voice of truth
In the Jewish year, there are three major festivals: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. The Torah instructs that these are the three times each year that Jews should go to the Temple in Jerusalem to make sacrifices from their harvests and to feast in celebration. This year, we have now celebrated all three on Zoom instead of being together in person.
Passover came shortly after the shutdown due to the novel coronavirus. No one knew how long it would last. The number of COVID-19 cases was climbing quickly in the city, and the hospitals and funeral homes were overwhelmed. We scrambled to move our second-night seder online, and did so successfully. We weren’t yet used to not being together physically, and for a lot of us, it was hard not being with extended family and friends on the first night, and not being with our community (or family and friends) on the second night. Some in our community had always gone to the home of parents or other relatives, and had never made their own seder. They put together a seder in their own homes for the first time this year, and felt empowered as they realized they could accomplish it. It was bittersweet, for sure, but a tiny silver lining to this huge cloud.
Our Shavuot this year was low-key. We were further into the pandemic, but still figuring things out. We had an afternoon workshop on Shabbat and services, which by then we were used to, entirely online.
As always, after Shavuot, it’s time to begin thinking about the High Holy Days—Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the third pilgrimage festival, Sukkot. Months of planning always go into these holidays, but this year it was different. Together with the Ritual Committee, Rabbi Pinsky, our cantorial soloist Nonie Schuster Donato, and I discussed whether we would be able to have anything in person. Once we decided that our best course was for everything to be online, we had to figure out how to shorten services without eliminating crucial parts. Nonie recorded the music, and we kept everything else live.
By the time we reached Rosh Hashanah, we’d all been on Zoom or YouTube for months. We’ve gotten pretty used to it. People who used to search for the Mute/Unmute command are right on top of that now. Everyone who had a reading or other honor during High Holiday services was ready when they were supposed to be and unmuted and muted themselves perfectly. More and more of you are getting onto Zoom. You’re using the chat to congratulate and commiserate with each other. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, and Shemini Atzeret were largely very successful, and our creative ideas worked.
Many thanks go to Rabbi Pinsky, Nonie Schuster Donato, Fran Silverman and Robin Bass and the Ritual Committee, Michael Rose for his tech expertise and help, Eric Platt for his support and his great idea about having people use Zoom backgrounds that make them look like they’re in the sanctuary, and everyone in the congregation who was patient and supportive throughout our High Holiday services.
Now we are back to regular time—the Jewish month of Cheshvan, which has no holidays. I know there are those who are not participating because you find you don’t connect spiritually with online services, and I’m sorry that this is your experience. I believe most of us feel that this is not as good an experience as we had when we were together in person. Many of us have nevertheless been able to stay connected and build even more connections during this time. And there are some of us who were not able to get to the synagogue physically to be together in person before the pandemic began, who are now able to attend on Zoom or YouTube.
We don’t know how much longer our physical separation will last. We continue to look for ways to use technology to help us connect better, to be more than just a stopgap measure. Thank you for being in this with the whole community. May we go forward with hope and gratitude and strength. I look forward to seeing you soon, online or in person.
Rabbi Heidi Hoover
Volume IV Cheshvan/Kislev 5781 / November 2020 No. 29
The B'ShERT sukkah
Photos by Fran Silverman
Thankful for Technology
We may not be meeting in person at B'ShERT, but through our early 21st century technology we remain a vibrant community and are engaging in activities in very unique and creative ways.
Sukkot was a case in point. Our celebration obviously required some modifications this year due to COVID, but we maintained the spirit of the holiday thanks to the ingenuity and support of our community.
We kept up our tradition of erecting our sukkah in the temple driveway. (Thanks to Sam and Fran Silverman, Robert dos Santos Teixeira, Vital Jean and Angel DeJesus for your construction skills and other invaluable help!)
Afterwards, our Youth Engagement/Outreach Coordinator, Emma Tattenbaum-Fine, mobilized members of our youth group to decorate it and they did so beautifully. Thanks to Rabbi Hoover, congregants were able to spend individual personal time in the Temple sukkah to enhance their observance of the holiday.
