Saving A Life: A Dialogue
“Whenever you’re going to be around people, you have to wear a mask covering your nose and mouth. It’s a mitzvah. You’re fulfilling the commandment of pikuach nefesh, saving a life. It’s such an important commandment that it overrides almost any other commandment.”
“That’s good, I guess. I mean yes, of course it’s good. Obviously it’s important to save a life, or lives. I guess I just thought that fulfilling pikuach nefesh would be more, well, satisfying.”
“Yeah, you know. More…dramatic. Like running into a burning building to save a baby or jumping into a river to save a drowning person. Wearing a mask? How do I even know I’m saving anyone’s life? OK, fewer people get sick if we all wear masks, but how do I know I personally saved someone’s life? I don’t even think I’m sick. I feel fine. All I know is that the mask is uncomfortable. It’s hot and annoying.”
“You don’t want to be hot and annoyed and that’s more important to you than saving a life?”
“That’s not what I’m saying! I just, you know, the whole saving-a-life thing feels so abstract. The hot-and-annoying thing is a lot more immediate. Of course I know that my convenience is less important than someone’s life. It’s just that I’m not sure I’m saving any lives, and I know for sure that I hate wearing a mask.”
“There are lots of things in life that are abstract, and we do them anyway on the off chance that they will have a positive impact on people. There are lots of times when we do things and we don’t see the impact. Teachers do it every day. They work with kids, trying to help them learn, and believing that some of what they’re trying to teach will have an impact. Much of the time they never know how successful they’ve been. Doctors and nurses work with people, trying to cure illness or injury, and when they succeed, they send those people back out into the world without knowing what will happen to them. When you give tzedakah, you are hoping and expecting that it will help someone who needs help, even though you will never know who that person is or how they will be impacted by what you gave. Part of the reason for a commandment is to help motivate you to do good and important things even when there’s no immediate, obvious outcome you can see—and when you might never see an outcome.”
“I didn’t say I wasn’t going to wear a mask. I’m just saying the reason you’re giving isn’t resonating for me.”
“Let’s try another commandment, then. Wear a mask to fulfill the commandment of g’milut chasadim—acts of lovingkindness and compassion. You’re showing compassion for other people by wearing a mask, both because you might not make them sick (even if they don’t die), and because they might feel less afraid of getting sick if they see you are wearing a mask.”
“Hmmm. I think that works a little better for me as a reason.”
Governor Cuomo has said that gatherings of 10 people of less are now permitted. I think that when some people imagine what that would be like, they are picturing some kind of return to normalcy, but it would not be that at all. People will still be required to stay at least six feet apart (and how that would be possible in our lobby, at the entrance to the sanctuary, and at other bottleneck points in our building, I don’t know). We would still be forbidden to touch each other. Everyone would have to wear a mask, so facial expressions are obscured, making non-verbal communication more difficult. Many people find masks hot and uncomfortable to wear for more than a few minutes. Would we really all be able to comply? How would singing be with a mask on? Would the temptation to give a quick hug to someone we haven’t seen in person in two months be too strong to resist?
Add to that, research is showing that singing spreads fine droplets that potentially carry virus much farther than speaking (no, we don’t know what impact wearing a mask would have, but we do know that cloth masks stop large droplets pretty well, but not necessarily the very fine ones). I find it hard to imagine a moving service with no singing.
Finally, I don’t know how we would choose those privileged 10 people, and exclude everyone else. So for now, my feeling is, since we can’t touch each other anyway, I’d rather see your faces on Zoom than lead gatherings in a mask and with all of you masked as well. There is no ideal solution right now, and this time continues to be hard.
Please reach out to me if you need help or feel you need to talk, or if you just want to say hi. There are also therapists in the congregation who have offered to talk to anyone who feels they need it, so please let me know if you’d like me to put you in touch with someone.
Please know that I’m thinking of you with great love and that I wish things were different. I pray for strength and health for all of us. I look forward to seeing or hearing you, one way or another, soon.
Rabbi Heidi Hoover
voice of truth
Volume III Sivan/Tamuz 5780 / June 2020 No. 26
Comfort, Hope and Strength
B’ShERT has been thriving through these difficult and uncertain times.
