the newsletter of woodlands community temple
HIGHLIGHTS June 2014 Sivan - Tammuz 5774
“We’re All in This Together” A Conversation with Rabbi Sandy Ragins With just a few years of rabbinical experience under his belt, Sandy Ragins arrived at Woodlands in 1968 as the temple’s first full-time rabbi. Forty-six years later, he’s
Shavuot Jun 3-4 Confirmation Jun 4 Farewell to Rabbi Dan Jun 6
returning to Woodlands to help us fete the founders on June 7. Last month, Rabbi Billy sat down (on the phone) with Rabbi Sandy to talk about the old days. Gary Stern moderated the conversation and edited this excerpt.
Billy: What was Woodlands like in the early years? Sandy: Woodlands Community Temple was like a wonderful bunch of clay waiting to be formed. There was a huge amount of energy and a great deal of commitment and excitement, but it was really inchoate. It didn’t have form yet. I didn’t have much form yet either as a very young rabbi. When I arrived in the summer of 1968, Woodlands was in the process of moving into their first home, the place where you still are. The house was being refurbished for the congregation. They had been in a church before that. I arrived in summertime, and we were unpacking boxes. They scrounged up furniture to put into what became the sanctuary, [now the library]. We were like newlyweds moving into their first house. The congregation created a poster that said “You don’t have to go home to your parents for the holidays. You can go right here.” Billy: What were the Jewish backgrounds of the congregants? Sandy: Some people came from a classical Reform background and were not comfortable with ritual traditions. Others were very traditional and came from Conservative or Orthodox backgrounds. I was ambidextrous in a sense and I felt very comfortable with the tallesim and yarmulkes that were available to the congregation on Friday nights. Billy: How much Hebrew did you use in those days?
Hello to Founding Families Jun 7 Hello to Prospective Members Jun 13 Board of Trustees Installation Jun 13 Shabbarbecue June 20 Camp Blessings June 20 Outdoor Service (weather permitting)
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Fete the Founders! Sat, Jun 7, 7:00 - 11:00 PM What We’re Doing
How to Join Us
Cocktails at 7:00 Dinner at 8:00 Program at 9:15
$75 per person Register at wct.org/gala Dress: Festive casual
Welcome: Stu Berlowitz, WCT president Video: The Times They Were a’Changin’ Remarks: Rabbi Sandy Ragins WCT’s first rabbi Havdalah Chain of Tradition (“Adonai Oz”) Dessert at 10:00
Learn More About It Read Rabbi Billy’s discussion with Rabbi Sandy Ragins (above) Check out the answers to last month’s 1966 quiz (page 2) Hear what the founding families have to say (pages 7-9)
Scan this QR code for more WCT information.
Our Woodlands Community Rabbi Billy Dreskin email@example.com Rabbi Mara Young firstname.lastname@example.org Cantor Jonathan Ben Gordon email@example.com Ross Glinkenhouse, Youth Director firstname.lastname@example.org Corey Friedlander, Sh'liakh K'hilah email@example.com Rabbi Dan Geffen, Rabbinic Intern firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Committee Stu Berlowitz, President email@example.com Jenna Lebowich, VP Education firstname.lastname@example.org Cliff Schoen, VP Facilities email@example.com Andy Farber, VP Finance firstname.lastname@example.org Dayle Fligel, VP Programming/Ritual email@example.com Herb Friedman, Financial Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org Andrea Einhorn, Secretary email@example.com Mark Selig, Treasurer firstname.lastname@example.org
Board of Trustees Nancy Brown Lois Green Aliza Burton Barry Leibowitz Gloria Falk Lisa Sacks Nancy Fishman Mike Scafidi Jill Garland Jay Werner Yvette Gralla Michele Wise Rochelle Stolzenberg (ex-officio)
Office Staff Patricia Nissim, Temple Administrator email@example.com Liz Rauchwerger, Rabbi’s Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org Michele Montague, Religious School email@example.com Lori Bluberg, Bookkeeper firstname.lastname@example.org
About Our Temple 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 email@example.com www.wct.org Religious School: firstname.lastname@example.org Woodlands Community Temple is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism Editor: Mike Winkleman Art Director: Melanie Roher Design and Production: Kate Levy
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Sandy: People were comfortable with Hebrew and it was used in the service the way it was used in most Reform congregations in the mid-60s. Maybe a little bit more than some. We didn’t use the Union Prayer Book. We developed our own prayer book very soon and it was loaded with Hebrew. Billy: We talk about the “Woodlands Way,” which has a lot to do with the informality and liberalism of the temple and I would also say the compassionate environment that seems to have always existed here. What do you recall? Sandy: Yes, many people in the leadership wanted Woodlands to be different. They wanted the best of what they remembered from other congregations—but they wanted to do things in a different way. There was a kind of openness and a willingness to try new things. Billy: What was the response? Sandy: The congregation grew very quickly when people in the community who had been on the fringes recognized that Woodlands had a building and a rabbi who was staying. But we did want to limit the membership. If a rabbi has too large a practice, so to speak, he cannot attend personally to the members. Billy: That’s still a challenge, how to grow and take care of everyone. Anyway, what were the challenges you faced in the early days? Sandy: Many of the men were starting out in their jobs, trying to get established. The men would come
