January 2023 ...............
Tevet 5783 ......
Rabbi Eric L. Abbott
Rabbi Emeritus Sunny Schnitzer
The Rabbi's Message, Speaker Mark Vandroff, In Case You Missed It
CLICK for the Complete BJC January Events Calendar
Two “New Year’s Days”: The Physical and the Spiritual

Once, after the famous rabbi Hillel finished teaching his students their daily lessons, he stood up to leave. His students, ever eager to continue learning from their great master, asked him where he was going. He responded, “To fulfill a mitzvah (commandment).” They inquired which one, and he told them that he was off to bathe in the bathhouse. Confused, they asked how this could be a mitzvah. He replied, “Consider the statues of a king set up around town, and how there is a sanitation worker whose job it is to clean and care for those statues. If those statues—which have been designed in the king’s image—deserve such care, then surely my body—which is designed in God’s image—deserves even more!”1

This rabbinic story reminds me of the Jewish notion that while we care for our souls—through learning, through teshuvah (repentance), through prayer—we must also take care of our bodies. It is why every morning we recite two prayers back-to-back: first, Asher Yatzar, in which we thank God for our bodies (down to every opening and closing), and second, Elohai Neshamah, in which we thank God for the gift that is our souls.

This relationship between body and soul reminds me of the secular New Year’s Day festivities we might celebrate this year. We already celebrated a New Year recently when we observed Rosh Hashanah, and so we might wonder, “As a Jew, how do I celebrate this secular holiday? Is there anything Jewish about it?”

Rabbi Mark Wildes of the Manhattan Jewish Experience in New York City provides one explanation.2 According to Rabbi Wildes, both New Year’s Days (Rosh Hashanah and the secular New Year’s Day) offer opportunities for reflection and making resolutions. Yet Rosh Hashanah’s resolutions tend to be more spiritual, he suggests. These resolutions are about teshuvah: striving to be a better partner or friend, working on awareness of our emotions, changing our interpersonal behaviors, and so on. For the secular New Year, however, we can instead work on more mundane or physical issues: getting back to the gym, striving to be on time to events, taking better notes in class, and the like.
As our tradition states, neither is unimportant. We go to the bathhouse and we study; we recite both Asher Yatzar and Elohai Neshamah; we pray for the body and the soul.

May this new year provide ample opportunities for growth: both the continued spiritual growth we began on Rosh Hashanah, and new growth in more down-to-earth ways in this secular new year.

And may we stick with these resolutions into February and beyond!

 1Vayikra Rabbah 34:3, adapted.
 2Danielle Ziri, “New Year’s Eve vs. Rosh Hashanah: Can Jews celebrate both?” The Jerusalem Post, 31 Dec 2016, https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/new-years-eve-vs-rosh-hashana-can-jews-celebrate-both-476905.

Rabbi Abbott's Calendly is now open! 

Want to meet one-on-one? 
Click here and pick a time that works for you.
Please be in touch with me in times of joy, sadness, or illness in your life or in the lives of a loved one or another member of the congregation. If you have a pastoral need, please call the BJC office at (301) 469-8636 or email me at rabbiabbott@bethesdajewish.org. For a lifecycle emergency during non-office hours, please call (301) 664-4585‬.

When I am away, please contact Geryl Baer in the BJC office at (301) 469-8636, admin@bethesdajewish.org. She will know how to contact me or my substitute.
Happy New Year to all! Once again we had a full year at BJC! We celebrated Rabbi Sunny on his retirement and welcomed Rabbi Eric Abbott to BJC. Our High Holy Days, festivals, Shabbat services, and activities with our religious school and in the community were memorable. Our Interfaith Thanksgiving was so impactful and meaningful in a year in which we are forced to confront antisemitism in our backyard. We joined together in person and via Zoom to share the blessings of B'Nai Mitzvah. We recently held an outstanding Hanukkah celebration: the Maccabee Warrior Training was great fun, and our dinner was scrumptious. We enjoyed having so many families join us for a meaningful Shabbat service. So great having a full house! 

