Congregation Agudat Achim
Weekly Announcements
7 January 2021 - 23 Tevet 5781
Parashat  Shemot
Rabbi Rafi Spitzer -- President Jackie Rowen
Words from our Rabbi
I will be taking family leave until Friday, January 22nd. During this time, I will be available for funerals and other time-sensitive emergencies. Should I be needed, please contact Jackie Rowen or Josh Cooper-Ginsburg. The Ritual Committee will be covering services usually led by myself and my regular classes will continue and be taught by various colleagues. Should you have any questions or needs during my family leave, please feel free to contact Jackie at

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Spitzer
Message from the CAA Executive Staff 
Greetings and well wishes to you and your family for a safe, happy, and healthy new secular year! As we reflect on the completion of our first year as your Executive Office staff at Congregation Agudat Achim, we have been reflecting on the challenges we faced this year and how we overcame them to keep our community strong, even through the most difficult of times. In the months leading up to the pandemic, we were afforded just enough time to settle into our new professional roles and develop the strong working relationship we now enjoy. Your synagogue office is a fun and exciting place to be, where our staff are motivated to serve our members in a plethora of ways.
·        Under the steady guidance and strong leadership of Rabbi Spitzer and the Board of Trustees, we were able to adapt the Passover Seder, to include dozens of families near and far, at a time when many of us ventured into the technology with which we are now familiar and still learning to use.
·        The reimagined High Holy Day season offered us the opportunity to bring the religious service experience to you in a way never before envisioned. Our new live stream camera system will allow members across the globe to observe and participate in our Shabbat and High Holy Day services for years to come.
·        Our adapted Carrot Festival brought more spirit back to our synagogue than we had expected, and a safe and wonderful time was had by all. Local non-profit organizations benefitted greatly from the donations that were collected, and the sale of carrot cakes alone provided a greater return on its investment than had been budgeted and expected. This will allow our Ways & Means Committee to continue creating new traditions to keep us all together this coming year.
·        Hanukkah 5781 was also reimagined and our new rainbow Hanukkiah will illuminate our lawn during Hanukkah for many years to come as well.
Many thanks go to the volunteers, lay leaders, donors, and supporters, who have generously offered their time and energy to developing the programs we successfully held for you this past year and those planned for the year ahead.
Zoom has allowed us to see friends and family near and far, and to join together in a way we maybe never expected. The silver lining on this dark cloud is that this experience will allow us to keep growing our bonds with our entire community, from the comfort and safety of our own homes, as we enter the second year of this historic global crisis. Together, we will see each other through this year and on to many happier times in the years ahead. For now, please know that we are here to assist you in a number of ways and that you can reach out to us with any request for assistance or support. In communicating, we will stay strong and we will have a very happy new year.
With peace and thanks,
The Executive Office Staff of Congregation Agudat Achim
Josh Cooper-Ginsburg, Executive Director               
Chris Parisi, Executive Assistant              
 Rosalie Fadem, Bookkeeper

With Our Members
Birthdays: Roberta Moses, Sheila Seras, Emily Gilman, Bradford Ruthberg, Rebecca Stashower, Gregory Goldberg, Jacob Goldberg, Eliana Garmil, Colden Shapiro, Aaron Sternlicht, Jay Yablon
Yahrzeits: : Robert Blackmore, Lillian Fishgoll, Edith Pasler, Benjamin Sevits, Ada Adelman, Morton Gold, Blossom Schechter, Sadie LeVine Olinsky, Helen Braunstein, Leonid Brusilovsky, Henry Frank, Jeffrey Gerson, Michael Harris, Frances Silver, Marc Goldstein, James Bruce MacWhinney, Jr., Aaron Weiner, Bessie Amazon, Naomi Sondheimer, Edith Weissberg
Misheberach List
On Shabbat, and on weekdays by request, we offer a healing prayer for those in our family, community, and world that need our attention and prayers. The rabbi reads a list of communal names, which can be easily added to by filling out this google form: Click here Misheberach List / Prayers for Healing Oct 2020 to add a name to our new list. Four times a year everyone will be removed, and we will only continue to pray for those who are resubmitted, if they continue to need our prayers. Rabbi Spitzer and Chris both check the form every week to prepare a list that includes all the names submitted.
Thank You
Thank you to the individuals who participated in this week's Shabbat services.
Yashar koach!
Torah and Haftara Readers: Howard Mittleman, Alexandra Schmidt
Daveners/Service Leaders: Rabbi Spitzer
Other Service Participants: Rachel Schmidt 
Service Coordinator/Gabbai: Dan Mayer
COVID-19 Compliance Guarantor/Shamash: Sharon Wohl
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
Most of our events are happening digitally. Please check the CAA website and Facebook, and look for updates and information via email.

