IN THIS ISSUE
- We Need Your Scheckels
- Gun Violence Prevention Shabbat
- Hanukkah Happenings!
- ICYMI: Interfaith Thanksgiving
- ICYMI: Interfaith Perspectives on Cuba
- A Ton of Food
- Social Action: 2 for Seder
- Meeting Prospective Members at the Market
- A Hanukkah Recipe
- Meet A Member
December 2019 Newsletter
Rabbi Elhanan ‘Sunny’ Schnitzer
for the Complete BJC December Events Calendar
Kriat HaRav—The Rabbi’s Call
Rabbi Elhanan “Sunny” Schnitzer
A husband wakes up at home with a huge hangover.
He forces himself to open his eyes and the first thing he sees is a couple of aspirin and a glass of water on the side table.
He sits down and sees his clothing in front of him, all cleaned and pressed. He looks around the room and sees that it is in perfect order, spotless and clean. The rest of the house is in equally good shape.
He takes the aspirin and notices a note on the table.
“Honey, breakfast is on the table. I left early to go grocery shopping. Love You!”
He is totally shocked by the loving note. He goes to the kitchen and there is a hot breakfast and morning newspaper ready for him.
His son is eating at the table.
He asks, “Son, what happened last night?”
His son says, “Well, you came home around 3 AM, drunk and delirious. You broke some crockery, puked in the hall, and gave yourself a black eye when you stumbled into the door.”
Confused, the man asks, “So why is everything in order and so clean? Why is there breakfast on the table waiting for me? I should expect to have a big quarrel with your mom!”
His son replies, “Oh, that! Mom dragged you to the bedroom and when she tried to take your clothes and shoes off, you said, ‘Lady Leave Me Alone! I'm Married!’”
Moral of the story:
Self-induced hangover -- $100
Broken crockery -- $200
Breakfast -- $10
Saying the right thing –“Priceless.”
Saying the right thing.
Not as easy as it seems.
How can we know that what comes out of our mouth is what someone else needs to hear?
How many times have we upset our friends and loved ones with our words, even when our intentions were benign?
And then how do we react to their upset? By getting upset ourselves??? Or do we wisely seek answers?
This month, our cycle of Torah is focused upon the second half of
, the Book of Genesis. Our patriarchs and matriarchs often struggled to say or do the right thing and occasionally failed. But the lesson for us is found within their example, regardless of the result.
Sarah questions God and then lies about it. Abraham struggles to find the right words to speak to Ephron the Hittite that will enable him to purchase a burial cave for Sarah. Rachel struggles with her sister Leah. Ya’akov deceives Esau and, in turn, is deceived by Laban. Everyone struggles with Laban.
In each case, words are spoken, but the motivation behind the words is often a secret, and what is said may not reflect reality.
Take, for example, the case of the sisters Rachel and Leah. Rachel is barren; Leah has many sons. Still, Leah cannot win the heart of Jacob, no matter how many sons she bears. He only loves Rachel. Rachel asks for some of her son’s mandrakes, a folk medicine to enhance fertility. Leah is less than gracious. Rachel obtains the mandrakes at the cost of her dignity. Neither can see the other’s pain.
Rachel also comes into conflict with her beloved husband Ya’akov. So great is her frustration with her infertility, that she has harsh words for Ya’akov, and he responds in kind. So great is their own pain that they cannot see the pain of the other, even though their love is very deep.
Rarely do we know the pain of another person.
What’s bugging them? What are their fears and insecurities? Too often, they are hidden from our view.
A good friend seems too preoccupied to engage with us when we need them. Don’t be upset. It may not be about you.
A son or daughter barks at you when you have made a simple request. That frustration and anger may well be based in something that happened to them earlier in the day. Try not to take it personally.
Someone says something that was meant to be complimentary and instead it comes off as uncaring or even an insult! Is it them or is it us?
Everyone is engaged in a great struggle.
Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav taught, “There is Truth, the truth of the Truth and there is Peace. The Truth is ‘the boy stole an apple,’ the truth of the Truth is ‘the boy was hungry,’ and Peace is ‘nobody stole anything,’ now, give the boy an apple!”
In our dealings with everyone we meet, let us opt for peace.
Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer
From the Director of Congregational Education —
Rabbi Jennifer Weiner
Jewish Education: We Will Do, and We Will Learn
As Hanukkah approaches, we often think back to the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight nights instead of just one night. Yet, there was another miracle that also occurred. That miracle involved a small group of Jews known as the Maccabees, who would not allow another country’s ruler to douse the light of Judaism. This band of Jews hid in the caves of Modi’in and fought so their children could be taught to follow the ways and values of Torah. Due to their conviction and the conviction of many more generations of Jews who followed them, we are able to teach our children the ways and values of Torah.
