Due to production challenges, there will not be a January Shalom. Here are the January articles and January and February calendars. Look out for the February Shalom!

Rabbi Kornsgold’s Message

Beth El Synagogue hosted another successful Israel Bonds Breakfast on Sunday, Dec. 12, as we invested over $382,000 in the State of Israel. Mazel Tov to our honorees, Jonathan and Rachel Steinberg, for their continued service to Beth El. Thank you to all those who attended the Breakfast and/or invested in an Israel Bond. Thank you for investing in the Jewish future. I also want to thank Marc and Trudi Perlman for serving as Co-Chairs of the event and to Linda Schmidt from Israel Bonds for all of her support. By coming together, we were able to make a difference.

Mazel Tov to Rabbi Matthew Nover on being awarded the title Conservative Jewish Educator (CJE) by the Jewish Educators Assembly. The CJE title is granted to those educators who have achieved a high level of Judaic and secular education as well as a continued focus on professional development and a commitment to Conservative Jewish education. These educators must have advanced formal education,  at least five years of administrative experience, a demonstrated commitment to Jewish education, contributions to the field such as curriculum or program development projects; and/or continued academic learning. Rabbi Nover is one of three educators who is receiving this certification at the Jewish Educators Assembly Annual Conference at the end of January. We are proud of Rabbi Nover on this special honor and wish him continued luck and success at Beth El. Mazel Tov, Rabbi Nover!

As you know, the Siddur that we use at Beth El provides two options when beginning the Amidah—the A page includes the Patriarchs and the B page includes the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs. Each person decides which page to recite during their personal Amidah while the A page is recited when the Amidah is recited publicly. Recently, the Ritual Committee began to explore the possibility of including the Imahot (Matriarchs) in some way in the public recitation of the Amidah. Before the Ritual Committee discusses this in detail, we feel that it is important to learn why some people use only the Patriarchs and why others prefer the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs. Ultimately, both options have justifications in Jewish law.

On Thursday, Jan, 20, at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom, I will teach the responsum on the inclusion of the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs. (You can see the responsum at: www.tinyurl.com/2ubvu895.) Rabbi Nover will teach the responsum on the inclusion of the Patriarchs on Thursday, Feb. 10, at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. (This responsum can be seen at: www.tinyurl.com/2p8npu4v.) On Thursday, Feb, 17, at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom, we will continue the conversation and give anyone who joins us the chance to react to the two responsa and to share their thoughts on the use of the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs in the Amidah. The Ritual Committee will begin to discuss this issue at the March meeting. I am excited to have this opportunity to study this important topic with you and look forward to a productive conversation. This will also give me a chance to share with you how the process of developing and deciding Jewish law works within the Conservative Movement. I hope you will join us.

As I write this, the COVID-19 numbers are continuing to go up throughout the United States and around the world. Our Reopening Task Force continues to meet regularly as we look to keep everyone at Beth El safe and healthy. We will continue to make decisions that are in the best interest of Beth El and our community.

Stay safe and healthy!

—Rabbi Jay M. Kornsgold


Rabbi Nover’s Message

Happy Secular New Year everyone! The days are starting to get longer and Tu BiShvat is coming. Make sure you plant something (maybe parsley to use for the Seder), and start planning for the Spring! And of course, start planning your Purim costumes.

On Saturday, Jan. 8, we have a special program after Shabbat. There is a special ritual in Judaism, Kedushah Levanah, where we join together to bless the Moon on one of the first Shabbats of a new Jewish month. We’ll get together at 6 p.m., bless the Moon, and then get a chance to look at the moon and the stars with Andy Granett. It’s all outside, and should be a great time. We hope to see you there.

I also wanted to share something I am proud of at Beth El. More than two years ago, Beth El put together a committee to update our policies on abuse, harassment, intimidation, and bullying.

We did this not because something had happened at our synagogue that required us to act, but because we wanted to be proactive, and take the time to design policies and procedures that followed best practices and would keep our children and congregants safe. We finalized these without much fanfare more than a year ago, but with everything going on in the news, it seemed appropriate to share some broad overviews of them now.

