July CEI Bulletin
Congregation Emanu-El Israel
222 North Main Street, Greensburg, PA. 15601
TAMUZ – AV 5781
The Mission of Congregation Emanu-El Israel is: To support Judaism and the welfare of our community.
From the desk of Rabbi Leonard Sarko
Over our summer we will have the honor of seeing two classes of conversion students end their studies with the rabbi and enter our community. This reminded me of the story of Ruth – the story of a Moabite woman, who is considered the first person who converted to Judaism.
We are all converts. We are all Jews only thanks to our own act of Torah acceptance at Sinai. Judaism is not a racial trait and is not automatic for anyone. It is based on conversion and Torah acceptance even for the children of Abraham.
The essence of Ruth, her driving life force was the discovery and acceptance of the commandments. Ruth is a Torah seeker par excellence. If we could learn to emulate Ruth in our own act of Torah acceptance, the act of Divine service that is the essence of Judaism, we would succeed in absorbing the entire spiritual input.
Anyone reading the story of Ruth is struck by the strength of her dedication. The famous passage from which the Talmud derives many of the laws of conversion portrays Ruth’s stubborn refusal to part from Naomi in the strongest possible terms. Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back from following you. For where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people are’my people, and your God my God; where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.”
Ruth the Moabite was looking for the commandments not simply because she was looking for the truth and the right way to live, although no doubt these impulses were also a part of her drive to conversion. But chiefly, she wanted to attach herself to God, to cleave to God, to connect herself to the source of all life and being. The only way to do this was to attach herself to a person who was already attached in this way. So she followed Naomi the person, rather than the abstract truth.
In the prelude to Sinai, we read: “So shall you say to the House of Jacob and relate to the Children of Israel.” Rashi explains why the seeming redundancy “House of Jacob,” and “Children of Israel.” The House of Jacob refers to Jewish women — Jewish women are the Jewish house. The ideas of Judaism comes to life in the Jewish home and are translated into reality by the guidance of the Jewish woman.
The Jewish man carries the obligation of learning the Torah, but it is the Jewish woman who translates its ideas into the realities of everyday living. Abraham was the genius who brought the knowledge of God into the world, but it was his brother Haran who carried the seeds of the genius required to translate the knowledge that Abraham discovered into everyday life. The greatest Jewish women were Haran’s descendants.
The Jewish Kingdom is a reflection of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven carries in it a great power. This power is to redeem and regenerate and ensure that no part of what is noble and precious about humanity is ever lost. To emphasize the aspect of redemption involved in the establishment of the Jewish Kingdom, the marriage of Ruth to Boaz — which ultimately resulted in the birth of David, and will eventually lead to the messiah.
Ruth was a Moabite princess according to tradition. She was used to the best things in life. She was also a beautiful young woman in the prime of life. The step she was taking would introduce her to a life of poverty; her mother-in-law had lost everything she had through her misfortunes and was returning home entirely destitute. In going with Naomi, Ruth was leaving a life of high status to become a lowly convert of questionable status. A large part of her said, “Why go to Israel? You can serve God wherever you are. After all these years of living in a Jewish house, you know all the laws and can observe all the commandments right where you are. There is no need for this great self-sacrifice.”
Ruth was torn. But what she wanted was closeness to God, she wanted attachment. Staying in Moab observing the commandments would not give her that; only attachment to the Torah would. She decided to go with Naomi to join the Jewish people no matter what, but the strain of her inner conflict made it difficult for her to keep up. This is when Naomi stopped discouraging her. Naomi understood Ruth and saw that she was after an attachment to God. She had absorbed the true message of Judaism.
This is the pathway for our convertees. We are there to help them find a pathway to God and a pathway in life. Together with our convertees we act as one community, as one people, regardless of our origins.
From President: Irene C. Rothschild:
At the May virtual Board meeting, the Directors discussed the possibility of holding an informal virtual annual congregation meeting, but the decision was made that a letter updating events of the past year would be more appropriate. These topics appear in no specific order of importance.
Rabbi Lenny has conducted two conversion ceremonies this past year and as a result, we have acquired several new members to the CEI Family. So, when services resume and you see an unfamiliar face, please take the time to introduce yourself and to welcome them. We have also acquired several remote members, also thanks to Rabbi Lenny.
Virtual Shabbat services have been a great success! Attendance has been so much higher and that is gratifying. Again, thanks to Rabbi Lenny ensuring that we have the appropriate audio and visual equipment right before the building was closed.
