Torah of Life
The word “Torah” is an expansive word. It refers to the five Books of Moses, the Pentateuch, which is what the scrolls in our ark contain. It also refers to the whole Hebrew Bible, which has three sections: Torah, Prophets (Neviim), and Writings (Ketuvim). “Torah” is also the whole oral tradition—the discussions of Jewish law in the Talmud are the Oral Torah (although, of course, it is also in writing now). Finally, all that we learn and live and teach in our lives can be called our Torah. “Torah” is the wisdom we develop and pass on to others.
This month, we will celebrate Shavuot, one of our three major pilgrimage festivals. (The other two are Sukkot and Passover.) The Torah (the one that is in the scrolls in the ark—the five Books of Moses) tells us that these three are the times when Jews should travel to the Temple in Jerusalem to make sacrifices, feast, and celebrate with others.
While all three of the festivals originally had agricultural origins that were harvest-related, they had theological meanings as well, which today are more important to us. Shavuot celebrates when God revealed the Torah to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. According to our tradition, the Torah was not created for the Israelites. It was not new at Mount Sinai, though it was new to them. Revelation is when something already exists, but it is new, dramatic, and life-changing for the people who didn’t know about it before.
Last month I wrote about the journey from the freedom achieved through the Exodus to revelation at Mt. Sinai. The truth, of course, is that we are always on many journeys at the same time, and revelation isn’t just one event, but many events in the course of the journeys of our lives.
This month, I’d like to recognize a few people who shared their Torah with our community this year, and who are now moving on.
Rabbi Cassi Kail, after leading Saturday services when I was on vacation last summer, returned in October to lead services and Saturday Tot Shabbat, and to spend the year evaluating our religious school and generating a report to help our new rabbi/educator get off to a running start. Rabbi Kail’s presence was warm and cheerful, her guitar-playing and singing was much appreciated, and she has enriched us with her Torah. This summer she begins a new position with a congregation in the Los Angeles area. The congregation is fortunate to have her, and we wish her all the best.
This year’s Jacqueline Smith Memorial Rabbinic Intern, Kylynn Perdue-Bronson, led services this year together with Rabbi Kail and me and advised the youth group. She also worked with our religious school, supporting our head teacher, Cara Kantrowitz George, and tutoring b’nei mitzvah students. I appreciated her dry wit, her willingness to try anything, and her ability to go with the flow. Next year, in addition to fourth-year rabbinical school coursework, Kylynn will be focusing on her Clinical Pastoral Education—chaplaincy work. We wish her well.
Cara Kantrowitz George was invaluable this year as our head teacher. She is so knowledgeable, talented, and well-organized, and I’m so glad she’s part of our community. Cara will not be serving as head teacher next year, as Rabbi Alexis Pinsky, our new rabbi/educator, will be on board as of July. We hope that Cara will stay on as a teacher, and thank her so much for her work this year.
Finally, Naveh Sasson was our shinshin this year. He is Israeli, and this year he did a gap year between high school and the army, serving as a volunteer at various institutions in Brooklyn and acting as a cultural ambassador, building relationships with American Jews to help us feel closer to Israel. Naveh helped to tutor b’nei mitzvah students, made shakshuka with the Confirmation Class, and was fun to have around. Next year he will be in the army in Israel, but I’m sure he’d be glad to hear from any members of our community. We pray for his safety and success in the future.
This is the last issue of the Voice of Truth before the summer. I know that for those whose lives are no longer governed by the rhythm of the school year, summer isn’t much different than the rest of the year. Even so, things are slowing down at this time of year. Many people are traveling or taking vacations. If you are traveling, I wish you safe journeys. May you experience revelation as well as freedom. Stay cool, enjoy life, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Rabbi Heidi Hoover
Photo by Adrienne Knoll
Volume II Iyyar/Sivan 5779 / June 2019 No. 16
voice of truth
The Shul that Never Sleeps
As we look forward to the summer, B’ShERT remains full of activity during this month. The month begins with a Shabbat morning service on Saturday, June 1 at which we will have Confirmation. Please join us and show your support for our confirmand, Max Levinson, as he reaches this impressive milestone. Of course, we look forward to the following day, Sunday, June 2, as we celebrate our first official year as B’ShERT at our annual Journal Luncheon at Rex Manor. After the luncheon we invite you to return to B’ShERT for a Shir Chadash Concert at which our very own Nonie Schuster Donato will be a guest soloist.
