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November 2020 Newsletter
Rabbi Elhanan "Sunny" Schnitzer
Chevan/Kislev 5781

A Special Message for GMail Users
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CLICK for the Complete BJC November Events Calendar
Kriat HaRav—The Rabbi’s Call
Rabbi Elhanan “Sunny” Schnitzer
As I sit and write these words, it is a few hours before Shabbat Noach begins—the Shabbat where we read the story of Noah and the flood. In these last days before November 3, surrounded on all side by the words of debates and pundits, being asked to make choices that will resonate far beyond my lifetime, this Torah portion calls to me, to all of us, in profound ways.

Noah Tsadik beDorotav....Noah was a righteous man in his generation. What does this specific reference to Noah's “right ness” mean?

My current teacher of moment, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, speaks of Noah as righteous, but not a leader. He saved his family, but did not take responsibility for anyone else. He did not protest the evil all around him and may well have been a perpetrator himself as evidenced by his drunkenness after the flood. His survival and the blessings of God did not inspire him to a higher standard of behavior. Noah gave up on his fellow human beings and on himself.

But would we have done better?

Are we doing better now?

We live in a world dominated by the fear of disease and death. A world in which cynical political leaders, and others, use that fear, exploit it for personal gain and power at the expense of the many, the dispossessed, the poor, and the repressed, doing their very best to prevent access to any real political power and hope.

Differences of opinion are delegitimized, ridiculed, as according to some midrashim, Noah had been as he built his ark. Maybe that is why Noah gave up on expecting change and focused only on saving his own family. 
The message of the story of Noah is clear. Faced with evil, silence is not an option. One must speak out, one must act. Personal individual righteousness is not enough. A world is at risk if we remain silent.

Abraham and later Moses seem to have internalized this lesson from the story of Noah and teach us that we are responsible for our world, our people, our country, and not only our immediate family.

The human race still struggles to learn this lesson.

While I have long ago given up on Facebook posts as a medium to change hearts and minds, I still read the posts of others (while looking at videos and photos of my grandchildren and friends), and am appalled every time I read someone saying that they make their political choices based solely on what a candidate does for them as opposed to what a candidate can do for our country. 

The Zohar, the primary text of the Kabbalah, recounts a conversation between Noah and God which took place after the flood:

What did God answer Noah when he left the Ark and saw the world destroyed? He [Noah] began to cry before God and he said, “Master of the universe, You are called compassionate. You should have been compassionate for Your creation.” God responded and said, “You are a foolish shepherd. Now you say this?! Why did you not say this at the time I told you that I saw that you were righteous among your generation, or afterward when I said that I will bring a flood upon the people, or afterward when I said to build an ark? I constantly delayed and I said, ‘When is he [Noah] going to ask for compassion for the world?’ ... And now that the world is destroyed, you open your mouth, to cry in front of me, and to ask for supplication?

And that is what Abraham and later Moses both did. They spoke out and acted against evil—against destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah if the righteous might perish along with the sinners, against the destruction of the people after the incident of the Golden Calf, despite their sin. Moshe led his people to freedom after actively opposing Pharaoh, demanding freedom of worship and justice for a “mixed multitude” of people. They spoke up for compassion and mercy. Their example requires us to care about others, to pursue justice.

Tsedek Tsedek Tirdof—Justice, Justice you will pursue. The word Tsedek translates into English as both justice and righteousness. This central concept of Torah teaches us that it is not enough to consider yourself righteous compared to others. Righteousness is something we are required to go out and chase after.

Get busy, take action. 

Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer
A Special Message from the Rabbi
There is a Yiddish proverb; “Men tracht und Gott lacht.” Roughly, this translates as “Men plan and God laughs.”

I meant to take a sabbatical earlier this year, but over the summer, staff changes and Covid 19 challenges, such as transitioning our High Holy Days into the virtual realm, and rescheduling cancelled B’nai Mitzvah, made that impossible.

But as we enter a quieter time of year, I will try again. I will take a break from my work with BJC beginning on November 16 and will return on January 8, 2021.

In my absence worship services will be led by Alicia De Paolo, Rabbi David Evan Markus, and Rabbi Mark Novak. Check your weekly BJC Now for the worship leader schedule. Torah Today will continue on Wednesday nights led by Rabbi Stan Levin.

