Congregation Emanu-El Israel

                 222 North Main Street, Greensburg, PA. 15601          

IYAR – SIVAN      5780                    MAY 2020


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


 From the desk of Rabbi Leonard Sarko


Bar/Bat Mitzvot – Son/Daughter of the Commandments – is a time a Jewish child takes on the responsibilities

of a Jewish adult.  It is a life cycle event, a simcha – happiness.  It is is a wonderful opportunity for a congregation/community to take a moment to celebrate and embrace a person formally announcing their inclusion to a Jewish community.


The Bar Mitzvah as a life cycle event did not blossom until the Middle Ages.  We have no biblical reference for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  In biblical times if you were old enough to join the army you were considered an adult.  Our modern world blurs such lines.  During the Vietnam War you could be drafted to fight, but could not do any number of activities associated with being an adult.  In many locations around the world you might be forced to join the armed services simply because you were a child.  


The early Reform tradition did not like Bar Mitzvah.  They did not think a person at the age of thirteen had the knowledge or experience to make the choice to be a Jewish adult.  Instead, they instituted the ritual of Confirmation and eliminated Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  Although Confirmation still exists today, Jewish Reform communities liked Bar/Bat Mitzvah so much that it was brought back as part and parcel of synagogue life.


The first Bat Mitzvah did not take place in a Reform facility.  It occurred on March 18, 1922 when Rabbi

Mordecai Kaplan, founder of Reconstructionism, arranged for his daughter Judith to celebrate becoming a Bat Mitzvah at a public synagogue ceremony in New York City.  The first recorded Bat Mitzvah at a Reform congregation did not occur until 1931.


The significance today of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah cannot be understated.  It is a public announcement that this individual will takes their place as an adult Jewish member of the community.  For these individuals it becomes a time of self-definition that will follow them the rest of their lives.  It will affect everything they do from that moment onward.  


The first Bat Mitzvah is a good example.  Judith Kaplan married and became Judith Eisenstein.  She had a distinguished career as a teacher and historian of Jewish music.   She obtained a Ph.D. in Sacred Music from Hebrew Union College, was active in this area with JTS, and composed a significant body of original liturgical music. She created and broadcast a thirteen-hour radio series on the history of Jewish music and authored a number of books, including the first American Jewish songbook for children.  Her Jewish identity flourished.  

It was not until the early 1970’s that the first adult bar mitzvah took place.  Adult Jews came in search of a ritual confirmation of their Jewish identities.  Many people missed the opportunity for this life cycle as a youth, for any number of reasons.  In our modern day these adults sought the affirmation that this life cycle offered.  Regardless of gender, regardless of age, an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah has become a staple of synagogues.


I would like to offer the opportunity for anyone of our congregation who has not had a chance to experience a Bar/Bat Mitzvah to contact me and we will set out on a course to make it happen.  It is an experience you will enjoy, learn much from, and will make an indelible mark on your life.


Kol Hacavod – with all honor, Rabbi Lenny  


From the President: Irene C. Rothschild

     Fact: Social distancing works, but it does not help with inspiration!

     At any rate, I hope that you are coping as well as possible during this pandemic and taking advantage of the virtual opportunities that are now available, thanks to Rabbi Lenny’s expertise with technology.  Virtual Shabbat services are working well and there are possibilities also for group discussions.  If you would like to pick up a Siddur, please let Bea know, so that social distancing pick up can be arranged.  

     The Board of Directors is still working on the business of running the Congregation, via email and phone.  The decision has been made to maintain the closure indefinitely and we will rely on the medical experts before the decision is made to reopen the temple.   Rabbi Lenny and Karen are willing to continue doing Shabbat services remotely during the closure.  The Annual Congregation meeting originally scheduled for June will be postponed until such time as it is safe for us to gather as a large group.  

     It is rewarding to know that many of us are constantly checking in with others in the Congregation, especially those who live alone.  Some of you have called me to check on me and that leaves me with a very good feeling!  Thanks so much for being wonderful Congregants!  I am confident that we will come out of this crisis even stronger than we were before!  

