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High Holy Days 5781 - Mapping Our Journey Toward Transformation - Step 5: Forgiveness

High Holy Days 5781 - Mapping Our Journey Toward Transformation - Step 4: Rejection of Repeated Sin

Quarantine Kitchen: Apples and Honey

Steve Lipton


  • Apple (your favorite variety to eat)
  • Honey (local, Israeli, you chose)
  • Sweetness of life (for garnish)


  1. (Optional) Slice apples.
  2. Drizzle honey on apple or dip apple in honey
  3. Recite blessings 

  4. Enjoy with the sweetness of life

Quarantine Kitchen: Gefilte Fish

Ashley Gordon

Recipe from Joan Nathan as published in the New York Times


  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 3 large carrots, peeled
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2 ½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless salmon, whitefish or striped bass fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ½ pound boneless, skinless trout, pike or carp (or a mixture of two), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 10 chives
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley, tarragon, dill and/or a combination
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons matzo meal
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 head radicchio or endive, or both, for serving
  • Prepared horseradish, for serving


  1. Fill a large, wide pot with 10 cups of water and place over high heat. While bringing to a boil, coarsely chop and add to the pot 1 onion, 1 celery stalk, 1 carrot and the fennel bulb. Add the peppercorns and 1 teaspoon salt. Once water is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, while preparing the fish.
  2. Coarsely chop the remaining onion, celery stalk and 1 carrot, then pulse in a food processor until finely chopped. Add fish, chives and 2 tablespoons parsley, tarragon and/or dill, and keep pulsing until fish is chopped but not mushy.
  3. Move the fish mixture to a medium bowl and add eggs, oil, matzo meal, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste) and the ground black pepper, and mix well with your hands.
  4. Put your hands in a bowl of cold water. Using your hands, mold the fish mixture into a 3- by 2-inch oval patty (about 2 ounces) and gently place on a platter. Repeat with the remaining fish mixture, dipping your hands in water as needed.   
  5. Pop the third carrot into the simmering broth and gently add the patties to the pot. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until patties are firm.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fish and carrot from the poaching liquid to cool on a plate. Slice the carrot diagonally into thin rounds.
  7. Place each patty on a leaf of radicchio or endive or both. Set the sliced carrot rounds on top of each patty. Garnish with the remaining tablespoon of fresh herbs and serve warm or at room temperature with horseradish, preferably homemade. If making a day ahead, refrigerate, covered, then return the patties to room temperature before serving.

Simchat Torah Dance Party

Hard times call for serious dancing! 

Be part of our virtual Simchat Torah Dance Party by sending in a 15-second-or-less video of you or your family dancing. We'll compile these to be shared online as part of our holiday celebration, including posting to our Facebook page. Have some type of Torah at home? Include it in your dancing to rejoice in completing another cycle of Torah reading and beginning again. Dance to whatever music you want, or none at all—we'll be adding a dance-party soundtrack to the compilation. Please film your 15 seconds or less of dancing in landscape orientation and submit it to by September 25.

Submit your video for our Simchat Torah Dance Party today! 

High Holy Days 5781 - Information Updates

High Holy Day Candle Lighting Videos

We are excited to announce that, in preparation for our High Holy Day online worship, we will create a video montage of families, couples, and individuals lighting their Shabbat/holiday candles in their homes. These images will be on our screens while Cantor Jacob Niemi offers the live audio of the blessings for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

We are looking for volunteer families, couples, and individuals who would be willing to create videos of themselves lighting Shabbat and holiday candles. We will edit the videos for length to include as many families as we can on the eves of Rosh Hashanah (which is also Shabbat) and Yom Kippur.
Here are the requirements for video submissions:
1. They may be in either MP4 or MOV format.
2. They should be shot in landscape (horizontal) orientation.
3. Do not be concerned about sound or your pronunciation of the blessings. When we include this footage in our holiday worship, Cantor Niemi will provide the audio to accompany your visual images.
4. If possible, dress in nice, casual clothes for the occasion.
5. Try to use an attractive area in your home as a backdrop to your candle lighting.
6. When you are ready, simply email your video to, and we’ll take it from there.
The deadline for submissions is Monday, September 14, 9:00 am.

Thank you for Attending Our Civil Engagement Social Action Shabbat

If you are inspired to combat voter suppression and make voting accessible and safe for all,
please join us for nonpartisan opportunities like these:

Action Alerts: support the postal service, support federal funding for states and
cities to run elections.

Advocacy: support the movement for voting in jails.

Advocacy: Access to the DMV to get an ID for voting can be a barrier. Write to Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson and ask the DOT to increase the number of DMV locations, ensure they are on transit lines and are accessible to disabled voters, and increase hours to include some evenings and weekend hours.

Volunteering: phone banking, canvassing, texting to get out the vote. Sign up with the ACLU and Conservation Voters.

Education: attend programs on voter suppression, election litigation – join us on September 13 for Combating Voter Suppression in Wisconsin, a webinar hosted by Jewish Congregations for Social Justice and the Wisconsin Interfaith Voter Engagement Campaign. Register here

Election Day: sign up to be a poll worker or election inspector.

