VOLUME XXIII, NUMBER 8             WWW.SHALOMPCS.COM                          APRIL  2018
The Rabbi's Column: 
Opening the Door at Passover

by Rabbi Dr. Julie Hilton Danan
At the first Passover, we marked our doorposts with the blood of a sacrificial lamb to protect us from the Angel of Death (Exodus 12:23). Although that was a one-time ritual, doors continue to be a central symbol of the holiday. It is a symbol that seems more relevant than ever in an age when nativism and xenophobia clash with timeless Jewish values of loving and welcoming the stranger.
We begin the Passover Seder by issuing an invitation to the hungry and needy to join us in the bounty of the holiday, modeling ourselves on the actions of Rav Huna ( Talmud Bavli, Taanit  20b), who opened his doors at every meal and called, "All who are hungry, let them come and eat." Near the end of the Seder we open our doors again for Elijah the Prophet, harbinger of salvation. Traditionally, this is coupled with recitation of biblical verses invoking God's anger upon those who oppressed and tormented our people at our time of vulnerability. Even when the present is filled with danger and oppression, we maintain our hope and faith, striving for a better future, as symbolized by Elijah and the vision of "Next year in Jerusalem."
Subtle echoes of opening ripple throughout the Seder, such as the injunction to "open" ( at patach lo ) for the midrashic "fourth child," who doesn't know how to ask a question, and the praise psalm of Hallel calling on God to open the gates of righteousness for us (Psalms 118:19). We can almost hear the hinges creaking as we take in the message to open doors for others by teaching and seeking justice in our world.
The Hebrew letter  dalet was originally a pictograph of a door, a  delet . It is equal in  gematria (Hebrew numerology) to the number four, the pervasive number of the Seder (four cups, four questions, four children). Passover can help us open the doors of our hearts to new possibilities of understanding, belonging, and action.
The Seder recalls our own homelessness as wandering refugees from slavery in Egypt, and even further back, to our ancestor who was called "a wandering Aramean" (Deuteronomy 26:5). Throughout the centuries and especially during the Holocaust era, Jews have particularly known the pain of being unwanted refugees. We have literally been out-of-doors and shut out. This Passover, we can be moved to do better for today's refugees.
Today there are 65 million refugees in the world, a number unparalleled since the aftermath of WWII. Both the United States and Israel are nations of immigrants and refugees. But recent trends are troubling. The current U.S. Administration, known for anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions, aims to cap legal refugees admitted to the US at the lowest number in decades. Meanwhile, the Israeli government has caused controversy by moving to expel some 38,000 refugees. Both actions stand in contrast to Passover's message of welcome, compassion, and freedom.
My own community in Westchester County, New York, is helping to welcome our second refugee family by supporting a local group: PART One, the Pleasantville-Armonk Refugee Task Force. PART One began when a group of neighbors found themselves in attendance at a local pro-immigration rally. They formed the group and brought in their congregations, Pleasantville Community Synagogue and Congregation B'nai Yisrael of Armonk, to provide volunteers and because they discovered that their activism was significantly driven by their own Jewish identities. In Westchester there are now 10 groups active in resettlement, and most are affiliated with synagogues! HIAS, a Jewish organization that works for immigrants and refugees, has inspired many of us to get involved.
The famous poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...I lift my lamp beside the golden door," is by Jewish poet Emma Lazarus. My colleague Rabbi Mona Alfi recently led her congregation, B'nai Israel in Sacramento, in joining the Golden Doors Campaign, painting the doors of their synagogue gold as a symbol of welcome to immigrants and refugees. Where once long ago we painted our doors with lamb's blood to protect us from the dangers outside, we can now (literally or figuratively) paint them gold to welcome others inside. May this Passover be a time when we open our hearts and our doors to those seeking refuge in our world today.