     The office remains open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM every weekday.  Rabbi is working on a somewhat reduced schedule, but is available if needed via his cell phone.  Scott has been working one day a week, Friday, to clean restrooms, offices and to handle the trash/garbage.  

     Please be sure to read the weekly email messages and the monthly Bulletin to keep informed.  They are both available on the CEI website, as well.  (      Be well and please stay safe!          Irene



   Happy Birthday wishes toEileen Cohen, Jeanne Cohen-Sicuro, Myrian Gau, Mitch Goldstein, Robin Mickey, Karen Sarko, James Schenck, Joyce Schenck.

   Happy Anniversary to:  Rabbi Lenny & Karen Sarko, Jody & Michael Keating and Nina & Jon Lewis.

   Mazel Tov! To Jason Chobirko, he will do his graduate school studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.  Jason is the son of members Karen & Brian Chobirko.



     Everyone is staying at home these months until the coronavirus  infection is not a problem and as widely spread as it is now; so we  are all reading or watching TV more.  I am currently reading the book  The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas.  Lukas  takes readers to Cairo at three different time periods in its history.   One thousand years ago, Ali ibn al-Marwani, a Muslim orphan,  becomes the night watchman at the ibn Ezra Synagogue.  In 1897,  English twin sisters, Agnes Lewis and Margaret Gibson, arrive in  Cairo to assist Cambridge scholar Solomon Schechter in acquiring  the ancient scrolls held in the synagogue’s storage area.  And in  the present, Joseph at-Raqb, a Berkeley graduate student who is  half-Jewish, half-Muslin, receives a mysterious package from his  recently deceased father.  Joseph travels to Cairo to unravel the  secret behind the unusual bequest.  What binds the three stories 

is the legendary 2,000-year-old Ezra scroll, purported to be the most perfect Torah scroll ever created and supposedly stored at the synagogue.  

     Al-Raqb is a descriptive surname meaning “the watchman.”  For generations, the job of guarding the synagogue, a respected position, was handed down from father to son.  Lukas’s novel cleverly incorporates the negotiations for the geniza documents by the sisters Agnes and Margaret, Dr. Schechter and a young woman whose identity is not revealed at first, and the elders of the synagogue.  Many issues concerning contemporary scholars are raised in this fast-paced novel which reads both like a fiction and a nonfiction book.  The author’s vision is of a more hopeful world where Jews and Muslims come together of a shared cultural heritage.  The Last Watchman of Old Cairo can be checked out from the Alfred Ratner Library after making arrangements with the CEI office on when to enter the building and visit the library.


This month’s CEI Riddle.  Below you will find a riddle.    The answer can be found somewhere in this bulletin!


What can you break, even if you never pick it up or touch it?




PULPIT FLOWERS.  In Memory of:  

March 20:       Sarah Davis by Larry Brodell, Linda & Jeffrey Reisner, Phyllis Davis and Marilyn & Jim


Davis.  Harry Levine by Phyllis Davis and Marilyn & Jim Davis.  Herb Seigle by Marilyn & Jim Davis.  Sadie Goldman by Cori & Michael Liptak.  Mary G. Kaufman by Doris & Howard Kaufman.

April 3:

David L. Slone by Marion & Robert Slone.  Israel Samuels by Phyllis Davis and Marilyn & Jim Davis.       

April 10:

Sol Shpargel by Shirley & Jerold Shpargel.  Rolf Rothschild by Irene Rothschild.      



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.   


COPIER FUND: Provides a means to maintain a copier for the CEI office.  


CONGREGATION GENERAL FUND:  CEI operating expenses. In Appreciation of:  The office staff and all they do by Shirley Ratner.  In Memory of:  Dr. Gerald Browdie by Mrs. Madeline Rossen.     