Thank you to our Social Action Shabbat speaker, Ryeshia Farmer, ACLU Rights For All Campaign Coordinator, for providing this list. She can be reached at or 414-272-4032 ext. 232.

If you are interested in volunteering with the ACLU of Wisconsin's Rights For All Campaign, this spreadsheet details opportunities available to you. The sheet describes each opportunity (extensive use of three strategy tool kits as well as situational/single-day commitments) and also indicates the time commitments and training necessary for each.

After you have reviewed the volunteer opportunities that the ACLU has available, you should use the Google Form to sign up for the ones that interest you! If you thoroughly complete the form, then the ACLU Rights for All Campaign should have all of the information needed to contact you and schedule one or more volunteer shifts as well as offer personal orientation and training as necessary.

At this time, for the safety of volunteers, all opportunities and training can be arranged remotely via social media, email/phone contact, or Zoom meetings, except working and legally observing election polls. For these exceptions, additional safety tips and protocol will be outlined in one-on-one training sessions.

Voting resources:
Wisconsin voting website 
Find your city clerk 
Find your polling place
Check your registration
Sign up to be a poll worker 
Legal Observer Info for Election Observers

Election protection:
Election protection information from Common Cause
Facebook: Wisconsin Election Protection
Instagram: wisconsinelectionprotection
Twitter: @EPWisco

League of Women Voters Drop Box List

For more information and to get involved, contact:
Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, Wisconsin Interfaith Civic Engagement Project,, 608-513-7121

Marcia Vandercook, TBE Civic Engagement Action Team,, 608-239-7367

Quarantine Kitchen: Rosh Hashanah Mule

Ellie Silver

Shopping List

  • Jim Beam® Honey Bourbon Whiskey
  • Ginger Beer
  • One Green Apple


  • Pour bourbon over Ice. 
  • Top with ginger beer. 
  • Add apple garnish.
  • Enjoy an apples and honey beverage for Rosh Hashanah.

Update this content.

High Holy Days 5781 - Mapping Our Journey Toward Transformation - Step 3: Repentance and Atonement

Grandma Ella's Mandelbrot

Linda Berman

Grandma Ella’s Original Mandelbrot

  • 1 cup butter                             
  • 1 Tablespoon  baking powder         
  • 12 ounces toasted almond slivers
  • 1 cup sugar                              
  • ¼ teaspoon salt                                    
  • ½ cup cinnamon sugar mixture
  • 4 eggs                                      
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • 4 cups flour                            
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Put parchment paper on a large cookie sheet.
  3. Cream butter and sugar.
  4. Add eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla .
  5. Add toasted almonds.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Make 4-5 loaves out of dough- each should be: 2”wide x 1” high
  8. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top.
  9. Bake 25-30 minutes until light brown.
  10. Slice the loaves into pieces.
  11. Turn the pieces on their side.
  12. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  13. Bake 10 minutes
  14. Turn the pieces on their other side.
  15. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  16. Bake 10 more minutes.
  17. Cool.

    Mandel Bread Recipe Variation from Grandma Ella Wagner
  • 1 cup butter                     
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar                      
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs                                  
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups flour                      
  • 12 ounce bag chocolate chips (optional)  
  • Cinnamon sugar mixture (About ½ cup sugar and 2 T cinnamon)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  2. Grease or parchment paper 2 large cookie sheets.
  3. Mix ingredients (except the cinnamon sugar mixture) to make 4 loaves -- 2”wide x 1”high and as long as the cookie sheet.
  4. Place loaf on cookie sheet and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on the top of the loaves.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the loaves are brown on the top and bottom.
  6. Cool slightly and then slice the loaves. Put the pieces on their side. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on that side. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Turn the pieces onto their other side. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake another 10 minutes.
  8. Carefully place on cooling racks.

Volunteer Opportunities 

Volunteering is not as easy these days as it used to be, but there are still things you can do to help people in our community.

Catholic Multicultural Center
The Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC) meal program continues to provide grab-and-go meals from the CMC parking lot. Our volunteers drop off food every other Wednesday to meet the growing need. We cook for 80+ people by sharing recipes and dividing up the work. If you are interested in preparing food at home for delivery to CMC, please use the SignUpGenius link. Contact Sue Levy if you have any questions.

Porchlight has opened two shelters to provide more housing and to separate men who are ill from those who are healthy. They are in need of volunteers to do nightly health assessments at the Warner Park men’s shelter, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at 1625 Northport Drive. If interested, please email Kim Sutter.

Healing House
Healing House serves individuals without homes as they recuperate from surgery, illness, or childbirth. TBE cooks meals for the residents and staff on a quarterly basis. We have enough volunteers for the August rotation.

Healing House is also seeking volunteers to work in the house supporting the families who stay there. Volunteers assist with childcare, preparing meals, cleaning rooms, and supporting staff as needed. There is no type of “normal” day, as it depends on the makeup of the guests. The ideal Healing House volunteer will be consistent, flexible, motivated, and caring. Volunteers commit to at least two four-hour shifts a month, for at least six months. Shifts are offered 7:00 am–11:00 pm, seven days a week.

