• We're Going to Boskovice!
  • Honoring Women of the Wall
  • The Spiel!
  • National Refugee Shabbat
  • Megillah Reading & Adult Costume Party
  • Book Club
  • Choral Shabbat
  • BJC's First Seder
  • ICYMI: Ladino Music Festival
  • Meet A Member
March-April 2019 Newsletter
Rabbi Elhanan ‘Sunny’ Schnitzer
Adar I/Adar II/Nissan 5779
CLICK for the Complete BJC March & April Events Calendars
Kriat HaRav—The Rabbi’s Call
Rabbi Elhanan “Sunny” Schnitzer

 This month is Purim. A joyous holiday. A holiday filled with costumes and cakes, bad jokes, laughter, and not so little drinking. It seems an almost frivolous holiday, the Jewish Halloween. But Purim is not a small matter. It is not a holiday one should ignore as having significance only for children or party animals. Purim is viewed by the Jewish Mystics, the Kabbalists as the most hidden of days. Hidden because God’s nearness is not as obvious to us on this day as compared to Passover when we celebrate God’s direct intervention on behalf of the Jewish people. In fact, God is never even mentioned in the Book of Esther.
So, with this idea that God is not present, on Purim we get a little shikker , a little drunk.
We are told in the Talmud by the Rabbi known as Rava that one should consume so much Purim “spice” (the word for wine or whiskey is actually never mentioned) that one cannot tell the difference between the words “blessed be Mordechai” and “cursed be Haman.” We will be so high that we will not know the difference between good and evil.
And herein lies the secret of Purim.
The Hebrew words for Blessed be Mordechai ( Baruch Mordechai ) and cursed be Haman ( Arrur Haman ) have the same numerical value of 502. This gematria (the art of turning letters into numbers and then finding other phrases in the Torah or elsewhere that have the same value to ascertain hidden meanings in the text) is hinting to us that good and evil are not so very different.
The words themselves indicate that the archetype for good, represented by Mordechai and that of evil, represented by Haman, have an implicit relationship. The essential message is that good and evil is not a dichotomy at all — not opposites — but rather two interwoven strands of the same fabric. This is not to say that good is really evil or evil really good. Rather, each contains the potential for the other. Perhaps this is why there is no Devil in Judaism.
There is no opposite, opposing force to God. The potential for good and evil is within each of us, and us alone.
It has been said that when enough beings on this planet achieve this understanding of the nature of evil, we will reach Moshiach consciousness. Messiah consciousness. We will no longer wait for a person or a manifestation of God to bring us to a better day, we will do it ourselves. We will enter a new era of awareness.
Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer
From the President—Shoshanah Drake
Do YOUR part to bring JOY to Shabbat   
From the time I was little, I remember going to temple to help my mom set up for Oneg Shabbat. My mom is a fantastic baker and ALWAYS would make fresh goodies for the oneg. She would make each one in a bite-sized piece, and put them each in their own little paper holder. Then, they would be beautifully arranged on a platter, complete with lace doilies on the bottom to look proper. This was a regular and frequent event in my childhood and still continues today, although I am not there to enjoy or to help her. Whenever I set up for anything, I hear my mom’s voice in my head, and if I get a compliment on the set-up, I frequently say, “My mom taught me how to do a great Oneg Shabbat.” 
I wish I had her skill in baking and making wonderful homemade treats, or in making a fruit bowl look like an artistic masterpiece, but I don’t. I do have an amazing skill at going to the grocery store, purchasing a fruit platter, veggie tray, cheese tray, challah, some cookies, and bringing them to shul, and it still counts as doing my part! Whether it is homemade or store-bought, people still enjoy a nosh at an Oneg after Friday evening services. It’s not about how fancy it is, it is about providing an opportunity for community to join together, having a small snack, and enjoying each other’s company after an evening of prayer.
Our BJC tradition is that each congregant family is responsible for providing what is needed and to set up for an Oneg Shabbat. Many families graciously come and help the congregation to build that community by giving of themselves, their time, and their treats. Others have been more reluctant to participate.
I know that it is challenging to sometimes get to BJC on a Friday evening. We are all pulled in many directions with family, work responsibilities, social outings, and more, but we all also make choices and priorities. If you have children, consider bringing them with you. Let them see you set up and do your part. It will be a memory they will have and learn from, and they will know that volunteering happens in many different ways. If you have a conflict, you can trade dates with another congregant. 
BJC is a community, and it works best when everyone does their part. Oneg means joy. When you get contacted to help with an Oneg Shabbat, remember that YOU are bringing joy to others. If we all do our part, then as a community we continue to grow and flourish. When it is your turn, say YES and bring on the JOY!
From the Director of Congressional Education—Mindy Silverstein
Tony the Tiger’s Perspective on BJC’s Religious School
Each Wednesday when I arrive at work, the first thing I do is check my emails from over the weekend. With my finger hovering over the delete button, I begin my index finger exercise of up and down and up and down. This task seems to go on forever until I see the one standout email. It begins, “Dear Ms. Silverstein, I am interested in sending my children to your Religious School. Tell me about it.”
A rather simple and direct question. I could answer as if I was Tony the Tiger by paraphrasing, “It’s Gr-r-reat!" And, believe me, many times I would like to answer that way, but that two-word response does not accurately portray our Religious School.
This is my answer.
Our school is authentic. We try to engage as many students as we can in a variety of ways. Sometimes we use visual methods; sometimes auditory. We start each day with a clean slate. We start each day with a new mission. We are motivated to teach Judaism, to live Judaism, and to foster that love of Judaism within ourselves and within others.
Our school is about questioning, thinking, feeling, and experiencing. Our school is about relationships, the ones we foster within our building and within our community…locally, nationally, or internationally. Our school is about ethics and values and how we live them. 
Our school is about finding personal meaning behind holiday and life-cycle celebrations. It’s about finding strength and exploring vulnerability within our history. 
Our school is about finding connections with our past and understanding our present to cultivate a much safer and kinder future.
Our school is about understanding ourselves to individually answer life’s ultimate questions. 
Our school is a safe place to explore and question, to succeed and have missteps, and to know that no matter what, there is someone there to catch you.
So, maybe I can offer Tony the Tigers’ comment and just say, “It’s Gr-r-reat!"   
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.

