Volume I Iyyar/Sivan 5778 / May 2018 No. 5
voice of truth
photo by Harvey Wang
Notes From The Cantor
“Tikva” means hope. In the national anthem of the State of Israel, “Hatikva,” we sing, “od lo avda tikvateinu,” meaning, “our hope is not yet lost.” Hatikva was adapted from a poem written by Naftali Herz Imber in 1877. Imber expressed the centuries of yearning to return the land of Israel, a seemingly inconceivable impossibility.
Miraculously, seventy years ago, on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel. The initial joy felt at the realization of our hope has become tempered over these past seventy years by the difficulties of the complex reality of living in a land claimed by two peoples. What does it mean now to sing “our hope is not yet lost?”
On Erev Shavuot, Saturday, May 19, we will devote our study to “Israel at 70.” After a nourishing dairy dinner at 6:30 p.m. (see enclosed flyer for reservation details), at 8:00 p.m. Rabbi Hoover will lead us in a text study of the Book of Ruth’s insights into our relationship to the land. We will experience an exercise created by “Resetting the Table,” a non-profit organization, which innovates new methodologies to bring people together across charged political differences. We will have time for celebrating the chag [holiday] with singing, as well as dancing with the Monday Israeli dance group, and of course, eating cheesecake!
And we may even find new fervor for singing “our hope is not lost” when Susan Sysler shares insights from her recent trip to Israel with the National Council of Jewish Women, and her very special journey to Givat Haviva. Founded in 1949 by the Kibbutz Federation, the mission of Givat Haviva, is “to build an inclusive, socially cohesive society in Israel by engaging divided communities in collective action towards the advancement of a sustainable, thriving Israeli democracy based on mutual responsibility, civic equality and a shared vision of the future.” Givat Haviva’s work touches the lives of thousand of Arab and Jewish Israelis, and PTBAS has been proud to support them over these past years, by sponsoring teens in a dialogue program called, “Through Each Others’ Eyes.”
Last summer, Susan and I, along with other temple members, went to a traveling exhibition of the Givat Haviva teens’ photographs. Susan was so moved that she arranged to go visit their campus in Israel, which provides educational programs for all ages, and a vision of a “roadmap for a shared society.” Learn more at givathaviva.org, and from Susan’s first-hand experience, and you will find you are able to sing “our hope is not yet lost” with a full heart!
On another note, I wish to thank the wonderful cast and crew of “The Brooklyn Baseball Cantata” and all the artists who are participating in our spring concert on May 6. It’s a dream come true for me to be able to perform the Cantata again as my “swan song” before I retire, especially with my daughter Chaya performing the role that I sang when I first staged the piece 30 years ago. The final score? Everbody wins!
Shalom u’vracha, Cantor Suzanne Bernstein
Had'Rachah with the URJ
Are you a lay leader, or do you want to become one? Do you want to expand your ritual and educational skills alongside other members of small congregations in an intensive summer workshop? The 2018 Had'rachah Seminar, sponsored by the URL will take place on July 11-15th, 2018 at URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) in Oconomowoc, WI. Registration is open now — only $90 plus your own cost of transportation! Spaces are filling up fast: https://urj.org/what-we-do/hadrachah
The Power of Inclusion
Last year at Passover, a new seder ritual that I created was published. I was honored when I got word that it was incorporated into a seder in Italy.
This year, my ritual circulated again at Passover, and quite a few people told me they included it in their Passover seders. The ritual is called “Ruth’s Cup,” and it connects to Elijah’s Cup in the traditional seder. Ruth’s cup is a ritual of inclusion. It calls for participants to say:
We declare that we do not have to wait for the Messianic age to make sure that every Jew feels fully comfortable and integrated into our people, no matter what their hair, skin, or eye color is; no matter what their name sounds like; no matter how they became Jewish—through birth or through Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, or Reconstructionist conversion as a child or as an adult.
A number of people have communicated to me how meaningful this declaration feels to them, and it got me thinking about how good we are, in the Jewish world, at telling people there is something inferior or wrong about their Jewishness. It seems that a statement of inclusion like Ruth’s Cup is too rare.
All you have to do is look at Jewish publications to find ample evidence of Jews saying there’s something wrong about the way other people are Jewish. If you criticize Israel, you’re not the right kind of Jew (ask Natalie Portman). If you don’t criticize Israel, you’re not the right kind of Jew. If you’re Reform, you’re not “Jewish enough.” If you intermarry, you are contributing to the decline of the Jewish people. If your small children make noise in the sanctuary, you’re not welcome there. If you are a Jew of color, your Jewishness will be questioned. If you’ve converted to Judaism, you might not be recognized as a Jew at all, and even well-meaning people might think you’re not quite Jewish. All of these messages are all too common, and all of them send a message of alienation, of not belonging.
