VOLUME XXIII, NUMBER 1          WWW.SHALOMPCS.COM                       SEPTEMBER 2017

The Rabbi's Column: 
Timeless Questions, Timely Issues


by Rabbi Dr. Julie Hilton Danan
I remember a few years or decades ago, some rabbis were together before the High Holy Days, and one said, "I'm really having trouble thinking of what to speak about; not much has happened lately."  Not so this year!  As we embark on the Jewish New Year 5778, we are facing social, political, environmental and religious issues at every turn.
I could comment on current events, but the world is already full of more op-eds than we can keep up with. Primarily, I see my role as rabbi in sharing the spiritual wisdom of our heritage. I want to bring the ancient and eternal resources of our heritage into dialogue with the challenges of the hour, whether those challenges are personal or social in nature.

Each year I find a theme to explore during the holiday season. This summer what came welling up for me was the famous saying of Hillel, the great first-century sage: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am just for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?" (Pirke Avot 1:14). These questions offer a timeless challenge that we can explore together on a spiritual, emotional and societal level.

It's important to note that Hillel gave his teaching in the form of questions. Judaism has always emphasized questioning. By pondering these questions, each of us can gain deeper understanding of ourselves and our connection to the whole.

Here's a breakdown of what I plan to explore at each service:

Selichot and Changing the World from the Inside Out

Many congregants feel increasingly called to get involved with social action activities, which we often describe with the Hebrew term, Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. It is my hope throughout the coming year to help us make the connections between our inner and outer lives as complementary aspects of our spirituality. We can call this, Tikkun Halev, repair of the heart, the inner work. Without food for our heart and soul, we can head fast to burnout and even to conflict within the very groups that are working to make the world better. I am recommending the following "book in common" to our members who feel called to social activism:

Changing the World from the Inside Out: A Jewish Approach to Personal and Social Change by Rabbi David Jaffe. We will discuss this book (you don't have to have read it all!) on Saturday night, September 16, at our 9 pm Selichot Service, "Spiritual Preparation for Social Activists and Change Makers." Please let me know if you are coming! Email:  pcsrabbi@gmail.com.

You can purchase the book online or order from your local bookstore; we will also have a few copies at PCS, but I would really appreciate your getting your own copy of this inexpensive volume. The book can help us to explore insights and techniques including ritual, prayer and meditation, as well as Mussar, ethical development, to keep us centered as we pursue our goals as individuals and organizations. It helps us to question our choices and keep ourselves on track with humility and dedication.
High Holy Day Sermons and Discussion

On the Eve of Rosh Hashanah (September 20), as usual, I plan to start with a story to introduce our theme of "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am just for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?" We will consider what it means to be "for ourselves" in our own community.

My formal sermon that night is influenced by the recent devastating hurricane and flood in my home state of Texas. Throughout biblical and rabbinic tradition, the flood was a symbol of the chaos that threatens to disrupt our orderly lives. Where is God in natural disasters, and where are we?

On Rosh Hashanah morning (September 21), I will focus on Hillel's first question, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?"  My starting point is to face the difficult issue of renewed antisemitism on both extremes of the political spectrum. If we are not for ourselves these days, who will be for us? But what does it mean to be "for ourselves" as Jews? Do we know what we stand for? Does it really matter to us? And how we are preparing our young adults - or not preparing them - for being Jewish adults in a world of complex identities?

On the second day of Rosh Hashanah (September 22), we shift into Hillel's next question, "If I am just for myself, what am I?" It is once again my privilege to participate in a dialogue and open discussion with Professor Sarah Tauber, PCS member, professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary and a student in the ALEPH Rabbinic program. I always learn so much from her! We will teach and discuss the surprising, original meaning of the phrase, " Tikkun Olam," repairing the world, as preserving the social order while protecting the vulnerable. How far outward do our responsibilities toward others extend?

Shabbat Shuvah

Shabbat Shuvah, the Shabbat of Return, is Saturday, September 23, with the service at 10 am at PCS. Yes, that makes it a three-day marathon! But it's a special mitzvah to come to synagogue on that day, so please join me for a meaningful but relaxing morning. It will be a more low-key service, and we will learn texts that I learned from Rabbi Avi Weiss that show us four meanings of Teshuvah (repentance/return): rational, mystical, spiritual and redemptive.