We continue to have a caring and vibrant congregation! And we could not do it without each of you— thank you for being a part of the BJC family. 
Volunteers are the engines that drive BJC. There are opportunities with the religious school, with our regular services by hosting an Oneg, to welcome others, and to serve other members with simchas and sorrows. All of our committees, particularly Social Action, welcome you to bring your ideas to build on the success and community that is BJC.

If you’re looking for a more formal way to get involved, think about service on the Board. As we start the new secular year, our Nominations Committee led by our Co-Vice Presidents, Ken Fine and Issie Resti, will begin its important work to recommend a slate of board members and officers for the next fiscal year. Board service is an opportunity to serve BJC, so please consider joining the BJC No prior experience is necessary. We’re looking for members from all walks of life who want to help BJC grow. It’s a once-a-month meeting, usually on Zoom. Let the office or us know, and we’ll make the connection.

As we write in the waning days of December, we are heartened that so many of you have made donations to BJC as part of our annual campaign, Good As We Give. If by the time you read this, you’re smacking your head going, “Geesh, I meant to donate.” It’s not too late! While you might miss the tax deduction for 2022, you can claim a donation in 2023. Our fundraising campaign runs through the end of the fiscal year, June 30th. We rely on those donations to make our budget. So please, as part of your secular New Years’ resolutions, donate to your synagogue.

We wish you all a very happy and healthy new year. 


Wynne and Harri
It was terrific to see so many families at our December Maccabee Warrior Training, Celebration Shabbat Dinner and Shabbat services.

January brings us the new value of Achrayut, or Responsibility. We will be focusing on personal responsibility, family/community, and global responsibility. There are many ways to show responsibilities in all aspects of our lives and we look forward to having rich and engaging discussions with our students. 

On January 28th we will be having our community-wide education event. More information will be shared in BJC Now as we get closer to the date. It is wonderful to have the entire community display their responsibility together across all ages. We hope to see you there. 

As always, the Education committee is open for all BJC members. If you are interested in attending a meeting or getting more involved in our youth education programs, please contact co-chairs Shoshanah Drake or Amy Rubinstein for more information. 
BJC's annual Good As We Give fundraising campaign is here!
This is BJC"s annual festival of generosity and giving that is essential to funding the operations, services, and programs that make BJC - well, BJC.

As you are considering your charitable giving for the rest of 2022, and the start of 2023, please consider giving a generous gift to BJC. We believe that it's the size of the heart in the gift that counts; so, please give generously. BJC has a bright future ahead, filled with the energy, enthusiasm and engagement that brought us to its doors. Consider how BJC reflects your values, your spirit, and how much you believe in BJC as a community of caring that you want to see continue to grow and flourish. 

Start by considering how much BJC means to you, and then talk with your financial advisor about tax-saving strategies that might help you make a bigger impact with your gift through gifts of stock, IRA, donor advised fund, or monthly pledge that could add up to the gift amount you want to give.

Gifts for now:
Gifts are tax deductible - BJC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization
Pledge now - pay monthly by credit card
Consider tax benefits for donation of stocks
Age 70.5+? Give directly from your IRA for added benefits

And also, gifts for the future:
Consider writing BJC into your estate/legacy plan or will

To talk about making a meaningful gift; or for help with stock, IRA, or language for your will, please reach out to:
Geryl Baer, BJC Synagogue Director, geryl@bethesdajewish.org 301.469.8636
Sandra Walter, Past President & Fundraising Chair, sandra4bjc@gmail.com 1.202.550.7692

Click for the complete BJC January Calendar

BJC continues our Friday night worship at 7:30 PM and Saturday morning services at 10:30 AM. Consult BJC Now for the latest information about in-person activities and for links to services if you prefer to worship virtually.