straight to meetings at the temple from the train station, or the women would come as soon as their husbands got home. It took me a while to grasp that everyone was working very hard and dealing with frustrations. Meetings were sometimes contentious because emotions were raw. It didn’t really matter what the issues were. We learned to have disagreements with civility and respect. People sometimes disagreed with me. I was very involved in anti-war protests and supported Gene McCarthy. I spoke about it in the congregation, but there never was a question about my saying those things. Billy: Why did you bring out the tent for the High Holy Days? Sandy: Other congregations, as you know, move to larger facilities. At Woodlands, we had this beautiful piece of land. Someone had the idea of putting up a tent. It was a brilliant idea. There was a wonderful spirit. Billy: Why was the sanctuary so unadorned, with no dedications? Sandy: Many of us had the experience of seeing too much made of important people —sometimes because of the contributions they made. We didn’t need elaborate displays to explore Jewish tradition and matters of conscience. There was a sense of “We’re all in this together.” When everyone contributes their energy, it keeps things vibrant. It is about community. It’s in the name of the congregation. [Meet Rabbi Ragins at the Gala, Jun 7]
Are You a Sixties Scholar? Here are the answers to last month’s 1966 quiz. 1. What TV show was “beamed up” for the first time in 1966? Star Trek And what TV show that evoked the ’50s aired its last episode? Ozzie and Harriet 2. What was 1966’s top pop song? Battle of the Green Beret, by Sgt. Barry Sadler What group had two songs in the Top 10? The Mamas & The Papas (“California Dreamin’” and “Monday, Monday”) 3. What 1966 cult film was named after a Westchester village and featured
such ’60s icons as Ravi Shankhar, Allen Ginsberg, and The Fugs? Chappaqua (believe it or not) 4. Name two organizations (besides Woodlands) that launched in 1966. The National Organization for Women; The Black Panthers 5. Woody Allen’s first play opened on Broadway. What was it called? Don’t Drink the Water 6. What change in cigarette package design became mandated? Warning Labels
Worship Schedule Shavuot
Tue-Wed, Jun 3-4 Tikkun Layl Shavuot, Tue at 7:30 p.m Our annual Shavuot evening of interactive learning and affirmation. Come renew the ancient mystical path of those who walked before us. Our 10th grade Confirmation families will join us in celebrating their children’s Jewish life ahead! Yizkor, Wed at 9:00 a.m. An hour of remembrance for loved ones who have died. Confirmation, Wed at 4:30 p.m. Our 10th graders conclude their Confirmation experience, giving thanks for childhood, family, Judaism, and life. The entire congregation is encouraged to be part of this significant milestone.
Numbers 8:1 - 12:16 ... Zekhariya 2:14 - 4:7 Fri, Jun 6 Farewell to Rabbi Dan Geffen at 8:00 p.m. He’s a rabbi now, so we have to let him go. But not without a grand send-off. WCT founding rabbi Sandy Ragins will speak. Sat, Jun 7 Shabbat Morning Service at 10:30 a.m. Celebrate with us as Nina Rosenberg, daughter of Susan Morduch and Kenneth Rosenberg, and Ryan Silverstein, son of Madelyn and Rich Silverstein, become B’nai Mitzvah.
Shabbat Sh’lakh Lekha
Numbers 13:1 - 15:41 ... Joshua 2:1-24 Fri, Jun 13 Kidz Shavuot at 7:00 p.m. Climbin’ Mount Sinai! A half-hour of zany, holy fun! Special “First Fruits” blessings for all babies born between last May and now. Our last Kidz Shabbat until the fall.
Board of Trustees Installation at 8:00 p.m. Join us as we thank our outgoing leadership and welcome our new board. Sat, Jun 14 Shabbat Morning Service at 10:30 a.m. Celebrate with us as Andrew Aldous, son of Kathryn Kitt and Kenneth Aldous, becomes a Bar Mitzvah.
Numbers 16:1 - 18:32 ... I Samuel 11:14 12:22 Fri, Jun 20 Mishpakha Kabbalat Shabbarbecue at 6:00 p.m. It’s our one-hour short Mishpakha Shabbat, followed by our annual cookout. A fantastic night to introduce a friend to the Woodlands you love! Also, camp blessings to send our kids off to a summer of fun and growing. AND ... an aufruf for Katie Dreskin, daughter of Ellen and Billy Dreskin, and Mark Boonshoft, son of Kay and Stephen Boonshoft. Reservations for the BBQ a must. Note earlier start time. ••••••••• Babysitting at 8:00 p.m. Shabbat services is provided by teens from our religious school. This month, babysitting will be available on Jun 6 and 13. There is no charge; no advance notice is required.
Throughout the Summer
There are two ways to explain Shavuot. First, back when we all lived in ancient Israel, there were three times during the year that we journeyed to Jerusalem to ask God to care for us; in particular, for our crops. These three times, called shalosh regalim (the three pilgrimage festivals), were Sukkot, Pesakh, and Shavuot. The second explanation is more meaningful to us. Shavuot means “weeks.” Shavuot ends the counting of seven weeks of weeks, or 49 days, since the Exodus from Egypt on Pesakh. According to the Torah, it was on the 50th day after the Exodus that we stood at the bottom of a mountain called Sinai. There, we received the Torah and, as a free people, bound ourselves to the b’rit (Covenant) with God, agreeing to do all we could to make this world a good one for all its inhabitants. It’s the perfect completion to our celebration of Pesakh. Once we were slaves. Then we became free. And we pledged to end slavery (in all its forms) forevermore. Shavuot is a celebration of the incredible set of values our ancestors, right down through our grandparents and parents, gave to us. So that our lives might be truly good and purposeful.
Fridays at 8:00 p.m. throughout June, July, and August
Summer Outdoor Services Under the stars (weather-permitting), a bit less formal, lasting about an hour.
