Volume 12/August 2021
Congregation Agudas Achim
Please Join us for our next service August 20
as we prepare for the High Holidays
7:00 p.m. for Zoom Social Time & 7:30 p.m. services
Go to our Website and take a 360-tour of our National Historic Register Synagogue!
PO Box 714, Livingston Manor, NY 12758
Phone: 845-439-3600
Our Rabbi’s Message
Even now, throughout the world, Jews are using this month before Rosh ha Shanah, to prepare for the High Holy Days, and transition into the spiritual realm that these Days of Awe can provide. Rather than expecting to simply open the Machzor, the High Holy Day prayerbook on the New Year, and to transcend into that deep, rich, holy possibility of this rarified spiritual season, Jews across time, have used this preparatory month at the end of the summer, to review the events of our lives during the preceding year.
Just as the owner of a general store I visited in Rapid City South Dakota, would take inventory of. his business before the High Holydays, just as his Jewish Grandfather, and Father, had done for generations before him, so he told me that this accounting helped him take a kind of inventory of his personal life, during this month of Elul,
Elul is the Hebrew month that precedes the High Holy Days
Some say that the Hebrew letters that comprise the word Elul
– aleph, lamed, vav, lamed – are an acronym for “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li,” a verse from Song of Songs that means “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Most often interpreted as love poetry between two people, the phrase also reflects the love between God and the Jewish people, especially at this season, as we assess our actions and behaviors during the past year and hope for blessings in the coming year ahead.
Several customs during the month of Elul are designed to remind us of the liturgical season and help us prepare ourselves and our souls for the upcoming High Holidays.
Traditionally, the shofar is blown each morning from the first day of Elul until the day before Rosh HaShanah. Its sound is intended to awaken the soul and kick start the spiritual accounting that happens throughout the month. In some congregations the shofar is sounded at the opening of each Friday Night,  Kabbalat Shabbat service during Elul.
Selichot (special penitential prayers) are recited during the month of Elul. A special Selichot service is conducted late in the evening – often by candlelight – on the Saturday night a week before Rosh HaShanah.The Hebrew word, s’licha, means “ I’m sorry. “
This is a period when Jews thought of the times during the past year when them might have offended both God, and other people, and now want to repent for these actions.
This can lead not to a child like, “ forgive   me,” rather it provides an opportunity   for deeper reflection about the meaning   of our life. A consideration of, for what   do we stand? How do others see us? In   what ways do we want to improve   ourselves in the year ahead?
 What have we postponed?
 Of course this period also provides us   with an opportunity to reflect on how we   have done well.
 Times when we lived up to our highest   potential.
 Elements that we want to repeat and   expand in the year ahead.
 The Rabbis of the Talmud called it an   opportunity to refine and ratify our soul.
 Elul is also a time of year during which   Jews traditionally visit the graves of   loved  ones. This custom not only   reminds us of the individuals on whose   shoulders we now stand and helps us   honor their memories, but also prompts   us to think about our own lives and the   legacies we will leave to others – kind   words spoken, comfort offered, love   given  and received – which take on   added meaning as we enter the High     Holiday season.
 For those, such as many in Sullivan   County, who live a far distance from the   final resting places of loved ones, there   are ways to transcend the miles.
 One might ask a relative who lives closer   to the graves of relatives to include you   on Zoom when they visit the graves. I   was  unable to return to Pittsburgh for a   family gathering, recently. When the   mishpoocha visited the family plot on   Sunday they included me electronically.   It was an inspiring experience.
 Others can simply recall the gravesite   and  stones, and spiritually visit those   there in rest. Let them speak to you, even   now.
 Our Friday night Zoom services on   August the 20th ( third Friday night this   month) will be a combination of Shabbat   and Selichot prayer.
 We will sound the Shofar to awaken us to   the season. The Levins have prepared   some of the important sung prayers of   the  Holy Days. We will sing Avinu   Malkenu, and Ashamnu, and say the Al   Chet. The meditations will help refine   our  souls.
 Just as households are now considering   what special foods of our tradition will be   prepared for Yontif meals, so can we   begin to plan for the tender ways we can   utilize Rosh Ha Shanah, and Yom   Kippur,  ahead. Take your own   inventory,  now.
  Rabbi Fredric S. Pomerantz


A message from our Cantorial Duo
We’re looking forward to joining you all this week for services during the month of Elul! Rabbi Fred has asked us to weave in a few High Holiday melodies with the Kavanah of preparing our hearts to open and bloom within the garden of our online community.
For anyone that is celebrating an anniversary during this time, it is quite an auspicious occurrence that it falls during Elul. E L U L = Aleph, lamed, vav, lamed or ani l’dodi v’dodi li, which means “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.” It is an endearing phrase that represents the relationship between our “self” and our Creator and is also parallel to our partnerships in life. Rabbi Fred and Sandy just celebrated a beautiful 60 years together and we are embarking on our 19th. We celebrated by attending the Van Gogh Immersive Exhibit: The transformation of Van Gogh’s paintings into a deeply moving experience that envelops your senses and imagination. It reminded us to connect to nature as a means of looking at the world with renewed perspective and appreciation; right along the path of Elul.
The colorful artwork offered to us from Van Gogh, who chose to bring great light amid personal darkness and suffering is a powerful reminder that we each have splendor inside; a gift that can benefit those around us.
“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much, performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” – Vincent Van Gogh
As you take this journey of preparing for the High Holidays, we hope that your path is illuminated. Amidst any suffering or shortcomings, may you find time to acknowledge appreciate your strengths and continue your dedication to see and bring your beauty into the world.
