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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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Wentzel Wins Essay Contest June 21, 2017

David Wentzel was the first-place winner in the first Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) essay contest, sponsored this spring by York's Yom HaShoah Committee. Wentzel recently finished his freshman year at Susquehannock High School. His essay was chosen from among nearly two dozen entrants from six York County high schools who wrote about lessons of moral courage learned from the Holocaust. He won a cash prize and read his essay at the annual Yom HaShoah program in April.

The second-place winner was Faith Justice of West York High School. The third-place winner was Ashley Pechinski of Dallastown Area High School.

The Yom HaShoah Committee includes representatives from Jewish Family Services of York, Ohev Sholom Congregation, Temple Beth Israel, the York College Hillel and the York JCC. For more information, readers may call 717-843-2676.

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Kleinman Named Congregant Of The Year May 12, 2017

Carolyn Kleinman has been named Congregant of the Year of Temple Beth El and will be honored by the congregation at a special service on Friday, June 2, in the evening. The annual recognition is given to a congregant who repeatedly volunteers his or her services to the temple and best embodies its ideals and those of Judaism.

Kleinman, along with her husband, Steven, and their children, David and Julie, moved to Lancaster from Minnesota in 1987 and joined Temple Beth El. Carolyn taught religious school classes for more than 10 years and has continued to serve as a substitute teacher. She is involved in Sisterhood activities and was named Sisterhood Woman of the Year in 2002 and 2010 for her fundraising efforts and work on cultural and religious programs.

She has been a board member, a speaker at temple programs, and a member of the Education Committee, Adult Education Committee, and Beth Pomerantz Education Series steering committee.

Kleinman is a retired teacher, having taught English, developmental reading, and English as a Second Language at the high school level for 15 years in Minneapolis. Currently, she hosts groups of Vietnamese ladies at her home to assist with life skills and help them improve their English and also to share traditional foods, customs, and holidays. She also helped Temple Beth El's rabbis, Rabbi Daniela Szuster and Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky, to perfect their English after they came to Lancaster from Costa Rica in November 2015.

For the past six years, Kleinman has also been in charge of the vendors at Temple Beth El's annual Jewish Food Festival in May. She has also developed a craft to sell at the event: hand-crocheted kippot (head coverings) and handmade tallit (prayer shawls) that can be put on plush animals. This year she organized an interfaith children's art contest for the Food Festival.

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Food Festival Will Feature Children's Art April 28, 2017

The 14th annual Temple Beth El Jewish Food Festival is set for Sunday, May 7. "This year, for the first time, the temple is holding an art contest for children throughout the area from kindergarten through 12th grade," said temple member Randi Jacobs, noting that the theme of the contest is the Story of Noah's Ark.

The food festival is the signature event hosted by Temple Beth El. Jacobs explained that the first festival was held in 2003, a year after the congregation moved from downtown Lancaster to its present location at 1836 Rohrerstown Road, near East Petersburg.

"Temple Beth El had participated in Lancaster's Town Fair event for many years while in its downtown Lancaster location, and members wanted to continue the tradition of sharing Jewish culture and customs with the community," Jacobs said.

The focus of the food festival is, of course, the food. Temple Beth El volunteers have been busy in the synagogue's kitchen baking and cooking a variety of kosher favorites. During the festival, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 7, three dinners will be offered. Bubbie's Chicken Dinner will feature chicken, noodle kugel, Israeli salad, coleslaw, and challah bread. The vegetarian Israeli Falafel Dinner will include falafel in pita, hummus, baba ganoush, coleslaw, and Israeli salad. The third option - a corned beef sandwich - will be accompanied by coleslaw, pickles, and chips.

A combo meal for children will include a hot dog, chips, a cookie, and a beverage.

Hot dogs, with or without sauerkraut, may be purchased a la carte. Other items available for purchase will include knishes, matzo ball soup, mushroom barley soup, kugel, pickles, and hot and cold beverages. Baked goods sold at the event will include poppy seed cookies, bowties, apple strudel, rugelach, and hamentashen.

At noon, 2, and 4 p.m., rabbis Rami Pavolotzky and Daniela Szuster will share information about Jewish life and institutions, plus the origins and demographics of the Jewish communities in South America, focusing on Argentina, the Latin American country with the largest Jewish population.

Temple Beth El's gift shop will be open during the festival, and other vendors will sell handcrafted items and Israeli jewelry.

Artwork from the children's art contest will be displayed throughout the synagogue. The deadline for entry was April 28, and the winners will be announced at the festival. One winner will be selected in the categories of kindergarten to third grade, fourth through sixth grades, and seventh to 12th grades.

Elementary and middle school students in need will be the focus of the Mitzvah Meals given as part of the Food Festival. Power Packs Project will be the recipient of the gift again this year. Last year, Temple Beth El provided more than 120 Mitzvah Meals to Power Packs.

"While many school children receive free meals (breakfast and lunch) during the school week, meals are not offered on the weekend," Jacobs said. "Power Packs provides family meals for the weekend. The goal of this program is to keep children well-nourished so they can become active learners."

Admission to the Food Festival will be free of charge, but tickets will be required for the meals. Diners may eat in or take their food to go.

To learn more about the Food Festival or to purchase meal tickets in advance, readers may call Temple Beth El at 581-7891 or email office@tbelancaster.org. Coupons for tickets purchased at the event may be printed at www.tbelancaster.org.

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Community Sabbath Planned April 25, 2017

York Jewish Community Center (JCC) invites local residents to a community Sabbath, "Remembering the Shoah," on Friday, April 28, at 7 p.m.

