DECEMBER 2021, ISSUE 11
ETZETERA THE OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF TEMPLE ETZ CHAIM
TABLE OF CONTENTS 3. Letters From Our Leaders
CLERGY Rabbi Rabbi Rabbi Rabbi
Ari Averbach Intern Rachel Simmons Emeritus Richard Spiegel Emeritus Shimon Paskow
4. Deja View 6. TEC's December Calendar 7. Birthdays & Anniversaries 8. Simchas 9. What is The Fast of Tevet? 10. TEC Education 11. TEC Community 12. GET TO KNOW ME: TEC Board 13. MYSTERY PHOTO 14. Kids Corner 16. TEC Tributes 17. ETZ-ITING EVENTS 20. Community Partners
Executive Director Gideon Manzur ECE Director Debbie Blumenthal Religious School Director Joyce Bronstein Experiential Ed/Youth Director Shannon Tepfer ECE Asst. Director Kathy Sharp Program/Events Coordinator Shane Silverstein Accounts Receivable Jessica Jacoby Marketing Assistant Alex Steinhauer Clergy Assistant Jill Rosenberg
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS President Shari Mark Executive Vice President Eric Feigenbaum Treasurer David Yodkovik Corresponding Secretary Elissa Lazarus Financial Secretary Wendy Margolis* Recording Secretary Beth Meyer VP, Building and Grounds Larry Slomowitz VP, Communications Dan Lubetkin VP, Early Childhood Education Joe Zwicker VP, Membership Jennifer Elson VP, Personnel/Legal Tom Milhaupt VP, Religion & Worship Benny Sommerfeld VP, Religious School Education Felicia Toporoff VP, Social Action Judy Gindi VP, Youth Ilana Sweet Trustee, Adult Education Sherri Finn-Werber* Trustee, Bingo Marshall Scherr* Trustee, Outreach Mark Goldstein Trustee, Strategic Planning Terri Zwicker President, Mens Club Colin Pullan President, Women of TEC Cindy Scherr Past President, Board Member Gary Katz Past President, Board Member Myles Simpson *Past President
RABBI ARI AVERBACH
When I first heard about the "War on Christmas," I thought that it was directed at the commercialization of the holiday. The opposing sides in this war, in my mind, were the sanctity of religion on one end and retail shopping on the other. Each year, the War on Christmas seemed to get worse - decorations going up earlier, not depicting a holy night from two millennia past, but a 20th century Coca-Cola-inspired commercial character and his flying reindeer.
Happy Hanukkah! I hope this Celebration of Lights, the miracle that is Hanukkah, has been fun, delicious and meaningful so far! How fantastic is that first bite of a hot latke and all the bites that follow!?
But it turns out the real War on Christmas, according to pundits, is that we have to substitute the word "holidays" for "Christmas." In this case, the two opposing sides in battle are Christians on one side and non-Christians on the other.
I am grateful too, that while we celebrate a 3,000year-old tradition, we get to create our own within our families and social circles.
Raising children in a mostly Christian country estimates tell us that roughly the same percentage of the US is Christian as Israel is Jewish - it is something we discuss a lot. Often called "The December Dilemma," we have to find a way to make the holy day of our neighbors make sense to us and our children. Some find solace in correcting the check-out clerk at the grocery store when she joyfully says, "Merry Christmas." That is their way of righting what they see as a wrong - to explain that not everyone celebrates this particular holiday. Even with my kippah on, as I buy kosher chicken, I just smile and say, "To you and your family as well." For me, in a time when people are just looking to share happiness, I don't feel the need to bring them down and explain that I don’t believe in, nor fully understand, their holy day. I do hope that they have a Christmas that is holy. And I hope that I, in shul for Shabbat - Christmas falls on Friday night and Saturday this year - find holiness in that evening as well. And hopefully the world will be a better place.
As with most of our holidays, it is the tradition and the flavors that speak to me, bringing me joy, recalling memories and reminding me of how lucky I am to have the ability to celebrate my heritage.
Looking to the near-future, the Board of Directors has approved the hiring of RDG, a professional fundraising firm, to help us raise capital to make the necessary improvements in our Beit Midrash, bringing it into the 21st century! Creating beautiful space, paying down the mortgage and, if we are lucky enough, starting an endowment which will ensure our future solvency and our ability to bring the best in religious events, social activities, programming and education. My goal is for TEC to be here for future generations, to educate anyone seeking learning, to maintain the continuity of celebrating as a community. How wonderful would it be for our current TEC family to see the results of this exciting project, and reflect with pride that we had 100% participation from our congregation? I feel confident I can count on all of you to make this a reality. As always, feel free to email or call me, I’d love to hear from you. My favorite - admittedly corny thing to say this time of the year is… see you all next year!
