January 2014 - 5774

Volume LXII #4

Member of the Union For Reform Judaism


Congregation Shalom is a Reform Jewish community committed to education, spiritual growth, and Tikkun
Olam (healing the world).  We are proud to be an extended family of equals - welcoming, caring, and inclusive.
 Together, we engage in religious observance, enjoy social activities, and pursue life-long learning.
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Rabbi From our Rabbirabbi

Starting my Sabbatical and Some Thoughts on this Past Channukah


Dear Friends:


I hope you had a joyous, light-filled Channukah! Personally I loved having Channukah fall far ahead of Christmas and wish it could happen every year! There was less pressure from the commercialism that can pervade this season and when I did shop for gifts there were fewer crowds and less hype. As for the celebrations and rituals of Channukah, it was nice to have them stand-alone and not fall in the shadow of the Christmas season. For me the lack of comparison and even competition was a relief! I also really enjoyed the overlap of the themes of Thanksgiving with Channukah and felt that in reality they were far more in simpatico then the overlap of Channukah and Christmas. Thanksgiving is a holiday that commemorates taking a stand for religious freedom and expresses a sense of gratefulness for a people's ability to make personal religious choices. Thanksgiving also commemorates how a small group of people without many resources or power prevailed in the face of tough obstacles. This too is a part of the story of Channukah. So when will this happen again? 


Please click here to read the rest of this column on our website.


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Stephen Rodman's photoFrom our PresidentBarryTop    


Dear Friends:



As you all know by now, Rabbi Perry has commenced her sabbatical. During her time away from synagogue, we will still carry on a normal schedule. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of both volunteers and staff, we have a full slate of services, programming and educational opportunities over the next few months.


Many of our Friday night Shabbat services are being led by Lynne Rothstein, a past president of Congregation Shalom. Lynne does a phenomenal job in leading services and truly guides us in finding the peace, tranquility and spirituality necessary for a meaningful Shabbat. Please come and join us for Lynne's services.


We also are lucky enough to have two guest Rabbis leading Shabbat services this winter. On January 24, Rabbi Deanna Douglas of Wellesley will be in charge. Rabbi Douglas is a lifelong teacher, including in her current capacity as a history teacher at Concord Academy, and has worn many different hats during her rabbinate, from serving congregations to serving as president of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. We look forward to joining with Rabbi Douglas for Shabbat.


Then, on February 14, we welcome Rabbi Dennis Ross into our congregation.  Rabbi Ross serves Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany, NY, has worked with Concerned Clergy for Choice for the Educational Fund of Family Planning Advocates of New York, and has authored books and many columns for national publications.


I invite you to come meet our visiting Rabbis, pray with them, and extend to them the warmth, vibrancy and vitality that is Congregation Shalom.


Please click here to read previous columns on our website.


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From Our Education Directoreddir  


Although as a general rule my newsletter speaks about upcoming events, I want to take the liberty to reflect back on the first Chai Session and hopefully look at the question that I get asked so often - why send my kids to Chai?? What does the Chai School offer our children that is different than their previous classes?


For each of the 8 weeks of Chai School, I have the pleasure of walking into the kitchen and witnessing a group of happy and engaged teenagers socializing and sharing the events of their week over pizza and a cookie before class even begins. Sometimes you will hear a student make an announcement about Shalomites and sometimes you will see teenagers just chatting and laughing together. What is most important about this pizza dinner is that what I witness every week is a supportive and engaged student body that is not divided by age, but rather I see a happy and connected group of Jewish students from different grades and different schools hanging out together and socializing.


Visiting the Chai classrooms, I hear excited and involved students learning new ways to explore their Judaism. Whether it is moral issues, anti-semitism, the Holocaust, or asking probing questions about the existence of G-d, our teenagers are grappling with real life Jewish ideas in ways that are meaningful and exciting to them. Even our electives offered students the opportunity to engage with Judaism in a way that relates to their lives today. How do Jews live around the world? Why do we as teenagers care about some of the Jewish holidays and why is Yiddish such a vibrant part of our Jewish tradition were some of the issues our students grappled with last session.


