voice of truth
Lessons From Justice Ginsburg
As we were preparing to enter the new year of 5781 this year, we lost a giant who had a huge influence on our country—Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I know there are some of you who did not agree with her liberal politics, but I don’t think any of us would say she was wrong in her commitment to and work for equal treatment for people of different genders under the law. Because of her work, a widowed man with a baby to care for has to get the same consideration a widowed woman with a baby would get.
This is from an ABC news story about Justice Ginsburg’s impact:
“For women, she was the most important legal advocate in American history. She changed the way the law sees gender,” said Abbe Gluck, a Yale Law School professor and former clerk of Justice Ginsburg. “The United States Supreme Court did not even recognize that the Constitution prohibits discrimination based on gender until 1971 — and that's Justice Ginsburg's case.”
It remains astonishing to me that in my lifetime, it was perfectly legal to discriminate based on gender. I am so grateful for the work Justice Ginsberg did, work that made this country better for both men and women.
Justice Ginsburg was also a proud Jew and a proud Brooklyn native. As a child she attended East Midwood Jewish Center. At the age of 13, in 1946, she wrote a piece for her synagogue’s newsletter. This young woman, in the wake of World War II, wrote in part:
We must try hard to understand that for righteous people hate and prejudice are neither good occupations nor fit companions. Rabbi Alfred Bettleheim once said: “Prejudice saves us a painful trouble, the trouble of thinking.” In our beloved land families were not scattered, communities not erased nor our nation destroyed by the ravages of the World War.
Yet, dare we be at ease? We are part of a world whose unity has been almost completely shattered. No one can feel free from danger and destruction until the many torn threads of civilization are bound together again. We cannot feel safer until every nation, regardless of weapons or power, will meet together in good faith, the people worthy of mutual association.
There can be a happy world and there will be once again, when men create a strong bond towards one another, a bond unbreakable by a studied prejudice or a passing circumstance. Then and only then shall we have a world built on the foundation of the Fatherhood of God and whose structure is the Brotherhood of Man.
We are not in a world-shattering war like the World War that had just ended when Ruth Bader was 13, but we are in the midst of a pandemic that is having an incredibly disruptive influence on the world. Hate and prejudice are still rampant, though perhaps in different forms and toward different people.
In the many tributes to Justice Ginsburg since she has died, report after report said that there was no one who worked with her or knew her who disliked her. The documentary about her life, RBG, shows the close friendship she had with Justice Antonin Scalia (of blessed memory), despite their radically different approaches to law and the Constitution. The maintenance of collegial relationships was so important to Justice Ginsburg. As an adult, she lived out the words she wrote when she was 13—she created strong bonds with other people, bonds unbreakable by a studied prejudice or a passing circumstance.
I believe that we are at a precarious moment in our history in multiple ways. As we celebrate Sukkot, the holiday when we dwell in huts that remind us of the fragility of the material things in our lives, let us maintain hope and dedicate ourselves to working for a nation and a world that will be sustaining for all people and for those who come after us.
Rabbi Heidi Hoover
Volume IV Tishrei/Cheshvan 5781 / October 2020 No. 28
High Holy Days Like No Other
Our High Holy Days this year were unlike any we had previously experienced in our lifetime.
We always look forward to being together with our families and in our sanctuary for services. This year we needed to find new ways to begin the New Year 5781. We required a spiritual, meaningful and inspiring experience in a medium that we had only begun to explore out of necessity.
All of you participated in the process through the Calling Project and/or attending Ritual Committee meetings. Rabbi Hoover, Rabbi Pinsky, our Cantorial Soloist Nonie Schuster Donato, and our Ritual Committee Chairs, Fran Silverman and Robin Bass, worked throughout the summer to incorporate your concerns and desires to create beautiful and memorable virtual services. Although we were not physically together, you could feel the strength and warmth of our B’ShERT family.
Yasher koach to our rabbis, and to Nonie, Fran and Robin. We must also thank Cynthia Powell who accompanied Nonie on the piano and organ and Issel Herr, the cellist for Kol Nidrei. A special thank-you goes to Cantor Nitza Shamah and Temple Sinai of Bergen County for allowing Nonie and the musicians to record in their sanctuary.
