The Voice of the
Pelham Jewish Center
October 2022/Tishrei-Cheshvan 5783
In This Issue
Leadership Messages

Rabbi Benjamin Resnick

Education Director
Ana Turkienicz

Steve Martin

HaKol Editor
Barbara Saunders-Adams

Congregant News
& Donations

Book Notes
Barbara Saunders-Adams

Food For Thought

New Year Donors
Marjut Herzog

Share a Simcha

Tributes & Donations

Rabbi Benjamin Resnick

As many of you know already, I mostly used my sermon on the second day of Rosh Hashanah to tell jokes. A great many jokes, some of them my favorites and some of them chosen to make a point and some of them pretty deep (I think) and some of them extraordinarily stupid. It was, as I mentioned on the day, one of two sermons I wrote for that occasion. And, at the risk of beating a dead kosher animal (which, by the way, the rabbis of the Talmud say can be used as the wall of a sukkah), I want to share a little more about why I decided (truly in the moment!) to give that one. 

Part of the goal, yes, was exploring how jokes structure and reinforce community, creating intimate spaces in which we can lead our best lives. I believe that jokes can do that and, often, do so in very important ways. Part of the goal was to share something about the akedah–the binding of Yitzchak–truly one of the most extraordinary stories in our great canon and the reading for the second day of Rosh Hashanah. But part of my goal was simply this: I just really wanted us all to laugh together. I wanted us to experience laughter as a cathartic, cleansing experience. At the end of the day, this goal was probably the most important and determinative one, informing my choice even in the face of some very real anxiety that I wouldn’t get any laughs.

I mentioned, on Rosh HaShanah, that the tradition of rabbis trying to make people laugh goes way back. What I didn’t mention–at least not in a discrete way–is that the Tanakh does this as well. When Sarah hears that she’s to have a child at ninety, her first response is to make a bawdy joke. When the people are grumbling during the exodus they say, “Nu? There weren’t enough graves for us in Egypt?” And when they get sick of manna and ask for Egyptian-style meat, God responds by burying them up to their nostrils in quail. There is, in my view, no way that the Torah isn’t, on some level, playing these stories for laughs. That last one, about the quail, may be a tad “broad” as they say in the comedy business, but when you really imagine the scene it’s undeniably pretty funny, as is the scene in the book of Jonah (which we read on Yom Kippur) during which the prophet is so upset about the death of his favorite plant that he asks for death. 

This past Shabbat we read some of Moshe’s final words to the people, a few of which are, “When I proclaim the name of Adonai, give glory to our God” (Devarim 32:3). From this verse, the sages of the Talmud derive the law that we must make a blessing over studying Torah. (They suggest that “the name of Adonai” is coterminous with Torah and so to proclaim God’s name is to learn, a pretty interesting idea in its own right.) In composing the blessing, which is traditionally recited every morning, the rabbis include a remarkable phrase asking that the words of Torah be sweet in our mouths, from whence derives the custom of encouraging children to trace Hebrew letters in honey. 

This ultimately amounts to a central pillar of rabbinic thought, namely that the study of Torah (and Jewish experience in general) is supposed to be delightful. And, as an important corollary, I would argue that it is supposed to be fun (at least a lot of the time) and sometimes very funny. It is the kind of thinking that allows the Rambam to rule years later that those who do not fulfill the mitzvah of rejoicing on Sukkot are liable for punishment, which, when you stop to think about it, is a pretty funny idea as well! Imagine a guy getting dragged to court and receiving thirty-nine lashes because he’s been found guilty of not having a good enough time. 

Jewish life, of course, is more than just fun and games. And it’s more than telling jokes. But it is certainly not less. So as we continue to move through the holidays–and as we journey on through the year–let’s all have some fun together!

Education Director
Ana Turkienicz

“Even though it is a mitzvah to rejoice on all the festivals, there was an additional celebration in the Temple on the festival of Sukkot, as [Leviticus 23:40] commands: "And you shall rejoice before God, your Lord, for seven days." Mishneh Torah, Shofar, Sukkah and Lulav 8:12

A few days ago, while talking with the children about Sukkot, I asked: “Why do you think the sukkah has a big opening?” To which one of the students responded: “to make space for G-d to come in.” This reply startled me as it was spot on the idea of why G-d commanded us to celebrate the holidays. In Hebrew, the dates of the holidays are called mo’adim. The word mo’ed, (mo’adim in plural), comes from the Hebrew root va’ed (vav, ayin, daled). This is the same root as the Hebrew words for "meeting" and "encounter". Committees are called in Hebrew va’adot. The holidays are moments designed in the Jewish calendar for G-d to meet the Jewish people and rejoice together and vice-versa. The same applies to Shabbat. The holiday of Sukkot, therefore, is an opportunity for the people of Israel to enjoy G-d’s presence together, in community. 

