G’vurah, or Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day. This is how the country has chosen to observe its history: as the day upon which the people began to fight back. As he lays wounded and dying, the villain Kilmonger offers his final words to his nemesis. He says to T’Challa, “Throw me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped off the slave ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.” As a member of a people who laid their claim by choosing death over slavery at Masada, and then waited 2,000 years to see it fulfilled, I mourned for the fictional Kilmonger. And I offered thanks and gratitude for our ancestors who demonstrated the strength and resolve to rise from history’s door mat, and respond, “Never again.”… I want to thank Reverends Kym McNair and Merle McJunkin of Antioch Baptist Church for their willingness to discuss these issues and their guidance in framing these thoughts. I look forward to joining the Antioch community once again this February for an adult version of our civil rights trip, and I invite you to join us. Information will be distributed on Yom Kippur.
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS Challenges Facing Our Female Clergy Members Rosh Hashanah Sermon 2018 Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe This morning constitutes a joyous event for our community as we gather to welcome not only the Jewish New Year but Cantor Elizabeth Sternlieb as well. We delight in her musical and spiritual leadership and look forward to her influence further permeating our lives. I want to take this moment of completing our clergy team to speak about an issue that has been on our minds and our national conscience over the past year: the experience of women, especially within the professional work environment. With so many courageous women stepping forward over the past year to speak personally of the ways in which they have been harassed or subject to uncomfortable behaviors and unfair practices, it behooves us to look in the mirror and examine our own practices as a Jewish community. After all, while we might expect our spiritual institutions to stand as beacons of the values we espouse, I humbly admit that the synagogue world sometimes struggles to live up to such ideals. And so I wish to utilize today’s convening to speak openly about this issue. At the outset, I want to recognize the dissonance of this message being delivered by the lone male member of our clergy team. And while I certainly intend to avoid delving into “mansplaining”, I also recognize that we male allies are sometimes able to utilize our standing to give voice to our female colleagues. And so after close conversation with Rabbi Linzer, Cantor Sternlieb and other colleagues within our movement, I would like to humbly move forward. Not so long ago, there was no such thing as a female rabbi or cantor. In fact, there was no such thing as a Bat Mitzvah until 1921, and my generation was really the first in which they became normative in the Reform movement. Sally Priesand became the first American female reform rabbi in 1972, followed by the conservative movement in 1985. Once the gates were opened, women increasingly entered into the field, constituting a majority of reform rabbinical students by the year 2000 and representing more than two-thirds of total graduates by the time of my ordination in 2007. The demographics run even more extreme for cantors, with classes regularly featuring a greater than 3 to 1 female to male ratio. And yet two weeks ago, I received a call from a female colleague who is considering leaving the large congregation she serves as an assistant rabbi, in the hope of becoming a senior rabbi elsewhere. This colleague is incredibly intelligent, well-spoken and deeply experienced. She graduated from a top university. And yet I know that her path will be much more difficult than mine solely because she is a woman. Why the discrepancy? Let’s start with this: consider an average size synagogue, with two clergy members. If both clergy members are male, the synagogue is considered to be “normal”, maybe a little “traditional”. If one is male and the other female, the synagogue is still normal, or maybe even a little “progressive”. But if both clergy are female? Well, it must be a feminist synagogue! To wit, I wonder if any of us here can think of a multi-clergy synagogue staffed only with females. And yet it would be easy to do so with males, despite our increasingly minority status. Furthermore, male clergy have a much easier time ascending to positions of seniority. As of last year, even though more than half the rabbis in associate positions were women, men outnumbered women four to one among senior or solo positions. Like other careers which have become overwhelmingly female oriented like nurses or teachers, the associate rabbi or cantor has largely become the domain of the female clergy person. Here is an interesting exercise: try to name a female senior rabbi of a large congregation who was hired directly and not promoted from within. In other words, a female senior rabbi who was elected through an open search process. In the year 2018, there are almost none to speak of. For many female rabbis, the position of senior rabbi represents a glass ceiling that can only be broken by spending years at the synagogue first proving yourself and assuaging the congregants’ fears that your gender might render you inauthentic. But when a female rabbi enters the open market as an unknown? It is incredibly challenging for her to win the position. Another colleague of mine graduated from Yale and worked diligently through rabbinical school. But when
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS placement came around, she could not find employment anywhere. She searched unsuccessfully for several year. Only after serving as the interim rabbi of a suburban Philadelphia synagogue did the congregants get to know her and eventually elect her their senior rabbi. But without this interim period of trust building, she would not have been considered. I dare say that a male candidate would not have faced such scrutiny. And so, although women now represent over half the reform rabbinate, they occupy only one fifth of its positions of leadership. And if and when they actually do achieve such institutional parity, they are paid 85% of what their male counterparts earn. The systematic bias against female leaders is even worse in the non-congregational world. A 2015 survey revealed that although 70% of the total workforce in the Jewish nonprofit sector is female, just 17% of the positions of leadership within Jewish Federations nationally are occupied by women. In addition, these women earn on average 59% of their male counterparts. Allow me to pause and address the elephant in the room. In its 69 year history, Temple Beth El has never employed a female senior rabbi. And with her installation in 2013, Rabbi Linzer became the first ever full time female rabbi employed by our congregation. In the congregation’s defense, we have featured at least one female clergy member since Cantor Dana Anesi’s installation in 1982, when the idea of a female cantor was still deeply controversial. And when assessing our congregation’s failure to elect a female rabbi before