The question many BJC members ask, is what does the future of Jewish education look like? When asking congregants on an informal basis, answers range from experiential learning to
feeling to community oriented to
based. When asked what values we should teach, answers included
, equality, justice, for their children to be able to make informed choices based on their Jewish education. In other words, we want our children to be able to infuse our value of doing good into our daily lives. What we are seeking is the means of taking their Jewish education and parlaying it into such a system so that the values of Judaism are not just for the sake of learning, but for doing good in our world.
To accomplish our goal, we need to capture the interest of the youngest generation of Jews and Jews of all ages. At BJC, we are infusing our Jewish education system with the creativity and values our children seek. Our youth education program should be a place of justice and action. Our BJC Youth Program needs to be more and different. Our students, children and adults, should learn together and then apply those lessons. It is within our reach to change the trajectory of Jewish education and create a system based on ethics and values steeped in social action. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught, “I pray with my feet.” We should follow his example and not only pray with our feet, but also learn and do with our whole being.
Imagine our members entering our congregation on Shabbat with a means of expressing themselves both spiritually and through action. At BJC, we can do it! Every Shabbat morning, our youngest students—along with parents, teachers, and our rabbis—are engaging in activities based on social action. Students of various ages (children and adults) learn the philosophy of why we do what we do and then apply it to an activity. The outcome is an enriching experience for all those involved. Before the activity, someone introduces the subject and meaning behind the activity, those present participate, and then a values-based text is introduced. The result is a communal experience based on social action. The best part of the experience, it is open to ALL our congregants with or without children in the program.
Everyone participating learns through doing and following not only the teaching of Rabbi Heschel, but also the principle of the Prophets and Torah (
: We will do, and we will learn (Ex. 24:7). Let us work and learn together. Together we can integrate social action into all of our learning experiences. We can include spirituality and soulful teaching by opening a book and studying and through social action.
Please join our BJC Youth Program on Shabbat mornings from 9:00-10:10 AM for learning through social action. Then at 10:30, you can attend Shabbat minyan and be there to pray and to help form the minyan so saying Mourner’s Kaddish for a loved one will feel supported by our community.
* * * * *
BJC Youth Program’s Hanukkah Happening
Shabbat, December 14, 11:00 AM -12:15 PM
Join us as we learn and celebrate together in the BJC Youth Program through Hanukkah trivia questions, cooking traditional Hanukkah food, playing Hanukkah games, and having FUN!
President's Column—Sandra Walter
Be The Light
I’m taking a poll: do you spell it Chanukah? or Hanukkah?
However, we spell it, this is the season of light.
Light. It separates day from night, celebration from sorrow, life from death, hope from despair.
In our tradition, the act of lighting candles is filled with ritual, history, prayer, family, and community. A bright flame needs oxygen for fuel.
So much of our essence as Jews can be expressed with metaphors for light. Our teachings shed light on our history and our values. Our traditions of discussion and debate shed light on differences in interpretations, experiences, and opinions. The
draws us together with both collective and individual responsibility for the legacy of its eternal flame. Keeping it alive on the barest bit of fuel while a runner went for holy oil is the essence of this Hanukkah story.
You are the fuel that keeps BJC burning bright as unique place among synagogues in our area and our nation—a beacon of Jewish life, community, education, and spiritual worship that is open and welcoming, joyous and energetic, reflective and forward-thinking. To keep BJC alive—bright and vibrant, filled with voices in song and prayer, study and celebration—we need your commitment, passion, advocacy, leadership, time, participation, and yes, financial support.
As we look toward the close of 2019, perhaps, like me, you have started making a list of things to get around to before the calendar turns to 2020. Here are a few to dos I invite you to include and check-off your December list…
Be part of the Shabbat Minyan—whether its Friday night or Saturday morning, spend two hours with Rabbi Sunny and fellow congregants in prayer, reflection, song, and socializing. Experience the new Jewish youth education program at BJC. Education Director Rabbi Jennifer Weiner invites you to participate in the social action activities that start each Saturday morning. Email
to get involved.
Celebrate Hanukkah with BJC on December 27. Bring your Hanukkiah and light it with us all in the brightest moment of the year. Go
to get more information and tickets for dinner; please RSVP by 12/20.
Consider a meaningful year-end gift to BJC—and consider making a larger gift than usual by 12/31 to take advantage of tax benefits of donating more in a single year. We have a goal of at least $90,000 this year to make our budget. Voluntary donations beyond your synagogue support keeps teachers teaching, kids learning, the lights on, the staff paid, the musicians playing, programs planning, and so much more. Your generosity also ensures that everyone is welcome as a BJC member, regardless of financial means.
