The Voice of the

Pelham Jewish Center

June 2024/ Iyar-Sivan, 5784


Learning Center

In This Issue

Leadership Messages

Rabbi Benjamin Resnick

Education Director

Ana Turkienicz

PJC President

Lisa Neubardt

HaKol Editor

Barbara Saunders-Adams

Congregant News

& Donations

Our B'nei Mitzvot 5784

Book Notes

Barbara Saunders-Adams

Food For Thought

Congregant's Corner

"The Protest"

A short story

Share a Simcha

Tributes & Donations

Rabbi Benjamin Resnick

Dear Friends,

The Mishnah famously enumerates four New Years: The 1st of Nisan, which is the new year for calculating the reign of kings; the 1st of Elul, which marks the new tax year with respect to the animal tithe; the 15th of Shevat (Tu Bishvat), which is the new year of the fruit trees; and, of course, the 1st of Tishrei, which is the Rosh HaShanah

And by my lights, as American Jews, we have at least four more: We mark January 1; we mark April 15; we mark the beginning of the academic year toward the end of August or the beginning of September; and, in just a few days or weeks, we mark the end of school. It’s a lot of counting off.

Of course, not all of these days are “New Years” per se–the year doesn’t actually roll over on the 15th of shevat (except in a very narrow way) and the end of the school year is not a new year at all. But they are all turning points, guideposts that give form and structure to the days and years as they rush on ahead. And the rabbis of the Mishnah believed that we need a lot of them. Or, as the Psalmist wrote, לִמְנ֣וֹת יָ֭מֵינוּ כֵּ֣ן הוֹדַ֑ע וְ֝נָבִ֗א לְבַ֣ב חׇכְמָֽה–Teach us to number our days, that we may acquire a heart that is wise” (Psalm 90:12).

School is almost out and summer will be here soon. As a parent of young children, my schedule is still tied very directly to the academic calendar. But even during the relatively brief season of my life when I was neither a student nor a parent, the summer always ushered in a noticeable change–a shift of focus, increased wanderlust, transformation. And part of Mishnah’s enduring wisdom, I believe, is that it gives us many opportunities to reset and, if we wish, chart a different course. At least four times, the rabbis taught, we can reckon the year anew. 

It is true that there is nothing particularly Jewish about summer vacation. It’s also true that 5784, one of the most challenging Jewish years in recent memory, will not come to a close in the coming days. But for many of us, the arrival of summer will open out onto new vistas promising new paths and new rhythms and new tunes. I hope you will notice them and invite them into your lives and follow them wherever they might lead. 

And before we know it the tunes will change again and, as ever, they will call us back–God willing, stronger and joyful and more grateful–from wherever we have been. 

I wish all of you a joyful and restorative summer–

Rabbi Benjamin Resnick 


Education Director

Ana Turkienicz

הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, אִם אֵין אֲנִי לִי, מִי לִי. וּכְשֶׁאֲנִי לְעַצְמִי, מָה אֲנִי. וְאִם לֹא עַכְשָׁיו, אֵימָתָי

He [also] used to say: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, when?

Rambam (Maimonides)

on Pirkei Avot 1:14:

He said, "If I myself will not be the one that arouses my soul to virtue, who will arouse me, as I have no one to stimulate me from outside," like we have elucidated in the second chapter (2:8). "And since it is in my power to incline my soul to any side that I want, what deed have I done from the good deeds?" It is as if he is [questioning] himself and saying, "What am I?" [This is] to say, "What is [becoming of] me? I am not complete, even if I did this matter."

The Ethics of our Fathers, Pirkei Avot, questions the value of a life lived only for oneself. At the Learning Center, we continually challenge this thought by offering our students and their families plenty of opportunities to impact our community through meaningful actions of loving kindness.

As the academic year ends and summer vacation approaches, I am grateful for having the opportunity to make yet another small contribution as well. In the third week of June, I will be partaking in the Jewish Education Project’s Solidarity (Areyvut) Mission (Mishlachat) to Israel. The Mission brings educators from around the US to bear witness to the atrocities of October 7, and it is funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation as well as the generous support from the PJC as well.

I am filled with trepidation and anxiety as this mission is about to start, thinking how my already broken heart will deal with the pain, the grief and the loss from the stories we will listen to. 

