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Holocaust Survivor Shares Story April 25, 2018

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"A Taste Of Judaism" Program Planned April 13, 2018

Congregation Shaarai Shomayim, 75 E. James St., Lancaster, will offer a program titled "A Taste of Judaism" for unaffiliated Jews, interfaith couples, and others interested in learning about the Jewish faith. The class is designed for those who would like to explore or re-explore the foundations of Judaism, whether or not they are Jewish

The free program, to be taught by Rabbi Jack Paskoff of Shaarai Shomayim, will take place on Mondays, April 23 to May 14, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Attendees are asked to enter through the glass doors.

The program will explore the topics of Jewish practice and values. The information presented in the classes is not specific to any single branch of Judaism.

The topics include Top 10 Things I Should Have/Know in My Jewish Home, April 23; Top 10 Books/Jewish Objects I Should Know About, April 30; Top 10 Things I Should Know About Services So I Can Participate Fully, May 7; and Top 10 Lessons From the Torah to Give Me a More Meaningful (Jewish) Life, May 14.

Registration is required. For more information or to register, readers may contact Ben Wachstein at 717-397-5575 or ben@shaarai.org.

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Food Festival To Feature Torah Tale April 13, 2018

When Temple Beth El, 1836 Rohrerstown Road, Lancaster, hosts its 15th annual Jewish Food Festival on Sunday, May 6, the congregation will also be commemorating the 70th anniversary of the forming of the state of Israel. To mark the occasion, at noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m., Rabbis Rami Pavolotzky and Daniela Szuster will share the story of the temple's Czech Memorial Torah scroll that was rescued during World War II.

The circa 1840 Torah scroll - which includes the five books of Moses also found in the Holy Bible - was dedicated at Temple Beth El in 1990 and remains there on permanent loan, displayed in a special showcase for all to see as they enter the synagogue. The Memorial Scrolls Trust is tasked with ensuring that synagogues that have received scrolls are good caretakers, both of the scrolls' legacies and their futures.

Temple Beth El's scroll came from the Czechoslovakian town of Roczany, which was located 20 miles from Prague. By June 1941, all of the 14,000 people from the small town were gone, either to concentration camps or through escape. According to www.memorialscrollstrust.org, a group of Jews from Prague convinced the Nazis to allow them to collect and store the religious treasures from the area's deserted communities and destroyed synagogues. The Roczany scroll is one of 1,564 Torahs from the region that were rescued.

In 1963, a London art dealer was offered the opportunity to purchase the scrolls. Instead, the dealer passed the find on to the Westminster Synagogue, which ultimately obtained the scrolls. Several decades were spent in repair and restoration, and then the scrolls were loaned to synagogues around the world. The Roczany scroll is displayed at Temple Beth El as a memorial to the many Jewish communities destroyed during the Holocaust.

The food festival itself will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 6 and will feature kosher Jewish and Israeli foods, as well as items for sale from a select group of crafters and artisans. The temple's gift shop will also be open during the event. Admission to the festival will be free and open to the public.

Three dinners will be offered. Bubbie's Chicken Dinner will include chicken, noodle kugel, Israeli salad, coleslaw, and challah bread. An Israeli falafel dinner will feature falafel in pita, hummus, baba ganoush, coleslaw, and Israeli salad. The third dinner will include a corned beef sandwich with traditional sides of coleslaw, pickles, and chips.

A children's combo meal will include a hot dog, chips, a cookie, and a beverage. Items that may be purchased a la carte will be knishes, matzah ball soup, mushroom barley soup, kugel, hot dogs and sauerkraut, kosher pickles, and hot and cold beverages. Baked goods offered during the festival will include apple cake, bowties, rugelach, apple strudel, black and white cookies, and babka, which is an Eastern European yeast-raised bread often loaded with fruits and nuts.

The Jewish Food Festival will again support the community through the donation of Mitzvah Meals to Power Packs, which aims to keep children well-nourished so they can become active learners. In Jewish tradition, doing a mitzvah means doing a good deed and helping others in a meaningful way. The Mitzvah Meals are purchased and donated by congregants and supporters. Last year, the temple provided more than 100 Mitzvah Meals to Power Packs.

Food tickets may be purchased in advance at a discounted price by contacting the temple office at 717-581-7891 or office@tbelancaster.org. Folks may also visit www.tbelancaster.org to print out a coupon for tickets on the day of the festival.