Further contributing to our Sukkot spirit was Rabbi Pinsky's wonderful Sukkah Project, in which we posted photographs of families’ sukkahs along with their traditions and memories. A special thank you to Hoover-Rose family, Hazel Tishcoff and family, the Holland-Schaffer family, the Bloom family, the Fisher-Brown family, and our friend across the pond, Debra Davies, for participating in our Sukkah project.
In another innovation for Sukkot, we had an appetizing cook-along session with Saul Radow courtesy of our Membership Committee. Saul taught us how to prepare Greek zucchini casserole and mushroom barley soup. During the preparation of these dishes, he provided us with many helpful cooking tips and demonstrated knife skills. Of course, those who attended and prepared the dishes can attest that they were delicious.
Our Jews Across the Pond program, featuring the short film Cork Jewish Culture Virtual Walk, was a huge success. There were over 100 people participating. Besides our own congregants, there were attendees from all over, including Boston, California, Ireland, England and South Africa. Yasher koach to Yvette Pomeranz, Helene Smith and the rest of the Jewish Cultural Committee for working with the Munster Jewish Community to make this program a reality. If you missed the program, you can find it on our Facebook page here.
The Women of B’ShERT, a Sisterhood Organization, treated us to an engaging talk by our very own Joyce Kantrowitz about growing-up in Mississippi. Joyce has been a temple member since joining Temple Ahavath Sholom (one of the six legacy congregations of B’ShERT) with her husband, Phil, in the ‘60’s. She has always been an active member and most recently served as chair of PTBAS’ Social Action Committee. She’s a treasure and her story was fascinating.
It was our pleasure as a congregation to attend Edie Wadman’s bat mitzvah service via Zoom while a small group of friends and relatives participated in person in the Minsky-Wadman home’s front yard. It was a beautiful service led by Rabbi Hoover and Edie did an amazing job chanting the prayers and Torah and delivering a very thoughtful d’var Torah.
While you are gone from our building, many things are about to happen. The Interactive Memorial Board will be installed in the sanctuary this month. Within the next few weeks, you will receive information regarding the fee schedule for virtual plaques and for adding biographies and photographs for existing stored and displayed plaques. Also, on our website we will be placing the link to view the board remotely from your home. In addition, this month we will be replacing our existing (and un-fixable) banquet hall AC unit with the new ductless split AC system. This new system will be more energy efficient than our existing system.
The timetable for reopening remains unknown as the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic are constantly changing. As we will eventually be returning to our building for in-person activity, we have performed work on the sanctuary’s air handling systems to make the space safer. In addition, a committee chaired by Sheldon Greenberg is exploring what else needs to be done for a safe reopening.
While we wait for the time that we can once again meet in person, let’s continue to enjoy and celebrate the many ways we have adapted to being together remotely due to the wonderful technological advances of our times.
Sam Silverman &Vital Jean
News from B'ShERT's Brotherhood Affiliate
On behalf of our Brotherhood Affiliate, I'd like to thank everyone who participated in our October Zoom meeting. A special thanks to temple president and Brotherhood member Eric Platt for setting up the link to make this possible.
Welcome aboard to our newest member, Matt Holland. That makes three new members since September. Fantastic!
On Sunday, November 8th at 11 am on Zoom, temple and Brotherhood member Bob Fried will present a special program about his Uncle Milton Wolfson, who flew out of Italy as a gunner in the final year of WW II. This is a great history lesson for all our temple members and their friends and a great way for some of our members young and a little older to learn about a very important part of our nation's history. The presentation will include rare photographs and live narration and fits in very well with the observance of Veteran's Day on Nov.11th. A brief Brotherhood meeting will take place at around 10 am that day.
There are some Brotherhood events to look forward to. On Friday, December 18th at 8 pm, we will hold a Brotherhood Retro Shabbat on Zoom. We’re also planning a special trivia night hosted by our own Mike Rose in January. Check the Voice of Truth and your emails and voicemails for news about these and other upcoming Brotherhood events. They’re open to everyone in our Temple and their relatives and friends!