Wed, Jun 4, 9-10 a.m.
Saturdays through Simkhat Torah Hevra Torah Learning, 9:15-10:15 a.m. Led by members of Hevra Torah and/ or visiting faculty, good conversation on the weekly Torah parashah. Drop by any Shabbat morning! Visit wct.org/ hevratorah for schedule of facilitators.
Hevra Torah Learning: Saturdays, 9:15-10:15 am There’s abundant room around our table. We’d love to have you join our lively conversation.
Jun 7: Parashat Behaalotkha Facilitated by Rabbi Sandy Ragins
Jun 28: Parashat Khukat Facilitated by Summer Intern Allie Klein
Jun 14: Parashat Sh’lakh Lekha Facilitated by Rabbi Billy
Jul 5 - Aug 30 Visit wct.org/hevratorah for list of summer facilitators
Jun 21: Parashat Korakh Facilitated by Rabbi Mara
Shavuot: Remembering to Remember
Whether someone you love died recently or many years ago, Jewish tradition provides an opportunity to reconnect memory and heart for a few moments out of our busy lives. While we can certainly 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 Morning Service and Yizkor Hour. While observing the ancient ritual of Shavuot—recalling Moses’ bringing God’s Torah to us at Mt. Sinai—we’ll sing, read, and share a few words and thoughts of remembrance. This is one of four times during the year we come together for Yizkor. It’s a loving and respectful way to Jewishly remember. Please plan to be with us.
Moving Forward or Moving Back?
he Rabbis wrote, “Who is truly wise? One who sees what is being born.” But it ain’t so easy. There are many things happening that seem to indicate a changing future, while just as many seem to say the world will never change. Confusing. Here are a few recent vestiges of a stubborn brutal past: • Jews in the Ukraine are intimidated into registering under fear of Pesakh/Easter retribution. All that is missing is the Blood Libel and a pogrom. A hoax, but terrifying. • A prominent NBA owner admonishes his mixed-race paramour not to appear in public with men of color. • An execution in Oklahoma is botched because the preferred chemicals have not been supplied from foreign companies who consider the practice barbaric and illegal. • The Supreme Court rules that racial matters are not to be considered relevant in policy concerning college admissions. All the while a cauldron of change continues to bubble, foreshadowing developments one would never have imagined even a decade ago: • Public acceptance of gay marriage is established in the younger demographics of this country beyond a shadow of doubt.
• The adoption of computer technology is clearly the second industrial revolution, changing the life of the individual and concentrating wealth in the hands of the few just as the first industrial revolution did in the 19th century. • The United States military has been firmly transitioned into a mercenary force, with the attendant developments of the longest wars in our history and the most exhausted and suicide prone force in our history as well. These matters are complex and symbolic. They could be viewed as harbingers of future disappointment or of hope. Without a doubt they are portents of change. It is best to stand back a bit. When Ezekiel entered the Valley of Bones, he first circled around to get perspective. I can see forces of compassion and justice striving to rectify and humanize society. I see the continuing struggle between property rights and human rights, between cynicism and optimism. I see the hope and resilience of the individual that will overcome adversity and material deprivation. Our prophets said, “God will tear at the complacent heart” and the spirit of mercy will ultimately triumph in the world. Yesh Tikva l’achareitech—here is hope for the future. Have a wonderful and reenergizing summer.
• Life expectancy in the former Soviet Union continues to grow shorter.
Rabbi Dan Geffen’s Long Goodbye I don’t like goodbyes. As a matter of fact, I detest them. I cannot abide even the idea of having to say goodbye to something, or someone, that I love. And I LOVE Woodlands Community Temple. And that is why, as I write this farewell note, I do so with tears in my eyes. Because even with the excitement of becoming the next Rabbi of Temple Adas Israel of Sag Harbor, it breaks my heart to think that I will no longer be part of this amazing community. It is painful to think I will have to say goodbye to my students, who have taught me more in nine months than I have learned in a lifetime of study. It is agonizing to realize that I will no longer be able to work with the brilliant and passionate administrators, staff, and community
leaders who work tirelessly to make this Temple what it is. And it is soul-rending to even contemplate the reality, that I will no longer have the privilege of sharing a bimah with some of the most talented, loving, and soulful clergy in the world. I hate saying goodbye. So instead, I will use the Hebrew word Lehitraot— because its reflexive grammar promises that even as we part company today, we will undoubtedly see each other again in the future. So for now, my dear WCT, I will simply say l’hitra’ot. It has been an honor and privilege. And please, for the love of God, come visit! Dan
C o m m i t t e e R e p o rt s
Social Action The Social Action committee would like to thank everyone who participated in the Spring Into Action tikkun olam activities this Spring, as well as any of our Social Action activities throughout this year. Big-hearted Woodlands members helped throughout the community and renewed their own spirits in the process. A special thank you to the planning committee for Spring Into Action: Roberta Roos, Bonni Arbore, Dayle Fligel, Shelli Katz, Linda Weber, and Julie Stein. And also to our activity coordinators: Harriet Kohn, Dayle Fligel, Shelli Katz, Roberta Roos, Julie Stein, Bonni Arbore, Nancy Kliot, Pat Nissim, Judy Stiefel, Nicole Lesser, Caryn Donocoff, Jane Wachs, Joan Farber, and Angela Adler. We’re making plans for next year. If you’d like to help with our exciting Fall Mitzvah fair, email Julie Stein at SocialAction@wct.org. There are also lots of volunteer opportunities to help plan and organize our Yom Kippur Food van, our biggest food collection of the year. Email Social Action to let us know you can help.
