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the newsletter of woodlands community temple

1st Hanukkah candle... December 2017 Kislev-Tevet 5778

Don’t Miss an Unforgettable Weekend with

Beit T’filah Israeli

Fri, Dec 15 Sun, Dec 17 Visiting from Tel Aviv, BTI is one of the Jewish world’s favorite Shabbat experiences!

MishpaHanukkah Shabbat with BTI Fri, Dec 15 at 7:00 pm Celebrating a musical Shabbat Hanukkah as only BTI can do!

A weekend of Israeli Jewish culture that’s not to be missed!

BTI in Concert Sat, Dec 16 at 8:00 pm Your donation (adults $18, students $10) will help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. Tickets at

Religious School Concert with BTI Sun, Dec 17, 11:15 am - Noon A very special SPARK program for our 3rd-6th grade families.

Special thanks to Dayle and David Fligel for underwriting the cost of this exquisite weekend.

Worship @ WCT by Rabbi Billy Dreskin


toward making our world better for everyone and everything that lives here. “Before Whom.” How many of us will take the leap to describe God as a “Who” rather than an “It”? Can one even pray to an “It”? I very personally know a rabbi who says, “Yes!” Again, Judaism pushes us to struggle with this, not to scoff at the possibility that we might find a response that actually fits our own lives. We are, after all, “Yisrael ... God-wrestlers.” “Stand.” To pray is to act. Our goal is to bring God into the world. We may differ (strongly!) as to what each of us means by “God,” but our prayers should be an

Know before Whom you stand

abbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (in his essay, “The Spirit of Jewish Prayer”) writes that prayer is an act of conscious effort to “Know before Whom you stand.” This is a teaching from out of the Talmud (Berakhot 28b) which Heschel explains as follows: “Know.” Prayer cannot merely be an act of emotion. Intelligent effort is required. What intelligent effort? That of struggling to understand what God is and means. We don’t have to adopt someone else’s idea about God, but Judaism challenges us to find one, in order that our prayer have some intended destination. A destination, by the way, that nudges us

Continued on page 2

Tuesday night, Dec 12 ... bring home the miracle, the warmth, and the light!

Shabbat on Shabbat:

A Woodlands Shabbaton

Sat, Dec 2, 9:15 am - 1:00 pm An opportunity to learn and explore the concept of Shabbat. If regular services move too quickly for you, or if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to explore the meaning of Shabbat, this morning is for you. We’re offering different tracks to help you find meaning in this central Jewish concept. There’s something for everyone – from beginner to advanced – and all ages. From 9:15 to 11:00, choose one of the following: “Worship with the Wires Exposed,” a learning service with Rabbi Billy that proceeds at a slower pace and offers explanations of the prayers and traditions that make up our Shabbat ritual. An extended Hevra Torah Learning session with Cantor Jonathan for those looking for an in-depth conversation about the weekly Torah portion. At 10:30, families with young children (ages 5 and below) may join Rabbi Mara for a special Shalom Storytime filled with music, craft, and stories. At 11:00, we’ll come together for lunch and share our morning’s experiences. Children completing religious school morning are welcome to join their parents for lunch. Following lunch, we’ll all join in Israeli Dancing with Leng Tan, a skilled professional instructor. Attend any part of the morning that intrigues you. Please register for this exciting and innovative event at We are certain you’ll have a stimulating and fun-filled morning, no matter what your age.

See you there!

Our Woodlands Community


Rabbi Billy Dreskin Rabbi Mara Young Cantor Jonathan Ben Gordon Tara Levine, Director of Youth Engagement Corey Friedlander, Sh’liakh K’hilah Deena Gottlieb, Intern

Annual Fund Donations

Executive Committee Dayle Fligel, President Rachel Wineberg, VP Education Andy Farber, VP Facilities Michael Wiskind, VP Finance Nancy Fishman, VP Programming/Ritual Irving Adler, Financial Secretary Steve Sagner, Secretary Bonni Arbore, Treasurer

Board of Trustees David Bertan Dan Emery Judy Feder Herb Friedman Yvette Gralla Amy Green

Elka Klarsfeld Jenna Lebowich Lisa Linn Mike Scafidi Michele Wise Ann Zarider

Stu Berlowitz (ex-officio)

Office Staff Liz Rauchwerger, Office Coordinator Marjorie Mattel, Office Assistant Michele Montague, Education Administrative Assistant Bookkeeper

Woodlands Community Temple 50 Worthington Road White Plains, NY 10607 914.592.7070 main office 914.592.1790 religious school direct line 914.592.7376 fax Religious School:

Woodlands Community Temple is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism Art Director: Melanie Roher Advertising Director: Aliza Burton




By Dayle Fligel


hank you for your membership support. By paying on time or working out an arrangement for payment, we are able to bring many professional programs to Woodlands. As the end of the year approaches and you open your checkbooks to make donations, please remember to include Woodlands’ Annual Fund Campaign. As David Fligel said in his November Makom article, “There is a fourth pillar that is the need to support the three pillars of Judaism: Torah (learning), Avodah (service), and Gemilut Hasadim (acts of loving-kindness). The fourth pillar is resource, the resources to bring that professionalism to Woodlands.” Each year, the number of members who donate to the Annual Fund increases. Please be part of that increase by making a generous gift at (or mail a check to Woodlands, with “Annual Fund” on the memo line). December 31 is just around the corner. As you make your end-of-year donations, I hope you will join David and me, and remember to add Woodlands to your list. The quality and quantity of our version of these Three Pillars is why we frequently refer to Woodlands as Makom Shelibi Oheyv, the Place My Heart Holds Dear. How lucky we all are!

