The Buzz

The Only Thing We Have To Fear

by Rabbi Jeff Clopper

“…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

When FDR uttered these words in March 1933, I imagine he did so out of conviction that the world, or at least the United States, would be a bastion of safety and security for its citizens.  But, even immersed in the depths of the Great Depression, the Jewish community was subject to prejudice and conspiracy theories heaping blame upon them for all of life’s ills.

Over nine decades later, it is impossible to miss the ever-present sense of fear presently shared among Jews of any and every country.  It would be easy to label it as a product of the recent war between Israel and Hamas.  However, I believe we Jews have been feeling uncomfortable for quite a while.  Incidents at Tree of Life Synagogue in Philadelphia, chants of “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, and many other recent examples are not forgotten so easily.  The recent fighting in the Middle East, though not the initial cause, provides more fuel for anti-Semitic flames, more justification for hate.

Many in the Jewish community are feeling vulnerable, targeted, and most of all fearful.  Security measures and stationed armed guards have increased, including here at TBE.  Each week, there are reports of harassment, graffiti of swastikas and the like, and threatening statements called in or emailed to synagogues and JCCs, especially in Suffolk County.

If I were able to compose a letter in time, I might begin it with “Dear President Roosevelt, there might be a little more to fear than you think…”

As I write this, I know various people who have reacted in different ways.  Many are fearful, choosing to hide their Jewishness from the world.  Stars of David and other Jewish symbols, once proudly displayed, lay beneath layers of clothing so others might not see them.   In some homes, mezuzahs have been removed from doorframes so neighbors will not be reminded “Here lives a Jew”.  It is reminiscent of times in Eastern Europe when pogroms and vehement antisemitism were expected occurrences.

Yet while some have gone into hiding, others have opted for the opposite response – becoming LOUD and PROUD, announcing their Jewishness to anyone and everyone they can.  Many are displaying banners and signs openly and taking any and every opportunity to be out proclaiming their Jewish heritage as a badge of honor and distinction.

I have an admission – I don’t know the right response. It’s a very personal decision.  Besides, it is unfair to expect a diverse group of individuals, such as the entirety of the Jewish community, to all think or react the same way.

However, I do know that regardless of anyone’s choice, we should not let all that is happening – the war, the surge in anti-Semitic acts, the undercurrent of mistrust and prejudice – none of it should lessen our commitment to the Jewish values we embrace.  Staying true to what we value, how we act, and the way we believe all humans should be treated cannot be jettisoned.  Just the opposite – we need to cling to them tightly if we hope to emerge from the quagmire we all find ourselves in.

These are scary times.  We have weathered them before and ever the optimist, I believe we will emerge this time as well.  How confident and secure?  Well, we can hold onto each other and hope.  That’s a start.

Religious School

by Lauren Chizner, Religious School Director

Our Religious School is off and running for 2024. The past few months have brought me so much joy, getting to know our students, families, and teachers. We are blessed to be a part of such a wonderful congregation.

Two of our primary goals in our Religious School are to instill within our students a sense of identity and pride in their Judaism and a sense of belonging to our TBE and Jewish community. Our experiential programming deepens the Jewish learning. On Sunday, March 4th, our students will be divided into teams to participate in an Israel Quest – learning about and exploring the land of Israel. We are fortunate to be bringing a group called Israel ScaVentures to TBE virtually – the game is a cross between a scavenger hunt and an adventure of discovery.

Over the next few months, we have several opportunities to join as a community and to strengthen our relationships. Friday, February 2nd is a Family Shabbat Service, followed by an Ice Cream Social. What better way to begin Shabbat than through song, prayer, community and of course, ice cream.  I hope you will join us!  Saturday, February 10th is a TBE family bowling event – watch your email for more information. And on Tuesday, February 27th, we will offer another Tuesday Night Family Dinner after Religious School. We hope you take advantage of many of these opportunities to be together as a Temple Beth El family.

We have so much to look forward to this spring!

Social Action News…

Upcoming Events: Don’t miss the Baby Boutique on Sunday, February 25th.  Help will be needed with set up and also during the event.  Please contact Pam Lawson at if you are interested in volunteering or if you have any questions.  Diapers, wipes, Desitin and formula are always appreciated.

Pantry Needs: Flour, oil, sugar, juice, kidney beans, canned chicken, hand soap, shampoo, conditioner and deodorant. Please choose cans with pop tops whenever possible. Please do not donate expired items to any Social Action food activity.

