The Buzz

Valuable Lessons from Diane Berg

by Diane Berg, RJE

An Ethical Will is a parent’s final written wisdom to their children. This, the final bulletin article of my career, is my last opportunity to remind you, my wonderful students, of the valuable lessons I tried to teach you over the years.

Remember that you are part of the Jewish people (Klal Yisrael) who have survived adversity and challenges for over 5000 years. There are many reasons for this, including belief in God, being part of a community that has great values and beliefs, being adaptable to the time they lived, and having a positive outlook.

Remember that you are the link between your ancestors and your descendants (L’dor V’dor). They passed on this wonderful way of living and doing that is Judaism. Don’t be the one to let it go.

Remember that Judaism provides a logical and ethical way of living. The more you learn (L’lmode) the more you will find meaning and joy in your life.

Remember that you are a Partner with God in making the world a better, saner and safer place (Tikkun Olam). One person can make a difference and that person is you. Don’t wait for someone else to pick up trash, comfort a mourner or befriend a new kid in class.  Be remembered for the good you do. You’ll be happier and the world will be a nicer place.

Remember to enjoy experiencing Judaism (Simcha).  Jewish holidays, rituals and life cycle events are meant to be relevant and beautiful.

Remember to be grateful (Todah). Say the Shehehiyanu blessing when you see something amazing or experience something for the first time. You will have a happier life when you realize how fortunate you are.

Remember to pray (T’fillah). Know that there will be times when you won’t get what you ask for. Often, not getting what you want can be understood with the accumulation of wisdom and the passing of time. 

Remember to make giving and doing for others part of your routine (Tzedakah). The joy in doing for others (G’milut Chasadim) will make you a better and happier person and you will know that what you’ve done makes a difference.

Remember that you have the freedom of choice. Always take the high road even when you don’t want to (Derech Eretz). This means do the right thing even if it is uncomfortable, like saying you are sorry. Sometimes it isn’t easy being a menschbut it is the way God expects us to behave.

Remember to treat everyone with honor and respect (Kavod) and to always preserve their dignity. Before you act or say something, put yourself in their position.

Remember  that becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah  marks  the true beginning of Jewish learning (Talmud  Torah). Your studies until then are a foundation for future learning. The deepest and most meaningful learning is yet to come. Don’t quit!

Remember that you matter to me, your parents, and the Jewish people… and always will.

Remember to be grateful for what you have and you’ll always be happy. Thank you for bringing me great joy and for giving me hope for the future.

With blessings and love,  Diane Berg, RJE, Director of Education

Shalom, Temple Beth El Parents and Families!

by Samara Rossi, Religious School Director

My name is Samara Rossi and I am so honored and excited to join the Temple Beth El Mishpacha!  I have been an educator for over a decade and have had the pleasure of working in varied learning environments. My experience as a Director for Youth Engagement, Director of Holiday Programming, Educator, and Special Needs Behavior Intervention Therapist has afforded me the  opportunity to experience a variety of educational environments with diverse learners ranging in age from Nursery School through High School. I have developed my skills based on a child-centered   form of learning where the student’s interests guide the direction of their experiences.

I am a mother of two amazing children, Bella (age 12) and Sam (age 8), who are my inspiration and motivation for everything I have accomplished. As a mother, I understand, appreciate and welcome your feedback. My belief that with the team effort of our clergy, board, staff, and parents, we will have a truly extraordinary experience together. Our incredible clergy, TBE board, Diane and Maddy are making me feel very welcome as we work together to ensure a fluid transition.

