November 2022 Newsletter ...........................Rabbi Eric L. Abbott
Cheshvan 5783 .............................Rabbi Emeritus Sunny Schnitzer
IN THIS ISSUE: High Holy Days, Upcoming Events, Hanukkah
CLICK for the Complete BJC November Events Calendar
Judaism and Politics: Why Voting Is a Jewish Obligation

My first year at Hopkins Hillel, I led a social justice Seder for the students. In it, we discussed concepts such as feminism, racial justice, LGBTQ+ equality, and more. Later, a student who had not attended that Seder asked me, “Why would you bring politics into the Passover Seder? Judaism isn’t political!” His critique often echoes in Hillels and synagogues whenever a rabbi preaches on Roe, immigration reform, gun violence prevention, or any other myriad topics. What these voices fail to recognize, however, is that Judaism is political.

After all, when one looks at the origin of the word “politics,” as written by the great philosopher Aristotle, one discovers its root, politica, means “the matters concerning the city.” As Rabbi Seth Limmer elaborates, “To be political, according to Aristotle, who essentially coined the term, is to be social; that is, to be engaged with the human beings who form one's surrounding society.” 1 When we interact with other people in social settings, when we form partnerships and relationships with others, when we decide together what is right and wrong—then we engage in politics.

Is this not exactly what our Torah instructs us to do? Rabbi Sharon Brous teaches exactly this: “Tell me this: can one really claim that Torah is not an inherently political document? This sacred scroll recounts the story of a band of slaves rising up before the most powerful and iconic ruler of the ancient world and demanding freedom and dignity. Is that not a political message? … And lest we think that is an abstract, theoretical or one-time journey, along the way, [the Israelites] are commanded to establish a society that would be the antithesis in social policy and political reality of Egypt.”2 Our Torah—which commands us to love other people, care for the marginalized, establish systems of justice, protect the welfare of its citizens—is inherently political.

Granted, it is not partisan. Our Torah does not tell us to which political party to join (if any!). The Torah is not even specifically progressive or conservative. For instance, when it comes to refugees, even as our tradition often encourages openness to migrants3, it also allows us to close our gates to those we see as dangerous4. Nonetheless, with long-established Jewish values such as caring for the orphan and widow, welcoming the stranger, and repairing our world (Tikkun Olam), our tradition can guide the way we interact with our world—socially, relationally, and, yes, even politically.

We at Bethesda Jewish Congregation know this. It is why we have sent delegations to protest on Capitol Hill, striven to stop the genocide of the Uyghur people, resettled refugees, participated in gun violence prevention, and, most recently, worked to help migrants bussed from Arizona and Texas. We must continue this work.

Soon, we will have one more way to get involved. The midterm elections are right around the corner, and so I call upon every eligible citizen to do our civic duty to vote. As Americans and as Jews, we have an obligation to improve our world and our society. With November 8 right around the corner, ask yourself:

Am I registered to vote? (If not—how can I do so now?)
Do I have a plan to vote? (Is there time blocked in my calendar? Will I drive or walk to the polling place? Do I need childcare?)
Have I researched candidates so I can make a well-informed decision? ( is a good place to start!)

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the leading Orthodox legal scholar of the 20th century, once wrote, “…it is incumbent on each Jewish citizen to participate in the democratic system which guards the freedoms we enjoy.”5 This upcoming election day, may we each—guided by our Jewish values and tradition—fulfill that obligation, participate in our democratic system—and vote.

  1. Rabbi Seth M. Limmer, DHL, "Judaism and the Political World," in Moral Resistance and Spiritual Authority (New York: Reform Judaism, 2019), 3-14.
  2.  Rabbi Sharon Brous, “What You Call Politics, We Call Torah,” Jewish Journal, July 6, 2017,
  3. See, for instance, Deuteronomy 10:18, Jeremiah 7:6, and Psalm 94:6.
  4. See, for instance, Rashi on Deuteronomy 33:25 or Shulkhan Aruch, Orach Chayim, 329:6.
  5. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, "Letter to the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York," 1984

Rabbi Abbott's Calendly is now open! 

Want to meet one-on-one? 
Click here and pick a time that works for you.
Please be in touch with me in times of joy, sadness, or illness in your life or in the lives of a loved one or another member of the congregation. If you have a pastoral need, please call the BJC office at (301) 469-8636 or email me at For a lifecycle emergency during non-office hours, please call (301) 664-4585‬.

