Congregation Agudat Achim
Weekly Announcements
13 May 2021 - 2 Sivan 5781
Parashat  Bemidbar
Rabbi Rafi Spitzer -- President Jackie Rowen
Words from our Rabbi
This teaching was inspired by The Mussar Torah Commentary: A Spiritual Path to Living a Meaningful and Ethical Life, edited by Rabbi Barry H. Block. I am grateful for these words of Torah. The Mussar movement, started by Rabbi Israel Salanter in the 19th century seeks to help Jews cultivate middot, or “inner traits” or attributes, which reside within each person in different measures, and indeed, middah also means “measure" to live more meaningful lives. 

A central middah of Parashat B'midbar is Seder, order. Of course this refers to the importance of living an orderly life, backing up our files on the computer, putting away our clean laundry, getting to synagogue on Shabbat morning on time. But in mussar teachings, seder, also means the way different parts of a whole blend together to make something greater than the sum of its parts-- this only can occur with parts being balanced, or ordered. 

Rabbi Avi Fertig teaches "The camp of Israel [described in this week's Parasha] had a clearly defined inner structure in which everyone knew their place and purpose. Each tribe, and each individual within the tribe, possessed a unique identity and unique qualities...At the same time, each individual Jew blended into the whole of Israel to be part of the purpose for which the entire Jewish nation has been called into covenant... The deep lesson from the Torah's seder is that every middah requires a careful balance. At times rigid attention to order is demanded, and at times we need the flexibility to allow for a break in that order."

This is similar to the idea I've been thinking about this week in my weight loss program called flexible restraint. Flexible restraint involves limiting your food intake while being flexible around your food choices. This is in opposition to "rigid restraint," which involves limiting your food intake and limiting your food choices. According to the scientific journal Eating Behaviors, a flexible approach is associated with greater long-term weight loss and maintenance, less psychological distress, and better psychological well-being. Rabbi Fertig's explanation of the ways in which sometimes the middah of seder, though it seems rigid, actually requires flexibility in order to preserve the greater order of making the whole blend together with greatness, is a perfect example of a non-weight-loss application of "flexible restraint."

Which of your life goals become unreachable without seder?

When is it good to observe uniform order, and when should individual expression be the greater value? Do you think schools should have a dress code? Why or why not?

What might be a circumstance in your life in which seder might prevent you from living by your core values?

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Spitzer
Message from our President

I can’t believe a year has passed and it’s almost time again for our congregational annual meeting. Congregation Agudat Achim’s 2021 Annual Meeting will be held Wednesday May 26th at 7:30pm via Zoom. This past year has definitely not been what we had expected, but all things considered, we had a pretty good year. The annual meeting is our opportunity for the community to hear about all of the amazing things we have accomplished. The evening is also a very important step as we move forward into the coming year and continue to thrive and grow as a congregation. Make sure to mark your calendars! I hope to see you there.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jackie Rowen
With our Members
Birthdays: Barby Harris, Jeffrey Hollander, Jeffrey Shapiro, Benjamin Hertzendorf, Rachael Besser, Jessica Many, Dara Weingarten, Susan Weil, Monika Woll

Anniversaries: Sharon and Audrey Watkins-Fox
Yahrzeits: Martha Binstock, Isabel Gould, David Hartstein, Samuel Rubin, Abraham Skoburn, Rivke Reizl bat Mendl Kazachkov, Sidney Greenfield, Philip Hershenhorn, Mitchel Krugman
 Mazel tov to Doug & Adrienne Klein on the arrival of their granddaughter, Ruth Gerson Strait, on 1 May 2021.
Thank You
Thank you to the individuals who participated in this past week's Shabbat services :
Yashar koach!
Torah and Haftara Readers: Orit Shiang, Joe Shiang, Murray Jaros
Daveners/Service Leaders: Rabbi Spitzer, Rachael Besser, Maddy Ehrlich
Service Coordinator/Gabbai: Murray Jaros
COVID-19 Compliance Guarantor/Shamash: Barby Harris
Other Participants: Barby Harris, Maddy Ehrlich, Eileen Handelman, Jeffrey Handelman, Jeffrey Shapiro, Richard Brooks, Susan Sharfstein, Edith Kliman, Murray Jaros
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!
Part II: Mayyim Hayyim tonight
L'khu N'ran'nah this Shabbat
Shavuot Information
Death after Dinner
A Participatory Conversation
About Death
Save the Date for a New Jonathan Weil Course
For a complete description of this class please click on the button below.
More Zoom Registration Link Education Offerings
Click the buttons below to read information on each upcoming event!
School Information

Final Days Schedule

May 13 regular day
May 16 regular day
May 20 regular day
May 23 half day ends at 11am to attend awards ceremony for Chris. (link forthcoming)
June 3 4:00- 5:00pm 6th grade family celebration outside with Rabbi Spitzer at the shul.
June 6 last day ceremony 10:30am - 11:3oam

New Meals to Go Listings
As You Like It Catering is busy filling the Meals-to-Go freezers
once again!

