• Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society Picnic
  • Shabbat Under the Stars Is Back!!!
  • BJC’s Annual Meeting
  • BJC Book Club
  • BJC Goes to Cuba
  • In Case You Missed It
  • 734 Coffee
  • Nachas Notes
  • Meet A Member
May 2018 Newsletter
Rabbi Elhanan ‘Sunny’ Schnitzer
Iyar / Sivan 5778
CLICK for the Complete BJC May Events Calendar
Kriat HaRav—The Rabbi’s Call
Rabbi Elhanan “Sunny” Schnitzer
In April, I was privileged to participate in the ACT Rally to End Racism on the National Mall. The early morning prayer service took place under briefly sunny skies, with thousands of participants, led by clergy of every religion with communities in our area. ACT is an acronym for Awake, Confront, Transform. I can think of nothing more important than answering this call at this moment in our history. I was humbled to speak among so many luminaries, and I share my remarks with you.

This morning we gather to worship the One God we call by many names. Allah, Adonai, Jesus, Jehovah, Elohim, Bagavan, Krishna, Akai Purakh, and Ahura Mazda, just to name a few.

We reach out in prayer for guidance, comfort, and connection and, in so doing, we testify that we are estranged from Holiness, and that we desire an end to that separation.

Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan affirmed the teachings of our many faiths, that sin is what separates us from the Divine. And when we separate ourselves from our brothers and sisters of other races and religions, and systems of belief, we sin not only against God, but we sin against ourselves. For God is not some entity, “out there,” that is apart from us and judges us, but God is a power that works in and through us. It is a power, a Divine will, with which we can align ourselves to achieve “the best that is in us.” And that “the failure to live up to the best that is in us means that our souls are not attuned to the divine, that we have betrayed God.”

So today, on this 5th day of the Passover, the commemoration of God’s redemption of the Jewish people, and through the revelation soon to come at Mt. Sinai that elevated all humanity though the laws of the Bible governing human behavior, we are here to humble ourselves in prayer, admit our failures, and rededicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the law most oft repeated in the Bible: “You will not oppress the stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.” In Hebrew, the word for Egypt is mitzrayim , which can be translated as the place of narrowness. God has offered us redemption from narrow mindedness, bigotry, and hatred. We only need walk into the wilderness of freedom and move ever closer to the promised land where all humanity will dwell in unity.

That journey begins with awareness and compassion. We recognize our own wounds, and the wounds we have inflicted upon others. For we cannot hate some without damaging the whole of humanity. With a new consciousness, and open hearts, liberation is won.

As we engage in this holy and difficult work, may we be guided by a spirit of compassion and humility, an openness to—especially—the truths that are hard to hear. May we listen closely to the voices of people of color, those from other religions, nations, cultures, and genders, to the testimony of each other’s lives. May we, together, engage in the holy task of cleansing our hearts and minds, and sanctify every story and every life.

And let us all say: Amen.
From the President—Shoshanah Drake
Join Our Community on May 10th
When I looked up the definition for “community,” I found:
1.     a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
2.     a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals

Our BJC community fits both of those definitions well. We are a wonderful community, and we want to continue to be one. As part of this community, I hope to see you on May 10th as we have our Annual Congregational Meeting at 7:30 PM at BJC. In addition to getting to hear all of the wonderful things BJC is doing, you will also have the opportunity to vote on the budget and the new slate of officers for the BJC Board of Trustees. You’ll hear about the new and exciting changes coming to our religious school and you can ask questions. Not only that, you have the chance to see friends and make new ones as we come together and celebrate our community. 

I must be honest and share that early in my membership at BJC, I never went to the annual meeting. I didn’t feel connected enough to know or want to be there, but I was wrong. It is because I did not attend things like this that I didn’t feel connected. Once I started to come to a few more things, I met more people, and I found my home and community through BJC. If I had received a call or a text reminding me to be there, I think I would have felt more interested in attending, so I’m going to ask you to do two things. The first is get out your calendar and mark down the date, then commit to be with us on May 10th. Consider this your personal call to attend. The second is think about someone at BJC that you know and contact them to make sure they are also coming! Our community builds stronger every day by being together, and you are the one who can make that happen! I look forward to sharing this evening with you. I’ll see you on May 10th. 
From the Director of Congressional Education—Mindy Silverstein
As I look back upon the past year, I am quite proud of the accomplishments of our students:

Our Tichon students, the 8th-10th grader, have developed a discerning eye as it relates to propaganda, fake news, and other current events. 