When I am away, please contact Geryl Baer in the BJC office at (301) 469-8636, She will know how to contact me or my substitute.
In a twist this month, first a thought from Wynne, and then a note from both of us:

Although this is the November Insights, I am writing this just after Rosh Hashana. Rabbi Abbott’s sermons were very inspirational and thought provoking and moved me to ponder my “word” for 5783. I decided on the word “appreciation.” Appreciation can be defined as recognizing the value and meaning of something. 

I connected to what Rabbi Abbott said about the health of his newborn son, Ezra, and that Ezra had to be transferred from the hospital he was born in to Children’s Hospital. I, too, went through a similar experience almost 46 years ago when my newborn son had to be transferred from what was then Arlington Hospital to what was then Fairfax Hospital. It was traumatic and stressful for me and my family just as it was traumatic and stressful for Rabbi Abbott’s family.

I learned many lessons from that experience—appreciate each day and appreciate and prioritize relationships. I learned about hope, patience, understanding, gratitude, and strength. My son, Scott, is doing well now, just as Ezra is! This experience, as well as many other life experiences, have helped determine who I am today and has taught me to appreciate each moment of the day. 


We are getting ready to celebrate the secular holiday of Thanksgiving. At this season, we have another opportunity to appreciate what we have spiritually and as a community. Our Thanksgiving Interfaith Sunday event is an opportunity for our BJC family to join together with our Christian and Moslem friends to worship together, learn from each other, and appreciate the unique and powerful relationships that we share. The offering this year will support the effort to assist the migrants who are being bussed to the DC metro area. 

After what we’re sure will be a moving service, we are pleased to let you know that we will once again break bread together in Memorial Hall. The Intercongregational Partnership Committee has arranged for a lovely brunch where we get to know members from the other congregations.

Please join us on November 13. The details are elsewhere in this issue and will be on the website and in BJC Now.

We would like to remind everyone to upload your photos to Shul Cloud. If you need help, please reach out to Amy Kertesz at Many years ago, we had a picture directory, and we found helpful to connect with each other. As with everything now, our directory is online. But it’s still a wonderful way to figure out who’s who!

On another note, we are so grateful that we have successfully resumed in-person activities at BJC including Onegs on Friday nights. It is nice to see BJC members gathering after services to chat and to have a nosh. You likely don’t realize this, but it’s a yearly obligation for all BJC members, and it’s one way that you can contribute to the community. It’s also an opportunity to meet and greet other members of BJC. You can sponsor an Oneg in honor of any simcha—birthday, anniversary, graduation, retirement, new baby, loved one’s accomplishments, any happy occasion. Or pick a random Shabbat for no reason at all. We provide you with instructions, which include what to bring. Easy Peasy! Thank you for doing your share! To sign up for an Oneg, click here.

This coming Sunday, November 6, we return to Standard Time. While we all relish that initial extra hour, we also know that it will seem impossibly dark so early. Two points: first, if you don’t like to drive at night but would like to worship with us in person, let the Chesed Society know, and they will do their best to arrange a ride for you. Click here to contact the Chesed Society. Second, come to BJC services and let BJC be the light and warmth you need to face the change in seasons.


Harri and Wynne
The BJC Religious school continues to grow! We now have 21 students enrolled in grades 1 - 6, and we still have a few additional children planning trials.

In October, our families focused on the value of Teshuvah, repentance as part of the High Holy Day themes of Teshuvah, Tefilah, and Tzedkah (repentance, prayer and charity). We concluded our lessons on this value with a Habitat for Humanity Playhouse build. Families spent a Sunday working together to build the playhouse. Along the way they learned about teamwork, problem solving and acts of service. We talked about how it felt to work hard on a project which they wouldn’t get to use. The children expressed a range of opinions from feeling disappointed that they didn’t get to keep the playhouse to wanting to build another one for BJC. One child told me that they were glad they didn’t know who the playhouse was going to because they didn’t want to view the recipient family as “lesser” because they were in need. I was very impressed with that child’s understanding of Tzedakah.  

In November, we will transition and learn about the value of B’tzelem Elokim, being created in the image of G-d. On Saturday, November 19, we will gather in the afternoon to discuss this value as a community and do a community service project that will enhance our understanding of this value. More information will be provided in upcoming BJCNow emails and all are welcome to attend.
Thank You to All of Our High Holy Days Volunteers
By:Jim Korelitz

The High Holy Days are now over (for this year) and we want to thank the many volunteers who ensured that all of the services and events ran so smoothly. 

Our volunteers (i.e., you) served as ushers and parking assistants for four services. You helped with the setup and cleanup of the Oneg and Tashlich at Rosh Hashanah. You helped prepare the Sanctuary and Gathering Space for our Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. And you built (and took down) a beautiful sukkah where we were able to have a meal, shake and hold a lulav and etrog, and connect with our cultural and religious heritage.