Thoreau and Emerson Elementary Schools
The Madison Metropolitan School District has announced that children will not be returning to the physical classroom until at least early November. This presents a difficult situation for many families whose food budget stretches further when their children can get two meals a day at school. We can support these families by volunteering with or donating to their partner agency, Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin. Sign up here to volunteer and here to donate. For Thoreau School, no decisions have been made yet about additional ways to provide food to families at home.

Emerson School is not likely to use literacy and math mentors for the foreseeable future. The principal has sent a couple of suggestions for how we can continue to support the school:

  • Use Amazon Smile when you shop Amazon. Add Emerson Elementary PTO (Madison, WI) as your charity. This costs participants nothing.
  • Download the BoxTops apps on your phone. Add Emerson Elementary (searching for zip code 53704 is fastest). Follow the directions—basically, take a picture of your grocery receipts—and anything that is a BoxTops brand will be counted. Also free.
  • If you are feeling generous, support the school’s current GoFundMe for purchase of new smartboards.

United Way Volunteer Center
United Way of Dane County has compiled a list of volunteer opportunities specifically needed during the pandemic. They are currently looking for website managers, food bank warehouse workers, food pantry gardeners, sweet corn harvesters, blood drive volunteers, and a wide variety of other positions. Many of the volunteer jobs can be done using social distancing or from home.

Undocumented Immigrants Face Dangerous Conditions in Detention 

by Lynn Silverman, Erica Serlin, and Marta Karlov

On June 22, 2020, the Temple Beth El Immigrant Rights Action Team co-sponsored an educational presentation and advocacy action request with Dane Sanctuary Coalition about the impact of COVID-19 on undocumented immigrants. This event was open to all Temple Beth El congregants and Dane Sanctuary Coalition member congregations through a live Zoom event.

This presentation was tied to our receipt of a $1,500 mini-grant award from the Gilbert and Eleanor Krause Initiative for Immigrant and Refugee Justice at the Religious Action Center (RAC). We used this grant to partner with the Community Immigration Law Center (CILC) to provide education to CILC’s attorneys to enhance the legal representation they provide to immigrants facing deportation. Aissa Olivarez, managing attorney for CILC, described the trainings and then spoke about the status of immigrants in detention and the impact of COVID-19 on these immigrants.

Ms. Olivarez noted that there are currently 50,000 immigrants in detention nationwide, more people detained than in the previous 150 years. Because of expanded priorities under the current administration, people convicted of any offense, no matter how minor, or even just charged with an offense, can be detained. Vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, parents with young children, and mentally ill people, are no longer protected. Detainees include individuals who have overstayed their visas and those awaiting court decisions on removal, including people seeking asylum from violence and persecution. All of this detracts attention from those who actually pose a safety risk.

Conditions in detention have been dangerous for years. There have been 193 deaths of people in ICE custody since 2004. Now with COVID-19, the risk is even more pronounced and the conditions even more dire. The detention centers have no capacity for social distancing, do not provide adequate protection, and have limited medical care. For this reason, the RAC, the Union for Reform Judaism’s social justice arm, has been advocating for immediate release of detainees to sponsors and family members.

In addition, our program included brief presentations by two local nonprofits that provide advocacy for the Latinx community, Worker Justice Wisconsin and Voces de la Frontera. They spoke about their efforts to promote safe return-to-work environments for low-wage and undocumented workers in the age of COVID-19.

Our presentation concluded with several suggestions for action steps, including donating to local organizations supporting undocumented immigrants, such as Dane County Immigrant Assistance Fund, voting and working on get-out-the-vote campaigns, and writing to legislators to ask them to release all people held in detention and to stop deportations. A sample letter from the Interfaith Immigration Coalition Toolkit was included for participants.

Pride Month Celebrations

By Paul Grossberg and Aleeza Hoffert

Temple Beth El wove together a beautiful tapestry of Jewish values, tikkun olam, inclusion, diversity, immigration, and racial justice during PRIDE month in June. By celebrating LGBTQ people and values within our Temple and larger communities, we all felt valued, uplifted, informed, and motivated to help improve our world. We did this through many varied and engaging programs.

We decorated our digital world with rainbows, we filled our souls with music by LGBTQ composers and themes sung by Cantor Jacob Niemi each week, we added color to the recipes featured in our Quarantine Kitchen program (including two youth bakers), we learned with Rena Yehuda Newman about Queer Jewish Memory and with Cantor Niemi on looking at Jewish texts with a “bent lens,” we celebrated a spirited pride Shabbat, and we even learned how to make a few different Pride-themed friendship bracelets.

Rena Yehuda Newman’s Zoom meeting on Queer Jewish Memory was fascinating and provided a powerful message about “expanding the archives” and documenting personal stories to ensure that future historians have a complete picture. For example, Newman’s research showed that the history of the late-1960s Black student strike at UW reveals documents and perspectives of university administrators but few if any documents or perspectives from the Black students themselves. They challenged us to question what we would document and put in an archive to capture LGBTQ lives and struggles and what we want remembered, and to reach out to archives to do just that. What are we contributing to Queer Jewish memory?

Cantor Niemi’s insightful "bent lens” journey through Jewish texts was truly thought-provoking, depicting differing interpretations of texts through the ages. Cantor Niemi explained how the rabbis learned how to deal with gender fluidity and sexual differences because of the ancient Jewish tradition of having people bring questions and difficulties to the rabbis for advice and wisdom. While traditional norms may be continually reinforced through the centuries, there is ample evidence that Judaism has accepted and even embraced these differences.