This is actually a complicated issue, because we have to have boundaries; boundaries define who we are. At the same time, I wonder if observing those boundaries means we have to say that anyone who is outside them is somehow less Jewish, or isn’t Jewish “right.” There may be reasons some Jews don’t fit into some Jewish communities, but that doesn’t mean they are less Jewish.
There are lots of different ways to be Jewish and to do Jewish that are all authentic. Just because they are different doesn’t mean they are wrong. In the greater Jewish community, we certainly have a ways to go in showing respect to one another, even when we don’t agree.
Part of the issue, I think, is that too many of us feel insecure in our own Jewishness—our Jewish identities are vulnerable to people who want to tell us that our Jewishness is somehow wrong or not enough. Let us work to feel secure in our own authenticity, so that we don’t need to feel threatened by others, and don’t need to put them down to make ourselves feel better.
This month we will celebrate Shavuot, the holiday when we celebrate receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai. We read the Book of Ruth for Shavuot, because we think of Ruth as the first convert to Judaism, a woman who volunteered to receive the Torah. We are told that all of us—the Israelites of the Exodus all the way to us, including all Jews of all times and places, born Jews and converts, and fellow travelers with Jews—stood at Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah.
Ruth’s Cup is a reminder that we should remember the differences between us, and that we should also remember that we all stand at Mt. Sinai to receive Torah as equals. Let us treat each other that way, even when there are profound differences between us of belief and practice.
I look forward to seeing you soon.
Rabbi Heidi Hoover
What Is Lag B'Omer?
Many of our Jewish holidays are based on the agricultural calendar of our ancestors, including the three pilgrimage festivals of Passover (Pesach), Shavuot and Sukkot. Pesach and Shavuot are connected by the counting of the Omer (a harvesting unit of measure), marking the time from the barley to the wheat harvest. As in all agrarian societies, if the weather pattern deviates, it can be disastrous for the community. Since our forebears saw this as a somber time, there are many prohibitions during this 49-day period, including no weddings, parties or haircuts.
The one exception during this solemn period is Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of counting the Omer. "Lag" is from the Hebrew letters lamed and gimel. Lamed has a numerical equivalent to 30, and gimel has the numerical equivalent of 3, thus the 33rd day. This year, Lag BaOmer falls on May 3.
There are different reasons given to explain why this date is special. One rationale is that the plague that brought about the death of thousands of Rabbi Akiva's students stopped on Lag BaOmer. There is also the claim that Lag BaOmer is the yahrzeit of one of Rabbi Akiva's most famous students-Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who is said to have authored the mystical writings of the Zohar, the text of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). LagBaOmer has become a day of celebration and joy amidst the restrictive weeks surrounding it.
Among those who observe the somber days during the Omer, Lag BaOmer is often a day for wedding celebrations. During the time of the counting of the Omer there are bans on parties, music and dancing, similar to the prohibitions for a person in mourning for a loved one. For those who wish to marry in the spring, this is the only halachically "safe" day to celebrate. Many Jews also do not cut their hair during this time period. Boys, at the age of 3, often have their first haircut on Lag BaOmer, with much festivity surrounding the event.
Lag BaOmer celebrations are generally outdoor adventures, including bonfires, fun and frolic with teaching. Especially in Israel, people young and old will be outside sharing a picnic and enjoying the beautiful day; school children celebrate with a "field day." The bonfires lit in celebration are supposed to symbolize the light of Torah.
How can we honor and rejoice on Lag BaOmer? Take time to study a new Jewish text, learn a new ritual you can bring into the rhythm of your days, find a new idea that brings meaning to your life. Have a barbecue with family and friends, and take time to appreciate all that surrounds you in the world. Celebrate all that Judaism brings to enrich your life. by Lisa Lieberman Barzili for urj.org
In modern times, Jews no longer bring the first fruits of their harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem, and thus there are no particular mitzvot, or commandments, associated with Shavuot. There are, however, several rituals that are traditional components of celebrating the holiday.
How about staying up all night studying Torah? This custom evolved from the story that says that when the Israelites were at Sinai, they overslept and had to be awakened by Moses. As a result, many modern Jews stay up all night to study and celebrate receiving the Torah. These events, known as Tikkun Leil Shavuot, which literally means “Rectification for Shavuot Night,” are understood as the custom of studying with a community in order to re-experience standing at Mount Sinai, where the Jewish people received the Torah. The Tikkun Leil Shavuot was developed by 16th century mystics in Safed, who believed that by studying on Shavuot, they were symbolically preparing Israel to enter into a sacred relationship with God. Modern interpretations and versions of this practice include study on a wide range of topics.
