President's Message

This is the end of our year, 5775. I want to recall our busy year and acknowledge the wonderful women who have made it such a success.

Our September opener, a wine tasting, was chaired by Tzippy Fromberg assisted by Lucy Hassell and Julie Weisman. The annual Politics and Prose Holiday Gift Wrap, benefiting The Washington Literacy Center, was headed by Carol Ansell. Also, Carol’s seasonally inspired poems graced each issue of the newsletter.

We recognize Linda Yitzhak, together with Marcie Goldstein, Leah Hadad, Susan Klein, April Rubin, and Betsy Strauss for collectively producing January’s thrilling Sisterhood Shabbat. It featured author Rahel Musleah who acquainted us with the Baghdadi-Indian Jewish tradition. We thank Donald Saltz, who underwrites Sisterhood Shabbat through the Mozelle Saltz Fund for Sisterhood Speakers.

February saw Sisterhood’s fourth annual Night at the Movies, featuring “The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer,” followed by a discussion. Thank you to Chair Judy Melamed and to Miriam Isaacs who led the discussion. In March we hosted the “Chai” Tea, honoring Women’s League for Conservative Judaism Seaboard Region’s Torah Fund donors, with Connie Krupin speaking about Jewish names. Adas co-organizers were Lisa Kleine, Myra Promisel, and Joyce Stern. We express immense gratitude to Gerry Lezell for her concluding year as Torah Fund Campaign chair.

This spring we introduced “Sisterhood in the Community,” chaired by Mary Hammer. These home-based brunches for new Adas women members were hosted by Marian Fox, Leah Hadad, Mary Hammer, Lucy Hassell, Lisa Kleine, June Kress, Nancy Weiss, and Susan Winberg. June’s hugely popular closing event, co-chaired by Sabrina Sojourner, was conceived by Lucy Hassell who brought us historian Margaret Vining, of the Smithsonian’s Women in the Military Archives.

We extend heartfelt appreciation to the managers and other volunteers at the Sisterhood Gift Shop whose proceeds enable us to help support our synagogue (see below). Thanks also to Roselle Abramson for coordinating our monthly “Taste of Tanach” discussions with Rabbi Steinlauf, to June Kress, VP Membership, who has been revitalizing our membership, and to Marian Fox, chair of the Nominating Committee who worked tirelessly to fill the Board positions.

In the Source, Dvrai Torah were prepared by Julia Gordon, Adina Mendelsohn, Rhoda Ritzenberg, Amy Schwartz, Joyce Stern, Rabbi Shira Stutman, and Julie Weisman. The Source’s member profiles noted sisters’ accomplishments. Elizabeth Sloan and Marilyn Cooper contributed several profiles. Featured this year were Carol Ansell, Jean Bernard, Leah Chanin, Sue Ducat, Pam Ehrenberg, Rae Grad, Arlette Jassell, Janet Kolodner, and Maria Lasa-Sloan.

Finally, we acknowledge Joyce Stern and Gail Roache, an incomparable team that developed and produced a terrific e-newsletter for four years. Created at the request of the Board, the Adas Israel Sisterhood Source has kept us educated, informed and connected. This, the 36th, is their concluding issue. We are deeply grateful for their stellar contribution to Sisterhood.

Finally, it has been a pleasure to serve as your President this year. None of our programs would have happened without your ideas, preparation, and participation. Thank you all!

In Sisterhood, Marcy Feuerstein


Upcoming Events

Sisterhood Program Dates
2015 – 2016

Opening Event
Sunday, October 25, 2015 in Gewirz Beit Am, 11a.m. – 1 p.m.

Sisterhood Shabbat
Friday, February 26 and Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sisterhood Closing Event
Sunday, June 26, 2016 in Gewirz Beit Am


Recent Happenings

Sisterhood’s Salute to Women in the Military

On June 14, Flag Day, over 100 participants attended a very memorable closing event. They came to learn about the women who have served in the military from antiquity to the present from guest lecturer, Margaret S. Vining, curator of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History Division of Armed Forces. They came to honor those women and one special soldier, our own Adas Israel legacy Master Sergeant Sophie Silfen (z”l). Vining is the curator for Sophie Silfen’s extensive military collection which is being catalogued and will reside in a special archive devoted to women’s military history. There it will be available to anyone researching the field. The Sophie Silfen collection is unique because it chronicles a career of a Jewish enlisted woman from 1942-1966.

