December 2016 - 5777

Volume LXV #3

Member of the Union For Reform Judaism


Congregation Shalom is a Reform Jewish community committed to education, spiritual growth,  and Tikkun
Olam (healing the world).   We are proud to be an extended family of  equals - welcoming,  caring, and inclusive.
  Together, we engage in religious observance,  enjoy social activities, and  pursue life-long learning.
Congregation Shalom
large blue green divider
Rabbi From our Rabbirabbi    

Dear Friends,
Several years ago our congregation participated in a conversation about our community's identity and vision.  Many members participated in this process and together we created a mission statement that has served to guide us in creating a Jewish community that we can be proud of. 

Congregation Shalom is a Reform Jewish community committed to education, spiritual growth, and Tikkun Olam (healing the world). We are proud to be an extended family of equals - welcoming, caring and inclusive. Together, we engage in religious observance, enjoy social activities, and pursue life-long learning.
In my letter today, I would like to focus on one aspect of our congregation's mission: our commitment to Tikkun Olam. There are many ways, both personal and as a congregation, that our members engage in the work of repairing the world.  As a community, we have much to be proud of.  In our school we emphasize the giving of tzedakah. You can see the artistic interpretation of Maimonide's Ladder of Tzedakah that our students created in the lobby of our school. The dedicated members of our social action committee provide opportunities for us throughout the year to help others.  For example, monthly food donations to the Lowell Transitional Shelter, serving food at the Chelmsford Senior Housing and Lowell Transitional Shelter on Christmas, on-going collections of things for those in need, food collection on Yom Kippur, Mitzvah Day, the Martin Ames Social Action Shabbat and more.
In addition, our congregation has begun to partner with the International Institute of New England. The mission of the IINE is:

The Mission of the International Institute of New England is to invest in the future of our cities and towns by preparing refugees and immigrants for participation in the social, economic and political richness of American life through active citizenship.

Last year Cheryl Hamilton, the Director of Program Engagement, spoke at the Martin Ames Social Action Shabbat and during the High Holidays this fall our community collected cleaning supplies for the IINE to share with recent refugees. If you are interested in learning about the IINE or would like to consider volunteering in some capacity, you are invited to come to an Open House/Meet and Greet on December 7th, either at 5:00 pm or 7:00 pm in downtown Lowell, 17 Warren St, 2nd Floor. If you would like to come, please fill out the form at this link to reserve your space: Some of the volunteer opportunities are:  Front Desk Volunteer, Donation Management Volunteer, On-call Resettlement Support, English Language Assistant, Employment Assistant, Computer Lab Assistant, Language Interpreters, Welcome Dinner Hosts. 

Finally, in the realm of social justice, as a member of the Reform Movement, our congregation has participated in many program opportunities at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.  For more than 50 years, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (or "the RAC") has been the hub of Jewish social justice and legislative activity in Washington, D.C. As the DC office of the Union for Reform Judaism, the RAC educates and mobilizes the Reform Jewish community on legislative and social concerns, advocating on more than 70 different issues, including economic justice, civil rights, religious liberty, Israel and more. As a non-profit organization, the RAC's advocacy work is completely non-partisan and pursues public policies that reflect the Jewish values of social justice that form the core of our mandate.  If you interested in learning more about the RAC, you can click this link to find out about the amazing history of this organization: . The RAC has also played a pivotal role in our nation's civil rights movement. You can learn more about that effort at the following link:

One of the most exciting and interesting programs that the RAC sponsors is for members of Reform synagogues. Every two years the RAC hosts the Consultation on Conscience.  Consultation on Conscience is the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's biennial social justice leadership conference. Held over three days in Washington, D.C., Consultation empowers the Reform Jewish Movement through leadership development; opportunities for network and community building; and active dialogue culminating in an afternoon of advocacy on Capitol Hill. It is open to Congregational Delegations as well as individuals looking to build relationships and deepen their engagement in the fight for progressive social change in North America. In 2017, there will be a special focus on issues of racial justice, including conversations on how to better organize to combat voter suppression and the staggering problem of mass incarceration in America. To learn more about the program and speakers please follow this link: 

I have participated in the COC many times. Several years ago members of our congregation attended as well and we had an amazing experience.  I will be traveling for this year's conference (April 30 - May 2nd ) and would like to invite any members who would like to participate. I already know of two people who are interested in attending!  As members of small congregations, we can apply for scholarships. The link to register is: . If you plan to attend, please let me know since we can look into traveling to DC together. 

