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November 2023 News

United Wilmington Response to Antisemitism

This week we mark the 30 day anniversary of the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust. We recognize this period of Shloshim- the thirty days after the death of a loved one, as a time of both immense sadness and reflection. We are reflecting back on our communal tragedy while also recognizing that we have a long way to go before we can simply just grieve and not also be in fear. Our wounds will someday become scars that will be a permanent part of us forever. WE ARE IN MOURNING

We are aware of some troubling antisemitic incidents that have occurred here in Wilmington, across North Carolina, and throughout the United States. The horrific murders and kidnapping of our Israeli brothers and sisters on October 7th is sadly being twisted and misused to promulgate antisemitism. Please know that we are on alert and have received support from our local law enforcement agencies.

Throughout the last four weeks, many people have reached out to us collectively and individually to express sympathy and show solidarity. We are humbled by this show of compassion to the friends in the Wilmington Area, including Houses of Worship, that have shown us unwavering support. Your support has shown us just how integral the Jewish community is to the greater Wilmington community. We are also grateful for the steadfast support of Israel by North Carolina’s Congressional delegation as well as Governor Roy Cooper and the North Carolina House and Senate.

We welcome conversations with those in our community who want to work for peace and seek better understanding of how we can all get there. Together we want to continue to build communities of understanding and stronger relationship here in North Carolina.

We are organizing a local Wilmington Delegation to Washington, DC for the March for Israel . Please let us know by Thursday at 5pm if you are interested in joining Jews and allies from around the country marching together to show support of Israel, freeing the hostages, and combating antisemitism. Click here to express your interest or to learn more about donating to help others attend.
Our commitment to peace and compassion for all innocent Israelis and Palestinians causes us to confront a painful reality: Israel must fight until Hamas is defeated and the hostages and soldiers are returned home to their loved ones safely. 

Signed in Unity,
Rabbi Chaya Bender, Bnai Israel
Rabbi Emily Losben-Ostrov, Temple of Israel
Amy DeLoach, President, Bnai Israel Congregation
Joshua Heinberg, President, Temple of Israel
Alan Gerberg, President, UJA of Wilmington
Debbie Smith, President, Wilmington Jewish Film Festival

September 2023 News

St. Judes MCC Shower & Breakfast ProgramDonations Needed

St. Judes Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) is a participant in our Neighbors In Conversation series.  St. Judes MCC is just down the street from the synagogue. St. Judes has started a new program to support the homeless and is sponsoring hot showers (in a portable trailer at the Church) and a hot breakfast every Friday.   They have asked for our help in collecting personal care items and clothing essentials to be distributed on shower day. There will be a collection box in the synagogue starting during the High Holidays and continued as an ongoing project.  The trailer shower programs helps about 50 people each week with a chance to rest, take a shower, have a hot breakfast and access to necessities they otherwise would go without. If you would like to volunteer in other ways, please contact Rena Goldwasser ( for further information

Items that are needed include:

  • Shaving Cream, Razors (men & women)
  • Soap
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Mouthwash
  • Women's Hygiene products
  • T-shirts (size Large and above)
  • Underwear (men & women, size Large and above)
  • Crew Socks

February 2023 News


Calling All Hamantaschen Bakers

Everyone is welcome, no experience necessary.
Baking will take place Sunday February 26 thru Friday March 3 in the synagogue kitchen. 

We will have two, (2) hour shifts each day,
10 AM - Noon and 1:00 - 3 PM. 
Indicate your first and second choices and we will get back to you to confirm.
To volunteer, contact Rena Goldwasser at or text/phone 860-490-0916 (leave a message and include your name).  


Order your Mishloach Manot & Hamantaschen

Purim is just around the corner and the BIC Bakers are getting excited.
This year, in addition to our traditional Baker's Dozen Hamantaschen, we are also offering Mishloach Manot food gift bags which will look festive, have tasty treats and bring smiles to all who receive them.  The mitzvah of giving the Mishloach Manot is meant to increase love and friendship among Jews and their neighbors.  As said in the Book of Esther, on the holiday of Purim, Jews should celebrate by feasting and "sending portions of food to one another."  So send some food to your friends and family and do a "Mitzvah". 
Get all the information and place your order through the link below.

Click here to order your Mishloach Manot and Hamantaschen 

August 2022 News

Nominations Open for 2023 Officers and

Board of Directors

Time to step up and take part in helping to keep Bnai Israel Congregation running smoothly and successfully.  


We will be holding elections for Officers and Board Members at our Annual Meeting in November, 2022.  Officer terms are for 1 year. Board of Directors seats are typically for 2 years, but may be 1 year to fill a vacant position. All terms begin on January 1st. Our Officers include: President, 1st VP/House Chair, VP-at-Large, Secretary and Treasurer. We have 8 Board seats and in some years, a seat for the Immediate Past President.