Click for the complete BJC March & April Events Calendars
Let's Go to Boskovice!
Join Rabbi and Rebbetzin Schnitzer on a Rare Adventure
June 29 -- July 7, 2019
  • 3 days Prague (with a 1/2 day trip to Terezinstadt)
  • 1 day Boskovice (Largest surviving Jewish quarter in Moravia - one of the surviving synagogue buildings is the home of BJC's Holocaust Torah)
  •  3 days Budapest
The trip includes:
  • All private luxury motorcoach/driver services in Prague, Boskovice, Bratislava, and Budapest
  • All private expert guide/assistant services in Prague, Boskovice, Bratislava and Budapest
  • Daily breakfasts at hotels in Prague, Bratislava, and Budapest
  • 5 lunches and 4 dinners 
  • Privately guided tour of Strahov Monastery Libraries in Prague Castle
  • Beer-sampling experience in Prague Castle
  • Half-day privately guided excursion to Terezin from Prague
  • 3 nights hotel stay at the Alcron Hotel in Prague 5 star (Radisson)
  • 1 night hotel stay at the Grand Hotel River Park Bratislava 4 1/2 stars (Marriott)
  • 3 nights hotel stay at the Kempinski Corvinus Hotel Budapest 5 star
  • All entrance fees to sites based on 20 guests touring in Prague, Bratislava and Budapest
COST: $3975/ pp includes RT air from Dulles on Air France. (Single supplement available)
Land Only $2550—participants may make their own flight and land transfer arrangements.
Contact Rabbi Schnitzer for more information and a full itinerary. $700 per person deposit
due March 1.

