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Staying Safe in Changing Times

Celebrate Pride with Temple Beth El in June!

June is the national LGBTQ Pride Month, so we are showing our Pride too!

Temple Beth El has enjoyed a festive Pride Shabbat Service and Rainbow Reception each summer for a few years now and participated in citywide festivities. This summer we can’t hold our Pride festivities in our building, but our digital world will be filled with Pride all month long.

This June, we invite the LGBTQ community and allies to join us for a whole rainbow of Pride happenings exploring the intersection of Judaism and LGBTQ identities.

Bo’u Nashir! (Come, Let Us Sing!)—Pride Edition

Tuesdays in June, 3:00 pm (Facebook Live)

The soul-fulfilling song sessions you have come to love return with special Pride connections all month long. Cantor Jacob Niemi will be singing pieces by LGBTQ composers or with Pride themes. How many songs about rainbows does he know? Tune in via Facebook Live to find out!

Quarantine Kitchen—Pride Edition

  • Thursday, June 11, 12:00 pm—Rainbow Challah with Jen Szlasa
  • Thursday, June 18, 12:00 pm—Pride Cupcakes with Theo Jacobsohn
  • Thursday, June 25, 12:00 pm—Rainbow Cheesecake Swirl Bars with Eliana Goff

Take a quarantine lunch break and join us for these virtual cooking classes via Facebook Live. Visit for recipes.

Queer Jewish Memory: Documenting Ourselves as Jews, Queer Jews, and Allies

Thursday, June 11, 7:00 pm (register for the Zoom link)

We hope you’ll join us for a special evening with Rena Yehuda Newman! In this interactive talk, they will guide us through a conversation, asking what it means for us to document ourselves in historical times and view our own lives as historical subjects. How do we document ourselves as Jews, queer Jews, and allies? How do we see ourselves through the past? What does it mean to imagine queer Jewish futures? Rena Yehuda’s art can be found in the TBE Haggadah Project, and they have taught at Midrasha, along with many other accomplishments.

This pre-Shabbat meditation on memory-making through the lenses of history, archives, comics, art, and storytelling is ideal for adults and teens, LGBTQ+ community members and allies.

Pride Shabbat Service

Friday, June 12, 6:00 pm (Facebook Live)

Celebrate Pride and welcome Shabbat through this special service honoring the Jewish LGBTQ+ community and allies. This service will include pieces written by some of our LGBTQ teens just for the occasion. Join us on Facebook Live for this community celebration of love, faith, equality, and respect.


Pride Friendship Bracelets Live

Monday, June 22, 12:00 pm (Facebook Live)

Missing some of those camp activities? Looking to feel connected with friends and family? Join Jen Szlasa on Facebook Live for this demo of special friendship bracelet patterns with a Pride theme. We look forward to seeing your creations!


Reading through a Bent Lens:
How Queer Approaches to Text Can Illuminate and Elevate the Study of Torah

Sunday, June 28, 10:30 am (register for the Zoom link)

Join Cantor Jacob Niemi for a special introduction to reading and interpreting the Torah from LGBTQ+ perspectives, and learn how these readings can elevate the study of Torah for all. We hope this will be a stepping-stone to future text study sessions looking at a variety of topics through this lens.



We’ll be sharing fun Pride-themed items on our Facebook page all month long.


TBE Blog

Check the Temple blog in June—we’ll be sharing lots of wonderful resources here throughout Pride month.

To view events on Facebook Live, go to our Facebook page at (you do not need to have a Facebook account).

While we won’t be decorating our building in all things rainbow this year, we’ll still have you seeing rainbows with this array of activities. We hope you’ll join us!

Contact Aleeza A. Hoffert at with any questions. Thank you to the Pride committee for their work to make our Pride month happenings a reality.

Quarantine Kitchen: Pride Edition - Pride Flag Cupcakes

Theo Jacobsohn

Step 1: Make cupcake batter

You can use your favorite cupcake recipe or just follow the instructions on the back of a white cake mix. If you want to do something between the two, here’s our favorite recipe:

Cupcake ingredients:

  • 18 paper liners
  • 1 package white cake mix***
  • ***Either regular or gluten-free cake mix works! You can also use yellow cake mix, but white makes more vibrant color cupcakes.
  • ¼ cup vanilla instant pudding mix
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Gel food coloring (rainbow, or the pride flag colors of your choice)


  • Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 18 cupcake cups with paper liners or grease the tins really well. Set the pans aside
  • Place cake mix, pudding mix, sugar, sour cream, oil, orange juice, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  • Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter until smooth, 1 to 1 ½ minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed.

Step 2: Color, assemble, and bake


  • Choose your favorite pride flag colors (e.g. rainbow, trans, pansexual)
  • Gel food coloring is better to color batter, while liquid would be used when coloring liquids


  • Separate batter into bowls, one for each color of batter
  • One color of food coloring to each bowl until you get your desired colors
  • Assuming you are making rainbow cupcakes (otherwise follow the same instructions, divided by the number of colors and pattern of your design):
  • With a small spoon, spoon just under a tablespoon of each color batter into each cup.
  • Start with purple, then blue, then green, then yellow, then orange and finally red.
  • Note: The colors won’t cover each other completely when you assemble them, but they will spread out while baking and look awesome!
  • Bake for 18-21 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t overbake them, or they will get too brown! (not a rainbow color)

Step 3: Make frosting

You can use whatever frosting recipe you want (or store-bought… we won’t tell, promise!). If you want to color the frosting or add a lot of colorful decorations on top, choose a white buttercream base. Here is an easy buttercream recipe:


  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • Food coloring (optional)


  • Whip the butter in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until you see the butter is lighter in color (about 1 minute)
  • Add in the vanilla.
  • Add in the powdered sugar in 1 cup increments, alternating with the milk 1 tablespoon at a time, but ending with powdered sugar.
  • Mix on high for 1 minute after each addition. Your frosting should be super light and fluffy, just like a delicious vanilla cloud.

Step 4: Decorate

There isn’t a right or wrong way to do this… so have fun with it! Experiment! But whatever you do, take PRIDE in your work!

Make sure the cupcakes are completely cooled before decorating. (Don’t believe me? Just watch a few episodes of Nailed It. You’ll see what happens.)

Things you might want to use:

  • Piping bags and tips
  • Frosting spreader
  • Food coloring (an assortment of rainbow colors or colors representing a pride flag) gel or liquid
  • Colorful candy
  • Colored sugar (or edible glitter if you want to get fancy)
  • Sprinkles

Not sure what to do? Pinterest and Google are your friends. Look for pictures of examples and videos for decorating techniques.