We encourage you to attend our Shabbat service on Saturday, June 8 as our service will be enhanced by our choir singing new and old settings of our prayers. At the service, we will also be thanking Rabbi Cassi Kail for all she has done for us this year and wishing her well as she moves on to her own pulpit in San Pedro, CA. A luncheon honoring our religious school teachers will follow the service. We hope you return Saturday evening for a Shavuot service and a night of learning.
Please make every effort to attend our Congregational Meeting on Wednesday, June 26 as a quorum is required. At the meeting, we will vote for our officers for the next two years and trustees for the three-year term ending in June 2022.
We are finalizing plans for an outdoor Shabbat morning service on Saturday, June 22 at the Salt Marsh Nature Center on Avenue U across the street from Marine Park. The setting for this service is inspiring. Details will be sent upon the finalization of the service.
As the month comes to an end, we hope to see many of you at the Cyclones game sponsored by Brotherhood on Sunday, June 23 and then the following week, on Sunday, June 30, please join us at Brotherhood’s Annual Picnic at the Floyd Bennett Field Community Garden. A couple of relaxing activities to spend time with your fellow congregants as summer begins.
While many of you will be away for the summer, life goes on at B’ShERT. Shabbat services will be held throughout the summer on both Friday evening and Saturday mornings. Rabbi Alexis Pinsky, our new Associate Rabbi, begins her position on July 1 and we hope that many of you join us on Saturday, July 6 to give her a warm welcome at her first Shabbat service at B’ShERT. Also, during the summer, on Sunday, August 4, the Jewish Cultural Committee will be going to the Jewish Museum to view the Leonard Cohen exhibit. Then, later in the month, on Sunday, August 18, we will have a meal with members of the Haitian church that meets in our building. This is our custodian Vitale Jean’s church and this is an opportunity to get to know each other.
All of many activities and events happening at B’ShERT would not be possible without the devoted work being done by our committees and affiliates and your cooperation, support and patience. Also, we would be remiss not to thank our wonderful staff. Alice Hyatt and Sondra Berkman have worked diligently handling our administrative and bookkeeping needs. And Vitale Jean and Angel DeJesus always make sure that our building is ready for services and our many programs. We must also thank our Cantorial Soloist Nonie Schuster Donato and accompanist Maxine Feldman for their musical talents that enhance our Friday evening services.
Thank you to Kylynn Perdue-Bronson, our Jacqueline Smith Memorial Rabbinic Intern, for all she has contributed to our religious school, Shabbat services and youth group and we wish her all the best in her continued rabbinic studies and future endeavors. Finally, we must express our appreciation to Rabbi Heidi Hoover for all she has done in continuing to lead and guide us through the establishment of a cohesive and warm B’ShERT community.
We wish everyone a splendid and restful summer.
Jeff Levinson & Eric Platt, Co-Presidents, B'ShERT
Adult Education Committee Report
On Saturday, May 4, after services, there was a lively discussion about A Perfect Peace by Amos Oz. As always, there was a lot to say and learn. Our next discussion will take place on Saturday, July 13, after services (and a light lunch). The topic will be Kaddish.com by Nathan Englander.
We were treated to two classes taught by Kylynn Perdue-Bronson, our rabbinic intern, on "Traditional Talmud Study." Not only did Kylynn share with us some of the intricacies of this study (where multiple commentaries are contained on the same pages and where commentaries pages later completely change the focus of interest) but she taught us to appreciate how the holiness of study can transcend us from our concerns of daily living. We look forward to additional learning opportunities!
Yvette Pomeranz, Adult Education Committee
News from the Membership Committee
We are excited for B’ShERT and PJ Library NY to host Shalom Shavuot for families of young children—our first event organized by liaison Joanie Holland Schaffer and led by Rabbi Hoover on Saturday, June 8 from 2:30-3:30 pm. Look for additional event details on our flyer in the Voice of Truth and on the B’ShERT Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BShERTBrooklyn/).
Name tags/lanyards are coming back for the High Holy Days and for other occasions. Of course, we will be using our new temple logo. Let us know if you no longer have yours. We have some extras but can order more if necessary. In addition, we have re-thought our policy of encouraging congregants to take home lanyards and bring them back for events, activities. Instead, we will maintain a storage box to keep the name tags/lanyards. We are hoping that this will motivate you to wear them.
Everyone is a Welcome Ambassador for B’ShERT! Look for our welcome flyer at the back of our Shabbat booklet. We have initiated a Welcome Ambassador program with a friendly message to guests and visitors and encourage them to contact the temple office so that one of our ambassadors (can be a committee member or maybe YOU!) to greet them at the temple and sit with them at the event or service of their choice. We have included a welcome message on our Facebook page.
