March 2016

President's Message

It's hard to believe we are already into March - the year is flying by!  Soon we will be celebrating Purim with our friends from Temple Beth Tikvah at the Clear Lake Purim Carnival (this year it will be at CSH on April 3rd) - Holli Hirsch, Katy Izygon and Ronnie Weiss are doing their usual awesome job putting the finishing touches on this year's event - thanks for all your hard work!

We are also deep into planning this year's second night Seder on April 23rd - not only will the wit and wisdom of Rabbi Federow be on display but he will be joined by Cantor Jennifer Rolnick and her incredible voice - don't miss out on this one of a kind service - seating is limited so SAVE THE DATE!

A big Mazel Tov to Ronnie Weiss and his entire team for their hard work on this year's Kosher Chili Cookoff - and a special Double Mazel Tov to Ben and Josh Freedkin for their tasty recipe.  Read all about it below.

Rabbi's Message

On the internet, via Facebook or via emails to my website,, someone corrects me when I refer to the Jews of today. I am told that the term, "Jew," cannot apply to anyone except those people who were from the Tribe of Judah. This is based on the idea that the term "Jew" is derived from the word "Yehudah" which is, in fact, the Hebrew word for Judah. The word, "Jew" in Hebrew is "Yehudi." 

This, of course, is simply wrong, and the proof is found in the Book of Esther, which we will be celebrating this month at Purim. 

At the beginning of the Book of Esther, when we first read about Mordechai, we are told the following:

Esther 2:5  Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordechai, the son of Yair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, from the tribe of Benjamin.

This alone should show that even those who were not from the Tribe of Judah are referred to, Biblically, as Jews.

To this, I am told that the word, "Jew" can include those people who were in the Southern Kingdom after the loss of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. You may remember that the King Solomon's Kingdom was divided into two, the Northern Kingdom, called Israel, and the Southern Kingdom called Judah, at King Solomon's death. Since the Tribe of Benjamin was among those that lived in the South, which also included Levites, they and the Levites, too, can be included in the group of people known as "Jews," but no one else. 

This, too, is wrong, and, again, is shown from the Book of Esther! Near the end of the Book of Esther, after Haman (boo, hiss!) was hung on the gallows that were meant for Mordechai, we read the following:

Esther 8:16-17  16 The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honor. 17 And in every province, and in every city, wherever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them. 

In other words, those people who had no connection to the People of Israel, whose ancestors were not a part of any tribe, became Jews. If this is the word that the Bible uses to describe those who never were Jews, but who became Jews through the act of conversion to the religion of the Jewish People, then the term cannot apply only to those who were from the Tribe of Judah, or the Tribes of Benjamin and Levi!

Like the Jews of the Book Of Esther, may we all have light and gladness and joy and honor this Purim!

Rabbi Stuart Federow


Sisterhood started off February with Kosher Sex. In the event we watched a film by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in where he discusses briefly the contents of his book with the same name. Afterwards, we had a enlightening commentary by Rabbi Federow. We had a large turn out and many of them were fully engaged with the topic of the night.  

Later in the month we kicked off our annual Dress for Success with an English High Tea. This is our 10th year participating in Dress for Success. We are still collecting for lightly-used BUSINESS attire for this worthwhile cause until the end of March. Please drop your donations on the coat racks in the Crupain Gathering Space. 

As you know, Purim is right around the corner and you know what that means. Misch’ach Manot Bags are coming soon. Members should of received their order forms this past week in the mail or via email. If you still need one, we have plenty in the Crupain Gathering Space for you to take at your leisure. Order forms are due MARCH 2nd to allow time for the printing of the cards. Please drop them off in the office or mail them to Jennifer Nixon, 847 Peebleshire Dr, Houston, TX, 77062 by then. 

The preparation of the Purim Bags for Mislo'ach Manot is fast approaching for Sisterhood, and we always need many hands to help. This is an important mitzvah and we hope you will all participate in preparing and stuffing the bags.We will be stuffing the Purim Bags beginning at 7:00 p.m., on Thursday, March 17th, at the synagogue.If you have been to a "stuffing" evening, you need no explanation of how much fun it is to get together, enjoy each others company, and fill the bags. If you have not helped before, please help us this year. We guarantee you will be hooked. If you have any questions about this part of the project, please contact Risa Stein (832) 752-6513

We also hope everyone has a happy and safe Spring Break. 

