April 2021 CEI Bulletin

Congregation Emanu-El Israel

222 North Main Street, Greensburg, PA. 15601          

                 Nissan – Iyar      5781                 

April 2021


office@cei-greensburg.org     rabbi@cei-greensburg.org     www.ceigreensburg.org

 The Mission of Congregation Emanu-El Israel is: To support Judaism and the welfare of our community.


From the desk of Rabbi Leonard Sarko

     In April we observe Yom HaShoah, the day of remembrance of those who perished at the hands of the Nazis. Some news outlets mentioned the results of a recent survey conducted about the Holocaust. This survey looked at the awareness of the Holocaust in the United States.

     They interviewed 1,350 adults. It’s helpful to keep in mind, this is less than one thousandth of a percent of the population. But on the other hand, it’s the job of surveys to extrapolate and make assumptions based on the data. It points to a downward trend in the awareness of basic Holocaust knowledge. 45% of the adults surveyed could not name a concentration camp. If we assume this survey represents a balanced sampling of people, almost half of American adults did not have the name Auschwitz somewhere in their accessible memory. They couldn’t say Dachau. They couldn’t come up with Warsaw or Treblinka.

     We condemn the silence of 80 years ago by saying “Never again.” So, what about the silence now? What are we doing to condemn this silence and make sure when people say, “Never again,” they actually know what it is they don’t want to ever happen again?

     This month we read in our Bible Parshat Shemini.  One concept includes the prohibition from drinking while on the job. Two of Aaron’s sons die because of this act.  Somewhat hidden near the beginning is Aaron’s curious reaction to the deaths of his two eldest sons. Only two words are used to describe Aaron’s reaction: vayidom Aharon. Aaron was still. Aaron was silent.

     Why? Certainly after the death of a loved one, especially children, emotions can take you by surprise. But Aaron is left speechless, and we are left to figure out why. Many commentators suggest that the silence might have been either in protest of God’s decision, in acceptance of this fate, or perhaps his anguish was too much for words.

     It’s ok to be the strong, silent type. It’s ok to choose your battles. It’s ok to turn the other cheek, to borrow a phrase from a different testament. It’s ok . . . until it isn’t. It’s ok until those moments demand us to take our voices and use them strongly, loudly, and vibrantly.

     There’s so much to speak out about, it’s both depressing and overwhelming. There are humanitarian crises happening everywhere. From the genocide occurring in the Sudan, to the plight of the Rohingya women who have been raped and forced to flee to refugee camps in Banghladesh, and then the genocide happening to the Rohignya in Burma. We hear daily about loss of life in Syria and senseless violence in our own country.

     We live in a world where there is so much to do. We might not all be fighting for the same thing, but at least we’re moving the conversation forward. Aaron’s sons perhaps didn’t have the best of intentions or the strongest cause to stand up for. But at least they made some noise. Aaron was silent.

     Our Torah is a Torah of engagement. The Bible asks us to find the power to stand up for what we see as right. While we certainly cannot solve all the world’s problems in one fell swoop, we can use our voices. We don’t have to be silent; our Judaism demands that we not remain silent.



From the President:

     Recently some Congregants watched a docudrama titled ‘The Social Dilemma’ that Rabbi Lenny suggested and then we had a stimulating discussion about it.  It is showing on Netflix, so I watched it there and I learned many things of which I was not aware.  Fortunately, I do NOT use social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, because I was frightened about what I learned about these companies. 

     We discussed the Jewish perspective to some of the practices of these companies.  There are ethical concerns about their business practices.  The designers of these programs are creating products that have an addictive effect on billions of people.  The primary goal of Facebook is to monetize the data of its users.  One statement stood out to me.  “If you are NOT paying for a product, you ARE the product.”  Do most people who use these apps think that they are getting something for free?

     These companies have three goals to achieve their revenue goals: Engagement, Growth and Advertising.  These goals are achieved with a high level of precision.  There is a high level of manipulation that is indistinguishable from magic. They make the illusion work by building persuasion into the technology.  It’s called “positive intermittent reinforcement.” In other words, they are sending subliminal messages to their users. One of the former employees stated that “social media is a drug”, because “it digs down into the brain stem and takes over.” 

     Users have the responsibility to change their practices, because it will take public pressure to turn around these tech companies.   

