September 2022 Newsletter ...........................Rabbi Eric L. Abbott
Elul 5782 ...............................Rabbi Emeritus Sunny Schnitzer
IN THIS ISSUE: The Rabbi's Message, ICYMI, High Holy Day Info
CLICK for the Complete BJC September Events Calendar
Wake Up to the Shofar!

Imagine for a moment that you are in a safe, relaxing space: perhaps at your home, maybe on your deep, comfortable couch or on a deck chair watching the sun set. You are at ease; you feel serene. Suddenly, BAM! Your eyes quickly spring open, your breath catches in your chest, and you realize the truth: It is time to face judgment. It is time to face God.

The High Holidays are nearly upon us!

This scene I have set out may seem scary or sudden, but for many of us, that is the reality of the holidays. Unprepared, the chagim seem to come out of nowhere until, suddenly, we find ourselves sitting in the pews, reflecting on our lives, and coming face to face with our mortality. Thinking about our existence and our relationship with God once a year can be daunting and outright terrifying, especially if we go into Rosh Hashanah cold.

Fortunately, the High Holidays do not need to be this way. Not only can we perform the famous three High Holiday acts of repentance, prayer, and tzedakah at any point, but we have a whole month to warm up and get into the proper teshuvah mindset. The month of Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, provides us with a roadmap for engaging with our community, with God, and with ourselves.

One Elul custom is to blow the shofar every morning. The shofar’s blast serves as a wake-up call, waking us up not just from our night’s sleep but also from our spiritual stupor. As Rabbi Alan Lew in This Is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared describes it:

"Suddenly, you are awakened by a strange noise, a noise that fills the full field of your consciousness and then splits into several jagged strands, shattering that field, shaking you awake. The ram’s horn, the shofar…the same sound that filled the world when the Torah was spoken into being on Mount Sinai, is being blown to call you to wakefulness. … In exactly one month, one revolution of the moon, you will stand before God. What will God see on that day? What will you see?" *

Every morning, we have the chance to hear the shofar, and every morning, we have the chance to receive that wake-up call.

Not all of us will blow the shofar every morning, but what might it mean to use this month to prepare for the High Holidays? What might it mean to begin our cheshbon hanefesh—our accounting of our souls, our reflections on our successes and failures—now and not just on Rosh Hashanah? If we were to do this, not only might we find Rosh Hashanah not quite so scary, but we might have a better opportunity to know ourselves as we stand before God.

So let us take advantage of the opportunity Elul provides us! Here are some suggestions for engaging in reflection prior to Rosh Hashanah (as an individual or with friends/family):

  • Every morning, wake up and express gratitude for the good things in your life.
  • Every day, pick one aspect of your life—a strength or a weakness, a success or a failure—and focus on it throughout the day. Ask yourself: How did I do at this aspect this past year? What can I do differently next year?
  • Meditate every morning. Never meditated before or don’t know what to do? There are many free apps to help you! I suggest Insight Timer.
  • At the end of every day, write in a journal, focusing on what you did well and how you would like to improve.
  • Check out pre-written or pre-recorded material, such as Elul Unbound” by the creators of the Judaism Unbound podcast.
  • Read Psalm 27 every day.

In addition to these individual or family endeavors, I invite you to join us in reflection and prayer opportunities leading up to and during the High Holidays! On Saturday, September 17, following a film screening of Footnote at 7pm, we will celebrate Selichot at 9pm. This short service is a warm-up to the High Holidays and will be an opportunity to learn, pray, and reflect as a community (and hear some of the beautiful High Holiday music!).

And if you’re looking for a more hands-on Rosh Hashanah experience, please join us for Tashlich after the morning services on September 26. In this brief experience, we’ll gather as families and as a community to metaphorically cast away our sins—by literally throwing breadcrumbs in the water at Cabin John Park! Stick around for food and the family service, too.

Ultimately, while joyous and spiritual, the High Holidays can also be frightening and intimidating as we reflect on our humanity, our mortality, and our behaviors over the past year. Through reflection, however, we can have the opportunity to approach these holidays a little more confidently and spiritually prepared. May we each find the strength, wisdom, and courage to engage in our self-evaluations this year.