Our virtual Shabbat Services continue to give us comfort, hope and strength to get through this crisis. Friday night services have been enhanced by our Cantorial Soloist Nonie Schuster Donato and congregants performing the candle-lighting and kiddush.
We had a wonderful Shabbat Service for Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) as our ARZA Committee provided readings, poems and presentations about some of the diverse neighborhoods in Jerusalem. We are encouraged that many of you look forward to Rabbi Hoover’s B’Yachad sessions on Shabbat mornings, enjoying the opportunity to socialize with one another during this period of social distancing and physical isolation. Participation in our virtual Tuesday afternoon Torah Study class led by Sam Silverman grows every week and Rabbi Pinsky joining the class has enhanced the sessions.
During these past few months, our clergy and committees have been exploring ways to improve our virtual activities. This was most apparent with our Religious School. Rabbi Pinsky and our Religious School Committee recommended starting Religious School a half hour earlier with a T’filah service, so that students and their families can be together for the service and students can have class afterward.
Our rabbis, officers and trustees have begun discussions regarding when and how to open our building for in-person activities.
One of our critical decisions will be what will the High Holidays be like this year. Will they be in-person or virtual or some sort of hybrid? Much is unknown at this point. However, our rabbis and Ritual Committee will be preparing for each of these scenarios. I can assure you that your health and safety are of primary importance to us and we will follow the guidelines of the health professionals and rules imposed by our local officials.
I am pleased to inform you that our application for the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan was approved during Phase 2 of the program and we have received those funds. Again, we must thank our Treasurer, Helene Smith, for her persistence to make this happen.
While the SBA PPP loan helps us pay our clergy, teachers and staff through the end of this month, we still need help financially so that we don’t need to borrow from our other funds.
We will be sending out billing for membership dues for 2020-21 shortly. I know that due to the COVID-19 crisis, many of you are facing financial difficulties and uncertainties. However, I ask those of you that have the ability to pay your dues upon receipt of your bill. It would be greatly appreciated. I also must remind you that if anyone is facing financial difficulties that hinder your ability to pay your dues, please do not hesitate to contact me. Your membership is of the utmost importance to us and all discussions will be kept completely confidential!
On Sunday, May 24th, a number of congregants and I attended a LIMMUD eFestival with 1,500 fellow Jews from all over the world and from diverse backgrounds. Fifty presenters led sessions on Jewish text, thought, culture, history, current affairs, community, music, cooking and much more.
I attended a session presented by Mayim Bialik who spoke about her very personal journey toward choosing a life of Jewish observance that is meaningful to her.
Another session I went to was a panel discussion about our current immigration systems. The panelists were Eddie Chavez of the Arizona Jews for Justice and Alma Hernandez, the first Jewish Latina lawmaker ever elected to the Arizona House of Representatives. They spoke about their fight to fix an immigration policy that has been broken for decades and how we can help.
Next I attended a session that explored Leonard Cohen's background and his rich knowledge of Jewish text that is found in his music. I completed my afternoon listening to Rabbi Mike Knopf, the spiritual leader of Temple Beth-El in Richmond, Virginia. He described how the massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015 caused him to explore the "real" history of the South, which he had not been exposed to while growing up in Atlanta. It was this exploration that led him to speak out about the oppression of the black community and working for a just society in the heart of the old South. It was a very thoughtful and powerful presentation.
This is just a small sampling of what LIMMUD has to offer. I will keep you informed of all future LIMMUD eFestivals and other events. I encourage you to attend.
Unfortunately, I must end this message on a sad note. This past month we lost another pillar of our congregation, Harry Bialor, to COVID-19. Harry was a Holocaust survivor who brought so much to our community with his warmth, gentleness and enthusiasm for life. He was a past trustee, a regular Shabbat service attendee and a very active member of Brotherhood.
Harry was a Renaissance man, living life to its fullest. He was so passionate about many things and acted upon them. Loving Hannah Senesh’s story and poetry, he decided to share this love by forming the Hannah Senesh Society. In addition to sharing her poetry, he set the poetry to music and wrote skits about Hannah’s life performed by fellow congregants. Harry loved opera and he not only composed operas about Masada and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but he actually had them performed.
Most of all, he shared his horrific experience of surviving the Holocaust by writing and self-publishing the book Night People. Most recently, in 2019, he participated in the Witness Theater program at Yeshivah of Flatbush High School.
