Turkey Drive Raises over $9000 – THANK YOU!

Each year, Temple Emanuel hosts a Turkey Drive in support of the Mass. Ave. Baptist Church food drive (Project Manna). This year was different. Rather than our traditional holiday meal, the Church served take out. What was not different was the number of those in need this year. With the amazing participation of our community, Danny Mandeau is proud to announce that we raised over $9,000 for this year’s Turkey Drive.

Dear Temple Emanuel Kehillah,

I am delighted to report that over $9000 was raised for this year’s Turkey Drive.  Your collective response was overwhelming and so much appreciated.  We received 110 contributions that averaged $83 per family. As Rabbi Wes always says, that’s a true WOW!

Although Thanksgiving was very different this year and none of us attended, the Soup Kitchen was able to give out over 60 turkeys on a take-out basis.  Based on the amount we raised ample funds are left over and here’s the plan of distribution:

First, replace the motor in the big walk in freezer.  Then, if any money is left repair the portion of the floor that is sinking.  Most likely, that will more than deplete these funds but if not, Pastor Brown reminds me that the heating bill is quite large this time of year.

Thank you all for your support of the Mass Ave Baptist Church Soup Kitchen, aka Project Manna.  Your generosity is truly like a gift out of heaven.

I look forward to seeing you again in person sometime in the not so distant future.

All my love,


Humans of TE: Nancy Ganz

Humans of TE: One Story at a Time – #TEGivesThanks #ComeHometoTE

This November, Temple Emanuel gives THANKS to YOU, our community. Join us each day as we highlight a fascinating member of our community.

“Mom, you should move to Boston with me!”

My daughter had just been accepted to Harvard. Although adventurous by nature, the request seemed unimaginable, “Honey, at this stage in life, people don’t leave their family and friends to move to a city where they don’t know a single person.”

“Why not?” She mused.  I realized I had the unique opportunity that every mother dreams of: to have her adult child wish her closer.  A few months later, I found myself re-adjusting to the cold after decades living in temperate Florida, moving to a place I had never even visited.

And then I found Temple Emanuel.  Immediately, I was welcomed by members of the community who have become like family to me. And suddenly, in cold Boston I felt the warm embrace of home. It has been a treasured experience for me to meet and volunteer with so many extraordinary people through TE Sisterhood, CJP and a number of community boards.

Philanthropy and entrepreneurship have always been guiding forces in my life. After years working in finance and strategy, I decided to pivot. With a law degree, I joined the Harvard Mediation Program and began pro-bono mediating in the Quincy Court System. Concurrently, I established my private coaching practice.  During the early months of COVID, it was an honor to run sessions for the Temple Emanuel community called “Finding Peace Through Times of Distress” that pulled lessons from my first book of original quotes, Finding Peace at the Center of the Storm, which was a “#1 New Release” on Amazon.

With my daughter Sara, we’ve just launched our newest venture: Nancy’s Feel Good Fables, a collection of twelve children’s books that teach self-love, confidence and empathy rolling out over the next three years. Through this, we have started a fundraiser for individuals and corporate sponsors to donate Feel Good Fables to Title I schools throughout the United States, beginning with the Greater Boston area. The first book, Tina Searches for Her Dream is a story about finding your purpose. Featuring diverse characters throughout the story, readers have the optionality to select the skin tone of the lead character from a lightest, medium and deepest option to ensure that more children can see themselves represented in literature. To preorder a copy or to donate to children need, visit feelgoodfables.com or visit the Instagram @feelgoodfables.

Humans of TE: One Story at a Time – #TEGivesThanks #ComeHometoTE

This November, Temple Emanuel gives THANKS to YOU, our community. Join us each day as we highlight a fascinating member of our community.

Marcie Abramson

“When I was a student at Boston University,  I met my friend, colleague, and mentor, Dr. Carole Greenes.  She saw a potential in me that I  did not see in myself at the time.  Her passion for math, teaching, shopping, and being curious about the world, guided me and I try to pay it forward. This was a defining moment in my life.

On Rosh Hashanah 2000, my brother and sister-in-law saw a very tall guy stand up at their service and the rest is history. All Jeff wanted to know about me was if I knew who the coach of the Boston Celtics was. (It was Rick Pitino.) When Jeff and I got engaged, my mom sprinted up to Temple Emanuel to book the date, something she had waited a long time to do. We signed our ketubah in the Gann Chapel, a special place for us as my dad put the carpet down in that space.

I taught mathematics to middle schoolers for over thirty years and currently I’m an adjunct professor at Brandeis University. In 2018, I was inducted into the MA Mathematics Teachers Hall of Fame. (did you know there is such a place?!) I have written a couple of math books for children and have spoken at numerous national math conferences across the country, trying to spread my love for the magic of math to all.

Temple Emanuel has been the scene of many of the happiest moments of my life along with some of the saddest. My parents instilled in me the importance of Judaism and the temple and it continues on to this day. I became a Bat Mitzvah at the “old” TE and was married in the “new” TE. Shabbat Alive and the daily morning minyan fill my life with joy, love, and comfort.

I am lucky to have many wonderful and loving nieces and nephews who make me proud to be their Auntie Marcie;  a title I cherish. Jeff says that I always try to see the best in people and do everything I can to keep friends and our families together. I know my parents would be so proud of me to have received this special TE honor.”

