the newsletter of woodlands community temple
November 2017 Heshvan-Kislev 5778
Meet Author Leslie Kimmelman,
Creator of Julia, the Muppet with Autism by Fran Smith
hen you first meet Julia, she may not say hi right away. And she probably won’t look you in the eye. But the 4-year-old redhead loves to sing and play, especially with her friends on Sesame Street. Julia, the newest Muppet, has autism. You can hear all about her and meet her creator, author and Woodlands member Leslie Kimmelman, at the Book Fair Shabbat, Nov. 10 at 8:00 pm. Leslie has written dozens of children’s books, including Jewish-themed books such as Everybody Says Shalom, The Shabbat
Puppy, and The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah. She also has worked for 20-plus years at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind the famed TV show. The workshop produces innovative multimedia resources to help kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder. Leslie created Julia as part of an initiative to de-stigmatize autism by highlighting how children with the condition are different from, and the same as, anyone else. Julia appeared first in a 2015 book, We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3!, published online and in paperback. She was a huge hit and the Continued on page 2
Singer-Songwriter Michelle Citrin Returning to WCT by Rabbi Billy Dreskin
ell, the best thing we can say about Michelle Citrin is, “She’s coming back!” Michelle was here a few years back and just stole our hearts. Her music, combined with her persona, gave us an evening of music and love. So those of us who’ve had the pleasure, we can’t wait for Michelle’s return. And those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure, boy are you in luck! On Friday evening, November 17, Michelle Citrin will ascend our bimah and create, alongside our clergy, a musical Shabbat experience in which your spirit will luxuriate.
Whether intoning a folksy version of the Sh’ma or sharing one of her own heartfelt tunes, Michelle’s voice and guitar will lift you up, transporting your soul to that very special Shabbat place that’s filled with joy, contentment, gratitude and peace. She’ll then be back on Sunday morning for our religious school families, headlining Continued on page 2
Register Now for Our Israel Trip
he time has come – registration for the 2018 Woodlands Israel Trip is open. We’re looking to fill our bus by this Thanksgiving! Many have already signed up, so make sure you reserve your spot at wct.org/itinerary. All costs, a detailed itinerary, and online registration portal are there. Join Rabbi Mara from December 22, 2018 - January 1, 2019 as we explore Israel’s culture, spirituality, challenges and attractions! Our goal is to soak in everything special about our historical homeland while also exploring its modern challenges and opportunities. This trip is meant for folks of all ages. While you can visit Israel on your own, there is something very special and enriching about touring it with your temple family! We’ll be strolling, hiking, touring, and soaking in the sun. Our itinerary is very active (and appropriate for children), but accommodations can be made for those who need a slower pace. The trip is appropriate for Israel first-timers, and those who have visited before. We’ll discover Israel’s culture and history by visiting archaeological sites, tourist destinations, taking in the beauty of the Negev desert, and modern museums. We’ll also engage with challenges of the modern state and learn how we can get involved by meeting with those living on the borders, the Bedouin community, elected Israeli officials and leaders in the Israeli Reform Movement. Don’t miss out, visit wct.org/itinerary and join us!
Our Woodlands Community
Meet Author Leslie Kimmelman, Continued from p. 1
Rabbi Billy Dreskin firstname.lastname@example.org Rabbi Mara Young email@example.com Cantor Jonathan Ben Gordon firstname.lastname@example.org Tara Levine, Director of Youth Engagement email@example.com Corey Friedlander, Sh’liakh K’hilah firstname.lastname@example.org Deena Gottlieb, Intern email@example.com
workshop turned her into a Muppet, the first to be fashioned from a storybook character. She made her television debut last spring alongside Abby Cadabby, Elmo and Big Bird. The New York Times, NPR, 60 Minutes and just about every other major news outlet gave her rave reviews. Makom recently had the privilege of speaking with Leslie and Julia about autism, Judaism and life on Sesame Street. The following is an edited version of the conversation.
Executive Committee Dayle Fligel, President firstname.lastname@example.org Rachel Wineberg, VP Education email@example.com Andy Farber, VP Facilities firstname.lastname@example.org Michael Wiskind, VP Finance email@example.com Nancy Fishman, VP Programming/Ritual firstname.lastname@example.org Irving Adler, Financial Secretary email@example.com Steve Sagner, Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org Bonni Abore, Treasurer email@example.com
Board of Trustees David Bertan Dan Emery Judy Feder Herb Friedman Yvette Gralla Amy Green
Elka Klarsfeld Jenna Lebowich Lisa Linn Mike Scafidi Michele Wise Ann Zarider
Stu Berlowitz (ex-officio)
Office Staff Liz Rauchwerger, Office Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org Marjorie Mattel, Office Assistant email@example.com Michele Montague, Education Administrative Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org Bookkeeper email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org www.wct.org Religious School: email@example.com
Woodlands Community Temple is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism Art Director: Melanie Roher Advertising Director: Aliza Burton
Q: Why did Sesame Street create a character with autism?
Leslie: Sesame Street has a long history
of inclusion and diversity. The show has had many different kinds of characters – for example, a deaf character and one with brittle bone syndrome – and there are frequently guests with disabilities. A few of us said for a long time that this is the perfect place to do something with autism, especially as the diagnosis has become more and more common.
Q: What expertise did you draw on to
produce an honest, sensitive and positive portrayal of a child with autism?
Leslie: The only directive was that she
be a girl of Sesame Street age. The rest I drew from my own experience as the mother of a son, now an adult, with autism. More than a dozen advisors reviewed the character and made sure we
were getting across the most important messages.
Q: How did your Judaism and
Woodlands experience influence Julia’s portrayal?
Leslie: Sesame Street and the temple
both put a high premium on honoring and celebrating everyone. Julia’s story is all about kindness, acceptance, giving everyone respect. That’s very much in line with Judaism. Also the idea that the community should rally around and support one another.
Q: Julia, how do you like life on Sesame Street?
Julia: I love Sesame Street. Q: What do you do there? Julia: I like to sing, play, go to Hooper’s Store.
Q: What’s your favorite activity? Julia: Making new friends! Please join us for
Book Fair Shabbat: A Muppet with Autism Fri, Nov 10 at 8:00 pm where we’ll be kicking off our annual Book Fair whose sales support enrichment programs in our religious school.