  1. All employees undergo background checks every three years.
  2. Definitions of abuse and other inappropriate conduct
  3. If anyone (congregant, student, employee) feels that they have been harassed, abused or bullied, they should report it to Rabbi Kornsgold or myself, or to an Executive member of the Board of Trustees
  4. Code of Conduct for employees and volunteers
  5. Mandatory Reporter explanations
  6. Specific rules relating to interactions with minors, including rules about physical contact, communication outside of the classroom, gift giving, one-on-one interactions, and our two adult rule.
  7. Consequences for violating these policies, or refusing to cooperate with any investigations.
  8. We go over these policies as a religious school staff at least once a year.

Thank to Skip Berman, Jake Gertsman, Rabbi Jay Kornsgold, Nicole Ostrowsky-Fabisch, Anne Pepper, Shari Sabath for all the time that they spent working on these protocols.

Given everything that is going on in the world, especially within the Jewish community at this time, I wanted to make sure that everyone knew that Beth El was proactive in developing our policies and always keeps in mind the safety of our members and students. If you have concerns, please reach out to myself or Rabbi Kornsgold. Beth El has always been a place of joy and community, and we want to make sure it stays that way.

Challenge

Plant something!

Calendar

1/3 – Hebrew High

1/5 – RS (3rd-7th)

1/7 – Synagogue Skills Class

1/8 – BJC In Person

1/8 – JC In Person

1/8 – Tot Shabbat In Person

1/8 – Kedusha Levana (After Shabbat in the Beth El Parking Lot)

1/9 – RS (1st-7th)

1/9 – Torah for Tots

1/10 – Hebrew High (Gesher Outreach)

1/12 – RS (3rd-7th)

1/14 – Tot Shabbat (Virtual)

1/15 – No JC (MLK Weekend)

1/16 – No RS (MLK Weekend)

1/17 – No Hebrew High (MLK Weekend)

1/19 – RS (3rd-7th)

1/19 – Jews in Space

1/20 – BJC Online

1/20- JC Online

1/22 – Tot Shabbat In Person

1/23 – RS (1st-7th)

1/23 – Torah for Tots

1/23 – Vav BM Class

1/24 – Hebrew High

1/26 – RS (3rd-7th )

1/27 – Coffee and Chat

1/28 – Vav Class Service

1/28 – Tot Shabbat (Virtual)

1/29 – JC In Person

1/30 – RS (1st-7th)

1/31 – Hebrew High

—Rabbi Matt Nover, Assistant Rabbi

And Education Director


President’s Message

Meeting goals is fun. I would like to let you know that through your efforts and generosity, we met our goal for the High Holiday Appeal this year. This is a really important fundraising activity for the synagogue which funds a significant portion of our operating budget. To earn our match we also received over $10,000 in new or increased pledges this year. It is incredible and very appreciated.

In March we will show our appreciation to two very deserving couples who have given a lot of time and effort to Beth El—Gaye and Stu Cohen and Laurie and Skip Berman. The theme of the Gala is “Around the World,” since we couldn’t really go around the world for the last couple of years. The Fundraising Committee is hard at work to put together a memorable evening of fun to honor the Cohens and the Bermans. The Ad Journal is a key piece of the event and it is never too early to reach out to potential supports. If you run a small business or frequent small businesses in the area, please reach out to them to see if they would like to support us and let the fundraising committee know by emailing fundraising@bethel.net.

The flooring in the Main Office, Rooms 9/10, and the hallway outside of Rabbi Kornsgold’s office have all been replaced and look fantastic. The former carpet in these areas was either worn out or water damaged. We prioritized these areas and left other areas alone for now to make sure we are allocating resources responsibly. This also gave us an opportunity to clean out the office and start to organize it better in preparation for our new office manager, expect to see an announcement soon. Thank you to Nicole Ostrowsky-Fabisch for leading the office clean out, to Tamara Ostrowsky for leading the flooring effort and to Helaine Chairnoff for trying to work around all of this to keep the office running.

We also (finally) have a new 20-foot storage container to replace the old shed that rotted away. This container will allow us to safely store a lot of stuff that for too long has been temporarily stored in classrooms and the Kornsgolds’ garage. I’d like to thank Jonathan Sabin for making these arrangements.