A Special Shabbat Service to Honor Women of the Wall
Friday, March 8 at 8 PM

Honoring International Women’s Day
Women of the Wall is a group of Jewish women from Israel and around the world who strive to achieve the right to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem, Israel. The Western Wall is Judaism’s most sacred holy site and the principal symbol of Jewish peoplehood and sovereignty; Women of the Wall works to make it a holy site where women can pray freely. Women of the Wall is comprised of women from all denominations of Judaism –- Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Masorti, Renewal, and Reconstructionist.
Rabbi Schnitzer will speak of their work and their mission and what we can do to support this vital effort.
PURIM: Laugh, Be Merry, Dedicate A Song
Saturday, March 16 at 6:30 PM

By Joan Wolf

It’s around the corner, “CHICAGO: All That MEGILLAH Jazz!” It’s an evening of high-class spiel entertainment. Our cast features familiar faces as well as some new members who just needed to be a part of this BJC tradition.
Make your reservations by calling the office or write to Tickets are $50 per person and include a catered dinner, unlimited libations, and actors who will make you feel lucky to be alive!
Make it special evening by dedicating a song. Get your dedication read by one of the actors during the show! Choose from: 
All That Jazz ** Funny Honey ** All I Care About ** Cell Block Tango ** Esther!
Mister Cellophane ** We Both Reached for the Water Gun **
When You’re Good to Mama ** A Little Bit of Good ** Razzle Dazzle ** Class
Nowadays ** My Kind of Shul, BJC Is

Don't miss this special evening!  
Megillah Reading & Adult Costume Party
Wednesday, March 20 at 6:30 PM

A special session of Torah Today on Erev Purim. We will read the “ ganze megillah ,” trinkt a bissel schnapps , und essen a shtickel hamantachen . A traditional way to celebrate the day. Dress up and be someone else on this “night of the hidden.”

National Refugee Shabbat
Saturday, March 16 at 6:30 PM

Join us for a special Friday night to observe National Refugee Shabbat, when we will seek to learn more about the worldwide refugee crisis, what local Jewish organizations are doing about it and what we can do to support them.
Members of BJC /BHPC Refugee Support Committee will be present to share with us recent developments with our two congregation’s joint efforts to aid refugee families and next steps.
National Refugee Shabbat is sponsored by HIAS, a Jewish communal organization that has helped more than 4.5 million refugees escape persecution over the past 130 years .
Book Club
Wednesday, March 27, at 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 following are upcoming selections:
March 27:  Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver is a novel of two families, in two centuries, who live in Vineland, NJ, navigating what seems to them to be the end of the world as they know it. It paints a startingly relevant portrait of life in precarious times, when the foundations of the past have failed to prepare us for the future.
April 24, The Stranger by Albert Camus is a short novel written in staccato sentences that is full of metaphor and discovery. With exception of the value nature has for the main character, Meursault, the metaphor is for meaning in life through emphasis of its absence. 

LOOK AHEAD: May 22, Go, Gone, Went by Jenny Erpenbeck is a touching portrait of Richard, a retired classics professor who lives in Berlin, who finds that he has more in common with African refugees than he first realizes. It is also a scathing indictment of Western policy toward the European refugee crisis. 
Choral Shabbat
Friday, March 29 at 8 PM

Join us for another evening of worship led by our sweet singers of Israel under the leadership of Shoshanah Drake , Karen Levy , and Joan Wolf . A meaningful and splendid time is guaranteed for all.
BJC Congregational
First Night Seder
Friday, April 19 at 6:30 PM

Join your BJC family for the seder you can’t make at home. Rabbi Schnitzer leads us on a joyous musical journey through the Pesach story. Buy a table and bring the “ ganze mishpocha .”
As part of our communal effort, we ask for potluck Kosher for Passover dish. What to bring: Last names beginning with A – M side dish, N – Z dessert. And, please, don't bring macaroons--we get too many.

Details soon on pricing and making reservations. Watch for information in BJC Now! or check in with the BJC office at (301) 469-8636. As soon as we have the details, they will be posted on the website at
In Case You Missed It:
An Evening of Sephardic Music