As the Director of the Religious School, I can’t wait to engage all of you through our Jewish values, culture, traditions and common interests. I want to create many opportunities to get out of the confines of the classroom environment and engage in creative, interesting, and inspiring activities. This is key to successfully keeping our children as willing and active participants in their learning. As a team, students will work with their teachers, clergy, and me to develop a program they want to be a part of, one that will incorporate their interests. I believe immersive experiential learning experiences, while interacting with friends in their Jewish community, is a vital combination. Incorporating Jewish themed photography, art, dance, theatre skits, cooking, and more, will help to engage our children in a way that is meaningful, enjoyable, and exciting. I invite you, our amazing parents, to participate with your children.  As a team, we can develop a school experience that they will never forget.  I look forward to meeting all of you!

We Miss You!

by Rabbi Jeff and Linda Braun

On May 31st, before our Congregational Meeting via Zoom began, our Rabbi and President presented a Zoom video which reaffirms the belief that together, we can look forward to a new beginning together. Below is the message to all our partners from Rabbi Jeff and Linda Braun:

It’s true. We really do miss you. The temple feels so empty.

Usually at this time of year, this building would be filled with sound; students noisily moving from one class to another; our Sisterhood, Brotherhood, Chai Club, our senior youth group BEASTY, or any of our amazing committees would be gathering to plan in the library or having a meal in the Great Room; and of course, we would hear voices singing together in what is now our very quiet sanctuary.

It’s definitely not what any of us would call “fun”. Rabbi, Cantor and I wish we could go back to normal. But nothing is normal, and truthfully, we don’t know what normal will look like going forward. Regardless, all of us – the officers, the board, chair people, the temple arms, the working staff, the religious school staff, and the clergy are determined to figure out normal and make it work for all of us.

You probably heard recently that the government decided we are essential. We believe that, too. But we also believe that our primary responsibility is to keep people safe; to take care of our congregation and our community, not just spiritually, but physically as well.

We would love nothing more than to throw open the doors and welcome everyone back in.  We know that would not be the right choice, given all the facts and advice offered by the medical community. Until we can be sure that returning to those uncomfortable benches or white plastic chairs will be safe, we prefer to take a slower, more careful approach.

With this shutdown, we have discovered that technology can be a wonderful tool. While it may not always go smoothly, it has allowed us to come into your homes and not disappear from your thoughts. We do plan to continue providing live-stream Shabbatservices and as many virtual meetings, programs and events as we can think of throughout the summer months.

Questions have been asked about the future, including what may happen with Rosh Hashanahand Yom Kippur.  We wish we had a crystal ball to know what our world and situation will look like then. Some congregations have already made decisions regarding September.  We’re taking a little more time to watch what happens, especially now that Long Island has begun the first phases of opening.  We will keep you posted, but please know the Jewish value of Piku-ach nefesh, of safeguarding life, will be very at the forefront of our decision-making. 

We were thriving as a community and temple family before the virus and we have no plans to stop. We look forward to the time when we can actually see each other again and embrace and sing and laugh and pray together. Until then, we will monitor the situation carefully, paying attention to the directives of the CDC and the Governor. Perhaps it will be a gradual reopening, with smaller event and gatherings, but we promise we will take special care in planning, again to ensure your safety.

We miss seeing your faces and hearing your voices live, but we know that we will all come together on the other side of all of this, stronger and perhaps even closer than we’ve ever been.

So please, be well, stay safe and thank you for your support of Temple Beth El!

Come On In, The Water’s Fine!

by Howard Schneider, V.P. of Operations

Did you know that Temple Beth El has a stream? No, it’s not the kind where you will get wet, although that might be nice in the summer months. Our stream is a virtual stream for Friday night Shabbat Services.


An idea that started out two years ago with a rag-tag group experimenting at streaming our High Holy Day services from an iPhone has blossomed and grown. While we started streaming Friday night services several months before the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the inability of our community to gather for Shabbat services has spurred us to “up our game”. Most of these changes, I’m proud to say, have been spearheaded by my older son Evan, who has volunteered his time to be our Technical Engineer and Cameraman. Every Friday afternoon, our temple library undergoes a miraculous transformation into a streaming studio. Another person who deserves a big thank you is Sarah Clopper, who has also joined our streaming team as Sound Engineer.


