From The President
The last number of the year on our banner on the bima has changed from “4” to “5” to mark the Jewish New Year, 5775. As a member, friend or worshipper with Hevrat Shalom, did you participate in helping us make this change? Your first thought might be that you didn’t – but you have.
Sage, our grandson, plays Varsity football for the Barons at BCC in Bethesda. Sage plays different positions for defense, offense and special teams. Last night my wife, Kay told me about an internet program, HUDL, where players, parents and grandparents can watch video of a team’s games.
So - how did Hevrat Shalom get from 5774 to 5775?
Not surprisingly with many team players who volunteer to help make our Hevrat Shalom team and your local Jewish community – happen. It takes many players, paid and volunteer and considerable financial contributions to assure our team’s success. If there was an internet video HUDL for synagogues you would see an exceptional team of paid professionals and volunteers.
We are fortunate to have Principal Rabbi Arnold Saltzman, Associate Rabbi David Kuperman, Senior Cantorial Soloist Caron Dale, Cantorial Soloist Beth Rubens and Sue Tubbs, our Secretary- Bookkeeper as our valuable, paid professionals. However, to make Hevrat Shalom (A 501C3 organization incorporated in 1999) succeed, we are also dependent on our hard-working Board of Directors and many volunteers all of whom I wish to acknowledge and thank.
First, I wish to thank my wife, Kay, who supports our family’s personal contributions and sacrifices for the congregation and sounds the shofar so magnificently. Thank you, Kay. I also wish to thank the many volunteers who help at services, serve on committees, send out get-well and thank you cards, and do so much more. Thank you.
Now I wish to thank our hard-working Board of Directors who meet monthly and attend to our congregation’s affairs:
- Vice President and Treasurer, Jack Goldman, who serves as our Gabbi, chairs our Funeral Practices Committee and who with other volunteers, runs our annual booth at King Farm Day. Thank you, Jack.
- Membership Chair and Board Liaison to Ingleside, Carol Bahr, who all of you know and who throughout the year works diligently and successfully to help answer your questions and in doing so significantly grows our membership. Thank you, Carol
- Members at Large:
- Bonnie Dutcher: Vice Chair of our Membership Committee
Thank you, Bonnie.
- Joeseph Hein: who is always helping at our Sabbath Bima and for whom I am always soliciting additional volunteers. Thank you Joe.
- John Lass, who annually publishes our memorial Book of Remembrance distributed at our Yom Kippur Yizkor Service. Thank you, John.
- Diane Marcus, who Co-Chairs committees with Elise Ward and authors many of our public relations articles. Thank you, Diane.
- Irv Schaeffer, Newsletter and Save-the-Date publisher and our Jewish Film Festival Chair who also arranges required film licenses. Thank you, Irv.
- Sid Verner, publications editor, who never misses a monthly board meeting and gives me a hard time when they’re rescheduled. Thank you, Sid.
- Elise Ward, who chairs our Good Neighbor and Social Outreach Committees, arranges our Sabbath Onegs and generally helps with whatever is going on at the moment. Thank you, Elise.
So, if Hevrat Shalom was on the Internet’s HUDL you would be able to watch a lot of team action and team plays. Actions that enable Hevrat Shalom to participate and actively support our Jewish community and our local league of Jewish Synagogues - and you would be able to see the many volunteer plays that make our services happen.
I began by asking as a member, friend or worshipper how did you help Hevrat Shalom change our banner’s “4” to a “5.” There are so many ways that you help. Many of you help by volunteering; all of you help through financial and specific donations such as the High Holy Day flowers donated by Harold and Judy Wittman. Hevrat Shalom, like most other Jewish congregations, relies entirely on membership dues and High Holy Day ticket and other donations for our existence. We can only provide services to you and to our Jewish community to the extent that you provide support for us.
We are truly grateful for and appreciate your participation. By actively celebrating and maintaining our customs we work together to assure our Jewish heritage from generation to generation. On behalf of Hevrat Shalom Congregation, the Board of Directors and our clergy, I wish all of you again, a sweet, happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous New Year!
Senior Cantorial Soloist Caron Dale
An old woman had two water cans which
were attached to a yoke. Each day she
put the yoke over her shoulders and went
down to the river, filled the cans, and
walked back to her modest hut. The
water can on the right side of the yoke
was fine and sturdy. When she arrived
home it was always full. But the can on
the left had a crack in it. By the time
the woman arrived home, half the water was usually gone.
The water can always felt inferior to his
partner. He was ashamed that he was
cracked and wasn't pulling his weight.
One day he turned to the woman and
apologized for being defective. The
woman smiled gently and said, "Did
you think I didn't know that you had a
crack, and water dripped from you?
Look at the path from the river to my
hut. Do you see all the beautiful
flowers that are growing on the one side of the path? Those are the flowers that I planted there, that you watered every day as I walked home from the river."
So many things on this earth are not always as they seem. One person’s defect is another person’s blessing. May you unveil the many hidden blessings in your life.