(See below for more information on year-end giving.)
If you’ve not already, complete your synagogue support payment in December—go online with a credit card, send a check, or make a gift of stock.
“Do Your Share, Show You Care”—Be part of BJC’s social action volunteer program. We want every BJC member, young and older, to donate 3 hours this year (5780). There’s more on that in the Social Action Committee’ note later in the newsletter, but know this: time volunteering at BJC counts towards your 3 hours.
So, start your 2020 list with time to volunteer with BJC—2 hours a month, more if you can. We rely on volunteers to help with office tasks, program planning, strategic thinking, A/V for Shabbat and programs, fundraising, membership outreach, marketing and communications, and more. Please let me know how you would like to help BJC be our Best Jewish Community where Being Jewish is Cool in 2020 by volunteering with us:
Thank the BJC Staff—Rabbi Sunny, Rabbi Jennifer, Hal, and our teachers. Whether it’s a pat on the back, a good word, an email, or a note, let them know how much we appreciate the professionalism, passion, and personal commitment they give to making our BJC a place are all proud to call our spiritual home.
Have a bright month ahead. I look forward to seeing you at BJC—and celebrating Hanukkah (and Chanukah) with you on December 27th!
I note that starting with this issue, we’re featuring our favorite recipes. My family traditions include adding diced salami to our latkes and dipping them in mustard, or adding diced lox and spreading our latkes with herbed cheese. Amazing Hanukkah eats!
From the BJC Administrator
Some great news! Bethesda Jewish Congregation is about to inaugurate a new Membership and Financial program to improve our operations. In the works for several months, ShulCloud, developed specifically for synagogues, will become our system to maintain all membership, financial, demographic, and web-based programs. Our plan is to start using ShulCloud at the beginning of the new calendar year.
What this program will do:
- Every member will be able to have a personal password to access membership account and information, make adjustments such as address and telephone changes, emails, and important dates such as yahrzeits, anniversaries, and birthdays.
- Payments may be made directly by members on-line as the preferred EFT or a credit/debit card payment. Payments made this way will immediately be posted to the member’s account. Of course, checks and money orders will be posted when received in the office. Those needing assistance in making an on-line payment will still be able to call the office; however, the processing will be much simpler than the current system.
- Synagogue support (dues), tuition, and other charges will now be able to be automatically billed to the member via monthly emails in addition to paper invoices.
- For the Board and professional leadership, reports, enrollment lists, and other important data will be much more easily produced and accessed.
- And, finally, the congregational web page will be integrated through this new system, making it much easier to manage and keep updated and serve as an important information tool for you.
Because I was involved with the installation of the ShulCloud system in my previous congregation in the Philadelphia area, I have experienced all the positives of this program. The ShulCloud support team are responsive to questions and suggestions as they now serve over 100 congregations in North America. I think everyone will be pleased with the results.
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.
Good As We Give: 2019
Let the Feeling of Giving to BJC Put a Song in Your Heart
By Sandra Walter, BJC President & Fundraising Chair
BJC strives to be the center of your Jewish community—as central to your life as your favorite playlist of songs that cross genres and time. Songs that inspire your days, bring you joy, remind you of loved ones, give you a moment to breathe, cause you to reflect, and make you want to dance or sing out loud.
As we approach the year-end charitable giving season, please consider expressing your belief in BJC with a meaningful gift that will strengthen its ability to be a beacon in the Jewish community and in our lives. To be the place that inspires and nurtures us, and a new generation. A center that draws us together with amazing and inspiring worship services, music, social action, and educational and community programs that make us feel so proud of OUR BJC!
As 2019 draws to a close, we invite you to consider and act on these many ways to financially and philanthropically make an impact on our community. As you know, synagogue support is a significant piece—but not the only component—of how BJC makes its annual budget. Throughout the year, your donations and support of fundraisers and events ensure we have the means to move ahead. Our 2019/20 budget relies on $90,000 in contributions beyond dues to fund programming, clergy and staff, rent, and so much more.
Why is your generosity in giving the best and most you can give so important?
BJC values education. The new youth education program we are providing has the potential to attract new families—but, as a congregation, we have to invest in it. As Rabbi Sunny has taught, and your board has affirmed, providing a Jewish education that reflects BJC’s expression of Jewish values is the highest of responsibilities for a community.
BJC welcomes anyone who wants to be part of our Jewish community, regardless of financial means. Those of us who can give more financially to ensure the fiscal health of BJC for us all. We don’t often talk about this, and we are deeply respectful of each and every person’s right to confidentiality. We never let anyone’s limited ability to pay tuition or dues be a reason for turning away people who want a Jewish education for their children or to be part of BJC. Yet, this places another stress on our finances.
