Message from Jewish Communities 

COVID-19 and the Jewish Community


Quoting Rabbi David Edleson at Temple Sinai in S. Burlington:


Jewish tradition has some key teachings for what we are living through:


1.To save a single life is to save an entire world.


2.Faith, daily prayer and meditation can help us to remain grounded and calm even in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty.


3.Much is out of our control, but we must do what we can to reduce risk of harm to others.


4.Even when facing difficult challenges, the key is not to be afraid.


Cancellations keep coming in. Please check with your synagogue, the organization or venue for the latest information.We have included the updates we have so far. As we practice "Social Distancing" please make sure to use social media and the TELEPHONE to keep in touch with your community. Some people are experiencing different levels of anxiety--in some cases extreme anxiety-- and loneliness will become a problem for other members of our communities. If you know someone who lives alone, even if they are not your special friend, reach out, check on them and engage in safe social interaction.


Why is the community doing this? Are we over-reacting?

The goal is to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we don't overwhelm our healthcare system. The graphic below explains what we have to do. Even if you are not at particular risk, you can spread the virus. Social distancing and limiting our exposure to others will slow the pandemic down. Just as many may become ill, but it won't happen all at once. We don't have enough , hospital beds, ventilators or health -care workers so let's work together for the good of all (a very Jewish value!)

(Rabbi Micah in 2016  at a Leket Yisrael growing field collecting “pe’ah”)

All non-profits, including our synagogues and JCVT are going to have a difficult time now since the pandemic has become an economic disaster. Please continue to support the Jewish community, including JCVT, as long as you are able. Stay healthy and keep our Jewish institutions healthy so that we all can continue to support the community.

This portion does spend time on the subject of what life may be like when the Israelites come to the next stage of settlement rather than wandering. The challenge is not to become complacent or forget the knowledge we had gained in the wilderness. That taught the power of access to food, such as having too much, of having too much of what we think is good until it overflows us, of thinking we do not have enough when we really do, and the blessing of having just enough. We are for the most part privileged to have access to healthy food. But not everyone in this world in our own day and even in our country has the same access. This has been heightened in the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic, and as it continues to effect us, the effect upon food security will also remain. By sharing in a blessing when we are sustained by our meals, may we all increase our awareness of those who lack enough and those who lack access to sustainable and healthy food choices. Let us all pray for the time when there are no longer food deserts and a lack of nourishment, but a time when we are all sustained. Perhaps you can help by providing resources to the Bennington Food pantry or if you are able to make a donation to Mazon, the national Jewish organization to fight hunger. We are all in this together!   

Another possible practice is awakening one's self to ever-growing gratitude. Do you have a practice of saying a blessing or “saying grace” before or after a meal? Has it changed during these recent months of new behaviors? If you do not have something you already offer, perhaps you can try saying “We have eaten, we are nourished, and so we give thanks.” as short meditation blessing at the conclusion of your meals.


Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Micah 

      Rabbi Micah's Ekev D'Var continued




                                                                            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


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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.