Come online Feb 5th at 10:00 AM and meet some members of the Jewish community in Nasenyi B, Uganda! Learn about their practices and their traditions. There will be an opportunity to ask questions. This is online only. Zoom link will be in BJC Now.
Book Club
Wednesday, January 25, 8 PM

The BJC Open Book Club will continue to meet virtually for the foreseeable future. We usually meet at 8 pm on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Our upcoming selections are: 

January 25-The Cold Millions by Jess Walter is a novel about two brothers swept up in the turbulent class warfare of the early twentieth century. Featuring an unforgettable cast of cops and tramps, suffragists and socialists, madams and murderers, it offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation grappling with the chasm between rich and poor, between harsh realities and simple dreams. 

Evelyn Ganzglass eganzglass@gmail.com will send out the Zoom link prior to each meeting. If you are not already on the book club’s email list and would like to join us for any or all of our meetings, please let Evelyn know and she will add you to the list. 
Torah Study is back!

Join Rabbi Abbott online weekly on Wednesdays for a discussion about the current weeks parsha.

Zoom Link will be in BJC Now every class week.

You have questions, and Rabbi Abbott wants to hear them!
Make This the Year You Learn Hebrew!

Join our adult Hebrew class this year and deepen your understanding of prayer book Hebrew. Classes are free to BJC members and cost $200 a year for non-members. 
Class meets Saturday mornings before services.

Please contact the BJC office with any questions. We're happy to help!

BJC held an amazing Hanukkah celebration on Dec 16th, right before Hanukkah.

The Youth Education program started at 5:30 with Maccabee Warrior Training! The kids tried out their skills at target practice, endurance tests, finding the pool, and pinning the shamash on the menorah. Everyone's Maccabee skills proved worthy- including some adults!- and the kids received a treat bag with a tiny trophy.

Attmans Deli once again knocked it out of the park with a delicious dinner of latkes, franks in blankets, chicken tenders, and meatballs. And we didn't forget the sufganiyot, the best part of Hanukkah (besides presents.)

After dinner, Rabbi Abbott led a Shabbat service in Covenant Hall. It was great to see the kids participating in the service, especially listing all of their simchas! Lots of wonderful things happening for our BJC families.