Here are some examples:

(super simple)

(more adventurous)

Quarantine Kitchen: Shavuot Edition - Blintz Soufflé

Susan Golden


  • 2 pkg. Blintzes (I use the Golden brand in the freezer section)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 1½ c sour cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbs. orange juice (optional)


1. Melt butter in 2 quart pyrex and place blintzes over butter in one layer.
2. Blend other ingredients with eggs and pour over blintzes.
3. Bake in 350° oven 45 minutes or until top starts to brown.

Rainbow Challah - Quarantine Kitchen: Pride Edition

Jen Szlasa

Adapted from:


  • 3 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (about 1 1/2 packages, 3/8 ounces or 11 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon (13 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar or honey
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) table salt
  • 8 cups (1000 to 1063 grams) bread flour (can substitute all purpose)
  • Food coloring, preferably gel: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet (you could just mix primaries, but it’s tough to see the color as you go)

Recommended Kitchen Tools:

  • Medium or large mixing bowl
  • Wisk
  • Measuring utensils
  • 6 mixing bowls—small mixing bowls or potentially large soup/cereal bowls will work
  • Kitchen scale (optional)

Dough Prep:

In a medium or large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in water; set aside for 5 minutes until foamy.

Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining 1/2 cup sugar and salt.

At this point, to try to split the wet ingredients as evenly as possible—make sure to mix thoroughly! It’d most precise to use a scale, but you can approximate based the volume of the ingredients.

Find the total mass or volume of the ingredients and divide by 6 – that’s the goal for each small bowl

Split the wet ingredients into the 6 bowls based on your calculation from step a). If using volume, I’d recommend transferring a portion at a time to make sure the mixture is evenly distributed (i.e. transfer ¼ cup to each bowl, then start back at the first bowl and transfer ¼ cup to each bowl, then split whatever is left 1 tbsp at a time)

Add food coloring to each bowl. I tried to calculate drops, but they aren’t particularly scientific and seemed to vary dramatically based on color. Just aim for something very vibrant now since the color will lighten up significantly in the flour

Gradually add about a cup of flour to your first color (I like to start with red and work my way through to violet). I normally add about ¼ cup flour at a time for these small batches. You may need up to another 1/3 cup of flour per bowl, but it will vary based on the temperature and humidity. When dough holds together and isn’t too sticky, it’s ready for kneading. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Repeat with each color.

Clean out bowls and grease them, then return dough to bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.

***Continue to Challah Separation if desired***

Take half the dough of each color and form into 2 balls; You’ll end up with 12 total. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 inch wide. Place one of each color in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands (to the middle). Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2 (to the middle). Start over with the second strand from the right. Continue this until all strands are braided, and tuck ends underneath. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between. Avoid dark nonstick pans if possible as these can cause the bottom to cook much faster than the top. Parchment or silicone baking liners are great for helping the bread bake evenly and preventing the bread from sticking to the pan.

Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze loaves or let rise another hour.

If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves with egg wash again. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.

Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take it out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool loaves on a rack.

Note: Any of the three risings can be done in the fridge for a few hours, for more deeply-developed flavor. When you’re ready to work with it again, bring it back to room temperature before moving on to the next step.

Lukshen Kugel (a very dairy noodle “pudding”) - Quarantine Kitchen: Shavuot Edition

Gwen Jacobsohn

Kugel Ingredients

  • 20-24 oz. wide egg noodles (or rotini noodles)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
  • 16 oz. sour cream
  • 12 oz. cottage cheese***
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raisins (optional) – or other dried fruits like cranberries or chopped apricots
  • Nonstick cooking oil spray

Topping Ingredients (optional):

  • 1/2c cornflake cereal (slightly crushed)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9" x 13” baking dish. In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta until al dente (according to package instructions). Drain.

In a large bowl mix together eggs, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and raisins (if using). Then stir in noodles. Pour into prepared dish (aka, buttered or sprayed with cooking oil). If you aren’t using a topping, sprinkle with a little additional cinnamon and sugar.

Topping (optional): Mix together cornflakes, cinnamon, and sugar. Sprinkle of top of “pudding” and dot with butter

Bake until set, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cover with aluminum foil if the top starts to get too dark.

***Traditional recipes call for “pot cheese”, which is like a drier version of large-curd cottage cheese ( If you would like a slightly-sweeter cheese option, you can use ricotta instead.

Wine-Braised Brisket - Quarantine Kitchen

Gwen Jacobsohn

Makes 8 servings

This recipe takes time, but it is really worth it. The first day the meat marinates in a mixture of red wine, vegetables, and herbs, then the next day it slowly simmers until fork-tender. The rich hearty flavor actually improves when refrigerated overnight, so plan ahead! This keeps well in the fridge as long as it sits in the cooking liquid, and also freezes well (in case you want to double or triple the recipe.)


  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or ½ tsp dried
  • 1 2lb. beef brisket, trimmed of all visible fat
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tb. Vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 Tb. Cornstarch
  • 1 Tb. Cold water

Stage 1 (marinate, usually the night before): Combine the wine, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, peppercorn, and thyme with the brisket in a large zip-close plastic bag; turn to coat the brisket. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, up to 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally.

Stage 2 (prep and sear): Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the brisket from the marinade; set the marinade aside. Pat the brisket dry. Season with the salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat (on the stove top). Swirl in the oil, then add the brisket. Sear until well-browned on all sides, about 4 minutes each side.

Stage 3 (sauce and bake): Transfer the brisket to a plate. Discard any far from the pot. Add the tomato paste and cook over low-medium heat until it darkens to a rust color, 3-4 minutes. Add the reserved marinade. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven; add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover, transfer to the over, and bake until the brisket is very tender when pierce with a fork, 3 ½ to 4 hours.

Stage 4 (it’s all gravy): Transfer the brisket to a cutting board; cover loosely with foil and keep warm. Skim off any excess fat from the cooking liquid with a spoon. Process the liquid in a food processor or blender, in batches, until smooth. Return the sauce to the pot and bring to simmer. Combine the cornstartch and water in a cup; drizzle into the source. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 2 minutes. Slice the brisket and serve with the sauce.

[slighted adapted from the cookbook “Weight Watchers Entertains, with the chefs from the Culinary institute of America” ©2002]

Learn More about the Issues

Do you want to take a deeper dive into the social justice issues shaping our society? Try one of these informative programs.