On the very last class, you may have smelled the delicious aroma of hamantaschen coming from the kitchen. Many people asked me why hamataschen in December? Well, it was not the food itself that was important, but rather the moment that baking offered, where our whole Chai school came together to roll dough and pinch cookies into triangles - because it is this simple traditional cookie that offers us the opportunity to foster a sense of identity and belonging. It is the lessons that the teachers shared about Purim around the world, what the word hamantaschen means and what is its origin, and the importance of food and community that made hamantaschen in December so relevant. The last class was truly as one of our electives was called, "bissel this a bissel that" (a little this, a little that).


So this leaves the question - why Chai? I believe that Chai School offers our children a home and a learning community that is warm, nurturing, safe and at its core Jewish. I believe that this sense of community and age appropriate learning is the key to raising students with a love of learning and a love of Judaism that will stay with them forever. If you have students in grades 8 - 10 and would like to find out about our second Chai Session, or you have students in grades 11 and 12 who may be interested in our incredible monthly Post Confirmation class, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Please click here to read previous columns on our website. 


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Social Action Committeesocialaction


Blood Drive, Monday January 6, 2-7 PM

We are hosting a blood drive at our temple on Monday, January 6, from 2-7 pm. Please consider the mitzvah of donating blood to help with regional shortages in blood supply. To sign up for a time slot, please go to and enter in Congregation Shalom's zip code (01863) to be directed to our location to sign up.


Martin Ames Shabbat, November 22, 2013

We enjoyed a wonderful evening of learning about community gardening and how it can transform an urban community from our guest speaker, Francey Slater. Francey is a co-director of Mill City Grows, an urban farming organization that teaches inner city residents how to maximize food production. Her passion for her work was energizing! We look forward to working with Mill City Grows as part of future Social Action projects, perhaps as part of Mitzvah Day next year.


Christmas mitzvot projects

Social Action planned several opportunities for our members to serve others in the community on December 25, including donating food to seniors in Chelmsford senior living apartments, and serving meals at the Lowell Transitional Living Center shelter. We participated in meaningful service to our communities!


Join us at our next meeting!

Our committee is actively welcoming new members. We'd love to have you join us at our next meeting, so please email us at if you are interested.


Fundraising Committeefundraising


The annual On-line Auction has recently ended. This year we had more bidders than ever and that resulted in more winners than ever before. Neighbors and friends joined members in the bidding fun. Except for postage, every penny brought in by the auction goes directly into the General Fund to help balance the budget.


Check your mailbox for the 50/50 Valentine's Day Raffle. Remember that the more tickets bought, the higher the prize. Last year's winner got a check for $675 - a very nice Valentine's Day gift!


Save the date: May 17th will be an evening of fun and music when Congregation Shalom becomes a "café" for entertainment and camaraderie.


As always, we are looking for energetic people to join our committee - very few meetings and the knowledge that our work helps the congregation.


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God in the Box


The God in the Box Interfaith community program continues with the following two events in January.


Sunday, January 12 at 7 pm   "How We Pray"

St. Mark's Episcopal Church

75 Cold Spring Road, Westford


Sunday January 19 at 7pm  God in the Box screening

St. Catherine's Church

107 Main St., Westford


For more information please see our website..


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Sign Language Class


I would like to offer a Sign Language class to interested Congregation Shalom members. Content would be some of our 'regular' and favorite prayers and songs, to include: the Sh'ma, Eitz Chayim He, Hamotzi, and more. Content will be determined in consultation with Rabbi Perry, David Smerling, and class participants. In most cases we will only learn signs that would go with the English parts of the prayers/songs, although the Sh'ma is an exception. Dates and times of class TBD with interested participants. I am newly retired and have some flexibility, but am not available Sunday mornings. This could be a weekday or evening class. Let's start with 6 one hour sessions in January, February, and March.


Please contact me by phone or email if this interests you.


Margi Loyer


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Communications Corner:communications

Blogs and Feeds for our Temple Family 


As part of our new website, and to allow our temple leaders to be able to communicate with us when they have something to say, the monthly columns of our Rabbi, President and Educational Director are now in the form of blogs on our temple website. In addition to the latest installment of each in our monthly newsletter, you can find their blogs on our website, at these links: 

Our Rabbi's Blog 

Our President's Blog 

Our Education Director's Blog 


As our Rabbi begins her sabbatical, she has already begun posting her thoughts, using her blog as a way to keep in touch over the next months. Blogs not only allow our Rabbi to write about what she is doing during her sabbatical, but you can also comment on those blog entries, to make the communication more of a discussion.