     Since January, I have been meeting virtually with leaders from other small congregations in Ambridge, Bradford, Butler, DuBois, Erie, Washington and White Oak under the auspices of the Jewish Community Legacy Project in coordination with Federation, JFNA and the Jewish Cemetery and Burial Association of Greater Pittsburgh.  The discussions are helpful and informative.  The discussions revealed concerns about engagement, especially in a virtual world, the role of spiritual leaders and some collaborative programming.  At the last meeting, there was interest in starting a focus group of Jewish people under 50, as they are so much younger than most other people in their congregations.  So, there is a possibility of connecting them with others from different cities who may have similar interests. 

     After several of these meetings, I learned that, although we are a small congregation, we are in much better shape than most of the others, because we have Rabbi Lenny.  There is no mortgage on our building, participation has increased under Rabbi Lenny’s leadership and we have the Endowment Fund that helps support our operating expenses. 

     Happy spring and Happy Pesach!



CEI LINK Program – a video conference experience.  CEI continues to video conference the Shabbat Services on Friday at 7:30 pm.  So you can now attend services from home.  Please go to our website www.ceigreensburg.org for instructions on how to log into the meeting and for the meeting code (which should be the same each week).  If you have any questions, please call and talk with Rabbi Lenny and he will walk you through the process.  Songs for the service will be available on the website.  The Mishkan T’filah (prayer books) used in the service are available digitally on the website or may be borrowed from CEI for use online.  To borrow a Mishkan T’filah, please call the office for pick up arrangements.  These must be signed out through the office.  The “chat” room is usually open by 7:15 pm for a socialization time before service.



It is our pleasure to inform you that Congregation Emanu-El Israel has been selected as the Winner for the 2021 Best of Greensburg Awards in the category of Synagogues.

The Greensburg Award Program was created to honor and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of businesses and organizations in and around Greensburg. Our mission is to raise the profile of exemplary companies and entrepreneurs among the press, the business community, and the general public.

 Happy Birthday to:  Wally Caplan, Natalie Myers, Richard Virshup, Herb Kramer, Francois Gau, Autumn Blozowich and Ruben Rothschild. 

   Happy Anniversary to:  Joyce & Jim Schenck


The 28th annual JFilm Festival virtually from April 22 to May 2, 2021!  The eleven-day JFilm Festival presents international Jewish-themed films that deepen audiences’ understanding of Jewish culture, tolerance, and other common humanity.  For more information visit:  www.filmpittsburgh.org.


GRAD NEWS NEEDED!  If you know of someone graduating from high school, trade school, college or university, PLEASE email the CEI office (ceimain50@aol.com)  with the information ASAP or call (724-834-0560).

Please include: Who, Where graduating from and their major, and What are their future plans.


Do you know of someone who is Jewish and currently unaffiliated?

Do you know of someone who would like to worship with us as a member?

If so, please give info to Mary Ellen Kane.  



While the building is closed, if you should need to use the building during working hours, please alert Bea and arrangements can be made.  If you should need to enter the building after working hours, be aware that the system will be armed and you may unintentionally cause the police department to be alerted.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I appreciate your cooperation and understanding as to why it is important to maintain the highest level of security possible for the Congregants and the Staff.




     The Book of V by Anna Solomon offers new interpretations of the story of Esther.  The novel  intertwines the lives of  three women: the Bible’s Queen Esther, a Brooklyn mother in 1916, a senator’s wife in Washington D.C. in the 1970’s,  and shows how women’s lives have changed over thousands of years. 

     Esther is portrayed as a fiercely independent young woman in ancient Persia, where she and her uncle’s tribe live outside the palace walls.  She is offered up as a sacrifice to please the king in hopes that she will save the Jewish people.

     Lily had planned to be a writer in 1916, until she became a second wife and had children.  Now she lives in a rented Brooklyn apartment trying to manage her roles as a mother and wife.

     Vivian Barr is a political wife, dedicated to helping her political ambitious husband find success in the 1970’s Washington D.C.  One night he demands a humiliating favor and her refusal to obey changes the course of her life.

     Each of these women’s lives is constrained by the expectations of a patriarchal society.  Vee enjoys her socialite life, but is plagued by her husband’s past and her own insecurities; Lily is haunted by memory of her husband’s first wife and her ineptitude toward her domestic duties and her marriage.  The narrative alternates between the historical Esther’s perspective, Lily, and Vivian, known as Vee.  The Book of V offers new interpretations of the story of Esther, and criticizes the way her story has been told for thousands of years.      

