Congregation Agudat Achim
Weekly Announcements
5 November 2020 - 18 Heshvan 5781
Parashat Vayera
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 Vayera is Genesis 21:5-21. Sarah, after a lifetime (90 years!) of struggling with infertility, gives birth to a son, and says צְחֹ֕ק עָ֥שָׂה לִ֖י אֱלֹהִ֑ים כָּל־הַשֹּׁמֵ֖עַ יִֽצְחַק־לִֽי. “God has brought me laughter; everyone who hears will laugh with me (JPS).” Or perhaps it should be rendered “God has made laughter for me, all who hear of it will laugh for me (Fox).” Or maybe: “God hath made me into a laughing-stock, all that hear will laugh at me (Hirsch).” Every translation is an interpretation, but “laugh with me” and “laugh at me” are very different!
Rashi explains “laugh with” as shared joy for when Sarah’s infertility abated, so did the infertility of every woman in the world who wanted a child: “יצחק לי means will rejoice on my account. The Midrashic statement is (Genesis Rabbah 53:8): Many barren women were remembered together with her, many sick were healed in that day, many prayers were answered with hers and there was great rejoicing in the world.” However, every other case of that root refers to derisive laughter, rather than joyous laughter—and indeed, just a few verses later, in our 5th aliya, Sarah is troubled that Yishmael is “metzahek/ playing, making fun of, teasing” Yitzchak. Yitzchak, whose name means laughter—the kind of uncontrollable laughter that bubbles up when you see/hear something absurd—is associated deeply with the ambiguity of emotional responses to both trauma and joy. And unlike his father and mother, Abraham and Sarah, whose names are changed from Abram and Sarai, and his son, Yaakov, whose name becomes Yisrael, Yitzchak’s name never changes. He is bound to this laughter, to the discomfort and the joy. 
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Spitzer
A Message from the President
So, today, as I write this, it is Election Day. Probably one of the most important and controversial elections that we can remember. So much is at stake, so many people are scared, angry, hurt. Friendships have fallen apart; families have become divided. No one knows what's going to happen after today, but we do know that the results, whatever they are, could further divide our country. But, by the time you all read this, we should know the results, so I'd just like to give a simple reminder...Our community needs to stand together and support each other no matter who you voted for.
Jackie Rowen
With Our Members
Birthdays: Stephen Cohen, Elijah Feret, Noah Kaufman, Bill Bittner, Willhelm Bittner, Denise Naparstek, Howard Goldstein, Ed Pletman, Kira Gold, Donald Sommer, Stephen Schmidt, Eleanor Malka Spitzer
Anniversaries: Laurie and Seth Goldstein
Yahrzeits: Dorothy Klein, RobertTaylor, Chaim Naparstek, Shelly Rothfleisch-Quinn, Anna Ziffer, Alfred Engelmyer, Goldie Myers, Sol Kline, Jacob Adelman, Minnie Farb, Rebecca Pearlman, Maria Spektor
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, Jeff Shapiro, Rabbi Spitzer, Joe Shiang
Daveners/Service Leaders: Dan Mayer, Aryeh Korevaar
Other Service Participants: Jackie Rowen, Elianna Moses, Rachael Besser, Kati Illouz, Susan Sharfstein, Ken Carpenter, Roberta Steiner
Service Coordinator/Gabbai: Ken Carpenter
COVID-19 Compliance Guarantor/Shamash: 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:
Tonight! Rabbi's Class:
Living A Jewish Life
Living a Jewish Life: Shabbat, Kashrut, and Tzedakah
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!
5 Nov; 12 Nov; 19 Nov @ 7:30p
Niggun Saloon (Tomorrow)
Fridays at 11:30a
Join Rabbi Spitzer for an opportunity to sing wordless melodies together for 45 minutes. Feel free to bring this program along as you bake challah for Shabbat or do your laundry-- or set aside some time to focus on song. This is a spiritual exercise, rather than an intellectual one.
If you missed the past sessions, you can listen on our website and here: 23 October or 30 October
We will learn new melodies as we go.
Fridays 6 and 13 Nov.
New Kabbalat Shabbat Time
This week: 3:22p
Beginning this week, our Friday afternoon Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat service will be exactly 60 minutes before candle lighting, on Zoom:
6 Nov – 3:22p; 13 Nov – 3:15p; 20 Nov – 3:07p; 27 Nov – 3:05p
4 Dec – 3:03p; 11 Dec – 3:03p; 18 Dec – 3:05p; 25 Dec – 3:09p
1 Jan – 3:14p; 8 Jan – 3:21p; 15 Jan – 3:29p; 22 Jan – 3:38p; 29 Jan – 3:47p
Race and Racism in the Jewish Community
with Rabbi Sandra Lawson
Saturday night at 7:00 pm
Havdalah and Program
Pre-registration Required
Note: the full recording of our first program with Rabbi Lawson (Thursday 29 October) is available on the adult education page of our website and on YouTube. If you missed it, feel free to catch up before the second session.
Democracy and Religion
in Israel
This Sunday!
8 November 10:30a
PJ Library Havdalah
Next Program:
21 Nov @ 5:15 pm on Zoom
USY News
Our dates and times to volunteer at the regional food bank for November and December are:

Sunday November 22 1-3 pm and Sunday December 20 10:30 – noon.

