Volume 3 | Issue 6

MARCH 2023








From Rabbi's Desk

משנכנס אדר – ימי נסים היו לישראל פורים ופסח 

Whoever enters Adar: Days of miracles - these were for the Jews - Purim and Pesach

Rashi on Taanit 29a 

Passover is our moment to re-live our liberation from slavery in Egypt. Our moment to remember that God was with us and helped us with a strong hand and outstretched arm.  To remind ourselves and our children that we are not alone. Slavery in Egypt feels like a very long time ago. Liberation from those things that constrict us….well, this feels keenly present and deeply aspirational.  It has been a tough couple of years.  Perhaps not as bad as the forty years in the desert but still the past three years… we all need a little Pesach this year. A reminder of the extraordinary gifts that bless us each and every day and what it means to be part of the magnificent tradition of Jewish life.

For those of you new to the valley, our community has a wonderful tradition of celebrating Passover together with our Shir Shalom family.  Traditionally a home table celebration we have found over the years that for many of us family is far away and thus the community seder has become a second home.  This is not your parents’ community seder. This is Shir Shalom at our best.   We ask you to bring a large empty bowl for matzah ball soup (that will be made by our own Pam Goldman) and a main dish to share for 10.   We will re-tell the story of the Exodus and share in song and celebration.  Please mark your calendars for Thursday, April 6th, and join us in celebration and hope!

Shir Shalom back together last year

Shir Shalom – this year in Woodstock!!!!

Last Friday evening the community celebrated Purim together.  The spiel, featured a 3-year-old as King Achashverosh and an 85-plus-year-old as Justice Sotomayor, the music was written across two time zones and the author (OMG was she amazing or what) was out of the country attending through the miracle of our upgraded AV system. The carnival and meshalach manot project are unparalleled as always.    The room was packed and teens and tweens, baby boomers, and beyond. We fulfilled the mitzvot, celebrating ourselves, feeding the poor and one another, and of hearing the megillah chanted with so much commitment.   The joy was palpable.  Gratitude to all who made this year’s celebration an extraordinary source of joy.  The Talmud teaches us that when the month of Adar begins that we begin rejoicing.  This joy is to be sustained according to Rashi through the celebration of Passover….Purim and Passover remind us of the miracles that surround us.  May this season of hope and renewal be so for you.  

Joy and sweetness for Pesach and beyond from our family to yours, 

Rabbi Ilene Harkavy Haigh

From the Board President

By this time most years one could begin a note to the synagogue with “spring is in the air” but alas, based on the two snow storms of last week, we seem to be a bit behind.  Not at Shir Shalom, however.  Our Spring is definitely breaking through the Winter doldrums. We set the stage with a magnificent Purim celebration where the Chosen Frozen cast kept us laughing and the children (and adults) in their fabulous costumes proved once again that we do produce beautiful, smart, and talented children.  In a few weeks, we will be gathering again to celebrate Passover at our community Seder on April 6th.  But there are a few events that will take place even before that.  We will launch the first musical interlude prior to our Friday night services on March 17th at 6 PM.  Everyone is welcome and musicians are particularly welcome to the “jam” session.   We hope to do this every third Friday of the month. We already launched Shabbat Pot Lucks on the first Friday of the month and they have been fabulous and very well attended.  It is a lovely way to begin the Sabbath.   Prior to Passover, on March 19th at 12:30 PM, we will have an Israeli wine tasting in case people wanted to add some Israeli wine to their Seder, although what could possibly replace the subtle tones of Manischewitz wine!

For our intellectual enjoyment, the Adult Education Committee has launched three lectures on Jews and the Weimar Republic. The first was in February with an overview of the Weimar Republic’s renaissance in Germany and the second, March 29th at 7 PM will be on Hollywood’s gain from the Weimar, and then on April 26th at 7 PM, the Bauhaus architectural movement also coming from the Weimar influence.   On April 23rd  at 1 PM Bette Lauer, author of Hiding in Plain Sight will be the guest speaker at our annual Gravitz Holocaust Lecture series. And, to make that day even more delightful come and join the crew for the semi-annual clean-up earlier that day.  This year’s Scholar in Residence program will be on June 2-4 with Rabbi Mychal Springer and that weekend we will also have a ceremony for our Rabbi who begins her second decade with us.   Then, on to the Gala on July 22nd to celebrate our 35th year.  So, a lot of fun and interesting events are planned for Spring and Summer.  We hope you will join us.

But there is still more to come.  Our reinvigorated Social Justice committee is planning some new activities, we hope to launch our Security grant soon which will further fortify the synagogue in response to increased antisemitism threats nationwide, we will also make some more upgrades in the sanctuary for our new AV equipment and we hope to be offering our younger members a stipend to encourage them to host a Shabbat dinner at their home and invite other young people.  We see this as serving perhaps as an in-person alternative to electronic ways of meeting some new friends.  

If you are interested in being a part of the preparations for any of these events or of joining any of these committees or financially supporting any of the special events, just let Jenn or me know. We are always looking for new ideas and new volunteers. 