     This title is a new to our collection and can be checked out of the Alfred Ratner Library.


On Friday April 16th our next conversion class will be called to the Torah.  If you did not get a chance to attend the mikveh portion of this ceremony last time, you have another opportunity.  It will take place at 10:30 am at Duff Park, in Murrysville and will be followed by lunch at the synagogue.  So we can prepare properly, anyone who would like to attend please contact the rabbi ASAP.  The class will be called to the Torah for evening services that night at 7:30 PM.  If you would like to see this you can log on online as you normally do for Friday night services.


We Greatfully Acknowledge the Following Gifts:

PULPIT FLOWERS.  In Memory of: 

Feb. 26:  William Davis by Larry Brodell, Linda & Jeffrey Reisner, Marilyn & Jim Davis and Phyllis Davis.  Adolf Rothschild by Irene Rothschild.

March 5:  Michael Arbetter by Marilyn & Jim Davis.

March 12:  Joanne Brodell Alpern by Larry Brodell, Linda & Jeffrey Reisner, Marilyn & Jim Davis and Phyllis Davis.  



     If you are planning to initiate or change your will or estate plan, please remember to include Congregation Emanu-El Israel (CEI) as part of your legacy.  The monies can be used for a specific purpose as designated by you, or added to an Endowment Fund already set up to assure the ability to continue providing a full-service Congregation to serve the Jewish people of the area.

     This legacy can be accomplished by a simple bequest in your will, by one of the allowable charitable trusts where you get an immediate tax advantage, or through life insurance.

     PLEASE DO IT NOW!  Please check with your attorney or insurance agent.  If you have any questions or need additional information, contact Jerry Pavloff (724-593-6513) or Gary Moidel (724-468-0005).


Tree of Life Share your joy!

Inscribe a leaf our Tree of Life. Leaf — $180 ea.

(Price includes engraving)

The golden leaves may be inscribed to commemorate joyous events such as births, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, etc.  Share your joy by inscribing simchas on our Tree of Life…… an everlasting remembrance of the meaningful happy events that touch life.


CEI Funds

ER LIBRARY FUND:  Supports library facilities, books, & equipment.

ARCHIVE FUND:   Helps to defray the cost of archiving the CEI material sent to the Rauh Jewish archives.  

BOB & PHYLLIS DAVIS FAMILY FUND:  Youth scholarships & enrichment. 

CARING FUND: Supports congregants who are experiencing sickness, bereavement & other personal difficulties.  In Appreciation of:  Help received in our time of need by Shirley & Jerold Shpargel.    

CEI CAPITAL FUND:  For approved building structure repairs & replacements.

CEI ENDOWMENT FUND: Provides for the continuity of the congregation by subsidizing future operating expenses.      

TEMPLE EMANU-EL CEMETERY FUND:  For beautification and upkeep of the Temple Emanu-El Cemetery. A donation by John M. Nannes

COMPUTER FUND: Provides a means to continually upgrade & maintain CEI’s computer system/software.  

CONGREGATION GENERAL FUND:  CEI operating expenses.  CEI operating expenses. In Memory of:  Jean Brill by The David Balk Family and Mr. & Mrs. Robert Clark.        



In Memory of: David Segal by Lois Browdie.  Sandra Moldovan by Sheila & Barry Kassel.  Michael Arbetter by Francine Arbetter.  Mary Miller Levy by Charles & Susan Levy.  The Papernick & Jacobowitz family members by Ruth & Arnie Papernick.  Adolf Rothschild by Irene C. Rothschild.  Albert Farber & Seymour Farber by Catherine & Jeffrey Feryus.  James Constantine by Dr. & Mrs. Samuel Hammerman.     

IVAN B. YOUNG EDUCATIONAL ADVANCEMENT FUND: Supports the advancement of Jewish education.                                                                                                                                                                                        LIBRARY BOOK FUND: Provides for the purchase of books and other resource material for the library. 

NEW SHABBAT PRAYER BOOKS: Provides for the purchase of new Mishkan T’filah.    

RABBI’S DISCRETIONARY FUND: Helps individuals and/or org. in need.    