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JFS Lends Durable Medical Equipment March 29, 2018

In recent months, the leadership of Jewish Family Services (JFS) of Lancaster has put a concerted effort into informing the general public of its offerings. The durable medical equipment (DME) loan closet is one of those services.

"Every week we lend out things," commented JFS president Jill Weisberg. "I want people to know about it."

The DME loan closet takes up part of an office at the JFS, which is located within the building of Congregation Shaarai Shomayim, 75 E. James St., Lancaster. At various times it is filled with walkers, wheelchairs, canes, shower stools, bedside commodes, and other nonelectric durable medical equipment. All of the items have been donated to JFS, primarily from private sources. Additionally, Weisberg can connect individuals with a private lender of a knee scooter.

"We get a lot of stuff from people who are gone or recovered or who just want it out of the house," Weisberg remarked.

The closet was launched in the early 1990s by former JFS president Steve Schlissel, who was inspired by conversations with his friend Marcia Aranoff before her death. "From the beginning, the purpose was to lend necessary equipment, at no charge, with the expectation that it would be returned to JFS to loan to another client when it was no longer needed. That purpose continues to this day," Weisberg said. "We hope (the items) come back, but sometimes they don't. Sometimes people are disabled and they need it (for a long time), and that's fine."

Operating the DME loan closet is one way that JFS fulfills its mission to improve the lives of the most vulnerable residents in Lancaster County. The items lent by JFS fill a gap for folks who do not have insurance benefits to cover the costs of renting or purchasing durable medical equipment.

"We get a lot of people right out of the hospital," Weisberg said. "The caseworkers at Lancaster General Hospital refer clients to us. We're happy to help them."

The DME loan closet is maintained thanks to donations from the community. JFS will accept items in new or good condition. There is a current need for shower stools, wheelchairs, rollators, crutches, and walkers with wheels.

"(The lending program) is an important part of what we offer, but (we want to offer) more," Weisberg said.

Folks who would like to donate or borrow DME may contact Weisberg by calling 717-537-1863. JFS is a nonsectarian agency that was founded in 1989, and its services are available to everyone regardless of religious affiliation. For more information about JFS, readers may visit www.jfslancaster.org.

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Students Hold Clothing Drive February 27, 2018

The Confirmation Class at Temple Beth Israel in York recently held a clothing drive to benefit the Northeast Neighborhood Association (NENA).

Confirmation Class students this year are Ben Walter, son of Bill and Erica Walter; Drew Heinzelmann, son of Dina Lowy and David Heinzelmann; and Hannah Adler, daughter of David and Molly Adler. The students collected new and gently used items, including play clothes for children, coats, suits and ties, shirts and pants, and socks and shoes.

The drive wrapped up on Feb. 11 when Ben and Drew delivered bundles of bagged clothing to Chrystal's Place Resource Center, the NENA's food pantry and clothing bank in York city. They were assisted by Rabbi Jeffrey Astrachan and a half-dozen volunteers.

Chrystal's Place, named for NENA founding director Chrystal Sexton-McEachin, serves low-income families by providing emergency food, clothing, diapers, and household items, as well as information about community resources. During the visit, the students toured the center and learned about its history and how it helps neighborhood residents. The students also bagged food for distribution to the community.

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York JCC Offers Programs February 21, 2018

The York Jewish Community Center (JCC), 2000 Hollywood Drive, York, has posted its upcoming cultural and enrichment programs. There is a fee for most programs, and York JCC members will receive a discount.

Introduction to Watercolor will be offered on Fridays, from March 2 to April 13, from 1 to 3 p.m. The course will focus on getting comfortable with watercolor painting techniques and enjoying the process of painting. Instructor Kellie Fogarty will review the basics of materials, tools, techniques, color, and value, as well as "seeing" one's subject will be explored. No experience is necessary and supplies will be provided. For details, readers may email Heidi Storey at hstorey@yorkjcc.org.

News and Schmooze will take place on Thursdays, March 1 and April 5, from 10 to 11 a.m. Partipicants are invited to discuss national headlines, sports, entertainment, JCC happenings and more over bagels and coffee. For details, readers may email Rachel Singer at rsinger@yorkjcc.org.

