August 2015

President's Message

Dear Congregants:

I want to let everyone know about some changes that will be made to High Holiday procedures this year.  As you have already heard, we are requiring everyone who attends services to have a ticket – please contact Jennifer Nixon if you haven’t received your tickets yet.  One additional change you will notice is that the police will be checking purses, tallit bags, etc.  This procedure has been implemented for sporting events nationwide and many synagogues have similar security procedures in place – the board has chosen to do the same with all those attending services – synagogue members as well as guests – we want our services to be safe.  Please plan to arrive at services a few minutes earlier to accommodate our new procedures.  Thank you for your understand and cooperation.

Now, one of the biggest changes this year will be that there won’t be a Kol Nidre appeal from the bima prior to services.  This is not to say that we don’t need the income – we do – but I feel the decision about how much you can support CSH with your pledge is better made in the privacy of your home and not immediately before the start of services.  Recently, I was asked to explain how the Kol Nidre appeal is utilized.  I want to make sure that you are clear that this appeal is not for a wish list of things the board can spend it on – not at all!  Most of the money received from the Kol Nidre appeal is needed to balance our annual budget – to help pay the salaries of our Rabbi, our Education Director, our teachers, our secretary – to help pay the utility bills – to help pay for postage, copying and other office expenses – in other words to enable the synagogue to operate as well as it does and offer all the services and education we provide our members.

So, we will be mailing you a Kol Nidre pledge card and a return envelope.  The amount you pledged last year will be noted on the card.  Let me also provide you some guidance on the amount of money we need to collect to accomplish everything I mentioned above.  The budget lists a Kol Nidre appeal of $17,250.  We have approximately 140 families in our membership.  That comes out to a suggested Kol Nidre pledge of $125 per family or $10.50 per month.  Now some will be able to give more – and some will not be able to afford the full $125.  Whatever your financial status is, we ask you to do your part and consider this critical appeal.  Please return your pledge card with the appropriate donation level marked – don’t forget that we can bill you for this pledge over the entire year – it doesn’t have to be paid all at once.  You may also bring your card to High Holiday services or drop it off with Lynette.

Included in this month’s shofar are the confirmation speeches of Ben Freedkin, Michelle Rumann and my son Steven – you all did a fantastic job and you have bright futures ahead!

I want to thank Pia Greenberg and Tom Niemczura for donating the beautiful new white Kippot we will be using on High Holidays. 
Lastly, on behalf of the board and my family, I would like to wish you a very healthy and happy New Year.

Ron Zaguli

Recent Confirmation Speeches

Ben Freedkin

I am a Jew because my faith demands no abdication of the mind. I am a Jew because my faith demands all the devotion of my heart. I am a Jew because wherever there is suffering, the Jew weeps I am a Jew because whenever there is despair, the Jew hopes. I am a Jew because the message of our faith is the oldest and newest. I am a Jew because the promise of our faith is a universal promise I am a Jew because for the Jew the world is not completed; people must complete itI am a Jew because for the Jew humanity is not fully created; people must complete it I am a Jew because the faith of the people of Israel places humanity above nations, above Judaism itself. I am a Jew because the faith of the people of Israel places above humanity, image of the divine, the oneness of G-d this quote stands out to me for a number of ways. Such as that Judaism its self is religion of brain, heart, and soul. And that we as Jews are a very special people the chosen people. My conformation is more than just another ceremony in my life. Conformation is my affirmation to not only my faith but to my friends and That I Benjamin Ray Freedkin or Binyamin Rubain ben Aharon am part of a religion of only 13.9 million in a world of 7.125 billion. A people who survived thousands of years of oppression and genocide. A people I love and cherish that I am Jew and will always be a Jew no matter what people tell me because we as Jews are resilient and cannot be broken. Thank you both Steven and Michelle for being with me throughout the year’s y’all are some of my best friends and I can’t wait to see where we all end up. Thank you to family for putting up with me and showing me support no matter what I do.

Steven Zaguli

The definition of confirmation is the action of confirming something or the state of beingconfirmed. But its synonyms are the things that mean the most. Words like verify, prove, and authenticate are words that I believe are relatable to Judaism. Like in this week’s torah portion Bamidbar in the Sinai Desert, Gd says to Moses to conduct a census of the twelve tribes of Israel. Moses counts 603,550 men of draftable age (20 to 60 years); the tribe of Levi, numbering 22,300 males age one month and older, is counted separately. The Levites are to serve in the Sanctuary, replacing the first-born, whose number they approximated, who were disqualified when they participated in the worshipping of the Golden Calf. When the people broke camp, the three Levite clans dismantled and transported the Sanctuary, and reassembled it at the center of the next encampment. They then erected their own tents. Beyond the Levite circle, the twelve tribes camped in four groups of three tribes each. There were Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, Dan, Asher and Naphtali. This formation was kept also while traveling. Each tribe had its own nassi (prince or leader), and its own flag with its tribal color and emblem. To relate the Torah portion to what we are talking about each person goes through a bar/bat mitzvah to be recognized as an Adult in the Jewish community, but when a certain time comes a person is to confirm their faith and realize how they are going to incorporate Judaism in their life, as each person is “confirmed” into a tribe of Israel and is to spread the essence of Judaism.