The temporary booths we build from scratch every year are a reminder of the booths the Israelites built on their journey from slavery to the Promised Land. When we perform the mitzvah of building our sukkah, we are forced to confront our own impermanence, our fragility as we face the forces of nature, which have lately been so evident to us. We are also invited to confront our faith, the same faith we affirmed just a few days before Sukkot, during Yom Kippur.

During the holiday of Sukkot, we abandon our precious earthly possessions to make space for an encounter with our ancestors’ traditions and their struggle to remain connected to G-d, in their rustic reality of survival. We invite our friends and family to rejoice together as we affirm our belief in G-d and in the tools that Judaism offers us to make sense of our own lives. We are forced to sit outside our permanent dwellings and reflect on the things we value the most. We look from inside our sukkah to the strong and sturdy buildings we call our homes and confront our innermost fears. 

Dwelling in the sukkah helps us realize how lucky and blessed we are: for having our friends and family around us to support and rejoice, For having our ancient and renewed traditions, that work as a year-round toolbox for personal growth and opportunities to reconnect with the Divine, with nature and with each other. 

Twelve years ago, in 2010, the author Joshua Foer created “Sukkah City”, an architectural design competition that took place in Union Square, New York. The idea was recreated last year, 2021, in DC. You can learn more about the 2021 DC Sukkah City event on YouTube :”Welcoming the stranger, Sukkah City X DC” and about the 2010 NYC event through the ChaiFlicks app: “Sukkah City”. In both exhibits, architects were challenged to re-envision the ancient tradition of building a sukkah in light of “contemporary wandering and temporary homelessness”, in the words of one of the participants. 

Many like to refer to G-d as the “architect” of the universe. On Sukkot, we are commanded to become architects ourselves - to think about what it means to have a sheltering structure, and how to make it unique to our family. As we read the first pages of the daily newspapers, we are bombarded by the grim reality of those who need to flee their homes and wander far and away in search of refuge, all over the world. As on Passover and Sukkot, we are forced to feel as if we ourselves are wandering in the desert, without much to protect us. That’s why later in rabbinic literature, the sukkah is compared with G-d's “clouds of glory”. These clouds protected the People of Israel in the desert.

Fast forward to 2022 - thanking G-d for blessings and reflecting about how we can help and protect those who are seeking refuge all over the world. There are many ways to help, some more practical and some just a click away. Lately, the PJC has become involved with the Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration (wjci.org). At Pelham Memorial High School, Hannah Steinberg, a Learning Center alumna, is the president of the Student for Refugees club. Hannah and Mimi Steinberg have been tutoring an Afghan family since
March. This is their way to support those who were forced to leave their permanent home to find a new home in New Rochelle. Please contact Mike Dvorkin, head of our Social
Action Committee, to see how you can lend a hand in welcoming refugees to Westchester. 

Another way to help is by participating in the upcoming PJC Breakfast Run, which will take place on Sunday, November 6. For those who haven't participated before, we meet at the PJC Parking lot at 8:00 AM and drive in a car caravan to a fixed location in Manhattan. There, we set up tables, serve hot and cold food and distribute clothing and other items to homeless and needy people. We're normally back home by 11:00 AM.

We need volunteers to come on 11/6 on the Breakfast Run and help with food preparation, pickup and sorting donated clothes in the week or two beforehand. We also need clothing and personal item donations (jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, sneakers/ boots in good condition, hats and gloves, blankets, sturdy bags, toiletries).   
Please consider volunteering. This activity is appropriate for families with children as young as kindergarten. Please contact me or Mike Dvorkin - mkdvorkin@gmail.com for more details and to offer help.

There are many more ways to support and volunteer with local and worldwide organizations that care for those in need of shelter. May our experiences in our Sukkot help us connect inwards, outwards and above, as we shake our lulav in all directions. May we have space in our spiritual sukkah for all those who are seeking love and protection. May we be able to spread our “clouds of glory” unto others, and do our part to make this world a better place. May we always be able to get together and rejoice for the blessings bestowed upon us!