I think we can all agree that the music was superb. Although our choir was not live, we must also thank them for their wonderful past renditions of High Holy Day selections that we admired during our virtual services. Finally, I would be remiss not to thank Mike Rose for all of his technical skills, which produced a seamless experience that included the creation of our High Holy Days webpage and setting up Eventbrite for non-members to register for tickets. Without Mike's expertise, none of this would have been possible.
Thank you to everyone who contributed food or funds to our Rosh Hashanah Food Drive. During these uncertain and difficult times, the need to feed those in our community has become more acute. The food we collected goes to our Interfaith Coalition partner, Our Lady of Refuge Church, to stock its ongoing food pantry, and also to our Little Food Pantry box located on the Church Avenue side of our building.
The Membership Committee’s first Cook-Along on September 12th, led by congregant Sharon Spellman, was a huge success. Sharon taught us how to prepare Rosh Hashanah recipes for Grandmommy’s Apple Cake and Tanoreen Brussels Sprouts. These two dishes are delicious, as can be attested by those who served them at their holiday meals. We are looking forward to our Cook-Along for Sukkot with congregant Saul Radow on Sunday, October 4th at 3 pm. Saul will be cooking Greek Zucchini Casserole and Mushroom Barley Soup.
Our Religious School began the school year on September 12th. Students meet together at a virtual t’filah at 9:15 am and break out into classes at 9:45 am. Rabbi Pinsky continues to explore ways to enhance our students’ Jewish experience virtually. We are looking forward to a fun and productive year.
Our Sukkot and Simchat Torah services, like our Shabbat and High Holy Days services, will be very different this year. We are asking those of you who build your own sukkahs to take photos of them so that we can show them during the Sukkot services. We will be building B’ShERT’s sukkah in our driveway. Anyone who would like to sit or have a meal in the Sukkah is invited to do so by making an appointment through the Temple office.
Our very popular Tuesday afternoon Torah Study sessions resumed on September 29th with Rabbi Pinsky taking the reins. We must thank Sam Silverman for leading these sessions for the past two years. In addition, B’Yachad led by Rabbi Hoover, will resume on Saturday, October 16th at 9:45 am. During this pandemic, B’Yachad has proven to be an important communal activity, providing comfort and allowing us to build relationships with our fellow congregants.
We are pleased to announce another event this month, A Visit to Jewish Cork, on Sunday, October 11th at 11 am. Join us and our friends from the Munster Jewish Community in Ireland to view the short film Cork Jewish Virtual Tour followed by discussion and music. Look for the flyer in this newsletter with registration information and other details.
B'ShERT member Edie Wadman will be celebrating her Bat Mitzvah in her backyard on Saturday, October 24th at 2 pm. In keeping with social distancing, we’re all invited to watch via live stream at bshert.org/services/live. Mazel tov to Edie and her parents, Maura Minsky and Michael Wadman.
No one would deny that these past months have been difficult, but our B’ShERT family has become closer and stronger through it all. I wish to thank all of you for your understanding and patience during these challenging times.
Membership Committee Report
We hope everyone had a wonderful, if different, Rosh Hashanah.
The Membership Committee prepared for our own holiday celebrations by learning how to make Grandmommy’s Apple Cake and Tanoreen Brussels Sprouts on Saturday, September 12th. Sharon Spellman expertly demonstrated her cooking techniques for 25 participants, and several attendees cooked along with Sharon.
We loved getting a sneak peek into everyone’s kitchen, but nothing made us happier than seeing all of the photos of beautiful apple cakes shared with us on B’ShERT’s Facebook page.
Do you like to cook? Do you like to kibbitz while watching other people cook? Join us on October 4th for our Cook-Along with Saul Radow! We’ll be making foods that showcase fall harvest flavors, just in time for Sukkot. Register at sukkotcookalong.eventbrite.com.
We are so pleased to say that since our last report, several new members have joined our B’ShERT community: Drs. Gail Levine-Fried and Bob Fried, Rosanne Levitt, Myra Tattenbaum, Matt Holland, and Deborah Sadok Bryant and her son Eli Bryant. If you see them around our virtual space, please introduce yourself and extend a warm welcome. We are grateful for their presence, and look forward to meeting them in person soon.