You can find a daily schedule for the next week in a Google Doc which is being updated regularly at this link:
New Kabbalat Shabbat Time
This week: 3:21p
Beginning this week, our Friday afternoon Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat service will be exactly 60 minutes before candle lighting, on Zoom:

8 Jan – 3:21p; 15 Jan – 3:29p; 22 Jan – 3:38p; 29 Jan – 3:47p
School Information
Click here to register your child.
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.

Tu Bishvat whole school program at 4:30pm on Zoom
with Zipporah Harris on Thursday, January 28.

Rise's Kitchen
 Let's Get Rolling!
The first session of Rise's Kitchen, Rugelach-sweet and savory-, which was held last Sunday was a success and a lot of fun. Many of those who gathered virtually prepared their rugelach dough ahead of time and baked along with Rise'. Another cooking class will be scheduled for February. The date and recipe choice will be announced soon. It is not necessary to prepare the featured recipe along with the class, Everyone is welcome.

Andy and Molly Gavens
Adriane and Ben Hertzendorf
As You Like It Catering
A huge selection of Meals-to-Go food items is still available. Choose from side dishes, main courses and dessert: Meat, Dairy and Pareve.

Please contact Rise' at with any inquiries about food for sale.

Arrangements can be made for pick up on an individual basis.
 2021 Mah Jongg cards
It is time to order your 2021 Mah Jongg cards! Large cards cost $10.00 and the Standard cards are $9.00. All orders must be submitted no later than January 22, 2021. Please send a check to Sara Gavens, 64 Victoria Court, Niskayuna, NY 12309, made out to CAA Women's Network. Please include with your check:
  1. Names, home and email addresses, and phone numbers for each person ordering
  2. Number of large and small cards for each person ordering
  3. Total dollar amount enclosed.
Please contact Sara at or by phone at 518-782-4652 with any questions.
Back to the Basics:
A History of Judaism Through Its Books
with visiting scholar Jeffrey Spitzer
Fourth Class: 7 January at 7:30p
PJ Library Havdalah
Next Program
16 Jan @ 5:35 pm on Zoom
New Course by Jonathan Weil starts 27 January 2021
Adult Tu Bishvat Seder
28 January 2021, 7:30p

It is Winter! By the end of January, the days will be visibly longer! The sap of the trees is beginning to rise, and the almond trees in Israel will be in bloom! The 15th of Shevat, Tu Bishvat, marks the full moon of the month of Shevat, pointing the way towards Purim and Pesach! This date is noted in Talmud to be the New Year day for fruit trees, for legal/tax reasons, but there is more to it.

Over the centuries, Jews found ways to recognize and celebrate this special mid-Winter time. A practice developed during the 1500’s in the town of Safed (Tzvat) in Palestine/Israel, to have a feast, consisting of fruits of the Land of Israel, including figs, dates, grapes, olives, pomegranates, along with almonds, pistachios, and other fruits and nuts. The mid-winter fruit feast, accompanied by white and red wine, and the study of sacred texts (spiritual wine), developed into a Seder-like celebration.

