Congregation Agudat Achim
Weekly Announcements
15 October 2020 - 27 Tishrei 5781
Parashat Bereishit
Rabbi Rafi Spitzer -- President Jackie Rowen
Words from our Rabbi
Yosef Karo, in the foundational code of Jewish law, the Shulchan Aruch, codifies a Talmudic dictum that a person should read the Torah portion twice in Hebrew and once in translation (or with commentary) during the week: "Even though each person hears the Torah reading each week in the public reading, we are obligated to read each parasha twice in the Hebrew and once in the Aramaic targum/translation... Rashi's commentary shares the status of Targum, and those who fear Heaven will read the parashah with both Rashi's commentary and the targum." While there are many ways to do this mitzva, my personal favorite is this: the Torah portion is divided into seven aliyot, and there are seven days of the week, so each day of the week you can read one aliya 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 Bereishit is Genesis 4:19-22, and it gives a brief insight into the lesser known Biblical character of Lemekh, who was, according to the Midrash, the person who ultimately killed his great (x4) grandfather Cain. The origins of animal husbandry, music (tangentially, it is fascinating that the Torah includes music in this list!), and metalworking (for military use) are all traced to the children of Lemekh by his two wives, Adah and Tzilah. Lemekh also had a daughter, Naama, but all the Torah gives us is her name. Luckily, the midrash fills in some information about her. Genesis Rabbah teaches: “’And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Na’amah.’ Rabbi Abba bar Kahana said: Na’amah was Noah’s wife. Why was she called Na’amah? Because all of her deeds were pleasant (ne’imim).” So, you thought Noah’s wife was just called Mrs. Noah—that she doesn’t have a name of her own? —turns out the midrash is ahead of you! Noah married Na’ama, the daughter of Lemekh.
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. The Torah mentions Na’ama, but gives us no details about her life.
What midrash, what story, would you tell about Na’ama? What do you imagine her life was like? Her brothers created metalworking, music, and animal husbandry—what do you think she invented?
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Spitzer
Message from the CAA President
This past Sunday was Simchat Torah, and it is traditional to honor two people in our congregation with the aliyot for last and first readings of the Torah. This year, our Kallat Torah was Karen Pearlman and our Hattan Breisheet was Allan Pearlman. Karen and Allan are longtime members who have both individually contributed many hours of service to our community. Karen has been the Lunch Bunch coordinator, co-chaired the Faith-based nursing program, a Reyut volunteer, a long-time catering and Carrot Festival volunteer. Allan has served on the Executive Committee and cemetery, has been a catering and Carrot Festival volunteer, worked in the Biblical Garden, has done many repair jobs throughout the building and most recently has been cleaning headstones at cemetery. We are very lucky to have such dedicated volunteers in our community and Sunday's Simchat Torah service was a special way to honor them. Thank you Karen and Allan!
Jackie Rowen
With Our Members
Birthdays: : Richard Cohen, Eric Engelmyer, Danielle Palatsky, Cheryl Ratner, Nancy Kudan, Ezraela Ratner-Trachtenberg, Steven Jarrett, Ellen Wertieb

Anniversaries: Gilah and Eric Moses
Yahrzeits: : Frieda Rosner, Murray Gelwarg, Bernie Kobran, Frances Chapman, Harry Fink, Florence Greenberg, Virginia Hyndman, Ichiel Kraicer, Rivka Magarik, Mark Nevins, Lazar Stamborsky, Cecile Fink Vigo, Hannah Berkov, Eli Rudnick, Sarah Feldman, A. Frances Fine, Irene Heskes, Marilyn Saltzman,
Herman Elson, Claire Jarrett, Joe Wallach
Joan Brown reports that 2 years ago Leo Brown and his partner Alana were selected to be contestants on the CBS reality show Amazing Race - we signed NDAs so we couldn't talk about it, that was tough! The show airs on Wednesday nights at 9:00 p.m. Check it out for a little diversion in these times! Read all about them here at this link.
Misheberach List Refresh