Rabbi Julie's D'var Torah for Pesach above was published the last week of March on the website of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, a multi-denominational network of rabbis and Jewish communities in the U.S. and Canada working to protect human rights in North America and Israel.
Hebrew letter blocks
by Galit Sperling, Principal

March was an exciting month in Hebrew School, beginning with Purim on March 1! We had a fantastic turnout for our Megillah reading and Purim party at PCS. Several of our seventh graders took part in the teen Purim play, written by Shira Danan. Yasher koach to B'nei Mitzvah students Sophie, Chloe, and Saydee, and wonderful teens Miranda, Isaac, Halle, and Sydney, on a wonderful job making the modernized Purim story come to life for PCS congregants and families!
On March 4 and 11, our students got to partake in the tradition of challah making, joining with their parents to mix, knead, and then bake their own challah bread. See pictures below for a glimpse into the challah-making fun!
For the very first time, the students of the Hebrew School at PCS created their own Haggadah for Pesach (Passover). Using project-based learning, each class took on a few parts of the Haggadah book, looking at examples of other Haggadot, deciding what they wanted to include on their pages, and then illustrating their pages. We are very proud of the final product, a true collaboration between all our students, and with the assistance of their wonderful teachers.
Our children and parents got to use these Haggadot at the Model Passover Seders on March 25 and 29. We have expanded the Model Seder tradition at 
PCS to include our students' families, and these dinner events are some of the highlights of the year!
Upcoming Hebrew School Dates
(The last two months of Hebrew School are packed with activities and commemorative events!) :

Sunday, April 1 - Sunday, April 8:
No Classes (Passover/Spring Break)

Thursday, April 12 at 7 pm:
Yom HaShoah Service **in lieu of regular classes

Sunday, April 15:
  • Yom Ha'Atzmaut Celebration during Hebrew School
  • Israel@70 community-wide event noon - 5 pm at Solomon Schechter in Hartsdale; we hope all can attend! For more info, see flyer here.
Friday, April 20:  Third/fourth grade (Kitah Gimel/Dalet) Shabbaton: 6 pm dinner, 6:45 pm Mishpacha (family) Shabbat service

Saturday, April 21 at 10 am:
Sixth grade (Kitah Vav) Shabbaton
Thursday, May 3: Lag B'Omer celebration during Hebrew School

Friday, May 4:
Kindergarten/first/second grade (Kitah Gan/Aleph/Bet) Shabbaton: 5:30 pm service, 6:00 pm Shabbat Dinner

Saturday, May 5 at 10 am:
Fifth grade (Kitah Hey) Shabbaton

Sunday, May 6 at 10:15 am:
Third/fourth grade (Kitah Gimel/Dalet) Heritage Day

Sunday, May 20:
Shavuot celebration/B'nei Mitzvah promotion ceremony/
last day of Hebrew School

Challah making

Model Seders

Opening the door for Elijah
Thanking our madrichim (teen assistants)

Postcards from Eretz Yisrael*

This was my first Purim in Israel and, boy, 
do people in Israel know how to party! 
Besides hearing the Megillah read at 
Eshel Avraham and singing Purim songs 
in the choir, there were parties everywhere.
They threw an unbelievable party 
for the residents of Aleh Negev. Each 
residential unit had their own colored 
costume. To the right is me wearing the 
costume for Beit 8.

Some of my classmates at Ulpan Altshul
Classmate Helaine (on the left) with our teacher Orit. On the table are some
of the goodies that
Orit prepared for us.

Yosef camping it up


Here I'm wearing my Bedouin outfit and Yosef managed to find a shirt 
with a matching color.


*Our correspondent is Rhea (Rachel) Wolfthal, long-time PCS congregant,  who made aliyah to Israel in August 2017.

A Guide Dog Grew at PCS
by Marcy Gray  
At the beginning with Jules. Not quite ready to go up 
on the bimah!