Harry was a fixture at our Brotherhood picnics, working the grill and climbing trees. He was a young 89, making his passing all the more shocking and sad. He lived a life to be celebrated, which hopefully we will have a chance to do when we return to activities in our building. Please read the tributes to Harry that begin on the next page. May Harry’s memory be a blessing forever.
I hope that you and your loved ones stay safe, and may we continue to stay connected so that we can provide support and comfort as we live through this difficult time together.
Eric Platt, President, B'ShERT
Harry on his perch at the picnic
Remembering Our Great Friend Harry Bialor z"l
Diane and Les Schenker:
Harry Bialor was a man who didn't have the word "no" in his vocabulary! If you needed a lift to services or an outside function — CALL HARRY! Need bagels? CALL HARRY! Need a calming word? CALL HARRY!
Whatever you needed for an in-house function—CALL HARRY! He was the "go-to" guy who smiled as he performed these mitzvahs, doing the shopping, schlepping, and even climbing trees at picnics!
He will be sorely missed by all.
Jane and Harold Gleiberman:
There are those humans who tread upon the earth, leaving destruction and chaos in their wake.
There are those humans who commit mayhem and murder in their midst.
Then, there are angels disguised as humans, who also tread upon the earth, leaving good deeds in their stead.
Harry Bialor was one of those angels.
Caring and compassionate, dedicated to helping people less fortunate and ill, Harry was a soldier on the front lines of distress and despair, always doing what he could to make lives better. He was the embodiment of all that is the best of human nature.
Rest in peace, dear Harry. It has been an honor to be your friend.
We lost a great man to this horrible virus. Harry was a wonderful husband to Roz, a great father to his sons, a great grandfather and great grandfather.
No one will forget the operas he wrote, the plays about Hannah Senesh he directed, the book he wrote and the dedicated temple member he was. However, I remember some things that will always stick in my mind about Harry.
Harry not only cooked turkey burgers and climbed a tree at the Brotherhood outdoor picnic, but it was because of Harry that we were able to use Floyd Bennett Field for the picnic. He did it because he loved the people of the temple and wanted them to have a good time.
I will always remember Harry calling me every year at Passover to make sure I had a place to go for the first seder. He calmed me down when we played spies together the first time I appeared in a Purim spiel at PTBAS. He performed for us as part of the talent show we had a few months after the consolidation of our temples took place and he was great.
Harry took care of a member who was seriously ill for months and handled all the arrangements when the member passed away. He visited one of our members who is undergoing kidney dialysis weekly. I will always remember the girl from the Yeshivah of Flatbush crying at Harry's memorial as she spoke about this great man.
I spoke to Harry a few days before he went into the hospital and his only concern was how I was feeling—not that he was not well. That was Harry. He would always ask if I needed a ride home when we were somewhere together and he would always call Roz from the car to tell her why he would be a few minutes late.
Harry was a fantastic man whose memory will live on forever in everyone who ever met him. I heard from Rabbi Hoover that Harry was planning to pitch an invention of his on Shark Tank. Now, that would have been something to see.
Hana Roth Seavey:
Among Harry's many attributes and kindnesses. he also wrote opera.
This is an unusual undertaking, hugely aspirational, and what a plucky, confident fellow he was to do it. He wrote two, produced concert readings of them, one of which I saw. He cast them, found venues, and took care of the burgeoning details that go into mounting any kind of theatre performance.
Harry knew that I write for musical theatre, and one day, for a simple read-among-friends at my home, to which I'd invited Harry and Rosalind, they came. I was proud to have them there, a considered act of generosity, something like Beethoven popping in on a session of the Greta Van Fleet band.
Thanks Harry. Thanks Rosalind.
Harry had a fun-loving side to him with that impish look of a school boy who had his finger stuck in the cookie jar. He also had a deeply caring nature and a drive to reach out to people and give them what they needed.
And this was never more true for my special education students at Edward R. Murrow H.S. in the spring of 2004.
As a “new” teacher who reverted back to a teaching license after Mayor Bloomberg fired 2000 education evaluators in 2003, I was assigned to teach English literature and was required to organize an assembly for my class and one mainstream class. In addition, I was to be observed by my principal, Saul Bruckner, and my special education supervisor. I was terrified that first my attempt at taking on such an assignment would be a failure.