Singer-Songwriter Michelle Citrin Returning to WCT, continued from p. 1
this year’s Jonah Maccabee Family Concert. Established in 2015 to bring new and exciting Jewish music to the children of Woodlands, the concert is given in memory of Jonah Maccabee Dreskin who loved Jewish music and, as a songleader in our religious school, was thrilled to share that music alongside his mentor, Kenny Green. Back to Michelle Citrin. At just 5’1, it’s hard to believe that such a powerful voice could come out of Michelle Citrin. There is a reason why Time.com recently listed Michelle in their Top Ten list of “New Jewish Rock Stars” and the Jerusalem Post calls Michelle “The Jewish IT Girl.” Best known for her video hits “20 Things to do with Matzah,” “Call Your Zeyde,” “Rosh Hashanah Girl” and “Hanukah Lovin,” these videos have received millions of hits around the world, securing Michelle’s place as a YouTube sensation. Michelle’s engaging live performances and talent for writing catchy and meaningful songs have earned her rave reviews and numerous accolades, including being named one of Billboard Music’s “Top Songwriters” and a finalist for VH-1’s Song of the Year. She has shared the stage with Michelle Branch, Dave Koz, Matisyahu, and Tracy Bonham. When Michelle performed here in 2013, alongside fellow artists Elana Arian and Chana Rothman, she was instantly embraced and adored. Her songs captivated us, her personality charmed us, and her performance style enchanted us. We’ve been Continued on page 3
The Real Thanksgiving Rabbi Mara Young
e all know the mythical story of Thanksgiving. Pilgrims, refugees from their native land, collaborating and feasting with the native American population in yet-to-be colonially settled Northeastern America. Yet some quick research will give you a more accurate account of the holiday: [There is evidence] that settlers in English and Spanish colonies celebrated thanksgivings in their earliest years. And throughout the 1800s, New Englanders held such observances with their families and friends. But as a national event, the holiday dates to 1863. That year, President Lincoln proclaimed “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise” for the nation’s blessings in the face of the Civil War that was raging. Washington Post reporter Amanda Moniz asks: “Why, then, do we associate Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims?” She posits that “in the late 1800s, with immigrants – Jews, Italians, Chinese, other outsiders – pouring in, America’s cultural leaders took…bits of shaky historic evidence from the early 1600s and embraced a story of a Pilgrim Thanksgiving in an effort to Americanize an increasingly diverse population.” There are many ways we could look at this course of events. We could say that modern Thanksgiving rituals were the work of assimilation, a holdover from a time when we expected an “American” to look and sound one way. No doubt, there are darker aspects of the holiday. Even if there was a “first thanksgiving” feast between Pilgrims and Native Americans, certainly the next centuries of harm done to the indigenous American population taints our holiday experience. True, and, we can pick up on pieces of the narrative that speak of optimism and even contain within it a Divine call to action in our own day. President Lincoln’s proclamation of the holiday in 1863 is incredibly motivating. When our country was torn apart so fiercely, he sought a narrative that could unite us in one place and time, reminding us of our common history and naming us as part of one family – a family that gives willingly and generously and is thankful for one another. Thanksgiving reminds us that at some point in time, in some part of the world, all of us had an ancestor who was a stranger in a foreign land. Each family story contains the values of hard work, resilience, and optimism. Jewish and not, we call upon those values at this time every year as a reminder of how far we have come, and what may yet lie ahead.
Singer-Songwriter Michelle Citrin Returning to WCT, continued from p. 2
waiting to find a time to bring her back and are so delighted that time is now. So circle these dates on your calendar now. Bring the kids. Bring the parents. Bring total strangers! No one should have to miss an hour with Michelle Citrin! Whether playing in front of a sold out crowd of thousands on the beach of Tel Aviv, or an intimate set at a coffeehouse in Melbourne, Australia, Michelle Citrin’s soulful voice, skillful guitar playing, humorous in-between song banter and unpretentious demeanor has captured the eyes and ears of her audience all over the world. Arlene McKanic of the Greenwich Village Gazette says, “the audience is left with the feeling that they’re in the presence of someone who’s doing exactly what she’s meant to do.” Michelle Citrin is living proof that size… really doesn’t matter!
Just Israel Camp to Help Heal a Nation by Roberta Roos
hirteen years ago, this congregation marched through the streets surrounding the temple to raise funds for a start-up hole-in-the-wall-gang affiliate camp in Israel’s Lower Galilee. Our $1500 was among the first funds provided for Jordan River Village, a free, year-round overnight camp for children living with serious and chronic illnesses. It is the only camp of its type in the Middle East and is a member of an international association of camps for seriously ill kids founded by Paul Newman. Since opening six years ago, over 8000 campers have enjoyed the programs, the friendships and the facilities – something that would not otherwise be available to children with their physical limitations. They have a wide range of activities – ceramics, arts and crafts, water activities, sports and recreational activities, photography, theater, horseback riding and more. They leave their disabilities at the door – but they also leave their race, religion, ethnicity and socio-economic levels at the door. They are there for fun, and the 2 d’s – disabilities and differences – don’t matter. 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.
Interfaith Thanksgiving Service Sun, Nov 19 at 4:00 pm South Presbyterian Church, Dobbs Ferry Each year, Woodlands Community Temple joins together with the Greenburgh Interfaith Caring Community and all of our area houses of worship for a shared service on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Always an inspiring, multi-denominational gathering, we urge you to attend. Bring your entire family! Share in the true meaning of Thanksgiving: standing side-by-side with our neighbors, reading and singing of fellowship, communal joy, and goodwill toward humankind. The location this year is South Presbyterian Church (343 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry). You may park in the back lot or on any local streets (but observe posted parking notices). If you know you’ll be in town, plan on linking hands and hearts with all of us in thanks for the many blessings we share.
Book Fair 2017! Fri, Nov 10 - Mon, Nov 20
Greenwich Village at Woodlands Sat, Nov 4 at 8:00 pm
he Woodlands Coffeehouse will feature our friend, folksinger Chris Lowe, a regular performer in the Greenwich Village scene today. Chris is a singer/ songwriter who grew up in and around New York City. He has lived in Greenwich Village all his adult life, reflected in his songs about the people, places and things of his beloved neighborhood. His first album was produced by his friend and mentor, Dave Van Ronk, who said that Chris writes songs with “a wonderful sense of place...captured with a deftness that a novelist might envy.” Heavily influenced by the delta and country blues artists of the thirties as well as traditional folk, jazz and classical, Chris’s music displays a unique synthesis of the old and new. Come and enjoy great acoustic music in the friendly confines of our Woodlands Coffeehouse. $20 adults, $10 students. It’s a fun deal. See you there.