Perfect for your Mother's Day or Shavuot table or delicious anytime!

Contact Rise' Routenberg at to order and arrange pick up. Checks should be made payable to Congregation Agudat Achim. Credit card sales can be made by calling the office.

You can see the entire list of offerings by clicking on the button below

Schedule for the Week
New and Ongoing Events

Back to the Basics: Life Cycle Spring--A Study of Mikveh in Two Parts with Mayyim Hayyim

Part II: Modern Mikveh Stories & A Virtual Mikveh Experience
Thurs 13 May 7:30p
Join educators from Boston’s flagship community mikveh, Mayyim Hayyim, to learn about the Biblical and Rabbinic understandings of Mikveh practice, from family purity to conversion to holiness and more. In part two, we will bring the learning into the modern period with an exploration of modern rituals of immersion and transformation, and close with a virtual handwashing guided mikveh experience. These programs will be on Zoom, and will kick off our spring study of life cycles.

L’Chu N’ran’nah: Musical PeSukei D’Zimra with Rabbi Spitzer Shabbat 15 May 9:00a
Join Rabbi Spitzer by live stream on Shabbat morning for a musical PeSukei D’Zimra!

Parashat Hashavua Class with Rabbi Spitzer Next Class 25 May
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. Rabbi Spitzer invites you to call or email with your comments or thoughts.

Back to the Basics: Life Cycle Spring Rabbi Spitzer Teaches a 3-part class on Jewish Life Cycle events                                    Thursdays 3, 10, and 17 June 7:30p

Tot Shabbat Next Date at 4:30p  
Mark your calendars for all of the upcoming Tot Shabbat Programs 14, 28 May; 11, 25 Jun.  Time: 4:30p - 5:05p

L'chu N'ran'nah Shabbat morning spiritual seeking 9-9:45a
  • Iyyun Tefilah/ Learner's Service: 19 Jun
  • Musical Psukei Dzimra: 15 May

Adult Hebrew Classes with Zipporah Harris
Please become part of this group of learners!
Next series of classes; May 25
New series starts: Tuesdays at 6pm on 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 June; 6, 13, 20, 27 July, and 3 Aug
6:00-7:00 PM on Zoom
Register in advance for this meeting:

$10 per class, payable directly to Zipporah
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 covers reading, writing, and conversation. Please become part of this group of learners! Classes. If you are interested in joining, write to Zipporah at

Back to the Basics: Introduction to Prayer Book Hebrew for Adults, taught by Rabbi Spitzer
Sundays 9:30-10:30am
Join Rabbi Spitzer and the Adult Education Committee as we present an introductory course for Prayerbook (liturgical) Hebrew. Registration for this course is now closed. Class dates for registered students 9, 23, 30 May; 6, 13 June (all Sundays, 9:30 am – 10:30 am)

CAA Healthy Living Group
Every Wednesday on Zoom at 10a.

CAA Book Club
Meets on the Second Wednesday of each month, at 12:00p Next Meeting June 9

CAA Men’s Club Torah Study
Meets Monthly on Sundays at 7:30p Next Meeting 23 May
Summer Minyan Schedule
Our evening 7:15p service each night except Tuesday night will be Mincha.. Friday Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat will be at 5:30p, on Zoom.

Links to Religious Services
Siddur Supplement
Until further notice, we are using the full Siddur Sim Shalom during weekday and Shabbat services. This version has both Shabbat and Weekday prayer services (whereas the "Slim Shalom," which only contains Shabbat services are typically used in the sanctuary). Rabbi Spitzer has made the following four prayers accessible.

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.
Donations for April
In the Community
Staff Emails
Rabbi Rafi Spitzer,, (518) 348-9478
Joshua Cooper-Ginsburg, Executive
Jack Mintzer, Education Director:
Chris Parisi, Administrative Assistant:
Rise' Routenberg, Catering:  
Board Emails
Jackie Rowen, President:
Steve Schmidt, Program VP:
Jeff Shapiro, Youth VP:
Neal Shapiro, Treasurer:
Our Sponsors
[518-393-9211]  []