There has been a great deal of discussion regarding how, if and when we will open the doors of Agudas Achim and meet in person. The safety of the members of our congregation is a first priority and will be the basis for that decision. Expect more information in that regard in the coming months.
Our Rabbi’s Message
(Note: Please accept the editor’s apologies for the delay in forwarding this eNewsletter.)
The Fourth of July is approaching. Parades will stream throughout the country. High school bands and veteran groups forge alliances on the march, as servicemen and servicewoman whose military careers are often far in the past, carrying our national flag, along with the colors of their unit, characteristically march before or behind the student musicians. It’s for this reason, that I remember with great fondness that wonderful contingent of Jewish War Veterans that were in the line of march behind our junior high school band on that Independence Day so many years ago.
We were only three Jews in all of the seventh grade classes in our school. The mocking Jewish jokes of the time often surfaced on passing in the halls, or head on at recess. To be Jewish in that town meant to be different. It wasn’t expressed as hatred, yet it was clear that we were outsiders. Even if one were “popular,” you were different, and you were perceived as somewhat less. (Though we never felt less.)
The bands and other units gathered before the parade in the marshaling area. Officials with clipboards came by and organized the order of march. This was a junior high band, so we were not standing at parade rest. We were dawdling to our position as I saw the unit of Jewish War Veterans already formed and ready, their flags and colors held high by their honor guard. I had never seen boots with a glossy shine so high. The men, thinking back, seemed tan and tough. I’m not sure if they were either, but they felt like a contingent of Jewish paratroopers, as they stood there silent, in the sun.
One of the Jewish navy vets in our town belonged to this JWV post from Pittsburgh I later learned. He arranged for them to drive the thirty miles to appear in our Fourth of July celebration. Most were young men in their twenties. Not all. World War II had ended only five years ago. Some would, no doubt, serve again in Korea. I didn’t have the words for it then, but it was clear that these Jewish veterans were part of the fabric of America. Their presence said, “We’re here. We serve.”
From my family, and from our small synagogue, I already felt a pride and a spiritual connection in being a Jew. However, that day, in the line of march, in front of their military presence, and implied service, I felt as a Jewish American in a manner previously not reached. As we played our snare drums, we were instructed to face forward. That day, I kept looking back to glimpse at the Jewish War Veterans. They looked beautiful. As their feet hit the ground in a swoosh, swoosh, they kept their own time. They were in perfect order, heads high.
Ironically, the only other Jewish boy in our class, Yale Levin, was also a drummer who marched next to me in rank. When we played the drum cadence between the band’s two John Phillips Souza marches, I looked over at him and shouted, “Yitzel! Today, we’re a Jewish band!”
Yes, as I studied Jewish American History over the years, I came to understand that even back in the Revolutionary War when we were less than one tenth of one percent of the population, and as our numbers in the United States swelled through the years, we Jews always served in our country’s conflicts in larger numbers than our presence would suggest. I learned the names of Jewish patriots, who were American heroes over the centuries, and read of so many who gave their lives in battle. Yet, I always remember that surge of pride in that particular realization during that Fourth of July parade when I shouted, “Yitzel! Today we’re a Jewish band!”
Rabbi Fred Pomerantz
Our President’s Message
It’s a time for patience and understanding. The world is opening up again but businesses, venues, and even people are different. Everyone has been through his or her own personal version of trauma and each of us have to figure out the way we want to reenter society. Some have lost loved ones, some have lost their businesses, and some have lost their jobs. Others have thrived. As we slowly develop our new version of normal, we have to have patience and respect that others might not be moving quite so fast.
Agudas Achim is a perfect example of the need for that patience and understanding. In some ways we have thrived. One example is that Zoom services for Shabbat have been a wonderful opportunity to stay connected (and reconnect) with friends from around the country. It’s something that we plan to continue so that we can share the spirit that Rabbi Pomerantz and the Levins deliver for us. Now we have to develop a way to reopen. Many have found that they actually prefer to observe with the congregation from home. Some are not ready to meet inside for hours with other people. Yet, there are others that have a heartfelt need to pray, in person, with their community.
The leadership of Agudas Achim is doing our best to answer the needs of the congregation as we sort through the best options available to for everyone. Safety is a first priority and each of us has to determine how safe we feel in every situation presented to us. This is uncharted territory and we’re working through the options. Thank you for your patience, your understanding and your continued support of our small and mighty shul.
