HaKol The Voice of the Pelham Jewish Center
June 2022/Sivan 5782
In This Issue
Leadership Messages

Rabbi Resnick

Education Director
Ana Turkienicz

President's Message
David Haft

Editor's Message
Barbara Saunders-Adams

Congregant News
& Donations

Book Notes
Barbara Saunders-Adams

Meet The Schwarz Family

Food For Thought

Share a Simcha

Tributes & Donations

Rabbi Resnick's Message

When I was child, on the morning of Shavuot–or sometimes, I think, on a Shabbat morning that fell the week before–my sisters and I would dress in blue and white, crown ourselves with floral wreaths (they were probably plastic), and head to shul where we would bring baskets of fruit up to the bimah and place them in front of the ark along with all of the other kids in my Hebrew school. This experience–which recalls Shavuot celebrations on Kibbutzim in the early days of Zionism–was not, I have discovered, particularly common at American shuls in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Apart from a few friends who grew up with me at Congregation Rodfei Tzedek in Chicago, I don’t have many contemporaries who remember anything like this from childhood. And, as far as I know, these kinds of Shavuot celebrations are not so common at American shuls today. 

Thinking back, I find myself unable to recall the particulars of those mornings, which would have happened yearly for much of my childhood. I believe there was a parade. There was likely some Israeli dancing. And we sang an old Zionist folksong called “Saleinu,” which, for whatever reason, stuck in my head and which I have now been singing on and off for the majority of my life. But like many memories from early childhood, it is a feeling that remains clear in my mind, even as the precise contours of how all of it worked and what it meant are lost to me. And the feeling I associate with those mornings is one of great wonder. I felt exquisitely a part of something glorious, even as I did not understand entirely what it was. I felt tied to a far away place and to a family. I felt embraced by beauty. And I felt very Jewish. 

I still feel that way. Not each and every second, perhaps, but often enough and with enough intensity that the moments in which I do light up the rest of my life, leaving behind indelible color and significance. And it occurs to me now, many years later, that what I am really talking about is an experience of revelation, which is, after all, one of the things that Shavuot is all about. 

We tend to think about revelation in terms of magnificent, arresting experiences–fire descending on a mountain–experiences of such inexorable power that they transform us immediately and irreversibly. Sometimes revelation is and can be like this. But sometimes revelation can come in more modest packaging. And the truth–or, anyway, the truth I have found–is that I seldom know in advance which experiences will linger in my mind, leaving in their long wake an enduring imprint on my life. Very often, in the middle of things, I find myself thinking, “I will remember this moment forever.” And then I don’t. Instead I remember altogether different moments, which perhaps did not seem so significant at the time.

I don’t think my eight, nine, or ten year old self would have predicted that the peculiar, half-understood experience of bringing baskets of first-fruits up to the bimah would have lingered so long in my imagination. Nor do I think I would have predicted that one day, I would see a picture of some kibbutznikim from the 1940s and that the image would pulse with meaning and would seem so familiar even as their experience is really very far from my own. 

Such is the nature of life’s smaller revelations, moments that stay with us and, against the odds, ultimately change us, rising up above a vast ocean of experience like waves or small birds or, as the midrash says, like the the humblest of all mountains, calling out, calling us together, whispering about revelations to come. 

Chag sameach
Rabbi Benjamin Resnick

Rabbi Benjamin Resnick

Education Director's Message

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement ... get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”
― Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

As the Learning Center’s academic year comes to a close, and we search for words to describe it, certainly the word “amazing” comes to mind. Amazing - as in - full of amazement. I can say that every day at the PJC Learning Center was pretty amazing! 

Putting together a vibrant experiential Jewish education program while struggling with an ongoing pandemic was an amazing feat. And it was the phenomenal, creative work of the Learning Center Team, its faculty, staff and students, with the relentless support of
Rabbi Resnick, Mike Teitelbaum, and the PJC Board of Directors that made it possible.

This past May, we joined together on Lag BaOmer for the LC’s end of the year assembly. We marked the holiday that commemorates the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire (132–136 CE). This was a moment in Jewish History when our traditions and our precious Torah were in danger of being erased. At that time, the Jewish community in Israel refused to let go of Judaism. The rebels fought to maintain all that’s most treasured by us today - Shabbat, our holidays, our Torah, the Hebrew language and the Jewish way of life that make us a unique community. Our tradition seeks tikkun olam (the betterment of the world) and teaches peace and love wherever we are. 