On Sunday, March 4, from 10 a.m. to noon, attendees will join author Deno Seder during a very special Brunch and Learn to hear the story of the "Miracle at Zakynthos" and learn more about the survivors and about the "Righteous Among the Nations" of Greece. Books will be available for purchase. For details, readers may email Singer.

Laugh Your Tuchas Off will be offered on Saturday, March 10, from 8 to 10 p.m. The event will feature stand-up comedian and comedy writer Alingon Mitra of New York. The opening act will be Sid Bridge, of Norfolk, Va. The reservation deadline is Monday, March 5. For details, readers may email Singer.

The JCC will offer a bus trip to visit the National Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. on Monday, March 19. The bus will depart the JCC at 7:30 a.m. and return by 5 p.m. Early registration is recommended. For details, readers may email Singer.

Stop the Bleed will take place on Wednesday, March 28, at 1 and 5 p.m. The program is free, though registration is required. This program will focus on the immediate response to bleeding, recognizing life-threatening bleeding, and appropriate ways to stop the bleeding. The program is provided in partnership with Wellspan, the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, and the National Association of EMTS. For details, readers may email Storey.

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Essay Contest Announced February 14, 2018

High-school students from York County are again invited to participate in a Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) essay contest this year.

In writing the essay, students should consider stories they have heard of the moral courage exhibited by Holocaust victims, survivors, rescuers, and liberators. In their 500- to 700-word essays, the students should focus on what lessons they have learned from these stories and how they might apply them to current events. The submission deadline is Thursday, March 1.

The contest is open to any student in grades nine through 12 who attends public, private, parochial, charter or cyber-charter school in York County or who is home-schooled.

The contest is sponsored by the York Yom HaShoah Committee, comprising representatives of Jewish Family Services of York, Ohev Sholom Congregation, Temple Beth Israel, York College Hillel and the York Jewish Community Center (JCC).

Cash prizes will be awarded to the first- through third-place winners. The first-place winner will also be asked to read his or her essay at the Wednesday, April 11, Yom HaShoah commemoration event at the York JCC.

For more information and a complete set of rules, readers may call 717-843-2676 or email secretary@tbiyork.org.

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Upcoming Program Guide Available February 7, 2018

The Spring I 2018 Program Guide is available at the Jewish Community Center (JCC), 2000 Hollywood Drive, York. The seven-week session will run from Monday, Feb. 26, through Sunday, April 15.

Registration for JCC members is open as of Feb. 13. Registration for nonmembers will begin at 5 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 16. Registration for the swim program will close at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

Registration can be completed by calling 717-843-0918 or visit www.yorkjcc.org and click on Upcoming Program Guide.

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Organizations Plan Blood Drive December 13, 2017

The York Jewish Community Center (JCC) and the American Red Cross will host a blood drive on Friday, Dec. 29, from noon to 5 p.m. at the York JCC, 2000 Hollywood Drive, York. People who donate blood will receive a free long-sleeve Red Cross T-shirt while supplies last.

Registrations may be completed by visiting www.redcrossblood.org and searching for 17403 in the Find a Blood Drive box. For more information, readers may call 717-843-0918 or visit www.yorkjcc.org.

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Winter Program Guide Available December 11, 2017

The Winter 2018 Program Guide is available at the York Jewish Community Center, 2000 Hollywood Drive, York. The winter session will run from Monday, Jan. 8, through Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018.

Registration for members and nonmembers is open. Registration for swimming will end at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

For registration or more details, including the full program guide, readers may visit www.yorkjcc.org or call 717-843-0918.

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Jewish Film Festival Posted October 11, 2017

Camps Airy and Louise will present the York JCC Jewish Film Festival at Frank Theatres, 2067 Springwood Road, at Queensgate Shopping Center.

"The People vs. Fritz Bauer" will be presented on Sunday, Oct. 22, at 4 p.m., and "In Search of Israeli Cuisine" will be presented on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 4 p.m. The latter film will be followed by a vegetarian Israeli dinner and a performance by the Nayira dance troupe. Tickets are available for the film only and for the film and the dinner.

Tickets may be purchased at the JCC front desk until the day of the film and at Frank's Theatres starting one hour before the film. The JCC is located at 2000 Hollywood Drive.

Sponsorship information is available by emailing Rachel Singer at rsinger@yorkjcc.org.