Our sincere apologies to Caleb Milk and his family, son of Tonya Blumenthal and grandson of Warren and Phyllis Blumenthal. Kudos to Caleb were inadvertently omitted in last month’s newsletter. Along with our other former Hebrew School students and high school graduates, Caleb graduated from Liberty High School, Liberty, NY, on June 25, 2021. Mazel Tov to him and his family!
Another special Mazel Tov to the Blumenthal Family on the Bar Mitzvah of Max Blumenthal!
Max celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on July 3, 2021. He is the son of Ian and Megan Blumenthal and grandson of Warren and Phyllis Blumenthal. We wish him a joyous life filled with success!
Tales & Traditions
by Karen Blocker
A special thanks to Karen Blocker for sharing all of her insights and heartfelt topics in the last many months. She is taking a break from this column but hopefully we will read her writings again sometime in the future.
Suggest a Book for Summer Reading
Do you have books that you have read that you would like to suggest to others? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give these a read!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
In 1946 a London-based writer begins exchanging letters with residents on the island of Guernsey, which was German-occupied during WWII. Feeling compelled to visit the island; she starts to get a picture of what it was like during the occupation.
House Rules by Jodi Picoult
A single mother of a neurotypical teenage son and an 18-year old son with Asperger’s Syndrome, who is fixated on crime scene investigations, cope with compounding challenges when the elder son is accused of murder. Could Jacob have just been following the house rules established by his mother years ago?
No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith
There are 16 books (so far) that follow the adventures and missteps of the first female private detective in Botswana, Precious Ramotswe, and her co-detective, Grace Makutsi. They have complimentary personalities as they receive cases and clues and work to solve important mysteries. These are not horror mysteries but interesting cases of the “real” people of their beloved countryside. You can start with any book in the series and still get to know and understand the characters but it is recommended to start at the beginning with the namesake book.
* We are still assessing whether we will be offering an in person component to the High Holiday Services.
Thank you for your donations
Tedda & Ron Lindeman
Henry & Michelle Ordynans 7/2
Jacques & Debra Fuchs-Nadeau 7/4
Richard & Wendy Schwalb 7/12
Ronald & Susan Elinoff 7/16
Ray Croney & Hope Blecher 8/8
Diane Stein 7/1
Alex Schwalb 7/3
Marlene Wertheim 7/3
Rachel Schmitt 7/5
Joseph M. Galli 7/9
Dayra Lederer 7/9
Simon Hirschhorn 7/12
Carl Tishler 7/12
Marian Kleinman 7/21
Heidi Leunisen-Rivera 7/24
Daniel Hemmer 7/28
Jacques Nadeau 7/28
Sarah Nadeau 7/28
Amy Lavine 7/30
Hope Blecher 8/1
Kathie Sachs 8/11
Randy Katz 8/13
SPONSOR AN ONEG – No schlepping necessary!
Multiple families can share their special occasions for each Oneg since we have a limited number of Shabbat services. We will post each family’s name and the special event that evening and in the newsletter associated with that Shabbat.
Please consider choosing a Shabbat, email us the information (the occasion to be honored or remembered) by the first of that month, and send us a donation (See below for how to donate). email@example.com
Dues and Donations Information
Have you paid your dues yet for 2021?
Are you considering becoming a new member?
The leadership is committed to providing some of the lowest dues in the country so that we can offer membership to as many people as possible while maintaining our open door policy. Unfortunately, it’s not quite enough to cover our costs. We count on donations to supplement the dues and help us cover our costs. You may specify to what fund you would like your donation to go: Building, Endowment, Hebrew School, Cemetery, Mitzvah, and Tzedakah Funds. You may also consider donating a chair ($36) or a High Holy Day prayer book ($36). Donation checks should be made payable to Congregation Agudas Achim and mailed to PO Box 714, Livingston Manor, NY 12758. You can also donate by credit card by clicking on the green “Donate Now” button.
Now you can renew your membership dues online and follow the steps.
Note: On the printed membership form and online, you will notice many opportunities to donate in a way that is most meaningful to you and your family: prayer books, the cemetery fund, sustaining membership, religious school, etc.