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the newsletter of woodlands community temple

February 2018 Sh’vat-Adar 5778

Building Community through Seriously Fun Music:

The 9th Annual Jonah Maccabee Concert by Fran Smith

It started as a gathering of four close friends. They

borrowed a house in the Berkshires, grabbed guitars and a piano, and spent two and a half days playing and praying through their music. Their goal was simple: Make music purely for the pleasure of singing together. The quartet – Boxt, Dreskin, Nelson and Nichols – went on to perform at the URJ Biennial in 2015 and at synagogues across the country. They produced a gorgeous, uplifting CD, So Is Life, combining original songs and old favorites. Now they’re bringing their magical blend Continued on page 2

Reaching Out for a Perfect World by Rabbi Billy Dreskin


n Thu, Feb 15 (7:30-9:00 pm), a beautiful organization known as the Interfaith Caring Community of Greenburgh will hold its monthly meeting here at Woodlands. You should stop by. Why? Because it’s wonderful to sit beside nonJews and, together, work to bring ever-increasing goodness into our local communities. It’s also pretty much a mitzvah, a Jewish responsibility, to join hands with those of other faiths in finding common ideas and ideals. Together, we operate by a single motivating tenet, that there’s one God in the universe, we are all the children of God, and we take care of each other. Our tradition tells the sacred story of Adam and Eve, not to teach science but to teach community. In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a), we learn: Adam and Eve were created first, that there should be peace among human beings, because one cannot say to one’s neighbor, “My ancestor was nobler than yours.” It is this guiding principle that inspires us to build a world of goodness with like-minded faith-keepers from other religions. That’s why the

Thanksgiving Interfaith Service is so important to us. That’s why local clergy speaking at one another’s house of worship is so important to us. That’s why Peace Islands Institute, a Muslim community service organization, meets monthly here at Woodlands, and why they joined us for this year’s Christmas Eve Midnight Run. Jews and Muslims distributing food and necessities on Christmas – there it is, the essence of interfaith! The Interfaith Caring Community of Greenburgh, founded in 1983, is a coalition of area faith organizations that work together on social justice activities here in Westchester. We promote interfaith understanding and respect, in part by meeting monthly at each other’s house of worship. Local organizations that benefit from Interfaith’s activities and fundraising include: Hudson Valley Community Services, Yonkers Sharing Community, the Sanctuary, Volunteers of Continued on page 2

Wed, Feb 28 7:00-8:30 pm


t’s been a few years since we’ve had a musical stop by for Purim, and we can’t think of one that’ll be more fun than HAIRSPRAY PURIM. Ellen, Aiden and Billy Dreskin have deleted the well-crafted lyrics from “Hairspray” and replaced them with, well, the best they could come up with. So forget Tracy Turnblad, Link Larkin and Corny Collins. These lyrics tell the story of Queen Esther, her cousin Mordekhai, King Ahashuerus and, of course, Haman!! The temple staff and purimspiel cast are getting ready to retell the Purim story through words and music and a few other surprises. Get dressed up in your best early 60’s costuming. Be a person, an animal, or even an inanimate object (like a giant pair of bobby socks or a black-and-white television) that evokes the spirit of the early 60’s. Come ready to sing along, to cheer Mordekhai and boo Haman. Bring a box of pasta as your gragger, then donate it to feed the hungry before you leave. We’ll read Megillah, eat hamentashen, and celebrate Purim in the loudest, craziest way we possibly can. It’s rated G, so everybody can attend. Cantor Jonathan will undoubtedly have a few comic words to share that will appeal to the most jaded among us. But the show can’t go on without you! Bring yourself! Bring your parent! Bring your kid! “Spray it and lock it,” come back to a Continued on page 2

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

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

Building Community through Seriously Fun Music: The 9th Annual Jonah Maccabee Concert, continued from p. 1

of joy, spirituality and stirring harmonies to Woodlands for the 9th Annual Jonah Maccabee Concert on Saturday night, March 10. Don’t miss this amazing evening! These folks, of course, are not strangers to Woodlands, but cherished friends. Cantor Ellen Dreskin needs no introduction. Josh Nelson and Dan Nichols headlined the first Jonah Maccabee Concert in 2010, and returned by popular demand two years later. And Cantor Rosalie Boxt co-taught Confirmation here at Woodlands with Rabbi Billy way back in 1996 (she’s been a cantor since 2001). But if you think you know their music because you’ve heard each of them perform, you are in for a happy surprise. Their collaboration builds on the talents of each musician to create an entirely new sound and a transcendent experience. It’s not simply that they sound fantastic, though they do. You can hear their love for one another and feel their deep joy in making music with one another. And it turns out, there’s nothing more contagious than the delight of marvelous singers singing together. “Music and spirituality are intertwined for the four us, and we all work very hard as individuals to share that,” Ellen said. “In getting together, we found we were able to nourish ourselves and get better at what we do the rest of the time. Then we began to expand the ways in which we could share this music with other people.”

