December Bulletin

December CEI Bulletin

Congregation Emanu-El Israel

222 North Main Street, Greensburg, PA. 15601          

                 Elul – Tishrei      5782 – 5783                 

December 2022


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


From the desk of Rabbi Leonard Sarko

As our calendar turns to December, our thoughts naturally turn to Hanukkah.  This holiday is not found in the bible, yet seems to maintain a prominent position in our annual celebrations.

It is thought that the history of Hanukkah goes back to the time of the Maccabees.  They were off fighting a war with the Seleucids and had to miss the holiday of Shavuot.  They, and we, know that in the bible, Passover has a second set of dates.  If you had to miss the traditional dates of celebration, the Torah actually describes something labeled Passover sheni – second Passover.  This holiday was considered so important that if you could not celebrate it on the traditional dates, you were able to do so one month later.  The Maccabees thought this should also be the case for Shavuot and so established not a second Shavuot but, inserted Hanukkah instead.

Historically the Jewish people were not so fond of the Maccabees and so this holiday, from its inception around 164 bce until the mid 1960’s, was a relatively minor holiday.  When Christmas exploded in a secular way in the 60’s, Jews felt left behind and so elevated the holiday of Hanukkah to a much more prominent position.  Even today in Israel, if you go this time of year, a festive mood grips the country.  If you walk around the Western Wall during Hanukkah you will notice Israeli troops with machine guns on their backs and trays of sufgoniot, trays of jelly donuts in their hands, passing them out to passersby. Ben Yuhudah Street, a main thoroughfare in Jerusalem, gets block off.  Cars and buses are replaced by music, dancing and celebrations of all types that continue thru the night.

Hanukkah is a celebration of religious freedom.  The Seleucids outlawed the practice of Judaism.  With the rise of the Greeks in the west and the success of the Holy Land revolt under the leadership of the Maccabees, Judaism was again allowed to be practiced.  Across the millennia, time and again different cultures attempted to destroy Judaism.  They have all failed.  Our religion is as vibrant today as it has ever been.  Yet we need to continue to be cognizant of antisemitism, we need to be aware of others still trying to remove us from the face of the earth, we need to always be vigilant of those who seek to destroy our religion.  At the same time we need to celebrate what we do have, be thankful for our Jewish communities, and come together to celebrate our simchas (happy times) whenever we are able.

A Chag Samech – a happy holiday – to one and all,  Rabbi Lenny


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 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.


President: Irene Rothschild

As we close 2022, I am reflecting on the year.  Of course, it’s important to balance the good with the not so good.  Some of our older members passed away, but we gained some new ones, so our membership is holding steady.  As the optimist I am, I prefer to focus on ‘the good’!  The Board of Directors has two new members and I am most grateful for their willingness to participate.  It’s most gratifying to have a group of computer savvy people who are willing to handle the computer during all the services.

The Sisterhood continues its good work and they are planning some fun events for the coming year.  The Men’s Club does amazing work in maintaining the building and grounds.  The Security Committee is doing its best to keep all of us safe.  Last, but not least, Rabbi Lenny continues to do a great job with services and all his classes.  It seems that the conversion classes never cease and that’s wonderful!

Jeff Lewis, our custodian, will be returning to work after his surgery and we are most pleased to have him back.

I would like to remind everyone how essential it is to always have your FOBs with you when you plan to enter the building and to be certain that no one else is entering at the same time you are.  I completed an application to the PCCD for another security grant for new interior doors and for window film for the downstairs windows, but Congregants must also do their part in maintaining our safety.

Now that activity is increasing the use of the building, please make sure that when you schedule a meeting or an activity, to please let the office know, so that the activity can be tracked and everyone can be kept safe.




Happy Birthday to:  Karen Chobirko, Julie Goldstein, Susan Hoffman, Michael Liptak, Yolanda Pavloff, Sinde Snitger, Anna Spor and Brendan Winter.

Happy Anniversary to:  Shirley & Herb Ratner and Sydney & Ryan Hovis.