Our 7th graders became B’nai Mitzvah with grace and maturity. Their insights into their individual parshiot demonstrated an understanding and application of the lessons they learned. 

Through role playing, genealogy, and studying American history, our 6th graders understood the reasons their ancestors emigrated— as well as the hopes they carried with them into America.  

Our 5th graders made tremendous strides in advancing their Hebrew studies. I’m especially proud they can see and appreciate the progress they made.

Our 4th graders demonstrated the Jewish value of rachamim (empathy) when they wrote letters to the survivors of the Parkland shooting.

Our youngest students consistently engage with Jewish text and values— whether it is discussing Moses, the story of Purim, or how to welcome the stranger into our midst.   

The teaching staff consisting of Gary Ratner , Ed Stern , Tamar Dworkin , Glenn Siegal , Malka Ostchega , Marina Milbert and Keri Calandro consistently amaze me with their level of devotion and their sincere desire to impact each and every student in a positive way.

Madrichim Gabe Cooper , Molly Liberman , and Hanna Bratt bring humor and a sincere desire to help whoever and wherever they may be.

Our weekly Hebrew volunteers Burt Bachrach and Maran Gluckstein have assisted the 4th-7th graders in ways that could not have occurred without their loving commitment to our students. 

This has been an amazing year; I look forward to NEXT and the excitement it will bring.

The last day of school is Saturday, May 19. All Religious School families are invited to attend our last day activities and end of the year brunch. 
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 April Events Calendar
Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society of Washington Spring Picnic
Sunday, May 6, 3:00-5:00 PM in Rock Creek Park, Picnic Area 24

BJC is a proud co-sponsor of this event to continue to foster relationships between members of these two Abrahamic faiths. JIDS hopes that, soon enough, our dialogues will cease to concentrate exclusively on enlightening each group about the other and evolve to the point where we can work together on projects to uplift our communities, our nation and our world. Learn more here  or see the flyer .
Shabbat Under the Stars Is Back!!! 
Friday, May 11, Dinner at 5 PM, Service begins at 6:30 PM  

Last month, Shabbat Under the Stars returned with an Italian Dinner. This month, the food trucks return with Saffron Gourmet and Flippin’ Pizza for the kids. Join us for a one-hour multimedia service with the BJC Simcha Band. Bring your friends. Please RSVP to the BJC office by telephone or on the BJC website here .
BJC Annual Meeting 
Thursday, May 10, 7:30 PM Memorial Hall

Vote to ratify BJC’s new slate of officers and trustees, review and approve the 2018/ 2019 budget, and listen to a brief “year in review,” as well as what lies ahead. Your presence matters, not to mention we need a quorum, so please make time to attend.
Friday, May 18, 7:30 PM

Our Jewish tradition teaches us to honor scholars at “ Zeman Torateinu ,” the Season of the Giving of our Torah. Join us to honor our young students as they observe this special milestone in their Jewish education. This year our Confirmands Aaron Kirkpatrick , Trevor Drake , and Max Block , will be joined on the bimah by their Tichon classmates. Together they have created a moving Shabbat liturgy you’re sure to enjoy.

This year the class theme is “You will Not Stand Idly By While Your Neighbor Bleeds – Creating a New Generation of Social Activists.”
Learn to Chant Torah
Tuesdays, May 22, 29, & June 5, at 7:00 PM

Learn to chant Torah with Rabbi Schnitzer. Learn the different melodies for Shabbat, High Holidays and the Haftarah. Everyone will receive a CD for home study as well as charts, musical notation, and practice sections to prepare Torah readings. All participants will be given the opportunity to use their newly acquired skills to chant at a Shabbat service in the Fall of 2018.

Please call the BJC office to register or call Rabbi Schnitzer for more information .
Open Book Club
The BJC Open Book Club meets in the Lounge. Anyone is welcome to join or just drop in for a particular book discussion. For more information, please contact Evelyn Ganzglass .
May 23: Dinner at the Center of the Earth: A Novel by Nathan Englander is a political thriller that unfolds in the highly charged territory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pivots on the complex relationship between a secret prisoner and his guard.
October 7-14, 2018

Celebrate with the Jewish community of Sancti Spiritus, Santa Clara, and Cienfuegos as Daniella Delgado Horutiner becomes Bat Mitzvah. $3600 per person/double occupancy. (Single Supplement $600) This price includes round trip airfare out of Washington, DC, all hotels, 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 3 dinners. We travel in an air-conditioned bus and have a full-time guide and translator. The price includes porter tips, visas, and transfers. We have day trips to Vinales and Trinidad in addition to visits to the Jewish communities in the aforementioned cities.