To learn more about the York JCC, readers may call 717-843-0918 or visit www.yorkjcc.org.

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Making Mah Jongg Memories October 9, 2017

Game Event Will Benefit Shaarai Shomayim Retreat Fund

An ancient game will be featured in a modern fundraiser for the Edward Freedman Congregational Retreat hosted by Congregation Shaarai Shomayim. The public is invited to enjoy an afternoon playing mah jongg on Sunday, Nov. 12, at the Four Seasons Golf Club, 949 Church St., Landisville. The doors will open at noon, and a kosher-style catered lunch will be offered. Game play will run from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

The event has been organized by Edward's widow, Natalie Freedman, and her friends Marilyn Stein, Stacey Kapushy, Anita Ruff, and Emily Ritholz. Natalie and Edward had been together for 12 years before his death in 2010. Edward worked as a dentist for 54 years, and he started a clinic that is now part of SouthEast Lancaster Health Services. Edward contributed to a fund to help people access the advanced dental work they cannot afford.

Edward also supported Congregation Shaarai Shomayim, which he joined after moving to Lancaster following his military service. He bequeathed money to the congregation, which it used to start a fund to provide financial assistance so that everyone can attend the congregational retreat that is held at a kosher facility in Maryland on alternate years. The retreat offers a time for congregants to observe the Sabbath together, participate in workshops, and be blessed by spending time together.

"We sit next to each other in a long row, and the entire Torah scroll is unrolled across our laps," Stein said. "It's such a moving experience."

During the informal segments of the retreat, the mah jongg tiles come out. Natalie and her friends are avid players of the game, which originated in China approximately 500 years ago.

"I have a memory of being 8 or 9 and my nana playing mah jongg at the beach," Ruff said. "(But) I had never learned to play until I moved here four years ago."

"It's appealing to all generations," Kapushy added. "My daughter and her friend play."

Mah jongg is a rummy-like game played with 144 tiles printed with Chinese characters. There are several versions of the game, but the Nov. 12 event will use the 2017 card of standard hands produced by the National Mah Jongg League Inc. The game can be challenging and intense, but it is enjoyable, Natalie and her friends said.

"(Attending the mah jongg fundraiser will be) a fun way to spend time with like-minded women (and men)," Stein remarked.

"And it's for a good cause," Kapushy said. "It won't be hardcore play; it will be fun."

"We want beginners to feel welcome," Stein added.

While experienced players will provide assistance to beginners as needed, Natalie and her friends will offer two classes on the basics on Sundays, Oct. 15 and 29, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Shaarai Shomayim, 75 E. James St., Lancaster. Attendees should enter through the double glass doors on Duke Street. There is no cost to attend either class, but those who plan to attend should email Natalie at natjl@aol.com. Novices at the game may also find the book "A Beginner's Guide to American Mah Jongg" helpful, Ruff said.

There is a cost to attend the Nov. 12 event, and tickets may be purchased by contacting Natalie or by visiting www.shaarai.org. The next Edward Freedman Congregational Retreat will be held in 2019. "We hope to get in two more fundraisers so even more people can attend," Natalie remarked.

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Clothing Drive Planned October 5, 2017

Jewish Family Service, along with Congregations Shaarai Shomayim, Degel Israel, and Temple Beth El, will hold a clothing drive on Sunday, Oct. 15.

Participants may bring gently used clothing of all sizes, including mittens, gloves, and winter outerwear, to one of the three congregations before noon on Oct. 15.

Donated clothing should be clean, ready to be worn, and not dated or in need of mending. Clothing should be folded and placed in bags or boxes and brought into the lobby. Receipts will be available at the temple office.

For more information, readers may contact jfshelps@gmail.com.

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Temple Names Director September 20, 2017

Benjamin Wachstein has been named the inaugural executive director at Congregation Shaarai Shomayim in Lancaster. In this role, Wachstein will work with Rabbi Jack Paskoff and the temple board of trustees to handle many of the business-related aspects of congregational life.

Wachstein previously served as the executive director of Beth El Temple in Harrisburg, where he was responsible for crafting a budget, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the facility, and leading fundraising efforts. Prior to his time at Beth El, he was the regional director of BBYO in Cherry Hill, N.J. Wachstein is a graduate of Rutgers University.