Worship @ WCT, continued from p. 1

action plan for what God-like (God-approved?) work we intend to be engaged in each day. Here at Woodlands, there are many different options for prayer, all of which strive to incorporate this central tenet, to “Know before Whom you stand.” Mishpakha Shabbat, which welcomes congregants young an old, is an earlier, fully engaging, hour of prayer. Simply Shabbat is a quieter, more reflective prayer experience, while A Joyful Noise is our most energized and visually stimulating prayer-modality. Jammin’ Shabbat is especially for our littlest ones. And Shabbat Morning is our more traditional service. So how then does one worship God at Woodlands? Well, it only starts in our sanctuary. But part two of our “worship” always continues when we use our hands and our feet to build a world that Jewish teaching imagines God would like. Just as there are many ways to pray inside of Woodlands, there are myriad ways to actualize our prayers on the

outside. The choices are always ours. Ten years ago, we embarked upon an experiment informed by the joyous gospel music of many of America’s churches, as well as the images they were projecting on screens to make worship more accessible and meaningful. “A Joyful Noise!” was created to give a distinctly American-Jewish expression to these approaches to prayer. Through lively ensemble music, presented not for the purpose of performance but to join our congregation in uplifting song, as well as the use of visual imagery both to lift our faces up and out of our prayerbooks as well as to free our hands for clapping and for hugging, this has become one of WCT’s favorite Shabbat services. Won’t you join us on Friday, December 2 at 8:00 pm, as we begin our second decade of making “A Joyful Noise!” that’s dedicated to continuing and extending Woodland’s devotion to the Jewish spirit of seeking God and of striving to do that which we imagine would make God proud.

from the


Fake News for Hanukkah (138 BCE) Cantor Jonathan Gordon


he Press Secretary addressed the gathered reporters on the balcony overlooking the courtyard of the Jerusalem Temple. Children played in the fountain below, as women carried water on their heads and men in white robes scurried over ancient polished white stones to their appointed rounds. Press Secretary Saralus Huckabbeus answered questions from the reporters who stood, styluses at the ready. “No, the reports of Greek influence in the campaign and the new administration are total distractions and completely false. “Yes, Manafortus Paulinas was recently indicted, but for activities unrelated to our administration. He played only a minor role in our ascension to power. We barely remember his first name or where he parked his chariot. He tallied votes and sent out for souvlaki during the short time he was with the campaign. His previous activities included supporting pro-freedom candidates in Macedonia and the greater Byzantine region, which made him a trustworthy choice for unimportant employee. “The Modin Times wants to know about the visit of the Greek Ambassadors and their press team to the Octagonal Office. President Trumpmanus has the right to declassify any scrolls or clay tablets he chooses. We have shared such information with our allies for many years. It is a creative innovation to share it with our sworn enemies. We call it draining the Wadi. “To answer the reporter from the Tiberius Post, when we say that Alexander Putinus is a popular ruler, we are going by his Patrician/Oligarch Rating, which is very high indeed. Zealots may not approve of his methods, but his effective dominance over the entire known world is undeniable. Wouldn’t you rather have a Hellenistic despot as a friend than as an enemy? “The real story is the nepotism of our opposition here at home. Mattathias has appointed Judah Maccabee and his other four sons as leaders of his party in Modin. Why don’t you investigate that, for a change? “No, I do not think anyone cares which fuel is burnt in the Temple lamps. The EPA (of blessed memory) prefers clean coal oil, which will put indentured miners back to work. Why not? There is barely enough olive oil on hand for a single day, in any case. “The reporter asks if the Greeks have achieved their real goal already: our citizens are at each other’s throats and the country is weakened into inaction. We believe the nation doesn’t care about such things. The administration will soon give a 4000 drachma tax cut to every family; here is something that will truly change history.” Wishing you a Hanukkah filled with hope and light. And a sense of humor.

High Holy Days Sermons are Online Want to reread that sermon that moved you so much? Want to share one with your friends? They’re all online now at

Just Israel Lighting up the Holy Land

Photovoltaics in a desert solar power farm in the Negev desert, Israel.The Negev is one of the sunniest place in Israel and the center of the Israeli solar industry.

by Deena Gottlieb If you’ve ever been to the Negev desert in southern Israel, there’s one thing you’re sure to remember: the brilliant, ever-shining, dazzling sun. While so many bathers in the Dead Sea enjoy soaking up the rays, Yosef Abromowitz, a Boston native who emigrated to Israel, saw the sun as source of inspiration. Why not harness the power of the sun and use it to provide solar power to Israel and the world? Armed with the Israeli inclination toward entrepreneurialism and environmental innovation, it only took Abromowitz five months to build the first solar field in the Middle East. His company, Arava Power, was founded on the land of Kibbutz Ketura a decade ago. Since then, the company has built over 16,000 solar panels in the Negev desert. And that’s only the beginning. Abromowitz claims that by 2030, at least 40% of Israel’s electricity could come from solar power. While Israel struggles with the challenges of establishing peace with her neighbors, good news does emerge. This column provides a brief glimpse of something taking root there that firmly aligns Israel’s values with Judaism’s. We hope you share our pride and admiration for these Arab/Israeli achievements.


