Volume III Iyyar/Sivan 5780 / May 2020 No. 25
voice of truth
For over a month now, we have not been able to meet in our synagogue or in each other’s homes. We have not been able to be physically together. To our credit, we have adapted quickly. We are managing to do many of our previous activities virtually, and many of us are becoming Zoom experts. Being able to see each other’s faces gives a surprisingly moving feeling of being together.
In this time of physical isolation, I think we can understand better than ever the importance of community. When we come together each week on Shabbat for discussion and prayer, I, and I know many of you, feel an intense sense of gratitude that we can be together in that way. For many of us, it makes a difference to be able to share what we’re experiencing.
There is a rabbi in the Talmud called Nachum, but he has a nickname: “Rabbi Gam Zu.” That’s because he has a habit of responding to every bad thing that happens in his life (and a lot of bad things happen) with the saying, “Gam zu l’tovah,” which means “This too is for the good.” To me, this means that he looked for something good in everything that happened. So the way I would rephrase Rabbi Gam Zu’s saying is: “This too has good in it.”
Obviously, many things happen that are not good. We cannot always find something good in them, and that’s okay. Often, though, we can find silver linings. For me, one of the silver linings of our current situation is that there are actually more people participating in our Zoom discussions and services than did when we were in person. Part of that is that there are people living outside of Brooklyn—in Philadelphia, in Massachusetts, even in Ireland—who would not be able to get to the synagogue in person, but who can participate on Zoom. Part of it may be that people have less to do overall, so they have the time to participate. Part of it may be that it’s easier to participate when you can stay in your pajamas and don’t need to leave your house. I don’t spend too much time thinking about the reasons why; I just appreciate that it’s happening. I hope that you are finding some good in this time.
On the Jewish calendar, we are in the period of the Omer, when we count the days between Passover and Shavuot. Traditionally, this is a period of semi-mourning, because there's a story that a plague befell Rabbi Akiva’s students during this time of the year, and 24,000 of them died.
I am not among those who are referring to COVID-19 as a plague. However, this year our counting of the Omer comes at a time when we are indeed mourning. We are mourning deaths in and outside our congregation, whether from complications of this virus or other causes. We are mourning for the loss of our usual way of life.
I am deeply grateful that we have the technology that we do, which allows us to be connected, to talk to each other and often to see one another. I am deeply grateful for the messages of love and support that I have received from many of you. I am deeply grateful for each one of you. May we be able to be physically together one day, and meanwhile may we continue to feel the power of our community and to feel connected to one another. I look forward to seeing you soon.
Rabbi Heidi Hoover
Rabbi Heidi Hoover
We Remember Myron Klein z"l (p. 3)
These are very difficult and uncertain times that we are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the amazing efforts of Rabbi Hoover and Rabbi Pinsky, however, our B’ShERT community has remained active and connected.
Our virtual Shabbat Services have been as beautiful, spiritual and inspirational as ever, giving us comfort, hope and strength to get through this crisis. Rabbi Hoover’s B'Yachad sessions on Shabbat mornings have given many of us an opportunity to stay connected and discuss how we are all adjusting to life during social distancing and physical isolation.
Also, our religious school and confirmation virtual classes have been well attended. In addition, Sam Silverman’s Torah Study class on Tuesday afternoons has gone virtual and with many more of us home, many who could not attend in the past have been able to do so.
There were a lot of firsts this past month due to the pandemic. During Passover we hosted two very successful virtual seders, one a Second Night Community Seder and the other a Seventh Night Women of B’ShERT Dessert Seder. We had virtual Passover and Yizkor services led by Rabbi Hoover and Nonie Schuster Donato. Rose Brown had a virtual bat mitzvah. All of these activities and events were well attended.
One thing I have noticed, as Rabbi Heidi also mentioned in her Rabbi's Message this month, is that many more of our congregants are attending our virtual services, meetings, classes and activities than they did in person.
At the URJ Biennial this past December, much of the focus was on how we need to change from what we have always done to new ways of reaching out to the vast diversity of the unaffiliated Jewish community. One of the benefits of this horrible COVID-19 pandemic is that we have been forced to explore new ways to meet our spiritual, intellectual and communal needs. We are developing tools that will make us a stronger community when life gets back to our new normal.
As I noted last month, this time of year is difficult for our congregation financially as payment of outstanding dues and fees tends to slow down. This is compounded by the fact that as a result of the COVID-19 crisis we are not receiving revenues from our Banquet Hall and Aim High rentals, fundraising activities or the Journal Luncheon (which we are postponing).
To help us through this crisis, we have applied for the federal Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Unfortunately, our application did not go through for the first phase of this program, but we hope that we are in a better position when the second-phase funds become available. We must thank Helene Smith, our Treasurer, for all the time and effort she has expended on this difficult, confusing and sometimes frustrating application process. We also must thank our Faye Levine Guskin, our Vice President, for assisting Helene.
While the SBA's PPP loan will help us somewhat to pay our clergy, teacher, staff and bills, we still will need help financially. I know that due to the COVID-19 crisis, many of you are facing financial difficulties and uncertainties. However, I ask those of you who have outstanding dues and fees, and have the ability to pay it now, to please do so. It would be greatly appreciated.
Fortunately, only a very few of our congregants and their families have contracted the COVID-19 virus. But we have not gone unscathed.
We lost a very dear congregant, past president and friend, Myron Klein. Many of you never got a chance to get to know Myron, as at the time of the consolidation of TBE and PTBAS, he had medical issues that prevented him from participating in Temple life the way he loved to do. When he contracted the virus, his body no longer had the strength to fight.