To end, I would like to remind you that the work of Tikkun Olam can be done in many ways. Whether it is through donating a salad for homeless members of our community to eat or walking through the halls of Congress to speak about issues of social justice, you are doing the important mitzvah of Tzedek - Justice. I leave you with these two quotes from our tradition:
"If I am not for me, who is for me; and if I am (only) for myself, what am I. And if not now, when?" - Hillel, Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14
Pray as if everything depended on God; act as if everything depended on you.
       - "Gates of Prayer," the Reform prayer book
From our PresidentBarryTop     

What is the Culture?


This summer's vacation, my family and I were invited to home swap with a Breton family in France. Because this was not the first time we had traveled to France, we decided to make the trip relaxing...simply traveling to the family's home and staying there while they were in our home. Perhaps because of this, the cultural differences seemed clearer. The exquisite food - even in what we would think of as a 'fast-food' restaurant. A sense that each person is responsible for his or her own safety from train doors that slam shut fast - so if you are not paying attention, you can be hurt - to beaches without lifeguards. And, of course, that cliché about French people's dress seems true- people have clothing that matches, down to their watch bands. Check out this display in one store where each wall had a different color set of accessories ... the underlying assumption being that you would want your accessories to match your outfit's color.  I captured the pink wall... but there was a wall for green and for yellow and for cobalt and on and on!

We have our own set of cultural norms here at Congregation Shalom. For instance, we don't do a High Holiday appeal for money from the bima, though we do put out envelopes silently asking for donations... and, yet, everyone is welcome to attend without requiring membership or paying for tickets. We don't have assigned seating based on what people donate.  We avoid plaques that identify donors except for our Tree of Life.  We have a group called MOCA - members of a certain age - and its purpose is to welcome any member that would like to attend events. The events tend to be for couples or singles without children but all ages are welcome. We have programming from pre-school through High school but we don't stop there as we regularly have adult Hebrew and Bar and Bat Mitzvot classes plus a very active post-8th grade youth group - our Shalomites.

We're an egalitarian community.  Friday night services are more attended than Saturday morning services... and kippas and tallit are optional; there's always a sprinkling of women and men who wear them at every service. While many of us believe in God, there's an acceptance that many of us do not. If something is said in Hebrew in a service, it will be said or written in the prayer book, in English.

We have a strong belief that we are a community and can provide extended family. When the community needs help, we all volunteer - to bring food, to recycle, to drive. And, at Congregation Shalom, we welcome Shabbat with an Oneg - an informal gathering to celebrate Shabbat with food.  Each family is responsible along with four or so other families to host the congregation a few times each year. It's part of how we step up to be part of the extended family of Congregation Shalom - ending with cleaning up but beginning with greeting attendees and bringing and serving food to each other.

We are working on new cultural norms like... being truly welcoming of new people - trying to mingle with the people we didn't know yesterday when we attend services.  Also, encouraging people to connect and to volunteer so that they can participate fully in the communal life of Congregation Shalom.

What are cultural norms that you believe are here? What are the cultural norms you believe we should be incorporating in our communal life?  Drop me a line at!

Warm regards,
From our Education Director     

If you ask most of the children in our school, they will almost always say that Hanukkah is one of their favorite holidays. I know that the attraction of gifts and special surprises, coupled with latkes and Sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) may be some of the major factors influencing the popularity of Hanukkah.