Dane Sanctuary Coalition’s “Big Read”: The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez
What happens when an undocumented teen mother takes on the U.S. immigration system?
In The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story, author Aaron Bobrow-Strain takes us into detention centers, immigration courts, and the inner lives of Aida and other daring characters. This emotional narrative reveals the human consequences of militarizing what was once a more forgiving border. The author was scheduled to speak in Madison on Thursday, May 14, this is currently being rescheduled. You can check Facebook for event updates.

The TBE Immigrant Rights Action Team co-chairs will be facilitating an online discussion group on Tuesday, April 28, 7:00–8:30 pm. Please register for it on the TBE website if you’re interested in participating. We're looking forward to a lively discussion of this fascinating narrative! A study guide is available from Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice.

URJ Religious Action Center Offers a Three-Part Community Organizing Webinar
The RAC offers a three-part series on Moving Your Community into Action, focused on core community organizing skills and civic engagement work, to equip leaders with important social justice tools. The three one-hour sessions are Building an Effective Social Justice Team, How to Run an Effective Organizing Campaign, and Engaging Key Stakeholders Around Social Justice. You can access this content by contacting Aleeza Hoffert for assistance.

Updates on Our Partner Programs: Financial Support and Volunteering 

We’ve done a survey of our partner programs to see how they are adapting to the pandemic and what kind of support they can use right now. If you are able to, making a monetary donation is one of the most helpful things you can do. There are some limited volunteer opportunities, mostly for people in low-risk health categories.

Hunger Relief

Second Harvest Foodbank
Instead of having customers visit the food bank, Second Harvest has initiated its Care Box Project, packing and delivering boxes of nutritious food to families in need. The Social Action Committee has recently donated the last portion of the High Holy Day Food Drive funds to the Care Box Project. You can make an additional donation here.

Due to health and safety concerns, Second Harvest is only accepting healthy volunteers age 12–64 years during the coronavirus outbreak. Volunteers work in large open space with appropriate social distancing. You can sign up here and find a time that works for you.

Goodman Community Center
Most programs are closed, along with the buildings. Staff and volunteers arehonoring social distancing as they prepare meals for delivery and bags of groceries for people to pick up. You can bring prepackaged nonperishable food donations, reusable bags, and sturdy boxes to the Ironworks Building, 149 Waubesa St. See here for details. Low-risk volunteers welcome.

Catholic Multicultural Center
The Catholic Multicultural Center’s meal program is currently providing grab-and-go meals for guests to take with them from the center’s parking lot. The food pantry is also grab-and-go from the parking lot, with Catholic Multicultural Center staff and volunteers doing the shopping from customer orders. Donations of money, food, and personal essentials are very welcome. See here for current needs, procedures, and online donation.

If you are interested in preparing food at home for delivery to the Catholic Multicultural Center, please contact Sue Levy.

Thoreau Elementary School Weekend Food Bags
Right before school ended, Thoreau staff, parents, and volunteers collected and delivered a week’s worth of groceries to 125 families. Food distribution now continues in partnership with Leopold Elementary, Midvale-Lincoln Elementary, and West High School. The partnership allows Thoreau to share the use of Westminster Church as a relief site; coordinate the use of United Way volunteers for contacting, packaging, and delivery; and serve the families associated with the various schools. Here’s a news article about the program.

To support these families, the best thing you can do is to donate money. So many families are already feeling the financial strain, and it will likely get worse in the coming weeks. The donated funds will address additional food needs above and beyond what Second Harvest can provide and will help families with other needs (toiletries, rent, utilities, gas, etc.). For information on how to donate, contact Alexa at 608-320-6929 or call the school.


Porchlight has opened two new shelters to provide more housing and to separate men who are sick from those who are healthy. The county is catering meals for both shelters, so no meals are currently needed from volunteers. Porchlight will contact volunteer groups when they return to Grace Episcopal Church and we are needed to prepare and serve meals again. You can support Porchlight during this time by donating online or visiting their Facebook page to monitor current needs.

The Road Home
If you are looking for ways to help our community during the COVID-19 crisis, please consider making a donation to support vulnerable families served by The Road Home. The Road Home will use these funds to help families in its housing programs cover expenses such as rent and groceries, as many have lost work during this crisis. If you prefer to donate items, please order them online and have them delivered to The Road Home at 890 W. Wingra Dr., Madison, WI 53715. See the wish list for the most urgent needs.

Healing House
Healing House is operating and has implemented safety protocols. They are working closely with city and county staff and other homeless service providers to keep residents safe. For now, the congregational meal program is continuing in modified form as volunteers drop off uncooked meals to be cooked by staff. Things may change by our next shift at the end of May.

Madison-area Urban Ministry (MUM) appreciates your donations for all its programs, including Healing House, prison and re-entry programs, Just Bakery, and Mentoring Connections.They also suggest that you support local restaurants that have supported MUM in the past, including Short Stack Eatery, Cranberry Creek Café, Food Fight Restaurants, and HotelRED.


Dane Sanctuary Coalition
Temple Beth El is a member of the Dane Sanctuary Coalition, joining with other congregations and organizations to support immigrants in our community. The coalition works with the Dane County government and Madison Community Foundation to support the Immigrant Assistance Fund. This fund pays for legal services, emergency aid, bail, travel costs, and other aid for undocumented immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees in Dane County.

Dane Sanctuary Coalition is looking for volunteers with public relations and/or fundraising experience to be part of a small committee to work with the Immigration Collaborative and move this effort forward. For more information, and to volunteer, please contact Rabbi Bonnie Margulis. You can read more about the fund and donate here.

Racial Justice

Nehemiah Center
Many TBE members have attended the “Black History for a New Day” program for white allies, offered through the Nehemiah Center and Fountain of Life Church. Nehemiah is providing emergency services to the South Madison community in the current crisis. These include food baskets for individuals and families (with special emphasis on those with small children, guardians with mobility issues, and seniors); emotional support services over the phone or through video chat mechanisms to reduce isolation; financial support in an effort to help reduce the incidence of increased stressors on the family, including assistance with transportation, medication, and co-pays; and rental assistance. Monetary gifts are the most useful because they can be used where they are most needed. Checks or gift cards can be sent to 655 W. Badger Rd., Madison, WI 53713, or you can donate online.

