February 2012 | Shevat-Adar 5772
I had the opportunity to attend Rabbi Steinlauf’s recent seminar entitled “Making Torah Personal Project.” I went with some trepidation, as well as skepticism, having never really studied Torah before.
Regarding Torah study, I always thought, “I don’t know enough, I don’t understand Hebrew, I have nothing to add, I’m intimidated by those who know so much, and by the Torah in general.” But, I figured it was good to try something new and stretch myself once in a while.
The seminar was interesting and illuminating, and after participating in the exercises designed by Rabbi Steinlauf, I suddenly felt much more connected to the Torah and felt that I really could study it and learn what it has to offer. By looking at the Torah from a personal perspective, and tackling difficult issues in the text, suddenly the text revealed itself, and its relevance to my life became clearer.
I came away from the seminar feeling that with the right tools (which I possessed), I could begin to unlock meaning in the Torah. I share this experience as an example of what happens when one challenges one’s assumptions about something, and moves outside one’s comfort zone to try something new.
Sisterhood has been at Adas Israel Congregation for more than 100 years, but it is not the same Sisterhood of 100 years ago; it has evolved and changed as women’s relationships with our synagogue and our community have changed. Within Sisterhood, we are constantly asking ourselves what it means to be Jewish women today, and how we want to express our commitment as Jewish women. There are many roads in, but as I discovered with uncovering meaning in the Torah, it all starts with a personal commitment to explore with new eyes.
Make Sisterhood one of the places at Adas Israel Congregation that you explore. I think you will find a group of dynamic, interesting women making connections to their Judaism through their personal connections to each other and our synagogue.
I look forward to making the journey with you. Click today to join or renew
and make that connection! Or if you prefer, you can mail your dues of $36, check made out to "Adas Israel Sisterhood" to Dava Berkman, c/o Sisterhood, Adas Israel Congregation, 2850 Quebec St., NW, Washington, DC 20008.
Preparing for Purim - February 26
Make a difference in someone's Purim! Please join members of Sisterhood, the Men's Club, the Adas Membership Committee, and the Hesed Project on Sunday, February 26, as we reach out to extend happy holidays to members of our community.
We will be baking hamentashen, filling Purim baskets and making deliveries, beginning at 9:45 a.m. in the Gewirz Hall. Baking is from 9:45 a.m. to noon, basket filling will begin around noon and deliveries will begin as the baskets are filled.
We need lots of help to make the project a success, so come for an hour or come for the morning. It's a great way to catch up with your fellow/sister Adas Israel members and perform a mitzvah.
If you would like to help, please contact Lisa Kleine, email@example.com to sign up for one or more slots, or just drop by if you find you have the time.
Sisterhood Book Chat - March 11
Join us on Sunday, March 11, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. in the library for the first ever Adas Book Chat. Sisterhood is delighted to be collaborating with the Library Committee to sponsor a book discussion for the Adas community.
Robin Jacobson, our librarian, will facilitate a discussion of My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner,
a light-hearted memoir from celebrated Israeli author, Meir Shalev. The author chronicles a pivotal time in Israel's pioneer history as well as the personal mythology of the author's family. Don't be misled by the cover illustration of the quintessentially cheery American housewife waving a vacuum cleaner wand. Shalev uses the image to contrast the lives of his immediate family -- settlers from the Ukraine who helped found Palestine's first agricultural collective -- and their counterparts who chose to reject Zionism and Socialism in favor of American capitalism. The gargantuan GE vacuum cleaner, sent by a "decadent" American relative, is the purported hero of Shalev's story, but the true heroine is his grandmother Tonia. Tonia is a difficult woman, but she is also the one who makes the family farm successful. The memoir is at its best when the author muses about the rich mix of memory and imagination that creates a family's history.
This is a quick, light read with serious insights. Sisterhood members are encouraged to participate, but everyone is invited. Copies of My Russian Grandmother
are available in the Adas, D.C, and Montgomery County libraries; through on-line sellers; and at Politics and Prose (ask for the 20 percent discount for Adas Book Chat participants). For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or Sisterhood Board Member Marian Fox at email@example.com
N Street Village Yarn Project - Ongoing
Sisterhood has begun collecting yarn for the Village's knitting and crocheting classes. If you have any yarn or needles, please deposit them into the coat room bin marked "N-STREET VILLAGE YARN COLLECTION". Thank you.
Sisterhood Gift Shop
Looking for a Few Good Volunteers
- Must be warm & friendly
- Must be willing to work 3 hours a week
- Must have very basic computer experience
- Opening & closing the shop for your shift
- Ringing up sales
- Helping buyers pick out Judaica and other
gifts from our extensive stock
- Filling in for other volunteers
- First dibs on new merchandise
- 10% discount (a few exceptions)
- Camaraderie with a fun group of women.