Yom Kippur

On Kol Nidrei (September 29), I will address the most philosophical part of Hillel's query, "If not now, when?" As we embark on the holiest day of the year, we will consider the issue of timeliness and of what we have been putting off in our lives. Or, as my friend Rabbi Naomi Levy put it, what is God dreaming of for us, and why aren't we doing it?

On Yom Kippur morning (September 30), I return to a deeper, spiritual perspective on the question, "If I am just for myself, what am I?" What is the Jewish role in a world where we face global issues that really know no boundaries? That morning, as is also my custom, I'm inviting several PCS members who will speak briefly to share some immediate and practical ways that our community members can serve and help others, both within and outside of our congregation.

In addition to all of that teaching and learning together, I am so grateful to once again share our bimah with Cantor Abbe Lyons. We are blessed with her musical talent, beautiful voice, deep Jewish knowledge and personal menschlichkeit. At PCS the holidays definitely take a village! We will welcome members who sing in the choir, lead meditations, present inspirational readings (coordinated by Robin Berman), chant Torah and Haftarah (organized by Ed Sperling), serve food (also Robin Berman), set up the facility, greet people, lead kids' services, and much more under the leadership of High Holiday Committee Chair Richard Solomon. The Days of Awe with PCS are awesome! I'm looking forward to being with you as we ponder timeless questions for timely issues.

P.S. There will even be some High Holy Day "swag" to reinforce the theme. As you know with me, even the High Holy Days should have a touch of fun.
L'shanah Tovah Tikateyvu ve-Techateymu.  May we all be inscribed and sealed for a Good Year 5778.
Hebrew letter blocks
by Galit Sperling, Principal


September 17 is the first day of Hebrew School at PCS! We are excited to see all of our students. For the first time in many years, we are happy to announce that all of our Sunday classes will run concurrently, with grades K-6 all meeting from 9 am-11 am on Sundays throughout the year. We are looking forward to many all-school activities and holiday celebrations as a result! Kitah Hey through B'nei Mitzvah (fifth through seventh grades) will also meet on Thursday afternoons. The High Holidays will be upon us before we know it! Mark your calendars for the holiday festivities at PCS.
Whether you are coming back for another great year, or are new to PCS and our community, we welcome you with open arms. Great things are in store this year at PCS. See you soon!
Upcoming Hebrew School Dates:

Friday, September 8:  Back to Shul Night with ice cream oneg; open to all!
Sunday, September 17:  First Day of Hebrew School, K - sixth grades
Thursday, September 21:  Rosh HaShanah; no Hebrew School Classes - See you at synagogue!
Thursday, September 28:  First Day of seventh grade class
Friday, September 29 - Saturday, September 30:  Yom Kippur
Thursday, October 5:  Hebrew School in the Sukkah!
Sunday, October 8:  No Hebrew School Classes (Columbus Day); Mazal tov to Ava Klein on her         Bat Mitzvah!

Josh Shea's Mitzvah Project

     For my mitzvah project, I helped clean up trails at Teatown Reservation in Ossining. The reason I picked this project is to help keep the earth clean and preserve the environment, 
which is one of God's commandments in the Torah. I enjoyed this because it helped me connect to nature. This is also a great way to help the community, and I would recommend it.