When this year started, we had an ambitious educational vision for our third through sixth graders - a new learning model, that we called Lomdim B’yachad, learning together, where students would be grouped by interest instead of by age or grade. We offered opportunities to learn Torah, Hebrew, Israel, Jewish values, Jewish Holidays, and Jewish history in an engaging and experiential way. Students chose from learning options such as: ”Awesome Israel”, “Yoga Yeladim”, “Shirah Chadashah” (new song), “I-Heart Torah”, “Bubby’s Kitchen”, “Israel Link”, and all participated in Hebrew, Tefilah and Kabbalat Shabbat. This new learning model empowered our talented faculty to reach into the content they have amassed throughout the years, as well as build onto their creative and integrating skills in order to produce unique learning experiences that would be both awe-infused and content rich. Our knowledgeable and crafty faculty sailed out into the sea of Jewish knowledge and brought back incredible lessons. As Abraham Joshua Heschel once said, “What we need more than anything else is not textbooks but text people.” This year, our teachers were certainly incredible text people. I share here a small taste of some of the learning that took place as we embarked in this new vision for our children’s Jewish education.

“I-Heart Torah” is an innovative Torah learning program that focuses on finding an artistic expression that encapsulates the deeper meaning of each Torah portion by focusing on a specific verse and engaging artistically with it. Our veteran teacher, Morah Jerusha Coltof was tasked with giving life to this idea, and through her prolific creativity and deep understanding of the text, she was able to engage our students in a unique and meaningful way with each of the Torah portions through visual arts. Several times during the year, I saw how her class would end and students wouldn’t leave the room - they wanted to continue working on their “I-Heart Torah” art project. The result, displayed in our Art Gallery at the end of the year, was beyond anything we had expected when we initially envisioned the program. 

“Awesome Israel” is a program that aims to infuse our students with the awe-someness of Israel. The teacher, Morah Emily Hertzfeld, created the program to engage students with awe-inspiring facts and features about Israel. They studied the artists Marc Chagall and
Yaakov Agam; students learned about the artists’ lives and produced art inspired by their work. These were also part of the end of the year gallery that displayed their artwork.

In order to celebrate a year of exceptional learning at “I-Heart Torah” and “Awesome Israel”, and to share with parents the awesomeness of their children’s work, families were invited to visit the “I-Heart Torah and Awesome Israel Art Gallery” - an exhibit of our students’ yearlong artwork. Our “Lomdim B’Yachad” students guided their parents as they came to tour the Art Gallery, presenting their artwork. There was surely amazement in the room, as it was at every lesson when the students produced their artwork. You can click HERE to see photos of the Art Gallery.

Another example of our “Lomdim Beyachad” learning is “Bubby’s Kitchen”. In this very unconventional class, the students toured and learned about a different Jewish community in the world. They also learned about a traditional dish from each community, and with the leadership of Morah Linda Rosenblatt, they created and tasted their characteristic food. By the end of each Thursday, the whole PJC community tasted the dishes that the kids prepared with Morah Linda, Madrich Justin Cohen, and even with our very special chef, Rabbi Ben Resnick! To celebrate the yearlong learning, each participant received a book with all the recipes and a short summary of the communities they visited, called “Bubby’s Kitchen around the world”. You may click HERE to download the “Bubby’s Kitchen” recipe book.

An important component of all the Learning Center’s activities is what happens behind the scenes. For example, the dedicated work of Adam Bukowski, our caretaker. Adam’s hard work ensures that our children can enjoy all of these amazing experiences in a safe, impeccably clean and beautiful environment. From picking up cooking supplies for Bubby’s Kitchen, to making sure that our children will have challah and grape juice for our weekly Kabbalat Shabbat, or setting up the classrooms and providing all that is needed for our teachers for their formidable lessons. We are so grateful for all that he does and feel blessed to have Adam on our team.

None of these radically amazing learning experiences would have been possible without the continued support of our Board of trustees and the PJC community at large. As you may already know, the LC tuition alone isn’t enough to cover all our budgetary needs; our Learning Center is heavily subsidized by the generosity of our community, and we are grateful for the trust and support we have received from each PJC member so far. Please consider the importance of allowing our children to experience meaningful and engaging Jewish education as you choose to allocate your donations for the coming year. We thank each and everyone of you in advance for your kindness and support. 

With much love and gratitude,

President's Message
Fellow Congregants,

This is my last report to the congregation as President of the Pelham Jewish Center Board of Directors. It has been a great honor to serve our unique and wonderful community. I hope to participate in future PJC activities in an “off board” capacity. 

