January 10, 2017

Dear Family School Families,

Due to the forecast for snow and ice Family School and the B'Nai Mitzvah Class has been cancelled for today.  

School Reminders:

  1. Drop off and pick up is at the front door. 
  2. All doors will be locked after Tefilah at 4:30 pm on Tuesdays.
  3. All families are always welcome to stay for Tefilah. It is prayer time, led by our teachers and rabbi, that takes place in the first 30 minute period of the day (4:00 – 4:30 pm on Tuesdays). It is my favorite part of our Family School: not only do you have the opportunity to pray, but you also have the opportunity to see what our children know, and to witness their thoughts and reflections on what this means to them.
  4. Children will not be allowed to go out to the car without an adult coming in. If your child is in a carpool, please make sure to inform our office of these arrangements and that your child(ren) know who they are leaving with.
  5. Please remind your child to study. 5 minutes a day is all it takes to make a huge difference. When students are prepared for their class they feel good about themselves and are ready to work. Homework insures the success of each child. Each student only has one hour per week to learn a new language in Family School. Homework will reinforce what they have covered in class. Please be part of your child's success by talking and even learning with them each week.
  6. We do our best to keep interruptions to a minimum. If your child needs to leave early, please let me know ahead of time and the teacher will prepare what needs to go home and we will have your child ready for pick up.
  7. All electronic devices need to be turned off and be out of sight.

Important Dates to Remember:

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending.


CANCELLED
Tuesday, January 10, 2017: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6 B'Nai Mitzvah Class 6pm-8pm.


 
  • Tuesday, January 17, 2017:  Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6.
  • Tuesday, January 24, 2017: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6 B'Nai Mitzvah Class 6pm-8pm.
  • Saturday, January 28, 2017:  Shabbat Community Day for grades 1-6.  
  • Saturday, January 28, 2017: PreK-K class 10am-12 pm.
  • Tuesday, January 31, 2017:  Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6.

As always, please feel free to contact me either by phone at (845) 684-4242, or by email at [email protected], with any questions or concerns. Confidentiality is always ensured.

Shalom,

Dee

Va’yar Ya’akov ki yesh shever b’mitzrayim
And Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt (Genesis 42:1)

We lost a sage of our era with Leonard Cohen’s passing last month. His absence prompted me, as it has so many others, to revisit his words and to absorb his unflinching wisdom. Leonard Cohen was a prophet of brokenness, a seeker of the light who did not ignore the inherent frailties and folly of the human condition. In “Anthem” (1992) he sang:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

In these words Cohen echoes the teachings of Jewish mysticism. Rabbi Isaac Luria, a formative giant of Kabbalah who lived and taught in Tzfat in the mountains of the Galilee in the 16th century, explained the brokenness of our world with a compelling origin story that still animates Jewish thinking today. Luria explained that when God attempted to create our world, God poured the infinite Divine light into the vessel of creation. But it was impossible for the finite creation to contain that infinite light. The light caused the vessel of creation to crack. Much of the light escaped and rejoined the Divine source, but much also remained hidden in the shards of our sublime yet broken world.

Luria taught that the human task is to find and recognize the countless sparks of Divine light. Through our attention and devotion to freeing these sparks, we do our part to repair the broken vessel of our world. Luria named this process Tikkun Olam, Repairing the World.

So we can see the Kabbalistic background of Leonard Cohen’s verse, but what has this got to do with our Torah portion? As Jacob addresses his sons at the beginning of chapter 42, there is a vast famine underway. Unbeknownst to Jacob, his son Joseph is in Egypt. Joseph successfully interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams as predicting seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, and proposed a plan to store the grain of the plentiful years in preparation for the lean years to come. Joseph is now second-in-command to Pharaoh, disbursing that grain to feed the entire populace. “And Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt.” – “Va’yar Ya’akov ki yesh shever b’mitzrayim.” Jacob will send his sons down to Egypt to procure provisions, thus setting into the motion the drama of their reunion with Joseph.

Rabbi Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl, known by his pen name “Me’or Eynayim”, “Enlightener of the Eyes”, was a disciple of the Ba’al Shem Tov and a Chasidic master of the 18th century. Rabbi Menachem Nachum offers a mystical interpretation of this verse. Remember, Jewish spiritual teachers throughout the ages understand Torah primarily a spiritual rather than a physical journey. Rabbi Menachem Nachum notices that shever, which means “grain” or “provisions”, also means “brokenness” or “breakage”. He also notes that Mitzrayim, which means “Egypt”, also means “the narrow place” or “constriction”. Thus he reads the verse “Va’yar Ya’akov ki yesh shever b’mitzrayim” as “And Jacob saw that there was brokenness in the Place of Constriction.” 

On the spiritual journey, Mitzrayim is our physical world: a place of constriction and brokenness, in which the Divine Light is present but hidden. Our task as spiritual beings is to descend from the Promised Land, the place of Divine Oneness, into the world of broken vessels, vessels that were shattered when the light of Oneness overflowed into them. The task of Jacob’s sons – that is, the Children of Israel – is to recognize the sparks of light that are hidden and waiting to be released and uplifted by our searching hearts and our righteous deeds.

Father Jacob sees the light glimmering through the cracks of our shattered world. He sends us down into that world, our beautiful, broken world, to seek that light in all we do and to liberate the sparks and let them fly! Rarely is that a simple or easy task, but who said that a life filled with purpose was supposed to be easy? May we be blessed with each other’s good company as we pursue our holy, human work.

The light is always there, mingled with dark, but we have to know where to look and how to see. Or as Leonard Cohen—Eliezer ben Natan ha’Cohen was his Jewish name—taught us in “Suzanne”:

And she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love and they will lean that way forever

His memory is truly a blessing.

Wishing you continuing joy in front of the Chanukah candles, Shabbat Shalom, and may we know where to look among the garbage and the flowers in 2017.

Love,

Rabbi Jonathan

Dear Friends,

I am excited to be joining this warm, vibrant congregation.
A little about my background: I am a dedicated non-profit program, administrative, and management professional, committed to strengthening communities and enriching lives.

I most recently served as Executive Director of the Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance in Lake Placid, NY, and Family Strengths Network in Los Alamos, NM. Prior to that, I served as Executive Director of KidsArts!, a multicultural children’s arts program in Jamaica Plain, MA.

My Jewish identity was formed in a religiously eclectic Zionist family and continued with youth group participation. As an adult, I have enjoyed teaching Hebrew school and assuming leadership roles in Hadassah.