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.
Come down to the Youth Lounge and do some early holiday shopping while you support your religious school. We’ll have books of all types, some with Jewish themes and some secular, for the littlest kids through adults. Religious school kids will be cycling through during class, so be sure to send them with some money on that day. The Book Fair will be open during temple programs and religious school hours.
welve years ago when Harriet Levine asked me to join the school board I was very clear. “I’ll attend the meetings but that’s it.” I was surprised she said, “Okay.” Clearly, she knew something I didn’t. Once a month led to volunteering at the Book Fair, which led to co-creating SPARK, which led to becoming School Board President, and eventually VP of Education. I’d like to say that I volunteer out of a desire to serve others. I’d like to say that there is nothing I’d rather
Registration is now open!
Save the Date!
Union for Reform Judaism Biennial
December 6-10, 2017, Boston, MA
oin your rabbis, temple leaders and members who enjoy great music, teachers, and worship for this phenomenal Reform Jewish experience. Speakers include: Abigail Pogrebin, David Grossman, William Barber and Anita Diamant. More information is available at urj.org/biennial. Registration is now open! Save $200 by signing up before Oct 10. Learn how to make Woodlands a better synagogue for us all, and have a great time in Boston too!
Jonah Maccabee Concert with
Dan Nichols, Josh Nelson, Ellen Dreskin and Rosalie Boxt
aturday, S March 10, 2018
do than walk into a meeting at WCT. But this wouldn’t be accurate. The truth is I volunteer because by enriching my community I enrich my own life. And sure, there are days when I reluctantly race to WCT—but when I arrive I see my friends, I feel valued, sometimes even astute, and like to believe I make a difference.
Former Intern Published! Well, as “published” as any of the rest of us. Rabbi Jason Fenster, recently relocated to B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Deerfield, IL, has a website where he publishes his sermons and other writings. If you enjoyed Jason’s sermons and other writings while he was here with us at Woodlands, consider visiting didimenschonthat.blogspot.com and “Subscribe by Email” in the right-hand column of his homepage.
Worship Schedule Shabbat Vayera
Sat, Nov 18
Gen 18:1 - 22:24 ... II Kngs 4:1-37
Shabbat Morning Service at 10:30 am
Fri, Nov 3
Celebrate with us as Lily Safire, daughter of Karen and Mark Safire, becomes a Bat Mitzvah.
Simply Shabbat at 8:00 pm A quiet evening with your clergy. Familiar melodies and familiar prayers to bring us all together. Rabbinical intern Deena Gottlieb will speak.
Sat, Nov 4 No 10:30 service today. Ask for Kaddish to be recited at Hevra Torah (9:15 am).
Shabbat Khayei Sarah Gen 23:1 - 25:18 ... I Kngs 1:1-31
Fri, Nov 10
Shabbat Vayetzay Gen 28:10 - 32:3 ... Hos 12:13 - 14:10
Fri, Nov 24 College Homecoming Shabbat at 8:00 pm We miss our kids so very much when they scoot off to college. So you can imagine how giddy we feel when they come back to visit. Our iyyunim this evening will be written and presented by them.
Jammin’ Shabbat at 7:00 pm
Sat, Nov 25
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!
No 10:30 service today. Ask for Kaddish to be recited at Hevra Torah (9:15 am).
Book Fair Shabbat at 8:00 pm
Fri, Dec 1
Kicking off our annual Book Fair, tonight will feature special guest Leslie Kimmelman, temple member and creator of Sesame Street’s newest muppet, Julia, who has autism.
“A Joyful Noise!” 10th Anniversary at 8:00 pm
Sat, Nov 11 Shabbat Morning Service at 10:30 am Celebrate with us as Charlie Linder, son of Toby and Barry Linder, becomes a Bar Mitzvah.
Shabbat Toledot Gen 25:19 - 28:9 ... Mal 1:1 - 2:7
Michelle was featured in concert at WCT back in 2013 when we all fell in love with her. This time, she’ll be leading a musical Shabbat service that will be a spiritual treat for all ages.
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.
Nov 4: Parashat Vayera
Facilitated by Cantor Jonathan
Nov 11: Parashat Khayei Sarah Facilitated by Rabbi Billy
Nov 18: Parashat Toledot Facilitated by Rabbi Billy
Nov 25: Parashat Vayetzay Facilitated by Rabbi Mara
Shabbat Vayishlakh Gen 32:4 - 36:43 ... Hos 11:7 - 12:12
It’s been ten years since Woodlands’ biggest and loudest service came to town. Now a fixture in the temple calendar, please join us for our 10th birthday celebration!
Sat, Dec 2 Shabbaton 9:15 am - 1:00 pm Join us for a morning of luxurious Shabbat immersion. We’ll learn, we’ll pray, we’ll celebrate and (of course) we’ll eat. Sign up at wct.org/shabbaton.
Fri, Nov 17 Michelle Citrin at 8:00 pm
Hevra Torah Learning
Babysitting at 8:00 pm Shabbat
services is provided by teens from our religious school. This month, babysitting will be available on Nov 3. There is no charge and no advance notice is required. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Joyful Noise 10th Anniversary Service Fri, Dec 1 at 8:00 pm It’s been ten years since “A Joyful Noise!” took to our bimah. Come celebrate Woodlands’ most colorful and bimah-packed service ever. With thanks to you for keeping it alive all these years.
If you or someone you know is a victim of Domestic Abuse, please share this confidential hotline:
November Happenings & Beyond Learning
S O C IA L A C T I O N
WCT Book Club Wed, Nov 8 at 2:00 pm
November Mensch of the Month is the Sixth Grade You, too, can be a mensch by bringing in nonperishable Thanksgiving food for the food cart. Help our local food pantries and the folks they serve.
