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rabbijacobsThe Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) announced today the nomination of Rabbi Richard Jacobs for President of the organization, replacing Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, who will retire in 2012. Rabbi Jacobs, Rabbi at Westchester Reform Temple (WRT) for almost 20 years, and a resident of the Scarsdale community, will be only the fourth president of the URJ in the last 68 years.

“What an exceptional honor and enormous responsibility that has been bestowed upon me,” said Rabbi Jacobs. “Taking on this demanding new position means leaving a place I love and the remarkable sacred community we are still creating. But I became a rabbi almost thirty years ago to serve God and the Jewish people wherever I could do the most good. At this dramatic moment in the life of Reform Judaism, I feel deeply that I have a responsibility to serve our wider Jewish community.”

“With this profound honor, of course, comes a degree of sadness for our community,” said Lisa Messinger, WRT President. “For more than 19 years, Rabbi Jacobs has led our congregation. Together, we have celebrated holidays and life cycle events, taken action for justice, joined together to address human needs around the globe, and, of course, prayed, studied, celebrated and mourned. We are proud that his leadership will be the guiding vision for the Reform Movement in the 21st century.”

WRT Executive Director, Yoel Magid, stated simply, “Rabbi Jacobs always challenges himself as a man and as a rabbi, and inspires others through his example. Now 900 congregations will be inspired, as well as the world.”

The Union for Reform Judaism was founded in 1873 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise (as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations). It has grown from an initial membership of 34 congregations in 28 cities to more than 900 congregations in the United States, Canada, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is the largest Jewish movement in North America and represents an estimated 1.5 million Jews.

Rabbi Richard Jacobs has been Rabbi at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York, since 1991. From the moment he arrived, he played a visionary role in guiding the educational mission of the community, creating meaningful ways to worship and heal, and most recently leading the lay and administrative team in building a new “green” sanctuary, as well as transforming the original sanctuary into new classrooms for the Religious School and adult learners.

Rabbi Jacobs was ordained in 1982 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York, and he served as the Rabbi of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue from 1982 until 1991. In the early 1990s, Rabbi Jacobs was part of the founding group of Synagogue 2000, an organization committed to revitalizing synagogues throughout North America. Working with rabbis across the country, he continues to address synagogue transformation as a board member and program fellow of Synagogue 3000.

Believing that change cannot stop at the local or national level, Rabbi Jacobs sits on the Board of American Jewish World Service, an organization providing nonsectarian humanitarian aid and emergency relief to underprivileged people worldwide. Since a 2005 trip to Chad, he has worked tirelessly to bring an end to genocide in Darfur. Rabbi Jacobs was a member of the international board of the New Israel Fund from 1992 to 2001, and now serves as the Chair of the Pluralism Grants Committee. For more than fifteen years, Rabbi Jacobs has studied at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and in 2007 became a senior rabbinic fellow. Rabbi Jacobs served on the Board and Executive Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, as well as boards of the Union for Reform Judaism, New York’s UJA-Federation, and ARZA/ World Union. Formerly a dancer and choreographer with the Avodah Dance Ensemble, Rabbi Jacobs has led workshops on movement and prayer at HUC-JIR, Union Theological Seminary and in many synagogues and educational settings. Rabbi Jacobs lives in Scarsdale with his wife, Susan K. Freedman, and their three children.



purimThree local temples will host Purim celebrations on the weekend of March 19th and the public is invited to attend: Purim Double Header at Shaarei Tikvah: On the weekend of March 19 and 20 Shaarei Tikvah at 46 Fox Meadow Road in Scarsdale will be packed with fun for adults and children.

On Saturday, March 19 the community is invited to the Adult Purim Panoply, a very adult musical adaptation of the Purim story with a live band,original lyrics and a dose of irreverent humor, directed by Bill Magaliff, a member of the community. A sample song can be heard at

Admission is $15 that includes the show, live music, an "after-party"with refreshments. The show begins at about 9:30 pm following the traditional Megillah reading at 8:00.

The Megillah (Scroll of Esther) reading celebrates the Jewish redemption from the death sentence given by the evil Haman in ancient Persia and it is tradition to shout and use a gragger (noisemaker) to drown out the name of Haman every time it is read in the text.Revelers dress in costumes if they wish, and celebrate with food and drink.