I welcome the opportunity to talk with you about making a named gift, or directing your support where it means the most to you. Thank you! Click
for detailed information on ways to give.
Don’t forget to start singing as you make your gift—thank you for adding your voice of generosity to BJC. Thank You!
for the complete BJC December Calendar
Gun Violence Prevention Shabbat
Friday, December 13, 8 PM
December 14, 2019 marks the 7th year since the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 26 children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut. Fourteen months ago, the American Jewish community was rocked by the shootings at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Each year on this Shabbat, we remember all those who have lost their lives to gunfire, we pray for those whose lives have been forever changed because of gun-related injuries or the loss of a loved one, and we educate one another about proven strategies and what still needs to be done to reduce gun violence.
The BJC Hanukkah Happening
Friday, December 27
6:30 PM Hanukkah & Shabbat Dinner, followed by 8 PM Service
It’s Back and Bigger Than Ever—The BJC Hanukkah Happening
Join us for an evening of music, fun and games, and good food. We’ll light our candles (bring your own Hanukkiah for the community candle lighting), enjoy the Mystery Maccabee Gift Exchange (all gifts $10 or under please), enjoy BJC’s first annual competition dreidel championship, sing Hanukkah songs,
on traditional Hanukkah foods cooked in oil.
New Members are invited to attend at no charge
Dinner: Adults $25; Children ages 6 – 15, $12; Children under 6 FREE
Wednesday, December 18 and January 22, 8 PM
The BJC Open Book Club meets in the Lounge at 8 PM usually on the 4th Wednesday of every month. Anyone is welcome to join or just drop in for a particular book discussion. For more information, please contact Evelyn Ganzglass
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border
by Francisco Cantú. Cantú’s mother was a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant. Cantú joins the Border Patrol to understand the hard realities of the landscape he loves and quits plagued by a growing awareness of his complicity in a dehumanizing enterprise. Cantú describes the full extent of the violence the border wreaks on both sides of the line. Named a top 10 book of 2018 by NPR and the Washington Post, winner of the Los Angeles Times book prize, and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle nonfiction award.
The Source of Self-Regard, Selected Essays, Speeches and Meditations
by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison contains a rich gathering of her writing on society, culture, and art, spanning four decades.
Early Friday Night Shabbat Service begins January 24
continues on the Fourth Friday of Every Month, 6:00 - 7:45 PM
Join us for a nosh and a little
to enhance your Friday evening.
Our Shabbat “pre-Neg” features hors d’oeuvres, veggies, and dips from 6-6:30 PM. An intimate Shabbat service follows and finishes at 7:45 with
. No after service
, and you will be home in time for dinner.
Join us on your way home from work and start your weekend off with high spirits.
PLEASE TAKE NOTE: THIS WILL BE THE ONLY SHABBAT SERVICE ON THE 4TH FRIDAY OF THE MONTH.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The Interfaith Thanksgiving Worship Service
By Harri j. Kramer and Marty Ganzglass
On November 17th, for the tenth year, members of the three Abrahamic faiths gathered in the Sanctuary to give thanks.
Under the leadership of
Pastor David Gray
of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church (BHPC),
Dr. Tarek Elgawhary
, Imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of Potomac, and BJC’s
Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer
, the intermingled congregations worshipped together joyously. Early in the service, the children gathered up front, and delightfully responded to prompts from educators from all three faiths before going off to an activity. There were many other special components in the service, notably the conversation about faith traditions and economic justice among the religious leaders, which also included
Pastor Chris Foster
Rabbi Jennifer Weiner
, and Ms.
of the Maqaam e Ibrahim Islamic Center.
A particularly moving moment was when Rabbi Sunny led everyone in singing “Hallelujah,” the Leonard Cohen classic.
of BHPC, who had just returned from Cuba with Rabbi Sunny and members of BHPC and BJC, spoke eloquently about the impact of that mission.
(See the next story.)
The morning’s offering was collected for the Cuba-American Jewish Mission, which is establishing a new relationship with the Cuban Council of Churches
Following the service, over 200 congregants from BHPC, BJC, the Idara Jaferia Mosque, the Islamic Center of Potomac, and the House of Abraham attended the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Brunch in Memorial Hall. Our Muslim brothers and sisters were BJC and BHPC’s guests.
As in the past, Thanksgiving baskets of food, gift cards and new socks, were assembled in the Lounge and this year were donated to A Wider Circle and the National Center for Children and families on behalf of our congregations. Thanks to Assistant Pastor Chris Foster and Rabbi Jennifer for working with the BHPC and BJC youth and for organizing this part of the event.