We will gather, via Zoom, on Thursday, January 28, 2021 from 7:30-9:00 PM to celebrate our seder for Tu Bishvat. The Seder will draw upon the ancient practices, and will be participatory, open to all. Participants are asked to have available suitable fruits in each of three categories, list to be provided, along with red and white wine or grape juice, along with high levels of enthusiasm. A Haggadah will be provided closer to the date, available for download, and will be screen-shared during the Seder.
Join us for
a Weekend of Song and Celebration with
Deborah Sacks Mintz
LGBTQ Rights in Israel
Sunday 10 January 10:30a
Note: the full recording of our first (8 Nov) and second (6 Dec) programs in this series are available on the Adult Education page of our website.
If you missed it, feel free to catch up before the next session.
New Prayer Book Hebrew Class Starting Soon
Life Line Screening
Life Line Screening, the nation’s leading provider of preventive health screenings, will offer affordable, non-invasive and painless health screenings at Congregation Agudat Achim on Thursday, February 18, 2021. 

A package of five screenings to identify risk for stroke, heart disease and other chronic conditions will be offered:

Carotid artery ultrasound to identify plaque buildup in the carotid arteries, a major risk factor for stroke. Abdominal aortic aneurysm ultrasound to identify presence of an enlargement in the largest blood vessel in the body. An EKG to identify the presence of atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk for stroke
Ultrasound of the lower legs to look for plaque buildup known as peripheral artery disease. Ultrasound of the shin bone to identify risk for osteoporosis.

These 5 vital screenings are offered for only $149 and take 60-90 minutes to complete. If you register today, you will receive a $10 discount.

Register by calling toll free 1-888-653-6441 or text the word "circle" to 797979.
Ongoing Events
Parashat Hashavua Class with Rabbi Spitzer                        
Next Class 12 January 2021
Rabbi Spitzer teaches a class on the weekly Torah portion on Tuesdays from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. 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.

Hebrew Classes in 2021 with Zipporah Harris                                                                  
Please become part of this group of learners! Classes 12, 19, 26 January;  2, 9, 16, 23 February;  2, 9 March, all at 6:00 PM until 7:00 PM, via Zoom.
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 meets for 10 consecutive Tuesdays via Zoom and the cost is $10 per class, payable to Zipporah. 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

CAA Healthy Living Group Meets Wednesdays at 10a on Zoom
CAA Book Club Meets on the Second Wednesday at 12p
CAA Men’s Club Torah Study Meets twice monthly on Sundays at 7:40p next meeting 3 January 2021
S: 8:30a Shacharit/Morning Minyan (joined by TI of Scranton), 7:15p Maariv/Evening Minyan
M: 7:15a Shacharit/Morning Minyan, 7:15p Maariv/Evening Minyan
T: 7:15a Shacharit/Morning Minyan, 1:30p Mincha/Afternoon Minyan, 7:15p Maariv/Evening Minyan
W: 7:30a Shacharit/Morning Minyan (joining TI of Scranton at their minyan link, password 1921), 7:15p Maariv/Evening Minyan
Th: 7:15a Shacharit/Morning Minyan, 7:15p Maariv/Evening Minyan (Note: on Thursday 29 October, minyan will be at 6:40p to accommodate the 7:00p adult ed program)
F: 7:15a Shacharit/Morning Minyan, Mincha/Afternoon Minyan and Kabbalat Shabbat will take place 60 minutes before candle lighting (this week 3:22p)

Shabbat Morning Services will be live-streamed beginning at 9:45am here

Rabbi Spitzer is also available for individual prayers for healing with congregants. Make an appointment: 

Siddur Supplement
Many congregants have noted that some of our regular prayers are not easily accessible now that we are using the big/full Siddur Sim Shalom (which has both the Shabbat and Weekday prayer services) in our own homes, rather than the “Slim Shalom” (which includes only the Shabbat/Festival prayers) in the sanctuary. Rabbi Spitzer has made the following four prayers accessible (click on the links below and feel free to print for your use at home):
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.
Every few weeks, CAA joins together for Havdalah and Hangout. While we do Havdalah every week, we are moving to a rotation of age-cohort based Havdalah programs. This week will be a Religious School Havdalah (community invited) at 5:20p.
The next few Havdalah and Hangout programs will be:
2 January @ 5:15p
30 January @ 5:50p
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]  []