Having Karen Sarko as our rebitzin has an added bonus to the hiring of Rabbi Lenny. Due to her being a nurse, she is chairing the COVID Committee and has also taken on other roles that are very helpful.
The COVID Committee has met a few times to discuss when and how to reopen the building safely. At this time, the building will remain closed until the High Holidays in September, although those guidelines may change on new directions from the CDC and upon the recommendation of the Committee. There is a Bat Mitzvah at the end of June and that family has been informed of the parameters that were established by the Board for opening the building for their family and friends. Seating will be socially distanced, by blocking off every other row and limiting the number of people in the other rows and seating will be limited to 50 people. Everyone should be masked. There will be no food served after services on Friday evening nor on Saturday morning.
After almost ten years of working for CEI, Scott Sykes retired as our part-time custodian. We hired Jeff Lewis to replace him, but while the building remains closed, he only works a few days a week depending on the amount of outside work that needs to be done.
The Security Committee has been busy working with SSA and Shawn Brokos from Federation to ensure that after the building reopens, the Congregants and staff are as safe as possible. We will be requesting a grant to update the security system and will be installing shades to cover half of the kitchen windows. Part of the potential grant will help to cover installing a special film on all of the downstairs windows to make them shatter proof. Also, Ms. Brokos recommended that all of the shades be kept down to eliminate anyone from seeing into the building. We are grateful for the assistance from Federation.
The Garden Committee is working on beautifying the front of the building and along the driveway.
Marion Slone has stepped down as president of Sisterhood and Terri Katzman has graciously agreed to take over that office. Marion will continue to work on the calendar and Terri will be planning events for the upcoming year.
The Men’s Club has started working on jobs in and around the building and we are very grateful for all of the work that they do, because they keep the building and grounds safe and looking good and because it also saved the Congregation money.
The Board of Directors decided to have an Annual High Holiday Appeal in order to help raise funds to ensure the longevity of the Congregation. Given that CEI is the only synagogue/temple in Westmoreland County and that it is vital to maintain a full-time rabbi, it is essential that we make every effort to ensure the viability of the Congregation for as long as possible.
Happy Birthday to: David Rothschild, Shirley Shpargel, Michelle Gau, Rachel Gau, Michael Carey, Alisa Weberman, Teri Moidel, Joel Last and Paul Mickey.
Happy Anniversary to: Alisa Weberman & Jonathan Korzen and Teri & Gary Moidel.
We offer condolences to member Cheryl Schorey on the death of her mother Joann Kramer; to affiliate member Linda Liebman on the death of her husband Richard Liebman; and to affiliate members Linda & Jeffrey Reisner & Family on the death of Linda’s father & long-time member Larry Brodell.
CEI has a supply of FDA 3-ply disposable masks. The proceeds from our purchase benefits the Excela Pandemic Response Fund through the Excela Health Foundation. We are making them available to our members at no cost to you; but, any contribution is greatly appreciated. If you need a mask/masks for your daily use, please contact the office and make arrangements to pick them up with social distancing. Thank you for staying safe!
SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT – JULY 2021
“What’s a thousand dollars? Mere chicken feed.
A poultry matter.” (Groucho Marx)
In my long tenure as president, I have never reached out to Congregants and supporters in an attempt to raise funds, but the future of the Congregation depends on our ability to remain viable financially. We are very fortunate to have Rabbi Lenny and Karen as part of our CEI Family, but the truth is that we cannot afford to pay a full-time rabbi for much longer, so the Board of Directors has made the decision to start the new tradition of holding an Annual High Holy Day Appeal. The reality is that the Congregation has relied on our Endowment Fund to cover our expenses for years and that is not sustainable. There are several reasons why this appeal is necessary.
- The future of CEI is at stake.
- The need for CEI to continue to evolve and innovate.
- The necessity of maintaining a full-time rabbi.
- Members have never paid for High Holiday seats.
- The video equipment needed to conduct virtual services is costly.
- Where we can, we have applied for grants to cover items such as, the cost of security. Our membership has grown slightly, thanks to Rabbi Lenny, but it is not sufficient to meet our expenses without continually drawing from our Restricted Funds.
This appeal is not a pledge. Please consider your financial situation and remit an amount that is feasible for you and your family. You may choose to put your contribution into the Congregation Fund or the Endowment Fund. Either way will be extremely helpful in our attempt to preserve the future of CEI. Any contribution is most appreciated.
Next month, you will receive a letter making this High Holy Day Appeal request along with a return envelope. Any amount that you are able to submit will be extremely helpful.