In the liner notes to So Is Life, the musicians write: “We share ideas and adventures, large and small, laugh a lot, cry some, and sing most of all. We accept each other’s frailties and quirks, celebrate each other’s strengths and gifts, and refine our vision together to build community through the creation of some seriously fun music and harmony.” That spirit of celebration and community is what the Jonah Maccabee Concert is all about. The event honors the legacy of Jonah Maccabee Dreskin by supporting three things he loved: Jewish music, Jewish community and Jewish camping. Proceeds from the concert support scholarships for URJ camps and other summer programs for Woodlands kids. All proceeds from So Is Life go to the Jonah Maccabee Foundation to support environments where young people are building a better future. You’ll be able to buy the album at the concert (or order it online at “I’ve heard these folks sing and they’re wonderful,” said Rabbi Billy. “They sing both Jewish and secular tunes, originals and covers, every one of them a gem. So c’mon out for the concert. You’ll be so glad you did!” Tickets are going fast, so get yours today. Call the temple office or order online at

Stu Berlowitz (ex-officio)

Reaching Out for a Perfect World, continued from p. 1

Office Staff

America Grasslands Shelter, Sally and Anthony Mann Center (for sexually abused young women ages 12-21), Children’s Village, Midnight Run, Coachman Family Shelter, Westchester Family Justice Center, and Vernon Plaza Family Center, to name but a few.

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:

We frequently use the term tikkun olam to describe our social justice activities here at Woodlands. It means “fixing the world,” quite a lofty goal and one we certainly can’t achieve alone! Finding friends among our neighbors who may worship differently than we do, but who care in precisely the same way that we do, this may be the very key to succeeding in this noblest of endeavors. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, in No Religion Is an Island, writes, “What is urgently needed are ways of helping one another in the terrible predicament of here and now by the courage to believe that the word of God endures forever as well as here and now; to cooperate in trying to bring about a resurrection of sensitivity, a revival of conscience; to keep alive the divine sparks in our souls, to nurture openness to the spirit of the Psalms, reverence for the words of the prophets, and faithfulness to the Living God.” Feeling idealistic? Interfaith is meeting at Woodlands this month on Thu, Feb 15, 7:30-9:00 pm. We’d love to have you with us. For additional information, contact Hairspray Purim!, continued from p. 1

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


time when “hemlines were shorter” and “a beer cost a quarter,” and join us for our annual, timeless return to Shushan. Remember, “it takes two” of the king’s eunuchs to spin a plot of intrigue, so don’t miss HAIRSPRAY PURIM!

from the of


Director Engagement

The Mitzvah Challenge Tara Levine


very year, the Association for Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE) hosts its Annual Gathering somewhere around the country. Last month, it was in Seattle. A few months back, I received an email from their listserv asking, “Have you developed a program that has changed the landscape of Jewish education? Have you made a radical change in your organization that can inspire others?” They were seeking proposals from educators around the country to be potential presenters for a session entitled, “Disruptive Thinking in Jewish Education: Ideas in Action.” As soon as I saw the email, I knew I wanted to submit a curriculum we’ve been working on here at WCT for the past two years called "The Mitzvah Challenge.” I was thrilled when they selected me as a presenter. If you’re not familiar with it, The Mitzvah Challenge is part of the seventh grade curriculum. Every other week, I teach the seventh graders about a different mitzvah (usually defined as a commandment or religious opportunity – as we learn with The Mitzvah Challenge, the definitions go beyond that). The mitzvot we explore range from “Honoring Your Parents,” to “Comforting the Bereaved,” to “Repairing the World.”

In religious school, we explore each mitzvah, taking a look at its origins, its relevance to our lives today, ways we’ve thought about it in the past, and more. Then the seventh graders go out and perform that mitzvah in their lives, blogging about their experience and the impact the mitzvah had on them and others. You can read their entries at Ultimately, we’re trying to enforce the idea that mitzvot and Judaism are part of our daily lives in ways we don’t always consciously think about. This “challenge” is our reminder. Also, we learn that Judaism really wants us to be good people and do good for the world. It was such an honor to represent this program and Woodlands at the conference and share some of the learning and teaching I’ve done with WCT’s seventh graders. It is always interesting and thought-provoking to share with other Jewish educators, and it was a great experience to present in this capacity for my first time. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share at the conference and to continuously be learning with our amazing kids and teens here at Woodlands

Just Israel Truly a Light Unto the Nations by Corey Friedlander In Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa, Ethiopia, DRC, Senegal and Cameroon, Innovation Africa (iA), an Israeli-led nineyear-old NGO, is bringing clean water and electricity to more than a million people, having so far installed solar technology in schools, orphanages and medical clinics in some 150 villages. Finishing a project is never the end of iA’s involvement: locals are trained to maintain the solar-energy systems, which are monitored remotely from Israel. Sivan Ya’ari, the founder of iA, believes that using Israeli know-how to harness energy from the abundant sun in Africa is the key to freeing rural villagers from poverty and food insecurity. Electricity allows them to pump water for drip irrigation, refrigerate lifesaving medications and vaccines, and light up classrooms. “Sometimes small-scale solutions are usually the best ones,” she says. “So, keep it simple, keep it affordable, keep it sustainable. This is really the key.”

Academy Open Mic Features Our High Schoolers’ Talents!

Sivan Ya'ari with Ugandan villagers celebrating the new electric light in Nansanga Health Center. Photo courtesy of Innovation: Africa

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.


