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Congregation Beth Torah Monthly Newsletter


Students who are beginning their formal education will be welcomed into our Beth Torah family at Family Worship on Sunday, December 15th at 9:30 a.m. This ceremony marks the beginning of a Jewish journey for our next generation. The Weiner Religious School looks forward to instilling a love of community and Judaism for all our students. We hope each student’s journey will include B’nai Mitzvah, Confirmation and a life-long pursuit of Jewish study. We have created some unique rituals to make this a memorable occasion as we pass the heritage of our people onto the next generation. Parents will gather their children under a chuppah created by all of our Pre-K thru 6th grade classes in front of the Heritage Torah as they are “wedded to the Torah.” During the service, the Confirmation Class of 5774 will wrap the Consecration families in the Torah as we all recite the Sh’ma. The entire congregation is invited to attend and be part of this ceremony as we welcome the Confirmation Class of 2023! We are grateful to the Beth Torah Gift Shop for providing gifts of “Confirmation Class of 5784” t-shirts for the students and for sponsoring the celebration for the families following the ceremony.

Consecrants for 5774 Charlotte Barton

Avery Newmark

Jonathan Crane

Emma O’Leary

Caroline Gordon

Lillian Ross

Sydney Kort

Sydney Skiles

Evelyn Latman

Ruby Wexler

Hudson Zack

Congregation Beth Torah

December 2013 • Issue 273 • Kislev/Tevet 5774

Rabbi’s Remarks Rabbi Mark H. Levin


ears ago Beth Torah hired a retired executive from SCORE to examine our congregational budget. Schmoozing one day he said, “You know, I am very active in my church, and we do things entirely differently.” So I asked what he meant. “We put all of our money into the pulpit and nothing into education. You put all of your money into education and nothing into the pulpit.” I’d never thought of it before. Christianity is taught everywhere in our society. American culture is secular Christian. The calendar follows the Christian holy seasons. In December no one can escape the Christmas story. We learn the fundamentals of Christianity by being an educated American. But it’s entirely different being one of the People of the Book. For 2,000 years Jews have depended upon literacy to maintain our faith. Jews started teaching children to read at 3 years old in a world in which most people were illiterate. Our spirituality rests on knowledge, and individuals pray for themselves without the intervention of others. I am very proud that Beth Torah has just been recognized as one of only 20 other religious schools in the entire Reform Movement granted accreditation for the quality of our religious school. We have the best supplementary Jewish education in Kansas City. It’s the result of the very talented and hardworking educators and teachers who have worked at Beth Torah over the years. Our educators: Rabbis Steve Burnstein, Vered Harris and Rebecca Reice; and our Religious School and Youth Group Director, Marcia Rittmaster, have all been exemplary. Add to these that our religious school teachers by and large have earned degrees in education, teach according to a planned curriculum, hand in lesson plans, attend teacher in-service training and are remunerated for their hard work. It’s an expensive system, but along with Jewish practice at home it educates our children in the fundamentals of living Jewishly. It’s been the practice of Jewish congregations to ask all members to pay for the educational system, so that the families with young children don’t have to bear the burden alone. The families with children in the school do pay education fees, but December 2013 | Page 1

that does not come close to paying for the education system.

Rabbi’s Remarks (continued from page 1)


here and in what subject can you get 2½ hours of quality education weekly for $15? Congregations have historically underwritten the costs of educating our children. But that means congregational membership is more expensive than it otherwise might be. We Jews support Jewish learning. Add to that, that our congregational by-laws demand that no child be denied a Jewish education because the family can’t afford the fees. We are that dedicated to high quality, universal education.

W�e� I ����� � Be�� T�r�� , I a� �r�u� � e�uca��n� ��r ���l��e� an� � ��r �e��i�� t� so�i�� �us�ic� , ��ea��n� ��� �

��r ���l��e� e�u���y. That’s why it upsets me when families say that they think the dues are too high. They are not taking into account the mutual responsibility to take care of our children’s education! But I am very proud of our congregation for its constant dedication to Jewish education for all of our children. Upwards of 90% of our children receive the training for a bar or bat mitzvah and lead our worship, reading from the Torah and haftarah. Many do more. We are perpetuating Jewish beliefs and skills as our ancestors did, through a community that together supports educational achievement. Think about this for a bit as we write together in our Torah this year. You are adding to the history that gave birth to both Christianity and Islam, that has created 23% of the world’s Nobel Laureates with just one tenth of one percent of the world’s population. It’s not superior Jewish genes that creates that success; it’s our culture devoted to education. That begins with Bible and prayer book, and continues from there. As I was writing this article, my son called me. He’s a sound engineer. He was recording a performance of George Frideric Handel’s Esther. While recording the music he was sitting and joking about the story, which he knows from his celebration of Purim and our school. What other sound engineer would know the story of the Book of Esther? Just the Jews. That literacy didn’t just happen. It was purposeful, to establish a Jewish life for him and his family later, into another generation.

T�r�� P��i�� & H�ftar�� Dec 6/7 3 Tevet Vayigash Gen. 44:28-47:27 Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15-28 Soloists: Tim Intfen & Linda Matorin Sweenie Accompanist: Becky & Ron Sandhaus Dec 13/14 10 Tevet Gen: 47:28-50:26 Haftarah: I Kings 2:1-12 Music with Shir Balev


Dec 20/21 17 Tevet Shemot Exod. 1:1-6:1 Haftarah: Isaiah 27:6-28:13;29:22-29:23 Music with Shir Balev Dec 27/28 24 Tevet Vaera Exod. 6:2-9:35 Haftarah: Isaiah 66:1-13,23 Soloists: Tim Intfen & Linda Matorin Sweenie Accompanist: Linda Matorin Sweenie

Sh��ba� M����n� T�r�� S�u�y Join us Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m. for discussions on “The Writings of the Torah.” Meet us in the library before Shabbat worship.