Myron was in many ways the heart and soul of PTBAS. He was so much a part of the vitality of the congregation and the one who kept us together for so many years. He was the most compassionate and giving person I have ever known, going out of his way to help anyone in need. A friend to all, he had the ability to strike up a conversation with anybody and make you feel that you were lifelong friends. He also could act silly and make fun of himself. In our Purim spiels, he was the best King Ahasuerus there ever was. Whenever Myron was in the room, you knew that you’d have a good time. His dedication and commitment to the Temple were unparalleled. I was so lucky to serve with him as Co-President.
Above all, Myron taught me how to be a friend and how not to leave anyone behind. If we could all be like Myron, the world would be a better place. May his memory forever be a blessing. Our sympathies go out to his partner, Mona Goldberg, and his entire family. I encourage you to read the loving tributes to Myron that follow this article. They were submitted by current and former members of the Temple community. If you didn't know Myron, I hope these tributes give you an idea of the remarkable person he was and why he is already deeply missed.
I hope that you and your families stay safe and may we continue to stay connected so that we can provide support and comfort as we live through this difficult crisis together.
With Love and Gratitude, We Remember Myron Klein z"l
Myron Klein was not only a great temple member, and the real President of Brotherhood, but also a great personal friend.
Myron and I spent many days planning for Brotherhood luncheons, our journal luncheons at PTBAS and many other temple and Brotherhood activities. Even though he was no longer able to attend the Brotherhood meetings this past year, I would spend time before and after each meeting discussing what was happening and getting his suggestions. As temple President, he handled many issues with a calmness and charm which solved the issues to everyone's satisfaction.
No one can forget Myron's parts in our Purim Spiels. Until last year, Myron was the temple consultant with the Brooklyn Cyclones and Brooklyn Nets to set up visits for our temple. If I listed everything Myron did it would probably take up the entire May issue.
The most important thing is that he was a real friend to everyone. On a number of occasions he would take congregants, including me, for medical procedures and wait around sometimes hours until they were finished. I spent wonderful days going to breakfast, lunch or dinner with him and talking about our mutual love for the Yankees and Knicks. A few years ago, he was my rock during a very difficult time.
Myron, you were a tremendous friend to me and all who knew you. You will be greatly missed.
Although Myron and I are only nine years apart in age, he always called me "kid." While I got a chuckle out of it, due to his refreshing view on life/sense of humor/decency and dignity, I actually did see him as a "father figure."
Diogenes, with his lamp aglow, could search high and low, but will not find a more honorable man.
Myron, the magnet, the Pied Piper , the man with the infectious smile. Just the MAN. My story of Myron might not make you laugh but it does exemplify the character of a man that I, that we, all loved and the man who meant so much to all of us.
One day in the late summer, my family came back from our summer home (alright, summer shack) in the Adirondacks after being away for the full summer to find our house overrun with ants, roaches and every creepy crawly thing available for an extended visit to my house. I was hysterical and barely able to talk coherently. But I called Myron at his pest control business in Brooklyn. He was busy and involved in many appointments on that day, but he dropped everything, came over to my apartment and patiently told me exactly what to do to rid our apartment of many little critters doing the Indy 500 throughout all 850 square feet of my home. He provided a non-toxic gel that would not harm my cat, Elmo.
He spoke to me quietly and slowly — in direct contrast to my shrill, out-of-control self.
Finally, what he said penetrated my head and I listened to his instructions. His solution did the job of ridding my home of these unwelcome guests forever. But what I will always remember was the day he came back to inspect his handiwork. He gave me the broadest and kindest smile and said, “See, I told you it would be okay.”
By the way, I don’t remember ever getting a bill!
Diane & Lester Schenker:
In all the years we knew Myron, nothing was too much or too difficult, whether it meant picking up temple members for Shabbat services or dancing with all the single ladies at dinners or providing special gifts for a service auction!
Myron was a gentleman, a friend, an ally. May God grant him love and peace.
Two memories I can share:
At a goods and services auction, someone brought in a gift of homemade granola in an old glass jar with part of the coffee label still attached. It was put on a table where people could make an offer and take the item. Within a few minutes, it was gone. I asked Myron, who was chairing the event, what happened to it. He said that he bought it so as to not embarrass the gift giver.
Myron saw me knitting a baby sweater which I was making for someone who had ordered it at a goods and service auction. He asked me to make him a sweater, too. When I said I would, he chose a pattern from some I showed him, and made a large donation after I finished it.
He was a funny, but also a very kind and caring man.
It’s funny what pops into your head when it comes to remembering such a great and sweet man, like Myron, especially one that you’ve known your whole life! The two things that will always be close to my heart, when I think about him, are:
1. I let him get away with calling me Becky. I generally don’t like that nickname, but somehow that kindness and good-heartedness that came from him made me drop my guard!
2. He told corny jokes (which happen to be my favorite kind). My favorite joke was “Jesus saves, but Moses invests”! What made it funniest to me was the smile on his face as he told it. He went on to tell that joke to a bunch of people, you know, anyone that would listen!
Myron, you were one of the good ones and my heart goes out to those who knew you and loved you. The world is different without you in it.
I always tell people that the next best thing to being with someone you love physically is to be in their light. May we continue to recognize and bask in the glow of his light. Zichronam Livracha. May his memory be for a blessing.
Gerry Prezioso, longtime member and past President:
What a loss for us all. I knew Myron for 65 years as we grew up in the same general neighborhood. Melvin (as we teased him in the card game) would give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it. He was a kidder who could take it as well as give it.
Myron was a guy who was dedicated to his family, his friends and his community. He worked unceasingly for his temple and gave unsparingly to all that needed. Myron was part of our temple poker game for 30 years. He was famous for the terrible coffee he would make and for his great fellowship. He was a good friend and will be missed by all who knew him.