WCT Haggadah Building Workshop Sun, Mar 18, 2:00-4:00 pm

Tu b’Shevat: Springtime Every Winter W

hy is it that Tu b’Shevat (which falls on Thu, Feb 1) comes each year in the dead of winter? The ground is frozen solid, and the snow on top is fairly impenetrable as well. But nature is quietly waiting, knowing that spring will return. But no matter how cold or hard the ground (or some people’s hearts), Tu b’Shevat calls us to conscience, calls us to assume and to resume our task of being God’s partner in the Creation of the world. In Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Rabbi Yokhanan ben Zakkai teaches, “If you hold a sapling in your hand and are told the Messiah is here, first plant your sapling. Then go greet the Messiah.” Judaism understands, even regarding the practice of religion itself, we have fundamental responsibilities. Caring for this planet, and the fragile inhabitants who fill it, are what Tu b’Shevat reminds us we must do. No matter what time of year (or of day, for that matter), it’s always a good time to care.

by Rachel Wineberg


y son was one when we held our first Passover seder: table set, family and friends gathered, books opened. We lasted five minutes. As a ball whizzed past my head I thought, "There has to be a better way. There has to be a way where, regardless of age, everyone can have a spiritual experience. There has to be a way of transforming prayers said by rote into language that reveals our lives." That better way has arrived with WCT's Haggadah Building Workshop. On Sunday, March 18, 2:00-4:00 pm, you will learn how to make a haggadah that is relevant to your and your guests' lives. Starting with an introduction by Rabbi Mara, participants will join one of three very different breakout groups:

The Experiential Haggadah Laurie Leibowitz and Karen Berlowitz When sitting and reading isn’t enough

The Multigenerational Haggadah

Bring your ideas, your questions and your creativity, and get ready to make a haggadah that will guarantee this night will be different from all other nights! Please RSVP at

Michael Lebowich

How Has Tu b’Shevat Changed Through Time? Tu b’Shevat didn’t become a holiday of any renown until after the Second Temple was destroyed (in 70 CE) and Jews who were scattered around the globe yearned to link themselves in meaningful and spiritual ways to their ancient, lost home. Obtaining fruits and nuts that grew in Eretz Yisrael served for many centuries as a physical connection to the land. After the expulsion from Spain in 1492 and the spread of Lurianic Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), there was a move toward intensifying through worship the cosmic process of tikkun, perfection of the world. The kabbalists (the Jewish mystics) who journeyed to Israel for the full expression of their spiritual yearnings, gathered in the town of S’fat (Safed) and in the area of the Galilee. It was there that they developed a special Tu b’Shevat seder, modeled on Pesakh, following a prescribed order of eating Israeli foods, drinking four cups of wine, and readings from Tanakh (Bible), Talmud and the mystical Zohar. In this way, our ancestors used their imaginations (and their stomachs) to connect heart and spirit to the Holy Land that they loved.


Create a seder that connects to all ages

The Theme-Based Haggadah Rachel Wineberg Where lively discussion takes flight

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.

Nancy Mills Fishman

When Chuck and I joined Woodlands almost 20 years ago, we had no intention of becoming involved in temple life. We’d grown up as temple members, but our involvement had been limited to attending mainly holiday services.

All of that changed when my father became critically ill for an extended period of time. Somehow we felt comforted by attending temple services. Soon thereafter, we became friendly with some Woodlands members and, before we knew it, we were

volunteering to provide snack for Tot Shabbat. We found out how much we enjoyed contributing to the synagogue that had helped us so much during our time of need, and we started to feel at home and part of this wonderful community. After that, we were asked to chair and create a Membership Committee and, since then, I have participated in and chaired numerous committees, been both a Board member and a Vice President. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I feel very fortunate to be part of this warm, friendly and vibrant community, and volunteering here has made this possible. I feel honored to have been able to contribute to the place that my heart holds dear.

Worship Schedule Shabbat Yitro

Shabbat Terumah

Exo 18:1 - 20:26 ... Isa 6:1 - 7:6, 9:5-6

Exo 25:1 - 27:19 ... I Kngs 5:26 - 6:13

Fri, Feb 2

Fri, Feb 16

Wisdom From Our Own at 8:00 pm

Jammin’ Shabbat at 7:00 pm

Our iyyunim (prayer introductions) will be presented by temple members. Come celebrate and learn from our own.

Sat, Feb 3

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!

Shabbat Morning Service at 10:30 am

Simply Shabbat at 8:00 pm

Feb 10: Parashat Mishpatim

Celebrate with us as Lindsay Hornstein, daughter of Dana and Jim Hornstein, becomes a Bat Mitzvah.

A quiet evening with your clergy. Familiar melodies and familiar prayers to bring us all together. Rabbinical intern Deena Gottlieb will speak.

Feb 17: Parashat Terumah

Shabbat Mishpatim Exo 21:1 - 24:18, 30:11-16 ... Jer 34:8-22, 33:25-26 add’l Shabbat Shekalim reading is Exo 30:11-16 ... II Kngs 12:5-16

Fri, Feb 9 A Joyful Noise! at 8:00 pm A service for everyone, from oldest to youngest. With a dozen musicians and your voices, we’ll fill the Sanctuary with a joyful noise! Visual Worship tonight ... all prayers and readings will be projected onto screens. Welcome this evening to our 5th grade families!

Sat, Feb 10

Sat, Feb 17

Hevra Torah Learning 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.