I cannot wait to celebrate with you. Shanah tovah!

 *Rabbi Alan Lew, This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2003), 64.
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 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, She will know how to contact me or my substitute.
August was a great month in many ways. Several of us were able to get away for little or big breaks, but it is always nice to return to the warmth (in hospitality, not temperature) of BJC! The month ended with a delightful “Back To Shul” celebration with a food truck, face painting, and a fantastic live performance by our very own Senorita Sunshine! We know everyone enjoyed a fun-filled evening. We also had another enjoyable Mah Jongg evening in August and look forward to more this fall! And thanks for your support of our school supply drive for the National Center for Children and Families on Greentree Road. Even in the quieter summer months, there is always something going on.

The High Holy Days, also known as the Days of Awe, are approaching quickly! This is a time for introspection and personal reflection. Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year,” or New Year and Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. Rosh Hashanah combines the delight of a New Year celebration and its theme of renewal with the seriousness of confronting one’s shortcomings and seeking forgiveness from God and from those one may have wronged. We ask others to forgive us for our mistakes in the past year as we look to the future and how we can improve ourselves. 

This is a time for all of us at BJC to worship together as the caring community that we are. The hope is that we can all always move forward together in our strong BJC family. This year, so much of our worship will feel exactly the same. Our choir has been rehearsing with the music you know. Our prayers and prayer book remain the same. Our traditions, such as Congregational aliyahs, will continue, as will readings from your heart. What will be different, obviously, Rabbi Abbott will be at the leading us. He will be joined by Alicia DePaolo, who will serve as a cantorial soloist. Tashlich, “casting our sins upon the waters, is another tradition that will continue at Cabin John Park. And we’re pleased that we will once again be able to have our families come together for age-appropriate worship. 

We hope during this time of introspection and personal growth, all of us can work together now and in the future to support each other and BJC. Your Board wants to be able to represent you and what you’re thinking. We can only do that if you let us know what’s on your mind. We’ve set up a bulletin board outside the office with our names and pictures. Make it a point to get to know us. 

On behalf of our families and our Board of Trustees “family,” we wish all of you a healthy, happy New Year and may all of us be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.
Harri and Wynne
We are very excited to start our 2022-2023 Religious School year! BJC’s youth education program includes two sessions of Judaic studies on Saturdays and then an all-community wide event on an additional Saturday each month (with the exception of September and October, where it will be held on a Sunday). Educating the youth is often seen as the responsibility of the entire congregation and we have the perfect opportunity to do that. Please consider joining together for our all-community wide events each month. These culminating events are directly connected to what the students are learning during their Judaic sessions and give students a hands-on opportunity to put their learning into practice. It is so much more meaningful when members of the community of all ages join together to share these moments and show that learning and mitzvah happen throughout our lives. Mark down the dates:
9/18 (SUNDAY)- Apple Picking, 10/16 (SUNDAY) - Habitat Playhouse Build, all other dates are Saturdays: 11/19, 12/17, 1/28, 2/4, 3/4, 4/22, 5/20.

We are always looking to grow so if you know any families with children or grandchildren, tell them about BJC! If you or they have any questions about the program, please contact Geryl Baer or one of the Education committee co-chairs, Shoshanah Drake and Amy Rubinstein. Hope to see you soon!
Habitat For Humanity Playhouse Build

In the season of the Days of Awe we focus on Teshuvah (Repentance), Tefilah (Prayer) and Tzedakah (Charity). At Bethesda Jewish Congregation we will also focus on these three values. The first few weeks of religious school our teachers will be presenting Teshuvah in their lessons. Rabbi Eric Abbott will introduce Tefilah at the beginning of each Saturday with a learning-oriented family service and at High Holy Day services. The Habitat for Humanity Playhouse Build provides two different methods for our families to engage in Tzedakah: monetarily and through acts of service.