What a special way to begin Hanukkah at BJC!
By: Karen Levi

Ten years since that Friday in December when I heard on the car radio that there had been a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. At home, I caught President Obama on the news, crying about the loss of children and their teachers. Surely, this would mark a turning point. The tragic moment would certainly convince recalcitrant lawmakers to pass strict laws to prevent another Newtown disaster. The National Rifle Association would change. Congress would act. Surely, this would be the start of a new era.
Seven months ago—the name of another elementary school flashes on my cell phone. Not possible, again. This time—nine-year-old children gunned down by another young man. This is a nightmare. The story is on television—parents crying, struggling to find their youngsters; police scrambling, stretching yellow police tape in front of a school’s entrances. This time I am transported to a small Hispanic town in Texas, Uvalde. Since the Newtown tragedy, there have been 239 school shootings with 438 people shot, 138 killed.
In the ten years of 2012—2022, thousands of shootings in random places have occurred—Walmart, synagogues, grocery stores, TV stations, country churches, medical buildings, holiday parties, nightclubs, concerts, schools, and spas. The number of shooting incidents has nearly tripled since 2013. The number of mass shootings continues to rise with a sharp increase in 2019. According to the Gun Violence Archive, all categories of gun related deaths have increased except for Defensive Use. The rate of murder- suicide has remained steady.
This is hardly a fitting memorial or appropriate honor for beautiful children, elderly congregants at prayer, young people dancing at a club, a rising congresswoman. Truly, this phenomenon reflects a deep sickness in our country. The symptoms are an increase in gun sales and expenditures by pro-gun lobbies, parents failing to store weapons safely, and frightening behavior from potential perpetrators that friends, family members, professionals, and colleagues ignore. 
The deadly illness is a belief that one’s individual rights supersede those of the community. It is more important to have access to automatic weapons than to prevent the possibility of a crime committed with one of the deadly firearms. A civilian is guaranteed the right to own and use weapons produced for the military, but due to this privilege citizens are targets anywhere and anytime. 
If “rights” taken to their extremes harm the people the laws were intended to protect, our leaders must assist the collective “we the people” to return to our senses. But power to remain in office is more important to these cowardly officials. We vote them out, but more are elected in simultaneously. We are split which means half of our country either does not care or wants to maintain the status quo of a free-for-all for the ownership of firearms. I am not speaking of making all gun ownership illegal, but certainly a sensible hunter could not object to background checks, red flag laws, and waiting periods.
How can this country have devolved to such a state that we maintain a system which puts all of us in danger every day? How does an individual sustain a rigid belief in “second amendment rights,” after being shot, like Congressman Scalise, shot at a baseball practice in 2017? These remain the questions. Why has the United States moved backwards in gun safety legislation? More importantly than answering the unanswerable is maintaining hope. 
President Biden signed the first gun safety legislation in thirty years. The law gives states incentives for states to pass “red flag” laws. The bill expands the definition of convicted domestic abusers who are prohibited to own guns. This is a sign of hope in a country where approximately half the population has voted to rescind gun control laws and reject the congress people who support sensible regulations. 
A few months after the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I attended a meeting at Bethesda Jewish Congregation to join other like-minded individuals who were shocked by the murder of first and second graders. Since that time, gun safety advocates who are members of both Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church and Bethesda Jewish Congregation have engaged in a variety of activities. We have participated in the T shirt Project, an outdoor display of white t shirts with the names of gun violence victims on the shirts. Members of both congregations have attended protest marches. Bethesda Jewish Congregation held a panel discussion providing different views on gun safety legislation. We have presented films about the varied aspects of gun violence, including traumatic affects on youth in inner city high schools and first aid for gunshot victims. Members of both congregations have listened to speakers from the District of Columbia affected by gun violence. We partnered with a variety of national and local advocacy groups. Emails and bulletins over the years sent by the Social Action and Interfaith Congregation Partnership Committees provided opportunities to join lobbyists in Annapolis, write letters or sign petitions to our lawmakers, and engage in panel discussions by clergy. 
Where do we go from here? Continue our dedication to peace, understanding, and compassion among all members of our community. Engage in Tikkun Olam. Some shootings originate in misunderstandings among racial/ethnic groups and prejudice. Write emails, sign petitions, go to protests, and engage speakers to remind us of this modern tragedy and our roles in stopping the unnecessary, unspeakable violence.


Michelle Goldstein
Larry & Davi Walders


Laura Feiveson and Nupur Mehta

Editor’s Note: Share the joys in your life! Send to: amy@bethesdajewish.org

Ever confused about when we remember the yahrzeit of your loved one? You can choose to remember this special date according to the Hebrew or English calendar. Get in touch with Geryl Baer in the office to review and verify the accuracy of your records.


Sharon Berk, mother of Lauren Kline

Yahrzeits: January 2023

Amy Barsky, sister of Lisa Strauss
Ida Benderson, mother of Eric Benderson
Jacob Benderson, father of Eric Benderson
Harold Bernard, brother of Cathy Bernard
Phyllis Blumenthal, cousin of Diane Blumenthal
Frederick Brucker, father of Anita Farb
Irving Cassell, father of Wynne Busman
Meyer Chabot, father-in-law of Aleen Chabot and grandfather of Elliot Chabot
Ralph Cover, brother of Albert Cover
Sara Dash, mother of Judi Dash
William Davis, grandfather of Wynne Busman
Hyman Dubrow, father of Laurie Dubrow
Elizabeth Eig, mother of Jonathan Eig
Billie Evey, mother of Wilma "Bunny" Roufa
Jack Fagen, grandfather of Karen Jerome
Celelia Folsom, mother of Henry (Al) Folsom
Reba Frankford, mother of Norma Stern
Sol Goodman, grandfather of Sunny Schnitzer
George Isaacs, father of Virginia Cover
Nettie Jacobs, grandmother of Donna Goldberg
Ilse Judas, mother of Allen Grunes
Edward Kerwin, father of Aleen Chabot
Nathan Kramer, uncle of Harri Kramer
Ike Mosher, grandfather of Rachel Mosher-Williams
Roman Poogach, grandfather of Robert Poogach
Joseph Schnitzer, grandfather of Sunny Schnitzer
Lou Slifman, father of Larry Slifman
Jacob Taylor, father of Lyne Taylor-Genser
Ann Umans, mother of Dorothy Umans
Maurice Umans, father of Dorothy Umans
Miriam Walders, sister of Larry Walders
THANK YOUS (through December 21st)