Mazel Tov! To member Jamie Kaufer on her achievement of now being a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist.  Jamie is the daughter of members Bruce & Karen Kaufer.



To make sure everyone stayed safe, the November 15th Sisterhood meeting was cancelled.

The rescheduled meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 29th at 7 p.m. in the CEI social hall.  The speaker from the Blackburn Center will be at the meeting to fill us in on what’s happening within their agency.  We will collect the gift cards that have been purchased at that time.  Or, if you are unable to come to the meeting the cards can be sent to the CEI office to my attention. I am pleased to tell you that at this time we have already collected approximately $300 in gift cards.  I think that is so great and know that the Blackburn Center will be so appreciative.

Hope to see you, and good weather, on November 29th.

Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving,
Terri Katzman, Sisterhood President


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.  


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 us.

Memorial Plaques are for remembering a loved one.  You may purchase a plaque for the sanctuary Memorial Boards by contacting the CEI office (724-834-0560).  Cost per plaque $300.00.

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


ALFRED RATNER LIBRARY NEWS by Shirley Shpargel, Librarian

Books purchased with Alfred Ratner Library Fund:
The Vanishing by David M. Slater (Fiction).
The Thread Collectors: A Novel by Shaunna J. Edwards (Fiction).
The Assignment by Liza Wiemer (Young Adult Fiction).

Book donated by P J Library:
Nuri and the Whale by Ronit Chacham (Holiday-Yom Kippur).

One book selected by The Association of Jewish Libraries 2022 Award for Fiction is A Play for the End of the World by Jai Chakrabarti.  The novel begins with a 1912 play titled “Dak Ghar,” which is about a quarantined child traveling the world through his imagination. While the novel is a work of fiction the existence of the play is real.   In 1942, this play then titled “The Post Office” was recreated in a Warsaw Ghetto orphanage to prepare the orphans to survive in the dark times of the Holocaust.

In the novel, Jaryk and Misha, who are 10 years older, are two orphans involved in the performance which takes place four days before the first deportations to the death camps in Treblinka.  These are the only two children from the orphanage that survive the Holocaust and later emigrate to New York City.  The novel shifts to the 1970’s where the production of the play in Gopalpur in West Bengal is used as a political tool for resistance to the governments policies.  Chakrabarti weaves stories of Misha and Jaryk in America.  In 1972, Brooklyn, Jaryk receives word that Misha has died unexpectedly while traveling alone in India for a production of “The Post Office”.  Jaryk travels to Bengal to honor Misha’s passion for the resistance and gets involved with the staging of the play with local village children who fled the violence of Bangladesh.

In Warsaw, “The Post Office” helped prepare the children for death, but in Gopalpur in West Bengal the famous play is used as a political tool.  A Play for the End of the World touches on the themes of love and loss, friendship, guilt, the cost of war, the role of art, and the power of imagination.  This novel is available in the Alfred Ratner Library.


WHEN MAKING A DONATION:  When making a donation, whether to a CEI Fund or the Remembrance Fund, please provide complete information.  This will make it easier and faster to process.

1    The name and address of where to send the response to let them know you made a donation.

2    The reason for the donation (in memory of, in honor of, speedy recovery, etc) and the full name of the honoree.

3    Name and address of donor.

Example:  Please send a card (or accept this donation) to Jane Doe, XXX Main St, Greensburg, PA 156XX.  In Honor of the Birthday of Jane Doe!  From Jack Jones, XXX Broadway Dr, Greensburg, PA  156XX.


We gratefully acknowledge the following gifts:

PULPIT FLOWERS.  In Memory of:

Nov. 18 & 25:  Stevan Gold by Marilyn & Jim Davis.  Ruth S. Roth by Shirley R. Ratner.


CEI Funds


ALFRED RATNER 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.


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.

