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the newsletter of woodlands community temple

May 2017 Iyyar-Sivan 5777

Good Food and Good Folks Take Your Seat at the Woodlands Community Table by Fran Smith

It’s a creative, very “Woodlands” spin on that classic fundraiser, the progressive dinner.


ou probably know how it works. You nibble hors d’oeuvres at one host’s home, go to another home for a first course, then head somewhere else for the next course, and so on, through dessert and coffee. That’s not what we’re doing at Woodlands. Instead, Board member (and culinary nutritionist!) Jenna Lebowich has cooked up an inspired way to take the best feature of the progressive dinner, the food, eliminate the house-to-house shlepping, and inject the spirit of community into the best temple tradition. The event is called “Woodlands Community Table.” About ten of your fellow congregants will create an assortment of delicious, themed menus. You pick the one you want but all the dinners will be served under one roof, in our temple sanctuary.

Continued on page 2

The B’nai Binah Journey by Rabbi Mara Young


’nai Binah is Woodlands’ two-year course of Jewish study. Participants come weekly to learn Hebrew with top-notch instructors and then various Jewish Studies topics with our clergy. It’s a transformative experience. Each individual joins for a different reason and leaves with their own insights. The current cohort is almost halfway through the experience. Here’s what some of them have to say: Pam Chernoff: I signed up for B’nai Binah because I wanted to learn the aleph-bet before my daughter becomes Bat Mitzvah next year. I also wanted to meet people and get out of the house (I work from home). AIso, I had started studying for conversion and thought Jewish studies might help me decide whether the idea was really passing the gut-check. Well, we’re

now near the end of the year and I’ve learned enough Hebrew to be able to watch the slides during Shabbat prayers and at least see what word we’re on. I’ve also met a bunch of interesting people, learned a lot of Jewish history, and will go to the mikveh for conversion at the end of June. Thank you to all of the teachers who have worked with us this year. Jedd Chesterson: Tiffany and I have been exploring what Judaism means to us since before we got married three years ago. We took an Introduction to Judaism course at a local JCC before our wedding in order to learn Continued on page 12

The Return of Textin’ Shabbat by Rabbi Billy Dreskin


n cahoots with WCT’s Jewish Life Committee, we are excited to invite you to join us on Saturday morning, May 20, 10:30 am - 1:00 pm (a light lunch included), to explore the outer edges of contemporary Jewish prayer. The snow stopped us the first time, and now we’re all ready to see what this is all about! Rabbi Jason Fenster (yep, he went and got himself ordained since we last tried this), along with Rabbi Billy (and your smartphone or tablet), will be creating a Shabbat morning service the likes of which have not been seen before. We’re going to enlist your heart and brain (and thumbs and fingers!) to expand upon the definitions of prayer and Shabbat worship. Through a wide variety of spiritual challenges, we’ll be using technology to engage with and (hopefully) enhance the traditional liturgy in new, fun, and meaningful ways. We have little to no idea how well this will go over, but we’re excited to test these waters. We need you in the room to help make it happen. Adults and teens (and cooperative kids) are all welcome. There’ll be plenty of familiar moments and tunes to help you catch your breath after our paradigm-smashing moments. So dress casually, be brave, and charge up. During our shared meal, we’ll talk about what just happened and share ideas of what might be a meaningful course for the future.


Please RSVP at wct. org/textinshabbat so we know you’ll be with us. 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 Jason Fenster, Rabbinic Intern

Executive Committee Dayle Fligel, President Rachel Wineberg, VP Education Lance Rosenthal, VP Facilities Michael Wiskind, VP Finance Nancy Fishman, VP Programming/Ritual Irving Adler, Financial Secretary Steve Sagner, Secretary Andrea Einhorn, Treasurer

Board of Trustees David Bertan Elka Klarsfeld Aliza Burton Jenna Lebowich Dan Emery Barry Leibowitz Herb Friedman Lisa Linn Yvette Gralla Mike Scafidi Amy Green Michele Wise 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


Good Food and Good Folks, Continued from p. 1

The event is Saturday evening, May 20 at 6:00 pm. Seating is limited so buy your tickets today. The cost is $36 per person, including all courses plus beer and wine. “It will be a nice, relaxing social event that’s really community-driven,” Lebowich said. “It allows people who love to cook to share the joy of preparing food and hosting people. And it allows the guests to show their appreciation for the food and the fellowship.”


he casual evening will begin with Havdalah, followed by a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres catered by congregants. You’ll pick your menu in advance – the choices will run the gamut, from ethnic to vegetarian to fish, and will be posted online. When the dinner bell rings, you’ll take your seat and dine with others who share your culinary preference. Your host/chef will not only cook and serve a wonderful meal, but also create a fun, memorable experience. Dessert, provided by the temple, will be cocktail-style so everyone will come together again to mingle. There will be a Silent Auction with fabulous items, from gift certificates to special events and weekend getaways. Jenna and several trustees were brainstorming ideas for a spring event when she saw a Canadian video on

social media that inspired the dinner. The video opens with a woman leaving work. People in her office are glued to their smartphones. So is everyone crammed in the elevator. She arrives at her apartment, carrying a bag of groceries, and finds her daughter sitting at the kitchen counter, wearing headphones and staring at her laptop. In the next scene, the woman and daughter haul a table into the long, narrow hallway outside their apartment. They snap on a tablecloth, set out food and extra place settings, sit facing each other, and wait. Soon, a couple and young girl leave their apartment and are blocked by the table. They’re surprised initially, and then delighted. More neighbors join. Tables are added. Platters and bowls, overflowing with food, pass among people of varied ages, races, and ethnicities. Some shake hands across the table, meeting one another for the first time. There are no iPhones or earbuds. The scene unfolds to the song, “What the World Needs Now is Love.” The video ends with the words, “Nothing brings us together like food.” Dayle Fligel, who is co-organizing the event with Jenna and Nancy Fishman, couldn’t agree more. “Be prepared to shmooze with friends while making new ones,” she said.

