The Buzz

New Year’s Greetings from the President

by - Linda Braun Temple Beth El President

As seen on Facebook this week, “Nobody claim 2021 as ‘your year.’ We’re all going to walk in real slow. Be good. Be quiet. Don’t. Touch. Anything.”  By the time you read this, 2020 will have come to a close, and the hope for a brighter 2021 will have begun.  

As I said on Yom Kippur, this year has been unlike any other in our lifetime. The COVID-19 pandemic affected us all in one way or another. Whether we were students or teachers, parents or grandparents, we all had to change our lives. As a congregation you rose to the challenge with ingenuity, creativity, hard work and love. You adapted to all the changes we’ve had to make to keep us safe, and I and the temple leadership truly thank you for that. 

The front-line workers, the medical professionals, the scientists and the teachers put themselves in harm’s way so that there could be some small sense of normalcy for so many, and I would like to express my gratitude for that as well. 

The holidays have felt different this year with all that’s going on, and I hope you were able to experience moments of peace amid the confusion and chaos. I hope you had connections with family and friends even if they couldn’t be in person and that the warmth of the holiday season was still with you.  

2020 was snatched by this crazy pandemic, so let’s welcome 2021 warmly and pray that with the coming of the vaccine there is actually a light somewhere at the end of this very long tunnel. Here’s hoping the coming year will be a beautiful one for you and your family.

On behalf of the temple leadership, my family and I, we wish you good health and happiness. Happy New Year! 

We’re Cooking…Almost!

by Rob Seiler, Kitchen Committee Chair

Thanks to our generous donors and dedicated team of temple partners, we are proud to announce the completion of the TBE kitchen renovation!

While the full benefit of our shiny new and sanitary facility won’t be realized until we can once again feed the food-insecure in our town, gather for cooking lessons, or host a community barbecue, we can certainly start planning ahead. As Rabbi Jeff stated early on, the kitchen is the gathering place, the heart of the home. Let’s plan on gathering, celebrating and hosting special events together again this coming year, as well as using this beautiful new space for our many important and greatly needed Social Action activities.

We are so grateful to so many of you: our temple partners, our community benefactors, the Huntington Townwide Fund, the Claire Friedlander Foundation, the Temple Beth El Major Gift Initiative, and the special temple partners who donated their time, expertise and resources to design and oversee the renovation of this initiative. Their sage guidance and relentless enthusiasm were the foundation upon which this year-long project was built – it wouldn’t have been possible without them!

Send in your ideas and suggestions for new and exciting uses of the kitchen to the temple office – we can’t wait to have a ribbon cutting and Shehecheyanu blessing to share with you all!

Partnership Committee News

by Lisa Fishman and Debbie Jarmon

We know that 2020 has been a difficult year for many with Covid-19 so prevalent.  The Partnership Committee wanted to come up with a way to let you know that we, at Temple Beth El, are thinking of you.  In late October, the Partnership Committee and a group of volunteers set out to deliver a “Shabbat Shalom” goodie bag containing a delicious challah and Shabbat candles to more than 325 partners in our temple community.  It brought smiles to many faces and added to the joy of welcoming in Shabbat.  Lisa and I appreciate all the time, effort and planning that went into making this project a success!

Thank you to:   Patti Kresner, Sue and Rob Seiler, Beverly and Peter Wayne, Joy Moss, Myra Feeney, Elisa McDonagh, Karen Fazekas, Marcia Schwalb, Cora Brettler, Randee Epstein, Janet Widawsky, Sue Goldman, Debi Fallenberg, Rob Fishman and Steve Jarmon.

Special thanks also go out to Lisa Bennett and Irma Talbot for their quick responses when we needed something and the help they so generously offered.  We couldn’t have done this without you!

We’re always looking for helping hands.  Please let us know if you would be interested in working on future Partnership projects.   Lisa Fishman can be reached at LisaFishmancsw@gmail.com  and Debbie Jarmon at dhjarmon1@gmail.com.  Stay safe and healthy!