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


CONGREGATION YAHRZEIT FUND: In Memory of: Rose Shpargel and Nathan Metz by Shirley Shpargel.  Phyllis Ackerman by Yolanda & Gerald Pavloff.  Alexander H. Cohen by Stanley Cohen.  Harvey Weiner by Terri & Stan Katzman.  Ruth S. Roth by Shirley R. Ratner.

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

LIBRARY BOOK FUND: Provides for the purchase of books and other resource material for the library.

IVAN B. YOUNG EDUCATIONAL ADVANCEMENT FUND: Supports the advancement of Jewish education.

NEW SHABBAT PRAYER BOOKS: Provides for the purchase of new Stone Edition of The Chumash.  In Memory of: Jerold Shpargel by Irene C. Rothschild.

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.  Virginia Lieberman (724-668-2442) or Yvonne Bureau (724-837-8072). In Honor of: Happy Birthday to Rabbi Lenny by Irene Rothschild, Virginia & John Lieberman.  A speedy & easy recovery to Dr. Stuart Glasser by Virginia & John Lieberman, Irene Rothschild, Wally Caplan, Shirley Shpargel, Amy Karelitz, Marion Slone, Terri Katzman & Mary Ellen Kane.  A speedy & easy recovery to Jack Graham by Irene Rothschild.  A speedy & easy recovery to Faye Redlich by Irene Rothschild, Virginia & John Lieberman.  A speedy recovery to Shoshana Halden by Virginia & John Lieberman, Terri & Stan Katzman.  In Memory of: Jerold Shpargel by Don Pripstein, Loren & John Vivio.  Adele Sabato by Nina & Jon Lewis.  Dave Barber by Brian, Karen, Jason & Justin Chobirko.  Mickey Zite by Shoshana & Bob Halden, Virginia & John Lieberman.

SOCIAL ACTION FUND:  Supports projects that benefit our community.

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

TREE OF LIFE: A personalized leaf commemorating a happy lifecycle event to be added to the Tree of Life in lobby.


                           GO FOR THE GELT RAFFLE

For each of the 8 nights of Chanukah, we will draw a winner who will win $36.00 of “Gelt”.  The cost is $2.50 per ticket or 10 for $20.

A winner will be picked from the stubs returned, no need to watch the lottery for winning numbers!  Ten tickets will be mailed to Congregants on the hope that you wish to participate.  If you do not, please return the tickets to the CEI office.  Tickets will also be available for purchase at the Chanukah dinner.  All proceeds benefit CEI and your generosity is greatly appreciated.



Shop for various items that are available in the Chanukah Shop in the SOCIAL HALL.  Purchases can be made at any time CEI is open.  Fill out the sales form and leave it with your money and/or check in the designated box.  There are bargains to be had as we close out some the Gift Shop inventory.  Last day to purchase will be Monday, December 26th.  This is a Sisterhood fundraiser, please support our Sisterhood.



Volunteers are needed to be responsible for lighting the giant Chanukah Menorah on the front lawn from 12/19-12/25.  Those attending the Chanukah dinner will light the menorah on Sunday, 12/18 @ 5pm. Lighters are needed for 12/19 @ 5pm, 12/20 @ 5pm, 12/21 @ 5pm, 12/22 @ 5pm, 12/23 @ 5pm, 12/24 @ 5pm and 12/25 @ 5:00pm.  Please call the CEI office (724-834-0560) or sign up on the flyer in the office, if you and/or your family would like to help us celebrate this holiday with the community.  Also, any evenings you would be available and would like to join with the “lighting family”, feel free to attend.


Sunday, December 18, 2022
5:00 PM

Come celebrate with our CEI family
We will … light the giant menorah outside … sing songs … Go for the Gelt … Gift Raffle … and EAT, EAT, EAT!

Menu: Cold cuts (corned beef, turkey), Tuna, Chicken salad, Latkes, Applesauce, Salads, Desserts & Drinks.

Bring your family hanukkiya, and 2 candles and we will display them.

Please join us for this fun evening!

Cost for the Chanukah Dinner is:
$18.00 per adult (age 13 & up), $6.00 per child (under 13)
Children age 4 and under Free

Complete the reservation form in the December bulletin and mail or drop it off, with payment, to the Congregation Office by Friday, December 9.