CONGREGATION YAHRZEIT FUND: In Memory of:  Daniel Michael & Rhoda A. Reid by Robin Reid Mickey.  Goldie Cohen & Sheldon Cohen by Jeanne & Jeff Sicuro.  Sarah VeShancey by Mr. & Mrs. William

VeShancey.  Rozlyn Naughton and Louise Davidson by Rachel & Bert Minushkin.  Jeannie & Henry Roth and

Anita & Charles Koral by Judi & Harvey Roth.  Ralph Balber by Sam Balber.  Max H. Applbaum by Barbara

(Applbaum) & Daniel Glennie.  Sol Shpargel by Shirley & Jerold Shpargel.  Helen Kirkpatrick & Louis Wilder 

by Jack Wilder.  William Virshup by Georgi & Richard Virshup.  Paula Last by Joel I. Last, M.D.   Dr. Thomas Warren Wilson by Virginia & John Lieberman.  Joan Mendler by Stacy & Michael Mendler.  Rolf Rothschild by Irene C. Rothschild.  Bette Buchman by Ronda B. Goetz.  Etta Katzman by Terri & Stan Katzman.   


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:  


SOCIAL ACTION FUND:  Supports projects that benefit our community. 


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





The CEI Board meetings are on hiatus until the Coronavirus pandemic has been been resolved.  Any urgent board business is being handled virtually, by email and/or phone in the interim.  This is a special report to the congregation that will continue to be the practice until the current situation is resolved.  


RABBI LENNY SARKO’S REPORT:   Friday night services are going well online.  We are getting between 30 and 50 people attending each week.  The new microphone is now installed and phase one of the project is now complete.  We are also averaging about 4 participants in the service per week and have developed a Shabbat greeter function with Jack Wilder taking that position.  This last week’s service also included a Yizkor service for Passover.  Speaking of Passover, Virginia L. was kind to donate boxes of Matzah, along with Shoshana H. for those people who were unable to obtain it for Passover.   Some of the Matzah was picked up at the synagogue and I delivered some to people who were not able to pick it up themselves.  As a result of the online services, two new people who attended these services have asked to start conversion.  A second class has been ongoing, via video conferencing.  One person is from Greensburg and the second is from Indiana, PA.  The first conversion class is also meeting on a regular basis via video conferencing.  The committees for the new membership drive have been meeting online.  The one working on Assisted Living facilities has completed the design of a trifold brochure.  The local membership group is still working on theirs.  I will complete the brochures for the blind segment over the next month.  I have completed work on the website for the blind group.  The text and pictures now are accessible via screen readers that the blind use.  The second week of April, I agreed to two newspaper interviews.  They resulted in a front page article in the Pittsburgh Tribune, and an article in the Jewish Chronicle with a front page picture and second page with huge picture.  Both were very positive publicity for the synagogue.  I have met with the YWCA Racial Justice Committee online and have agreed to help a subcommittee develop an online seminar on the coronavirus and racial justice.  It is expected to be held at the end of May.  I held a video conference a few Tuesdays ago in which the Congregants could just get together and talk.  It was a response to help people in their isolation.  It seemed to go well.  I have tried to maintain contact via phone conversations with our members who are more isolated than others.  These focus on those in assisted living facilities and those who are elderly and single.  I have also asked a number of congregants to do the same.  If any board member wishes to discuss these items or has a topic they wish to take up with me, please contact me by phone or email.

PRESIDENT IRENE ROTHCHILD’S REPORT:  I am very appreciative of the work that Rabbi Lenny is doing on the technology side of making sure that we have a regular Shabbat service and utilizing video conferencing to hold discussions with Congregants.  I also very much appreciate that Karen is willing to operate the  equipment during Shabbat services.  We are so fortunate to have Rabbi and Karen as an integral part of our CEI Family!  It is terrific that Rabbi Lenny continues to keep in touch with those who are elderly or are confined.  The Board of Directors, in consultation, with Rabbi Lenny has voted in favor of remaining closed indefinitely.  So, there will not be an Annual Congregation meeting in June.  I believe that Sisterhood will be cancelling the closing dinner that was planned for May 26, 2020.  The Board of Directors will continue to meet either virtually or through email to conduct the business of the Congregation during the closure.

Administration:  Bea has been and will continue to run the office during this closure, so she can be reached via phone or email.  If you need to enter the building, please coordinate your entrance through the office.  In honor of Administrative Assistant’s Day on April 22, 2020, Bea will be given the day off with pay.  Scott will only be working on Fridays while CEI remains closed.  He will clean the restrooms and offices and take out the large garbage cans.  Joel has graciously agreed to bring the empty cans to the side of the building.  