Rabbi Linzer, we must note the amazingly low turnover rate of Temple Beth El’s rabbis. I am fortunate to serve as only the third senior rabbi of this congregation since 1968. And finally, we should note that the committee seriously considered multiple female candidates in the last senior rabbi search, including a finalist who eventually found placement in a prominent congregation in Seattle. Nevertheless, our congregation will clearly benefit not if but when our first female senior rabbi is named. Why is this important? Recently published research by Benjamin Knoll of Center College and Cammie Jo Boilen of Georgetown University reveals the impact of the presence of female clergy members to the self-esteem and empowerment of young women. They argue that as children, we imagine ourselves occupying the roles which society models for us. The primary opportunities for young women to witness firsthand females in roles of executive power come from perhaps the female school principal and most often the female clergyperson. There are many women among us today who inhabit lofty professional positions. But our children are seldom present to experience their work. Offering a female rabbi or cantor not only communicates to our children that they can achieve positions of executive leadership but also allows them to witness its execution up close. An all-male clergy team communicates the opposite: that it is the man’s position to speak and the woman’s to listen. And so Knoll and Boilen reveal that a gender gap in psychological and economic empowerment remains a constant among those whose religious congregational leaders growing up were exclusively men. In other words, it’s not just politically correct to feature women on the pulpit. Failing to do so actually impairs our daughters from developing into the women they can one day become. We can see the corrosive effect of failing to offer examples of female empowerment in today’s haftarah. We read the story of a woman named Chana, who struggles with infertility. Passionate and determined, Chana travels to the temple in Jerusalem to beseech God directly. There is only one problem - until now, no woman has ever done this. The Torah recounts stories of women asking their husbands to pray on their behalf. But Chana is the first to break this mold and to make her own petition. When the priest Eli observes Chana fervently praying, he assumes she must be drunk and scolds her for her lewd conduct. After all, it is beyond his imagination that this is something a woman can do on her own. Once Eli comprehends the situation, he apologizes and seeks to support Chana. She therefore establishes a precedent which allows for women to act independently, something which is sorely missed in today’s Torah portion, in which Sara is noticeably absent from the near death of her son Isaac at the hands of her husband Abraham. The juxtaposition of the Torah and Haftarah present a before-and-after view of what happens when society affords examples of leadership for women alongside men. Chana opens a door which her ancestor Sara could only wished to have entered. It is noticeable that when the Talmud establishes the structure of Jewish prayer in which we participate today, it is Chana who emerges as its paradigm for both men and women. We pray today according to the trail blazed by Chana. And yet many well intentioned and otherwise progressive people still carry an internal and often unconscious bias against female clergy members. Two months ago, Rabbi Linzer and I co-officiated at a funeral for a beloved member of our congregation. As both of us maintained a close relationship with the deceased, Rabbi Linzer delivered the main eulogy and I followed with a shorter one. At the cemetery, a mourner approached both me and Rabbi Linzer. She first thanked me, the “rabbi” and then turned to Rabbi Linzer and said, “Oh
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS yes, and thanks also to you. You know, when you got up to speak, I turned to my friend and said, “That must be the president of the sisterhood, because she speaks so well!” I can only imagine that this well intentioned mourner was raised in a community in which models of female religious leadership were lacking. And while this example might be noteworthy, such assumptions are altogether normal in the synagogue world and yes, are often communicated by women as well. I cannot tell you how many times Rabbi Linzer and I have been present in a meeting in which I get called Rabbi and she gets called Maura. For many of us, it’s second nature. Our female colleagues in other reform synagogues tell many of the same stories. Maybe it’s the congregant who meets the female rabbi and asks them where the actual rabbi is. Maybe it’s the congregant who doesn’t want the female rabbi to preside over their child’s bar or bat mitzvah or their loved one’s funeral, because such a milestone event requires a “real” rabbi. Maybe it’s the congregant who tells the female clergy that she is “too cute” to be a rabbi. The fact is that my female colleagues are often subject to belittling or dismissive comments. And we are guilty of this at Temple Beth El as well. Beyond hierarchical glass ceilings and unequal pay scales, perhaps the most problematic issue permeating congregational life is the institutionalized harassment and objectification of female clergy members. Even over my own brief tenure here at Beth El, our female clergy have been subject to comments on their looks and attire. A congregant suggested to one of our clergy members that she was too pretty to work in a synagogue. One congregant went so far as to joke that the clergy person should join in a tryst. And so on. I will say that when we decided collectively to move away from wearing robes at the high holy days, one concern voiced by our female clergy was how their outfits would be judged by the congregation. And I fully understand this fear. I am happy to report that in response to the issues laid out today, the Central Conference of American Rabbis has recently announced the formation of a Task Force on the Experience of Women in the Rabbinate, aimed towards addressing the reality of life in the rabbinate as experienced by women rabbis, including gender-based bias, inappropriate comments, sexual harassment and assault, lack of proper institutional support, undermining behavior, and issues related to contracts, pay equity and parental leave. But while our movement considers constructive steps towards true gender equality within synagogue life, we are compelled by the spirit of the high holy days to turn inward and make our own teshuva. My rabbinic colleague Kari Hofmaister Tuling of Congregation Kol Haverim in Glastonbury, Connecticut authored a list of suggestions for congregational life. Having built upon this, I am hoping that we all might consider the following five steps in the new year: First, please refer to any member of our clergy as Rabbi or Cantor regardless of how cute or young or approachable or bubbly or fun he or she is. Second, and on a similar note, please refrain from commenting on the physical appearance or fashion choices of our clergy members. Yes, I recognize the stereotype of the rabbi as the elderly, bearded male and that you mean to comment positively on the deviation