For printable guidelines for sponsoring kiddush, click here:
To contact us about volunteering, click here:



Hello everyone,                                                                                     January 12, 2020                                                                                     

Thanks to those of you who were able to make today's annual meeting a success. A couple of new board members were elected: Ellie Roden and Ginny Granger, both of whom need to be added to this distribution list.

As seen on the lists below, lots of great ideas were generated by the community members who attended our working session. Next comes the hard part: putting in place a system AND people who can ensure the success of our previously scheduled programming, while implementing some of these new ideas. That will be the primary agenda item at our next meeting scheduled for MONDAY, JANUARY 20TH. Please join us.

Wendy Klein-Faller -  Co-President, CBE Board of Trustees



  1. Book sale

  2. Art show and auction

  3. Art fund-raiser gallery. We have a lot of artists in the community. Find people to donate their work for viewing.

  4. Event evenings with Jewish themes. Story-telling; poetry; politics* (*not the explosive variety); culture; etc.

  5. Flea market

  6. Art classes

  7. Special trips, such as to NYC or one of the casinos. Charge the actual cost + some extra for CBE

  8. Grant writing

  9. Silent auction

  10. Jewish musical group. Charge for admission





  1. Learning the Hebrew language

  2. Play BINGO with the Hebrew letters to the learn the language

  3. Generate interest--Monthly/Holiday-based workshops and classes until a proper weekly school could be formed

  4. Form a Klezmer band (youth and adult)

  5. Jewish values, customs, and holidays

  6. Jewish arts and crafts relating to the holidays

  7. Prayer teaching

  8. On-line Hebrew class





  1. Meet the authors series. This could include Nancy Thompson  (“Touching the Elephant”); David Bashevkin (Al Bashevkin’s nephew. “The Synagogue”); Judith Schwartz (she has a new book being published soon); there may be other CBE member authors, especially among our professors.

  2. Conversational Hebrew classes

  3. Biblical Hebrew classes

  4. Informational travelogues

  5. Talk on Kabbalah and meditation

  6. Jewish music appreciation

  7. Form a Klezmer band (adults and youth)

  8. Jewish foods

  9. Jewish book club

  10. Lessons in computer and social media programs, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google

  11. Retreat weekend with Shabbat dinner and activities

  12. Regular monthly lecture with coffee - casual with topics of general interest, such as elder care, health, art, etc.

  13. Geopolitical history of Israel and her neighbors

  14. Play reading group of Jewish playwrights and/or plays





  1. Work with interfaith group to help make Bennington an immigrant-friendly community

  2. Create a “moral minyan”: One Shabbat/month to focus on an agreed upon social justice issue

  3. Ecological activism-native plant/native insect/natural interdependency workshops, info, work sessions

  4. Research native wildflowers, select specific plants for specific conditions, restore original plant varieties

  5. Plant wildflowers everywhere (seeds) like underpasses, etc.

  6. Environmental committee

  7. Host a community dinner with other people from interfaith organization

  8. Collect newspapers for recycling--there are people who have files of them in their homes





  1. Accessible nature walk with prayer

  2. Garden at CBE/compost

  3. Lag B’Omer bonfire and picnic

  4. Isabelle Friedman Center (or alternative site) community retreat

  5. Trip to lake for swimming, picnic, etc.

  6. Morning bike ride to a breakfast destination

  7. Wildflower walks, trips to local sites of interest (historical; Jewish)

  8. Mindfulness and ???


Volunteer Opportunities


In a recent Shabbat discussion about our experiences as volunteers, one of our members said that volunteering is simply what we should be doing for each other and for the community anyway. Volunteering really shouldn't need its own name, except that our busy lives require us to compartmentalize what we need to do for ourselves, and what we want to do for others. 


Congregation Beth El depends on various kinds of participation from its members. Financial support is part of the balance, and the contribution of your knowledge, skills, commitment, and compassion completes the equation. Following are a few suggestions for how you can help, and feel free to identify other areas where you can be of service.


Sponsor Kiddush:
Option 1 - donate money for kiddush. We are happy for members to sponsor Kiddush with a simple donation of $18. Susan will verify supplies we have on hand, and supplement with challah and anything else we need for a pleasant oneg shabbat. Your attendance is appreciated but not required!


Option 2 - donate supplies for kiddush. Provide non-perishable or freezable foods which we can bring out for a non-sponsored shabbat kiddush.


Option 3 - provide your own kiddush. This way you get to choose the menu and make a special occasion for the congregants, but it doesn't have to be complicated. See link in sidebar for kiddush guidelines and suggestions. 


Announcements preview: the weekly email Community Connection announcements would benefit from an independent review of the draft before issuing to the congregation. This would include checking that entries make sense, and contain essential information regarding dates, times, locations, fees, links, etc. Send brief comments to the rabbi and Susan, and you're done!

Tell us a story: send us an article related to Jewish life for the newsletter. This could be scholarly work, an opinion piece, congregational news, personal experience, fiction, poetry, or whatever you have to offer the community. CBE staff will review submitted articles and decide what to include based on content and available column space.

Library coordinator: sort through our boxes of books, select preferred items for community room bookshelves, organize and label items to be kept and stored, separate items to sell or give away.

Monthly Community Dinners:


Art coordinator:

Holiday planning & decorating:
Kitchen Coordinator:
Minyan phone tree:

  Hevre Kadisha (training reduired):







                                                                            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:

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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.