I pray to have the wisdom and courage to be present and to be the steward of the stories that I will be bearing witness to. Our group will be called the “mishlachat”, an expedition bringing support and solidarity to those who went through the unimaginable and are still suffering the consequences of October 7 until this very day. The impact of the violent attack and the events that followed are still very present in Israeli society, and they need all our support in any way we can get them. I hope I can bring our community’s support and care as I embrace those who we will be meeting in our journey.

The word “mishlachat” is not new to us; at the PJC, we also enjoy receiving a “mishlachat” every year - The Shinshinim mishlachat to Westchester. The word Shinshin is an acronym out of the Hebrew initials (shin, shin) of two words: Shnat Sherut, or year of service. The Shinshinim are young Israelis that choose to volunteer one year abroad between their last year of High School and their Army service.

In the first week of June, the Westchester Jewish Council came together to celebrate the end of the academic year for our Shinshinim, our Israeli emissaries. Educators, school administrators and hosting families gathered together to share thoughts and wish our Shinshinim our best wishes as they finished their year of service in our communities. Our 8 Westchester Shinshinim will now be moving onto the next chapter in their yearlong journey as Israel ambassadors with our children: spending the summer at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, where they will be called “the mishlachat”, the envoys.

These Israeli youngsters, the best of Israel’s youth, left their homes last August for what they hoped to be an incredible lifetime experience before joining the Israeli army. They left parents, siblings and friends at home in Israel and embarked into their dream experience, after more than a year of tough preparations and a hard selection process. 

Less than two months after their arrival, October 7th happened, and Israel as they knew it was forever changed. The beautiful lesson plans they planned for this year of teaching in Westchester went straight out the window, and these young kids, worried about their family members, friends and classmates serving in the IDF, needed to rethink their plans and prepare new ones to address the current situation.

Luckily, they were hosted by amazingly gracious and supportive host families who did their best to support these kids during this challenging time.

During the end-of-the-year celebration, the hosting families had the opportunity to share how blessed they felt for having the opportunity to host these young Israelis. They highlighted how their Shinshinim contributed to their home and how connected they became. The Shinshinim, from their end, shared their gratitude and appreciation for all the love and support they received from the families.

Our Shinshin, Evyatar Shiri, worked incessantly to bring both the beauty of Israel and connect our children to what children in Israel were going through. Our students, too, experienced the meaning of the word “solidarity” - Areyvut - with Israel.

I closely followed the lessons Evyatar taught our kids and it was truly special to witness the children’s excitement to connect every week anew with the stories and cool things he would share with them in an experiential and engaging way.

At the end of our school year, our students filled out a feedback form where they were asked to share their thoughts about the various activities and programs they experienced at the Learning Center- and some of them asked if we could have a Shinshin come twice a week - instead of once a week! Students also shared their curiosity to learn more about Israel and how much they appreciate what they learned from Evyatar about Israel.

Throughout the year, I witnessed how our young Shinshin, just shy of 18 years old, was able to overcome his own personal fears and anxieties over what was taking place in Israel and instead turn it into powerful learning experiences, as well as solidarity with our brothers and sisters; as we say in Hebrew, “Kol Israel Areyvim Zeh lazeh” -all the people of Israel are responsible for each other (the word “Areyvim” comes from the word “Areyvut”, solidarity).

As I reflect on this year’s experience, I think we had a missed opportunity - I truly wish that at least one of our PJC families would have been able to enjoy the amazing and unique opportunity of hosting a Shinshin for four months at their home. In the past, Tracie and Jason Cohen have twice hosted Shinshinim at their home- their first experience was so fabulous that they decided to do it once again! Their family keeps in touch with their Shinshinim until today: the Shinshin becomes an older sibling (or a younger one, if your kids left the home already), and from the reports from other families who did it, you receive so much love and affection that you won’t want them to leave at the end of your hosting period! If you would like to host a Shinshin for the coming academic year, please contact me, and I will be happy to help you have the most amazing experience , as well as doing a truly important mitzvah to support this important exchange program. What a great way to follow the teachings of our sages, “Kol Israel Areyvim zeh lazeh”.

Wishing each and everyone a wonderful and meaningful summer- can’t wait to hear all about our children’s adventures during vacation!

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or concerns about our program. I will be back to the office in August, planning another fabulous year for our students and families at the Learning Center. 

Lehitraot (see you soon),

Am Israel Chai,



Lisa Neubardt

“I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."