The book we would be discussing was the Holocaust-themed Number the Stars. I invited Harry Bialor to be our text-to-context facilitator. Of course, Harry agreed to come. I explained to Harry that the entire assembly was only 45 minutes long, the time allotted for a typical high school class. We discussed the outline that he was to use based on the goals of my lesson. And so, I thought all would proceed in an organized way.
Oh boy, was I wrong. Harry did none of what he said he would do. He talked and talked non-stop for 15 minutes without relating his Holocaust experiences—which, ostensibly, should have connected in some way with what my students read about. I was getting nervous and fearing total disaster.
And then, one of my more difficult students, Roselene, a young Haitian immigrant who had been through much tragedy in her life, jumped out of her seat, stood right up to Harry’s face, waved her hands wildly with her feet wide apart and said: ”What are you talking about? I’m not Jewish. What does any of this have to do with me?”
Harry did not flinch. He smiled broadly, leaned over to me, and said, "Rosalind, like my Rosalind, right?"
“No," I said. "Roselene.”
“Roselene, tell me about your family,” he said to her. And she did. The stories that she told were so raw, so honest. She shared the horror of her life so freely, as if there weren’t 60 other people in the room.
And Harry just listened. Roselene was exhausted by now. Other students then asked questions and told their stories until it was time to go. No one moved, not even the teaching/administration staff. What an experience! I was never so proud of my students and the way in which each of them connected with a person they did not know or culturally identify with.
And Roselene, she never mentioned Harry again but he was with her in spirit. She was a different person for the rest of the year. Thank you, Harry.
I have many memories of Harry going back decades.
We raised our families together at Temple Ahavath Sholom and shared life cycle events through the years. I was proud to have a copy of Harry's book on my coffee table and was delighted to attend performances where his work was showcased.
My great grandchildren will always remember him perched in a tree at the temple picnics. He will be remembered as a mensch and a friend.
I remember Harry as a soft and gentle man. He was very kind and caring, and sometimes very fun. In particular at the Brotherhood picnics in June when he would climb the tree, and cook us turkey burgers and other food. He was also very passionate about the Hannah Senesh Society. I will miss him very much.
Rabbi Valerie Lieber, former rabbi at Temple Beth Ahavath Sholom:
I’m thinking about one of the most inspiring, loving men I’ve ever known. He died from COVID-19 at 89 years of age. What a terrible loss to the world and those of us whose lives he touched. I feel so lucky to have known him and been his rabbi from 1995-2002.
Harry Bialor was a Holocaust survivor. He spent two years in his early teens hidden beneath floorboards of a barn in Poland with his older sister and two adult strangers. He owes his life to the Polish farming family who hid them and to his daring and courage when he would steal out some nights to find potatoes and chicken to eat when the farmer did not have enough.
Harry missed so much school but always was learning and curious. He went to college in adulthood while raising his sons. He wrote a magnificent book about his young experiences, Night People, founded an organization to honor the heroism and artistry of Hannah Senesh with yearly conferences. He set her poetry to new music and just a scant few months ago debuted a new opera about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Wow! Double wow!
Simply to have lived was a gift. And Harry turned his gift of life into a marvelous symphony of beauty.
Harry was kind, dignified, generous, a devoted husband, father and friend.
I will never ever forget him. I learned so much from Harry, and recently have been sharing his story with children again.
Harry was a treasure to the world and I wish my condolences to all who love him.
Harry was a very vibrant person—a go-getter always looking forward to the next thing.
While he had suffered through the Holocaust and the loss of family members, and would recount his memories, he did not seem embittered. His passions sustained him.
He became enthralled with Hannah Senesh as a poet and a heroine, organizing the Hannah Senesh Society for the study of her short but courageous life and her artistic work and putting Temple members to work in theatrical pieces. Of course, Harry himself was a musician and composer, and I thought that his recent opera, performed within just the last few months, was his best.
He enjoyed gardening, too. That's how we became connected with the Floyd Bennett gardens as a picnic site for the Temple, where we have been going for many years. I can picture him flipping burgers and franks on the grill as well as climbing a tree.
When I last saw him (probably in January), I was struck by how devoted and caring he was to his wife, Roz. He could also be a very good friend. I remember his kindness to our congregant Vivian Kaufman, who was ill and without close family. When we visit Beth Moses Cemetery, we can see the gravestone which Harry arranged upon her passing, with its musical motif.