Our Membership Committee wishes you a fun and restful summer!
Ellyn Rothstein & Melissa Scott
Co-Chairs, Membership Committee
News from the Jewish Cultural Committee
Photo by Ellyn Rothstein
Fundraising (and FUN-raising) Committee Updates
On Saturday, May 18, we held our Salsa con Salsa program (pictured at right). In addition to Tex-Mex food, we had a terrific evening of dancing lessons (both salsa and meringue) provided by a professional instructor in a relaxed atmosphere. This event was generously sponsored by Doreen Aronow. We received tons of compliments! Next on the event agenda is our dinner at Arirang Restaurant in Bay Ridge in July. Look for our flyer in this newsletter!
We know that every year you wish friends and relatives a sweet New Year. The Fundraising Committee has a new and exciting initiative which will ensure that you provide your loved ones with some sweetness to start the New Year right—our Honey From The Heart project. For $12, you can buy a jar of honey, like the one shown here, with a personalized gift card message and a card with the appropriate prayer, to be sent near or far. This too will raise funds for Temple. What could be better? Details will be provided shortly.
B'ShERT Celebrates Yom Haatzmaut!
Thanks to Robin Bass for leading our Hebrew school children in Israeli dance in honor of Yom Haatzmaut. Thanks also to Faigee’s Israeli dance class (Ellyn Rothstein and Tamara Kerner), our Hebrew school teachers ( Lizzie, Ian, Cara and Shoshi) and Rabbinic intern Kylynn Perdue-Bronson for being her assistants! And of course, todah rabah to ARZA Chair Tamara Kerner for organizing this day along with our merry band of committee members: Madeline Kaye, Yvette Pomeranz, Linda Feller, Dianne Roded, Ellyn Rothstein, Susan Sysler and Debbie Belsky. Everyone had fun!
(photos by Ellyn Rothstein)
News from the Social Action Committee
Chatting, Noshing & Building Community
Temple members Fran and Manny Arnowitz, Linda Feller, Candi and Rob Friedman, Fran Levine, Dianne Roded, Ellyn Rothstein, Jennifer Tattenbaum, Hazel Tishcoff and Sara West gathered at Hazel Tishcoff’s house on Sunday, May 19 and were graciously hosted by Hazel and Candi and Rob Friedman. We all enjoyed an afternoon of sharing stories and experiences and generally getting to know each other in a comfortable environment. Many of us did not know each other’s names or knew very little about each other. Now, we are in the planning stages of organizing at least four additional Chat N’ Noshes at Rabbi Hoover’s home on either Saturday late afternoon for a Seudah Shelishit (small meal) or Sunday afternoon Chat 'n Nosh in August, September and October. Stay tuned!
Melissa Scott and Ellyn Rothstein
Co-Chairs, Membership Committee
Another well attended Interfaith Coalition Abraham’s Table was held on May 19 at East Midwood Jewish Center (EMJC). The discussion, led by Rabbi Matt Carl of East Midwood, Sister Celia Deutsch of Our Lady of Refuge Church (OLRC) and Hakam Yesilova, editor of The Fountain magazine, centered around compassion and respect in our traditions. Hakan Yesilova also gave a brief explanation of Ramadan and Iftar which was followed by a delicious Iftar dinner. Special thanks to Sally Hipscher of East Midwood, Goksel Guven and Yesim Sava of The Turkish Cultural Center and Sister Celia of OLRC for coordinating and to all the volunteers from B’ShERT, EMJC, OLRC and TCC who did set-up, food prep, cooking and clean-up.
A special Social Action opportunity (pictured) was held at B’ShERT on May 21 sponsored by NARAL and B’ShERT to write postcards to our elected officials regarding the current anti-abortion legislation around the country. This same type of postcard writing party was held across the country. Thanks to Robin Bass for organizing this effort, which drew 30 attendees including women, men and teenagers.
The joint program between B’ShERT and GSBC (Good Shepherd Baptist Church) has been changed from Sunday, August 11 to Sunday, August 18 from 2-4 pm. Details will be coming soon.
The next Social Action Committee meeting will be Tuesday, June 18 at 7 pm in the Community Room to discuss summer and fall activities. Please join us!
Have a great summer!
Susan Sysler and Laurie Bassi
Co-Chairs, Social Action Committee
Photo by Robin Bass
Photo courtesy of Tamara Kerner
IN THE BEGINNING: I was born in post-war Poland, to the great distress of my five-year-old brother, in a small town called Walbzych. My parents were Holocaust survivors. I spent the first seven years of my life living there, not aware of my family’s background or the fact that we were Jewish.