For over a year, many of you had the pleasure (at least I hope it was a pleasure!)  to meet Jules, a yellow Labrador retriever who I raised for Guiding  Eyes for the Blind. From the age of two months, Jules learned valuable lessons at PCS: how to greet people with all four paws on the ground (most of the time), wait patiently  for attention, settle down and take a nap if attention wasn't forthcoming, and generally how to exhibit excellent house manners (again, most of the time). Jules also learned about love and tolerance and acceptance here, and I can't  begin to thank the congregation, the Hebrew school kids, Galit Sperling, Ed Sperling, and Rabbi Julie for their embrace of not just Jules the puppy but of the mission and mitzvah she represented.
After her time with me, Jules passed the first initial test in order to go through six monthsof intensive training at the Guiding Eyes facility in Yorktown Heights. She was then paired with Cicely, a lovely and spirited young woman from California, with whom she underwent further intensive training for three weeks: 24 hours      a day, seven days a week.
How many puppies make it all the way to the end to be able to proudly wear the harness of an official Guide Dog and to change someone's life?  Less than 50%. With PCS' help and support - I literally would not have been able to raise Jules without it - I am beyond proud to say that "our" Jules became an official Guide Dog on March 24, 2018. Thank you all!
Of course Jules loved Galit Sperling but, no, she did not have a Bark Mitzvah.

Jules hanging out in Rabbi Julie's office, working hard 
not to be a distraction.
Snagging a treat from Ed Sperling, arguably Jules' biggest fan.

"Helping" Michael Mayers and 
PCS president Leyla Nakisbendi 
fix up PCS' back room.
Waiting in the sanctuary with Peter Schaffer and David Benattar.

Being goofy with Hebrew School student Emma Leis.
After a board meeting: chilling out with some of the trustees: Roberta Korus,
Ben Serebin, Karen Neuburger,
and Jonathan Goodman.

Enjoying the sun and a smile with Diana Benattar on the front steps of PCS.
Marcy and Jules, reunited, briefly and happily, after the graduation ceremony at Guiding Eyes.

Cicely and Jules' official graduation portrait.
This is what it was all about.


"For the dead and the living,
we must bear witness."
- Elie Wiesel
Yom HaShoah
Holocaust Remembrance
Day Service

Thursday, April 12, 7 pm

at the

Pleasantville Community Synagogue

Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to come
to this most important ceremony.
                                                                  ~ ~ ~
There will be no Hebrew School on this day. Fifth, sixth, and seventh Grade B'nei Mitzvah students will receive credit for service attendance.
Pleasantville Community Synagogue
www.ShalomPCS.com  ~ (914) 769-2672 ~ info@shalomPCS.com
219 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY 10570
Pleasantville Community Synagogue is a welcoming Jewish community with people of diverse traditions and backgrounds who want to share a joyous spiritual and cultural home.                                    

Please join us for another joyful 
Tot Shabbat and Mishpacha (Family) Dinner and Service!
Friday night, April 20
5:30 pm:  Tot Shabbat service
6 pm: Shabbat dinner for all*
6:45 pm: Family-friendly service for all,
led by third and fourth graders
7:30 pm: Oneg Shabbat with dessert
Children Jumping
*To help offset the cost of the dinner, there is a suggested donation of $18/adult, $9/child, free/5 and under.

for easy on-line payment and to RSVP!
Or copy and paste: 
Or e-mail Marcy Gray to RSVP at
or call 914-769-2672.
Pleasantville Community Synagogue
is a welcoming Jewish community with people of diverse traditions and backgrounds who want to share a joyous spiritual and cultural home.
Joyful Judaism!
(914) 769-2672, info@shalomPCS.com
219 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY
Davenology* Videos 
and Discussion
April 25, 7:30-9 pm

Rabbi Julie Danan invites you to experience videos of
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi of blessed memory
as he teaches about "Davenology," his word for *the art of deep and meaningful Jewish prayer. Discussion will follow. All are welcome to this free program. Please RSVP to pcsrabbi@gmail.com .
Pleasantville Community Synagogue is a welcoming Jewish community
with people of diverse traditions and backgrounds who want to share
a joyous spiritual and cultural home.
Pleasantville Community Synagogue
www.ShalomPCS.com  ~ (914) 769-2672 ~ info@shalomPCS.com
219 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY 10570