Clothing Collection for Action for Post-Soviet Jewry
Many Jews in Eastern Europe live in poverty and isolation. In response, Action creates programs to strengthen the Jewish community and provide food, medicine, clothing, and other assistance to those in need. You can help by donating gently used, clean clothing for children and adults as well as shoes and accessories. Donation bins are located in the lobby through June. To learn more about Action, go to actionpsj.org.
Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. Though we’ve come to the close of another season of Daytime Diversions’ movies and speakers, you should fear
Here are a few suggestions…..
School Supplies Collection
Friends of Karen collects new school supplies throughout the summer to give to families with critically ill children. Please go to wct.org/social-action/ projects/226-friends-of-karen for the complete list of new items needed. Please bring all items to Woodlands by Sun, Aug 3.
For Weddings Frosted Glass Challah Plate: $36 Tamara Baskin Candlesticks: $58 Safed Shabbat Candles: $7
Healthy, nonperishable food for our local food pantries.
Adult Education School’s out for summer. Even at WCT Adult Ed. The committee would like to send a big thank you to everyone for participating in the Adult Ed programming this past year. We have new programs planned for next year along with many returning favorites. Look for a new Adult Ed brochure in the end of the summer—as well as listings on the temple website. Drop a line to email@example.com to let us know which programs you loved, what programs could be improved, and what sorts of new programs you’d love to see developed.
Choosing a gift isn’t easy for everyone — The Judaica Shop at Woodlands strives to make it stress-free, with a wide array of beautiful, affordable items.
not: the Current Events meetings will continue every third Wed. in Jul and Aug. All sessions are open to your friends, relatives, and neighbors. Doughnuts and coffee or tea are always available.
For Dad – (Father’s Day is June 15th) Chai Framed Mixed Media Print: $54 AlefBet Mezuzah Necklace: $44
No movie this month because of Shavuot Yizkor service. The Talk: Jun 11—first-time novelist and long-time crime and criminal justice reporter Julia Dahl talks about her book, Invisible City, the story of Rebekah Roberts, a reporter, born to a religious Jewish mother and her Christian boyfriend, who covers the story of a murdered Hasidic woman and learns of the power of the ultra-Orthodox community’s sway over the NYPD. The Discussion: Jun 18—with Bob Steinhardt.
For New Baby AlefBet Silver Star of David Necklace: $20 Baby Blessing Wall Hanging: $30 Noah’s Ark; Princess Mezuzot: $24 The Judaica Shop at Woodlands is open, by request, every day the temple office is staffed. Evening and weekend hours are noted in the weekly email blast. Shopping for something special? We’ll be happy to help. Email us at: judaicashop@ wct.org
June Happenings Just Israel
A Taste of Woodlands A “Rewarding” Reception for Prospective WCT Members Fri, Jun 13, 6:00 p.m.
While Israel struggles with the challenges of establishing peace with her neighbors, good news emerges. This column provides a glimpse of something taking root there that firmly aligns Israel’s values with Judaism’s. Since its founding in 1976, the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem has contributed in immeasurable ways to the advancement of Israeli society. Recently, they have launched an initiative called Lev Aharon (Aaron’s heart), which is designed for senior officers in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The program helps these soldiers develop a “strong positive relationship with their Jewish-Israeli identity and an understanding of the relevance of Jewish values, ethics, and heritage to their role” by providing an opportunity for “intimate, unguarded, and honest expression within the military framework.” The program currently educates more than 1,500 officers a year and has been credited with improving moral, solidarity, pride, and creating an enhanced sense of moral responsibility in the officers and their units. We pray for the day when these courses will no longer be needed, but in the meanwhile we should be thankful for the work being done at Hartman to strengthen not just Israel’s arms, but their hearts and souls as well.
Israel Needs Reform Jewish Support When your membership statement arrives over the summer, you’ll have an opportunity to add $36 for membership in ARZA/WORLD UNION. This is North American Reform Judaism’s voice in the Promised Land. ARZA/WORLD UNION supports and nurtures our relationship with Israel (as well as the former Soviet Union and 40 other countries), working to develop strong, liberal Jewish communities in cities, towns, and summer camps, as well as the training of rabbis, cantors, and educators. And it pursues Jewish ideals of justice and equality through advocacy, education, policy-making, and the media.
“Membership has its rewards.” Once the defining tagline for a credit card, the Woodlands Membership Committee thinks the phrase also speaks to what it means to belong to our temple. Visiting Woodlands can be a wonderful experience. Belonging to our temple is something else entirely. Consider bringing a friend or neighbor interested in learning more about Woodlands to the “Taste of Woodlands” reception. Clergy, lay leaders, and Membership Committee members will be present to ply you and your prospective members with refreshments and hors d’oeuvres and to talk about why Woodlands is so special. The evening begins at 6:00. There’s a Kidz Shabbat service at 7:00 and a Shabbat evening service at 8:00.
Camp Blessings—and ShaBBQ Fri, Jun 20 at 6:00 p.m.
Just before our sweet young ‘uns take off for points known and unknown— summer camp or otherwise— we invite you to bring them to temple.
We’ll bless ‘em and send ‘em on their way ... with much love and hope for a summer of fun, growing, learning, and friendship. Hope you and your kids can join us! Shabbarbecue follows. RSVP for dinner at wct.org/bbq.