This year’s Nominating Committee members are Rena Goldwasser, Chair, Steven Stein and Michelle Bannon.    If you are interested in helping to shape Bnai Israel's future (or just want a mitzvah on your record), please email, or text or phone at 860-490-0916 (leave a message).  You may also arrange to attend a Board meeting as a visitor to see how we conduct business.

Why should you consider being a part of the Board of Directors?

We need your knowledge, experience and talents to help our synagogue best meet the needs of our members, continue to improve our operations and plan for the future. Plus, it’s a mitzvah!

What qualifications do I need to serve?

  • You must be a member in good standing.
  • Officers usually have served on the Board of Directors and have experience on committees here and/or at other congregations.
  • Board members may have experience on committees here or at other congregations and/or have a desire to increase their involvement in certain areas and bring new ideas for us to consider.
  • An ability to work well with others.
  • The most important qualification is a strong desire to serve and a commitment to the success of Bnai Israel.

Click here to learn more about what is required as a Board Member. 

For more information:(link to Bylaws Article 7: Board members and Article 8: Officers

July 2022 News

BIC Members travel to Poland to aid

Ukrainian refugees

In late June 2022, Carol Atwood, Dana Sachs and Richard Weisman traveled to Poland to contribute to the support of refugees from the war in Ukraine. These refugees, mainly women and children, began arriving soon after the war began in February.

Carol Atwood and Dana Sachs are two of the founding members of Humanity Now, which was formed in 2016 to provide direct relief to refugees and migrants arriving in Greece. With money raised in the United States, this organization invests in low-cost, practical projects. Humanity Now supports both essential needs and long-term goals, such as education and job-training. Dozens of initiatives have been funded including food distribution, sanitation and hygiene, legal aid, language instruction, and quality medical care.

Their work was recently expanded to assist those fleeing the war in Ukraine. Within weeks, Humanity Now money was providing groceries and supplies to Ukrainian refugees in Romania, Moldova, and Greece. They began supporting safe shelters for Ukrainians from the LGBTQ community, who face particular hardship. In Poland, a coordination team was launched to help the burgeoning aid community share supplies and knowledge. 

This visit to Poland will allow them to personally evaluate the situation on the ground and direct Humanity Now’s funds to where it is urgently needed and where it will make the biggest impact.

Richard Weisman has been an Overseas Member of JCC Krakow since 2013. JCC Krakow has provided a ‘home away from home’ for the Jewish community of Krakow since its founding in 2008. They serve Holocaust survivors, university students and young Poles discovering their Jewish heritage. Immediately after the war began in February, JCC Krakow pivoted to assist Ukrainian refugees, regardless of their religion. On a daily basis, they provide basic essentials, food, meals, childcare, language classes, counseling and a Safe Space for women and children. Currently they are housing 300 people in apartments and hotels.

Each year, JCC Krakow sponsors a bike ride (Ride for the Living) from Auschwitz to Krakow to raise funds for their operating expenses. This year, a significant portion of the money raised will directly support the Ukrainian refugees. JCC Krakow has pledged to continue this assistance for as long as it is needed.

Richard will participate in Ride for the Living this year in order to contribute to this lifesaving work.

Both of these organizations and those supporting them are examples of Tikkun Olam, also known as Repairing the World, a core Jewish value. We are very proud that these Bnai Israel members are involved in these endeavors. We wish them safe travels and look forward to hearing about their experiences at a Friday evening service.


May 2022 News

Exploring Judaism
From the Open Doors Project....members are invited to check out Exploring, a website that is being piloted by United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism with the goal of highlighting the diversity of perspectives and practices among Conservative Jews. recognizes that there is beauty and complexity in this diversity and that we live in the intersection of many worlds. The website offers content for synagogue members and others who are connected to or curious about Conservative Judaism featuring articles geared for real people in their real lives.


Click here to explore the website.



April 2022 News

Rabbi Bender's Soft Matzah Making Event Was A Hit!

From Rabbi Bender and President DeLoach

Dear Bnai Israel Congregation, 

Our first Seder since 2019 was a great success. Over 70 people gathered together and symbolically journeyed from slavery to freedom. We ate, drank, had deep discussions, and even conga-lined our way through the Sea of Reeds. Every detail of the Seder was lovingly touched by a community member. We are blessed to have such a generous community. 

Thank you to the following people: 

  • Barry and Pam Weiss, for their generous donation of wine for the Seder 
  • Food Preparation, Set Up, and Clean Up helpers, and all Seasonal Help: 
    • Our amazing staff team all of their hard work this busy season: Kristen Dorsey, Yvonne Jones, and Tina Sacramone
    • Shai Abisch 
    • Michelle Bannon  
    • Rabbi Chaya Bender 
    • Eve Berger 
    • Lillian Berger 
    • Amy DeLoach 
    • Diane Gerberg 
    • Rena Goldwasser 
    • Emily Jaeger 
    • Terry Jensen 
    • Garison Kaufman 
    • Nancy Kraselsky 
    • Joelle Serot 
    • Pam Sender 
    • Christina Urdaneta 
    • Laurel Westreich 
    • Edie Zeldin 
    • Lloyd Zeldin 
    • Nikki Zeldin 

A special thank you to Trish McLean who went above and beyond to help us organize every detail of this event. We truly could not have done it without you. 