Thank you to everyone who has joined Brotherhood so far this year. You may still join by sending a check payable to Brotherhood @ B'ShERT for $36. Mail it to Gene Guskin or the temple office ("Attention Brotherhood" on the envelope).
Please stay well and safe!
Brotherhood of B’ShERT
November 3rd may just be the most important day in 2020 for B’ShERT members. It’s Election Day (don’t forget to vote!), and it’s also the day our Congregational Survey closes. The survey opened on October 12th, and at the end of the first week we had a completion rate of 23%. This means that the voices of more than three quarters of our members are missing, and we want to hear from you.
The survey will take between five and 15 minutes to complete, and comprises mostly multiple-choice questions with a few opportunities for expanding on your answers in paragraph form. If you haven’t received either an email invitation or paper copy of the survey via postal mail, please reach out to the Temple Office right away.
In other Membership Committee news, we are pleased to introduce four members to our temple family: Lori Silverman was very active and engaged at her former congregation; at B’ShERT, Lori is interested in becoming involved with several committees, including ARZA, Jewish Cultural, and Membership. Lori was introduced to our congregation by her friend Janet Schlesinger.
Matthew Holland attended some of our holiday programs and special events throughout the past couple of years, and he recently joined Brotherhood. He’s also a huge Cyclones fan and looks forward to some B’ShERT group outings next season. He is also the father of Joanie Holland Schaffer and doting grandfather to Naz.
Deb Sadok Bryant and her son Eli are an interfaith family appreciative of the inclusiveness of our community. Her son Eli attends our Hebrew school and her daughter Lila, not yet in Hebrew school, is famous for dancing in the aisles at worship services. Deb and her family are friends of congregants Melissa deLeon and Jennifer Tattenbaum and Lisa Bachner and their children.
Please be sure to introduce yourself and extend a warm welcome to all of our new members when you see them at Temple events. Do you also have friends or family members who are seeking a spiritual connection and caring community in these difficult times? Consider making a shidduch by sharing our Temple website, Facebook page, or inviting them to one of our virtual events. With our streaming services and other programming, we are more accessible and open than ever before.
Our committee is still hard at work planning creative and engaging programming. On October 4th, we had another very successful Sukkot Cook-Along with Saul Radow, which also included culinary tips and tricks and an introduction to Saul’s favorite kitchen tool. If you missed it, you can check it out in our Facebook videos. We hope to offer more Cook-Alongs in the future. If you’re a whiz in the kitchen who might enjoy leading a similar program, please reach out to us!
Looking ahead, our next event is Finding the Peace Within on November 8th at 4 pm; it is a wellness and meditation program led by congregants Dr. Gail Levine-Fried and Dr. Robert Fried. This program will only be offered on Zoom and will not be recorded or streamed to Facebook, so you don’t want to miss it. Please register at https://findpeacewithin.eventbrite.com.
And, last but not least, save the date for Saturday, December 12th, at 5 pm.,for a Chanukah event with something for everyone: havdalah, chanukiah lighting, songs, PJ Library stories for the kids, a cocktail/mocktail workshop, dreidel competition with prizes, and more!
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 on November 5th and December 3rd at 7:30 pm. Please join us!
Ellyn Rothstein & Joanie Holland Schaffer
Co-Chairs, Membership Committee
Saul sweats his onions to perfection
News from the Membership Committee
Giving Tuesday is December 1st — Save the Date!
Facebook Giving Tuesday is December 1st. Last year, we raised almost $1300 for the Accessibility Fund.
As we go to press, Facebook has not as yet confirmed matching funds. However, we have had a generous offer from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. Through the close of day, December 1st, this donor has pledged to match all gifts totaling up to $2,000. Please keep that exciting news in mind when you sit down at your device to make your donation.
It is our hope that you will consider B’ShERT when making your donations on Giving Tuesday. We have a hub page for our Giving Tuesday efforts, so please see the following link for making your donation: https://bshert.org/givingtuesday.
Stay tuned for further information. B’ShERT needs you now more than ever!