THE PROMISED LAND: When I was seven, my family immigrated to Israel. As I recall, the journey was via lots of trains and through foreign lands. In Israel, I spent three idyllic years living in Kibbutz Yagur, located in the Galilee at the foot of the Carmel Mountains. It was there that I first tasted bananas (right off the tree), saw my first movie, Cyclops, and learned to swim.
THE OTHER PROMISED LAND (BROOKLYN): In March 1963, I was whisked away from Israel and, after a two-week sea journey, landed with my family in lower Manhattan. My aunt and uncle were our sponsors. They found us a two-bedroom, fourth-floor walk-up apartment in a building on Ocean Parkway and Brighton Beach Avenue. My parents stayed in that same building for the rest of their lives.
DOMESTIC TRAVELS: In 1974, after college and a new marriage, I moved to Muncie, Indiana, where my husband was a graduate student at Ball State University. The next year we moved back to Brooklyn, where my husband completed his degree and we both set out working. At that point we rented an apartment down the street from where fellow B'ShERT member Debbie Belsky lives (although we did not know each other then). In 1976, my husband got a job with the Veterans Administration in Biloxi Mississippi, so off we went on a road trip to our new home in Gulfport. It was there that we first encountered discrimination, which forced us to seek out a Jewish community where we met some incredibly fabulous people. My daughter, Rebekkah, was born there.
COMING FULL CIRCLE: In 1977 my husband transferred to a position in the small town of Sherman, in northern Texas, so we were off again. In 1980 we were once again back in Brooklyn with me working at the Waldorf Astoria and my husband working at Long Island University. After a year we moved to San Antonio, where we would have stayed, but we missed our families back in NY. We landed in Harrison NJ, where my son Etan was born. When the chance came we moved back to Brooklyn and for a while rented an apartment in the same building where I grew up. Coming full circle. Whew!!! I have not left Brooklyn since, living in Brighton Beach, Sea Gate, Bensonhurst and currently in Midwood.
READING, WRITING & THE OTHER STUFF: After first grade in Poland (which I barely remember) and three years in Israel, which felt like a never-ending summer camp, I spent my 5th and 6th grades at P.S. 253 and went to Reynolds JHS, Abraham Lincoln HS and Brooklyn College, where I majored in Early Childhood Education and Psychology.
SPIRITUAL JOURNEY: Growing up, religion was never mentioned in my family. My parents were too busy surviving and had left behind whatever family rituals and religion they might have had before the war. I became more aware of my Judaism once in the US, but my family did not observe any of the holidays; in fact, my mother would send me to the supermarket to buy food on Yom Kippur. When we first got to Mississippi, due to an anti-Semitic incident, we were made aware that we needed to join a “church” in order to find an acceptable social group. We found our way to Rabbi Joel, who was chaplain of the Jewish soldiers in the Gulfport-Biloxi area. There we met other young Jews and our daughter was named in a Jewish ceremony. Once we moved out of Mississippi our Judaism was mostly relegated to observing Passover and Hanukkah. When my son was born, we found a mohel and his brit milah was performed in our apartment.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: After my husband and I separated, I felt a pull to give my children a Jewish education. As a single parent, I looked for the nearest and most convenient accepting Jewish institution. It was Beth Shalom People’s Temple (BSPT) on Bay Parkway and Benson Avenue. I enrolled my son in Hebrew School and my daughter in the Youth Group. At first I dropped my children off and left. When Temple Ahavath Sholom and BSPT merged I found a new vibrancy there and got more involved. By the time my son was confirmed, I had made many friends at temple and was deeply involved in its workings. I found that Reform Judaism was the stream of Judaism that spoke to me.
BUSY AT B'ShERT: I am past chair of the Women’s/Sisterhood group, past co-chair of the Publicity Committee, and was Vice President, Financial Secretary and Treasurer. Currently I am the chair of ARZA, temple trustee, and member of the Communications, Fundraising, and Jewish Cultural Committees and Choir.
MAKING A LIVING: I was a substitute HS teacher in Mississippi and taught remedial math and first grade in Texas. Teaching wore me out emotionally and I gave it up. I worked in the front office of a Holiday Inn and was head cashier at the Waldorf, where I met many famous people. I spent most of my career in banking, first as a teller and then as a customer service supervisor. Since 2008, I have been a Customer Service Representative at the NYS Insurance Fund, where I manage worker’s compensation claims. It is a complex and rewarding position that will see me to the end of my working career.