I look forward to working together to build on our strengths. Please stop by the office to introduce yourself – I would love to meet you!

With warm regards,
Susan

Dear Family School Families,

As we are enjoying Winter Break and staying warm 
I hope you are planning to attend our Chanukah On Shabbat.
On Friday, December 30th from 6pm-8pm we are having Chanukah on Shabbat.  A Pot Luck Chanukah  Celebration.  Bring your favorite latkes, and another dairy/vegetarian dish to share.  Bring your menorah for the 7th night of Chanukah.  There will be candle lighting, and singing with Rabbi Jonathan.  All are welcome!  Please RSVP to [email protected] so we can set enough tables and chairs.  If you would like to volunteer to help set tables Friday morning, December 30, 2016 please come at 9:30 am.  We will be setting for 100 so the more hands the quicker it goes!  

School will be back in session on Tuesday,  January 3, 2017 for grades 1-6 our next B'Nai Mitzvah class is Tuesday, January 10, 2017 and  the next PreK-K class is Saturday, January 28th. Looking forward to seeing everyone!

If any family would like to donate snack, you can drop off tortilla chips, salsa, pretzels, mini bagels or any healthy snack that we can store and use as needed.  Or, please contact me to arrange a date.  Thank you!

Please remember to scroll to the end of the email to see the school calendar!


School Reminders:

  1. Drop off and pick up is at the front door. 
  2. All doors will be locked after Tefilah at 4:30 pm on Tuesdays.
  3. All families are always welcome to stay for Tefilah. It is prayer time, led by our teachers and rabbi, that takes place in the first 30 minute period of the day (4:00 – 4:30 pm on Tuesdays). It is my favorite part of our Family School: not only do you have the opportunity to pray, but you also have the opportunity to see what our children know, and to witness their thoughts and reflections on what this means to them.
  4. Children will not be allowed to go out to the car without an adult coming in. If your child is in a carpool, please make sure to inform our office of these arrangements and that your child(ren) know who they are leaving with.
  5. Please remind your child to study. 5 minutes a day is all it takes to make a huge difference. When students are prepared for their class they feel good about themselves and are ready to work. Homework insures the success of each child. Each student only has one hour per week to learn a new language in Family School. Homework will reinforce what they have covered in class. Please be part of your child's success by talking and even learning with them each week.
  6. We do our best to keep interruptions to a minimum. If your child needs to leave early, please let me know ahead of time and the teacher will prepare what needs to go home and we will have your child ready for pick up.
  7. All electronic devices need to be turned off and be out of sight.

Important Dates to Remember:

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending.

Winter break, No School till Tuesday, January 3, 2017.
  • Tuesday, January 3, 2017: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6.
  • Friday, January 6, 2017:  Tot Shabbat @ 5pm followed by First Friday Pot Luck Shabbat Dinner @ 6pm.
  • Tuesday, January 10, 2017: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6 B'Nai Mitzvah Class 6pm-8pm.
  • Tuesday, January 17, 2017:  Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6.
  • Tuesday, January 24, 2017: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6 B'Nai Mitzvah Class 6pm-8pm.
  • Saturday, January 28, 2017:  Shabbat Community Day for grades 1-6.  
  • Saturday, January 28, 2017: PreK-K class 10am-12 pm.
  • Tuesday, January 31, 2017:  Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6.

As always, please feel free to contact me either by phone at (845) 684-4242, or by email at [email protected], with any questions or concerns. Confidentiality is always ensured.

Shalom,

Dee

Click here to read Susan's letter.

Dear Congregants,

It is with great pleasure that the Board of Directors and I announce that Susan Mack will join the Woodstock Jewish Congregation as our Executive Director. Susan will begin her journey with us on January 3rd.

The Search Committee, chaired by Myrna Sameth, received and reviewed more than three dozen resumes from as far away as California. Six candidates were interviewed via video conferencing and three were asked to a second, in-person interview. I would like to thank my colleagues, Judy Lewis, George Swain and Kathi Wood who served on the Search Committee as well as Rabbi Jonathan, Danny Rubenstein, Paul Mozian and Matt White who assisted with the selection process. Their efforts are deeply appreciated.

Most recently, Susan comes to us from Lake Placid, NY where she served as the Executive Director of the Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance. With more than 30 years of experience, Susan has served in various positions in the not-for-profit world.  Her skills are in sync with our needs and we are excited to have her join our team in this leadership position.

Susan has both a Conservative and Reconstructionist background and, through family and friends, has ties to the Hudson Valley. In her spare time, her hobbies of choice are white-water kayaking and opera.

I am confident that Susan will be an excellent match for this position and a strong asset to our synagogue and our community. She is eager to help us build on our strong foundation as we move into the future. Susan describes her style as collaborative and she is excited to join forces with our staff and Rabbi Jonathan.

A welcome get-together will be announced in the very near future so that you all can meet Susan and welcome her to our congregation family.

Sincerely,

Jerry Lerner
President, Woodstock Jewish Congregation

Dear Congregants,

The WJC Communications Task Force has gone through the input we gathered from our congregants at the Meeting of Sharing we held at WJC on September 11, and compiled a list of the activities that interested people. The activities are listed here. If there is a contact name listed next to the activity, that means the activity is in process. Feel free to contact the person.

The remaining groups which require volunteers to be leaders are:

  • Connecting to Israel
  • Intergenerational Group
  • WJC Archive Group
  • Walking, Hiking, Biking, Swimming
  • Study Group (Book Group)
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Consciousness-raising group to discuss treatment of people with physical disabilities or differences

If anyone would like to lead or participate in the above listed groups, please contact Laurie Mozian ([email protected]).

At this time, The Task Force will focus on the following activities:

  • In home Shabbat Meals
  • A Telephone Team to greet all members at holiday times

December 16, 2016

Dear Family School Families,

I hope everyone is staying warm!  We do have school next Tuesday, December 20, 2016 for grades 1-6 and the B'Nai Mitzvah Class too.
This past Tuesday, Yael Bernhard came to read her new book The Life of an Olive.  Each child received a signed copy. If your child did not come home with a copy I have it in my office, they just left to fast.  The story is a beautiful tale of the life of an olive tree.  She discussed her experiences in Israel, how she did her research for the book and how she created the artwork.  

Next week in grades 1-6 we will be celebrating Chanukah, reading stories, making dreidels, latkes and applesauce.  