W����y W�r���� S��e���� Erev Shabbat, 6:30 p.m. (Community Nosh at 6:00 p.m.) Shabbat Morning, 10:30 a.m. Sunday Morning Worship* 9:30 a.m.

We take Jewish literacy for granted. But I am so very proud of the achievements of our school. I hope you share

E�e� Sh��ba� ��M��y ��M Our FAMJam keeps growing, and you can be part of it! Bring your children to Beth Torah. Together we usher in Shabbat every Friday night at 6:10 p.m. in our sanctuary before worship. Come for 20 minutes of singing and dancing, then stay as long as you like. Congregation Beth Torah

December 2013 | Page 2

President’s Corner

M���� T��

Michelle Cole, Congregational President

Audrey Aronson Myers on her new home.

What an amazing atmosphere we shared during the 25th anniversary weekend. From the Shabbat service, to the Anniversary service, to the standing ovation for our amazing CBT staff, to the laughter with “Pretty Funny” on Saturday night!

Roshann Parris on being installed as Chairwoman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Aaron and Lisa Soltz on the birth of Leah Isabella and Jacob Zachary. The twins were born on November 8th.

The amount of time and planning by Samantha Hammontree and her Rhonda and Mark Brown on the committee cannot go unnoticed. Thank you, thank you, thank you! birth of their granddaughter, Charlotte There are still several opportunities to participate in the Torah Phoebe Brown. Writing Experience. Sign up online for your turn! Taylor Poslosky on her new job as Happy Hanukkah! Mich���e

Director of Youth Development at Congregation Beth Israel in Scottsdale, AZ.

Rabbi Transition Committee Update

Robin O’Bryan on the November 13th birth of her granddaughter Blair O’Bryan Kraft.


e were quite pleased with the response to the Interim Rabbi application we posted on the CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis) website. After screening the resumes to ensure they met our criteria, the committee interviewed five candidates via Skype. We were impressed. Our candidates have extensive experience working with congregations as Interim Rabbis. Each candidate is skilled in helping congregations through the transition year and positioning the new rabbi for success when he or she arrives. Based on the interviews, follow-up questions and conversation with presidents of their prior congregations, we invited two candidates for a several-day visit to Beth Torah. Our first candidate will be visiting Beth Torah from December 3rd to December 5th. We will publish more information, but want you to know that members are invited to join Rabbi Rick Shapiro for a D’var Torah on Wednesday, December 4th at 7:00 p.m. In addition, he will be available for an informal Meet and Greet at Beth Torah on Thursday, December 5th from 10:30 to 11:30 am. We hope you will take the opportunity to say hello and welcome him. If you have questions, check out the full list of FAQs on the Beth Torah website, or e-mail the committee at

Linda Zap�u�la and Shanna Haun Co-Chairs, Ra�bi Transition Commi�ee

The Beth Torah Community on collecting more than 6,700 pounds of food and supplies during the High Holy Days Harvesters Food Campaign. You collected 56 percent of all food collected by all the synagogues in Greater Kansas City.

I� Mem��ia�

Helen Bold Aunt of Steve Becker Janice Imber Stepmother of Steve Imber Sister-in-law of Jane Golub Harriet Sue Yedlin Mother of Jay Yedlin Alan Elfanbaum Brother of Rita Stark Phyllis Veta Forman Mother of Ruth Forman Adam Zack

Brother of Jason Zack

Harvesters BackSnack Program Beth Torah participates in the Harvesters BackSnack Program and is partnering with an elementary school to distribute food packs to children in need. If you are able to join the BackSnack team, please contact Diane Balanoff at (913) 238-4276. We could use drivers on Thursdays to collect the food from Beth Torah and then deliver it to the school. There’s no heavy lifting required. Beth Torah staff loads your car and school staff takes the food packs from your car into the school. You may contribute as little as one hour a month, and you will know you will be making a difference in the lives of many children. Congregation Beth Torah

December 2013 | Page 3

Read it. Learn it. Write it. Rabbi Rebecca Reice |


hen I visited Congregation Beth Torah in January of 2012, Marcia Rittmaster handed me a binder of information about the Weiner Religious School’s educational programming, Pre-K through Confirmation and Adult Education. As a candidate to become your new Rabbi Educator, the binder was an excellent and detailed introduction to the educational vision and commitments of the community. That binder was the first submission, of many, to the National Association of Temple Educators (NATE) Accreditation Committee. On October 28th, we received the news that after nearly two and a half years of hard work and commitment by our Accreditation Team (including, parents, students, faculty, YAEC members, and staff – all under the leadership of Robin Hendrikse and Marcia Rittmaster) we have been granted NATE Accreditation.