A lot of flowers are about to bloom and we are truly ready for them.

Phyllis Forbes

From the Hebrew School Director's Desk

Sophia reading Megillah (age 14)

Sophia reading Megillah (age 22)

The month of Adar is a time when we are supposed to feel infused with joy. Since Purim falls in Adar and the customs surrounding this holiday involve “l’chaims,” feasting, partying, dressing up, and engorging on pastries - it’s hard not to be happy! As the Ed Director, I’m also smiling because nothing gives me more joy than watching our kiddos experience Judaism through a portal that exudes delight. It’s fairly hard not to hit the mark on Purim, and holy cow: did Shir Shalom hit a home-run last Friday night: Frozen Chosen, homemade hamantaschen, pizza galore, carnival games, costumes, wine-in-a-box, and Tom Beck with antlers!  Woodstock was where the party was at!!

For me, another element of Purim that fills my heart with happiness is listening to the Megillah. In Detroit, it is customary for children to commit to reading a section of the Megillah once they become bar/bat mitzvah.  Since both of my kids became bar/bat mitzvah in March, they had a WEEK after the “big day” to go up on the bima and read. I remember thinking it was too much to simultaneously learn Torah and Megillah, but I remember our Cantor saying: “Leah, is there ever too much Torah? Too many mitzvot? What better way to enter the congregation as a Jewish adult than to come back a week later and help others fulfill a mitzvah?” He was referring to the mitzvah of hearing the Megillah read on Purim (where the phrase “the whole megillah” originates).  

In Detroit, it was also the tradition to “mess around” with the Megillah readers. The Rabbi, Cantor, and Gabbai would move the scroll sideways and upside down, precariously balance silly hats on the head of the readers, or toss boas and scarves across their shoulders while they chanted. I remember feeling extremely stressed out because clown-sized glasses were placed over my kids’ prescription glasses, and I was unsure if they were going to be able to actually read the words on the parchment.  Alas, they learned the portion well enough to chant it with silly glasses, hats, scarves, and upside down scrolls. More importantly, they equated reading Megillah with fun! 

By the time they were in high school, they “took the show on the road,” as Megillah readers were called in to pitch-hit and read at the day schools, synagogues, JCCs, senior centers, and in-home minyanim. Kids would drive across Metro-Detroit and stop at a few different congregations to chant before making it to their day school, where they would then read again during services. Nothing brought me more joy than seeing my kids and their friends bring this gift to the community. And it was not just Megillah, they expanded their repertoire by learning Torah portions for the Chagim and special Shabbats. And while it always required practice and review, once they learned a new portion, muscle memory took over; it was something that they owned. As a mom, it was what filled me with pride.  What made Judaism come alive for me most was witnessing my children chant Torah - connecting the congregation to our ancestors all the way back to Sinai. 

This year, once again, I had the pleasure of watching Sophia read Megillah on Purim.  And while I was beaming from ear to ear with joy, nothing brought me as much pleasure as hearing her speak to the congregation; she shared that she had learned Megillah as a teenager. She wanted the kids to know that they could and should learn it too, as it was truly a gift.  When the night wrapped up, several folks came up to us and complemented Sophia. They incorrectly assumed that she did not grow up in a Reform congregation.  

Sophia absolutely grew up in a Reform congregation. From the ages of 0-12 she belonged to a small Reform synagogue in Troy, Michigan that was almost identical to Shir Shalom in its hamishy environment and religious make-up.  And while we ultimately moved to a Conservative congregation, she learned how to read Hebrew, how to Daven, how to live Jewishly at a shul just like Shir Shalom. I’d love to say that she learned this in their award winning Hebrew School, of which I helped build, but the truth of the matter is that both of my kids learned because we regularly attended services. 

Full disclosure: they were NOT spectacularly behaved. They had “mom’s claw” grab their distracted shoulders more times than I can count and stern reprimands for flicking their shoes off in the aisles or playing cat’s cradle with Randy’s tallis strings. They hid in the women’s bathroom, locked themselves into closets in the classrooms, snuck oneg treats 2 hours too early. In fact, Sam had a special talent for finding certain naughty words within words in the Torah (re: Assyria) and giggling so loudly that our Rabbi would casually glance our way with that classic bemused-meets-annoyed smile. But, despite their best of efforts to do the opposite - as if by osmosis, they learned Hebrew. And somewhere down the line they realized that with this knowledge they could do something. And then, they recognized that this was pretty special.

And it is.  And so, taking a cue from my own daughter, who offered up her help (minus her tone deafness) to help read Megillah, I want to extend this invitation.  Next year, let’s pack the bima with Megillah readers. Let’s READ THE WHOLE MEGILLAH.  In fact, let’s not wait a year.  If you want to read Torah (a line, a few lines, a passage), we are here to help.  Rabbi, Art, our incredible teachers, myself - we are here to help you achieve this goal.  It is never too early or too late to learn. 