Pam Glantzman, Fundraising Committee
(Photo by Eric Platt)
As a B'ShERT congregant, you will have heard the name Janet Haynes, because our Social Action Committee’s fund is named in her honor. Those of us from the PTBAS side of the temple family had the privilege of knowing Janet personally. Janet was soft-spoken, gracious and thought carefully before she spoke. Although gentle, she had strong principles and was persistent in doing what she believed was right. I became friendly with Janet while she was participating in the Caring Committee, visiting Vivian Kaufman, of blessed memory, who was impressed with Janet’s intellect and professional accomplishments as a professor of biology at Long Island University. Janet cared deeply for animals and even while very ill fed feral cats. She served as co-chair of the Social Action Committee with Joyce Kantrowitz. Both women did a great job and enjoyed a close relationship.
Eric Platt and I visited Janet’s grave at Mount Hope Cemetery in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn a few weeks ago and placed stones there. Janet was a good person, a good friend, and an asset to Temple.
We are very pleased to report that A Visit to Jewish Cork, our October 11th program in our Jews Across the Pond series, was well-received and was attended by over 100 participants from around the world.
We really felt a connection with the Munster Jewish community through Ruti Lachs’ film, Cork Jewish Culture Virtual Walk, and through live discussion. It was great to bond through klezmer music as well as to hear a different immigration story through Ruti’s song Grandma Came to Ireland.
The interactive program prompted many interesting questions from participants who were eager to learn more about Cork's Jewish community. Our friends in the Munster Jewish community. graciously provided answers to these questions, which you can read in the accompanying article on the next page.
We thank Ruti, Debra Davies, Marnina Winkler, and David Goldberg for providing this program. I am very grateful to Tamara Kerner for her lovely flyer, Eric Platt and Mike Rose for their technical work, my co-chair, Helene Smith, and everyone else on the committee, who contributed ideas and planned this program (Linda Feller, Pam Glantzman, Charlotte Russell, Laura Auketayeva, and Mona Goldberg). I also thank Ellyn Rothstein and Joanie Holland Schaffer for their tireless publicity work. I hope that we develop our relationship with this community and enjoy additional programs on an ongoing basis.
In addition, I am very excited to report that Cork Jewish Culture Virtual Walk was awarded first prize by National Heritage Week 2020 (in Ireland) in the Cork City/County category and was shortlisted in the Heritage on Your Doorstep category.
We continue to follow the internet for many events of Jewish interest. Don’t forget that even if you cannot make the event at the scheduled date and time, there is a very good chance that the event will be recorded so that you can watch it at a time which works for you.
I saw an excellent one-person play, Kaddish For My Father, which is a past program of the Yiddish Book Center, written and performed by Ilan Stavans. I took an in-person class with Ilan Stavans through YIVO, and he is a charismatic and interesting teacher. I have followed several of Ilan’s programs recorded by the Yiddish Book Center, which were very worthwhile.
One thing leads to another—by watching Ilan’s Latin American Jewish Cuisine, I learned about the Jewish Food Society, which is an organization dedicated to Jewish food and which posts recipes, both modern and traditional, which sound delicious, together with stories of cultural context. Check it out! Also, check out the Ethiopian Jewish holiday of Sigd, which starts the evening of November 15th and concludes on November 16th.
Jewish Cultural Committee
Jewish Cultural Committee Report
Yvette Pomeranz introduces the program
Dear B'ShERT Family,
I want to thank the B'ShERT community and especially the Chesed/Caring Committee for all of your cards, phone calls, notes and good wishes during this challenging time. Your concern has lifted my spirits and warmed my heart.
— Elaine Drucker
Cork's Jewish Culture: Post-Event Q & A
What happened to the Jewish community after World War II?
In Ireland, not many Jewish refugees were allowed in due to an anti-Semitic Foreign Affairs minister.
Some Jewish refugee children were brought to Ireland in 1948, some as young as five years old, and were housed and cared for in Clonyn Castle. They were only allowed to stay for nine months. They were then reunited with family members in America, the UK or Israel.
