May 2015

President's Message

No doubt we have all thought to ourselves in recent days, when it rains it pours! Well this expression not only is true about our weather but it happens to also apply to the first three months of the year at our synagogue. I wanted to take a moment and catch you up with everything that has happened.

The year began with a flurry of activity to fix a complicated series of issues with the electrical system in the older part of our building – some of which could have caused a fire. Our facilities chair, Aaron Freedkin, with the assistance of Wendy Kane and Jerry Trant dug in and brought everything up to the standards we must have for the safety of our children and our building. In addition, a major effort was completed to rekey our building and provide a more secure method to control access. We honored their efforts with a special Friday night Shabbat service and oneg – Mazel Tov to all of you!

Our Religious School and Men’s Club once again created a memorable Purim Carnival and recently our end of the year picnic. Both events were done together with Temple Beth Tikvah and were huge successes despite the fact that the weather didn’t always cooperate. Shaar Hashalom is a strong conservative synagogue and Beth Tikvah is a strong reform synagogue. Both have their places in the Clear Lake community. Our efforts to hold joint events are intended to celebrate our diversity in a way that allows us to bring us together as Jewish families living outside the beltway and to provide an opportunity for our children to meet and enjoy the friendship of other Jewish children.

March was incredibly rewarding with the arrival of a large group of Israeli students who participated in a NASA program. Many thanks to all the CSH families who housed them! They enjoyed a special presentation by Roger Weiss titled Jews in Space, a pizza and schmooze session with our own students and a memorable Shabbat service before heading back to Israel. Special thanks to Katy Izygon and Holli Hirsch for coordinating their experiences with us.

Men’s Club once again showed the skills when they fielded a team for the annual Kosher Chili Cookoff – it was great to see so many congregants make the journey down to the JCC to show their support.

Another school year came to an end with a very special Teacher Appreciation Shabbat. Mazel Tov to our Education Director Katy, Education VP Holli and our wonderful teachers and TA’s for all their hard work and preparation. The highlight of the Shabbat service was the celebration of Katy’s 15 years as our Education Director and the announcement that our library would be named in her honor. Information about a special fundraising campaign that goes along with this dedication will be arriving shortly. Please consider supporting it. One last note – be sure to complete your registration for next year!

Our Adult Education team has been busy developing new classes and recently held a fun event with the showing of Hava Nagila the Movie – followed by a demonstration of Israeli Dancing by our very own group – consider joining them on Monday nights. Social Action brought us our first Blessing of the Animals and our Fundraising chairs are hard at work planning some fabulous events for the next year.

We will also be establishing a number of new committees this year. They include: Future Financial Planning, Facility Utilization, Social Hall Windows, Onegs, Credit Card Processing, Facility/Office Renovation, Beautification and Strategic Planning. Look for announcements about these new committees and consider volunteering for these or any of our established committees – we would love to have your creative input.

The Jewish Herald Voice has made a considerable effort to embrace the Clear Lake area – they have begun a special section discussing CSH and TBT. As a special offer to our members, they will be giving each of us a free two month subscription to the newspaper. Once you receive it – give it a look – if you decide to subscribe, the synagogue will receive $10 for each new subscription. Your mailing information will not be shared with anyone outside of the JHV.

Consider my door (whether that be my phone or email) always open if you have any concerns or suggestions you wish to give us. I look forward to seeing everyone at services or at one of our exciting events and programs.

Rabbi's Message

Coming in May is the Jewish Holy Day of Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks. It is called this because it comes 7 weeks after Passover, and we are commanded to count the days from Passover to the 50th day following, or seven weeks of seven days, to the next day. As we read in Leviticus:

Leviticus 23:15-16  And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: 16  Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Etrnl. 

Since the giving of the Ten Commandments came after the Jews left slavery in Egypt, it is believed that it is on Shavuot, the Feast Of Weeks, that Gd gave the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai to the Jewish People.

One would think that this would therefore be a greatly celebrated Holy Day, but it is not. Why? Perhaps it is because when it comes to Jewish Holy Days and Holidays, we think with our stomachs. After all, Passover, the most-celebrated holiday by Jews in the U.S., there is the seder with its various foods, including matzah (I will refrain, here, from telling you what i think of Matzah.) Chanukah has its Sufganiyot, Rosh Hashanah has its Apples and Honey, but Shavuot has no single food attached to its celebration. Although it must be said that one does eat Dairy for Shavuot, there is no single food. 

Nor is there any real home celebration for Shavuot. The Seder for Passover is done in the home, Chanukah has its lighting of the Chanukia, in the home. Sukkot has one's Sukkah. But Shavuot is to be celebrated at the Synagogue. So, perhaps it is because there is no home celebration that Shavuot tends to be lost amid the end of school year activities and the like?

The reason this is true is that the Torah must be the center of our attention, especially at Shavuot, the celebration of the giving of the Ten Commandments. So, there can be nothing to replace it, to compete with it, the Torah is the center of the holiday, more specifically, the Ten Commandments, rather than any food or any home celebration. 

So, whether I see you at Shaar Hashalom for the holy day or not, Chag Shavuot Sameach! May you and Yours have a Happy Shavuot!