From Beth Rubens
"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life", Berthold Auerbach
I hope this new year has gotten off to a happy and healthy start for our congregants. The Fall can be a busy and stressful time for many. I know that when I feel overwhelmed by life's daily grind I turn to music and it soothes me from my inner fibers outwards. Sometimes I get so caught up that I don't take the time to stand at my piano and sing for myself, not for anyone else. I get distracted by my children, by the list of things to get done, by the disorder in my house, and I forget that music is my therapy. It always makes me feel more complete, soothed, calmed, balanced.
I know most of you are not professional musicians, but no matter who you are, in this crazy world, with so many pressures put upon us, things to get done, tasks to check off, remember to make time for music. Whether it is just putting on your favorite artist on the stereo, singing full-voice in the shower, listening to the radio, going to a concert, or however the spirit moves you, let more music into your life. It will soothe your soul, washing away the dust, and remind you of the joys of life's pleasures. It will give you a soul-massage, and frankly, these days I think we could all benefit from a little more soul cleaning and massaging each and every day.
Happy New Year to you and yours and may your lives be filled with the joys of music.
Hevrat Shalom Board of Directors:
Members at Large:
Good Neighbor Committee
Hevrat Shalom's Good Neighbor Committee is available to assist sick or healing congregation members. Committee volunteers may help with an errand, prepare a meal, check-in with a phone call or visit members who request congregational support during a difficult time.
If you would like assistance from the Committee, please contact the Committee Chairperson, Elise Ward, at 301-294-2493. You may also contact Rabbi Saltzman at 202-244-6871 and a Committee member will contact you to see how we may be of assistance.
If you would like to become a Committee member, please contact Elise Ward - all are welcome to strengthen and support Hevrat Shalom.
Welcome New Members:
Steven & Lisa Stratton
by Rabbi Arnold Saltzman
The Festival of the Reading of the Torah
This morning I checked my e-mail and I had good news. Then I read the paper which had so much discouraging news about illness, wars, rabbinic abuse. I looked at that good e-mail and was so grateful. The night before Carol had news that another of her stories was published online - under her name Carol Nissenson. If you google, you can find her stories, and I felt very happy and proud.
Also, I am happy to let you know that Sharon Wilkes accepted an invitation to be the first in our guest speaker series on November 21st. She is a prominent attorney and former executive director of American Jewish International Relations Institute, founded by Ambassador Richard Shifter in order to raise awareness of issues concerning Israel at the United Nations, with members of congress and at the Ambassadorial level. She now runs her own lobbying firm on Capitol Hill.
Following breakfast I sat down at the piano and played as well as improvised composition, an activity that generates a very positive feeling. I cannot explain that, yet playing or writing produces a sense of satisfaction, which I do not have from reading the morning news.
With Simchat Torah, the rejoicing of the law, we look back at an intense time of prayer and celebration, reflection and thanksgiving.
For a full month we say S’lichot, prayers of penitence, during the month of Elul, sounding the shofar, culminating in a special S'lichot the Saturday evening before Rosh Hashanah, the 1st day of Tishre. Rosh Hashanah celebrated for two days in the Diaspora and one in Israel is also known as Yom Hazikoron - the Day of Remembrance.
Ten days later we have Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement when we ask for forgiveness and do so with sincerity by fasting in the best way we can and are able to fast.
Immediately following this we build Sukkot, booths, for the festival which now falls four days following Yom Kippur and lasts for seven days plus, in case you haven’t had enough festivals, Shemini Atzereth.
Sukkot is the reminder of forty years of wandering in the wilderness, one of the three pilgrimage festivals, the Shalosh Regalim, when in ancient times we would ascend traveling to Jerusalem to bring thanksgiving to God from the Harvest. This time of the year we built booths in the fields to sleep in during the Harvest and have our meals in as well. And the custom continues as a mitzvah, a commandment.
We are taught to create this booth and to fill it with symbols such as grains, corn, gourds, and the fruit of the season. To decorate it is a mitzvah, and children make drawings and cards for the Sukkah. Its a great place to put your New Year cards giving them another purpose, and like the Ketubah, it is not meant to be plain. The mitzvot are enhanced through beauty and design, Hidur Mitzvah.
The Lulav and Etrog, consist of the Palm branch, the Myrtle and Willow leaves, and the Etrog. These are mostly useless except they are natural, and the Palm does give shade and makes an Oasis. The rabbis teach us that everyone, and everything has a purpose, so the Lulav is the spine, the Myrtle the eyes, the Willow the lips, and the Etrog the heart and mind. With all of these we are to praise God by waving them three times in every direction.
The seventh day of the festival is called Hoshanah Rabbah, in which there is a culminating set of circuits around the congregation that in ancient times was around the Temple or Temple Mount. Each day of Sukkot there is a Hoshannah, and on the seventh day, seven Hoshannot recited with increasing intensity. Hoshannah means, Save Us. That is a good prayer for todays news when we cant seem to put trust in leaders, or rabbis, or medical supervision.
Enough holidays? Nooo! There is Shemini Atzereth, the eighth day, when prayers for rain are recited and memorials of Yizkor, remembrance of loved ones are recited and Tzedakah is given in their memory.