On Sunday, March 20, at 9:45 am there will be a Family Megillah especially reaching out to children, a reading which includes a costume parade and the synagogue's long-standing and hilarious Silly Symphony, a participatory instrumental ensemble. Young children are invited to a Tikvah Tots craft and story time starting at 10:15. Everyone will join together at 11:00 for a festive brunch and professional clown show. All events on Sunday are free and open to the community.

"Having Purim on a weekend affords us the opportunity to provide an array of programming for all ages," said Rabbi Dan Schweber. "Whether young or not-so-young, we hope everyone finds something that speaks to them so they can join in the mitzvah or obligation of celebrating Purim."

For information or to reserve your place (not required, but appreciated), call 914-472-2013 or visit .

Shaaarei Tikvah at 46 Fox Meadow Road, is located just north of Scarsdale village. It offers the intimacy of a small synagogue, with a dynamic religious school and religious, educational and cultural activities for all ages. Affiliated with the Conservative movement Shaarei Tikvah actively welcomes Jews from all backgrounds, ages and levels of observance, including those with non-Jewish partners.

Purim Synaplex at Congregation Kol Ami:

Congregation Kol Ami invites you to celebrate the fantastic evening of Purim on Saturday night March 19th at 5 pm. Come hear the Megillah read and brought to life by Kol Ami’s Adult Drama Club of an inspired musical spiel entitled “Grease – The Megillah”.


5:00 – 6:30 pm Oz, “The Mentalist”

5:00 – 6:30 pm Carnival: Games, face painting, crafts, and activities for all

Live band

Purim BBQ: Hot Dogs, Hamburgers/Veggie Burgers, Coleslaw, Macaroni Salad, Potato Salad and beverages

6:30ish Purim Service and Megillah Reading and Adult Drama Club Spiel of “Megillah -Grease”

8:00 pm Israeli Dancing with Shmulik

Hamantashen and Oz Continues…

Purim BBQ – Adults $15, Children 12 and under - $10

Synaplex™ events are open to both temple members and non-members. Reservations are necessary for dinner. For more information or to make a dinner reservation, please call Ilene Miller at 949-4717 ext. 111 at Congregation Kol Ami, Soundview Avenue, White Plains, (914) 949-4717

Purim with a Purpose at Westchester Reform Temple

Westchester Reform Temple (WRT) welcomes the community to join in its “Purim with a Purpose” festival on Sunday, March 20th. The celebration begins at 9:45 AM with a family-friendly service and shpiel in the Sanctuary and will be followed by the annual Purim carnival.

Carnival games and lunch will take place until 1:30 PM. Tickets for children ages 3 and over are $15 at the door. Parents and children under 3 are free. Pizza and drinks, donated by Amore Pizza of Scarsdale, will be available for purchase as will bake items. All proceeds from the event will support several charities including the Lone Soldier program in Israel, the Food Bank of Westchester, the Boys and Girls Club of Mount Vernon and My Sister’s Place in White Plains.

Community members attending the service are encouraged to bring boxes of pasta to use as groggers. Following the service, the pasta will be collected and donated to local food banks.

“Purim with a Purpose” is for everyone and accessible to all. If you have any questions, please contact Westchester Reform Temple is located at 255 Mamaroneck Road in Scarsdale, N.Y. For directions or information, call 914-723-7727, email to, or visit the web at


Go Red For WomenDear Ms. ePost: We are often solicited by very distant acquaintances for contributions to their pet charities. While most of these causes are of course worthy organizations in need of funds, we find it offensive to receive solicitations from acquaintances with whom we have not spoken in years or from the ‘friend’ who does not give us the time of day when he or she sees us but for some reason feels close to us when soliciting our hard earned dollars and includes a delightful, little handwritten note that may read, “This is such a worthy cause. Hope to see you at the dinner!” Please know that we are not ‘heavy hitters’ but do support our own charities of choice. Finally, we do not solicit/pressure friends to contribute to the charities in which we are involved.

We are very conflicted with regard to the manner in which we should handle the multitude of solicitations we receive. Of course in a perfect world we would like to contribute to all worthy causes but are obviously unable to do so. We would really appreciate your advice on this.


Dear Conflicted: Your generosity of spirit is highly commendable. Perhaps you receive so many solicitations because you are a caring and giving person. But generosity of ‘wallet’ clearly differs from generosity of spirit.

You seem to have answered your own question in that you support your “own charities of choice”. In targeting causes for donations, it may be helpful to evaluate the mission of the charities and differentiate them from your relationship with the individuals who are soliciting, thus resulting in contributions to causes about which you feel strongly.