We have 2 Congregational Chanukah Happenings this year: 

On December 24th we have Chanukah on Christmas Eve 6:30- 9:00 pm.  We will start with Havdalah and menorah lighting.  Bring your menorah! Chinese food and latkes for dinner and @ 8pm a comedy played called OY!  Featuring congregants and Rabbi Jonathan.  Dinner and the show are free, your donations will be most welcome.  All are welcome!

On Friday, December 30th from 6pm-8pm we are having Chanukah on Shabbat.  A Pot Luck Chanukah  Celebration.  Bring your favorite latkes, and another dairy/vegetarian dish to share.  Bring your menorah for the 7th night of Chanukah.  There will be candle lighting, and singing with Rabbi Jonathan.  All are welcome!  Please RSVP to [email protected] so we can set enough tables and chairs.

If any family would like to donate snack, you can drop off tortilla chips, salsa, pretzels, mini bagels or any healthy snack that we can store and use as needed.  Or, please contact me to arrange a date.  Thank you!

Please remember to scroll to the end of the email to see the school calendar!


School Reminders:

  1. Drop off and pick up is at the front door. 
  2. All doors will be locked after Tefilah at 4:30 pm on Tuesdays.
  3. All families are always welcome to stay for Tefilah. It is prayer time, led by our teachers and rabbi, that takes place in the first 30 minute period of the day (4:00 – 4:30 pm on Tuesdays). It is my favorite part of our Family School: not only do you have the opportunity to pray, but you also have the opportunity to see what our children know, and to witness their thoughts and reflections on what this means to them.
  4. Children will not be allowed to go out to the car without an adult coming in. If your child is in a carpool, please make sure to inform our office of these arrangements and that your child(ren) know who they are leaving with.
  5. Please remind your child to study. 5 minutes a day is all it takes to make a huge difference. When students are prepared for their class they feel good about themselves and are ready to work. Homework insures the success of each child. Each student only has one hour per week to learn a new language in Family School. Homework will reinforce what they have covered in class. Please be part of your child's success by talking and even learning with them each week.
  6. We do our best to keep interruptions to a minimum. If your child needs to leave early, please let me know ahead of time and the teacher will prepare what needs to go home and we will have your child ready for pick up.
  7. All electronic devices need to be turned off and be out of sight.

Important Dates to Remember:

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6 B'Nai Mitzvah Class 6pm-8pm.
  • Winter break, No School till Tuesday, January 3, 2017.
  • Tuesday, January 3, 2017: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6.
  • Friday, January 6, 2017:  Tot Shabbat @ 5pm followed by First Friday Pot Luck Shabbat Dinner @ 6pm.
  • Tuesday, January 10, 2017: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6 B'Nai Mitzvah Class 6pm-8pm.
  • Tuesday, January 17, 2017:  Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6.
  • Tuesday, January 24, 2017: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6 B'Nai Mitzvah Class 6pm-8pm.
  • Saturday, January 28, 2017:  Shabbat Community Day for grades 1-6.  
  • Saturday, January 28, 2017: PreK-K class 10am-12 pm.
  • Tuesday, January 31, 2017:  Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6.

As always, please feel free to contact me either by phone at (845) 684-4242, or by email at [email protected], with any questions or concerns. Confidentiality is always ensured.

Shalom,

Dee

Dear Family School Families,

Thanks to all who came to our Friday Night Shabbat Seder.  It was beautiful.  It is a great way to meet and greet and start Shabbat as a family.

Our Chanukah Bazaar was a great success!  We had wonderful vendors offering a variety of goods with affordable prices.  Gifts could be bought for all.  Thank you to the Congregational Learning Committee for all their efforts!

In Family School this week after Hebrew we had a great discussion about miracles.  What is a miracle, how do they happen,  are they always seen?  There were many good explanations and good stories to hear.  Please keep the conversation going this week.  Just breathing is a miracle. 

This Saturday, December 10th is our monthly PreK-K class at 10am with Morah Wendy.  We are looking forward to seeing all.

We have 2 Chanukah Happenings this year: 

On December 24th we have Chanukah on Christmas Eve 6:30- 9:00 pm.  We will start with Havdalah and menorah lighting.  Bring your menorah! Chinese food and latkes for dinner and @ 8pm a comedy played called OY!  Featuring congregants and Rabbi Jonathan.  Dinner and the show are free, your donations will be most welcome.  All are welcome!

On Friday, December 30th from 6pm-8pm we are having Chanukah on Shabbat.  A Pot Luck Chanukah  Celebration.  Bring your favorite latkes, and an other dairy/vegetarian dish to share.  Bring your menorah for the 7th night of Chanukah.  There will be candle lighting, and singing with Rabbi Jonathan.  All are welcome!  Please RSVP to [email protected] so we can set enough tables and chairs.

If any family would like to donate snack, you can drop off tortilla chips, salsa, pretzels, mini bagels or any healthy snack that we can store and use as needed.  Or, please contact me to arrange a date.  Thank you!

Please remember to scroll to the end of the email to see the school calendar!


School Reminders:

  1. Drop off and pick up is at the front door. 
  2. All doors will be locked after Tefilah at 4:30 pm on Tuesdays.
  3. All families are always welcome to stay for Tefilah. It is prayer time, led by our teachers and rabbi, that takes place in the first 30 minute period of the day (4:00 – 4:30 pm on Tuesdays). It is my favorite part of our Family School: not only do you have the opportunity to pray, but you also have the opportunity to see what our children know, and to witness their thoughts and reflections on what this means to them.
  4. Children will not be allowed to go out to the car without an adult coming in. If your child is in a carpool, please make sure to inform our office of these arrangements and that your child(ren) know who they are leaving with.
  5. Please remind your child to study. 5 minutes a day is all it takes to make a huge difference. When students are prepared for their class they feel good about themselves and are ready to work. Homework insures the success of each child. Each student only has one hour per week to learn a new language in Family School. Homework will reinforce what they have covered in class. Please be part of your child's success by talking and even learning with them each week.
  6. We do our best to keep interruptions to a minimum. If your child needs to leave early, please let me know ahead of time and the teacher will prepare what needs to go home and we will have your child ready for pick up.
  7. All electronic devices need to be turned off and be out of sight.

Important Dates to Remember:

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending.

  • Saturday, December 10, 2016:  10am-12pm PreK-K Class.
  • Tuesday, December 13, 2016: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6.
  • Tuesday, December 20, 2016: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6 B'Nai Mitzvah Class 6pm-8pm.
  • Winter break, No School till Tuesday, January 3, 2017.
  • Tuesday, January 3, 2017: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6
  • Tuesday, January 10, 2017: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6 B'Nai Mitzvah Class 6pm-8pm.

