Annual Reports — May 2017
Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film. Illustrated book talk by author Glenn Kurtz. May 18, 2016, 7:00 PM, Federated Church of Orleans
Traveling in Europe in August 1938, one year before the outbreak of World War II, David Kurtz, the author’s grandfather, captured three minutes of ordinary life in a small, predominantly Jewish town in Poland on 16mm Kodachrome color film. More than seventy years later, through the brutal twists of history, these few minutes of home movie footage would become a memorial to an entire community — an entire culture — annihilated in the Holocaust.
Three Minutes in Poland traces Glenn Kurtz’s four-year journey to identify the people in his grandfather’s haunting images. His search took him across the United States, to Canada, England, Poland and Israel, to archives, film preservation laboratories, and an abandoned Luftwaffe airfield. Ultimately, with diligence and extraordinary luck, he encounters seven living survivors from this lost town, including an eighty-six-year- old man who appears in the film as a thirteen-year-old boy.
Painstakingly assembled from interviews, photographs, documents, and artifacts, Three Minutes in Poland tells the rich, funny, harrowing, and surprisingly intertwined stories of these seven survivors and their Polish hometown. Originally a travel souvenir, David Kurtz’s home movie became the sole remaining record of a vibrant town on the brink of catastrophe. Three Minutes in Poland is a riveting exploration of memory, loss, and improbable survival.
Am HaYam Wednesday Movies at The WHAT Theatre, Wellfleet
Alicia Svigals Klezmer Concert
Alicia Svigals is the world's leading klezmer fiddler, a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics who she co-led for seventeen years, and a composer who was selected to be a 2014 MacDowell Fellow. She has played with and composed for violinist Itzhak Perlman, the Kronos Quartet, playwrights Tony Kushner and Eve Ensler, the late poet Allen Ginsburg, and many others.
Paul Levy: Finding Phil: Lost in War and Silence
Finding Phil traces Paul Levy’s search for his Uncle Phil, killed 70 years earlier in World War II. Phil was a young tank platoon commander who braved the frigid winter of 1944-45 as allied troops advanced against an increasingly desperate Hitler, and died in France only months before the war ended. At once a mystery, a love story, a soldier’s tale, and a reflection, Finding Phil ponders family silences, peace and the war, the nature of heroism, the complexity of anti-Semitism, and the growing love of a nephew for an uncle he never knew."
Submitted by Ira Wolfson
Holocaust Memorial Program
On Thursday evening April 27, 2017, the student-led Holocaust Memorial program was held “Remembering the Holocaust for Today and Tomorrow” at the Nauset Regional Middle School. The program, which drew close to 200 attendees, was sponsored by the Nauset Interfaith Association, the Interfaith Committee on the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights, and had the cooperation and participation of the Nauset Regional Middle School and Monomoy Regional High School.
The guest speaker, Holocaust survivor and poet Pierre Boenig, gave an extremely moving presentation about his childhood experiences as the son of a German/Christian mother and a Jewish father, who was deported to Auschwitz after the family tried to avoid such tragedy by emigrating to France. Mr. Boenig touched on several themes relating to refugees, including being targeted as “aliens” or “other,” not having a secure sense of home?since his mother sent him to live in hiding with other families?and living without freedom to express religious differences. The anti-Semitism of the Nazis even made it difficult for him to accept that his own mother was German-speaking. Students from the middle school read from Mr. Boenig’s poetry during the candle lighting ceremony.
Two choral pieces were beautifully sung by Monomoy Regional High Ladies A Capella Ensemble before and after a tribute to Elie Wiesel was presented in video and personal remarks. In addition, the program also featured musical selections performed by student musicians from Nauset Regional Middle School.
Reverend Wesley Williams closed the program by teaching the audience a Yiddish song “Shabes, shabes, shabes” which was sung in unison with vigor.
Sharon Leder, Anne Needel and Milton Teichman represented Am HaYam Havurah as members of the program planning committee.
Submitted by Sharon Leder
The Justice Committee consists of five members from our Havurah: Sharon Leder, Gene Saklad, Ruth Shapiro, Judy Taylor, Renate Wasserman and 10 members from the Federated Church. This year, past chairman Don Wick named Roderick MacDonald and Ruth Shapiro as Co-Chairs.
The key issues discussed were:
Submitted by Ruth Shapiro
Membership and Social Committee
The Membership and Social Committee has five members: Jessica Dill, Chair, Sandy Chernick, Richard Dill, Marsha DuBeau, and Skipper Silberberg-Edwards.