from this standard. But this image no longer applies, and pointing out such physical traits only helps to reinforce outdated archetypes. I understand that you mean the best when you say, “If rabbis and cantors had looked more like you when I was young, I would have gone to synagogue much more often!” But ask yourself if you would say the same to your child’s teacher or physician. And then, perhaps compliment the rabbi on her competence instead. Third, recognize that women have a harder time establishing themselves as executives and experts. To that end, our clergy and staff will avoid participating in any all-male panels or celebrations. When you enter the synagogue on Yom Kippur, you will find our adult education catalog for the coming year. I am proud to say that six of our nine featured lecturers are women. Truth be told, we had scheduled another male academic but then learned that he was under investigation and subsequently terminated from his position at a major Jewish institution for multiple instances of sexual harassment. So we replaced him with a woman. Fourth, we must continue to offer our female employees equal pay and benefits, including parental leave as a standard clause for all contracts. Married female clergy should never have to operate under the assumption that their compensation is complementary to their partner’s primary income. We must insist upon equal pay for equal work. And all search committees for future hires will continue to feature equal female representation. Fifth, and here I am challenging myself as both a spiritual leader and staff executive, we must recognize that
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS women regularly face harassment on account of their gender and we must believe them when they report it. Each of us bares the responsibility to serve as an advocate and ally when hearing such remarks. After all, our congregation is only as strong as our team members feel empowered and comfortable to operate. As our nation reflects upon our standards and practices, we are behooved to do so here at Beth El today. Among us sits a generation of young men and women, carefully observing our actions and words to better understand the society into which they are entering. We owe these emerging leaders the opportunity to locate positive examples of empowerment and professionalism within the walls of this synagogue. And just as the priest Eli displayed the humility necessary to admit that his understanding of the role of women was outdated, so too must we be willing to let go of antiquated stereotypes and practices, so that we may live up to the prophetic words of Isaiah, “For My house will be called a house of prayer for all people.” Shana Tova
Embracing Our Moral Discomfort Kol Nidre Sermon 2018 Rabbi Maura Linzer The first time I heard about the parent-child separations along our Southern border was on my Facebook newsfeed. My eyes landed on one particular photo. Maybe you’ve seen it. The picture shows a bus with rows and rows of empty car seats that were used to transport detained toddlers. The caption read “ICE’s Special Prison Bus for Babies.” I recognized those car seats. They were the exact same ones that I put my children into every day. The ones we use to take them to school and to soccer and trips here to Temple. For a second, I pictured my own children being yanked away from me and strapped into those car seats by people speaking a foreign language and whisked away to a place where they would not know a soul. I thought: I’m not getting the whole picture. There must be some rational explanation. Perhaps the children’s parents were criminals and they were being removed for their own protection. Yet as events unfolded, it became apparent that this was not the case at all. That night, I was grateful to put my children to bed, but my troubled feeling persisted. In fact, lying beside them only made it more difficult to accept the reports that crying toddlers were not allowed to be touched or comforted by workers, or even by their own siblings. The feeling in the pit of my stomach grew worse until finally I asked myself: why am I trying so hard to subdue my outrage? It’s what we all do though, isn’t it? We attempt to distance ourselves from our moral discomfort as a self-protective mechanism. We think that if we dwell too long in the uneasiness, it will weigh us down and distract us from our everyday lives. And so we’ve become accustomed to riding waves of fear and indifference. We push aside our distress. Sometimes it is replaced with numbness, or even worse, coarseness. But I don’t want to be numb anymore. Right now, I want to feel. And I ask each of you to go there with me, to allow yourself to really feel. And then not stop there. I want us to hold onto the moral discomfort and let it inspire us to action. Many of us are already deeply involved in serving our community. It’s one of the cornerstones of Beth El’s identity. Some of us are engaged in social action projects because we identify with the experience of being a stranger in a foreign land. Others believe that since we are all created in the image of God, we are responsible to help all of humanity. And there are those among us who are driven to improve our world because the performance of mitzvot represents a fulfillment of our partnership with the Divine. Ultimately, while our motivations may vary, our commitment to justice constitutes of pillar of who we are as a community. Yom Kippur only heightens our awareness of our need to act on behalf of others. In tomorrow morning’s Haftarah reading from the Book of Isaiah, we will read how the prophet chastises our people. While the children of Israel appear to go through the motions of fasting and prayer, their ritual observances are meaningless as they don’t lead to any significant change in action. Isaiah explains that ritual observances are only
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS acceptable to God if they inspire action. And our prophet teaches that we are renewed by healing the world. Members of Beth El volunteer for every organization under the sun. We collect. We buy. We gather. We march. We post. We donate. We show-up. When we put out a call earlier this spring to collect supplies for detained children, the donations didn’t just arrive—they poured in. When we asked for donations for the Jewish community in Cuba, we collected over 600 lbs. of supplies. Mitzvot such as these should be celebrated and praised. But this kind of work only addresses the symptoms of the problems. Yet, the root causes remain. We collected canned goods today to feed the hungry, yet food insecurity in Westchester will continue unabated. Over the summer we collected supplies for the underserved schools, yet year after year, local schools still can’t afford necessary supplies for their classrooms. How do we get to the source of the problem? How can we channel our moral outrage to bring about change that is truly transformative? This evening, I would like us to consider one solution: community organizing. Community organizing offers us the chance to join together with those who share our core values and create long-term and effective change in our local neighborhoods. It’s a strategy for advocacy that assumes that we can make a greater impact