The NATE Accreditation Committee evaluated us in ten 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Shared Vision Educational Leadership Resources/Infrastructure Lifelong Learning Interaction Among Stakeholders

major areas: 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Culture and Climate Content Expectations Planned Curriculum Effective Teaching/Programmatic Staff Self-Evaluation: A Commitment to Process

And we have met their standards and demonstrated our commitment to excellence and to the continuing development and evolution of our programs and models of teaching and schooling. The process of preparing our Accreditation portfolio has allowed many of us to grow a deeper appreciation for our educational programs and their impact. In addition, this work has allowed us to dream about the future and the potential for growth and change, as we enter the digital age. We are now eagerly awaiting the specific commendations and recommendations from the NATE Accreditation Committee, which will help to shape our conversations and internal evaluations. NATE Accreditation is a significant achievement for our Weiner Religious School and for our congregation. Of the more than 900 member congregations of the Union for Reform Judaism only 20 other congregations in North America hold the honor of NATE Accreditation. This Accreditation places our Weiner Religious School in the top 2% of all Reform Congregational Schools in North America. No other school in Kansas or Greater Kansas City holds this honor. For me, the news of our Accreditation could not have come on a more auspicious day. We received the letter notifying us on the yartzeit of my grandfather James “Jim” J. Levbarg. My Grandpa Jim worked in the field of Jewish education for 50 years. He was the author of textbooks for learning Hebrew and teaching teens about the Jewish imperative for social justice. Jim was a gifted Jewish educator and educational administrator, who helped to found the National Association of Temple Educators in 1955. He co-chaired the first NATE conference, and served as its first executive vice president. He served as NATE’s fourth president in 1960. On a day when I was already remembering my grandfather, NATE gave me an extra gift of connecting our work for the advancement of Jewish education in Southern Johnson County to my grandfather’s life’s passion and his legacy. With NATE Accreditation, we not only accept honors for our faculty, madrichim, staff and volunteers, but I receive the honor of lifting up my grandfather’s memory for a blessing.

SAVEhome at CBT Every Sunday night since May 9, 1993, members of Beth Torah have provided dinner to the residents of SAVEhome, a supervised 8-bed housing support unit for those with HIV/AIDS. SAVEhome is part of SAVE, Inc., ( Individuals and families sign up for a particular Sunday night and bring dinner to the residents of SAVEhome. You can cook at home and bring it, cook at SAVEhome (they have a regular full kitchen), or bring some take-out food like pizza, BBQ, chicken. Volunteers are encouraged to stay and have dinner with the residents, but that is not required. Volunteer just once a year, or sign up more often. The choice is yours. This long term Social Justice Project is coordinated by Lauren Aaronson, who can be contacted via e-mail at: for more information. Congregation Beth Torah

December 2013 | Page 4

Volunteer and Member News Laura Intfen |

Torah Writing Experience Ok, so you signed up, wrote in our Torah, reflected, decorated our wimpel, chatted with one of our rabbis, and had your picture taken doing it all. Now what? The Torah will not be completed until June 8th and our next Torah Writing Experience isn’t scheduled until January 19th and 20th, Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. How will you stay engaged in Torah between now and then?

Phyllis Goldberg Founding member and Past President ow! I was so “W excited to be able to take part in

writing a Torah. This experience has touched me to my core. The letter “vav” started and ended the word. It is the connector. It is so appropriate for how I have seen my role these past 25 years at Beth Torah; a connector. Wanting us to belong - to be part of the community. I will never forget this experience.”

It was Martin Luther King, Jr., who once said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Staci and Mike Axelrod

Don’t let the darkness of the winter months keep you from community. Just as looking at holiday lights around town lifts my mood and enlightens me, you too can be lifted by joining your community at Beth Torah. Let me suggest the following options:

experience of writing in a new Torah at United Hebrew Congregation in St. Louis. We thought it was incredible that our children would be reading from the same Torah we helped write at their B’nai Mitzvot. Our daughter got to have that experience at her Bat Mitzvah last year.

• • • •

Celebrate Dr. King’s Day by illuminating others as a volunteer at our next Torah Writing Experience. Attend weekly FamJam and stay for Friday evening worship. Check out an Adult Education program on Sunday at 11 a.m. Enrich other Beth Torah members by sharing your Torah Writing Experience on our Facebook page.

The metaphors of “light” are numerous and obvious in our sanctuary from our Burning Bush motif on our ark doors, to our ner talmid that hangs above the ark, to the wall of windows that hugs the northeastern side of our sanctuary. If you have not yet written in our scroll, go to our website and sign up. You will be enlightened, engaged and enriched. Check out these reflections from other congregants. I look forward to seeing you at our next Torah Writing Experience in January. We are the community we need to light up even the darkest nights with Torah. E-mail me or give me a call to volunteer and share

Laura Int�en , Me��er Servi�e Coordinator Congregation Beth Torah

everal years “S ago, we had the memorable

We moved to Kansas City this summer and love it. We have been welcomed at Beth Torah, but we were sad that our son wouldn’t have the same Torah reading experience his sister did. We were very excited to learn shortly after joining CBT that the congregation would be writing its own Torah. We participated in writing in the Torah this past weekend and it was a moving experience. It is even more special knowing our son will be reading from a Torah we helped write at his Bar Mitzvah in two years.” Miki , Gregg & Sophia Herman

e are “W grateful for this experience

for our family. The shin letter we wrote in the Torah was special, as it represents the three members of our family (like the three stems on the letter). Our third stem, Sophia, is the glue that binds our family together. (Our “Sophia sandwich” that we’ve done since she was a baby.) We look forward to reading this Torah in the years to come. December 2013 | Page 5