~Gin Nixon

Mens' Club - Poker Night / Texas Hold'em

The Men's Club of Shaar Harshalom will be hosting a poker night April 17th in the Schwartz Social Hall. Check-in time is 6:30 pm and the cost is $18 per person. Anyone can attend - it's open to all players. Your $18 includes chips, pizza, snacks and soft drinks. There are fabulous prizes for the top six players. Any skill level is invited. If you are not familiar with Texas Holdem don't worry - we will help you learn. This event is always a lot of fun!  If possible please RSVP to RSVP is not required but will be appreciated.


 This is our first update for 2016.  We have 50 children in our religious school who are actively pursuing their Jewish education thanks to our principal, teachers, and volunteers.

In case you missed it, we had a busy fall.  Our “Kipah Caper” fundraiser met our goal of raising $500.00. Thank you to everyone who participated and to those members of the congregation that kindly donated.  Our religious school is going hi-tech! With the generous donation of six new Apple iPads, the children can now supplement their classroom learning with great online and interactive Jewish and Hebrew language resources selected by our teachers.

We have already started off 2016 with a mitzvah activity, conducted jointly with Social Action at Hope Village. Hope Village is a resident facility located in Friendswood that assists those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Led by Joe Buchanan, the religious school participated with the group while they listened to songs, sang along and served ice cream to the residents.

Planning for the 2016 Purim carnival is well underway.  The carnival will be held at CSH this year on April 3rd from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM.  The carnival will offer lots of exciting rides, games and activities along with your favorite kosher Hot Dogs and more!  Planned and run with the assistance of the CSH Men’s Club, the Purim Carnival raises funds to enrich the religious school. If you are interested in being a sponsor of a ride or game, please contact Holli Hirsch or Ronnie Weiss at

We are planning to replace some of the aging furniture in the classrooms, especially the teacher’s desks. This initiative builds on the efforts in the last couple of years that included repainted the classrooms and updated electrical and lighting.

Our goal is to keep our school a place of Jewish learning that encourages our children to embrace their religion, language and Jewish heritage. If you are interested in donating or serving on the Education committee, we welcome your contributions.

Holli Hirsch
VP of Education


As one might suspect, CSH membership can have its shares of ups and downs. Over this past year, we’ve had new members join us as well as losing a few to job relocations and reassignments. It is always ongoing – whether it’s meeting those new to the area or contacting those who are here, but not affiliated – we are always busy. Besides the usual methods of contacting & locating those not yet affiliated, this year, in an effort to increase our visibility in the CL community, we have been trying several new approaches - such as meeting with local realtors and giving them our new information brochures to give to their new clients, reinstating our planned membership coffees twice a year, and through increased publicity and participation in Big Tent Judaism, we are putting our name out in the community through the PR for our many planned events such as Bites of the Bay. Continuing with these projects, we are also staying in touch with new and long-time members by sending personal notes and cards each month for their birthdays & anniversaries. As new members join our synagogue family, they each receive a ‘Welcome Bag’ with Shabbat candlesticks, candles, a personal note and a bottle of Kosher wine.

One of our newest projects is to personalize our Shabbat Oneg/Kiddush procedures, hoping this will reinstate our members interest in sponsoring an Friday night Onegs or Saturday Kiddush luncheons in honor of family and friends special remembrances or birthdays. Planning an open house for unaffiliated Jewish members in our community is currently underway. We are also putting finishing touches on our new membership directory to be given out later this year. Another project in the planning stages is providing a ‘buddy system’ for new members, teaming them up with a current member family who can guide them through the workings of our congregation. What a special way to share their first Shabbat with us – with a Shabbat dinner and visit to services.

Please consider sponsoring an Oneg or Kiddush luncheon in honor of special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, or any life cycle event. What a wonderful mitzvah for you and for the members of our synagogue families.