In case of a pastoral care need, please call my cell, (703) 362-2679. I will be periodically, but irregularly, checking my BJC email account.
President's Column—Sandra Walter
A New Season
Get Ready to Light the Night
By Alicia DePaolo, Program and Worship Coordinator

Although we are about to enter the darker months of the year, there are many ways for us to bring some extra light and warmth to our days. Our Interfaith Thanksgiving Service offers us the opportunity to come together with our beloved community members of all faiths to give thanks for the commonalities that unite us and celebrate the differences that make us unique. This event is one of the highlights of our year, and although we can’t join in person this time, we know that it will still be an opportunity for joy, reflection, and learning.

We also have three new events in November. We are building a Digital Hanukkah Recipe Book to collect recipes, wisdom, memories, and family stories. While we can’t share meals together this year, we can still connect to each other through food! We will be compiling our recipe book using an application called “Book Creator,” which allows for multimedia contributions: text, photo, audio, and video. If you have a special story or memory to share, please feel free to submit it in text, audio, photo, or video form!

If you enjoy gift exchanges, we hope you will participate in our Hanukkah Mystery Maccabee. Each participant will anonymously send festive notes and small gifts to another BJC community member. Finally, our second Virtual Movie Night is coming up on Sunday, November 29. Join from the comfort of your own home, and settle in with some hot cocoa and popcorn!

We hope to see you at one or all of our November events! Email with any questions or ideas.
Youth Education Update
By Maran Gluckstein
We zoomed into the school year 5781 on October 3 with great enthusiasm albeit with a few technical and organizational challenges. By now, Week 4, all is running smoothly. Rabbi Sunny, Morah Marina, and Morah Malka are working with our students in grades 2 through 7 both individually and in groups on Hebrew and Judaics.

We are looking forward to our first Tichon session with Morah Linda on October 31.  
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. While I'm away, if you have a pastoral need, please call my cell (703) 362-2679.
Click for the complete BJC November Calendar
NOTE: Please consult the November Calendar for our regular Shabbat services and streaming services. As a reminder, Friday Shabbat worship is at 7:30 PM and Saturday Shabbat worship starts at 10 AM.
Please continue to check BJC Now for links to Zoom and streaming services.  
Sunday, November 15, 10:30 AM

Despite the limits of this moment of physical distancing, BJC members will still join together to lift up our deep connections with our Christian and Muslim partners with an online version of our annual Thanksgiving service and brunch.

This year we will experience a two-tiered event with the members of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, Macqoom Ibrahim, Idara e Jarferia, and the Islamic Cultural Center of Potomac.

The worship service will be on Bradley Hills’ Livestream at 10:30 AM, featuring leaders of our respective communities. You can access the service by clicking here or going to BHPC's website.

Following the worship service, there will be a Q & A with the clergy on Zoom. To culminate the days’ activities, participants will be invited to breakout rooms (“brunch tables), where discussions will continue in small groups.

We will miss sharing a meal together and arranging baskets for Manna. However, the offering for the service will be for Manna. Send a check to BJC with “Manna” in the notation or make a direction contribution by clicking here.

Click here for the Zoom link.

Meeting ID: 810 0936 4973 Passcode: 017639 Dial by your location: (301) 715 8592

Please join us for this signature event.
Book Club
Wednesday, November 18 & December 16, 8 PM

Due to the social distancing guidance, the BJC Open Book Club will continue to meet virtually for the foreseeable future. We usually meet at 8 PM on the fourth Wednesday of the month, but we are shifting to the third Wednesday in November and December because of holidays.

November 18 (3rd Wednesday), we will focus on Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler, a short, character-driven novel about misperception, second chances, and the sometimes elusive power of human connection.

December 16 (3rd Wednesday): the discussion will be about An Artist of the Floating World by Nobel Prize winner, Kazuo Ishiguro. The novel is set in post-World War II Japan and is narrated by Masuji Ono, an ageing painter, who looks back on his life and how he has lived it.

Evelyn Ganzglass will send out the Zoom link prior to each meeting. If you are not already on the book club’s email list and would like to join us for any or all of these meetings, please let Evelyn know and she will add you to the list.
A National Healing and Reconciliation Ceremony: A Havdalah and Program led by National Faith Leaders
Saturday November 21, 8 PM
Join Rabbi Sunny and a diverse group of Americans in a ceremony to separate from the divisiveness of the recent past in our country, as well as to build bridges of healing, hope, and reconciliation.

The program will include ritual and musical elements and voices of faith leaders from a rich tapestry of faiths, offering prayers from their traditions for our country and its people.