Pride Shabbat was a beautiful service filled with meaningful prayers and heartwarming music from specially selected composers. We so appreciate our rabbi’s and cantor’s wisdom, caring messages and words, and inclusive support for all of us in our community.

The Pride committee also put together a wonderful list of resources that can be found on the
Temple blog.

You can continue to feel the Pride by watching these recordings:

Pride Shabbat June 2020

Pride Friendship bracelets (click here for instructions)

Quarantine Kitchen Pride Edition—Rainbow Challah with Jen Szlasa (click here for recipe)

Quarantine Kitchen Pride Edition—Pride Flag Cupcakes with Theo Jacobsohn (click  here for recipe)

Quarantine Kitchen Pride Edition—Rainbow Cheesecake Swirl Bars with Eliana Goff (click here for recipe)

Bo’u Nashir (“Come, Let Us Sing”) – June 2, 2020 

Bo’u Nashir (“Come, Let Us Sing”) – June 9, 2020 

Bo’u Nashir (“Come, Let Us Sing”) – June 16, 2020 

Bo’u Nashir (“Come, Let Us Sing”) – June 23, 2020 

Bo’u Nashir (“Come, Let Us Sing”) – June 30, 2020 

Reclaim Our Vote Campaign: A Virtual Postcard-Writing Party 

On August 4, the Temple Beth El Civic Engagement Action Team held a postcard-writing project to encourage registration and voting in states that have significant voter suppression laws. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is partnering with the Center for Common Ground in their nonpartisan Reclaim Our Vote campaign, reaching out to eligible voters of color in states where help is most needed. These campaigns have proven to be highly successful in getting unregistered and deregistered voters back on the voting rolls so they may cast their ballots.

Members got together on Zoom to learn more about the campaign, then moved into Zoom “rooms” for casual conversation and company while we added hand-written messages, mailing labels and stamps. It was an easy and fun way to take action from home.

Our MaTTY teens are also excited to be participating in this mitzvah project.

We will hold another postcard party on September 1. Please order your postcard kit through the Union for Reform Judaism by August 11 to participate. We are also planning outreach to voters here in Wisconsin. If you’d like to get involved, please let Aleeza Hoffert know.


Combating Voter Suppression in Wisconsin: Protecting Everyone’s Right to Vote

On September 13, Matt Rothschild will discuss the history and current practice of voter suppression in America and in Wisconsin. Matt is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which investigates and advocates on issues like gerrymandering, campaign finance, special interest lobbying and electioneering, and voter suppression. The program will conclude with a discussion of what we can do to combat voter suppression and support a healthy democracy.

Prior to joining the Democracy Campaign five years ago, Matt worked at The Progressive magazine for 32 years, most of that time as editor and publisher. His opinion pieces have run in the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, the Miami Herald, and a host of other newspapers. He has also appeared on Nightline, NPR, C-SPAN, and WISC-TV, where he does election night commentary.

This presentation will be offered by Zoom on Sunday, September 13, 3:00–4:30 pm. The program is sponsored by the Wisconsin Interfaith Voter Engagement Campaign and by Jewish Congregations for Social Justice, a collaborative effort of the social action committees of Temple Beth El, Beth Israel Center, and Congregation Shaarei Shamayim. You can sign up here for the Zoom link.

It is highly recommended that you watch the short 38-minute documentary “Suppressed: The Fight to Vote” before the program. This online video is both engaging and enraging, and will leave you wanting to learn more.

Social Action Shabbat Will Focus on Voting Rights

At the Social Action Shabbat on August 28, we will welcome Ryeshia Farmer, coordinator of the “Rights for All” campaign of the ACLU of Wisconsin. Ms. Farmer will talk about the multitude of issues swirling around voting rights, including mail-in ballots, keeping polling places open, voter ID, felon disenfranchisement, disability access, voter roll purges, and more. The TBE Civic Engagement Action Team will offer concrete actions we can take to protect and expand the right to vote for every American.

Throughout the fall, the TBE Civic Engagement Action Team will be working on these issues. At the racial justice conversations in July, many members expressed an interest supporting the efforts of the African American community to increase voter engagement and combat voter suppression. Join us on August 28 on Facebook Live as we learn what we can do to make voting available for all citizens. If you’d like to get involved with our Civic Engagement Action Team, please contact Aleeza Hoffert.

In response to the latest pandemic relief bill, national Jewish organizations urged all U.S. senators to include $3.6 billion in emergency federal funding to help states increase ballot access, which is critical to holding the November 2020 elections fairly and safely during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. The letter stated:

“The right and ability to have a political voice has been crucial to the journey of Jews in this country, and we have always worked to ensure that every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot and have it counted. We are gravely concerned about states’ ability to ensure safe, fair, and accessible elections in the midst of this global pandemic, which is what prompts us to join together to urge the Senate to provide states with the resources they need to execute safe and effective elections.”

At the request of the Social Action Committee, Temple Beth El joined Jewish organizations and synagogues around the country in signing this letter.