Miranda Miller's Mitzvah Project


As September begins, I bemoan the end of the bright sunny mornings and late sunsets. My family is as used to this ritual as my exclamations in January about the five extra minutes the sun was out!  Even though most of my kids are self-sufficient now, the thought of getting on the September roller coaster of school and after-school activities makes me tired before it even begins.  I hope everyone had a great summer and is getting ready for the start of school and the High Holidays.
This summer, as the new PCS president, I felt a responsibility to attend services to help make minyan.  These have truly been some of my favorite services in the 19 years I have been a member.  Some have been lay-led by Michael Safranak and some led by Rabbi Julie.  A few have even had musical accompaniment by my son, Aydin Mayers.  I also made sure I took the time to enjoy Rhea Wolfthal's and Robin Berman's Ashrei.  I will miss Rhea Wolfthal's gabbai services now that she has made Aliyah to Israel.  We wish her well. 
I love our quirky little 160-year-old shul with its "regulars."  I love the wavy tinted glass windows, the yellow paint, the old light fixtures, and the way the pews creak when you lean on them the wrong way. I come in, breathe and relax.  In the summer, I love having conversations just sitting with the pews flipped back in small group formation.  Sometimes I sit there and hear a voice I haven't heard in a long time and turn to see a former member visiting from Colorado! Here and there are a few people who aren't "regulars."  This is a setting where we can talk with someone new or with someone with whom we don't usually have the leisure to spend time.
Yes, the High Holidays are approaching, and we will be meeting again at the First Congregational Church in Chappaqua.  Cantor Abbe will be working with Rabbi Julie, and the choir will sing and hopefully some of our own musicians will participate; as always, it will be special and beautiful though we will certainly miss Vivian Chang and Mark Freiheit this year.
As we start our 20th year as a congregation, I encourage everyone to make a regular commitment to become a part of PCS on a weekly or monthly basis.  Get to know your community.  This community started around a dining room table in 1985, moved to the Cottage School and finally, 20 years ago, moved into 219 Bedford Road; we are only the third spiritual group to call this building home.
This congregation was built on the volunteer efforts of its members. I've heard that, in the early years, one founding member came in to vacuum every week.  I've been known to redo bathrooms...or make my husband do it!  We had volunteers help to redo the back room this year and to clean the basement.  Thank you to everyone who helped and donated.
As we enter the High Holiday season, please make a commitment to making PCS your second home. Get to know the community.  Help to create programming that is important to you. Participate in services. Learn something new.
L'Shanah tova, and may everyone be inscribed and sealed in the book of life for a wonderful and sweet New Year ahead.

Leyla Z. Nakisbendi


Mazal tov to Rabbi Julie for being invited to serve as a Fellow in the LEAP program, a partnership between the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at The University of Pennsylvania and Clal, the New York-based National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.  LEAP, which stands for leverage, expand and popularize, recognizes the pivotal role played by rabbis, not only in creating great new thinking, but also in their unique position to leverage, expand and popularize cutting edge work coming out of the field of academic Judaic studies. The goal of LEAP is to bridge the worlds of the academy and the lived lives of those whom rabbis serve on a daily basis. And the theme for the first year of this program could not be more perfect for Rabbi Julie: Nature Between Science and Religion: Jewish Culture and the Natural World!
We want to kvell along with you! Please share your simchas and accomplishments, and those of your family, by emailing the information to RKorus@ShalomPCS.com.

Ready or not, here it comes...!

PCS Annual
Back to Shul Night!
Friday, September 8, 7:30 pm

Come for Friday night services filled with joy and music 
followed by a special ICE CREAM oneg celebration.

Greet old friends, make some new, get ready for 
a sweet New Year of 
Joyful Judaism at PCS!
Bring your neighbors, bring your friends...
As always, all are welcome.
Pleasantville Community Synagogue is a welcoming Jewish community
with people of diverse traditions and backgrounds who want to share
a joyous spiritual and cultural home.
Pleasantville Community Synagogue
219 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY


All High Holiday services will once again be held at the
First Congregational Church in Chappaqua.  
Please print out a form here and fax, mail or e-mail
the completed form to the PCS Office:
   Address: P.O. Box 148, Pleasantville, NY 10570
    Email: mgray@shalompcs.com
    Fax: (914) 769-1795 ~ Phone: (914) 769-2672



When :  Erev Rosh Hashanah, Wednesday, Sept. 20, approx. 8:30-9:30 pm

First day of Rosh Hashanah, Thursday, Sept. 21, approx. 11 am -2 pm

Yom Kippur Break Fast, Saturday, Sept. 30, approx. 4:30-7:30 pm

Where :  First Congregational Church in Chappaqua, 210 Old Orchard Ridge Road

This is a GREAT way to meet other congregants, do a vital mitzvah and have fun! It's also a great way for PCS teens to get community service hours!

Can you help?

Please contact Robin Berman at awake.robin@gmail.com
or Marcy Gray at 914-769-2672, mgray@shalompcs.com


All High Holiday services will once again be held at  the First Congregational Church in Chappaqua.

Dear PCS Family:

In our continuing effort to honor the many member families who participate in our vibrant community, we endeavor to call to the bimah representatives of as many families as possible to participate in our High Holiday services.

Please click here for a printable version of the form and mail/email/fax (914-769-1795) it to the synagogue office as soon as possible so that we may begin scheduling the honors that require it.

Individual Honors:

English reading and Torah honors (holding, lifting or dressing the scrolls) are scheduled in advance of services. Please enter the name of each adult in your family with appropriate preferences. In consideration of your family's own High Holiday practices, you are also invited to enter a preferred day and time.