from the


Driving to Mount Sinai by Rabbi Billy Dreskin In 2014, New York Times columnist Charles Blow authored a memoir entitled “Fire Shut Up In My Bones.” He describes a seminal moment in his life where he had to choose between his past and his future. The incident involved a relative who had mercilessly bullied him as a child. While in college, he hears the cousin’s voice after many years and, grabbing a gun, points his car in the direction of the voice, with the dual aim of ending a human life and quenching the fire that had raged for a decade within. As he drove, he writes, “I thought about who I was now, and who I could be. Seeing him in a pool of his own blood might finally liberate me from my past, but it would also destroy my future.” Our lives are filled with countless choice. Many of those choices are mundane and insignificant. What do I want for dinner tonight? What should we do this weekend? While other choices can powerfully affect our lives and those of others around us. Which career should I choose? With whom do I want to build a family? Should I drive home even though I drank heavily this evening? We’re in a period of Jewish time right now that’s known as the Omer — the Counting. Its purpose is to number the days between Passover and Shavuot, but it carries a deeper message for us. With Passover representing our release from those things in life that oppress or enslave us, the days that follow our seder are given to us by Jewish tradition as time to consider from what or whom we are running and to what or whom we journey. Because we are human, we don’t always get life right. I have hurt people and people have hurt me. Those hurts can be difficult to release. But many (perhaps all) of them should be. My dad, of blessed memory, stumbled a lot in his parenting. As a child, he scared me. As a young adult, I pushed him away. But towards the end of his life, I forgave him for being human, acknowledging and honoring that he was doing the best he could. I let him know I loved him and appreciated his presence in my life. It was a whole lot nicer liking the man than disliking him. I’m glad I was able to get there. Shavuot marks the end of the counting of the Omer. Are there people and events in your life that keep you anchored to Egypt? Are you unable (or unwilling) to let go of an unhappy past? Shavuot celebrates our ancestors’ receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. This was the true moment of their liberation, when they traded in the tortured narrative of their past and began to live by the teachings and the values of a hopefilled future. Israel’s Promised Land was always about something bigger than a parcel of real estate. Reflecting on his decision to stop the car and to let go of his anger about the past, Charles Blow writes, “Daring to step into oneself is the bravest, strangest, most natural, most terrifying thing a person can do.” In truth, it’s probably much easier to hang onto the past, to nurse old resentments, and to stand still. Ours is a tradition that believes life is worth the work. Sanctifying it rather than cursing it can be the hardest choice of all. But it is likely the best choice of all. May all our journeys lead us to the high places, the exalted places, the precious places in life. As we come to understand just what we’re each about, may we make the hard choice to leave Egypt behind and to welcome ourselves into the Promised Land that awaits.

Just Israel

In Case of Emergency, Build Relationships by Jason Fenster It turns out, tectonic plates don’t care about arguments over political boundaries. Recognizing the potential risk of earthquake in the Jordan Rift Valley, Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians are coming together to train locals as first responders in the (God forbid!) case of an earthquake in the region. The project, “Community Emergency Response Teams,” is a joint venture of Ben Gurion University and the Peace Partnership of the European Union. With Magen David Adom, Jordanian Red Crescent, and the Green Land Society of the Palestinian Authority, people from communities are collaborating to be ready in the case of emergency. Teams, regardless of nationality, religion, or the town they live in, are trained to provide emotional support and basic treatment for all affected people until EMS arrives. Professor Limor Aharonson-Daniel of Ben Gurion University leads the project and says, “Above all, the project has sparked personal relationships and friendships that prove that regional collaboration is indeed possible.”

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.


Worship Schedule Shabbat Akhrei Mot-Kedoshim

Shabbat Behar-Bekhukotai

Lev 16:1 - 20:27 ... Amos 9:7-15 25th day of the Omer

Lev 25:1 - 27:34 ... Jer 16:19 - 17:14 39th day of the Omer

Fri, May 5

Fri, May 19

A Joyful Noise! at 8:00 pm

High School Academy Graduation and WoodSY Board Installation 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 2nd grade families!

Sat, May 6 Shabbat Morning Service at 10:30 am Celebrate with us as Dylan Klein, son of Juli and Mitchell Klein, becomes a Bar Mitzvah.

Shabbat Emor Lev 21:1 - 24:23 ... Ezek 44:15-31 32nd day of the Omer

Fri, May 12 Mishpakha Shabbat HaMoreh at 7:00 pm (note earlier start-time) An embarrassment of riches, it is! Our earlier congregational service, this month includes our annual Teacher Recognition Shabbat to thank those who have taught us and our children this year. Meaningful for adults, engaging for kids! If you like, join us for a quick dinner at 6:00 pm – make your reservation at

Sat, May 13 Shabbat Morning Service at 10:30 am Celebrate with us as Alison Bloom, daughter of Liz and Richard Bloom, becomes a Bat Mitzvah.