Adult Education and Social Justice Aaron Nielsenshultz |

We’ve had some amazing adult education classes already this fall, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s what people have been saying about Adult Education: “One of the best sessions I’ve attended. Very interesting!” “This was very interesting! Great Job!” “Learned about meaning and some history of Hebrew names.” “Henri does an excellent job of explaining topics and making them interesting & relevant.” “Fun, educational, entertaining - look forward to his other talks.” Grab some coffee and a bagel, and come join the fun and learning Sunday mornings from 11:00 a.m. to noon in CR104! Sunday, December 1st No class due to Thanksgiving Break Sunday, December 8th The Year of Meaningful Jewish Vision continues! You’ve seen the Meaningful Vision posters in the ulam, so now come meet some of the artists who created them. See the works up close and discuss with the artists the quotes and the creative process. Join the conversation on December 8th, from 11:00 a.m. to noon in CR104. Sunday, December 15th What do you mean the holidays are early? The Jewish Calendar explained. Join Laura Intfen and me as we look at the Jewish Calendar from two points of view. Find out exactly WHY holiday nights are indeed different from all other nights and then let’s look at different ways to celebrate these holidays, both in your home and in our Beth Torah walls. Bring recipes, family traditions and great stories with you. December 22nd and 29th No classes due to Winter Break On-going, Adult Education Discussions on the Writings of the Torah: Every Shabbat morning at 9:00 a.m. in the library with Rabbi Levin Yiddish Circle: Fridays at noon with Ray Davidson Lunch with the Rabbi: The third Thursday of every month from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. with Rabbi Levin Wisdom on Wednesday: Wednesdays at noon with Henri Goettel Adult Hebrew Ready to learn Hebrew? Join volunteer teacher Scott Strong-Wallace on Sundays to learn to read Hebrew or to brush up on your skills. The cost is only $36, which includes all your materials and your textbook. Register by calling the Beth Torah office at (913) 498-2212. You can charge your credit card over the phone or send a check made out to Congregation Beth Torah with “Sunday Hebrew” in the memo line. Questions? Email Scott at

Social Justice Food Drive: Our JFS item of the month: canned fruit and canned vegetables such as carrots, peas and beets. And of course you can drop other food donations in our JFS barrels in Congregation Beth Torah’s entrance hall. reStart: It’s time to sign up for reStart! Congregation Beth Torah will be serving all weekend lunches and dinners during the month of January. While sign-ups begin in December, now is the time to decide if you’d like to do a little extra baking to send desserts or other treats with our volunteers—this is a great project for your chavurah or circle of friends! Let our reStart chair, Scott Franklin, know if you’d like to provide such a thing. You can reach Scott at (913) 327-1488 or Pleasant Green Baptist Church: Volunteers are needed Saturday, December 21st through Monday, Monday, December 23rd from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. to carve turkeys, sack groceries, label and sort carry outs, and phone people to let them know when they might expect deliveries. On Wednesday, December 25th, volunteers can dish up meals from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. or from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. You can also deliver meals, starting at 11:00 a.m. or noon. And of course, many hands make short work during clean up, 1:30-2:30 p.m. To volunteer, call Bernice McKinney at (913) 371-0231. Congregation Beth Torah

December 2013 | Page 6

An� W�’� L��� T� Tha�� ... ...Our Turkey Drive Supporters who raised enough money for 61 turkeys for Pleasant Green Jeff Altman, Sharon Altman, Gloria Bernstein, Boyd, Laura, and Rachel Bolter, Wes and Jill Campbell, Annette and Joel Fish, Leon and Dawn Frischer, Henri Goettel, Phyllis Goldberg, Don Goldman, Martin and Irene Goldstein, Barbara Gutierrez, Jody Hanson, Jo-Ann Harris, Hennecke family, Herman family, Miki and Gregg Herman, Laura and Tim Intfen, Jill Jacob, Ron Jacobson, Susan Kivett, Terry McEwen, 5th/6th Grade Mitzvah Club, Nielsenshultz family, Robin and Rod O’Bryan, Denise and Jerry Pakula, Doug Polsky, Marcia and Larry Rittmaster, Allison Roodman, Clif and Stacy Rope, Bes and Jenny Ross, Rob Schwartz, Cindy Shames, Linda Stark, Linda Steigman, Marvin and Eva Steiner, Andrew and Genna Stowe, Mickey and Bonnie Swade, Waldman family, Betsy Wanger, Susan Waxman, Erin Weaver and Terrence Chambers. ...OurJFS Hanukkah Wish List Sponsors Many thanks for your generosity to Brian and Christa Balanoff, Phyllis Goldberg, Denise Pakula, Jim and Lainie Decker, Judith Benson, JoAnn Harris, Ronnie and Larry Lerner, Ellen Bruennig, Joyce Hess and Havurah, Fran Kuhn, Stephanie Elyachar, Miki and Gregg Herman, Girson family, Zucker family. ...Our Mitzvah Days Volunteers Please see the Mitzvah Days thank you insert for the names of our more than 400 volunteers who participated in our most successful Mitzvah Days ever. That’s right—more than 400 people volunteered and participated in Mitzvah projects throughout our 25th Anniversary Weekend. A special thanks to committee members Susan Kivett and Bonnie Swade for all their help—and a big thank you to committee chairs Aleza and Larry Myer for another great year. A special shoutout to project leaders Beth Reicher, Kelly Somberg, Susan Kivett, Alexis Schwartz, Betsy Wanger, Marlene Kahn, Denise and Blair Ellenberg, Jill Fine, Lauren Fasbinder, Yara Nielsenshultz, Paula Becker, and Jennifer Levinson: We couldn’t have done it without you!

O�r Mem��i�� W���

Placing the name of your loved one on our memorial wall provides a sacred way for our community to remember those who are dear to us. If you would like information about purchasing a plaque to honor the lives of those who formed your history, contact Jack Feldman at the Beth Torah office (913) 498-2212.