This year I have been honored to be a part of the confirmation class here at Shaar HaShalom with my friends I have known since my childhood. We have learned about how to defend ourselves against the Christian evil called (wait for it) “missionaries” and what divides the line between being a Christian and being a Jew. We learned what is unholy and holy, some of the common misconceptions about the origin of Christianity, and how it is not a root from Judaism. Along with so many other things I can teach my kids thanks to my wonderful Rabbi Stuart Federow (who I will get to later don’t worry). What Rabbi didn’t/couldn’t teach me from a packet full of knowledge is who I am going to become in my life as a proud person in the Jewish community. To start the crying part of my speech; I would like to thank all my teachers ranging from Ms.Patti as my pre-k, to Rabbi as my current teacher/mentor. If I didn’t mention you I’m sure I will give you a hug after this and you will tell me how much I’ve grown up in my life. To my wonderful, loving, proud, courageous, somehow haven’t put me up for adoption parental guardians/sister. Y’all have been the rock my in life, the falafel to my pita bread, Jerusalem to Israel, the lox to my bagels, and Rabbi with tissues. Each one of those pairs cannot live without the other. To all my friends who have stuck with me all this years through our wonderful adventures, I cannot thank you enough. As a sophomore in high school, my main priorities are school, baseball, USY, religion, and most of all acquiring one female at a time. USY has utterly changed my life in uncountable ways. I’ve made friends who I will never forget. USY will always will be one of the closest thing I hold dear to me. What I have gained from this class, torah portion, and synagogue is that we all have a place in life. Were we meant to create our own path? Or were we meant to find the path created to us? I ask that question to myself often, and hope to find an answer to these questions as I grow through life and become old and wrinkly. Thank you everyone in this room, and I love each and every one of you, and I don’t know how I could replace all the time you have given me and my hyper self.

Michelle Rumann

I remember when I was about 4 or 5 years old; I would sit and wonder about who we were, where we came from, and how we even existed. Pretty complex ideas for a toddler to wrap their mind around, I know. And it definitely still is. But now, I have a much better idea of the answers to all of these questions because of my Judaism. It has also given me a very deep insight about who I am. And I know all my discoveries sponsored by my faith don’t end here. Have you ever noticed how “the end” rarely signifies or means “the end”? For example, when we participate in a kindergarten graduation, we know that the end of this school grade only means a transition to the rest of the elementary school. Likewise, my sister, Samantha will be soon be graduating high school, ending the K-12 cycle, only to begin college a few months from now. The End of one season means another begins, and the end of a work day signifies the beginning of one’s home life. I might be ending my formal Hebrew school education, but it only means that I, like the kindergartner, am just beginning. To be honest, there were many times in my life when I thought about how religious school maybe just wasn’t for me. I didn’t know who I wanted to be as a person and I didn’t know what I needed to do to become that person. Nor did I think occupying my time learning about Judaism would get me there any faster. However, looking back, I am so glad that I, (along with a couple of parental pushes) made the right decision to stay. I have learned so much about Judaism in Religious School, from the history of Israel, to the Holocaust, to the Hebrew language, to learning how important it is to be a Jew. And if I stopped attending Religious School, I realized that I’d just be throwing all of the appreciated knowledge away. I have grown, significantly, as an individual and have found a way to express myself, I have been exposed to services, torah, holiday celebrations and apples dipped in honey (always ending up the youngest person in the room) I asked, “why is this night so different from all the other nights?”, I’ve made friends, I’ve snagged wine when told to go grab some grape juice, and I became a Bat Mitzvah. Right here, in congregation Shaar Hashalom, was where I did all the growing, and I couldn’t have asked for a more warm, welcoming, and spiritual place to do so. But of course I would not be able to do probably any of it alone. Without all the love and support from my super-hero like parents, and caring (abrasive, yet caring) siblings, I would not have been able to do any of this. In addition to my family, one capable, beautiful teacher after another have had a profound impact on me. These amazing teachers have all left a mark, a gift in my soui as the helped educate me on all things jewish. Thank you so much, Mrs. Ida, Nitzana, Katy, Nurit, Rosenthal, Phyllis, Patti and Kitmacher. And a very special thank you to my endlessly gratified Rabbi, Stewart Federow. Your class was by far the most challenging, because you never told us what we should believe, but how we should be able to think for ourselves. Something that’s never been my strongest asset. My favorite part of your class had to be the fact that no question was ever a dumb one (a rule highly to my advantage). It seemed simple at first (how easy, this is just my opinion, I thought to myself) but very quickly, the enormity of it all, and the realization that my opinions weren’t even close to forming, came crashing down. G’d and Judaism explain what we don’t fully comprehend. It gives us an idea of the unexplainable. And now I need to figure out where I stood, considering all of it. One thing I did find, is the set of values that are taught here. From helping those in need, to responsibility for one’s action, to how to be a good member of a community, these are all traits that I see echoed in my own family, and throughout this congregation. These values will help me in life. Though I may not be so in touch with my spiritual connection toward G’d, it is the lessons and values we talk about here and at home, which have helped shape me into the person I am today. I’ve learned that in order to make a positive contribution to the world around me, I don’t need to base my decisions on what looks or sounds alright to others. I only need to look within myself to determine where my passions lie and go from there. If I’m passionate about something, that passion is what will help me to be successful. If anything’s for sure, it’s that I’m most definitely passionate about my Judaism and how it will always be there for me to reflect on through all of life’s endeavors. I can truly say, still being the young and unsure girl that I am, that Judaism is the safest, purest, and most eloquent lifestyle for me to continue putting all my passion in.