May the rest of our Passover be filled with joy and gratitude for the freedoms in our lives as well as our Bnai Israel Family. 

Happy Passover and Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Chaya Bender and Amy DeLoach, President 



Journal Ads for Celebration! Installation! Dedication!

We are creating a journal as part of our upcoming Celebration! Installation! Dedication! Weekend in order to commemorate this very special event.  It will include beautiful photographs, the history of Bnai Israel, details about the beautiful restoration of our sanctuary, and words of congratulations to Rabbi Bender on the occasion of her installation.  Be a part of this weekend by attending the events and by purchasing an ad for the journal.  See the attached Ad Form for further details. Don’t delay! The deadline for ads is May 5, 2022.


Click here for the ad form.



Yom HaAtzmaut Speaker, Rick Barton and Virtual Movie, Exodus 1947

Join together with the united Jewish Wilmington for a virtual Yom HaAtzmaut program, Israeli Independence Day: Israel as a Melting Pot, with speaker Rick Barton. At your leisure, watch Exodus 1947 online, Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at 12:00 pm Through Thursday, May 5, 2022. 

Wednesday, May 4th at 7:00 pm: Join us on Zoom with speaker Rick Barton, who will share his ideas on modern-day immigration to Israel and the history of the various waves of immigrants which have contributed to Israel's diverse and innovative populations.

Rick Barton is an attorney and adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law. He has served on the boards of several Jewish organizations and served as the national chair of leadership, national chair of education, and national vice-chair of international affairs for the Anti-Defamation League. He lives in Encinitas, CA.

About Exodus 1947: On July 11, 1947, in the port of Sête, France, 4,500 Jewish refugees were crammed into the hull of a decrepit steamship, later named Exodus 1947. A British blockade intercepted Exodus 1947 in international waters off the coast of Palestine. The tense standoff culminated in a direct attack by military personnel against the unarmed civilians on the Exodus 1947. This highly publicized international incident heavily influenced the United Nations resolution authorizing the partitioning of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. Thus, the Exodus 1947 voyage acted as a catalyst in forming a new nation. The program focuses on clandestine and illegal American efforts to finance and crew the most infamous of ten American ships that attempted to bring Jewish refugees to Palestine. EXODUS 1947 is a one-hour documentary narrated by Morley Safer with a score by Ilan Rechtman. The film is a richly layered program, constructed with first-person accounts to recall events that shaped world history.

For more information: 

Film Sponsored by Rita Reibman in Memory of Bucky Stein


Yom HaShoah Ceremony and Documentary: I Am Here

Please register to view this life-affirming documentary, I Am Here, as part of the Wilmington Jewish Film Festival.  Rabbi Chaya Bender and Rabbi Emily Losben-Ostrov will introduce the film with a short Yom HaShoah ceremony.  Ticket information can be found at:

I Am Here Wednesday, April 27, 2022 at 7:00 pm at Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts A life-affirming documentary that celebrates the remarkable life of Ella Blumenthal. At her 98th birthday celebrations, she opens up to close friends and family about her story of survival during the Holocaust, in a way she has never done before. Her recollections, depicted through dynamic 2D animation, include tales of three concentration camps, and of narrowly escaping death in a gas chamber. Along with uplifting stories, like Ella dissuading her niece from ending her life. The animation is juxtaposed with present-day footage of Ella performing her weekly spiritual rituals, being active in the swimming pool, and walking on the promenade in Cape Town. She is not your average grandmother, her vivacious personality and her positive outlook on life are truly inspiring. Dessert reception to follow.

For more information: 


Thank You From the Berger Family

Dear Bnai Israel Congregation, 
Thank you so much for making Eve’s Bat Mitzvah weekend so special for our family. We are so appreciative for all of the support we received to make the weekend a success. Thank you for all the lovely gifts Eve received from the synagogue, the Sisterhood, and the Men's Club. They are beautiful. Eve's Bat Mitzvah was everything we could have hoped for--family and friends joining from near and far, Eve’s hard work paying off on the Bimah, and finding our place in the Bnai Israel community. We are so happy to be members of the synagogue and part of this community, and we look forward to our family’s continued participation at Bnai Israel. We are so thankful for all of Rabbi Bender’s efforts with Eve in preparation for her Bat Mitzvah--we are lucky to have her as our spiritual leader at Bnai Israel! Sincerely, Jon, Liz, Lillian, and Eve Berger.