I did not know Myron as long or as well as many of you. However, I knew from the start seven years ago when I joined our temple (then PTBAS) that he was special. Myron’s bright eyes, beautiful smile, caring and enthusiastic personality brought laughter, warmth and joy to all he touched. His dedication to our Temple was boundless. I am fortunate to have known Myron and hope that, in time, the beautiful memories will overshadow the grief for his loved ones.
Myron was the heart and soul of TBAS and PTBAS. He was also a mensch who cared about the less fortunate.
For a while, we had a homeless woman who attached herself to the Temple. She would come to services on all occasions. It reached the point where she was using the Temple rest room to bathe herself. We were looking for a home or a facility for her or a furnished room. She rejected all because she would only live in Manhattan. She spent the nights in the subway elevator on Church and MacDonald Avenues. Myron would drive her there after services.
It was disturbing to the staff that she would seek refuge at Temple during weekdays. Myron was upset that we couldn't do more for her.
Hana Roth Seavey:
I remember vividly a brain-storming meeting at a member's home led by Myron. His desire to find increased membership to ensure that PTBAS would continue to exist was evident, both hopeful and trepidatious. B’ShERT, the former Temple thriving in the new, signifies a continuation of Myron's dream.
I've known and been a friend of Myron's for over 40 years. Always a smile, always a funny story, always ready to lend a helping hand, a friend to all, unless, of course, you were a bug.
Myron was such a great guy. He was fun to be around, was usually one of the first on the dance floor, always smiling, with great stories to tell of his times as an exterminator.
He was the 50/50 raffle man, he took care of cemetery issues, and he usually had the role of King Ahasuerus in our Purim shpiels. He brought in a lot of his friends. He also put together our goods and services auctions, which was a yeoman’s job.
He was the first on the dance floor at any party. He was a great dancer. If you wanted to dance, he was your partner.
He told bad jokes and great stories. He was always the one with the crowd of people around him. He loved socializing and, in return, people loved being with him.
He was kind-hearted. But he also believed in action. Prior to his illness, he drove a car pool full of people so they could get to services. I’ll bet the group in the car laughed the whole drive.
He was a past President of temple and held us together as a temple family during difficult times. He ran fundraisers that were fun and worked tirelessly on the journal, the luncheon and the goods and services auction. He helped coordinate the Brotherhood Picnic at Fort Tilden, getting the permits as well as the knishes. Once he got a good deal on sauerkraut and there was enough for an army!
He also handled the permits for burials for years and worked with the families, funeral homes and cemeteries to make sure everything was in order. Then he gave rides to whoever wanted to go to the funeral.
He was a mensch. He will be missed.
I met Myron 23 years ago at Parents Without Partners after the death of my husband and we became good friends. A few years later when I needed to find a new synagogue, Mona and Myron convinced me to join PTBAS. He was the President at the time. It was one of the best decisions of my life.
Myron and I were in a few Purim shpiels together where we had so much fun. He was my gentle giant. In one of the shpiels, he was the king, and I was Annie Get Your Gun Frema. It was funny to see us side by side — the long and short of it.
Myron was always happy for me when I won a raffle at the picnics or luncheons. He was truly one of a kind and will never be forgotten.
If there is a heaven, Myron is up there, organizing everything.
I am sure that Myron is sitting around in heaven telling all sorts of jokes.
Of course we all know that Myron was warm and caring, that he had a great sense of humor, that he was a down-to-earth person, and that it was easy to talk to him. These traits made him a formidable fundraiser!
Myron was the “Goods and Services Auction” man. I once co-chaired the committee with him. I marveled at the way that he could smooth-talk and sweet-talk anyone, even the most reluctant, into agreeing to make a donation. After all, who could resist Myron? As a matter of fact, Myron himself was exceptionally generous toward the temple. There were many events that he subsidized so that the temple could make money.
The reason that I feel that he was the “heart” of the temple is that he understood what it meant to be a temple family and how to create that sense of community and connection, that culture, which has kept us together all these years.
Joyce Kantrowitz & Family:
Myron will be remembered as a dear friend, a long time dedicated and devoted member of temple, a real mensch! A friend to all.
Linda Kantrowitz Hanibal:
Myron has been a friend of our family not only through the years but through the generations. First and foremost he was a dear friend of my father, Phil Kantrowitz. Along with a few other fellows they formed the "Friday Fressers." They shared lunchtime conversation at various restaurants. Myron and Phil enjoyed each other's company and they respected each other's opinions on "all things temple."
In more recent years, Joyce and Phil's son-in-law Larry spent time with Myron, bringing him his favorite Nathan's hot dogs and fries for lunch. This past year, Sal (Joyce and Phil's great grandson) spent afternoons at Menorah rehab playing checkers with Myron.
From generation to generation. We will all have fond memories of the time we spent together.
Faye Levine Guskin:
Myron's warmth and friendship meant the world to me. He was always friendly, welcoming, and magnetic. Everyone wanted to be with him. He dedicated himself to the temple for years, and immeasurably contributed to many fundraising successes. I always enjoyed seeing him dancing with the ladies at temple events!
Myron will be greatly missed, and will always be a huge part of the temple family.
Doreen and Jerry Aronow:
We loved Myron so much and we especially enjoyed his funny stories and jokes. We were truly lucky to have spent a lot of quality time with both Mona and Myron—in temple, eating out, going to plays, etc.
I loved dancing with Myron at our annual journal lunch. He was the original starter of the 50/50 raffle, which I took over from him to help out. I don't think I ever beat how much money he made as he had the magic touch, although I will keep trying.
It was an honor and joy having Myron in our lives, and now in our memories.
You will never meet anyone else like Myron. He had the ability to meet a complete stranger and make them his friend, inside of five minutes. The room lit up when he walked in.