RABBI RACHEL SIMMONS email@example.com
We're starting to see garlands of lights, plastic reindeer and Christmas-tree shaped cutouts on lawns and in store windows. Your office might pass around a hat with names for Secret Santa. The annual block get-together might be labeled "Holiday Party,” but everyone knows Christmas is in the air. If we directly compare Hanukkah to Christmas, Hanukkah will lose every time. Who wants a festival about oil when you can have piles of presents, stockings and carols? Especially for kids, if Hanukkah is the only joyful Jewish celebration they regularly experience, of course they will begin to feel jealous and left out when they hear their friends talk about their family's Christmas traditions. Yes, Christmas is amazing, and it's lovely to attend Christmas celebrations as guests and even sing a carol or two.
But we Jews have the raucous joy of Purim in a few short months, and the family feasts of Passover, trees to plant on Tu B'shvat, special forts to camp out in for a week at Sukkot, and cheesecake to feast on past our bedtimes at Shavuot. Hanukkah is not the only fun holiday we can share with our children. Our young people learn how to be Jewish first and foremost from the adults they know and love. Instead of looking just at the upcoming winter, look to the entire year ahead - and commit with your ids to celebrating Jewishly year-round and cultivating an ongoing relationship with the Jewish calendar. And perhaps, in a few months, those same friends who invited us to their Christmas dinner can experience the merriment of a Purimspiel. This time as our guests.
D E J A
V I E W
A LOOK BACK AT TEMPLE EVENTS & PROGRAMMING MITZVAH DAY NOVEMBER 7, 2021 This year's Mitzvah Day was a huge success. The Social Action Committee organized events along with Youth, WOTEC, Mens Clubs and many other contributing departments and auxiliaries. The day began with our annual Blood Drive and continued with a variety of fantastic activities that included everything from baby blanket crocheting to jewelry-making and more. Toys and clothes were collected for those in need. Our thanks to everyone who organized and those who attended Mitzvah Day in 2021. Now, more than ever, it's so important to give to those less fortunate. Way to go, TEC!
D E J A
V I E W
A LOOK BACK AT TEMPLE EVENTS & PROGRAMMING GRADES K-2 HANUKKAH PROGRAM NOVEMBER 14, 2021 Our Kindergarteners, First Graders and Second Graders performed a variety of Hanukkah classics to a packed audience outside under the tent. These Religious School students had a wonderful time singing Hanukkah songs for their friends and family. Hanukkah may have been a little earlier this year than usual, but it was a great way to get into the holiday spirit!
WOTEC COOKIE EXCHANGE NOVEMBER 22, 2021 Women of TEC hosted a Hanukkah Cookie Exchange on Nov. 22. Along with pizza and salad, a wide variety of cookies were brought to the group in honor of an earlier-than-usual Hanukkah season. Many thanks to all who organized this fun event and to all who attended. Behold, the undeniable power of cookies! To see it bring people together is a wondrous thing.
INTERFAITH SERVICE NOVEMBER 24, 2021 TEC's annual tradition of the Interfaith Service with United Methodist Church continued this year at UMC. Rev. Anna Lee Mulford welcomed Rabbi Averbach, Rabbi Rachel and other TEC members in attendance to experience the tradition that has united our two congregations for almost 60 years. It was a joy to witness our two congregations endure and come together on "Erev Thanksgiving."
WEDNESDAY THURSDAY 1
8 FEED THE HUNGRY
WOTEC MAH JONGG AFTERNOON
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
THE FAST OF TEVET LEARN MORE ON PAGE 9
MONTHLY MITZVAH WEDNESDAY
TEC BOARD MEETING
SUN. 8:30 AM MON. 7:15 PM TUES. 10:00 AM WED. 7:15 PM FRI. 7:00 PM SAT. 9:30 AM SAT. 6:00 PM
Morning Minyan Service Evening Minyan Service Tuesdays with Rabbi Spiegel Evening Minyan Service Kabbalat Shabbat Shabbat Morning Services Community Havdalah
LET'S CELEBRATE THIS MONTH'S BIRTHDAYS & ANNIVERSARIES!
