• SelichotBook Club
  • High Holy Days
  • Back to Shul/Shabbat Under the Stars
  • Build the Sukkah
  • Book Club
  • Communications Committee
  • Social Action: A Wider Circle
  • Nachas Notes
  • Meet A Member
September 2018 Newsletter
Rabbi Elhanan ‘Sunny’ Schnitzer
Elul 5778/Tishrei 5779
CLICK for the Complete BJC September Events Calendar
Kriat HaRav—The Rabbi’s Call
Rabbi Elhanan “Sunny” Schnitzer

At this season of the year, when we are called by our tradition to honestly examine the condition of our innermost being, the message of our High Holy Days reminds us that the work of Tikkun Olam , Repair of the World, which is a bedrock guiding principle of our congregation, has to begin with Tikkun ha-middot , repair of our own human qualities.

The mystics teach that each of us has a task in the world to repair it and repair those who inhabit it. This is known as lifting up the sparks— Ya’alot Nitzutzot .

So, for example, when you respond to someone you consider a difficult person with empathy instead of anger, you release a holy spark and you help to repair God.

When you hold words of gossip inside and let them die within you, you repair God.

When you summon patience as your first response to irritation, you repair God.

When you nurture your qualities of generosity and overcome the tendency towards complacence, you repair God.

When you respond to circumstances with gentleness over aversion, with contentedness instead of annoyance, choose humility above pretension, hope instead of gloom, joy always outweighing depression: you have become a mystic.

That is the true essence of the mystical tradition, the development of deep personal piety and the trust that the repairing of our character is a meaningful step towards unifying God and the world.

And if it seems too hard to do the tough work of real personal transformation or too time consuming to really go out and do charity work and community work, let me share with you a secret, which is of course the root of the word “mystic,” because the Greek word for secret is mystere . Mystere – Mystery – Mystic.

Performance of real Tikkun Olam will create within you more energy and will help you do more in the same amount of time. Your personal power will be increased, and you will enjoy the deep personal satisfaction and inner peace that comes with knowing that your actions contribute to the solutions of the world’s and God’s brokenness.

It just seems to happen that way.

Why, I can’t tell you.

It’s a great mystery.

L’shanah Tovah Tikateivu
Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer
From the President—Shoshanah Drake
Building Holiday Memories
Do you have a favorite memory from High Holy Days? I have several that instantly come to mind. I’m the youngest of four, and my mom is an amazing cook, so we always had a big family dinner Erev Rosh HaShanah and break-fast for Yom Kippur .

When I was little, I remember always wanting to sit next to my dad so I could play with the fringes of his tallit during services to keep me entertained. I remember my Rabbi during the great Aleinu , bowing completely on his knees in front of the Holy Ark. It was a moment of such grace and faith and true awe.

By the time I was 14, I was singing in my temple choir, and the memories of all the wonderful people I got to be with as we made music together is something that I love. I think about it each year as we sing some of the same tunes. Most of those role models are no longer here, but they are in my heart and mind each time I hear the music.

I remember the first service I attended at BJC. It was Yom Kippur and my dear friend Joan Wolf invited me to join her at her congregation. As I sat through the service, I knew from that moment this was my new spiritual home. The music lifted me up and the feeling of community was one I had not had in several year. Although I had been to other synagogues in the area, none were like this one. 

I remember listening to Davi Walders read her beautiful words and thinking how lovely it was to be with someone who could write and express themselves in such a beautiful way. There are so many memories I have built since that first service at BJC. I found my community again, and now there is no place I would rather be than sitting in the choir loft, looking at the wonderful congregation, and knowing that together we can work to make the world a better place. 

How do you celebrate the High Holy Days? What do you remember? What memories are you creating for yourself, your family, your community? How can we help? If you have an idea on how we can work together, please share it with me. As you reflect on your past year and think about your new year ahead, make sure to put time in your schedule to engage at BJC and make memories and friendships that will continue on.

L’shanah Tova Tikateivu

From the Director of Congressional Education—Mindy Silverstein
An Amazing Congregation
After battling a 7-year-long illness, on August 16, my father succumbed. While I can share a myriad of stories about this wonderful man, instead I want to share with you how fortunate I was to be part of the BJC community during this incredibly difficult time.