In the weeks leading up to the build (starting now!) we are asking families who are able to make donations and/or set up a fundraising page through this website. This, in conjunction with funds secured by the BJC board, will help us raise the funds that we need in order to participate in the build. On Sunday, October 16, we will gather together to construct our playhouse. This will provide an opportunity for families to experience first hand how important acts of social justice are for our community. Thank you for your support!
Show your Face!

We are asking everyone to upload their photos on the synagogue directory on our website. This will help congregants, and our new Rabbi, learn everyone’s names better.  

Uploading your photos is easy. Here’s how to do it from your computer:

  1. Go to our website,
  2. On the top Right of the screen, please log in. If you do not know your log in information, please email Geryl, to reset your log in.
  3. Once logged in, there will be a new tab, slightly lower, on the right hand side labled “My Account.” There you will find a drop down menu where you can click on “Directory.”
  4. Here is a list of all of our congregants. Below the alphabet, there is a button that reads “Edit My Account Info”. Click on that.
  5. Scroll down just a little till you see “Change Directory Listing” and the second item there is “Picture”. To the right you will see a button that says “Upload a File”. Click on that.
  6. Find the photo that you want to use on your computer and insert.  
  7. Before closing the website, scroll down to the bottom right side of the page and make sure that you click “Save Changes”

It is that easy! If you need additional help, please contact Geryl, or Amy, 

Click for the complete BJC September Calendar

BJC continues our Friday night worship at 7:30 PM. Saturday morning services at 10:30 AM will resume on September 10th after Labor Day. Consult BJC Now for the latest information about in-person activities and for links to services if you prefer to worship virtually.
Book Club
Wednesday, September 28, 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: 

September 28- Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson is a biography that details the full sweep of Franklin’s amazing life, showing how he helped to forge the American national identity and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century. 

Evelyn Ganzglass 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. 
By: Diane Blumenthal and Liz Sloss

BJC members attended informal “parlor meetings” with Rabbi Abbott on August 14 and 23 to get to know him and other members better. At the meetings, the participants introduced themselves and enjoyed lively exchanges with the Rabbi and each other about their background and how and when they became members at BJC. At the Rabbi’s invitation, they asked him questions about a broad range of topics and his thoughtful answers generated more interesting discussion. 

There is still room for you to sign up for the next parlor meeting with Rabbi Abbott. It is scheduled for Thursday, September 8 at 8:00 PM at the home of Robin and Stuart Sorkin in Bethesda. You can sign up using the link in the parlor meeting article in BJC Now. We are planning to schedule additional parlor meetings in congregants’ homes for dates in October and November after a hiatus for the High Holy Days. Stay tuned!
Did you miss the High Holy Days Informational email? Read it here to see the schedule, get ticket information, and more.
YIZKOR BOOK 2022/5783

The High Holy Days are a time of memory and reflection. The Torah readings on these days mention the importance of tzedakah, giving to those in need. It is a Yom Kippur tradition to donate tzedakah in the memory of close family members and friends. .

The BJC Yizkor Memorial booklet contains the names of our community’s loved ones who have passed away. We hope you will include the names of your loved ones with a personalized memorial tribute.

The Yizkor Book is an enduring piece of our congregational history - and your family's history too.
To see previous issues of the BJC Book of Remembrance, click here. 

Click here for 2022 Yizkor Book information, including page space and submission form. Deadline for submissions is Sept 9th.
High Holy Days are around the corner. If you would like to purchase your own Luluv and Etrog set for the holiday of Sukkot, you can order them here: Lulav and Etrog
Bethesda Jewish Congregation will earn 10% of all purchases. 
By: Marty Ganzglass

On Sunday, July 31st, Uyghurs, other Moslems, and Jews from Adas Israel and BJC demonstrated in front of the Chinese Embassy. They were protesting the continuing Chinese genoicide against the Uyghur people of Xinjiang Province. Among the speakers were two survivors of Chinese concentration camps as well as representatives of the Campaign for the Uyghurs. Please visit the BJC social action web page to learn more about the plight of the Uyghurs and how to help.

Our monthly mahjongg sessions continued on August 18th in the lounge, with lots of fun and some new faces! Don't know how to play? Join us and we'll teach you! Beginners are always welcome.
Congratulations to our raffle prize winners! More fun prizes are coming in September.