However, while gifts and Hanukkah gelt are wonderful, I hope that the ritual of celebrating the wonder of light and the gift of miracles will also be a part of your Hanukkah celebration. I am always struck by the beauty of the Hanukkah Menorah and the increase in lights as we light the menorah each and every day. If we can take just a few minutes during the week of Hanukkah to reflect on the miracles not just of the oil that lasted for 8 days, but also the light and gratitude that is given to us every day.

I recently came across an idea that the URJ suggested regarding the dreidel game. First they examined the regular dreidel game - a must have for all families but then they suggested an alternate type of game that puts a different "spin", excuse the pun, on the traditional dreidel game. In the URJ's version of dreidel, we are asked to stop and reflect on the gifts that we have that are beyond tangible items we receive. The URJ suggests the following:

A New Spin for Your Family
In addition to lighting and blessing candles, eating latkes, and exchanging gifts, your family may wish to try a new spin on the dreidel game.
What You'll Need:


*    Eight (8) sheets of construction paper or copy paper

*    Scissors

*    Markers, pens or crayons  


What You'll Do:

Cut a large dreidel shape from each of the eight sheets of construction paper.  Write one of these discussion starters (or your own eight discussion starters) on the dreidels so that each dreidel has a different discussion starter on it:


*    Togetherness is part of our family when...

*    Sharing is part of our family when...

*    Loving is part of our family when...

*    Fun is part of our family when...

*    Celebration is part of our family when...

*    Mitzvot are part of our family when...

*    Learning is part of our family when...

*    Tradition is a part of our family when...

Draw eight blank lines below each discussion starter.
Together with your family, come up with eight answers for one of the discussion starters on the first night of Hanukkah.  Choose one family member to record the answers on that dreidel.  When you're finished, add the dreidel to your Hanukkah decorations. Use a different discussion starter dreidel (and a different family member to record the answers) for each of the subsequent nights of the holiday.  You may also try playing the dreidel game with a charitable twist: Everyone puts some money in the kitty, and the winner gets to choose where to donate it.

I love the fact that as families we can have fun and play a traditional game of dreidel but how special to also be able to reflect on the importance of family and the gift of stopping to reflect on what is important to us,either in our own family unit or as part of a bigger community.

In the spirit of celebrating as part of a bigger community, I am excited to invite everyone to our Congregation Shalom community Hanukkah Party on December 18th. Please join us from 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. and together we can enjoy a fun afternoon of music, food, games and crafts. I love this day every year and if you join us, you will likely see Rabbi Perry and me dance and even use a hula-hoop. This promises to be a fun time for all and I hope that everyone will join us and if possible, bring a nut free dessert so we will have even more yummy food to share.
Yael Signature

From our Cantorial Soloist     

Some songs have forced their way into liturgical or prayerful applications when the original lyrics have little to do with the prayer. Leonard Cohen's Halleluyah is one such example. Learning last month of the extraordinary composer's death, has prompted us to share with you our rendition of Cohen's Halleluyah, which includes setting part of Psalm 150 to his arrangement. When you click the link below, you will hear initially the words and melody of Leonard Cohen's version of this piece; in the middle you will hear some Hebrew Text borrowed from Psalm 150 set to the same melody. The words of Psalm 150 are a listing of musical instruments. When we sing or chant this Text we are in a place of utter joy or in need of an emotional lift. When there are no words left to express our emotions, we use our instruments, including our voices. We complete this compilation with the text of Cohen's final verse. As you listen to the following recording, it is our hope that you find a moment of peace in Cohen's soulful composition amid this tense time in our country's life, and may this gifted composer's memory be for a beautiful blessing.