Facilitated by Judy Kessler, please join us to discuss Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. See shares the customs of the Alhambra, a Chinese ethnic minority, as she tells the story of Li-yan and her daughter Haley who was adopted by a wealthy California family. Both Haley and Li-yan search for answers and find them in the tea that shaped their family’s destiny for generations. A powerful story about a family separated by circumstances, culture, and distance that paints a portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters.
Current Events Wed, Nov 15, 10:00 - 11:30 am Join us as we discuss issues facing us day to day. Among other things, we will be exploring the results of the November election and how they will impact us.
11:30 am - Lunch and Learn Stay and join us for a delicious lunch and enlightening discussion. Rabbi Ed Schecter, from Temple Bet Shalom in Hastings, will speak to us about Jewish History in the Rivertowns. Cost is $10.00 per session or $75.00 if you sign up for all programs. Register at wct.org/lunchandlearn.
Westchester Night of Learning Sat, Nov 18 at 7:30 pm Enjoy your choice of any two sessions taught by 30 Westchester rabbis (including Rabbi Billy, but go learn with someone else while you’ve got the chance!). Scrumptious reception follows. Beth El Synagogue (1324 North Ave, New Rochelle). $20 per person through Nov 10, then $25. Register at wjcouncil.org. More info, contact Donna Bartell at email@example.com.
Engaging Israel: Jewish Values and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Rabbi Billy Dreskin
9 Wednesdays, 8:00 - 9:30 pm Jan 3 - Mar 14 We’re not looking to change your politics on Israel, but to work with the prism of Jewish values through which you form your opinions. Through text study with Rabbi Billy and video presentations from renowned Israeli scholars, we’ll address core questions that foster greater understanding and greater respect for each other, without whitewashing the differences. Visit wct.org/israel to register. Course fee is $18. Book fee is $20.
Talmud with Rabbi Billy Five Thursdays, Oct 19 - Dec 21, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm The Talmud is a doorway into self-discovery. Containing 800 years of spiritual inquiry, the Talmud has, for 2000 more, beckoned generations of seekers who’d like to better understand the Jewish quest for answers to life’s greatest puzzles: right and wrong, pain and struggle, the existence of God, death. You are warmly invited to join our intrepid team of adventurers and learners. Get yourself a copy of Koren Talmud Bavli, Vol. 1: Tractate Berakhot (English and Hebrew Edition) and jump right in with us (or just visit our first class to try us out). Our conversations are entertaining, frequently enlightening, often irreverent, and sometimes life-changing. Contact the office (firstname.lastname@example.org) to register. Hope to see you there!
Children’s Village Holiday Gifts Kids at Children’s Village do not always receive holiday gifts unless someone in the community thinks of them. Brighten the holiday season by being that “thinking” person. Contact Jeanne Bodin (jeanne.bodin@gmail. com) to be notified of the kids’ wish-list.
Breakfast Run Sun, Oct 29 We load up our cars with oatmeal, French toast, hot coffee, yogurt and more and head into NYC at 6:45 am to provide breakfast, clothing and companionship to folks who are homeless or low-income. We are back at the temple by 10:00 am. To participate, contact Michael Silverman or Betsy Schorr (email@example.com).
Blood Drive Sun, Nov 5, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm Giving blood at Woodlands is so easy and convenient. Come in when you’re picking up or dropping off from religious school, going to a meeting, or swing by just because you’re a mensch. You can donate if you’re between 17 and 75 years old and weigh at least 110 lbs (16-year-olds may donate with a note from a parent, and those older than 75 with a note from your doctor). Please bring ID with you. Schedule your appointment at wct.org/blooddrive or email Chuck Bauer (firstname.lastname@example.org). Walk-ins are welcome but may need to wait.
Dinner for Teen Shelter Sun, Nov 5 and Dec 3 Provide part of a home-cooked dinner for 15 teens living at The Sanctuary shelter in Valhalla. At your home, prepare a main dish, vegetable or starch side dish, salad, fruit, or dessert, and bring it to the temple by noon on Sun, Nov 5 and/or Sun, Dec 3. To volunteer, email email@example.com.
Monthly Knitting and Crocheting Sun, Nov 12 at 3:00 pm Make mitzvah projects together with our friendly and active group. All levels welcome, including beginners. RSVP to Angela Adler (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Interfaith Thanksgiving Service Sun, Nov 19 at 4:00 pm
A Month of Desserts Woodlands provides desserts each day during the months of December and January for The Sanctuary teen shelter. Sign up as a family or with friends to supply dessert or fruit for one week. Contact Jeanne Bodin (email@example.com).
Immigrant Friends at Woodlands
Continue to feel the sense of community begun at the Rivertowns Rally Against Hate and join the celebration of our blessings. The service will be held at South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry.
We continue to explore ways in which to assist immigrants in our community. Whether by providing accompaniment to someone going to an ICE hearing or by tutoring a child, there is much we can do. To be part of this, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanksgiving Cooking Thu, Nov 23, 9:00 am - Noon
Holiday Toy Drives @ Woodlands!
You are invited to join our Confirmation families at WCT in preparing Thanksgiving meals for the residents of the Sanctuary, a temporary shelter for teens in Hawthorne. We’ll be fixing the goodies (and watching the Macy’s Parade!) until about noon, when those who would like can drive the food and personally deliver it to the men. Space is limited, so please contact socialaction@ wct.org for more information. We can use shoppers, cooks to make a turkey the day before, cooks to work in our kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, and drivers at noon. Also, your donation will help us cover food costs (payable to WCT, with “Thanksgiving Meal” on the memo line).
Project Ezra Luncheon Sun, Dec 3, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm Each year, we send a bus to bring frail elderly Jewish folks from NYC’s Lower East Side to Woodlands for a dairy lunch with our congregants, accompanied by entertainment and good companionship. Please volunteer your family to host or co-host a table by contacting Harriet Kohn (ProjectEzra@wct.org). She will send you the list of foods to provide.
Two great holiday gift drives for adults and children to share the Hanukkah spirit!! Have a Heart Mon, Nov 20 Mon, Dec 4 We’ve partnered with WJCS to collect new toys for needy Jewish children at Hanukkah. Please drop off new, unwrapped toys in the big box at WCT. Or donate online at wct.org/haveaheart.
Toys for Tots Fri, Dec 1 - Wed, Dec 20 For needy kids at Christmas, new, unwrapped toys are being collected by WCT and will be picked up for distribution by the Greenburgh Fire Department. Or donate online at www.toysfortots.org/donate.