The event will take place at Temple Beth Israel, 2090 Hollywood Drive, York.

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Temple Donates To School March 22, 2017

Leaders of the Doing Good for Goode project at Temple Beth Israel (TBI) presented 60 new e-readers with jackets to the fifth grade at the Alexander D. Goode Elementary School in York city in early March.

Goode project leader Ruby Schmidt and Temple Beth Israel Rabbi Jeffrey Astrachan delivered the e-readers at an assembly. The e-readers were purchased with proceeds from TBI's Flavors of York fundraiser last November. The new e-readers joined the 48 others that were purchased for the sixth grade last year, with proceeds from the 2015 Flavors event. Students at Goode use the e-readers as personal tablets for learning, with educational apps selected by teachers.

York Township-based TBI launched the Goode project in the fall of 2014 to strengthen education at the elementary school, which is named for a former rabbi at the temple.

Temple volunteers help at the school, and the project has also served as a community catalyst to help stock school supplies, clothing, and toiletry closets for Goode students in need. Additionally, it has spearheaded the rehabilitation of the school courtyard into an outdoor classroom. Supporters such as Penn State Extension, Eagle Scout candidates, York College, Keep York Beautiful, the York County Community Foundation, and a local landscaping business have contributed to the ongoing courtyard project.

The next Flavors of York, A Culinary Experience is planned for Friday, Nov. 19, at the Wyndham Garden. For details on the event, readers may call 843-2676. More information on Temple Beth Israel is available at www.tbiyork.org.

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Yom HaShoah Essay Contest Posted February 22, 2017

High school students from York County are invited to participate in a Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) essay contest. The deadline is Thursday, March 9.

The 500- to 750-word essays should focus on what lessons the student has learned from the stories of moral courage exhibited by Holocaust victims, survivors, rescuers, and liberators, as well as how the student might apply them to his or her own life.

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 is homeschooled.

The contest is sponsored by the York Yom HaShoah Committee, comprised of representatives of Jewish Family Services of York, Ohev Sholom Congregation, Temple Beth Israel, and the York Jewish Community Center.

The first-, second- and third-place winners will receive monetary prizes, and the first-place winner will be asked to read his or her essay at the Yom HaShoah commemoration event at the JCC on Sunday, April 23.

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

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Ethics Course Posted January 25, 2017

Talmud Interactive will be offered at the Jewish Community Center (JCC), 2000 Hollywood Drive, York, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Feb. 1 to March 8.

Participants will learn and apply ancient Jewish ethics and legal principles to everyday issues. Topics will include the complexity of parent-child relationships, keeping commitments, and forgiveness.

There is a course fee. Registration is required by stopping by the JCC front desk, calling 843-0918, or visiting www.yorkjcc.org. For more details, readers may contact Rabbi Elazar Green at 723-8783 or rabbi@jewishenrichment.com.

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Jewish Congregations To Host Storyteller January 20, 2017

There is something about a good story that makes an impact beyond what even the most thoroughly annotated lecture can do. Baltimore resident Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff has used stories to teach people of all ages about Jewish history and to work for social justice. During the first weekend in February, Zunikoff will serve as the scholar-in-residence for "Stories for All Ages," which will be hosted by the three Jewish congregations of Lancaster.

Zunikoff's visit has been sponsored by the Jewish Community Alliance of Lancaster, and events will take place at Congregation Shaarai Shomayim, 75 E. James St., Lancaster, and at Temple Beth El, 1836 Rohrerstown Road, Lancaster. Although Degel Israel will not be a location for any of the presentations, the congregation is among the hosts.

Zunikoff is the founder and director of The Golden Door: Storytelling for Social Justice, an organization that brings storytellers and facilitators to schools to coach teachers, educate students, and build safe, encouraging classroom communities. Zunikoff was named a 2016 Baltimore Social Innovator by the Warnock Foundation.

For the past five years, she has directed the storyteller teaching training project at Krieger Schechter Day School, empowering teachers to use storytelling to teach their curriculum and to build leadership skills in their students. From 2004 to 2013, Zunikoff co-taught the Oral Histories of Holocaust Survivors course at Goucher College in Maryland, and she individually coached more than 100 students throughout the 10 years of the course.

Zunikoff performs and teaches at schools, camps, and synagogues, as well as for Jewish organizations. She produced a recording of original stories titled "The Growing Season" as a commissioned work by the Macks Center for Jewish Education. Readers may learn more about Zunikoff at www.jenniferstories.com.

While in Lancaster, Zunikoff will maintain a full schedule of events, all of which will be open to the public free of charge. To facilitate appropriate seating and refreshments, those who plan to attend any of the events are asked to register by calling Congregation Shaarai Shomayim at 397-5575, Temple Beth El at 581-7891, or Degel Israel at 392-0884.

The weekend will kick off at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3, with a service that will include a presentation by Zunikoff, at Congregation Shaarai Shomayim. A Shabbat morning service featuring D'Var Torah by Zunikoff will be held on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 9:45 a.m. at Temple Beth El. Junior congregation services for children old enough to sit still through a B'nai Mitzvah will be led by the guest storyteller at 10:30 a.m.

Adults will be invited back to Temple Beth El at 7 p.m. on Feb. 4 for a Havdalah service. Zunikoff will lead a program on the topic "Learn to Tell Stories." Child care will be provided.

The three congregations will combine for Sunday school at Congregation Shaarai Shomayim on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 9:15 a.m. Zunikoff will lead a special program for the students. At the same location at noon, a storytelling workshop for community educators from the three congregations will be held, concluding the weekend's special events.

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