Remember, you do not have to give until it hurts—just give until it feels good.
Thank you so very much! Irene
On Friday, July 9, Rabbi Lenny will conduct a Conversion Ceremony for student Natalie Myers. The conversion ceremony is divided into three segments. All three segments will be witnessed by our Bet Din, a panel of Jewish judges composed of three of our congregants. The first segment is a mikvah ceremony which will conducted at Duff Park in Murrysville at 10:30 AM. This is a purification ceremony using water from a running stream along with a set of prayers. The second segment is to share a meal, which will follow after the mikvah ceremony. The last is for the student to be called to the Torah that evening at the 7:30 PM service. Natalie will read verses from our parasha and provide a dvar. All are welcome to attend any or all of the events. The evening service will be online only. If you wish to see the mikvah ceremony or would like to join us for lunch, please contact the rabbi by email or phone, so we can plan properly. We will be social distancing and masks must be worn by those unvaccined (except when you eat).
Our CEI community would like to introduce and give a warm welcome to the new members of our synagogue.
Michael Carey, Greensburg, PA. I am a musician, a father, and a working man. I look forward to meeting other members of our congregation.
Jon Dohner, Greensburg, PA. I am Jonathan Dohner. My wife Samantha and I have two children, Dorothea and John-Michael, and two granddaughters, Briley and Avery. We lived on a farm halfway between Blairsville and Indiana PA. We sold the farm two years ago and moved to Greensburg to be closer to my granddaughters. I am very happy to be a member of CEI and to be part of the local Jewish community.
Beth Frederick, Indiana, PA. Beth lives in Indiana, PA with her husband Troy and their 18 year old son Ethan. Beth and Troy are partners at the Frederick Law Group, PLLC, which focuses on consumer class actions and plaintiff personal injury law. Ethan recently graduated from high school and has secured a spot on the Johnstown Steel Esports team. Beth would like to thank everyone for the kind and warm welcome she has received since she began attending services at CEI and Beth looks forward to becoming more involved with CEI as a member of the congregation.
Gene Goldberg, New Port Richey, Florida. Retired pharmaceutical industry executive and long time friend of Rabbi Lenny and Karen, originating from Rabbi Lenny’s congregation in Florida.
Susan Hoffman, Chicago, Illinois. I was part of the first remote group that joined CEI. Like a few others, I am in Chicago. I love to dance, sing and listen to music. I thank CEI for having a program that allows those remote like me to participate in Jewish life.
Alisa Weberman & Jonathan Korsen, Red Hook, NY. We have a son Max, eight years old, who has started Religious School and learning Hebrew with Rabbi Lenny. Where we live in New York there are no synagogues nearby, so the CEI remote program helps fill our Judaic needs. Thank you for welcoming us.
Rhonda Lee, Madison, Wisconsin. She is the grandmother of two adult Jewish grandchildren — Alexa Schoenfeld in Boston who has done the candlelighting prayer for CEI and Austin Schoenfeld in Ohio who enjoys knowing about each person of the week. I met Rabbi Lenny through a Braille Chat group. She is grateful to be a member of CEI and learning every week more about Jewish history, culture, celebrations and Torah teachings.
Natalie Myers, Greensburg, PA. I am a graphic design senior at Seton Hill, and I want to get my masters in Interaction Design. I love all art mediums, but prefer to paint digitally. I live with my girlfriend and we have 3 cats and 2 dogs.
Mackenzie Robinson, Greensburg, PA. I was part of the first conversion class that was led by Rabbi Lenny.
I graduated from Seton Hill University in 2020 and plan to attend law school in 2022. Currently I live in Greensburg with my fiancée, 4 cats, 2 scorpions, tarantula, ball python, and giant Brazilian cave roaches – and, yes, you can ask us about our pets anytime. It has been very nice being part of the CEI community.
Gwen & Alan Sarko, Peoria, Arizona. My name is Gwen Sarko. My husband, Alan, is Rabbi Lenny’s older brother. We have lived in Peoria, Arizona for the last 12 years. We have 2 children, Dan and Tracy. Dan and his wife Naomi live in Boulder, Colorado and have two daughters, Shira and Aviva. Tracy and her husband Sean live in Chicago and have two sons, Jack and Will. I enjoy traveling to visit all of them now that we are all vaccinated. We are very happy to be a part of the CEI family.
Cheryl Shorey, Fort Wayne, Indiana. I was around 12 when I started to explore Judaism. I started going to temple weekly and found a very spiritual meaning to my life, which continues to this day. I honor and respect the sabbath which has brought me a special inner peace. I appreciate the opportunity to attend services at CEI.