As a congregation, we are blessed with having two clergy, Rabbi Jeff and Cantor Alison, who are both innovative and imaginative. We do not know what the “new normal” will bring, but as New York begins to ease social distancing restrictions, they are exploring ways to allow streaming of lay-led Summer Shabbat services and limited, immediate family only B’nei Mitzvah services.


Will we be able to gather for High Holy Day services in September?  Again, we do not know – but rest assured, if we cannot, our streaming team and clergy will be prepared to bring the services to you.


So on Friday nights at 7:00 p.m., click on the link that is emailed to you for Shabbat services. Come on in, the stream in fine and we promise – you won’t get wet.

Quarantine Musings

by Cantor Alison Levine

Like you, the Levine family has been in quarantine for a long time.  We have baked, walked around the block, Zoomed with family, and attended virtual classes and meetings, and found some incredible moments of sweetness and some really strong levels of frustration with each other.  They are not called the “terrible two’s” for nothing!  But it has really given me a chance to reflect on things and find those things that are the most important.  It might not be having a clean, organized house.  Ha!  But it is the importance of family and community.  The importance of prayer and a good laugh and an even better cry.  The importance of checking in with ourselves and of also checking in and supporting our loved ones, friends, and Temple Beth El community.  The pause has been compared to Shabbat.  A holy separation from the normal.  A time to re-evaluate our lives and community and to work to make them better.  A time to grieve who and what once was and a time to grow.  To create, to innovate, and to emerge on the other side ready to begin anew.

The Bubbe-Santa Came To My House

by Patti Kresner, V.P. of Partnership

I had mentioned to one or two temple friends that I was having foot surgery.  Nothing too serious, thankfully.  The day after the procedure, I got a call from the Caring Community’s Mark Goldman asking what kind of soup I wanted and when would be a good time to stop by.  OMG, I thought, I’m on the Caring Community list!  What says caring more than soup, just like Bubbe used to make?  While not quite a Santa double, Mark is tall and thin with a mustache (no beard), and he entered through my front door, not down a chimney.  But his genuine interest, infectious smile and twinkle in his eyes seemed so Santa-like.  Cheerful and kind, this Bubbe-Santa brought not only delicious homemade soup, but a fresh challah and a lovely note from the temple’s Caring Community committee.  The gesture was small, the impact enormous.  I was touched.  I felt treasured. 

Need some cheering?  Recovering from illness or surgery?  Have the pandemic blues? You too can have a call from the Bubbe-Santa.  A little caring goes a long way.  Or maybe you’re interested in being a Bubbe-Santa yourself?  Contact Lisa Bennett in the temple office for more information

NOTE:  This article was written pre-pandemic.  Even as face-to-face visits have been curtailed, and stores and shops have gone into lock-down, the important message remains:  Our Caring Community is ready to help.

Tell your friends and family about our Gift Membership Program!

Temple Beth El of Huntington is a loving, welcoming, caring and vibrant Reform Jewish community guided by Torahand our heritage.  We welcome all people interested in Judaism, including traditional and non-traditional families, interfaith families, members of the LGBTQ+ community, multi-cultural families, and persons with disabilities.

The Gift Membership program is a unique opportunity to experience Jewish life at Temple Beth El of Huntington FREE for one year.  Gift Membership is open to all who are new to our congregation, and who want to learn about and be part of a Jewish community.

At Temple Beth El you will find:

  • Joyous Shabbat Services with Rabbi Jeffrey Clopper and Cantor Alison Levine
  • Interesting Sisterhood Programs such as book club, mah jongg, knitzvah, monthly luncheons and more
  • An active Brotherhood with many opportunities for get-togethers
  • A welcoming Chai Club offering inspiring activities, day trips and wonderful dinners
  • Comprehensive Religious School for all ages
  • Assorted Adult Education programs
  • Diverse Social Action helping those in need
  • Compassionate Clergy that are available for all life-cycle events

Emergency Food Drive is still going on!

by Carol Werblin, Social Action Co-Chair

We continue to serve the families in Huntington with the food we have been collecting each week, and your generosity makes this possible. With food insecurity continuing and increasing, we are still in need of donations of all kinds.  There is a shopping cart right inside our front doors and a large collection bin on our front steps, so you only need to drive by and drop it off!