Guest Speaker Bob Bahr

In conjunction with the Wilmington Jewish Film Festival this weekend, guest host Bob Bahr will speak to the Bnai Israel Congregation after services on Saturday, April 23, 2022.  Mr. Bahr, who is an award-winning journalist and reporter for CNN and CBS News will present his talk: “How the Jews made the movies and how movies made the Jews.” Following his talk, there will be a short Q&A session. 

Mr. Bahr, who has reviewed over 500 films yearly for the largest Jewish Film Festival in America held in Atlanta, has also been awarded the Rockover Awards top prize in Jewish journalism three times and has been honored by the American Jewish Press Association.  


Passover is Almost Here!

18Doors provides lots of resources that you can use to make your Passover Seder a "sweet" and delicious one! Check them out for hints, recipes, and a cheat sheet with all you need to know.

Calling All Cooks!


Join us as we prepare our seder in Bnai Israel’s kitchen on April 12, 13, and 14.  No experience is required.  

Call Trish at 910-762-1117 to schedule your time in the kitchen.

Celebration! Installation! Dedication!

Thursday, June 9, Friday, June 10, and Sunday, June 12

On Thursday, June 9th, there will be a celebration of the Installation of Rabbi Chaya Bender and Rededication of the Sanctuary. The band "The Ruach" will be performing at a dinner at the Cape Fear Country club.

On Friday, June 10th, we will have the Installation of Rabbi Chaya Bender at the Friday evening Shabbat service, accompanied by The Ruach.

On Sunday, June 12th, there will be a Rededication of the Sanctuary with a wine and cheese reception.

Please email Michelle Bannon to place an ad in the journal celebrating this event.


Sisterhood Book News

BIC Sisterhood has donated a book to the synagogue library to honor the memory of Hattie Joyce Popkin, mother of Greg and Cindy Popkin. The book is a biography of German Jewish painter, poet, and social progressive Florine Stettheimer, and is titled Florine Stettheimer: A Biography, by Barbara Bloemink.

Kiddish in Honor of Eve Berger’s Bat Mitzvah

On Saturday, April 2, 2022, the Berger Family is proud to celebrate the Bat Mitzvah of Eve Gabrielle Berger.  After Shabbat services, everyone is invited to join together in the social hall for kiddish, sponsored by Eve’s grandparents, Arthur and Barbara Berger.

Shabbat Dinner in Honor of

Eve Berger's Bat Mitzvah

On Friday, April 1, 2022, Eve's Grandparents Arleen and Don Rochlen are delighted to host invited guests and the BIC congregation for dinner from 5-7 pm before Kabbalat Shabbat services.

After services, the congregation is invited to join for an Oneg Shabbat also hosted by Don and Arleen Rochlen in honor of Eve's Bat Mitzvah.


March 2022 News


The Reopening Committee met this week and are pleased to report the following changes to our policies:


Starting this Shabbat, everyone will be allowed to serve themselves at onegs, kiddish lunches, and dinners. At some large events, servers may be utilized.

Change to Covid Guidelines
Per CDC recommendations, we are now using Community Covid levels to determine how to keep everyone safe when at Bnai Israel.

At this time, the level in New Hanover & Brunswick counties is Low.

This means we can relax our mask policy for those who are fully vaccinated. We will monitor the Covid level in our area on a daily basis. If the levels increase significantly, our policies may need to be changed again. 

Because the Community Covid levels are Low: 
Masks for adults and children 5 and older who are fully vaccinated are optional. This includes children attending religious school or events.


Who still has to wear a mask at Bnai Israel? 
Adults and children 5 and older who are not fully vaccinated.

*Please feel free to wear a mask if that is your personal preference, regardless of the Community Level. If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, please consider wearing a mask. 

What hasn’t changed?
For everyone: If you are ill with fever, cold, or flu symptoms, we ask that you remain at home until you recover.
A one-time waiver is still required for members and guests. 

Don’t forget to sign in when you arrive for services, classes, or events!

In case of a Covid exposure, we want to reach you!

Michelle Bannon, Reopening Committee Chair

Thank You To Our Hamantaschen Bakers And Buyers!

Our 2022 Purim Bake & Sale was a huge success due to the sweet tooth (and support) of our members and the skill of our baking team! With generous donations from the BIC Sisterhood and Men's Club (for ingredients) we raised over $1500 with the sale of Purim gift bags.

As you munch away on the hamantaschen, please give a thanks to our baking team: Shai Abisch, Molly Baruc, Liz Berger, Arlene Burns, Michal Cohen, Sharon Dresbach, Terry Jensen, Garison Kaufman, Nancy Kraselsky, Lauren Morris, Tina Sacramone, Naomi Sapir, Debbie Smith, and Laurel Weistreich.

Also contributing were our BIC Hebrew High teens--Eve Berger, Edie Zeldin, and Kyla Alper.

Carolyn Moskowitz is the lady to thank for our lovely packaging (she makes magic each year). And shout out to Trish McLean, our office administrator, who oversaw the printing of our lovely greeting cards.