By Barbara Faigin

On Sunday, February 17, Covenant Hall was filled as we listened to the wonderful songs and inspiring stories of singer and guitarist Susan Gaeta. Also performing with her were flutist/guitarist and vocalist Gina Sobel and mandolin player, Michael Sobel. Rabbi Sunny joined the group for two of their songs. The talented musicians donated their time, and all proceeds from the evening will go to the Cuba America Jewish Mission's projects in Cuba.
They entertained and inspired us to learn about Sephardic musical traditions, and to support the Jewish community in Cuba. Gina is a multi-talented flutist, vocalist, songwriter, and instrumentalist who tours regularly around the United States. She is currently a Strathmore Artist in Residence and is apprenticed to Susan as part of the Virginia Heritage Foundation’s Apprenticeship Program.  
Susan is a part of a new generation of musicians who are exploring the traditions of Sephardic music. She lived in Buenos Aires for eight years, where she performed classic jazz and traditional Argentinian folk songs. In 2002, after returning to the United States, Susan apprenticed and toured with legendary Sephardic singer Flory Jagoda. Through her apprenticeship with Flory, which was part of the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program, Susan has mastered the Sephardic singing style, traditional songs, and Flory’s own compositions.
On Sunday, Susan told Flory's story, transporting us through time. When the Sephardic Jews were forced into exile from Spain and Portugal in the late fifteenth century, many settled in other Mediterranean countries, but preserved their native language, Ladino, and their oral culture. Flory was born into the Sephardic community of Sarajevo, Bosnia, and through her “Nona,” she learned songs that had been passed down for generations. She escaped the destruction of Sarajevo’s Jewish community and came to the United States after World War II. Flory, now 96, has been recognized by a National Heritage Fellowship and by others as a critically important carrier of a unique musical heritage, and as a composer and arranger of new Sephardic songs. Susan told us about a journey that Flory made to Sarajevo, where she was able to honor her family lost in the Holocaust. 
Susan Gaeta is currently teaching and continuing Flory's work through the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities . In addition to her solo work and work with Gina, she also plays with Trio Sefardi. Formed in 2010, they have performed at the Kennedy Center, Washington Folk Festival, the National Gallery of Art, and many other Washington-area venues. Trio Sefardi has released two critically acclaimed recordings, Sefardic Celebration and Kaminos. These CDs, along with artwork by Cuban artists, and jewelry made by Gina, were sold on Sunday, as part of fundraising for the Cuban community.  
Before the concert and at intermission, we were treated to Cuban snacks and delicious mojitos prepared by David Scott. The consensus was Muy Bueno !
As we went into intermission, Rabbi Sunny read a poignant email from Cuba describing the scarcity of food and other supplies. Although we raised about $5,000, so much more is needed. You can still make donations for critically needed medical supplies, food, and other needs. In what is billed as a “Cuban Sefardi Music Caravan,” the group will perform four concerts in Cuba from March 24-April 1. Please consider making a donation prior to the group's trip to Cuba. Contact the BJC Office for details.   

Social Action Wants You to Know
Looking Forward to a Gun Violence Prevention Program

Members of the Social Action Committee and the Intercongregational Partnership Committee (ICPC) have started planning an intercongregational program on Gun Violence Prevention that would be jointly sponsored by BJC and Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church. At the February ICPC meeting, several program ideas were suggested and discussed to bring attention to the gun violence problem here in our DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia area, as well as to promote healing. Planning is underway.
If you would like to get involved or would like to be on the distribution list for working to end gun violence, get in touch with Barbara Faigin . Marty Ganzglass chairs the ICPC. Ask him questions at

Want to help at NCCF with the Read-Aloud Program or other opportunities? To volunteer at NCCF, you must first must attend a one-hour session, which is offered the first Thursday of every month at 6 pm. See

Interested in Social Action? We always could use more volunteers. Our monthly meetings are open and you are most welcome. Watch BJC Now! for the next meeting date.

What's on your mind? BJC members are not known for being without opinions --we often see them published in The Washington Post . Why not share yours now? You don’t have to wait for High Holy Days to impart your wisdom. We welcome them! Youth of all ages are encouraged to share. Please send your thoughts to: 
Nachas Notes
Editor’s Note: We all need a little good news. Here's a space to let your BJC family know about the great news in yours. Share! Send to:

  • Mazel Tov to Jane and David Slacter who welcomed their third grandchild, Sarah Ines, on February 5, 2019. Sarah is the daughter of Daniel and Jane Slacter. Brother Dylan loves his baby sister.  
Meet a Member: Leah Chiaverini
In Her Own Words
Hi everyone, my name is Leah Chiaverini , and I am the daughter of the notorious (not really, but still funny!) Joan Wolf , a former BJC president, which means I'm a former first daughter. 