First Myron, and now Harry. These men have been integral to the temple family, and I have known them for so many years. These are profound losses.
Harry Bialor was one of the most positive people I have ever known. He was kindness personified. If he knew that a friend was ill, he would call and see what he could do to help. If you needed a ride to a doctor or needed groceries, he was there to help.
He founded the Hannah Senesh Society, wrote music for some of her poetry, wrote a play about her, and arranged for a dinner or celebration in her memory each year. I had the honor of performing in several of his productions about her life.
He arranged for the temple to have a place at Floyd Bennett Field for the Brotherhood annual picnic, because he was a member of a group that farmed there each year. He proudly showed off his garden crop and would show up at services in the summer with extra produce he had grown.
He will be missed.
Harry was a warm and gentle man.
When my son Jeff was 4 or 5, I was an officer with bima duties when we were Temple Beth Ahavath Sholom in Bensonhurst. We had babysitting at the temple at the time, but on this particular day the babysitter did not show up. I didn't know what to do because my son was not one to sit still.
Anyway, Harry came up to me and told me to leave my son with him. Harry had a way of gently talking to my son that made him want to stay put. Every time I would bring Jeff to services after that day, he would immediately run to sit with Harry.
They formed a special bond that lasted all these years. Harry was like a surrogate grandfather to my son. He will be sorely missed.
(Thank you to Tamara Kerner, Ellyn Rothstein and Jessica Schulman for sharing wonderful photos of Harry on Facebook)
Harry with Sam Silverman (l.) and Stan Hollander
Harry and family at a temple luncheon
Harry and his bride, Roz
Hazel Tishcoff shared this photo with us, along with the following explanation:
"The man in the colorful shirt is congregant Joel Siegel. He was part of a group that performs daily to thank essential workers and support local organizations that are hurting. This daily 10-minute jazz concert is not publicized for fear that too many people will come and social distancing would become difficult. When I go, I usually meet a few other congregants.
"Joel commented yesterday that 'we almost had a New Orleans thing going on here.' His shirt, you will notice, has a New Orleans theme."
Thanks, Joel and Hazel!
Dear B’ShERT Community,
Welcome to our newly minted B’ShERT blog, "Being B’ShERT"!
I had the pleasure of joining Rabbi Heidi recently on B’Yachad and, over Zoom, I was struck by the amazing camaraderie within our community and the STORIES.
Stories that go back decades.
The same day, I led a Youth Group event about storytelling in the time of COVID. (I love stories, as you can see, and I look for them wherever I go, or in this case, wherever I stay.)
I had the pleasure of brainstorming story ideas with our teen community, hours after hearing from our adult community, and the net result was that, in one day, I heard the stories of a Jewish community spanning eight decades in age.
I can’t be the only one to have this privilege! We all deserve to share and hear the incredible stories of the B’ShERT community. This is the space for us to do that.
We’d love to hear from you. This blog can be a place to share your accounts of quarantine life, your memories of Brooklyn, this Temple’s rich history, or things that are making you laugh right now.
What we will end up with is a multi-generational, ongoing account of how we lived before, during, and after this pandemic.
Mike, Adrienne and I are looking forward to your submissions! Please send them to email@example.com. Also, feel free to reach out to me directly at Outreach@bshert.org!
Digital Media and Youth Outreach Coordinator for B’ShERT
Photo by Hazel Tishcoff
Welcome to Our New Blog: 'Being B'ShERT!'
Congregant Helps 'Jazz' Up the Neighborhood With Song
Hana Roth Seavey and son Jordan Seavey
Hana Roth Seavey
CHILDHOOD: Brooklyn, Monday through Thursday afternoons: 4 p.m. deadline, pick up little brother from the yeshiva school bus, earlier on Fridays, turn on the baked potatoes, don't burn them. Charred baked potatoes! The freedom to cultivate my imagination was the gift from my first-generation American parents (Mildred and Joseph Roth) that led to theatre, especially after my singing Aunt Ruth took us to see a Broadway musical. By age twelve I'd convinced my parents to send me to the Henry Street Settlement for acting lessons based on Shakespearean sonnets.
