Congregation Agudat Achim
Weekly Announcements
25 February 2021 - 13 Adar 5781
Parashat Tetsaveh
Rabbi Rafi Spitzer -- President Jackie Rowen
Words from our Rabbi
I celebrate my birthday every year on Purim, so I remember being keenly aware of the interplay between sadness and joy that sometimes occur in conjunction with that holiday. Even though I was very young, I remember when Baruch Goldstein entered the mosque at the tomb of the patriarchs in Hebron on Purim and killed 29 Muslims prostrate in prayer. I remember the suicide bombing at Dizengoff center on erev Purim, and the Cafe Apropo bombing the following year, also on erev Purim. There were several years in there where it felt that something completely awful happened every year on Purim, and that my parents and the other adults in my life had to somehow balance the simcha/joy of Purim with their grief, fear, and anger. After 9/11, I remember thinking to myself that the only other time I could remember adults in my life acting so publicly grief-stricken was when there were terror attacks on Purim. How can we dance and sing, put on masks and laugh, and in general have a festive atmosphere in the face of a world that is so broken?

Yet Purim itself seems ready-made for this tension. The story turns on a sense of of the topsy-turvy, the "v'nahafokh hu," where grief can turn into gladness, and darkness to light. The day before Purim (this year, today-- Thursday 25 Feb) is a day of fasting and mourning in recognition of the near-annihilation of the Jewish people-- though we call it the Fast of Esther, and often teach that it recalls Esther's 3-day fast before going to see the king, that fast happened at a totally different time of year, and the fast of Esther occurs on the very day that Haman decided (through the mechanism of drawing lots) to destroy the Jews.

Not only do we recognize the precariousness of our existence, but we also have to confront the evil impulses within, the Amalekite/Haman-like influences in our own hearts. As the song above (and linked here: reminds us so humorously, if we read chapter 9 of the Megillah, we find that the Jews slaughter 75,000 so called "enemies" of the Jewish people. Like the examples of terrorist actions above, some are perpetrated by Jews, and some are attacks on Jews. So our fast is also about that tension.

This week, we mark 500,000 dead of the covid-19 pandemic, and recognize that Purim was the last public event held in our community before the shutdown. How can we celebrate when we're in mourning? How can we do Purim at this time?
And yet, how can we not?! Purim is exactly about living with the grey areas, living with the tension of living in an imperfect and fragile world.

So, please join me in marking this milestone by joining Hadar Institute's Taanit Esther: A Year of Life Turned Upside Down, where members of Hadar’s faculty will offer Torah, workshops, and teachings on “Permission to Rejoice in the Midst of Suffering,” “COVID-19 and Incarcerated Populations,” and more, and then join us for our CAA celebrations at 4:30p and 6:30p.

Let's celebrate together!

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Spitzer
A Message from our President

Purim marks one year since the pandemic began and our world was turned on its ear. This year, the theme of our community Purim celebration is “Who is your hero?”. I think this is a very fitting theme, considering all of the people who have helped us to stay safe, healthy and sane this past year. My hope is that as we are celebrating Purim, we take a moment to reflect on how important these people are and how lucky we are to have them in our lives. Remember, not all heroes wear capes...

Jackie Rowen
A Message from the Mishloach Manot committee

Dear Congregants,
On behalf of the Mishloach Manot committee, I want to thank all of you for your support of this year’s project. As you know, because of the circumstances of this year, we had to design it to be smaller (baked 1500 as opposed to 7000 hamentashen, and could not take orders for extra packages). You are all so amazing that we blew away all records! Here are the stats:
97 families sent greetings – a new record!
36 families “underwrote” it to be able to send packages to each congregational family – a new record!
29 families are making local deliveries – a new record!
$18,000 (gross) raised – a new record!
In order to keep socially distant, we couldn’t ask for much help with the baking and packing. Thank you to those who helped, and we look forward to being back together with lots of people baking and packing next year! 
I was nervous that this fundraiser would not be a success. THANK YOU to all who supported it to make it our best Mishloach Manot project ever! To go along with our Purim theme this year of Who is your hero? I have to say that you are all my heroes!
Chag Sameach Purim!
Hillary Fink
Ways and Means Chair