May we follow in the sage wisdom of the rabbis and lean into joy this Adar.  May the anticipation of amplifying next year’s Purim celebration by filling the bima with Megillah readers permeate our hearts with enough joy to propel us through what is sure to be a long Vermont mud season.  May the echo of Purim laughter and memories of hilarious reindeer Mordechais carry us all. 


Leah Gawel

2023 Hebrew School Calendar


Abby Lyn Gillette

Allan B. Feller

Amelie Rothschild

Anita Novins

Antonio C. Bonanno

Beth Joseph Ervais

Carol Marcia Trachtenberg Cantor

Celia Sirotkin

Charles Alan Borck

Constance Rothenberg

Dr. Sy Greenwald

Edith Rabin Linn

Edward Joel Weinberg

Florence E. Charkins

Irving Bachrach Gold, MD

Irving Mehlman

Israel Brownstein

Israel Yanofsky

John Vincent Skarzenski

Mildred Esther Weinberg

Milton Elsberg

Molly Moosman

Moses Kopeika, MD

Phillip Singer

Phyllis Stone

Robert Gottsegen

Rose L. Steinberg

Samuel H. Schneider

Selma G. Kadets

Shimon Malin

Solomon Weiner

Sonia "Sunny" Fisher

Tobey Cooper

Warren Levin

Todah Rabah

For all the gifts of the heart that have been given between February 10, 2023 - March 9, 2023. We could not have done it without you!

Click for list

Coming Up

Sat. Mar 11 @ 10:30 AM

Shabbat Morning Minyan

Sun. Mar 12 @ 10:00 AM

Hebrew School

Mon. Mar 13 @ 4:00 PM

Book Club

Wed. Mar 15 @ 8:30 AM

Virtual Minyan on Zoom

Thur. Mar 16

Rabbi Learning Series:

Torah Study @ 10:00 AM

Hebrew I @ 12:15 PM

Hebrew II Study @ 11:00 AM

Fri. Mar 17 @ 6:00 PM

Musical Celebration before Shabbat Worship

Fri. Mar 17 @ 7:00 PM

Shabbat Worship with Rabbi Haigh

Sat. Mar 18 @ 10:30 AM

Saturday Morning Family Learner's Shabbat Worship with Rabbi Haigh

Sun. Mar 19 @ 9:30 AM

Shir Chadash Playgroup

Sun. Mar 19 @ 10:00 AM

Hebrew School

Sun. Mar 19 @ 11:00 AM

Rabbi’s Round Table: Vayikra - The Call: Who may I say is calling?

Sun. Mar 19 @ 12:30 PM

Pesach Wine Tasting

Wed. Mar 22 @ 8:30 AM

Virtual Minyan on Zoom

Wed. Mar 29 @ 7:00 PM

Adult Education - Jewish Art During The Weimar Republic

Sat. Apr 1 @ 10:30 AM

Upper Valley Jewish Kidz Club Event at Howe Library, Hanover

Thur. Apr 6 @ 6:00 PM

Community Passover Sedar

Visit Our Calendar

Bring in Shabbat with Zimrah

Singing and Sharing of Jewish Music

Friday, March 17, 2023

(6-7 pm - before Shabbat services)

Come enjoy wine and cheese at 6 pm!

Listen to exciting, gorgeous Jewish music to lead the way into Shabbat services. 

To learn more or to share some music, email Lois Fein at iloveshirshalom@gmail.com

The Seder is coming, the Seder is coming and soon, the Seder is coming to Shir Shalom!!!

Celebrate Passover with us on Thursday, April 6, 2023, at 6:00 PM at our Community Seder. It will be a Potluck so please bring a Passover dish such as an entrée ( i. e. brisket, salmon, chicken), vegetable, side dish, salad or dessert for 10 people.

Please remember NO flour, Pasta, bread, Pork or shellfish.

Please bring an empty pot so we can serve your family wonderful homemade chicken soup with matzoh balls. BYOB if you want to drink wine other than Manischewitz Passover wine. 

Since this will be a big gathering, we are asking everyone to test for COVID, if you are able to before coming. We want to keep everyone healthy as we celebrate together. Hope to see you there.

Ukraine Initiative

Shir Shalom VT has successfully brought a Ukrainian teenager and her family to the Upper Valley. The need for help continues while they get settled in.

Please contact Mickey Elsberg or Andrea Felix if you wish to help.

Important Information

Calling all parents of SENIORS in high school:

We are planning our end-of-the-year 'Class of '23 Send Off' to honor this milestone. If you have a senior, please reach out to: 


Zoom Meeting

This will be used for Rabbi's teaching including Torah Study, Hebrew I and II, Adult Education, Wednesday and Saturday Minyans, Social Groups, etc.


Meeting ID: 725 948 2096

Password: 856328

Zoom Room

This will be used for larger group events such as the 1st and 3rd Friday Night Shabbat Services, B'nei Mitzvahs, and Events


Meeting ID: 219 902 8045

Passcode: Dg8WLC

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