All of your efforts were very much needed and appreciated—and hopefully you found it rewarding, too.
Show your Face!

We are asking everyone to upload their photos on the synagogue directory on our website. This will help congregants, and our new Rabbi, learn everyone’s names better.  

Uploading your photos is easy. Here’s how to do it from your computer:

  1. Go to our website,
  2. On the top Right of the screen, please log in. If you do not know your log in information, please email Geryl, to reset your log in.
  3. Once logged in, there will be a new tab, slightly lower, on the right hand side labled “My Account.” There you will find a drop down menu where you can click on “Directory.”
  4. Here is a list of all of our congregants. Below the alphabet, there is a button that reads “Edit My Account Info”. Click on that.
  5. Scroll down just a little until you see “Change Directory Listing” and the second item there is “Picture”. To the right you will see a button that says “Upload a File”. Click on that.
  6. Find the photo that you want to use on your computer and insert.  
  7. Before closing the website, scroll down to the bottom right side of the page and make sure that you click “Save Changes”

It is that easy! If you need additional help, please contact Geryl, or Amy, 

Click for the complete BJC November Calendar

BJC continues our Friday night worship at 7:30 PM and Saturday morning services at 10:30 AM. Consult BJC Now for the latest information about in-person activities and for links to services if you prefer to worship virtually.
Book Club
Wednesday, November 23, 8 PM

The BJC Open Book Club will continue to meet virtually for the foreseeable future. We usually meet at 8 pm on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Our upcoming selections are: 

November 23- The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen, was awarded the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The book centers on a fictionalized account of Harold Bloom's encounter with Benzion Netanyahu and his family, including his son, Benjamin Netanyahu, at an upstate New York college in the late 1950s, blending history, fiction, and humor.

Evelyn Ganzglass will send out the Zoom link prior to each meeting. If you are not already on the book club’s email list and would like to join us for any or all of our meetings, please let Evelyn know and she will add you to the list. 
BJC is going to NYC! Join us on December 11 for the acclaimed musical Fiddler On The Roof in Yiddish during it's limited 7 week run at New World Stages at 340 West 50th Street!

"Miracle of miracles! The beloved Off-Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish is back in a seven-week return engagement at New World Stages, directed by Academy Award and Tony winner Joel Grey. Steven Skybell reprises his role as Tevye, a funny and honest milkman navigating family and faith in the little Russian shtetl of Anatevka. Old-world traditions clash against new-world progressiveness as Tevye’s daughters fall in love on their own terms, sans matchmaker, in increasingly untraditional ways.
In 2018, New York audiences fell in love with this truly authentic version of Fiddler for the very first time. Don’t miss the buzzy, Drama Desk Award-winning production of one of the greatest musicals ever written, presented in Yiddish with English and Russian supertitles. Laugh, cry, and feel the love at this powerful and universal testament to the strength and resilience of Jewish community."

Tickets are currently available for members beginning at $165 per person. BJC members may purchase tickets for guests. 
There are only 50 tickets available so choose your seat today! Click Here.
Join BJC, BHPC, and MIIC for our annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service and brunch. Listen to special speaker Sister Sharlet Ann Wagner, Executive Director of Newcomer Network, about the migrant crisis in the DMV. Join us together in prayer with members of three faiths.

Stay for a delicious brunch and to help assemble Thanksgiving food baskets.Brunch tickets are $20 per adult and $5 for children aged 12 and under. Please RSVP here by November 8th.

Be Compassionate to Your Co-Worshippers. If you are sick, please do not come.
We need donations for the Thanksgiving baskets! Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Don't panic, but we're already planning for Hanukkah! If you have loved ones far away, show them you're thinking about them with a fun Hanukkah package from BJC.

Perfect for sending to college students or grandchildren. Each package has a menorah, candles, wacky Hanukkah socks, latke mix, and more!

$36 per package, includes shipping. Personalize your message! Order by Dec 8th to ship in time for the holiday.
Torah Study is back!

Join Rabbi Abbott online weekly on Wednesdays for a discussion about the current weeks parsha.

Zoom Link will be in BJC Now every class week.

You have questions, and Rabbi Abbott wants to hear them!
Make This the Year You Learn Hebrew!

Join our adult Hebrew class this year and deepen your understanding of prayer book Hebrew. Classes are free to BJC members and cost $200 a semester for non-members. 
Class meets Saturday mornings before services.