when we band together with our like-minded neighbors. When we build coalitions, we increase our influence on policy makers, and we forge new and meaningful partnerships. Some of you may be familiar with the Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement. For decades, the RAC has served as the hub of Jewish social justice and public policy and advocacy work for our movement. The RAC was the first social justice religious lobby, evolving out of the civil rights movement. You may not know it, but the Voting Rights Act was drafted in the RAC’s offices. Today, the RAC represents our values and mobilizes around federal, state, and local legislation. Every year, our 10th graders visit the RAC in Washington DC and meet with other teens from around the country. Together they learn about important issues, meet with policy makers on Capitol Hill, and lobby to enact change. When our confirmands reflect upon core experiences that shaped their Jewish identities, the most impactful experience by far is their experience with the RAC. Recently, RAC leaders began thinking about how they could strategically expand in a few key geographic areas across the country. After assessing a major victory in California in 2014, they chose New York, Ohio, Texas and Illinois as their next priorities. Now you may be thinking “how did progressive New York get on a list with states such as Texas and Ohio?” Let’s play a quick game of “How well do you know your progressive state?” Are you ready? Question number one: Until last April, what two states could automatically prosecute 16 and 17 year olds as adults? 1. South Carolina and 2. New York Our congregation joined an interfaith coalition to overturn this law with the passage of the Raise the Age bill. We welcomed speakers into our congregation to highlight this injustice and called for action. The interdenominational partnership eventually bore the fruit of real change. Question number two: In regard to confusing deadlines, antiquated registration, and no early voting, which state is deemed to have the worst voting system in the country? Give yourself a point if you guessed New York. Your final question is a multiple choice one: Which State had the most anti-Semitic incidents in 2017? Was it Indiana, West Virginia, or New York? If you guessed New York, then you are correct! The point is, as progressive as it might seem, New York needs to make improvements. In order to address these issues, the RAC has hired a full-time community organizer, Russ Agdern to oversee efforts in New York State. This summer, I traveled to the center of the universe, Schenectady, to meet with 25 other New York Rabbis to discuss our communities and issues that impact our part of the state. This group of rabbis represents a substantial portion of Reform congregations in New York. Let me give you an idea of how community organizing might work here. Rabbi Stephanie Kolin went to California in 2012 to organize rabbis in both the Los Angeles and the Bay Area. From these visits, a common issue arose. Across California, congregations wanted to support the Trust Act, which offered a remedy to a state-wide immigration crisis. While a prior change in law had intended to make the deportation of dangerous
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS immigrants easier, the unintended consequence was a generalized state of fear among immigrant communities. Individuals suddenly found themselves fingerprinted as a witness to a crime on one day, and the next day, without warning, were deported by ICE. Understandably, undocumented immigrants were no longer willing to serve as witnesses or report a crime. Someone trapped in a domestically abusive relationship, could no longer call the police, because he or she could be deported in the process. Through community organizing, over a 100 Reform rabbis across California delivered a 2014 High Holiday sermon in support of the Trust Act, urging their congregants to call the governor and voice their support. And they did. Jews from across the state shut down the switchboards and Reform leaders spoke with the governor, who agreed to sign the Act. It was a huge victory for both undocumented immigrants in California and the Reform movement. Over the next several months, RAC NY will explore potential issues via conversations with clergy and lay leaders. By mid-January, we hope to finalize our initial group of 25 partner congregations and announce our target issue in coordination with coalition partners outside of our movement. But until there is an official campaign, I have a few requests: First, attend our session tomorrow afternoon with Reform Jewish Voice of New York State, an organization that will soon merge with RAC NY. Co-chairs, Ellen Greely and Marc Landis, will be here to discuss voting rights and questions of citizenship, educational equity, reproductive rights, and bail reform. Their session requires no prior background, and it’s a great way to learn more about this work. Then you can join us this winter, as we welcome Russ Agdern, the newly appointed community organizer for RAC New York. He will share ways in which we can get involved both as individuals and as a congregation. Look for more information in our upcoming bulletin. If you are a teen or the parent of a teen who wants to get involved, join us in Albany at National Federation of Temple Youth’s annual teen advocacy day taking place on March 17th-18th. We will be organizing a delegation from our congregation. Finally, as we move throughout this process, we will reach out more broadly to ask for your support. Please don’t be surprised if you get an email or a call from me. We can no longer ride waves of indifference and fear. Join me in acting upon our shared moral outrage. This year, let us not be numb and instead listen to our hearts. This year, let us bring about the changes we want to see in the world. This year, let us help the Reform movement really move. Shana Tova!
Confessions of a Rationalist Jew Yom Kippur Morning Sermon 2018 Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Let me know if this sounds familiar - I don’t believe in God. The idea of a bearded deity on a cloud watching every moment of my life, rewarding my deeds and punishing my sins, simply does not resonate. As I encounter the Yom Kippur liturgy, it is hard to imagine a God who writes our names in a book and decides whether to grant each of us another year of life. And it’s even harder to forego the wisdom of science to believe in this day and age that the world was created in six days and that pairs of every animal survived on a boat for 40 more. For this reason, despite my connection to Jewish tradition, I am most definitely not religious. I encounter this argument with enough regularity to want to discuss it with you. This morning/afternoon, I would like to introduce the concept of Rational Judaism. This theology is neither new nor liberal in origin. It has existed within Judaism for over a thousand years and claims adherents from orthodoxy through progressive denominations, united by the belief that God may be perceived according to the laws of logic and reason. And yet, I am constantly surprised to encounter Jews who are unaware that such an option exists. And so today, I would like to discuss it with you.