A BRIEF PAWS: For the past 7+ years I have volunteered at PAWS— Pets Are Wonderful Support. Their mission is to help NYC’s most vulnerable residents remain with their pets by delivering critical programs through a community of partners and volunteers. Currently I walk a finicky Shih Tzu named BinBin. You can find out more about PAWS by going to pawsny.org.
FAMILY IS EVERYTHING: I have two wonderful children, Rebekkah and Etan, and four grandchildren who are my lifeblood: Miles Sebastian, 7; Jack Matthew, 7; Alton Zane, 6, and Tirion Reid, 3. I have an incredible older brother Benjamin, nephew Noam and niece Nava. I include my Temple friends as family. They have been there to celebrate the good times and hold me up through trying times. Family is acquired not only through blood but through love, friendship, shared experiences and support.
FAVORITES: Book, To Kill a Mockingbird; Movie, West Side Story (first movie I saw in the US); Music—eclectic taste leaning toward the American Songbook, with current favorite singer Cyrille Aimée; Foods—avocados, olives, chick peas, berries and chocolate (the darker the better).
FINAL WORDS: From Mishkan HaNefesh, a poem called The Mystery by Yaakov Orland: I know, I am certain and have already proven to myself a thousand times—that you do not exist/that you are nothingness, that you are without, that you are a thread hung over the abyss/What disturbs me and annoys me and embarrasses me time and time again/is the mystery of the necessity I feel to inform you of this every day/and to share with you my personal conclusions.
A recent Thursday night was so busy at B'ShERT that we needed an impromptu chart to direct folks to the right room. Alan Zarrow, who was giving an encore presentation of his talk on“The Other Assassinated Presidents: The Killings of Garfield and McKinley,” is pictured here (l.) with fellow B’ShERT member Rob Friedman.
Photo by Angel DeJesus
News from the B'ShERT Brotherhood
Photo by Alan Zarrow
B'ShERT Evening Book Group
June 5 The Devil in Jerusalem by Naomi Ragen
July 3 Never a Native by Alice Shalvi
August 7 New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
September 4 The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
October 2 The World to Come by Dara Horn
All meetings start at 7 pm. For information on the location for a particular date, contact Evelyn Shunaman at firstname.lastname@example.org. All are welcome!
Photo by Mike Rose
There is a saying that it takes an entire village to make a community (or something like that, anyway). In the case of Brotherhood, as we approach the summer break, this is very true. We have had many successful events this year and we have many people to thank for them.
Thank you to the 28 men who joined Brotherhood, and to all our temple members and friends who attended our events and made them a success. A special thanks to Sam Silverman who set up our Brotherhood Shabbat, and our indoor and outdoor picnic, made our flyers and kept me from jumping off a cliff. Thanks to Gene Guskin for taking control of our finances, sending great thank-you letters and along with Shelly Greenberg, making our visit on June 23 to MCU park a possibility. Thanks to Manny Arnowitz for the great minutes he keeps at each meeting, to Dave Schulman and Mike Rose for their great technical support and ideas, and to Jeff Levinson for being a great moderator and arranging the post-election discussion by Fred and Harry Siegel.
Thanks to Alan Zarrow for a fantastic discussion on the assassination of JFK; to Ron Schweiger (pictured here with Gene Guskin) for all the great information he supplied us with and for the wonderful discussion he led following a showing of Little Fugitive; to Harry Bialor for arranging the space at Floyd Bennett Field for our upcoming outdoor picnic (please don't rain); and to Harold Gleiberman for sending out cards to remind us another birthday is approaching. A special thanks to Myron Klein for all he has done to keep Brotherhood alive for these many years. I must also thank Ruth Bile for providing the wonderful chicken dinner and sides for the potluck dinner before the Brotherhood Shabbat; Doreen Aronow for the great game she led at our indoor picnic and especially Adrienne Knoll for putting up with my column each month and for the job she does in publishing all our events in the Voice of Truth.
WE are looking forward to our visit to MCU Park in Coney Island on Jewish Heritage Day on June 23 to see the Brooklyn Cyclones play the Staten Island Yankees. Thanks to all who purchased tickets to the event. Don't forget the outdoor picnic at Floyd Bennett Field on Sunday, June 30, from 11 am to dusk. All are invited. See the flyer elsewhere in this newsletter for further details.
Brotherhood wishes everyone a great Father's Day, a wonderful and healthy summer and congratulations to anyone enjoying a loved one's graduation.
