Congregation Agudat Achim
Weekly Announcements
22 October 2020 - 4 Heshvan 5781
Parashat Noah
Bat Mitzvah Celebration of Madeline Kahn Ehrlich
Rabbi Rafi Spitzer -- President Jackie Rowen
Words from our Rabbi
The Shulchan Aruch codifies a Talmudic dictum that a person should read the Torah portion twice in Hebrew and once in translation during the week. My personal favorite way to do this Mitzvah is to each day read one aliya of the seven we read on Shabbat through twice, and read some commentary. Since this weekly newsletter comes out on Thursday (the fifth day of the week), I am going to try, each week this year, to comment on something in the fifth aliya.
The fifth aliya of Parashat Noah is Genesis 9:8-17, and contains the climax of the story of the flood: the appearance of the rainbow, and God’s promise never again to destroy the earth by means of a flood. In verse 9:8, God speaks to Noah and to his sons, which is surprising, because up until this point, God speaks only to Noah. Why at this point does God speak to his sons? The midrash (Bereishit Rabbah) explains that all the animals left the ark 2 by 2, each animal with its partner, and God asked Noah to likewise leave with his wife. Yet Noah leaves the ark with his sons. Rabbi Judah thinks that God speaks to Noah’s sons as a way of punishing Noah for not following the command to leave the ark with his wife. But Rabbi Nehemiah thinks that Noah “added to God’s command and acted in holiness” by leaving the ark with his sons, and therefore he and his sons merited hearing God’s voice. Perhaps Noah and his wife, who have been through a terrible trauma together, should go to some couple’s counseling. The Rabbis felt that each detail in the Torah, every “jot and tittle” was meaningful, was “grist for the midrashic mill,” was able to give us new connections and reflections. Why do you think God speaks to Noah’s sons?
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Spitzer
A Message from the Adult Education Committee Co-chairs
The Adult Education Committee has been offering an expanded group of programs this year, partly in response to the Corona virus lockdown, and we want to encourage you to take advantage of them. Many of the programs continue to be available online on our Facebook page or our website. Among recent highlights have been the fall lecture series, “The American Jewish Experience: Zion in America,” with Professor Stephen Berk. These lectures have been attracting an audience of about 100 attendees from within and outside the congregation. We have recently had an online discussion with Joseph Gitler, the founder of Leket Israel Foundation, about the effect of the pandemic on hunger in Israel. Rabbi Spitzer’s weekly Tuesday Torah study continues to have a large, interested audience, and we welcome you to join those discussions. This summer we offered an opportunity to learn musar, a discipline of self-improvement using Jewish texts, and in the coming months we would like to expand this and other spiritual offerings, including Jewish meditation, singing niggunim (Jewish wordless melodies), and other ways of opening our hearts.
We are particularly excited this year to be offering a new series of programs under the heading Judaism: Back to the Basics. The first of these, a three-class course titled “Living a Jewish Life,” taught by Rabbi Spitzer, will begin early next month. Other programs under development in this category are, “How to D’rash,” “How to Lead Ma’ariv,” and a regular Learners’ Minyan, where you can ask questions. Keep an eye on the Weekly Announcements to hear more about these offerings.
On October 29, in coordination with the Sadie Schneider Rosh Hodesh Learning Group chaired by Mishka Luft, we will be having the first of three important classes on Race and Racism in the Jewish Community led by Rabbi Sandra Lawson of Elon University. Rabbi Lawson brings a Black and queer perspective to her subject, and on November 7 she and Rabbi Spitzer will hold an open dialogue about becoming Antiracist.
We will also be having a three-part conversation “Israel: a Jewish and Democratic State,” designed specifically for our community’s interests and co-hosted by Masorti Israel. In addition to an overview of the issues, these discussions will include an exploration of the Western Wall as a Case Study in Jewish Pluralism, and LGBTQ rights in a Jewish State. We will have an opportunity to meet activists in each of these areas.
Please take a few minutes each week to look over the Adult Ed offerings in the Weekly Announcements for programs that would interest you. And let us know if we are meeting your needs – we are happy to work congregants who have ideas for programs that enhance our engagement with Judaism.
Gary Reich and Rob Fox 
With Our Members
Birthdays: Joan Adelson, Madeline Ehrlich, Helen Harrison, Joshua Kaufman, Norman Sondheimer, Eugene Brusilovsky, Samantha Peck, Asher Woods, Kathy Englebardt, Hillary Fink