Hanukkah Gelt Nu? Is Hanukkah gift-giving Jewish or isn’t it? Read on for all the goods on gelt. There’s nothing about it in the Hanukkah story. Some suggest it’s a carry-over from Purim ... sh’lakh manot, the “portions” we share with one another in celebration of having survived Haman. Perhaps, as we were redeemed on Purim, Hanukkah motivates redemption-inspired (remember the Maccabees?) gift-giving too.

Information Center We’ve placed a whole lot of information about Hanukkah observance online for you at You’ll find answers there to frequently asked questions like: What is Hanukkah? What’s the proper way to insert the candles? When do we light them? How do I read or sing the blessings? Any good English readings we can use? What about Christmas? Stop by today, and fill this year’s Hanukkah with light, warmth and joy!

But more likely, it’s part of actual Maccabeean history. In 168 BCE, Antiochus invaded the Jerusalem Temple. In 164 BCE, the Maccabees took it back. And in 142 BCE (22 yrs later), Judea stamped its own coins (see I Maccabees 15:6), the ultimate symbol of nationhood. A hundred years after that, a coin was minted portraying the seven-branch menorah, likely to remember the rededicated Temple and of the festival of Hanukkah (whose celebration had fizzled out). A half-century after that (around 0 CE), Judea’s independence came under siege by Rome. Hanukkah, the holiday that celebrated successful political revolt, was revived and observed more fervently than ever. New customs appeared, including gelt, which may have symbolized those early Jewish coins, and the Maccabean spirit and independence they represented. So go on and share the gelt. It’s fun. It’s sparkly. And it’s Jewish too!

Save the Date! 9th Annual

Jonah Maccabee Concert with Dan Nichols, Josh Nelson, Ellen Dreskin and Rosalie Boxt Saturday, March 10, 2018


Why I Volunteer @ Temple In this column, we introduce you to fellow temple members who have stepped forward to help make Woodlands a place we can all love.

I volunteer because my parents volunteered. It’s just something you do. Growing up I was not active in youth group – I was president. In college, it wasn’t enough for me to participate in extracurricular groups – I helped run them. After graduation, I continued my leadership roles in professional societies, actively leading them at both the local and national level. Today, I continue leadership roles in my professional organizations. When we joined Woodlands I was going to volunteer. Then the president called to ask me to wait a year, and get to know Woodlands a bit better. I

waited, and then signed up for Finance, took the Derekh class, and served on the Board and Exec. But volunteering for Woodlands is more than my other volunteer activities. Woodlands volunteering always has a Jewish spin. I opened each finance meeting with a d’rash to connect the weekly Torah portion to the finance topic of the evening. And gradually, I began wearing a kippah at meetings, further differentiating Temple volunteering from everything else. I give my time and expertise, but I become whole in return.

Andy Farber

Support the WCT Endowment Trust You can help sustain and ensure the heritage of Woodlands Community Temple for generations to come by supporting the WCT Endowment Trust, an investment entity designed to generate income separate from the Temple’s operating funds. Gifts to the Endowment Trust can be made in many ways, including bequests, multi-year pledges, and remainder trusts. Contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law and will always be tastefully acknowledged. Oversight is managed by a committee of Temple members who serve as trustees. For more information, or to plan a donation to the Endowment Trust, please email

Worship Schedule Shabbat Vayishlakh

Sat, Dec 16

Gen 32:4 - 36:43 ... Hos 11:7 - 12:12

Yoga Shabbat at 11:00 am

Fri, Dec 1

A Shabbat morning experience for everybody – adults and kids – that will include music, prayer, Torah, and easy yoga movements. A holistic celebration of Creation! Rebecca Jane Smith, gentle yoga instructor extraordinaire, will once again (along with Rabbi Billy and Tara Levine) lead the way. Wear loose clothing and bring a yoga mat if you have one (we’ll have a few available as well). RSVP to

“A Joyful Noise!” at 8:00 pm It’s been ten years since Woodlands’ biggest and loudest service came to town. Now a fixture on the temple calendar, please join us for our 10th birthday celebration! Special welcome this evening to our 3rd grade families!

Sat, Dec 2 Shabbaton 9:15 am - 1:00 pm Join us for a morning of luxurious Shabbat immersion. We’ll learn, we’ll pray, we’ll celebrate and (of course) we’ll eat. Sign up at

Shabbat Vayigash Gen 44:18 - 47:27 ... Ezek 37:15-28

Fri, Dec 22 Jammin’ Shabbat at 7:00 pm

Fri, Dec 8

Put on your jammies, bring a bedtime friend, a blanket if you like, and c’mon over for 30 minutes of Shabbat song, stories and blessings to get you ready for bed. Bring a buck for tzedakah!