A special ‘Todah Rabah’ to all congregants and board members who have gone out of their way to personally welcome guests and visitors to our synagogue. For any further information, Kari and I will be happy to answer any questions.

Respectfully submitted by
Risa Stein
Kari Sokolow
Membership Trustees

Second Night Seder

Save the date:
Our popular Second Night Seder is back!

Saturday, April 23, 2016
New this year, Cantor Jennifer Rolnick is joining Rabbi Stuart Federow to lead us in prayer and song

This year we are looking forward to one of the best Purim Carnivals to-date! We are going to have a petting zoo, rock-wall, 3 piece obstacle course along with many other attractions as well as a few new games for the younger crowd. Please come join the fun.

We are looking for some help from our congregation to man the rides and games so if you can spare 2 to 4 hours of you time on the day of the event to help the committee with this event that would be very appreciated. Please contact Ron Weiss at to volunteer.


CSH at the 6th Kosher Chili Cook-off

Did you know that the Houston Kosher Chili Cook-off ( is the largest kosher food event in Houston. The 6th Houston Kosher Chili Cook-off was held this past Sunday, February 28th, 2016 at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston (
There were about 23 cooking teams from: Houston area synagogues, many Jewish organizations, businesses, and even a few law firms. There were also some very talented live entertainers:

  • area Jewish musicians;
  • an exceptionally skilled high school Klezmer band; as well as
  • Congregation Shaar Hashalom ( congregant Joe Buchannan and his band.

As of today, the ERJCC staff estimates that the event was just shy of 4,000 attendees! I estimated that there were about 30 CSH congregants that attended throughout the day. I also personally had a brilliant marketing idea to open a booth next year serving CSH branded over-the-counter antacids!
While the desire to win and the competitive spirit are certainly alive and well in Houston, the real joy of this festive event was to see people having fun mingling, enjoying one another’s company, and raising money for local charities. Although the CSH Chili Team took home 2nd place for the People’s Choice Award this year (narrowly missing 1st place) … we must remember that the charities are the real winners!
Under the dedicated leadership and passionate coordinating efforts of Chili Czar Ronnie Weiss, CSH members have been participating in this festival for the last 6 years! From the prior organizing efforts (cooking and raffle items) to the actual day of the event, there were about 12 CSH people involved in setting up and staffing the CSH Eternal Flaming Chili Booth and the CSH Raffle Booth.

Special Thanks goes to:

  • Ron Zaguli
  • Aaron Freedkin
  • Solomon Peretz
  • Ben Freedkin
  • Josh Freedkin
  • Carl Schwanke
  • Lori Laird
  • Dawn Freedkin
  • Liane Friedberg
  • Trevor Bryant
  • Sarah Dushkin
  • Craig Schweitzer

Acoustic Shabbat Returns on 03.25!

The Acoustic Shabbat service is back on the last Friday in March and everyone is welcome. This evolving, musical Shabbat  service has grown quite a bit and continues to grow thanks to you! So come shake the dust with us on March 25th and be refreshed!
Bring your family and friends for an evening of song, prayer, and community. Service starts at 7:30pm in the Sanctuary with an oneg to follow.

Joe Buchanan

Monthly Thursday Discussion Group with Rabbi Federow – Thursday, March 10th

Join us for a free, open to the community, discussion group the 2nd Thursday of each month at Victor’s Restaurant, 1425 NASA Rd. One, in front of Space Center Houston.  Learn about Judaism, religions in general, practices and traditions, comparisons and differences in a friendly, open environment.  Congregation Shaar Hashalom ’s own Rabbi Stuart Federow is hosting this monthly discussion open to the community, at Victor’s Restaurant, at 7:00 P.M.
Come join in the discussion and bring your thoughts, questions and opinions to share with everyone present.
For more information, call the synagogue office, 281-488-5861 or at

Future Event – Oneg Information

Please watch for future information on the simplified procedures for  sponsoring our Shabbat Oneg and/or
Kiddush luncheon. This will be an easy way to perform a mitzvah for both you, your family  and our congregation.  This will be a perfect way to remember or honor a special event, birthday, anniversary or other special life cycle event.
Please watch for more information in the near future.

Risa Stein & Kari Sokolow