Looking Inward, Focusing Outward: An Urgent Conversation on Racial Justice

by Beth Kaplan

“God formed Adam out of dust from all over the world: yellow clay, white sand, black loam, and red soil. Therefore, no one can declare to any people that they do not belong here since this soil is not their home,” wrote Yalkut Shimoni some 800 years ago.

More than 70 Temple Beth El members participated virtually in “Looking Inward, Focusing Outward: An Urgent Conversation on Racial Justice” in July. Filled with music from Cantor Jacob Niemi and wise words from Rabbi Jonathan Biatch, Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, Racial Justice Action Team Co-Chair Betsy Abramson, and others, the program provided a much-needed opportunity for congregants to listen, learn, share, and plan next steps.

While we may be familiar with the statistics on racial inequities in every area of life here in Madison, in Wisconsin, and in the United States as a whole, seeing them on our computer screens still shocked and disturbed us. As with many things, the enormity of the challenge ahead felt daunting. Hearing about work done by the Religious Action Center and our Temple community showed us that we had a sturdy foundation to build on. Breaking it down into areas we could focus on, and talking about specific steps and actions we could take as individuals and as a congregation, helped all of us feel as if change could indeed happen.

But first, it was so important to listen, to reflect on our own experiences, and to share those stories with each other.

The first to do so was Martye Griffin, who spoke to us in a video he’d recorded to provide the space for us, as white congregants, to talk honestly, without worrying about being judged. An African American member of Temple Beth El, Martye described how his family always dressed up when they went out, and how he had to wear a tie each time. When he asked his mother why his family had to do this while the white families he saw got to dress casually and comfortably, she told him that because people were going to judge them by the color of their skin, they needed to present a picture that was impossible to criticize. He shared other stories about early school days and about college that echoed stories we’ve heard in the weeks since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police. His stories showed the care and thought that had to go into every action African Americans take on a daily basis to stay safe.

In the virtual equivalent of sitting at tables together in TBE’s Swarsensky Social Hall, we were all placed in different “Zoom rooms” to talk about our own experiences seeing subtle and not-so-subtle examples of racism and inequality around us, as children and as adults. In my “room,” there were stories about experiences where there was no diversity, or where we were the only white people at community celebrations hosted by African American organizations. We shared memories of conversations with family members expressing racist views, or parroting those views as children and being taught profound lessons by parents who set us straight.

I shared a story that still haunts me, about welcoming back my third grade teacher, who was probably the only African American teacher in all of East Brunswick, New Jersey, after a short absence. We adored Mr. O’Kelly, and without him I’d probably never have become an expert on multiplication, one of the few math skills I possess. “Welcome back Aunt Jemima!” I shouted. Mr. O’Kelly looked at me, and quietly asked me why I had said that, why I had called him Aunt Jemima. I remember freezing, knowing I’d said something very wrong, but not being sure what. He gently moved on, but the day General Mills announced recently that they were retiring Aunt Jemima for good, I wished I could write him a note apologizing, more than 50 years later.

From our stories, we moved on to steps we wanted to take going forward. Many in my group were passionate about doing all we could to stop potential voter suppression in the fall elections. Others suggested that as a congregation, we join our community’s African American organizations, faith groups, and others at their life-cycle celebrations, and form coalitions with them to build meaningful relationships. All agreed that we needed to listen hard—and keep listening—to our African American neighbors, and to let those conversations guide us forward.

“It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it,” said Rabbi Tarfon. These sessions confirmed that there is much work to do, and a great passion not to neglect that work, no matter the challenges ahead.


The Social Action Committee plans to continue this discussion at our meeting on August 6. One of the clear messages from these conversations is that people are ready to get involved and make a difference. A Zoom invitation will be sent to the Social Action Committee and to those who participated in our racial justice conversations in July. Please contact Aleeza Hoffertif you want to be added to the list.

High Holy Day Food Drive

Temple Beth El works year-round to combat hunger through donations and service. One of our signature programs is the High Holy Day Food Drive, which raises thousands of dollars each year for hunger relief. Most of the funds you donate go to Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, which uses a cost-efficient system to purchase and distribute millions of pounds of food each year.

Last year, we broadened our support to include the Thoreau Elementary weekend food bag program, groceries for the Porchlight shelter program, and the Dane Sanctuary Coalition emergency food fund. With our remaining funds, we made a spring donation to Second Harvest for pandemic hunger relief and summer donations to the Latinx Consortium for Action Emergency Relief Fund, the Mount Zion Baptist Church food pantry, and the Catholic Multicultural Center food pantry.

This year, no surprise, our food drive is going virtual. In the High Holy Days mailing you receive from TBE, you’ll find the familiar food drive envelope. You can make your contribution online here, (choose “High Holy Day Food Drive” as the donation type) or write a check and mail it to the TBE office. Make the check payable to Temple Beth El and include “food drive” on the memo line. You will need to provide a stamp to mail it back in the provided envelope.

Unemployment is high and families suffer as the virus continues to plague our community. Children who are home from school don’t have access to the free-and-reduced breakfast and lunch programs. Food banks and community kitchens have a hard time keeping up with the demand. We hope you will be able to give generously; any amount you can give will be greatly appreciated.