A $500 deposit per person due by May 15.
Never say never again. 
In Case You Missed It

Great Names Community Lecture Series: Steven Friedman
by Helen Dalton

For the 50 or so lucky people who chose to spend a few hours at BJC on April 8th being entertained by the Steve Friedman, they couldn’t have come closer to seeing a musical on Broadway unless they were sitting in orchestra seats in the theatre. And in addition to being treated to several of Broadways best musical numbers sung by Mr. Friedman, they also heard the history of those musicals, from the creative spark to opening night. And what a history it is. 

A classically trained tenor and stage performer, Friedman focused his talk on the history and highlights of the Broadway musical in the sensational seventies. He regaled the audience with how West Side Story was originally going to be called East Side Story, how Lauren Bacall got the lead in Applause without being able to sing or dance, how Stephen Sondheim’s Company was the first concept musical without a traditional story line and the first gay character, and how that show resurrected the career of Elaine Stritch and her “Ladies Who Lunch.”

Friedman also leads day trips up to New York to see a show, and also is a guest lecturer on Crystal Cruises. And for the diehard fan, he has captured all the fascinating details in his book, The Ultimate Broadway Musical List Book, covering the past 90 years.

Kudos to the Great Names speaker group for presenting such a delightful way to spend Sunday afternoon, with great refreshments, good friends and a magical trip to the Great White Way.
Not Your Zaide’s Seder
by Harri Kramer

Once again, BJC gathered for its own family Seder on the first night of Passover. We were led by Rabbi Schnitzer, with our members and guests reading the story as the microphone was passed around Memorial Hall. The Haggadah, written by the Rabbi, recounts the ancient story with many modern reflections. Of course, we also sang and danced our way through the Seder.

Our delicious meal was catered by our own Annie Cifarelli, who brought her team to make the food service and clean up a breeze. The “A-L Members” brought a delicious array of sides, ranging from tzimmes to potato kugels and veggies. No less amazing were the “M-Z” desserts, which featured a lot of chocolate, cakes, macaroons, and fruit. 

While the adults savored our desserts, the littlest went on BJC’s traditional scavenger hunt throughout the building, looking for little representations of the 10 plagues, hoping to win the prize.

What a great way to celebrate a special holiday with so many special people.
Unexpected Treasures at The Bible Museum
By Diane Blumenthal

On April 15, Rabbi Sunny led a group of 18 through a tour of Jewish artifacts in the Museum of the Bible (located at 400 4th Street, SW). Privately funded by the conservative Christian family of Hobby Lobby founder, David Green, the $500 million Museum houses about 1,000 Biblical artifacts. Many have been skeptical about the museum, which has its share of controversy related to the questionable provenance of some of its artifacts.

The museum’s architects retrofitted the former Design Center into a beautiful exhibition space with a soaring ceiling in the entrance hall displaying beautiful kaleidoscopic images related to the Bible in LED lights. Entering the galleries, the museum’s presentation of Jewish artifacts is straightforward and enlightening. Examining/interpreting ancient artifacts is a subject dear to the Rabbi’s heart, as he studied Biblical and Near Eastern Civilization at Baltimore Hebrew University. He was captivated by the idea that events in the Torah can be substantiated through archaeology and enthusiastically gave us detailed information on objects illustrating that phenomenon.

For example, reproductions of a cuneiform tablet from 7th century BC Mesopotamia containing the epic of Gilgamesh, a part of which describes a flood story very similar to the story of Noah, and a reproduction of a 9th century fragment of the Tel Dan stele bearing a “House of David” inscription, the first historical evidence of King David. Authentic artifacts the Rabbi discussed include small silver 6th century BC amulets that predate the Dead Sea Scrolls with Hebrew inscriptions inside similar to the “Priestly Blessing” and a 9th century AD siddur written on parchment, the oldest known siddur in existence.

The Rabbi guided us through a special exhibition from Jerusalem displaying excavations of ruins of an ancient city known today as Khirbet Queiyafa in the Elah Valley. From the excavations, evidence emerged supporting the idea that a Judean city may have bordered the land of the Philistines and was the site of the battle between David and Goliath. As the Rabbi says, the more we dig, the more we know and the less we must take on faith. While there is no proof of God, there is proof of the existence of the Israelites.