In recent years, Tikkunim have become extremely popular for all Israeli Jews. In Jerusalem, one can spend the whole night wandering from tikkun to tikkun, which are held in homes, synagogues, community centers, and educational institutions of every religious and ideological flavor. Most of these gatherings use the name, but ignore the traditional format. They simply are evenings of study for the sake of study and fellowship, and the various themes and topics they address are endless.
It also is customary to eat dairy foods on Shavuot because Jewish tradition compares the words of Torah to the sweetness of milk and honey. Blintzes and cheesecake are among the popular foods to make and enjoy for the holiday. urj.org
The Simcha Zone
Happy Birthday, May Babies!
Social Action Committee
Please don’t forget to mark your calendar: On Thursday, May 31, as part of our Interfaith Coalition activities, we are hosting a multicultural Iftar dinner in our Banquet Hall to celebrate the end of the Ramadan fast. More info forthcoming in a flyer.
As many of you know, we now participate in the URJ’s Religious Action Center’s Brit Olam. At our next committee meeting on Tuesday, May 15, at 7 pm, we will be discussing the specific social justice areas that we as a community would like to focus on. Thank you again for your ideas and continuing support! Susan Sysler and Laurie Bassi, Co-Chairs
Brotherhood would like to thank our members who attended the Brotherhood Breakfast at the Mirage Diner on Sunday, April 15. We had a nice turnout, conducted some important business, enjoyed a delicious breakfast, had some interesting conversations & more. Welcome back, Myron Klein and Paul Lipton.
The next Brotherhood meeting is scheduled for Sunday June 3 at 9 am in the Community Room. At this meeting, we discuss plans for the Outdoor Picnic at Floyd Bennett Field on Sunday June 24, the election of new officers for next year, and future events for Brotherhood for 2018-2019. We need strong support from our temple for Brotherhood to continue. Please join us.
The June 24 picnic begins at 11 am. (Please don't rain!) Look for our flyer for further details about this picnic. Please bring your families. It would be nice to see a huge turnout
On Sunday, July 8 at 4 pm, we have obtained 40 tickets on a first come basis to watch the Cyclones play the Staten Island Yankees at MCU Park. Look for our flyer for further details. Special prices will be available for children in our Hebrew school and Confirmation Class as well as special family rates.
We wish everyone a happy Mother's Day, Memorial Day Weekend and Shavuot and a healthy and prosperous month of May. Good luck to any of our children taking the state math or science exams this month.
The Brotherhood Affiliate of B'ShERT
Paul S. Lipton
Nonie Schuster Donato
Happy anniversary to Pam & Frank and
Faye & Gene
It's B'ShERT… Community Messages
Belle Joseph recently celebrated her 102nd birthday in Hollywood, FL!
Belle's daughter Harriet Ottenheimer says that Belle sends her regards and would love to hear from her extended Temple family.
Do you have a message to share in the community? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will print it in the next issue.
Join Us At The Fair 5/6
Looking for a way to help B’ShERT on Sunday, May 6th? Come and spend an hour at the Temple’s booth at the Church Avenue Street Fair.
Greet visitors, share your enthusiasm, schmooze with friends!
Church Avenue, between Coney Island Avenue and Rugby Road. Set-up starts at 10:30 am; booth staffed between 11:30 am and 6 pm. Note that the Spring Concert at the Temple begins at 4 pm.
Email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your availability. We'll see you there!
President's Message — Headlee's Rules For Better Conversations
We as a congregation are making wonderful strides as we fully consolidate. We have a full calendar of activities, new lights and carpet in the sanctuary, with plans to address more immediate physical needs, and committees working on attracting members, creating meaningful ritual events, and hiring a new cantor!
The key to the success of B’ShERT is community, and a community is a conglomeration of hundreds of relationships. As we continue to get to know one another, work together, and develop these relationships, it is important that we are always being active listeners with one another.
With that in mind, here are 10 tips on having better conversations, transcribed from a TED Talk given by Georgia Public Broadcasting host Celeste Headlee, former host of the The Takeaway on Public Radio International and correspondent on NPR’s Day to Day.
Headlee bases this advice on her career interviewing people and doing journalism research, but the lessons here apply in every social situation.
1. Don’t Multitask Be present, be in that moment, when you are speaking to someone.
2. Don’t Pontificate Set aside your personal opinions; open up your mind to the listener. Assume that you have something to learn.