Hold the Dates!
May 3-5 Shabbaton at PCS!
with Rabbi David and Deborah Zaslow of Ashland, Oregon
The Zaslows bring lively and spirited music, storytelling, teachings, poetry, and a wealth of interfaith work to share with our community. They are active in the Jewish Renewal movement and close friends of Rabbi Julie and Avraham Danan.
All events are at PCS and all are welcome:
Thursday, May 3, 7:30 - 8:45 pm
Sisters, Saints, Sinners, Shamans and Samurais: Interfaith Stories, Poetry and Music, with Rabbi David Zaslow and Devorah Zaslow (see flyer above)
Friday, May 4, 5:30 pm
Family-friendly Service & at 6 pm Shabbat Dinner for all ages
Hebrew School K-2 will participate in leading
Rabbi David and Devorah Zaslow will join Rabbi Julie in leading, sharing songs and a story
Shabbat morning, May 5
9:15 am: Rabbi David Zaslow leads a guided meditation
10 am: Family Education Shabbat Service
Kitah Vav Shabbaton: Grade 6 will help to lead our service
Rabbi David and Devorah Zaslow will join Rabbi Julie in leading our service with music and story; after the Torah service, there will be a participatory, multi-generational discussion and lunch with the Zaslows.
  Stay tuned for more details!
Pleasantville Community Synagogue
is a welcoming Jewish community with people of diverse traditions and backgrounds who want to share a joyous spiritual and cultural home.
(914) 769-2672, info@shalomPCS.com
219 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY

Teen Campfire Dinner & Night Hike
Saturday night, May 5,
6:30 pm-9:30 pm
Led by Eric Stone, Rewilding School,
at Anglefly Preserve in Somers
Campfire Dinner : Learn how to make dinner in the outdoors and cook on a fire.*
Moonlight Night Hike: Learn how to navigate on a night-time hike with no flashlight. This is a challenging and growth experience. Your eyes will adjust and you will learn how to relate to and appreciate the natural world at night.
Finish with a beautiful candle-lit Havdalah service. 
Cost: $30 per participant; we need 10 to sign up in advance to cover costs. Bring a friend!
Please RSVP during Passover by replying to this email, and please specify any dietary needs or allergies. Meal will be kosher, but there will be some preparation on Shabbat. 
*Those who wish to come just for the dinner and skip the hike can do so.
Visit https://www.rewildingschool.com/adult-programs to learn more about the Rewilding School and visit https://www.rewildingschool.com/background to learn more about Eric.
Any questions or concerns, please e-mail Rabbi Julie, pcsrabbi@gmail.com.
(914) 769-2672, info@shalomPCS.com
219 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY

Please volunteer: Sunday, Nov. 20, 3-4:30 pm
Tikkun Olam Through the Ages
An Adult Education Mini-Course at PCS
with Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan, Ph.D.
Rather than a perfect creation corrupted by humanity, Jewish tradition proposes that God created an imperfect world requiring human repair. This Tikkun Olam mini-course examines the historical development of "Tikkun Olam," the Jewish concept of repairing the world: in early Rabbinic literature, in Kabbalah, and in modern social activism.
We will learn about Jewish history and theology through the lens of world repair, and consider the connection between our own spirituality and our commitment to social justice.
This mini-course will combine short lectures, study of primary texts in English translation (Hebrew available for those who wish), and discussion. Come to all or come as you can! There is no charge but we need at least seven students to make it a go, so please RSVP to pcsrabbi@gmail.com if you can come.
Three Wednesdays, 7:30-9 pm at PCS
April 4: Introduction and Tikkun Olam in the Mishnah
May 9: Tikkun Olam in Kabbalah and Chassidism
June 6: Tikkun Olam in Modern Thought and Action


Pleasantville Community Synagogue is a welcoming Jewish community with people of diverse traditions and backgrounds who want to share a joyous spiritual and cultural home.
Visit www.ShalomPCS.com  ~ (914) 769-2672 ~ info@shalomPCS.com
219 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY 10570