Please contact the BJC office with any questions. We're happy to help!
By Karen Levi

Periodically, one hears or reads about a small Jewish community in a location not typically associated with Jews—in Uganda, Turkey, Morocco, Ukraine. I have visited several of these barely surviving enclaves. Often, a tiny worship space exists with an older man or woman as caretaker. Young people have flown the coop for good reason. Educational and economic opportunities are nil. Frequently, the former residents emigrate to Israel which accepts Jewish immigrants. 
BJC has been assisting a village of Jewish subsistence farmers in Uganda. The leader of the Ugandan Jewish congregation sends photos of children and adults celebrating festivals and holidays much as we do, albeit in simple structures with makeshift materials. The smiles on the faces of the children and the pride in the posture of the adults communicates a sense of worth and purpose.
I have seen small spaces for Jewish worship in Morocco and in Lviv, Ukraine. In Casablanca and Marrakesh, I visited viable synagogues, but in other cities I was led into musty, decrepit rooms with faded remnants of Jewish worship. Most probably, all the Jews had disappeared from those towns. In Lviv (before the present war), the former synagogue was a wreck—rooms with broken down walls and peeling paint. Memories of my trip to Cuba recalls Jews in small towns barely hanging on, their population dwindling continuously. Sadly, there are no solutions, and most of these places will become abandoned.
The village in Uganda thrives with extreme challenges—lack of land, water, viable housing, healthcare, education. But it is not dead yet. The Jewish inhabitants yearn to connect with other Jews. In the past, the Jews in Cuba appreciated any communication with congregants of synagogues in the United States.
I believe these small enclaves may hold the key to the future of Judaism. That is why they need our support. These people follow traditional Jewish practices without the encumbrance of the conflicts modern Jews confront, for example does the Bible make sense in our world, what practices do we follow, will my child have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, should I join a synagogue. Israel should not have this role, due to their myriad political, social, and cultural difficulties. 
Judaism serves as a core and organizing principal in the lives of the people remaining in small regional groups. The Jews who live in these towns—who may not be like secular Jews of the developed world-- observe practices which we might describe as Orthodox. However, these villagers and farmers do not live separate from their surroundings, as the ultra-religious sects do in the “first world.”
History has proved that we Jews have yet to find a safe permanent home. Recent news reveals that antisemitism lurks barely beneath the surface of our everyday lives in the developed world. Antisemitic tropes and actions leap or slither out from havens in the Right and the Left. Those of us alive today exist in a short blip in time--no telling what might happen in the far future. Jews could become wanderers yet again. 
The weekly Jewish bulletin of the San Francisco Bay Area reported on a small town at the Syrian-Turkish border, once an important city; now a vestige of the past, a fading Jewish community of elderly residents who do not want to leave. One resident said, “I was born in Antakya and I will die in Antakya.” In Antakya, Jews practice the faith, lead a productive life, and are less affected than those parents who do not want their children negatively affected by the retelling of history or crazed gun toting individuals who enter houses of worship. 
I am not suggesting that modern Jews pack up and relocate to small villages, go off the grid, revert to life in the 19th century, or become hermits. Education and economic opportunity continue as the keys to progress and improvement in the lives of all people. I exist in the comfort and advantages of the 21st century. However, I emphasize the importance of saving and helping those who maintain rituals and practices which keep Judaism a vibrant religion. They may save us yet.
Migrants Still Need Help!

If any congregants would like to prepare meals for migrants (who arrived by bus), here is a sign up genius and all of the information.

Please help if you can!
If you missed any of our main HHD services, they are all available on our YouTube channel! Become a subscriber so you never miss out on any of our videos.
If you'd like to read the text explanation that member Chuck Weiss delivered before his reading of the Book of Jonah, please click here.

We had so much fun kicking off Sukkot with "Pizza in the Hut"!

Many thanks to our amazing sukkah build crew, who pulled it off once again. We're looking for more people to join the build crew next year!

All the kids decorated the sukkah and made their own little edible ones with graham crackers and frosting "glue" . We ate some pizza, did a little "shake shake" with the lulav and etrog, and sang along with Rabbi Abbott at the Sukkot service.

Awesome job on making the BJC sukkah look beautiful, kids! We hope everyone was able to visit the sukkah while it was up.

Simchat Torah was full of ruach!! Food Truck Friday hit a small snag with a truck cancellation but it worked out and everyone got to enjoy a yummy dinner. Thank you to I C Dream who came with the dessert truck!

Wasn't it amazing (and a little nerve-wracking) to see the entire Torah scroll unrolled? We danced, we sang, and we filled BJC with joy of the holiday.