B'Shira V'Shalom (With Song and Peace),

Jodi Blankstein, Cantorial Soloist

Social Action Committee socialaction

Blood Drive planned for Monday December 12th  2p.m.-7p.m.  Congregation Shalom will once again host a blood drive on Monday December 12th , from 2-7p.m.  Volunteers are needed to help set up, staff, and clean up the drive. If you are interested in volunteering, please email . If you would like to donate blood, please sign up at and enter in Congregation Shalom's zip code (01863) to be directed to our location to sign up. 
Christmas Mitzvot
Stay tuned for more information coming soon about ways to sign up and help our community on December 25! In the past we have served meals at local senior centers, shelters, and other social service organizations. We are finalizing details on this year's projects and will reach out through email and Weekly Updates with more information soon.
Need for more volunteers at Table of Plenty in Chelmsford
Congregation Shalom is part of a team of volunteers at the Table of Plenty in Chelmsford, an organization that serves a free meal to all, no questions asked, every Tuesday from 5-6 p.m. at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Chelmsford Center. We have had some turnover and now need more volunteers to help serve!  Our team serves every other month on the third Tuesday, and will next serve on December 20th.  If you have time to volunteer during the afternoon on Tuesdays and would like to take part, please contact Linda Newhard at
Monthly Food Donations for Middlesex Transitional Living Center
Congregation Shalom is collecting food for the Lowell Transitional Living Center. It is easy to help out with this mitzvah. Donations of meatloaf, and/or brownies and/or salad are accepted each month. There will be a cooler chest located by doors of Congregation Shalom. Simply place your donation in the cooler and know that you have done a good deed! The food will be collected and brought to the Lowell Transitional Living Center in Lowell, where our donations are greatly appreciated each month. You can leave your donations in the cooler beginning on Wednesday, December 21st  through Thursday, December 22nd  (until 5pm.)  January dates will be January 18th -19th  - mark your calendar now!

Featured This Issue
December Oneg Schedule
List of Donations
small blue green divider2
Save the Date

December 6th - Raising Young Kids Jewishly
December 7th and 14th - Jewish Art - Create a Hamsa
December 11th - Hannukah Fair 
December 13th - Cafe Wisdom
December 14th - Hannukah Fair  
December 17th -  Torah Study    
December 19th - Movie Monday  

small blue green divider2

  small blue green divider2
QuickLinksQuick Links

Links to Our Website

small blue green divider2 

December Oneg Schedule

Dec 2 - 7 pm Family Shabbat - Grade 4 Jodi w/Adam Music Cole & Evans*, Berman, Burke, Ebersman, Heater
Dec 9 - 6 pm Sunset Shabbat - Jodi w/Adam Music Laider & Myers*, Beningson, Giniger & Revy, Muhlfelder, Orlinsky
Dec 16 - 6 pm MOCA Shabbat - Shalomite Creative Service Karp*, Curry, Degen, Landress, Maguire, Penn, Solomon

Karen and Rick
Oneg Committee
small blue green divider2
List of Donations

The following donations were received from July -mid November 2016:
Nine general donations
In memory of
   Arthur Nahabedian, four donations
   Faye Goldstein, two donations
   Joan Liebman
   Max Savitt
   Ruth Savitt Wilbeet
In honor of
   High Holiday Services, 25 donations
   Lee Buchman
   Milton Segal
   The Fox Family's children and grandchildren
   Elizabeth Howard Davis
   Judith Palais
   Bruce Goss and Julie Beck Goss
   Samuel and Ineece Goldman
   Laura and Paul Rodman's 50th
wedding  anniversary
In memory of
   Mark Himelfarb
In honor of
   High Holiday Services, two donations
   Mary Kutcher
One general donation
In memory of
   Mark Himelfarb
In honor of
   Laura and Paul Rodman's 50th wedding
In memory of
   Arthur Nahabedian
   Janet Dubner's mother
In memory of
   Arthur Nahabedian
   Mark Himelfarb
In memory of
   Arthur Nahabedian
One general donation
In memory of
   Arthur Nahabedian
In memory of
   Josh Friedman
   Mark Himelfarb
   Faye Marion Goldstein
   Bernie Tack
In honor of
   Birth of Lila Mielle Hance
   Laura and Paul Rodman's 50th wedding   

small blue green divider2
December Yahrzeits Yahrzeits

Joseph Goldman
Julius Hyatt
Marvin Kerzner
Pearl Park

Eli Baron
Max Epstein
Maurice Friedman
Edward Penn
Steven Perry
Gert Wiener

Harold Berit
Sadie Marx
Irene Notinger

Sayde Goss
Dora Hyatt
Nathan Kupor
Sidney Kurland
Simon Malikan
Bernard Miller
Arlene Newman
Pearl Pearlman Spiegel

small blue green divider2
Our Caring Committee Can Help

The Caring Committee is always available to provide meals or transportation to those members and families who need a little help. Please don't hesitate to email Katie Wolman at or Rabbi Perry at , or feel free to call Katie at home.

