The Buzz

To Another Decade Together…

by Rabbi Jeff Clopper

As a young child, I had my life planned out.  Having conquered the wilds of kindergarten, my future seemed so clear.  My plan: first, complete elementary, middle and high school. Next, a college education at one of the finer universities in Boston and then a top-notch medical school. Once a licensed physician, I would set up an office at home, with my mother serving as my receptionist.  Unable to drive (remember I was 6 at the time), I would build a small stable in the backyard for a horse I could ride wherever I needed to go.   It was a wonderful dream at the time.  However, it took only one semester in Organic Chemistry to render that dream unattainable.

Once in college, I no longer imagined my mother as my receptionist (she had a wonderful career in the public library), nor did I think of how to construct medical office space in my parents’ home.  And I had long since realized that keeping a horse in the backyard would not happen.  Still, as my career path became uncertain, I started to reflect on the career choice I had clung to for all those years.  In redefining my future, I had to ask myself what it was about being a physician that I found so meaningful.   And that was when the new path of life became so crystal clear.

Serving people and community – that was what I had been drawn to all those years.  As much as I was fascinated by anatomy and the workings of the human body, it was, much more, the idea that I be present when someone needed help. Bringing wisdom, knowledge, and compassion together for others: that was the flame that drew me in like a moth.

I realized there was another means to that end of serving others.  I had been involved with Hillel in college, immersed in Jewish music as a song-leader who traveled all over the country,  and had worked as an advisor for high school youth groups affiliated with NFTY (the Jewish youth organization of the Reform movement). Also, as many know, I had spent year after year at Jewish camps.  Becoming a rabbi made sense THAT was what I wanted to do.  So I began my journey to rabbinical school, then to my first full-time congregation in Houston and ultimately here at Temple Beth El.

For the past 21 years, I have been so proud to be the rabbi of this congregation.  The accomplishments and the many lives we have touched are exactly what I was hoping for when I made that career switch long ago.  I can think back on so many moments, some sweet and some heart-breaking.  Through painful challenges and joyful triumphs, I have always felt this amazing community’s backing.

It is hard to express adequately my thanks to every person who has been, who is currently, or who will be a partner in this congregation.  I feel so fortunate to have another 10 years to continue the work that has been so fulfilling to me. And to do it with YOU, the people at Temple Beth El who have become my synagogue family.

I thank you all for the love and support over these past 2+ decades and look forward to what we will accomplish in the years ahead.  Thank you for trusting in me, for the chance to share a love of Judaism, and hopefully for the opportunity to help make the world a better, softer, and kinder place.

This Girl is on FIRE!

by Cantor Alison Levine

If you are looking for, to quote my Purim namesake, Barbie, “that good feminine energy!” look no further than our temple.

As always, Sisterhood provides many opportunities for camaraderie and gathering.  This spring, I had the opportunity to lead the Women’s Seder with our Religious School Director, Lauren Chizner.  We told the story of Passover through the eyes of the female heroines and experience.  We danced, drank wine, sang and had a delicious dinner.  I am definitely a fan of the chopped liver!  It is always nice to enjoy the seder without the responsibility of running to the kitchen to check on the soup, as well as having a chance to focus on Miriam and the role of Jewish women in our lives.

This year, I also started a new group celebrating Rosh Chodesh, or the new moon ushering in a new Jewish month.  This group, for people who identify as female or non-binary, focuses on learning and wellness.  We begin with a short ritual of lighting candles, blessing wine, reading an opening poem and enjoying snacks.  We then move on to learning a bit about the Jewish month and more.  Next, we journal by taking the time to write our thoughts down based on a few questions. Then we can choose to share, if we wish, and discuss what we are going through and find support and our commonalities.  Finally, we close with an optional, candlelit meditation.  I have been told our meetings are a great way to renew and recharge.  Keep your eyes open for new dates to celebrate in the fall!

Second Night Passover Seder

by Sarah Lichtenstein

While Passover may already seem far behind us, it is not too late to say a HUGE thank you to all our partners who pitched in to help make our Second Night Seder a resounding success.  We happily served approximately 70 people, including a number of children who “experienced” the plagues and hunted for the afikomen.  We particularly would like to recognize and thank Rita Anilionis, Shelly Dietz, Elaine Eig, Mike Heiberger, Mary Klein, Barry & Marcia Schwalb and Pat Spencer.  We also had the expert support of Darrell Thomas and Harold Simmons, our amazing custodians.

We did have some tasty leftovers, and we are pleased to report that perhaps in the spirit of Passover (“Let all who are hungry, come and eat…”), our Social Action Committee Chairs Carol Werblin and Sue Seiler were able to put together meals to feed four families.  We also donated some desserts to Project HOPE.  A fitting ending to a meaningful evening!