As hints of my father’s illness started to become apparent to me, I would share some of these stories with a few BJC families. What impressed me was that they would always ask how my dad was, even when I forgot I had shared some of these intimacies with them. There was such compassion and concern in their eyes and voice, it helped lighten the load I was feeling.

But the concern didn’t manifest itself with just questions, several congregants offered to make meals for us, as well as to provide transportation for my mother. I was told, “Mindy…we’re family…” Again, knowing that there was an incredible group of people who were willing to take care of me and my family was overwhelming.

While many people look forward to summer vacation, for educators, it is a very busy time of the year. We are both closing down the past school year, while simultaneously making plans for the upcoming one. And this upcoming school year was going to be a particularly challenging one as BJC was going virtual for our midweek Hebrew program, which meant staff development had to be provided at a time when I was not emotionally able to do so. Again, offers from BJC congregants continued to pour in.

As my fathers’ disease progressed to the point where he ultimately died, the Chesed community of BJC went into action. They worked closely with my brother’s synagogue to ensure that we had our physical needs met for us to focus on our spiritual ones. 

But the support was not only given to us by the Chesed Committee and by people who knew me, but also by BJC congregants many of whom I did not know, who shared the emotions of the funeral and shiva with us by showing up. It was an experience words cannot explain, but was felt, shared, and welcomed by my mother and brother as we spoke about it during shiva and immediately afterwards. I do know that that feeling will help me as I navigate, as one congregant shared with me, the year of firsts.

This is an amazing congregation. I am grateful and honored to be a part of i t.
First day of Saturday school is September 15 . We’re looking forward to seeing students and parents in Memorial at 9:00 AM. If you haven’t registered yet, there is still time. Please visit the Bethesda Jewish Congregation website, where you will find registration forms and information regarding our virtual midweek Hebrew program.

Immediately following Rosh HaShanah Family services and before Tashlich , the Education Committee will hold its Second Annual Honey and Apple Tasting. Members of the Education Committee will be available to answer any school questions for current or potential families.   
Rabbi's Message
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. This is particularly necessary now that HIPAA regulations have made getting information from hospitals extremely difficult. I greatly appreciate your help keeping me informed of the health needs of our congregation. Please call: 301-469-8636 #3.

  • Saturday, September 1 at 9 PM

Rosh Hashanah
  • Sunday, September 9 at 8 PM, followed by Community Oneg
  • Monday, September 10
         10:00 AM Morning Service
         1:30 PM Family Service for All Ages
         3:30 PM Tashlich at Cabin John Park, 7400 Tuckerman Ln, Bethesda

Yom Kippur
  • Tuesday, September 18 at 8 PM Kol Nidre
  • Wednesday September 19 
         10:00 AM Morning Service
         1:30 PM Family Service for All Ages
         2:30 PM Yom Kippur Discussion
         3:30 PM Musical Meditations
         3:30 PM Chant Circle
         5:00 PM Reading of the Book of Jonah
         5:30 PM Yizkor and Neilah Services
Selichot Concert & Service
Songs of Love and Longing with The Kosher Hams : An evening of music and laughter with Joan Wolf, Leah Chiaverini, Karen Levy, and Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer

Saturday, September1, 9 PM

The Selichot theme of longing for deep connection runs through not only the High Holy Days, but through popular music as well. “ Ta Sh’ma ” (as the rabbis of the Talmud say)—“come and listen,” to music that will make you laugh and cry as we explore the affairs of the heart as preparation for the High Holy Days season.

A few of your favorite BJC musicians have put together an evening’s entertainment that is sure to please. The concert will be followed by a fancy dessert reception and a Selichot service that ends just after midnight. The final hour of the Shabbat before Rosh HaShannah was deemed by our rabbis to be a time of special power with special prayers and songs.

Avoid the Labor Day traffic. Come party with us! FREE—Reservations Preferred
Rosh HaShanah Tashlich and Picnic
Monday, September 10, 3:30 PM

Join your BJC family and friends at Cabin John Park 7701 Tuckerman Ln. (the annex, not the main park) for our annual picnic and Tashlich.