What a great time we had on August 26th at "Back to Shul"! Dalia's Falafel and Fred's Ice Cream knocked it out of the park, as usual. There were some amazing young dancers having fun with the musical stylings of Seniorita Sunshine! The young ones- and the young at heart- took advantage of the face painter and came away with some A big thank you to BJC member Andrea Hancock, Ms. Sunshine herself, for putting on such a fun show.

We were thrilled to see everyone come together after the summer. "Back to Shul" ended with a lovely outdoor Shabbat Under the Stars with Rabbi Abbott.
The Bethesda Jewish Congregation Youth Education Program is now open for registration! We can't wait to welcome your family to the 2022-2023 school year.

BJC provides a warm, lively, and creative environment in which students develop a solid understanding of Judaism and a positive Jewish identity. Students also acquire the skills and ethics necessary to become responsible and motivated members of the Jewish community.

BJC welcomes students who have not yet enjoyed an organized religious school model as they begin to reach traditional B’nai Mitzvah age.
Take advantage of our flexible programming including one-on-one Hebrew instruction for grades 4-7.

Make This the Year You Learn Hebrew!
By: Diane Blumenthal

On August 6, students in BJC’s adult Hebrew class met for lunch at Not Your Average Joe’s in Bethesda to honor their beloved (morah) teacher, Maran Gluckstein. This luncheon has become an end-of-school-year tradition (a little late this year), giving BJC’s adult Hebrew learners the opportunity to celebrate their outstanding and infinitely patient teacher. This year, we presented Maran with an engraved silver picture frame as an expression of our gratitude and love. Maran has the amazing ability to engage enthusiastically with students at all levels of Hebrew proficiency. Not only does she share her knowledge of Hebrew, but also her deep understanding of historical Judaism and Jewish traditions.
Maran always says that the greatest gift you can give a teacher is the desire to learn. In turn, her adult students say that Maran is the greatest gift a Hebrew learner could wish for.

Please 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 semester for non-members. 

Please contact the BJC office with any questions. We're happy to help!
By: Gary Sampliner
BJC, along with Bradley Hills Church and the MIIC mosque, have started a campaign to actively support the heroic efforts of the DC area faith community and other groups trying to accommodate the thousands of migrants who continue to be bused and dumped in Washington, DC by the governors of Texas and Arizona.  
Led by our Inter-Congregational Partnership Committee, we plan to assist these migrants by raising desperately needed money for the organizations leading the response (we have over $10,000 pledged already and hope to raise at least $20,000), donating clothing and necessities, and engaging in service activities such as assembling hygiene kits, sorting donations, making meals, donating or reconditioning donated cellphones, interviewing and assisting arriving migrants, or doing supportive research work from home. Please see this linked article for all the details for you you can make congtributions, and sign up on this Sign Up Genius form to help in any way you can with our service activities.  If you have any questions, please contact ICPC co-chair Marty Ganzglass at or Gary Sampliner at  
By: Marty Ganzglass (BJC ) and Judy Ozone (BHPC)

Dear Friends- The Inter-Congregational Partnership Committee, known as the ICPC, brings together members of BJC, BHPC, and the Maqaame Ibrahim Islamic Center, to promote activities among the three Abrahamic faiths. The yearly Interfaith Thanksgiving service is just one example.

More immediately, we want to highlight the 2022 Unity Walk on Sunday, September 11th between 1:30 and 6:00 pm, sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington. Bradley Hills and BJC congregants have participated in this annual family friendly event (All Faiths One Family) for years. The walk is a celebration of love and friendship of all people of different faiths, bringing a message of togetherness and respect for each other on the anniversary of the terrorist attack of 9/11. 

Starting at Washington Hebrew Congregation on Macomb St. N.W. and ending at the Islamic Center of Washington, the walk down Massachusetts Avenue includes 11 churches, temples and places of worship where you can learn about the different faiths and sample different foods and desserts.