Temple Community Celebration 2024

by Mitch Kittenplan, TCC Committee Co-Chair

This year’s Temple Community Celebration – the 6th Annual Temple Community Celebration – was held on Saturday night, May 18th, and what a celebration it was! Nearly 150 people attended the event in person, and dozens more watched it via livestream.

It truly was a memorable event as we recognized Ken Friese for more than forty years as our musical accompanist and honored Cantor Alison Levine on her ten year anniversary at Temple Beth El.   Delicious food was abundant with a fully catered menu featuring small plates, sandwiches, wraps, finger foods, pass-arounds and so much more. Wine flowed as did the conversation and good vibes.

The program, MC’d by yours truly, was a mix of tributes, videos, and a musical presentation from members of the choir. Touching speeches by both Ken and Cantor Alison fittingly capped off the evening.  The celebration ended with (what else?) more food! A tremendous display of homemade cookies and delicious desserts were the perfect ending to this amazing celebration.

There are so many people to thank who helped put this event together that we needed a three-minute video to list all of their names. Thanks go out to the Philanthropy Committee, Event Committee, support staff, tech team, cookie bakers and everyone who helped make the night such a success.

If you missed TCC ’24, you can still watch the livestream of the event (click the TCC tab on the Temple Beth El website’s home page). If you’d like to make a last-minute donation, you can still do that through the temple office. And, of course, get ready for the 7th Annual Temple Community Celebration next spring!

Social Action News

HIHI Update – by Paula Klein

As we wrap up another season of HIHI, the Huntington Interfaith Homeless Initiative, it’s always satisfying to thank all of our dedicated volunteers for their generosity and support. Without them, there would be no meals and no caring concern for our homeless neighbors. This year is no exception.

On seven Wednesdays from December through March, nine TBE families stepped up to provide twenty-four full dinners – all prepared with love and kindness – and then delivered them to the men staying at a local motel. The chef list included: the Albert, Israeli-Lippman, Katzman, Kurtzman, LaCorte, Nace, Polese, Radgowski and Schindel families.

And there’s always lots more taking place behind the scenes. Sue Seiler and the Project HOPE chefs generously prepared and packed extra meals for HIHI several times this season. Randee Epstein stood quietly, ready to jump in whenever needed, including buying fruit and goodies, packing, and delivering meals all winter. Carol Werblin was available – even remotely – to supply clothing, toiletries and other needed items. Our dedicated partners – Karen at Huntington Jewish Center, and Lori at East Northport Jewish Center, and their awesome volunteers – also proved that “many hands make light work.”

Over the years, friendships have been formed and renewed as part of the HIHI effort. We have seen many TBE families and members happily participate in this program and other Social Action events. We’ve seen little helpers become teenage volunteers, and families and individuals work together to help others. One of our long-time volunteers and good friend, Dianne Slavin (z”l), will be sorely missed. Dianne calmly served Thanksgiving dinners, made phone calls, drove guests, helped set up boutiques, and was always on-call for HIHI.  Her steadfast presence was a blessing to us all.

I am grateful for our community efforts toward tikkun olam. Wishing you a healthy and happy summer.


Mother’s Day Baskets – by  Carol Werblin

Social Action assembled 58 Mother’s Day Baskets that were distributed to mothers living in local shelters.  We donated 37 baskets to 3 different Family Service League sites, and 21 baskets to four different Haven House sites. In addition, we were able to provide 30 gifts to moms residing in a shelter in West Babylon. We had so many wonderful people and organizations supporting this effort and we could not have accomplished this without their help.  Special thanks go to Maria Ryan from Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, who continuously supports our efforts, Sherri and Floyd Goldman who provide us with nearly 100 wonderful reed diffusers every year, Estée Lauder for their donation of makeup, the Rotary Club of Huntington, Broadhollow Dentistry and our very own Temple Beth El partners.  Thanks to everyone who helped to make a difference to so many moms, you gave them a very special Mother’s Day!

Keeping Up with the Brotherhood

by Ian Weitz, Brotherhood President

“Join a temple and your kids will be Jewish… participate and your grandkids will be Jewish.”

The Temple Beth El Brotherhood are the guys who help around TBE: the guys who listen to your stories and complaints and are genuinely interested.  Come to a meeting and save the cost of a therapist!

Brotherhood’s monthly ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) met on Monday, May 20th at noon until about 1:30 p.m. for a good time. Future dates and times to be announced. Bring your lunch and your stories, and we will provide the coffee.

Our monthly Sunday Brotherhood Luncheon meeting over bagels and lox with the fixings continued and met on May 5th with another presentation focusing on health with speaker Rob Seiler, Ph.D., who presented on mental health and how to deal with stress. Everyone left feeling much more relaxed, ready and able to deal with life’s stresses.