Birthday In A Duffle program would like to send a very big thank you to:

  • Everyone who donated to our December Toy Drive
  • The Kiwanis Club of Huntington for their generous donation
  • The Mina and Irving Klein Fund for their matching donation to the program
  • Yogaflex of Commack, Central Operating Lines, Farmingdale Student Council, and Maria Ryan & Our Lady Queen of Martyrs for their toy drives and donations
  • The Townwide Fund of Huntington for their generous donation

Project HOPE and our sandwich squad are grateful to:

  • Catalina Bakery and Emilia’s Bake Shop for donating bread and sweets for our sandwich making program
  • Our chefs, wrappers, shoppers and cheerleaders who support our Social Action programs with enthusiasm!

Together we are making a difference in our community and beyond!

Meet Our Custodial Staff

by Sue Seiler, Social Action Co-Chair

It is my pleasure to introduce Jimmy Maloney, TBE’s Head Custodian since August 2021, when he remembers being met immediately with friendly faces and helpful hands. He likes how family-oriented we are and how we care for one another. Jimmy enjoys seeing and getting to know our clergy and all the staff who work alongside each other. Jimmy lives in Lindenhurst with his wife of 33 years, Rosemarie. They have 3 daughters, Caitlin (who lives in Florida), Marissa and Kristina who live with them. He has 2 granddaughters, Mia Rose (5 years old) and Giovanna (2 years old). If you ever hear Jimmy talking about these little ladies, you can tell how devoted he is to them and living in a ‘house full of ladies!’ Before coming to Temple Beth El, Jimmy was the assistant grounds and maintenance person for the Lindenhurst School District. He worked there for 25 years before retiring and coming to us. How lucky are we that Jimmy decided to keep working! Jimmy is an enthusiastic volunteer fireman in Lindenhurst and is now their Captain, a prestigious position he takes very seriously, spending many hours at the firehouse. As Jimmy says, the firehouse guys have always been there for him and “they saved me!” Jimmy is a big Rangers fan and also does Fire Matic racing. I didn’t know what that was either, but it’s like go-cart racing and requires some expertise. Jimmy is the firehouse’s bartender, a skill many of you might be interested in exploring with Jimmy the next time you see him. Finally, Jimmy loves his Irish roots and has been to Ireland a few times visiting family and many sites. He loves the quiet of the countryside, and feels like he’s home when he’s there. He loves “The Abbey “area, which Jimmy speaks of being life-changing, particularly exploring the tombstones in the graveyard. We’re fortunate to have Jimmy and we’ve all benefitted from our conversations with him as well as his smile, laughter and his “can do” attitude.

Talking to Harold Simmons was a special experience and I hope you enjoy learning about his journey to TBE.  Along the way, he had many jobs ranging from working for FEMA in the Parks and Recreation program doing cleaning jobs.  He worked at the Hotel Roadway Inn as a custodian for 5 years. At this time, he was living at a sober house in   Huntington Station along with 17 other men, which is how he met Carol Werblin, since she regularly brought them food.  She was also working on delivering furniture for the “Give and Receive” program; they asked Harold if he would help them deliveries, and with the deliveries and he did. Once he created this special relationship with Carol and others on that project, they were able to help Harold move into his own apartment. Six years ago, with Carol’s recommendation, Harold interviewed for the position as a part time custodian, which he sees as a pivotal change in his life and an opportunity he feels lucky to have. He started out working part time at night and continued to work days at the Inn. When a former custodian left, Eric Tenner asked Harold if he would like to work full time during the day. He enjoyed all the people and felt the support of the staff and all the volunteers who regularly come into the temple. He liked how friendly everyone was to him how they made him feel so welcomed. He has worked hard at our temple and feels it’s like family, especially with Irma and Lisa. Irma, he says, reminds him of his Nana. One of Harold’s favorite hobbies is watching old Westerns on TV, especially Gunsmoke. He also loves animals and has had a Siamese cat named Mackenzie for 7 ½ years, since adopting her from the North Shore Animal Shelter. Harold has been sober for 25 years and is very proud of all he has accomplished over the last 6 years with the help and support of many temple partners. Harold hopes to retire in a few years, as he recently turned 65! He hopes to move to Georgia or South Carolina, where his family lives. But for now, Harold has no plans to leave us. You might notice that Harold hasn’t been around the temple lately: he is awaiting cataract surgery. We wish him well and a speedy recovery!