The 2017 Am HaYam Directory was distributed in January 2017 via email with 418 listings, up 30 from the previous year. We implemented a very successful Am HaYam Arts Wine & Cheese Gala on June 22, 2016 for new and existing members. 27 members contributed paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry, crafts, and prints to the events and several members attended. The feedback was very positive.
The Committee has responded to several email requests for information about Am HaYam and makes a concerted effort to talk with new people at any event where we are in attendance.
Submitted by Jessica Dill, Chair
Nauset Interfaith Association
Noteworthy Public Services and Observances
Gene Saklad represented Am HaYam in leading parts of the program at the AnnualInterfaith Thanksgiving Service, which was held the afternoon of Sunday,November 20, 2016, at Orleans United Methodist Church. Mim Selig, Arlene Cohen, and other members of Zamarei HaYam participated in the combined choir. The service took its theme from President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation making Thanksgiving a national holiday toward healing our nation. The service included Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Wampanoag readers. A woman who had immigrated from North Africa and, with her husband, is raising her family in Worcester, gave a fine talk about her experiences.
The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast Meeting was held Monday, January 16, in the Parish Hall at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans. This year's focus was on the voices of tudents from Nauset and Monomoy Regional High Schools with the theme of "The America I believe in is . . . ," dialoging with them after their presentations. Paul Biegelsen, Prof. AbdulRaoof, and Rev. Hyung Yong Choi closed the meeting with the Trifold PriestlyBenediction, Paul in Hebrew, Abdul in Arabic, and Choi in English.
Continuing the tradition, the Nauset Interfaith Association co-sponsored another Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) observance at the Nauset RegionalMiddle School in Orleans, Thursday evening, April 27, 2017. Along with the organizing group, i.e., the Interfaith Group on the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights, Am HaYam was the third co-sponsor. [See their report for more substantive information on this year's program.]
Leading Religious Services at Latham School in Brewster
This past year, we held two services at Latham School, the first, a pre-Chanukah program the evening of December 20, was led by Gene Saklad with support by Mim Selig and Zamarei HaYam. The second was held the evening of April 18, as Passover was departing, in celebration of that festival. Because Gene was unavailable, Mim Selig led the program, with the support of others of Zamarei HaYam. Each observance was very well-attended and well-received.
A Collaborative Response to the Needs of Human Service Agencies on the Lower/Outer Cape
Judy Keller has continued her active role as a member of the Steering Committee for that interfaith group.
Because the Nauset Interfaith Association is a Participating, i.e., contributing, Member of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, that organization is represented in NRCAT’s Participating Members Council. Gene Saklad continues to serve as Liaison.
Although President Obama was able to transfer some of those held at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center to the custody of our allies, 41 still remained incarcerated there at the end of his term in office. Most of those detainees have never even been charged. During the campaign and subsequently, Donald Trump stated his intention of sending more prisoners there, and extolled the effectiveness of "enhanced interrogation," i.e., torture, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The McCain-Feinstein law required the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group to write a report on the most effective interrogation techniques. They recently released their 90-page report and concluded that humane techniques like rapport building are the best way to most rapidly obtain the most accurate information. We'll be able to use this report to push back against any efforts by the Administration to order torture or any potential effort to authorize torture in Congress. Most recently, Trump has said he'll defer to relevant Cabinet and other Administration members who have affirmed the McCain-Feinstein legislation as law.
Drones: News reports indicate increased use of drones to carry out lethal strikes and a removal of some of the restrictions on the lethal use of drones that President Obama had put in place. NRCAT is working with the Interfaith Working Group on Drone Warfare to put in place new limits on the use of armed drones.
The widespread practice of vastly excessive — torturous — periods of solitary confinement in both federal and state penal institutions, including the callous and cruel use of force against inmates with mental disabilities: although progress had been made in the Federal penal system, by Presidential decree, and in a few states, we still have a long way to go.
Activities in Support of Immigrant Populations
Last Fall, Rod MacDonald, who co-chairs the Justice Committee with Ruth Shapiro and is a prime mover on the Refugee Support Team (RST), readily convinced the Nauset Interfaith Association that they should be full partners with the Justice Committee in the RST. Although most of their joint efforts are covered in the Justice Committee AHY Annual Report, an urgent matter was raised at the NIA meeting earlier this month. That involves the plight of Haitians given Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States, which must be renewed at least every 18 months by the Secretary of Homeland Security or each such individual must be deported, i.e., returned to Haiti. The tragic sequence of disasters began in 2010 with the most devastating earthquake to hit that country in over 200 years, followed by a cholera epidemic later in 2010 and a terrible hurricane in 2016. TPS has been renewed for 18-month intervals since 2010; but, the current deadline for renewal is later this month of May or TPS ends for them July 22. There is genuine concern that, despite a sign-on petition by the Presbyterian Church and a letter-writing campaign urged by the Roman Catholic Church, the antipathy manifest in word and deed by the current administration in Washington puts the likelihood of renewal in significant doubt. We are contacting two Haitian congregations on Cape Cod to offer a united effortt in this critical matter.