The Beth El Library is Turning a New Page

by Isabel Zinman, Library Chair

I am honored to chair our Library Task Force.  I have worked over 30 years as a school media specialist and a public librarian.  The Library Task Force was formed to renovate our temple library to better serve the multiple needs described in the Mission Statement.  This summer we moved the Children and Young Adult books to the new Religious School Library. As a result, we are creating a cozy sitting area in the main library.

Guidelines for book donations:  We are interested in books that enhance our collection and adhere to our mission statement. Although our focus is on Reform Judaism, we will consider books written from the perspectives of all branches of Judaism, as well as books about other world religions.  Books must be in excellent condition.  All multivolume sets must be complete.  In most cases, duplicate copies will not be accepted.  Please contact the temple office to set up a meeting or conversation with a Task Force member to discuss your donation.  Please be aware that books dropped off without prior approval cannot be accepted.  Monetary donations to the temple Library Fund are welcome.

Once the temple reopens, you will once again be able to check out fiction and nonfiction books that often are not found in your public library.  Please contact the temple office for more information on how to join the Task Force.

Chai There!

by Debi Fallenberg

Yes, I serve as President of the Chai Club, and I also chair the Ritual Committee and the Health and Safety Committee… and I would LOVE for you to join in!

CHAI CLUB:  As I’ve commented before, we are about “fun-raising” not “fund raising”.  Since our members have belonged to our temple, or any other temple, for 18 years or more (but who’s counting) we “adults” enjoy gathering to swap stories, recount memories and create new ones.  The connections we share based on longtime involvement are relaxed and easy.  Dinners, outings, celebrating and supporting temple functions are all activities we enjoy together.  We welcome you to share your stories!

RITUAL COMMITTEE:  What is a synagogue without ritual?  This committee is especially rewarding since we get to discuss celebrating holidays and observing Shabbat with Rabbi and Cantor.  Conferences are always provocative and lively.  We brainstorm ideas for keeping the congregation spiritually engaged for all generations.  Differing backgrounds are brought to the table.  Your input would be much appreciated!

HEALTH AND SAFETY:  Our facility is always in use, by our congregants, by our Religious School and by outside groups and visitors.  Keeping everyone safe and secure is our goal and we’ve all learned about insurance, security, health regulations, lifesaving equipment and so much more.  As issues arise, we reach out to our talented partnership to find the expertise we need.  Please join in and contribute what you know – or want to learn!

For me, belonging to a congregation is about support and togetherness; why not join a group or committee!  Sometimes involvement can take you out of your comfort zone yet learning new tricks has been a growing and enriching experience.  And after all, it’s just us, and we truly care about and uphold one another.

Spotlight on: Chaverah Simcha

by Barbara Kreindler

It is very likely that most of you are not aware that within our temple family, there is an existing Chaverah group, Chaverah Simcha, originally founded on a cold, wintry night in February of 1987.  In the temple newsletter that month, there was an article asking those who might be interested to attend a get-together that evening.  Luckily, a group of brave souls decided to attend in spite of the terrible weather, and Chaverah Simcha was formed.  Our purpose to be together – friendship, support of the temple and another way to follow the path of Judaism.  All these years later, we are still a close-knit group.  Unfortunately, a few members have died or moved away but we continue on.

We were meeting monthly for many years; now we meet about five or six times a year, but we are still a family – we care, we share and we support not just each other, but also the temple.  Rabbi Jeff once said “You are truly a family; when anyone in your group is ill or in need in any way, one of your members always contacts me”.  As a group, we collect yearly dues and we often make donations to the temple.  As of now, we are 14 members, and we remain a caring and sharing group.

All of our meetings involve Judaism in some way.  We have had many interesting get-togethers from trips to places of Jewish interest, to having Rabbi Jeff and Cantor Alison speak, as well as outside speakers, Jewish Trivia games, films, musical programs and too many more to mention.

We are so grateful for the many gatherings with our Chaverah family.  What a wonderful, rewarding way to keep up with our Jewish heritage.