Collection bins for both projects are in the hallway outside the Sanctuary. Questions, contact Michele Montague (email@example.com).
This year, make it a Tzedakah Hanukkah!!
Shabbat on Shabbat:
A Woodlands Shabbaton Sat, Dec 2, 9:15 am - 1:00 pm
oin us for a very special, engaging and fascinating learning Shabbaton, sponsored by the combined Jewish Life Committee, Adult Ed Committee, and School Board. The Shabbaton will begin at 9:15 with a choice of “Worship with the Wires Exposed” (a slowed-down learning service during which we’ll explore some of the prayers more deeply than usual) or an extended session of Hevrah Torah Learning (group discussion on the weekly Torah portion). Our goal is to share in exploring and experiencing ancient Jewish prayers or our ancient scroll, to see what insights and lessons each holds for us today. Nancy Fishman, VP of programming and ritual, says, “We hope to attract many different segments of the Woodlands community, including those with young children who attend religious school on Saturday morning.” At 11:00, we’ll all join together for brunch and to share our morning experiences; children completing religious school will be invited to join their parents at the conclusion of class. Following brunch, we’ll have Israeli Dancing with Leng Tan, a skilled professional instructor. For families with kids ages five and younger, we will be offering a third track – arrive at 10:30 for Shabbat story, song, and craft, and join the rest of us at 11:00 for brunch and Israeli dancing. You are welcome to attend any part of the program that intrigues you. We hope you’ll want to spend the entire morning with us, learning, studying, eating and dancing. Chuck Fishman, co-chair of the Jewish Life Committee, says, “What could be more Jewish or more Woodlands?” Please register for this exciting and innovative event at wct.org/shabbaton. We are certain you will have a stimulating and fun morning, filled with activities for all ages.
Youth Engagement Learn about WCT’s LGBTQ+ Task Force
One of our favorite pleasures is sourcing new items that will resonate with our customers. It’s sweet when the work is new designs from longtime favorite artists!
Fused-glass artists Sara and Michael Beames have added a jewelry extension to their beautiful and well-loved line of mezzuzot, menorot, picture frames and groom’s glass. Each pendant is handmade, each is unique and is “a little serendipity in each piece.”
Mixed metalwork artist Joy Stember has created a natural white marble challah board with handcrafted pewter handles that will add a sophisticated look to a Shabbat dinner table or serve as an appetizer platter for entertaining. Add Yair Emanuel’s new cylinder-shaped hammered metal candle sticks with silver bands and it’s an ideal gift for a new couple building their Jewish home.
Artist Kathy Hudson of Me2U has customized these beautiful cheese plate and knife sets by adding hand-written Hebrew text These are terrific housewarming and hostess gifts, available only at The Judaica Shop at Woodlands. And we just couldn’t resist bringing in Jessica Sporn’s new designed ceramic cat and dog menorot! Check them out along with the new Hanukkah merchandise arriving daily.
The Judaica Shop at Woodlands is open every day during temple office hours. Shopping for something special? Looking for a volunteer opportunity that’s fun and fits with your schedule? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk!
Woodlands Community Temple has always prided itself on being inclusive, and indeed we are in many ways. Since our beginnings in 1966, we have often been at the forefront of ways in which to embrace all individuals, children and adults alike. We recognize that WCT is a warm, welcoming, diverse, and egalitarian Reform Jewish congregation. We also recognize that there is more that can be done to make our congregation both truly open to everyone, and to make that inclusiveness recognized by our own congregants and the general public. Last winter a new task force came into being. Led by our Director of Youth Engagement, Tara Levine, the task force is called LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, plus ...) and is made up of both adults and teens. An important goal of the task force was to develop a five-year vision which is as follows: “The LGBTQ+ task force will engage simultaneously in both outreach and programming, with the ultimate goal of overt inclusion of all people in the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone, as soon as they walk through our doors, will find welcome and know that they and their families will feel comfortable and well-represented in all aspects of temple life. Educational programming, temple activities, organizational policies, and overall culture will reflect this greater inclusion. With more to offer individuals and families in the LGBTQ+ community, our active outreach will bring in people who will feel welcome and included, and therefore more likely to join our congregation, making it more diverse and inclusive, which will in turn enrich all our lives.” In its first year, the task force has contacted other synagogues in Westchester and New York City to find out what they are doing regarding LGBTQ+ inclusion. We reached out to Keshet, the national organization that works for full LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion in Jewish Life, and to Mosaic of Westchester, an organization for LGBTQ+ and ally teens in grades 8-12. We hosted our first Pride Shabbat this past June, the first of what we hope will be an annual worship event. Additionally, we are working on new, gender-inclusive restroom signage at WCT, and we staffed an advocacy booth at the Rivertowns Rally Against Hate. We welcome new members to the task force. For further information or, if you have any questions regarding our work, contact Tara (email@example.com).
This is Real! Raising Teens in Today’s Hookup Culture Sat, Nov 18, 6:30-8:30 pm What’s new and noteworthy in the world of teens and sexuality? What’s the current research on how to talk with your teens about sex? How can we have these important conversations in an honest, nurturing and Jewish way? Moving Traditions is a national Jewish organization whose mission is to “embolden teens by fostering self-discovery, challenging sexism, and inspiring a commitment to Jewish life and learning.” Nicole Nevarez, New York Director, will share information and facilitate conversation to help us clarify our own values and share concerns and hopes we have for our teens around sex and sexuality. Using Jewish wisdom as our foundation, we hope you will leave feeling more supported in guiding your child toward a healthy and happy young adulthood. Join us for dinner, Havdalah, and an interactive conversation. RSVP at wct.org/raisingteens.
Jonah Maccabee Family Concert featuring Michelle Citrin Sun, Nov 19 A delightful morning of music and love. Two different concerts. Choose the one that’s right for you. 10:15-11:00 am, geared toward grades 3-4 and parents. 11:30 am - 12:15 pm, geared toward grades 5-6 and parents. Don’t miss this great event! Admission is free.