Submitted by E. L. Saklad and A. S. Cohen
The members of the Ritual Committee are: Judy Keller, Chair, Judy Underberg, Scribe, Paul Biegelsen, Arlene Cohen, Rebecca Holmes, Shira Sands, Ruth Shapiro, Sherill Stott, Renate Wasserman and Ira Wolfson.
During the past year, seventeen Shabbat services were held at Federated Church. These were well attended, averaging over 30 people at each service. We especially want to thank Shira Sands for organizing and leading several Torah Shabbat Services, including our Simchat Torah service with Cantor Malin. Her dedication and hard work have enabled many of our members to chant from the Torah at these special services. The next Torah service is scheduled for June 2nd.
Looking ahead to the summer, the Pre-Neg and early summer service the past 2 years have been so successful that we are planning on holding 2 of these services, in conjunction with the membership committee, this coming summer, on July 7th and August 4th. We hope that you will be able to join us for them.
Several new people have led services this past year, but more Shabbat service leaders are needed. Members of the Ritual Committee are available to assist anyone who is willing to participate in this mitzvah. And a big thank you to all the people who volunteered to host our Oneg Shabbats. If you would like to host an Oneg in the coming year, please see me after the meeting to sign up for an upcoming service. We especially need people for June!
Celebrations were held for the festivals. These included Sukkot under the stars, a taste of Chanukah brunch, the riotous Purim Sphiel, and the very well attended Community Seder. Thanks to Cindy and Stephan Berrick for again hosting the Sukkot service, Denya Levine for her music at the Chanukah brunch, all the Purim participants, and Arlene Cohen and Shira Sands for leading the Passover Seder.
Our High Holiday Services, were again held at the Federated Church. And once again, we had a full house. Rabbi Douglas and Cantor Anker led beautiful services that were appreciated by all. The services ran smoothly thanks to the efforts of all who help with the logistics of the holidays. The Board has approved the Ritual Committee recommendation to purchase the new High Holiday prayer books for the coming holidays. Rabbi Douglas and Cantor Anker are working on new services to incorporate the beautiful liturgy in these books. We are in need of dedication funding to help pay for these books. Please see the information in the newsletter about dedicating High Holiday prayer books for the Havurah.
We presently have 5 women who are studying with Rabbi Douglas and Cantor Malin to celebrate their B’not Mitzvah. Their service is scheduled for November 11th. We hope the entire Am HaYam family will be able to celebrate this special day with them.
Many thanks to everyone for your continuing support and participation in the past year.
Submitted by Judy Keller, Chair
Rosh Chodesh is a program for the women of Am HaYam where we can all feel comfortable, be supportive of one another, or just have a special night out where we can just “let our hair down.”
All meetings are usually on the third Thursday of every month at 7:30 P.M. Sometimes schedules and programs change because of circumstances beyond our control.
This season Rosh Chodesh had an exceptionally interesting year with educational, provocative and soul searching programs. We even had some programs on the lighter side like learning Israeli dances and celebrating Chanukah. Included in our meetings is a book and a film presentation always followed by a discussion.
The following will give you a taste of our 2016-2017 Rosh Chodesh programs:
I want to take this opportunity to thank all the women of Rosh Chodesh who helped plan the programs, hosted, facilitated and participated in them. We do not meet in the Summer. Looking forward to seeing you in the Fall. Have a great Summer!
Submitted by Bernice Simon-Wolfson, Chair
Social Action/Tzedakah Committee
The members of the Social Action/Tzedakah Committee are Judy Keller, Chair, Rebecca Holmes, Carol Roth, Ruth Shapiro, Nancy Nelson, Judy Taylor and Naomi Zach.
Every year the Havurah allocates 10% of all money donated the previous year to Am HaYam to support organizations on the lower and outer Cape. This past year a total of $3700 was donated. The allocation of the Tzedakah money was as follows:
Carol and Steve Roth again coordinated our High Holiday food drive. Special thanks go to them for doing this monumental job.
As part of our outreach to the nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the area, we presented programs for Chanukah and Passover at Pleasant Bay Nursing Home.
Members of the Social Action/Tzedakah and Ritual Committees have participated at several Habitat for Humanity Builds this past year by presenting the morning devotion.
Am HaYam is also active in the Human Service and Faith Community Network on the Lower/Outer Cape. This group has been working on coordinating the efforts of the Faith and social service organizations to better meet the needs of those living on the lower/outer Cape. Members of the Havurah have attended the forums presented by the Network in October and March. Judy Keller represents Am HaYam on the steering committee of the Network.