The Buildings and Grounds team has accomplished a lot in the last few months and will be slowing down as we continue to look at our prioritization list and available capital. The team has addressed many of the long term problems and they deserve a lot of gratitude and a much needed break!

As we venture into 2022, I hope that we can get through the current Covid wave without too much trouble and continue to thrive and get back to doing even more in-person events. We had an amazing Friday night dinner in December with almost 70 people in attendance. It was the kind of thing that we might have once taken for granted. It was beautiful to share Shabbat as a community and bring a lot of families together. Kid energy is one of my favorite things about Beth El. I want to thank the Membership Committee for organizing this and I look forward to future events.

I wish you all a wonderful and healthy 2022. Happy New Year!

—Brian Albert, President


 

Senior Group’s Message

Hello everyone! I hope this finds you all doing well.

Our Dec. 16 meeting featuring Michael Kownacky and Ted Otten of WWFM’s Dress Circle, who presented a talk about the life and music of Broadway composer Jerry Herman, was wonderful! It was our first live, in-person Seniors meeting in almost two years, and it was wonderful to be together once again. We celebrated with a complimentary box lunch, coffee and tea, and additional cookies. We were 37 people in attendance! I want to thank Dora Schnur for arranging for Michael and Ted to speak, as well as these two gentlemen, who were a joy to listen to as they presented the program.

Our January program will feature Kelly Gray from Penn Medicine–Princeton Health speaking about “Tips to Alleviate Joint Pain.” Ms. Kelly is the rehab manager for outpatient rehabilitation at Monroe, in Monroe Township. Please join us for this informative program where we will learn what we can do to help with knee, hip and elbow pain. This meeting will be on Zoom (it will be January, after all, and wouldn’t we all prefer to stay warm and dry at home!?)

Our February program will feature Rabbi Jay speaking about the lives and times of the rabbis/scholars of the Talmudic period. The discussion will probably be more of an overview than a detailed discussion, simply because of the vastness of the topic. This meeting will also be on Zoom, because there usually isn’t much difference between January and February weather.

Our March meeting will be our Model Seder, which we hope to have in person once again, barring any Virus-related issues. There will be no April meeting due to holiday conflicts. May is still being planned, and for June we hope to bring back our “Food and a Flick” (lunch and a movie) end-of-the-meeting season program.

More information about all of these programs will be forthcoming. Please read your Shalom bulletin and my monthly letters for more information as the months roll on. Until then, be well, and best wishes once again for a happy, healthy, 2022. I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

B’Shalom,

—Tamara Ostrowsky

Ostrowsky4@aol.com


Men’s Club Message

Men’s Club Shabbat is just around the corner.  We will be leading the services on Friday and Saturday, January 21–22.  If you would like to participate, please contact Ken Levitt at klevittnj@hotmail.com.  If not, please consider coming to services to support your fellow Men’s Clubbers giving it their best shot.

Join us for the World Wide Wrap on Sunday, Feb. 13, at 9 a.m. Brian Albert and Rabbi Nover will be teaching anyone who would like to learn about wrapping Tefillin.

Finally, it’s never too late to pay your dues or join the club.  Dues go a long way towards helping fulfill our dual mission of helping out and having fun!  We are open for all kinds of ideas on both fronts—please share them with mensclub@bethel.net.


Women’s League Message

Please join us at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 30, on Zoom for an event headlined by the amazing actress Lainie Kazan. The Brooklyn-born performer is known as the overbearing mother Toula Portakalos in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and Aunt Frieda from “The Nanny.”

Lainie will perform for us and share stories from her decades long career in Hollywood—who knows who what leading men she will talk about, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne?

As Covid is continuing to derail our plans to meet in person, we are so happy to be able to bring you this program as we have partnered with a consortium of synagogues. We are working within this group to bring other unique programs via zoom to our community—so be on the lookout. If you have any questions please reach out to me directly at shiramk@aol.com.

Sending belated wishes for a happy and healthy 2022. I am looking forward to a time when we can all see each other in our beautiful synagogue. I know it has been a long 21 months and although it seems like we have taken steps backwards, I am optimistic that we will be back to bring back, in person, in the near term.

B’Shalom,

—Shira Leeds