One more holiday for good luck - Simchat Torah - the rejoicing of the reading of the Law. What other people celebrates the end of the reading of a book and the beginning of reading it starting the cycle once again?
Simcha means celebration, Simchat is the ‘rejoicing of’ or ‘celebrating of’ the Torah and its reading. This is not the ‘Giving of the Torah’ that occurs on Shavuot, it is simply that we have read the cycle and studied it, and now we begin all over.
In Brooklyn, synagogues are overcrowded for this festival as they give out apples coated in honey, and candy and flags are given to children.
Dancing in the streets near the synagogues is not uncommon, and many streets in Brooklyn are closed off during these celebrations.
With a group of Orthodox Friends I went to a Flatbush celebration, and I was surprised by what I saw over fifty years ago. Women were carrying the Torah. Now this is not unusual today in Reform or Conservative congregations, but back then it was marvelous to see women conduct an all women’s service, and then lead the dancing and carrying the Torah with women participating.
This was one of many celebrations. What is everybody celebrating? For some it is the end of this time of intensity and prayer. For them it was celebrating the vibrancy of freedom and being Jewish in a democratic country. For others it was that Israel was reborn, or that having lost everything in the Holocaust, including close family, Jews were able to begin again both here and in Israel.
A rabbi and a rebbezin, both survivors, having lost spouses and their children, met each other and began again, marrying each other, and had many children. Where there was no Torah, in the concentration camps, a rabbi picked up a child and said “Do you know the Shma?” The child responded yes. The rabbi responded with ‘then you are a living Torah’, and proceeded to dance with the child, joyously, even though nothing had changed in gloomy outlook of the concentration camp. The joy of life was still in people as a memory, as celebration of life in the present, and in hope for the future.
The first Talmud printed in Europe, which had seen the destruction of everything Jewish, was a Talmud printed and paid for by the United States Army in Europe. A new beginning. Hope, with Jewish texts, Judaism can continue. And hundreds if not thousands of Torahs were rescued from cemeteries where they were buried in metal containers, and located with metal detectors. Some churches hid Torahs, and one church in Odessa reportedly has four hundred Torahs, while the Jewish people of Odessa vanished.
Simcha ----- that is a birth, a baby naming, a brit, a bar mitzvah, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, children and grandchildren. We celebrate when we complete a period of study or special holyday season, as we have just done. We celebrate a trip to Israel or travel. We celebrate life and life is for celebrating!
One more interesting aspect about our Holydays and Smachot: Each has its own music. So those who combine Shemini Atzereth and SImchat Torah lose the beauty of the Kaddish and Amidah for Shemini Atzereth. From The Kaddish in S'lichot to the evening of Rosh Hashanah special melodies characterize prayer, a kind of religious-audio map telling you where you are in the liturgical year. Kol Nidre is such a melody, and some would say more a melody infused with meaning.
Sukkot has its Hallel and special Kedushot and Hoshanot to remind us of the beauty of the season, these melodies connecting us to the ancient, calling us to return, repent, to thank God and to rejoice in our beautiful tradition.
Moadim L’Simcha - May you and your loved ones be brought to times of rejoicing and thanksgiving.
Hevrat Shalom is a small and growing congregation with two outstanding Rabbis and two fantastic Cantorial soloists. Dues cover many of our basic expenses but not everything. We are very fortunate to have members and friends who have generously donated to our various funds.
These donations have allowed us to present many additional services to the congregation and surrounding community such as Chanukah celebrations, Passover Seders, special musical presentations, Bible study, and the Jewish Film Festival.
If you would like to honor or remember a person or event, please consider donating to one of the funds listed below. If appropriate please give the name and address of the person or family member we should notify of your gift.
mail a check to:
P.O. Box 3606
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
- GENERAL FUND
- RABBI’S DISCRETIONARY FUND
- JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL FUND
- PRAYER BOOK FUND
In each newsletter we will mention the most current donations unless otherwise instructed.
SOCIAL OUTREACH OPPORTUNITIES
Hevrat Shalom congregants who would like to volunteer in our community have several options. The J Connect website (http://www.jconnect.org/participate/volunteer or 1-888-246-1818) lists opportunities for volunteers and recipients of all ages. Included are “Meals on Wheels” which is looking for drivers to deliver meals on a weekly or on a back-up driver basis. The “Interages” program requires only 1-2 hours per week to mentor students in the Montgomery County public school system. If your preference is to collect and donate items to shelter residents, the Stepping Stone Shelter in Rockville posts a “Needs List” on its website (http://steppingstonesshelter.org/ or 301-251-0567). The current “Needs List” includes clothing, school supplies, house cleaning products, and food items.
If congregants are interested in volunteering, please contact these organizations. If you are already volunteering and would like to promote your activities, please share your experience with us as what you do may be just the right volunteer opportunity for another Hevrat Shalom congregant.
Ronnie Miller & Write It Out
Our distinguished speaker Ronni Miller, author, founder and director of Write It Out who spoke to the congregation on September 19th, mentioned to me that a number of people were interested in having her offer one of her expressive writing workshops for us at Ingleside. If anyone is interested please let me know either by email, firstname.lastname@example.org or phone