Anniversaries: Roberta and Don Steiner, Rebecca Landsberg and Ross Garmil, Mindy and Anthony Sorbo, Sharon and Howard Wohl
Mazel Tov to Madeline Kahn Ehrlich on celebrating becoming Bat Mitzvah and on her birthday 24 October 2020. Our congratulations go to her and to her whole family!
Yahrzeits: Sara Ritterband, Irving Strossberg, Jon Martin, Edward Shapiro, David Simon, Dorothy Bell, Irving Hertzendorf, Herbert Luft, Juliet Rubinstein, Bertica Shulman Cramer, Lazarus Goodheim, Blanche Moses
We have learned with great sorrow of the passing of Pauline Hollander, mother and mother-in-law of Jeffrey and Barbara Hollander on 15 October 2020. Our condolences go out to the Hollander Family.
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 on Shabbat 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: Steve Schmidt, Howie Mittelman, Murray Jaros
Daveners/Service Leaders: Dan Mayer, Elianna Moses
Other Service Participants: Kati Illouz, Aaron Besser, Jackie Rowen, Mark Handelman, Rachael Besser, Kaitlin Spektor, Susan Sharfstein
Service Coordinator/Gabbai: Alexandra Schmidt
COVID-19 Compliance Guarantor: Susan Sharfstein
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:
Dr. Berk Lecture Series
Final Installment Tonight
Fall Lecture Series with Dr. Stephen Berk
Fifth Lecture TONIGHT 15 October @ 7:30p
The American Jewish Experience: Zion In America
  • 17 Sep -- From Iberia to America:
They met with George Washington, fought in the American Revolution and began to create a Jewish community. They came for freedom and helped build a new country.
  • 24 Sep -- The Germans Are Coming:
Developments in Central Europe motivated tens of thousands of Jews to come to the United States where they revitalized a very small Jewish community.
  • 1 Oct -- The Russians Are Coming:
A Russian word enters the English language. The word is “pogrom.“ Pogrom became synonymous with attacks on Jews. In 1881-1882, a wave of pogroms swept over Russia, and 1,500,000 Jews came to the United States. They changed the course of American Jewish history.
  • 8 Oct -- The Roaring Twenties and Dismal Thirties:
An interwar period that had an enormous influence on American Jewish life. A Jewish infatuation with an American president failed to yield a positive result.
  • 15 Oct -- Golden Age for American Jews Part I:
The post-World War II period ushered in an unprecedented time in Jewish history. The barriers came down, and Jews became part of the American mainstream.
  • 22 Oct -- Golden Age for American Jews Part II:
If life is so good, then why are we so worried? Assimilation and the unexpected rise of anti-Semitism cast a shadow over a polarized Jewish community.
PJ Library Havdalah
This Saturday Night!
Introducing Niggun Saloon!
Beginning this Friday!
Join Rabbi Spitzer for an opportunity to sing wordless melodies together for 45 minutes. This is a spiritual exercise, rather than an intellectual one.
We will learn new melodies as we go.
Fridays 23 and 30 Oct; 6 and 13 Nov.
Upcoming Adult Education Programs
Free and Open to the Community
Please Register Now
and share widely!
Thurs 29 October 7:00p:
First of Three Conversations about Racism with Rabbi Sandra Lawson
Sunday 8 November 10:30a:
First of Three Conversations about Democracy and Religion in Israel
Tot Shabbat Next Friday
Pre-Election Vigil
28 October
No matter our politics, we all know this year's presidential election has been perhaps the most divisive in our lifetimes. Fears of violence and disputed results abound and sometimes, even the closest of families and communities have been fractured by political differences. That's why Schenectady Clergy Against Hate are calling all members of our local faith communities, as well as all those of goodwill, to join us for a multi-faith and non-partisan evening of lamenting divisions, praying for nation and sharing word of hope. All interested can either join us "in the room" on Zoom or watch on Facebook at
Meals To Go
Thank you to our congregation and the Capital District community for their ongoing support of our successful Meals to Go program. Only a limited amount of inventory remains but it is not too late to purchase for the holidays or anytime. 
To order, please contact Rise' Routenberg at