We also want to remind everyone that on October 12th, we will officially launch our congregational survey as part of the URJ’s 2020 Congregational Assessment and Benchmarking Project (you can read more about this in the February 2020 and September 2020 issues of the Voice of Truth). Remember, your participation is vital and will help our Temple to learn about what we’re doing well and how we can better meet the needs of our members .
When the survey launches, you’ll receive an email from Rabbi Hoover and President Eric Platt containing an individualized link. Please be sure to complete the survey before it closes on November 3rd. For those less comfortable with using a computer, our team is ready to help you complete the survey by phone or in another socially distanced manner.
And as always, if you have ideas about how we can reach potential new members, how we can continue to engage and connect our existing community members, or suggestions for programming, we want to hear from you. Our next committee meetings will be October 1st and November 5th. If you'd like to join us, reach out to us and let us know!
Ellyn Rothstein & Joanie Holland Schaffer
Co-Chairs, Membership Committee
Harry and family at a temple luncheon
The Interactive Memorial Board
Thanks to everyone who donated food to our Rosh Hashanah Food Drive benefiting our own Little Pantry and Our Lady of Refuge Church Food Pantry (OLRC is part of our Interfaith Coalition). The need became even greater since the pandemic and your commitment to help our community is greatly appreciated.
Thanks to our congregants who volunteered to pick up donations, if needed….Charlotte Russell, Joanie Holland Schaffer, Diane Schenker, Sharon Spellman.
The Interfaith Coalition is planning its annual virtual “walking” tour on Zoom for Monday, October 12th at 3 pm. Look for the flyer in this issue with details.
If you are not registered to vote, do it now. The deadline to register is October 9th. If you want an absentee ballot, request it now…check out the deadlines at the NYS Board of Elections website: www.elections.ny.gov/votingregister.html.
If you want to do early voting, check out polling places at www.findmypollsite.vote.nyc.
Continue to be safe and healthy.
Co-Chair, Social Action Committee
We hope everyone enjoyed our virtual High Holy Days services. Many thanks to Rabbi Hoover, Rabbi Pinsky, Nonie Schuster Donato, and Mike Rose for all their hard work.
Thanks to Rabbi Pinsky’s technical help, we were able to present our first program of the year, a virtual ice cream social, and to our delight, we had 22 participants.
Doreen Aronow served as host, and we were able to have a lively discussion about some good things that came out of the pandemic.
We look forward to our next Zoom meeting on Tuesday, October 13th at 7:30 pm when our speaker will be congregant Joyce Kantrowitz.
Joyce will talk to us about her experiences growing up in rural Mississippi. Please join us for what promises to be an interesting evening. The Zoom link will go out via email a few days before the event.
All our best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year for you and your loved ones.
Mona Goldberg, Sara Meyer West, Charlotte Russell
Women of B'ShERT
News from Women of B'ShERT
Social Action Committee News
News From B'ShERT Brotherhood
Zooming right along, thanks to the technical skills of B'ShERT president Eric Platt, we were able to hold a Brotherhood meeting on Zoom on Sunday, September, 13th.
The good part was that 23 of our members were able to attend. We also were able to welcome two new members, Bob Fried and Robert dos Santos Teixeira, to our affiliate and they will be adding much to our programs.
The bad part is everyone had to provide their own breakfast and we certainly missed the bagels, spreads and pastries provided at all Brotherhood meetings during normal times. Dues remain $36, payable by check to Brotherhood at B'ShERT and sent to Gene Guskin at his home address. If that is not possible, you should mail your check to temple and write "Attention Brotherhood" on the envelope.
No one can predict the future with any accuracy, but Brotherhood is moving right along with events for our entire congregation whether on Zoom or in person when we return to some degree of normalcy. Pray hard during the holidays.
Among the activities currently being discussed are special presentations by Bob Fried, Alan Zarrow, and Ron Schweiger, the annual Brotherhood-led Shabbat service, and a special trivia night hosted by our own Mike Rose. Additional events are to come. I hope everyone is aware that these events are open to everyone in our temple, male or female, young or young at heart, as well as any friends or relatives they feel might be interested in them.