We are entering the quiet time of the summer between Shavuot and Rosh Hashanah, so this is a good time to look at the past year and think about our coming year. First and foremost, our children are happy, learning and thriving. In spite of the pandemic restrictions, our programs remain strong and vibrant. All the credit goes to Ana Turkienicz, whose spirit and dedication infuse the Learning Center. Her program is the best I have seen since joining our synagogue in 1996.

Our services have also been elevated with the participation and musical leadership of Jack Klebanow and Lori Weber. We have worked to make the musical Baal Tefilla an ongoing budget item. Those who come to Shabbat services know the degree of elevation they have added to our prayer experience. 

The response to Rabbi Resnick over this past year has been universally positive. He has infused our services with his far-ranging intellect, humor and energy. His Davar Torahs are thought provoking and grounded in the teachings of the Hasidic masters. Likewise, his adult education classes draw on diverse sources and engage all regardless of our Jewish knowledge backgrounds. The Learning Center is also the beneficiary of his joy and energy. He is making himself our children’s Rabbi in the most positive of ways. I doubt anyone would ask for more than the spiritual and intellectual leadership that he’s brought to us. 

Lastly I want to acknowledge the many hours of work that have been volunteered to our community. Some individuals will receive special mention. Barbara Saunders-Adams has put in many hours on our communications and the Hakol plus organizing our library. Michael Teitelbaum has worked tirelessly with the myriad issues and details of the Learning Center. Mitch Cepler has provided real numbers when we discuss financing. Marjut Herzog has been tireless in promoting the PJC identity and seeking new members. Jessica Winquist has beat all expectations on fundraising. Jeremy Schulman has lead religious practices with care and quiet passion. Lisa Neubardt has spent a good part of the year revamping our website. Andrea Rothberg has behind the scenes translated ideas into concrete action. Dan Kushnick has made sure our dwellings are well maintained and coordinated with the town on our activities. Michael Dvorkin has maintained community action programs. I know there are so many more who I do not have the space to mention, but remember that other than our Office Manager, the LC staff, and our ever-present, super-competent Adam Bukowski, everyone else is a volunteer. And it takes all of us to sustain our extraordinary community that we cherish at the Pelham Jewish Center. 

David Haft, MD

Editor's Message
Dear Friends,

This is the last HaKol before Rosh HaShanah 5783 -- unbelievable! I'm looking forward to a summer of reading, writing and hiking in the New Paltz woodlands.

This month we celebrate Shavuot, the festival of weeks. We read Megillat Ruth, the story of a Moabite woman, Ruth, who follows her Israelite mother-in-law, Naomi, back to Canaan after the death of Ruth's husband. Ruth becomes the first Jewish convert with the famous words

Whither you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge, your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”

Ruth asserts the right of the poor to glean the leftovers of the barley harvest, breaks the normal rules of behavior to confront her kinsman Boaz, is redeemed by him for marriage and becomes the ancestor of King David. Ruth's story is one of acceptance and tolerance -- attributes much needed in today's tumultuous and divisive times.

There are many explanations given for the reading of Ruth on Shavuot. The most quoted reason is that Ruth’s journey with Naomi took place around the time of Shavuot. It is believed that her acceptance into the Jewish faith is analogous to the acceptance of God’s Torah by the Israelites.

A second explanation relates to genealogy. Since the Book of Ruth ends with the genealogy of David, whose forbear Ruth was, Megillat Ruth is read on Shavuot because of the legend that King David died on Shavuot.

After Shavuot, I hope to see many of you at the PJC Gala on June 12th in honor of
Marjut & Jonathan Herzog.

Enjoy the Summer,

Book Notes

Prague Winter
A Personal Story of Remembrance and War 1937-1948
by Madeleine Albright
Former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright was unaware that she was Jewish until 1997 - when she was 59 years old. Unbelievable, but true.

Her parents recorded themselves as being without religious conviction upon their marriage, although they converted to Catholicism in 1941 when Madeleine was four years old. Albright postulates that her parents' desire to underline their identity as Czechoslovak democrats while living in an overwhelmingly Christian country perhaps contributed to their conversion. As did her own birth in 1937 under the shadow of Nazism.

Madeleine Albright professes to be a firm admirer of the Jewish tradition, "but could not - at the age of 59 - feel myself fully a part of it". She muses that by celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah with her grandchildren, she has reason for gratitude that her origins are richer and more complex than she had thought.

In Prague Winter A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, Albright provides an in- depth account of the takeover of Czechoslovakia by Hitler while interweaving her personal family saga. Her father, Josef Korbel, was involved with the Czech government in exile and worked for the BBC.