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS Rational Judaism first entered our people’s collective conscious with the emergence of the philosopher Moses Maimonides, who conceived of God as an unchanging and impersonal source of power, devoid of any anthropomorphic or human-like qualities. Maimonides reasoned that if change is a constant in the universe, it must be powered by a source which itself is undiminished. Maimonides’ God does not get happy or upset, reward or punish; write tablets or split seas. Rather, this God constitutes an eternal and fundamental presence in the world, permeating all of creation and making life possible. God’s power radiates through the universe in concentric circles of cause and effect, affecting all that we know. It is found in every blade of grass, each one of us, and gives life to the cosmos. If the non-rationalist conceives of God as a loving parent or spouse, the best analogy to the rationalist concept is perhaps gravity - a force which directs and constantly impacts our lives, but with neither consciousness nor care. Rational theology allows for a Jewish God who does not pay attention when you pray nor care when you do mitzvot. Maimonides says there is nobody counting and nobody listening, just as gravity does not get sad when you fall down. God simply is. This idea can be both deeply liberating and threatening. On one hand, the non-rationalist Judaism to which we are accustomed must account for a personal God who allows children to die, sickness to impair our loved ones and atrocities to occur. Rational Judaism does not bear such a heavy burden. On the other hand, rational Judaism envisions a world in which we are largely alone, void of an ultimate arbiter of justice and source of loving kindness. There is neither comfort nor solace that our words or deeds will be rewarded. And so in introducing rationalist theology, I would like to explore two key questions which are especially pertinent as we gather on this Day of Atonement. First, how do we reconcile the rationalist concept of God with the Torah and prayer book, which both describe God in deeply personal and human-like terms? And second, what benefit do we receive from prayer or mitzvot in a universe in which God is not listening, rewarding or punishing? Let’s begin with our tradition’s anthropomorphic rendering of God. Maimonides begins from the premise that God is ultimately unknowable. Like infinity, the concept of God is simply beyond our understanding. For instance, say I asked you to invent in your mind a new animal which has never been seen. The best we can do as humans is to create combinations of parts of animals we already know. Perhaps yours was a three legged zebra with fins. The point is, we are unable to perceive concepts of which we are not already familiar. We can no more visualize God than a fish can a birthday cake. As we are limited by our language and concepts to which we are already familiar, our ancestors attempted to express their ideas about God through these means. The Torah, then, is not a literal account but mankind’s best attempt to approximate the idea of God through the highly limited linguistic tools of images and metaphor. That is, almost a thousand years ago, Maimonides already warned against taking the Torah literally. We humans convey otherwise incommunicable meaning through the power of metaphor. When I say today that I am so hungry that I could eat a horse, I am trying to communicate a level of hunger beyond standard human expression. Likewise, when the prayer book calls God “Avinu Malkeinu”, our parent and sovereign, its authors are attempting to paint a portrait of immense power and personal connection beyond standard prose. But if God is a constant source of energy in the universe, God cannot change and therefore cannot have opinions or emotional outbursts. But since we are familiar with these human-like qualities, we use them to describe the indescribable. We assign gender, personality and emotion to God, as though we could do so with gravity or for that matter, love. We call out to God in the second person, imitating the structure of dialogue to which we are accustomed. The danger, warns Maimonides, is when we take these metaphors literally. After all, it would be a terrible idea for me to attempt to eat an actual horse. But for many of us here today, we commonly err in mistaking the book in our hands for prose rather than poetry. The same holds for Torah narratives such as Noah’s ark or the splitting sea. The rationalist God does not subvert the laws of nature or physics to create miracles. However, the human being encounters the world with awe and writes narratives accordingly, not as history but rather as memory. Perhaps the best example of this is the Christian New Testament, which offers four gospels – four different personal and often conflicting accounts of the same history. Likewise, the Torah does not constitute a volume of objective history but highly subjective memory. Maimonides adds that the stories of the Torah are less geared towards historical accuracy and more towards the dissemination of core values, once again through metaphor. For example, the descriptive account of the
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS Passover story implants within the Jewish people the ethic of freedom and the corresponding responsibility to struggle against injustice in any age. Like the story of Thanksgiving, its power comes not from its debatable historical premise but rather the fundamental lessons and morals it provides. As the people of the book, we are ultimately directed by the stories we tell to understand our place in the world. Even three hundred years before Maimonides, the great Torah commentator Rashi warned against taking the bible’s account of creation literally. Rather, this narrative teaches that as we are not responsible for the world of nature nor the earth’s inhabitants, we ought to exist as humble guests and careful stewards of a world that was here long before we ever showed up, and will surely endure after we are gone. I believe that one hindrance towards understanding the Torah’s stories from a mature perspective is that we mistakenly classify them as children’s literature. The stories of Genesis and beyond are most often taught in the elementary years and then seldom revisited. But these are not Dr Seuss or Frog and Toad - they are complex and multi-faceted narratives which have undergone millennia of careful editing and refinement. And so this year, in reclaiming this literature, our Scholar in Residence, Rabbi Norman Cohen and I will be teaching eight distinct stories over eight Sunday mornings. Please join us as we unpack the seven days of creation, Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath and so on, from an adult perspective. Please see the Adult Education Catalog on your seats for more information. But what about prayer and mitzvot? Why should we pray to a God who is not listening and perform mitzvot if no one is counting? Let’s begin with prayer. It is important to note that the Hebrew word for prayer, tefillah, is a reflexive verb meaning self-assessment or self-judgment. By definition, Jewish prayer is not understood as an external conversation but rather an internal exploration. Each Shabbat, we pause from our hectic lives to consider our place in the world and the week that has passed. And each Yom Kippur, we pause before entering into the busy season of our lives to facilitate our own process of atonement so that we may rectify damaged relationships and harmful behavioral patterns, and so avoid carrying the weight of our faults and guilt into the New Year. The ritual of Yom Kippur allows us to address and ultimately shed the burden of our transgressions and engage in personal renewal. For the rationalist, we pray not for God’s benefit but rather our own. God does not need our prayer - we require our own self-assessment. The liturgy of the prayer book offers an ethical standard against which we may measure ourselves. When we praise God for wisdom, mercy, justice and kindness, we highlight these values as ultimate goods towards which we all must strive. We would never say, “Thank you God for wisdom, insight, empathy and stubbed toes”; because stubbed toes are not a shared communal good. We pray for those things which we seek to include in our shared ethical standard. Through prayer, we seek to connect with the Godliness within each of us, and to tune into the moral frequency of the universe. In this way, communal prayer constitutes the calibration of our shared compass, through the nomination and confirmation of values we wish to espouse. Even in a rational context, prayer carries the power to make real change. Take for example the ritual of mi shebeirach, in which we read aloud the names and pray for those who are in need of healing. For the rational Jew, this is not meant as a reminder to a God who might otherwise not take note. Rather, this process publicly announces those requiring our love and support and reminds us to tend to their needs. In this way, we truly do bring about healing. While various studies have demonstrated that prayer itself does not raise the chance for recovery, others show that those patients who are aware that others are praying for them do indeed fare better, because they know they are not alone and they have something or someone to live for. Emotional and spiritual health impact physical well being. In this way, the mi shebeirach offers a tangible example of the efficacy of prayer, even for the rational Jew. Similar to the case of prayer, the rationalist Jew does not perform mitzvot in order to satisfy God. Instead, the mitzvot constitute a structure by which we may cultivate lives of meaning and create the community in which we want to live. We perform mitzvot because they are good for us and help us to exist in moral alignment with the world which we inhabit. They are a crutch and a structure towards leading a life of meaning. For instance, saying a blessing before eating allows us to recognize the good fortune of having enough to eat and consider those who toiled to produce the meal. And fasting on Yom Kippur was instituted to allow us to abstain from finding food so that we may focus on our moral reckoning. Other mitzvoth are directed towards communal cohesion. If a Jew chooses to keep kosher and avoid using electricity on Shabbat, she will naturally eat with other Jews and live within walking distance of the synagogue and therefore other Jews. These norms allowed