As always, please feel free to contact me either by phone at (845) 684-4242, or by email at [email protected], with any questions or concerns. Confidentiality is always ensured.

Shalom,

Dee

 

On the top of the front page of this past Tuesday’s New York Times print edition, there is a beautiful photo of two women embracing. One of the women is light-skinned and gray haired, the other is dark-skinned, her head covered by a hijab, the traditional covering worn by some Muslim women. These two women were among 500 Muslim and Jewish women who gathered at Drew University for the third annual gathering of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.

At this organization’s first annual gathering, 100 women attended. Last year, 200 attended. It will surprise no one that in the wake of our recent presidential election the numbers swelled to 500, with many more interested who did not attend. Driven by fear of our President-elect’s campaign promises to discriminate against Muslims, and by the precipitous rise in anti-Semitic speech on social media and anti-Semitic incidents around the US during Trump’s rise – not to mention the rampant misogyny and racism that have also been unleashed – these Muslim and Jewish women find themselves drawn together by common cause, to mobilize to protect themselves and their families, and to defend the American values that make it possible for us to live together despite our differing backgrounds.

My eyes were drawn to the photograph for a very personal reason: the light-skinned woman with the beautiful gray hair is Barbara Breitman, one of my oldest friends and a precious Jewish colleague. A brilliant psychotherapist and teacher, Barbara directs the Spiritual Direction program and teaches Pastoral Counseling at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, my alma mater. Barbara has influenced a generation of rabbis through her guidance and personal example. I felt such pride seeing her representing my Jewish people and our highest values of love and tolerance as she beams from that photograph with her fellow participant Shabiha Sheikh.

Here at the WJC, we are also taking steps to break down barriers and increase understanding. We are partway through our current course, “In the Tent of Abraham: The Mystical Heart of Islam, Christianity and Judaism”, which I am co-teaching with Rev. Matthew Wright from St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, and with two fabulous teachers of Islam and Sufism, Karuna Foudriat and Rabia Gentile. Having read some books and taken a graduate school course in Islam, I thought I knew something about what it meant to be a Muslim. In fact I know next to nothing. My academic investigation has not even scratched the surface of what a committed Muslim feels about his or her faith, and how that faith feeds their spiritual journey and guides their moral behavior.

I’m learning about why Muslims revere Muhammad as their founder and prophet, and how they try to model their own lives after his example. I’m learning about the spiritual underpinnings of Muslim practice. Karuna and Rabia, our teachers, have no illusions about the way their beloved traditions have been desecrated and hijacked by Salafi and Wahabi Islamists, who practice the fundamentalist and warped version of Islam that destroyed the World Trade Center and terrorizes so much of our world, including of course the Muslim societies that they inhabit. But by observing the fundamentalist and militant versions of Christianity or of Judaism, we see the same capacity to ignore teachings of love and instead elevate teachings of exclusive claims of truth and utter disdain for others. Nonetheless, it remains true that underneath all of that human folly and perversion, the spiritual heart of Islam still beats, inspiring committed Muslims on their path to fuller realization. And that remains true for Judaism and Christianity as well. It is, of course, up to committed practitioners of all three faiths to keep that spiritual heart beating, and to continue to craft the best versions of our traditions that will honor and support the true diversity of the human family in our planetary era. Those versions are embraced by millions, even billions around the world, and I won’t allow the bullies and demagogues of my tradition or any other to tell me different.

I’m learning so much. I feel that because of this course I will be able for the first time to approach a Muslim and have a conversation with them about their practice and their faith. I’m learning about the common practices and related beliefs that link Islam with Judaism, and with Christianity, even as I’m working to understand the origins of the age-old conflict between Islam and Christianity. I already knew about the fertile interchange between Judaism and Islam during the medieval period known as the Golden Age of Islam, but now I can revisit that remarkable era with deeper understanding.

This is so important to me. I am acutely aware of the extreme hatred toward Israel that has been infused in Moslem countries throughout the Middle East. I am not lowering my guard about geopolitical matters. But the United States has always been a laboratory testing the hypothesis that many and differing groups can live together in one society, that we can know each other, share school assemblies together, sit in doctor’s offices together, visit each other’s houses of worship, even marry and make families together. This model makes it possible for American Jews and American Muslims to reach out to one another, and to build bonds of mutual concern, friendship and even love. The United States at its best is an idea and an ideal in action, and at our best we model and export that idea and ideal to the rest of the world: we can share our society. As our new administration prepares to take office, I am not only fearful for the physical safety of minorities in our country, including Jews; I am fearful for the crippling of an idea that is our best hope for humanity on our crowded planet – the idea that we humans can transcend our basest natures and instead nurture our capacity to welcome the stranger into our midst.

In our class session this past Tuesday, WJC members Susan Rosen and Carol Fox Prescott reported to us that they had made the trip to New Jersey and had participated in the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom conference. Susan and Carol described the love that was palpable among the women at the gathering. In our Tent of Abraham class, and in everything that we do at the WJC, we are doing our best to extend that feeling of love to our community. I want us to continue to create a sanctuary in which truly everyone can feel welcomed, where we can share our hopes and fears and aspirations with one another, even (especially!) if we do not all agree. May our participation in the Woodstock Jewish Congregation help us transcend our stereotypes about others, nurture our courage, and support us to stand up for that which we hold dear.

Shabbat Shalom and love,

Rabbi Jonathan

December 2, 2016

Dear Family School Families,

We had a wonderful Tuesday in Family School.  Click here for a beautiful overview of the day written by Morah Jill.

Tonight, December 2, 2016 is a Family School Shabbat Seder Dinner.  6pm-8pm.  This is a potluck dinner Shabbat Diner. There is candle lighting, blessings, songs and dinner.  Plan on attending and bring a dairy/vegetarian dish to share.  It is a lovely way to start Shabbat with our Family School and congregation.  Tot Shabbat starts @ 5pm.

This Sunday, December 4, 2016 is our Chanukah Market and Bazaar 10am-3pm.   Please plan on coming to shop on that day!  We are sold out of vendor spaces and have many wonderful vendors selling books, jewelry, handmade doll clothing, cards, candles, wrapping paper, dreidels and gelt something for everyone!  Thank you for supporting our Family School.

If any family would like to donate snack, you can drop off tortilla chips, salsa, pretzels, mini bagels or any healthy snack that we can store and use as needed.  Or, please contact me to arrange a date.  Thank you!