— Stephen Hawking

There was an article in the NY Times recently called “Walnut and Me.” It was about what animals can teach us about mortality. The story is precious and is presented with sweet illustrations and in a fluid, interactive scroll type of format.  The author very gently takes us thru the void presented by loss and the way he adapted and eventually came to terms with the new reality he was forced to create.

This was about losing a pet, yet the principles apply to all sorts of losses and endings. Being human, we are wired to dread change, especially permanent change, and the unknown. We also dread the loss of control that comes with these things. The author so honestly describes his reckoning with both.

The story resonated with me for a variety of reasons. I have lost pets, I have lost family members, I lost a marriage, I have lost jobs; I have a beautiful and full life and this is all part of it.  I have had to reconfigure, rejigger and recreate a new world view. I don’t get to make all the rules and I don’t like it.

We are coming to the end of our PJC fiscal year. On Tuesday, June 18, at our annual meeting, we will put the 2023-24 year to bed and face the unknowns of what is in store for 2024–25. I wish for it to be peaceful. I wish for it to be calm. I wish for a new PJC year full of growth, meaning, minyanim every Friday night, standing room only Shabbat, programs that speak to all congregants and record-breaking fundraising results. At the end of the day, though, who really knows? So like all of us, I will head into it with good thoughts, excited to work with the new Board, proud of who we are and trying to remember the importance of resilience.

As for Walnut and Me, I have read and reread and reread this story many times. The link is attached here. I have forwarded it to many friends, everyone thanks me for the good cry. Grab a tissue and take a look. 




HaKol Editor
Barbara Saunders-Adams

Dear Friends,

This is the final issue of HaKol for 5784. I hope you enjoyed reading our monthly PJC magazine. As always, I am open to any suggestions for future articles, including short fiction by congregants. Thank you to all who submitted articles or provided material for the HaKol.

I enjoyed seeing many of you at the PJC Gala honoring Roger Krulak. Wishing you and yours a pleasant and fulfilling summer. The next issue of HaKol will be released in September.


Meet Our B'nei Mitzvot 5784

The Pelham Jewish Center is proud of its seven B'nei Mitzvot in the Hebrew year 5784:

Sofi Schneider daughter of Steven & Heather Schneider; Naomi Schwartz, daughter of Tim Schwartz and Irina Dynov; Reese Cohen, daughter of Jason and Tracie Cohen;

Zachary Glick, son of Jason and Roselle Glick; Dov Eliezer, son of David Eliezer and Heather Glickman; Rosalia Eliezer, daughter of David Eliezer and Heather Glickman and Callie Novick daughter of Rebecca Antar.

Sofi Schneider

Bat Mitzvah Date - 02/03/24

Torah & Haftarah portion - Yitro Maftir: Shemot 20:20-22 Haftarah: Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6 

Bat Mitzvah project - PJC Breakfast Run

Favorite Jewish holiday - Hanukkah

Favorite school subject - English

Naomi Schwartz

Bat Mitzvah Date - 02/17/24

Torah & Haftarah portion - Terumah Maftir: Shemot 26:26-30

Bat Mitzvah project - Helping the Homeless

Favorite Jewish holiday - Hanukkah

Favorite school subject - Spanish

Reese Cohen

Bat Mitzvah Date - 06/22/24

Torah & Haftarah portion - Beha'alotekha Maftir: Bemidbar 10:32-34 Haftarah Zechariah 2:14-4-7

Bat Mitzvah project - Collected donations for New York City Asylum seekers

Favorite Jewish holiday - Hanukkah

Favorite school subject - English

Zachary Glick

Bar Mitzvah Date - 09/14/24

Torah & Haftarah portion - Ki Teitze Maftir: Devarim 24:10-13 Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1-10

Bar Mitzvah project - Helping Animals

Favorite Jewish holiday - Hanukkah

Favorite school subject - Social Studies

Callie Novick

Bat Mitzvah Date - 09/16/24

Torah & Haftarah portion - Nitzavim/Vayelech Maftir Devarim 30:11-14; Isaiah 61:10-63-9

Bat Mitzvah project - Helping low income kids get sports equipment

Favorite Jewish holiday - Hanukkah

Favorite school subject - English

Dov Eliezer

Bar Mitzvah Date - 09/21/24

Torah & Haftarah portion - Ki Tavo 3rd Aliyah: Devarim 27:1-3; Isaiah 60:1-22

Bar Mitzvah project - PJC sustainability report and plan

Favorite Jewish holiday - Hanukkah

Favorite school subject - Science

Rosalia Eliezer

Bat Mitzvah Date - 09/21/24

Torah & Haftarah portion - Ki Tavo Maftir: Devarim 28:4-6 Isaiah 60:1-22

Bat Mitzvah project - PJC sustainability report and plan

Favorite Jewish holiday - Rosh Hashanah

Favorite school subject - Art

Mazal Tov to our B'nei Mitzvah Celebrants & Families!