3. Use Open-ended Questions When speaking with someone, don’t lead them to your point, or ask pointed questions. Ask questions that make people talk. It forces people to stop and think about their responses.
4. Go with the Flow The “kill your darlings” rule. If you have a great point to make or a brilliant question to ask, but can’t fit it naturally without hijacking the conversation, just let it go if you can’t fit it organically into the conversation.
5. If You Don’t Know Something, Say You Don’t Know.
6. Don’t Equate Your Experience with Theirs All experiences are individual. It’s not about you – you don’t need to prove how amazing you are or how much you suffered. Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.
7. Try Not to Repeat Yourself It is condescending and boring. Seriously, repeating yourself really is condescending and boring.
8. Stay Out of the Weeds People don’t care about names, dates, and details. They care about you what you like and have in common.
9. Listen “If your mouth is open, you’re not learning.” (Attributed to Buddha.) You can talk at about 225 words per minute, but you can listen to up to 500 words per minute. Thus, if you are doing the talking, your mind will fill in those extra words and you can get distracted. If you’re not listening, you’re not in a conversation.
10. Be brief.
If you’d like to hear Celeste Headlee’s rules for yourself, check out her talk at TED.com, or if you're reading the newsletter online, just click above!
We explored the history of Jews and comics/comic strips/comic books. After discussing some 20th century Jewish roots of Marvel and DC, we took it upon ourselves to explore this artistic heritage by working as Jewish comics artists ourselves. Students have been making comic characters and strips about a range of topics, some Jewish and some not. Sometimes it got quite zany! Last week, we studied three Jewish stories (one from Tanakh, one from Midrash, and one hybrid European-Jewish fairy tale) in depth, hevruta style.
The group is really rocking in terms of their text study -- so many good ideas! One thing we talked about was the way our Jewish and non-Jewish influences are often inextricable; we can be Jewish artists who create on topics that are not explicitly Jewish, and we can relate Jewishly to art created for and by all people. We've been really lucky to have Shoshi, Lela, Yaheli and Hannalina working and guiding in our classroom lately.
Haifa class paired with Jenn’s class for the first of our two-part lesson for Yom Hashoah. We watched the first half of the documentary Inside Hana’s Suitcase and discussed the importance of remembering the Holocaust even when it is difficult. We will continue the movie and the lesson this week and look at how Yom Hashoah is observed in Israel.
Religious School Update
For the past several years, our school has been ably guided by our Religious School committee and operated under the supervision of longtime teacher and educator Bryna Bilanow.
Due to her family and business obligations, Bryna has decided to resign her position with the school. We are grateful for all her wonderful contributions to our community and we wish her, Olgierd and their sons all the best.
Jewish Cultural Committee
In the bloom of May, it is time to get out and enjoy—including Jewish cultural activities. There are so many! I can name only a few.
Head over to the Center for Jewish History on West 16th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. On May 8, at 7 pm, there is a free program on Moses in Film. If it is anything like the program shown in recent years about Noah in film, it will be both entertaining and provocative.
Return on May 10 at 7 pm to learn about Eddie Cantor and Sophie Tucker. The cost is $10 for members and $5 for seniors. Take your mother there on May 13 at 3 pm for a grand concert in celebration of Jerusalem. Tickets are $15 ($10 for seniors).
Are you interested in dance? On Saturday, May 5, at 7 pm, at Temple Emanuel at 1 East 65th Street in Manhattan, view a filmed performance by the Batsheva Dance Company entitled Mr. Gaga, followed by a discussion with the artistic director of the company and the producer of the film. The cost is $18.
Also, there will be a very exciting concert at the same location on May 10 at 7 pm at a cost of $36, called Composing for Peace, featuring Israeli singers David Broza and Noa and the Palestinian singer Mira Awad. If this is not enough, visit the Jewish Museum for an exhibit of the works of Chaim Soutine.
As of this date, the Committee is reviewing activities, including summer events. We are planning to attend the Shir Chadash concert on Sunday, June 3, at 7 pm, at Flatbush Jewish Center, and also see Fiddler on the Roof (in Yiddish!) at the Museum of Jewish Heritage at Battery Park (probably on either July 22 or August 5). Save the dates! We may have more ideas as we go on.
Women of PTBAS & Sisterhood of Temple Beth Emeth
We invite everyone to attend Friday evening services on May 4, at 8 pm, when our members will be participating. We promise an interesting d’var Torah by Ellyn Rothstein.
On Saturday, May 5, Sisterhood of TBE will hold a brunch at 9:45 AM with Alan Zarrow as guest speaker.
We look forward to seeing our friends at both events.