A special evening to honor students in the 12th grade who have completed our highly-acclaimed Academy program. A wonderful moment of celebration for our entire temple family! We'll also say thank you to the outgoing WoodSY Board and hello to the new!

Sat, May 20 The Return of Textin’ Shabbat! at 10:30 am Bring your smartphone or tablet and join Rabbi Billy and Rabbi Jason Fenster for a morning of experimental worship using technology to help create our prayers. Follow-up discussion and light lunch will follow, ending by 1:00 pm. Adults, teens and cooperative kids are all welcome to participate in this exciting, provocative and leading-edge morning of Shabbat worship!

Shabbat Bemidbar Num 1:1 - 4:20 ... Hos 2:1-22 46th day of the Omer

Fri, May 26 Jammin’ Shabbat at 7:00 pm 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!

Simply Shabbat at 8:00 pm A quiet evening with your clergy. Familiar melodies and familiar prayers to bring us all together. Melanie Friedman will choose Judaism.

Sat, May 27 No 10:30 service today. Ask for Kaddish to be recited at Hevra Torah (9:15 am). 4


at 8:00 pm Shabbat services is provided by teens from our religious school. This month, babysitting will be available on May 19. There is no charge and no advance notice is required. For further information, contact

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.

May 6: Parashat Akhrei Mot-Kedoshim Facilitated by Rabbi Mara

May 13: Parashat Emor Facilitated by Rabbi Billy

May 20: Parashat BeharBekhukotai Facilitated by Cantor Jonathan

May 27: Parashat Bemidbar Facilitated by Rabbi Billy

To the Confirmation Class of 5777: Mazal tov from all of us at Woodlands! The mountain awaits. With hearts and minds open, on Wednesday afternoon, May 31 at 4:30 pm, our 10th Grade Confirmands will transport us back to an ancient time when, standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai, we claimed what would become our eternal legacy ... the Torah. Now, it is received by a new generation. Mazal tov to our Confirmands and their families: Andrew Aldous son of Kathryn Kitt and Ken Aldous

Jamie Kramer daughter of Rick and Fredda Kramer

Brendan Chang son of Dean Chang and Heidi Gralla

Marina Lebowich daughter of Michael and Jenna Lebowich

Elijah Emery son of Dan and Miriam Emery

Sarah Levine daughter of Gary and Iris Levine

Sabrina Fein daughter of Jason Fein and Jennifer Altman

Abigail Loose daughter of Andy Loose and Jill Garland

Samantha Feldbaum daughter of David and Esther Feldbaum Aaron Forman son of Frank Forman and Adrian Forman Gabriel Gerstel son of Jon Gerstel and Lauren Saler Gerstel

Brandon Restler son of Todd and Debra Restler Isabelle Ripin daughter of Peter and Marianne Ripin Nina Rosenberg daughter of Kenneth Rosenberg and Susan Morduch Anna Schlesinger daughter of Iris Schlesinger

Molly Greenholz daughter of Michael Greenholz and Aviva Belsky

Alexander Shapiro son of Neil and Deborah Shapiro

Samuel Hirth son of Leon and Dora Hirth

Ryan Silverstein son of Rich and Madelyn Silverstein

Ashley Klein daughter of Mitch and Juli Klein

Nell Sirotin daughter of Gene and Cathy Sirotin

Grace Korten daughter of Michael and Jennifer Korten

Shavuot @ WCT Tue, May 30 Tikkun Layl Shavuot at 7:30 pm Our annual Shavuot evening of interactive learning and affirmation. Come renew the ancient mystical path of those who walked before us. Beit Midrash small-group learning, followed by “Standing at Sinai” to reaffirm our love for Torah. Our 10th grade Confirmation families will join us in celebrating their teens’ Jewish life ahead!

Mishpakha Shabbat HaMoreh Teacher Recognition Shabbat Fri, May 12 at 7:00 pm


ne of our most wonderful services of the year (we kid you not!), your smile muscles will ache from the incredibly heartwarming tributes paid by our children to their Religious School teachers. Just as loving, our Adult Education faculty will be honored by their students as well. You are most cordially invited to come say thank you to all of our educators for their partnership in teaching us and our children about Judaism and Jewish living. A community celebration! If you like, sign up for our 6:00 pm dinner at

High School Graduation Shabbat Fri, May 19 at 8:00 pm


t’s really rather extraordinary, but your synagogue has done it again. Twelfth graders ... still in Religious School ... and they refuse to leave until they really leave ... for college! And more in 11th grade, who’ll all be conducting this Graduation Service with them.

RACHEL FEIN daughter of Jason Fein and Jennifer Altman LEANDRA SPILKA daughter of Richard and Sandy Spilka KASEY STERN daughter of David and Mary Elizabeth Stern ALLYSON WERNER daughter of Jay and Natalie Werner

Wed, May 31 Shavuot Yizkor at 9:00 am A sweet hour of song, prayer, story and heart to remember our loved ones.