Yoga Shabbat Sat, Dec 16, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm Reflect, free your mind, relax, and spend time with the ones you love. Led by Rabbi Billy, Tara Levine and Rebecca Smith, master yoga instructor and deeply spiritual Jew. Rebecca seamlessly and inspiringly connects each yoga position to the prayers of our tradition. Regardless of your age (and we’ve covered the spectrum, from age 3 to 83!) or level of experience, there is a place for you in our circle. Wear loose, comfortable clothing, bring a yoga mat if you have one (we’ll have lots on hand too), and get ready for a lovely, invigorating Shabbat morning. RSVP to Tara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Save the Date! 5th-7th Grade Hanukkah Oneg Fri, Dec 15 (after MishpaHanukkah Shabbat)
What Billy Didn’t Talk About on Rosh Hashanah by David M. Fligel
n Rosh Hashana Rabbi Billy talked about three lessons that Pirkei Avot teaches us the world stands upon. He spoke of (1) Torah (learning), most often associated with the 613 mitzvot that give us structure and values to live by; (2) Avodah (service to God), most often felt in our shared communal prayer, as well as the gratitude we express to God and to each other; and, (3) Gemilut Hasadim (acts of loving kindness), often reflected in giving without the expectation of receiving anything in return. Collectively, these are referred to as the Three Pillars of Jewish Life. He went on to describe how, at Woodlands, the carrying out of these pillared concepts happens simultaneously. For example, our B’nai Mitzvah lead/participate in the service (Avodah) as well as the mitzvah projects (Gemilut Hasadim) we can read about inside the weekly daf t’filah. Also, our Shabbat services (Avodah) have included discussions and speakers about a variety of social issues and what we can do about them (Gemilut Hasadim). And in our religious school, our children frequently participate in all three pillars at the same time. The quality and quantity of our version of these Three Pillars is why we frequently refer to Woodlands as Makom Shelibi Oheyv, the Place My Heart Holds Dear. But alas, Rabbi Billy did not touch upon the fourth pillar, which is needed to support the other three: resources. In my financial world, resources are usually defined as either land, labor or capital. To put that in a Woodlands context, we have the land (and a building on it, with no debt!); labor includes not only the employment of our temple professionals and staff, but also what our President, Dayle (whom I know very well), spoke about on Rosh Hashanah – volunteering and being engaged in temple life; and, capital refers to the money needed to pull it all together. The Annual Fund Campaign is one way that your support helps provide the capital and money for our operations, allowing us to offer (and share in) the many, many opportunities at Woodlands for living the Three Pillars of Jewish Life. Since the campaign’s inception five years ago, not only have we raised more than $350,000, and increased participation to over 100 families, but many have donated most, or even every, year. The money raised has been used to keep overall dues and school fees increases to a minimum while continuing to offer enhancements in the Makom Shelibi Oheyv feeling we get when engaging in temple life, either through services, lifecycle events, educational and/or social action opportunities. The list of activities here at Woodlands is long and deep – we are a robustly active congregation! As Rabbi Tarfon said: “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.” Therefore, I’m calling upon you to support the Fourth Pillar. You’ll be receiving information about the 2017 Annual Fund Campaign shortly. Please engage and participate. It’s a mitzvah! If you don’t want to wait for the formal communications to arrive, please call me (914-646-2287) or email me (email@example.com). David Fligel was President of WCT in 2004-2006.
Welcome to our newest members! Sarah Dawson and David Bredhoff Kenneth and Ellyce Kaufmann
Weekend with Beit T’filah Israeli Fri, Dec 15 - Sun, Dec 17 Think “Tel Aviv,” “on the port overlooking the Mediterranean Sea,” and “Friday evening as the sun is setting.” Now add an ensemble of marvelous musicians, a gathering crowd of Israeli families, as well as tourists who’ve been let in on the secret, and you have one of the Jewish world’s currently favorite Shabbat celebrations: Beit T’filah Israeli. And now they’re coming to Woodlands! Beit T’filah Israeli will be spending a weekend celebrating Shabbat with us during a Friday evening service, a Saturday night concert, and a Sunday morning concert in our religious school. You’re invited to all of them!
MishpaHanukkah Shabbat with BTI Fri, Dec 15 at 7:00 pm Doing what they’re best-known for, welcoming Shabbat, we’ll light Hanukkah candles and Shabbat candles as BTI provides our musical soundtrack.
BTI in Concert Sat, Dec 16 at 8:00 pm The only cost of admission is a donation of $18 Adults, $10 kids. Your donation will be used to help Puerto Rico as it continues to dig out from Hurricane Maria. Register at wct.org/bti.
Religious School Concert with BTI Sun, Dec 17, 11:15 am - Noon A very special SPARK program especially designed for our 3rd-6th graders and their parents, but older or younger children are welcome to attend as well. So save yourself the airfare and just fly over to WCT for a weekend of Israeli Jewish culture that’s not to be missed! Special thanks to Dayle and David Fligel for underwriting the cost of this exquisite weekend.
The Woodlands Community Mourns the Loss of
The Simkha Page
Our B’nai Mitzvah
Carole Raften Friedlander mother of Corey Friedlander
HaMakom y’nakhem otam… may God bring comfort to all who are in mourning. Zekher tzadik livrakha ... may their memory be for a blessing.
Adult Ed Committee Sun, Nov 12 at 9:00 am
Finance Committee Mon, Nov 13 at 8:15 pm
School Board Mon, Nov 13 at 8:15 pm
Board of Trustees Mon, Nov 27 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information on how to join (or just visit) a committee.
Mazal Tov to... Toby and Barry Linder as their son, Charlie, is called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah. Karen and Mark Safire as their daughter, Lily, is called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah. Marcia and Michael Kingston on the marriage of their daughter, Beth, to Fred Bonheim.
Torah Portion Khayei Sarah
Torah Portion Toledot
Hebrew Name David
Hebrew Name Naamah
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 In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Herb Friedman. In honor of Ian Forman becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Frank Forman. In memory of my grandparents, Nettie and Leo Gerstenhaber, from Fran Smith. Thank you for allowing me to honor my father’s memory at Yizkor, from Jeff Schlossberg. In honor of Jack Oren becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Richard and Nancy Oren. In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Dick and Sheila Sweet. In honor of the New Year and Dick reading the Torah, from Sheila Sweet. In honor of the marriage of Lauren Kaplan to Allen Kolko, from Lauren Kaplan.