Carie Schaffer
Evelyn and Marty Ganzglass


Michael and Brooke Mullican
Matthew Sternberg and Elliott McKay
Benjamin and Kelley Landy
Joshua Shakin and Nina Schichor
Daniel Buchner and Julie Gutmark
Michael Baumer and Leah Katzelnick

Editor’s Note: Share the joys in your life! Send to:

Mazel Tov to:

  • Karen Levi for her letter to the editor published in Washington Jewish Week


Ever confused about when we remember the yahrzeit of your loved one? You can choose to remember this special date according to the Hebrew or English calendar. Get in touch with Geryl Baer in the office to review and verify the accuracy of your records.


Herb Chabot, husband of Aleen Chabot and father of Elliot Chabot

Yahrzeits: November 2022
Sonya Choper, sister of Linda Baum
Renee Cooper, mother of David Cooper
Bernard Morris Dubin, father of Alan Dubin
Libby Dubin, sister of Alan Dubin
David Friedman, father of Hannah Friedman Elson
Miriam Gleberman, mother of Ellen Gleberman
Ethel Gluckstein, friend of Maran Gluckstein
Phillip Gordesky, grandfather of Joan G Kaufman
Jerome Grunes, father of Allen Grunes
Harry Haber, father of Miles Haber
Pepi Harnden, mother of Sandra Medlin
Beatrice Heller, mother of Carie Schaffer
Dr. Irving Horn, father of Dennis Horn
Ralph Kaufman, father of Emily Van Agtmael
Rosalie Lichter, mother of Alan Lichter
Philip Shtasel, father of Sana Shtasel
Alan Turow, father of Stephen Turow
Naomi Walders, mother of Larry Walders
Abe Walter, grandfather of Sandra Walter
Harry Winslow, father of Craig Winslow


Diane Blumenthal and Craig Winslow in memory of Harry Winslow
Judi Dash
Harrison Killefer in memory of Slater Isenberg
Paul and Melissa Klein
Jim Korelitz and Liz Sloss
Judith Marcus in memory of Earl Silbert
Carie Schaffer
Glenn Sklar
Lorrie Van Akkeren

Rochelle Banta
Cynthia Bogorad
Deborah Cook
Helen Dalton
Shoshanah Drake
Ashleigh Emmett
Todd Gillman
Marissa and Brian Gould
Samuel and Lauren Kline
Karen Levy
Sandra Walter

Shoshanah and Brian Drake
Bruce and Wynne Busman in memory of Shirley Barancik Lang
Bruce and Wynne Busman in memory of Leonard Busman
Lorrie Van Akkeren 

Victoria and Byron Bailer
Sandra Walter 

And to all of our members who “round up” their synagogue support and donate their time.

We are now an affiliate partner with Modern Tribe! Shop for all your Judaica needs though this link or by clicking the image. Bethesda Jewish Congregation earns 5% of all purchases! You get wonderful new items, and you support BJC in the process. Happy Shopping! 

Sign up for Amazon Smiles and benefit BJC! Those pennies, nickels, dimes, and sheckles add up. It costs you nothing, but by doing your Amazon shopping through their Smiles program and designating BJC, we profit a little bit at a time -- BJC will get 0.5% of your purchase. Sign up now and choose BJC. It never costs you anything, and it's very easy to do. Just click below.
Board of Trustees (As of 7/1/2022)

Wynne Busman & Harri Kramer
Co-Vice Presidents
Ken Fine & Issie Resti
Treasurer Steve Turow
Secretary Michelle Goldstein

Helen DiStefano
Shoshanah Drake
Karen Levy
Ted Posner
David Slacter
Lorrie Van Akkeren
Board Members & Committee Chairs

Chesed Society Lorrie Van Akkeren
Education Amy Rubenstein & Shoshanah Drake
Financial Advisor Terri Reicher
Fundraising Robin Sorkin & Sandra Walter
High Holy Days Jim Korelitz
Intercongregational Partnership Liaison
Marty Ganzglass
Membership Diane Blumenthal & Liz Sloss
Immediate Past President Sandra Walter
Programs Diane Horn & Joan Kaufman
Social Action Karen Levi
Student Representative Gabby Mendelsohn

BJC Administration

Spiritual Leader Rabbi Eric L. Abbott
Synagogue Director Geryl Baer
Program/Communications Director Amy Kertesz
Rabbi Emeritus Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer
Bethesda Jewish Congregation
6601 Bradley Boulevard
Bethesda, MD 20817-3042
Tel: 301-469-8636