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mah koreh ? מה קורה 

10/26/2020 12:20:48 PM


Shalom! Mah koreh? means What's happening? This year, so different in so many ways, is no different in one: there are lots of things going on at the Olam Chesed Education Center.

Yes, we are meeting mostly on Zoom (more on that later) but we are managing to have really wonderful virtual gatherings, opportunities to be together across the miles, with songs, stories, and for the sake of rhyming, yes! lots of smiles.

Kinderlach & Gesher started off the year with a pre-High Holy Day adventure preparing our homes to be the sanctuaries we needed to experience a season like no other.  Nearly everyone brought their favorite stuffies to cuddle with as we welcomed the sweetness of the new year. We met again on Simchat Torah, donning crowns  received in the mail, and with parents hoisting their little human Torahs into the air and dancing with joy.

Ateed is now a combined program with teens from Beth Jacob Synagogue (Montpelier) joining us in person at JCOGS for firepit fun.  At our first meeting of the season, Simon Rosenbaum,  our teen leader, led the teens in a discussion of tikkun olam and then we made s'mores.  Our second event, scheduled for the corn maze, was unfortunately rained out but several teens got together via Zoom to join the Simchat Torah Dance Party together with teens from around Vermont. Stay tuned: Ateed will be reaching out to our community soon as part of an interfaith coat drive for Lamoille County Mental Health Services.

Mitzvah! this year has twelve students, our largest cohort ever! Meeting via Zoom each week, they've been learning trope and getting into deep discussions of the weekly parshah. For Sukkot,  they got to meet in person at the JCOGS Sukkah and that was just wonderful! Ayelet shared a teaching about Hoshanah Rabah, the prayer for rain, and the symbolism of the willow.  All enjoyed beating the ground with willow branches as they prayed for rain.

I guess it worked, because Olam Chesed Wednesday program tried not once, not twice, but three times to meet in person! They say three's a charm and the third time we gathered for a joyous outdoor program. Several activities were set up to keep everyone moving and socially distant.  In honor of our theme this year, mitzvotwe drew a GIANT Ten Commandments on the patio behind JCOGS, with each family decorating a different square.  A storywalk hung in the trees about creation; a station where we scribed letters and words in Hebrew with a feather and ink; an activity to decorate our own Shabbat candlesticks; and time to share tefillah with Rabbi David. Each family received a juicy pomegranate, learning of its symbolism in connection to the 613 mitzvot. 

New this year to Olam Chesed is a K-1 class that I have the pleasure of teaching.  Eight bright and curious students are learning about Shabbat, colors, numbers, holidays, and experiencing Hebrew Through Movement, a program that engages students kinetically with modern Hebrew that correlates to prayer Hebrew. For example, l'amod, the instruction to stand up is the root for the word Amidah, and "Y'amod!" is what Rabbi calls out as our children stand before the Torah for the first time as b'nai mitzvah.

Using breakout rooms, scavenger hunts, and art projects, we are engaging with our students on Zoom through discovery, inquiry, and social engagement. This past week Jonah led the group in a exploring the commandment of shmor v'zachor et haShabbatkeep and remember the sanctity of Shabbat.  

Join us on November 20th for our first Family & Friends Friday for this year! We're looking forward to celebrating Shabbat together with the JCOGS community.

welcome new office manager

08/28/2020 05:32:00 PM


​​​​​​​Welcome Tyler Hall, JCOGS's new office manager.
Tyler received her BA in fine arts from the University of Rhode Island. She comes to the position with a background in graphic design and project management and marketing experience. Tyler is passionate about building community through art and has worked pro bono as a creative consultant for Stowe Vibrancy. She lives in Stowe with her son, Austin. All are invited to meet Tyler tonight at 5:45pm during the schmooze period before Shabbat services (starting 6:00pm). 

Local matters

08/26/2020 01:37:11 AM


Local businesses are suffering and we should support them. Here’s Stephen's idea. 

Dire layoff news of 30 employees at the Stowe Reporter and News and Citizen.

What to do: Support advertisers. Subscribe or add a subscription year. Donate.

Let’s end their struggle. 

Saving our community. 

By now you’ve read the lay-off news of 30 employees at the Stowe Reporter and News and Citizen.  Their Waterbury Record  is now shuttered. Most everyone would agree that the papers deliver honest reporting and even a chuckle from the police blotter. Oh what a great chronicle of our good Vermont lives. 