According to Wikipedia, "In the post-World War II period, at the instigation of Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld, the castle served briefly as a home for Jewish children, most of them orphans of the Holocaust. Manchester businessman and philanthropist Yankel Levy was persuaded to buy the castle and associated land for £30,000 and some 100 children aged between 5 and 17 were temporarily housed before rejoining their families or starting new lives in England, America or Israel. Levy was consequently bankrupted. "
Did Cork have a Jewish school? Did they also study Irish?
Jewish children went to local schools. They did study Irish and indeed some excelled, such as David Marcus (1924 to 2009), who is a well-known name in Irish literature for his novels and newspaper column and for editing many editions of short stories and encouraging young novelists.
The Jewish school at 9 South Terrace (next door to the shul) was in operation from 1891 until at least the 1930s. (In 1892, 76 students were enrolled; in 1898, 87 students). This was a national school, i.e. a primary school, but not full-time. Hebrew (and, according to some sources, secular subjects) were taught here after school and on weekends. The building was sold in 1980.
What is the reason for the demise of the Cork community?
It was always a small community, so there were not many young people of marriageable age at any one time. As in other small communities, people left to go to university or to marry in larger Jewish centers, e.g. Manchester in England, Edinburgh in Scotland, and Dublin, Israel, and the US. There was also some assimilation and at least one conversion to Catholicism.
Jewish people have often picked up the musical influence of wherever the host country happens to be. Have you noticed any melodies of Jewish music that have picked up Celtic musical overtones in the melody or arrangement?
Ruti: I have written music with Jewish and Celtic influences, including one called Klezmer Trad Mash-Up which I will try to record for the community.
Marnina: From Tenement Songs: The Popular Music of the Jewish Immigrants by Mark Slobin, and interviews, [I know that] some prayers were sung to Irish tunes, but nothing specific.
David Goldberg: When Percy Diamond led the davening in the '40s/'50s, when the Rav was away, or unable, he would sing some prayers to the melodies of operatic songs, e.g. Hashkiveinu to the theme from The Pearlfishers.
(Submitted by Yvette Pomeranz)
Harry and family at a temple luncheon
The Interactive Memorial Board
Our October speaker, Joyce Kantrowitz, gave us a window into her life growing up in Mississippi. Her talk was very well attended via Zoom, with about 45 people tuning in for her discussion. Thank you again, Joyce, for your time and the interesting picture you gave us of your life on a plantation.
On Tuesday, November 10th at 7:30 pm, our own Susan Sysler will speak with us via Zoom on the topic of "Jewish Women Activists…Then and Now," a look at some known and lesser-known Jewish women who helped change our world through their thoughts and actions. This promises to be an interesting evening.
We hope to see many of our friends at our next meeting. Everyone stay well and safe.
Mona Goldberg, Sara Meyer West, Charlotte Russell
Co-Presidents, Women of B'ShERT
Note from the Ritual Committee
News from Women of B'ShERT
Just a reminder that we always invite people to say the wine and candle blessings on Friday nights. Even though we are now having Zoom services, we are continuing the tradition.
If you are interested in getting a wine or candle blessing, please let us know. You don't have to have candles or wine for the blessing. Rabbi can light the candles or hold the wine glass if you want to say the blessings.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to let us know if you’re interested. We look forward to hearing from you!
Robin Bass & Fran Silverman
Co-Chairs, Ritual Committee
Social Action Committee News
The Interfaith Coalition — consisting of B’ShERT, East Midwood Jewish Center, Our Lady of Refuge Roman Catholic Church, and the Turkish Cultural Center of Brooklyn — had a very successful annual walking tour on Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day on October 12th — virtually!
We visited Istanbul, Israel and Alaska, with a quick side trip to Alabama on Zoom. Thanks to all who put this together and all who attended.
Save the date: On Sunday, November 22nd, our Interfaith Coalition’s annual Thanksgiving Service will be held over Zoom. A flyer will be sent out with details.
As we do every year, we will sponsor our annual Hanukkah Toy Drive for the Maimonides Cancer Center Pediatric Department. Due to COVID restrictions, Maimonides will not be having their usual party for the children, but instead will bring gifts to individual patients in their rooms. Please look for the flyer in this Voice of Truth with details. There are specifications this year due to COVID that we need to follow. As always, we appreciate your toy donations.