Since you never know when any of these people might be motivated to update their blogs, we have also enabled RSS feeds for each. What's as RSS feed ? RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, or Really Simple Syndication. It's a way for you to subscribe to a webpage, and find out whenever it has been updated. There are a variety of RSS readers for your browser or mobile device of choice (even if the popular Google Reader is no more) - browse the web or ask around. Once you have a Reader installed, you can subscribe to our RSS feeds via these three links (or you can use the RSS logo at the bottom of each of our blog pages on the CS website)

Our Rabbi's RSS Feed 

Our President's RSS Reed 

Our Education Director's RSS Feed 


We urge all members of our community to read these blogs, subscribe if you'd like and share your comments. We hope this is one way you will find our new communications more valuable and rewarding. Please let us know at


On behalf of our communications committee,


Peter Sohn


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Featured This Issue
God in the Box
Communications News
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Save the Date
Jan 6 
Blood Drive

Jan 11 
Brotherhood-Sisterhood Night Out
Jan 12  God in the Box
Jan 24 Shabbat with Rabbi Douglas


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QuickLinksQuick Links

Links to Our Website

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Meditation and Drumming

Shabbat Service


January 31st at 7:00 pm.



There will also be meditation and drumming on Sunday, January 12 at 11 am.


Please click here for more information.


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Thanks to everyone who sent a donation to the temple and their good wishes for a speedy recovery following my eye surgery. The warm and caring thoughts of my Congregation Shalom family were sincerely appreciated.

  Mitch Hyatt


My family and I would like to express our most sincere gratitude to all who made donations to the temple in memory of my father, Julius Hyatt. Seeing so many of you at the shiva service was comforting and deeply appreciated.

   Mitch Hyatt


Good & WelfareGoodWelfare


It is with a heavy heart that I write of the passing of Julius Hyatt, father of Mitch Hyatt. We send our deepest condolences to Mitch and his entire family.


We are also saddened to note the passing of Dr. Marvin Kerzner of Providence, RI, brother of member Arnold Kerzner. Our deepest condolences to Arnold and his family.


New MembersNewMembers


We welcome Jesse and Bonnie Heines to our Congregation Shalom community. Please reach out and help make them feel welcome.


Newsletter Ads and You!


We are always looking for advertisers for the Temple newsletter. Ads can be placed at any time with special pricing for members. Ads need not be for a year so if you want to try us, we take ads for 3 months as well as six months. If you decide to continue your ad for a full year, we do pro-rate the price. As the saying goes, "Try us, you'll like us!"


Youth ScholarshipsYthScholar

Throughout the year, there are many enriching Jewish experiences available to our youth through our synagogue or the community. These include, but aren't limited to, summer camps and trips to Washington, New York, and Israel. Fortunately, there is some scholarship money available through the temple to those families in need of financial assistance for these opportunities. Please contact Margie Berenson at with any questions and/or for an application form. 

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Changed Your Address?
Notify us at and we'll make sure all the right organizations at the Temple are informed. Please include your full name in your request.

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Deadline for the

February Newsletter is

Thursday, January 16.


Please send articles to  


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Join Our Mailing List

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Sisterhood Newssisterhood 


Happy New Year! We have a full article this month so please read ahead to see all that we have going on.


Our annual Hanukkah party was held on December 2nd at the temple. About 15 of us attended, including some new temple members. We all enjoyed the delicious food and lively conversation.


Our annual Sisterhood/Brotherhood night out will take place on Saturday, January 11th at 6:30 p.m. at Martha's Exchange in downtown Nashua. The cost will be around $25 per person, which includes a salad, an entrée, soft drinks and coffee/tea. We hope you can join us for this fun evening of food and friends. If you can come, please email us at no later than January 4th.