SO MANY COOL EVENTS IN DECEMBER AT TEC
TO OUR DECEMBER B ' N A I M I T Z V A H
JACOB SIMON CARMONA
Whether you have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah or a little bundle of joy on the way, please let us know so our entire community can share in the celebration. Send all simcha information to firstname.lastname@example.org
THE FAST OF TEVET? By Rabbi Averbach
A "fast day" just a week after Hanukkah?! There are a number of fast days throughout the year most of them in mourning of great tragedies from our history. The minor fast this month is on the Hebrew date the Tenth of Tevet (or, in Hebrew, Asarah b'Tevet), which falls on Tuesday, December 14th this year. It is the anniversary of the day, 2,600 years ago, when the Babylonian warrior-king Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the First Temple. “A siege is more than a military maneuver; it is a psychological attack.” Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz explains the reign of terror that began under Nebuchadnezzar in this way. His was not just the world’s mightiest army going against the defenseless Jewish people, it was also destroying the psyche of the Jews.
We carry that pain with us still. We know that when we are victims of hate crimes, the pain is not merely physical, but hits us deep inside, stirring up all the past suffering from each generation. Some Jews feel that we are constantly under attack, which makes them untrusting of anyone outside the faith. For 500 years, King Solomon's great Temple in Jerusalem stood as a beacon of hope to Jews around the world as a central place of holiness. Our ancestors made pilgrimage to that Temple to feel close with God and with the international Jewish community. And then it was destroyed something we all thought impossible. How could God's home on Earth be razed? It was not just military, it was also psychological. It decimates the very ideas that we thought Judaism was based on.
We were brought into exile for seventy years until Cyrus’s Persian army defeated the Babylonians and took control, allowing us to move back to Jerusalem. In the interim, we began to understand what it means to construct a faith without a building. While we mourn for the loss of the first Temple, some by fasting from sunrise to sunset, we also note that it is the beginning of Judaism being a global religion, where we don’t have an edifice complex. On Asarah b'Tevet, we are saddened that our world fell apart, but we are also reminded that our job is to bring godliness into the world from wherever we are.
TEC EDUCATION JOYCE BRONSTEIN
RELIGIOUS SCHOOL DIRECTOR
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION DIRECTOR
In the spirit of this season, in which our community exchanges gifts and enjoys Hanukkah and Thanksgiving with family and friends, I want to take the opportunity to sincerely thank everyone for the great gifts that Religious School has received this year. I would like to thank you for your continued donations to the Religious School Fund. Your assistance provides the extras for programs and activities to enhance our students' Jewish Education. The staff and I truly appreciate your generosity to the entire Religious School. Thank you to everyone for supporting our annual “Mitzvah Day.” Because of you, we were able to donate 72 new backpacks filled with school supplies to the children of Casa Pacifica, which I know that they truly appreciated. Thank you to all of our parents for giving your child the gift of a Jewish education that will last a lifetime. You will see the rewards of this gift as they grow up and become an adult! On a different note, please save the date and join us for “Havdalah & Hot Dogs” on Saturday, February 5th at 5:15 pm! Havdalah and Hot Dogs is an extravaganza for all ages. There will be fun, creative and meaningful activities, and it is always an exciting evening for all attendees. It’s time to take out your TEC scrapbook and continue filling more pages with pictures, memories, and fun!
As I write this article, our ECE Center is already on the countdown to Hanukkah at Temple Etz Chaim Preschool. We are planning all different ways in which we can experience Hanukkah such as learning how to play dreidel, reading stories, reenacting the story of Hanukkah, singing songs, tasting latkes and sufganiyot, making decorations and menorahs and classroom parties. We are learning throughout the school year how to make the holidays fun in our classroom cohorts without having large group celebrations. Our December Tot Shabbat will be on Friday, December 10th at 6pm. Rabbi Averbach and Rabbi Rachel will lead us in songs and blessings. As in past months, dinner will be served, and the cost is $18 per family. Everyone is invited to bring friends and family to our fun Shabbat night service. The entire ECE Center will be closed from December 24-31. School and Infant Care will resume on Monday, January 3, 2022. We look forward to the second half of our school year and more learning fun! The entire ECE Staff and I want to wish everyone a very Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year! Remember to be safe, wear your mask and enjoy the holidays!
Wishing you a Happy Hanukkah and a very happy and healthy 2022!
SHANNON TEPFER EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION & YOUTH DIRECTOR email@example.com
Mitzvah Day in November was such an incredibly rewarding experience! Thank you to our wonderful Youth Department families and community who helped by bringing coats, making jewelry for James Storehouse and creating cards of care and connection for Meals on Wheels. Additionally this past month we made and donated 100 sack lunches for Harbor House, an organization here in Thousand Oaks that helps those struggling with poverty and homelessness. In December, we are celebrating Hanukkah and the 2022 New Year! Activities this month include ice skating, cooking, crafts, resolutions, reflections, and more. Everyone is invited to join us! The perfect gift for Hanukkah this year is USY membership! There are so many wonderful events and activities for all ages to enjoy. Do your teens need Community Service credit? Our Machar leadership program is a great opportunity for credit and to get a chance to work with the wonderful K-2nd grade kids here at TEC. Our teen volunteers learn programming, leadership, problem solving, and have a good time too!