African American Council of Churches
The African American Council of Churches (AACC) has joined with the Lighthouse Church to create a Psalm 46 Relief Fund for the African American and Latinx communities. Through their services, these churches help a segment of the population of Madison that experiences the greatest food and housing insecurity and is chronically underemployed. Less than 20% of adults in the African American and Hispanic community can work from home; most of them work in service industry businesses like restaurants, hotels, and cleaning services, which have been hit the hardest at this time. A great number of them are losing their jobs and are at risk of losing their housing.

All the funds raised will be divided among the Lighthouse Church and the AACC to speed the process of helping the families that need it the most. You can donate online or send a check payable to Lighthouse Church, 6402 Schroeder Rd., Madison, WI 53711. Please note that the donation is for the “Psalm 46 Relief Fund.”

General Opportunities

Jewish Social Services Needs “Friendly Callers”
JSS is looking for volunteers to become "friendly callers" to call clients who are now very isolated. They also could use some help with shopping. Please check for additional volunteer opportunities at or contact Paul Borowsky at 608-442-4083. Please also consider making a donation to Jewish Social Services to help clients with basic necessities like housing, food, and medicine. Click here to make a donation.

United Way Is Coordinating Volunteers for Many Community Organizations
United Way of Dane County has compiled a list of volunteer opportunities specifically needed during the pandemic. This includes anetwork of volunteers to support food packaging and deliveries to families while following CDC protocols around sanitation and social distancing.United Way also offers a guide to safe practices for volunteering your time and donating material goods.

United Way of Wisconsin and Serve Wisconsin can put you touch with people and organizations in need. Those include:

  • Remote or in-home projects that can be done over the phone or by computer, making items for those in need, or finding ways to check in with neighbors.
  • Information on donating food, supplies, or blood.
  • In-person volunteering for meal or food distribution, delivery of needed supplies to homes, child care for medical and other critical workers, or other projects.

For more information, visit Volunteer Wisconsin here.  

Protecting Refugees from Physical and Economic Harm 

Our Refugee Shabbat was originally planned for March 27, but due to social distancing we were unable to welcome our scheduled guest speakers or honor our volunteers. Instead, Rabbi Jonathan Biatch and Cantor Jacob Niemi offered a quiet service focused on healing and protection. Rabbi Biatch noted that in some ways we may feel like refugees now, crossing the Red Sea into an unknown land, with risks rising up on all sides of us.

As vulnerable as we feel, we also think of today’s refugees and asylum seekers and the risks they must be facing. The refugee resettlement program at Jewish Social Services of Madison is continuing to support local refugee families to the extent possible. If you are one of our refugee resettlement volunteers, we will let you know when we are able to go into the community to provide services again. Donations of material goods are also on hold.

In the meantime, HIAS has provided a list of actions you can take from home. It includes articles and videos that can help you learn more about the global refugee and asylum crisis.

Voter Outreach During Social Distancing

The TBE Civic Engagement Action Team has found our activities constrained by social distancing. In-person trainings have been postponed, campus and community voter registration tables are gone, and door-to-door activities are on hold. We have been using our time to divide up tasks, coordinate with the Wisconsin Interfaith Civic Engagement Project, and meet by Zoom.

The Wisconsin Interfaith Civic Engagement Project is connecting congregations and community organizations across the state in nonpartisan voter outreach and education. They are currently working to promote online voter registration training, phone banking, video outreach, and possibly a Civics 101 webinar. To avoid unnecessary overlap and extra meetings, we will look to this project for leadership on voter registration drives, door-to-door canvassing, interfaith connections, and candidate forums conducted with other partners.

The TBE Civic Engagement Action Team will focus on making sure that TBE is a 100% voting congregation, planning events for the Jewish community, participating in the League of Women Voters Apartment Project, and planning a Shabbat in September focused on voter engagement.

We encourage anyone who is interested to sign up for both the TBE Civic Engagement Action Team (contact Marcia Vandercook) and the Wisconsin Interfaith Civic Engagement Project (contact Rabbi Bonnie Margulis). You can choose what interests you as new volunteer opportunities develop.

If you want to be part of the voter registration effort when we get back into the field, here are some good online resources:

We will press forward to ensure that all citizens are able to vote and that our voices and values are heard at this critical time in our society.

TBE Immigration Action Team Receives URJ Grant 

The TBE Immigrant Rights Action Team has been awarded a $1,500 grant from the Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus Initiative for Immigrant and Refugee Justice at the Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism. The grants are intended to support projects advancing justice for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. Projects may include direct service, education campaigns, events, advocacy, and other ideas.

TBE will use these funds to focus on legal services in collaboration with the Community Immigration Law Center of Madison (CILC). CILC assists low-income immigrants by providing information, support, and referrals as well as by providing legal representation to a small number of undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation. CILC will use the grant funds to support additional training for the agency’s three staff attorneys to enhance the services provided.

We will update the TBE community about the results of these efforts in the coming months and hope to sponsor a presentation by CILC regarding the trainings that were attended and how they are being used.

Census 2020: If You're Not Counted, You Don't Count

If you have already responded to the 2020 census, thank you so much. If not, we hope you will respond soon to ensure an accurate count.

Your participation promotes social justice by ensuring that federal dollars, such as funding for low-income housing, free and reduced school lunches, food stamps, transportation, Medicaid, and Medicare, reach the communities that need them most. An accurate count also ensures that every person is represented when state and federal legislatures are reapportioned, giving your vote the weight it deserves. For a more detailed explanation, see this recent editorial by Rabbi Bonnie Margulis and Professor Charles Cohen.

In the 2010 census, Wisconsin had the nation’s highest percentage of completed census forms per household. Let’s keep it up!

You can answer the census by phone, by mail, or online. Go to  www.My2020Census.govor or call 1-844-330-2020.

High Holy Day Food Drive Keeps on Giving

Thanks to your generosity, the High Holy Day Food Drive was especially successful this year. The Social Action Committee was able to send $10,000 to Second Harvest Foodbank, pay for our Porchlight dinners, and contribute to the Thoreau Food Bag Program and the Dane Sanctuary Coalition Immigrant Assistance Fund.

Recently the Social Action Committee sent the remaining $1,000 to the Second Harvest Care Box Project, which uses volunteers to pack and deliver large boxes of nutritious food to families in need. Our gift was matched by Alliant Energy, which means we were able to supply 200 boxes of food. We were pleased to make this additional contribution at a critical time of need for so many people.