Please check the Voice of Truth, your emails and voice mails for the exact dates of these exciting activities. We also discussed options we might have for our annual Brotherhood Outdoor Picnic in June. We hope this event can take place as it usually does.
We hope everyone had a good Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holiday in these very unusual times, and a joyous Sukkot and Simchat Torah to all. To change a familiar saying a little — "Next year in our Temple, please. "
We wish everyone good health and happiness in the coming year. Be safe! We miss you, Myron Klein and Harry Bialor. Brotherhood will never be the same without you!
The Jewish Cultural Committee, like everyone else, has decided to adapt to the “new normal.”
Instead of the in-person events we had always scheduled, we decided to review on-line offerings. It was a pleasure to discover that there are many, many on-line programs of Jewish interest.
We watched two films from the Israel Film Center Festival, a musical play which had been performed at the Center for Jewish History based on the Yiddish poem “Monish” by Peretz, and four films from the Boca Raton Jewish Film Festival, along with scheduled discussions on June 16, June 29, and July 21. Those who attended really enjoyed the discussions.
Our next event is a little different, and promises to be very exciting. It is the second in our Jews Across the Pond ongoing series, which enables us to learn about and dialogue with a Jewish community in Cork, Ireland.
On Sunday, October 11th at 11 am, we will have A Visit to Jewish Cork. This includes a short film which is a virtual tour of Jewish sites in the area, with interviews, poetry, and music.
Following the film we will have a discussion, and then music performed by the Munster Jewish Community. Please join us for this special program.
A very happy New Year to all.
Jewish Cultural Committee
Jewish Cultural Committee Report
Join the B'ShERT community in celebrating the Bat Mitzvah of
Saturday, October 24th @ 2 pm
Watch at bshert.org/services/live
Mazel tov to Edie and her parents, Maura Minsky & Michael Wadman!
More Glad Tidings from B'ShERT & Beyond
Congratulations to Ian Olasov on the publication of his book, Ask A Philosopher: Answers to Your Most Important — and Most Unexpected Questions (St. Martin's Press, 2020). Ian taught at B'ShERT's religious school for a few years and is the son of congregants Sharon Spellman and David Olasov. In partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library, Ian has organized the Brooklyn Public Philosophers event series since 2013. He is an adjunct lecturer in the Philosophy Department at Brooklyn College and lives in Flatbush.
Photo courtesy of the BPL
Amy Sara Clark
Rabbi Heidi Hoover
Judge Milton Platt
...and Happy Anniversary to Doreen & Jerry Aronow, Amelia & Craig D’Entrone, Diane & Lester Schenker, and Robert dos Santos Teixeira & Zafir Buraei!
Happy Birthday, October Babies!
CHILDHOOD: I was born in Brooklyn Jewish Hospital and, in fact, I have always been proud to be a Brooklynite and from an early age extremely proud to be Jewish. The first few years of my life my family lived in Crown Heights and we spent the summers in either a boarding house or bungalow in Rockaway. When I was in first grade, my family moved to Luna Park Housing in Coney Island. So I grew up with “sand in my feet” and the Coney Island skyline of the Cyclone, Wonder Wheel and Parachute Jump out my window. It was natural for us beach bums to work in Coney Island the minute we received our working papers at 14. Throughout high school I spent my summers twirling cotton candy at the entrance of Astroland. [Editor's note: Eric painted the very lovely watercolor you see above. If you look closely and use your imagination, you'll see our future temple president behind the cotton candy counter.]
BUILDING A FUTURE (PUN INTENDED): I went Stuyvesant H.S. and am proud to have been a part of the historic class of 1972 that included the first girls that attended the previously all-boys school. Upon graduating high school, I studied architecture at Pratt Institute. After graduation, a prominent developer offered me a job as an assistant construction manager and I’ve been involved in construction ever since. When walking around the city with friends, I enjoy pointing out the various projects that I played a role in either building or renovating. I’m proud to have had the opportunity to use my construction and architectural knowledge and skills to renovate PTBAS upon the consolidation of Temple Beth Ahavath Sholom and Boro Park Progressive Synagogue, and now at B’ShERT.