Much off the job loss is due to lost advertising revenue. They surely held on as long as they could to provide a security blanket for their employees. 

So I’m going to plead with you to do a few things before it becomes more grave. Plan seriously to shop and support the advertisers. Many are JCOGS members but the balance are the fabric of our lives here. Let’s put a bit of Amazon shopping on hiatus even briefly.

Secondly, I’m hoping all of us can be sure to subscribe to either paper or at least call in a one year extension payment. It will provide needed revenue and help them attract more advertisers with increased readership. 

Lastly, during these dire times, I’m asking you all to send in a donation; whether its $18,  $118 or anything ending in 18. It will give us the opportunity to explain to Greg Popa,  the Publisher, the meaning of 18 as we find ways to heal our community. 

I can’t imagine us without these papers and the business community they serve. 

Stephen (Rosenbloom)

High Holy Days 5781/2020

08/26/2020 01:31:46 AM


Dear JCOGS family,

These High Holy Days are like no other.  Your High Holy Day taskforce has been hard at work planning for these unprecedented experiences.  We have planned.  We have surveyed the community.  We have reworked our plans based on your feedback.  And now we are eager to share the JCOGS High Holy Day schedule of events with you.

Inspite of the hardships at this time, we are truly humbled and excited.  This year will include beautiful music, members reading Torah, and poignant prayers.  It will include words from Rabbi David that meet this moment in history.  We will sing, schmooze, cast our sins away in the water, hear the shofar, and play out the story of Jonah.  We will remember lost loved ones and also celebrate simchas in our lives.  There will be some special surprises too. While we will be holding the majority of our services virtually this year, we will be offering points of connection in person on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

To be fully inclusive in this season, JCOGS is not requiring any tickets for this year’s High Holy Days.  If you have not yet renewed your membership, please do so as soon as possible.  Finances should not be a barrier to membership. If dues present a financial hardship or if you need a payment schedule, please complete your renewal online and JCOGS will be in touch to discuss alternative arrangements confidentially. 

You are also invited to acknowledge and remember your loved ones during this High Holy Day season while supporting JCOGS through the Yizkor Book of Remembrance.  The monies raised help support our continual holy work as a community.  Please complete this form with the deadline of Friday, September 11. 

Finally, Rabbi David will be away next week, Tuesday through Friday, devoting time to preparing for the High Holy Days, then back for that Friday night service.  Rabbi Rim Meirowitz will be our emergency rabbi those days. He is the first point of contact for pastoral needs, including if someone is unwell or in need of support, and you can contact him directly at 617-835-2861 or

Hope to see you tonight at 6pm, as we launch this month of Elul leading to the High Holy Days with some special opening reflections on resilience from our members and the hearing of the shofar!

Rav brachot, many blessings for health, renewal, and a return to our truest selves.

Rabbi David Fainsilber and the High Holy Day Taskforce: Susan Bauchner, Willa Bruckner, Rachel Funk, Aron Temkin, and Claudia Woodward

help us plan the high holy days

08/07/2020 12:08:40 PM


 Jewish Community of Greater Stowe

Dear JCOGS family,

For many of us, the High Holy Days are the highlight of the Jewish year. We all appreciate the familiarity of our JCOGS traditions, the opportunity to reconnect and schmooze with fellow members, and the ruach — the spirited energy that fills our sacred physical space more than at any other time in the year.
Due to the lifesaving measures established to keep us safe from exposure to COVID-19, we recognize that this year’s holiday experience will differ from our usual traditions. Indeed, before we can effectively plan and outline what this year’s holidays will look like, we feel it’s necessary to first acknowledge — as a unified JCOGS community — the loss this year of the typical High Holy Days with which we are so familiar. We will not experience an overflowing sanctuary this year, nor be uplifted by the collective harmonies, nor witness multiple shofar blowers up on the bimah, at least not in our traditional ways.

Our High Holy Day taskforce has been hard at work reimagining the High Holy Days in this era of COVID-19. We now turn to you, our community, to help us understand what the High Holidays mean to you. This brief survey will help us plan for this year's holidays and to dream about how we might create a meaningful, connective, and safe Days of Awe for each of us and collectively.

In the survey, you will learn more about what we are planning. While these holidays will certainly not be the same, in spite of the difficulties, we believe these will be very moving holiday experiences for all. We highly encourage you to fill out the survey, both to learn more about our ongoing plans, and also to help us plan further and meet our community’s needs. The deadline is THIS MONDAY AT NOON, but why not just get this off your to-do list now?