Reading Prague Winter, I kept getting the feeling of deja vu. In the chapter, "We Must Go On Being Cowards", there is much that eerily resembles what is going on in the war between Russia and Ukraine today. Albright quotes Chamberlain saying, "Is it not positively horrible to think that the fate of hundreds of million depends on one man, and he is half mad?"

Madeleine Albright died on March 23, 2022 - one month after Putin's troops invaded the Ukraine. I couldn't help thinking that the parallels between 1941 and 2022 would have greatly disturbed former Secretary of State Albright.

Meet The Schwarz Family

The Schwarz family, Irina, Tim and their three children, Naomi, Emma and Gary moved to Pelham from Brooklyn six and 1/2 years ago. Irina wishes they had found the PJC sooner. They joined the PJC in early January, 2022 and are thrilled to be part of a friendly, warm and inclusive Jewish community.
So far, they are pleased with all they have experienced at the PJC. They think Rabbi Resnick is "fantastic” and love Ana's "warmth". Their middle daughter, Emma (9 years-old) says "I love the PJC", the two hours seem to fly by. Gary (7 years-old) is in first grade and their eldest daughter, Naomi, (11 years-old) will soon be getting ready for her Bat Mitzvah.
Irina and Tim believe that the LC will give their children a sense of belonging to the Jewish people and a foundation to live life through a Jewish lens. Irina, a Nurse Practitioner at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, is happy to donate time to help with Learning Center events. Tim is a Critical Care Surgeon at Kings County Hospital Center.
The Schwarz family attended the PJC Purim celebration, Kabbalat Shabbat for kids, First Friday dinner and the year-end Learning Center events. They enjoy the sense of family in the LC and in the wider PJC community. Unlike other synagogues they have attended, at the PJC they feel at home and at peace. The family sees their future at the PJC.
Food for Thought
by Robert Pinsky

Air an instrument of the tongue,
The tongue an instrument
Of the body, the body
An instrument of spirit,
The spirit a being of air.

A bird the medium of its song.
A song a world, a containment
Like a hotel room, ready
For us guests who inherit
Our compartment of time there.

In the Cornell box, among
Ephemera as its element,
The preserved bird - a study
In spontaneous elegy, the parrot
Art, mortal in its cornered sphere.

The room a stanza rung
in a laddered filament
Clambered by all the unsteady
Chambered voices that share it,
Each reciting I too was here --

In a room, a rhyme, a song
In the box, in books: each element
An instrument, the body
Still straining to parrot
The spirit, a being of air.
Share a Simcha
"Share a Simcha" allows congregants to share their news with our PJC community. Please submit news about family members -- engagements, births, job updates, kid achievements, community acknowledgements and any other milestones -- to our Communications Director, Barbara Saunders-Adams.

. Mazal Tov to the LC students for completing an exciting and enriching year.
. Mazal Tov to Ana Turkienicz for her amazing leadership.
. Mazal Tov to Julia Coss on her new endeavor.
. Mazal Tov to Rabbi Ben Resnick for completing his first year at the PJC.

Simcha is a regular HaKol feature, so keep your news and updates coming!
Tributes & Donations
PJC Logo
Did you know you can make tributes and donations online? Click here to learn more.

Donations to the PJC from...

  • Leonard & Judy Cooper, in memory of Adam Abeshouse's mother, Evelyn "Evy" Abeshouse
  • Julia & Jonathan Coss, in memory of Adam Abeshouse's mother, Evy Abeshouse
  • David & Jeanne Radvany, in memory of Adam Abeshouse's mother, Evy Abeshouse
  • Judy Shampanier & Michael Bowen & Family, in memory of Adam Abeshouse's mother, Evy Abeshouse
  • Ana & Neco Turkienicz, in memory of Adam Abeshouse's mother, Evy Abeshouse
  • Ana & Neco Turkienicz, in memory of Linda Levine's mother, Rhoda Lieberman
  • Ana & Neco Turkienicz, in honor of Zachary Weber's Bar Mitzvah & reading of Haftarah

Donations to the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund from...

  • Meryl Druckerman, in memory of Adam Abeshouse's mother, Evy Abeshouse
  • Meryl Druckerman, in honor of Maurice Stampfer, and his recent marriage to Shelley

At any time, if you wish to pay by check, please make it payable to "The Pelham Jewish Center" and mail it to our bookkeeping firm at: The Pelham Jewish Center, P.O. Box 418, Montvale, NJ 07645.

All donations to the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund, at any time throughout the year, should be made payable to "The Pelham Jewish Center -- Rabbi's Discretionary Fund" and mailed directly to Julia Coss at the PJC office. Thank you!