Many of the highlights of the collection were shared such as photos of Master Sergeant Silfen’s White House years in the Eisenhower administration where she worked under the President’s personal physician; and personal correspondence portraying a lasting friendship with General and Mrs. Westmoreland dating from the mid 1950’s when she worked for the general.

At the conclusion of the program, the group assembled to pledge allegiance to the American flag which had draped Sophie Silfen's casket and now stands in the Smith sanctuary.


Sisterhood at the Synagogue Annual Meeting

Sisterhood had a standout role at the Congregation’s Annual Meeting June 11.  Pictured here are Jean Bernard, Co-Manager of the Ruth and Simon Albert Sisterhood Gift and Judaica Shop, joined by Officer Joyce Stern (representing Sisterhood President Marcia Feuerstein who was unable to attend), after they presented Sisterhood’s 2014- 2015 gift to the shul to synagogue president Arnie Podgorsky.

Sisterhood’s annual gift is exclusively derived from the shop’s proceeds. Thanks to a very successful year, we were able to provide a check for $20,000!! Plaudits to the shop’s hard working and talented managers, Jean Bernard, Diane Keller, and Susan Winberg and to its dedicated volunteers: Lean Chanin, Ruth Ernst, Marian Fox, Myra Promisel, Susan Wedlan, Bunny Weinstein, and Nancy Weiss.


Election Results for Sisterhood Executive Committee and Board Positions

At the closing meeting June 14, the membership adopted the Nominating Committee’s slate for the Adas Israel Sisterhood governing positions. Details follow.


Executive Committee/Officers

President – Marcia (Marcy) Feuerstein (completing two-year term in 2016)
Corresponding Secretary – Joyce Stern (two-year term 2015-2017)
Recording Secretary – Lisa Kleine (two-year term 2015-2017)
Treasurer – Dava Berkman (two-year term 2015-2017)
Co-VPs for Communications – Susan Klein and TBD (one year terms ending 2016)
Co-VPs for Education/Programming – Linda Yitzchak and Susan Winberg (two-year terms 2015-2017)
VP for Membership – June Kress (two-year term 2015-2017)
Parliamentarian – Julie Weisman (two-year term 2015-2017)

Gift Shop Co-Managers – Jean Bernard, Diane Keller and Susan Winberg (not elected positions)
Immediate Past President – Lisa Kleine


General Board

These members continue on the General Board in the second year of two-year terms ending 2016: Tzipora Fromberg, Leah Hadad, Lucy Hassell, Myra Promisel, Miriam Rosenthal, Deborah Wallach, and Nancy Weiss.

These members will commence two-year terms on the General Board ending 2017: Carol Ansell, Roberta Boam, Carmel Chiswick, Barbara Cline, Marcie Goldstein, Miriam Gusevich, Miriam Isaacs, Arlette Jassel, Judy Melamed, Janice Mostow, Betsy Strauss, and Tanya Yahana.

These members concluded terms on the General Board ending in 2015: Rebecca Boggs, Marilyn Cooper, Rachel Eitches, Maria Lasa-Sloan, Gerry Lezell, Gail Roache, Elizabeth Sloan, Sabrina Sojourner, and Sara Vogler.

In addition, Joyce Stern, Miriam Rosenthal, Carol Ansell, and Nadine Jacobs concluded terms as, respectively, VP for Communication, Parliamentarian, Corresponding Secretary, and Recording Secretary. We thank them for their invaluable service.

Ex-Officio Members of the General Board are Cantor Arianne Brown, Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, Ritual Coordinator Naomi Malka, Rabbi Emerita Avis Miller, Rabbi Kerreth Rosenbaum and Rabbi Penina Alexander.