Rabbi Billy off to Sci-Tech Camp! Jun 29 - Jul 6
In past summers, Billy has spent two weeks serving on faculty for the NFTY Leadership Rabbi Billy: From Sci-Fi Experience (at Purim to Sci-Tech Camp the URJ Kutz Campus in Warwick, NY). All that is about to change as he and our summer rabbinic intern Allie Klein head north to Boston where the URJ is opening its newest camp, the 6 Points Science and Technology Academy. Open to kids entering grades 5-9, Sci-Tech will explore robotics, environmental science, video game design, and digital media production, linking it all to human growth and development via Jewish texts and learning. Billy is looking forward to blowing something up while delivering a very special Sci-Tech Shabbat sermon! If you know someone who might want to spend a couple of weeks at 6 Points Sci-Tech, stop by scitech.urjcamps.org or give them a call at (857) 246-8677.
We would be delighted to have you join us for the aufruf of our children
Katie Dreskin and Mark Boonshoft Friday, June 20 6:00 p.m. Ellen and Billy Dreskin Kay and Stephen Boonshoft
T h e T i m e s T h e y W e r e A’ C h a n g i n g G a l a
Return with us now to yesteryear—1966 to be exact— and hear what some of our founding families have to say about the Woodlands of yore. The ad above helped catch the attention of prospective members in the early days. The quotes that follow were drawn from interviews conducted by Liz Scafidi, Gaby Bordwin, and Dayle Fligel—to read more, pick up the gala journal at The Times They Were A’Changing’ gala on June 7. Behind the quotes: the original temple building, now the religious school. www.wct.org
T h e T i m e s T h e y W e r e A’ C h a n g i n g G a l a
My husband and I both had very negative experiences with the religious aspects of Jewish life, which were not at all meaningful for us…. I had no desire to join any temple, but my husband felt strongly that we should. We would visit a different Reform temple every Rosh Hashanah and found no connection…
“I would say that it’s probably the most un-elite elite synagogue you could be in. And always, when there is a crisis, Woodlands was always right up front, the first ones to collect food and help. Woodlands was right out there doing it.” —Irwin Miller
until we saw the posters up for Woodlands. We attended some early meetings and found much that was very meaningful….I told my husband that if we would every join anything, it would be Woodlands. —Audrey Rosen
I WANTED A RELATIONSHIP WITH A RABBI WHO KNEW OUR NAMES IF WE DIED. I SEARCHED FOR A RABBI WHOM I FELT SHARED AN ETHOS, EMPATHETIC VIEW OF THE WORLD AND WAS BRILLIANT, AND THAT RABBI WAS SANDY RAGINS. HE LEFT A YEAR LATER! —Renee Trell
“WE HAD FOUR FRIENDS, AND THEIR KIDS WERE THE SAME AGE AS OUR KIDS, AND WE WERE JUST SENDING OUR KIDS TO [RELIGIOUS] SCHOOL AND HAD A CARPOOL. WE WENT TO SEE SANDY RAGINS, AND WE WERE VERY IMPRESSED BY EVERYTHING. SO WE DECIDED TO CHANGE THE CARPOOL, AND WE DECIDED TO JOIN. THE CARPOOL WAS NOW GOING TO WOODLANDS, AND ALL FOUR FAMILIES BECAME MEMBERS.” —Yvette and Larry Gralla
“Everything I hated about a different synagogue they didn’t do at Woodlands. They didn’t have an organ; they had meaningful prayers; they had some Hebrew. They met my needs in different ways. It was local; we could car pool. It just worked.” —Mickey Milbauer
A lot of us in the early days were on a lot of boards because we needed to develop who we were and what we were. —Herb Friedman
T h e T i m e s T h e y W e r e A’ C h a n g i n g G a l a
It was the first time I ever called my rabbi by his first name. —Jack Safirstein
“Woodlands was a large part of our life... It got to a point that we were at Woodlands so much we wouldn’t even tell the children where we were going. They thought we were out at a movie or on a dinner date, but we were volunteering at Woodlands. To us Woodlands was our mishpocka—it was family in a way even though we weren’t necessarily related.”
“I PLAY GUITAR, AND SANDY CAME TO ME AND SAID, ‘WE HAVE A 15-MINUTE BREAK BETWEEN THE FIRST AND SECOND CLASSES. WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO PLAY FOLK SONGS?’ AND SO I DID. AND THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW, SANDY IS HANDING ME SONGS FOR THE NEXT HOLIDAY…. I LEARNED A LOT OF JEWISH MUSIC.” —Fran Weingast
“[Woodlands] really is my second family. Some of the members go back 30 or 40 years, and other are new in the past 10 years. We run the gamut, celebrating holidays and maintaining friendships for 20, 30, 40 years. Even people who moved to Florida keep in touch.” —Ron Tvert
IT WAS AN HONOR TO BE AMONG THE FOUNDING MEMBERS OF WOODLANDS. WE WANTED TO BE PART OF A JEWISH CONGREGATION. WE WERE ANXIOUS FOR OUR CHILDREN TO LEARN ABOUT OUR RELIGION AND ITS TRADITIONS. WE WANTED TO HELP PASS ON THE TRADITIONS OF OUR PEOPLE TO FUTURE GENERATIONS. —Tony and Selena Barron
“Woodlands was low key. There was no fancy edifice (to say the least)… It was a group of likeminded liberal people who cared about Judaism and social issues.” —Rochelle Novins
When we started, one of the big arguments we had was whether we should wear yarmulkes. About 30 percent wanted to make sure we wore yarmulkes, and a higher percentage didn’t want yarmulkes. And you know what we decided? If you wanted to wear them, wear them. If you don’t, then don’t. That was how we did it then. —Bob Steinhardt
Spe c i a l Se c t i o n: B oa r d
Tr u s t e e s
Board of Trustees Installation Fri, Jun 13 at 8:00 p.m.