Submitted by Judy Keller, Chair
The Play Reading Group
Here we are! We have completed our seventh successful year with very good attendance and much enthusiasm! The Play Reading Group tries to alternate between serious dramas, classics, comedies and many with Jewish content and in some cases a Jewish playwright. There are copies of most of the plays in the Clams Library System or they can be purchased inexpensively through amazon.com, abebooks.com or powells.com. Members are given a heads up well in advance in order to have them on time for our meetings and to read them beforehand if they wish to do so. The “Players” have made the plays come alive with their enthusiasm and talent! We usually meet on the first Monday of every month but cannot do so in September because of Labor Day.
Following the readings we engage in lively, interesting and sometimes riveting discussions.
Below are descriptions of our 2016-2017 Play Reading Group monthly meetings:
We do not meet in the summer. We resume on September 11th. This will be a planning meeting for the new season. It will be held at the home of Bernice Simon-Wolfson.
We usually meet on the first Monday of every month. The Fall and Spring hours are from 12:30, when we “Nosh and Schmooze” and then officially start at 1:00 and end at 4:00. The winter hours are from 12:30-3:00. All men and women are welcome on both sides of the curtain. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY! Just come and enjoy the fun either as a spectator or an “Actor” and help create a live production of our plays.
I would like to thank all the people who participated and especially those who were so gracious in hosting.
Submitted by Bernice Simon-Wolfson, Chair
Torah Study Program
Sunday morning Torah Study has been held 8 times this past year at the Brewster Ladies Library, with one cancellation due to weather. All of the sessions have been led by Rabbi Deanna Douglas. The sessions were well attended, averaging 20 participants at each session. We have one more study session this season on June 4th.
For 2017 - 2087, we will be scheduling 10 Sunday morning sessions at the Brewster Ladies Library with Rabbi Douglas. The theme of Torah study will continue to be a study of King David. A schedule of Torah Study dates will appear in the newsletter.
Many thanks to all who participate in the Sunday Torah study program.
Submitted by Steve Berrick, Cindy Fox and Judy Keller, Facilitators
Women's Torah Study Annual Report
Women’s Torah Study continues to thrive as we returned to the study of Torah after a year of studying Talmud. We began at the beginning with B’raisheet (Genesis) with the goal of digging deeper by using more resources such as commentaries, podcasts, and individual research.
We meet year round on the 4th Tuesday of each month, 2-4 PM. From September through May we meet at members’ homes. Each hostess provides refreshments and beverages. From June through August, as our ranks grow with the return of our “snowbirds” and summer visitors, we meet at the Federated Church in Orleans. Members who are unable to host in their homes become the “hosts” for these three meetings and provide refreshments and beverages for the meetings.
Our method is to read the Torah, in English, going around the table and stopping for questions, comments, and inquiries – some of which are very serious but frequently humor creeps in as we relate the words of the Torah to our personal experiences and family customs. On occasion we may totally veer off topic, but no one seems to mind as whatever we are discussing is important and no one person’s opinion or comments is valued over another’s.
Many of our members use the Jewish Study Bible, but other Bibles may be used. Many members have in their own collections other commentaries, such as The Women’s Torah Commentary, and translations which lead to wider discussions.
If anyone would like to join the group, email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list.
Submitted by Rebecca B. Holmes, Facilitator
Zamarei Hayam — Singers of the Sea
Zamarei HaYam’s mission is to support the congregation’s singing during our services and to help the service leader choose melodies for these services when requested. We also musically represent Am HaYam in the greater community.
There are currently twenty people on the Zamarei HaYam roster. During the High Holy Days, under the fine direction of our cantorial soloist, Liz Anker, many of our twenty members sang selected prayers adding a great deal to the mood of these services. In November, Zamarei HaYam represented Am HaYam at the annual Nauset Interfaith Thanksgiving service, held this year at the Orleans United Methodist Church. Chris Morris from the Brewster Baptist Church ably directed the joint choirs. December found us at the Latham School in Brewster assisting Gene Saklad as he presented a Chanukah program for the students, complete with dreydels. Sherrill Stott, who taught several Zamarei HaYam members several beautiful songs for this special service, led the Shabbat Shira service in February. Many Zamarei HaYam members participated in the Purim Spiel in March, created by Judy Keller – always a fun time! An interactive Passover program was held at the Latham School in April. This was a busy year for Zamarei HaYam!
Zamarei HaYam is always eager to welcome new singers and instrumentalists to our group. Participation is flexible, as schedules allow.
Submitted by Miriam Selig