JEWISH EDUCATION, PART I: My family did not belong to a synagogue during my early years in Coney Island. For the High Holy Days, we’d have family meals with my grandparents, get dressed up and walk the boardwalk. When my friends were going to Hebrew school, my parents sent me to Workmen’s Circle to learn Yiddish, thinking that I’d be able to talk the language with my paternal grandparents. It wasn’t until a couple of years before my bar mitzvah that my father, with a push from my mother, went on his quest to find a Reform synagogue for the occasion. My parents decided to join Temple Ahavath Sholom also known as the Avenue R Temple. It was there that I was called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah, celebrated my confirmation and participated in the youth group. Through those experiences, I began to understand and appreciate the richness of our history, culture and religion.
JEWISH EDUCATION, PART II: When I went off to college, Pratt Institute did not have a Jewish group and I missed all the Jewish activities that I was involved with in high school. Then, in my junior year, I became friendly with the pastor at Pratt, Father Michael Perry, and I mentioned that I wished Pratt had a Jewish group so that I could experience being Jewish on campus. He told me that if I wanted this badly enough, the only one who could make it happen was me. So Father Perry’s Latke Making Party became the responsibility of the Jewish student group that I and David Grupper, Adam Grupper’s older brother, founded. Many years later I had two b’shert moments when, due to B’ShERT, I reconnected with Father Perry, who was the pastor at our Interfaith Coalition partner, Our Lady of Refuge Church, and I discovered that Adam Grupper was a member of TBE.
MISHPACHA: I have two sons — Jason, a flight attendant, and Jeffrey, a TV news reporter in Bakersfield, CA — and two grandsons (Jason’s sons), Kaleb, who will be graduating high school this year, and Christian, who is in first grade.
...AND THE METS: I am an avid Mets fan, having had a season ticket plan for the past 14 years. Last year my sons and I decided to celebrate our birthdays by going to road Mets games with the objective of eventually attending games in every major league ballpark. The pandemic, unfortunately, has delayed that objective for a year.
A CALLING THAT KEEPS ON CALLING: This is my fourth time being President. The first time was at Temple Ahavath Sholom a couple of months after Jeffrey was born. During that presidency, we consolidated with Beth Sholom People’s Temple to form Temple Beth Ahavath Sholom (TBAS). The next time was at PTBAS as co-president with my dear friend Myron Klein, whom I sorely miss. The third time was also at PTBAS ,which eventually became a co-presidency at B’ShERT with Jeff Levinson.
So why be president a fourth time? The Temple community has been there for me in both good and rough times and I’ve seen how the Temple affects the lives of my fellow congregants. I wish to assure that B’ShERT continues to be a spiritual and communal presence right here in Brooklyn, and will be for many years to come.
(Photo courtesy of Eric Platt)
Thank you to all who participated in the High Holy Days Services. You helped to make our services a blessing for our beautiful temple family.
This year, with on-line services, we had to significantly cut the number of honors we were able to assign. For example, for obvious reasons, we could not offer the honor of sitting on the bimah.
If you are usually offered an honor and did not get one this year, we are sorry. We ask for your understanding during this challenging time.
Robin Bass & Fran Silverman
Co-Chairs, Ritual Committee
Note From the Ritual Committee
Torah Portions — October 2020
October 2 - 3 Yom Rishon shel Sukkot Leviticus 23:33-44
October 9 - 10 Sh'mini Atzeret-Simchat Torah Deuteronomy 33:1 - 34:12;
Genesis 1:1 - 2:3
October 16 - 17 B'reishit Genesis 1:1−6:8
October 23 - 24 Noach Genesis 6:9– 11:32
October. 30 - 31 Lech L'cha Genesis 12:1 - 17:27
B'ShERT Charity Appeal
The following is the Charity Appeal that was given at our Rosh Hashanah service by Faye Levine Guskin, Charity Committee Chair. If you have not already made a pledge, please consider making one. You can access our pledge form at bshert.org/appeal/. You may also mail in checks or donate on our website at bshert.org/support/.
L’Shana Tova. As Chair of the temple Charity Committee, I have the honor of making the annual Charity Appeal. As part of B’ShERT’s commitment to the greater community, the Charity Committee provides support for those in need, thanks to your donations. I am here to ask you to participate in this worthwhile effort.