It is that time of year again where we are removing all the names from our Misheberach List, and are asking people to resubmit the names of those for whom you are praying. 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. Throughout the year, the best way to add someone to the list is to fill out the form above, which can also be accessed on our website and Facebook page. Rabbi Spitzer and Chris both check the form every week before Shabbat and make sure to prepare a list for our Shabbat prayers that includes all the names submitted.
Thank You
We’ve come through a holiday season like no other, and we would not have been able to do so were it not for a host of amazing volunteers and lay leaders. Thank you to everyone who contributed in any way to the success of our programs from Rosh Hashanah through Simchat Torah. Yashar koach!
Torah and Haftara Readers: Rachel Schmidt, Aryeh Korevaar, Orit Shiang, Rina Moses, Eliana Moses, Steve Schmidt, Alexandra Schmidt, Joe Shiang, Gilah Moses, Art Friedson, Murray Jaros, Howie Mittleman, Dan Mayer, Rachael Besser
Daveners/Service Leaders: Howie Axelrod, Art Friedson, Alexandra Schmidt, Orit Shiang, Howie Mittleman, Dan Mayer
Shofar Blowers: Tracy Delman, Howie Mittleman, Joe Shiang
Some Other Service Participants (not a complete list): Rob Fox, Murray Jaros, Neal Shapiro, Jackie Rowen, Barbara and Alan Miller, Matt Frank, David Stashower, Kati Illouz, Adrienne Klein, Brian Mooney, Kahn-Ehrlich Family, Susan Sharfstein, Aaron Gruenberg and Rosalie Fadem, Eric Moses, Christi Hart, Jeff and Eileen Handelman, Roberta Steiner
Junior Congregation Leaders, Sukkah Builders and Decorators, Service Coordinators, Ushers, COVID-19 Compliance/Safety Guarantors, Board Members, Ritual Committee Members, 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.”
Religious School Continues
Grades 3-7 continue tonight at 4:15 p.m. Links to the teachers individual classrooms are being sent to the email address you provided for your child.
Grades PreK - 7 continue on Sunday.
Click here for a schedule of classes for the Elementary Grades.
Click here for a calendar for the school year.
Please review our High School offerings and email Jack with the classes your child wants to take.
High School Programs

Backstage Pass with Rabbi Spitzer
This “backstage” program invites our high schoolers to attend certain programs put on by the CAA Adult Education Committee, as well as similar programs of partner organizations. After each of these programs, Rabbi Spitzer will convene an opportunity for the high schoolers to meet with him (and sometimes with guest educators) to discuss the program and the issues raised by the speaker.
The first such program is Sunday 18 October 2020 at 3:00pm: A Conversation with Joseph Gitler, the founder of Leket Israel (Register here for this program). Our “backstage” debrief of the program will follow at 7:30pm (register here for the “backstage pass”). Other programs will be announced through the school, through USY, and in our CAA Weekly Announcements. This class is open to all CAA youth in 8th through 12th grades regardless of formal registration in the religious school, and you are invited to treat each “backstage” opportunity as a separate entity—come to one, or come to all.

Volunteering at Regional Food Bank
As part of our efforts to have in person programming for our teens and to meet critical needs in our community, USY (8th -12th graders) will be volunteering at the Regional Food Bank one Sunday a month this year from 10:30 -noon. Our first date will be Sunday, October 25th. Due to social distancing requirements, we are limited to groups of 10 volunteers. The Regional Food Bank is located at 965 Albany Shaker Road in Latham. Volunteers must bring their own face masks. Gloves and hand sanitizer are provided, and social distancing will be observed. Contact Susan Sharfstein at 518-810-2249 or email at for more information. 