He was a great booster and benefactor, seeing the good in people, and challenging them to blossom and grow. I would like to think that if Myron was sent out to scout what would become Israel for the people wandering in the desert, he would come up with the greatest tales of beauty and wonder. Although the people would still have wandered around for 40 years, he would have been able to cajole them out of their grumblings.
Here’s a story about the picnic: In the 1980s, Rabbi Aaron saw that Brotherhood and the temple needed a spark. She challenged Myron to find a place to have an outdoor gathering. Myron searched far and wide, and in his travels, came upon Fort Tilden, which was the original site of our picnics. Rabbi Aaron was known for challenging people, and Myron Klein rose to the occasion. Myron was also the king of organizing raucous bus trips to Atlantic City, where — the joke would go — he would invest the funds from Brotherhood for a better return for the money.
Myron was once employed as a waiter in the Catskills for the summer. You would think with his personality, that he would be great at this job, but as he told it, he was a klutz, falling over people with full trays of food, dumping them in their laps. He lasted about two weeks at this job. Whatever Myron did, he did completely and with a whole heart— so I guess he did a good job at being a klutz.
Myron asked to become a member of the Fundraising Committee and brought us some great experiences. Even as he began to succumb to his illness and was no longer able to attend meetings, I would get periodic phone calls about something he had seen at the senior center and wanted to bring these performances to the temple.
Myron, I miss you already. I only wish that I had known you sooner. I am sure that we would have made great trouble, and fun, together.
Myron was a lovely, sweet man. Mona and Myron were like parents to me — kind, caring and compassionate. Whenever I feel depressed or lonely, I will think of dear Myron to help me through these difficult times.
I was very lucky to serve with Myron as Co-Presidents of PTBAS. It was such a joy working with him. We complemented each other very well.
After our four years as Co-Presidents, we were honored at our annual journal luncheon. When Yvette Pomeranz presented me with my plaque, she recalled that when we walked around the city I'd point out with pride all the buildings I built.
When Mona presented Myron (an exterminator by trade) with his plaque, he ended his acceptance speech by saying, "When I walk around the city with Mona, I point out that I killed there and I killed there and I killed there!"
He was so much fun to be around. I'll miss my friend dearly.
(We thank Pam Glantzman, Tamara Kerner, Ellyn Rothstein and Fran Silverman for contributing many photos of Myron)
Ellyn Rothstein, Eric Platt & Myron Klein
Mona Goldberg & Myron Klein
King Ahasuerus & Annie Get Your Gun Frema
Doreen Aronow and Myron dancing at the 2017 Journal Luncheon
Eric Platt & Myron Klein
We extend our deepest condolences to B'ShERT office administrator Alice Hyatt on the death of her mother-in-law, Shirley Hyatt Tobias. Shirley was the mother of Corey Hyatt and former Temple member Ricki Hagerty, husband to Russell Tobias, mother-in-law to Bob Hagerty, and a beloved grandmother and great-grandmother.
May Shirley's family find comfort in the love of family and friends.
BEGINNINGS: I was born and raised in suburban Cincinnati, OH. Our family was my parents, Barbara and Steven Levinson, my younger brother Scott, and three different miniature schnauzers (one at a time), Brandy, Cookie, and Cocoa. We lived in three different homes until we moved into my parents’ current place in Montgomery, OH when I was 14.
BACKGROUND: My Dad’s parents, Sylvia and Mickey Levinson, were from Cincinnati. In 1920, when my grandpa was 14, he started working at a jewelry store/optometrist in Newport, Kentucky. He eventually bought the store and ran it until my Dad took over in the 1980s. About five years ago, my brother took over the business. If you find yourself in northern Kentucky, make sure to stop in at Monmouth Jewelers! They no longer offer optometry services, but they do have a custom line of jewelry called Loren Max.
My mom’s parents, Glady and Hyman Kirtchik, were each born in the Boston area. My Mom was born in Lynn and the Kirtchiks moved to Cincinnati when she was seven when my grandfather was transferred within General Electric.
The Kirtchiks were founding members of my childhood temple, Temple Sholom, and my parents and brother are still members; my father is a past president. I went to Jewish summer camp in Zionsville, Indiana at a URJ camp called Goldman Union Camp Institute; that caused a lot of confusion for people who thought I went to a fashion camp.
Another big part of my Jewish life as a youth was OVFTY – the Ohio Valley Federation of Temple Youth, part of NFTY. I went to conclaves in Nashville,TN; Indianapolis, IN; Wheeling, WV; and Lexington, KY, among other places.
PROFESSION: After graduating from Wesleyan University, I joined Teach for America and was shipped off to the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas just in time for the Macarena to sweep the nation. I taught first grade for three years. After that I went to law school in Washington DC, and then joined the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office a week before September 11, 2001. I have been an Assistant District Attorney ever since. I was a courtroom trial attorney for 18 years, and served as a supervisor for the last five of those years. Last April, I was named the Director of Legal Training.
FAMILY: Loren and I met one month after I moved to New York; we were set up on a blind date by family. (As all single Jews are after the age of 18). Sixteen months later, we got married during the second biggest blizzard in the Northeast since World War II. If you plan a February wedding, my friends, make it a destination wedding in a warm climate.
Max came along in 2004 and Henry in 2007. Max is a sophomore at Edward R. Murrow High School and an aspiring architect — ask him to design a house for you! Henry is a student at Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School and his Bar Mitzvah will be on November 14. Our youngest, Luna, was born on Henry’s birthday in 2016. She’s half malamute, half akita, and all love.
WHY B'ShERT: We met Rabbi Heidi and Mike in 2003, when Loren joined Heidi’s book group. That was the beginning of a friendship between our whole families that’s lasted 17 years! In 2007, we moved to Ditmas Park right around the same time Rabbi Heidi was named the Student Rabbi at Temple Beth Emeth, so of course we checked out the temple. Max started going to the religious school when he was three — his class consisted of him and the Hoover girls until Parker Jonas joined them a few years later.
