Shabbat Shalom ~ Bereshit 2021

Dear WJC Family,

We have received a lot of positive feedback about the past month of holiday services and celebrations at WJC. We could not be more delighted that even under such difficult circumstances and with a few hiccups here and there, the services and programs were meaningful for so many people. 

Being able to do as much as we did, with the success that we had, is undoubtedly the work of a myriad of people. Of course, I am a fortunate rabbi to have Rabbi Dalton and Cantor Ethan as partners in the guidance, planning, teaching, and spiritual life of our community. They have both put their hearts into these holidays and helped to create something very special. Yet, since the clergy team is up on the bimah our work is very “seen” so in this message I want to take the opportunity to express my gratitude to the many people who made it ALL possible:

  • Jose Luis and the entire maintenance staff: You cannot imagine the amount of effort this shorthanded crew put in to make these High Holidays and Sukkot happen. The amount of additional work involved in setting up two outside venues, including moving heavy equipment in and out of the building every morning and evening and sorting through a host of additional details while coordinating and running our streaming equipment. Jose Luis, Cesar, Ceno, and Daniel are truly amazing and deserve our extraordinary gratitude.
  • And a well-fed congregation is a happy congregation! Our thanks to Patty and her kitchen team for delicious food throughout the holidays, from honey cake for Rosh Hashanah to multiple meals in the Sukkah (I was partial to the pancake breakfast for new members – chocolate chip, blueberry, and strawberry? Get outta here!) Not to mention the delicious blintzes on Sehmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. You guys are amazing – thank you so much!
  • Our office staff: This crew is always terrific, but this time they went above and beyond – coming in on national holidays, helping distribute tickets and information at services, coordinating a million lists, supporting our volunteers, all while helping to get our schools up and running and taking care of the on-going business of running a synagogue. Thank you, Kim, Ally, Rosie, and Millie.
  • Our Education Director Aleza Kulp and the religious school staff did an incredible job getting the High Holiday youth services coordinated at the very same time as getting our Religious School open, in-person for the first time in over a year. Those are two extraordinarily complicated tasks in the time of a pandemic and they did it with grace and skill. The results speak for themselves – wonderful youth programs on the High Holidays and our religious school humming along with lots of smiling children learning Torah and Jewish values. There is an incredible energy that has returned to our WJC campus by having our community’s children singing, learning, and playing around our building again. Kol HaKavod to Aleza, Betty, and Eileen.
  • The High Holiday Task Force: If you aren’t a member of the Task Force you cannot imagine the extraordinary amount of time, creativity, and problem-solving involved. These volunteers are like nothing I have experienced in my 20 years as a rabbi. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. Thank you to co-chairs Susan Miller and Harold Treiber, as well as members Seth Schafler, Larry Thaler, Joanna Schlesinger, Rebecca Baron, Amy Fastenberg, Ian Winter, Laura Grill, Jonathan Berg, and Victor Badner, as well as the clergy, David Goldstein and Aleza Kulp.
  • Rabbi Dalton and Matt Baum worked many hours planning, re-planning, and rehearsing for the family service. The glowing feedback shows that this work paid off with meaningful, age-appropriate, and engaging services and activities. Rabbi Dalton also helped to coordinate our Teen Service and activities led by Adeena Bromberg-Seltzer. The teens really appreciated having a special time and space to gather, discuss interesting topics, and celebrate together.
  • Thank you to outdoor service coordinators Sarene and Harold who did everything possible, and I mean everything possible, to create a sacred, safe, and organized space for outside services. These are two extraordinary volunteers and one extraordinary couple. Things went so well outside that we kept the largest portion of the tent and are working hard to utilize it as best we can before the weather turns too cold. Due to lots of complicated details, it may take a bit to get things going in there more often, but keep your eyes peeled for more opportunities to be outside together. For example, Shabbat yoga and dancing with the sifrei Torah outside on Simchat Torah night were terrific!
  • Evan Schapiro (volunteer) and Katie Schlientz (professional) are our talented communications team who organized, formatted, and distributed more information than I can fathom and often with very little notice. Thanks to you both for keeping us all in the loop!
  • And while it’s not High Holiday specific, I also want to congratulate Ann and Carol and all our teachers in the ECC, who were getting that program restarted for the new year while the rest of us were turning the building upside-down for the holidays. It is so wonderful to hear the laughter of the little ones back in the classrooms!
  • All of you! Thank you for trusting in us, for being willing to experiment with all of the different contexts, in-person and virtual, wherever you were comfortable, and for coming with an open mind ready to have a meaningful and spiritual experience. And thank you to our volunteers who ushered, read Torah, blew the shofar, and many other activities to make things run smoothly. This truly is an extraordinary congregation and it is a privilege to serve as a rabbi of WJC.

I apologize in advance, as I undoubtedly missed some folks – it’s been a long holiday season and I plead exhaustion. But not too exhausted to keep the Torah cycle rolling on this Shabbat as we read Parshat Bereshit! I will be teaching Friday night and Saturday night at 6:15pm for Kabbalat Shabbat and Saturday Minchah-Maariv services respectively. The source sheet for my Saturday evening shiur, “They Might Be Giants,” can be accessed here. Rabbi Dalton will be delivering the sermon on Saturday morning. All services will be live in the sanctuary and on the live stream. Our Youth and Tot Shabbat services will be meeting outside too. 

See you in shul or online,




Connect with Us

Give Online

Westchester Jewish Center welcomes your contribution to any of our listed funds.

Donate Now