Rabbi Mara’s Mitzvah Fund In honor of Ian Forman becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Frank Forman. In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Herb Friedman.
Cantor’s Discretionary Fund In honor of Ian Forman becoming a Bar Mitzvah, from Frank Forman. In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Herb Friedman.
Chai Fund In memory of David Segal, father of Liz Rauchwerger, from Scott and Julie Stein. In memory of David Segal, father of Liz Rauchwerger, from Levitt Family. In memory of David Segal, father of Liz Rauchwerger, from Murray and Jeanne Bodin. In memory of David Segal, father of Liz Rauchwerger, from David and Renee Doynow. In memory of David Segal, father of Liz Rauchwerger, from Heida Gralla and Dean Chang. In memory of David Segal, father of Liz Rauchwerger, from Phyllis Opochinsky.
In memory of Fay Raphael Rosenthal, grandmother of Deborah Wiskind, from David and Dayle Fligel. In memory of Fay Raphael Rosenthal, grandmother of Deborah Wiskind, from Scott and Julie Stein. In memory of Leon Jay Abram, brother of Bill Abram, from David and Dayle Fligel. In memory of Robert D. Harper, Jr., father of Emily Harper, from Andy and Joan Farber. In honor of the High Holy Days, from Barry and Judith Kessler. In honor of Alan Kaplan for all of his help and kindness, from Bob and Jane Steinhardt. In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Herb Friedman. In honor of the High Holy Days, from Sam and Ellen Gottlieb. In honor of Laura and Ian and Nathaniel and Jonah Londin, from Jessica and Robert Baron Family Fund. In honor of the Miller Family and Sophie Miller becoming a Bat Mitzvah, from Howard and Susan Gulker. In memory of my father, Carl Smith, from Fran Smith. In honor of the birth of our granddaughter, Blake Avery, daughter of Jamie and Carly Newhouse, from Richard and Jill Newhouse. In honor of attending the High Holy Days services with my father, Alan Kaplan, from Natalie Kaplan Gorlin.
Jonah Maccabee Fund In honor of Rabbi Billy in support of the family of Lilly Erbst, mother of Sandi Froimowitz, from Nathan and Sandi Froimowitz. In honor of the marriage of Lauren Kaplan, daughter of Larry and Audrey Kaplan, to Allen Kolko, from Larry and Audrey Kaplan. In honor of Eliana Miro becoming a Bat Mitzvah, from Paul and Alyssha Miro. In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Herb Friedman.
Education and Youth Activities Fund In honor of Rabbi Mara in support of the family of Lilly Erbst, mother of Sandi Froimowitz, from Nathan and Sandi Froimowitz. In memory of Robert D. Harper, Jr., father of Emily Harper, from David DeLucia and Susan Stillman DeLucia. In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Herb Friedman.
Education Enrichment Fund In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Herb Friedman. In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Aliza Burton.
Special Education Fund In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Herb Friedman.
Geraldine and Gerald Weinberger Lifelong Learning Fund In memory of Estelle Chernoff, mother of Joel Chernoff, from Joel and Pam Chernoff.
Social Action Fund In memory of David Segal, father of Liz Rauchwerger, from Jay and Lois Izes. In memory of Leon Jay Abram, brother of Bill Abram, from Jay and Lois Izes. In memory of Robert D. Harper, Jr., father of Emily Harper, from Jay and Lois Izes. In memory of Robert D. Harper, Jr., father of Emily Harper, from Susan Bloom. In memory of Robert D. Harper, Jr., father of Emily Harper, from Corey Friedlander. In memory of Robert D. Harper, Jr., father of Emily Harper, from David and Dayle Fligel. In memory of Robert D. Harper, Jr., father of Emily Harper, from Heidi Gralla and Dean Chang. In memory of Gloria Israel, mother of Donna Berliner, from Matt Gilfus and Emily Harper. In memory of Robert D. Harper, Jr., father of Emily Harper, from Dale, Elly, Maya and Zachary Glasser. In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Bob and Penny Apter, Mort and Susan Aron, Murray and Jeanne Bodin, Lee and Nanci Brickman, Evalyn Cohen and Jay Mendelson, Rabbi Billy and Ellen Dreskin, David and Dayle Fligel, Matt Gilfus and Emily Harper, Nancy Gladstone, Dale, Elly, Maya and Zachary Glasser, Todd Gordon and Susan Feder, Heidi Gralla and Dean Chang, Larry and Yvette Gralla, David Griff and Roni Beth Tower, Jay and Lois Izes, Barry and Judith Kessler, Charles and Carol Kessler, Nelson and Jackie Leicht, Harriet Levine, Marjorie Mattel, Dotty Miller, Mark and Michele Montague, Don and June Moskovitz, Rochelle Novins, Phyllis Opochinsky, Harold and Mary-Jo Potischman, Liz and Mark Rauchwerger, Jonathan Richer and Lisa Sacks, Frances Rosenfeld, Ruth Rugoff and Joe and Annie Potischman, Mark and Marjory Selig, Jeff and Susan Shear, Michael and Stacey Silverman, Ira and Fern Stein, Scott and Julie Stein, Bob and Jane Steinhardt, Lew and Judy Stiefel, Mark and Liz Weinberg, Roger and Roberta Wetherbee, Michael and Deborah Wiskind.
Todah Rabbah (thank you) to... Everyone who made the High Holy Days so wonderful and meaningful ... Jewish Life Committee co-chairs Chuck Fishman and Natalie Werner, the Jewish Life Committee itself, Pam and Joel Chernoff for arranging all the honors, Andy Farber and Dayle Fligel for everything regarding the tent, Mike Lebowich for the million things you watch over, our incredible musicians (Kathryn Jones, Peter Seidenberg, Mark Kaufman, Jill Bloom, Liz Scafidi and the Woodlands Singers), our ba’alei tekiyat shofar Tom Hirschfeld, Adam Hart and Jon Katz, Adam Weber for drumming at family services, Nancy Oren for arranging the High Holy Days babysitting, the “sweet” folks who put out apples and honey (the Blank, Klein, Kline-Galkin, Korten, Silverstein and Zarider families), Liz and Marjorie and Michele in the office, and a huge thank you to Hernando Carmona and his assistant, Santiago Moyano, who do so much before we arrive and always stick around to clean up after we leave. The WoodSY board for organizing meaningful and creative teen experiences for the High Holy Days, and to the Sipe brothers for song leading these services. It was a joy to be led in prayer by you! David Bertan, Juli Klein, Julie de WinterStein and Dan Emery for speaking on the meaning of volunteering during the president’s High Holy Days speech. In honor of Ina Rich on her 85th birthday, from Harriet Levine. In honor of Roberta Roos and Rabbi Joan Farber, from Murray and Jeanne Bodin. In honor of the High Holy Days Food Van, from Sandi Lieb. In honor of Andy Farber and Jay Werner for assisting in setting up our Sukkah, from Gary Karlitz. In honor of the Rivertowns Rally Against Hate, from The Greenburgh Hebrew Center. In honor of Margot Serwer, from Fran Smith.