PROFESSION: Much of my professional history revolves around theatre, and by its nature, my work isn't easily consolidated. I studied with a raft of the best theatre and musical arts teachers and mentors (sometimes through NYC District 22's amazing Arts Coordinator, Paul Kaplan), discovered comedy with Wynn Handman (American Place Theatre), and coming back to New York after a Fulbright Scholarship in Mime to Paris, acceptance by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Clown College established my clown credentials. I performed wherever clowns are found, including bar and bat mitzvahs, where my mother's exquisite costumes more than equaled my circus repertoire.
My son Jordan, through a re-marriage after divorce from a first husband, steadily evolved into teen-age years. Jordan was the template for my first musical, a folk-rap bluegrass show then titled JACK! THE UNBEATABLE BOY, now JACK AND THE CHOCOLATE MILK COW (music by John Henry Sheridan), produced in NYC by the Looking Glass Theatre. (JACK! song/video clips, NY Times review, and radio interview can be found at https://johnhenrysheridanmusic.com/jack)
Choosing to be single again in Brooklyn, I taught at a local school for the Board of Education (B.A., Brooklyn College, M.A., NYU), and neighbors and students, often Chinese-American, helped inspire a new project, a romantic musical comedy involving a Jewish-American young woman obsessed with designing hats and a Chinese-American young man who majors in Accessory Merchandising, minors in Millinery. UNDER HER HAT! (music by Tor Ingar Jakobsen) can be found on Instagram as underherhatmusical, on Facebook as Under Her Hat!, and rehearsal song/video clips on YouTube as https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGoIpbkM6eqQXqD0xOMvasA?view_as=subscriber, or at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjMD97a2bdXQZxfQnhWlCrA
FAMILY: We're a group of artists, social workers, and do-good people. Jordan, playwright (RIDDLE OF THE TRILOBITES); nephew Josh, Disney's Prop Master for MANDALORIAN; niece Emily (photographer and Forest Therapist); brother Jay (Executive Director of the JCC of Milwaukee and the Miami JCC); sister-n-law Susan, initiator of programs for children and adults in Milwaukee; Denver niece, Melanie (publishing), Denver niece Jamie (Masters in Public Administration this May!), submission of a large grant application for small businesses. Josh and Emily's two little girls, my grand-nieces, are the delight of everyone's heart.
WHY B'ShERT: My Jewish education was limited: a Yiddish school which shortly closed, but gave me a fondness for the language. My son began his Judaic education at Temple Ahavath Sholom from age four, finishing with confirmation, and I followed the path of mergers to B'ShERT, a wonderfully fulfilling outcome. Many thanks to everyone who reads this bio. Please look us up and enjoy the material. I can be found at UnderHerHatMusical@gmail.com, if there are glitches. Feedback is always welcome.
(Photo courtesy of Hana Roth Seavey)
As you know, we have always invited congregants to bless the wine and candles on Friday nights. Even though we are not meeting in person at this time, we’d like to continue the tradition via our Zoom services.
If you would like to do the candle or wine blessing during a Friday night Shabbat service, please let us know.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you.
Robin Bass & Fran Silverman
Co-Chairs, Ritual Committee
We hope you enjoyed our New Member B’ Yachad discussion dedicated and themed to our new members and a special Shabbat morning service our new members participated in.
Our new members are Joan and Paul Salisbury, Amyt Eckstein and their children, Emmaline and Jacob; Craig and Amelia D’Entrone; Jordan Goldberg and Darby Evans and son Arthur; Rabbi Robert de los Santos Texeira; Richard Miller, and Julia Rousakis. May our association be long and fruitful.
Our first Zoom activity night will be a group singalong with Havdalah led by Rabbi Alexis Pinsky. The date will be announced soon. We are brainstorming and thinking about other fun events to get us through the quarantine.
As you are aware, B'ShERT is participating in the Congregational Benchmarking and Assessment project through the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). Part of this process entails collecting the Board's responses to several questions on topics including mission, values and vision; governance, leadership culture, and leadership development.
Although the project is currently on hold, Maxie Kalish, Director of URJ's Benchmarking and Assessment, is willing to analyze our current results and do a brief analysis of our responses on an informal basis. And to that end, the survey form has been sent again to all board of trustee members. If you haven't already done so, we strongly encourage you to complete the survey before the June 15 deadline so we can receive the fullest possible analysis of our needs once the Benchmark Project re-launches. Responses are anonymous and it will take about 20 minutes to complete. You may access it here.