The meal was catered with BHPC and BJC members providing drinks and desserts. The Intercongregational Partnership Committee (ICPC) was responsible for organizing the event. Special thanks to the sextons who did an amazing job setting up Memorial Hall and the Lounge and to all who volunteered.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Editor’s Note: At the interfaith service on November 17, Myla Williams of BHPC delivered the following thoughts as a Moment of Witness in the prelude to the Call for Offering.
Reflections on Traveling to Cuba
By Myla Williams, BHPC
I had the privilege of traveling to Cuba in November with
Rev. David Gray
, his wife
, 10 other members of Bradley Hills Church, 3 members of Bethesda Jewish Congregation, and a childhood friend of mine—under the leadership of
Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer
This was my first interfaith mission trip. I found the experience deeply meaningful on multiple levels. During our intensive week together, I bonded with people I hadn’t known at all, or only well enough to say hello in the corridor. Attending each other’s worship services in Cuba was especially meaningful: a Shabbat service conducted in Hebrew with transliteration into Spanish, and a Presbyterian service conducted in Spanish.
I thought this would make me acutely aware of the differences between faiths and cultures. Instead, I was moved by the shared belief in one God, the universal power of prayer, and the significance of ritual—in particular, passing of the peace that was initiated by children in the sanctuary. Starting at the back, they greeted the person seated on the center aisle of each pew with a gentle hug and a wish of “La Paz” (or “Peace”), who then did the same with those near them in the pews.
This has renewed my hope that peace is, indeed, possible. As the Old Testament says, “And a little child shall lead them.”
SOCIAL ACTION: WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!
As part of our High Holy Days Food Drive, we collected 5 bins—or 2,300 pounds of food to donate to MANNA. The donations came from the entire 6601 Bradley Boulevard campus: BJC, BHPC, and the nursery school. On the Saturday after
, children from the BJC Youth Education Program loaded the donated bags of food on the MANNA food truck.
SOCIAL ACTION: WANTS YOU TO KNOW:
Care, Do Your Share
By Harri j. Kramer, Chair, Social Action Committee
At this year’s
service, you received a
about our congregation’s year-long Social Action Campaign, SHOW YOU CARE, DO YOUR SHARE.
We’re moving away from the model of presenting a specific programs or project and then asking for your support. What we’re asking for now is for you to give your time to something that matters to
. Many of you are extremely generous with your checkbook. But fewer, I fear, are as generous with their time.
Our ask is simple: please volunteer 180 minutes or 3 hours during 5780. Think about that. 10 multiples of
, over a year. 3 hours per person. We think it’s doable. And then some.
We want you to engage in something that matters to you or your family. Because while I may be passionate about visiting the elderly, that may not be your thing. Perhaps a family outing for a river clean up. Or helping at rescued animal shelter. There are endless possibilities. From our vantage, almost anything you volunteer to do will matter.
In case you’re stymied, here are a few ideas:
- Volunteer at BJC
- Help the religious school
- Volunteer at the nearby shelter, the National Center for Children and Families
- Work with your local PTA
- Do good as a family
In her column, President Sandra Walter asks you to volunteer at BJC. That would count toward your 3 hours! In fact, almost anything would count except political advocacy work (even though it’s very important) or fulfilling your obligation to BJC by hosting an
. We will be posting a list of ideas on the website. You can also look through ideas collated by
. Although it is a guide to giving, volunteer opportunities are showcased for each entry,
One component of Show You Care, Do Your Share, is that for the first time in our memory, we are aligning this congregational effort with Youth Education Program, that is our religious school. The flyer at
not only explained the basics of our campaign, but also showcased the 5 social justice values that are guiding our effort. While
is familiar to you, and perhaps
we hope you’ll become equally aware of
If you pay attention to the two bulletin boards outside the BJC office, you will see our first efforts to share information with you. And, the third, was constructed by our students. We are thrilled with their enthusiastic effort and we are even more excited that we are working toward common goals with our students.
And we hope you will keep an eye on those bulletin boards for updates as our project gathers steam.
The BJC website is scheduled to updated next month. The Social Action page will also be updated to reflect our new campaign. Stay tuned!
Please don’t wait to get involved until all of our moving parts are synched. Keep track of when and where you volunteer and for how long. Our very simple reporting form will be available in January. Your feedback will be essential to making BJC the congregation that walks the talk.
Our goal is 100 percent participation. We’re asking each of you to do your share, show your care, and volunteer for at least 3 hours in the coming year. Of course, we strongly encourage you to do more. Your good deeds are not only
, your good deeds will fill your heart.