Our newest and youngest custodian is Darrell Thomas. He actually grew up in Huntington and went to Huntington High School, as did his 2 younger brothers. Darrell began working for Temple Beth El on January 19th 2023 on his 31st birthday! He was so impressed that Lisa and the staff got him a birthday cake on his first day of work. He felt so appreciated, like he was joining a family. “I feel so lucky being here, everyone is welcoming and kind.” His parents moved to Alabama with their three boys after they all graduated high school but although the weather was good, Darrell didn’t really like it, and says he especially missed the local pizza. In Alabama, he worked for a carpet cleaning company, becoming familiar with custodial work. His brother Dante stayed in Alabama and works in construction. His brother Darnell also moved back to Huntington and works as a painter. When Darrell moved back to Huntington, he moved in with his Aunt Linda, a retired Huntington School District employee. He was working for Door Dash until he saw the job posting for the custodial position at Temple Beth El. Eric Tenner and Stephanie Kellerman interviewed him and they were very impressed. Darrell was happy to accept the evening and weekend hours that were offered. We all enjoy seeing Darrell’s bright smile whenever we come to Shabbat services or evening meetings. We really appreciate his enthusiastic attitude during the Thanksgiving Dinner that served approximately 200 guests and during so many of our events. Darrell’s hobbies include listening to R&B and hip-hop, especially the instrumentals. He enjoys playing basketball and played for St. Hugh’s. Darrell enjoys watching sports on TV; in case you want to talk sports with him, you should know he is a Yankees and Knicks fan. One of his favorite outdoor activities is to go fishing in Northport. If he catches anything good, he enjoys cooking and eating it. Darrell is presently working during the day while Harold is on his leave. We’re lucky to have him and hope he stays for a LONG time!

Sisterhood Update

by Jen Freed, Sisterhood President

Sisterhood had a successful, fun and well-attended brunch on Sunday, December 3rd at the Crab Meadow Golf Club restaurant despite the rainy and miserable weather.   The fashion show from Francine’s was terrific as were the Sisterhood members who modeled.  It was a wonderful afternoon!  At TBE’s Chanukah Bash on Friday, December 8th, Sisterhood assisted by providing yummy latkes and other refreshments.  This year’s Olive Oil Tasting table featured premium oils from Israel, Australia, Greece, Spain and California.  Various foods made from these oils were available for tasting, including pesto, tapenade, aioli, tomato confit and focaccia bread.  Kudos to all who worked hard to make the event a success!

On Monday, January 8th, we sponsored our first Blood Drive of the year and collected 17 pints of blood.  We hope for even greater participation for our next drive in April. Much thanks go to Robin Zucker, Rita Anilionis, Fran Silverfish and Vicki Wilson for their help and companionship.

Sisterhood has several programs scheduled for January and February:

  • Our sponsored book signing of LIQuID5 by Patti Kresner on Sunday, January 21st at 1:00 p.m. in the Great Room.
  • Erev Valentine’s Day Luncheon on Tuesday, February 13th at 12:30 p.m. in the Great Room.
  • Juliet Dinner on Wednesday, January 24th at 6:30 p.m. at Finley’s in Huntington Village.
  • Our next two Sisterhood Board meetings are scheduled for January 16th and February 16th, both meetings are at 7:00 p.m. at TBE.

Sisterhood has got it covered! We purchased new material for tablecloths to be used at the temple. Thanks to everyone for participating in Sisterhood’s fundraisers to make this possible and on that note, please watch for upcoming notices about ordering Purim greetings.  Once again, we will be delivering packages to everyone in celebration of the Feast of Lots! Also, don’t miss the Passover Judaica sale scheduled for Sunday, April 7th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the Atrium.

As always, if you have ideas for specific programs or fundraising, please reach out to Temple Partners are always welcome to attend Sisterhood Board Meetings.

Keeping Up with Brotherhood

by Ian Weitz, Brotherhood President

The Temple Beth El Brotherhood are the guys who help around TBE. Come to a meeting and meet your fellow congregants. Come with a plan for a project or a get together and let’s make it happen.  Join a temple and your kids will be Jewish…participate and your grandkids will be Jewish.

The first Sunday of every month we have luncheons at 12:30 p.m. with bagels and all the fixings and a speaker; our December meeting featured a presentation by Burt Masnick on the Jew who won WWI for the Allies. The January 7th meeting was cancelled due to weather; the February 4th presentation by Mitch Kittenplan will be a Remembrance of the Year 1968.  Brotherhood’s ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) group continues to meet in person over lunch at TBE and off campus twice a month on Mondays from noon till about 1:30 p.m.  Dates to be announced.

Let’s thank the Brotherhood members who helped out at the Chanukah Bash: on the dreidel table, Arthur Mont and Ian Weitz; in the kitchen, Barry Schwalb and Harley Kudler; and running security, Mark Goldman and Mike Widawsky.  Thank you to our Brotherhood Tech Team Members Evan Schneider and Jason Gillet.  Lastly, thank you to TBE Beautification Committee Chair and Brotherhood member Barry Schwalb, who did a bit of painting to the area around the front entrance.  To stay informed of our activities, email Mike at to get on the Brotherhood mailing list.