We are trying to keep Membership on everyone’s mind by increasing visibility and making it easier for people to connect with us. We hope to do this with a more prominent display of the email address that Membership will now share with Outreach.
Stay healthy, stay safe, stay Jewish, and stay connected!
Joanie Holland Schaffer and Ellyn Rothstein
Co-Chairs, B’ShERT Membership Committee
The Fundraising committee is pleased to announce that ORT will be going forward with this year’s honey sale for Rosh Hashanah. The honey is packaged and shipped from Atlanta, GA, which has opened up safely following COVID-19. We are awaiting final information from ORT and will let you know when sales will commence. At this time, we do not expect sales to start until sometime at the end of June.
Pam Glantzman, Fundraising Committee
Coming Soon: Honey from the Heart
Report From the Membership Committee
Dear B'ShERT Family,
I want to thank everyone in the B'ShERT community for calling me when I was sick, and for the cards and donations that were made in Myron's memory.
Photo by Pam Glantzman
News from the Social Action Committee
Congregant Charlotte Russell related this story:
"Recently, I was dropping off some food for the Little Pantry and saw a man taking something from it as I arrived. I called to him to wait because I had some things to add. He came over and asked if he could help. He then carried my packages over to the box and carefully stacked the items on the shelves. He told me he would only take what he knew he could use. I was so touched by his pride and helpfulness."
(For those who would like to donate non-perishable food items and toiletries, The Little Pantry is located on the Church Avenue side of Temple.)
...And Speaking of the Little Pantry
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
Hope everyone is doing well. We again thank everyone who donated food to our Passover Food Drive. The Our Lady of Refuge Church (part of our Interfaith Coalition) Food Pantry had to close down, so all of the food that was donated was used for our Little Pantry. Thanks to Angel DeJesus and Vital Jean for making sure that our Little Pantry was well stocked.
The Interfaith Coaliton held a virtual Abraham’s Table on Sunday, May 17 with over 65 people in attendance from B’ShERT, East Midwood Jewish Center, Our Lady of Refuge Church and The Turkish Cultural Center. The topic was “Where We Turn for Hope and Resilience In Crisis.” The program was moderated by Rabbi Heidi Hoover and the panel consisted of Fr. Ken Gavin, Zuleyha Colak, PhD and Rabbi Cantor Sam Levine. As part of this program, the Interfaith Coalition is putting together a meal drive with the chefs from the Amity School preparing 200 meals for health care workers at Brooklyn Hospital. We will be asking congregants from our Interfaith partners to support this project financially and information will be sent shortly.
Sisterhood of Saalam Shalom offered a Zoom program on May 18 called ”Raise Our Voice: a Muslim, Jewish and Allies Workshop for Solidarity, Resilience and Action.” It offered ways to engage in digital citizenship, social cohesion and advocacy. You can learn more from the participating panelists:
• Sisterhood of Saalam Shalom: www.sossopeace.org
• Interfaith Ventures: check them out on Facebook
• Integrity First for America: integrityfirstforamerica.org
• Dr. Simran Jeet Singh (talking about gratitude, peace and optimism): simranjeetsingh.org
The URJ’s Religious Action Center (RAC) has begun its Civic Engagement Campaign with 1,000 people on a Zoom meeting including participants from Reform congregations across the country, representatives from Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), NFTY, American Conference of Cantors and Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ). RAC will be working by regions and coordinating efforts with partners such as Reclaim Our Vote and Center for Common Ground. Efforts will go toward engaging students, mobilizing voters and combating voter suppression. There will be some virtual volunteer opportunities announced and RAC is hoping each congregation will be a 100% voting community. To become more involved with the RAC Civic Engagement Campaign, please go to RAC.org and then click on Civic Engagement Campaign.
We will continue to send you information about virtual opportunities and hope that you will share any that come your way. Be safe and stay healthy.
Susan Sysler, Co-Chair, Social Action Committee
Report From Women of B'ShERT
We hope that this summer will bring an easing of the restrictions that we are presently living with, and that in the fall we will once again be able to be together. These are trying times, but thanks to Rabbi Heidi Hoover and Rabbi Alexis Pinsky we have been able to feel that we are all part of our wonderful Temple family.
