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To make a donation in honor of a special occasion, or in memory of a loved one, click here:
For annual notification of Yahrzeit for a family member, please register here:
Find, create, and share Jewish rituals here: 

Life Cycle

Community happens when we come together to mark the joys and sorrows of lifecycle events.  Such occasions remind us of the vital role we each play as participants in co-creating and sustaining Jewish community.  To this end, we welcome and encourage you to contact our office if you are thinking of marking a personal milestone or family lifecycle, whether it be welcoming a new baby, celebrating an adoption, thinking about conversion to Judaism, celebrating a bar/bat mitzvah, planning a wedding, marking an anniversary, healing from an illness, mourning a death, commemorating a yahrzeit, or any other important life transition.  A wonderful resource for exploring Jewish lifecycle rituals is ritualwell.org.

 

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

At a small congregation like Beth El, a bar or bat Mitzvah is a special day. Our B’nei Mitzvah program challenges each of our bar and bat mitzvah students to step more fully into the tradition she or he is inheriting, while helping each student create a service that reflects his or her unique self in the context of that tradition. 

 

Weddings

Our Rabbi works with couples and officiates at weddings for members of the congregation and their families, as well as for couples from out of the area who will be getting married in Vermont, whether in Beth El’s sanctuary or in outside venues. We proudly officiate at same-sex ceremonies. 

 

Funerals 

Congregation Beth El maintains a men’s and women’s hevre kaddisha (burial society) to help families and assist in carrying out the ancient rites around the loss of a life in the Jewish tradition, including taharah (ritual washing and dressing of the body) and shomrim (sitting with and accompanying the body) in the hours before burial. Our Rabbi officiates at funerals both for members of the community and non-members.

 

Cemetery

Congegation Beth El maintains a beautiful and peaceful Jewish cemetery and meditation garden at Park Lawn Cemetery in Bennington. For more information about cemetery plots and policies, click on the CBE Cemetery webpage link, or contact our office.

 

Yahrzeits

In Judaism, it is a mitzvah to mark the yahrzeit (anniversary of the death) of our loved ones each year. Marking a yahrzeit honors the person’s memory and helps us feel connected to them in our ongoing path of mourning and remembering.  Customs for marking the yahrzeit of a love one include:

 

  • reciting the mourner's Kaddish during services on the preceding Sabbath. If you contact us a week in advance, we will make every effort to ensure we have a minyan for Kaddish. 

  • sponsoring a kiddush in a loved one's memory. 

  • lighting a special 24-hour candle at sundown on the eve of the yahrzeit. Contact us if you would like to pick up a yahrzeit candle from the office. 

  • making a contribution in memory of the deceased. 

 

If you wish to receive an annual yahrzeit reminder from Beth El, please visit our online Yahrzeit Registry.

 

                                               

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                                                                            Beth El Community Profile

                                                                             Alice and Alan Greenspan

                                                                      (aka Al and Al by family members)

                                                                                                                                               As told to Susan Armstrong

 

Alice and Alan both grew up in Perth Amboy, NJ, around the corner from one another. Al is four years her senior. When they were young, the Depression was in full force, but both considered themselves privileged because they had comfortable lifestyles, despite all the want and need throughout the country. Their families belonged to the same Conservative temple – Beth Mordechai. Alice’s father was Treasurer of the board, “forever.” Al was bar mitzvahed and tutored in Hebrew by Cantor Efron, a well known composer of liturgical music. Because bat mitzvahs were rare at that time, Alice was confirmed.

Alice had a beautiful sister, seven years her senior, named Jacquie. Alan was quick to comment that she looked like Ava Gardner. On Friday nights she would sit on the front porch and the boys would line up to talk to her. Mischievous Alice sat up in a second floor window throwing notes out to the boys. Alice said, “I grew up in the shadow of my beautiful sister.” 

When asked if anything had ever happened in their lives that changed everything, Alice immediately described a giant explosion that occurred on two barges in the Raritan River, just two blocks from her family’s home. She was talking on the phone on the second floor, wearing only a slip, when suddenly the force of the explosion blew out all the windows in the entire house, including the room where she was standing. She was covered in blood from the shattered glass and ran downstairs to see if everyone was okay. Her mother and father had both escaped injury. She threw on her new spring coat and they all ran outside. Being without shoes, she ended up with bleeding feet as well. The city was put under martial law when it was discovered that the barges that had collided were smuggling arms to Pakistan. First aid stations were set up and Alice was able to receive the necessary care. Her brand new spring coat was ruined by the blood, but her mother dyed it blue and solved the problem.

Congregation Beth El  107 Adams Street  Bennington  VT  05201

 

Tel: 802-442-9645     Email: cbevtoffice@gmail.com

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Both Alan and Alice attended Jewish summer camps, Alice in Monterey, MA and Al at Camp Kiowa in Honesdale, PA. They each had dogs in their families and remain dog lovers to this day. They attended local Perth Amboy schools until Al was sent away to a private school, as his mother wanted to shield him from his father’s illness. He attended the George School in Newtown, PA, founded by Quakers. Two of his classmates were Stephen Sondheim and Blythe Danner. Al tells the story that Oscar Hammerstein’s son, Jimmy, was also a student there. Stephen had written some music for a class play, and Oscar Hammerstein himself just happened to be in the audience. And so began Sondheim’s brilliant musical career. The Greenspans attended Sondheim’s play, "Applause," on Broadway years later, and Stephen was in the audience. Al went over to say hello and was greeted by name immediately. It was impressive to be remembered after all those years.

 

In his teen years, Alan sported a pompadour hair style a la Elvis. Walking by Alice’s house one day, he saw her outside. Al flipped her a nickel and said, “Call me when you’re 16.” What a move! He went off to Washington University, then on to graduate school at Northwestern, where he earned a degree in Macroeconomics. Next Al served in the 101st Airborne Division and fought in North Korea. After putting up with freezing conditions in that country, he was sent to Oklahoma City, where he roasted. There Al taught combat intelligence – how to interrogate prisoners. By this time, both he and Alice had married other people and each had three girls of their own.

 

Al had a sterling career on Wall Street with Rothchild & Co., Oppenheimer & Co. and was a Senior Vice President at Morgan Stanley. For years he oversaw the NYC Pension Fund, where he was tasked with foreseeing the economic future. Alice owned a successful interior design company, all the while raising her girls. In fact, she has an assignment right now to design the interior of a home in Burlington. Her creativity never stops.

 

They had not seen each other for twenty one years, but their parents had their fingers crossed that the two would re-connect, because each was getting a divorce. As soon as they saw each another, Al said, “We know each other well. Let’s get married.” But Alice gave him a hard time. She resisted until they finally wed eleven months later. Together they raised their daughters and shared their common interest in mountain climbing. They even traveled to New Zealand, where they scaled some of mountains in the Southern Alps and hiked the Greenstone Track out of Queensland.

 

It has now been forty seven years that Alice and Alan have been married. Their families have melded together – all six girls. They have thirteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren. They have remained happily together for over half of their lives.

 

They moved permanently to Wilmington, VT in 2003, after having spent years coming up to to Mt. Snow from New Jersey with their family to ski. In 1999 they began their association with Congregation Beth El. Al volunteered to manage the CBE investment funds over ten years ago and has done a stellar job. Alice is a trustee on the Board of Directors. We are indeed fortunate that the Greenspans continue to enrich our congregation.

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