Make 5780 the year YOU volunteer.
SOCIAL ACTION WANTS YOU TO KNOW:
Pushing Back on Anti-Semitism with Love & Matzah
By Lauren Kline
A little background is in order first. In 2003, Rabbi Sunny married Sam Kline and me. He invited us for High Holy Day services. We were welcomed into this BJC family, and we haven’t looked back. Before children, we sang in the High Holy Day Choir. I love to bake, so I lead the
Workshop and donate over 200 homemade
to the Purim Spiel each year (and occasionally cookies/cakes/
). I work closely with the Education Director and delivered the farewell speech for Mindy last year. BJC is my sanctuary, my place of peace, reflection and joy. BJC is my second family. My children have grown up at BJC, and this is their sanctuary as well.
On October 27, 2018, Sam was supposed to see a movie with some friends; that never happened. A text message came from my friends, Howard and Marnie, who were heading to Pittsburgh because they couldn’t get in touch with Howard’s mother, Joyce, who had been praying at the Tree of Life Synagogue. They assumed she didn’t answer her cell phone because she was helping her friends. Unfortunately, the worst-case scenario happened: Joyce was murdered, along with 10 other beautiful souls, while praying in their sacred spaces.
This hit home on so many levels. First, we are good friends with Marnie and Howard, with kids the same age. Second, I don’t know how we would have been able to recover from the absolute violation that occurred in such a holy place. I felt hopeless, sad, and despondent.
We attended the funeral, made meals, coordinated support efforts, but it just wasn’t enough. I reached out to Marnie, asking how I could help. She had an idea, one that stemmed from her own direct grief. She had researched grassroots efforts to fight anti-Semitism and found none to be accessible to the common person. Marnie couldn’t go back to work, and I couldn’t sit around feeling powerless any longer. We had to do something!
We formed a nonprofit, called “
Pittsburgh Interfaith Evolution – PIE, Corporation
.” Our first initiative, “
2 for Seder
,” was inspired by Joyce’s open family dinners, and it became our proof of concept. The premise was simple: open your homes to two people who’ve never attended a Passover Seder before. Set two extra seats, encourage questions, promote dialogue, and build bridges to your neighbors of different faiths. Find commonalities, make connections, and hopefully change the underlying misinformation, stereotypes, or misperceptions that drive fear and hate. Make a positive impression by breaking bread (or
) together, and slowly change the tide of anti-Semitism, one Seder at a time.
Our pilot was a good start. In three months, we had 1,000 Seder sign-ups, more than 2,000 guests (many people had more than 2 guests), and communication partnerships with more than 50 Jewish organizations. Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer and BJC, one of our first communications partners, acted as a mentor and is an ongoing source of support. BJC continues to be my rock, my spiritual home, and my extended family.
I don’t want to see anything like the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Shooting happen ever again. Will you join me? Sign up to “Participate” on our website
(we will send you a free Seder kit with discussion cards, background information, and even one of Joyce’s recipes). Sign up to receive our newsletter. “Like” us on Facebook. “Follow” us on Twitter - @2forseder. Share our posts with your friends and family and encourage everyone to “Push Back on Anti-Semitism with Love and Matzah.” Please reach out to me if you want to volunteer: phone (240) 938-0578 or email me at
. Thank you, My BJC Family, for your strength, love, wisdom, guidance, and support.
MEMBERSHIP: BJC AT THE BETHESDA FARMERS MARKET
by Lisa Savitt
On Sunday, October 6, 2019—the Sunday between
—BJC had a table at the Bethesda Central Farmers Market on Arlington Road and Old Georgetown Road. Staffed by Membership Committee Chair
and Committee member
, together with other BJC volunteers, visitors to the market were able to stop for apples and honey and learn about BJC.
Our table was well situated right next to a popular stand for all different kinds of salad greens. Many people stopped by to sign up for more information about BJC or to
, including members of BJC. For those potential new members who had no place to go for
, we distributed tickets for the holiday. A number of those we met did come to
services. We’ve had some these visitors come to services and two busy families with children are interested in visiting BJC sometime after Thanksgiving.
A number of people who stopped by belonged to other congregations and were not looking to make a change, but they thanked us for raising the profile of the Jewish community in Bethesda.
A special thanks to BJC President
for her support for doing this event and for being at the Farmers Market first thing Sunday morning and to
who arrived later in the afternoon.
Also thank you to Education Chairman
who was invaluable in answering questions about the education program at BJC for a number of families who stopped by.