Our family is very fortunate to be a part of the B’ShERT community. Over the years, our temple life and our community life has overlapped to a huge degree. Next year, we won’t have a child in religious school on Saturday mornings for the first time in 13 years! But given our current circumstances, I think we will still look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on Saturday mornings. [Editor's Note: We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that Jeff is a past President of TBE and B'ShERT.]
FUN FACTS: I love puzzles; I have subscriptions to many different crossword puzzles and other kinds of word games, and I compete in two crossword puzzle competitions annually, the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and Lollapalooza. The highest I ever finished was 50th out of 600+ competitors in the 2018 ACPT. If you don’t know what that is, check out the movie Wordplay.
(Photo courtesy of Jeff Levinson)
Photo by Robin Bass
First and foremost, we wish good health to everyone. If you are ill, we wish you a full and speedy recovery. And we hope that in spite of the necessity to physically distance yourselves from your loved ones, you are at least virtually engaged or connected with others by telephone or someone safe means of communication. Please remember to check on your family, friends and neighbors in a responsible way.
The membership Committee, like all of us in our respective communities, struggles with the best way to engage our members and even reach out to the unaffiliated in our community.
This is the status of the projects we are currently engaged in or plan to initiate:
URJ Congregational Benchmarking and Assessment Project: ON HOLD
As you know, this project works through surveys sent to our leadership team, financial team, as well as all of our congregants to help us reflect upon our strengths and weaknesses and guide us in setting our congregation’s agenda and priorities for the coming years.
But now is not the right time to survey congregants in a business as usual manner. B’ShERT hopes to launch these surveys in the fall after we are able to come to grips with our current challenges and reflect upon our needs post COVID-19.
New Member Shabbat:
We currently have welcomed six families to our temple. And would like to officially honor them virtually, of course, on a Zoom Shabbat morning service to be announced in the near future.
Our new members are:
Amyt Eckstein and Meilan Chiu and their children, Emmaline and Jacob
Craig and Amelia D’Entrone and their children, Asha and Luca
Jordan Goldberg and Darby Evans
Rabbi Robert dos Santos Teixeira and Julia Rousakis.
In addition to being honored at the service, they will receive a packet of information and a gift. May our association will long and fruitful.
Chat 'n Nosh, Zoom Style
We are proposing that we form breakout groups and have some fun with a cocktail party, sing-along, game hour or something along those lines.
Contact us if you have any specific ideas that you would like to see us do. We would love to hear from you. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay Jewish! In love, peace, health and safety,
Joanie Holland Schaffer and Ellyn Rothstein
Co-Chairs of B’ShERT Membership Committee
Report From the Membership Committee
With so many of our daily activities transformed over the past few weeks, it does me good to see and hear so many of you participating in our virtual community events (many of which are broadcasting from the end of my dining room table). Given our increasing dependence on digital solutions for connecting with one another, I thought it might be a good time to address some frequently asked questions about the technology we’re using, how best to join in, and what to do if you run into issues. As a reminder, you can always drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have individual questions or concerns.
Is there a difference between Zoom and Webex, GoToMeeting, Skype, Google Meet, & other conferencing apps?
Most of the public attention and coverage of conferencing tools has focused on Zoom, which has truly become the ubiquitous brand for video meetings — like familiar trademarks Kleenex, Frisbee & Xerox, I have already heard it “go generic” as a verb (“I’m going to Zoom you tomorrow afternoon!”).
Even though Zooming is what all the cool kids are doing, it’s not the only game in town. Cisco’s Webex and Logmein’s GoToMeeting have both been around for a long time, and have a big footprint in corporate settings and large-audience training or webinars (thousands of attendees at once, in some cases). Microsoft’s Teams combines video meetings with file sharing and Office apps, while Google Meet delivers a simple and lean meeting experience right in the Chrome browser. Skype, Facetime, and Facebook Messenger all work great for small gatherings — in fact, Facebook has just launched Messenger Rooms for gatherings of up to 50 people.
Most (if not all) of what we’re doing at Temple is on Zoom, and we’re taking steps to make sure we don’t run into the problems some have experienced, but if there are different systems for specific events we’ll be sure to let you know.
What do I need to join a service or Torah study on Zoom?
Generally speaking, you need a Zoom meeting link to join a Zoom — you’ll see them in emails for services or other events. You don’t need to sign up for the Zoom service in advance, but if you do sign up you can host your own free meetings up to 40 minutes long.
If the meeting link isn’t handy, you can just use the meeting number and a separate password that you enter on the zoom.us website or in the Zoom app on your phone or tablet. Any computer or smartphone can join a Zoom directly; If you’ve got a camera be sure to turn it on and show us your smiling punim! If you don’t have a microphone on your computer, you can call in with a regular phone (look for the dial-in number along with the meeting link).
To protect our community and the experience of our members, we don’t publish Zoom links for services on our website or in our Temple calendar; the only way you get them is via email from one of the rabbis, from Alice or from Sam (for Tuesday Torah study). If you can’t find the email for a particular service, you can call the office and leave a voicemail, or send a Facebook message to the Temple’s page.
Zoom’s not for me. Where else can I find the Temple services?
We understand that Zoom may be a bit overwhelming! You don’t have to use it if you don’t want to, at least not for Shabbat services. Anyone (not just members) can watch services live on our Services page (www.bshert.org/services/live), or by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Subscribing to the channel also means you’ll get notified every time Temple is broadcasting.
Note that watching on YouTube will allow you to comment in text, but you won’t be able to participate directly in the service.
