Thursday, March 28, 2024

This week:

  • Monday, April 1 at noon—The Israel Working Group presents Rabbi Yoav Ende of Kibbutz Hannaton on helping farmers. Only on Zoom. Click here to join.

  • April 1-5—Vermont Holocaust Education Week.

  • Wednesday, April 3 at 4:00—Women's Book Group, reading Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. On Zoom only. Please email Phyllis Forbes for the link.

Save the date:

  • Friday, April 5 at 7:00—Rabbi Ilene Haigh conducts live services in the Sanctuary and on Zoom. Click here to join.

  • Saturday, April 6
  • 9:30—Tot Shabbat, for ages 0-7.
  • 10:30—Learners' Service. All welcome.
  • Noon—Students, mentors, and parents bring lunch and learn with Rabbi Haigh and Art Skerker.

  • Sunday, April 7
  • No Hebrew School.
  • 11:00—Rabbi Haigh holds an in-person Israel/Gaza Parents Roundtable. Rabbi will hold a discussion at the Temple with parents about the implications of the current violence. Then, all will watch....
  • Noon—The Israel Working Group presents speakers from the Wahat al-Salaam/Neve Shalom Oasis of Peace, a cooperative village of Jews and Arabs living together in Israel, who will speak about the current situation. On Zoom only. Click here to join.

  • New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival, films at The Nugget in Hanover. Click here to purchase tickets and for more information.
  • Sunday, April 7 at 10 am"The Way to Happiness" 
  • Wednesday, April 10, at 7 p.m.—"Children of Nobody"

  • Wednesday, April 10, via Zoom, 6:30 to 8:00—Dr. Michael Skerker, U.S. Naval Academy Ethics professor, speaks on the Ethics of a Just War. Click here to join.

  • Monday, April 22 at 6:00—Passover Congregational First Seder. Led by Rabbi Ilene Haigh & Rabbinic Intern Ezra Leventhal live in the Sanctuary and on Zoom. Click here to join.

  • Thursday, April 25 at 10:00—Torah Studies resume with Rabbi Haigh on Zoom only. Click here to join.

  • Saturday, July 20—Summer Fundraiser at VINS Open Air Pavilion.

To see more of Shir Shalom's calendar, click here.

Live Services on Friday, April 5

at 7:00

with Rabbi Ilene Haigh

in the Sanctuary

and on Zoom

including a blessing for

the marriage of Ali Dagger

to Kory Riemensperger

Click here to join .

Please join us

for the First Seder

Monday, April 22

6 pm

מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה

Mah nishtanah? Why is this night different

from all other nights?

This year the questions might be different, and each of us might respond in our own way. Wherever you are, this year we all need the joy of Pesach more than ever. Our hearts may be in deep tangles of uncertainty and pain, but this year more than ever we need to be together. Join us, bring your friends, celebrate the joy and wonder of a time of redemption, and of hope.

Chag Pesach sameach

Rabbi Ilene Haigh

and Michael Brown, President

Please bring a dish to share with 10 people.

We will provide the matzah ball soup.

We need volunteers to help us to set up and to help us

to transform our sanctuary after the festivities.

Please join us. Our Passover celebration is open to all. Gather your family and friends and come celebrate with us!

Please email Roni Skerker or Dan Gottlieb

if you will able to help.

No reservations necessary.

In the Sanctuary and on Zoom.

Click here to join.

Zoom Information:

Meeting ID: 219 902 8045

Passcode: Dg8WLC

Dear Friends,

Here we are at Passover, deeply grateful to the community for the gift of sabbatical time and spiritual renewal. Nick and I were making the transition from our final travel destinations in Europe and Southern Africa to early spring in Vermont, when 25 inches of snow suddenly dropped on Woodstock. 


With most everyone in New England, we were surprised and quite delighted by the unexpected gift of powder, thanks in part to an efficient snowplow system and mercifully uninterrupted power. Reflecting on our time away, we’d been deeply frightened by what we’d seen and learned: wildfires dotting the Okavango Delta and the profound reduction in water flows that feed the delta, and the stark reality that Capetown had run out of water just a few summers ago.


The impact on human and wild lives that droughts and swings in climate are wreaking is increasingly disconcerting. The hundred-year floods that submerged much of Woodstock twice in just twelve years cannot be ignored. The United Nations reported in November that nearly 114 million people have been displaced on the planet, and that 60 percent of those people are from areas most affected by climate change.