Finally, my partner and co-chair in crim --Joelle Serot, who watched over everything and made sure we didn't forget anything! A great "Mazal Tov" to everyone who made this "tasty" event possible. "Chag Purim Sameach" to all of our BIC family. 

Effective March 18, 2022, for adults who are fully vaccinated, masks will not be required when attending services at Bnai Israel.

We will continue to monitor the level of Covid in our community and reinstate the mandate if necessary. 

Every person should consider their level of risk when deciding whether or not to wear a mask. 

We will continue the use of servers at Onegs and Kiddish lunches. 

Michelle Bannon
Chair, Reopening Committee


We're Listening! The BIC Weekly Newsletter is Shorter!

We've shortened your newsletter and made links for information and event registration that log members in automatically.

The BIC Weekly Newsletter now posts each week to the BIC website.

Click here for current and back issues!

Shabbat Dinner in Honor of

Eve Berger's Bat Mitzvah

On Friday, April 1, 2022, Eve's Grandparents Arleen and Don Rochlen are delighted to host invited guests and the BIC congregation for dinner from 5-7 pm before Kabbalat Shabbat services.

After services, the congregation is invited to join for an Oneg Shabbat also hosted by Don and Arleen Rochlen in honor of Eve's Bat Mitzvah.

Click here to RSVP by March 20, 2022.


If you are having your financial investment company send in a check from your account to pay for your dues or make a donation, please be sure to notify our bookkeeper, Tina,  at with the following information: the name of the investment company, your name, the amount of the check to be expected and how you would like the funds applied. Thank you.

February 2022 News

Let the Baking Begin!

Call for 2022 Purim Hamantaschen Bakers

Please help us celebrate PURIM 5172 and volunteer to join our Hamantaschen Baking Team.  All ages (men and women) are welcome, no experience necessary.  We bake hamantaschen to buy for yourself and to give as gifts, with all proceeds donated to Bnai Israel Congregation. Here are the details:

Baking will take place March 8-11 (Tuesday-Friday) and Sunday, March 13 in the synagogue kitchen.  Masks and gloves will be provided; please bring your own apron if desired. 

We will have two shifts each day (10 am-Noon and 1:30-3 pm).  Due to COVID precautions, a maximum of (3) bakers per shift will be scheduled.  To allow for as many folks as want to participate, please select just one shift per day; let us know if you are free other times and if we need more assistance we will contact you. 

To volunteer please contact Rena Goldwasser at or text/phone 860-490-0916 (leave a message if no answer and remember to include your name).   Indicate your preferences for first (and if possible second choice) for date and time.  We will get back to you quickly to confirm.  Thank you and looking forward to eating!!!

Note:  The Rabbi will be scheduling Hebrew school children separately to bake. 

Bnai Israel Congregation
2022 Purim Hamantaschen Bakers Dozen Sale

It's that time of year again! Purim 5782 is here, March 16 and 17, 2022

 It's time to order your Baker's Dozen Hamantaschen bag--or two or three or four--for you, a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a child at school.....anyone that you want to include as you celebrate Purim this year. 

Each order contains 13 delicious hamantaschen (assorted filling flavors) made with love and care (and with COVID precautions) by our BI Hamantaschen Baking Team. The cookies are attractively bagged, with a special Purim greeting. Gifting hamantaschen is the traditional--and perfect--way to celebrate the festival that recognizes the courage and unity of the Jewish people. 


Just click on the link below and fill out the order form.   This is a fundraiser for Bnai Israel so order a lot! Can’t do hamantaschen? Celebrate anyway by clicking “donation” on the order form. Orders will be available for pick up on March 14 and 15, 2022, at the synagogue.  More details on order the form. 


Black History Month...for Jews Too

February is Black History Month, and part of the history includes that of Black Jews in America. American Blacks and Jews have a long history in race relations but there is a growing awareness of racial diversity within the Jewish community.  

A Pew Research Center Poll (Jewish Americans in 2020) of a random sample of 4,718 Jewish Americans found a significant percentage of diversity.  28% of Jewish adults under 30 either identified as non-White (Sephardic or Mizrahi, or  immigrants or children of immigrants from places other than Canada or the former Soviet Union) and 15% identified as Hispanic, Black, Asian or multiracial.  13% of American Jews in that age range live in multiracial households.  That compares to only 7% of American Jews 65 years or older who identify as non-White.   

Members of the Jewish community have been involved since the beginning of the modern Civil Rights movement (think the iconic images of Dr. Martin King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel). Civil Rights remains a top priority within the Conservative movement, with ongoing projects within the Jewish Theological Seminary, USCJ, and the Rabbinical Assembly. 

Black Jews today sometimes struggle with what it means to be fully immersed in both black and Jewish culture.  In response, groups like Be’chol Lashon ( work to bring the Jewish commitment to Civil Rights forward into the 21st century, providing opportunities for Jews to actively engage in conversations about race and identity.  This is important to all Jews no matter their background or skin color. At Bnai Israel our goal is to ensure that the Jewish community honors its diversity and creates a welcoming future.

