PCS Year in Review: 5780 (2019-2020)
Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan
Part One: BC—Before Corona
We started off a great year with High Holidays focused on “How to be a Lamed-Vavnik" (one of the 36 hidden righteous people). As always, the services involved an ensemble of Rabbi, Cantor Abbe Lyons, and many congregants on the bimah and behind the scenes! There were wonderful programs from Selichot (with B’nei Yisrael in Armonk), to our famous Tashlich, to a large open house Sukkah at the Rabbi’s home, to a lively Simchat Torah.
We started off the year strong: membership stabilizing, financial contributions, partnership with MMCC on a large “Open Tent” grant from UJA Federation to reach out to underserved members of the Jewish community. This despite dealing with enhanced security protocols in the wake of antisemitism.
Enhanced outdoor hikes such as a spiritual photography hike, Shabbat hike,
B’nei Mitzvah parent-child hike.
Shabbat meals such as the Open Tent Sukkot (65 people), “Show Up for Shabbat” (organized and hosted by the Star family), etc.
Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam projects such as: food bank collection on Yom Kippur, Diversity Breakfast, baby boxes for “Open Door,” two afternoons of friendly service at the Cottage School, Social Action column in newsletter, etc.
Member-led social events such as our famous Progressive Dinner.
Special Shabbat concerts with guest performers: Lisa Lipkin, the Levins.
Community Chanukah party with puppet show and puppet-making workshop (Open Tent).
December vigil for the Liu family, with many community members.
Tefillin Day for B’nei Mitzvah and their families (monthly parent-child programs).
Tenement House field trip for teens and parents (Open Tent).
PJ Library Tu Bishvat Event and other Tot Shabbats - Tu Bishvat Seder –
Family Purim Celebration
B’nei Mitzvah services and celebrations
Hebrew School classes and numerous special events for families!
Part Two: Pandemic Days
Even in these difficult times… Especially in these times, our PCS community pulled together and supported each other, even when physically apart.
Outreach to members by staff and board, pastoral counseling, Partners in Caring social worker, sharing support and resources to the community.
Weekly Zoom Kabbalat Shabbats with Rabbi Julie and Aydin Mayers
Weekly Zoom Torah Study
Zoom Hebrew School classes and closing celebration
Nightly Zoom Story Time and Shema and Tot Shabbat
Zoom adult education (Exploring Judaism), Virtual Israel Tour,
Jewish Views of the Afterlife with Simcha Raphael (Open Tent)
Passover: Food delivery (Open Tent) and Zoom congregational Seder
Zoom PCS "Community, Comedy and Caring Fun-draiser” organized by our board and other volunteers, with some of the proceeds going to local needs, and
play by kids, directed by Educational Director Galit Messman.
Services and support to families facing bereavement during the pandemic.
Members helping members who were ill (whether with Covid or other challenges).
Shavuot: Zoom class on Book of Ruth with Simcha Raphael (Open Tent) and Zoom Shavuot service with Cantor Abbe Lyons and Rabbi Julie. Plus ice cream delivery!
Members doing mitzvot such as: Cookie drive for grocery workers, sewing PPE.
Responding to Racism with Board of Rabbis letter, discussion at Kabbalat Shabbat on congregants working on becoming anti-racist as a community and individuals.
Third Annual Pride Shabbat
Celebration of Zoom Mitzvot, every week in June!
THANK YOU to all of our staff, officers, board members, and volunteers for a GREAT year, despite all the unprecedented challenges, with special thanks to PCS’ outgoing president, Leyla Nakisbendi!
Below is a letter that I signed as a member of the Executive Committee of the Westchester Board of Rabbis. As Americans, let us hear the Shofar's call to Teshuvah (repentance) for the sin of Racism that pervades our society.
Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan shares her thoughts (and some original photos) and invites your comments.