As we celebrate Passover this year, we are reminded of what it means to be a refugee. What it means to “go to the land that I will show you” in a time of famine, to be forced to leave in a time of oppression. Even as we as Jews struggle with strains of war and rising antisemitism, we are still called upon to protect our planet, and by extension, to work toward environmental justice.


Pikuach nefesh, the obligation to save a life, is a central imperative of Judaism. What this means in terms of our obligation around Israel and the protection of the planet must never be understated.


At Rosh Hashanah this year, I spoke from the bima of our obligation as Jews and as concerned citizens of the planet to protect the earth, to be part of the solution. As one climate theologian, Rabbi Nate DeGroot, wrote, we stand now at the cusp of our new potential “as both hospice caretakers of the old world and its structures and midwives of the new.”1


The project that is being proposed to put heat pumps in our sanctuary and solar panels on the roofs of our buildings is not only a smart investment decision from a financial perspective, but it addresses the imperative that we have been given to be co-creators with the divine in protecting our planet. To literally enhance the lives of the widow, the orphan, and the stranger.


Why is this night different from all other nights? Because on this night, we will act. With the power of our community, we will work together to reduce the plagues of hurricanes, droughts, and migration from starvation. We will reduce costs both economically and in terms of the impact we are having on the environment.


As Elliot Goodman, our Vice President and project champion with Dan Gottlieb, said at the end of his Board presentation, quoting Pirkei Avot, “If we are not for ourselves, who are we? If we are not for ourselves, who will be for us? And if not now, when?”


We urge you when you attend our community Seder on Monday, April 22nd, to bring a main dish for ten, and to bring your voice in supporting the Board’s proposal to bring solar panels and heat pumps to our synagogue. This project in addition to what seems like a financially sound investment is for certain a proactive act in support of our future and the future of our children.

Rabbi Ilene Harkavy Haigh


Kahn, Andrue J. The Sacred Earth: Jewish Perspectives on Our Planet (p.131). CCAR Press. Kindle Edition.

Dear Fellow Congregants,

As Rabbi Haigh recalls in her letter above, she challenged us during the High Holydays to help fight climate change by finding ways to reduce our carbon foot print. Since then, a group of congregants, led by Dan Gottlieb, has developed a plan to install solar panels on the roof of our sanctuary, and to install heat pumps to provide both heat and air conditioning in the sanctuary. 

Dan’s team, along with the Executive Committee, researched equipment and installation costs, energy bill savings, and financial incentive programs. After soliciting bids, we are in discussion with two Vermont contractors who have good reputations and are well known in the area.

Shir Shalom spends about $10,000 a year on electricity and propane and pours lots of carbon dioxide into the environment. New solar and heat pump systems will immediately reduce our fossil fuel expenses by 75% and will eliminate 90% of our harmful emissions.

The cost of installing solar panels will be about $73,000 after the current federal rebate program reduces that amount by 30%. We have money in our Building Fund and there are grants and low-cost loan programs available for this type of carbon-reduction effort. However, it is still likely that we will have to ask for congregant participation through a dedicated fund-raising campaign.

At its March meeting, our Board approved the project concept and scheduled a final approval vote for its April 18 meeting. Elliot Goodman has prepared a detailed overview of the project that will answer many of your questions. It also shows that, with the cost savings realized, the breakeven point of our investment is about ten years. To access his report, click here.

Our By Laws require that a project of this size be approved by both the Board and the Congregation. Assuming the Board approves the project on April 18, we will have a short Congregational meeting at the Community Seder on April 22. A notice of that meeting is included in my Passover letter that you will receive soon.

Dan, Elliot, and I will continue to keep everyone up-to-date, and invite you to contact us with your questions and comments: Mike Brown, Elliot Goodman, or Dan Gottlieb

We hope you will support this exciting and meaningful project.

Michael Brown

The Israel Working Group presents

Rabbi Yoav Ende of Kibbutz Hannaton

on helping farmers

On April 1 at noon, we will meet on Zoom with Rabbi Yoav Ende. He is the spiritual leader of Kibbutz Hannaton in Northern Israel, which received donations a few months ago from Shir Shalom's Israel Fund. He is also founder and CEO of the kibbutz's renowned pluralistic Educational Center.

Since the beginning of the War, the kibbutz has provided shelter, food and medical assistance to the residents of kibbutzim attacked by the terrorists on October 7. 