Wishing you and your families a Happy Sukkot,
Chag Sukkot Sameach,
With much love,
President Steve Martin

Gratitude – HaKarat HaTov – is one of the cornerstones of Judaism.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, z”l, wrote a lovely essay, “The Power of Gratitude" which shares many insights
into the role and importance of gratitude in our lives. He notes “Gratitude … lies behind a fascinating feature of the Amidah. When the leader of prayer repeats the Amidah aloud, we are silent other than for the responses of kedushah, and saying amen after each blessing, with one exception. When the leader says the words Modim anachnu lakh, “We give thanks to You,” the congregation says the parallel passage known as Modim de-Rabbanan. For every other blessing of the Amidah, it is sufficient to assent to the words of the leader by saying amen. The one exception is Modim, “We give thanks.” Rabbi Elijah Spira (1660–1712) in his work Eliyahu Rabbah explains that when it comes to saying thank you, we cannot delegate this away to someone else to do it on our behalf. Thanks has to come directly from us.”

As I write this we are making the turn from the High Holidays to Sukkot, a time when we are commanded to be happy. For me, gratitude profoundly enhances this transition, as the pride and delight that this year’s High Holidays evoked for me are a source of inspiration and happiness.

Rabbi Ben Resnick and Avinoam Segal’s leadership, inspiration, thoughtfulness and joy provided us with spirited and meaningful services. We were challenged to dig deep and think hard about how we can move forward, individually and together. We were assured that we are forgiven, we are seen, we are worthy, and we are loved. Every year when Havi joins Avinoam in singing Avinu Malkeinu and Unetaneh Tokef my heart breaks and then lifts. The davening soared, allowing us to share our collective voices and strength in support of our t’shuvah

It takes a veritable army to address the many details required to deliver such a seamless experience. I am grateful to the many, many members of our community who participated in ways large and small. In the spirit of the season, please forgive me if I forget to thank anyone. I want to start by thanking Jacqui Stein and Marjut Herzog for their leadership on the High Holiday Committee that provides the critical oversight and direction for the PJC.
Jeremy Schulman is essential to us as Chair of Religious Practices. One of the great sources of pride at the PJC is the number of congregants who step up and lead services, read Torah, Haftarah, serve as Gabbaim and sing their hearts out during Keter M’Luchah. The poem by Claudia Lee moved us as we davened Yizkor. Our praying is a collaboration between our laity and our professionals and that deepens our experience.

Darren Lee, as House Chair, provides yeoman service in assuring everything from the Police protection to the tent were in place and able to provide a safe environment.
Adam Abeshouse tireless efforts again assured us of high-quality sound systems.
Neco Turkienicz was invaluable in making sure that the services were able to be livestreamed. Thanks to Lewis Williams for his work assuring the quality of the livestream during services. The hard work of Adam Bukowski, our caretaker, keeps our building in impeccable condition, our silver Torah crowns and breastplates polished to a high shine, our tables and chairs and wall all in the correct place and so much more.

Melainie Williams, our office manager, is critical to supporting all of our disparate activities. Ana Turkienicz and Jeniece Ilkowitz assured that our children’ services were targeted to both the children and their families. Additionally, they arranged for food and babysitting to cover the times when there were no children services. Kol Havod to Ana on her lovely words of Torah before the Shofar service. 

Thanks to Roger Krulak, Sandra and Bob Goldman and Elaine and Marc Prager for sponsoring the Break Fast and to their multiple assistants who prepped the food, set the tables and cleaned up.  

The entire PJC Board deserves our ongoing appreciation not only for their support of the High Holiday program, but for their tireless work that allows the Pelham Jewish Center to continue to be the special place that it is.

May our gratitude springboard us into a beautiful week of Sukkot and beyond. 

HaKol Editor
Barbara Saunders-Adams
Dear Friends,
Our Kol Nidre services were introduced with the premier of Dan Perkis', Kaddish written in memory of Elie Einzig's son, Aaron Einzig. With solemnity and soul, two local musicians - a violinist and cellist - brought Dan's music to life. If you missed this moving performance, go to our YouTube channel and watch the beginning of the Yom Kippur evening service.

Avinoam took the legal document, Kol Nidre, and raised it to the heights of longing. True to Rabbi Resnick's words,
"... music allows words to break free of meaning" and touch us deeply. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention how beautifully Claudia Lee's heartfelt poetry set the tone for our Yizkor service.

Now that we've passed through the Gates of the Yamim Noraim, it's time to celebrate Sukkot and Simchat Torah. Inspired by the angelic voices of Avinoam & Havi and the words of Torah and poetry of Rabbi Resnick, we can point ourselves toward the path of derech eretz, self-improvement. We can fulfill this mission together at the PJC by forming closer bonds in our sukkot with those we know and forming new relationships with those we don't yet know. We can help each other be the best we can be.

