Volume 2 October 2020

Volume 2 | October 2020
Happy New Year from Congregation Agudas Achim
Join us Friday, October 9 at 7:30 pm for Zoom Shabbat 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
This little synagogue on the outskirts of the foothills of the Catskill Mountains can certainly get things done. With the professional leadership of Rabbi Pomerantz and the dedicated efforts of our cantorial duo, Ira and Julia Levin, we were led through meaningful and spiritual High Holiday services. That could not have happened without the volunteer help of so many: Thank you, thank you, thank you all for your efforts. It was very important to so many people that this worked well and it did. That’s no surprise – we are led by a highly respected Rabbi with decades of experience in adjusting to various situations. But still, technology is not second nature to many of us so it is worth a little extra pat on the Rabbi’s back, the backs of the volunteers and the backs of those of you that participated. (We have more formally acknowledged these volunteers below.)
As we move forward, Agudas Achim will be offering Zoom Shabbat Services on the second Friday of each month. I hope that is something that everyone will look forward to and join. It’s very grounding and, at the same time, uplifting to share Shabbat with old and new friends locally as well as from around the country in the comfort of your home. Rabbi Pomerantz (keep reading on for his personal message) and the Levins bring a lively spirit to the screen and there is a beautiful connection made. Also, with the help of technology, we are able to post segments of our prayer book into the Zoom Meeting Room screen to allow congregants to read and sing along.
The next few months may be emotionally challenging for many of us. It will be important to take advantage of opportunities to step back from the noise. Join us at the upcoming Zoom Shabbat Services (see below for schedule) and escape for a couple of hours. I’m quite sure you will be happy you did.
Judy Siegel, President
Thought for the upcoming months:
“Compassion is contagious. Spread it!”
Upcoming Zoom Shabbat Services * All begin at 7:30 p.m.
October 9, 2020
Shabbat/Simchat Torah
November 13, 2020
December 11, 2020
Shabbat/Chanukah celebration (Chanukah begins December 10 and ends December 18)
1. Our Zoom services for the High Holydays was as a success. Kind remarks from congregants and guests from Sullivan County and around the country demonstrated that they were able to feel the power of the virtual prayer, as shown in gallery windows across the screens. It was a unique moment in Jewish history here and around the world. I am grateful to the many congregants whose efforts went into making our virtual prayer
possible. I am especially grateful to my prayer partners, the Levins for their inspiring music; to our extraordinary Masters of Tekiah, Gary Siegel, Josh Pomerantz, and Ian Blumenthal; and to Sarah Weber and Gary Silverman, the prayer book page turners who gave up personal opportunities to pray the service to keep us connected so seamlessly to the text. To Gary Siegel, and Richie Chiger for extending so beautifully the Kol Nidre. And, to Dr. Don Simkin, who made our original connection to Zoom, and who kept us on course, as host.
2. In prior years, the first efforts towards building our congregational Succah began directly after the break the fast on Yom Kippur night. The boards, and the fasteners, the curtain walls, and the cornstalk roof, would have been assembled by student and adult volunteers, so that a proper Succah (harvest booth) would have “stood proudly” next to our synagogue, and would have been used during the duration of this harvest holyday, which ends our holy season. Yes, we will have a virtual Succot and Simchat Torah experience at our services on October 9th at 7:30 PM. Yes, we will mark the season with music, singing, and celebration. Yes, we will wave the leafy lulav and the fragrant citron (etrog), and say the final memorial prayer of this three-week-plus, period. However, I am going to suggest a personal connection for each of you to try in this year of Covid-19 and compromise, innovation, and personal faith.
3. How can you mark Nature’s harvest, in a personal fashion, in a way that allows you to feel deeply the blessings in your life even in this plague and pandemic? How can the ingathering prompt us to an honest, intimate, sense of gratitude, and thanksgiving to God, as Succot was always meant to do for Jews since the time of the Bible? For our members who are farmers, this is a daily experience. God’s bounty is at hand at this time of year. Yet even for those of us in a non-agricultural setting, we can symbolically connect the natural world to our personal or family spirituality, on these Holydays of Succot and Simchat Torah, which we now enter.
4. We can simulate the Succah experience by decorating our homes for this festival of booths. Pumpkins, gourds, cabbages, mums, or another potted plant can connect us with a transcendent force that is far more subtle than the combination of the product of earth and water and seed and sun. Just as we light a wick imbedded in wax to more closely feel the power of Shabbat, so a display of the symbols of the Succah, can transform us, for a moment, to the grace of our personal gratitude and appreciation for the favors we know.
So, a few of us will still erect a Succah, even if it means putting four two by fours or dowels into four cement blocks, and rigging the rest with twine. Some will display the ingathering of the seasons outside their homes, or inside their residences, or both. Even if one puts fruit in a dish in the middle of the table surrounded by a few gourds or nuts, or ears of corn, it will connect your inner life and your outer life in a non-verbal bridge that reminds us to express our sense of awareness and gratefulness.
What has been the traditional way to express this emotion? Tzedakah. Giving tzedakah, of any amount to any cause is the act to which the Succah is meant to lead. It refines our soul. We are not simply takers.
Friday night songs and celebration as we observe Shabbat and mark the end of this Time. We can’t unroll the Torah round our sanctuary this year, but we have other surprises. Join us. Remember to have wine or spirits or your favorite beverage, containing more than one calorie on hand as part of the celebration.
Rabbi Pomerantz
Rabbi Pomerantz was interviewed by WJFF Radio
Please click this link to hear a magical interview with Rabbi Pomerantz from September 25, 2020 on Hydro-Powered Radio, WJFF.