This is a celebration of Jewish life and continuity and integrity for us all! It’s an Oneg Shabbat – a true “Shabbat delight.” This service is going to be one truly delightful celebration of Shabbat. Join us!

Confirmation at 4:30 pm You are cordially invited to join us as our 10th graders present a Shavuot Afternoon Service during which they will ascend Mt Sinai and receive the Torah to give thanks for childhood, family, Judaism and life.


May Happenings & Beyond Learning Lunch and Learn The Modern Zionist: What it means to "be a Free People in Our Land"

Wed, May 3, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm At our last Lunch and Learn of the year, Rabbi Mara will lead a discussion about Israel. Don’t miss it!

WCT Book Club Wed, May 10 at 2:00 pm Facilitated by Rochelle Novins, please join us to discuss The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith. The plot is held together by the gravitas of a single painting to tell the story of two women, their mistakes and love affairs, their devotion to art and their struggles to thrive in a male dominated profession. It is a wonderful look at art and forgery that moves from three continents over three centuries with amazing ease. You will be captured by this vivid, enthralling novel that is as timeless and luminous as the painting itself.

Current Events Wed, May 17 at 10:00 am Don’t miss our popular current events program! An agenda will be emailed to participants ahead of the meeting.

S’forim Forum Cantor Jonathan Gordon

Sat, May 20 at 4:30 pm A Horse Walks into a Bar The Jewish literature reading group, S’forim Forum with Cantor Jonathan, will discuss the searing short novel, A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman about the life of a stand-up comic, as revealed in the course of one evening’s performance. In the dance between comic and audience, with barbs flying back and forth, a deeper story begins to take shape—one that will alter the lives of many of those in attendance. The book is available on Amazon and other online booksellers. Discussion, fellowship, snacks and Havdalah – we’d love to have you join us.


Hevreh: A Community of Adult Jewish Learners Wed-Sun, Jul 19-23 Looking for a unique summer experience? Do you value Jewish study, spiritual renewal and a sense of community? Then Hevreh is for you! To be held at Capital Camps and Retreat Center in Waynesboro, PA. Study with Rabbi Billy Dreskin, Cantor Ellen Dreskin, Rabbi Joan Glazer Farber, Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, Marilyn and Roger Price, Rabbi David Teutsch, Rabbi Jacob Staub and Rabbi Mark Washofsky! For more information, visit

Social Action Advocacy Day: Reform Jewish Voice of NYS Mon, May 8 Make an impact in Albany. Learn about current legislative bills and the social justice values behind Reform Judaism’s views on the issues. Then meet with and lobby our state legislators. For more information email and register at

Breakfast Run Sun, May 21 and Sun, Jun 4 at 6:45 am A great way to start your day! Join us to serve breakfast to working poor and homeless men and women. We’ll carpool to one location in NYC and return by 10:30 am. Kids in middle school and older (with parent) are welcome. Let us know you’ll join us by emailing Michael Silverman and Betsy Schorr at If you can’t come along, you can provide homemade or store-bought breakfast foods.

Clothing for Breakfast Run Donate your gently used, casual, spring season adult clothing to be distributed on our Breakfast Run. Needed items: Short sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, jeans, shorts. Also, new (only) underwear, socks, travel-size toiletries.

Knitting and Crocheting Sun, May 21, 3:00-5:00 pm Find a mitzvah project and work with others in our supportive and caring group. Beginners are welcome and instructions are available. Email Angela Adler to let her know you’ll be there at

Social Action Dinner and Meeting Mon, May 22 at 6:30 pm What’s your vision for a better world? Bring your ideas for social justice, your passion for helping others, and we’ll work together to create programs for next year. Join us for a casual potluck dinner and brainstorming meeting. If you’ve participated in any social action sub-committees, want to become involved, or are a committee head, please join us. RSVP by Mon, May 15 to

Refugee Task Force We remain committed to working with HIAS to welcome refugees and to protect immigrants in Westchester. For updates, contact Dan Emery and Marge Glusker at

May Mensch of the Month is Kindergarten You can be a mensch, too, by bringing in a box of cereal or a healthy snack food for the food cart. Help our local food pantries.

Youth Engagement Please join WoodSY in welcoming the incoming WoodSY board at WoodSY Installation Shabbat on Fri, May 19 at 8:00 pm. We will thank the outgoing board for all of their hard work and introduce, with great excitement, our new leaders. Hope to see you there!

JCC Honors Corey Friedlander!

WCT’s Got Talent

Tue, May 16

(aka Open Mic Coffeehouse)


Sat, May 13, 8:00-9:30 pm

he Shames JCC on the Hudson will honor seven leaders of the Rivertowns Jewish Community, including WCT’s own treasure, Corey Friedlander, at their Annual Community Celebration. Event proceeds support JCC scholarships, as well as programs for those with special needs. For event details and reservations, please go to

Non-Fake News Night Wed, May 24 at 8:00 pm


ow can one tell what is true from what is false when we get the news? A thoughtful journalist will help us stay informed in an era of skillful misinformation. This first teach-in will feature respected reporter David Gaffen, who will discuss how to discern what is real news and what is not. David, a Woodlands member, is a distinguished reporter with more than 20 years of experience at Reuters and The Wall Street Journal. So many of us are baffled and disturbed because untrue stories are circulated in the news; many people wonder if they can believe any news media report at all. When a foreign government can plant stories in the American news cycle, what is a thinking person to do? David will give us ways to understand a journalistic outlet’s reporting and investigative skills, the proper and improper use of anonymous sources, and what a person can do in a chaotic world. His experience covering politics, entertainment, stock markets, and gas trading has given him deep familiarity with the real world of journalism. How fortunate that he will share his insights with us. Come and join with other thoughtful people as we seek ways to kindle light against the gathering darkness in our great country. This series is dedicated to discerning what is true from what is not. What can be more important?