Please tell your Brotherhood-eligible Temple friends about our group. Even better, bring them along to a meeting or event when the new year gets underway!
To the Lighthouse with B'ShERT's Jessica Schulman
Visit the Kings Highway Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library anytime between now and July 12 to catch a special exhibit by photographer and B’ShERT member Jessica Schulman.
Schulman, who is the Photo Editor of the Voice of Truth, has created “Guardians of the Sea,” an exhibition documenting lighthouses she photographed during various trips across New York State, many with the organization New England Lighthouse Lovers.
She shot the images mainly with a Leica superzoom camera, which she said was extremely portable and easy to control while shooting on a boat.
“I have a self-admitted passion for lighthouses and am constantly looking for new and different ways to document what I see,” says Schulman. “The lighthouse is a near-universal symbol of safety and guidance that has helped mariners find their way home since ancient times."
"Although they are gradually outliving their usefulness, they are still epic monuments to human ingenuity and to their own resilience. In my photography, my aim is to convey the emotion I feel when encountering these structures: their energy, and the feeling of what they once were.”
Schulman received her art education at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn College, Cornell University, the New School, and San Jose State College.
She is a member of the Rockaway Artists Alliance, the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, and the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, exhibiting pen and ink drawings, graphic design and photography, both traditional and digital.
Jessica and her husband, David Schulman, B’ShERT’s resident video maven, live in Marine Park.
The Kings Highway Branch is located at 2115 Ocean Avenue.
“Guardians of the Sea” was curated by Boris Ioselev.
For more information, visit bklynlibrary.org.
(Photos by Jessica Schulman)
Happy Birthday, August Babies!
David M. Goldberg
Dorothy R. Goldberg
Emma Rose Tuttleman-Kriegler
Lindsay Jill DeNonno
Amy Rhodes Froehlich
Loren Horn Levinson
Ava Draho Zuckerman
...and a Happy Anniversary to Janet Schlesinger and Jerry Jaffee (June), Karen and Martin Eichel (June), Rabbi Heidi Hoover and Michael Rose (July), Dorothy R. and David M. Goldberg (July) & Jessica and David Schulman (August)!
Happy Birthday, July Babies!
Summer Simcha Corner
Happy Birthday, June Babies!
Monica M. Beyer
James Samuel Berger Yudelowitz
The Sketchnoting Rabbi:
(The content here was first published on May 10 on the website SketchnoteArmy.com, which is dedicated to showcasing sketchnoters and their work from around the world. Many of you may have seen Rabbi Heidi’s intricate and amazing #VisualTorah sketchnotes, which have deepened our understanding of Torah and have become a treasured part of life at B’ShERT. —Ed.)
Rabbi Heidi writes...
I first encountered sketchnoting at a rabbis’ retreat hosted by Your Bayit (YourBayit.org) in early February of 2019. Steve Silbert (@SteveSilbert) did a session to introduce it to us. I was intrigued, though I don’t think of myself as someone who is particularly visual or able to draw. I started trying it because I loved the ones that Steve was doing and wanted to try it too. He also insisted that anyone can do it, and his instruction was helpful because he showed simple, accessible ways to draw people and objects. That made it a little less daunting.
It wasn’t as difficult as I expected. It is true that when I was a kid I drew pictures, even little cartoons, so I remembered that. So far I’m trying to keep to one idea in each sketchnote, and it’s challenging to choose something simple enough that I can draw it. Steve said the best way to learn was just to start doing it, so I did. I find that I enjoy doing it. I also bought a couple of books about sketchnoting by Mike Rohde and Sylvia Duckworth, which I’ve used to help me come up with ways to draw different ideas.
I have sketchnoted ideas from Torah portions and posted them on Facebook to share them. The process of doing the sketchnotes has helped me organize my thoughts and they have then informed the divrei Torah [a talk or writing centered around a very specific section of Torah] on those portions. I have a sensation of sinking into the process of sketchnoting while I’m doing it, and it’s peaceful and meditative. It really is a nice process of thinking and focusing—I don’t notice time passing and I don’t get distracted while I’m doing it. Once, I printed copies of a sketchnote and handed them out to people as a discussion aid. I’ve also been inspired to invite people to draw what they thought the priestly garments looked like during Torah study, which I had not thought of doing before.
I’ve been doing rabbinic work now for about 17 years, as a student and as a full-fledged rabbi, and I’m always looking for fresh ideas and new ways of looking at sacred texts. I find that sketchnoting brings me to a distinctly different way of looking at and thinking about texts and teaching that is fresh and very valuable to me. I’m enjoying the challenge of trying to transition away from word-based thinking, which is the main way I think, to more image-based thinking.