Save The Date Shabbat Shira is coming in January 2014 Erev Shabbat January 10th at 6:30 p.m. Congregation Beth Torah will hold its annual musical celebration of freedom, Shabbat Shira, featuring the Beth Torah adult and youth choirs and Shir Balev. You won’t want to miss the joy, the community and the fun for the entire family.

T�� Ca��n� C���ec�i�� Tea� I� He�� F�r Y�� Are you or a family member facing a health care challenge? Do you have an upcoming surgery and not much support when you get home? Do you have a family member struggling with a chronic illness? DO YOU NEED A LITTLE EXTRA HELP? The Caring Connection Team is up and running and available to provide practical support like running errands, occasional transportation, a friendly visit or phone call, or relieving a family caregiver for a few hours. Your Beth Torah Community is part of your support network, along with your family and friends. Give us a call if we can be of help. Kelly Somberg, CCT Team Leader (913) 205-6411 or Congregation Beth Torah

December 2013 | Page 7

Weiner Religious School News Marcia Rittmaster |


hank you to everyone who shared in the excitement of learning that the Weiner Religious School received accreditation by the National Association of Temple Educators (NATE). This honor puts us in the “elite” group among 20 other reform religious schools who presently share this distinction! It was incredible to be able to share this wonderful news during our 25th Anniversary Celebration! I felt a bit guilty accepting the kudos because there was never a time when the adage “It takes a village…” was more accurate. Robin Hendrikse, our NATE Accreditation Chair, felt the same way. This two-and-a-half-year process included: • • •

Submitting paperwork documenting everything from our curriculum to our Tornado Safety Plan Interviewing teachers, parents, congregants, board members and students Creating the “Day in the Life” video and much more.

Our dedicated Accreditation Committee met regularly; they deserve the recognition and kavod. Shari Blank, Debbie Chase, Anna Garcia, Sheila Ginsberg, Henri Goettel, Diana Hurst, Elizabeth Lenz, Sanam Millerlile, Aaron Nielsenshultz, Rabbi Rebecca Reice, Aaron Rittmaster and Elaine Tobias. Many thanks also goes to Jody Hanson, chair of our Youth Activities and Education Committee. And, a special thanks to Rabbi Vered Harris who assisted us during our first year when we submitted our application. In addition to working on behalf of the Accreditation Team, she was the one who encouraged me to “go for it” when I proposed we undertake this process. Of course, we would have never achieved this honor without spectacular teachers and madrichim! They were the “first team in the trenches, who deliver the education that led us to this moment. They create the lessons and experiences that make us excel. They connect with their students and their parents to bring them the quality of education they deserve. Without the support of the Rabbis and staff we would not have reached this acheivement. Thank you Rabbi Levin, Rabbi Reice, Linda Matorin Sweenie, Jack Feldman and Laura Intfen. We couldn’t have completed the process without Kristy Blackman, Sharon Altman and Robin O’Bryan who put together data and lists and made endless copies – they were truly the backbone of our committee. Gratitude also goes to our parents, students and congregants. One of the tasks we were asked to complete was to ask 30 congregants to complete the sentence: “Congregation Beth Torah’s Weiner Religious School is like a home because…”. We believe that one congregant (the parent of a 3rd grader and a 6th grader) summed it up best by stating: “It’s where my family is. I feel this congregation is my extended family. We share many experiences together. We learn, we pray, we eat, we play and all grow up together in the synagogue. We take care of each other in times of need. We celebrate life cycle events together.” We truly feel this honor is shared by all of us – so MAZEL TOV to YOU!

Family Breakfast Sponsorships on Sunday Mornings Join the group who helps offset the cost of our wonderful Sunday breakfasts. Our breakfast selections include flavored cream cheese (fruit and salmon in addition to plain), butter and jelly and a rotation of muffins, danish or fresh fruit. On Wednesday evenings our TAG students are treated to ice cream or an occasional special treat like hot chocolate and doughnuts. For your sponsorship of only $100, we will: List your name in the Tekiah, put your name and what you are honoring on the electronic kiosk for everyone to see and announce your name at Family Worship! Remember, we can have LOTS of sponsors on every date. Show your support and find a special reason to sponsor breakfast or ice cream next month! Congregation Beth Torah

December 2013 | Page 8

Religious School and Youth Programs - Dates To Remember Thanksgiving Break

Upcoming Religious School Programs

November 27, 2013 No Keshet or TAG classes December 1, 2013 No Sunday classes

Sunday, December 8th 10:00 a.m. Consecration Rehearsal for students, parents and Confirmands 12:15 p.m. Madrichim Workshop in the Youth Lounge 1:00 p.m. JYG program at Cosmic Jump in Olathe

Winter Break December 18 and 25, 2013 No Keshet or TAG classes December 22 and 29, 2013 No Sunday classes January 1, 2014 No Keshet or TAG classes January 5, 2014 No Sunday classes Keshet and TAG classes resume January 8, 2014 Sunday classes resume January 12, 2014 Hap�y H��iday�!

Wednesday, December 11th Keshet Hebrew Read-In TAG 2nd Trimester begins Students will begin learning new topics with new teachers and friends, including: Applied Ethics (Larry Katzif), Contemporary Lessons from the Shoah (Rabbi Moti Rieber), This I Believe – About God (Rabbi Rebecca Reice), What a Story to Tell (Danny Altshull). TAG Options will include: Under Construction (Aaron Nielsenshultz), Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing!, Shabbat Torah Study, Intergenerational Ensemble or BTTY/NFTY. Sunday, December 15th Consecration of Kindergarten and 1st Grade students during Family Worship. The families of the consecrants are invited to celebrate in the ulam with cake provided by the The Gift Shop. After cake, the children and families will have an opportunity to create a beautiful Torah covers.