Kindergarten and First Grade Take Over the Sanctuary!

Exercise your inner and outer artistic talent and sign-up to perform at WCT’s annual open mic coffeehouse. We provide a piano, an accompanist, some microphones, the popcorn and the people. You provide your talent and enthusiasm! No judges, no judgement, just a lot of love, poetry, juggling, magic, music and lots of mayhem! Solo and group acts welcome! Sign up at

Save the Date! Farewell to Jason Fenster

Fri, Jun 2 at 8:00 pm After three years as our rabbinic intern, it’s time for Rabbi Fenster (yep, as of May 7!) to go get a real job. Soon to move to Chicago, Jason will spend one more Shabbat with us, giving us a chance to tell him how much we’ve loved having him grow up here. Please be on hand to wish Jason well.

Save the Date! Pride Shabbat Fri, Jun 9 at 8:00 pm Woodlands’ new LGBTQ Task Force is excited to bring this new Shabbat service to our temple home. We will share experiences and hopes for LGBTQ inclusion, and embrace our community's diversity as well as its commitment to these deeply-held values.

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


Youth Director Travels to Germany

The Return of Textin’ Shabbat! Sat, May 20, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Tara Levine

Please join Rabbi Jason Fenster and Rabbi Billy Dreskin (minus December’s blizzard) for a Shabbat morning service the likes of which have not been seen before. With phone or other wifi appliance in hand, we’ll engage with the traditional liturgy in new, fun and meaningful ways. Dress casually, be brave, and charge up your device. During our shared meal, we’ll talk about what just happened and share ideas of what might be a meaningful course for the future. Save the date or, if you’re ready, sign on at

Tikkun Layl Shavuot An Evening of Celebration and Learning Tue, May 30, 7:30-10:00 pm Hold the date for this extraordinary evening! In celebration of Shavuot, commemorating the receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, we’ll gather in 15-20 small learning circles, led by temple staff and volunteers. Two 25-minutes sessions, with a varied table of offerings that’s bound to whet your intellectual and spiritual appetite. After which, we’ll “climb Mt. Sinai” together and receive the Torah all over again, just as our ancestors did 3200 years ago! Oh, and we’ll fill your bellies with Shavuot sweets too.

WCT Intern Soon to Hit the Big-time! Sunday, May 7 at 9:00 am Don’t forget, our rabbinic intern Jason Fenster will become an ordained rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in NYC. You are welcome to attend! HUC asks that you bring a copy of the invitation (we can email that to you) as well as a government-issued ID. We wish Jason (and Gavi too!) mazal tov, kol hakavod, and much success, joy and contentment down the road ahead!



s some of you know, this year I’m part of the URJ Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellowship. Along with twenty-one other Reform Jewish leaders in their 20’s from Europe, Israel and the United States, I’ve traveled to Israel and Berlin for seminars with my fellowship peers. We’ve met Jewish entrepreneurs, learned about unique Jewish programs and projects, went sightseeing, engaged in meaningful discussion about our own beliefs and Jewish practices and more. In March, when I had the opportunity to travel to Berlin, I had some enlightening experiences I’d love to share with you. For Shabbat, we joined LSD (it stands for Let’s Start Davening — don’t worry) for their Shabbat experience at an art gallery. When we walked in, we helped form a circle of pillows on the floor and were handed siddurim (prayer books). The service leaders included one of our Klal Yisrael faculty rabbis so the service had a sense of familiarity from the start. We opened with my favorite melody of Yedid Nefesh for Kabbalat Shabbat, and I immediately felt the beauty of a warm and lovely Shabbat upon us. The entire service consisted of melodies we were all familiar with, which is not common in all Jewish communities around the world, so it was special. As all of us – a group of approximately 50 Jewish

young adults – sang and welcomed Shabbat, I felt this sense of victory. Much of our trip was focused around the Holocaust and Jewry around the time of the Second World War, which upset some members of my program, because there is more to Berlin than just the Holocaust, although is it obviously important. During that moment, though, I couldn’t help but feel engulfed in the power of the moment: this is exactly what Hitler had tried to destroy, but here we were – Jewish leaders from around the world – celebrating Shabbat loudly and proudly with German Jews who had begun their own thriving minyan. That’s victory. This snippet of an experience from my program is just one example of how meaningful this fellowship has been for me. While I have met many Jews from around the world before, I have never interacted, learned, and been challenged in such an intimate setting with them. This fellowship has given me the opportunity to listen closely to people’s stories that are much different than mine but still share the common thread of Progressive Judaism. I’ve been able to feel challenged on an academic, personal, interpersonal, and spiritual level, thanks to Klal Yisrael. Thank you, Woodlands, for supporting me, and please continue to ask me questions about my experience. I’m more than happy to share.

Concert to Benefit the Midnight Run

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!