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Suit Donations Sought September 7, 2017

Jewish Family Service of Lancaster and its three Lancaster synagogues, Congregation Shaarai Shomayim, Degel Israel, and Temple Beth El, ask congregants for donations of clean suits that are no longer needed. The suits may be brought to the synagogues on Erev Rosh Hashanah (the evening before Rosh Hashanah) or any day before then.

Suits will be picked up on Monday, Sept. 25, and taken to the Lancaster County Council of Churches clothing bank, where they will be made available to Lancaster residents who need dress attire for work.

Contact jfshelps@gmail.com for more information.

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School Opens Registration August 22, 2017

Temple Beth Israel, 2090 Hollywood Drive, York, is currently accepting registration for students in kindergarten through 10th grade. Music education will highlight the Religious School offerings. School will begin on Sunday, Sept. 10.

Families of students in kindergarten through second grade need not be temple members. The Reform Jewish congregation operates the religious education program for Jewish youths in York County.

For more information, readers may call principal Elizabeth Arbittier or Rabbi Jeffrey Astrachan at 717-843-2676 or visit www.tbiyork.org.

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Board Members Named, Congregant Honored August 1, 2017

Congregation Shaarai Shomayim has named three new members to its board of trustees and selected its Congregant of the Year. They were approved at the temple's annual meeting on June 25.

Those named to three-year terms on the board of trustees are Laurie Cubell of Lititz, Craig Friedman of Lititz, and Elin Ketels of Lancaster.

In addition, Rick Lynch of Lititz was named Congregant of the Year. The award is given annually to the congregant or congregants who have been exemplary in their service to Shaarai Shomayim. Lynch was honored for serving as a board member and a member of the ritual committee, completing work related to membership and security initiatives, painting, helping out in the office, and being willing to step into any role that needs a volunteer.

Shaarai Shomayim is a Reform Jewish congregation. The congregation is led by Rabbi Jack Paskoff.

For more information, readers may contact the Shaarai Shomayim office at 717-397-5575.

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JCC Names Fessler As CEO July 26, 2017

The York JCC, 2000 Hollywood Drive, York, has announced the appointment of its new CEO, Dani Fessler. He will assume responsibilities in January 2018 and will replace Matthew Scarpato, interim CEO, COO, CFO. Scarpato will resume his responsibilities as COO and CFO.

According to York JCC board president Danielle Lavetan, Fessler has more than 30 years of education and community center experience. Fessler's experience includes serving as headmaster and managing director (CEO) of Leo Baeck Education Center, Haifa, Israel, since 1999 and as a teacher and director of human resources for the same center from 1987 to 1999.

Fessler speaks three languages and has co-authored numerous publications on education and government. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Haifa and is currently Rotary District 2490 governor. He holds memberships with several education committees and associations in Israel.

Fessler has a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, in political science and the history of the Jewish people from the University of Haifa, as well as a Master of Science in human resources management and training from Leicester University, England. He is the parent of three children, ages 28, 23, and 18, who live in Israel.

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JCC Announces Staff Addition July 18, 2017

York Jewish Community Center (JCC) recently announced the addition of David Kaufman to its staff. Kaufman joined the JCC in May as director of facilities. He will provide oversight of planning, organizing, and directing the maintenance, repair, and alteration of JCC facility and grounds.

Kaufman has a Bachelor of Science in law enforcement from Towson State University, Towson, Md., and brings 13-plus years of management experience to the JCC. He previously worked for Concrete Authority and Hempfield Area Recreation.

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York JCC Names Board July 10, 2017

At the York Jewish Community Center's 92nd annual meeting on June 1, the membership elected Jennifer Brillhart, Vrushali Deshmukh, Mindi Haines, Alice Muldrow, Karl Schaffer, Katie Seufert, and Justin Tomevi to its board of directors. Returning board members are Allan Birenberg, Phil Briddell, Kim Brister, Erin Hammons, Jen Layman, Paul Lewis, Andi Liss, Brian Luster, Amy Milsten, Julie Pandelidis, Michael Reichman, and Bette Spitz.

Board officers were elected by the membership. Board members include Danielle Lavetan, president; Bruce Bushwick, vice president; Greg Finkelstein, treasurer; Jim Fowler, secretary; Bob Grossman, immediate past president; and Rabbi Jeffrey Astrachan, ex-officio.

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