If you have any questions, please call:  Shoshana Halden (724-744-0037), Terri Katzman (724-837-8275) or the CEI office (724-834-0560).
BYOB of wine.

Send this completed form with check made payable to CEI Sisterhood to:
Congregation Emanu-El Israel
Chanukah Dinner
222 North Main Street
Greensburg, PA 15601


                                 THE HANUKKAH NEWS

Hanukkah is observed for eight days, beginning on the evening of the Eighteenth day of the month of Kislev.  This year Hanukkah starts at sundown, Sunday, December 18 and lasts for eight days through Sunday, December 25, 2022.


Alexander the Great of Greece conquered Judea, the home of the Jews, in 333 B.C.E.  At that time, Alexander allowed the Jews to maintain their beliefs and traditions.  With Alexander’s death, the lands he ruled were divided between the Ptolemies, who ruled in Egypt, and the Seleucids, who ruled in Syria.  The Ptolemies and the Seleucids fought for control over Judea.  Under the Seleucids, Syrians had adopted Greek culture and habits; in other words, they were Hellenized.  In 198 B.C.E. Antiochus III, king of Syria, conquered Judea.  Like Alexander, he allowed the Jews to practice Judaism.  But all that changed in 175 B.C.E. when Antiochus IV, also known as Antiochus Epiphanes, came to power.  He wanted to bring Greek (Hellenistic) culture and religion to Judea.  Antiochus Epiphanes wanted to make Jerusalem a Greek city.  He issued laws against the Jewish religion, banning Sabbath observance, circumcision and Torah study.  He desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem by building a pagan altar in it and forcing the Jews to sacrifice to the Greek gods.

The Jews resented what Antiochus was doing, and in 167 B.C.E. a revolt against Greek rule began.  The revolt was led by a priestly family known as the Hasmoneans or Maccabees.  The leader of the family was Matityahu.  He and his five sons – Judah, Yonatan, Eliezer, Yochanan and Simeon – were from the village of  Modi’in.  Matityahu was so angry when the Syrian soldiers came to his village to set up an altar to the Greek gods that he slew one of them.  Led by Judah, a son of Matityahu, the Jews formed a rebel army to fight the Syrians.  The Maccabees defeated Antiochus’ army and recaptured the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.E.  The Jews cleaned the Temple and on the 25th of Kislev the Temple was rededicated.

There are certain central themes which run through our celebration of Hanukkah which are important to acknowledge.

  • Hanukkah was a struggle for freedom of religious practice, the first in recorded history.  That a group of people chose to put their lives on the line and battle a much stronger foe in pursuit of freedom is the real miracle of Hanukkah.
  • The events leading up to the Maccabean revolt put in jeopardy the continued religious identity of the Jewish people which, if continued, would have meant an end to Jewish people-hood.  The battle therefore, was a battle for Jewish survival.
  • Hanukkah symbolizes the fight against totalitarianism in all forms.  Hanukkah celebrates more than the independence of one people; it points toward the right to freedom for all.
  • Hanukkah affirms the universal truth that the only effective answer to oppression is to fight for and defend the values and principles that oppression threatens.

How do we prepare the Hanukkah menorah?
The unique mitzvah of Hanukkah is to publicize the miracle of the Maccabees’ defeat of the Syrian-Greeks and the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days.  We do this by lighting the hanukiah and displaying it in a window so that people who pass by may see it.  The hanukiah is a special nine-branched candelabrum we use for Hanukkah.  Eight of the branches represent the eight nights of Hanukkah.  The ninth branch is called the shamash – the servant candle – and is used to light all the others.  The first night of Hanukkah we begin with one candle, plus the shamash; on the second night two candles plus the shamash, increasing the number of candles with each day of the holiday.  On Friday evening, the Hanukkah candles are lit before the Shabbat candles.