Musical Selichot

I am truly excited to announce, on behalf of CSH Adult Education, that our own musical maven, Joe Buchanan, has graciously agreed to lead us in a Musical Selichot as the main program before the late evening Selichot service on Saturday, September 5. Joe will play and sing songs carrying the theme of reflection, return, and repentance to ease us into the High Holidays. Rabbi Federow will offer commentary and discussion that connect the tunes with the symbolism and significance of these Holy Days.

The program will begin at 8:30pm with light refreshments, then Joe will play for about an hour, including time for the discussion, then we’ll clean up .. all in the Social Hall. Finally, the service will begin at 10:30pm in the Sanctuary.

Toda Rabah and B’shalom,
Roger Weiss
Adult Education


 “In the beginning…” At sundown of Sunday, September 13, 2015 the Jewish year 5775 will end and 5776 will commence with the High Holy Days. Why sundown? The Jewish day begins at sunset of the previous day, based on the recording of the First Days, GenesisChapter 1: “And there was evening, and there was morning one day…” etc., for each of the days.

The Jewish tradition places the first day of Creation in the first day of the Hebrew month Tishrei. Even though prior to the exile to Babylonia Tishrei was the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar (the first being Nissan, the month in which Passover is celebrated), the years were always counted from the first of Tishrei.

The year will begin with Rosh Hashanah, “head of the year”, that is celebrated for two days, on September 14th and 15th this year. According to tradition, the destiny of each and every person is written in the book of life on Rosh Hashanah, and after a reprieve period of 10 days, on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), the book is closed and sealed. These 10 days are called “Yamim Nora’eem”, Days of Awe, and are devoted to meditation, repent and asking forgiveness of people and God (in that order!). Yom Kippur will commence on sundown of Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 and will end on the evening of Wednesday, September 23rd with the blowing of the Shofar (ram’s horn). Jews worldwide will spend Yom Kippur in prayer and fasting.

Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are the only purely religious holidays, having neither association with any historical event, nor agricultural significance. However, the next holiday, Sukkot, celebrated only 5 days after Yom Kippur, is closely tied to both a historical event, and the land and the season. It marks the 40 years journey of the Israelites through the Sinai Desert on their way from Egypt to Israel, and the Fall Harvest. Sukkot will commence on the evening of Sunday, September 27th, and will be celebrated by dining and spending time in temporary structures, made of wood, cloth and the like and topped with palm branches, called Sukkot (plural of Sukkah) and with special services.

Sukkot will conclude eight days later with Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Shemini Atzeret is an “additional day” to Sukkot and Simchat Torah is the holiday of the Torah, the five books of Moses. In Israel these two holidays are celebrated on the same day, but outside Israel, where extra days are added to the holidays, Simchat Torah (October 6th this year) is celebrated one day after Shemini Atzeret (October 5th).

Simchat Torah, which concludes the holiday season, marks both the end and the beginning of reading the Torah Scroll (it takes one full year to read the scroll from beginning to end). The Torah scrolls are carried around the synagogue, in an exhilarating parade, accompanied by singing and dancing, and symbolizing the continuous cycle of life and celebration.