The Nominating Committee submitting this slate consists of Marian Fox (Chair), Miriam Rosenthal, Deborah Wallach, June Kress (Membership VP), and Marcia Feuerstein (Sisterhood President).


Mitzvah Maker

Longtime Sisterhood member Sue Ducat has had a 25-year-long association with Anne Frank House. Anne Frank House is an all-volunteer-run, nonprofit (501)(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing permanent housing and social services to enable homeless men and women with chronic mental illness to function in society. A past president of the organization’s Board, Sue is currently its liaison to Adas Israel Congregation.

Sue describes how it all started for Adas Israel in 1987 when congregants Bill Kremens (z”l) and his wife, Elaine, among others answered the call of the late Reverend John F. Steinbruck, for faith-based organizations to address the dire needs of the homeless in the city. The first Anne Frank House was an actual “house”—a rental group home for five women. Today it remains the name of the organization that leases and owns apartments in Wards 3 and 4 to provide individual housing for 12 formerly homeless men and women. The steady expansion of its housing inventory is largely thanks to private donors. To make a tax-deductible donation to Anne Frank House, click here.

Anne Frank House works in collaboration with several organizations. Chief among them is our congregation, which provides a mailing address, meeting space, and rabbinic advisory services. Also, the religious school conducts an annual walkathon to raise funds for it.

Another collaborator is Friendship Place, which identifies potential clients to be housed and ensures that residents have licensed caseworkers. Anne Frank House itself provides volunteer liaisons to each client to help determine if the client has requests or special needs. Sue has helped find liaisons for AFH.

Dedication to Adas Israel Congregation and its affiliates is a family affair. Sue is married to Stan Cohen, a life member of the Adas Israel Board of Directors. The family includes three adult children from Stan’s first marriage to Barbara Cohen (z”l), and their families. Stan and Sue are parents to Hannah, a recent graduate of American University. Sue’s entire professional career has involved the media, including a long stint as a TV producer with WETA. Currently, she is Director of Communications with Health Affairs, an information source on health care issues.

Significantly, many Sisterhood members share Sue’s passion for social justice by being part of the AFH Board. They include Marian Fox, Susan Klein, Elaine Kremens, Hazel Keimowitz, June Kress, Adina Mendelson, Edna Povich, and Dale Sorcher—women of valor all.


Ongoing Events

Taste of Tanach (Hebrew Bible), Text Study in the Biran Beit Midrash
2015: monthly, usually on a Tuesday, beginning again in the Fall – 10 – 11 a.m. 

Rabbi Steinlauf leads a lively Torah-based discussion. For more information, contact Coordinator Roselle Abramson at

Thursday Night Minyan
Ongoing, Monday - Friday

To ensure that anyone wanting to say Kaddish will have the opportunity, Sisterhood has pledged to have two Sisterhood women attend every Thursday evening minyan. For more information or to pledge a Thursday night, contact Sisterhood Thursday Minyan Coordinator, Harriet Isack at or 202-966-6169.

Senior Lunch and Fellowship
Ongoing, Monday – Friday

The Adas-Behrend Senior Lunch and Fellowship Program is held daily Monday – Friday at 10 a.m. Offering a hot lunch with lectures, movies, music, or classes, the program provides a setting for learning, entertainment, and socializing. If you have a talent or an interest to share, or would like to help serve and greet the seniors, please contact Aviva Bensimon at or 202-363-7530.

About the Sisterhood Adas Israel

Sisterhood embraces women of all ages and stages of life. It provides opportunities to learn, deepen spirituality and personal Jewish growth, do mitzvot and network. From one-on-one experiences, to small group activities, to large-scale events, there is something of interest for everyone. The Sisterhood Source Sisterhood's e-newsletter

Current Issue: June 2015

Programs and Events

Our programs:

  • Traditional text study
  • Renowned guest speakers
  • Social action/advocacy
  • Judaic education
  • Leadership training
  • Holiday gatherings


Recent and upcoming activities:

  • Sukkah decorating with the Gan
  • Night out at the DCJCC Film Festival
  • Partnering with the Hesed Committee to deliver Rosh Hashanah and Purim gifts
  • Book chat sponsored with the Library Committee
  • Sisterhood Shabbat


In addition, anyone may contribute financially to the Rose R. Freudberg Sisterhood Memorial Library Fund, the Sisterhood Bima & Synagogue Adornment Fund, and other fund categories. Donate through the synagogue online donation form (go to Special Purpose & Auxiliary Fund designation).