What do we actually do when we light them?
Tradition has us say the blessing first, then light the candles (perhaps while singing Ma’oz Tzur).  Some families find it meaningful to recite the blessings while the candles are being lit.  The first two blessings are read (or sung) each night of Hanukkah.  The third blessing (Shehecheyanu) is used on the first night only.  The Hanukkah lights should be kindled after dark, except on Shabbat.

How do we light them?
We place the candles in the menorah starting at the right; but we light starting at the left or with the newest candle each night.

What if Hanukkah falls on Shabbat?
Light your hanukiyah first, followed by the Shabbat candles.


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


Honoring Their Memory

HONORING THEIR MEMORY …. Families of the following loved ones will honor their memories and mark the occasion of their family history by reciting the Kaddish this Shabbat.

The following Yahrzeits will be honored at CEI:

 Dec. 2:  *Phillip Abramson, Billy Jean Ayers, *Sarah Berezofsky, *Rose Glasser, *Harry Baron Gold, *Sadie R. Gold, *Sarah Grossman, Hanni Lederer Hamburger, Hugo Hamburger, *Max Kay, *Louis H. Levine, *Samuel Levine, *Rachel Marcus, *Samuel Margaretten, *Pinkus Middleman and *Fanny Kogut Millstein.

Dec. 9:
  *Morris Caplan, *Maness Charapp, Margaret Conroy, *Harry M. Dates, *Rabbi David Davis, *Joseph Finkelhor, Ethel Fischer, *Albert E. Gold, Arthur S. Gold, Matthew Leiner, *Alexander L. Levin, *Betty Rae Lewis, Robert Mendler, *Sarah Pavloff, *Celia Levin Ratner, *Samuel Shapiro and *Mary Young.

Dec. 16 & 23:
  Bertha Ainbender, *Anne Berkowitz, Gerald Browdie, Dr. Samuel Caplowe, *Robert Davis, Leonard Freedman, Hilda Freeman, *Harry M. Friedlander, Lillian B. Gold, Rebecca Grossman, *John Halden, Cantor Saul Zelick Hammerman, *Clara Hochberg, Charles Horne, *Ethel Farber Hoyt, Ethel W. Kaufmann, *Anna Kay, *Robert Kessler, *Dorothy D. Kramer, *Sarah E. Kramer, *Ida Margaret Levin, *Rosalind Levin, *Rae M. Levine, Abe Liebman, *Max Litchfield, *Thelma Loundy, *Eva Markowitz, *Philip Mervis, *Louis I. Paull, *Rella W. Ratner, Mollie Rudt, *Mary Schwartz, *Simon Sucatzky, Freda Virshup, Lillian Weiner Mildred V. Wilson and *Edith Wolinsky.

Dec. 30:
  *Paul Adler, *Joseph Edward Barend, Jean Pretter Brill, *R. Herbert Buchman, *Julius Caplan, *David Flamm, *Lena F. Friedlander, *Aaron Friedman, *Miriam Gillis, *Samuel Glicenstein, Harry Goldman, *William Jay Karelitz, *Anna Lewis, Jacob Meyers, *Rebecca Mistroff, *Mayme Moidel, *Morris M. Naumoff, Leonard Pittler, *Lena Pomerantz, *Ellen Rochelle Rudt, Louis Segal, *Charles Shendowich, *Moses M. Shoag, *Paul Shoff, Goldie Slone, *Fannie Weber and *Morris M. Young.

Jan. 6, 2023:
  *Benjamin S. Browdie, Florence Clovsky, Mildred Davison, Dorothy C. Farber, *Morris Gold, *Celia R. Goldberg, *Rachel Gordon, *Martin D. Gordon, *Ben Gross, *Gizella Holtzer, Charlotte Krinock, Jenny Lalli, *Golden Litchfield, *Bess Marchel, *Sam Miller, *Sylvia Moidel, *Isadore Pittler, *Louis Rubin, *Morris Shendowich, *Alex Shofnosky, *Sarah Weiner and *William Wolfe.

* A light will be lit on a Memorial Board