Thank You for Breakfast

Keshet News

We’ll put your name and the event you are honoring on the board for everyone to see. Thank you to those families who help to set up our breakfast each Sunday morning.

On Wednesday, December 11th the ulam will be full of volunteers (can YOU help?) listening to our Hebrew students proudly read the prayers they have been learning and practicing in class during our 1st semester Hebrew Read-In!

Join others who have helped offset the cost of our bagel breakfasts on Sunday mornings and ice cream treats on Wednesday nights.

Rabbi Mark & Kacy Levin in honor of the 25th Anniversary of Congregation Beth Torah Len, Dawn, Bailey & Peyton Frischer in honor of Paul & Alice Dart, grandparents of Bailey & Peyton Samantha & Quentin Hammontree in honor of their 14th Wedding Anniversary on November 13th The Youth Activities & Education Committee will honor our teachers and madrichim on Sunday, December 15th with a Faculty & Madrichim Appreciation Luncheon of homemade soups, salads, and desserts preceding our Faculty Meeting. Thanks to Michele Frumkin and Julie Kadosh for coordinating this year’s event. If you’d like to help, contact Michele at Congregation Beth Torah

We will have popcorn for the students and volunteers who participate in the Read-In. It’s a fun afternoon and a great way to support and encourage our students as they improve their Hebrew. You don’t have to be a parent of a student, just someone who cares about reinforcing the skills we are teaching. Contact Marcia Rittmaster to volunteer. December 2013 | Page 9

Youth Programs BTTY News Hi everyone! Last month began with the amazing 25th Anniversary Celebration! BTTY ran a coat check on Saturday night and raised $200 for Camp Rainbow! We are incredibly excited to have such a strong start to our fundraising for Camp Rainbow. For those of you who don’t know, Camp Rainbow is a week-long summer camp for kids with cancer and other blood-related diseases. Donations from groups like us make it possible for all of the children to go for free. Last month we also celebrated Thanksgivukkuh! We had an amazing program where we had a potluck inspired by both holidays and did a scavenger hunt that ended with decorating cookies! Watch for the program on December 7th. We will be screening “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”! Hope you have a great month! Mackenzie Haun BTTY President 2013-2014

JYG News


oin your 7th & 8th grade friends on December 8th for an afternoon of JUMPING at Cosmic Jump, 12025 S. Strang Line Drive, Olathe, KS. Meet at 2:00 p.m. and pick up is at 4:00 p.m. The cost is $16 for 2 hours of jumping. Parents should pay for their student when they drop off – we aren’t collecting money in advance at Beth Torah, but please let us know your student will be attending. Remember, all Congregation Beth Torah Junior Youth Group events are open to all Jewish 7th and 8th graders, so invite your friends. The more the merrier! Every student will need a signed Parental Waiver to participate. You can sign the waiver on line at or fill it out when you drop off your student.



oin your 5th & 6th grade friends for an Ice Cream Oneg Shabbat on Friday, December 13th following Shabbat worship. We’ll have all the toppings to make your favorite sweet treat as well as music, games and fun in the Youth Lounge at Beth Torah from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Please RSVP; we wouldn’t want to run out of food!!

Beyond Chai

Beyond Chai connects Beth Torah’s 18–24 year old young adults to each other and to the congregation. We need current contact information for every Beyond Chai member– whether they are at college, living at home or residing elsewhere. Enroll in Beyond Chai now for free:

Why Beyond Chai? • Beth Torah places a high priority on connecting and communicating with our young adults – No matter where they are. • In order for Beyond Chai members to stay connected - and receive Beyond Chai mailings - we need accurate and up-to-date e-mail and mailing addresses. • For any Beyond Chai members enrolled in collegiate Jewish studies courses this year, Rabbi Levin will reimburse for books assigned to the course. Just send the receipt to Beth Torah, attn: Rabbi Levin – or contact Rabbi Levin, mlevin@beth-torah. org for more information. • Keep in touch with other Beyond Chai members in the Beyond Chai Facebook group: Events, internships, Israel trips, and other opportunities will also be posted and shared in the group. Congregation Beth Torah

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The Gift Shop at Beth Torah “Where Shopping Turns into a Mitzvah!”

The Gift Shop at Congregation Beth Torah is dedicated to our community and provides quality gifts for your everyday or holiday needs. For your shopping convenience, we have 2 shopping choices; you may shop either in our beautiful gift shop at Congregation Beth Torah or shop at our on-line store. Please go to Once on the home page, scroll to the bottom of the page where you will see a colorful banner that says “For Everything Jewish” or “World of Judaica”. This is a fast, easy and wonderful shopping experience that benefits our Beth Torah community. Planning on ordering a Mah Jongg card for 2014? It is time to order a new Mah Jongg card for 2014. The Gift Shop at Congregation Beth Torah will be selling Mah Jongg cards, with Marlene Kahn as our coordinator. If you wish to order a Mah Jongg card for 2014, we hope you will contact Marlene at 305-322-5998 or The Gift Shop at Congregation Beth Torah at 913-498-2212. Hanukkah is known as the season when a great miracle happened. The first night of Hanukkah, after we light the first candle, there is a small glow that barely shines over the entire menorah. With each passing night, the candles illuminate more of the menorah and the surrounding area. By the eighth night of Hanukkah, the room is aglow and, hopefully, some of life’s miracles might also be clearly visible. The gift shop volunteers wish you a wonderful holiday season and time to enjoy life’s miracles big and small! Gift Shop Hours: Sunday- 9 am to 12:30 pm (during religious school) Monday- 4 pm to 6 pm, Wednesday- 10 am to noon Wednesday- 4:15 pm to 7:00 pm (during religious school) Friday– 10 am to Noon The Gift Shop will be closed for inventory from Dec. 22nd thru Jan. 5th, 2014

JEWISH EMPLOYMENT SERVICES December 3rd, 11th and 19th Jewish Employment Service’s “Jump Start” sessions to help job seekers. For more information call (913) 730-1449.