I grew up in the synagogue and religious school and am pleased that I continue to be an active member of the BJC community. You may have seen me singing around BJC (High Holy Days, Simcha B'Shabbat , Shabbat Under the Stars, the "world-renowned" Purim spiel and Choral Shabbat to name a few...). 
It is nice to see friends old and new at different events and to be able to share my new career advancements as a clinical social worker providing equine-assisted psychotherapy. To know that there is a community of supportive and kind individuals who back me throughout my life has been and continues to be really comforting, and I hope that I provide a similar support to others.

March 2019
Herman Bachrach, father of Burt Bachrach
Bernice Cahan, grandmother of Sandra Walter
Esther Chabot, mother of Herb Chabot
Samuel Druckman, grandfather of Linda Blumberg and Mark Blumberg
Florence Dubov, mother of Sharon Sinalevich
Naomi Faigin, mother of Marty Faigin
Richard R. Getter, father of Lisa Getter Stevenson
J. Harvey Gleberman, father of Ellen Gleberman
Louis Hecht Sr., father of Louis Hecht
Shirley Hecht, mother of Louis Hecht
Saul Horn, father of Joanie Schnitzer
Leon Jacobson, father of Annie Cifarelli
Donald Kerwin, brother of Aleen Chabot
Minnie Kerwin, mother of Aleen Chabot
Gerald Killian, brother of in law of Richard Fogel
Theodore Landsman, father of Sandra Medlin
William V. Levine, father of Les Levine
George Lichter, father of Alan Lichter
Daniel Moyer, father of Barbara Faigin
Morris Pelter, father of Lance Pelter
Shirley K. Ratner, mother of Gary Ratner
Herman Schlacter, father of David Slacter
Estelle Schneider, mother of Cindy Bogorad
Shirley Selditch, mother of Renee Asher
Molly Shaikun, grandmother of Stephen Turow
Tahir Shtylla, father of Gentiana Arovas
Shirley Tahler, grandmother of Rori Kochman

April 2019
Larry Adlerstein, father of Maran Gluckstein
Charles Altschuler, father of Bernard Altschuler
Leo Blumberg, grandfather of Linda Blumberg and Mark Blumberg
Nancy Brenits, mother of Donald Brenits
Meir Broza, father of Helit Broza
Dorothy Coplan, mother of Lois Rose
Melga Deda, aunt of Shirley Altschuler
Susan Cahan Ferguson, mother of Sandra Walter
Annette Franzel, aunt of Maran Gluckstein
Joe Glassman, father in law of Nancy Glassman
Pauline Jerome, grandmother of Karen Jerome
Dorothy Kaufman, mother of Emily van Agtmael
Lily Laufer, mother of David Laufer
Duane McMillen, father of Dale McMillen
Richard Fredric Pelter, brother of Lance Pelter
Sidney Robbins, grandfather of Richard Kochman
Sam Schwartz, father of Linda Baum
Charlotte Stein, mother of Vivian Finkelstein
Harry Stein, father of Vivian Finkelstein
Leon Sukin, father of Hope Klauber
Shu-Chin Yang, father of Catherine Yang
Thank You
Editor’s Note: These acknowledgements recognize donations made as of mid-February. Check the newsletter May issue for donations made in later February, March, and April.

A Shout Out to our Oneg Hosts in January and February
Wynne & Bruce Busman
Lisa Getter Peterson & Jonathan Peterson          
Michelle & Jim Goldstein                                                             
Ronnie & Miles Haber                                                   
Sarah & Jeremy Pelter                                                  
Emily & Antoine van Agtmael                                     
Stephanie Rapp                                                               
Christine Swan & Elliot Chabot                                
Lisa Savitt & Michael Phillips                                       
Karen Levi                                                                                          
Catherine Yang & Kenneth Parker
Carol Ann Rudolph 
Dorothy Umans                                                               
Earl Silbert         
To the General Fund
Lorraine & Dale McMillen    
Cathy Bernard
Edward Elson
Wynne & Bruce Busman, in memory of Martin Blank's father       
Good As We Give
Sheila & Ira Wolpert 
Lorrie Van Akkeren  
Helen Wolfe  

To the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund
Mark and Patricia Wolf       
Lorrie van Akkeren   
Jana Appelbaum, in honor of her grandchild’s naming
A Special Thank You
All who “round up” their Synagogue Support payments and to 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