Feb 3: Parashat Yitro Facilitated by Rabbi Billy

Facilitated by Cantor Jonathan Facilitated by Rabbi Mara

Feb 24: Parashat Tetzaveh Facilitated by Cantor Jonathan

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

Shabbat Tetzaveh Exo 27:20 - 30:10, Ezek 43:10-27 add’l Shabbat Zakhor reading is Deut 25:17-19 ... Esth 7:1-10, 8:15-17

Fri, Feb 23 Pre-Purim Shabbat at 8:00 pm We won’t break out into the reverie reserved for Purim itself, but we’ll explore some of the themes and challenges of the Jewish Mardi Gras.

Shabbat Morning Service at 10:30 am

Sat, Feb 24

Celebrate with us as Sophie Rosen, daughter of Laurie Rosen and David Rosen, becomes a Bat Mitzvah.

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

Babysitting at 8:00 pm Shabbat services is provided by teens from our religious school. This month, babysitting will be available on Feb 9. There is no charge and no advance notice is required. For further information, contact

Wisdom from Our Own Fri, Feb 2 at 8:00 pm From time to time, we invite temple members to share their own perspectives on, and insights about, our ancient prayers (we call these iyyunim). It’s something your clergy do at each Shabbat Evening service, and we especially love when you join us in creating these brief presentations. Why? Because your thoughts about spirituality and meaning in Judaism are every bit as valid and moving as ours. “Wisdom from Our Own” is a spiritual provoker, helping us grow in mind and heart.

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


February Happenings & Beyond LEARNING

Haggadah Building Sun, Mar 18, 2:00-5:00 pm

February Mensch of the Month is Third Grade

Current Events Discussion Wed, Feb 21 at 10:00 am

Do your guests wonder when they will be liberated from the seder rather than from Egypt? Is the haggadah text too familiar? Are the children asking for dinner and the surly teenagers acting, well, surly? In this Haggadah Building workshop, participants will make evocative haggadot that will elicit discussion and connect your guests to the meaning of Passover. Why will this seder be different from all others? Because this year when you announce, “Dinner is served,” your guests will say, “Already?” Please RSVP at

Hurricane Maria Relief

Join us for a warming cup of coffee, tea and donuts as we solve the problems of the world.

Lunch and Learn Wed, Feb 21, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm Patricia Cippi Harte, Westchester director for DOROT will present about an array of programs and services available to older adults in Westchester County. These programs are intended to engage individuals in lifelong learning and keep older adults connected to each other and the community, including Friendly Visiting, Telephone Friends, Intergenerational Chess, Lasting Impressions, and the University Without Walls.

Sold out! 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.

WCT Book Club Wed, Feb 14 at 2:00 pm Facilitated by Jeanne Bodin, we will read an award-winning mystery from Israel, Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen. “He’s thinking that the moon is the most beautiful he has ever seen when he hits the man,” so starts Waking Lions. The author asks her readers to confront their own blind spots and preconceptions of privilege and otherness through the eyes of Eitan Green, a respected neurosurgeon. Is he guilty? Is he innocent? Are we? All are welcome.


Scholar-in-Residence Weekend Fri-Sun, Apr 27-29 Join us for an exciting weekend of learning with Dr. Annie Polland of the NYC’s Lower East Side Tenement Museum. During Friday night’s service, a Saturday night Havdalah program, and a Sunday brunch discussion, Dr. Polland will discuss the immigrant experience, including how our ancestors were cultural and social change agents. More information on this exciting project next month!

SOCIAL ACTION Taking Tu b’Shevat to Heart God showed Adam the trees in the Garden of Eden, and said to him: “See My works, how fine they are; now all that I have created, I created for your benefit. Think upon this and do not corrupt and destroy My world, for if you destroy it, there is no one to restore it after you” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28). Jewish tradition teaches that we are responsible for our environment. To celebrate Tu b’Shevat, Woodlands is taking steps to do our part. Our newly-reorganized Environmental Task Force is implementing a recycling (and composting!) program this Spring. Interested in greening Woodlands? Email

Each of us (in addition to our third grade) can be a mensch by bringing canned meats, fish and beans to The Food Cart throughout February. Help our local food pantries and the folks they serve.

We have met and exceeded our goal to raise $2500 to help ten families in the town of Loiza through Family-to-Family and the Jewish Community Center of Puerto. To do more for these families, you will find a list of names and urgent needs at hurricanerelief. We will keep you updated on additional ways in which Woodlands is helping rebuild Puerto Rico.

Monthly Knitting and Crocheting Sun, Feb 11 at 3:00 pm Make mitzvah projects together with our friendly and active group. All levels welcome, including beginners. RSVP to Angela Adler at

Domestic Abuse Task Force (DATF) Collecting and storing items for women moving out of Hope’s Door has just become easier for our Domestic Abuse Task Force. Thanks to the efforts of Ken Dubensky, TheLockUp Self Storage in Ardsley has donated a 5’ x 7’ storage unit for one year. So, if you have any items (small kitchen appliances, comforter/set sets, lamps, chairs, etc.) to donate, contact

Save the Date! Blood and Bone Marrow Drive Sun, Mar 18, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm Giving blood at Woodlands is easy and convenient. Come in when picking up or dropping off for religious school, going to a meeting, or swing by just because you’re a mensch. You can donate if you’re 17-75 years old and weigh at least 110 lbs (a 16-year old may donate with a parent’s note, and those over 75 with a doctor’s note). Please bring ID. Schedule your appointment at or email Chuck Bauer at Walk-ins are welcome but may need to wait.