Are we exploring other virtual event ideas? (social action, fundraising, talent show)
Of course, we’re looking forward to being together again in person as soon as possible, but yes indeed we’re brainstorming some virtual event ideas. We may be able to produce a virtual “telethon” or talent show this spring which will showcase our amazing congregants and friends… a big effort and one that will require lots of help, so stay tuned!
I’m worried about scams or hacking.
Even as we’re all facing many of the same challenges, there are still those malefactors who just want to make a bad situation worse. The basic rules apply as usual: if you get a mysterious text message saying “Your iPhone 11 will be returned in 24 hours” it’s a scam, do not click that link! If there’s an email from a friend or family member saying they’re stranded overseas and lost their wallet (not likely at the moment), do not reply or buy cash cards for the scammer! If something seems weird or too good to be true, it probably is. Never share personal information with strangers over email or text, especially financial data or bank logins. You can read more about common scams at the FTC site.
In most cases, if you get an email from Temple it will be coming from Alice (email@example.com), Sondra (firstname.lastname@example.org), the main office email email@example.com, me, or one of the rabbis. If it seems suspicious or out of character, don’t hesitate to call to check in.
Got more questions? Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do another set of FAQ answers online or in the next Voice of Truth!
— Mike Rose, Temple Tech Maven
TEMPLE TECH TALK
Photo courtesy of Alan Zarrow
Photos by Alan Zarrow
Rose Brown made history on April 25th when she became B'ShERT's first virtual bat mitzvah. Family and congregants watched on Zoom and YouTube as Rose led the Shabbat morning service with skill, joy and an abundance of panache. Mazel tov to Rose, proud parents Liz Fisher and Jeremy Brown, and their whole family.
More Glad Tidings from B'ShERT
Nonie Schuster Donato
Paul S. Lipton
Ruby Draho Zuckerman
...and a Happy Anniversary to Meilan Chiu & Amyt Eckstein, Pam Glantzman & Frank Gonzalez, and Faye Levine Guskin and Gene Guskin!
Photo by Karen Eichel
Happy Birthday, May Babies!
Report From Women of B'ShERT
Thanks to our wonderful Rabbis, Heidi Hoover and Alexis Pinsky, and Mike Rose’s amazing skills, we have been able to keep in touch with our temple life. Friday night and Saturday services continue on Zoom, as well as religious school. Many meetings have been held and our temple life goes on.
Unfortunately, we have to postpone our annual women’s Shabbat service scheduled for May 8 until the time comes when we can once again meet for services in our sanctuary.
We also have to postpone Alan Zarrow’s talk about West Point, which was scheduled for May 9.
Stay well and stay safe until we can meet again.
Charlotte Russell, Mona Goldberg, Sara West
Women of B'ShERT,
A Sisterhood Organization
Manny & Fran Arnowitz
Photos by Fran Silverman
This is the most difficult column I have ever written since becoming president of Brotherhood, but we are living in a world in which if we were watching on The Twilight Zone or Sci-Fi Channel, we would say that is impossible. But unfortunately it is real.
I should have been at the Brotherhood breakfast at the Mirage on Sunday, April 19, but in these unbelievable times, it was not to be.
I wish we could have heard Ron Schweiger talk about famous Jews who came from Brooklyn, but that is another Brotherhood event that is postponed indefinitely.
We were all looking forward to the Brotherhood picnic, but since we haven't figured out how to put it on Zoom, that isn't happening.
The Brooklyn Cyclones game on Jewish Heritage Night is now impossible, of course, and the future of the NY Penn League is very much in doubt.
It is a real honor to watch the bat/bar mitzvahs at our temple and provide a small gift on behalf of Brotherhood. Hopefully, we will be able to do that again at some future time. For those who were lucky enough to watch Rose Brown's virtual bat mitzvah in April, it was amazing to see. Mazel tov to Rose and her family.
Adrienne, we all looked forward to celebrating your well-deserved honor at the journal luncheon and hopefully that will take place sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Mike Rose, you have done a fantastic job setting up Zoom and allowing us to participate in services and even a fantastic Second Night Community Passover seder, but I wish there was no need for Zoom.
Rabbi Hoover, Rabbi Pinsky and Cantor Schuster — you have been fantastic in your presentations, but I cannot wait for a time when we can once again see you in person.
I pray for the recovery of all the people that are ill from our temple as well as beyond. I wonder why my prayers are not being answered in many cases.
I know these are scary times for most of us, and it is difficult to have our lives turned upside down like this. I really would like to know how the Brotherhood members I have not seen on Zoom or spoken to on the phone are doing.
I will leave you with a joke that my comedy class teacher at the UFT sent me. It reflects these terrible times:
While I was out shopping, two men wearing gloves and a mask entered the grocery store, holding guns. They yelled, "Don't worry, we don't have the virus — this is a stick-up." Everyone in the store screamed, "Thank God!"
Please be careful and stay safe.
Joel Moss and the
Brotherhood of B'ShERT
News From B'ShERT Brotherhood
News from the Social Action Committee
Report from the ARZA Committee
Laurie Bassi, Social Action Co-Chair and liaison to the Interfaith Coalition, has resigned from this position. She and Herb will be moving out of New York in the near future. Thank you, Laurie, for your commitment, hard work and inspiration.
Yvette Pomeranz from the Social Action Committee has been appointed liaison to the Interfaith Coalition.
On Saturday, April 18, at 1 pm (after services), please attend a Social Action Lunch and Learn in the Community Room. The topic is Climate Change: Response to Urgency. The discussion will be moderated by Yvette Pomeranz and the two resource books will be We Are The Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer and Let There Be Water by Seth Segal. The discussion will center around concrete actions we can take as individuals, as a temple entity and as society and what is needed to galvanize us to take action.