TREASURER JULIE GOLDSTEIN’S REPORT:  Fair Share contributions are slightly lower than at this time last year, however, CEI has required significantly less in distributions from the Restricted Funds.  Utility costs are a bit higher.  Contributions from Sisterhood to help cover those utility costs are lagging behind.  General  donations are also a bit lower than last year.  Office costs and insurance fees are slightly lower.  All things considered, we are not doing too badly.  It is important to remember that, even though all events at CEI building are on hold, Rabbi Lenny, Bea and Scott are still working and expenses are still accruing.  Please remember to continue to support CEI with your Fair Share payments and donations, if you can, during this difficult time. 

SISTERHOOD PRESIDENT MARION SLONE’S REPORT:  All Sisterhood events are cancelled until further notice.



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.



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 Yad 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.  If you have any questions, please call and talk with Rabbi Lenny and he will walk you through the process.  Songs for 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.  These must be signed out through the office.



USED INK CARTRIDGES!  We continue to collect used printer ink cartridges (any brand) to help defray the cost of office supplies.  You may leave them on the front porch by the door and notify the office that they are there.  We appreciate everyone’s help with this program.









The CEI Riddle Answer:    A promise                      





Rabbi Leonard Sarko.  Sara Rae Perman, Rabbi Emerita.  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.  




May 1:  Sol Buckstein, *Sadie B. Daniels-Adler, *Nathan Dates, *Bennett Davis, *Max Harris, *J.

Levin, Melvin Levin, Libby Louis, Goldye Pittler, Mireille Rousseau, Harry Sandson, *Sarah K. Silverman, *Jennie Soltz, *Ethel Stalin, *Louis Wilder, Dr. Thomas Warren Wilson, *Rose Witaskis and *Louis I. Zakon.


May 8:  David Bernstein, *Aaron Blum, *Nellie Callet, *Pearle G. Conn, *Leonard J. Cowan, Carol

Cowen, Rachel Leah (Terry) Davis, Charlotte Fiedler, *Martha Friedlander Kuhns, Max Lasday,

*Anna Levine, *Dora Miller, *Irene S. Mullen, *Anna Pallan, Leonard Pittler, *Nathan David Redlich, *William Balazs Roth, Dorothy Sandson, *Anna Shofnosky, Harry Tattenbaum, Mark Weisberger, Pearl Wong and June Ziff.


May 15: Frances Applbaum Abramson, James Applbaum, Sylvia Bendix, *Johnn Bergwein, *Lillian

Berkofsky, Michael Warren Buchman, *Robert Finkelhor, *Milton M. Goldberg, *Minnie Gordon, *Abraham Gross, Celia Gross, *Sarah Gross, *David Grossman, *Reuben Levinson, Paul Reiss and *Michael Whiteman.


May 22:  *Benjamin Davis, *Hymen Davis, Rae D. Farber, *Abraham Friedlander, Harvey Harris, 

*E. Isaac Hitowitz, *David Hochberg, *Jacob Introligator, *Obernauer Jaskulek, *Bertha Kamerman, Max Kaufer, Harry Moldovan, *Sam Rosner, Friedman Rothschild, *Isadore Rubin, *Jacob M. Rubin, Josephine A. Trout and William Werksman.


May 29:  *Harry Berger, *Harry E. Buchman, Gertrude Buckstein, Czerna Cohen, Elaine Dunhoff,

*Simon Feinberg, Minna Feuerstein, *Herbert L. Friedlander, *Blanche Gillis, *Ida Millstein Levine, *Sadie Levinson, *Abraham Minsky, *Samuel Moldovan, *Jacob Ratner, *R. Leah Rubin, Linda Schwartzman, Henry O. Slone, Kenneth Stoner, *Mollie R. Whiteman and *Barbara Wilder.


June 5:  Stuart Freeman, *Louis Glantz, *Dr. Philip H. Gold, *James (Yaney) Grossman, *Margot Halden, *Maurice Kramer, Ethel Krokosky, Sara Pittler Kurtz, Bill Moldovan, Leah Moldovan, *Robert Schindowich, Esther Segal, Jane Ratner Werrin and Fay Wolinsky.