Diane Blumenthal and Craig Winslow in Memory of Herbert Blumenthal
Moshe Cohen & Ruth Schachter-Cohen in Memory of Sharon Berk, mother of Lauren Kline
Shoshanah and Brian Drake in Memory of Sharon Berk, mother of Lauren Kline
Jeremy and Sarah Pelter in Honor of Joseph Pelter’s upcoming Bar Mitzvah
Carie Schaffer
Francine Stein in Honor of Rabbi Eric Abbott
Lisa Strauss


Peg and Burt Bachrach
Michelle and Jim Goldstein 
Jeremy and Sarah Pelter in Honor of Joseph Pelter’s upcoming Bar Mitzvah
Lorrie Van Akkeren


Nancy Allinson and Martin Dickinson
Cathy Bernard
Bruce and Wynne Busman in Memory of Mildred Busman and Irving Cassell
Bruce and Wynne Busman in Memory of Sharon Berk, mother of Lauren Kline
Helen and Michael Dalton
Helen DiStefano
Ken and Dionne Fine
Daniel and Donna Goldberg
Michelle and Jim Goldstein 
Miles and Ronnie Haber
Sam and Lauren Kline in Memory of Sharon Berk, mother of Lauren Kline
Laurie Mabile in Memory of Harry and Lena Goldstein
Robin and Stuart Sorkin
Alyson Scherer-White and Sean White
Stephen Turow and Linda Blumberg
Lorrie Van Akkeren

And to all of our members who “round up” their synagogue support and donate their time.

We are now an affiliate partner with Modern Tribe! Shop for all your Judaica needs though this link or by clicking the image. Bethesda Jewish Congregation earns 5% of all purchases! You get wonderful new items, and you support BJC in the process. Happy Shopping! 

Sign up for Amazon Smiles and benefit BJC! Those pennies, nickels, dimes, and sheckles add up. It costs you nothing, but by doing your Amazon shopping through their Smiles program and designating BJC, we profit a little bit at a time -- BJC will get 0.5% of your purchase. Sign up now and choose BJC. It never costs you anything, and it's very easy to do. Just click below.
Board of Trustees (As of 7/1/2022)

Wynne Busman & Harri Kramer
Co-Vice Presidents
Ken Fine & Issie Resti
Treasurer Steve Turow
Secretary Michelle Goldstein

Helen DiStefano
Shoshanah Drake
Karen Levy
Ted Posner
David Slacter
Lorrie Van Akkeren
Board Members & Committee Chairs

Chesed Society Lorrie Van Akkeren
Education Amy Rubenstein & Shoshanah Drake
Financial Advisor Terri Reicher
Fundraising Robin Sorkin & Sandra Walter
High Holy Days Jim Korelitz
Intercongregational Partnership Liaison
Marty Ganzglass
Membership Diane Blumenthal & Liz Sloss
Immediate Past President Sandra Walter
Programs Diane Horn & Joan Kaufman
Social Action Karen Levi
Student Representative Gabby Mendelsohn

BJC Administration

Spiritual Leader Rabbi Eric L. Abbott
Synagogue Director Geryl Baer
Program/Communications Director Amy Kertesz
Rabbi Emeritus Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer
Bethesda Jewish Congregation
6601 Bradley Boulevard
Bethesda, MD 20817-3042
Tel: 301-469-8636