Love and Shalom,
Ira and Julia/ The Levins
From our President
Hello Friends,
This month I had the privilege of holding a celebration of life for my mother, Evelyn Haas. She passed in the early days of the pandemic (just before her 97’th birthday) and we couldn’t gather at the cemetery or for Shiva. The celebration this month was a great tribute to a wonderful lady. Many of us shared stories and memories while some just took the time to recall their own memories of the woman and the era that she represented.  When it was over I felt a noticeable sense of relief; the mourning period was over and I felt relieved that this special woman had been laid to rest and remembered as someone truly remarkable.
The Jewish rituals that surround the passing of a loved one make so much sense to me; lay them to rest quickly, surround the family with the support of friends and family for days and provide a chance for the mourners to concentrate on their own loss during Shiva and then, after Shiva, get back to life. After unveiling the tombstone it’s time to try to truly move forward. And then, every year on the yahrzeit and on Yom Kippur we recite the names of those we love, remembering the spot they held in our hearts. These rituals provide strength and comfort. They provide a structure and that structure is what has provided guidance to all of us for thousands of years.
Now we are approaching the High Holidays. We’ll celebrate the new year at Rosh Hashanah and atone at Yom Kippur and we will remember those that have passed. We will take part in the rituals that have been a part of our culture for thousands of years. I sincerely believe that these rituals are the glue that binds us together. It’s what we remember about holidays spent as a child with family and friends. It’s the way we remember our heritage and it’s part of what keeps us connected to that heritage, and to each other. Sometimes we’re tempted to just not bother with the rituals but we should always make the effort. Even through a pandemic that has forced us to alter a lot of the traditions, it’s important that we put in the effort. Push through the constraints and continue the rituals that have carried us through the generations. That is what will carry us all through the most difficult times.
Judy Siegel, President
High Holidays
After a great deal of discussion and a number of meetings, the Rabbi and the Leadership board have determined that the safest path forward is for the congregation to hold the High Holidays virtually. We do not feel that we can guarantee the safety of everyone at this time if we meet in person. We will send a link via email. (It’s the same link that we have been using for Shabbats) Please contact if you need a prayer book, need the link or have any questions.
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 un-chartered territory and we’re working through the options. Thank you for your patience, your understanding and your continued support of our small and mighty schul
Yizkor Service
  Yizkor means ‘may G-D
  remember’. In this       prayer, we implore G‑d   to remember the souls   of  our relatives and friends that have   passed on.  In honor of their memory we   will be reading the names that are listed   on the walls of the synagogue during the     Yizkor service.
   If you would like the name of a loved     one listed on the screen during the   virtual   service, please send their   name(s) to   before  September 8th and a donation   (for  each name listed) to PO Box 714,   Livingston Manor, NY 12758 or make a   donation from our website at:
 This is an opportunity to remember   beloved family members and members of   the community by sharing their name   and also by giving tzedakah (charity) in   their memory. By giving charity, we are   performing a positive physical deed in   this world, something that the departed     can no longer.
We recently learned that Mary Jane and Allan Schneider’s son Joseph passed away in April. A few of us had the opportunity to meet and work with Joseph over the last year as we worked out the details of the Allan Schneider Endowment fund that was created upon the passing of his father. Our sincerest sympathy is extended to Mary Jane, her son Henry and the rest of the Schneider family.
We also expressed our condolences to the family of Dr. Charles and Sara Herbstman on the passing of Sara’s father Harold Bluestone on August 5. Donations may be made in his memory to Temple Judea, Manhasset, NY or St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center.
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
Give these a read!
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
A daring, dramatic and complex novel of life in Germany. It is set in Burgdorf, a small fictional German town, between 1915 and 1951. The protagonist is Trudi Montag, a Zwerg — the German word for dwarf woman. Through Trudi’s unblinking eyes, we witness the growing impact of Nazism on the ordinary townsfolk of Burgdorf. Stones from the River is a story of secrets,
parceled out masterfully by Trudi — and by Ursula Hegi — as they reveal the truth about living through unspeakable times.
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.
Borscht Beat — Sundays at 1 p.m.
Any other ideas for programming?
Let us know at
Upcoming Services!
Hint: All Shabbat services are the same Zoom link!
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 895 4349 6977
Passcode: Shalom5781
all services are being held virtually
until further notice
Friday August 20, Shabbat
Shabbat social time is 7:00 p.m. and services are at 7:30 p.m.
*Grab a beverage of your choice and join us!
Rosh Hashanah
Monday Sept 6
8:00 PM Evening Services
Tuesday Sept 7
10:00 AM morning services
Yom Kippur
Wednesday Sept 15
8:00 PM Kol Nidre
Thursday Sept 16
10:00 AM Morning Services
4:30 PM Reading of Jonah
5:00 PM Yizkor
5:45 N’ielah (closing the gates )
Friday October 1, Shabbat
Shabbat social time is 7:00 p.m. and services are at 7:30 p.m.
*Grab a beverage of your choice and join us!
Dear Congregation Agudas Achim,
Thank you so much for the very cool personalized portfolio. It will definitely be usefulas I head off to college. As I leave for Albany, It’s nice to know I always have a home at Congregation Agudas Achim. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and kind gesture.
With Gratitude,
Daniel Hemmer
Cemetery Fund
Shirley Schwartz
High Holiday
Lynn Skolnick
Happiest Wishes to all
Happy Anniversary
Neil & Lea Schwartz 8/23
Myron & Wendy Uretsky 9/10
Happy Birthday
Linda Berkowicz 8/22
Lynn Skolnick 8/26
Stan Babit 8/29
Karisa Yoli 8/30
Tobi Innerfield 9/3
Eli Shaff 9/12
Neil Schwartz 9/19
Sheila Skolnik 9/24
Isaac A Galli 9/27
Mara Resnick 9/30
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).
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.