Youth Dept Ages & Groups: Machar (K-2nd), Kadima (3rd-5th), Jr's (6th-8th) & Sr's (9th-12th) December Events for USY: Sunday, Dec. 5, 11:30am- 1:00pm Jr USY (6th-8th) Hanukkah Hangout Saturday, Dec. 11, 6pm-8:30pm Jr’s and Sr’s Ice Skating and dinner at The Lakes Sunday, Dec. 12, 9:30am-10:30am Youth Commission (Parent Meeting) in Spiegel Hall Sunday, Dec. 12, 11:30am-1pm Machar “Miracles” Lounge Tuesday, Dec. 14, 6:15pm-7:30 pm Kadima New Years Party Saturday, Dec. 26 to Thursday, Dec. 30 Sr USY (9th-12th) International Convention in Washington DC
TEC COMMUNITY JUDY GINDI
VP, SOCIAL ACTION
PRESIDENT, WOMEN OF TEC (WOTEC)
Thank you to all who participated in Mitzvah Day! Thank you to Debra Levine who organized an incredible Blood Drive with over 90 donors. Adopt-a-Family’s deadline is the date of this issue, December 1, for multiple very worthy local groups and causes. Thank you to all who have participated and for your wonderful generosity. Here is a list of upcoming Social Action events: Sunday, Dec. 5 : We will have a card-making table during TEC’s Hanukkah program, all for seniors at the Jewish Home for the Aging. Tuesday, Dec. 7 : TEC feeds the Hungry lunch. Emails went out at the end of November, please check your email to sign up! Wednesday, Dec. 8 : Social Action will help build a house for Habitat for Humanity in Port Hueneme. Please sign up individually at habitatventura.org . Everyone is invited. Monthly : Crocheting for a Cause meets every Thursday afternoon from 2-3:30pm under the canopy at TEC. If you don’t know how to crochet, we’ll teach you!
Where did the year go? It’s hard to believe that we’re at the end of 2021, a year that has been both challenging and rewarding. WOTEC has been busy planning activities for the next several months. Please join us on Sunday, December 12, for an afternoon of Mah Jongg. Everyone is welcome, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player. And then join us for our first event of 2022 when we sponsor an evening with Sharsheret, and discuss women’s health issues. Be on the lookout for information on both of these events. As the year draws to a close, I want to thank all the WOTEC board members, all of whom have worked hard to plan and implement our events and programs. I’d also like to thank everyone who has supported WOTEC this past year. We’re so looking forward to the coming year, and to seeing you at all our activities.
Our next meeting is Wednesday, December 8, at 8pm on Zoom. Everyone is invited.
Wishing you all a happy 2022!
CHAIR, CLERGY SEARCH COMMITTEE
PRESIDENT, MEN'S CLUB
Many thanks to all the dedicated members of our congregation who took the time to respond to the Clergy Search Committee Survey!
Hello, TEC community. A brief reminder - nearly every Men’s Club event is for everyone - men, women and age-appropriate kids. Men’s Club membership would be nice, but it is not a requirement to attend our events and activities.
We're in the midst of compiling the information we've received, and will use the data collected to better understand the wants and goals of our community here at TEC. Our objective is to help find the next clergy member to work alongside Rabbi Averbach as Temple Etz Chaim grows and thrives. The application process has been initiated with the USCJ and the Cantors Assembly and we anticipate many responses from excited candidates. While we gather our applicant pool, we encourage questions and thoughtful discussion from you, our temple members. We will keep you apprised of our progress via Etzetera as this wonderful journey continues. If you would like to connect with members of the Clergy Search Committee, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Men’s Club will participate the Hanukkah Lights program on Sunday, December 5th. We will prepare and serve latkes, with the requisite apple sauce. We will have a Lego dreidel-making program; you provide the kid, and we will provide the materials and guidance. Please send me an email if you want to help us with the latkes or dreidels. Havdalah and Bowling is coming up on Saturday, January 22nd. It is for you and your family. The minimum age - a kid who can roll the bowling ball down the alley. 120 is the maximum age. Please also Save the Date - the 22nd Annual Men's Club Scholar in Residence Weekend is set and scheduled for the weekend of March 25-27, 2022 . Our guest scholar for the weekend will be Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman, Founding Director of Sinai and Synapses, an organization that bridges the scientific and religious worlds. More to come on this exicting weekend!