Upcoming events include a dinner get together at Finnegan’s, a spring whisky tasting, the summer outdoor cocktail party, pastrami tastings, attending a Yankees farm team game and a Long Island Ducks game. If you have a plan or an idea for an event, Brotherhood would like to hear it.

Our Beautification Committee President Barry Schwalb did some repairs on the sanctuary doors and Committee VP Ian Weitz finished installing the flooring in the library. And the cooking committee – Harley Kudler, Arthur Mont and Ian Weitz – cooked up 150 pancakes for the Religious School Family and Teachers Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, May 12th.

The Men of Reform Judaism (MRJ) met on May 15th at Temple B’nei Torah in Wantagh. Representing TBE were Ian Weitz, Barry Schwalb and Joe Perlman. Nolan Altman’s presentation on Jewish Genealogy was informative and also busted a couple of myths.

On June 9th at 7:00 p.m., please try to attend the Concert Against Hate at Temple Or Elohim, located at 18 Tobie Lane in Jericho. Tickets are just $15.00 per person.

To have your name added to the Brotherhood email list, please email Mike Widawsky at


Legacy Gifts: The Gift of Giving

by Mike Heiberger, VP Philanthropy

What Are Legacy Gifts?  Legacy Giving provides various opportunities to help to support an organization, such as Temple Beth El, where you have strong ties and also wish to provide for.  Such gifts can also enhance your own personal financial security. (Note: It is strongly recommended that individuals consult with their own tax and financial advisors concerning the benefits and consequences of making a planned, or legacy, gift.)  There are several major types of legacy giving including:

Bequests (gifts made through a will):  At TBE, we call our bequest program Ner Tamid (Eternal Light): Planned Giving and a number of congregants have notified us of their bequests.

Retirement Plans: A gift through a retirement account, such as an IRA, 401(K) or 403(B).  This may also provide tax benefits for your heirs. You can make a gift by adding TBE as a beneficiary of a percentage of the fund along with your other named beneficiaries. Designating TBE as a beneficiary of a retirement plan does not require you to change your will.

Life Insurance:  You can make a gift to TBE using life insurance. If you have a policy that no longer serves its original purpose, you can add TBE as a remainder beneficiary. Similar to a gift in your will, you would retain control over the policy during your lifetime. If you choose to gift the ownership of the policy, or if the policy is still in premium payment mode, you may be entitled to additional tax benefits.

Bank or Investment Account:  Many donors choose to add TBE as a remainder beneficiary (referred to as payable on death or POD) of an existing bank or investment account. This gift doesn’t necessitate the need to change a will, and it can usually be done online.

If you have any questions or need more information, please feel free to call me at (631) 757-3739 or email me at Please consider Temple Beth El when making your long term financial plans!

I Braided With The Challah Prince!

by Lisa Tricomi, Partnership Liaison

I feel incredibly fortunate to have welcomed Idan Chabasov, also known as the Challah Prince, to TBE in early March, for an unforgettable evening of fun and challah braiding. Over 160 people attended our sold-out event! Originally from Tel Aviv, Idan’s background is in professional dancing, video production, meditation and art. His passion now allows him to travel the world where he shares his love of art. Idan is a celebrated challah baker and social media sensation with more than 400K followers on Instagram (you can follow him @ChallahPrince)! Currently he is on a 2-month tour of North America, demonstrating the beauty that can be found in creating amazing challah masterpieces, one braid at a time. Those who attended our event braided their wonderful dough into fabulous challahs and discovered the joy that can be found in making challah!

The success of this event would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts by many. I want to thank Lauren Chizner, my co-organizer, as well as Rabbi Jeff and Carol Clopper, Rabbi Todd Chizner and Lauren, who helped make all the challah dough. Thanks to the Partnership Committee and volunteers for their assistance with the setup.  Also, I want to thank Lisa Bennett, our Temple Secretary, who created the fabulous programs and materials for everyone, and Irma Talbot, our Bookkeeper. Additionally, I want to thank Jason Gillet and his exceptional tech team, Jaycee and Alex, who helped to make the evening fun and interactive. I am grateful for a fabulous custodial staff, and supportive temple leadership. Lastly, a big thank you goes out to the Mina and Irving Klein Fund, for without their support this event would not have been possible.