Chaverah Members:

  • Sherry and Howie Eckstein
  • Bonnie Gettinger
  • Carol and Dan Hittleman
  • Fran Hyde
  • Barbara and Herb Kreindler  
  • Judy Madenberg
  • Barbara Schenk                                          
  • Eileen and Arnie Shindler
  • Phyllis and Bill Toran                        

Friendship, Food, Festivities: A Recipe for Success

by Susan Goldman

There are many ways to become involved in temple life. I started off small almost four years ago when I joined the soup making team for our fundraiser, “We Are All Immigrants.” At this event, we honored temple partners and celebrated both our ancestry and our continuing journey towards Tikkun Olam. That got me hooked, and I joined the Temple Community Celebration Committee.

In May 2019, the committee launched the first “progressive” meal representing “Our Doors Are Open”, starting in the homes of congregants and coming together in our synagogue. It was a great success and so many new friendships were formed.  So, if you want to get your feet wet, test the waters by joining a committee that sparks your interest.

We Care and We Are There: Meet our new Caring Community Committee Chairs!

by Karen Bernstein and Jen Gillet

Hello, TBE family!  We are Karen Bernstein and Jen Gillet and we’re so excited to be the new chairs of the Caring Community Committee.  We’d like to introduce ourselves and tell you a bit about the Caring Community Committee.  Karen Bernstein is a music teacher at Plainview Old Bethpage School District and the mother of two children, Marty and Claire.  Jen Gillet is the mom of two boys, Jacob and Alex, and is an Assistant Director at Brant Lake Camp in the Adirondacks. The Caring Community Committee is a group of dedicated members that want to help those who may be going through a rough patch due to illness, a death in the family, or other circumstances.  We help by delivering meals – perhaps soup and challah and/or other comforts.  We also offer an ear to listen, and in non-COVID times, we can offer rides to those who may need them to and from doctor’s appointments/procedures.  The Caring Community Committee provides a lifeline for our congregants in times of struggle.  We’ve all been there and know how important an extra helping hand can be, and we want to be that for you.  If there is a way the Caring Community Committee can be of help to you, your family, or if you know of a member who is in need, please call the temple office at (631) 421-5835, Ext. 200 and they will pass along the information to us.  We’re here to lend a hand. Remember, we’re thinking of you:  We Care and We Are There! 

What is Ner Temid?

by Michael Heiberger

Ner Tamid literally means eternal light. You can see our light at Temple Beth El hanging over the bimah in the sanctuary, as it is in all Jewish houses of worship.  It symbolizes that the traditions and values of Judaism continue on forever.  As we all know, and don’t like to think about, no individual goes on forever – at least not physically.  Our temple, however, has a life that has already extended for three or more generations, and hopefully will continue for many more.

As we are constantly reminded, the lifeblood of a temple, besides its partners (members) is the ability to continue to finance religious services, education, social programs, etc.  We, as individuals, certainly do that which we are able to support TBE each year, but these donations always need to be subsidized by annual giving opportunities.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an additional stream of income that could be used, according to a donor’s wishes, to support his/her most cherished temple activity?  The good news is that anyone can do that, even if they cannot afford to at the present time, by considering a gift to TBE as part of a program of legacy giving.  One example is a bequest in a person’s will for a specific amount to go to TBE earmarked to the donor’s favorite area.  We have such a program we call “Ner Tamid”.

Several of our fellow congregants have already informed us of bequests they have made; some to specific areas like the Endowment Fund, a specific tribute fund or just a general contribution to TBE.  I made my own bequest several years ago; it was painless.  All that was needed was to add a clause to my existing will.  By the way, everyone needs to have a will regardless of age.  As always, it is recommended that you consult with your financial advisor, attorney or accountant about how legacy giving can be beneficial to you now and to the temple later.

For more information, please contact Marcia Schwalb, Vice President of Finance and Development at marcials426@gmail.com or myself, Michael Heiberger at heiberg7@gmail.com.

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 mensch but 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