Jewish Cooking-taught by Rise' Routenberg
Sundays from 11:00am -Noon
An interactive zoom program. Recipes, selected for each week's session, are prepared from scratch together. Choices include appetizers, side dishes, main courses and desserts. This class might require shopping for a small amount of groceries each week. Sundays from 11:00am -Noon classes by zoom. 

Hot Topics with Kira Gold
Wednesdays from 4:30pm - 5:30pm.
Hot Topics is a course where we will have in-depth thought processes and conversations. In high school, you are deciding for yourself what you believe is “right” and “wrong”, but Jews have been asking themselves similar questions for thousands of years! This course is designed to bring our high schoolers into the conversation. Wednesdays from 4:30pm - 5:30pm. Half hour class and half hour hangout with discussions on what might be on the students minds.

Once a Month Specials with Ely Wohl
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. 
Dates: November 15: Judaism and Marvel Superheros
December 13: Jews and the roots of comedy

The persona of Hitler:
In this class we will tackle the factors that willed Hitler to come to power. One topic of exploration would be the government in Germany prior to his rule specifically while he was serving in the armed forces. Another would be his demeanor and the language he used in his speeches during his early years as well as the people he surrounded himself with. The last would be a discussion of his personality especially his artistic nature and according to modern psychology would he be classified as a psychopath, sociopath or neither. 

Judaism and Star Wars:
In this class we will explore the implications of Judaism in the Star Wars Films, everything from the actual films to the creators and actors. One of the topics will be the writing on Vader’s armor, are they Hebrew letter? If yes, what do the mean? Furthermore, were the high-ranking Stormtroopers uniforms based off of Nazi uniforms from WWII? Why are there so many similarities between Yoda quotes and those of the Jewish sages? A discussion on is Princess Leia a Disney princess and the implications that has on Jewish culture and the children/adults who grew up with these movies. Lastly a discussion of the spiritual undertones of the Force, the Dark Side, Jedi Knights and Lightsabers.

Judaism and Superheroes:
This class will be an exploration in to the jews that show up in Comic/superhero culture. We will look into the actual characters including Magneto, SabraMan , Batwoman, Scarlet Witch ,Masada and Kitty Pryde. We will also investigate the beginnings of Captain America and how the comic began around the themes of fighting Nazis. Lastly, we will discuss the Jewish creators (there are many) and how their Jewish values influenced their creations. Among this we will also look into the domination of Jewish creators in the early years of comic books.
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
Fifth 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.
Tot Shabbat Tomorrow!
PJ Library Havdalah
Upcoming Adult Education Programs
Free and Open to the Community
Please Register Now
and share widely!
This Sunday 18 Oct 3:00p: Conversation with Leket Israel founder Joseph Gitler
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
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 20 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. If you missed Rabbi Spitzer’s Tuesday Parashat Hashavua class this past week (13 Oct), the teaching we learned together can be found here: Creation by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg. Rabbi Spitzer invites you to call or email with your comments or thoughts.

Save the Dates for Rabbi's 3-Session Mini-Classes this Year
Rabbi Spitzer will be teaching three 3-session mini-courses over the course of the year. Topics are still TBD, but this is what we are thinking:
  • Back to the Basics: Living a Jewish Life -- 5, 12, and 19 November
  • Back to the Basics: Jewish Life-cycle -- 4, 11, and 18 March
  • Back to the Basics: Holy Times -- 3, 10, and 17 June

CAA Healthy Living Group Meets Wednesdays at 10a on Zoom
CAA Book Club Meets Monthly
CAA Men’s Club Torah Study Meets Monthly on Sundays at 7:40p Next Meeting 18 October
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. This week, Havdalah will be at 6:55p. While we do Havdalah every week, we are moving to a rotation of age-cohort based Havdalah programs.
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 your extended absence, you permit me
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report
failure in my assignment, principally
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come
so often here, while other regions get
twelve weeks of summer. All this
belongs to you: on the other hand,
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of
that term. You who do not discriminate
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible
for these vines.
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.
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: 

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]  []