Congregation Shaar Hashalom is the Conservative synagogue in the Clear Lake area and is located at 16020 El Camino Real, Houston, TX 77058. The congregation will celebrate these spiritually elevating days with a full programs of services and festivities for adults and children, led by Rabbi Stuart Federow and Cantor Jennifer Rolnik. Below is a list of events and times. Please call the Synagogue office at 281-488-5861 or email to arrange for seating.

Service Sat Sept. 5 10:30 PM
ROSH HASHANAH- First Day      
Erev (Evening) Sun Sept. 13 8:00 PM
Morning Mon Sept. 14 9:00 AM
Tashlich (Nassau Bay Park) Mon Sept. 14 4:00 PM
ROSH HASHANAH- Second Day      
Erev (Evening) Mon Sept. 14 8:00 PM
Morning Tues Sept. 15 9:00 AM
Kol Nidre Tues Sept. 22 7:00 PM
Morning Wed Sept. 23 9:00 AM
Yizkor Wed Sept. 23 11:30 PM
Mincha Wed Sept. 23 6:00 PM
Family Service Fri Oct. 2 7:00 PM
Sukkah Walk        (tentative) Sun Oct. 4 Afternoon
Shemini Atzeret (Yizkor) Mon Oct. 5 8:00 AM
Evening Service Mon Oct. 5 7:00 PM
Children’s Service & Baby Sitting
(1st Day Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur)
Children Service for Rosh Hashanah - after Torah Processional (about 10:30)



Congregation Shaar Hashalom is a special Kehilah (congregation) in that we have many talented and dedicated lay leaders. Todah rabah to Men's Club, Sisterhood, and our Youth Groups, CLUSY and Kadima, for helping Ritual Committee fill in during Rabbi Federow's July vacation. A special Kol HaKavod (well done!) to Sally Harrison and Nurit Mittlefehldt for being Torah and Haftarah readers. David Trant, a newly minted Bar Mitzvah, took his new "adult" status very seriously, led a large portion of the summer services, and bravely took the Hagbah honor, lifting a Torah which barely weighed less than he did. Rabbi, we're glad to have you back!

With the High Holidays upon us, we again thank the congregants who have volunteered to lead part of the service, run children's services, read Torah and Haftarah, have Aliyot, blow the shofar, lead us in English readings, and open the Ark. We also greatly appreciate congregants who are helping as greeters and ushers. The number of volunteers is too large to list here, but we say "Yashar kochem" (stay strong) to all.

Sharon Rosenthal and Jay Bergman,
Ritual Co-Vice Presidents

High Holidays

We are excited that Cantor Jennifer Rolnick from the Jewish Theological Seminary will again lead us in Ma'ariv, Musaf, Kol Nidre, and Neilah services. Her beautiful voice and joyful singing enriches the spirit of the holidays for all of us.

Babysitting will be available first day of Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur morning, but reservations and a small fee are required. The preschool room in the back building will be used for this purpose. Contact the office for more information and to register.

To allow for age-appropriate experiences, there will also be two youth services offered, for grades pre-K to 2, and for grades 3-6. These hour-long services will occur first day of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, starting after the Torah procession, and ending in time for everyone to come together in the main sanctuary for the Shofar blowing.

Please note that we have changed ticket procedures this year. Tickets must be obtained from synagogue office before Rosh Hashanah and presented before entry into the building. We also ask you to open purses and talit bags for the security guards. Thank you in advance for cooperating with these additional security measures.

Finally, Sukkot will be here before you know it. If you'd like to order a Lulav and Etrog, contact Rex Hemme or the synagogue office.

Sharon Rosenthal and Jay Bergman,
Ritual Co-Vice Presidents


Having participated in the recent two seat sign-ups, Kari and I have enjoyed talking with many of you as you came by our tables to sign-up for helping with our Yom Kippur Break Fast, renewing and/or joining as members of our Sisterhood, or just visiting our gift shop.

We have been very lucky to have Elizabeth Bell volunteer to organize and gather information for our  newest CSH Membership Directory.  We will need your help in contacting Elizabeth to update, change or add new information for this directory.  This is one of the best ways for all of us to stay connected with each other.  You may also contact the office during business hours, 10:00 - 2:00 daily, at 281- 488- 5861, to get further information.

We are hoping to once again promote the mitzvah of sponsoring of an Oneg and/or Kiddush luncheon by  our members.  This mitzvah can be performed to honor one's parents, to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, in memory of a loved or just in honor of Shabbat.

Please also welcome our newest member, Rita Janoe, to our CSH family.

Let Kari and I know how we can help you as your Membership Trustees.

Risa Stein
Kari Sokolow