Please remember to scroll to the end of the email to see the school calendar!


School Reminders:

  1. Drop off and pick up is at the front door. 
  2. All doors will be locked after Tefilah at 4:30 pm on Tuesdays.
  3. All families are always welcome to stay for Tefilah. It is prayer time, led by our teachers and rabbi, that takes place in the first 30 minute period of the day (4:00 – 4:30 pm on Tuesdays). It is my favorite part of our Family School: not only do you have the opportunity to pray, but you also have the opportunity to see what our children know, and to witness their thoughts and reflections on what this means to them.
  4. Children will not be allowed to go out to the car without an adult coming in. If your child is in a carpool, please make sure to inform our office of these arrangements and that your child(ren) know who they are leaving with.
  5. Please remind your child to study. 5 minutes a day is all it takes to make a huge difference. When students are prepared for their class they feel good about themselves and are ready to work. Homework insures the success of each child. Each student only has one hour per week to learn a new language in Family School. Homework will reinforce what they have covered in class. Please be part of your child's success by talking and even learning with them each week.
  6. We do our best to keep interruptions to a minimum. If your child needs to leave early, please let me know ahead of time and the teacher will prepare what needs to go home and we will have your child ready for pick up.
  7. All electronic devices need to be turned off and be out of sight.

Important Dates to Remember:

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending.

  • Friday, December 2, 2016:  Family School Shabbat Seder 6pm.  Tot Shabbat @ 5pm.
  • Sunday, December 4, 2016:  10am-3pm. Chanukah Bazaar.
  • Tuesday, December 6, 2016: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6 B'Nai Mitzvah Class 6pm-8pm
  • Saturday, December 10, 2016:  10am-12pm PreK-K Class.
  • Tuesday, December 13, 2016: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6.
  • Tuesday, December 20, 2016: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6 B'Nai Mitzvah Class 6pm-8pm.
  • Winter break, No School till Tuesday, January 3, 2017.
  • Tuesday, January 3, 2017: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6
  • Tuesday, January 10, 2017: Family School 4pm - 6:30 pm grades 1-6 B'Nai Mitzvah Class 6pm-8pm.

As always, please feel free to contact me either by phone at (845) 684-4242, or by email at [email protected], with any questions or concerns. Confidentiality is always ensured.

Shalom,

Dee

Dear Friends,

While I was not able to find the time this week to write out my Torah commentary, I’m so pleased that those of you who wish to can listen to it! We have been recording my classes, and they are archived here. You can also listen to audio recordings of the course I am currently leading at the WJC with Christian and Moslem teachers, “In the Tent of Abraham: the Mystical Heart of Islam, Christianity and Judaism”. (Over 60 people are attending this course!) The response to these classes has been fantastic. I myself am learning so much. So, if you have the technology and the inclination, tune in!

I would also like to remind you about the wonderful programs we have planned for this Sunday, when the shul will be bustling. Our Membership Committee is hosting a free brunch Sunday from 11 am–1 pm, at which I will be leading a discussion about the meaning and history of our Hebrew and Jewish names. Hopefully, this will be the first of a series of Sunday brunches with engaging topics of Jewish cultural interest. While the brunch is taking place in the rear of our building, the rest of the place will be filled from 10 am–3 pm with vendors for our Chanukah Market & Bazaar, organized by our Congregational Learning Committee and benefiting our Family School Enrichment Fund.

More to share next week—until then sending you wishes for strength, equanimity and an open heart.

Shabbat Shalom and Love,

Rabbi Jonathan

Dear Family School Families,

Even though there is no school this week I would like to take a minute to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. The teachers, myself and Rabbi Jonathan are so thankful that you choose to share your children with us!  In this turbulent world being part of this wonderful community can only give each one of us support and comfort.  Let us all continue to be supportive and thankful for each other.
We look forward to seeing everyone next Tuesday November 29, 2016.

December 2, 2016 is a Family School Shabbat Seder Dinner.  6pm-8pm.  This is a potluck dinner on Friday night. There is candle lighting, blessings, songs and dinner.  Plan on attending and bring a dairy/vegetarian dish to share.  It is a lovely way to start Shabbat with our Family School and congregation.  Tot Shabbat starts @ 5pm.

On Sunday, December 4, 2016 we are having a Chanukah Market and Bazaar 10am-3pm.  Please click here for more info.  If you would like to be a vendor please contact me.  Please plan on coming to shop on that day!  We have many vendors selling books, jewelry, handmade doll clothing, cards, candles, wrapping paper, dreidels and gelt something for everyone!  Thank you for supporting our Family School.

If any family would like to donate snack, you can drop off tortilla chips, salsa, pretzels, mini bagels or any healthy snack that we can store and use as needed.  Or, please contact me to arrange a date.  Thank you!

Please remember to scroll to the end of the email to see the school calendar!


School Reminders:

  1. Drop off and pick up is at the front door. 
  2. All doors will be locked after Tefilah at 4:30 pm on Tuesdays.
  3. All families are always welcome to stay for Tefilah. It is prayer time, led by our teachers and rabbi, that takes place in the first 30 minute period of the day (4:00 – 4:30 pm on Tuesdays). It is my favorite part of our Family School: not only do you have the opportunity to pray, but you also have the opportunity to see what our children know, and to witness their thoughts and reflections on what this means to them.
  4. Children will not be allowed to go out to the car without an adult coming in. If your child is in a carpool, please make sure to inform our office of these arrangements and that your child(ren) know who they are leaving with.
  5. Please remind your child to study. 5 minutes a day is all it takes to make a huge difference. When students are prepared for their class they feel good about themselves and are ready to work. Homework insures the success of each child. Each student only has one hour per week to learn a new language in Family School. Homework will reinforce what they have covered in class. Please be part of your child's success by talking and even learning with them each week.
  6. We do our best to keep interruptions to a minimum. If your child needs to leave early, please let me know ahead of time and the teacher will prepare what needs to go home and we will have your child ready for pick up.
  7. All electronic devices need to be turned off and be out of sight.

Important Dates to Remember:

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending.


Saturday, November 12, 2016: Shabbat Community Day and PreK-K class.  10am-1pm with a pot luck lunch.
  • Tuesday, November 22, 2016:  NO SCHOOL
  • Tuesday, November 29, 2016:   Family School grades 1-6, 4pm-6:30 pm.  B'Nai Mitzvah Class, 6 pm-8 pm.
  • Friday, December 2, 2016:  Family School Shabbat Seder 6pm.  Tot Shabbat @ 5pm.
  • Sunday, December 4, 2016:  10am-3pm. Chanukah Bazaar.