At the Blood Drive, you can also get tested for the International Bone Marrow Registry. Just a cheek swab, if you’re a match, you donate blood through your arm, the important cells spun through an apheresis machine and your blood is brought back through your other arm. The most favored age group is 18-44, as younger cells are more successful in transplantation. There is no cost to you, and it takes only five minutes. For more information, visit

Rivertowns Continues to Rally Against Hate We’re on YouTube! Thanks to the skill and creative talents of Lew Stiefel, you can relive moments from our September demonstration of community resolve against hate. View the rally at, and Holocaust survivor Esther Geizhal’s speech at

Please Fill the Shopping Cart! Adults and children: Your donations to our “Tzedakah Shopping Cart” feed hungry people right here in Westchester. Each time you come to Woodlands, please bring a few (unexpired and nutritious) non-perishables with you. Parents, when your children join you in giving to others, they watch the most powerful role-model in their lives and will remember it forever. Make sure you bring something too. Let’s all get into the tzedakah habit!

Why We Plant Trees on Tu b’Shevat It's easy to understand how this age-old celebration of the trees has become, in our day, a time for planting new trees in Israel through JNF, the Jewish National Fund. It connects us to the Land of Israel, much as our ancestors yearned to stay connected during the 2000 years of Exile. After 1948, planting trees has not only allowed us to participate in rebuilding the Holy Land, what better time to do so than on “the holiday of the trees”! You can donate trees at

Sh’lakh Manot Purim Goody Bags A Great Tradition Continues!

Rabbis’ Winter Hunger Appeal Throughout February Needy families need your help! Dear Friends, Each of us plays a vital role in helping those who are trying but just can’t make it in America today. When winter arrives, it gets even harder. To help families get the food they need during these cold winter months, please make a generous online donation at or send a check to us here at the temple. On March 1, we’ll forward our donations as one deeply caring gift from the people of Woodlands Community Temple. Westchester is one of the most affluent counties in America, but 200,000 residents – about 20% of us – are hungry or at risk of hunger. So we are also home to 265 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. At any given time, 15,000 people use these services to help put food on the table. 33% are kids, 51% are elderly, and 41% live in households where at least one person works full time. 1% are homeless. In winter, living expenses typically go up (think heat) and available resources county-wide go down. That’s why our help is needed. The Food Bank for Westchester is the backbone of Westchester’s emergency food distribution network, providing over 90% of the food distributed by grass roots organizations throughout the county. The world is a complicated place, and there is so much work to be done. By feeding others, we’ll be spiritually fed as well. Thank you. You continue to be the blessing that graces so many lives.

Megillat Esther tells us that the Jews of Shushan celebrated their deliverance from Haman by sending gifts (sh’lakh manot) to one another. Please celebrate with your Woodlands community by sending in your Purim Goody Bag order form. You received ordering information by mail in January. If you prefer, visit and place your order online! Every Woodlands family will receive sh’lakh manot, but it’s up to you to add your family’s name. With your order, we’ll make sure that happens! Your sh’lakh manot will be available for pickup after the Congregational Purim Celebration (Wednesday night, February 28) and during the Purim Carnival (Sunday, March 4). They will also be sent home with religious school students. Please honor this tradition of giving at Purim by participating in Woodlands’ sh’lakh manot program. Not only is sending sh’lakh manot a mitzvah, but you’ll feel great knowing that all proceeds will go directly to support our religious school and the temple general fund. Place your order by Monday, February 12.

What Are the Origins of Tu b’Shevat? Tu b’Shevat, the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat (Thu, Feb 1 this year), is Judaism’s holiday for the trees. Although it is winter here in New York, it is springtime in Israel. In Ancient Israel, the 15th of Shevat was the day on which agricultural taxes were levied (in early spring there, so that one might easily assess what the coming harvest would bring).


Project Ezra Brings Love with All the Fixin’s to the Elderly

Distinctly Contemporary Ways to Celebrate Tu b’Shevat Tu b’Shevat is all about trees, right? Well, not only can we plant them in Israel, but we bring their metaphorical fruits – food and shelter – to needy families here in Westchester. This Tu b’Shevat, renew your commitment to providing decent, affordable housing and accessible, nutritious food to all. Your donation to the Rabbis’ Winter Hunger Appeal throughout the month of February ( hungerappeal) can bring the blessing and promise of Tu b’Shevat to needy families right here in Westchester.

Purim ... A Second Yom Kippur?


almud teaches that holidays are half-spiritual and half-physical. We spend time in ritual observance, but with a meal and relaxation too. Judaism recognizes the spirituality in ordinary moments. Even Purim serves a Divine purpose. In 18th century Lithuania, the Vilna Gaon observed that Purim and Yom Kippur (also known as Yom HaKippurim) share Hebrew letters. We can see in Yom HaKippurim the phrase Yom k’Purim (“a day like Purim”). The spirit of Yom Kippur runs through Purim as well. They are two sides of the same coin. No matter what is going on in the world, you and I have the power to help. Every Jewish moment can carry the most powerful ideas. Purim is more than fun – it points the way toward tikkun olam, repairing our world.