We would all like to support every worthy cause but as you stated, this is not possible. I can understand why you are torn between your heart strings and your purse strings. Perhaps you could develop a charitable giving budget and donate to causes accordingly. For those causes that do not fit in with your budget, you could consider contributing in other ways, such as volunteering your time.

Ms. ePost



questionmarkDear Ms. E:Post: I was in a sticky situation recently and found myself telling a white lie in order to avoid an unwelcome experience. I grapple with the fact that it is wrong to lie but tell myself that it is not hurting anyone and in fact lying may spare someone’s feelings.

My sticky situation went something like this: A couple who are acquaintances asked us to have dinner. My wife and I met them through our child at the elementary school. Just like on a recent episode of the TV show ‘Modern Family’, the acquaintance wife is a loud mouth and the acquaintance husband is boring. We do not wish to spend more time with them than we already do through school events.

Is telling a little white lie acceptable to gracefully excuse ourselves from this dinner invitation? I know that some consider lying to be immoral, regardless of the circumstance. In other words, some do not view white lies on any spectrum of relevance to a situation but instead view the white lie phenomenon as a black or white issue – truth or lie, no in between.

I would be interested to know what your readers think.


batmitzvah200Scarsdale10583 received the following letter from a distressed parent. As it was a question of etiquette, we sent it to our Etiquette Expert for her opinion. Read the letter and her response here and send in your comments below: Dear Scarsdale10583: We have a policy in place in the Scarsdale Middle School regarding Bar Mitzvah sweatshirts so that kids don’t feel badly if they are not invited to a party--maybe we should initiate a policy regarding disinviting. I don’t even need to consult an expert to explain what being “disinvited” can do to a fragile, teenage ego. I experienced it firsthand when I got the phone call letting me know that my son was “disinvited” from a Bat Mitzvah. He had already responded to the invitation and said he would be attending.

When my phone rang it displayed the name of a stationary store in Heathcote. My son’s Bar Mitzvah was two-weeks away so when they said there was a mistake made, I thought maybe it had something to do with that. The man on the phone apologized and told me that my son received an invitation he should not have received due to a mailing list error. In a state of disbelief I listened to the voice on the other side of the line that continued with “I am sorry but I need to disinvite your son from the bat mitzvah.” He told me that the family had not intended to invite him in the first place. I felt like I was on a radio show and was the recipient of a Z100 phone tap but the DJ never got on the line to tell me it was a joke. Just like that, my son was “disinvited.”

At my son’s request, the Bat Mitzvah invitation came down from the bulletin board and was placed in the trash. He felt like a loser. He didn’t want to discuss it ever again. I wanted to call her parents, but at his request, I let it die.

I toyed with the idea of calling her parents to “disinvite” her from my son’s Bar Mitzvah, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. As it turns out, the girl didn't show up to my son’s Bar Mitzvah.

So I am left with the question of, what type of people actually would “disinvite” a child instead of just placing an extra chair at a table?


Dear Dissed: There are two sides to every story, though I can’t imagine what the other side of this story could possibly be. There is a bad apple in every bunch, and, unfortunately, it ended up in your (your son’s) grocery cart.

The only ‘out’ that one could give the family of the Bat Mitzvah child is a possible financial issue, though this is very doubtful given the fact that invitations were purchased from the stationary store in Heathcote in lieu of creating lovely, but presumably lower cost, invitations on a home computer.

Without knowing ‘the other side of the story’, there seems to be a clear and complete lack of empathy on the part of the Bat Mitzvah girl’s family. One must wonder whether the parents thought about how the “disinvitation” would make your son feel,….or how their daughter would feel if she were “disinvited” to a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the invitation displayed on a bulletin board in her home with eager anticipation of the event.

You are to be commended for not stooping to the level of the family who disinvited your son by continuing to include their daughter in your son’s Bar Mitzvah service and celebration. But as they say, “No good deed goes unpunished.” How could this family commit a second offense two weeks after the “disinvite”, i.e., the daughter’s acceptance of the invitation to your son’s Bar Mitzvah and having you, as the host, place a chair at the table and pay for the girl’s attendance at the celebration….only to have her be a ‘no show’?

It is truly difficult to imagine – in the absence of clarifying details – that anyone, especially adults, could be so hurtful. And what are the parents teaching their daughter? Certainly not the fine lessons that you are teaching your son – to be inclusive and considerate of other people’s feelings. Let’s hope that, in the case of the Bat Mitzvah girl, the apple does fall far from the tree.

Ms. ePost


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