Newsletter Ads and You!


We are always looking for advertisers for the Temple newsletter. Ads can be placed at any time with special pricing for members. Ads need not be for a year so if you want to try us, we take ads for 3 months as well as six months. If you decide to continue your ad for a full year, we do pro-rate the price. As the saying goes, "Try us, you'll like us!"


Youth ScholarshipsYthScholar

Throughout the year, there are many enriching Jewish experiences available to our youth through our synagogue or the community. These include, but aren't limited to, summer camps and trips to Washington, New York, and Israel. Fortunately, there is some scholarship money available through the temple to those families in need of financial assistance for these opportunities. Please contact Margie Berenson at with any questions and/or for an application form. 

small blue green divider2

Changed Your Address?

Notify us at:  and we'll make sure all the right organizations at the Temple are informed. Please include your full name in your request.

small blue green divider2


Deadline for the

January Newsletter is 

Thursday, December 15th


Please send articles to  


small yellow blue divider2

Adult EducationAdultEd

large blue green divider
large blue green divider

A few things not on the Auction block yet available for purchase are Ouidad and Fekkai hair products as well as CHI flatirons - all deeply discounted.
The Fundraising team is always looking for new members - almost no meetings (bless emails) yet doing good things for the congregation.
We wish one and all a wonderful Thanksgiving and joyous December!

large blue green divider

Sisterhood Snippetssisterhood

We had a variety of successful events in October and November. In review, we'd like to thank Annette Skolnick for organizing our Making Strides for Breast Cancer team and leading the way by raising over $700! The first Great Decisions discussion was well attended, and the olive oil tasting was a nice addition to our fall line up.
It's a mitzvah to help others in need, especially during the holiday season. We will be collecting items to donate to House of Hope in Lowell. Requested items are: free and clear liquid laundry detergent, ladies sweatpants, ladies pajama pants, ladies slippers, and packages of ladies underwear. Other personal care items are also welcome such as lip balm, lotion, and nail polish. There will be a collection box in the Temple lobby through December 11th .
You don't need to be a football fan to join us at Donna Upson's house on December 4th. We'll meet at 12:30 for food, fun, and of course cheering for the Patriots too.
It's almost time for the annual Chanukkah Fair. Patti Green has been busy rounding up both traditional and new items for the two day event. Come by to shop, or sign up to volunteer during religious school hours on Sunday, December 11th or Wednesday, December 14th
Our festive Chanukkah party will take place at Patti Green's house on Wednesday, December 21st beginning at 6:30pm.
Don't forget that we have a variety of gifts and Judaica items available in our gift shop. Many beautiful options are on display. Contact us if you would like to make a purchase. 
Our next board meeting is on Tuesday, December 6th at 7:00 p.m. All are welcome to attend to share input and ideas. 

large blue green divider
Sisterhood  Retreat

Please join us for the 18th Annual Sisterhood Retreat March 3rd -5th at the Anchorage Inn, Ogunquit Maine. This is a weekend of song, prayer, study, friendship and laughter! Cost will be $300/double occupancy and $425/singles. This includes dinners Friday and Saturday evenings and breakfasts Saturday and Sunday mornings, as well as all taxes and gratuities.

If you haven't yet paid your dues, you can pay with your registration. Please note, attendees must be at least 21 years old. Registration and payment will be due by January 5.  We will also offer a Saturday only option for those who do not want to stay overnight.  Cost will be $50 and includes breakfast or $100 for breakfast and dinner.  