I’ve been happy to find that the reception of my Torah sketchnotes has been overwhelmingly positive. People have found them interesting and moving and really cool. I had kind of figured that drawing something yourself and writing the text in handprint (instead of typing it) is something that you do when you’re not good enough with technology to not do things by hand. I thought people would think it looked amateurish. Instead, they seem to think my sketchnotes are well done. I’ve received a lot of encouragement from Steve and from rabbinic colleagues, which helps me to keep going.
I started sketchnoting with pen and paper, but soon switched to Notepad 2 on an iPad at Steve’s suggestion. I like doing it digitally because I like being able to move elements around and resize them, and convert handprinting to typed text if I choose too. I have also copied elements from one sketchnote to another, and I like being able to do that. (If I have a drawing of a fire on an altar that I’m happy with, I’m glad to be able to copy and paste it rather than trying to draw it again.)
What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in sketchnoting?
First, the advice that I got: Just start doing it. Learn a few simple ways to sketch people and a few objects—from a sketchnoting book or an experienced sketchnoter. Start with portraying one idea per sketchnote.
(Illustrations by Rabbi Heidi Hoover)
June 1 B'chukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34)
June 8 B'midbar (Numbers 1:1−4:20)
June 15 Naso (Numbers 4:21−7:89)
June 22 B'haalot'cha (Numbers 8:1−12:16)
June 29 Sh'lach L'cha (Numbers 13:1−15:41)
July 6 Korach (Numbers 16:1−18:32)
July 13 Chukat (Numbers 19:1−22:1)
July 20 Balak (Numbers 22:2−25:9)
July 27 Pinchas (Numbers 25:10−30:1)
Aug. 3 Matot - Mas-ei (Numbers 30:2–36:13)
Aug. 10 D'varim (Deuteronomy 1:1−3:22)
Aug. 17 Va-et'chanan (Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11)
Aug. 24 Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25)
Aug. 31 R'eih (Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17)
Summer Torah Portion Calendar
Our impromptu activity on May 8 (the Nava Tehila concert at the Park Slope Jewish Center) turned out to be very successful. It was a joyous affair featuring this band's soulful and spiritual music, seeing old friends in our larger Brooklyn Jewish community, and dancing, dancing, dancing!
Join us for two additional activities in June. On Sunday, June 2, at 7 pm.,we are privileged to host a Shir Chadash concert right here at B'ShERT. The cost is $15 per person in advance and $20 at the door. Thank you, Hazel Tishcoff, for selling tickets. This will be followed on Wednesday, June 5 for a trip to the Center of Jewish History on West 16th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in Manhattan for another concert—Songs of Jerusalem. We are also planning a trip to the Jewish Museum (details have not been finalized).
If you are looking for more to do, why not attend the free show at Summerstage in Central Park on Wednesday, June 12 at 7 pm showcasing the cantors of the Park Avenue, Lincoln Square, and Hamptons synagogues? Or the film Dear Fredy on Wednesday, June 26 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage at Battery Park at 7 pm? This is the story of a 19-year-old gay Jewish man deported to Auschwitz, who set up a child care facility. It, too, is free.
Or perhaps head to the Center for Jewish History on Monday, June 3 at 7 pm for a program on El Torero de la Torah—an account of a gay man, the son of Orthodox parents in Brooklyn, who becomes a matador in Mexico in 1923? Tickets are $10 per person ($7 for seniors). At the same location on the following night at 6 pm, enjoy An Evening of Hebrew Song, which is a presentation of secular song and poetry. The cost is $15.
Jewish Cultural Committee
Message from the Treasurer
The Congregation’s fiscal year is coming to a close. A number of members have outstanding balances from fiscal year 2017/8; current year dues and religious school fees unpaid.
Per the by-laws voted into effect at the time of the formal Consolidation, members shall be responsible for support of the Congregation through the payment of dues; assessments and other fees as determined by the Board of Trustees.
Dues must be payable when billed, and any congregant who fails to pay dues and fees within six months may be suspended and deprived of all privileges after written notice is mailed to them. Further, a member not in good standing will not be allowed to vote on Congregational matters.
Should you have a problem complying with these fees, please contact either the Temple Co-Presidents, or the Treasurer for assistance. We will make every effort to accommodate you.