High Holy Days 5781 - Mapping Our Journey Toward Transformation - Step 2: Confession and Personal/Individual Rebuke

Combating Racism: Resources for Education and Action

As people of faith, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. Many of us want to take action, but are not always sure what action to take. Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice has compiled an extensive list of educational resources and actions we can take to combat racism. Check it out here.

We would also add these resources:

Why I Am a Zionist for Black Lives Matter


The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce and its Black Business Directory 2018 (an updated directory is due out this fall).

Ashkenazi/White Jewish Privilege Checklist

Opinion: Jews With White Privilege Must Work to Make Change

What actions will you take today?  

Kreplach with Three Different Fillings

Ashley Gordon

Kreplach Dough (courtesy of Tori Avey)

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2-2 cups flour
  • 1.25 tsp salt
  1. In a medium bowl, mix eggs and oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix 1.5 cups of flour with the salt.
  3. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the egg and oil mixture.
  4. Use a fork to begin incorporating the flour into the egg mixture. Continue until the mixture is too thick to mix with a fork. Then, begin using your hands to mix and knead the dough.
  5. Add ½ cup of flour a little at a time until the door is no longer sticky. You might not use a fill ½ cup.
  6. Let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes covered.

Vegetarian filling:

  • 1 small head or ½ large head of cauliflower
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • ½ tbsp pepper
  • ¾ tbsp smoked paprika (regular is okay, too)
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  1. Break down the cauliflower into florets and pulse in a food processor until very finely chopped.
  2. Break down the carrots into chunks and pulse in a food processor until very finely chopped.
  3. Chop the onion into large pieces and pulse in a food processor until very finely chopped.
  4. Add salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder and mix.
  5. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.
  6. Add the vegetarian filling mix and cook until the vegetables are soft and begin to brown on the bottom of the pan. This takes about 10-15 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Chicken filling

  • 2 chicken breasts, approximately 1 pound, cooked
  • 2 chicken legs, approximately 1 pound, cooked
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (regular is okay, too)
  • 1 egg
  1. Remove the chicken from the bone if not using boneless meat.
  2. Place the chicken in a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped.
  3. Add the salt, garlic power, onion powder, pepper, and paprika and mix until incorporated.
  4. Add the egg and mix until incorporated.

Beef filling

  • 1 – 1.5 pounds ground beef
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tsp onion powder
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the meat to the pan along with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Use a spoon to incorporate the spices into the meat as it begins to cook.
  3. Brown the beef until cooked through.
  4. Use a potato masher to break the meat up until it looks finely chopped. Alternatively, use a food processor.

Folding techniques:

  • For half-moon, three corner, and triangle folding techniques, refer to Tori Avey’s blog:
  • For the tortellini folding technique, follow the half-moon steps in Tori Avey’s blog. Instead of rolling the edge of the kreplach after it’s folded, bring the two corners of the half-moon together and press to seal them. You can use a little water to help with the seal.

High Holy Days 5781 - Mapping Our Journey Toward Transformation

Quarantine Kitchen: Israeli Vegetable Salad with Pita, Zaatar, and Labneh

Rabbi Jonathan Biatch

On warm summer days, everyone appreciates a cool meal, or at least a cool side-dish, to take the heat away from your body and to chill down emotions and feelings. So here is a simple Israeli salad that has served as a staple of Israel dining tables for many decades. The addition of the pita bread, the zaatar spice mix, and the labneh yogurt cheese is just a sense of the fun one can have with Middle Eastern cooking. Enjoy!


  • 4 fresh medium tomatoes, chopped or cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 decent-sized cucumber, chopped or cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped or cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 medium to large red onion, chopped or cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 whole carrot, chopped or cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 30 (approximately) mint leaves chopped chiffonade style, enough to make about ¼ cup packed.
  • 2/3 bunch of fresh parsley, rough chopped, for about 1 cup’s worth.
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice from 1.5 lemons
  • 5 tbsp of Olive oil
  • Zaatar spice blend (optional)
  • Sumac (optional)
  • ¾ lb labneh yogurt cheese
  • Whole wheat pita bread cut into triangles


In a large bowl, mix together all the vegetables, lightly salting and peppering to taste. Be sure to keep the liquid from the vegetables in the bowl.

When the vegetables are uniformly mixed, add pepper to taste, the oil, and lemon juice, and continue to nix more.

Now, toss in the mint and parsley and mix again.

Quarantine Kitchen: Ice Cream Watermelon

Leslie Coff

Shopping List:

  • Two pints green ice cream/sorbet
  • Two pints pink ice cream/sorbet
  • ½ cup chocolate chips.
  • Glass or metal bowl (metal preferred) around 6-8” diameter
  • Serving plate



Allow the green ice cream to soften slightly, empty into the bowl and use a spoon or spatula to line the bowl with the ice cream, about ½” thick. This will be the “rind” of the watermelon.

Put bowl into freezer to harden the ‘rind’ of the ‘watermelon’.

Allow the pink ice cream to soften a bit, mix in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Remove bowl from freezer. Add the softened pink ice cream mixed with chips...and fill ‘rind’ with pink filling.


After it hardens, when ready to serve, fill a larger bowl with hot water. Dip the bottom of the ice cream watermelon bowl into the hot water momentarily.

Upturn onto a serving plate. Garnish with mint leaves or flowers or sprinkles.