Birthdays: Elissa Freedman, Elijah Montijo, Isaiah Montijo, Rosette Rubins, Farrell Malkis, Jacob Shapiro, Ann Zonderman, Sara Gavens, Jackie Rowen, Kenneth Carpenter, Hezekiah Woods, Howard Levine

Anniversaries: None this week
Yahrzeits: Richard Fine, Benjamin Grosberg, Alice Wakesberg, Simon Wakesberg, Sylvia Bramley, Valvl Dubrovsky, Harry Isenberg, Abe Hausler, Sarah Glock, Gloria Goldman, Bess Krupa, Karl Cohen, Emma Olivia Ginsburg, Larry Ginsburg, Ethel Chayut Mittleman, Jeannette Shapiro, Philip Vaccaro, Herbert Saunders
We have learned with great sorrow of the passing of Dr. Bernard Lown, brother-in-law of CAA member Yaffa Lown. Our condolences go to the entire Lown family.
We have learned with great sorrow of the passing of Luda Borodulin, wife of Mikhail Borodulin, mother of Eugene and Olga, and daughter-in-law of Zinaida Borodulina. Our condolences go to the entire Borodulin family.
Thank You
Thank you to the individuals who participated in this past week's Shabbat services.
Yashar koach!
Torah and Haftara Readers: Dan Mayer, David Stashower, Orit Shiang 
Daveners/Service Leaders: Rabbi Spitzer, Steve Schmidt
Service Coordinator/Gabbai: Rob Fox
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
Breaking News!

Hamentashen for sale!

$5.00 per pack
(regular only)
Gluten free are sold out! 
Stop by the synagogue today (Thursday)
from 2:00-3:00
or contact Risè at
to arrange a pick-up
While supplies last!

Purim Celebrations
To see a flyer with all of our Purim activities click here
To get the most out of the experience, we suggest the following preparation:

(1) Prayerbook. We'll be using Siddur Lev Shalem for Shabbat and Festivals for the evening service. If you don't own a copy, we recommend printing out the pdf available on the livestream page.

(2) Megillat Esther. Bring your copy of the Book of Esther, or print out the pdf on the livestream page. It features a new translation by Dr. Pamela Barmash. You might also want to watch the video interview with her.

(3) Tech setup. Your experience will be enhanced by watching the livestream on a smart TV or large computer screen, and listening through headphones or good speakers. Plan to set up in advance so you don't miss anything -- the fun starts from the very beginning at 6:30 pm ET.

(4)  Program. Download the brief program (also on the livestream page), so you'll know who's who on-screen.

(5)  Fun. Wear a costume, grab a gragger (a box of pasta works too), and make some noise. The more fun you make, the more fun you'll have!
Brand new translation of the Megillah
You can download, print, and use this new translation of the Megillah using the button below.
New Kabbalat Shabbat Time
This week: 4:26p
Our Friday afternoon Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat service will be exactly 60 minutes before candle lighting, on Zoom.

26 Feb -- 4:19
5 Mar -- 4:32
12 Mar -- 4:40
Releasing our Spiritual Hametz
New Holy Times Class
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.

To read our latest school newsletter click here.

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

Please take our survey below on what solo classes you might like from Ely Wohl. Open to grades 6-12!
USY News
Thank you to everyone who contributed to our Mask-Car-Aid on Sunday. We collected two big bags of toothpaste and toothbrushes, nearly 50 pounds of pasta and rice and an assortment of other items to contribute to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.
A special thank you to our teens and middle schoolers, Simon, Isaiah and Yael Woods, Deniece Whineglass, Talya and Mira Stashower and Ellie and Sophie Garmil for helping out with the food collection

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 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 
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 2 March
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 (23 February) on Parashat Terumah, the teaching we learned together can be found online. Rabbi Spitzer invites you to call or email with your comments or thoughts.
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: 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 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

Sholars-in-Your-Residence: Judaism & Science                                         
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 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
Every Wednesday on Zoom at noon.

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


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 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,, (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]  []