COVID-19: Caring for Ourselves and Caring for Others

As the coronavirus moves through our communities, we may suffer from social isolation and financial hardship; we may face illness and even death. Even as we struggle with these heavy burdens, our tradition also requires shared empathy and solidarity with others, especially the most vulnerable among us. Here are several readings and resources that speak to these concerns:

The Jewish Imperative for Justice in the Face of Pandemic,
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, URJ Religious Action Center, March 17, 2020

Congress Must Protect the Vulnerable During This Public Health Emergency,
URJ Religious Action Center Legislative Director Allison Grossman, March 13, 2020

Remaining a K’hilah, a Connected Community, at This Time of Concern,
Rabbi Jonathan Biatch and Cantor Jacob Niemi, March 13, 2020

Jewish Madison Community COVID-19 Resources, Jewish Federation of Madison, updated as needed

Sue's Breadmaker Challah

Sue Golden


  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • heaping teaspoon of vital wheat gluten
  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast


  • Insert ingredients into your bread machine in the order that your machine requires. Use Dough cycle.
  • This makes 2 loaves of challah. Braid and place on baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Let rise for about an hour until it doubles in size. Then, glaze both with an egg wash.
  • Bake in a 350° F oven for 25 minutes. Then, when done place challahs on a cooling rack until completely cooled before putting them in bags.

Sue's Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • splash of vanilla
  • scant tsp of sugar

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

Brad Kahn


  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 2 t kosher salt
  • ¾ t black pepper
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 t rosemary
  • ¾ c diced salami
  • 1 c pitted green olives, rinsed and smashed
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1/2 t chili flake
  • 3/4 c dry white wine
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 c chicken broth or stock
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/3 c lemon juice


  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Pour olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and place thighs skin side down, allowing them to render and brown for 8-10 minutes, then remove.
  • Add salami to skillet to render and crisp slightly in the rendered chicken fat for about 5 minutes.
  • Add onions, garlic, fennel, rosemary, salami, olives, oregano and chili flake. Let that cook down for a few minutes.
  • Add tomato paste and cook for another few minutes, letting the paste brown on the bottom of the pan.
  • Pour in wine and simmer to reduce, scraping the bottom of the pan and allowing the alcohol to cook off.
  • Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add bay leaves and lemon juice.
  • Place chicken back in the pan, skin side up and roast in the oven about 30-45 minutes. Liquid should be about halfway up the pieces of chicken.

Matzah Chocolate Cheesecake - Jewish Quarantine Kitchen

Missy Sosman


  • 1/3 C unsalted butter
  • 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 1/3 C matzah meal
  • 1/3 C sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter and chocolate together. Stir. When smooth, mix in matzah meal and sugar. Press into bottom and sides of a 9” springform. Bake about 8 minutes until firm. Remove and refrigerate until chilled.


  • 9 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
  • 11 oz. cream cheese, room temp
  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temp
  • 4 t vanilla
  • 1/3 C whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375. Melt chocolate in a microwave or double boiler, and stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Beat in cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla. Beat in chocolate and whipping cream. Pour into chilled crust. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the outside is firm and lightly browned but the center is still soft and slightly jiggles when pan is shaken. Remove from oven and refrigerate until well chilled.


  • 1 ½ C whipping cream, whipped
  • ¼ C powdered sugar
  • ½ t vanilla
  • Chocolate curls or shavings or fruit like strawberries, raspberries etc.

Beat whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla, until soft peaks form.

To serve: Remove cake from springform. Right before serving, decorate with whipping cream anyway you’d like on top of cake. Add chocolate curls or fruit.

Charoset Recipes - Jewish Quarantine Kitchen

Leslie Coff

Venetian Charoset

  • 3 apples, sweet or tart
  • 2 pears
  • 1-⅓ cup pitted dates, soaked in hot water until soft and chopped
  • 1-½ cup sweet kosher wine
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • ⅔ cup almonds, finely chopped
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger

Core apples and pears and cut into small pieces.

Combine with all other ingredients!

Variations: may add candied orange or lemon peel, pistachios, orange juice can be used optionally.


Ashkenazi Charoset

  • 3 apples — cut into large pieces
  • 1 cup walnuts (may be toasted)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 T. Honey
  • ½ cup sweet kosher wine

Combine all ingredients in food processor on pulse until coarsely chopped but smooth.

Celebrate Passover with Temple Beth El, Virtually!

Donate In Celebration of…Anything

Michael Schachter

I’ve been a TBE member for 30 years. I pay my dues. I seek counsel from our Rabbi. I buy hamantaschen at TBE’s Purim Fest. (Although, I have to admit, I don’t understand the fuss about poppy seeds.) And…I attend services.

When I read the TBE Newsletter. I note the donations. I know that it is our responsibility to help support our Temple. But my donation activity is not as “busy” as my co-congregants.

We are often reminded of the connection between donations and death or memory of a loved one. We are also advised that acknowledging loved ones, who have passed away, with a donation “Helps to heal”.  “Honors a loved one”. “Strengthens the spiritual ties between ‘us and them’.” But that is not true for me and my family. The connection I have with my mother and father is a private component of my life. I address it my own way. It doesn’t stimulate a donation.

However, I am very fortunate. There are many, many wonderful things that happen to me and my family. Things that are really and truly, cause for Celebration.

Here are five such examples:

  • My grandson lost his first tooth!
  • The girl that bullied my granddaughter in school moved to Wauwatosa!
  • The “Check Engine” light on my dashboard finally went off after six years!
  • My oldest daughter is making a difference in the lives of people who live in South Philadelphia!  
  • That thing that the doctor thought was “something”, turned out to be nothing!

Every time one of those things happen, I immediately Celebrate. I hum a lively tune.  Buy chocolate/chocolate chip Häagen-Dazs. Play “Pancho and Lefty” on my guitar.

But make a donation to TBE? I cannot do that because there has been no appropriate “Of” category.  

UNTIL NOW!!!  Our TBE is offering a brand new category.


Every month all TBE members receive an e-mail. The Giving Spotlight.  This is a monthly notice of those who have made a recent TBE donation and it advises the “Reason” for that donation.  And lucky for us…this new IN CELEBRATION OF category is now available to all of us!

So this month I will do it.  One tooth…$18.00.  The bully…$36.00.  Check Engine Light on dashboard finally goes out…I’m not sure about that.  Maybe it has to be “check engine light and seatbelt never getting stuck in the door”. Two car things.  And if anything really, really great happens, (like HGTV goes off the air)…maybe $72.00.

As I note above, this new donation category became available to all of us in December. I don’t think it received any formal publicity. But…now you know!