Each year, a wonderfully dedicated group of volunteers steps forward to share the responsibilities of leading our congregation. Our Board of Trustees works tirelessly to make our synagogue community a home for Judaism for us all. Please join us as we honor them with a gala Shabbat celebration. Our sincere thanks to these outgoing members of our Board of Trustees ... For your leadership and dedication, to-dah ra-bah ... thank you.
And welcome to
Our 2014-15 Board of Trustees Officers
Stu Berlowitz, President
Jenna Lebowich, VP Education
Cliff Schoen, VP Facilities
Andy Farber, VP Finance
Dayle Fligel, VP Programming/Ritual
Herb Friedman, Financial Secretary
Andrea Einhorn, Secretary
Mark Selig, Treasurer
Yvette Gralla Barry Leibowitz Lisa Sacks Mike Scafidi Michele Wise
Rochelle Stolzenberg, Immediate Past President We wish you a year of unparalleled success.
Summer and Beyond Summer Outdoor Services
Friday Evenings All Summer Jun 27 - Aug 29, 8:00-9:00 p.m. You are cordially invited to join us— beneath a canopy of enchanting summer skies—for our Shabbat summer outdoor services. About an hour long, come and relax with friends and neighbors. These services are less formal (if that’s even possible at Woodlands), filled with music, prayer, and meaningful words of humor and hope. A very friendly crowd will join you following the service for an Oneg of noshing and even better shmoozing. Children are most definitely welcome! And if the weather does not cooperate, we’ll move inside for airconditioned spiritual comfort.
Hevra Torah Summer Learning
Saturdays 9:15-10:15 a.m. Change is in the Air! Throughout the summer and until Simkhat Torah, the rabbis and cantor do not regularly lead the weekly Shabbat morning Torah discussions. This summer we’ll be featuring a pretty wonderful team of lay leaders and “ringers” who’ll be dropping by to lead a session. This will create tremendous variety in style and content, offering lively opportunities for exploring ancient Scripture. The schedule will appear in the weekly email and online at wct.org/hevratorah.
Clergy Availability During the Summer
Either Rabbi Billy, Rabbi Mara, or Cantor Jonathan will be “on call” throughout the summer. Please understand, however, that summertime is one of the very few times our clergy can get away for rest and relaxation. If you should have need, you need only contact the temple office (592-7070) or our temple president Stu Berlowitz (693-9629).
Summer Reading and Listening? Raise Money for WCT Too! • Do you purchase books and music online? • Please access amazon.com via our temple website. • WCT receives 5% of your payment.
• It’s that simple! • Read and listen to what you love ... • ... and while you’re at it, help the temple you love! Use this link: www.amazon. com/?tag=woodlandscommuni
Elul: A Month to Get Ready
While packing bags and kicking back for summer fun, you may want to circle Tues, Aug 26 on your calendar. That evening is the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul, which means Rosh Hashanah is only four weeks away (Wed evening, Sept 24). During the month of Elul, Jewish tradition urges us to begin the introspective process that will occupy our attention during the High Holy Days. As we begin to wind down from the sunny (hopefully), lazy (also hopefully) days of summer, Elul reminds us it’s time to begin examining ourselves —our actions, our outlooks—and begin considering why we’ve made the choices we’ve made in the past year, and how we might modify those choices in the months ahead.
Selihot: Midnight Mystery
Sat, Sep 20 at 10:00 p.m. Be sure to put September 20 in your calendar. As the summer winds down, join us for this late-night very spiritual beginning to Judaism’s remarkable period of self-reflection that we call the High Holy Days. Selihot has its origins in Jewish mysticism and, to this day, it offers an embracing, inspiring hour of personal review of the year gone by. It’s a very sweet, yet provocative opportunity to meet the music and the themes that will fill our tent just a week later.
What’s Cooking Tonight? The new Woodlands cookbook goes to press Looking for gifts for birthdays, holidays, showers, thank you’s, “just because”? Think of all you will need for the coming year because the price of Woodlands’ new cookbook, What’s Cooking Tonight – Even More Great Recipes from Woodlands Community Temple, will be discounted for orders placed by June 15—and the bigger the order, the bigger the discount. Supplementing our two earlier cookbooks, the new cookbook celebrates diversity—diversity in tradition, in cooking methods, in approaches to health and environment, in tastes, in approaches to food, in values. Containing special additional sections that make it interesting even to noncooks—Food Thoughts, the Jewish Year in Food, and For Kids—this is not your mom’s old Sisterhood cookbook (although we are sure your mom’s Sisterhood cookbook was great!). From briskets to vegan entrees, chicken soup to gazpacho, rugelach to gluten-free cakes, this cookbook combines the varied food choices of our very inclusive, diverse community. The regular price will be $25, but orders may be placed at wct.org/ order-cookbooks until June 15 at the discounted prices of $22 each for 1-4 books, $20 each for 5-9 books, and $18 each for 10 books or more. Books will be ready for distribution in September, in time for Rosh Hashanah gift giving.