Helene Smith, Treasurer
News from Women of B'ShERT
It was a wonderful evening when we celebrated with our annual Women’s Shabbat Service. Seeing our members participating by leading the service gave me great joy and pride. Thank you, Nonie Schuster Donato, for the beautiful music, and thanks to Rabbi Hoover for your participation and keeping us on track. Thank you again, Doreen, for organizing this meaningful and beautiful evening.
We are still looking for the perfect place to celebrate our year-end dinner, and will let you know when we find it. Meanwhile, keep Wednesday, July 17 open on your calendar. Have a wonderful summer!
Charlotte Russell, Mona Goldberg, Sara Meyer West
Women of B'ShERT, A Sisterhood Organization
The following was written by Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center:
“It is clear that their goal is not to pray at the Western Wall, but to fulfill different rites in the fictional production that they have invented called Reform Judaism, whose sole purpose is the denial of the Torah and assimilation.”
This is just one of many statements against Reform Judaism made by Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel and son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, in the most recent volume in his book series Yalkut Yosef. This volume focuses on Jewish Law and the Western Wall, and includes prescriptions for the “treatment of the Reform Movement” saying that even though we are Jewish, “it is forbidden to give Reform Jews an aliyah to the Torah, and you must not respond Amen to their blessings.”
This incitement comes from a state-funded rabbi. Religious leaders like Rabbi Yosef deepen the existing rift between Orthodox and progressive Judaism in Israel and between Israel and Diaspora Jewry, and this discourse threatens to undermine the legitimacy of Reform Judaism in Israel. In not condemning this kind of incitement by state-funded rabbis, politicians give fuel to religious extremists, and encourage the establishment of policies that discriminate against progressive Judaism and those who practice it.
We at IRAC are fighting for equality for progressive Jews in Israel. Since 2012, Reform and Conservative rabbis serving in Israel’s rural regional councils have received state funding – a major step forward.
The government has been promising to extend this equality to rabbis in cities. But when new guidelines were recently published, the State refused to use the words “rabbi” or “synagogue” to refer to Reform and Conservative Jews, and offered progressive rabbis a fraction of the sum given to Orthodox rabbis.
We will not accept this. All Jews in Israel must be recognized as equal, with equal rights and equal access to religious services.
We filed a new Supreme Court petition last month demanding equal pay for rabbis in Israel’s cities."
**On May 31, members of the ARZA committee will participate in the Erev Shabbat service in honor of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day).**
To stay informed and up to date with IMPJ, IRAC and the progressive Zionist movement in Israel, go go to www.arza.org, irac.org and/or https://urj.org.
The ARZA committee wishes you a wonderfully restful summer. See you in September!
Tamara Kerner, ARZA Committee Chair
Wednesday, June 26 @ 7 pm in the Sanctuary
The meeting will include year-end reports from Rabbi Hoover and both co-presidents, committee reports, and congregational votes on three items:
1. The slate of officers for 2019-2021 and trustees for 2019-2022
2. The congregational budget
3. Dispersal of the income realized from the sale of 1515 46th St., and other recommended changes from the investment committee.
All members are urged to attend. If you need an absentee ballot, call the Temple office.
ARZA Committee News
We wish you a happy, safe and restorative summer. See you in September!
Adrienne Knoll & the Voice of Truth staff
(and if you're feeling inspired, email us with ideas at email@example.com)
You Are Invited to Join
THE HANNAH SENESH SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA, INC.
The Hannah Senesh Society honors the memory of one of the greatest heroines in modern Jewish history during World War II.
Contact: Harry Bialor, President (718) 375-8669
JESSICA SCHULMAN • TECHNOLOGY RESOURCE SPECIALIST
COMPUTER SERVICES & GRAPHICS ARTS SERVICES
718 338-2043 • fax 718 377-7919
B'ShERT's Caring Chesed Committee: We're Here to Help
Volunteers are needed to make phone calls and/or visits to those who are ill or have suffered a loss. It is especially important to keep in touch with those who are grieving after the initial mourning period. If you know that someone is in need of a visit or a call, please contact one of our co-chairs.
We are always looking for new members and would appreciate any ideas to make the committee more effective.
"It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it…" Pirke Avot
Gene Guskin (917) 533-6231
Debbie Belsky (718) 252-8030
Frema Schneier (718) 236-4047
B'ShERT Caring Committee
Wolf's Appliance Repair
Prompt, Friendly Service in Brooklyn
Fridges, Stoves, Ovens, Gas Ranges, Washers, Dryers and So Much More
Call us! 718 998 3238
Ken Brown Photography
The best for Your Mitzvah! (or any other event, personal or professional)
Longtime established pro; temple member; references available. 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