Jewish Mindfulness: Every Moment Is A "Shehecheyanu" Moment

Sunday, March 6, 2022
4 pm to 5 pm on Zoom

Join together with Temple of Israel for an afternoon of mindfulness and gratitude.

Mindfulness is the state of consciousness achieved by focusing on the present moment, acknowledging our experience of thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Jewish Mindfulness is that— and so much more!
Through various modes such as text study, meditation, and a hands-on creative experience, we will explore Rabbi Heschel's theory of "Radical Amazement," and the Torah and Talmudic references to reciting 100 Blessings a day. We'll examine the Shehecheyanu, as both a blessing to recite the first time we experience something new and as a mindfulness practice to explore the many blessings we experience daily.
About the Instructor: Jennifer Judelsohn, LCSW is a psychotherapist, artist, and author/illustrator of Songs of Creation: Meditations on the Sacred Hebrew Alphabet, a collection of meditative drawings and text exploring the spiritual meaning of the Hebrew letters. Jennifer works with individuals and groups to consciously create community and connection, and develop skills to live authentically and intentionally. Jennifer facilitates retreats, workshops, and classes on Judaism, spirituality, art, and living a soulful life.

We will join together with Temple of Israel for this event.

Zoom Link: Dial in: +1 646 558 8656 Meeting ID: 835 7111 7272

Tu Bishvat Tree Planting was a Success!

Thank you to Dr. Marty Meyerson for your generous donation to the Tree Alliance and for the opportunity to do a mitzvah with our friends at Temple of Israel. We lucked out with the weather for a beautiful sunset tree planting. We look forward to doing this and other mitzvot together with TIO in the future.

--Rabbi Chaya Bender


Enjoy these pictures of this wonderful event

January News

An Open Door Project Update

Inclusion has become an important buzzword in our society. Often “inclusion” is something people think about as an after-thought—meaning after it is all said and done, in case we made ourselves inaccessible to a population, let us try to make an adjustment. However, inclusion is not something that should be an afterthought. It should be built into the framework of our organization and a part of everything we do. Most importantly, it should be the forethought, the welcoming red carpet we roll out in advance of people needing or asking for it.

Inclusion means creating opportunities for all to be full members of society. However, just creating opportunities is not in itself the goal. Rather it is an important step on the long journey to belonging. It’s about wholeheartedly caring for each member of our kehillah kedosha, holy community, and listening to each person’s individual needs.

Are those in the margins: invited, present, welcomed, known, accepted, supported, cared for, befriended, needed, and loved?

That is exactly what our Open Door Project, headed by Rena Goldwasser, is setting out to do. 

Below Rena shares an update on our Open Door Project as we head into Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month. Together we strive to make Bnai Israel a place where everyone not only feels included but has a true sense of belonging.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Chaya Bender

Open Door Project Article #1  

“Hospitality is temporary.  Inclusion is permanent.”
--Rabbi Steve Wernick, USCJ CEO

Hello everyone!  My name is Rena Goldwasser and I am writing to share news about our Open Door Project (ODP) that I’m working on with Rabbi Bender and other BIC members (Terry Jensen, Mike Smith, Michelle Bannon, and Diane Gerberg).

The ODP was created by the Bnai Israel Congregation (BIC) Board of Directors to serve as a resource for all of our BIC families AND those who are thinking of joining us–families with members who are of a different faith, Jewish LGBTQ+ folks, and Jews of all colors and disabilities, and all ages.  In other words, to ensure that BIC continues to be a vital 21st-century synagogue that serves 21st-century families and individuals in the Conservative tradition.  We are committed to enhancing and expanding the welcoming culture that has been a hallmark of this congregation and making sure that anyone who is looking for a Conservative Jewish home knows about BIC. 

At this time, I’m writing to highlight the idea of inclusion for all, including those with disabilities.   February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month  (JDAIM) 2022 which is in its 13th year of worldwide celebration.  The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) is promoting this event and has developed a website where you can find more information about this and resources that are available, including registration for Jewish Disability and Advocacy Day Conference (on Zoom) planned for February 23d and 24th.  Another site to look at will take you to a podcast collection of recordings called Everyone’s Welcome: A Fresh Conversation on Disability which explores the many areas of inclusiveness that can ensure that people with disabilities and their families can fully and comfortably participate in congregational life.  

Look for more newsletter articles and social media posts highlighting the various ways we live our diversity and inclusion at BIC right now and plans for the future. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged. We are a forum for discussing and responding to the ritual, educational and social needs of our community to make it a “spiritual home” for all. Please feel free to contact me or Rabbi Bender with any questions, suggestions, or feedback. 