Gifts were given to all of our bar and bat mitzvah students and our confirmands. We are so proud of their accomplishments and commitment to our religion. The only exception is Rose Brown, who will receive her Miriam cup to be used during the Passover seder at a future service when we are once again able to hold services in our sanctuary.
The High Holidays always mean a time of renewal. This has never been as important as this year, as we pray for good health for all of our loved ones. We wish everyone and their loved ones a healthy and happy New Year.
Charlotte Russell, Sara Meyer West, Mona Goldberg, Candi Friedman,
Doreen Aronow, Fran Arnowitz, Jane Gleiberman
Women of B'ShERT, A Sisterhood Organization
Photos by Fran Silverman
Rest in peace, Myron Klein and Harry Bialor, two of our most valuable Brotherhood and temple members over these many years. Your efforts and caring about everyone will always be greatly appreciated.
On May 17, thanks to the technical skills of Sam Silverman and Mike Rose, we were able to hold a Brotherhood meeting on Zoom to honor the memories of Myron and Harry. After a moment of silence, we discussed how much they did for Brotherhood and told some unknown (until now) stories about them.
This year started out with a wonderful Brotherhood dinner and Friday Night service in December and a fun Brotherhood Indoor Picnic in January before we went into the horrible Twilight Zone episode we seem to be living in now. Brotherhood had five events planned that had to be canceled or postponed due to this horrible virus that no words can describe. Why this happened to such an extent is hard to grasp.
We hope to have another Brotherhood meeting on Zoom on Sunday, June 14. Stay tuned for further details.
Brotherhood has sent a gift out to Rose Brown for the fantastic job she did on her virtual Bat Mitzvah and will be sending gifts out to all our confirmation class graduates. Congratulations!
Future events from Brotherhood, like everything else right now, are up in the air and we will keep you informed.
We hope you have an enjoyable Father's Day and the best summer possible in these unusual times. Congratulations to all our members graduating to the next step in their lives.
This was a most difficult Brotherhood column to write as I seemed to be crying throughout.
Please stay well, and be safe.
Joel Moss and the
Brotherhood of B'ShERT
News From B'ShERT Brotherhood
Monica M. Beyer
Hon. Philip Segal
James S. Berger Yudelowitz
David M. Goldberg
Dorothy R. Goldberg
Emma Rose Tuttleman-Kriegler
Lindsay Jill DeNonno
Amy Rhodes Froehlich
Loren Horn Levinson
Ava Draho Zuckerman
...and Happy Anniversary to Janet Schlesinger and Jerry Jaffee (June), Dorothy R. and David M. Goldberg (July), Rabbi Heidi Hoover and Michael Rose (July), Susan and Saul Radow (August), Joan and Paul Salisbury (August), and Jessica and David Schulman (August)!
Happy Birthday, Summer Babies!
August 7 - 8 7:46 pm Eikev Deuteronomy 7:12 − 11:25
August 14 - 15 7:36 pm R'eih Deuteronomy 11:26 − 16:17
August 21 - 22 7:26 pm Shoftim Deuteronomy 16:18 − 21:9
August 28 - 29 7:16 pm Ki Teitzei Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19
June 5 - 6 8:06 pm Naso II Numbers 6:1 − 7:89
June 12 - 13 8:10 pm B'haalot'cha Numbers 8:1 − 12:16
June 19 - 20 8:12 pm Sh'lach L'cha Numbers 13:1 − 15:41
June 26 - 27 8:13 pm Korach Numbers 16:1– 18:32
Candle Lightings & Torah Portion Calendar — Summer 2020
July 3 - 4 8:13 pm Chukat - Balak Numbers 19:1-22:1, 22:2 - 25:9
July 10 - 11 8:10 pm Pinchas Numbers 25:10 - 30:1
July 17 - 18 8:06 pm Matot - Masei Numbers 30:2 − 36:13
July 24 - 25 8:01 pm D'varim Deuteronomy 1:1– 3:22
July 31 - Aug. 1 7:54 pm Va-et'chanan Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11
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: Jacqueline Mizrahi, Co-President (718) 666-7418
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
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Ken Brown Photography
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Longtime established pro; temple member; references available. firstname.lastname@example.org • 718-670-3256.
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For further information, please call Maxine at 718-490-7556