Congregation Agudat Achim
Weekly Announcements
6 May 2021 - 24 Iyar 5781
Parashat  Behar-Behukkotai
Rabbi Rafi Spitzer -- President Jackie Rowen
Words from our Rabbi
Rabbi Marc Margolius teaches that “Parashat B’har powerfully describes two important mitzvot: giving the land a Sabbatical every seventh year, and declaring a Yoveil (“Jubilee”) every fifty years. Each of these commandments calls upon us to engage in what we might call “Shabbat practice”: to stop engaging in creation and productivity by cultivating the middah [“inner trait” or attribute, which reside within us in different measures, and middah also means “measure”] of bitachon, “learning to trust in God” or, as many may prefer, “trust in a force greater than ourselves.” The Sabbatical and Jubilee years invite us to set down the tools by which we “work the land,” to relinquish what others may owe us, and surrender our inclination to control. To the extent that we can learn to “trust the process” or “go with the flow” of life, we may learn that the current carries us where we need to go. In practicing bitachon, we learn (in the terminology of twelve-step programs) to “let go and let God.””
What is your basic level of trust in yourself? In others? In God? In life in general?
What, if anything, reminds you of your capacity to trust in that which you cannot see, feel, touch, taste, or hear?
At times in your life when things have seemed bleak, have you been able to perceive within or beneath the bleakness a spark of light and hope? Do you have a sense of trusting the “unfolding process of life”?
Please reach out to me-- I’d love to discuss bitachon with you this week.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Spitzer
Message from our President

For several years now, Congregation Agudat Achim has partnered with Schenectady Inner City Ministry (which has been re-named "Schenectady Community Ministries”) as part of their summer lunch program in Central Park. This is just one of the many services that SiCM provides to the community. For over 50 years SiCM has partnered with faith groups to address public health needs such as food insecurity and nutrition, racism and diversity concerns and summer recreation through community collaborations and exceptional services and programs. There have recently been some changes to SiCM, beyond just their name. SiCM is now an interfaith collaborative and this gives us the opportunity to become members of this amazing organization. At the March Board of Trustees meeting we welcomed Rev. Dr. Amaury Tanon-Santos, the new CEO of SiCM as a guest to speak to the board about how membership to SiCM would help our congregation better serve the greater community. It was an inspiring evening. Last week, at our April meeting, the board voted in favor of membership. This week, we became seated members of the SiCM Assembly, allowing us to have two delegates representing our congregation at Assembly meetings, as well as receive immediate communications about the important work being done. If you would like to be part of this wonderful opportunity, please let me or Rabbi know. I'm very excited at the prospect of this partnership and how it can help our Congregation fulfill the vision of social service and social justice

Shabbat Shalom,

Jackie Rowen
Exciting Website News
Our congregation is building a new website. It is currently under construction, and we are thrilled with the results so far. Addicott Web, a Raleigh-based website company with a passion for working with synagogues and Jewish non-profits is designing our site. Hirsch Fishman our web designer, takes modern website design trends and applies them to build synagogue websites. These websites provide a welcoming face to a synagogue community while allowing synagogue members to easily find the information they are looking for or complete common tasks of synagogue life. We hope our new website will help you to feel inspired to want to get further involved in congregational life.

We thank you for your patience as we work hard to revamp the site. It will take time, and the whole website will not be totally complete when we launch it in the next few months. We can't wait to share it with you. Here are a few teasers about our new website!

· The stained-glass windows in the sanctuary are a unique and dominant feature integrated with the website design.

· The color scheme for the entire site takes swatches of color from the windows.

· The navigation of the site is very crisp and clear.

· Our website reflects who we are as a congregation.

Soon we will welcome you to our virtual makom. As taken from

“If you think about the meaning of makom - a place, you'll agree that it is more than just a geographical location - it's a space that is capable of containing something else. When used in reference to God what it means is that everything is contained within God (conceptually), while God is not contained in anything. As our Sages say: God doesn't have a place, rather God is The Place of the Universe. We look forward to welcoming you to our sacred place that extends beyond the walls of our synagogue.”

