Congregation Agudat Achim
Weekly Announcements
28 January 2021 - 13 Shevat 5781
Parashat  Beshalach 
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.
Parashat Beshalakh could be called "the portion of miracles" as it includes the miraculous crossing of the Reed Sea, the miraculous transformation of bitter waters to potable waters, the miraculous manna from heaven, miraculous quail from heaven, miraculous water from a rock, and the miraculous defeat of the Amalekite army. Not to mention the Presence of God what traveled with them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Each time there was a miracle, the people were pacified, and each time, a few days later, they were complaining again, muttering against Moshe and Aharon, unable to feel gratitude. As in our fifth aliya, where they say “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots, when we ate our fill of bread! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to starve this whole congregation to death.” The fifth aliya closes with the words וְהִנֵּה֙ כְּב֣וֹד יְהוָ֔ה נִרְאָ֖ה בֶּעָנָֽן and there, in a cloud, appeared the Presence of the LORD. The Midrash Lekach Tov points out that God's Presence appeared in this moment to protect Moshe and Aharon from the violence of the complaining people-- and that God's Presence does this again explicitly in Numbers 14:10-- so the Midrash claims that any time the people complained against Moshe, God's tangible Presence was felt. 
Questions for discussion:
• In what ways do you feel God's Presence in your life? 
• What is miraculous/a miracle? 
• What is the connection between Gratitude and Presence? 
• This week, which character in the story do you empathize with most: do you feel more like the Israelites, more like Moshe/Aharon, or more like God?

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Spitzer
A Message from our Vice President of Programming

Those of you who follow the announcements closely will know that we've welcomed an unusually large number of new babies into the broader community in the last few weeks. It's appropriate that, as the weekly portion tells the story of the birth of the Jewish nation in the Exodus, we should also be celebrating the births of those who may help carry that nation forward into its next generation. Congratulations to all the new mothers, fathers, grandparents, great-grandparents, and other relatives; if you know of someone who has a new arrival, please wish them a Mazal Tov from our community, and lend them a hand whenever you can; being a new parent is a lot of work!

Steve Schmidt
Birthdays:Julianna Tombank, Marion Hoorwitz, Avi Centonze, Kristina Centonze, Sally Moise, Celia Diamond, Ron Bucinell, Jason Goldner, Richard Toll, Millie Ellenbogen

Anniversaries: None this week
Yahrzeits: Linda Nachinoff, Hendel Jaroszewski, Alvin Kossoff, Louis Ratner, Meyer (Itsy) Tanenbaum, Maxwell Ashkenas, Kathryn Bidwell, Norman Cohen, Michael Krajcer, Ethel Goldstein, Hertha Happ, Rose Kerman, Edward Segall, Anna Rosenthal, Saul Smollik, Samuel Anikstein
Condolences to Barby Harris and Elissa Freedman on the passing of their mutual cousin, Ben Wallach.
Thank You
Thank you to the individuals who participated in this week's Shabbat services.
Yashar koach!
Torah and Haftara Readers: Howie Mittleman, Steve Schmidt
Daveners/Service Leaders: Rabbi Spitzer, Rachel Schmidt, Elianna Moses
Other Service Participants: Rachael Besser, Barby Harris, Rabbi Spitzer, Susan Sharfstein, Elianna Moses, Joe Shiang, Dan Mayer, Steve Schmidt
Service Coordinator/Gabbai: Joe Shiang
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: 3:40p
Beginning this week, our Friday afternoon Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat service will be exactly 60 minutes before candle lighting, on Zoom:

29 Jan – 3:40p
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
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.

Please take our survey on what solo classes
you might like from Ely Wohl.
Open to grades 6-12

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

Please download the source sheet and review before the program
This weeks High School Cooking Class with Rise'
Tu Bishvat Brunch

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.
More Adult Education Offerings
Life Line Screening
There is a simple, convenient way for you to get preventive health screenings and learn your risk for stroke, heart disease and other chronic conditions. 

These painless screenings go beyond your regular checkup to identify dangerous plaque buildup or blockage, a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease. The screenings are accurate, affordable and will give you valuable information about your health that you can share with your doctor. 

We are pleased to host Life Line Screening, who will be on site on Thursday, February 18, 2021 at Congregation Agudat Achim to conduct these valuable screenings. 
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..

PJ Library Havdalah
Next Program
13 Feb @ 6:10 pm on Zoom
Ongoing Events
Parashat Hashavua Class with Rabbi Spitzer                        
Next Class 2 February 2021
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. If you missed this week's class (26 January) on Parashat BeShallach, the teaching we learned together can be found here. 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  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 Maximizing Optimal Health and Resilience -Dr. Sheryl Spitzer-Resnick. Wednesday 17 February 10:00a EST
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

Schenectady Police Department's Reform
and Reinvention Collaborative Survey

As part of our local community's response to the protests against racial injustice this summer, a number of Schenectady Clergy Against Hate leaders have participated in the Schenectady Police Department's Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. This group of community leaders, working in collaboration with local police and government officials, have been tasked to conduct a comprehensive review of how racial injustice and disparities in treatment can be addressed in our local criminal justice system. As part of that process, the general public has been encouraged to participate in a roughly ten minute survey by Monday, February 15, 2021 that can be found here: Please lift up your voice as part of the effort of building just, safe and inclusive Schenectady!
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]  []