REMEMBRANCE FUND: A special donation to Sisterhood to honor or celebrate an event or person.  Terri Katzman (724-837-8275) or Virginia Lieberman (724-668-2442). In Honor of: The birth of Zoey Moidel by Irene Rothschild.  The speedy recovery of David Rose by Wally Caplan.  The birthday of Terri Katzman by Mary Ellen Kane.  In Memory of:  The father of Erin Kane by Marion & Bob Slone.  Stanley Slupski by Marion & Bob Slone.  

SOCIAL ACTION FUND:  Supports projects that benefit our community.

TORAH REPAIR FUND: To provide funds to repair the Torah scrolls.


Tree of Life Share your joy!

Inscribe a leaf our Tree of Life. Leaf — $180 ea.

(Price includes engraving)

The golden leaves may be inscribed to commemorate joyous events such as births, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, etc.  Share your joy by inscribing simchas on our Tree of Life…… an everlasting remembrance of the meaningful happy events that touch life.


MEMORIAL PLAQUES:  Remember a loved one by purchasing a plaque for the sanctuary

Memorial Boards.  For more details, please contact the CEI office at 724-834-0560.


Rabbi Leonard Sarko. 

CEI Officers:  President: Irene C. Rothschild.  1st Vice President: Terri Katzman.  Treasurer: Julie Goldstein.  Recording Secretary: Virginia Lieberman.  Sisterhood President: Marion Slone, Men’s Club President: Gary Moidel. Bulletin Editors: Mary Ellen Kane & Bea Harrison. 


Honoring Their Memory

The following Yahrzeits will be honored at CEI

April 2:  *Divine Joy Bayer, Jeny Bergstein, *Louis Bleiberg, Frances Brodell, *Anna Buchman, Charles Carothers, *Goldie Cohen, *Elliot Farber, *Isaac Gross, *Harry C. Lauchman, *Michael Magadof, *Anna Magadof, *Rachel Ozik, Anna Pavloff, *Sarah Pavloff, Addie Reid Powell, *Charles I. Ratner, **Israel Samuels, *Maxene Rita Segal, *Ida Sine, *David L. Slone, *Sarah VeShancey,*Samuel Wolinsky and *William Zakowitz.

April 9:  Morris Bergstein, Fred Bray, Jr., *Bette Buchman, Dr. Boyd Button, *Joseph Callet, *Sheldon Cohen, *Meyer Farber, *Saralouise Hirshberg, Helen Kirkpatrick, *Lillian Kogut, *B. Jacob Levine, Joan Mendler, Sara Schulman Metz, *Isaac Pomerantz, *Alfred W. Ratner, *Sol Shpargel, William Virshup and *Pearl Y. Ziff.

April 16:  *Morris Bolner, *Samuel J. Friedland, Mollie Drexler Goodman, *Celia Grossman, *Eva Kahanowitz, *Dorothy C. Miller, *Sylvia R. Naumoff, *Catherine Ratner, *Gertrude “Tootsie” Ratner, *Wolf Shoag, *Noah Wood Toig, Joel Travers, Mayer Wolinsky and *Bessie Ziff.

April 23:  *Sara Altman, Harry Bernstein, *Aaron Blum, *Ida Diamond, Norma Gespass, *Alyce Hochberg, Joseph Israel, *Thelma Levin, *Dr. Samuel Pittler, *Yetta Sandson and *Joseph Ziskind.

April 30:  Frances Applbaum Abramson, Sylvia Bendix, Carol Cowen, *Sadie B. Daniels-Adler, Rachel Leah Davis, *Bennett Davis, *Max Harris, *J. Levin, Libby Louis, *Max Pretter, Harry Sandson, *Sarah K. Silverman, *Jennie Soltz, *Ethel Stalin, *Mary Whiteman, Dr. Thomas W. Wilson, *Rose Witaskis, *Esther Wolinsky and *Louis I. Zakon.

May 7:  James Applebaum, Michael W. Buchman, *Nellie Callet, *Pearl G. Conn, *Leonard J. Cowan, *Nathan Dates, Max Kaufer, *Martha Friedlander Kuhns, *Anna Levine, *Irene S. Mullen, Goldye Pittler, *David Redlich, *Balazs Roth, Dorothy Sandson, *Anna Shofnosky, Harry Tattenbaum, Mark Weisberger, William Werksman, *Louis Wilder and June Ziff.