All who have been affected by someone else’s drinking can find solutions that lead to serenity in the Al-Anon fellowship. Beth Torah is proud to be providing space for a weekly Al-Anon meeting. Meetings are Mondays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. More information can be found at:

JEWISH FEDERATION ANNUAL BAGEL BASH Tuesday, December 24, 2013 8:00 p.m. until 1:00 a .m. Gusto Lounge 504 Westport Road Dairy buffet is VAAD supervised Evening includes DJ and open bar. Join other young adults in our community. Socialize . Eat. Drink . Meet new friends and reconnect with others.

Congregation Beth Torah

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B’nai Mitzvah for December 2013 Bat Mitzvah of Camille Shafran

Camille Shafran, daughter of Zachary and Rhonda Shafran, will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, December 14th. Camille follows in the footsteps of her sister Claire and brother Cole, both of whom are former Beth Torah B’nai Mitzvah students. A 7th grader at The Barstow School, Camille enjoys cooking, baking and creating new culinary delights. She also loves reptiles and has spent summers at the Cub Creek Science Camp in Rolla, Missouri. Camille is the grandaughter of Cecille and Albert Silverman and Tannye and Malcolm Shafran all of Leawood Kansas. The family invites the congregation to join them at a Kiddush luncheon following worship.

Bar Mitzvah of Samuel Sokoloff

Samuel Sokoloff, son of Harry and Kate Sokoloff, will celebrate his Bar Mitzvah on Saturday, December 28th at Shabbat worship. Sam is a 7th grade student at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy. He plays basketball on the HBHA middle school team and also is a member of Boy Scout Troup 61. He enjoys spending time with his brother, and sister-in-law Amber in Chicago. Sam is the grandson of Lillian Sokoloff, the late Allen Sokoloff and the late Robert and Marjorie Barding. The congregation is welcome to join the family at a Kiddush luncheon following our community’s morning worship.

Notes on Our Music Program

Linda Matorin Sweenie, Music Director |


ast month on the Monday evening of our 25th Anniversary Celebration, the building was buzzing with activity. On one side of the ulam, families were checking in for their opportunity to fulfill the 613th mitzvah by holding the quill of Rabbi Druin as he filled in a letter in our new Torah scroll.

On the other side, congregants were registering to donate blood at our quarterly blood drive, fulfilling the mitzvah of saving a life. I was struck by the symmetry of these activities. Over the centuries, it is Torah that has been the life blood of the Jewish people as a whole. So those who write in Torah help to sustain us as a people. Those who donate blood, on the other hand, sustain individual lives. Both mitzvot are inexorably intertwined, and seeing them performed side by side was incredibly life affirming.

For many of us, the opportunity to perpetuate the Jewish people through the writing of Torah comes once-in-a-lifetime. But our quarterly Beth Torah blood drives offer multiple opportunities to perform a mitzvah that saves individual lives in our community every single day. I want to thank the 61 individuals who participated in our November 4th drive, and especially want to acknowledge our volunteer chairs Jeff Altman and Scott Franklin, along with Jennifer Levinson, who encouraged our Religious School parents to schedule donations. I urge all of you to consider donating at our next drive on Monday, February 17, 2:30-7:30 pm. and join our ever-increasing group of life-saving heroes!

Pla��e� G���n� a� C�n��ega�i�� Be�� T�r�� Have you included Beth Torah in your will or otherwise arranged for a future gift to our congregation? If so, please notify Jack Feldman by e-mail at or phone (913) 498-2212. Each gift brings us closer to qualifying for grant money from the Bushman Community Endowment Fund. Would you like to learn more about our planned giving program? It’s your opportunity to help secure Beth Torah’s future at no cost to you today. Contact Jack Feldman or Barry Katz by e-mail at or phone (913) 451-1174 for more information. Congregation Beth Torah

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Contributions Beth Torah General Fund In Memory Of: Phyllis Forman   Suzanne Allen   Dorothy Peltzman & Sherry  Blumenthal   Karl & Carol McCarthy Harriet Yedlin   Sharon & Jeff Altman Dr. Louis Forman Phyllis Forman   Susan & Turner White Emery Taylor   Linda & Barry Katz

In Honor Of:

CBT 25th Anniversary   Linda & Barry Katz   Carol & Dave Porter   Todd & Shirley Stettner Henri Goettel & Ellen Taylor for their “Poster: 25th Anniversary Project”   Linda & Barry Katz

Rabbi Levin Discretionary Fund In Memory Of:

Frank Ginson Betty Horton, sister   Ron & Jo Ann Ginson Sol Kaplan   Judy & Bob Handleman Lillian Elfanbaum   Rita Stark Simon Ozar   Issy & Lesly Ozar Phyllis Forman   Randee & Michael Kelley Harriet Yedlin   Harold & Rita Olsen Marvin Miller   Rosanne & Randy Deutch Alan Elfanbaum   Bill & Charlotte Kessler Mother of Lois Herman   Marlene Kahn Cyril Skikne   Barry & Marge Skikne Maxine Dubinsky   The Family of Maxine Dubinsky