I must tell you that one of our TBE sisters did use that Celebration option.  She was the first one! She celebrated: “Taking the kids to Michael’s Frozen for turtle sundaes after TBE Sunday School.”

I thought that was good!  

Thank You to Stan Hershleder (z"l)

Stan Hershleder, TBE congregant for 20 years, passed away on February 11, 2020. Stan was a decorated veteran before his career as a master furrier designer at his family business, Furs by Hershleder. Stan had a wonderful relationship with Rabbi Biatch and showed his passion toward education through his donations to TBE education funds. 

We are grateful for Stan for continuing his legacy with a donation as part of his estate plan. Planned gifts, like Stan’s, can help make a real difference where it matters for Temple Beth El, for generations to come. 

With the goal of sustaining Temple Beth El for future generations, membership in the Dorot Society offers you the opportunity to include TBE in your estate plan. You can read more about the Dorot Society and fill out a declaration form here.

May Stan’s memory be a blessing.

Thank you to Phil, Marv, and Jeff Levy

Besides following public health guidelines, we can do little to change our current situation, yet our response to it is equally important. This is a time to reflect on the people and things for which we are grateful.

One thing we are grateful for is Jeff, Phil, and Marv Levy’s generosity, which has helped Temple Beth El run more smoothly, has increased our security, and, most recently, has enabled us to continue to come together as a community during this time of physical distance.

Their parents, Irving and Dorothy Levy, of blessed memory, joined Temple Beth El in the early 1960s. They instilled in their sons the responsibility to support the Jewish community. Temple Beth El has been a beneficiary of their individual generosity as well as their combined support through the Levy Family Foundation.

The Levy Family Foundation generously contributed the necessary funds to increase the security of our building after the 2018 shootings in Pittsburgh, enabling us to install video cameras, new door code panels, and an intercom system. Our security task force is researching other security enhancements that will be made possible by the latest Levy Family Foundation donation.

Jeff Levy’s donations have helped TBE move forward technologically. His donation to purchase ShulCloud has improved office efficiency and enhanced members’ access to information. When the COVID-19 outbreak made it impossible for us to come together in person for worship and life-cycle events, Jeff provided financial support for the purchase of livestreaming equipment. You only have to look at the TBE Facebook page and see the growing engagement with each Shabbat worship to understand the impact of this gift. His generosity also enables us to continue to hold b’nai mitzvah that, although limited to immediate family inside the building, are shared virtually with friends and family unable to attend in person.

Jeff also gives generously to Jewish Social Services for the creation and support of the Levy Summer Series, offering learners of all ages a variety of enriching programs.

We cannot overstate our appreciation for the Levy Family Foundation donations from Phil, Marv, and Jeff Levy and for Jeff’s personal donations to Temple Beth El. They enhance our productivity, our security, and our community.

T'filah Talks: Passover Foods in the Modern World

Rabbi Jonathan Biatch

What is with those other grains?

Maror … charoset … gefilte fish. Passover supplies us with a panoply of foods to consume. But the one food that we are commanded by tradition to eat is matzah. Exodus 12:15 spells it out clearly: “For seven days you will eat unleavened bread; further, on the first day you shall banish leaven out of your houses.”

Since the earliest observances of Passover, Jews have been concerned with the content of the foods for this holiday. For example, we are prohibited from eating five specific grains: wheat, oats, rye, barley, and spelt. We avoid these grains because they naturally germinate when exposed to moisture in the air and could contain leavening. Matzah that is sold must be supervised to ensure that no such germination has taken place.

But what about other grains and grain-like foods—chia, corn, flax, garbanzo beans, lentils, quinoa, peas, different varieties of rice, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, and more—that we find in our world? Throughout the years, they have been prohibited at Passover for some Jews while permitted for others. Why this distinction? And can any modifications be made in the way we observe Passover?

Please join me and Cantor Jacob Niemi on Zoom as we explore the interesting and intricate world of kitniyot (legumes, etc.), which some Jews consume on Passover and some do not. We will also contemplate our traditional practices here at Temple Beth El and whether we may want to modify how we observe this custom.

This event is sponsored by the Religious Practices Committee, chaired by Leslie Coff and Jodi Harris.

All are invited to join this online discussion on Thursday, April 2, at 11:00 am via Zoom

Passover Winter Root Vegetables Recipe

Rabbi Jonathan Biatch

Jewish Quarantine Kitchen: Passover Edition

This recipe allows us to savor the flavors of the abundant winter root vegetables still available at the time of Passover. The earthy taste goes well with beef or poultry if you eat meat, or with Passover grain and legume dishes (quinoa; wild, brown, or white rice; lentils; garbanzos, etc.) if you eat vegetarian or vegan meals, and if you consume these grains and legumes at Passover.

Prep time – 30 minutes

Baking time – 40-45 minutes

Pre-heat oven to 400 when you are ready

Ingredient List:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, washed well
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, washed well
  • 1 large baking potato, washed well
  • 2 large carrots, washed well
  • 1 parsnip, washed well
  • 1.5 lbs. brussels sprouts, washed well
  • 3 bulbs of garlic
  • 1 large red onion
  • 6 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tsb. non-salt, non-MSG food seasoning (Mrs. Dash, Kirkland/Costco, etc.)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs. sea salt (if desired)
  • Parchment paper or cooking spray for the cooking pans


  • Cut squash and potatoes into approximately ¾ to 1 inch cubes
  • Slice carrots and parsnip into 1-inch sections
  • Halve the brussels sprouts
  • Remove the scape (stem end) of the garlic bulbs and separate into separate cloves. Remove any excess skin but leave the base skin attached
  • Cut red onion into sections, not slices. Perhaps you can get 16 sections from a large red onion
  • Place all vegetables into a large bowl and drizzle them with the olive oil, and mix them around. Then liberally sprinkle half of the food seasoning, mix together again, mix further, then add the salt, pepper, and remaining seasoning to taste as you continue to mix the vegetables together.
  • Pour the vegetables into parchment paper lined or cooking sprayed baking pans; this recipe requires two of them. Try to separate the vegetables so that there is a bit of space between them to allow the oven’s heat to permeate them as well as possible. Place the pans in the pre-heated oven and they should be ready in 40 minutes or so. Serve with main dishes or by themselves with a bit of light sour cream or low- or non-fat plain yogurt.