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS our people to maintain a sense of belonging even through millennia of diasporic existence. Taken together, the 613 mitzvot constitute a highly evolved structure by which we may cultivate positive behavioral patterns and maintain a sense of community. In this way, perhaps the best analogy to the mitzvot is the weight watchers points system - a rigorous template of rules and measures constructed towards self-discipline and betterment. Yes, you can go without them. But it is human nature to likely end up cutting corners and ultimately faltering without this crutch. Even the holiday calendar is based upon rational need. As summer turns to Fall and we plant for the New Year, we observe the harvest festival of Sukkot as an expression of gratitude for nature’s bounty. As we approach the Winter solstice and the darkest days of the year, we fill our bellies with deep fried Chanukah goodies and kindle light in an otherwise darkened world. As the first signs of Winter’s thaw bloom in Israel, we enjoy the fruits of the land through Tu B’Shevat. We celebrate the coming of Spring through the revelry of Purim. And with that season’s arrival, we observe renewal through Passover as both an internal and external Spring cleaning of our homes and our souls. And on it goes. The Jewish calendar exists as a means towards reaping life’s joys and creating an ethic of gratitude. Personally, I cannot imagine experiencing the passing of time without it. So there you have it. Jewish practice does not require the adherent to surrender his or her belief in science and reason. Jewish theology, liturgy and orthopraxy (a fancy word for mitzvot), need not be sacrificed in the process. The rationalist Jew can truly have her cake and eat it too - just not today on Yom Kippur. However, before concluding, I want to underscore the point that Judaism may be understood equally through the rationalist and non-rationalist camps. Should the theology I am laying out today fail to resonate, I certainly do not mean to impugn belief in a living, personal God. That is the ultimate beauty of Jewish theology - there are multiple models from which to choose, so long as each is grounded in God’s unity and uniqueness. In his own time, Maimonides’ critics assailed him for creating a boring and emotionless God - and you might agree. But I give this sermon today for those of you who struggle with the notion of a personal God, who read the words of the prayer book and wrestle with their meaning; to let you know that Judaism has a place for you as well. Most of all, I share these words with the many congregants who say that they do not believe in God. I have spoken with some of you, and my response is often the same - describe to me the idea of God that you reject, as I most likely will share your doubts. And then we can openly consider ideas of God which truly speak to us. And if after that, you still reject the idea of God altogether? Well, you’re here, and ultimately, Judaism cares less about what you believe and much more about the deeds of loving kindness you can perform. But perhaps this discussion opens for you the opportunity to consider where you may sit along the spectrum of Jewish thought. If so, consider this a personal invitation for further discussion. For all of us, a community of spiritual searchers, may the ritual of Yom Kippur open an opportunity for discovery and self-assessment, whether your God is keenly listening, or simply present among and within each and every one of us. Shana Tova.
Photo by Allen Weitzman
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS Can People Change: The Story of Aher Yom Kippur Afternoon Sermon 2018 Rabbi Norman Cohen, Ph.D. Having sinned by tasting of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden..or perhaps it was paradise. After taking a few steps away from the Garden, Adam turned to gaze at the place where he and Eve had felt at one with a God...whole...where they were at peace. And as he turned, something in him wanted to run back, almost as if he had left a part of himself there. However, there was no going back. They were destined to live outside the Garden. Yet, they would carry with them the memory of Eden. But would the memory of wholeness become a roadmap for the eventual return of humankind. Was return — teshuvah —even possible...or was it simply a dream never to be fulfilled? Just as Adam was placed in the Garden and was commanded not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, but found it impossible not to do so, four famous 2nd century sages are pictured in Rabbinic Literature as entering the Pardes...a mystical garden or orchard ....also symbolizing the dangerous pursuit of knowledge. One of the sages was Elisha Ben Abuyah. Like Adam, Elisha tasted of the knowledge of the Garden and was led to sin. He came to deny God’s unity, thinking there were other powers in the universe. Elisha lost his faith in God and was forever destined to be known as Aher, the other, the paradigmatic apostate who was ostracized by the community. But could Aher return? Could he change and be accepted back by his fellow rabbis? By God? According to some Rabbinic authorities, even if one were to deny the existence of God, God would accept his/her repentance. So is repentance, return, essential change possible for every human being or not? Is it possible for Elisha - Aher to return? Listen to two stories about Aher: A. Elisha is pictured riding on horseback with his famous disciple R. Meir on Shabbat within the Sabbath limit..the Eruv..which marks the boundary of one’s personal domicile. All of a sudden, Elisha told R. Meir to turn back since up to that point was the Eruv. R. Meir asked: ‘How did you know?’ and Elisha told him that he was counting the footsteps of his horse. They had already reached the 2,000 cubits Shabbat limit. Meir said to him: ‘You possess all this wisdom and yet you will not return to God? To which Elisha responded: ‘I don’t have the power to return. I simply can’t. How many of us, like Aher, were we totally honest with ourselves, believe that we do not have the power, the ability to change? That essential change is impossible? That real Teshuvah doesn’t happen? Most people think that we are who we are ...and as we grow older, we become more of who we are. The psychologist Gordon Allport wrote that the definition of personality is that you know who you are when you wake in the morning ..there is something in us that feels unchangeable. Yet, listen to the touching story of Elisha’s death. “Elisha was taken ill and his student, R. Meir, who still loved him, came to him and begged him to repent. Elisha said to him: ‘Will they accept me after all of this?’ Meir responded by citing Ps. 90:3– “You turn us to contrition.. even at the point when our life is crushed...even at the moment of our death.’ At that, Elisha burst into tears and died, and R. Meir, his student, said that it appeared from his tears that his master died in the midst of repenting. In this tradition, Elisha repented, changed, and his Teshuvah was accepted. My friends, these texts impel us to ask the question that haunts each one of us.. Is change, a return to our higher selves possible..or not? Can we change even if our actions, our attitudes are so ingrained, so excessive that it appears impossible? What do WE believe? WE enter this sanctuary..all of us...you and I every Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur; we ask God for forgiveness; we utter the words of the confessional, “al chet she-chatanu,”..and beat our breasts “ashamnu, bagadnu,” and we expect God to grant us atonement- “selach lanu.” But can we repent..... or do we simply go through the motions — we utter the words....but we ourselves don’t believe that we can really change. No matter how much therapy we have had, we simply tinker with the edges, BUT..people’s basic personae stay the same. And it will be like this year after year.