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



W Blood Drive Thanks to all who helped us donate 47 units of blood!

e’re all proud of the warmth and friendliness in our synagogue. It’s our community. But not everyone feels that way. Some have come to a Friday night service and no one said hello. Others have attended a temple event or were just waiting for someone in the hallway, and no one acknowledged them. If each of us considers ourselves ambassadors of The Woodlands Way, if we’re the ones to say hello, it’s a pretty sure bet folks will feel welcome. Woodlands is a warm, welcoming, open and embracing community ... when we’re the ones to make it that way.

Save the Date! Union for Reform Judaism Biennial December 6-10, 2017 Boston, Massachusetts Join your rabbis, temple leaders and members who enjoy great music, teachers, and worship for this phenomenal Reform Jewish experience. More information is available at


The Simkha Page

Our B’nai Mitzvah

May is a busy time for Woodlands congregants, and The Judaica Shop at Woodlands strives to be “your neighborhood shop for gift giving … and getting.”


n May, we celebrate our 10th grade Confirmands, our 12th grade Graduates, bridal showers, weddings and, of course, don’t forget Mother’s Day! Honor the Confirmands’ accomplishments with a symbolic “Woodlands Temple” tree enameled Torah pointer by Quest Designs. Give the off-to-college graduate a matted, mixed-media Fair Trade hamsa print for the dorm room. Check out our beautiful selection of Shabbat candlesticks and challah knives by Gary Rosenthal for the newlywed couple’s Jewish home.

Dylan Klein

Alison Bloom

May 6

May 13

Torah Portion Vayikra

Torah Portion Emor

Hebrew Name Lazar

Hebrew Name Slava Pesha

Todah Rabbah (thank you) to... Teresa Snider-Stein and Roni Beth Tower for leading the 7th Grade Yom Hashoah program.

Roberta Roos and Marjorie Berman for bringing the movie “Besa” to the congregation and our Academy.

Harriet Kohn for organizing our Passover Food boxes, and to the many families who donated food for our frail, elderly friends from Project Ezra. Thank you to Ellen Dreskin, Liz Shlom, Carol Intner, Marjorie Berman, Marianne Ripin, Roberta Roos and Julie Stein for making the final shopping trips. You all embody the call to “let all who are hungry come and eat” by filling 50 boxes for these seniors who might not otherwise be able to purchase Passover food.

Juli Klein for making arrangements so that our Israeli rabbinic intern, Yael Vurgan, could meet and share a meal with many congregants.

Chuck Bauer for providing the WCT community with yet another opportunity to save lives by donating blood.

Lisa Linn and the Jonah Maccabee Memorial Concert Committee for another extraordinary celebration of Jewish music. And thank you to everybody who supported the concert. Dayle Fligel, Stu Berlowitz and Rochelle Stolzenberg for spending a day at HUC-JIR interviewing ten candidates to serve as our rabbinic intern next year. Mark Kaufman and the talented artists of Exit 12 for volunteering to perform at this year’s Concert to Benefit the Midnight Run.

Mazal Tov to... And for Mom, dazzle her with a sparkling Tree of Life or Shema necklace from our favorite jewelry artist, Alef Bet by Paula.

The Judaica Shop at Woodlands is open every day (by request) that the temple office is open. Evening and weekend hours are noted in temple emails. Shopping for something special? Looking for a volunteer opportunity that’s fun and fits with your schedule? Email us at and let’s talk!


Ari Bauer and Emily Fernandez on the birth of their son, Chase Hunter Bauer, grandson of Chuck and Robin Bauer. Mitchell and Juli Klein as their son, Dylan, is called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah. Richard and Lizabeth Bloom as their daughter, Alison, is called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah. Alan Cohen, who was selected as a member of Team USA’s master’s cycling team for the 20th Maccabiah

in Israel this summer. His spouse, Sandra Cohen, is the equestrian sport chair for Team USA. She also competed as a member of the dressage team in the 2015 European Maccabi Games in Berlin, Germany. The Maccabiah is the third largest multi-sport event in the world. Sandra and Alan will join a delegation of over 1100 U.S. athletes in Israel and are looking forward to meeting Jewish athletes from over 70 different countries who will participate in more than 40 different disciplines.

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 Mitzah Fund In honor and memory of our wonderful pets, who keep us sane in times of stress, from Barbara Cerf. In memory of my mother, Jean Wolf, from Nancy Gladstone. In memory of Miriam Berliner and Gloria Israel, from Corey Friedlander. In memory of Miriam Berliner, mother of David Berliner, from Debbie and Jim Pollowitz. In memory of Miriam Berliner and Gloria Israel from Chuck and Robin Bauer. In memory of Miriam Berliner and Gloria Israel, from Roberta, Roger and Allison Wetherbee. In memory of Miriam Berliner and Gloria Israel, from Lois and Jay Izes. In memory of Miriam Berliner and Gloria Israel, from Irene and Rich Ross. In memory of Laura Tyler, mother of Evan Tyler, from Evan and Tracy Tyler. In memory of Miriam Berliner and Gloria Israel, from Emily Harper.

Chai Fund In memory of our son, David, and Bob’s mother, Jeanette, from Bob and Jane Steinhardt. In memory of Miriam Berliner and Gloria Israel, from David and Dayle Fligel. In memory of Miriam Berliner and Gloria Israel, from Mickey Milbauer.