Purim’s a Joke, Right? The Purim story is v-e-r-y sarcastic. It tells of a king who’s an impotent buffoon, a powerful leader who is a caricature of demonic evil, and a queen who literally slept her way into royalty. God doesn’t appear even once in the entire megillah! But if it’s only a spoof, how’d it get into the Bible? Perhaps because we all benefit from being reminded each spring of the damage that hatred can do. Purim teaches that everyone has the power to bring about change for the better. We can end arguments, jealousies, rivalries, even wars. And Esther, at first afraid to act, models the courage we can muster to do what is right, and help others along the way. And that’s no joke.

Employment Services for the Westchester Jewish Community WJCS Career>Connect program helps those dealing with employment instability. The program provides job-seekers with dynamic informational workshops, a Career Boot Camp Intensive, and individual career counseling services. Contact 914.761.0600 x170 or email to

Israel Lunch and Learn: A Tasteful Blend of Ashkenaz and Sefarad February means two things for the gift shop. First, we go shopping!!


We visit many vendors at the Gift Show looking for unique and affordable merchandise for Passover, simkhas and lifecycle events. We’ll bring in new seder plates and matzah covers, as well as gifts for moms, dads, Confirmands and Grads.

And second, February means Valentine’s Day! There’s no better way to express your love, and to honor your loved ones’ love of Judaism, than with a beautiful piece of Judaica. Our extensive array of jewelry, art work and decorative pieces will certainly please everyone. This month’s featured artist is Carolyn Bennett of C. Bennett Scopes. Carolyn has been fascinated by a kaleidoscope’s combination of art, sculpture, color and shape since making her first scope at age nine! She has been one of the pioneers of the modern kaleidoscope movement, and we’re thrilled to be offering her inspired pieces.

Purim Laughter: A Healing Gift “The Jews ordained that these days of Purim should not cease from among the Jews nor their descendants” Esther 9:27-28


he mitzvah of Purim is to laugh. Prejudice and bigotry are no laughing matter. Fighting for the just treatment of all minorities is Purim’s timeless demand, our response to the countless Hamans who have stepped into history. It’s unlikely we’ll ever “blot out” Haman forever. Purim suggests we resort to laughter. The average preschooler laughs 300 times a day. The average adult, 17. Our lives are complicated, so it’d be good to get more laughter into our day. Purim reminds us that few of us are only what we seem. We mask pain, sorrow, and so much more. We may not be able to get rid of them, but we needn’t give in either. So after you’ve had a good cry, get yourself a really good laugh. If we laugh loudly enough, perhaps we can blot out a few of our own Haman’s – at least until we catch our breath, muster our strength, and get back into the daily challenges of our lives.

The Judaica Shop at Woodlands is open every day by request, whenever the temple office is open. Evening and weekend hours are noted in the weekly email blast. To reach us, email


Upcoming Meetings

T h e S i m k h a P age

B’nai Mitzvah Lindsay Renee Hornstein

Sophie Madelyn Rosen

February 3

February 10

Mon, Feb 12 at 8:15 pm

Torah Portion Yitro

Torah Portion Mishpatim

Board of Trustees

Hebrew Name Shifra Khaya

Hebrew Name Shoshana Meira

School Board Mon, Feb 12 at 8:15 pm

Finance Committee

Mon, Feb 26 at 8:15 pm We would be delighted to welcome you to any temple meeting that interests you. Please be in touch with Dayle Fligel ( for information on how to join (or just visit) a committee.

Mazal Tov to ... Jim and Dana Hornstein as their daughter, Lindsay, is called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah. Laurie Rosen and David Rosen as their daughter, Sophie, is called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah. Paul and Melanie Friedman on the birth of their daughter, Sarah Yaakovah.

The Woodlands Community Mourns the Loss of Rudolph de Winter father of Julie de Winter-Stein Edith Hoffenberg sister of Renee Doynow Sonia Kernick mother of David Yarnold Ilene Marcus cousin of Harriet Levine Sheila Needleman aunt of Karen Fox Marvin Shear father of Jeffrey Shear Stanley Paul Tvert brother of Ron Tvert HaMakom y’nakhem otam… may God bring comfort to all who are in mourning. Zekher tzadik livrakha ... may their memory be for a blessing.

Is It Time to Purchase Cemetery Plots? Woodlands Community Temple has graves available for purchase at Sharon Gardens in Valhalla. The cost per grave is $3300. If you are interested or have questions, please contact


David and Sarah Bredhoff on the birth of their twin sons, Eliot and Eden. Michael Arbore, son of Bonni and Tony Arbore, on reaching the level of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. Jonathan Montague, son of Michele and Mark Montague, on reaching the level of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.

Todah Rabbah (thank you) to... Jeanne Bodin for coordinating desserts at the Sanctuary Teen Shelter, and to the following for providing desserts: Alison Harris, Shelly Jacobson, Beth Feldman, Audrey Stone, Michele Montague, Roberta Roos, Natalie Werner, Jeanne Bodin and Dayle Fligel. Jeanne Bodin for coordinating holiday gifts at Children’s Village, and to the following for donating gifts: Caryn Donocoff, Joan Stern, Dotty Miller, Aliza Burton, Jena Simon, Natalie Werner, Linda Zwicker, Melissa Goldsmith, Alison Harris, Nan Gladstone, Abby Hirsch, Lois Izes, Dayle Fligel, and Michele Montague.