On Wednesday, January 22nd at 8:00 p.m. we will be meeting at Jazzercise Chelmsford Fitness Center (located at 83 Parkhurst Road) for a free Jazzercise class. Beginners and newcomers are welcome! Light refreshments will be served afterwards and we will have a raffle drawing at no cost for some free classes. We hope to see many of you there!


A Taste of Retreat -- Saturday, March 29, 2014, 10 AM - 5 PM  --  Save the Date!

This year Sisterhood will hold a one-day retreat rather than a full weekend at a distant location.Planning for the retreat is just starting, but we will send out complete information in early January.


The retreat will be held at a site within 15-20 minutes of the temple and will include Shabbat morning service, lunch, a program, and will conclude with Havdalah. Susan Horowitz will be our song leader. If you haven't heard Sue, check out her wonderful music at Rabbi Perry will share information about her sabbatical. Cost will be approximately $50. If you haven't attended a retreat in the past, this is a great way to see what it's all about.


If you have any questions, please contact Janet Dubner at



Sue Miller and Katie Ebersman, Co-Presidents

Brotherhood Buzzbrotherhood


Brotherhood - Sisterhood Night out will be on January 11th.


We welcome new members and new ideas! If you can think of an event you would like to see the Brotherhood involved in please let us know.


Roger Loyer and Neal Berenson, Co-Presidents 


Click here to view the Brotherhood calendar at our Congregation Shalom website.


Return to Groups.

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The Shalomites' community social action event was a great success! Dinner and a Winner was an entertaining night for all who came, and we raised over $150 for the Lowell Transitional Shelter. Thanks to everyone for coming and be on the lookout for more community events in the future!


Ski Trip is rapidly approaching and we are completely booked! 18 kids will be partaking in one of the best Shalomites events. This weekend will be a lot of fun, and a great bonding experience.


Keep your eye out for more Shalomites events coming in the New Year! 


Joey Penn

Shalomites President

Junior Youth GroupJrYthGrp 

Stay tuned!! Snow tubing with the Shalomites on February 9th at Nashoba Valley Ski Area


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Food for Lowell Transitional Shelter (LTLC)FoodDonations 

What: cooked meatloaves and brownies


Where: coolers will be outside Congregation Shalom's door


When: Wednesday, January 15th at 4 p.m. through Friday January 17th services


Questions? Contact: Margi Loyer at


Thanks for helping us perform this mitzvah!


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Library - Book Reviewlibrary

Book Review of Lilith's Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural

Selected and Retold by Howard Schwartz; Illustrated by Uri Shulevitz


Howard Schwartz is a folklorist, author, poet, and editor of dozens of books. He won the 2005 National Jewish Book Award for Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism. Uri Shulevitz is an internationally renowned writer and illustrator of children's books. He won the 1969 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration.


Lilith's Cave is a collection of "tales of terror and the supernatural that probe the dark side of human nature" and "occupy an honored position in Jewish folkloric tradition". When I reviewed The Jewish Book of Why I remember being surprised that so many of our traditions stem from our ancestors' belief in demons. There are rituals to protect us from them and to ward them off. I did not realize that the belief in demons, witches, sorcerers, and even werewolves was such a strong part of our folkloric history. These stories come from various countries such as Germany, Eastern Europe, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Babylon, France, Romania, Turkey, and Yemen. "Surrounded by danger, ancient Jews turned to faith and superstition to understand their world and find a release for their fears".

There are 50 tales in this book. There were several themes that ran through the tales. The first is that some of the tales seem to exist in order to teach the lesson that people should be god-fearing and pious. They should not be greedy, and they should keep their vows. The problem is that demons seem to like to trick pious people as well, so in truth, no one is really safe. Lilith herself, the queen of the demons, or other female demons seem to like to trick mortal men into marriage, like in "The Queen of Sheba". Demons also like to make off with brides or bridegrooms right before their weddings, and mothers who have just given birth and their babies. Sometimes those who are greedy are punished, by being tricked by demons. However, at other times, a totally innocent person is killed like in "The Bleeding Tree" which is almost like a traditional horror story.


