Congregation Agudat Achim
Weekly Announcements
18 February 2021 - 6 Adar 5781
Parashat Terumah
Rabbi Rafi Spitzer -- President Jackie Rowen
Words from our Rabbi
There is a blessing that is customarily said by one who has recovered from a serious illness or survived a life-threatening crisis. It is called Birkat HaGomel, the Gomel Blessing, or in Yiddish, "bentching gomel." The person says, בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַגּוֹמֵל לְחַיָּבִים טוֹבוֹת שֶׁגְּמָלַנִי כָּל טוֹב Barukh atah Adonai, our God, sovereign of time and space, who bestows goodness on us despite our imperfections, and who has treated me so favorably (translation from the Lev Shalem Siddur). And the community assembled acknowledges this moment of gratitude and blessing with a traditional response: מִי שֶׁגְמַלך כֹּל טוֹב הוּא יִגְמַלך כֹּל טוֹב סֶלָה May the one who has shown such favor to you continue to bestow all that is good upon you, forever. The comment in the Lev Shalem Siddur says "In thanking God for having been saved from danger and calamity, we are conscious of the fragility of our lives and the gratitude with which we should meet each day of our lives." 

Last week, just before the Misheberach for Holim, the prayer for healing, I shared that my Uncle Irwin and Aunt Marta had received their second covid vaccinations on Friday, and were excited for that event to be acknowledged at their synagogue's Zoom Shabbat service, at a communal moment of gratitude. At their shul, all those who had been privileged to get their second shot that week, inoculating them against this terrible disease, and ushering in what we hope will be the first steps toward ending this pandemic, stand for Birkat HaGomel together. I was really touched by this idea, and said the gomel blessing myself this past Shabbat, having recently received my second dose, and invited all those who were present and watching on live stream to also say the blessing with me. 

What is so powerful to me about this idea is that I believe that our ritual and spiritual lives need to be fully integrated with every aspect of the fullness of our lives. If our Shabbat morning prayer service does not connect deeply to our lived experience, if it does not ground us in gratitude and community, if it does not provide us opportunities to celebrate and mourn together, then it is not meeting our communal need. Our service must reach our souls. It must treat each of us as a valued and whole person, reaching toward that elusive sense of shelimut, completeness, integration, peace, well-being. By pausing to acknowledge that this pandemic has been life-threatening, and that these vaccines are life-renewing, life-saving, we are able to be conscious of our fragility and of our gratitude. 

In some ways, this idea of communal acknowledgement is counter-cultural. We are trained to keep these things private: our medical histories, our fears, our relief, our frustration, our gratitude, our sense of the miraculous, of the encounter with the divine. Standing up in front of our community to share, whether we just finished a course of cancer treatments, or surgery for our heart, or hydroplaned on the highway but didn't get hurt, or returned from a trip-- it may feel that we should keep the details private, and share only our gratitude. And that is perfectly acceptable-- no one is forced to share something they don't feel comfortable sharing. But to me, the beauty of this blessing is that it requires a communal response-- that it invites us all to hold space for the one who has recovered or survived. It invites the possibility of someone asking "what happened?" and of you being able to bare your soul. In that vulnerability, I have found Presence with a capital P. Vulnerability with each other, the baring of souls, that is what it means to make a sanctuary, that God can dwell within, as it says at the beginning of this week's Torah portion, Terumah.

And my friends, we should not take for granted that we have survived this pandemic. Many have not. So join me at synagogue the week after your second vaccine, or two weeks after it, and say Birkat HaGomel with me, honoring this moment. 

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Spitzer
A Message from our President

Last week, someone asked me if I was still getting a February break, since I was teaching from home. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “there ain’t no tired like June teacher tired”. Well, actually, there is. It’s Pandemic teacher tired. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve taught from a classroom and I’ve never worked harder. Last March, teachers across the country were given little-to-no notice that for the foreseeable future they would be teaching from home, via a computer. I don’t think I know a single teacher who did not step up and do what needed to be done including our Religious School Teachers. Hours upon hours spent not only learning the platform and modifying lessons and assignments, but trying to figure out how they would reach and connect with our students virtually. A year later, we’re still struggling with giving these kids the education they deserve and the connection that is so important to their emotional well-being. Teachers aren’t looking for a pat on the back or recognition as “unsung heroes” of this pandemic. We just want some well deserved rest.