Torah for Life

Julia Gordon is a long-time member of the Traditional Egalitarian Minyan, where she leads services, gives divrei Torah, leyns Torah, and coordinates High Holiday services. She is also a member of the Religious Practices and Music committees, Sisterhood, and the Tahara Team. She and her husband Geoff Berman co-chair Kol HaOlam, the National Collegiate Jewish A Cappella competition, and also enjoy participating in the Adas Israel Flash Choir along with their daughter Rochelle.

In this week’s parsha, Korach, a well-born Levite, spearheads a rebellion challenging the authority of Moses and Aaron. Ultimately, God intervenes, killing Korach and all his followers. On the one hand, the moral of the story here appears anything but subtle. On the other hand, is the Torah saying we should never challenge our religious leadership?

After all, our rabbinic tradition embodies a dialectic and even argumentative approach to understanding the Torah, exemplified by the well-known colloquy between Hillel and Shamai. In contrast to many other ancient cultures, Jews have always believed that our religious and political leaders are human rather than divine.

Some years ago, I had my first argument with a rabbi – on the telephone, no less – while working on a project that he and I saw very differently. Afterward, I tearfully sought out an older Jewish colleague, telling her how awful I felt about it.

“Welcome to synagogue leadership,” my colleague said to me. “Arguing with your rabbi is something of an initiation rite. And it will happen again, too.”

Perhaps rather than warning against challenging leadership, the story of Korach instead offers a lesson on how to proceed with such a challenge. Consider how Korach approached Moses. The parsha itself starts with the words, “Vayikach Korach,” which means, “Korach took” (Numbers 16:1). Then, Korach aggressively accused Moses and Aaron of “raising themselves above the Lord’s congregation” (Numbers 16:3). According to the Midrash, Korach even mocked Moses and caricatured various rituals prescribed in the Torah.

While questioning decisions made by both religious and political leaders is often appropriate and even necessary, it matters how we do it. Are we tearing down our leaders through ad hominem attacks? Or are we approaching in a spirit of respect, explaining our concerns honestly and specifically, and keeping an open mind?

In this parsha, Korach did not petition his leader with a principled case for a more democratic form of government. Instead, he came in guns blazing, ready to take down Moses and Aaron. In doing so, Korach showed arrogance, a lack of respect for leadership, and a disdain for Hashem’s own choices. According to Rashi, Korach was an intelligent man who already occupied a place of leadership. But that was not enough to satisfy his grander ambitions. In pursuing them, he overreached, which ultimately led to his own demise.

As members of a congregation in the nation’s capital, we are quite familiar with many stories of many brilliant, talented people whose downfall is triggered by their own ambition, arrogance, or disdain for others. When we think we’re working toward a goal that’s admirable and right – especially when we’re sure we’re right – that is the most important time to tamp down our inner Korach and act from a place of humility, respect, and love.


Adas Israel Sisterhood Officers: 5775-5776

President: Marcy Feuerstein
Co-VPs for Communications: Susan Klein and TBD
VP for Membership: June Kress
Co-VPs for Education/Programming: Linda Yitzchak and Susan Winberg
Corresponding Secretary: Joyce Stern
Financial Secretary: Vacant
Recording Secretary: Lisa Kleine
Treasurer: Dava Berkman
Parliamentarian: Julie Weisman
Gift Shop Co-Managers: Jean Bernard, Diane Keller and Susan Winberg
Immediate Past President: Lisa Kleine

Ex-Officio Members of the Sisterhood Board:
Cantor Arianne Brown, Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, Ritual Coordinator Naomi Malka, Rabbi Emerita Avis
Miller, Rabbi Kerreth Rosenbaum, and Rabbi Penina Alexander

Thu, November 23 2017 5 Kislev 5778