You can sign up now if you want to make sure you have a spot. You can feel free to sign up for both days if you like.
The food bank has served record numbers of people since the pandemic began and needs volunteers to keep doing that.
Feel free to email or call 518-810-2249 with questions.

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.

Cooking class making Tzimmis and Bread Pudding
Coming Soon From As You Like It in the Next Few Weeks!
Hanukkah Meals-to-Go Family Dinner!! A Complete Hanukkah Meal including Brisket, Latkes and Applesauce, Pecan-Topped Sweet Potato and Squash Bake, and Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate Cake. All items except Brisket are Pareve. A Limited Quantity of these dinners will be available.
Your Choice Mix and Match Your Meal - Choose from a huge selection of new and favorite offerings for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Anytime !!
Or Buy any items you choose!

        Watch your Email for Food Sale Details!
Learner's Service
Monthly Learner's Service with Rabbi Spitzer
Next: 21 November @ 9:45a
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.
Our first Learner's Service was on Shabbat 31 October. You can access the recording of that program on YouTube and on the Adult Education page of our website.
If you have any lingering questions for Rabbi Spitzer, please send him an email, and the answers to your questions will be posted on the site on the Adult Education Blog.
Upcoming Special Events
Back to the Basics: Living a Jewish  Life
Thursday 5 November 7:30p; also 12 and 19 Nov
This class 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!

Community Reflections with Rabbi Sandra Lawson                                                
Saturday 7 November 7:00p and Sunday 13 December 10:30a
Rabbi Sandra Lawson will be joining CAA for a series of three conversations about race and racism in the Jewish community and beyond. 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.

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. All three of these programs are being sponsored by the CAA Education Endowment.

Back to the Basics: Learners Service with Rabbi Spitzer      
Shabbat 21 November 8:45a
Join by livestream or in-person in the sanctuary to learn about the structure, themes, Hebrew, and melodies of our morning service. For learners at all levels, including partners and community members of other faiths or of no faith.
Ongoing Events
Niggun Saloon                                                                                                                     
Next Session Friday 6 November 11:30a
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 at 11:30a.

Parashat Hashavua Class with Rabbi Spitzer                        
Next Class 10 November
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. If you missed Rabbi Spitzer’s Tuesday Parashat Hashavua class this past week (3 Nov), the teaching we learned together can be found on the CAA Website: “Your Arm’s Too Short to Box With God” or is it? by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg. Rabbi Spitzer invites you to call or email with your comments or thoughts.

Hebrew Classes with Zipporah Harris                                                                  
Next Class 10 November @ 6:00p
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 resume Oct. 20, 27; Nov. 3, 10, 17, 24; Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22. 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 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 Zoom Link
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 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 USY 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
CAA is a sponsor of the first Scholar Stream series, an initiative of the Rabbinical Assembly, the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. You can register for the whole series or for individual sessions, and because we joined as a sponsor congregation, all registrations are free with our special coupon code: CAAFall20 (case sensitive). Note that the registration may ask for credit card/billing info but with the coupon code entered and applied, registrants can click through without entering the information.

Hidden Histories and Untold Stories
Tuesdays at 8 PM ET / 5 PM PT
Join JTS scholars as they uncover the hidden context around biblical figures and important eras in Jewish history.
  • 11/10: Dr. David Fishman on how religious pre-Holocaust Eastern European Jewry actually was—or wasn’t
  • 11/17: Dr. Alan Cooper on why we stopped caring about Moses’s descendants
  • 12/1: Dr. Sarah Wolf on how foreign the beit midrash would feel to the early Rabbis
  • 12/8: Dr. Amy Kalmanofsky on what the Bible really had against Jezebel
Equity, Forgiveness and Intersectionality
Wednesdays at 10 PM ET / 7 PM PT
Join Ziegler faculty as they explore issues related to race, gender equality, intersectionality, and building a democracy of the future. Download the full descriptions for each Ziegler session here.
  • 11/11: Rabbi Cheryl Peretz will examine the centuries old Jewish march towards gender equality and justice
  • 11/18: Rabbi Dr. Elliot Dorff will explore the concept of communal forgiveness
  • 12/2: Rabbi Dr. Gail Labovitz on what Exodus has to teach us about intersectionality
  • 12/9: Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Cohen on building a multiracial democracy
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.
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
Sunday, November 8 at 2 pm Eastern 

Come learn how to bake babka!
We will review kneading tips and tricks plus learn 2 different methods for making delicious chocolate babka. This online, interactive workshop for families will be led by baker, Mandy Silverman, founder of Mandylicious: The Challah Guru. She is a “carbologist” with over 250 kosher unique challah bread and babka flavors! Following along with the recipe is optional, but an ingredient list will be sent with registration. 
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]  []