We pray that next year we will fully gather together safely and with abundant health, in community.

With hope and gratitude,

The High Holy Day Taskforce
Rabbi David Fainsilber, Susan Bauchner, Willa Bruckner, Rachel Funk, Aron Temkin, and Claudia Woodward

Statement on reopening from vt jewish clery

07/22/2020 02:01:20 PM


These are extraordinary, trying times we are all facing. As we consider reopening our spaces of worship and gathering, we must first draw on the values that have focused us on choosing life for millenia. Our tradition teaches us that there is no greater value than pikuach nefesh, preserving human life. We are also guided by areivut, our communal responsibility to each other, and savlanoot, patience in the face of crisis. While we so much wish to be together as a community in our sanctuaries, in our eagerness to return to our adored practice of coming together, we must also balance that we somehow may jeopardize the health of those in our communities. We will continue to draw on the wisdom of medical professionals and our values to guide our reopening as we plan for the summer, High Holy Days, and beyond.


07/06/2020 05:00:36 AM


Dear friends,

Rabbi David is off for the next two weeks, and Olivia is off for the next week. They need this time. They have been relentless in caring for our community for the past four months, so I more or less insisted they take time off. They resisted, and I insisted again. 

Please help me in this effort by not emailing, texting, or calling them. Whatever it is, please just hold off. Wait to email Olivia until Tuesday, July 14, and wait to email Rabbi David until Wednesday, July 22. That way, they will not return to an overloaded inbox that obviates any relaxation they are feeling.

If you need immediate assistance during this time, you can email and someone will be in touch with you as soon as possible. Rabbi Rim Meirowitz will be our emergency rabbi while Rabbi David is away. He is the first point of contact for pastoral needs, including if someone is unwell or in need of support, and you can contact him directly at 617-835-2861 or And, of course, for any other needs, I will be available, so please feel free to email me at

Thank you so much for your understanding.

All the best,

this is how we do it

06/29/2020 08:30:25 AM


Upcoming events below letter.

Dear Friends,

I am beyond words. Which, if you know me, tells you something.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been hearing from nonprofits in the area and synagogue presidents around the country that they are canceling their fundraisers. People are looking at their budgets and wringing their hands, knowing they can’t raise money through the types of events they usually host. At JCOGS, we cut the dollar goal for our fundraiser in half, and then asked the finance committee if they could figure something out. A placeholder for our usual summer fundraiser.

Well, if you logged on last night, you know they sure figured something out. The comedy event was hilarious, a mixture of professional, local, and our own homegrown talent. And the auction? When they couldn’t ask businesses to donate items, the committee asked our community to donate their talents. The items were an amazing array of our collective gifts, and I had several conversations over the course of the week that started with, “How much do you think I have to bid to get…?”

So, here’s the part you’re waiting for. We hit our new, reduced fundraising goal. In fact, we hit the old, original goal. We exceeded that goal. Through the tireless efforts of the fundraiser committee, we raised $12,068 towards our JCOGS annual fund. 

Here are the names of the people who did this remarkable work:

  • Committee chair: Sandy Manning
  • Auction magicians: Debby Sherman, Ellen Gibs, Debbie Steinerman
  • Committee members: Amy Wenger, Amy Murphy, Sarah Ellner

If you know these women, please reach out to them and thank them. They showed that it can be done. That we can come together in remarkable ways, can elevate the spirit of community, and will not let a thing like a global pandemic stop our connection with each other. Thank you, all of you.

On another note, I want to let everyone know that I’ve asked our staff to prioritize getting on vacation this summer. They have worked extremely hard through the spring, and chances are that getting away in the winter will prove difficult. This may mean that we cannot exercise our usual care in making sure there is seamless coverage, as people may need to overlap vacation time when their families are able to take time off. I ask you to be patient if some things take more time. Our staff absolutely needs to rest and recharge for the coming months. 

All the best,


A cheese tasting, a Hanukkiah, and 12 quarts of soup walk into an auction...

06/24/2020 11:45:42 AM


What can I do?

06/22/2020 12:52:42 PM



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Future perfect

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Canadian Friends of JCOGS renewal notice

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Come to the annual meeting today

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A message on white privilege, to white Jews

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Support JCOGS and Laugh

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Sparks of hope TONIGHT

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