A Brief History of the Passover Song Adir Hu

by Cantor Alison Levine

Adir Hu, or “God of Might,” has been a staple song at the Passover Seder since forever.  It is one of those songs that feels like it was handed down to us at Mount Sinai along with the Ten Commandments.   The Ashkenazi version of Adir Hu can actually be traced back to the German Minnesang period.  Much like the medieval French troubadors, German minnesänger sang songs of courtly love between the 12th and 14th centuries.  This later developed into the more formal Meistersänger period with a guild for art song and poetry. Then, just as it still does now, the music surrounding the Synagogue found its way into our liturgy.  The earliest written version of Adir Hu is found in 1644 in the “Rittangle Hagada.”   This traditional version has an upbeat, major melody, a bit like a German drinking song.   By 1769, the “Selig Hagada” listed Adir Hu as Baugesang or the song of the rebuilding of the Temple.  One traditional German Passover greeting was “Bau Gut!”  or “build well” based on the text of Adir Hu.  Our current hymn like setting of the text probably dates to the later German Protestant period, around the 18th or 19th centuries.

Besides the Passover Seder, it is traditional to use this melody to sing Mi Chamocha in the Shabbat service preceding the holiday of Passover.  It shows our excitement for the coming holiday of Pesach.  It is a Jewish tradition to sing particular melodies in anticipation of the approaching holiday.   You can hear this musical setting at our Second Night Seder as well.  The text of Adir Hu is a piyyut, a Jewish liturgical poem.  It uses a Hebrew acrostic to extol God and express hope for the speedy rebuilding of the holy Temple.  In our reworked English version found in our Reform Jewish siddur or prayer book, Mishkan T’filah, the text has been changed to extol God and express hope for a speedy end to tyranny and freedom for all.

Sisterhood Happenings

On Friday, February 9th, we celebrated the National Council of Jewish Women’s Reproductive Justice (Repro) Shabbat, intended to bring the Jewish community together around reproductive rights. Cantor Alison did a beautiful job of analyzing and explaining Parshat Mishpatim, as we read the verses that undergird Judaism’s approach to women’s reproductive rights. She led discussions around what our traditions teach about reproductive health, rights, and justice. Later in the month, our February Luncheon drew a large crowd and featured Cantor Alison’s lecture on “Love, Desire, and Romance in the Hebrew Bible”. At the end of the luncheon, guests received lovely Valentine’s gifts of candy and flowers.

In March, Sisterhood successfully spearheaded and organized the delivery of Purim Greetings to everyone within our temple community.  Thank you to all of the TBE members who ordered their greetings and to our wonderful volunteer delivery drivers.  Funds from this project will go towards needs throughout our temple like security, Religious School, and temple programming.

Are you looking for a good time? Good company? And good food? Please join Sisterhood on Tuesday, April 2nd at 6:00 p.m. at the Women’s Seder led by our beloved Cantor Alison and Temple Beth El’s Religious School Director Lauren Chizner. Don’t miss the Passover Judaica Sale that same night beginning at 5:30, and a second Passover Judaica Sale on Sunday, April 7th from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon. We hope you are able to come by and see the many new options for purchase!

We hope you will join us on Friday, May 3rd for the Spring Sisterhood Dinner – more info will follow, so please watch for the info via email blasts and fliers. This is always a great event and we hope Sisterhood members are able to join us.  Later on in the month, we have a trip planned to the Vanderbilt Estate in Centerport, where our very own Mimi Rosen who works as a museum educator. More details to follow, but some possibilities include a mansion tour and/or a tour of the collections. Many of the Sisterhood members are hard at work getting ready for the sixth annual Temple Community Celebration taking place on Saturday evening, May 18th at 6:00 p.m. honoring Cantor Alison and our organist, Ken Friese.

In the month of June, we have many events planned!

  • Sunday, June 2nd: we are planning a trip to NYC to see a Broadway show, so watch for flyers, emails, and upcoming Buzz articles with more information.
  • Sunday and Monday, June 9th and 10th: we will be holding our next Rummage Sale; please start saving your gently used clothes and household items (sorry, we cannot accept donations of books).
  • Wednesday, June 19th: we plan to have a Japanese BBQ lunch at Shabu Shabu in Commack.
  • Sunday, June 23rd: Sisterhood will again bring our community together to continue our reproductive health, rights, and justice dialogue. Vincent Russell, Chief Operating Officer of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic (PPHP) will speak. We’ll learn about what PPHP does to ensure that all people have access to the care and resources they need to make informed decisions about their bodies, their lives, and their futures, particularly through health care, education and advocacy. Vince Russell will also discuss the challenges and obstacles to providing necessary health services presented in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Sisterhood sponsors events every month, during both day and evening. As always, if you have ideas for programs, fundraisers, or Judaica items you would like to see as part of our sales, please reach out to  Another favorite event is our JULIET dinner, typically held at Finley’s in Huntington. If you are interested in the dinner, or in attending one of our monthly meetings, please reach out! Our next two meetings are Thursday, April 18th and Tuesday, May 21st.