Slice dome into ‘watermelon’ slices and serve immediately.



Thank You to Our 80th Anniversary Sponsors

The third event of our 80th anniversary celebration, originally scheduled for June 27, unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage you to support the following businesses that generously sponsored our 80th anniversary celebration series throughout the year.

Platinum Level
Celebrations Entertainment
Dewitt LLP Law Firm
Rocky Rococo Pizza and Pasta

Gold Level
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co.
Johnson Financial Group

Silver Level
Best Defense Fire Protection & Security
Camp Interlaken JCC
Madison Computer Works
Tree Health Management
URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute
Willy Street Co-op

Bronze Level
Ayelet Tours
Bauer & Raether Builders
Crystal Cleaners
Destree Architecture and Design
Hausmann-Johnson Insurance
Images Plus
Lake Mills Cleaners and Dyers Inc.
Meicher CPAs
Sergenian’s Floor Coverings
Sondel Family Veterinary Clinic
Squeaky Clean Window Washing

New Temple Community Contribution Program Coming Soon

At TBE, many of our most meaningful experiences happen when we gather, worship, study, and work for social justice together. These four foundational values—embodied in the view of our congregation as a beit knesset (house of community), beit t’filah (house of worship), beit midrash (house of learning), and beit tzedek (house of justice)—support our synagogue life and bind us together as Jews.

Over the past few months we have seen these foundational values at work as we connected with each other in new ways. Soon, they will guide us on another new part of our journey.

After years of detailed analysis, and in line with many other Reform congregations, we are preparing to adopt a new system for membership contributions that will better reflect our authentic sense of community, while encouraging all of us to invest in the values that support and sustain a Reform Jewish presence in Madison. While the amount of your annual contribution might not change, we hope that the reasons for your financial support will better align with the values you most hold dear.

In preparation for this change, we encourage you to reflect on the many reasons for your involvement in Jewish life. Being a part of Temple Beth El involves embarking into a relationship of responsibility for each other. We engage with one another when we participate in family groups or study groups, when we strive to better our world through volunteer opportunities and to guide our congregation through leadership or committee involvement, and in the moments when we draw inspiration from worship alongside our fellow congregants.

All of these experiences represent our covenant with one another—our dedication to making Temple Beth El a place where we fulfill our Reform Jewish values. The new Temple Community Contribution program will encourage all of us to reflect on this covenant as we consider our annual contributions, both financial and nonfinancial.

More information about the Temple Community Contribution will be coming by mail in July, in preparation for the membership renewal process beginning in October. We will also hold information sessions in August and December.

Pride Friendship Bracelets

Jen Szlasa

Each year for Pride Shabbat, we like to bring an accessible craft to the community. We try to make sure there are varying levels of difficulty to keep people of all ages engaged. Last year we accomplished that with a variety of designs to create your own rainbow yarmulke. This year, I’ll outline friendship bracelets, three ways. The first will be the simplest method: a 6-strand rainbow candy stripe. The second will be a 12-strand chevron. The third will be an alphabet pattern spelling out LOVE–AHAVAH in rainbow colors. Feel free to scroll down to whichever pattern/level of difficulty you’d prefer.

First up, you’ll need some string. My favorite is DMC, and here are the color IDs if you’re looking for an easy way to order online. They also have great photos of the entire palette on their website if you’re looking for a precise shade. Local shops can easily retrieve the floss by color name/ID for curbside pickup.

Candy Stripe

Start by cutting about 3 feet of each color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. Tie a knot at the end.

At this point, I sometimes include a safety pin in the knot to clip the bracelet to my clothing and keep it taut as I tie the knots. For this demo, I’ll be using a clipboard, which achieves the same goal.

If you’re adding a safety pin, do so now, and attach it to a pant leg to keep the bracelet in place and with you on the go. Alternative methods of securing the knot include the clipboard below or just taping the bracelet to your work surface. Spread out the colors, red to violet.

For the candy stripe, you’ll be using the same knot over and over again. It looks like this: arrange the two strings in the shape of a 4 by bringing the left string over the right and wrapping it underneath the right string (see figure below). Then repeat this same process again with those strings. This completes the “forward knot.” This knot swaps the position of the two colors so you can work a stripe across the whole bracelet. The entire bracelet will consist of forward knots with each color working your way from red to violet in succession.

Forward knot: Take the red string, and tuck it under the orange string, then pull the knot tight, all the way to the top of the bracelet.

The knots may not look perfect on your first row. Don’t worry about it! Keep going one color at a time.

Once you get through the rainbow once, just keep repeating until the bracelet reaches your desired length!

Rainbow Chevron

This will be largely the same as the candy stripe, but with a second knot variety and more strings to track. You’ll want to slightly more than double the length of string that was used for the first bracelet since they’ll be halved to make the pattern—approximately 7 feet should work. Again, you’ll want one of each color of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. Tie a knot roughly the same as before, but leave a loop to help with tying the bracelet later.

Fasten the bracelet:

Arrange your strings in rainbow order starting from the middle. This will result in the red appearing to be the top once the chevron forms.

Start tying the forward knot across the strings from left to right. The first row of knots is the most important because it sets the order of the remaining strands. Start by tying violet over blue, then green, then yellow, then orange, then red.