During the Days of Awe, we review the past year, and consider ways to make positive changes in our own lives and in the lives of others. In Jewish tradition, tzedakah is a mitzvah, a religious obligation. The word is derived from the Hebrew root meaning “justice” and “righteousness.” Tzedakah suggests that we give in order to create a more just world, as an act of fairness, and the right thing to do, the righteous thing to do.
Tzedakah means that the needs of the recipient lie at the heart of our concern. Many passages in the Torah instruct us in the value of tzedakah. In Deuteronomy 15:7-8, it is stated “If there is a needy person among you…do not harden your heart….Rather, you must open your hand and lend whatever is sufficient to meet the need.”
I came across a wonderful parable in my preparation for today. “In the villages of Eastern Europe, it was a custom before the new year for a messenger, a shaliach, to go from house to house with a sack. Those who could afford it put coins in the sack; those who were in need, took coins from the sack. No one knew who gave and who took. No one was embarrassed. Every family had money to buy the things they needed to celebrate the holiday.”
We don’t know how many people gave back then, or how many took some help, and if, in fact, every family had enough for the holiday, but one thing is clear - today there are many people who are in need.
As individuals and as part of the Temple Family, we can each participate in acts of charity and justice. Your donation to the Temple Charity Fund, whether large or small, goes a long way to help meet specific needs locally and beyond. Last year the Charity Committee supported 10 worthwhile groups, thanks to the generosity of the congregation. Because the committee met in May during the pandemic, we focused on the issue of food insecurity and supported 3 food distribution organizations, and our own Little Pantry. We also donated to organizations helping refugees, people fighting cancer, and survivors of domestic violence. We also gave funds to projects supporting local businesses, and to efforts addressing children’s needs in Brooklyn and poverty internationally.
Everyone is welcome to suggest charities to support and to join the committee. We meet just once a year.
The pandemic has truly shaken our world, but together we are moving forward with caring and concern. By contributing to the Charity Fund, your caring will reach the next level, and make a positive impact in the lives of others. And you will be carrying on a practice that has been central to Jewish life for centuries.
Chair, B'ShERT Charity Committee
Faye Levine-Guskin and Gene Guskin
Who Are These Masked People? (Or, Tashlich 5781)
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
Salt Marsh Nature Center
September 20, 2020
(Photos by Karen Eichel & Ellyn Rothstein)
Scenes From B'ShERT High Holy Days 5781
Michael T. Rose
Jessica Schulman &
At the end of August, the B’ShERT community was treated to a book talk about memories of growing up in Brooklyn moderated by Temple (and Official Brooklyn Borough) Historian Ron Schweiger. Naturally, the conversation turned to baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers, who left us for the West Coast at the end of the ‘57 season. “Da Bums” may be gone, but there are permanent memorials to the Dodgers as well as to baseball in general here in Brooklyn and its environs.
This year, with COVID restrictions in place, I spent many sunny afternoons walking through several of our local cemeteries in search of some of famous (and not-so-famous) permanent residents in the fields of sports, crime, and politics. We will concentrate now on sports.
We start this article with the man who was known in baseball circles as “The Voice of God.” Bob Sheppard was the public address announcer for the New York Yankees from 1951 until his retirement in 2009. Believe it or not, he also had a “real” job as a speech teacher at John Adams High School and St. John’s University. He is buried at the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, NY (Section T).
If Bob Sheppard was “The Voice of God,” the person who should have been called simply “The Voice” was Hilda Chester. Known for her boisterous support of the Brooklyn Dodgers, “Howling Hilda” was easily the most recognized baseball fan of her time. She is buried in the Hebrew Free Burial Society’s Mount Richmond Cemetery on Staten Island (Section 15).
“Wee Willie Keeler” was a Hall of Fame member of the New York Giants who once hit .400 and was the owner of a 44-game hitting streak. He is buried in Queens’ Calvary Cemetery (First Calvary, Setion 1W), in the same area where the funeral scene from The Godfather was filmed.