Items for Sale:
Latkes- 18 for $9-pareve
Indonesian Tofu-pareve (2-3 portions)
Falafel $8 for 24 balls-pareve
Meatballs in Tomato Sauce-$15 (3 portions)
Chicken Breast with Artichokes, Sundried tomatoes and Olives-(2-3) portions
Maple Soy Salmon with Rice (2-3 portions)- pareve-$12
Herb Roasted Salmon with Rice (2-3 portions)-pareve- $12
G-F Chocolate Chip Cookies-(approx 20), pareve, $10
Chocolate-Dipped Truffles-pareve, $10-1 pound
Holiday Honey Cake-pareve, $10
Upcoming Events
Learning Together

Parashat Hashavua Class with Rabbi Spitzer                        
Next Class 27 October
Rabbi Spitzer teaches a class on the weekly Torah portion on Tuesdays from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. on Zoom. The link is here and on the CAA Online Programming Google Doc. If you are interested in exploring the weekly Parashah please attend. All are welcome. Covenant by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg. Rabbi Spitzer invites you to call or email with your comments or thoughts.

Hebrew Classes with Zipporah Harris                                                                  
Next Class 27 October
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 resume Oct. 20, 27; Nov. 3, 10, 17, 24; Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22. If you are interested in joining, write to Zipporah at

Community Reflections with Rabbi Sandra Lawson                                                
Thursday 29 October 7:00p
Rabbi Sandra Lawson will be joining CAA for a series of three conversations about race and racism in the Jewish community and beyond. In the first, Rabbi Lawson sets the stage for our community reflections with an interactive program and sharing parts of her personal story. The second session will build on the first, as Rabbi Lawson invites Rabbi Spitzer to join her in an open dialog about confronting racism within ourselves—this session will also include a musical Havdalah service. Finally, the third session will be a guided text study on Creating an Inclusive Judaism for the Future. Rabbi Lawson is a chaplain at Elan University and views the world through a Black and queer lens—her voice is an important one for us to engage with deeply.

Back to the Basics: Learners Service with Rabbi Spitzer       
Shabbat 31 October 8:45a
Join by livestream or in-person in the sanctuary to learn about the structure, themes, Hebrew, and melodies of our morning service. We are hoping to offer this program once a month before our main service at 9:45a. Come with questions, thoughts and curiosity. For learners at all levels, including partners and community members of other faiths or of no faith.

Back to the Basics: Living a Jewish  Life
Thursday 5 November 7:30p
Some of us received Jewish educations with gaps. Do you keep kosher because your parents did but don’t really understand parve? Who is responsible to observe Shabbat? What does Judaism say about how to allocate tzedakah funds? Whatever your gaps are, whatever your questions are, our adult education theme this year of “Back to the Basics” is for you! Rabbi’s first 3-session class on this theme, “Living a Jewish Life,” (5, 12 & 19 Nov) will cover Shabbat, Kashrut, and Tzedakah. Open to learners at all levels, including partners and community members of other faiths or of no faith. Come to one or all classes!

Conversations about Democracy and Religion in Israel 
Sunday 8 November 10:30a
CAA is partnering with the Conservative/Masorti Movement in Israel to bring a series of three explorations of issues of Religion and State in Israel. The first session, about the politics of governing a democratic Jewish state, will be a discussion with Dr. Yizhar Hess, the CEO of the Masorti Movement in Israel. We will also have an opportunity to dive into the issues around the Kotel and around the queer/LGBTQ community in Israel. All three of these programs are being sponsored by the CAA Education Endowment.

Niggun Saloon                                                                                                                     
Friday 23 October 11:30a
Beginning this Friday, join Rabbi Spitzer for an opportunity to sing wordless melodies together for 45 minutes. This is a spiritual exercise, rather than an intellectual one. We will learn new melodies as we go. Fridays 23 and 30 Oct; 6 and 13 Nov.

CAA Healthy Living Group Meets Wednesdays at 10a on Zoom
CAA Book Club Meets on the Second Wednesday at 12p Current book: by Nathan Englander Next meeting 11 November
CAA Men’s Club Torah Study Meets Monthly on Sundays at 7:40p
Next Meeting 8 November
Praying Together
Minyan Schedule (updated and approved by ritual committee)

S: 8:30a Shacharit/Morning Minyan, 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: 7:15a Shacharit/Morning Minyan, 7:15p Maariv/Evening Minyan
Th: 7:15a Shacharit/Morning Minyan, 7:00p Maariv/Evening Minyan NOTE the earlier time of our Thursday Maariv Minyan to accommodate the Dr. Berk Lecture Series
F: 7:15a Shacharit/Morning Minyan, variable Mincha/Afternoon Minyan and Kabbalat Shabbat