So many volunteers to thank!
Agudas Achim was proud to be able to offer our congregation High Holiday services via Zoom this year! We hope you were able to tune in and feel the sense of togetherness while being miles apart. This unprecedented program could not have been possible without the work of many individuals joining with a common goal of bringing you a meaningful and spiritual experience in the best way possible during this time. A special thank you goes out to Sarah Webber, Bonnie Katz, Gary Silverman, Bob Freedman, Wendy Schwalb, Ian Blumenthal, Josh Pomerantz, Gary Siegel, Judy Siegel, Michele Hemmer, Richie Chiger, Don Simkin, Lynn Skolnick, the amazing Levins and our fantastic Rabbi. We had people from across the nation come together in prayer, an incredible sight!
We also thank YOU for joining us.
Announcing additional services!
Thanks to Zoom
We are very excited to announce that we will be offering services in January, February and March! Over the last few years we found that attendance during these three months was very limited and more often than not the services had to be cancelled due to the weather. As a result, the Leadership Board voted to close the synagogue during these three winter months. One of the outgrowths of the Covid-19 pandemic is that we are all now oriented to Zoom and can enjoy Shabbat services throughout the winter months with no concern about the weather!
With that, we will be able to offer services throughout the year on the 2nd Friday of the month. There is something very settling about the thought of sitting in the comfort of our living rooms with the snow falling outside, lighting Shabbat candles and welcoming the Sabbath with this wonderful congregation. We’re all looking forward to seeing you throughout the year.
Click here for Shabbat Zoom link. Password: Shabbat5781
Thank you for your donations!
In memory of Belle & Hym Schwartz
Hope Schwartz
High Holiday Donations
Dr. Stanley Babit
Walter & Miriam Cohen
Bruce & Karen Ellsweig
Ilene Ferber
Jerry & Monica Frey
Judith Katz & Michael Teitler
John Katzenstein
Sally Levin
Dr. Paul & Greta Salzberg
Gary & Judy Siegel
Bill & Sherry Silver
Willard Sprague
Joe & Shelley Watson
Julie & Joel Wexler
Simchat Torah means Rejoicing with the Torah. It is a happy holiday that marks the time when we have reached the end of the weekly Torah readings. We won’t be able to unroll the scrolls this year in person but I am confident that we will enjoy the virtual service led by Rabbi Pomerantz and accompanied by the cantorial duo, the Levins. Please join us on Friday, October 9th at 7:30 PM for our virtual Simchat Torah service. The zoom link is the same link that was used for the High Holidays.
Please email us at:
to obtain the Zoom services links if you need it sent to you again.
We hope you enjoyed your high-holiday experiences and that you continue to enjoy services as we make our way through the year.
Do you have friends or family members that you think would like to join us? It would be terrific if you would encourage them to become members of Agudas Achim. Please feel free to share our newsletter, website link, our stories, and our zoom link. (We do ask that you be responsible with the zoom link. Be sure that you are sharing it with people that will respect the spiritual solemnity of the Shabbat service.) Membership dues are very reasonable and we would love to welcome your friends and family!
SPONSOR AN ONEG- No schlepping necessary!
In an era when we are not meeting in person, our zoom Shabbats have been a silver lining. Friends and family have joined us from all over the country for a relaxed Sabbath service. You can still do a mitzvah and sponsor one of the evenings in honor of a special event in your life; a birthday, an anniversary, the birth of a family member….anything that brings you joy.
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).
Thank you to Gary and Judy Siegel and Family for sponsoring
our October 9, 2020 Oneg Shabbat
Gary and Judy Siegel would like to sponsor the first virtual Oneg in honor of their son Max. October 1st is Max’s birthday. October 9th is the 16th anniversary of his Bar Mitzvah at Agudas Achim and it is also the weekend of the 5th anniversary of the car accident that nearly took his life. The accident crushed a carotid artery and caused a number of strokes that left him unable to walk or talk.
Today, Max is a healthy, strong young man. Though the fine motor skills in his right hand have not fully returned, his mind and his other physical functions are pretty close to perfect. The Siegel Family is grateful for all the prayers and support that Agudas Achim provided during that difficult time.
Make a donation
There are many parts of our lives to remember with a donation. There are also certain funds into which you may choose to donate particularly: Hebrew School, Endowment Fund, Cemetery Fund, mailing costs, Mitzvah Fund, and Tzedakah fund. Please consider donating by making checks payable to Congregation Agudas Achim. By credit card, click the green “Donate Now” button or mail to PO Box 714 Livingston Manor, NY 12758
Important Announcements!!
We are pleased to welcome the following new members to our Agudas Achim Family:
Mark Izeman and Tanya Khotin
Hope Belcher and Ray Croney
Happy Birthday to some of our members:
Diane Foster 10/19
Jonathan Resnick 10/20
Steven Innerfield 10/26
Matt Strassman 11/3
Ronald Elinoff 11/3
Jonell Watson 11/4
Dr. Joyce Rubenstein 11/8
Bob Freedman 11/9
Have an idea for congregational programming?
Would you like to contribute
in other ways?
We are looking for other programming ideas that can now be easily shared with all via Zoom link.
The leadership of the synagogue is committed to maintaining the congregation for generations to come. We have always been open to providing the activities that are supported by membership.
If you would like to see us offer more and are willing to volunteer to make that happen, please email Judy Siegel at 
Call 845-439-3600 or email anytime!