  • I do not remove the skin from the potatoes, carrots, or parsnips. I believe that many of the vegetable’s nutrients are found in the skin, and I also like the truer taste of the vegetable.
  • Be sure to eat the garlic if you like it; it is not simply a seasoning here. By the end of baking, it will be soft and mushy, fun to eat, and have a very different and milder flavor.
  • Testing/Tasting is the most important (and fun!) part of this recipe. After 40 minutes of baking, determine whether the vegetables have reached their proper level of doneness for your taste.
  • If you have leftovers, they make a great snack or side dish again at another meal, hot or cold.
  • Enjoy.
  • Next time, try various alternatives: use fresh green beans, white onions, other kinds of root vegetables, etc. You can also use various cooking oils depending upon your taste and your experience in cooking with them.

A Guide to Using Zoom

Many of our programs and worship experiences have moved online. While some events are livestreamed through Facebook, classes and programs like Torah Study and Talking at the Rabbi’s Tisch are on Zoom. Here is a guide to using Zoom.

Please note: The following security procedures have been added to prevent unwanted intrusions (Zoom bombers) from entering our events:

  1. You may be placed in a waiting room until the host grants you access to the event. Please be sure your display name includes your first and last name so you can be correctly identified.
  2. Entry to Zoom events will be locked 15 minutes after the start of the event. If you know you are going to be late, please email TBE staff at so they can notify the host to let you in.


  • Click the link on the TBE calendar event page or in the confirmation email you received after registering, and Zoom should open in your browser, allowing you to join the meeting.
  • If you prefer, you can copy and paste the link into your browser, and it should open the meeting.
  • Depending on the event, you may be placed in a waiting room until the host permits you to enter.
  • For security purposes, the host will need to be able to identify you by the name that appears in your video window. After entering Zoom, please click on the three dots (…) in the upper corner of your Zoom window and choose Rename. Enter your first and last name so the host can identify you.

Please note: There is also a call-in only option that is available in the meeting notice. You’ll need the phone number, meeting ID, and password.

If you do not have a web camera, you will be able to see the meeting and the shared documents, but you will only appear as a box with your phone number.

If you’re having problems, please try the following options:



Google Chrome

  • Open Chrome.
  • Go to
  • Enter your meeting ID provided by the host/organizer. You will then be prompted for the password.
  • Click Join.
  • If this is your first time joining from Google Chrome, you will be asked to open the Zoom client to join the meeting.
  • You can check “Always open these types of links” in the associated app to skip this step in the future.
  • Click Open Zoom Meetings (PC) or Open (Mac).
  • Please make sure to enter your full name to identify yourself to the host so you can be granted access to the meeting.



  • Open Safari.
  • Go to
  • Enter your meeting ID and the password provided by the host/organizer.
  • Click Join.
  • When asked if you want to open, click Allow.
  • Please make sure to enter your full name to identify yourself to the host so you can be granted access to the meeting.


Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer

  • Open Edge or Internet Explorer.
  • Go to
  • Enter your meeting ID and the password provided by the host/organizer.
  • Click Join.
  • Please make sure to enter your full name to identify yourself to the host so you can be granted access to the meeting.


Mozilla Firefox

  • Open Firefox.
  • Go to
  • Enter your meeting ID and the password provided by the host/organizer.
  • Click Join.
  • If this is your first time joining from Firefox, you may be asked to open Zoom or the Zoom installer package.
  • To skip this step in the future, check the option to remember your choice for Zoom meeting links.
  • Click Open Link.
  • Please make sure to enter your full name to identify yourself to the host so you can be granted access to the meeting.



Open the Zoom mobile app. If you have not downloaded the Zoom mobile app yet, you can download it from the App Store.

Join a meeting using one of these methods:

  • Tap Join a Meeting if you want to join without signing in.
  • Sign in to Zoom, and then tap Join.
  • Enter the meeting ID number, the password, and your display name. Please make sure to enter your full name to identify yourself to the host so you can be granted access to the meeting.
  • If you're signed in, change your name if your default name does not correctly identify you.
  • If you're not signed in, enter a display name that correctly identifies you.
  • Select if you would like to connect audio and/or video, and select Join.



Open the Zoom mobile app. If you have not downloaded the Zoom mobile app yet, you can download it from the Google Play Store.

  • Join a meeting using one of these methods:
  • Tap Join a Meeting if you want to join without signing in.
  • Sign in to Zoom then tap Join.
  • Enter the meeting ID, the password, and your display name. Please make sure to enter your full name to identify yourself to the host so you can be granted access to the meeting.
  • If you're signed in, change your name if your default name does not correctly identify you.
  • If you're not signed in, enter a display name that correctly identifies you.
  • Select if you would like to connect audio and/or video, and tap Join Meeting.

Your Guide to Social Distance Voting

Social Action Committee

Request your absentee ballot today! Stay updated on early voting, curbside voting, polling places, and deadlines. Also, be sure to return your census forms.

As citizens and as members of the Jewish community, we participate in elections to ensure that government policies support a world where all people experience justice, compassion, and wholeness. We are reminded of this during public health emergencies, when the importance of community is foremost in our minds.

Absentee ballots: Because of the COVID-19 virus, the Wisconsin Elections Commission is urging voters to use absentee ballots for the election currently scheduled for April 7. If you are a registered voter, you can request an absentee ballot at, the state’s comprehensive voting website.

Request an absentee ballot

If you live in the City of Madison, you can also email the clerk at to request that a ballot be sent to you by email.

The deadline for requests is currently April 2, but demand is heavy, so request your ballot now to avoid delay. You will be asked to upload a copy of your photo ID if you don’t have one on file.

You can mail your ballot back to the municipal clerk or drop it off at your polling station on election day. Your ballot must be received by 8:00 pm on election day.

Registering to vote, early voting, and curbside voting: If you aren’t registered to vote, it’s not too late. The options for registration and early voting are changing frequently based on public health conditions, so please check the websites below for up-to-date information. You can also register at the polls on election day.

Voting on election day: Again, things are changing day to day. Many poll locations have changed due to building closures, so check state and municipal websites for the latest information. Even the date of the election could possibly change. The sources below offer current information, other ways to request an absentee ballot, and more details.

State of Wisconsin MyVote website

List of Municipal Clerks

City of Madison Clerk voter information

League of Women Voters of Dane County

Also, census forms are due: While we are talking about civic participation, we would like to remind you to return your census forms. See here for a good explanation of how full participation in the census supports our Jewish values.

Vote safely, and please vote!

Remaining a K’hilah, a Connected Community, at This Time of Concern

Rabbi Jonathan Biatch and Cantor Jacob Niemi

From your Temple Beth El clergy
At a time of increasing social distancing, let us think about ways to bring one another closer together. At a moment of concern and awareness, let us not forget to help those around us find reassurance and hope.