Rena Goldwasser
ODP Chair

Rabbi Chaya Bender



International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Rabbi Dov Goldberg of Beth Israel Congregation, Fayetteville, invited us to join together in solidarity and community for this event in recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Let us reflect on the darkest moments on antisemitism in our past to inform our response in the present. May we heal together and eradicate antisemitism, God willing, in our lifetime.
Rabbi Chaya Bender



Dear Friends,

Please excuse the fact that this is not a personalized email. 

The Jewish community has distinct days when it remembers and mourns the horror it suffered during the Holocaust and attempts to find ways to take some lessons from it. This is not unique to our community as many others appropriately recall tragedies in which their people were victimized.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a noted colleague of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously wrote, "morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible." So, it is appropriate that in 2005 the General Assembly of the United Nations established International Holocaust Remembrance Day as a worldwide occasion to recall and learn from that great act of genocidal hatred.

Last Saturday we saw an incident in Colleyville, Texas that blessedly ended without the loss of any innocent lives. But, we have seen a recent rise around our country and across the world of too many despicable acts rooted in hate that do not always have a similar happy ending. To truly confront antisemitism, racism and all forms of bigotry and intolerance, we must ensure that the victims are not forgotten and we must seek to fully understand what actually occurred if we are to create effective ways to address similar threats in the future.

In this light, Fayetteville's Beth Israel Congregation is pleased to invite you, your community and anyone else you know who may be interested, to join us on Wednesday, January 26 @ 7:00 PM via ZOOM for a talk in recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A flyer with details can be found at the following link.        
About Dr. Bernice Lerner's Zoom Talk

Individually and collectively we are all in need of various types of liberation and hope. This talk focuses on the liberation and hope brought to the Bergen-Belson concentration camp in April 1945. I hope you'll be able to join us to learn more about it.
Please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions.

Shalom u-V'rachah (Peace & Blessing),
Rabbi Dov Goldberg
Beth Israel Congregation
Fayetteville, North Carolina
(910) 484-6462



Sunshine Meals

We're More Than Food!

Since 2018, Sunshine Meals has delivered meals to those recently hospitalized or acutely ill. Since that time, your donations and grants from Carolina Foundation for Jewish Seniors have allowed us to increase our services.

For members in need, at no cost, we will also:

--Run errands

--Shop for groceries

--Provide transportation to doctor’s appointments

--Provide quarterly Shabbat meals

To request services or volunteer, Contact Michelle at or 706-832-3048

December News

Meet our newest member! 

Meet Nori, a very young and very cute German Shepherd, who you will probably see at Shabbat services.  Nori is well behaved and has a very special job as a Service Dog for Theresa Densmore. Theresa has had a progressive loss of her eyesight and is visually impaired.

Nori will assist her in many different ways and allow Theresa to continue to be a very active and involved person as always.


What you should know about Service Animals:

--They are highly trained and screened prior to being assigned to their owner.
--When you see them, they are working and intent on caring for and keeping their
 owner safe.
--Please don't pet or talk to Nori. That will distract her from her job.
--But, please do talk to Theresa! She has much to teach us about her experience being visually impaired and how we all can do a better job when interacting with her and others with vision loss.
I know how tempting it is to pet such a beautiful dog. Instead of doing that, pretend Nori's not there. That will be your mitzvah for the day, helping Nori to focus on her job.
Stay Safe and Shabbat Shalom,

Our December "Neighbors In Conversation"

Rabbi Bender (right) and Reverend John McLaughlin of Metropolitan Community Church/MCC (left) talk about Christmas and Hanukkah holidays to our Neighbors in Conversation group on December 12th. 

A lively discussion followed as participants shared Christmas cookies and latkes. 

The group is made up of members from BI and our community neighborhood MCC church and provides an opportunity for people to get to know each other--as good neighbors should do!

  Anyone can join, and more meetings are planned for 2022.  Please contact the BI office for more information. 

BIC's Hebrew High School visits the Good Shepherd Center

Please enjoy these pictures of our Hebrew High School's recent event, and be sure to join us for future events! Want to see even MORE pictures of this fabulous event and others? Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram! Got pictures to share of any BIC event? Upload them to our Dropbox--it's easy! Click this link and follow the directions posted.

8th Night of Hanukkah Synagogue Clean-Up and Party

Please enjoy these pictures of our recent event, and be sure to join us for future events! Want to see even MORE pictures of this fabulous event and others? Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram! Got pictures to share of any BIC event? Upload them to our Dropbox--it's easy! Click this link and follow the directions posted.

Christmas Donations for the Good Shepherd Center
Bnai Israel Congregation sponsored a newborn 3 months ago. With the generous support of our members, we were able to provide everything the family needed.  This family was rehoused during the worst of the pandemic by Good Shepherd.

Good Shepherd reached out to us to ask if we could sponsor them for Christmas.