We plan to do it again next year! In the meantime, if you know of anyone who may be interested in BJC, please get in touch with Diane at
What's on your mind? BJC members are not known for being without opinions--we often see our members published in The Washington Post. Why not share your thoughts? Youth of all ages are encouraged to share. Send your thoughts to:
Editor’s Note: Sammy Peterson shared this writing with us at the High Holy Days. So many were moved, we were asked to print it for you.
“The 11 O’clock Forecast”
By Sammy Peterson
What happens to a worm on a bright summer day?
A worm will not want to come out from underground, for if it does, it will shrivel up.
When a worm senses that there is a bright, strong sun, it will stay under the soil, under the rocks, and survive.
But what happens when a worm senses the dark, heavy clouds, and the pounding torrent of a storm?
Well, that worm will come out from the ground.
But it won’t just be the one worm, thousands of worms will come up from their dark hiding spots.
They will no longer just be surviving; they will be thriving.
They will come up from the ground, and you, looking down during your walk, will not help but see them. On the sidewalk, by the bottom of the curb.
And right now, we are in a storm.
And not just any storm, this storm is right over this room. Right over our homes. It’s tearing out our shingles and breaking our windows. This is a storm that is affecting us.
It’s affecting those of us gathered here today.
There may soon be a break in the thunderheads. It’s forecasted for next November.
But that break may not happen.
And if that break does not happen, let’s pray that our roofs hold.
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 Michaela Levy on becoming a Bat Mitzvah, and to her mom, Karen Levy.
- Mazel Tov to Marin & Fritz Gluckstein on the birth of their grandson Simon Robert Fritz Ostchega (Shimon). He was born to Marin’s son Avihai Ostchega and his wife, Liliana Mathis on September 23, 2019 in Boise, ID.
- Mazel Tov to Barbara & Marty Faigin on the birth of their grandson Acer Bohdi Faigin (Asa Shai bar Daveed), born on October 3 in Portland, Maine to Carol Ann and David Faigin. Rabbi Erica Asch welcomed Asa into the Temple Beth El (Augusta) community on November 10 at David's home in Hallowell, Maine. Also celebrating is big brother Westley, 6.
- A second Mazel Tov to Judith Welles & Tim Shank on the Bar Mitzvah of their other grandson. The first was in Denver, Colorado in August and the one in Philadelphia in September.
- Mazel Tov to Rabbi Jennifer for having her D’Var Torah published in Washington Jewish Week on November 14, 2019. Read it here.
- Mazel Tov to Barry Dwork for having two letters to the editor published recently in Washington Jewish Week on October 17 (second letter) and November 21.
Recipes for Success!
Editor’s Note: Starting with this issue, we will feature a seasonal recipe in each newsletter. Please submit! Send to
Submitted by Russ Hogya
Some of you may know that in my family, I'm Papa. When the kids were little, they give me a children's book,
, story and pictures by Jane Breskin Zalben, that had this wonderful recipe in it. It's been a family tradition ever since.
4-5 large potatoes ¼ cup matzoh meal
1 medium onion salt and pepper
2 large eggs vegetable oil (
we use canola
1. Peel potatoes, wash in cold water, grate finely (
we use a food processor
2. Grate onion on larger side of grater (
we use the food processor
3. Beat 2 eggs and add to mixture
4. Blend in matzoh meal, and salt and pepper to taste with other ingredients
5. Heat 1” layer of vegetable oil in large frying pan. Drop in 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture for each latke, and when it sizzles turn over until it’s crisp and golden.
6. Drain on paper towels.
7. Serve with sour cream, applesauce, or both
Consider adding parsley, dill, apples, raisins, cinnamon -– or even cayenne pepper -– to your latkes.
Serves about 6, depending on appetites.
Meet a Member:
By Jeremy Mendelson
What brought you to BJC? When?
First and foremost, BJC is close to where I live. I’ve been coming since around 2015. What impressed me early on are the musical services and the chanting circle. I’m most often around for Friday night services; the times are convenient for my workday.
Why are you involved? What do you?
It’s easy to get involved because I’m at services. Primarily, I help before and after services. On Friday evenings, I put away things such as the candle sticks, the
cup, and the prayer books or whatever else needs doing. On Saturday mornings, sometimes I help with the set up. At the present time, I’m a part of the Chesed Committee. I was in one Purim spiel, and for a small period of time I worked on environmental issues with the Social Action Committee.
What does BJC mean to you?
BJC is a very comfortable place that I can bring my non-Jewish girlfriend easily knowing there are many interfaith couples. I love belonging to a congregation that does amazing interfaith work through its partnership with church and mosque. Also, I am impressed that BJC is an egalitarian synagogue. And, I particularly like the Jewish Renewal components.