Teen Participation:

We invite all of our teens - including those who celebrated their Bar/Bat Mitzvah this past year and those who will be celebrating in the coming year - to lead the community in the chanting of Ashrei during the Torah service on the first day of Rosh HaShanah. It would be appreciated if those of you whose children will be participating in Ashrei would confirm this honor on the form as well.

Celebratory Group Aliyot:

We will be calling to the bimah lay leaders and volunteers for celebratory group aliyot on the first day of Rosh HaShanah, including all those students who recently became a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. All current members - men and women - who would customarily be eligible for an aliyah are welcome to participate. These are not scheduled in advance.

Torah Reading Honors:

Reading from the Torah will be scheduled separately.

Thank you for your help during this important time in the
spiritual life of our community.

High Holiday Children's Program
Pleasantville Community Synagogue

The school-age children will be divided into two groups, Kindergarten through third grade, and fourth through sixth grades. Each group will participate in a program from 11:30 am- 12:30 pm on the first day of Rosh HaShanah and on Yom Kippur.
There will also be tot services for the littlest ones and their parents from 11:30 am-12:30 pm on the first day of Rosh HaShanah and on Yom Kippur.

A Shofar Service will take place at 11:15 am on both days of Rosh HaShanah. We encourage families to hear the blowing of the shofar in the sanctuary before the sermon, which begins at approximately 11:30 am. The shofar will also be blown in the children's services.


Babysitting will be provided during all the services but will be limited to pre-K through second grade.  All children must be signed in and out.  Children will not be allowed to leave the babysitting room without being signed out by a parent.  Thus, it is important that you check on them periodically. 
We are continuing to make improvements to the children's program that we hope will enhance your family's experience of the High Holidays. We welcome your input and participation.
If you have any questions, please contact Hebrew School Principal Galit Sperling at pcshebrewschool@gmail.com, or Marcy Gray at the synagogue office, 914-769-2672 or mgray@shalompcs.com.

Our annual "candlelight" (glow stick) service, in which our children 
participate, will once again be held on Yom Kippur,
Saturday, September 30, 2017, at the conclusion of services. 
Children should assemble at approximately 7 pm.




Tashlich photo
On the first day of Rosh HaShanah,
following services and a Kiddush luncheon
Thursday, September 21
At approximately 2:30 pm
Pleasantville, New York
Join our community in one of our most beautiful, joyous, sacred 
and oldest traditions as we hear the call of the shofar, cast bread 
and our sins into the running waters, and sing both Hebrew and English songs on themes of remembrance, redemption and sanctification.
This is a wonderful event for every age.
Help create deep memories for your children.
Celebrate the season with new friends
as we get to know each other better.
Bring something sweet to share. 
--Ezekiel 18:31

In an exciting recent development, PCS has become a partner with PJ Library, 
which offers books and other materials for children of all ages, from the youngest through B'nei Mitzvah years. When you next come to see the updated and lovely back room, check out the bookstand in the corner and let your kids loose on the books! And if you'd like to receive free Jewish stories and songs each month, 



We appreciate the thoughtfulness of those who support
the Pleasantville Community Synagogue by remembering and honoring
their friends and loved ones through their generous contributions.  
For information on making donations to PCS, including online donations,
please click here.
General Fund
Catherine and Stanley Tetenman, in honor of Rabbi Julie, Ed Sperling and the Hebrew School  teachers who prepared their grandson, Jake Tetenman, for his Bar Mitzvah

Peter and Eve-Marie Schaffer

The PCS Men's Club

Amy and Bruce Gutenplan

Jonathan Gaines

Nancy Mayers

Marcy Gray

Hebrew School
Rhea Wolfthal, in memory of her beloved grandfather, Morris Etkin

Kiddush Fund
Vivian Chang Freiheit and Mark Freiheit sponsored the Kiddush on June 10 to celebrate and honor their PCS family

Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
Beth and David Shea
A New Portable Torah Table
Thanks to Leyla Nakisbendi and Michael Mayers for their donation and construction of a portable Torah table to be used at PCS' High Holiday services.
Cellar Clean Up 
Yasher ko'ach to Aydin Mayers, Michelle Blum and Ben Klingner, PCS teens not afraid of hard work and getting really dirty cleaning up the basement and cellar. Thank you!
Music Fund 
Sandra Serebin, in honor of Vivian Chang Freiheit reading Haftarah  
A New and Improved Back Room!
Thanks to all those that helped out this summer - physically, financially and with moral support :) - on this project to update the back room at PCS.
Thank you to our totally hands-on and awesome new PCS president Leyla Nakisbendi, Michael, Aliya, Aydin and Maia Mayers, Robert and Alex Marshak, Eileen Jagoda, Nancy Mayers, Sandra Serebin, Michael Safranek, Gail Gazes, Hedi and Ed Sperling, Galit Sperling, Roberta Korus, Barbara Doctor and Evan Kingsley's Plan A Advisors.
We started by clearing everything out, sorting old books and cleaning out shelves, cabinets and closets containing 19 years of stuff!
Thanks to the generous donations from congregants who answered the call to help, we were able to hire Alvarez Cleaning to paint the walls and furniture, and to spruce up the floor with some new tiles.
The final push was putting everything back. A big thank you to Rob Marshak who donated and installed a new TV and DVD player, and to Evan Kingsley who donated and installed new window blinds. Our Sunday morning work crew included Leyla Nakisbendi, Michael, Aydin and Maia Mayers, Michael Safranek, Marcy Gray ... and Jules, Marcy's and PCS' Guide Dog in training, who was a tremendous help (see photos below).
We hope this back room update helps to make PCS a place where our congregants and guests enjoy gathering together even more.


Morton Greenwald, father of Gary Greenwald
September 3
Etta Rosen, mother of Estelle Rosen Kersh
September 6
Lois Polansky, mother of Debra Schor
September 9
Rose Steinhauer, grandmother of Peter Grekin
September 14
Neil Jagoda, husband of Eileen Jagoda
September 14
Enid Lessner, mother of Jan Gordon
September 15
Ruth Israelow, mother of Marvin Israelow
September 15
Elizabeth Greene, mother of Sue Fuirst
September 22
Sondra Itkin Korus, mother of Roberta Korus
September 23
Raoul Kloogman, father of Helen Kloogman
September 24
Elaine Schwartz, sister of Janice Sandbank
September 25
Susan Safranek mother of Michael Safranek
September 26
Donald LePatner, father of Gilda Borenstein
September 27
Robert Greene, father of George Teitel-Greene
September 28

To all PCS members:
If you or another member suffer personal tragedy or loss or are otherwise in need of help, please immediately contact Rabbi Julie at (914) 769-2672 or Rabbi@ShalomPCS.com, or to our Caring (Chesed) Committee Chair, Susan Friedman at (917) 846-3038, or SFriedman@ShalomPCS.com.

The PCS Yahrzeit Memorial Board is a beautiful and symbolic place to honor your loved ones while helping to support your synagogue. The anniversary of their passing will be commemorated with a light by their name plate. You will find the appropriate form for purchasing a memorial name plate by clicking here.

Pleasantville Community Synagogue Mission Statement
Pleasantville Community Synagogue is a welcoming Jewish community connecting people of diverse traditions and backgrounds who want to share a joyous spiritual and cultural home.
PCS officers and trustees:
President: Leyla Nakisbendi

Secretary: TBD

Treasurer: Oren Cohen

Vice President: Roberta Korus

Vice President: Richard Solomon
Board of Trustees
David Benattar

Robert Marshak

Robin Berman

Leyla Nakisbendi

Gregory Cohen

Karen Neuburger

Lisa Nicotra

Jonathan Goodman

Laurie Hirsch Schulz

Amy Gutenplan

Roberta Korus

Richard Solomon
Sheila Major

Rabbi Julie Danan

To contact PCS 
Phone: (914) 769-2672;  Fax: (914) 769-1795;  Websitewww.ShalomPCS.com
Marcy Gray, Synagogue Administrator: (914) 769-2672;  mgray@ShalomPCS.com
Galit Sperling, Religious School: (914) 773-0043; principal@ShalomPCS.com
Barbara Doctor, Member Accounts: (914) 747-3017; Accounts@ShalomPCS.com
Julia McCarthy, Youth Leader, youthdirector@shalompcs.com


Please click for the full PCS calendar for September 2017. 
                                                                  Like us on Facebook

Pleasantville Community Synagogue Newsletter  
September 2017         10 Elul 5777 - 10 Tishrei 5778