Jackie Rowen
Birthdays: Rachelle Idena Brilliant, Elliot Middleton, Tamera Smuckler, Rachel Naparstek

Anniversaries: Bella & Eugene Brusilovsky
Yahrzeits: Meir Ben Amoz, Harvey Sharfstein, Rose Simon, Helen Freedman, Bernard Hoorwitz, Fay Horowitz, David Reich, Mildren Shapiro, Karen Fink, Myrna Margolin, Judith Wolin, Paul Clouthier, Celia Gahuse,Sam Haber, Philip Lefkowitz, Philip Nachinoff, Rose Gelwarg, Reba Sidewater, Vicki Freedman, Bernard Gordon, Rose Kraut, Arthur Stashower, Gabriel Iskhakov, Arthur Merims, Sam Reich, Jack Stone
Thank You
Thank you to the individuals who participated in this past week's Shabbat services.
Yashar koach!
Torah and Haftara Readers: Howie Mittleman, Murray Jaros
Daveners/Service Leaders: Alexandra Schmidt, Colden Shapiro
Other Service Participants: Jackie Rowen, Roberta Steiner, Dan Mayer, David Posner, Neal Shapiro, Don Steiner, Ken Carpenter, Murray Jaros
Service Coordinator/Gabbai: Ken Carpenter
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
New Kabbalat Shabbat Time
This week: 4:10p
Our Friday afternoon Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat service will be exactly 60 minutes before candle lighting, on Zoom.

19 Feb -- 4:10
26 Feb -- 4:19
5 Mar -- 4:32
12 Mar -- 4:40
Scholars-in-YOUR-Residence:
Judaism & Science
Join us tonight!
Rise's Kitchen
 Kreplach Making!
Coming to Zoom on Sunday, February 21, 2021 from 11:00-12:00
Featuring the preparation of Kreplach and filling variations.

Here is the featured recipe if you would like to
prepare along with Rise'.
 
Called Jewish wontons or raviolis, kreplach are pasta dumplings, usually triangular in shape, filled with minced meat, onion-spiced potatoes, or cheese. Kreplach carries a lot of lofty symbolism; its triangular shape represents Judaism's three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Equally lofty: the Jewish momma who can roll her kreplach dough to optimum thinness (so that, according to Sam Levenson, "a tempting bit of their buried treasure should show through"). If the wrappers are not paper-thin, your kreplach will taste like "craplach." However, though we've included wrappers in this recipe, there's really no reason to knock yourself out making them. Just purchase wonton wrappers in a Chinese food store or supermarket, and making kreplach becomes a cinch. There's even a kosher brand called Nasoya, available in many supermarkets; look for it near the tofu.

YIELD: 
MAKES ABOUT 30
Breaking News!
A limited amount of hamentashen are available to purchase. Each pack of five large hamentashen (assorted flavors) costs $5.00. They can be picked up at Sunday's Mask-Car-Aid, from 1:00-2:00, cash or check only, first come, first served. You can pick up your Mishloach Manot package, drop off your donation, and purchase hamentashen in one quick stop! Please note, if the hamentashen do not sell out on Sunday, another announcement will be made next week with purchasing details.
Purim Celebrations
Calling all Megillah Readers!
Parts are still available for our 4:30p family celebration.

If you would like to sign for a part please contact the Rabbi by email.

To see a flyer with all of our Purim activities click here
Brand new translation of the Megillah
You can download, print, and use this new translation of the Megillah using the button below.
More Adult Education Offerings
Click the buttons below to read information on each upcoming event!
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.


Join the school for the next Havdalah with Rabbi Spitzer on 27 February at 6:30p on Zoom!


Click Here to see pictures from the High School Cooking Class


Please take our survey below on what solo classes you might like from Ely Wohl. Open to grades 6-12!
As You Like It Catering
We still have a huge selection of Meals-To-Go!
Meat, dairy, and pareve; side dishes, main courses, and dessert!
Click here to view available offerings.

