The Sisterhood of Congregation Beth El–Keser Israel is a vibrant arm of the Congregation providing numerous volunteer opportunities for its members and crucial services to the Congregation. It serves the Congregation in all aspects of its life and continues as a source of strength as the next generation of women join its ranks. The Sisterhood is affiliated with the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.
The Sisterhood operates a small Giftshop at the Synagogue. A wide range of Judaica items such as tallitot, kippot, seder plates, Hanuka menoras, mezzuza cases, books, toys and games are in stock at competitive prices. The Giftshop offers Contribution Cards featuring the artwork of Herman Braginsky.
The “Healing & Wellness” card depicts a Torah cabinet hand-carved of mahogany, symbolizing the Torah as a source of life and blessing. Just as the cabinet contains the Sacred Writ, the human body is the home of the soul, and is for that reason so very precious. The “Sympathy” card depicts a tzedaqa box, suggesting that acts of tzedaqa are a most fitting memorial to a departed soul. Along with each card a matching envelope is supplied.
Cards are available from Giftshop in single or bulk orders. Please call for information on the minimum donation. Cards are also available from the BEKI office in orders of $50 or more. These are “self-mailing” cards, meaning that at the time of the donation the donor is given a pre-printed card and envelope to complete and mail. Donors who wish the dedication of the card printed in the BEKI Bulletin are supplied with mail-in (or fax-in) coupons for this purpose.
Prints of the Jordan Abeshouse painting are available framed and unframed. The Giftshop can order a huge variety of special Judaica items to suit every need.
Contact the Giftshop at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through the Sisterhood, Mimi Glenn established the Marcel Gutman Scholarship in memory of her father Marcel Gutman. This scholarship will be given out to deserving students 8th grade through 12th grade to further their Jewish studies and experience.
Marcel Gutman was born in Romania and there studied to become an electrician. When the Russians entered Romania he decided to emigrate to Israel. There he was employed by a drug wholesaler; in his spare time he fixed small appliances. During the war of Israel’s Independence in 1948, Marcel was in the Army reserve where he oversaw the safety of his local neighborhood. Marcel and his family came to the U.S. in the early 1950’s and was active in the synagogue where he was a member. After his wife Lea died he came to New Haven to live closer to his daughter Mimi Glenn. During the 20 years that Marcel lived here he volunteered in many organizations. Marcel always felt that Jewish education was important at any age.
After Passover an outstanding member of the Sisterhood was honored with the Woman of Valor Award for her volunteer efforts and community service at the Book of Life event. The Congregation values the volunteer efforts of its members and historically the Sisterhood has been a primary locus of its wealth of volunteer support.
Honorees: Ruth Greenblatt, 5766/2006; Gila Reinstein, 5765/2005; (None) 5764/2004; Paula Hyman, 5763/2003; Darryl Kuperstock, 5762/2002; Gloria Cohen, 5761/2001; Gladys Lipkin, 5760/2000; Martin Faymann, Charles Ludwig, and Louis Rogoff, 5759/1999; Harriet Barstein, 5758/1998; Helen Ross, 5757/1997; Grace Geisinger, 5756/1996; Violet Ludwig, 5755/1995; Mikki Ratner & Mimi Kahn, 5754/1994.
For many years before Passover the Sisterhood has held a Torah Fund Supper or other activity as a benefit for the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism to support the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the scholarly center of Conservative Judaism. The Sisterhood’s efforts help insure that the next generation of rabbis, cantors, scholars and learned laypeople will have the resources they need to continue the unbroken chain of learning that links one generation to another.
Most years shortly before Passover, the Sisterhood, along with Kulanu and in conjunction with the Jewish Family Service and Abel Catering, hosts an Adult Special Needs Model Seder at BEKI. Since 1983 the Sisterhood has hosted several dozen Jewish adults from the New Haven area with a variety of special needs. For many, this will be their only taste of Passover, and one that they relish and look forward to each year. The Torah teaches of four types of children, and the Haggada reminds us that we must tell the story of the Exodus to each son and daughter of Israel in the way that is most meaningful to him or her. Through the efforts of Sisterhood, the generosity of Abel Catering and the good offices of the JFS, the Exodus is reenacted through song, food and story at a table set in the Passover tradition. This is one of several BEKI outreach efforts for children and adults with special needs.
At Purim and Simhat Torah, the Sisterhood provides small bags of candy and raisins for all children present. In this way the Sisterhood tries to make sure that each child has a good time and has sweet memories of the holiday. The Sisterhood also provides refreshments for adults at these gatherings.