Elise Wagner Ballan for coordinating the Confirmation Midnight Run sandwich-making, the Goldberg/ Ottinger family for coordinating the clothing collection, and everyone who participated in any aspect of this year’s Run. Mickey Milbauer, Abby Hirsch, Rachel Wineberg, Lauretta Kahn and Herb Friedman for sharing words from your heart at the “Wisdom From Our Own” Shabbat Service. Harriet Levine and Corey Friedlander for leading our final Shabbat Evening service in 2017.

B’rukhim haba’im ...

Welcome to our newest member!

Howard Hunter

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.

Rabbi Billy’s Mitzvah Fund

Chai Fund

Midnight Run Fund

In honor of Charles Linder becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Barry and Toby Linder. In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, brother of Ron Tvert, from Herb Friedman. In Yahrzeit memory of Arthur Lucks and Mollie Bloomenfeld, from Linda Lucks. In memory of Jason Leif, beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Leif, husband of Sheila Leif, and brother of Erica Denman from Ralph Lawrence and Linda Lucks. In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, brother of Ron Tvert, from Ron and Meg Tvert. In memory of Robert Roxenberg, father of Shari Turell, from Jonathan and Shari Turell. In memory of Leon Jay Abram, brother of Bill Abram, from Bill and Barbara Abram. In memory of Edward Elkin, father of Joshua Elkin, from Joshua and Meryl Elkin. In honor of Gabriel Fuschillo becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Michael Fuschillo and Olga Tenenbaum. Donation from Evan and Faye Friedman. In honor of Eliot Loose becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Larry Katzenstein and Julie Levine.

In memory of Mrs. Bobbie Cohen, from Irwin Miller and Barbara Gordon. Donation from Richard Berger. In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, brother of Ron Tvert, from Yvonne Dinapoli, Dave and Renee Doynow, David and Dayle Fligel, Steve and Roberta Florin, Larry and Yvette Gralla, David Griff and Roni Beth Tower, Nelson and Jackie Leicht, Don and June Moskovitz, Mark Stewart, Joel and Arlene Taman, Michael and Arlene Temsey, Ellen Zive. In memory of Marvin Shear, father of Jeffrey Shear, from David and Dayle Fligel. In memory of Marvin Shear, from Ruth Rugoff and Joe and Annie Potischman. In memory of Sonia Kernick, mother of David Yarnold, from David and Dayle Fligel. In memory of Robert Roxenberg, father of Shari Turell, from David and Dayle Fligel. In honor of the birth of Benjamin Samuel Fenster, son of Rabbi Jason and Gavi Fenster, from Don and June Moskovitz. In honor of Hanukkah and the New Year, from Skip Friedman.

In honor of Betsy Schorr and Michael Silverman, from Lloyd and Roberta Roos. In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, from Herb Friedman.

Donation from Anonymous.

Social Action Fund

In honor of the naming of our daughter, Emery, from Keith and Ashley Margulis.

Rabbi Mara’s Mitzvah Fund In honor of Charles Linder becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Barry and Toby Linder. In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, brother of Ron Tvert, from Herb Friedman. Donation from Peter and Sandy Rosenthal. In memory of Edward Elkin, father of Joshua Elkin, from Joshua and Meryl Elkin. In honor of Gabriel Fuschillo becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Michael Fuschillo and Olga Tenenbaum. Donation from Evan and Faye Friedman.

Cantor’s Discretionary Fund In honor of Charles Linder becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Barry and Toby Linder. In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, brother of Ron Tvert, from Herb Friedman. In honor of Gabriel Fuschillo becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Michael Fuschillo and Olga Tenenbaum. Donation from Evan and Faye Friedman. In honor of Eliot Loose becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Larry Katzenstein and Julie Levine.

Rabbinic Intern Fund Donation from Peter and Sandy Rosenthal. Donation from Evan and Faye Friedman.

In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, brother of Ron Tvert, from Bob and Penny Apter. In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, from Lloyd and Roberta Roos. In honor of Julie Stein, from Lloyd and Roberta Roos. Donation from Joy Solomon.

Jewish Life Fund Donation from Lynne Kohn.

Jonah Maccabee Fund Donation from Lynne Kohn. In appreciation of Rabbi Billy’s support during the funeral for Stanley Tvert, from Ron and Meg Tvert and Lori, Blake and Cole Hudson. In honor of Charles Linder becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Barry and Toby Linder. In honor of Dylan Klein’s mitzvah project, from Mitchell and Juli Klein. In honor of Rabbi Billy, from the 2018 Confirmation Class. Donation from Peter and Sandy Rosenthal. In memory of Elaine Goldberg, sister of Nelson Leicht, from Nelson and Jackie Leicht. In honor of Rabbi Billy, from Scott and Lauren Kaufman. Donation from Evan and Faye Friedman.

Project Ezra Fund In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, from Herb Friedman. In honor of Harriet Kohn, from Lloyd and Roberta Roos.

Special Education Fund In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, from Herb Friedman. In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, from Julie Oliva.

Domestic Abuse Task Force In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, from Julie Oliva. In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, from Herb Friedman.