Suzy Travers-Byster, Chicago, Illinois. I am from Chicago and am visually impaired. I have been attending Friday night online services since August 2020. It has connected me with a Jewish community. I thank CEI for this opportunity.
ALFRED RATNER LIBRARY NEWS by Shirley Shpargel
Books purchased with money from the Alfred Ratner Library Fund:
Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail by Leslea Newman (Easy Reader – Grades K-4).
The Lost Shtetl: A Novel by Max Gross (Fiction).
Apeirogon: A Novel by Colum McCann (Fiction).
The Lost Shtetl by Max Gross begins describing the small isolated Jewish village of Kreskol, that has for decades remained unchanged. The Yiddish speaking residents lived in peace, spared by the Holocaust and lived without cars, electricity, the internet, and indoor plumbing! One day Pesha Lindauer disappears from the religious village after she insisted she be divorced from her husband, Ishmael. The village sends the young man, Yankel Lewinkopf, out into the wider world to alert the Polish authorities that Pesha is missing. Suddenly the village is discovered.
Yankel is confronted by modern-day Poland where he does not speak the language and steps into the prosperity and technology of the modern world. Returning Yankel to Kreskol, the Polish government plans to reintegrate the town that time forgot. The town splits with the challenge of holding onto its values, and struggle with the knowledge that the holocaust wiped out much of the Polish Jewish population a half-century before. Max Gross’s novel, The Lost Shtetl, is alive with human emotion, history and provocative questions for discussion. The Lost Shtetl is available in the Alfred Ratner library.
THE COVID 19 COMMITTEE IS RECOMMENDING THAT THE BUILDING BE OPEN FOR SHABBAT SERVICES STARTING WITH FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2021; HOWEVER, THERE WILL NOT BE AN ONEG. UNTIL THE U.S. POPULATION REACHES 70% OF PEOPLE WHO ARE VACCINATED, CONGREGANTS WHO ARE NOT VACCINATED ARE ASKED TO WEAR MASKS. SEATING IN THE SANCTUARY WILL BE SOCIALLY DISTANCED.
A COMPLETE LIST OF UPCOMING SERVICES WILL APPEAR IN ANOTHER PART OF THE BULLETIN.
High Holiday Schedule 2021
All services will be available in person and online
Except for the Cemetery Service – in person only
Slichot Service – Saturday, August 28, 7:30 pm
(Oneg – Ice Cream Social)
Erev Rosh Hashanah – Monday, September 6, 7:30 pm
Rosh Hashanah Day – Tuesday, September 7, 10 am
No Tashlich Service
Kver Avot (Cemetery Service) – Sunday, September 12, 10 am at the Temple Emanuel Cemetery (1328 Middletown Rd, Greensburg)
Erev Yom Kippur – Wednesday, September 15, 7:30 pm – Kol Nidre
Yom Kippur Day – Thursday, September 16, 10 am
Afternoon Service 3:30 pm
Yizkor: 4:30 pm
Closing Service – 5 pm
Break the Fast – 6 pm (Hosted and benefits Sisterhood)
Sukkot – Congregational Celebration Friday, September 24, 7:30 pm
Simchat Torah – Friday, October 1, 7:30 pm
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.
Early July you will find a letter (in your actual mailbox) from and about Sisterhood. Included will be a membership statement for 2021-22, a flyer with information about our picnic on August 18, and additional information and updates. We’re ready to begin our year!
WE NEED YOUR HELP!!
Our Rummage Sale will take place on August 15, 16 and 17. Set-up will take place on August 11, 12 and 13.
Please give Shoshana (724-744-0037) or Terri (724-837-8275) a call to let us know what times you are available to help.
Your rummage can be brought to the Temple during business hours or scheduled through someone with FOB and security code. If you try to drop off with a regular member FOB, the alarm will sound.
Please call Virginia at 724-668-2442 to order a card. As a back-up Yvonne Bureau at 724-837-8072 will accept orders.
If you haven’t been using this service to send out congratulations, sympathy, happy birthday, get well, or thinking of you wishes, please consider this easy way to express your feelings. At the cost of only $6.00, including stamp, this is a bargain, easy process, and a way to support our Sisterhood.
PULPIT FLOWERS. In Memory of:
May 28: Minna Lader Feuerstein by Jerold & Shirley Shpargel.
June 11: Barry J. Kane by Mary Ellen, Bob, Erin, Amanda & Michael Kane & Families.