You can register on the day of the event or pre-register and learn more about the Unity Walk and the program at

We look forward to seeing many of you on September 11th. Click here for the full Unity Walk flyer.
By: Laurie Mabile

BJC continues its Tikkun Olam work by helping to uplift an impoverished Jewish community through an agricultural initiative. Program participants, who are from the Abayudaya congregation in Nasenyi B Uganda, learn to grow green peppers with the goal of being self-sustaining after three growing seasons. Fourteen members of the congregation in Nasenyi B completed the project in June and are now independent growers, benefiting their families and community. An additional 15 congregants began the program this season

Despite the devastating flooding that occurred in Nasenyi last month, the participants are keeping the planting on schedule. Fortunately, the land used for the project is at a higher elevation. With BJC monetary support, the participants have purchased seeds and are already growing seedlings. Later in the season, the seedlings will be transplanted to the fields.

This project continues because of the generosity of BJC members. Please donate to ensure that BJC can meet its goal to support the next two growing seasons in Nasenyi B. Donations to the project can be made by check to BJC (with a notation on the check earmarking it for the Uganda Agro Initiative) or on our website by going to BJC Giving here. Select Uganda Farm Project in the Type dropdown box. 

Please contact BJC member Laurie Mabile for additional information on ways to help out.
By: Helen Dalton
BJC’s Social Action Committee continues its activity in support of the Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park campaign.

Currently, there are 154 nonprofits that support creating the National Park. BJC is proud to be among supporters including the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Washington Hebrew Congregation, Sixth and I congregation, National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Urban League.

BJC members can see one of the Rosenwald Schools for themselves. The Campaign and the National Parks Conservation Association are cosponsoring a tour of the San Domingo Rosenwald School (pictured above) on Friday, September 30. Dorothy Canter, President of the Campaign, will lead the tour and Stephanie Deutsch, the author of “You Need A Schoolhouse: Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald And the Building of Schools for the Segregated South,” will participate in the program. The tour and program will start at 1:00 pm at the San Domingo Rosenwald School in Wicomico County (south of Cambridge, MD).

BJC’s Program Committee is interested in putting together a group to join this tour, so please contact Amy Kertesz directly if you would like to participate. The BJC group will have to provide its own transportation so carpooling will be arranged. If you would like to go on your own, you may contact Dorothy Canter directly at
Karen Levy and Michaela
Cindy Bogorad
Barry Dwork

Hal and Cheryl Bordy
Christel Gopin
Sean White and Alyson Scherer-White
Virginia and Albert Cover
Brian and Marissa Gould

Editor’s Note: Share the joys in your life! Send to:

Mazel Tov to:

  • Byron and Vickie Bailer on the wedding of their son, Ben Bailer
  • Joan Kaufman and Louis Hecht on their 25th wedding anniversary
  • Lauren and Samuel Kline on their 19th wedding anniversary
  • Barry Dwork on his Letter to the Editor published in Washington Jewish Week
  • Ruth Salinger on her Letter to the Editor published in The Washington Post
  • Gary Ratner on his Letter of the Editor published in The Washington Post

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.


Yahrzeits: September 2022
Israel Altschuler, father of Bernie Altschuler
Jack Barsky, brother of Lisa Strauss
Leonard Bogorad, husband of Cindy Bogorad
Barbara Cahan, grandmother of Sandra Walter
Nancy Cheng Yang, mother of Catherine Yang
Grace Rein Cohen, mother of Susan Kraut
Skip Evey, brother of Bunny Roufa
Toba Farb, mother of Warren Farb
Isadore Franford, father of Norma Stern
Frank Gold, father of Judith Scott
Allene Gordesky, mother of Joan Kaufman
Anne Pelter, mother of Lance Pelter and grandmother of Jeremy Pelter
Hannah Pelter, grandmother of Lance Pelter
Jack Silberman, father of Paul Silberman
Lillian Silbert, mother of Earl Silbert
Fanny Stern, mother of Ed Stern


Lorrie Van Akkeren 
In Honor of Shirley Altschuler’s Birthday from Lorrie Van Akkeren


Jim Korelitz and Liz Sloss
Edward and Norma Stern
Karen Levi
Wynne and Bruce Busman


Wynne and Bruce Busman
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