Human Rights Shabbat at 8:00 pm

Wisdom from Our Own at 8:00 pm

While the rabbis are away, Cantor Jonathan will focus on the T’ruah organization’s annual call for congregations to affirm Jewish commitment to international human rights.

As Andy Loose chooses Judaism, our iyyunim (prayer introductions) will be presented by temple members. Come celebrate and learn from our own! Also, we’ll be making sandwiches during the Oneg to help prepare for Sunday’s night’s Midnight Run.

Shabbat Vayeshev Gen 37:1 - 40:23 ... Amos 2:6 - 3:8

Sat, Dec 9 No 10:30 service today. Ask for Kaddish to be recited at Hevra Torah (9:15 am).

Shabbat Miketz

Saturdays, 9:15-10:15 am There’s abundant room around our table. Drop by once or often, we’d love to have you join our lively conversation. In the Meeting Room or Library.

Dec 2: Parashat Vayishlakh Facilitated by Cantor Jonathan Extended session today for WCT Shabbat!

Dec 9: Parashat Vayeshev Facilitated by Cantor Jonathan

Dec 16: Parashat Miketz Facilitated by Rabbi Billy

Dec 23: Parashat Vayigash Facilitated by Rabbi Mara

Dec 30: Parashat Vayekhi Facilitated by Rabbi Billy

No 10:30 service today. Ask for Kaddish to be recited at Hevra Torah (9:15 am).

Shabbat Vayekhi

Fri, Dec 15

Gen 47:28 - 50:26 ... I Kngs 2:1-12

For the entire congregation, just earlier – meaningful for adults, engaging for kids! This month, filled with Hanukkah spirit (and latkes)! And Beit T’filah Israeli, Israel’s preeminent Shabbat-in-Tel-Avivharbor musical clergy team. Bring your family Hanukkah menorah and help us really light up the Sanctuary! If you like, join us for a quick dinner at 6:00 pm – make your reservation at

Hevra Torah Learning

Sat, Dec 23

Gen 41:1 - 44:17 ... I Kngs 3:15 - 4:1

MishpaHanukkah Shabbat at 7:00 pm

Babysitting at 8:00 pm during Shabbat services is provided by teens from our religious school. This month, babysitting will be available on Dec 8. There is no charge and no advance notice is required. For further information, contact

Fri, Dec 29 Shabbat with Harriet and Corey at 8:00 pm As has become traditional winter-break fare at Woodlands, our educator emerita Harriet Levine and shaliakh k’hillah Corey Friedlander will lead tonight’s service, with music by Rabbi Billy and friends.

Sat, Dec 30 No 10:30 service today. Ask for Kaddish to be recited at Hevra Torah (9:15 am).

A Joyful Noise

10th Anniversary Service Fri, Dec 1 at 8:00 pm It’s been ten years since “A Joyful Noise!” took to our bimah. Come celebrate Woodlands’ most colorful and bimah-packed service ever. With thanks to you for keeping it alive all these years.


December Happenings & Beyond S’forum Forum Sat, Dec 2, 4:30-6:00 pm


Sholem Asch was one of the most preeminent Jewish writers of the 20th Century. We will read and discuss one of his New York centric works, East River, a bestseller of 1946. Set on East 48th Street, it depicts an international neighborhood of Orthodox Jews, Catholic Irish, nostalgic Poles and nationalistic Italians, all insecure, hungry and overworked. How they live together, struggle for a better life, and learn from one another makes an inspired yarn of the American Melting Pot. Come join us for a great discussion, snacks, and Havdalah of course!

Holiday Toy Drives @ Woodlands!

WCT Book Club Wed, Dec 13 at 2:00 pm Facilitated by Sheila Sweet A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra is a vision of Chechnya after a decade of war filled with broken families, lost limbs, demolished homes and the valiant effort of people to find scraps of hope and dignity. Religious and separatist battles have left the roadways studded with land mines, the buildings pockmarked with bullets, and many residents disappeared and tortured. It is in praise of the indomitability of the human spirit despite how shabbily war treats everyone in it and the ability for survival despite the persistent grimness.

Two great holiday gift drives for adults and children to share the Hanukkah spirit!!

Engaging Israel: Jewish Values and the IsraeliPalestinian Conflict Rabbi Billy Dreskin

9 Wednesdays, 8:00-9:30 pm Jan 3 - Mar 14 We’re not looking to change your politics on Israel, but to work with the prism of Jewish values through which you form your opinions. Through text study with Rabbi Billy and video presentations from renowned Israeli scholars, we’ll address core questions that foster greater understanding and greater respect for each other, without whitewashing the differences. Visit to register. Course fee is $18. Book fee is $20.