Check the November editions of BJC Now for the program link
Hanukkah Happenings!
Hanukkah Recipe Book: Deadline 11/20
Contribute your favorite Hanukkah recipes to our digital BJC Hanukkah Recipe Book! Submit your recipe to by November 20. If you have photos of the finished dish, please include them in your submission.

We're also looking for any family stories or favorite memories about your recipes; you can include these with the recipe, or attach a video or audio of yourself sharing your stories and memories. This can be low tech—use your camera or voice memos application on your phone and share with

Mystery Maccabee: Deadline 11/23
Participate in our Hanukkah virtual gift exchange! If you sign up, you will secretly receive the name of one BJC community member to whom you will anonymously mail festive notes and small gifts during the week of Hanukkah. Check BJC Now for the sign-up link.

Movie Night:  Sunday, November 29, 4 PM

Save the date! Join us for our second virtual movie night! We’ll watch Tel Aviv on Fire. Check BJC Now for details. 
In Case You Missed It: Celebrating Outdoors Together
By Shoshanah Drake
On March 7, I spent my last in-person celebration with my friends at BJC at the Purim Pandemonium, so when I got to see my BJC family in person at Car-Nidre, it was such a wonderful treat! The physically-distanced holiday celebrations didn’t stop there. 

BJC had a lovely Sukkot festival outside where we were able to join together with masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and physical distance, say the blessings of the holiday, and then go into the sukkah to hang fruit, shake the lulav and etrog, and feel the true joy of being together. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and people were so happy to be together. At the end, everyone left with a nice treat and a smile on their face. 

As the holiday cycle came to an end, we had one last outdoor magical event that was so very representative of all BJC means to me. Many members gathered outside—spaced apart with their own chairs— as we celebrated Simchat Torah. The evening service started with Rabbi Sunny driving the Torahs up the hill to the Sukkah. As a group, we walked and danced 6 feet apart from one another while the Rabbi carried the Torah. This was followed by a beautiful service for both Simchat Torah and Shabbat as we watched the sun go down and looked at the amazing night sky. 

Spending time with one another in person was a truly special way to spend the holiday. Those who couldn’t make it in person also had the opportunity to join us through Zoom. We hummed the tunes into our masks as the Rabbi and the band created a soulful mood for all. As Rabbi Sunny has said, we might have been physically distanced, but we were socially and spiritually joined.
By Harri j. Kramer, Chair, Social Action Committee

Thanks to those who brought nonperishable food at Sukkot for Manna. We will continue our generosity by having Manna as the recipient of the offering at this year’s Interfaith Thanksgiving service.

As the pandemic continues, food insecurity in our community remains a significant problem. We hope that you donated to Manna this year in lieu of our annual food drive. If you haven’t donated, there is still a serious need.  

Click here to donate.

To learn more about how MANNA is operating during the pandemic and how you can help, click here.

Last month, we highlighted Eliot Sternfeld’s efforts to promote Black Lives Matter with a yard sign that provides a Jewish foundation as we respect the dignity of all people. Suggested minimum $18 donation for each 18” x 24” sign.

The modest income over cost will be used by the Social Action Committee to support our various projects and initiatives.

Here’s how to order yours:
  • Donate by check, send to BJC and note “Social Action/BLM”
  • Donate online here. Choose "Donation BLM Social Action Sign" as type.
  • If you want multiple yard signs, detail in the Notes section.
  • If you need delivery, also detail in the Notes section.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: A Specific Sort of Racism
By Karen Levi
During the High Holy Days, a friend sent me a You Tube video of a current sermon by Rabbi Angela Buchdahl of the Central Synagogue of New York City. Her talk from the pulpit stimulated self-reflection regarding my racist views.

Jewish people have lived in a variety of countries, literally in all parts of the world. Jews are not only white and European. They are Middle Eastern, African, Asian, and Latin American—brown, black, and tan. The intensity of skin color is a random result of genetics.

In our rapidly changing society, racial intermarriage is increasingly commonplace. International and domestic adoption creates interracial families. A Black person, for example, may come to a Shabbat service some Friday night or Saturday morning at BJC. I know that my first thoughts when I see someone of color sitting by me (before Covid) on Shabbat is, Are you Jewish? How did you come to be Jewish? In contrast, when I see a person who looks Jewish and/or is white, I think, Oh, good, maybe he/she is interested in our congregation. When I see an Asian child sitting with a Caucasian parent, I think adoption. But, I could be wrong, the young one could be from the union of an interracial marriage.