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.
Joining Together
Every few weeks, CAA joins together for Havdalah and Hanging out. While we do Havdalah every week, we are moving to a rotation of age-cohort based Havdalah programs. This week will be a PJ Library Pajama Havdalah.
The next few Havdalah and Hangout programs will be:
7 November @ 7:00p (+ Program with Rabbi Lawson)
5 December @ 5:05p
2 January @ 5:15p
30 January @ 5:50p
In the Community
Shalom Hartman Institute: Judaism, Citizenship, and Democracy
The stakes for democracy are higher than ever, with our communities divided and tense.
For two weeks leading up to the U.S. elections, as we kick-off our Hartman@Home fall programming, Hartman scholars will bring calm and reason — along with passion and insight — to the key civic issues facing the Jewish community today.
Join us as we bring a Jewish lens to the civic obligations, issues, and leadership needed in this moment of global pandemic and unprecedented polarization.
From October 19-30, 2020 add Jewish learning to your election fervor by joining experts on religion and law, politics and morality, and the hermeneutics of Jewish political thought. You’ll even hear perspectives on how Israelis are viewing this U.S. election season.
A New Season of Book Talks That Will Inform and Inspire You
What are the new books of Jewish interest that will matter most to you? What worlds and challenges are Jewish authors imagining? What new scholarship is changing the ways we understand Jewish history, identity, and life? I hope you’ll join The Library of JTS—one of the world’s premier centers of the Jewish Book—to discover new Jewish writing that will inform and inspire you, through conversations with authors sharing their passions, discoveries, and ideas.
Hadar: Every Choice Matters
Life under a global pandemic has brought into focus the fundamental role that risk plays in our lives. Every decision, from where we grocery shop to how often we see our families, carries weight - the weight of knowing that our actions carry some degree of risk to ourselves, those around us, and beyond. What sources of wisdom can help orient us while we navigate choices that feel daunting and impossible?
This series will ground us in two centers: 1) The anchor of our vast tradition of Torah and 2) the anchor of people who are “embodied experts” in risk as a consequence of their daily work and lives. Through a generative havruta, we will reach for insight on how to navigate personal, communal, and structural questions of risk. By learning with people who consciously experience the impact of risk as part of the regular rhythm of their days, we will aim to gain our bearings to more readily step into the mode of living with risk.
Session 1: Dignity and Risk with Jess Belasco and Rabbi Jonathan Malamy
Monday, October 19; 8:00 PM ET
Session 2: We Are Born Of Risk with Dr. Chavi Karkowsky
Monday, October 26; 8:00 PM ET
Session 3: Zooming Out, Zooming In: Risk, Values, and Hard Choices with Dr. David Slusky
Monday, November 2; 8:00 PM ET
Camp Ramah New England Virtual Tours
To learn more about our incredible overnight camp program, please sign up for an online tour of our facilities! You can connect live via Zoom with Josh Edelglass, Assistant Director of Camp Ramah New England. Josh will guide you through a multimedia presentation, with videos and 360-degree panoramic photos, in which we’ll take you on a virtual tour of our campgrounds, and he’ll answer all of your questions about our overnight camp experience. Please contact Josh to make a reservation. Visit our website:
You can also watch our awesome short promotional video: and take a virtual tour of our camp facilities: on our website
JFS is offering many supportive programs and help at this time. They also seek volunteers to drive seniors, and to deliver groceries and meals.  Click here for more information. JFS has three virtual groups: Parenting During COVID, Activities for Emotional Well-being, and Coming Up for AIR: A Discussion Groups for seniors. Dates and registration information is here
Click here for more information: 

Schenectady Clergy Against Hate Election Prayer Vigil                                      
 Wednesday 28 October 7:00p
Gosh, no matter our politics, we all know this year's presidential election has been perhaps the most divisive in our lifetimes. Fears of violence and disputed results abound and sometimes, even the closest of families and communities have been fractured by political differences. That's why Schenectady Clergy Against Hate are calling all members of our local faith communities, as well as all those of goodwill, to join us for a multi-faith and non-partisan evening of lamenting divisions, praying for our nation and sharing words of hope. All interested can either join us "in the room" on Zoom or watch on Facebook at 

Jewish World Needs Our Help
The Jewish World has been a part of our community for 54 years, and they're raising money on this Go Fund Me site:
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]  []