The second theme is the conflict between sorcery being a sin, and sorcery, when wielded by certain rabbis learned in Kabbala, saving the lives of people. Many of the stories mention real famous rabbis such as Rabbi Loew, the Maharal, Rabbi Isaac Luria, the Ari, and Rabbi Shalem Shabazi. When terrible things happened in these stories, the Jews would go to these rabbis for help. These rabbis would often pray for help through a dream. They would then, through prayer and using secret names for G-d and other secret Kabbalah knowledge, foil the demon, or sorcerer or witch.


Another interesting thing I found in these stories is the concept that Jews believed in hell or Gehenna. In several stories, like "The Door to Gehenna", it was described in the way that Christians describe it: underground, full of demons, dead people being tortured for eternity. It was never clear exactly what one had to do to be sent there. There were obviously sinners there, but apart from sorcery, the other sins were never described.


I have always loved fairy tales, the dark kind, not the Disney kind, and it was fun reading this book. I didn't know that we had such a history of varied tales. Previously I had only read tales involving the Golem. To think that Jews believed in werewolves! I have to admit I'm a little scared. But now I know what to do:



"If you want to see (demons), take the after-birth of a black she-cat, the first-born of a first-born, roast it in the fire and grind it to a powder, and then put some in your eye and you will see them"

The Talmud, Berachot 6a   

Submitted by Rhonda Waxman

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iGiveiGive for Congregation Shalom
Have you ever thought how great it would be to be able to shop online at 783 different well-known stores and still donate money to Congregation Shalom?  Well, you can do that!  It's free and easy so join those of us who have been sending donations to the synagogue for years simply by shopping by first going to the iGive website once you have established the link.  Click here to register for Congregation Shalom to automatically be the recipient cause.
If you make a purchase through iGive within 45 days of signing up, an extra $5.00 will go to Congregation Shalom.  If you have any questions, please contact Laura at


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ExtendedCommunityExtended Community

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The Brotherhood and Music Committee of Temple Emanuel present

Hanukkah Happens 24


Jewish Love Songs


Sunday, January 19, 2014, 7:30 PM

(Rescheduled from Dec. 17)

Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward St., Newton




The Zamir Chorale of Boston

Joshua Jacobson, Artistic Director, and Hazzan Elias Rosemberg


Concert admission (open seating): TE Members - $25; Non-members - $30;

Seniors (70+) $25; Children under 13 - $15; Tickets night of concert $30.

Proceeds to benefit American Friends of Magen David Adom.


For more information and tickets, please visit;

email, or call 617-558-8100.

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From the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston & Affiliates...


VNA Hospice Care needs volunteers! Hospice volunteers play a key role in helping to provide caring and compassion to patients and families facing life-limiting illness and loss. A volunteer may provide patients with company and emotional support, give the spouse, partner or other caregiver a needed break from care giving, and/or help caregivers run errands or get to and from appointments. A strong need exists for volunteers who can visit on weekdays. We also seek: musicians who would like to sing or play music quietly at the bedside of nursing home residents; Reiki practitioners who would like to offer Reiki to patients and/or caregivers; and people interested in visiting with their therapy dog. Volunteers who speak both English and a second language are also helpful. We provide volunteer training and ongoing support. Call 781-569-2888 and ask to speak to a Volunteer Coordinator for more information. Or email


Parent Support Group


A Parent Support Group has formed, with monthly meetings in Westford.  The group is designed both to offer education and to form a supportive community for parents challenged with raising children struggling with mental health issues.  Come together and gain information and some skills to help your child.  The group is open to all.  Please click here for details about meeting times and location.

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Spiritual Poetry Journal


"Soul-Lit" is a new on-line spiritual poetry journal. A number of entries have been from Jews and have Jewish content. Writers are encouraged to submit their own poems which have a level of spiritual content to them. Two volumes have already been published.


To check out the website, please click here.


Please spread the word to members of the community who are writers / poets, and who may wish to submit their own writings.



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Please support our Congregation Shalom advertisers

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 new QPL ad Nov 2012
Morse Bayliss Ad April 2012
Dan Dubner new business card double
BethEl CemeteryMatt Schwartz Ad (2012)
Sharon Grier Business Card 2011

Peter Powell March 2013

Radisson Mazel Tov Ad
Sky Meadow