If you’re interested, please contact Jean Bernard at
Torah Fund 5772 Event - March 4
The Torah Fund Campaign of Women's League for Conservative Judaism continues. We need everyone to help us meet Sisterhood's campaign goal of $12,000. At the midway point of 5772, we are halfway there.
Please send contributions, checks made out to "Torah Fund," to Torah Fund Chair, Gerry Lezell, c/o Sisterhood, Adas Israel Congregation, 2850 Quebec St., NW, Washington, DC 20008.
Those donating $36 or more are invited to the Seaboard Region reception on March 4, at Chizuk Amuno Congregation, 8100 Stevenson Rd. Baltimore, MD 21208. Rabbi Marc Wolf, JTS Vice Chancellor, is the featured speaker. For details click Torah Fund Dessert Reception or use RSVP Form below.
Joyce Stern has volunteered to organize car pools. If you plan to go and can either offer a ride or need a ride, please contact her by February 26 at 202-302-8121.
RSVP to Seaboard Region by February 21.
Name ____________________________Sisterhood __________________
Email _________________________________Phone _________________
Enclosed Couvert: _____$18
Send check payable to Seaboard Region/WLCJ to: Toby Holtzman, VP Seaboard Torah Fund, 8507 Wilkesboro Lane, Potomac MD 20854.
Torah for Life
Over the years, Nehama Masliansky has presented dvrai Torah many times at the Traditional Egalitarian Minyan and in the Havurah.
At the beginning of the Book of Exodus/Shemot, we learn that a new Pharaoh arose in Egypt who "DID NOT KNOW Joseph/lo yada et Yosef." Since Yosef died at the end of Genesis/ Bereishit, this new Pharaoh probably never met him; moreover, Yosef’s existence and contributions to Egyptian survival were apparently forgotten or overlooked.
So much for Yosef's temporal glory that played such an important role in Genesis and enabled the Children of Israel to move from famine in Canaan to temporary rescue in Goshen, Egypt! The Pharaoh's "not knowing Yosef" starts the process of Pharaoh’s demonizing the Israelites and enslaving them. Thus, that “not knowing” starts the process that eventually leads to HaShem's intervention to redeem the Israelites from slavery in plain view of the world, as a model for all humankind of the importance of human freedom, a lesson they “did not know.”
At least one other time of the year, we hear "did not know/lo yada." On Purim, a man is commanded "to drink to the point where he DID NOT KNOW/ad lo yada the difference between Haman and Mordechai." How can one not know the difference between one's genocidal enemy and one's rescuer? Why should it be a mitzvah for anyone to drink until one does not know the difference?
This is my suggestion: We humans live in a world where there are palpable threats, real friends, and people of mixed motives and insecurities. In this world, coincidences pile up to create specific evils and specific redemptions, specific evil people such as Haman and Pharaoh, and specific agents of redemption such as Moses, Miriam, Mordechai and Esther.
But in the transcendent world that also exists, it is not humans but HaShem who has oversight of the world. As Mordechai instructed Esther, "If you don't act, help will arise for the Jews from another place, and you and your family will be eradicated. And WHO KNOWS/u’mi yode'a if you became queen for this very circumstance?"
We do not know exactly which human interaction will be a catalyst for change in the world, for good or for ill. The world depends on each of us to act, and to act wisely. But in the sweep of History, it is not individual humans but HaShem who truly knows. On Purim, we exist in the blurred space between these two realities and celebrate that despite our existential dilemmas and so-far-incomplete Redemption, there is an ultimate Rescuer.
Adas Israel Sisterhood Officers - 5772
President: Lisa Kleine; VP Communications: Joyce Stern; VP Membership: Maria Lasa Sloan; VP Education/Programming: Rachel Eitches; Corresponding Secretary: Carol Ansell; Recording Secretary: Rebecca Fitch; Financial Secretary: Nancy Gross; Treasurer: Dava Berkman; Judaica Shop Co-Managers: Jean Bernard, Diane Keller, Helene Weingarten; Immediate Past President: Alisa Abrams
Editor: Joyce Stern
Design: Gail Roache
Contributers: Gail Roache with Jean Bernard and June Kress
Purim is March 8
Ahasuerus had the blues
‘Cause Vashti, summoned,
So Esther, Ahasuerus woos.
Haman simply can’t excuse
The king’s desire to enthuse,
On how Mordechai
exposed a ruse.
He sways the king,
he must not lose!