In our Zoom meeting, Rabbi Ende will describe what the kibbutz residents and graduates of its Educational Center have done to assist local farmers in maintaining crops. 

Click here to join

Zoom Information:

Meeting ID: 725 948 2096

Password: 856328

Adult Education:

Dr. Michael Skerker

on the "Ethics of a Just War"

The Adult Education Committee presents Dr. Michael Skerker,

U.S. Naval Academy

Professor of Ethics,

and son of our own

Roni and Art Skerker,

on the "Ethics of a Just War."

Ukraine and Gaza may seem like moral vacuums, places where it is now impossible to talk about right and wrong. Yet there is an ancient tradition of moral reflection about the justice of war that provides tools to think carefully about the justice of going to war and the methods for fighting justly within a war.
In this second of two lectures, Dr. Skerker will discuss the framework for assessing the justice of going to war and “just war fighting,” using the Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas war as reference points.
Please join us on Zoom on

Wednesday, April 10

6:30 to 8:00 pm

Click here to join on Zoom

The talk will be recorded and a link sent out,

which will be available for a week.

Zoom Information:

Meeting ID: 219 902 8045

Passcode: Dg8WLC

Virtual Minyan

Wednesday, April 3

8:30 am

on Zoom only

Click here to join

Torah Studies

with Rabbi Ilene Haigh


Thursday, April 25


on Zoom only

Click here to join

Hebrew Review

Thursday, April 4


Click here to join

Book Group

April 3 at 4:00 on Zoom

Demon Copperhead

by Barbara Kingsolver

Winner of the 2023

Pulitzer Prize for Literature

A modern-day David Copperfield set in southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenage mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father's good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival.

Please email Phyllis Forbes for the Zoom link

The Israel Working Group presents

Speakers from a village

of Israelis & Palestinians

on today's realities

On Sunday, April 7 at noon,

Dr. Ariela Bairey Ben Ishay and Samah Salaime of Neve Shalom/ Wahat-al Salaam (“Oasis of Peace” in Hebrew and Arabic), a cooper-ative village of Jews and Arabs living together in Israel, will speak on Zoom about the current situa-tion and their perspective on the potential for peace in Israel. Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom is a vil­lage of Palestinians and Jewish citizens of Israel ded­icated to building justice, peace and equality in both the country and the region. The village was established in 1970 and is situated equidistant from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Jaffa. As a community, it is a model of equality, mu­tual respect and partnership that challenges existing patterns of racism and discrimination as well as the continued conflict.

Click here to join

Zoom Information:

Meeting ID: 725 948 2096

Password: 856328

APRIL 1-5, 2024

Click Below for Daily Lesson Plans and

to Register for Presentation links

Vermont Holocaust Education Week 2024

Save the Date

Here Comes the Sun!

Shir Shalom’s

Summer Fundraiser


Saturday, July 20 at VINS, at 5:00 pm

Come join your friends

for a festive dinner, live auction, and lots of fun!

Thank you very much for your generosity. Your donation makes it possible for us to continue to bring Judaism to the Upper Valley.

As we have no dues or fees, gifts like yours are essential. You may give by credit card, PayPal, or check mailed to:


PO Box 526

Woodstock, VT 05091

Thank you again. 

The Nugget in Hanover will show two films from the New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival"The Way to Happiness" will be shown on Sunday morning, April 7, at 10 a.m. and "Children of Nobody", Wednesday evening, April 10, at 7 p.m. Advance purchase of tickets is recommended.

Kol Ha'Emek, the Upper Valley Jewish Community, is a sponsor of this year's Film Festival.

Click here to purchase tickets and for more information.

Zoom Information

Sanctuary Room - this will be used for larger group events

such as the 1st and 3rd Friday Night Shabbat Services, B'nei Mitzvahs,

and other live events

Meeting ID: 219 902 8045

Passcode: Dg8WLC

Meeting - this will be used for Rabbi's teaching, including Torah Study, Hebrew I and II, Adult Education, Wednesday and Saturday Minyans, Social Groups, etc.

Meeting ID: 725 948 2096

Password: 856328


Check the calendar at for Zoom numbers to use for each event or meeting. 

Contact Information:

(802) 457-4840

 Rabbi Ilene Haigh

Michael Brown, President

Ann Brandon, Temple Administrator

Mailing Address:

PO Box 526, Woodstock, VT 05091




Woodstock Area Jewish Community, Congregation Shir Shalom