These are the challenges of the coronavirus era, and as your TBE clergy, we stand ready to help maintain relationships between and among our community members even at this time. For those who are isolated or self-quarantined for any reason, please let us know when we can be a welcome presence for you—in person or by phone—for it is through relationships that we become connected to our community.

The rabbis of our Talmudic tradition understood this. A midrash relates that Rabbi Eleazar once fell ill, and Rabbi Yochanan went to visit him. Rabbi Eleazar lay in a dark room, and when Rabbi Yochanan bared his arm, light radiated from him, brightening the room as he approached Rabbi Eleazar’s sickbed. Rabbi Yochanan asked his colleague, “Are your sufferings welcome to you?” Rabbi Eleazar replied, “Neither they nor their cause are welcome to me,” at which point Rabbi Yochanan said, “Give me your hand.” Rabbi Eleazar extended his hand, and Rabbi Yochanan raised him up from his bed and returned him to his community. (Talmud B’rachot 5b)

This rabbinic story helps us understand that a human touch, the healing power of illumination, a friendly face, a reassuring voice, and other palliatives of this type can increase our strength and stamina, helping return us to physical and emotional health. We intend, therefore, to reach out to TBE members with our love and concern during these times of uncertainty.

If you feel you need our presence, whether electronic or physical, please call the Temple office and let us know. Together we—and all whom we know and love—will move from fear to faith, and from stress to solution.

Wishing you health and strength,
Rabbi Jonathan Biatch
Cantor Jacob Niemi

Livestreaming and Online Events
As a way of remaining connected, we will offer livestreaming of our worship and many events through Facebook Live. To view an event on livestream, go to (you do not need a Facebook account). When available, livestreaming will be noted on our website calendar.
Many other events and meetings will be held via Zoom. The upcoming Talking at the Rabbi’s Tisch (Table) scheduled for Thursday, March 19 will be a virtual meeting, open to the entire community via Zoom link. Please RSVP at to receive the link. This will be an opportunity to process recent events together.

Learn More about the Issues

Do you want to take a deeper dive into the social justice issues shaping our society? Try an informative local program.

Dane Sanctuary Coalition Announces Its “Big Read”: The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez
What happens when an undocumented teen mother takes on the U.S. immigration system? In
The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story, author Aaron Bobrow-Strain takes us into detention centers, immigration courts, and the inner lives of Aida and other daring characters. This emotional narrative reveals the human consequences of militarizing what was once a more forgiving border. The author was scheduled to speak in Madison on Thursday, May 14. You can check Facebook for event updates.

Congregations are encouraged to hold book groups to read and discuss the book together. If enough people are interested, we will start a discussion group here at Temple Beth El. Please contact Erica Serlin to join the reading group.

Volunteer Opportunities

Do you have some time to give? We have lots of great opportunities to help out in our community.

Packing Weekend Food for Thoreau Elementary Families
Temple Beth El has joined with other neighboring congregations and organizations to provide children at Thoreau Elementary School with food to take home over the weekend. We are looking for help packing and distributing food to students. Dates are March 12 and 13; March 18 and 19; March 26 and 27; April 9 and 10. You may work any or all of these days. Packing takes place at Westminster Church on Nakoma Road (usually on Thursday afternoon) and distribution is at 9:00 am at Thoreau Elementary School (usually on Friday morning). Please contact Vic Levy  if you are interested in participating in this activity. To volunteer in the schools, you also need to go through a background check as a volunteer with the Madison Metropolitan School District (go to the MMSD volunteer website).

Serving Meals at the Catholic Multicultural Center
Looking for a fun, easy opportunity to help the community and spend quality time as a team? Help serve the daily meal at the Catholic Multicultural Center! The Catholic Multicultural Center provides free meals every day to low-income community members and people experiencing homelessness. Volunteers set out and serve the food and clean up after the meal; you’re busy the whole time and on your feet. Temple Beth El has agreed to serve on the second Monday of each month. Sign up here or contact Sue Levy.

Shopping and Cooking for Porchlight Men’s Shelter
Our next Porchlight meal is Wednesday, April 29. Each time we serve a meal (4 or 5 times a year), we need shoppers, cooks, cookie bakers, kitchen minders, delivery people, and servers. This is a fun way to get to know your fellow volunteers! Sign up here and learn about Porchlight here .

Cooking Meals for Healing House
Our next week to help at Healing House is May 31–June 6. Healing House, a program of Madison-area Urban Ministry (MUM), gives people without homes a place to recover after receiving medical care. This eight-bed facility at 303 Lathrop Street provides 24/7 recuperative care by medically trained staff and volunteers for up to 28 days. Volunteers are asked to assist by cooking and dropping off meals or by serving and cleaning up after dinner at the house. To help with this mitzvah, please sign up here.

Serving at Emerson Elementary School Multicultural Dinner
Seven years ago, Jewish Congregations for Social Justice “adopted” Emerson School on Madison’s east side, and we have been supporting their academics and family programming ever since. On Tuesday, May 5, Emerson is holding its annual Multicultural Dinner, where families bring foods from their own traditions and local restaurants send food to support the school. This volunteer gig is both fun and delicious—when everyone is served, we eat too! You can sign up here or contact Betsy Abramson.

Help Recent Refugees as They Resettle in Our Community
Jewish Social Services provides case management, job help, and housing for newly arrived refugee families from a number of countries. Our volunteers work to set up their apartments with furniture and food. We also provide summer and after-school tutors for refugee students. To volunteer, contact Sherie Sondel.

Three Easy Steps to Register Voters in Dane County

  1. City Clerk of Madison: Voter Education Ambassador Training. This basic training gets you ready to answer frequently asked questions about voter ID, voter registration, and early voting. Trainings are 90 minutes, held monthly, registration required. You need not be a Madison resident to take this training. The next available session is May 11, 2020.
  2. League of Women Voters: “Everything you wanted to know about helping voters but were afraid to ask.” This follow-up training reviews and reinforces information from the Voter Education Ambassador training, including practice activities. Learn More
  3. Voter ID Coalition Outreach Opportunities. The League of Women Voters of Dane County and the NAACP Dane County branch are the lead organizations in the Dane County Voter ID Coalition. They send regular emails about dates and places where voter registration services are requested. It’s helpful to be on both email lists. Sign up here.

For more information about voter registration efforts at TBE, contact Marcia Vandercook.

August 13, 2020 23 Av 5780