Education Enrichment Fund In memory of Murray Altsher, father-in-law of Mark Casso, from WCT Religious School. In honor of Rabbi Mara on receiving the 2017 Young Pioneers Award, from Phillip, Linda, James and Samantha Weber.

Temple Tots Celebrating Tu B'Shevat and Purim with crafts and smiles!

Bernard and Francis Shapiro Chesed Caring Community Fund In memory of Paul Polishook, husband of Ruth Polishook, from Marty and Rhoda Payson.

Social Action Fund In honor of Karenna Best becoming a Bat Mitzvah, from Roberta, Roger and Allison Wetherbee. In honor of Adam Restler becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Roberta, Roger and Allison Wetherbee. In memory of Dorothy Rice, sister of Rochelle Novins, from Dotty Miller. Donation from Phyllis Opochinsky.

Makom Shelibi Oheyv Bookplate Fund In memory of Sally Feinsilber, mother of Adriane Belmont, from Joel and Adriane Belmont.

The Woodlands Community Mourns the Loss of Miriam Berliner mother of David Berliner Gloria Israel mother of Donna Berliner Madeline Rosenberg mother of Jo Hariton Tony Scafidi uncle of Mike Scafidi Francine Weinberger grandmother of Sarah Berkowitz Steve Zizmor husband of Gail Zizmor HaMakom y’nakhem otam… may God bring comfort to all who are in mourning. Zekher tzadik livrakha ... may their memory be for a blessing.

Special Education Fund In memory of Susan Spilka, sister of Rich Spilka, from Larry and Nancy Brown.

Jonah Maccabee Fund In memory of Ida Dreskin, mother of Rabbi Billy Dreskin, from Larry and Nancy Brown.

Steve’s H.O.P.E. In memory of Raphael Bocher, father of Jackie Leicht, from Nelson and Jackie Leicht.

Geraldine and Gerald Weinberger Lifelong Learning Fund In memory of Monroe Wangel, father of Aliza Burton, from Emily Harper.

Shavuot Yizkor Memorial Hour Wed, May 31, 9:00-10:00 am Whether someone you love died recently or many years ago, Jewish tradition provides an opportunity through Yizkor to reconnect memory and heart for a few moments out of our busy lives. While we can certainly each stop anytime to do this ourselves, to come together with our synagogue community is a beautiful and meaningful way to honor those we love. Please join us for our Shavuot Yizkor Hour. We’ll sing, read, and share a few words and thoughts of remembrance. Then we’ll return to our regular day. Not sure you want to set this time aside? We do this four times each year, so why not try it once and then make your decision.

Annual Congregational Meeting Wed, May 17 at 8:00 pm Requires a quorum of 5% of our membership to vote on the 2017-18 budget and slate of Board Officers and Trustees. Copies of the proposed budget may be downloaded at or by request from the temple office. Please join us.




Executive Committee Mon, May 1 at 8:15 pm

School Board Sun, May 7 at 12:00 pm

Finance Committee Mon, May 8 at 8:15 pm

Cong'l Budget Meeting Meeting on Wed, May 10 at 8pm

Board of Trustees Mon, May 15 at 8:15 pm

WoodSY Board Mon, May 15 at 8:15 pm

Annual Cong’l Meeting Wed, May 17 at 8:00 pm

L’hitraot from Our Israel Rabbinical Student Dear Woodlands,


hat an amazing two weeks it was! Arriving here not knowing the area and the community, never participating in a Reform service in the United States. And now, feeling a gate was widely opened to me to get to know you and become one of you, even if for a short time. I want to thank this wonderful congregation for the warm hospitality, for making me feel so welcome and very much at home all the time. I have met many of you during congregational events, at different adult, youth and kids gatherings. All of those conversations were very valuable to me (and I hope to you too). I feel we have so much to learn from each other. Big thank you to the clergy – to Rabbi Billy, Rabbi Mara and Cantor Jonathan – for allowing me to observe their everyday work, and for sharing so generously with me their professional knowledge and experience. This learning for me is priceless! It was also very impressive to see the great number of lay leaders and volunteers who take an active part in temple life, and doing that with such love and dedication. I met some of you for a longer conversation over a meal. Thank you to all the families and individuals who invited me into your homes. Special thanks to Dayle Fligel for all your kindnesses, and to the Kaufman/Wineberg family (Mark, Rachel and Liam) for hosting me in your house the entire two weeks! And extra special thanks to Juli Klein for making all the arrangements. I look forward to my next visit with you in the fall during Sukkot. In the meantime, have a great summer. And if any of you are coming to Israel, I would love to meet you there!


Jewish Life Committee

The B’nai Binah Journey, Continued from p. 1

Mon, May 22 at 8:15 pm

more about the religion and culture and to prepare for the Jewish ceremony. However, we were in a very small class of three people (including the two of us) and felt that the experience lacked the opportunity to be a part of a larger Jewish community and learn about other people’s journeys in exploring Judaism. When we saw the B’nai Binah class forming, we were excited to continue our Jewish education in the temple where I grew up. We were eager to learn not just about Judaism, but also some Hebrew. Since we’ve begun this journey, our experience has been defined by the great relationships and discussions in which we have engaged with the other people in B’nai Binah. Tiffany is looking forward to becoming Bat Mitzvah at the completion of this two-year process and although she can’t wait to experience that, we are both enjoying this journey of learning and exploring that will eventually culminate in a wonderful, meaningful celebration.