During the first few weeks of the pandemic, Brooklyn’s famous Green-Wood Cemetery opened all of its gates seven days a week and invited Brooklynites to come in and walk its peaceful trails and hills, which serve as home to several members of the baseball community. A relative unknown, yet a most important person to Brooklyn baseball (and especially to our wallets), was William Cammeyer (Section 154). He built the Union Grounds ballpark in Williamsburg, which was the first completely enclosed stadium — an achievement that made possible an innovation called paid admission. Ka-ching !!!
Henry Chadwick is known as “The Father of Baseball” and is credited with inventing many of the statistics we take for granted today, such as the batting average and earned run average. His gravesite is outlined as a miniature baseball diamond with bases in each corner that are so detailed they even show the old-fashioned straps used to anchor the bases to the dirt. After a severe thunderstorm, Ron Schweiger stood at Chadwick’s grave which, amazingly, escaped the severe tree damage that occurred around it. Chadwick is in Green-Wood’s Section 31 – a stone’s throw from Chicago gangster and Brooklyn native Al Capone’s mentor, Johnny Torrio. Even a godfather had a godfather.
Probably Green-Wood’s most famous baseball “resident” is the man for whom the great ballpark of Crow Hill is named – Charles Ebbets. Charlie is in good company in his spot in Section 129. Across the road from him is composer Leonard Bernstein and not far from him, on his right, is the Ebinger family. Blackout cake, anyone?
We now leave Green-Wood and head to the middle of our borough to East Flatbush. As many Dodger fans know, Ebbets Field is located on McKeever Street in what is now Crown Heights. (All of you who have heard Ron’s lectures on the Dodgers know how Crow Hill became Crown Heights.) The McKeever brothers are buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in the Saint Augustines Section.
Also in Holy Cross, to the left of the entrance gate, in the St. Catherine Section, is Brooklyn Dodger great and manager of the 1969 “Amazin’ Mets,” Gil Hodges. Gil is not far from former NYC Schools Chancellor and St. Francis College President Frank Macchiarola.
We end our brief sojourn into baseball gravesites with a great bit of baseball history and, in particular, an unbelievable bit of Jewish baseball history. On May 2nd, 1951, Philadelphia Athletics player, Bronx native, and Manhattan School of Aviation alum Lou Limmer stepped up to the plate in a game against the Detroit Tigers. With that at-bat, he became the first and, to this date, only Jewish major league player to face a Jewish pitcher throwing to a Jewish catcher. Lou is buried in Old Montefiore Cemetery in Springfield Gardens, Queens (Section 94), practically in line with the ohel surrounding the grave of Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
The pitcher on that May day was a Brooklynite and Abraham Lincoln High School alum Saul Rogovin, who is buried in Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, (Section AA4), not far from Jewish mobster and Murder, Inc. member Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss and supermarket queen Julia Waldbaum. The catcher on that day was Joe Ginsberg, a native of Michigan and a member of the 1962 Mets, who is resting in Montrose Cemetery in Montrose, MI.
I want to thank everyone who walked with me, took the time to teach me, had the patience to learn from me, and who basically kept me company. Thanks to Shelly, Joel, Dorothy, Mike, Brendon, Linda, Ron, Phyllis, Lori, Miriam, and Carol. Some of you are not B’ShERT members but all of you know who you are. Thanks also to Adrienne who kept me going – and critiqued my photos. [Editor’s note: You’re welcome, and the photos were great.]
For those who care to do further reading, two references that have been invaluable to me are Baseball Legends of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery by Peter Nash and Playing First: Early Baseball Lives at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery by Thomas W. Gilbert.
(Text and photos by Alan Zarrow. Photo of Alan at Charles Ebbets' grave is by Ron Schweiger.)
Monuments to Brooklyn's Baseball History: A Walking Tour
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles exploring the final resting places of some famous, infamous and lesser-known Brooklynites or people forever associated with the borough. Our writer, photographer and tour guide is Alan Zarrow, B'ShERT's resident amateur historian, cemetery expert, event emcee and raconteur. He's also the deputy editor of the Voice of Truth.
We were saddened to learn of the death on September 26th of Harris Reiss, a friend to many from the former TBE. Congregant Robin Bass met Harris through an online dating site, and their first date was actually a Friday night service. "Even though dating wasn't in the cards for us, we became good friends — and Harris met and became friends with many congregants."