I have completely left out discussion of the high-tech aspects of the Museum’s exhibitions, many of which are very engaging; the amazing collection of Torah scrolls and a sofer inscribing a Torah in the Museum; all the Christian history and artifacts; the influence of the Bible in America; Todd Grey’s lovely, but pricey Manna Café, and much more. To have the full experience, you must visit the Museum yourself.
Sneak Peek: Upcoming Events

  • Friday, June 1 David Gray Preaches at BJC
  • June 10, Museum of the Bible Family Day with BHPC
Community Calendar

As a service to our community, we have reinvigorated the Community Calendar. These events are not sponsored by BJC, but may be of interest to you. The Community Calendar is accessible from our website as drop-down from the Events Tab. Unlike events promoted through the newsletter and the weekly email, BJC Now, you must look at this site to see these events. If you have a community event you would like to see posted, please contact the Interim Editor/Social Action Chair at
Committee News
The Social Action Committee Wants You to Know
734 Coffee —Great Coffee for the Greater Good
By Marty Ganzglass

BJC and Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church are members of the Darfur Interfaith Network (DIN) that is supporting 734 Coffee, a Sudanese refugee-run company that is importing coffee to the United States. Their slogan is “Great Coffee for the Greater Good.”

What does 734 stand for? 7˚N 34˚E are the geographical coordinates for Gambela, a region in Ethiopia where over 200,000 displaced South Sudanese citizens now live after fleeing war, atrocities, drought, and famine in South Sudan. It is a place of refuge.

734 Coffee and Refugee Campus are about building a brighter future for the displaced mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters of Sudan. The coffee is harvested by growers right in the Gambela region. Eighty percent of all profits from sales in the United States go right back to scholarships and education programs for refugees of Sudan.

What does that mean in terms of impact? It means every bag of coffee you purchase is one more day of school for four refugees. Every cup you brew means one more hour of learning, one more hour to change a life.
734 Coffee beans are grown and harvested in Gambela from a co-op of African-owned and operated farms. The naturally farmed “Grade A” or specialty coffee is imported as “Fair Trade,” meaning it supports good sustainable work for African farmers and harvesters.
Learn more here. It may cost a little more, but it truly is great coffee for the greater good.
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? Send your good news to : .

  • Our granddaughter Clara Bonjean Mills was born on my daughter Allison's due date March 13, 2018. Right on time, unlike her mother who has never been on time for anything. She is healthy & sleeping well at night. My daughter is the happiest we have ever seen her. Clara's naming will be at a synagogue in Miami in May. She will be receiving my mom's Hebrew name. Many thanks to various members of our congregation who have extended their congratulations & good wishes. Delighted parents are Allison Kraus and Cortney Mill. Mitch and Julie Kraus
  • We're excited that younger son, Elijah, has committed to the Theatre Program within the VCUArts school at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. He will continue his acting and singing (and liberal arts learning) career there this fall! In a lovely turn of events— and conveniently for their families—Elijah's cousin, Emma Ostenfeld, is also attending VCU in the fall, having been accepted to the Honors College there. Richmond, VA for the win! Mazel Tov to Grandparents David and Lottie Mosher. Rachel Mosher-Williams and David Williams.
  • Mazel Tov to Ethan Birndorf and his family on his Bar Mitzvah on April 14.
  • Mazel Tov to Zyley Bender and her family on her Bat Mitzvah on April 21.
Meet a Member
Bruce and Wynne Busman
By Bruce Busman

Our journey began in 2002. Not being content with the atmosphere of the synagogue we were in, in Alexandria VA, we started our journey. Wynne and I were looking for a spiritual home where we could become more involved in synagogue life and be a part of the legacy of a synagogue.

Rabbi Schnitzer was the Hazzan at our old synagogue. At that time, I was taking a course in Biblical Archaeology he was teaching at the NVJCC. Rabbi Sunny let me know he was going to be leaving the Alexandria synagogue soon to be the spiritual leader of a congregation in Maryland and he would let me know the details later.

Wynne and I already had some friends at the BJC and they had invited us to a musical Shabbat. The moment we entered the Gathering Space, Larry and Davi Walders came up to us shook our hands and said, "WELCOME, WE ARE GLAD YOU ARE HERE."

They introduced us to other BJC congregants, and there was Rabbi Sunny. It was a wonderful evening. When we left the musical Shabbat that evening, I knew we had found our spiritual home. It was and still is a wonderful feeling to be part of the BJC.

Sharing space with Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church is just a big plus for us. Wynne and I started getting involved in many synagogue activities, and after about a year I was asked to join the Board of Trustees, and Wynne soon took over as the Oneg Coordinator, which she still is managing today.