Finally, if you did not vote by absentee ballot or early voting, remember to go to the polls on November 3rd! Continue to be safe and healthy.
Co-Chair, Social Action Committee
B'ShERT Yom Kippur Appeal
The following is the Yom Kippur 5781 Appeal that President Eric Platt gave at our Kol Nidre service. If you have not already made a pledge, please consider making one. You can access our pledge form link at https://bshert.org/appeal/.
The Temple building by tradition has generally been the center of Temple life. Of course, this has held true for us.
Just in January and February of 2020, we used our beloved building to connect with the Munster Jewish Community in Ireland, to hold Brotherhood’s annual indoor picnic, to spend an evening of ballroom dancing, to hear a book talk about Jewish-American life in Brooklyn in the '50’s and '60s, to conduct a beautiful musical Social Action Shabbat service in honor of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and to celebrate Shabbat Across America. With exhilaration and laughter, we read the Megillah and watched our “Not Ever Ready for Purim Time Players” present an Elton John-inspired Purim Shpiel.
It seems like such a long long time ago. Then everything changed.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we made the difficult decision to stop all in-person activities whether in or out of our building. We had to quickly think about how B’ShERT would function remotely.
Fortunately, thanks to Mike Rose, we were already capable of livestreaming our Shabbat services. We realized, though, that we needed an online platform that would allow us to interact with each other. We began using Zoom for Shabbat services, religious school, meetings and other activities and events. We were resolved not to allow this situation to defeat us.
We have to thank Rabbi Hoover and Rabbi Pinsky. Rabbi Hoover realized during the early days of isolation that we needed a forum to get together to find out how we were all managing and to be comforted. She began weekly sessions of B’Yachad, which have fostered relationships between congregants who otherwise may not have ever met. Rabbi Pinsky realized that after the students’ Zoom classes, it was difficult for families to join the Shabbat service that followed. She moved the Shabbat service to an earlier time prior to classes and scheduled classes earlier so that parents could participate in B’Yachad.
We’ve taken advantage of our emerging knowledge of Zoom and other platforms to continue familiar activities and create new ones.
We held not one but two Passover seders, Another Saturday Night (which was a virtual telethon), a social action sing-a-long, another book talk about Brooklyn memories, an open mic night, and a Rosh Hashanah Cook-Along. Our community has also been able to experience a Bat Mitzvah and sadly, funerals and shivas. We’ve continued to have Executive Board, Trustees, Congregational, Committee and Affiliate meetings.
As you can see, this spirit of innovation has extended to our High Holy Days experience. This technology gives many who would have difficulty attending our functions in person the ability to participate. When we do return to having activities in our building, we will need to incorporate these technologies.
Through it all, B’ShERT has become a closer and stronger community. However, during these difficult and uncertain times, our finances have suffered. Since our building has been closed, we have lost income from the rental of our Banquet Hall and the cancellation of a number of fundraising events which we were counting on to meet our needs.
I know that many of you are also having unforeseen financial difficulties because of the pandemic. Membership dues and fees only cover a third of our day-to-day operating costs. We rely on contributions and fundraising like this Yom Kippur Appeal in order to maintain the programming and services which so many enjoy and upon which many depend.
I ask those of you that can to please look into your hearts now and pledge your support for B’ShERT so that it can continue to be a strong and close-knit community right here in Brooklyn.
To make your pledge, you may contact the office or use our new digital pledge form. The pledge form link is https://bshert.org/appeal/. You may also mail in checks or donate on our website as usual.
Thank you and G’mar Chatimah Tovah. May you be inscribed for a good year.
Hazel Tishcoff & family in their sukkah
Debra Davies & our friends across the pond
As part of Rabbi Pinsky's Sukkah Project, we posted photos of families’ sukkahs on our Facebook page along with their traditions and memories. Enjoy these glimpses of some B'ShERT community sukkahs.