Tell us about your background/family.
I grew up in Indianapolis, IN where my parents still live. I am an only child and very fortunate to have great parents. I fondly remember our many outdoor vacations together. I grew up in the Reform Movement.
Share a little about your professional life
For eight years, I worked at Trinity College in Washington, DC, primarily in the financial aid area. For the past 11 years, I work in the Visitor Services Department at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Evelyn Adlerstein, mother of Maran Gluckstein
Kermit Bailer, father of Byron Bailer
Esther Blumberg, grandmother of Linda Blumberg
Lawrence Bogorad, father of Leonard Bogorad
James Brenits, brother of Donald Brenits
Martin Cohen, father of Donna Goldberg
David Friedman, father of Hannah Friedman Elson
Ralph Kaufman, father of Emily Kaufman Van Agtmael
Max Kurz, father of Robert Kurz
Mary McCrensky, mother of Jay McCrensky
Morris Poogach, father of Robert Poogach
Roman Poogach, grandfather of Robert Poogach
Jeff Schaffer, beloved of Cari Schaffer
Jack Scott, father of David Scott
Yetta Grant Sternfeld, mother of Eliot Sternfeld
Joseph Sugarman, father of Elsa Weinstein
Sidney Tahler, grandfather of Rori Kochman
Irving York, father of Barbara Silberman
Mildred Jean Zisman, sister of Al Folsom
A Shout Out to our Oneg Hosts in October & November
Kathy & Dan Spiro
Lauren Rathmann & Howard Berkhof
Maureen & Lance Pelter
Rachel Mosher Williams & David Williams
Susan Leibenhaut & Joe Gootenberg
Barbara & Marty Faigin
Audrey Yen & Jason Engel
Virginia & Jason Weidenfeld
Linda & Bruce Baum
Donations to the General Fund
Nancy Allinson in appreciation of Choral Shabbats
Daiva & Arvydas Barzdukas and family in memory of Ruth Rosenberg
Wynne & Bruce Busman in memory of Bruce’s father, Leonard Busman
Wynne & Bruce Busman in memory of Diane Szczepaniak
Herb Chabot in support of Bethesda Jewish Congregation
Olivia & Joel Fechter in honor of the High Holy Days
Irene and Philip Gallas in appreciation for the High Holy Day Services
Isabelle Gallas in appreciation for the High Holy Day Services
Maran and Fritz Gluckstein in honor of the birth of their grandson, Simon Robert Fritz Ostchega
Donna and David Goldberg in loving memory of Donna’s mother, Sydelle
Michele Kaplan in appreciation for the High Holy Day Services
Barbara and Bruce Kotz
Harri Kramer and Russ Hogya in memory of Donna Cohen Goldberg’s mother
Harri Kramer and Russ Hogya in memory of Harri’s grandmother, Vivian Levitas Kramer
Harri Kramer and Russ Hogya in memory of Sol Gordesky, father of Joan Kaufman Hecht
Alan Lichter in memory of his mother, Rosalie Lichter
Madeline & Gerald Malovsky and family in memory of Ruth Rosenberg
Holmes Run Acres, Falls Church, VA in memory of Ruth Rosenberg
Susan & John Warshawsky in gratitude for hosting the musicians from the BSO
Donations to the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund
Norma & Edward Stern
Lorrie van Akkeren
Judith & Janeth Ginsburg
Judi Dash, in honor of Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer
Anita and Warren Farb, in support of Gun Violence Prevention
Sana Shtasel & James Kretz, in honor of their daughter Alera’s confirmation
Karen Levi, in memory of her mother, Eva Levi
Kelly & Aaron Mendelsohn, in honor of their daughter’s Bat Mitzvah
Malka Ostchega & Justin Travis in appreciation of Rabbi Schnitzer on the occasion of their daughter’s baby-naming
In Support of Thanksgiving Baskets
Harri Kramer & Russ Hogya
Sheila & Ira Wolpert
A Special Thank You
And to all of our members who “round up” their synagogue support and donate their time, as well as donate their time to volunteer.
Board of Trustees
President Sandra Walter
Vice-President Jeremy Pelter
Treasurer Terri Reicher
Secretary Lorrie Van Akkeren
Communication [An Opportunity!]
Education Issie Resti
Financial Advisor Jason Engel
High Holy Days Jim Korelitz
Student Representative Sammy Peterson Intercongregational Partnership Liaison
Membership Diane Blumenthal
Past President Shoshanah Drake
Programs Jaon Weidenfeld
Social Action Harri j. Kramer
Spiritual Leader Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer
Director of Congregational Education Rabbi Jennifer Weiner
Synagogue Administrator Hal Bordy