We sing a few songs, cast our sins upon the waters of the stream with breadcrumbs (and feed the fish), and enjoy a delicious picnic. There is a playground, as well as newly refurbished restrooms on the property. The kids will have a great time.

RSVP preferred.
Chant Circle Schedule
Chanting is a form of meditation that can open the doors of the heart. Repetition of a sacred phrase can clear the mind of clutter and connect us to each other and the divine.

We chant on the second Shabbat of the month: September 8, November 10, December 8


Click for the complete BJC September Events Calendar
Back to Shul Night and Shabbat Under the Stars
Friday, September 7, 5:30–8:00 PM
Summer’s over, and the time is right for—back to BJC!

Don’t keep your love of BJC a secret. Share your passion for our unique expression of Judaism with others. Bring your friends to our outdoor musical Shabbat. Enjoy a free barbeque and activities for children. Let’s get the word out about our warm, inspiring, and exciting synagogue and school. We’ll be stronger for your efforts.

Please RSVP for the barbeque to the BJC office or HERE .

This is What We Need to Build a Sukkah – YOU!
Sunday, September 23, 1:30 PM
Give us 2 hours of your time for Hiddur Bimah —the beautification of Covenant Hall for Sukkot . We need volunteers to set up the structure, and hang the branches, fruits, and vegetables that make the sukkah such a joy to the eye and the soul.

This is one of those projects suitable for all ages. After the sukkah is completed, we will enjoy a light supper followed by our Erev Sukkot Service, suitable for all ages, and the waving of the Lulav and Etrog.

Simchat Torah Celebration!!!
Saturday, September 29, 9 AM -- Memorial Hall

J oin us as we gather to celebrate another year of Torah Lernin'.

We need adults to hold the Torah aloft as our Religious School students are placed next to their potential B'nai Mitzvah Torah portion, and Rabbi Sunny describes what is contained in each child's parsha. Then kids of all ages can create their own "Tortilla Torahs" to eat - to remind us that learning is sweet .

We will cap off the morning with music and Israeli dancing.

This event is open to kids of all ages, seniors, tweeners, and toddlers, not only our religious school students. Join the Fun!!

Book Club
Wednesday, September 26, 8 PM

September 26 -- Less: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize winner) by Andrew Sean Greer. Reviewers describe the book as a well-written and funny reflection on aging, as well as an accounting of the social experience of gay life.

Look Ahead: October 24 -- Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirschman. The book is a dual biography, as well as a history of the legal fights to achieve women's equality.
Committee News

Shining a Light on BJC

By Helen Dalton, Communications Chair

How do people find out about Bethesda Jewish Congregation? Some have parents and grandparents who have been coming here for years. Some attended the Religious School and had their b’nei mitzvah here and stayed on to be part of the congregation. Some are parents and come with family, friends, or neighbors. And some read about BJC on a variety of media or community outlets and think, “Hmm, I like how they describe themselves,” or “That event sounds terrific for my children, let’s go,” or “I am really inspired by what the Rabbi wrote in the last edition of the newsletter that I get because I went to hear a great speaker and got on their email list.”

Beyond our regular BJC NOW and this newsletter, for a broader reach, we also have a small, but energetic Communications Committee that creates, produces, and disseminates all types of communications to the membership, to the media, and to the community through press releases and calls, digital and print ads, list serves, boards, web postings, brochures, postcards, and flyers to let everyone know what’s happening and BJC and encouraging them to join us. BJC/Shalom Learning flyers are available in the BJC office for you to share wherever you think appropriate. 

But there is so much competition for ears and eyeballs around us that we also need all of you to help spread the word. We fervently hope that you want to ensure the standing of BJC in the community and will help us expand our message dissemination. Just pass BJC news on to friends and family. And if you want to do even more, join the Committee in its work and try your hand at writing, posting, or even helping Rabbi Schnitzer create a podcast.   
Social Action Wants You to Know: A Wider Circle

by Harri j. Kramer

Many of you know A Wider Circle (AWC) as the place where you donate furniture that is provided for free to someone in need. But, AWC is so much more.