Lunch and Learn: Israeli Cuisine Wed, Dec 20 at 11:30 am Join us for a special edition of Lunch and Learn. Jointly sponsored by the ARZAIsrael and Adult Education Committees, the session will explore Israeli food. The result of immigration, necessity, climate diversity, lack of agricultural tradition, politics, changing economics, halakha, a young population, and globalization, Israeli cuisine is like no other. Cost is $10 (unless you have already signed up for all Lunch and Learn programs). Of course, Israeli food will be served. Register at


We’ve partnered with WJCS to collect new toys for needy Jewish children at Hanukkah. Please drop off new, unwrapped toys in the big box at WCT. Or donate online at

Toys for Tots (Fri, Dec 1 - Wed, Dec 20) For needy kids at Christmas, new, unwrapped toys are being collected by WCT and will be picked up for distribution by the Greenburgh Fire Department. Or donate online at Collection bins for both projects are in the hallway outside the Sanctuary. Questions, contact Michele Montague (

This year, make it a tzedakah Hanukkah!!

Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief

Current Events Wed, Dec 20, 10:00-11:30 am Join us as we discuss issues that face us daily. Among other things, we will be exploring the results of the November election and how they will impact us. Stay and join us for Lunch and Learn immediately following.

Have a Heart (Mon, Nov 20 - Mon, Dec 4)

Project #1 - Financial Assistance:

Save the Date! A Trip to the Tenement Museum

Sun, Feb 11, 8:30 am - 2:30 pm We will depart by bus from WCT at 8:30 am for the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. Following our tour of this incredible space, we will board the bus again to go for lunch at Ben’s Delicatessen on 38th Street. We anticipate returning to WCT by 2:30. All this for only $35 per member ($45 per non-member). Reservations are limited to 23 attendees so please RSVP by Fri, Jan 5 at

With the people of Puerto Rico teetering on the edge of destruction, Woodlands has teamed up with the Jewish Community Center in San Juan and Hastings-based Family-to-Family to assist folks in the town of Loiza (15 miles east of San Juan) recover from Hurricane Maria. Our goal is to help meet Loiza’s most immediate needs: medicine, food, cleaning supplies and clothing. Please donate as generously as you can at

Project #2 – On-Site Rebuilding During the February Break:

We’re exploring the possibility of traveling to Puerto Rico to lend a hand with salvage and recovery there. We’re looking for interested congregants, as well as an organization on the ground there. Please contact Rabbi Billy and/or Rabbi Mara to let us know.

Refugee Resettlement Do you have an apartment to rent to a refugee family? Or do you know a landlord who does? We expect to welcome a family in the next few months. If you would like to join our Housing Team or if you know of a suitable, affordable apartment close to transportation, please contact Bob Reitter ( For information on our Refugee Task Force, email You can donate to help us make this all happen at refugeedrive.

December Mensch of the Month is Fifth Grade You, too, can be a mensch by bringing in healthy snacks and large cereal boxes for the food cart. Help our local food pantries and the folks they serve.

A Month of Desserts in December/January Woodlands provides desserts each day during these two months for The Sanctuary teen shelter. Sign up as a family or with friends to supply dessert or fruit for one week. Contact Jeanne Bodin (jeanne.bodin@

Children’s Village Holiday Gifts in November/December Kids at Children’s Village do not always receive holiday gifts, unless someone in the community thinks of them. You can brighten the holiday season by being that “thinking” person. Contact Jeanne Bodin ( to see the kids’ wish-list. Gifts are delivered by the third week in December.

Dinner for Teen Shelter Sun, Dec 3 Provide part of a home-cooked dinner for 15 teens living at The Sanctuary shelter in Valhalla. Prepare at your home a main dish, vegetable or starch side dish, salad, fruit, or dessert, bring it to the temple by noon on Sun, Dec 3. To volunteer for the Dec 3 meal, email shelterdinner@

Monthly Knitting and Crocheting Sun, Dec 3 at 3:00 pm Make mitzvah projects together with our friendly and active group. All levels welcome, including beginners. RSVP to Angela Adler (

Midnight Run Sandwich-Making Fri, Dec 22 at 9:15 pm Grab a fast cookie when our Shabbat service ends and hop onto the sandwich-making line. Help us make 200 sandwiches for the Confirmation Class and friends to distribute on the Christmas Eve Midnight Run.

Christmas Eve Midnight Run Sun, Dec 24 at 9:00 pm As part of this year’s Confirmation program, Rabbi Billy and the Social Action Committee invite you to feed the homeless in New York City. Christmas Eve (a night when the needy and homeless feel especially alone and without hope), we meet at the temple, pack up our cars and spend a few hours finding and feeding the homeless. Even in the dead of winter (dress warmly!) many sleep in cardboard boxes on the street. You can offer them a hot cup of soup or coffee, and some much-needed compassion. 10th grade students and parents will be given first priority to attend. But depending on space, congregants may also join our caravan. If it looks like we’ll have room, we’d be honored to have you join us. Email to inquire. Once you’re on our list, we’ll give you call as soon as we know your status.