Jacqueline Epsten, mother   Jonny & Jane Girson Sandra Shaffer Micky Goldstein   Norman Shaffer

In Honor Of:

Marriage of Leah Jordan & Benji Stanley   Jerry & Beth Jordan 80th Birthday of Carol Brooks   Cliff, Andie, Jon, Danny &   Joey Neuman

Rabbi’s Fund For Social Justice Projects In Memory Of: Edgar Broughton   Betsy Wanger

CBT Fund For Families In Need In Honor Of:

Bar Mitzvah of Nathan Safir   Emma, Eileen &   Bruce Kershenbaum

Rabbi Reice Discretionary Fund In Honor Of:

Marriage of Leah Jordan & Benji Stanley   Jerry & Beth Jordan

In Memory Of:

Helen Supofsky, grandmother   Janet Razafsky Irene Serlin   Kevin & Tina Shea

Hunger Fund In Memory Of:

Grandfather, Oscar W. Jacobs   Annette Fish Gabe Spector, grandfather   Jeff Razafsky Harriet Yedlin   Robin & Rod O’Bryan Harry Schulzinger   Jacob Schulzinger

Congregation Beth Torah

Simon Ozar, grandfather Stephanie Elyachar   Dave Studna, stepfather Janet & Jeff Razafsky   Edith Zucker Marge & Barry Skikne   Dorothy Kaplan Sharon & Jeff Altman   Judy & Jerry Stolov  

In Appreciation Of:

Brian & Julie Hakan Aaron & Yara Nielsenshultz  

In Honor Of:

NATE Accreditation of the Weiner Religious School Henri Goettel  

Social Justice Fund In Memory Of:

Cy Rudnick Barbara & Mike Pittel   Margaret V. Pecora, mother SueAnn Strom  

Amy Dennis Pierron Music Fund In Appreciation Of: Rabbi Mark Levin Abby & David Magariel  

Choir Fund In Appreciation Of: Linda Sweenie Jerry & Beth Jordan  

In Memory Of:

Tim Gallagher Frank Yale Askinazy J.C. & Lana Cole  

Religious School Fund In Honor Of:

NATE Accreditation of the Weiner Religious School Marcia & Larry Rittmaster  

In Appreciation:  

Marjorie Cooper

December 2013 | Page 13

Congregation Beth Torah

December 2013 | Page 14

  December 13/14: Pulpit flowers, Friday evening Nosh and Shabbat morning Kiddush luncheon sponsored by Rhonda and Zachary Shafran in honor of the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Camille.   December 27/28: Pulpit flowers, Friday evening Nosh and Shabbat morning Kiddush luncheon sponsored by Kate and Harry Sokoloff in honor of the Bar Mitzvah   of their son, Sam.


Congregation Beth Torah

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Congregation Beth Torah

Non-Profit Org. U.S. POST.A.G.E PAID Shawnee Mission, KS Permit No. 721

6100 W. 127th Street Overland Park, Kansas 66209 RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED

We are the community WE need! Tekiah # 273, December, Monthly Congregation Beth Torah (913) 498-2212 Fax: (913) 498-1071 E-mail: Website:

Officers President................................................ Michelle Cole First Vice President............................... Linda Zappulla Vice President......................................... Edis Parkans Vice President......................... Samantha Hammontree Treasurer............................................... Dan Davidson Secretary.............................................. Bonnie Swade Immediate Past President.............. Janice Schonwetter Board of Trustees Chuck Cantor David Spizman Jeff Altman Todd Davisson Mike Fine Mike Ginsberg Matt Haun SueAnn Strom BTTY President.............................. Mackenzie Haun Staff Rabbi............................... Mark H. Levin, D.H.L., D.D. Rabbi Educator ............... Rebecca R. Reice, M.A.J.E. Executive Director.............................. Jack J. Feldman Music Director...........................Linda Matorin Sweenie Member Services Coordinator...................Laura Intfen Religious School and Youth Group Director....................... Marcia Rittmaster Special Programs Coordinator .... Aaron Nielsenshultz Communications Associate................... Terri S. Turner Office Manager.................................... Robin O’ Bryan Administrative Assistant........................Sharon Altman Administrative Assistant......................Kristy Blackman Bookkeeper.....................................................Barb Kitt BTTY Adviser: Aaron Nielsenshultz JYG Advisers: Hannah Michelson & Zach Zwibelman © Congregation Beth Torah, Overland Park, KS

Year-End Donation Request From Beth Torah


he Board of Trustees and staff wish you and your family a joyous, healthy and happy New Year. We thank you for your support and past generosity.

Undoubtedly, you have heard about the exciting things that are happening at Congregation Beth Torah. Our 25th Anniversary Celebration Weekend was a joyous success. Nearly 100 families have scribed a letter in our new Torah – and many more are scheduled to take their turn with our scribe in the coming months. Our shared vision of a community of citizens, all connected to each other through Beth Torah, is becoming a reality. As we celebrate our many accomplishments and anticipate our bright future, we ask that you consider making a year-end donation to the synagogue. Your gift will reflect both your appreciation of all we do and your enthusiasm for our future prospects. If you have already made a donation this year, please accept our thanks for your support. To make a gift, please mail your tax-deductible contribution to Congregation Beth Torah, 6100 W. 127th Street, Overland Park, KS, 66209. Or, you can call the synagogue office and pay by credit card. We accept Visa, Mastercard and Discover. Again, our heartfelt thanks for your support.

Congregation Beth Torah

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Tekiah December 2013  
Tekiah December 2013