e M w o n K o t t Ge
our ongoing series of intros to MEMBERS OF THE TEC board
ILANA SWEET VP, YOUTH MEMBER SINCE 2017
Joe ZWicker VP, EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION MEMBER SINCE 1996
from the vault at TEC SEND YOUR COMMENTS AND MEMORIES TO COMMUNICATIONS@TEMPLEETZCHAIM.ORG
So much mystery in this issue's photo! We all know the location, but who is in the photo? When was it taken?
If you recognize someone from this photo or know the story behind it, please let us know!
Myles Simpson, Past President of TEC, writes: "Well seeing this photo was quite a surprise! The gentleman playing accordion on the right is my father, Joe Simpson (z"l). Unfortunately I don't recognize any one else in the photo, or where it may have been taken. Performing with his accordion was an avocation and a passion of his, but I don't recall that he participated in any events associated with TEC. I hope someone else has more info, since I am really curious about the origin of this photo!"
SEND YOUR COMMENTS & MEMORIES TO COMMUNICATIONS@TEMPLEETZCHAIM.ORG
HARRY POTTER LOUNGE! Kadima
KADIMA, OUR PROGRAM FOR 3RD-6TH GRADERS, CELEBRATED ITS HARRY POTTER LOUNGE IN OCTOBER! IF YOU WANT TO JOIN, PLEASE EMAIL YOUTH@TEMPLEETZCHAIM.ORG
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Barbara & Harvey Scherr Memorial Fund In Memory of Dora Bigley Ferne Blaugrund Elisa Feldman Memorial Religious School Scholarship Fund In Memory of Gertrude Mezey and Lisa O'Brien Gail Simpson In Memory of Albert Treger Nomi Freed In Memory of Pinney Kanter Myrna Stelman Nomi Freed Patty Kaye Lisa Eidman Aime Friedman Lisa Eidman Myles & Gail Simpson Feeding the Hungry for Harbor House In Honor of Debra Levine Patty Kaye Fienberg-Lerner Chapel Minyan Fund In Honor of Joe Weiss Marshall Rosen Jotkowitz Camp Ramah Scholarship Fund In Memory of Harvey Goldberg Joyce Goldberg In Memory of Marvin Rosen Marshall Rosen In Honor of Stan & Sue Perlson Emanuel & Janice Perlman Lipnick Religious School Scholarship Fund In Memory of Lilian Gurien Harvey Gurien In Memory of Sylvia Stein Sybil Goldstein In Honor of Ira Goldsmith and Family Ron & Sybil Goldstein In Appreciation of David Yodkovik Ron & Sybil Goldstein
Men's Club Scholar-in-Residence Fund In Memory of Al I. Smith Lynne Rosen
In Memory of Vivian Sterling Leland Shapiro
Men's Club Silverstein Humanitarian Fund In Memory of Wilma Saly Richard & Gari Saly
Rabbi Averbach's Discretionary Fund In Memory of Betty and Jack Chislov Rhonda Averbach
In Memory of Richard Portman Candy Portman
In Memory of Marcel Carlin Dr. Jerry Ratzan
In Honor of Ilene Barney In Honor of Rabbi Rachel In Honor of Ann Sturman In Honor of Rebeccah Schwartz In Honor of Dan Lubetkin In Honor of Dr. Richard Lessman Patty Kaye
In Appreciation of Rabbi Averbach Robert Bickerman
In Memory of Jerry Kaye Lori & Dan Lubetkin
In Appreciation of Rabbi Averbach Leon & Iris Woods
Ritual Fund In Memory of William Rosen Marshall Rosen
Temple General Fund In Memory of Toby Miller Susan Kanner
In Memory of Eli Storch In Memory of Yetta Storch In Memory of Claire Zelkowitz In Memory of Toby Yoskowitz In Memory of Carol Schwartzberg Lawrence Storch
In Memory of Fannie Finn Sherri Finn-Werber
In Memory of Ina Levine In Memory of Richard Landau In Memory of Sam Neustadt In Memory of Sofia Landau Debra Levine
In Memory of Vivian Sterling Marc & Randi Cohn
In Honor of Esme & Steven Kempler Shari Forsythe
USY Youth & Scholarship Fund In Memory of Jylian Mendelson Daniel Mendelson
Women of TEC Torah Fund In Memory of Stan Zieve Dana Gallenberg
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