Book Notes

The Netanyahus
by Joshua Cohen

The Netanyahus is not exactly about the Netanyahus who are only introduced midway into Joshua Cohen's Pulitzer Prize winning historical novel. Cohen blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction. The Netanyahu in question is not one of the two famous sons, Yoni & Bibi, but their little known father, Benzion, an exiled Israeli scholar specializing in the Spanish Inquisition.

The protagonist, Ruben Blum, is a Jewish historian - but not a historian of the Jews - who as the token Jew in the fictitious upstate Corbin College (a thinly veiled stand in for Cornell where Benzion taught in the winter of 1959-1960) is co-opted into a hiring committee to review the application of the exiled Israeli historian. When professor
Benzion Netanyahu arrives for the interview with his wife and two sons, Blum plays the reluctant host to guests whose brash "Israeliness" shakes his American complacencies.

Cohen's sardonic take on both American Jews and Israelis is entertaining. The interplay between Blum's parents and in-laws - one pair Ashkenazim the other Sephardim - brings many a laugh as well as the shocking story of how Blum's daughter gets a nose job. Both scholarly and hilarious, The Netanyahus is in a genre all its own..

Food for Thought
But Now See How Exaggerated
by Yehuda Amichai

But now see how exaggerated parting is compared to meeting --
no longer twin sisters, no longer sisters,
no longer standing together,
just the petal of meeting, the butterfly of lingering,
against the sky of parting, and for the length of the journey without
just the small warm air in the mouth of the beloved,
just the inside of the palm of a boy's hand
in the autumnal storms, between the high vaults of winter,
just the small brown eye
in this terrible, visible expanse.

See what the seasons do to the fields and the mountains,
what wars do to the cities,
and what my words did not do to you,
and how my hands did not change the the hue of your hair,
and the parting!

Translated by Leon Wieseltier
Wishes for a Safe, Healthy
and Sweet 5783
Sending Our Entire Pelham Jewish Center Family
Heartfelt Wishes for a Safe, Heathy and Sweet New Year!

Rabbi Ben Resnick & Philissa Cramer
Ronnie and Spencer Barback
Diane & Larry Cohen
Len and Judy Cooper
Julie, Mitch, Scarlett & Liam Cepler
Rachel & Bryan Cochie
Eleanor Dreyfus
Michael & Michelle Dvorkin
Doug & Lina Eckoff
Adam & Jen Gerber
Elise Goldenberg
Jill and Barry Goldenberg
Sandra & Bob Goldman
David Haft & Jacqueline Schacter
The Herzog Family
Gloria & Sheldon Horowitz
Jeniece & Adam Ilkowitz
Naomi & Marshall Jaffe
Jonathan & Tina Kasper
Roger Krulak & Catherine Levene
Daniel Kushnick & Janice Goldklang
Pat Levinson
John & Leah Leonard and family
Maria Kogan Lief & Gene Lief
Hildy & Steve Martin
Mercedes Castiel & Glyn Morgan
Cheryl Goldstein & Marcelo Nacht
Maurice & Michael Owen-Michaane
Shelli Goldberg & Joel Peck
Liz Tzetzo & David Ploski
Elaine & Marc Prager
David & Jeanne Radvany
Regina & Geremie Ram
Sybil Rosenberg
Robert Rossman
Andrea and Peter Rothberg
The Shampanier-Bowen Family
Melanie and David Samuels
The Saunders-Adams Family
Doris-Patt Smith
Rhonda Singer
Heather & Steve Schneider
The Teitelbaum / Scholl Family
Freddie & Efrem Sigel
Laura & Sam Temes
Evelyn & Gary Trachten
Ana & Neco Turkienicz
Donna & Michael Weissman
The Winquist Family
Beth & Neil Yelsey
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 Julia Myerson and Adina Sasson both PJC/PMHS seniors named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program.
. Mazal Tov to Jordan Schwarz for receiving a perfect score on the AP Art & Design exam

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

Donations to the PJC from...

  • Neil and Beth Yelsey IMO Martin Druckerman
  • Martin Dvorkin
  • Patrick Hopper
  • Daniel Perkis and Eleanor Einzig IMO Aaron Einzig
  • Jerusha Coltof
  • Andrea and Peter Rothberg
  • Marcelo Nacht and Cheryl Goldstein

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

  • Omer and Sara Haberman
  • Meryl Druckerman
  • Susan Brenner

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!