We are still looking for donations of EVERYTHING!  Diapers, wipes, soap and toilet paper, as well as non-perishable, ready-to-eat and easily prepared food like Ramen noodles, pasta, sauce and vegetables.  Snacks for the kids are also needed, too.  Please don’t make a special trip to the store for these items, but add them to your cart if you are already shopping, as we do not want to put you at risk.  When you are shopping for yourselves, please keep in mind the families who are unable to get what they need for their own families.  If you are not able to go shopping, gift cards can be purchased online and sent directly to: Temple Beth El, 660 Park Avenue, Huntington, NY 11743, Attn: Food Drive.

Thank you for your generosity in this uncertain time.  It is very much appreciated!

Frogs? Yes. Frogs.

by Lisa Tricomi, Partnership Liaison

Did you know that I love frogs?  If you come to my office or my house and you will see frogs in different places. Some are ceramic, some made of metal, some big and some small. Why do I love frogs, you might ask? Well, did you know that frogs can only jump forwards?  It’s true and that is why frogs have a special place in my heart. We take experiences from corners of our life (some good and some not so good) and learn from them. I have learned to look forward into 2021 with an open and hopeful mind. This mindset was reaffirmed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  We switched from in-person programming to a virtual platform that offered something for everyone.  Rabbi Jeff and Cantor Alison were able to bring us together when many felt alone and isolated from the outside world.  We had to adapt to the new normal and stay home, social distance from friends and family, wear a mask to protect each other and in turn endeavor to go forward with life. Just like a frog, we continued onward even in the face of great change.

Our virtual programming will extend throughout the summer, but I know our upcoming year at temple will be great! It will be fantastic because we have you as a TBE partner.  In early June, everyone received the Sustaining Partnership Pledge Form in the mail and I am happy to say we have received many back with an increase in the pledge amount from last year to this year. Your contribution goes directly towards providing our TBE community with our building, fabulous clergy, staff, exciting programs and so much more. We rely on your heartfelt pledges, which in turn allow us to thrive from one year to the next. If you have already returned your pledge, I thank you! If you have not yet sent in your pledge or you have questions, please contact me. So let’s leap into 2021 filled with hope, happiness, excitement and our ability to keeping jumping ahead; just like a frog!

Sisterhood Happenings

by Louise Spangle, Sisterhood Past President

Sisterhood strives to meet the varied interests and needs of the women of Temple Beth El.  We are continuing virtual evening and daytime programs. Jen Freed will be Sisterhood President for the 2020-21 year and Louise Spangle will be Past President. New board members are Beth Feinman (V.P. of Temple Services) and Paula Edelman (co-V.P. of Membership with Suanne Chiacchiaro).  See the Temple Beth El website for a complete list of our board officers.

Our summer events will include:

  • Monday, July 6th at 1:00 p.m.  Margaret Roche will present tips on how to successfully apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Insurance. Feel free to share the program information with friends or family members who might be eligible.
  • Tuesday, July 21st at 10:00 a.m.  The Daytime Book Group will meet to discuss The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Email Jan Singer for info about future book discussions at jansinger152@gmail.com.
  • Friday, August 7th at 7:00 p.m.  Our Sisterhood Summer ShabbatService led by Beth Feinman.
  • The evening book group meets on Monday evenings. Email Heidi Aronson for the dates and books for this year at hmaronson1@gmail.com.

We are planning some outdoor social events based on current health guidelines, and we always welcome new Sisterhood members and volunteers.  Email us anytime at sisterhood@tbeli.org.