Then tie a backward knot starting at the right-hand side and working your way through the same colors from right to left: blue, green, yellow, orange, red. If you need help visualizing the backward knot, I’ve included it below for the red string.

At this point, you’ll have your two violet strands in the middle. It doesn’t matter what knot you tie here since both strands are the same color. Continue the pattern with the remaining strings.

Forward knot:

Backward knot:

LOVE–AHAVAH Alphabet Pattern

This last pattern is for an alphabet-style bracelet. Unlike the other patterns, this one consists of one very long string weaving back and forth across rows of background colors. Cut each color of the rainbow plus two black strands about 3 feet long. Measure about 9 feet of black string as the leading strand. Tie a knot at the top and fasten like the other examples. Arrange in rainbow order with one black strand on each far side and the long strand at the left.

Start with the leading (long black) string, tying forward knots across the rainbow strands left to right, slightly angling the knots to keep the line straight. Then tie backwards knots from right to left to establish the foreground color. The colored knots appear by tying a knot in the opposite direction to the leading strand. For example, for the L, start with a forward knot tied with the leading strand, then tie backward knots with each of the rainbow colors (red, then orange, then yellow, etc.) to get the vertical line of the L. Then tie a forward and a backward knot with the long background strand on the right black strand. Work your way back from right to left tying backward knots using the leading strand, tying a forward knot with the red to start the horizontal part of the L. Continue with this method to complete the entire words: LOVE–AHAVAH

Friendship bracelet pattern: I flipped the rainbow on my bracelet, but both orientations work great!

I went ahead and added a candy stripe at the end just for a fun flourish. Feel free to get creative with the pattern once you learn the basic knots!

Learn More about the Issues: What We’re Reading

Social Action Committee members have been using their time at home to get caught up on reading. Here are reviews of three social justice titles.

One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy, by Carol Anderson

I was interested in reading this book after hearing a presentation by the author at the Book Festival here in Madison a year ago or so. By the chair of the Department of African American Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Professor Anderson’s book is, in the words of one reviewer, “impeccably researched, deftly written and, sadly, prescient.” I would also add the word passionate. It’s a rare but incredibly effective combination to read a book that is both highly credible, due to its painstaking research, and fiery in its narrative. Gerrymandering, voter ID laws, closure of polling places, limiting early voting, and resisting vote-by-mail are just some of the tactics she chronicles in this deeply disturbing book. It’s a quick read, at only 160 pages (followed by more than 100 pages of notes).

As a lifelong Wisconsin resident, I have been horrified to see how much of our progressive tradition has been rolled back in the last 10 years or so, and the assault on the right to vote means Wisconsin joins the ranks of the other states Professor Anderson calls out in her book. In other words, if anyone thought that suppressing the vote of African Americans, Latinos, and other communities of color was only a southern-state thing, think again. Over and over this book made me drop my jaw, gasp, shake my head in disgust, and—most of all—propel me to action. I hope you’ll read it and join in the battle against these clearly racist efforts. No less than our democracy is at stake. —Betsy Abramson

The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story, by Aaron Bobrow-Strain

This book tells the story of a young, single, undocumented mother as she struggles to gain legal residency in the United States. It is a highly emotional and gripping story that allows us to go deeper into appreciating what it’s like to be an undocumented immigrant. The main character, Aida, is a complex person, and we grow to understand the choices she makes as we see the almost unimaginable trauma she goes through, both in her personal life and as a result of our cruel immigration policies. She perseveres in the face of all of this, wanting above all to give her young son a good life.

What made this book even more compelling for me is the weaving in of history, politics, and economics, which broadened my awareness of how our current immigration situation developed. Of note is the fact that this book is part of Dane Sanctuary Coalition’s “Big Read,” and the author is scheduled to speak in Madison on October 8. The Immigrant Rights Action Team facilitated a discussion of the book on May 26 with a possible additional one later in the summer if we get more interest. I highly recommend this book! —Lynn Silverman

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah’s Born a Crimeis a hilariously funny, heartbreaking, and inspiring memoir about growing up in South Africa living under apartheid and its turbulent aftermath. Born in 1984 to a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss father, Noah’s very existence was a crime under apartheid’s brutal laws. His narrative seamlessly interweaves comedy and tragedy as it takes us through his early family life, troubled school years, relationship with an abusive stepfather, and even a brief stint in jail before moving on to his remarkable later successes as a stand-up comedian and the astute social commentator who has hosted The Daily Showsince 2015.

The odds seemed stacked against Noah as they were and continue to be against the majority of South Africa’s black citizens, who are frequently trapped by the legacy of colonialism and apartheid and who continue to face poverty, oppression, violence, racism, and severely limited opportunities. Noah credits his success to his mother, who served as a powerful buffer against the brutality of the world they inhabited with her fiercely indomitable spirit and unconventional, uncompromising love. Born a Crimemakes for an extremely engaging, enjoyable, and fast-paced read. It not only provides an engrossing personal story of transcending trauma, but exposes the legacy of the damage inflicted by apartheid with excruciating honesty. If you listen to the audiobook, the author’s narration makes this remarkable story even more compelling. —Erica Serlin


September 20, 2020 2 Tishrei 5781