(Photos provided by Hoover-Rose family, Hazel Tishcoff and family, the Holland-Schaffer family, the Bloom family, the Brown family, and our friend across the pond, Debra Davies)
Sukkah Scenes from the B'ShERT Community
The Fisher-Brown sukkah
B'ShERT Sukkah Scenes (continued)
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
Hoover-Rose sukkah kitty
Rooftop sukkah at the Holland-Schaffers
In honor of Election Day, I am concentrating this month’s segment on some very strange political stories and the people associated with them. We begin at Green-Wood Cemetery and our first stop is NYC Mayor William Jay Gaynor (Section 7) who was the victim of an attempted assassination on August 9, 1910 (8-9-10 for all of you numbers people) and amazingly survived a bullet in the neck. Although he was considered a highly-regarded candidate for either governor or even president, he was not even put up for nomination by his party for another term as mayor. He died in office in 1913 from an apparent heart attack – not from his wound.
Someone else who died in office — on February 11, 1828 in Albany — was New York Governor DeWitt Clinton (Clinton Dell section), shown behind yours truly. His uncle, George, while serving as the nation's fourth vice president, also died in office. Hmmmmm. Bad genes? DeWitt was originally buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in New Windsor, NY, but re-interred at Green-Wood.
John Young McKane (Section 146) was known as the "Czar of Coney Island" and his exploits could fill a book. He was a strong supporter of Grover Cleveland in the 1884 presidential race and it was widely suspected that he had a hand in some election irregularities. He was eventually convicted in 1894 of election fraud in the local Brooklyn contests of 1893. (THIS guy’s biography should be a story for one of Ron Schweiger’s future talks – hint, hint.) Grover Cleveland (the only president to be elected to two NON-consecutive terms) is buried in Princeton (NJ) Cemetery along with Vice President (and dueler of Alexander Hamilton) Aaron Burr and university founder Paul Tulane.
Ron Schweiger is shown here in front of the Leonard Walter Jerome’s Green-Wood mausoleum (Section 37). Who is Leonard Jerome and why are we talking about him in an article about politics? Leonard was the father of Jenny Jerome, who was the mother of Sir Winston Churchill.
We will take our leave of Green-Wood with the story of Teresa Sickles. While she was not in politics herself, her husband, US Representative from New York Daniel Sickles, was. The Sickleses lived in a row of houses across from the White House facing Lafayette Park (in the same row of houses as Henry Reid Rathbone, the army officer who accompanied Abraham Lincoln to Ford’s Theatre). Daniel found out that Teresa was having an affair with Philip Barton Key (son of Francis Scott) and publicly shot Key in front of the Key residence located on the other side of Lafayette Park (near the home of William Seward, who was gravely wounded the night Lincoln was shot).
Daniel was tried and found not guilty by reason of insanity — the first successful use of such a defense in a case like this — and went on to have a command at the battle of Gettysburg, where his leg was shattered and ultimately amputated. He donated his leg to the US Army Medical Museum (where it is still on display – just ask Bonnie Greenbaum) and it was said that he visited his leg on every anniversary of the amputation. Teresa died in 1867 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Sickles plot here at Green-Wood. Unmarked, that is, until just this past summer when a marker suddenly appeared – pointed out to me by the sharp eyes of our own Lori Pandolfo.
Moving from Green-Wood to upper Manhattan, we meet the one and only NYC Mayor Ed Koch (“How’m I doing?”). Koch is buried in the Trinity Church Cemetery Uptown on Broadway and 155th Street in the section that houses the cathedral. Also in that part of the cemetery is bird expert John James Audubon. On the other side of Broadway you will find the Astor family, Clement Clarke Moore (“T’was the night before…”), and Jerry Orbach.
We come back across the East River to Calvary Cemetery in Queens, where we have Carmine DeSapio (Section 27), who was known as the last real boss of Tammany Hall. During his tenure, he was accused of having ties to organized crime and was influential in replacing unpopular mayor Vincent Impellitteri with Robert Wagner. The Wagner family is also in Calvary (Section 45), approximately 50 yards to the right from Governor Alfred E. Smith.