Please contact Rise' at syncaterer@aol.com with any inquiries about food for sale.

Arrangements can be made for pick up on an individual basis.

Dessert SALE! All desserts including pies are $5!
Pecan Pie -dairy 
Pumpkin Pie-dairy 
Apple Pie-dairy 
Gluten Free Chocolate Drops-pareve
Chocolate-Iced Chocolate Cake-pareve
PJ Library Havdalah next
on 13 March
Ongoing Events
Parashat Hashavua Class with Rabbi Spitzer
Next Class 23 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 (16 February) on Parashat Terumah, the teaching we learned together can be found here. Rabbi Spitzer invites you to call or email with your comments or thoughts.

Shabbat morning programming 9-9:45a
Rabbi Spitzer will lead the following programs on this schedule:

Learner's Service: 20 Feb, 17 Apr, 19 Jun

Musical Psukei Dzimra: 20 Mar, 15 May

Adult Hebrew Classes with Zipporah Harris
Please become part of this group of learners!
Remaining classes 23 February; 2, 9 March, 6:00-7:00 PM on Zoom
$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 morahtova1@aol.com.

The Origins of Modern Art and Its Biblical Connections and Influences in the Work of Modern Jewish Artists, taught by Jonathan Weil
Final class: 24 February 202 1
:00 – 2:30 pm. 

Scholars-in-Your-Residence: Judaism & Science                                         
18 Feb; 25 Mar; 1 Apr 2021
Join us as four scholars speak with us about the intersection of Judaism and science and a review of the historical relationship between the two areas of study. All sessions will be held on Zoom immediately after minyan in the same Zoom room.

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 21, 28 Feb; 7 Mar; 18, 25 Apr; 2, 9, 23, 30 May; 6, 13 June (all Sundays, 9:30 am – 10:30 am)

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 of each month, at 12:00p

CAA Men’s Club Torah Study
Meets twice monthly on Sundays at 7:40p; next meeting 21 February 2021
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.
Men's Club and Women's network information
In the Community

The JCC of Schenectady playground news

The JCC of Schenectady is building a new playground, the Ernest and Gloria Kahn Playground, and we hope you can help. The new playground will serve elementary age children in our childhood and camp programs- thousands of children each year! This playground will be a community build, meaning we are relying on friends of the JCC to help us realize our vision. Please check out the sign up link below with volunteer opportunities. Grab some friends and join us for a great time giving back to your community! 
 
 Questions? Looking to make a donation to help the cause? Please email Amy Landauer-Ruder at amydlandauer@yahoo.com.


 

COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Information

The CVS in Schenectady County that will provide the vaccinations is located at the CVS in Glenville, 259 Saratoga Road. Scheduling will start on February 9, with appointments starting on February 11. People can go to CVS.com or call CVS customer service at 1-800-746-7287 to schedule an appointment. Walk-in vaccinations without an appointment will not be provided.
The Welcoming Project - LGBTQ Activist Scholarships
We're excited to announce that The Welcoming Project will once again offer a $500 scholarship to an undergraduate student and a $500 scholarship to a graduate student who make outstanding contributions to LGBTQ activism! The application and more information can be found on The Welcoming Project website. Applications are due March 1, 2021.
Staff Emails
Rabbi Rafi Spitzer, rabbispitzer@agudatachim.org, (518) 348-9478
Joshua Cooper-Ginsburg, Executive Director:admin@agudatachim.org
Jack Mintzer, Education Director: eddirector@agudatachim.org
Chris Parisi, Administrative Assistant: secretary@agudatachim.org
Rosalie Fadem, Bookkeeper: bookkeeper@agudatachim.org
Rise' Routenberg, Catering: asyoulikeitCAA@gmail.com  
Board Emails
Jackie Rowen, President: CAAPrez2019@gmail.com
Steve Schmidt, Program VP: schmidsj@union.edu
Jeff Shapiro, Youth VP: penanglaw@aol.com
Neal Shapiro, Treasurer: nshapiro007@gmail.com
Our Sponsors
[518-393-9211]  [https://www.agudatachim.org/]