Our annual Passover Food Drive will take place in March. Please bring your UNOPENED, UNEXPIRED food to Temple by Friday, March 27. We will be donating this food to Our Lady of Refuge Church Food Pantry (OLRC), which is part of our Interfaith Coalition, and our Little Pantry. We are also happy to once again be able to support seniors in need at this time of year at the Marks JCH. Your donation to our Dr. Janet L. Haynes Social Action Fund will allow us to provide individuals and couples with funds to purchase food for their seder tables.
See the flyer in this Voice of Truth with date and other details. We’re pleased that the children of the Religious School will also participate by helping to sort items.
Please save the dates for the following Interfaith Coalition program and watch for flyers with complete details:
• Abraham’s Table: Sunday, March 29, 3:30 - 5:30 pm at the Amity School on Knapp Street. Topic: The Environment in the Light of Our Three Traditions.
• Interfaith Iftar dinner combined with Abraham’s Table: Sunday, April 26 at OLRC. Theme: What Is Your Most Important Religious Holiday?
• Movie Night: Thursday, August 6 in the parking lot of the Amity School. Time, movie and other details will be announced at a later date.
The next meeting of the Social Action Committee will take place on Thursday, April 30 at 7 pm in the Community Room.
Co-Chair, Social Action Committee
Photo courtesy of Ron Schweiger
We hope you are all safe and healthy. While we stay at home, there are many productive things we can do throughout the day. If you want to maintain a connection with social action and advocacy possibilities, check out the URJ’s Religious Action Center site at RAC.org.
You can contact Congress on many issues including economic justice, environment, civil rights, interfaith affairs and more. You can also check URJ's website, ReformJudaism.org, for updates on issues that the URJ is involved in.
Many organizations have opportunities and resources that you can access online, such as:
Mazon.org — click on “Take Action.”
NCJW.org— (National Council of Jewish Women) click on “Response to COVID-19.”
ujafedny.org— (UJA Federation of NY) click on “COVID-19 Resources.”
Again, be safe and healthy!
Susan Sysler, Co-Chair, Social Action Committee
This year, Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) begins the evening of Tuesday, April 27th and continues through Wednesday, April 28. It is preceded by Yom Hazikaron (Israeli Memorial Day).
Normally Yom Haatzmaut festivities begin in the evening, when Israelis take to the streets across the country to attend outdoor concerts, parties, and barbecues, and to watch fireworks displays.
Friends and families gather together the next day, usually outside or at nature reserves, museums, and other attractions, which are open to the public free of charge for the day.
Also on Yom HaAtzmaut, teens compete in the country’s Torah championship, and the Israel Prize, the country’s highest honor, is awarded in a formal ceremony in Jerusalem to individuals who excel in their chosen field.
On the evening of the holiday, celebrants and officials gather at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem for a ceremony that includes speeches and a parade of soldiers and concludes with the lighting of 12 torches, representing the 12 Tribes of Israel.
This year, amid the current coronavirus pandemic, this annual observance will look markedly different; it is likely to take place entirely online.
Here are some ways you can celebrate Yom Haatzmaut:
Have a special meal to celebrate the holiday. Find an Israeli recipe that appeals to you and give it a try!
Change your Facebook profile picture to the Israeli flag or wish Israel a happy birthday on social media to share your love of the Jewish homeland.
Do a Yom Haatzmaut craft project with your children. Options include creating easy tear flags, pretty painted planters, or celebratory pinwheels.
Please note that links for the above ideas can all be found on the ReformJudaism.org web site.
Please join us virtually, either via Zoom or on YouTube at bshert.org/services/live, for a joyful Shabbat Service with an emphasis on Yom Haatzmaut, on Saturday, May 2nd. Details will be sent out in the week prior to that Shabbat.
Also on Friday May 22nd, members of the ARZA committee will participate in the Erev Shabbat service in honor of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day.)
In honor of Israel's 72nd Birthday, the ARZA committee wishes all a safe month full of sunshine, warmth, love and Shalom (peace).
Stay safe —
Chair, ARZA Committee
May 1 - 2 7:34 pm Acharei Kedoshim Leviticus 16:1 − 20:27
May 8 - 9 7:41 pm Emor Leviticus 21:1 − 24:23
May 15 - 16 7:48 pm Behar-Bechukotai Leviticus 25:1 − 27:34
May 22 - 23 7:55 pm Bamidbar Numbers 1:1– 4:20
**May 28 - 29 Shavuot Exodus 19:1-8, 20:1-14
Many years ago, the Women of PTBAS began a Women’s Seder (men were always invited) with a Haggadah originally compiled by Toby Greenberg to celebrate the Festival of Freedom and honoring yesterday’s and today’s Jewish women. The various passages in the Haggadah and Supplement come from a variety of sources. In 2015, the Haggadah was edited by Susan Sysler and Cantor Suzanne Bernstein. This tradition was brought with us when we became B’ShERT. For each cup of wine, we honor matriarchs Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah. For each cup, we also honor another Jewish woman (living or dead). Hence a Supplement for this purpose.
THE FIRST CUP
The first cup of wine represents physical liberation: “I will bring you out from under the burdens of Egypt.” We also honor Bella Abzug (1920 – 1998).
A formidable leader of the women’s movement, Bella Abzug fought to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and other vital legislation for the rights of women. Early in her career, Abzug earned distinction as one of the few attorneys willing to stand up to the House Un-American Activities Committee. During her three terms in Congress, she advocated for groundbreaking bills including the Equal Rights Amendment and crucial support of Title IX. In 1977, she presided over the historic first National Women’s Conference in Houston. Towards the end of her career, she focused on global issues of women’s rights and human rights, ensuring that those issues were continually addressed by the United Nations. “In a perfectly just republic,” wrote John Kenneth Galbraith in 1984, “Bella Abzug would be president.”