The mission of A Wider Circle is simple: to help one individual and one family after another to rise out of poverty. They work in partnership with those they serve and with those seeking to help to ensure that every child and adult has the chance to succeed and the opportunity to live well.

According to their website , “A Wider Circle’s efforts focus providing basic need items, workforce development, wraparound support, and neighborhood revitalization. These four components work in concert to create lasting change…. A Wider Circle says no to nobody! Anyone in need of help can find it here. In addition to all of the individuals and families that call us, more than 500 government, social service, and nonprofit agencies regularly contact us for help in serving their clients.”

The first program area is their Basic Needs Services, formerly known as Neighbor-to-Neighbor, and their largest program. This program provides beds, dressers, tables, chairs, dishes, pots, pans, and other large and small home goods to families transitioning out of shelters, escaping domestic violence, or otherwise living without their basic need items. Each year, AWC furnishes more than the homes of more than 4,000 families, helping to create the stability and dignity that everyone deserves.

Second, approximately six times a year, AWC has an intensive workforce development program that includes resume writing, interview skills, career path identification, and job advancement, among other topics. Job coaches are provided to every participant. Access to computers for resume writing and job searching is also provided. AWC’s Professional Development Center – through which they serve more than 2,000 individuals each year – has a showroom of professional attire and accessories that is… “better than Bloomingdale’s and nicer than Nordstrom.”

Third, A Wider Circle’s Neighborhood Partnerships Program works to end poverty from directly within low-income neighborhoods. All programs and services are delivered in the community. Two Neighborhood Partnerships in Southeast Washington, DC are now operational.

Last, is the newest initiative, the Partnership to Independence (P2I), which was developed based on 17 years of working with individuals and families with one goal in mind –- achieving sustained self-sufficiency. It integrates the lessons learned and the best of AWC’s services to date in the areas of workforce development, health and wellness, and wraparound support. P2I is an intensive 5-year commitment for families living below the poverty line. AWC will launch the initial cohort in the fall of 2018.

On Sunday, September 16, A Wider Circle is hosting an interactive simulation event to promote awareness, increase understanding, and inspire local change. To learn more about the “Rethink Poverty” event, click here for the information.
Nachas Notes
Editor’s Note: Here’s a spot to kvell with your BJC community. Let us know what you’re celebrating. An engagement? A new baby? Grandbaby? Got into that great college? A new job? Send your good news to:

  • Mazel Tov to Marty Ganzglass, who published Treason and Triumph, his fifth novel in a series on the American Revolutionary War. It encompasses the low and high points of the revolutionary struggle in 1780 and 1781 – the betrayal by General Benedict Arnold and the October 1781 victory at Yorktown with the surrender of an entire British Army. Treason and Triumph is available from Amazon and Kindle. You will benefit BJC when you order through Amazon Smile.

  • Mazel Tov to Trevor Drake who was the Assistant Captain of the Greater Washington Maccabi Ice Hockey team, which played in August in Orange County, CA. 

  • Mazel Tov to Matthew Kirschner, whose essay in last month’s BJC Newsletter was re-published by Washington Jewish Week. Missed it? Find it here.
Meet a Member: Helen Dalton

By Helen Dalton
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, in my case, a picture is worth a lifetime. This one shows my husband Michael and me standing on opposites of the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. I’m on the East and Mike is on the West. Mike comes from Baltimore in the West. And I come from the East, the Far East. I was born in Shanghai, China to parents whose parents had left the anti-Semitic environs of Eastern Europe and journeyed to China.

They found hospitable Jewish communities in Harbin, then Manchuria, and in Shanghai and Hong Kong. I grew up in the two latter places, lived in other Asian countries, and eventually joined other relatives, especially my sister, Reva, in the United States for college in Ohio, with my folks remaining in Hong Kong for many years until retirement. After living in San Francisco and Miami for several years, the Washington area finally became my permanent home. Fortunately, we have been able to travel widely over the past years, and I was able to make sentimental journeys to both my Chinese hometowns.