Immigrant Friends at Woodlands

We continue to explore ways in which to help immigrants in our community. Whether by providing accompaniment to someone going to an ICE hearing or by tutoring a child, there is much we can do. To be part of this, contact

Y O U TH EN G A G EMENT Yoga Shabbat Returns! Sat, Dec 16 at 11:00 am Reflect, free your mind, relax, and spend time with the ones you love. Led by Rabbi Billy, Tara Levine and Rebecca Smith, master yoga instructor and deeply spiritual Jew. Rebecca seamlessly and inspiringly connects each yoga position to the prayers of our tradition. Regardless of your age (and we’ve covered the spectrum, from age 3 to 83!), or level of experience, there is a place for you in our circle. Wear loose, comfortable clothing, bring a yoga mat if you have one (we’ll have some on hand too), and get ready for a lovely, invigorating Shabbat morning. RSVP to Tara at

If you or someone you know is a victim of Domestic Abuse, please share this confidential hotline:


Don’t delay ...

$$$ Available for 1sttime Summer Campers Is this the summer to send your child or grandchild to a URJ summer camp (Eisner, Crane Lake, Kutz, 6 Points Sports Academy or 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy)? Well, up to $1000 is waiting for you! No kidding! We’ve linked arms with the UJA-Federation of New York and the Foundation for Jewish Camp and are thrilled to be able to offer this subsidy to any family wanting to give a child their first, unforgettable experience of summer at a Jewish sleepaway camp. The application process is now open at If you’ve got questions, feel free to contact Rabbi Mara, Tara or Rabbi Billy.

About that Little Cruse of Oil


ix hundred years after the Maccabees saved our people, the Roman Empire ruled over the land that had once been Israel. Our rabbis feared that their oppressors might harm those who celebrated a Hanukkah that recalled our armed rebellion centuries earlier against the Greek armies. To fool the Romans, the rabbis created a different telling of the Hanukkah story. Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 2lb (circa 500 CE) ... “When the Maccabees entered the Holy Temple, they found only enough oil to light the great Menorah for a single day. And yet, while the week passed waiting for the arrival of new oil, the great Menorah never burned out. For eight days and nights, its light filled the Temple and shone throughout Jerusalem.” The legend speaks of a miracle — how one small light kept the fires of hope and of faith burning brightly. And though the story may not have really happened, its message — that great things can come from a single individual’s efforts — reminds us that real-life miracles can happen everyday.

A Note from Israeli Rabbinical Student Yael Vurgan Yael Vurgan spent two weeks with us last April and again this past October. So many of us were touched by her spirit, her knowledge and her goodness. We’re grateful to have been so lucky to get to know her. Apparently, Yael feels the same way. We recently received this very sweet note from her.

Dear Woodlands, When I arrived at the airport for my flight back to Israel, my suitcase was overweight. Your words came back to me from the Tent Sale, “Don’t buy so much!” Well, I told myself as I paid the airline, my heart too is full — with good warm feelings from my visit to WCT. I am going home with a lot of spiritual cargo! This second visit was so uplifting and rich with new ideas and connections. Starting my last year in the Israeli rabbinic program, I couldn’t have asked for a better professional learning experience than the one I had with you. I enjoyed teaching both Sukkot morning and to the B’nai Binah class. It was a real pleasure learning together with all of you wonderful people, who share such passion for Jewish text and thought. I was also deeply inspired by the Shabbat Evening service we shared in the spirit of the book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), and it was such a joy to celebrate Simkhat Torah Woodlands-style! I was moved by your warm community spirit and the participation of so many holding up the Torah and reading it. Many thanks to your wonderful clergy – Rabbi Billy, Rabbi Mara and Cantor Jonathan – for sharing with me their professional and personal life stories and experiences. I thank also Rabbi Joan Farber and Corey Friedlander for their friendship and time. I am grateful to all the families and individuals who invited me for a meal. Special thanks to the Kaufman/Wineberg family (Mark, Rachel and Liam) for hosting me again in your home! And to Juli Klein who so selflessly made all of the arrangements again for my stay with you. I feel I have a second home at Woodlands. With so many new friends, I hope you will always feel that I am your Israeli friend and that you will let me know if you’re ever coming to Israel for a visit. I will definitely see you in December 2018 when Rabbi Mara leads your trip here! In the meantime, stay well. And please write.



Hanukkah Music to Spice up Your Latkes! Among our most powerful Hanukkah memories, to be sure, are the melodies we learned as little kids. There’s so much wonderful Hanukkah music out there; why not fill your home with some of the great tunes that are available to you?

Cantor Jonathan recommends: • Woody Guthrie’s Happy Joyous Chanukah (Klezmatics) • Wonder Wheel (Klezmatics) • Rhythm and Jews (Klezmatics) • The Jewish Experience - Chanukah (Western Wind and Theo Bikel) • Circle of Fire - A Chanukah Concert (Voice of the Turtle)

Rabbi Billy recommends: • It’s Chanukah Time (Julie Silver) • Light These Lights (Debbie Friedman) • Hanukkah Swings (Kenny Ellis) • Songs in the Key of Hanukkah (Erran Baron Cohen) • The Chanukah Collection (Safam) • Rockin’ Chanukah Revue (Sam Glaser) • Celebrate Chanukah (Jon Simon) • 8 Nights of Hanukkah (Kid Kosher) • The Hanukkah Lounge (Instrumental Jew Age Music)

Hard to be believe that Hanukkah is just days away!


hopping for the Festival of Lights is The Judaica Shop at Woodlands committee’s most enjoyable task. The variety of fantastic menorot is amazing, and we fight hard not to bring in each and every one! We listen to the stories our congregants tell us and try to bring in items that will resonate with many of them.