The High Holy Days Are On Time This Year! Rosh Hashanah, Wed evening, Sept 24 - Fri, Sept 26 Kol Nidre, Fri evening, Oct 3 Yom Kippur, Sat, Oct 4 Sukkot BBQ, Wed evening, Oct 8 Simkhat Torah, Wed evening, Oct 15
Kol Hakavod to Ariane Gottlieb & Emma Schneider WCT tenth graders Ariane Gottlieb (daughter of Barbara Rosenberg and Paul Gottlieb) and Emma Schneider (daughter of Tracy Schneider) were recently awarded the UJA-Federation Singer Family Israel Scholarship. Recipients are selected on the basis of young leadership potential, a strong commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world), and proposed service to their synagogue upon return from Israel. Ariane and Emma, who will be participating in NFTY’s five-week trip to Israel this summer, will volunteer in our religious school next year, teaching younger students about the beauty and excitement of a trip to the Promised Land. Kol hakavod, you guys ... a job well done!
WCT Youth Engagement See you in September! It’s been a great year—and next year will be even better…if you get involved. Any adults and teens interesting in being part of the Youth and Family Engagement Committee should get in touch with Rabbi Mara, Ross, Leora Cohen (co-chair of Katan, for ages 0-6th grade), or Juli Klein (co-chair of Gadol, for 7th grade through college). Or just write to youthwct.org. We’ve got a lot of great programs, family trips, and holiday celebrations planned for the fall and winter and need everyone’s help to make them happen.
The Simkha Page
June 7 Torah Portion Beha’alotkha Hebrew Name Nina Tziviya
June 7 Torah Portion Beha’alotkha Hebrew Name Binyamin Yosef
Andrew Aldous June 14 Torah Portion Sh’lakh L’ka Hebrew Name Avraham
Mazal Tov to Ken Rosenberg and Susan Morduch, as their daughter, Nina, is called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah.
Mazal Tov to Ken Aldous and Kathryn Kitt, as their son, Andrew, is called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah.
Mazal Tov to Rich and Madelyn Silverstein, as their son, Ryan, is called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah.
Mazal Tov to Susie and Ed Brubaker on the birth of their granddaughter, May Leonte Yeskel, daughter of Heather and Zach Yeskel.
Thank you to our Social Action and Ritual Committees for your invaluable and loving assistance with this year’s Interfaith Passover Seder.
(voice), Emily Trias (voice), Rachel Chang (voice), Doug Pell and Ross Glinkenhouse (sound dudes), Zev and Liam Kaufman (tech dudes).
Thank you to the members of “A Joyful Noise” for another fantastic, musical, spiritual year: Mark Kaufman (soprano and tenor saxophones, horn arrangements), Glenn Babakian (trombone), Rob Zion (bass), Justin Weber (bass), Adam Weber (percussion), Adam Hart (guitar and voice), Cantor Jonathan Gordon (voice), Cantor Ellen Dreskin (voice), Margot Steinberg
Thank you to Leora Cohen and Jon Kleinman for joining our Academy kids. Thank you to Adam Hart for skillfully guiding our teen songleading group, Ruakh Neshama. Thank you to Rachel Chang for organizing Ruakh Neshama’s visit to the senior center in Valhalla.
Helping to shape legislation during Spring Into Social Action month, left to right: Jeanne Bodin, Julie Stein, Roberta Roos, Rabbi Marcus Burstein, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Our teen songleading group: Ruakh Neshama
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.
The Woodlands Community Mourns the Loss of Irving Doynow
brother of Dave Doynow
Rabbi Billy’s Mitzvah Fund
Education and Youth Activities Fund
Thank you Rabbi Billy for a beautiful service and all you have done, from Alan and Ilene Hersh.
In honor of our daughter Jenna, and the class of 2014. Best of Luck, Happy Graduation!, from Marla and Phillip Salomon.
In appreciation of Rabbi Billy and in honor of Anna Schlesinger becoming a Bat Mitzvah, from Iris Schlesinger.
Mazal tov to the Wetherbee family and in honor of Allison’s graduation from Syracuse University, from Phillip, Marla and Jenna Salomon.
sister of David Fligel
In memory of Raymond Solomon,from Maxine and Allan Lazarus.
mother of Andrea Olstein
In memory of Harriet Knapp, from Stanley Weiss and family. In memory of Valery Morris, from Stuart Schaffer. In appreciation of Rabbi Billy and in memory of Valery Morris, from Mark and Marjory Selig. In honor of Rabbi Billy and on the occasion of Abigail Loose becoming a Bat Mitzvah, from the Garland/Loose Family.
Rabbi Mara’s Mitzvah Fund In appreciation of Rabbi Mara and in honor of Anna Schlesinger becoming a Bat Mitzvah, from Iris Schlesinger.
Cantor’s Discretionary Fund In appreciation of Cantor Jonathan and in honor of Anna Schlesinger becoming a Bat Mitzvah, from Iris Schlesinger. In appreciation of Cantor Jonathan and on the occasion of Abigail Loose becoming a Bat Mitzvah, from the Garland/Loose Family.
Chai Fund In honor of Aidan Pray, grandson, from Gloria Saed. In memory of Gerry Weingast, from Ruth Lefkowitz. In memory of Geraldine Weinberger, from Ruth Lefkowitz.
In honor of Marina Lebowich becoming a Bat Mitzvah, from Judy, Lew and Amy Stiefel. In honor of Anna Schlesinger becoming a Bat Mitzvah, from The Lebowich Family. Many thanks to Dayle Fligel and in honor of Anna Schlesinger becoming a Bat Mitzvah, from Iris Schlesinger.
Education Enrichment Fund In appreciation of Rabbi Mara and on the occasion of Abigail Loose becoming a Bat Mitzvah, from the Garland/Loose Family.