But what happens when that child grows up and steps into another synagogue or Jewish group? My son, adopted from Peru, refuses to visit my accepting, inclusive congregation. He feels he would be the only "brown person." And on most Fridays and Saturdays, he would be correct. My fellow congregants would not ask, "Are you Jewish?" They know he is adopted.

But what would transpire if my son walks into a synagogue somewhere else? He would probably be welcomed. But congregants would most probably ask themselves the questions I say to myself. Would a security officer get jumpy? Would women shy away from him? And just as damaging, would he have to explain himself ad nauseum, each and every time he meets a new congregant? Why not a Jewish brown person who comes from Peru? I happen to know of a Jewish woman, who is brown, beautiful, and Peruvian. Her father was posted to Israel for the foreign service. She converted to Judaism while living in Israel.

The most embarrassing error one could make is when a person of color is at a Jewish celebration and is questioned per usual. His/her answer is, "My father/mother is Jewish." Why should this person be put on the spot, to feel awkward, or to divulge personal information? The visitor or congregant maybe from an interracial marriage. Of course, the individual is as Jewish as I am. Skin color is not part of the equation.
Editor’s Note:  This month we share a Jewish twist on Thanksgiving. Adapted from Please submit your favorites! Send to 
Sweet Potato Kugel

Prep: 30 mins; Cook: 1 hr; Serves 12

Click here for a pdf of the recipe.

  • 3.5 lbs. sweet potatoes (about 4 large)
  • 2 large onions diced
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup scallions minced
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup matzah meal or flour if not during Passover
  • 1/4 cup butter melted and cooled (or margarine if serving with a meat meal and keeping kosher)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a 12x9x2 inch glass baking dish.
  2. Sauté diced onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until brown.
  3. Dice sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes and mix onions and sweet potatoes in a blender until shredded or shred with a hand grater or food processor.
  4. Squeeze out excess water from onions and sweet potatoes and transfer to a bowl.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, matzah meal or flour, scallions, salt, pepper and butter.
  6. Add in potato mixture and combine until well mixed.
  7. Pour mixture into the dish and bake for one hour until cooked through and brown on top. Don’t overbake. 
Editor’s Note: Now, more than ever, we all need some good news. Send to:

  • Mazel Tov to Max Blank on becoming Bar Mitzvah, and to his parents Penny & Martin Blank

  • Mazel Tov Diane Blumenthal & Craig Winslow on the marriage of their son, Hal Winslow to Ellen Nevers on October 10.

  • Kudos to Barry Dwork for the publication of his letter to the editor in Washington Jewish Week. Read it here. (Scroll through a few letters to get to Barry's.)
In her own words
Five years ago, I went on a BJC Cuban Mission led by Rabbi Sunny and Rebbetzin Yaffah. Upon returning, I started to attend BJC services and monthly chant circles. I knew I had discovered a warm and welcoming community that I wanted to be a part of. My husband Dennis was also very drawn and so we joined the congregation.

I was born in Detroit, where I have memories and pictures of dressing up as Queen Esther in kindergarten. I knew I was Jewish. When I was eight, we moved to Miami to be near my grandparents, and I thought the whole city was Jewish because it seemed everyone I met was and every other block had a deli on it.

My father had a business opportunity in Los Angeles, and we moved there just as I was starting high school. I graduated from U.C.L.A. and began my professional career as a dental hygienist, which lasted over 40 years and took me to San Francisco and later to Washington, D.C.

My interests have always revolved around health and wellness. I became certified as a Life Coach, then later as a Holistic Health Coach, then morphed it all together to become a Wellness coach. I became a Bat Mitzvah as an adult and that followed by studying Jewish Spirituality and trying to understand what my Jewish identity has meant to me.

As far as hobbies go, I love to dance, read, go for walks in the country, explore and travel. I’ve taken up Mixed Media art and knitting and recently baking challah and sourdough bread.

I owe much of who I am to my grandmother, who showed me the importance of family tradition. My own family includes my husband Dennis, sons Jonathan and David and my daughter-in-love Adi. Our miniature Schnauzer Gabbie often attends Zoom services with us and you might have seen her looking into the camera.

As a Co-Program Committee chair, along with my dear friend Joan Kaufman, we are dedicated to creating meaningful and varied programming for BJC. Let us hear from you about what types of programs interest you.