Social Action Mon, May 22 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.

WCT Seat Cushions! Ever wonder why the chairs in the tent are so uncomfortable? Worry no more! You can now purchase attractive, comfortable and stylish seat cushions tastefully decorated with the Woodlands logo. At $10 per cushion (or a bargain rate of four cushions for $36), your entire family can enjoy the High Holy Days in supreme comfort. To order, email Questions, contact Nancy Fishman ( Your tush and your temple will thank you!


Marion Asnes: Like many Jewish women of a certain age, I never went to Hebrew school as a child. Not only did it not seem necessary for girls; I also was born into a household with, oh, a contentious attitude toward religion. Unlike my

siblings, however, I was interested in Judaism. As an adolescent, in fact, one of my many rebellious experiments was to walk to synagogue on Saturday mornings where I sat with my friend Sharon and drank in the murmurings of elderly men and struggled to stand up at the appropriate moments. To me, Judaism has always meant claiming my place in history and time rather than giving proper obedience to the deity I was born to worship. I imagine that to more Orthodox folks this would be selfish and sinful. But as a modern, educated person, it’s the best I can do. Almost everything I know about Judaism and our history was self-taught. And this is why I came to B’nai Binah, to learn what I couldn’t teach myself about who I am and the rich heritage I share. Both my children, now adult, developed their Jewish identity at Woodlands. They encouraged me to attend the B’nai Binah program. And finally, I am learning to read Hebrew and can sound out a few of the prayers. It’s immensely fulfilling. My new project is to read the Four Questions (in Hebrew, not transliteration!) at our Passover seder. At 60 years old, I will become the literate Jewish child I always hoped to be.

We t h a n k o u r A d v e r t i s e r s f o r their Suppor t 13


We t h a n k o u r A d v e r t i s e r s f o r t h e i r S u p p o r t

Heisler’s Bakery 1321 North Avenue • New Rochelle NY • 914-235-8201

Quality Pastrys, Breads , Pies, Cookies & Decorated Cakes Fruit Platters • Shiva Platters • Catering for all affairs Kosher• NUT FREE• FAMILY OWNED

A proud vendor of Woodlands Community Temple

We t h a n k o u r A d v e r t i s e r s f o r t h e i r S u p p o r t


Non-Profit Org U.S. Postage

PAID White Plains, NY

50 Worthington Road White Plains, NY 10607

Permit No. 1112

Save the Date

current resident or:

for the WCT Marketplace Sale

Sun, Oct 8


College Connection Abigail Ripin and Nicole Yarnold By Abigail Ripin

By Nicole Yarnold

Abigail Ripin is a freshman at Boston University and the Kilachand Honors College. She is majoring in French and linguistics and, in her free time, she sings for Hillel’s a cappella group, Kol Echad.

Nicole Yarnold is a junior at the University of Southern California, studying International Relations and Spanish, with an emphasis on Latin American Studies. Growing up in Dobbs Ferry, Nicole was an avid member of the theater community. At school, she’s actively involved with USC Hillel and Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, along with traveling to India as a part of USC’s Alternative Winter Break.


than, the assistant director of Boston University Hillel, asked me what Judaism means to me. I explained to him how, at Woodlands, a strong sense of community has always been the underlying core value of my Judaism. I recounted how Confirmation in tenth grade really made me think about the answer to his question. During those experiences, I concluded that my Judaism is more fluid than a lot of traditional teaching, that I have the room to interpret Jewish texts and practices to give them a purpose that makes sense to me. Often the purpose that I lean towards is about compassion. Judaism to me means living compassionately — towards oneself, others, and the world. These are the Jewish values that Woodlands helped me discover. Now on campus, I have the chance to help other students find what Judaism means to them, and to build the relationships that create community. I was answering Ethan’s question as part of an interview for my internship next year as a BU Hillel Engagement Intern. These interns take freshman on coffee dates to chat about their freshman experience and Jewish life on campus. As Ethan told me, my job is not to recruit people for Shabbat dinner, but to interest them in discovering what being Jewish means to them, a job Woodlands has prepared me well for.


was lucky to grow up in the Woodlands community. I knew I liked my Jewish community, and I especially respected how, from a young age, we were taught in religious school about social justice, tzedek. I had no idea how to find organizations that supported this interest when I went to college, and was very lucky that my sorority Big Sister pulled me in to Hillel during my very first week of freshman year, because I haven’t left since. Since being at school, I’ve really connected with the social justice aspect of Judaism. I’ve grown to be actively involved with Challah for Hunger as President, MAZON as a Hunger Fellow, and finally, the USC Hillel Executive Board as their VP of Social Justice where I oversaw all social justice programming for a full calendar year. The Jewish community on campus is where I have found my best friends, my role models and, truly, my tribe. I looked forward every single week to our Exec meetings, where I heard how everyone’s personal passions connect with their Judaism. To me, it drives home the point that Woodlands first introduced to me many years ago: Judaism is for everyone who wants it. You can find your place in Judaism. I’m so glad I found mine.

WCT Makom May 2017  

Woodlands Community Temple May 2017 Bulletin

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