I have been on the board about 13 years in different capacities, and I have been part of a number of great committees including the Refugee committee.

One of the best aspects of being a BJC member are the synagogue trips we have been on. Two trips to Israel, one trip to Cuba, and another trip to Cuba this fall.

But, the friendships we have developed is one of the most important parts of this journey. These friendships will last a lifetime. We have traveled with other BJC members on our own trips abroad, and they still talk to us. What a deal!

You may want to ask why we are still at the BJC after so many years, and my answer will be: the Rabbi, the People, Progressive Programs, i.e., Social Action, Inter-congregational programs, and the religious school.

Most of all, the freedom to be part of a Jewish history still in the making as evidenced by two of our granddaughters who come to this synagogue for their religious training and Hebrew school.

Susan Berkowitz’s unveiling will be on May 27.

Meyer Dubrow, father of Davi Walders
Pearl Dubrow, mother of Davi Walders
Wiliam Dwork, uncle of Barry Dwork
Blaine Eig, father of Jonathan Eig
Michael Glassman, husband Nancy Glassman
Sonia Gold, mother of Judy Scott
Mary Klauber, mother of Martin Klauber
Samuel Klauber, father of Martin Klauber
Abraham Kraus, father of Mitchell Kraus
Mortimer Leister, grandfather of Joy Gold
Max Levi, father of Karen Levi
Rose Kline Levine, grandmother of Bruce Baum
Dorothy Moyer, mother of Barbara Faigin
Vera Poogach, grandmother of Robert Poogach
Harvey Rabin, husband Evelyn Rabin
Irving Roger, grandfather of Robert Poogach
Rose Scott, mother of David Scott
Rose Wagman Sherman, grandmother of Harri j. Kramer
Molly Singer, mother of Marlene Zakai
Anita Treiber, mother of Christine Treiber
Julia Ullmann, grandmother of Ted Posner
Barbara Wilansky, mother of Robin Sorkin
Leo Stern, father of Ed Stern
Thank You

The following list recognizes those donations made through March 2018.

To the Congregation
Barbara Kritzer for four Gates of Repentance prayer books

To the Enhancing the Flame Fund
Lorrie van Akkeren
To the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund
Lori Block
Lorrie van Akkeren
Jodi Danis, in honor of Ethan Schenker’s Bar Mitzvah
Gary & Melanie Gottlieb, in honor of Cassie Gotlieb's Bat Mitzvah 

In Memory of the Rabbi’s Mother, Diane Schnitzer
Burt Bachrach
Bruce & Linda Baum
Steven Berlin
Diane Blagman
Bruce & Wynne Busman
Judith Swirnow Dack
Shoshana Drake
Tony Brafa-Fooksman, Keith & Diana Fooksman, Howard Fooksman
Donna Goldberg
Karen Jerome
Stanley & Eleanor Katz
Suzanne Katz
James & Liz Korelitz
Barbara Kotz
Mitch Kraus
Sheila Kremer
Lenora Lebowitz
Susan Levin
Alan Lichter
Linda Maltz
Ronald Maltz
Marian Paul
Eleni Raser/Hope Horn Fund
Stacey Rose-Blass
Fredric Rosenthal
Betsy Roth
Beverly Sager
David & Judy Scott
Martin & Meryl Simon
Marvin & Ellen Sirkis
Lisa Strauss
Lorrie Van Akkeren
Elsa Weinstein
Harvey & Elaine Wolfe
Ira & Sheila Wolpert
A Special Thank You
All who “rounded up” their Synagogue Support payments
All who continuously donate their time to volunteer at BJC
A Note from the Interim Editor:

As we continue to tinker with the newsletter, please let us know what works, what doesn’t, what’s missing. Your input and ideas are most welcome. Contact me at to ask questions, comment, or submit an article. I remain the Interim Editor and would love someone to work with me. No prior experience necessary at all. 

Harri j. Kramer
Board of Trustees

President Shoshanah Drake
Vice-President Sandra Walter
Treasurer Lance Pelter
Secretary Amy Kost

Howard Berkof 
Diane Blumenthal
Barry Cantor 
Helen Dalton
Lorraine McMillen
David Slacter
Committee Chairs
Communication Team Helen Dalton/Robin Sorkin
Financial Advisor Barry Cantor
High Holy Days Warren Farb
Student Representative Aaron Kirkpatrick
Intercongregational Partnership Liaison Bruce Busman
Membership Dan Goldberg
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