Yahrzeits: November 2020

Esther Blumberg, grandmother of Linda & Mark Blumberg
Sonya Choper, sister of Linda Baum
Martin Cohen, father of Donna Goldberg
Renee Cooper, mother of David Cooper
Bernard Morris Dubin, father of Alan Dubin
Lilly Dubin, sister of Alan Dubin
Miriam Gleberman, mother of Ellen Gleberman
Ethel Gluckstein, wife of Fritz Gluckstein
Lena Goldstein, mother of Laurie Mabile
Harry Haber, father of Miles Haber
Pepi Harnden, mother of Sandra Medlin
Beatrice Heller, mother of Carie Schaffer
Ralph Kaufman, father of Emily van Agtmael
Rosalie Lichter, mother of Alan Lichter
Jack Scott, father of David Scott
Philip Shtasel, father of Sana Shtasel
Alan Turow, father of Steve Turow
Naomi Walders, mother of Larry Walders
Abe Walter, grandfather of Sandra Walter
Harry Winslow, father of Craig Winslow
Mildred Zisman, sister of Al Folsom
Editor’s Note: Help us help you get the recognition you deserve. If sending a check, please use the “memo” line to let us know what the check is for.  


Rochelle & William Banta 
Penny & Martin Blank
Wynne & Bruce Busman, in memory of Leonard Busman
Wynne & Busman, in appreciation of Rabbi Sunny
Patrice Goforth
Harri Kramer & Russ Hogya, on the yahrzeit of Harri’s grandmother Vivian Kramer
Margaret Johnson
Linda & Jonathan S. Lyons, in appreciation of good works of BJC & dedication of Rabbi Sunny
Cathy L. & Tilden Mendelson
Kathie Stein
Margo Stein
Craig Winslow & Diane Blumenthal, in honor of Rebbetzin Yaffah’s retirement
Craig Winslow & Diane Blumenthal, on the yahrzeit of Freda Blumenthal
Lora Wishod, in honor of Zachary Wishod’s Bar Mitzvah


Vicki Bailer
Karen Amatangelo Block & Jon Block
Judi Dash
Diane & Dennis Horn
Judy & David Scott
Robin & Stuart Sorkin
Meryl & Marty Simon
Jennifer Lowe & Steven Wishod
Lorrie Van Akkeren


Ellen & Marvin Sirkis
And to all of our members who “round up” their synagogue support and donate their time.
ShulCloud 101: Logging In
As we move to ShulCloud as our system to manage just about everything, we will be providing you with as much technical support as you need to use this platform with ease. Much more information will follow. Here’s a first look at how to get into the system. Send your ShulCloud questions or concerns to

How to Log Into ShulCloud
  1. Go to 
  2. On the top right black line, there will be a square grey button that says “Login.”
  3. Click on it. If you have not logged in before, click on “Forgot Password.” Enter your email address. Click on “Email Password.” If you have previously been a member, your information should already have been entered in the database, and the site should send an email to the email address you just entered.
  4. You will receive an email with the subject line “Password Reset Requested.” It may take a few minutes, and it may end up in your spam folder, so make sure to check that folder.
  5. Open the email and click on “Reset your password.”
  6. Type in what you want your password to be (minimum 8 characters) two times. Click submit.
  7. You should be able to log into the website. Go to the main tab, Account.

You can now get into your account, which will allow you to be able to update information, pay synagogue support, and make donations. 
Here’s an easy way to help BJC. By signing up for AmazonSmiles, BJC gets 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products—and it doesn’t cost you anything. AmazonSmiles is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as 
Board of Trustees (as of 7/1/2020)
President Sandra Walter
Vice-President Jeremy Pelter
Treasurer Terri Reicher
Secretary Lorrie Van Akkeren

Ken Fine
Karen Levi
Karen Levy
Alan Lichter
David Slacter
Steve Turow
Committee Chairs
Education Issie Resti
Financial Advisor
High Holy Days Jim Korelitz
Student Representative Sammy Peterson Intercongregational Partnership Liaison
Marty Ganzglass
Membership Diane Blumenthal
Past President Shoshanah Drake
Programs Diane Horn & Joan Kaufman
Social Action Harri j. Kramer

BJC Administration
Spiritual Leader Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer
Program & Worship Coordinator Alicia DePaolo
Synagogue Administrator

BJC News
Newsletter Editor Harri j. Kramer


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