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. In Memory of: Ruth F. Shpargel by her friends in Cool Valley.
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 GENERAL FUND: CEI operating expenses. In Memory of: Richard Liebman by Marilyn & Jim Davis and Marney & Allen Levy.
CONGREGATION YAHRZEIT FUND: In Memory of: Minna Lader Feuerstein by Shirley & Jerold Shpargel. Joseph Cohen by Sandra Cohen & Family and Stanley Cohen. Aleen Redlich by Carol Anne & Harry Redlich. James I. Applbaum by Barbara & Daniel Glennie. Herbert L. Friedlander by Jody, Mike, Stacey & Michael Keating. Ben Berlin by Don Gold. Barry J. Kane by Mary Ellen Kane & Family. Patricia Barnhart by Irene C. Rothschild. Cecil Cohen by Shirley & Stephen Tannenbaum. Elaine Friedlander Smith by Bill Friedlander and Jody, Mike, Stacey, Michael & Samantha Keating. Joe Naughton by Rachel & Bert Minushkin.
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: Rabbi Lenny and Mazel Tov on the Braille Torah by Irene Rothschild. The speedy recovery of Cori Liptak by Marla Blum and Irene Rothschild. In Memory of: JoAnn Kramer by Terri & Stan Katzman and Shoshana & Bob Halden. Dick Liebman by Terri & Stan Katzman, Shoshana & Bob Halden, Doris Kaufman, Wally Caplan, Virginia & John Lieberman, Irene Rothschild, Jack Wilder, Karen, Brian, Jason & Justin Chobirko, Barbara & Shelly Rose and family, Mary Ellen, Bob & Mike Kane and family, Marion & Bob Slone and Marla Blum.
SOCIAL ACTION FUND: Supports projects that benefit our community.
TORAH REPAIR FUND: To provide funds to repair the Torah scrolls.
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. IT: Zach Virshup. Bulletin Editors: Mary Ellen Kane, Karen Sarko & Bea Harrison.
July 2: Ben Berlin, Leonard Berman, *Esther Caplan, *Edna G. Cobetto, Cecil Cohen, *Fannie Davis, *Rachel Leah Flamm, *Gloria Glasser, *Louis I. Gould, John Hammill, Jr., Gertrude Hatowski, *Nathan Jaskulek, *Maurice Nevins and *Leonard Wolinsky.
July 9: Diane Blum, Edwin Karelitz, Lillian Tattenbaum, *William L. Brill, Donald Perusse, Sr., Samuel Farber, *Beila Mace, Milton Gespass, *Marcy Weiss Langer, MS, CCC-A, *Louis Shofnosky, Alvin Glenn, *Kate Grossman, Harry Feuerstein, *Esther Gordon, Annabelle Frances Millstein, *Dora Charapp, *Hyman Levin, *William Lipman, Bradford Powell and *Anna Sucatzky.
July 16: No Service. Yahrzeits will be read next Friday, July 23.
July 23: *Alexander Alt, Cecily Aronson, *Anna R. Brill, *Meyer Charapp, *Anna K. Conn, *Rae M. Daniels, *Mary Davis, Selma Fairman, *Samuel Friedlander, D.D.S., Margaret Goldberg, Daniel Hamburger, Edith Bergstein Hollander, *Sarah Kane, *Solomon A. Kane, *Martin M. Kramer, *Lazer Kuhl, *Abe Levin, *Lillian Liebman, *Abraham Miller, *Herbert Moidel, Donald Perusse, Jr., *Bella Pearl Redlich, *Abraham Sandson, James Schenck, Sr., Timothy Silvis, *Jacob Soltz, *Jacob Stern, *Fanny Vance, *Steven L. VeShancey and *Rose Weiner.
July 30: Joseph Richard Bergad, Joseph Louis Bernstein, *Sgt/Maj Abraham Corman, *Catherine Davis, *Mayer Davison, Anna Glasser, *Baila Miriam Harris, Ruth Leifer, *Samuel Liebman, *Alvin J. Moldovan, *Harry Olesker, Yolanda Perusse, Sidney Pripstein, *Milton Redlich, *Ida Levin Shoag and *Karen Anne Wolf.
August 6: *Ruth D. Buchman, *Fannie Friedland, Benjamin Glenn, Frank Glenn, Morris Glenn, David R. Gold, *Dora Goldberg, *Minnie Jacobson, *Gordon Kogut, *Myron Lewis, *Gertrude E. Mace, Sarah Meyers, *Abraham Moidel and *Michael Sandson.