Book Notes


by Elizabeth Graver

Kantika is Ladino for song. Singing aided the survival of the author's protagonist, based loosely on Rebecca (nee Cohen) Baruch Levy (1902-1991), Elizabeth Graver's maternal grandmother.

Rebecca's family faced expulsion from Istanbul, Turkey and Barcelona, Spain. After a failed marriage, Rebecca briefly stays in Havana, Cuba for an arranged marriage with a widower who has a seven year-old daughter, with cerebral palsy. Rebecca struggles with all these changes and finally thrives in New York.

There is a fine line between fact and fiction in this kaleidoscopic story of a Sephardic Jewish woman's displacement and courage to survive. Chapters in this novel are introduced by photos of the author's family members.

When the Cohens lose their wealth and are forced to move from Istanbul back to Barcelona where their family originated before the Inquisition, it is their daughter Rebecca who fashions a life for herself from whatever comes her way.

Rebecca's toughest struggle comes when she faces her step-daughter, Luna, whose feistiness equals her own and whose disability pits the new family against the old. Elizabeth Graver explores identity, place and exile in this haunting, inspiring meditation on the tenacity of Jewish women. Kantika celebrates the insistence on seizing song and beauty to grab hold of one's one and only life.


Food for Thought

Three Commentaries

by Yehuda Amichai translated by Leon Wieseltier


"And no longer shall your name be Abram"

I am Abram who was once Abraham

and returned the h to his God,

the way a man proudly returns

a medal to the government.


"The guardian of Israel will not slumber or sleep."

I wish to say a few things about

the insomnia of God.

Even the white dead

do not make him drowsy.


"Do not cast us aside in the season of our old age" but

cast us aside in the season of our youth.

Cast us, carry us,

with love always.

Congregant's Corner

The Protest: A short story

It’s 2:00 am. Liora is struggling to find a comfortable position for her legs. The sheets are sweaty. Something is nagging at her, but she doesn't know what it is. The darkness feels eerie, inky black. She shudders in fear.


Liora jolts awake murmuring to herself, “Lies, lies”. Out of her fog she remembers that she broke her promise to herself. She watched the news before going to bed. A big mistake. The segment highlighted the story of antisemitism spreading like wildfire across American college campuses.


That morning, on her way to class, Liora passed a group of kaffiyeh-clad students putting up tents in the leafy-green courtyard of Columbia University. Instinctively, she tucked her Star of David under her shirt. The protesters were hanging black, white and green striped Palestinian flags overlaid by red triangles on the grass and walls of the unsightly tent encampment. They were chanting “From the River to the Sea” “Stop the Genocide in Gaza” and “Death to the Jews”. Strangely, Liora noted that the keffiyehs had fringes on the ends like a Jewish prayer shawl. The group emitted anger like fireflies emit flashes of light. Liora shuddered. The thought crossed Liora’s mind – this could be dangerous.


Liora is troubled by the incessant chants of, “From the River to the Sea”. Thinking about it, she realizes this means eliminating Israel from the world map. Israel is situated between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. “How many protesters know what this means?” Liora asks herself. 


Liora, blonde pony-tail swinging, walked past the protest wearing a jean jacket, tight jeans and a backpack A dark-complexioned, scruffy young man with curly black ringlets wearing a red and white keffiyeh called out to her. She felt uncomfortable, but he did look cute.


 “Hey, you with the sexy legs. Join us to stop the Gaza genocide. From the River to the Sea.”


“I…um… I don’t agree. “Israel is fighting for the right to exist in the Middle East. It’s not genocide, it’s self-defense. Jews have lived in the land of Israel for millennia.” I can’t believe I’m saying this, she thinks to herself.


“Bullshit”, he yells menacingly. Don’t you follow social media? Don’t you see all the death and destruction in Gaza? Women, children and the elderly are starving, dying or being chased from their homes by rockets, tanks and indiscriminate artillery. Israel is the aggressor.”