A custom clothier known for his wit, warmth and deep intelligence, Harris attended services and temple events, including TBE's Centennial journal dinner gala in 2011. He's pictured here with congregant Bonnie Greenbaum and a table filled with other friends, including Lenny z"l and Elaine Drucker, Leslie Drucker, Nadine Antopol, and Ken Brown and Adrienne Knoll. Our condolences to Harris's mother, Marilyn, and all who knew and loved him. (Photos by Alan Zarrow)
Note the symbol that looks like an open-ended square with an arrow pointing down. That's the icon that lets you download a PDF. Click on it.
How to Download the VoT as a PDF:
A Guide for the Perplexed
When you click on the link to read the electronic newsletter, this is what you see. You can scroll through the pages and zoom in to make the print larger, but this screen also allows you to download the document as a PDF. Hint: look waaay on the bottom right.
Now you'll see something that looks like this (right). We recommend saving the PDF to your desktop so that you can locate it easily. Click on Save.
From here, you can read the VoT on your computer or, if you have a printer, print it. If you really get stuck, call the temple office and we'll put you on the list to get a printed copy in the mail every month.
B'ShERT's recent Calling Project yielded many useful pieces of information — and one recurring theme was the difficulty that some people have with reading and navigating the electronic version of the Voice of Truth. One simple workaround may be to download the newsletter as a PDF, and then either read it on your computer and print it as a hard copy. How exactly do I do that, you ask? We'll walk you through this very simple process.
The following article, Fighting for Global Jewish Communities of Color and the Right to Make Aliyah, was written by Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center.
It was submitted to the Voice of Truth by Tamara Kerner, Chair of B'ShERT's ARZA Committee.
What do the Abayudaya community of Uganda, the “Jews of the Amazon” of Peru, and the Adat Israel community of Guatemala have in common?
They began as “emerging” Jewish communities. These communities, all comprising Jews of Color, were established by Jews-by-Choice who were committed to living a Jewish lifestyle.
They were ultimately converted within the main existing streams of Judaism and then accepted as formal members of those movements. The members of Adat Israel in Guatemala were converted by recognized Reform rabbis and were accepted by the World Union for Progressive Judaism. The Abayudaya community and the Jews of the Amazon were converted to Judaism by the Conservative Movement and then became recognized Conservative communities in Uganda and Peru.
According to a recent Israeli Supreme Court ruling, Jews who are converted outside of Israel in communities that are recognized by the Reform or Conservative movements are eligible to make aliyah. Israel’s Ministry of the Interior, however, refuses to recognize the validity of the conversions of these communities.
We at the Israel Religious Action Center's Legal Aid Center for Olim petitioned both the Supreme and District courts against the Ministry of the Interior’s decision regarding these communities. After waiting more than three years, in a brief recently submitted to the Supreme Court, the Ministry of the Interior stood behind its refusal, claiming that group conversions performed in these emerging communities should not be recognized by the State.
If they have their wish, these communities will not be recognized as Jewish by the State of Israel, and community members will not be eligible to make aliyah.
This means that the two Peruvian women – cousins from the Jews of the Amazon who came to Israel in 2014 hoping to join their parents, who had already made aliyah – will never be recognized as Jewish by the state.
And Yosef Kibita, a member of the Abayudaya community, will never be recognized as Jewish by the State, despite the Jewish Agency for Israel already recognizing the Abayudaya community as Jewish within the Law of Return.
And the dentist from the Adat Israel community who converted in 2014 and applied to make aliyah and never received a response from the Jewish Agency will not be recognized as Jewish. None of them will ever be able to become Israeli citizens despite their belief in Judaism and identification as Jews.
We reject the Ministry of the Interior’s position to not recognize these communities as Jewish. It goes against the existing agreement to accept any recognized Jewish communities under the Law of Return. The Ministry of the Interior’s position, with its racist undercurrent, will further deepen the rift between Israel and Diaspora Jewry.
Because of our response to the brief, a Supreme Court hearing has been scheduled for December. Follow along with the Israel Religious Action Center for updates on this story as it unfolds.
To learn more about the work of the Israel Religious Action Center, visit irac.org and subscribe to its weekly email newsletter, The Pluralist.
ARZA Committee Report
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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
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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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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