As always, please feel free to contact me either by phone at (845) 684-4242, or by email at [email protected], with any questions or concerns. Confidentiality is always ensured.

Shalom,

Dee

Dear Family School Families,

Thank you to all families that attended our Shabbat Community Day.  Attending these scheduled days together as a family gives the children a chance to   become familiar with the flow of the Saturday morning services. On Tuesday's in tefilah they are learning  the prayers preparing them to participate in future Shabbat Community Day Services.  This is a foundation to build upon leading up to their bar/bat mitzvah and as growing young people to continue their Jewish journey.  Shabbat Community Days are part of the Family School curriculum but, we would love for you to attend any Shabbat Services. We are a congregation that LOVES young people!  It is a great way to build relationships and grow community. In these times of uncertainty it is a sacred space to find comfort and peace in. 

Our PreK-K Class met and made lovely Tzedakah boxes and learned what Tzedakah is all about.  They are all so sweet and ready to learn!  Thank you to our substitute teacher Wendy Gold, her love of children and judaism beams through to all!

December 2, 2016 is a Family School Shabbat Seder Dinner.  6pm-8pm.  This is a potluck dinner on Friday night. There is candle lighting, blessings, songs and dinner.  Plan on attending and bring a dairy/vegetarian dish to share.  It is a lovely way to start Shabbat with our Family School and congregation.  Tot Shabbat starts @ 5pm.

On Tuesday in Family School we are continuing on our journey exploring Hineni (being present) and Kavannah (intentions).  Please keep the conversation going at home with what does it means to be present and what intentions are.  We have had very thoughtful discussions here and will continue to delve deeper.  Each child will be making stones and writing  what their Kavannah is.  We have already created a list using their beautiful words!

Hebrew is moving right along and the students are rising to the occasion with great enthusiasm!  Please encourage your child to study at least 5 minutes per day.  It really does make a huge difference in their progress.

On Sunday, December 4, 2016 we are having a Chanukah Market and Bazaar 10am-3pm.  Please click here for more info.  If you would like to be a vendor please contact me.  Please plan on coming to shop on that day!  We have many vendors selling books, jewelry, handmade doll clothing, cards, candles, wrapping paper, dreidels and gelt something for everyone!  Thank you for supporting our Family School.

If any family would like to donate snack, you can drop off tortilla chips, salsa, pretzels, mini bagels or any healthy snack that we can store and use as needed.  Or, please contact me to arrange a date.  Thank you!

Please remember to scroll to the end of the email to see the school calendar!


School Reminders:

  1. Drop off and pick up is at the front door. 
  2. All doors will be locked after Tefilah at 4:30 pm on Tuesdays.
  3. All families are always welcome to stay for Tefilah. It is prayer time, led by our teachers and rabbi, that takes place in the first 30 minute period of the day (4:00 – 4:30 pm on Tuesdays). It is my favorite part of our Family School: not only do you have the opportunity to pray, but you also have the opportunity to see what our children know, and to witness their thoughts and reflections on what this means to them.
  4. Children will not be allowed to go out to the car without an adult coming in. If your child is in a carpool, please make sure to inform our office of these arrangements and that your child(ren) know who they are leaving with.
  5. Please remind your child to study. 5 minutes a day is all it takes to make a huge difference. When students are prepared for their class they feel good about themselves and are ready to work. Homework insures the success of each child. Each student only has one hour per week to learn a new language in Family School. Homework will reinforce what they have covered in class. Please be part of your child's success by talking and even learning with them each week.
  6. We do our best to keep interruptions to a minimum. If your child needs to leave early, please let me know ahead of time and the teacher will prepare what needs to go home and we will have your child ready for pick up.
  7. All electronic devices need to be turned off and be out of sight.

Important Dates to Remember:

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending.


Saturday, November 12, 2016: Shabbat Community Day and PreK-K class.  10am-1pm with a pot luck lunch.
  • Tuesday, November 22, 2016:  Family School snow day make up if needed. If not needed there is no school.
  • Tuesday, November 29, 2016:   Family School grades 1-6, 4pm-6:30 pm.  B'Nai Mitzvah Class, 6 pm-8 pm.
  • Friday, December 2, 2016:  Family School Shabbat Seder 6pm.  Tot Shabbat @ 5pm.
  • Sunday, December 4, 2016:  10am-3pm. Chanukah Bazaar.

As always, please feel free to contact me either by phone at (845) 684-4242, or by email at [email protected], with any questions or concerns. Confidentiality is always ensured.

Shalom,

Dee

Dear Friends,

Just a brief note today to remind you all about the course that I will be co-teaching with inspiring colleagues at the WJC beginning this coming Tuesday, November 15, 1:45–3:45 pm: “In the Tent of Abraham: The Mystical Heart of Islam, Christianity and Judaism”.

It certainly seems to me that we need this kind of dialogue more than ever at this moment and following this week’s election. In the face of the ascendant rhetoric of divisiveness, this course will be one way that we step towards the “other”, by learning together about our traditions, what we share and where we differ.

All the information and a fuller description are on the flyer below, and also on our website. You can register by clicking here, or simply come to the first class on Tuesday. And if you cannot attend, we will be recording the classes and hope to post the audio online.

Also, remember that Shabbat services are a great opportunity to remember that below the stormy surface of our lives, a great ocean of love and wholeness is always present. Shabbat helps us remember, experience and draw equanimity and strength from the living waters of life. You are always welcome. From now until March our Kabbalat Shabbat service begins in Fridays at 6 pm, and our Shabbat morning service is from 10 am–12 pm. Tomorrow after services we are sharing a potluck lunch—bring a dairy/vegetarian dish and join us!

Shabbat Shalom and Love,

Dear Family School Families,

Wow, Tuesday was a great day in Family School in spite of the turbulence in the world!  Anxiety is running high, lets all breathe and be thankful for our wonderful community!  Please be sure to read Rabbi Jonathan's message that went out via email.
 
 All the students are excited and ready to learn!  We continued on our journey of Hineni (being present) and Kavannah (intentions).  Hebrew is moving right along and the students are rising to the occasion with great enthusiasm!  Please encourage your child to study at least 5 minutes per day.  It really does make a huge difference in their progress.