Liora replies angrily, “What about all the young people slaughtered at the Nova music festival on October 7th. For what? Dancing on the beach? And the families in the kibbutzim on the Gaza border, slaughtered while sleeping in their own homes. Children beheaded while their family watched in horror. Young women raped in the street. This is inhuman behavior, not a protest to free the Palestinian people. Your slogan, “From the River to the Sea” Which River? What Sea? Do you know what you’re talking about?”


“What I know is that the people of Gaza are being killed mercilessly - while their infrastructure for survival – schools, hospitals, food distribution are being destroyed. Children are starving while food aid is blocked by Israeli troops.


The chanting increases in volume as more protesters chime in, “Stop the genocide, from the river to the sea. Israel is a white supremacist state! Death to the Jews”. Liora covers her ears with her hands. Her face turns red. Hot tears are about to spring from her eyes. She feels violated.


Tearfully, she retorts, Hamas terrorists hide in schools, hospitals and tunnels underneath housing complexes. They place their own people in harms way. “I don’t believe that the destruction in Gaza is the fault of the Jewish people; it’s the fault of Hamas and the current unpopular right-wing Netanyahu government, not world Jewry”.


“They are one and the same”, the protesters shout.


“Lies, lies” she screams. My mom gave me a Hebrew name. Am I now an open target for blind hatred? I had nothing to do with the occupation of Palestinians. As a Jew, the idea of enslaving another people is anathema. The occupation goes against my Jewish values. I believe in treating others the way you want to be treated. If there is one take away from the Passover Seder, it is “treat others – the hungry, the displaced, the impoverished, the widows - with compassion – for we were once slaves in Egypt”.


Liora feels powerless as she runs from the scene. She wonders how supposedly intelligent people can be so obtuse; so wrong-headed. She needs to share this experience with somebody, but who would understand? The Gaza War is such a divisive subject. Most people can’t see the grey areas. There is truth on both sides, but little common ground.


Safe in her dorm room, Liora raids the fridge for ice cream and chocolate. She is shaking. Too anxious to start her assignments, she turns on the news. Liora muses, “What does it mean to be Jewish? Why do we elicit such hatred? Why are our values so misunderstood? How can I reconcile what I believe with how others see me? If only I could find a way to communicate that each of us, no matter what race or religion has something unique to offer the world. I need to find like-minded people to share my fears and concerns. I must work to let others know that what is taking place in Israel today contradicts Jewish values.


There must be an advisor or professor I can share this experience with. Maybe I should join Hillel or Chabad on campus, she says to herself. I need a community of Jewish friends.


With that thought in mind, Liora falls asleep.



Share a Simcha

"Share a Simcha" allows congregants to share their news with our PJC community. Please submit news about family members -- engagements, births, job updates, kid achievements, community acknowledgements and any other milestones -- to the HaKol Editor, Barbara Saunders-Adams.

. Mazal Tov to Iris Kasten on becoming a Grandma and to Ruthie Kasten & Jaime Gonzalez, proud parents of David Alexander Kasten Gonzalez born on May 7th, 2024.

. Mazal Tov to our June birthday celebrants: Elanor Schoomer, Adrian Moshe,

Adam Abeshouse, Romina Levy, Alain Sasson, Paula Geller, Meryl Druckerman, Philissa Cramer, John Leonard, Michelle Dvorkin, Roselle Glick, Michael Droller, Sybil Rosenberg, David Garvett, Shelley Klein, Dan Mailick, Naomi Birutti,

Roger Krulak, Ed Geller, Meredith Price  

Share a Simcha is a regular HaKol feature, so keep your news and updates coming!

Tributes & Donations
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A Big Thank You to All!

Thank you to all of you who attended and all who donated funds to the 2024 PJC Gala! A special shout out to Hildy Martin for spearheading the effort and to Roger Krulak for his contributions to our community.

Billing statements are emailed monthly. 

Checks made out to the Pelham Jewish Center can be mailed to Pelham Jewish Center, P.O. Box 418, Montvale, NJ 07645. Credit card payment instructions are on your monthly emailed billing statement, or go to https://thepjc.shulcloud.com/payment.php

If you are interested in paying via appreciated securities or IRA distributions, please email Mitch Cepler.

It is the policy of the Pelham Jewish Center to make every effort to assist members experiencing financial challenges. Financial challenges should never be a barrier to being an active member of the PJC community. You can reach out to President, Lisa Neubardt, Treasurer, Mitchell Cepler or Rabbi Benjamin Resnick to speak confidentially concerning your ability to pay PJC dues and Learning Center tuition.

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