The wish list is below. Although mom did not request anything for herself, we want to get her a gift certificate.
Thanks to the generosity of people who attended the Sisterhood Latke luncheon we already have 2 large boxes wipes and 1 large box of diapers. As some of the items are costly, we are asking for donations and plan on doing the shopping. 
Please contact us with any questions or the amount of your donation. We appreciate your assistance in giving this family a wonderful holiday.
Sue Mintzes,, 910-620-0782
Laurel Westreich,, 201-317-5071
Girl, 8
- Roller skates (wears 2 1/2 kids' shoe)
- Bicycle (24 inch)
- Kid's boxing gloves
Boy, 6
- Skateboard
- Monster trucks
- Bicycle (20 inch)
Boy, 3 months
- Baby wipes
- Size 2 pampers
- baby walker toy

November News

Sunshine Meals Thanksgiving Meal

Thanks so much to all the people who volunteered their time and energy to make this year's Thanksgiving meal a wonderful success!

Enjoy these photos, and please visit our Sunshine Meals page for volunteer opportunities--we always need more helping hands.

October News

On Sunday, October 31 over 30 people gathered for a light lunch on the BI patio for the relaunch of our "Neighbors in Conversation" program.  The program, started several years ago and interrupted by COVID, brings local houses of worship together for some fellowship, discussion and learning, creating community bonds. 

Rabbi Bender and Pastor John McLaughlin, from St. Jude's Metropolitan Community Church (our neighbor down the street at Market and 26th) spoke about their faiths (MCC is a Protestant denomination) to an audience of congregants from both houses of worship. Discussion and questions were welcomed and everyone left knowing more about each other's faiths. 

Another program is planned for December to talk about the celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas.  BI's Open Door Project supports this program and we look forward to much more shared learning (and food) in the future.

Pastor McLaughlin and Rabbi Bender.

Roselle Margolis and Leigh Winter enjoy a chat.

Group enjoying lunch.

Leigh and Walter Winter seemed to like it.

BI Baggers In The News  

At last Sunday's Neighbors in Conversation program, six plastic sleeping mats were presented to representatives of St. Jude's Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Food Mission Program. 

These crochet and knit mats are made entirely from member donated plastic grocery bags which the BI Baggers then make into plastic yarn (plarn) then crocheted into twin size sleeping mats. 

MCC's Food Mission distributes weekly lunch bags directly to folks living on the streets in Wilmington and this week they will also be able to hand out these mats. The mats provide a personal layer of warmth and comfort to hard surfaces; they also help the environment, since each mat takes anywhere from 500 to 700 individual bags to make, so six mats means that 3,000+ bags will NOT be polluting waterways or landfills. 

The Baggers have also given mats to Good Shepherd Shelter in Wilmington, and plan on ongoing donations to both organizations in the future. 

The next meeting of The Sisterhood Book Club is set for October 20th at 1:00 PM. Most likely the meeting will be on Zoom; we will follow the guidance of the synagogue's policy. 

The Club had a spirited discussion at Barbara's home of Elana Dykewomon's historical novel, Beyond the Pale. At the meeting, we welcomed Naomi Sapir and Susan Turner to the group. Other Sisterhood members are welcome to join us-- contact

to get on the email list. 

Our next selection will be Tobie Nathan's novel of life in 20th-century Jewish Cairo, "A Land Like You."  The book has been positively reviewed in Tikkun and other publications. A copy of the book has been purchased for the synagogue library and is now in circulation.  

September News

Beginning Friday, September 10th

Friday services will be held at 7:00 pm each week. 

August News

The Adult Education Committee met with Rabbi Bender in August to review the responses to the congregation survey and to begin to plan future class offerings.

Over 50 members of the congregation responded to the request for input. About half of those have participated in Adult Ed programs in the past.

Overall, the interest in programs vary from one-time sessions to multiple sessions, held once or twice a month. The afternoons are a popular time and lunch-and-learns once a month were a popular suggestion.  In-person and online classes are both desired by the respondents.

Finally, the survey showed that the majority of the congregants would like basic level classes. However, the Committee did recognize that some congregants would like a deeper level of learning as well.

Rabbi Bender will use this input to develop programing for the Fall and next year. Stay tuned for some exciting offerings, and feel free to share additional thoughts with the Rabbi or the Committee – Ruth Smith, Joelle Serot, and Naomi Sapir.

In terms of program topics, this chart shows the interest levels.

Ruth Ravitz Smith

Seems like we could all use a little Sunshine in our lives right now. Much of the news on the TV & radio is distressing and COVID has reared its ugly head again - just as we were feeling more comfortable leaving our homes.

Sunshine Meals, aka The Sunshine Team, tries to bring some of the warmth of the sun to those who are ill or struggling with other difficulties. COVID has isolated some of our members, and we especially want to reach out to them.

Are you in need of some Sunshine? Do you know someone else in our congregation who has such a need? Please let me know so we can confidentially help.

If you are not in need but wish to be part of what The Sunshine Team does, we’d love to have your help.

Michelle Bannon

Chair, The Sunshine Team

Mon, December 4 2023 21 Kislev 5784