Attached below is a letter with more details on the retreat and the registration form.  If you have any questions, please email Janet at

We hope to see you there!

large blue green divider
Brotherhood NewsBrotherhood

This past month, Temple Brotherhood hosted "Cooking with Mel" (Mel Starr). The theme was the Middle East. More than two dozen of us enjoyed the preparation and/or the feasting on Turkish marinated lamb and Greek herb roasted chicken with hummus and cucumber dip, along with a selection of wines. Many thanks to master cook Mel. This month, Brotherhood will be hosting "movie night" and "guys night out". Look for e-mails to follow.
Submitted by David Brother

Grocery Store Cards  

Do you want to help the temple without spending time or money? Yes, you can!  Help while you shop. Get a grocery card for $100 (Hannaford, Stop&Shop,Donelans or now Whole Foods, too!), and the temple makes $7 cashback. This leads to thousands of dollars for our program, with no out-of-pocket monies from you. Just email  Judy Beningson at  and I will get you started.


large blue green divider 
BGBook Group

The Congregation Shalom book group welcomes all who would like to spend an interesting evening of book review, discussion and socializing.

Many thanks to Esther for hosting the last book review where we discucssed the book The Japanese Lover.
It proved to be a good book selection ,enjoyed by all, and one that stimulated a great deal of discussion.

The evening was productive and we were able to plan for many future meetings.

Jot the following dates into your calendars and note the book selections for those dates:

January 9 th -  The Rent Collector by Camron Wright 
                       Hostess -Becky Bronson

February 27th - Home Lands by Larry Tye
                       Hostess- Ethel Kamien

April 3rd  - The Devil in Jerusalem by Naomi Ragen
                       Hostess- Phyllis Kallus

May 22nd - Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris
                       Hostess- Esther Wikander
large blue green divider 
iGiveiGive for Congregation Shalom
Have you ever thought how great it would be to be able to shop online at 783 different well-known stores and still donate money to Congregation Shalom?  Well, you can do that!  It's free and easy so join those of us who have been sending donations to the synagogue for years simply by shopping by first going to the iGive website once you have established the link.  Click here  to register for Congregation Shalom to automatically be the recipient cause.
If you make a purchase through iGive within 45 days of signing up, an extra $5.00 will go to Congregation Shalom.  If you have any questions, please contact Laura at



large yellow blue divider

Extended Community
large yellow blue divider







large blue green divider

Table of Plenty in Chelmsford

Free Dinner Served

Every Tuesday from 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.

at First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Chelmsford Center


All are welcome. No questions asked.

Also, if you know of someone who cannot get out,

but would benefit from a dinner being delivered to them, please contact us.


For more information contact:



 Return to Quick Links 

large blue green divider

From the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston & Affiliates...


VNA Hospice Care needs volunteers! Hospice volunteers play a key role in helping to provide caring and compassion to patients and families facing life-limiting illness and loss. A volunteer may provide patients with company and emotional support, give the spouse, partner or other caregiver a needed break from care giving, and/or help caregivers run errands or get to and from appointments. A strong need exists for volunteers who can visit on weekdays. We also seek: musicians who would like to sing or play music quietly at the bedside of nursing home residents; Reiki practitioners who would like to offer Reiki to patients and/or caregivers; and people interested in visiting with their therapy dog. Volunteers who speak both English and a second language are also helpful. We provide volunteer training and ongoing support. Call 781-569-2888 and ask to speak to a Volunteer Coordinator for more information. Or email


Spiritual Poetry Journal


"Soul-Lit" is a new on-line spiritual poetry journal. A number of entries have been from Jews and have Jewish content. Writers are encouraged to submit their own poems which have a level of spiritual content to them. Two volumes have already been published.


To check out the website, please click here.


Please spread the word to members of the community who are writers / poets, and who may wish to submit their own writings.



large yellow blue divider

Please support our Congregation Shalom advertisers

large yellow blue divider


  new QPL ad Nov 2012
new Morse Bayliss ad
Dan Dubner new business card double
BethEl Cemetery
Sky Meadow
Westford Regency ad