Don’t let Haman kill the Jews
Mort tells Esther, be our muse.
Esther has a feast to schmooze,
She stuns the king,
such wicked news,
It’s Haman’s turn
to have the blues.
Announcements & Ongoing Events
Save the Date: Collaborative Effort to Prepare Purim Gift Packages
Sunday, February 26
Beginning at 9:45 a.m.
See this issue's "What's Happening" for details.
Save the Date: Seaboard Region Torah Fund Dessert Reception
Sunday, March 4
Chizuk Amuno Congregation, Baltimore
See this issue's "What's Happening" for details.
Save the Date: Book Chat
Sunday, March 11
10:30-11:30 a.m. in the Library
See this issue's "What's Happening" for details.
Save the Date: Health Fair
Sunday, April 29
Co-sponsored with the Men's Club. Details coming soon. Contact Sisterhood Liaison Betty Adler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Taste of Tanach (Hebrew Bible) - March 13, April 24
Ongoing, most second Tuesdays,
10 – 11 a.m., in the Library
Rabbi Steinlauf leads a lively discussion on a biblical text. Feel free to drop in. Contact the Rabbi’s secretary Beryl Saltman at 202-362-4433 for an advance copy of the current reading. For
Thursday Night Minyan
The synagogue is "dark" on Thursday evenings. So that no one wanting to say Kaddish
will be without the opportunity, Sisterhood has pledged to have two Sisterhood women attend every Thursday evening minyan.
For more information or to pledge a Thursday night, contact Sisterhood Thursday Minyan Coordinator, Harriet Isack at email@example.com
Sisterhood Shabbat Goes Year-Round
Calling on the many women in Adas Israel who can “leyn” to commit to reading Torah in the Smith sanctuary throughout the year. Become part of this cadre of women by first contacting Chair Marcie Goldstein (Marcie.B.Goldstein@gmail.com) for available dates. Naomi Malka, interim Ritual Director, will assign the specific portions and also provide coaching as needed.
Senior Lunch and Fellowship Ongoing, Monday - Friday
The Adas-Behrend Senior Lunch and Fellowship Program is held daily Monday - Friday at 10 a.m. in Gewirz Hall. Offering a hot lunch with lectures, movies, music, or classes, the program provides a setting for learning, entertainment, and socializing. If you have a talent or an interest to share, or would like to help serve and greet the seniors, please contact Aviva Atkin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sisterhood extends a hearty mazel tov with best wishes for strength, good health and joy to the following families with new grandchildren born in January:
- Jane and Herb Beller on the birth of their granddaughter, Tabitha Beller Chew
- Rabbi Avis and Ralph Miller on the birth of their granddaughter, Eilish Oneal Miller
- Harriet and Art Isack on the birth of their granddaughter, Madeline (Maddy) Jayne Scherr
And a hearty mazel tov from Sisterhood to Sue and John Rosenthal whose daughter Miriam was married January 29 to Milev Phillips.
Sisterhood extends condolences to
- David (Diane) Keller on the loss of his father, Irving Keller, of blessed memory, who passed away on January 7
- Mark (Nancy) Gross on the loss of his mother, Dora Gross, of blessed memory, who passed away on January 9
- Annette Morchower on the loss of her sister, Elsie Adler Benn, of blessed memory, who passed away on February 9
May the families be comforted among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Shirley Abrams Memorial Fund by
- Renee Fendrich
- Rhoda Ganz
- Linda & Ace Lipson
- Gilda Snyder
- Carolyn Goldman & Sydney Polakoff
- Stanley Scherr
- Betty Adler & Mark Rosenberg
- Lucy Hassell
- Nancy Weiss
- Rennie Sherman & William Willis
- Brian Madden
- Rabbi Jeffrey & Judith Wohlberg
- Carol Ansell ("in memory of Shirley Abrams, a wonderful mother")
- Annette & Adrian Morchower ("in memory of a great lady who will be sorely missed")
- Helene Weingarten - in honor of Jean Bernard's work in the Sisterhood Gift Shop; in honor of Diane Keller's work in the Sisterhood Gift Shop; and in honor of Diane Keller's birthday
- Jean & Larry Bernard - in memory of Irving Keller
- Helene & David Weingarten - in memory of Irving Keller
Sisterhood Bima & Synagogue Adornment Fund by
- Helene and David Weingart - in memory of Sara Silbiger
- Nancy, Dan and Jory Weiss - in memory of Henry Adler
- Gail and Don Roache - in honor of our 40th anniversary
Sunday - Monday &
Wednesday - Friday
9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. &
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Every purchase benefits Adas Israel Congregation!
Adas Israel Sisterhood
2850 Quebec Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008