We had a wonderful Tot Shabbat and First Friday Shabbat Dinner.  If you have not attended one of the First Friday Shabbat's you are missing out terribly!   The first Friday of every month there is a pot luck Shabbat Dinner with the entire community and a Tot Shabbat.  It is a great inter-generational Shabbat celebration.  A beautiful community is growing with many relationships building.  We are like a garden blooming and growing.  We need each other and this is a lovely way to meet and greet.

Saturday, November 12, 2016 is our PreK-K Class @ 10am, it is also a Family School Shabbat Community Day. Services start @ 10 am, we end with a pot-luck lunch around 12pm.  This is part of the required attendance in Family School.  Please plan on attending and  bring a dairy/vegetarian dish  to share for our pot-luck.  This is also a special day because it is the New Member Welcome Shabbat.  Hope to see everyone!

On Sunday, December 4, 2016 we are having a Chanukah Market and Bazaar 10am-3pm.  Please click here for more info.  If you would like to be a vendor please contact me.  Please plan on coming to shop on that day!  Thank you for supporting our Family School.

If any family would like to donate snack, you can drop off tortilla chips, salsa, pretzels, mini bagels or any healthy snack that we can store and use as needed.  Or, please contact me to arrange a date.  Thank you!

Please remember to scroll to the end of the email to see the school calendar!


School Reminders:

  1. Drop off and pick up is at the front door. 
  2. All doors will be locked after Tefilah at 4:30 pm on Tuesdays.
  3. All families are always welcome to stay for Tefilah. It is prayer time, led by our teachers and rabbi, that takes place in the first 30 minute period of the day (4:00 – 4:30 pm on Tuesdays). It is my favorite part of our Family School: not only do you have the opportunity to pray, but you also have the opportunity to see what our children know, and to witness their thoughts and reflections on what this means to them.
  4. Children will not be allowed to go out to the car without an adult coming in. If your child is in a carpool, please make sure to inform our office of these arrangements and that your child(ren) know who they are leaving with.
  5. Please remind your child to study. 5 minutes a day is all it takes to make a huge difference. When students are prepared for their class they feel good about themselves and are ready to work. Homework insures the success of each child. Each student only has one hour per week to learn a new language in Family School. Homework will reinforce what they have covered in class. Please be part of your child's success by talking and even learning with them each week.
  6. We do our best to keep interruptions to a minimum. If your child needs to leave early, please let me know ahead of time and the teacher will prepare what needs to go home and we will have your child ready for pick up.
  7. All electronic devices need to be turned off and be out of sight.

Important Dates to Remember:

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending.


Saturday, November 12, 2016: Shabbat Community Day and PreK-K class.  10am-1pm with a pot luck lunch.
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2016:  Family School grades 1-6, 4pm-6:30 pm.
  • Tuesday, November 22, 2016:  Family School snow day make up if needed. If not needed there is no school.
  • Tuesday, November 29, 2016:   Family School grades 1-6, 4pm-6:30 pm.  B'Nai Mitzvah Class, 6 pm-8 pm.

As always, please feel free to contact me either by phone at (845) 684-4242, or by email at [email protected], with any questions or concerns. Confidentiality is always ensured.

Shalom,

Dee

The Keter Shem Tov – Crown of a Good Name Gala has been moved to March 25, 2017

This new date will better accommodate the many members of our community who were unable to attend in November.

In addition our honoree, Ron Carleton, will be celebrating his birthday on March 25! Please save the date and plan to join us for this fun and festive evening.

Photo of Keter Shem Tov Honoree Ron Carleton
Keter Shem Tov Honoree Ron Carleton

Dear Members and Friends of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation,

Each of us woke up this morning (if we happened to get some sleep) to the stunning victory of Donald Trump in our presidential election. Knowing you well, I know that for most in our congregation this was a bitter defeat, and for some in our congregation a satisfying victory. We as a community will be best served if we can continue to greet each other warmly and love each other well, no matter what the near future holds. The world will keep wheeling around the sun, and we can still remember to give thanks for each breath, each moment, and each act of kindness, even as we speculate about what is to come, and about what we each might do to make our world a better place.

My colleague Rabbi Paul Kipnes sent out this prayer this morning, and I asked his permission to re-post it here:

“There was that moment at the Red Sea when our people despaired like never before. Looking behind, the people saw an enemy coming for them. Looking ahead, the waters seemed ready to swallow them up.

To stand still was not an option.

We pray,

אלהינו ואלהי אבותינו ואמותינו
Eloheinu veilohei avoteinu v'imoteinu,
Our God and God of our fathers and mothers,

When our nation is divided
When our people are afraid
When our children are confused
When we ourselves are unsure about how to move forward.

Grant us,

Like Nachshon, the courage to face our fears and walk forward into the unknown.

Like Miriam, the insight to find the hidden waters in the wilderness to quench our thirst.

Like King Solomon, the wisdom to decide wisely as we face difficult questions in the days and months ahead.

Like the prophet Nathan, the faith to speak truth to power, demanding as he did from King David, truth and justice, compassion and kindness.

And may we lie down in peace and rise up each tomorrow refreshed and renewed, prepared to work toward blessing for all.

Amen.”

If I can be of support to anyone, please contact me—my door is open, and I am ready with a warm embrace and a sympathetic ear.

Love,

Rabbi Jonathan

Dear Friends,

I have a couple of important reminders to share with you today.

On Saturday evening, November 19 we are honoring Ron Carleton at our annual Keter Shem Tov gala. We have extended our deadline for reservations until next Friday, November 11, so you still have time to reserve your spot. It is a fun and festive evening during which we get to celebrate a treasured member of our community, with good food, friendship, dancing, and an auction as well. I hope many of you will take advantage of this extended deadline and join us on November 19.

“Keter Shem Tov” means “the crown of a good name”. The term comes from Pirkei Avot, a collection of wisdom sayings from our ancient sages:

“Rabbi Shimon said, there are three crowns: the crown of Torah (i.e. scholarship), the crown of priesthood (i.e. religious leadership), and the crown of kingship (political leadership). But the crown of a good name is superior to them all.”

Rabbi Shimon wants us to know that our crowning achievement in life is not an external marker, not the positions of power or authority we have attained. Our greatest achievement is to live with integrity and to build trusting relationships that matter. It is this “social capital”, in the final analysis, that gives our lives meaning and sustenance.

I am so glad that the WJC is conferring this honor on our past president Ron Carleton, a man who has devoted himself and his considerable gifts to the well being of our Jewish community and equally to the larger community in which he and his wonderful family reside. Ron offers his wisdom and his organizational skills selflessly, without seeking personal reward. I find Ron’s integrity to be as near impeccable as anyone I have ever met, and I have learned from him how to navigate by principle and how to always look for the high road. I hope you will join us for our celebration on November 19 as we bestow upon Ron this well-deserved honor.