To purchase any of these recordings, try,,, or (for mp3 downloads).

About That Number Twenty-Five Dreidel Games

1. All you need for this game is a dreidel.

Each of the players puts a candy, a nut, a penny (anything you want to play with) in the center. The first player spins the dreidel, then the second, then the third, etc. Gimel means “Gantz” – take it all! Hey means “halb” – you get half the pot. Nun means “nicht” – sorry, you get nothing. And shin means “shtell” – oops, you need to add to the pot.

2. Here’s another game you play with the

dreidel. Each player takes a turn spinning the dreidel and wins the number of points equivalent to the letter which comes out on top. This game can be played in teams. Gimel = 3 points. Nun = 50 points. Hey = 5 points. Shin = 0 points.

3. Place a cardboard circle on a table. Divide the circle into eight parts and number them from one to eight. Each participant gets three spins and the score is counted according to the number in which the spinning point of the dreidel is found when it stops. The dreidel must be started from the center. Have fun. Happy Hanukkah!


ver wonder why Hanukkah begins on the 25th of Kislev and Christmas on the 25th of December? Well, the jury’s still out but here’s some food for thought. Christian tradition dates Jesus’ birth as December 25, but the most prominent theory is that early Christians borrowed the date from pagan celebrations. Lots of ancient festivals were held at the darkest time of year in late-December. In 274 CE, Roman emperor Aurelian established a feast of the birth of Sol Invictus on December 25. Early Christians may have deliberately chosen the same date to encourage the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman world. The Books of the Maccabees mention the 25th of Kislev as being the date when the GrecoSyrians first offered pagan sacrifices in the Jerusalem Temple (I Maccabees 1:59). It’s also, we are told, the date when the Maccabees successfully restored it again and established our annual celebration (II Maccabees 1:18). It is not unlikely, however, that our ancestors also chose this date because of its resonance in the wider society. What’s the correct answer? Hopefully, time will tell.

WCT is the most musically involved synagogue we know and we’re sure the multitude of musicians and musical families in our congregation will love the Musical Instruments Menorah. Our serious (and not-so-serious) bicyclists will smile miles wide at the Bicycle Menorah. And speaking of wheels and music, the antique motorcycle will appeal to our biker buffs and Easy Rider fans! And for those eight crazy nights, check out our wonderful selection of affordable necklaces and bracelets, colorful Hanukkah candles, great crafts, toys and fun home decorations.

The Judaica Shop at Woodlands is open every day during temple office hours.Shopping for something special? Looking for a volunteer opportunity that’s fun and fits with your schedule? Email us at and let’s talk!


The Woodlands Community Mourns the Loss of Alice Hirsch aunt of Jonathan Hirsch

HaMakom y’nakhem otam… may God bring comfort to all who are in mourning. Zekher tzadik livrakha ... may their memory be for a blessing.

Todah Rabbah (thank you) to... Michael Silverman and Betsy Schorr and all who participated in the October and November Breakfast Runs. Chuck Bauer for running another successful blood drive. Pam Chernoff, Joy Gralnick, Judy Kaplan Levan, and their team of Book Fair volunteers. The Confirmation Class for cooking Thanksgiving dinner for our local teen shelter.

Juli Klein for making arrangements for Israeli rabbinical student Yael Vurgan’s stay with us. The Kaufman/Wineberg family for hosting Yael Vurgan. Donna Hart and Jeff Schlossberg for speaking at Yom Kippur Yizkor.

Mazal Tov to ... Leslie and Larry Geneen on the birth of their grandson, Noah Jacob Silver.

Upcoming Meetings

Bette Hagouel and Jay Perlstein on their recent wedding.

Donations We appreciate the thoughtfulness of those who support Woodlands Community Temple by remembering and honoring their friends and loved ones through their generous contributions.

Finance Committee Mon, Dec 11 at 8:15 pm

School Board Mon, Dec 11 at 8:15 pm

Social Action Committee Mon, Dec 11 at 8:15 pm

Board of Trustees Sun, Dec 17 at 7:30 We would be delighted to welcome you to any temple meeting that interests you. Please be in touch with Dayle Fligel (president@wct. org) for information on how to join (or just visit) a committee.

Shop Amazon, Raise Bucks for WCT! Do you shop online at Did you know that if you get there by using our link, Woodlands will receive 5% of your payment. Doesn’t get much easier. So please shop amazon and help raise bucks for your temple. Thanks!