Steve’s H.O.P.E. In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, from Herb Friedman. In memory of my close childhood friend, Steve, from Frederick Block. Donation from Evan and Faye Friedman.

Bernard & Frances Shapiro Chesed Caring Community Fund In memory of Marla Payson Weizner, from Marty and Rhoda Payson.

Lay Professional Development Fund In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Evan and Faye Friedman.

Hunger Fund In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, from Murray and Jeanne Bodin.

Education and Youth Activities Fund Donation from Evan and Faye Friedman.

Educational Enrichment Fund In memory of Rosalie Young, mother of Mark Young, from Dennis Young and Linda Serra.

WCT Endowment Fund In memory of Stanley Paul Tvert, from Jack and Sue Safirstein.

Music Fund In honor of Margot Serwer, from Lloyd and Roberta Roos.

Annual Fund In honor of Denali and Sarah Sagner, from Steve Sagner and Jennifer Tower.


Yoga Shabbat

Jews and Muslims Carry Food and Good Cheer to NYC on Christmas Eve Midnight Run

Music and Spirit from the Promised Land with Beit Tefilah Israeli


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Our Woodlands Connection by Eric Katz


onica and I, and our daughters, Zoe and Phoebe, are fortunate to be part of a family that has seen three generations at Woodlands Community Temple. It was 1977, and I was in second-grade when my parents, Rina and Myron, joined. I recall Hebrew instruction in the current library, Mr. Solomon’s history lessons in the basement classroom, and singing about the last butterfly in the old sanctuary. I remember carpooling, sitting with friends on bench seats without seatbelts in the back of station wagons, as neighborhood parents drove us year after year to Woodlands. It was in high school after I became a Bar Mitzvah when some of my fondest memories of Woodlands occurred. Trips to Kutz Camp were opportunities to develop social bonds forming a critical foundation for my religious connection. Chef Teddy’s legendary challah was a camp highlight (I brought extra loaves home each visit). In the late 80’s, the Confirmation class took the NFTY in Israel trip. By summer’s end, the barriers between the kids from Ardsley, Hartsdale, Edgemont, Scarsdale, and White Plains had melted away, and, as our junior years began, we spent much time in neighboring communities. It was a special moment in our lives facilitated by the experiences we had shared together, sorting eggs on a kibbutz and fording through the streambed and waterfalls of Ein Gedi. In my final year of high school, a young rabbinic intern, Billy Dreskin, arrived at Woodlands, leading wacky youth group activities that involved movies like Back to the Future and creating ice cream maps of Israel. Billy brought a sense of humor, energy, and creativity that made coming to temple fun.

As the head of the temple school board and organizer of the Midnight Run, my father was a role model as a community leader. Upon graduating from college and securing a recommendation from Billy, who had become the rabbi at Woodlands, I set off to Israel to participate in a kibbutz study program with my then-girlfriend, Monica. We studied Hebrew, celebrated Sukkot in Tsfat with hasidim, feasted on malawakh with Yemenite Jews, and visited friends in Tel Aviv. As Monica had grown up in a very Catholic family with a mother who had previously been a nun, this was an enlightening time for us both.


early ten years later, when Monica and I married and moved to Westchester, we bought a home just 100 meters up the road from another temple. As our kids grew, we briefly joined that temple, content that we could send Zoe and Phoebe out the door to walk on their own to the 1st grade class, without even getting out of bed ourselves. But despite the convenience, we didn’t feel the warm, embracing arms of the Woodlands community. There were no ice cream Israel maps and our children’s enthusiasm waned, as did ours. Amazingly, it was nine-year-old Phoebe who brought us back to Woodlands. One day, she told us that she wanted to learn more about her Jewish heritage. We sat with Harriet Levine, Rabbi Mara, Cantor Jonathan and Rabbi Billy, and signed her up for religious school. She was a year or so behind other students who had begun studying Hebrew, but Phoebe was determined and motivated. Dayle Fligel arranged tutoring to catch her up. Our family celebrated as Phoebe became a Bat Mitzvah in 2016. This past summer, she went to the URJ 6 Points SciTech Camp for two weeks, helped prepare for this fall’s

Tent Sale, and is currently assisting with Tara and Roberta’s challah-baking initiative.


oining as an adult with my wife and children, it’s been heartwarming to see family friends and parents of former classmates. While I miss people who are no longer at WCT, I’ve begun to develop new friendships by participating in the modern Israel class, the Derekh program, helping out with the Tu b’Shevat environmental seder, and this fall’s Rally Against Hate. For those who put in the effort, Woodlands can be a true community. It is our synagogue because it is a comfortable space where one can ask questions and explore. Truly open and incredibly welcoming, the Woodlands community has embraced all members of our family – regardless of our background or commitment to Judaism. We all feel welcome to participate in the variety of social action and adult programs, the types of services that take place, and the creative options that exist. As our high school daughters get older, Monica and I look forward to having time to be even more engaged in the temple’s programs. Our family’s involvement in the Woodlands community continues to evolve. If you’ve got a story that you’d like to tell about belonging to Woodlands, please contact Rabbi Billy (

WCT Makom February 2018  

Woodlands Community Temple February 2018 Bulletin

WCT Makom February 2018  

Woodlands Community Temple February 2018 Bulletin