Enjoy an Evening of
Dining, Music, and Entertainment
to Benefit PCS!
Pleasantville Community Synagogue
invites you to celebrate on
Saturday night, May 12, 7 pm
Crabtree's Kittle House
in Chappaqua, NY
Please tell us you're coming by clicking
here  or copying and pasting:
or by contacting the PCS office.
The Whole Megillah (includes 10 tickets) - $5,400
You're Making Me Kvell (includes 8 tickets) - $3,600
Big Macher (includes 6 tickets) - $1,800
Shayne Punim (includes 4 tickets) - $1,200
It's a Mitzvah (includes 4 tickets) - $800
Such a Mensch (includes 2 tickets) - $400
It's a Simcha! (includes 1 ticket) - $118
Do you have an item, goods or service you could donate for the Gala Auction? (Yet another mitzvah!) Contact Gala Committee Chair Harriet Goldwin-Cohen at harrietgc@hotmail.com.
If you cannot make it to the event but would still like to support PCS during our annual fundraiser, please contact the PCS office or click  here .
Pleasantville Community Synagogue 
219 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY
www.shalompcs.com ~ 914-769-2672 ~ info@shalompcs.com
Please volunteer: Sunday, Nov. 20, 3-4:30 pm
We appreciate the thoughtfulness of those who support
the Pleasantville Community Synagogue by remembering and honoring
their friends and loved ones through their generous contributions.  
For information on making donations to PCS, including online donations,
please click here.
General Fund
Karen Fixler

Eileen Jagoda to go toward fixing the front stairs to PCS

Sonia and Paul Kleinman, in memory of George Greene

Mr. and Mrs. Jordan Waxman,  Richard Steinberg, and Janet and Ken Hoffman, in honor of Marty and Sheila Major and in support of "the Whole Megilla" for PCS' annual fundraiser.

Many thanks to the three (anonymous) congregant families who so generously donated the funds to cover the costs for PCS' music programming next year.


Blanche  Stiker,  mother  of Judith Schmidt
April 6
Priscilla  Friedman, mother of Alan Friedman
April 8
Fredric  Weiss,  husband of Miriam Seiler
April 12
Mildred  Goodman,  mother of Jonathan Goodman
April 12
Harold  Altman,  father of Barbara Altman Bruno
April 12
Charles  Hilton,  father of Rabbi Julie Danan
April 16
Florry  Jablow, mother of Robert Jablow
April 23

To all PCS members:
If you or another member suffer personal tragedy or loss or are otherwise in need of help, please immediately contact Rabbi Julie at (914) 769-2672 or Rabbi@ShalomPCS.com, or to our Caring (Chesed) Committee Chair, Susan Friedman at (917) 846-3038, or SFriedman@ShalomPCS.com.

The PCS Yahrzeit Memorial Board is a beautiful and symbolic place to honor your loved ones while helping to support your synagogue. The anniversary of their passing will be commemorated with a light by their name plate. You will find the appropriate form for purchasing a memorial name plate by clicking here.

Pleasantville Community Synagogue Mission Statement
Pleasantville Community Synagogue is a welcoming Jewish community connecting people of diverse traditions and backgrounds who want to share a joyous spiritual and cultural home.
PCS officers and trustees:
President: Leyla Nakisbendi

Secretary: TBD

Treasurer: Oren Cohen

Vice President: Roberta Korus

Vice President: Richard Solomon
Board of Trustees
David Benattar

Robert Marshak

Robin Berman

Leyla Nakisbendi

Gregory Cohen

Karen Neuburger

Lisa Nicotra

Jonathan Goodman

Laurie Hirsch Schulz

Amy Gutenplan

Roberta Korus

Richard Solomon
Sheila Major

Rabbi Julie Danan

To contact PCS 
Phone: (914) 769-2672;  Fax: (914) 769-1795;  Websitewww.ShalomPCS.com
Marcy Gray, Synagogue Administrator: (914) 769-2672;  mgray@ShalomPCS.com
Galit Sperling, Religious School: (914) 773-0043; principal@ShalomPCS.com
Barbara Doctor, Member Accounts: (914) 747-3017; Accounts@ShalomPCS.com
Please click for the full PCS calendar for April 2018
Pleasantville Community Synagogue Newsletter  
April 2018         16 Nisan - 15 Iyyar 5778