Thank you to Rabbi, Jackie, Steve, and the board of trustees for supporting this project.

Thank you also to all the congregants and committee chairs who have updated their information or written new content for our website. (We have a lot to do so, you may be next!)

Thank you to our outstanding committee members: Rabbi Spitzer, Jack Mintzer, Josh Ginsberg, Mindy Sorbo, and Robin Scharf.

If you are interested in editing, writing, or joining our committee, please reach out to me at:

Deb Friedson

Arts and Beautification/Website Content Chair
With our Members
Birthdays: Tracy Delman, Barrie Handelman, Rosalyn Foote, Alex Goldner, Richard Harrow, Bob Woll, Sharon Silverman
Anniversaries: Philippa Martin & Peter Berry
Yahrzeits: Samuel Max Gray, Julius Rowen, Tibor Goldberger, Vera Goldberger, Allen Unger, Etta Backer, Belle Brooks, Ronald Shapiro, Harriet Strosberg, Harold Bressler, Alex Goldberger, Helene Kossoff, Solomon Tocker, Anna Abramson, Diana Ellis Weil, Gisela Weiss, Isador Weiss
Mazel tov to Ron and Jill Bucinell on the birth of Ryder (R.J.) Jack Bucinell, 4/17/21 @ 11:09, 6lbs13oz, 19" . Newborn son of Ryan and Jessica, grandson of Jill and Ron Bucinell 
Thank You
Thank you to the individuals who participated in this past week's Shabbat services :
Yashar koach!
Torah and Haftara Readers: Jeffrey Spitzer, Arielle Spitzer, Rabbi Miriam Spitzer, Rabbi Rafi Spitzer
Daveners/Service Leaders: Steve Schmidt, Kaitlin Spektor
Service Coordinator/Gabbai: Rob Fox
COVID-19 Compliance Guarantor/Shamash: Sharon Wohl
Other Participants: Michele Kahn, Larry Kahn, Roberta Steiner, Barrie Handelman, Mark Handelman, Rachel Schmidt, Jeffrey Handelman, Edith Kliman, Alexandra Schmidt, Rabbi Rafi Spitzer
Contributors to our Security Fund, Attendees…“…those who give funds for heat and light, wine for Kiddush and Havdalah, bread to the wayfarer and charity to the poor, and all those who devotedly involve themselves with the needs of this community… May the Holy Blessed One reward them, remove sickness from them, heal them, and forgive their sins. May God bless them by prospering all their worthy endeavors, and let us say: Amen.”
Would you like to see your name on this list?
Get in touch with Howie Mittleman or Rabbi Spitzer!
Schedule for the Week
Summer Minyan Schedule
Our evening 7:15p service each night except Tuesday night will be Mincha.. Friday Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat will be at 5:30p, on Zoom.

Part I: Biblical Roots and a Virtual Tour
Shavuot Information
Save the Date
For a complete description of this class please click on the button below.
More Zoom Registration Link Education Offerings
Click the buttons below to read information on each upcoming event!
Teacher Appreciation Week
In light of this extremely difficult Covid year the School Board, the President Jackie Rowen , the Rabbi Rafi Spitzer , and I would like to thank all of our teachers this year for an outstanding job.

Judy Ben-Ami
Eric Cooper Ginsburg
Kaitlin Spektor
Amy Tombank
Zipporah Harris
Rise' Rotenberg
Ely Wohl
School Information
Click here for a schedule of classes for the Elementary Grades.
Click here for a calendar for the school year.
Click here for a single page calendar of the year.

School Lag B'omer
Campground Celebration program
Thursday, 6 May, 4:30p
In Person!

New Meals to Go Listings
As You Like It Catering is busy filling the Meals-to-Go freezers
once again!

Perfect for your Mother's Day or Shavuot table or delicious anytime!

Contact Rise' Routenberg at to order and arrange pick up. Checks should be made payable to Congregation Agudat Achim. Credit card sales can be made by calling the office.