Sisterhood will be electing new officers on May 19th at 7:00 p.m. At the synagogue. We hope that the members received their invitation to come and vote! The proposed slate is as follows:

Gin Nixon/Risa Stein - co-Presidents
Amy Zaguli - Programming VP
Andrea Levine/Leslie Schwanke - co-Kitchen VP's
Karen Taylor - Secretary
Andrea Levine - Treasurer
April Buchanan - Membership

We will also be discussing a possible gift to the synagogue. We have already given some funds for the electrical repair and the fire suppression system has been updated (a gift from a previous year).

If you would like to assist with any of these positions, or with any other annual events (Dress for Success or Mishlachot Manot Bags for Purim) or have any other programs in mind, let the Presidents know and they'll direct you to the appropriate people.  Bring your ideas for a discussion!

It's been a learning experience for me (Leslie) these last two years, and am looking forward to being a part of this new Board.  Please come and vote and enjoy some yummies on the 19th.

Thank You to the nominating committee, Sharon Rosenthal, Sharon Valentine, and Gin Nixon for coming up with the slate!

Leslie and Risa

This last weekend in April, Sheilla Goldberg and I had the privilege to represent our congregation's Sisterhood at the Women's League for Conservative Judaism IntraContinental Region Conference in Winnipeg Canada. This was definitely NOT my mother's sisterhood. This was my first convention as incoming co-president of sisterhood and I felt that I have walked away with some more wonderful ideas and tools that we can use in our own sisterhood.

One thing I did find out is that our sisterhood undeniably ROCKS! Because of our success we received two awards at the convention. One for meeting our goals for Torah fund and a second one called the Jewels of the Crown Award which is for promoting programs that nurture and sustain Jewish life and vitality in our community. We received our "jewel" award in part due to our Tu B'av Couple's Dinner that we did back in August of last year, chaired by one of our newer members, April Buchanan. After speaking to some of the delegates, they were very excited about sharing this program with their own sisterhoods.

The yearly conventions are open to ALL sisterhood members in ANY position or even non-positions. Even if you have ever been curious about what Women's League is and why we are members, the conventions will surely give you an experience you will never forget. I'm excited for next year and I hope that everyone will join me when they will be hosting it at the home of the MALL OF AMERICA, in Minneapolis, MN in April 2016. It is sure to be fun.

~Gin Nixon


          Membership has actively been pursuing new contacts in our community.  Kari and I hope you will help us by letting us know of any friends or associates who might be interested in information about our congregation.  We will be happy to call or contact them.  We also urge you to greet and welcome guests to our Shabbat Services; just a smiling face and pleasant conversation goes a long way.

          Our  “Bon Appétit with Rabbi Federow” has been well attended and has brought the community to us.  Meeting every Thursday from 1:00 P.M. – 2:30 P.M. at Bon Appétit Café in Nassau Bay, this newly- formed group has brought together those in the community who interested in questions about Judaism or religion in general, coffee or  conversation.  Feel free to join us anytime; each Thursday meeting is always open.  For more information, please call the office, 281-488-5861.

          We are currently reorganizing and simplifying our Oneg policies; we have missed our members sponsoring  Friday night and/or our Saturday morning Kiddush luncheon in honor of  birthdays or anniversaries. We hope to make it easier for our members to sponsor an Oneg.   It was wonderful to celebrate with each other.  Let’s bring those days back.

          Also, please watch for a note or call  from Elizabeth Bell, asking our members to recheck their contact information.  We will be publishing a new CSH Directory; this vital information will make it easier for us to contact each other.  Please watch your email & information from Elizabeth about updating your information in our directory.

          Please give our newest members a special welcome:  Sheila Bass & John Igneri  and  Netanya & Joshua Utay.

Membership Trustees
Risa & Kari


Facilities has been really busy this year. Many thanks to Wendy and Jerry for keeping things moving.

The following has been completed recently:

  • Parking lot re-sealing and stripping~ While the fix made it better, we will have to look at a more costly solution in the next couple of years. The re-sealing bought us time to fund raise. We split the cost with our new neighbors and are in talks to spilt future costs with them.
  • Fire Alarm system update (brought fire alarm panel up to code and ensured coverage for the Hebrew school main building classrooms and back building)~ The fire alarm system could not be heard through the building or in the back building. The current system can be heard everywhere and it will now bring the fire department. This makes our building much safer.
  • Kitchen fire suppression system (re-piped the range guard fire suppression system over the ovens to ensure proper coverage and bring system up to code)~ Just before Passover the fire suppression system in the kitchen was re-certified. So, our kitchen is up to code and compliant.
  • Florescent light replacement in the Hebrew school, offices, and hallway (replaced old lights with new more efficient, and brighter lights. Old lights were no longer functioning properly and had become a fire hazard)
  • Electrical system upgrade (during the light project found that many of the electrical outlets didn’t have ground wires attached.  Also replaced short circuited electrical wires that had become burnt).

Both electrical projects remedied fire safety hazards from electrical fires. Below is a picture of a fire started by the same style of lights we just replaced.