Our final stop this month is New Montefiore Cemetery in Farmingdale, where we find Abe Beame (Section 4, Block 6), NYC’s first Jewish mayor and Ed Koch’s predecessor. Unfortunately, he was on the receiving end of the now-famous headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead.”
Yep – some strange stories.
Again, I can’t thank enough the people who came with me on my journeys, and thank you to the folks at Green-Wood, who encouraged people to do the walking from the beginning.
(Text and photos by Alan Zarrow. The photo of Alan with DeWitt Clinton is by Miriam Mishkin)
Politics & Intrigue from the Great Beyond: A Walking Tour
At the beginning of the pandemic, Brooklyn’s historic Green-Wood Cemetery opened all of its gates to the surrounding communities to enjoy the beauty, walk the hills, and take in a bit of history. Voice of Truth Deputy Editor Alan Zarrow — B'ShERT's resident amateur historian, cemetery expert, event emcee and inveterate raconteur — went a step further and used the past months to explore some of the other surrounding burial grounds. This is the second in a series of articles chronicling Alan's visits to noteworthy folks permanently found in Brooklyn and its environs. Due to space constraints, not every celebrity he names has an accompanying photo. To see the story with all the photos, visit our blog here: https://bshert.org/2020/10/29/greenwood-nov20/.
More Glad Tidings from B'ShERT & Beyond
Mazel tov to Edie Wadman (Eliana Batya bat Shulamit Miriam v’Michael Yotan) and her proud parents, Maura Minsky and Michael Wadman! Edie's bat mitzvah on October 24th was a blend of homespun charm, creativity and technological wizardry, with the backyard service Zoomed to loved ones, friends and the B'ShERT community.
Kol HaKavod, Edie, and a warm congratulations from your fellow congregants!
Robert Marc Fried
...and Happy Anniversary to Samantha & Warren Bloom, Terry & Stan Hollander,
and Thea Platt-Glasser & Steven Glasser!
Photos by Tamara Kerner & Ellyn Rothstein
Happy Birthday, November Babies!
Torah Portions — November 2020
Report from B'ShERT's ARZA Committee
ARZA – the Association of Reform Zionists of America — is the largest constituent of ARZENU, the umbrella organization of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists in Israel and around the world.
ARZENU has a proven record of delivering our pledges to advocate for an Israel that is Jewish, democratic and pluralistic, and for leading with our values. With our allies, we ensured that progressive Jewish movements in Israel were able to grow and expand their reach, making a significant impact on Israeli society and world Jewry at large.
ARZA is dedicated to advancing progressive values in Israel and making Israel a central pillar of Jewish identity for every Reform Jew. ARZA represents the Reform Movement to the Zionist National Institutions, using our position to create a more equal, democratic, and pluralistic Israel. The Jewish State must be a society that reflects the whole Jewish people, with the respect and legitimacy granted to all denominations. We work for acceptance of the Reform Movement, addressing issues of gender equality, civil marriage, conversion, racial justice and much more.
A way to show your support for Reform Judaism in Israel by becoming a member of ARZA.
In the near future, you will receive a letter requesting your membership. I urge you to complete the form at the bottom of the letter and return it to the Temple office along with a check made out to B’ShERT. Of the $50 in annual dues, $2 will stay at the temple for Israel-related programming. The balance will be sent directly to ARZA.
Please visit www.arza.org for more information on ARZA’s important work.
ARZA Committee Chair
November 6 - 7 Vayeira Genesis 18:1 - 22:24
November 13 - 14 Chayei Sarah Genesis 23:1 - 25:18
November 20 - 21 Tol'dot Genesis 25:19 − 28:9
November 27 - 28 Vayeitzei Genesis 28:10 – 32:3
Are you missing B'ShERT services and programs because you don't use a computer?
Have no fear! All of these come with an option to dial in with your telephone. You don’t need a smartphone. Any telephone should work. While of course you won’t be able to see the program, you'll be able to at least hear it. Since you need to know the various numbers to dial, you should call the Temple office and Alice can help you.
— Yvette Pomeranz
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
Wolf's Appliance Repair
Prompt, Friendly Service in Brooklyn
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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. firstname.lastname@example.org • 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