THE SECOND CUP
The second cup of wine represents physical and spiritual liberation: “I will deliver you out of their bondage.” We also honor Rosalie Silberman Abella (b. 1946).
In a talk at Harvard University on "Identity, Diversity, and Human Rights," Canada Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella shared her family's Holocaust story and explained how it informs her view of human rights. The daughter of Auschwitz survivors, Abella was born in a displaced-persons camp in Stuttgart, Germany in 1946. Her family’s experience led her to a passion for human rights and a career in law and fueled her dedication to justice. She immigrated with her family to Canada, where her father, a respected lawyer, was unable to practice because of his immigrant status.
Abella followed in her father’s footsteps, earning a place on the Human Rights Commission of Ontario and the Labor Relations Tribunal when she was still in her twenties. She also wrote a vital study on disabled people’s access to legal services. Her report on gender equality in employment created the categories for fairness and discrimination that were adopted by the Canadian Constitution in 1982, and has been implemented by New Zealand, Northern Ireland and South Africa. She has written extensively on the law, served as visiting professor at McGill University and the University of Toronto, and chaired the Constitutional Conferences to decide the status of Quebec with Canada. At 29, she became Canada’s youngest judge and the first to be sworn in while pregnant. In 2004, she became the first Jewish woman to serve on the Canadian Supreme Court.
THE THIRD CUP
The third cup represents redemption through the love of the Jewish people: “I will redeem you with outstretched arms.” We also honor Ruth Messinger (b. 1940).
As a politician, Ruth Messinger served her community, but in leading American Jewish World Service, she has found ways for her community to help repair the world. Messinger worked as a teacher, college administrator, and social worker before winning a seat on the NYC Council in 1977, winning reelection several times by large majorities. She became Manhattan borough president in 1990, using her influence to support gay rights, affordable housing, public school funding, and other vital issues. In 1997, she ran for mayor of New York (the first time a woman candidate secured the Democratic nomination for the post), but lost to incumbent Rudy Giuliani.
The following year, she became the executive director of AJWS, which funds both development projects and emergency relief worldwide. AJWS is known not just for working to eliminate poverty and disease, but also for its support of the rights of women, homosexuals, and transgender people. Honored by the Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, and The Forward as one of the world’s most influential Jews, Messinger served on President Obama’s Task Force on Global Poverty and the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group.
THE FOURTH CUP
The fourth cup represents our relationship with God: “I will take you to me for a people.” We also honor Barbara Myerhoff (1935 – 1985).
Anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff made waves when she chose to study a very different culture: her own. Early in her career, she participated in Huichol Indian peyote rituals and argued that her controversial choice to involve herself in the culture she was observing gave her insights and access that previous studies of the Huichol culture had missed. This experience led her to studying her own culture, interviewing elderly American Jews. It was a groundbreaking choice in a profession where fieldwork traditionally meant exploring distant, indigenous cultures, while those closer to home remained invisible. Myerhoff’s work on Jewish seniors transformed the study of religion. She uncovered women’s traditions and culture running parallel to male traditions, challenging the idea that religious studies meant examining only the texts of the male elite. Beyond its impact on academia, her work helped early Jewish feminists explore and redefine their religious experience.
Source: Jewish Women’s Archive (jwa.org)
Compiled and written by Susan Sysler
Candle Lightings & Torah Portion Calendar — April 2020
Honoring Our Matriarchs: A Look at B'ShERT's Haggadah Supplement
Viewers of HBO's The Plot Against America — the adaptation of the Philip Roth novel that imagines aviator and anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh defeating FDR in his bid for a third term — might've noticed a familiar sanctuary in Episode 4. In this scene, young Sandy Levin (Caleb Malis) visits the fictional Congregation Anshe Emeth in NJ with his aunt Evelyn (Winona Ryder) to speak about his experiences on a Kentucky farm with President Lindbergh's Just Folks program.
B'ShERT Makes An Appearance in HBO's 'The Plot Against America'
You Are Invited to Join
THE HANNAH SENESH SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA, INC.
The Hannah Senesh Society honors the memory of one of the greatest heroines in modern Jewish history during World War II.
Contact: Harry Bialor, President (718) 375-8669
JESSICA SCHULMAN • TECHNOLOGY RESOURCE SPECIALIST
COMPUTER SERVICES & GRAPHICS ARTS SERVICES
718 338-2043 • fax 718 377-7919
B'ShERT's Caring Chesed Committee: We're Here to Help
Volunteers are needed to make phone calls and/or visits to those who are ill or have suffered a loss. It is especially important to keep in touch with those who are grieving after the initial mourning period. If you know that someone is in need of a visit or a call, please contact one of our co-chairs.
We are always looking for new members and would appreciate any ideas to make the committee more effective.
"It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it…" Pirke Avot
Gene Guskin (917) 533-6231
Ruth Bile (646) 732-2650
Frema Schneier (917) 459-0904
Debbie Belsky (718) 252-8030
B'ShERT Caring Chesed Committee
Wolf's Appliance Repair
Prompt, Friendly Service in Brooklyn
Fridges, Stoves, Ovens, Gas Ranges, Washers, Dryers and So Much More
Call us! 718 998 3238
Ken Brown Photography
The best for Your Mitzvah! (or any other event, personal or professional)
Longtime established pro; temple member; references available. email@example.com • 718-670-3256.
Maxine Feldman Teaches…
Piano, Voice, Guitar, Sight-Singing
Ms. Feldman has 35 years of experience teaching all ages. She has served on the music faculties of NYU, Brooklyn College, The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and Hebrew Union College. She has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Recital Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, the United Nations, at PTBAS and now at the new consolidated congregation!
For further information, please call Maxine at 718-490-7556