HIGH HOLY DAY SERMONS Well, one thing is for sure ...If we are to change, we have to truly want to in the deepest recesses of our beings. You know the joke... about how many therapists it takes to change a light bulb?? Just one...but the light bulb has to really want to change! But further, perhaps we can learn something from the classic Rabbinic comment concerning the notion of the coming of the Messiah. The rabbis stressed that whether or not we believe that the Messiah or a messianic era will ever come, we should act AS IF —“k’ilu” — the Messiah will come. The result will be that through our actions, we will make our relationships, our lives, the world better. So, too, even if knowing ourselves, we doubt that we can essentially change, let us act AS IF it is possible and give to others from the depth of our beings. And that is where Teshuvah begins...engaging in acts that benefit others even while the others in our lives help us to let go of our preoccupation with our own selves. As I was putting together these remarks, I couldn’t help but recall a letter I received one day with the return address...SDSP #35516, Souix Falls, S.D. It was a letter written by a white collar Jewish inmate at the South Dakota State Penitentiary who had read my book, Self, Struggle and Change, and wanted to know if I truly believe that people have the capacity to change. It seemed that since he was incarcerated, his family disowned him ...no one...neither his parents nor his siblings ever visited him. But he was trying hard to change...he was taking courses ...he hoped to start his life anew some day. He asked me if I could write to his mother and tell her that he loves her and is working hard on himself....I sat there crying. For days, I struggled with whether I should get involved...Truth be told, I had no idea what he had done. But ...I finally did write to her, simply saying that I was sending my book which her son had read... that it meant something to him ...and that he loved her. Weeks went by....no response....but then I got a very angry note from her in which she said that I had no idea about the harm he had caused them and basically I should mind my own business. Seemingly, the end of the story. Yet......more that six months latter, a second letter arrived from inmate #35516, in which he told me that his mother and brother had come to visit him and brought his new nephew whom he had never seen. I’ve thought about inmate #35516 over the years, and have wondered if I have as much fortitude and willingness to change as he seemed to possess. My friends, this is not about others...It is about us...each one of us..Let US truly begin..... by giving the highest and best that in us lies at any given moment. Let us return as far as we can, knowing that there is a power in the world that makes for wholeness which will ensure that our actions will make our lives better as a result. God cries out to each of us in the words of the prophet Malachi: “Shuva eilay,” Return to Me, “ve-ashuva aleichem,” and I will return to you! Perhaps then, like Adam and Eve, every time we plumb the depth of our beings, we take a step on our journey back...or ahead....to the wholeness of the Garden. But not the Garden of our infancy in which we naively believed that the world and we ourselves are perfect. Rather, the Garden of our maturity in which we know that nothing is so clear, nor so certain, but that joy and fulfillment are possible ...through encounter with the Others in our lives whom we love. #35516 wanted me to tell his mother that he loved her. Let us begin our journey back by telling someone that we care about how much we love them. Kein yehi ratzon. May it be so.
B’NEI MITZVAH 10/6 Jamie Lederman Jamie is an 8th grader at Robert E. Bell Middle School. She will become a Bat Mitzvah on October 6th. Her favorite subject in school is science. She enjoys horseback riding, track, skiing and spending time with her friends. Jamie volunteered at the SPCA for her mitzvah project. She is the daughter of Stephanie and Matt Lederman and has a younger brother, Ben, and a dog named Maizey.
10/20 Nicole Berg Nicole is a 8th grader at Seven Bridges Middle School. She will become a Bat Mitzvah on October 20th. Her favorite subjects in school are Science and English. She loves to play soccer, basketball and tennis. In her free time, she has fun hanging out and laughing with her friends. Nicole enjoys spending her summers at Camp Laurel in Maine. For her mitzvah project, she volunteered at the Community Center of Northern Westchester. Nicole is the daughter of Bonnie and Steven, and has an older brother, Evan.
10/27 Charles Goodstadt
10/20 Noah Ceisler Noah is an 8th grader at Seven Bridges Middle School and will become a Bar Mitzvah on October 20th, his actual birthday. Noah enjoys playing sports, hanging out with his CEL friends, his dogs Wilson and Lacey and wouldn’t pass up a game of poker. For his mitzvah project, Noah worked with young children at the Boys and Girls Club in Mt. Kisco. Noah is the son of Gayle and Brad and has an older bother, Josh.
Charlie is an eighth grader at Seven Bridges Middle School. He will become a bar mitzvah on October 27th. His favorite subject in school is math and he loves to play sports, especially baseball. For his mitzvah project, Charlie worked with young children with disabilities at the Miracle League of Westchester in Hartsdale, NY. Charlie is the son of Alan and Amanda. He has a brother, Daniel, and two sisters, Katie and Zoe. He also has a dog named Layla.