Steve’s H.O.P.E. Fund In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Herb Friedman.
The Expanding Jewish Horizons Fund In memory of Miriam Berliner, mother of David Berliner, from Matt Gilfus and Emily Harper.
Roberta Roos and Rabbi Joan Glazer Farber for coordinating the Rally Against Hate, and to all who worked with them: Rabbi Billy, Rabbi Mara and Cantor Jonathan, Jeanne Bodin, Lisa Feinman, Dayle Fligel, Jan Friedman, Jeffrey Friedman, Janice Griffith, Stu Hackel, Adam Hart, Cantor Robin Joseph, Eric Katz, Nancy Kaboolian, Andrea Kott, Georgia Lindahl Sloane, Judy Kalvin Stiefel, Jangle Wallace, Andrew Bordwin for photography, Melanie Roher Schwartz and Sue Ann Sprague for poster design, Lew Stiefel for videography, and to all the members who helped to usher and coordinate traffic control. Sandi Lieb and all of those who helped to check and pack food collected during Yom Kippur and deliver afterwards. And to Woodlands for your generosity in donating the most ever! Andy Farber and Marty Cohen for leading a great group of volunteers in building the sukkah: Alejandro and Ilan Luciano, Joy and Melanie Gralnick, Dan and Gabriella Mueller, Lauretta and Julian Kahn, and Dayle Fligel. Academy BBQ grillers. Kabbalat ShabBBQ grillers. High Holy Days volunteers. Sukkot BBQ grillers. Ken Dubensky and his army of MarketPlace Sale volunteers.
Bernard & Frances Shapiro Chesed Caring Fund In memory of Steve Zizmor, husband of Gail Zizmor, from Matt Gilfus and Emily Harper.
Interfaith Caring Community Fund In memory of my dad, Bob Harper, who was and will forever be a blessing in my life, from Emily Harper. In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Abby Hirsch.
Project Ezra Fund In memory of Carole Raften Friedlander, mother of Corey Friedlander, from Herb Friedman.
Mishkan HaNefesh Bookplate Fund In memory of Edward Miller, from Dotty Miller.
The Domestic Abuse Task Force In memory of Richard Farber, father of Andy Farber, from Matt Gilfus and Emily Harper.
The Rivertowns Rally Against Hate
brought the community into our tent on Sun, Sep 24. With over 700 people in attendance, we heard the cry to work together and to create an environment of understanding and support. The Rivertowns stood together that afternoon and will continue to stand together to eliminate hatred.
Joseph Casario Claudia Forlong, Rick Romagnoli, Danielle Ponga, Matthew Pantal
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Elana Confino-Pinzon and Jeremy Sipe
Elana Confino-Pinzon is a sophomore at Brown University studying Political Science. She has been involved at Woodlands by attending religious school and Academy, and was a madrikhah during high school. Her favorite Jewish holiday is Hanukkah.
by Elana Confino-Pinzon
believe there is more to being Jewish than going to temple every Shabbat, perfecting that “kh” sound that muddles others’ pronunciation of khallah, khag sameakh, or Pesakh, and donning a Star of David around your neck or a kippah on your head (although those are all good options). At Woodlands, I was taught that our faith is measured by the deeds we do, the values we possess, and our commitment to bettering the world around us. Perhaps the value that best exemplifies Judaism at Woodlands is that of education. We must not only educate ourselves, but also aid in the education of others. Throughout high school, I acted as a madrikhah for the religious school, and I look back on those memories as the some of the most fulfilling experiences of my high school career. I was inspired by the resilience of my students in the face of challenges and their constant desire to learn more. This past year, missing teaching, I jumped on the opportunity to volunteer as an in-class tutor in a Providence public school. I carried with me the values I had acquired over the course of four years, including patience, compassion and empathy as I worked with students in a bilingual classroom. Though I was no longer teaching prayers, my work was no less Jewish. Being away at college can sometimes make it hard to attend services or follow each of the 613 commandments, but religion compels us to apply Jewish values to all the acts we undertake.
Jeremy Sipe is a sophomore at Hunter College. He started attending Woodlands at the age of ten and has remained an active participant in the temple and URJ community. He works at URJ Crane Lake Camp over the summer as a general counselor and song leader.
by Jeremy Sipe
remember at the beginning of our first year of college my fellow Jewish friends and I, all awkward freshmen, wanted to celebrate Shabbat. At that point, we were not too familiar with the Hunter College Hillel, so we decided to do a “mini-Shabbat” in our dorm. We bought challah and grape juice at the local grocery store and recited HaMotzi and Kiddush, using solo cups instead of a Kiddush cup. We didn’t do this once, but many times. I feel like the “mini-Shabbat” gave me perspective into Jewish life in college. When you go away to college, you need to actively seek out other Jewish experiences that aren’t a part of the community you’re used to back home. This includes getting involved in your school’s Hillel or local synagogue, or just doing mini-Shabbat celebrations with friends. I chose to go to a college in Manhattan, so I still find myself coming back to Woodlands and attending services as well as participating in A Joyful Noise! and the High Holy Days. In addition to attending Woodlands, I’ve also been involved in the Interfaith Club at my school, through which I’ve gained a wider perspective on religion and cultural differences. There were many Jews from different denominations who attended Interfaith Club meetings, and I learned a Modern Orthodox nigun from one of my friends which has turned out to be one of my favorite nigunim. Through my experiences at college, I’ve developed a greater understanding of vastly different cultures and traditions even within my own religion, and I was able to establish my Jewish identity in a completely new environment.