Rabbi Billy’s Mitvah Fund

Music Fund

In memory of Leon Jay Abram, brother of Bill Abram, from David and Donna Berliner. In honor of Rabbi Billy for being a good friend and supporter of the Weingast family, from Shelly Rosenthal. In honor of the marriage of Bette Hagouel to Jay Perlstein, from Bette Hagouel. In honor of Ivan Grosz’ 90th birthday, from Andy and Susan Sterling. In honor of Eva Ratz’ 90th birthday, from Andy and Susan Sterling. In appreciation of Rabbi Billy for our daughter, Maisie’s baby naming, from Noah and Adrienne Tanzman.

In memory of Robert D. Harper, Jr., father of Emily Harper, from David and Donna Berliner. In honor of Michael, Jenna and Marina Lebowich, from Maxine Rosenberg. In honor of Cantor Jonathan for the beautiful music program for the High Holiday services, from Nelson and Jackie Leicht.

Chai Fund

In appreciation of Rabbi Billy for our daughter, Maisie’s baby naming, from Noah and Adrienne Tanzman.

In honor of Joel and Pam Chernoff for their kindness and support, from Paula Spitalny. In honor of my daughter, Fran Smith, reading Torah on Yom Kippur, from Dorothy Smith. In honor of Michael, Jenna and Marina Lebowich, from Maxine Rosenberg. In honor of the Strick Family, from Malcolm Appelbaum. In honor of Rabbi Billy, Rabbi Mara, Cantor Jonathan, Tara Levine, Corey Friedlander and Deena Gottlieb, from Larry and Yvette Gralla. In honor of Dayle Fligel for her help during the High Holidays, from Larry and Yvette Gralla. In honor of the clergy and members who made WCT High Holidays happen, from Todd Gordon and Susan Feder. In honor of Rabbi Billy, Rabbi Mara, Rabbinic Intern Deena and Sh’liakh K’hilah Corey for the inspiring High Holiday services, from Nelson and Jackie Leicht. Yahrzeit donation in memory of my mother, Dorothy Komisar, from Shelley Jacobson.

Social Action Fund In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, from Alan and Bonnie Mitelman. In honor of Michael, Jenna and Marina Lebowich, from Maxine Rosenberg.

Jonah Maccabee Fund

Torah and Ritual Fund In honor of Margot Serwer, from Jill Garland and Andy Loose.

We Rocked and (un)Rolled for Simkhat Torah!





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Our Woodlands Connection I needn’t have been concerned about religious school being fun. Both kids thoroughly enjoyed coming to school at Woodlands, and both attended through 12th grade without any pushing from us. For Rachel, the Learning Center was a huge benefit. Despite her disability, she became a Bat Mitzvah and a Confirmand.

by Judy Flamm


ike many other families, we had an interesting history that led to our choosing Woodlands. I grew up in Queens, in a family that, for three generations, was culturally Jewish, but determined to avoid any organized temple membership. We used to say we were “gastronomically Jewish.” We got together to eat. My mother always took great pride in making the best kneidlach and latkes, but that is where her practice ended. At the other end of the spectrum, Mike grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His family worshiped at an Orthodox synagogue, though this was largely for the benefit of his grandparents who lived in the apartment next door. Once they were gone, his parents joined a Conservative synagogue. I always felt that I was missing out by not having that sense of community found in temple membership. I knew that once I had children of my own, they would have that experience which I had missed. Once Mike and I were married, we joined a Reform temple, which we felt was more reflective of our beliefs. Our son Andy attended preschool at the YM-YWHA, and thus we began the tradition of observing Shabbat, the holidays, etc. We also made the decision for Andy to begin religious school in kindergarten, when it was fun. Still, we felt that we were settling. Although we attended regularly, and took a very active part in temple and

religious school activities, we did not feel that the rabbi or religious school director made any attempt to know us or our children. Then, in 1997,we moved to Ardsley. The catalyst for this move was the need for a quality special education program for our daughter, Rachel. We never did the “temple shopping” that many families do when they relocate. We had the fortunate, and unusual, circumstance of remaining close friends with the family from whom we bought our house. They were members of Woodlands, and we felt that, if they were comfortable here, we would be as well. Upon joining, the first person we met was Harriet Levine, when we enrolled the children at religious school. What a change that was! We instantly felt that she really took the time to know both of our kids, with all their strengths and struggles. But that was just the beginning. Rabbi Billy, Cantor Jonathan, and even the office staff all got to know us, and made us feel that our membership mattered.


lthough I started out without any temple affiliation, I have made up for it by becoming involved in many different areas of temple life. I completed the Derekh program. After Rachel became a Bat Mitzvah, I decided it was my turn, and I completed the B’nai Binah program. I have enjoyed Jewish Studies with Harriet on Thursday mornings for as long as I can remember. I also head the College Connection committee, which gives me the opportunity to work with Tara and keep Woodlands a presence in our college students’ lives. Besides worship and learning, we take advantage of social events as well. Mike and I enjoy spending “date nights” listening to the music at coffee houses. We are all eagerly anticipating going to Israel with Woodlands next December. We have all developed lifelong friendships at Woodlands. In so many ways, it really is the place our hearts hold dear. If you’ve got a story that you’d like to tell about belonging to Woodlands, please contact Rabbi Billy (

WCT Makom November 2017  

Woodlands Community Temple November 2017 Bulletin