Social Action Fund In appreciation of Bonni Arbore’s help with the Spring into Action program, from Julie and Scott Stein. In appreciation of Pat Nissim’s help and support of the Spring into Action Program, from Julie and Scott Stein. In honor of Roberta Roos for her work on the WCT cookbook, from Dayle Fligel. In honor of Gayle Dubensky’s work on the WCT cookbook, from Dayle Fligel. In memory of Edith Wiskind, from Lois Green. In memory of Valery Selig, from Lois Green.
In memory of Edith Wiskind, from Fran Rosenfeld.
In memory of Raymond Solomon, from Lois Green.
In memory of Edith Wiskind, from Gloria and Bill Falk.
Jonah Maccabee Fund
In memory of Edith Wiskind, from Chuck and Nancy Fishman. In memory of Valery Morris, sister of Marjory Selig, from Chuck and Nancy Fishman. In memory of Valery Morris, from Susan Richmond and Family. In memory of Sylvia Magid, aunt of Gayle Dubensky, from Dayle and David Fligel. In memory of Raymond Solomon, father of Mark Solomon, from Dayle and David Fligel. In memory of Valery Morris, from The Fligel Family.
In memory of Harriet Knapp, from Stanley Weiss and Family. In memory of Jonah Maccabee Dreskin, from Phyllis Opochinsky. In appreciation of Rabbi Billy, from the Garland/Loose Family. In honor of our dear grandson, Elijah Swift on the occasion of his graduation from WCT High School, from Gloria and Kurt Nash.
Gates of Repentance Bookplate In memory of Raymond Solomon, father, from, Mark and Linda Solomon.
To find out more about all the funds that are available for your support and for information about how to donate to these funds, please visit www.wct.org/donate
father of Chuck Fishman
Sandra Hirsch Valery Morris
sister of Marjory Selig
Frances Rose Selikowitz Raymond Solomon
father of Mark Solomon
mother of Jay Werner HaMakom y’nakhem otam… may God bring comfort to all who are in mourning. Zekher tzadik livrakha ... may their memory be for a blessing.
Scheduling Weddings or Funerals with Our Clergy The rabbis and cantor want very much to be with you during significant life-cycle moments. Please speak with them before setting any dates or times for weddings or funerals. Don't be disappointed to learn they're not available at the time you've already arranged, so bring them "into the loop" at the very beginning of your planning.
Honor a Loved One Bookplates Now Available It is a time-honored Jewish tradition to honor people we love by making a tzedakah contribution on their behalf. And your donation will help us purchase new prayerbooks as the need arises. • Bookplates cost $36 each. • One plate will be lovingly inscribed with both your and your loved one’s name • Each plate will be placed inside one synagogue copy of our High Holy Days prayerbook. Order online at wct.org/bookplate
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The Woodlands Connection Our Jewish Journey By Jennifer Tower and Steve Sagner
e met as freshmen in college, 30 years ago. Jen grew up in a Reform household in Fairfield, Connecticut. Steve was raised in a Conservative home and attended Orthodox day school, yeshiva, and sleep-away camp. (Steve notes that by the time he got to college, he questioned his Jewish identity, so it’s good that he met Jen when he did.) Our wedding at B’nai Israel in Bridgeport was preceded by an aufruf at Chizuk Amuno in Baltimore, where two-thirds of the congregants were friends or cousins of Steve’s grandmother, Toba. Soon after, we went to Ann Arbor where Jen attended business school. Steve got a job working at Temple Beth Emeth to pay for his fledgling writing career. Our Jewish community revolved around a group of young couples. Together, we made seders, celebrated births, weddings, and graduations, and attended many Michigan basketball games. It meant a ton that these old friends joined us for Denali’s becoming a Bat Mitzvah. In 1998, we moved to the Highlands neighborhood in White Plains which some say is the center of Judaism. Within eight blocks there are two Orthodox, one Conservative, one Reform, and one Reconstructionist synagogue. We joined the Reform temple
and attended Kabbalat Shabbat. Both babies were named there, but we didn’t forge a strong connection. In 2003, Roni and David (Jen’s mom and stepfather) moved to Tarrytown and found Woodlands. They invited us to join them under the tent. Steve thought that Cantor Jonathan sounded like a 1930s radio broadcast of Caruso, and Jen was very happy to share worship with the grandparents. We met the
Left to right: Jen, Sarah, Denali, and Steve, celebrating Denali’s becoming a Bat Mitzvah.
Lebowich family, and since they were always at the temple, it made a huge difference to show up and be met by a friend, for us and for the girls. So the Sagner-Towers of White Plains joined WCT in 2005 (though Denali points out that she attended Gan Hayeled with Roni and David before!). Ineluctably we got caught up in the
place. Jen ran babysitting. For a long time, Steve was the “Hesed call” guy who contacted people after a death to check in. Steve was asked to plan an endowment fundraising effort, and Jen joined the school board, which she got to do for several years with Roni. Steve was financial secretary for three years, and when that ended, offered to continue to help the Endowment campaign. This year, Denali became a Bat Mitzvah and was recently elected to the WoodSY board. Sarah is a busy 4th grader and brought the late Totie Fields to life in Lance’s Jewish Studies class. And both girls are loyal Crane Lake campers. Finally, in the greatest victory of all, we got Steve’s dad, Jimmy, who has lived in White Plains for 15 years, to join WCT and actually try sitting through Finance Committee meetings. On occasion, it’s funny to be a White Plains family in a Rivertowns parish. We were once driving by the old temple in White Plains when one of the girls asked why we didn’t still go there. “Because it’s too convenient,” replied one of the parents. It takes some effort, and some creative carpooling, to be part of Woodlands—but it’s definitely worth it.
Woodlands Community Temple Monthly Bulletin