You can see the entire list of offerings by clicking on the button below

New and Ongoing Events

Back to the Basics: Life Cycle Spring--A Study of Mikveh in Two Parts with Mayyim Hayyim

Part II: Modern Mikveh Stories & A Virtual Mikveh Experience
Thurs 13 May 7:30p
Join educators from Boston’s flagship community mikveh, Mayyim Hayyim, to learn about the Biblical and Rabbinic understandings of Mikveh practice, from family purity to conversion to holiness and more. In part two, we will bring the learning into the modern period with an exploration of modern rituals of immersion and transformation, and close with a virtual handwashing guided mikveh experience. These programs will be on Zoom, and will kick off our spring study of life cycles.

L’Chu N’ran’nah: Musical PeSukei D’Zimra with Rabbi Spitzer Shabbat 15 May 9:00a
Join Rabbi Spitzer by live stream on Shabbat morning for a musical PeSukei D’Zimra!

Parashat Hashavua Class with Rabbi Spitzer Next Class 11 May
Rabbi Spitzer teaches a class on the weekly Torah portion on Tuesdays from 12:30p – 1:30p on Zoom. The link is on the CAA Online Programming Google Doc. If you are interested in exploring the weekly Parashah, please attend. All are welcome. Rabbi Spitzer invites you to call or email with your comments or thoughts.

Tot Shabbat Next Date April 28 at 4:30p  
Mark your calendars for all of the upcoming Tot Shabbat Programs 14, 28 May; 11, 25 Jun.  Time: 4:30p - 5:05p

L'chu N'ran'nah Shabbat morning spiritual seeking 9-9:45a
  • Iyyun Tefilah/ Learner's Service: 19 Jun
  • Musical Psukei Dzimra: 15 May

Adult Hebrew Classes with Zipporah Harris
Please become part of this group of learners!
Next series of classes; April 20, 27; and May 4, 11, 25
6:00-7:00 PM on Zoom
$10 per class, payable directly to Zipporah
Open to New and Returning Students!
Born in Israel, Zipporah is an experienced teacher who has taught Hebrew at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels for over 30 years. The class covers reading, writing, and conversation. Please become part of this group of learners! Classes. If you are interested in joining, write to Zipporah at

Back to the Basics: Introduction to Prayer Book Hebrew for Adults, taught by Rabbi Spitzer
Sundays 9:30-10:30am
Join Rabbi Spitzer and the Adult Education Committee as we present an introductory course for Prayerbook (liturgical) Hebrew. Registration for this course is now closed. Class dates for registered students 9, 23, 30 May; 6, 13 June (all Sundays, 9:30 am – 10:30 am)

CAA Healthy Living Group
Every Wednesday on Zoom at 10a.

CAA Book Club
Meets on the Second Wednesday of each month, at 12:00p Next Meeting 12 May

CAA Men’s Club Torah Study
Meets Monthly on Sundays at 7:30p Next Meeting TBA
Links to Religious Services
Siddur Supplement
Until further notice, we are using the full Siddur Sim Shalom during weekday and Shabbat services. This version has both Shabbat and Weekday prayer services (whereas the "Slim Shalom," which only contains Shabbat services are typically used in the sanctuary). Rabbi Spitzer has made the following four prayers accessible.

We would like to make everyone’s experience of the service at home as barrier-free as possible so please get in touch with us if there are other things that we can do to increase ease of access.
Donations for April
In the Community
Staff Emails
Rabbi Rafi Spitzer,, (518) 348-9478
Joshua Cooper-Ginsburg, Executive
Jack Mintzer, Education Director:
Chris Parisi, Administrative Assistant:
Rosalie Fadem, Bookkeeper:
Rise' Routenberg, Catering:  
Board Emails
Jackie Rowen, President:
Steve Schmidt, Program VP:
Jeff Shapiro, Youth VP:
Neal Shapiro, Treasurer:
Our Sponsors
[518-393-9211]  []