This coming Tuesday, November 8 is Election Day (finally!) If there is anything close to a sacred duty – a mitzvah - in our American democracy, it is fulfilling the responsibility, right and privilege to cast a ballot and elect our leaders. I encourage each of you to fulfill this American mitzvah and be certain to vote and to encourage others to vote as well. Our democratic experiment, founded on the radical concept that a government can only be rightfully chosen by its citizen constituents, is messy to be sure, and troubled and compromised, as we are all aware. But it is based on an exalted idea, that all human beings are created equal, and this is a notion to be cherished and upheld.

So I wish to suggest that as we prepare to vote (or even if we have already voted in early balloting), each of us take a moment to offer a prayer of gratitude that we live in a nation that empowers its citizens to have a voice (still a rarity in much of the world.) May each of us use that voice to advance the principles we hold most dear, realistic about the limits of our influence, yet in the spirit of the greatest good that we can conceive, and may we continue to have faith in our collective future. Amen, and keep breathing, everybody!

Shabbat Shalom and love,

Rabbi Jonathan

Dear Family School Families,

We are happy school is back in the swing of things.  We officially started our Hebrew learning!  All the students are excited and ready to learn!  We continued on our journey of Hineni (being present) and Kavannah (intentions).

 Friday November 4 @ 5pm is our monthly Tot Shabbat and, our First Friday Pot Luck dinner follows at 6pm.  Please plan to attend this wonderful inter-generational Shabbat pot-luck dinner.  Candle lighting, blessings. songs and a great community.  A delightful way to start Shabbat!

 B'Nai Mitzvah class resume on  November 8th.  First through 6th graders will also have class on November 8th.   November 12th is Shabbat Community Day and our Prek-K class.  Please scroll to the bottom for the calendar schedule for the month.

On Sunday, December 4, 2016 we are having a Chanukah Market and Bazaar 10am-3pm.  Please click here for more info.  If you would like to be a vendor please contact me.  Please plan on coming to shop on that day!  Thank you for supporting our Family School.

If any family would like to donate snack, you can drop off tortilla chips, salsa, pretzels, mini bagels or any healthy snack that we can store and use as needed.  Or, please contact me to arrange a date.  Thank you!

Please remember to scroll to the end of the email to see the school calendar!


School Reminders:

  1. Drop off and pick up is at the front door. 
  2. All doors will be locked after Tefilah at 4:30 pm on Tuesdays.
  3. All families are always welcome to stay for Tefilah. It is prayer time, led by our teachers and rabbi, that takes place in the first 30 minute period of the day (4:00 – 4:30 pm on Tuesdays). It is my favorite part of our Family School: not only do you have the opportunity to pray, but you also have the opportunity to see what our children know, and to witness their thoughts and reflections on what this means to them.
  4. Children will not be allowed to go out to the car without an adult coming in. If your child is in a carpool, please make sure to inform our office of these arrangements and that your child(ren) know who they are leaving with.
  5. Please remind your child to study. 5 minutes a day is all it takes to make a huge difference. When students are prepared for their class they feel good about themselves and are ready to work. Homework insures the success of each child. Each student only has one hour per week to learn a new language in Family School. Homework will reinforce what they have covered in class. Please be part of your child's success by talking and even learning with them each week.
  6. We do our best to keep interruptions to a minimum. If your child needs to leave early, please let me know ahead of time and the teacher will prepare what needs to go home and we will have your child ready for pick up.
  7. All electronic devices need to be turned off and be out of sight.

Important Dates to Remember:

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending.

 
  •  Friday, November 4, 2016: Tot Shabbat @ 5pm and First Friday Shabbat Pot Luck Dinner @ 6 pm.        
  • Tuesday, November 8, 2016: Family School grades 1-6, 4pm-6:30 pm.  B'Nai Mitzvah Class, 6 pm-8 pm.
  • Saturday, November 12, 2016: Shabbat Community Day and PreK-K class.  10am-1pm with a pot luck lunch.
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2016:  Family School grades 1-6, 4pm-6:30 pm.
  • Tuesday, November 22, 2016:  Family School snow day make up if needed. If not needed there is no school.
  • Tuesday, November 29, 2016:   Family School grades 1-6, 4pm-6:30 pm.  B'Nai Mitzvah Class, 6 pm-8 pm.

As always, please feel free to contact me either by phone at (845) 684-4242, or by email at [email protected], with any questions or concerns. Confidentiality is always ensured.

Shalom,

Dee

Dear Friends,

I am writing on the day after Simchat Torah – a roomful of happy people of all ages danced with the Torah scrolls and each other, lifted up by the joyous music of Berl’s Hotsie Totsie Klezmer Orkester, our “in-house” band that just keeps getting better and better. We unrolled the entire Torah scroll around the room, making a giant circle so that the end touched the beginning, and we listened to the final verses of Deuteronomy and the first verses of Genesis. The kids gave the adults blessings for the coming year and the adults did the same for the kids. Then, of course, we had refreshments!

Simchat Torah culminates the High Holy Day season, a grand finale to this annual opportunity to reconnect with our best selves and aim our hearts and minds toward the new year. And what a High Holy Day season it has been for our wonderful community – and for me personally, I’d like to add. I feel powerfully renewed by my preparations during Elul, my precious time under the tent with all of you, the pleasure and ecstasy of sitting in the Sukkah and reveling in the autumn splendor during last week’s balmy days, and finally saying goodbye to this holy time on Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. It all feels of a piece to me in a fuller way than I have ever experienced before. I thank you for any and every part that you shared with me, and for all of your support for our congregation.

And what am I taking with me as I reenter “ordinary” time? A heart filled with love, an open countenance, amazement and gratitude for being alive, an urge to laugh and sing, and a readiness to speak my truth and stand for my convictions, while allowing others to do the same. I am ever clearer that I choose not to walk through this life armored and defended, but rather choose to find my inner strength, my own backbone and the deeper support of Life Unfolding, and take the risk of openness, along with its inestimable rewards. I enter the New Year ready to love – my family, my community, the orphan and the stranger, this moment and this reality – and to love myself, too. As the years go by, nothing else seems to matter nearly as much as loving this life and all that it contains.

So, come on by the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, and this year let’s especially practice love. It will make us stronger and softer at the same time, so that we can meet the world with both courage and joy.

Love,

Rabbi Jonathan