Charlotte Russell, Mona Goldberg, Sara West
Yom Yerushalayim, also known as Jerusalem Day, commemorates Jerusalem's reunification in 1967. This day begins on the 28th day of the month of Iyyar in the Hebrew calendar, which this year is May 13.
Yom Yerushalayim is marked with a range of events in many communities in Israel. These include: recitations of the Hallel prayer for praise and thanksgiving in synagogues; street parades, parties, singing and dancing; special meals; and lectures on the history and future of Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, a public reception by the city’s mayor, state ceremonies and memorial services for those who died in the Six-Day War are also held. In Israel, some people mark the occasion by traveling or even hiking to Jerusalem.
On Friday, May 11th the members of the ARZA Committee will participate in a special Erev Shabbat service in honor of Yom Yerushlayim (Jerusalem Day); there is a Temple pot luck dinner at 6:30 pm and services begin at 8. We look forward to seeing you there.
Tamara Kerner, ARZA Chair
Gala Journal Ad Time Is Here Again
The deadline is Friday May 18 to sell ads for our luncheon Souvenir Journal. Individuals can buy ads to place personal greetings. Business folks can buy ads to send greetings plus advertise their business.
When you think about people you do business with, those are exactly the ones you can approach to buy an ad. Here's a partial list to help you brainstorm:
Your car repair place, The companies that have made repairs in your home.
Your hardware, linen, Judaica, grocery stores.
Your bank, credit union, stock broker, insurance agents.
The folks who helped you with your event, with the invitations, caterer, entertainment, flowers, photographers, venue.
The folks who help you with personal care (hair, nails, etc.).
Your kids' dance company, tutor, camp.
The places you go for entertainment -- theaters, restaurants.
Your doctors, dentists, hospitals.
Your funeral director.
Your travel agent, rental car agency, etc.
Who do you think?
If you have folks in mind and don't want to ask, contact me and I'll arrange for them to be solicited. If you want some leads, contact me. Thanks! Sally Moses — email@example.com
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
Co-Chairs: Gene Guskin at 917-533-6231
Debbie Belsky at 718-252-8030
Frema Schneier at 718-236-4047
Jonathan Schwartz, our April Sisterhood Brunch speaker, pictured with Candi Friedman. Jonathan spoke about his health journey and his mission to complete a triathalon in Maine this summer.
May TBE Yahrzeits: “For the Memory of the Righteous Is a Blessing”
Apr 28 – May 4
Hattie Davis Berk
Charles S. Manheimer
Jacob L. Matthes
Miriam Cohen Nirenberg
Lewis S. Schorr
May 5 – May 11
Mania Pines Entin
Rebecca Nathan Levine
Fred G. Minzesheimer
Sarah C. Safir
Francis M. Sanders
Sadie R. Weinberg
May 12 – 18
Lillian Newman Brooks
Edna V. Schachter
Sarah Leiblick Friedman
Therese A. Fraad
E. Arthur Klein
Annie Fisher Peyser
Samuel Taylor Ross
May 26 – June 1
Bernie F. Green
Rose Stern Jarnow
Beatrice Kolman Klepper
Ruth R. Shatz
Miriam G. Strauss
TBE Donations for May
Donor In Memory of
Lynn DeNonno Irene Greenberg-Munitz
Robert & Lori Pandolfo Irene Greenberg-Munitz
Judith Weiss Irene Greenberg-Munitz
Hazel Tishcoff Irene Greenberg-Munitz
Ron & Phyllis Schweiger Silvia Schweiger
Ron & Phyllis Schweiger Irene Greenberg-Munitz
Natalie Friedlander Robert Baraz
Donor Speedy Recovery of
Shifra Brodsky Alena Isaccof
Donor In Memory of
Harvey Wang & Amy Brost Edna Wang
Morton Meyer Fund
Donor In Celebration of
Deanna Roth Ellyn Rothstein’s birthday
Donor In Memory of
Marica Kaplan-Mann & Irene Greenberg-Munitz
Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund
Donor In Honor of
Robert & Lori Pandolfo Thank you to Rabbi Hoover
For performing the baby naming of their Granddaughter Mia Rose
Donor In Memory of
Elaine & Lenny Drucker Mike Figueroa
Elaine & Lenny Drucker Irene Greenberg-Munitz
Alan & Nadine Antopol Irene Greenberg-Munitz
Leslie Drucker Irene Greenberg-Munitz
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TBE direct & phone tree 718-282-1596
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Submissions to email@example.com.
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Wolf's Appliance Repair
Prompt, Friendly Service in Brooklyn
Fridges, Stoves, Ovens, Gas Ranges, Washers, Dryers and So Much More
Call us! 718 998 3238
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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 718-421-3740