It was many years before I decided to find a permanent spiritual home. Also, my Catholic husband attends Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac, so we are an interfaith family. But, thanks to my sister’s family and the bar mitzvah of my nephew at BJC years ago, and after many years of High Holy Days attendance, the glorious choir, Rabbi Schnitzer’s high notes, inspiring sermons and stories, and the warm overtures of some lovely BJC members (you know who you are), we were convinced.

I also wanted to learn more about BJC and meet more members, so I became active on the Marketing Committee, headed by the mega-talented Robin Sorkin . I may have learned more than I intended because I had the honor of being invited on the Board of Trustees and now chair the newly named Communications Committee. I learned of the dedication of the Trustees and committee chairs, as well as the staff, to making and keeping BJC a wondrous mix of traditional and contemporary practices.

I learned that a few energetic people often do most of the heavy lifting. When you are a communicator, as I was in my professional life, you get to ask lots of questions to speak and write accurately and affirmatively. I was privileged to help promote the 50th anniversary a year ago of the amazing covenant between BJC and Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church. Now, I am learning how BJC cares about the welfare of its members and is saving parents a mid-week commute by providing high-tech assistance in a virtual classroom that students can attend in their own homes. How thoughtful is that?

Wherever you are from—whether attending Shabbat services, our community speaker series, or the hilarious Purim Spiel; whether serving on the Board or a committee or just folding flyers in a one-time effort; whether single, or with children in the Religious School, or part of an interfaith family; or you are just transported when you listen to our High Holy Days Choir, no Meridian separates us. We are all part of the BJC world.
September 2018

Ruth Broza Levin, grandmother of Helit Broza
Barbara Cahan, grandmother of Sandra Walter
Edward T. Campiglia, father of John Camp
Mitchell Cooper, father of David Cooper
Solomon Dwork, father of Barry Dwork
Toba Vallens Farb, mother of Warren Farb
Isadore Frankford, mother of Norma Stern
Frank Gold, father of Judy Scott
Allene Gordesky, mother of Joan Kaufman
Laura Jane Ketcham, mother of Kathy Spiro
Sherri Kost, mother of Amy Kost
George Loeb, husband of Marcia Loeb
Shirley Poogach, mother of Robert Poogach
Benjamin Rosenberg, father of Phyliss Hoffman
Fanny Stern, mother of Edward Stern
Eleanor Leister Trussel, mother of Joy Gold
Rhoda Turow, grandmother of Steve Turow
Nancy Shu-Teh Cheng Yang, mother of Catherine Yang

Thank You

The following list recognizes those donations made through August 15, 2018.

To the General Fund

Kurt Kohn, in memory of Julia Robinson
Judy & Al Folsom, in memory of I. Kornfield
Sheila & Ira Wolpert, in memory of Rosalie Shiffman and Florence Wolpert

To the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund

Benjamin Korelitz, in gratitude for Rabbi Schnitzer’s officiating at his wedding to Rachel Coyle
Adrienne Simenhoff, in honor of her son Michael becoming Bar Mitzvah
Lorrie van Akkeren, in memory of Kenneth Mandeville
A Special Thank You
All who “rounded up” their Synagogue Support payments
All who continuously donate their time to volunteer at BJC
Board of Trustees

President Shoshanah Drake
Vice-President Sandra Walter
Treasurer Lance Pelter
Secretary Lorrie Van Akkeren

Howard Berkof 
Helen Dalton
Jason Engel
Alan Grunes
Ted Posner
David Slacter
Committee Chairs
Communication Helen Dalton
Financial Advisor [An Opportunity!]
High Holy Days Jim Korelitz
Student Representative Sammy Peterson Intercongregational Partnership Liaison
Marty Ganzglass
Membership Joan Wolf
Past President Rachel Mosher-Williams
Programs Ruth Magin
Social Action Harri j. Kramer

BJC Administration
Spiritual Leader Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer
Director of Education Mindy Silverstein
Synagogue Administrator Diana Abadi

BJC News
Interim Newsletter Editor Harri j. Kramer

Bethesda Jewish Congregation
6601 Bradley Boulevard
Bethesda, MD 20817-3042
Tel: 301-469-8636