JUNIOR YOUTH COMMITTEE Sushi Making for 5th & 6th Graders Thursday, October 18 from 5:45–6:45 pm
Cupcake Wars for 2nd Graders Sunday, October 21 from 11:00 am–12:00 pm
Join Us For A Fun Night of Sushi Making! Work side-by-side with other students to prepare each dish with a master instructor and interact with classmates for a rich learning experience. In this class, kids will learn how to make perfect sushi rice and miso soup. They will have a great time as they create and enjoy their own hand made (non-fish) sushi rolls. Full ingredient list will be sent by e-blast.
Come bake with us after Religious School! Led by The Sweet Craftery, children will decorate and create a display of cupcakes to be “judged.” They will also paint their own cupcake bakery signs. Come join in the sweetness! *All ingredients are made in a nut free facility. Gluten free cupcakes available upon request. Full ingredient list will be sent by e-blast.
Registration Fee: $15/person To Register: Please email by October 4: firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration Fee: $20/person To Register: Please email by October 5: email@example.com
Pick up is 6:45 pm in the Social Hall.
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JOYS & SORROWS
HEARTFELT CONDOLENCES TO Jackie Glassman on the death of her stepmother, Catherine Toohey Jackie Meyers Smith on the death of her mother, Ethel R. Meyers The Star Family on the death of Doris Beatrice Star Scott Stein on the death of his father, Albert Stein
CONGRATULATIONS TO Ally and Victor Chemtob on the birth of their daughter, Natalie Chemtob Amanda and Mitch Polikoff on the birth of their son, Dylan Polikoff
OUR SPECIAL THANKS TO THOSE SPONSORING ONEGS Steven & Bonnie Berg Brad & Gayle Ceisler Alan & Amanda Goodstadt Matthew & Stephanie Lederman Sam Lewinter
RECENT GIFTS (Continued) Senior Rabbiâ€™s Discretionary Fund Steven & Alice Greenwald in honor of the wedding of Janice and Eric Horowitz Bernice Bassin in memory of Milton Bassin Joshua & Stacey Divack in memory of Barbara Blaustein Charlie & Robin Elkin in memory of Gladys Katz Martin Friedman in memory of Sharon Friedman Charles & Eve Poret in memory of Francis Poret Victor & Suzanne Rosenzweig in memory of Mel Rosenzweig Tikkun Olam/Social Justice Fund Steven & Elaine Dreyer in memory of Oscar Wortsman Jeffrey & Debra Geller in memory of Nathan Shapiro Michael & Judy Gewitz in memory of Louis Lipshutz Michael & Karla Rubinger in memory of Phillip Roberts Jeffrey & Terri Yagoda in memory of Irvin Yagoda Tributes Brad Handler Rachel Dubin Gary & Ellen Byck in memory of Jacob H. Byck Brad & Gayle Ceisler in memory of Marvin Kessler Mitchell & Christina Kaufman in memory of Sally Silverman John and Cathleen Berner in memory of Doris Star Stanley and Elizabeth Star in memory of Doris Star Nancy Rosedale in memory of Ethel and Herb Rosedale Dorothy Dronkers in memory of Doris Star Sidney and Marjorie Gable in memory of Beverly Sussman Carl and Patricia Timko in memory of Doris Star Liz Star Winer in memory of Doris Star
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Published by the congregants of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester.
WE ARE AN INCLUSIVE CONGREGATION Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester appreciates the rich diversity of the Jewish community and invites all who seek a connection to Jewish life to join us. We encourage participation of interfaith couples and families as well as people of all backgrounds, ages, financial means, sexual orientations and gender identities. We welcome children and adults with disabilities and their families. We strive to ensure that our programs and facilities are accessible to all and to accommodate special needs. The synagogue is a kehilah kedoshah â€” a sacred community. Like a sukkah, it is constructed of many different branches woven together: the married and the unmarried, single parents, grandparents, non-Jewish spouses and those of all sexual orientations. The broader the sukkahâ€™s reach, the more tightly its branches are woven, the stronger it stands. So too the synagogue: the greater the variety of people welcomed within it, the closer they feel to one another, the stronger the temple stands.
Diane Thaler Vice President Treasurer
Alyssa White Secretary
firstname.lastname@example.org TRUSTEES Term Expires 2019 Stacey Divack Kim Gilman Deb Fass Jacobs Rand Manasse Karla Shepard Rubinger Carol Wolk Term Expires 2020 Robert Medway Jennifer Pariser Stephanie Saltzman Art Saltzman Alonna Travin Term Expires 2021 Eric Alani Lisa Crandall Brian Graff Gary Munowitz Stacey Pfeffer Stacey Stambleck
Richard Albert Immediate Past President Past Presidents, Honorary Members of the Board Barry Meisel Steve Adler Gloria Meisel Stanley Amberg William Pollak Charlene Berman May Rolle Lisa Davis David Ruzow Melvin Ehrlich Ernest M. Grunebaum
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SAVE THE DATE! The State of Our Union: Preparing for the Inevitable Thanksgiving Dinner Political Discussion Wednesday, November 21 at 7:00 pm with Ben Tulchin, Expert Political Pollster and Political Analyst
Before heading off for Thanksgiving, join us for an exclusive conversation with Ben Tulchin, founder and President of Tulchin Research, an award-winning pollster who serves as a senior strategist for candidate and ballot measure campaigns. Mr. Tulchin most recently served as the primary pollster for Bernie Sandersâ€™s presidential campaign. His clients have included former DNC Chairman and presidential candidate Howard Dean, former California Governor Gray Davis, U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Harry Reid, among many others. Tulchin recently helped elect the President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis. Mr. Tulchin will discuss the results of the November 4th election and speak specifically to the Jewish electorate, including the increasing divisiveness over American support for Israel. Join us for a frank and candid discussion that holds the potential to be more informative than what your great uncle has to say while passing the mashed potatoes.
Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester Bulletin - The Ladder - October 2018