Humans of TE: Zosh Simonson

Humans of TE: One Story at a Time – #TEGivesThanks #ComeHometoTE

This November, Temple Emanuel gives THANKS to YOU, our community. Join us each day as we highlight a fascinating member of our community.

Zosh Simonson

“My family and I really like to hike and have gone on many different hiking trips over the years. One trip I remember fondly was in 2007; my dad, my brother and I went hiking on Mont Blanc in the Swiss Alps. It was our first hiking trip overseas and definitely one of the most unique trips I have been on. Hiking over the years, has made me really love traveling and exploring new places and cultures. Someday I really want to travel around Europe and see all the amazing places the world has to offer.

I love interesting foods and flavors. My favorite food by far is Indian food because of all it’s different spices. I also really love black liquorice and putting soy sauce and crushed red pepper on my pasta.

On Thanksgiving, my family and I don’t have a traditional thanksgiving dinner. Instead we have a tradition of making homemade pizza, lighting a fire in the fireplace, making smores and playing board games. To us, Thanksgiving is not about the turkey and stuffing – it’s about spending time together with family.”

Humans of TE: Jan Moidel Schwartz

Humans of TE: One Story at a Time – #TEGivesThanks #ComeHometoTE

This November, Temple Emanuel gives THANKS to YOU, our community. Join us each day as we highlight a fascinating member of our community.

Jan Moidel Schwartz

“I am the daughter of a Jewish child refugee from Kassel, Germany who arrived in America in 1939 at the age of 9 with his parents and little sister, and little else. 

I graduated from high school at 16 1/2 – too young, but NYC schools were crowded then, so skipping a grade was encouraged. I went to Boston University in the Fall of 1973, after my mother told me she’d spent a summer taking a course here in 1951 and loved it (I will always be grateful to her for that.). 

Upon arriving home for that first winter’s break, I discovered my mother was pregnant. I had been an only child until then; you can imagine the shock! The first thing I said to my parents was, “All my life I wanted a sibling. Now?! Now, when I’m gone?!” My mom never forgot this outburst! I called my best friend from college and said, “Karen, you’re never going to believe this: my mother is pregnant and it’s a boy!” She still talks about that call. It turned out that my mom was one of the first women in America to have an amniocentesis. She was 44 when my brother David was born in March,1974. It was the first time I’d ever seen a newborn. My friends at BU were so excited for me – they all had siblings – but I was skeptical. It took me a few years to get used to being a sister, but my brother, who has two kids of his own now, is very dear to me. 

My husband Steve and I met at a CJP-sponsored Jewish singles’ dance in 1983 after seeing each other a few times at The Jewish Young Adult Center, the brick and mortar incarnation of online dating in those days (also a CJP endeavor). It was love at first sight for me; it took him a little while to get on board! 

We became engaged in 1985. Since we both had lived in Boston for many years – Steve was originally from Hartford; I was from Miami and NYC –  we chose to have our wedding here. We both wanted a synagogue setting. I visited a few, but none seemed right for us. Since we both had grown up in Conservative shuls, Steve said, “Go to Temple Emanuel. When my father died (in 1982), I went to say kaddish there, and Rabbi Chiel was so nice to me.”  On the day we were to meet with the rabbi, we arrived at TE early, greeted by his sweet assistant Wilfredeen. She smiled at us and said, “Rabbi Chiel’s marriages stick!” We loved R. Chiel z”l, and 35 years later, we love our current clergy and are still proud and grateful members of TE! 

Our daughter Erica was born in 1990, and it was then that we started regularly attending Shabbat morning services. I was honored to chair two Sisterhood luncheons in those first years, and Erica always came as the mascot! 

I was one of the first people to take Me’ah via CJP in the 1990s. One of the first things I learned was that there are 613 mitzvot in the Torah. Immediately afterwards, and for the past 25 years, I say I have been “followed by mitzvot” because the number 613 continually shows up in my life! It’s the amount of change I get in the grocery store; it’s the time of day I wake or notice at dinner time; it is the page in the Tanach we are to read on Shabbat morning; it’s the birthday of a new friend. It is a very special part of my life.”

Humans of TE: Jill Litner Kaplan

“I gave birth to our older son Graham at the end of a long hot summer appropriately on Labor Day weekend. After spending a few days at the Brigham getting to know our little man, the nurse announced that it was time to pack up and go home. Ben and I were left in the hospital room alone with a baby, a car seat at the ready, bouquets of flowers and each other. The exhaustion, the emotion and the excitement had finally caught up to us, and we promptly burst into tears looking at each other. I realized that from that moment onward, life would never be the same: we had gone from being a couple to a family, from individuals to parents, a mother and a father. It was a moment that I will never forget and my entire perspective on the world and my place in it had changed. I was overwhelmed with the miracle of birth, becoming a mother and being responsible for another life. That feeling of unconditional love and sense of responsibility was transformative and changed me from that day forward.  

I have always been a very driven, high energy person who has many passions, from appreciating and collecting art, writing, travelling, retailing, all things French and  interior design. I should have known when I was in business school and had settled into my dorm room that my future career path would somehow involve the world of design. With a background in retail merchandising, it would never have occurred to me that my dorm room shouldn’t look as good as my New York City apartment! Having spent time as a college student in Paris and speaking French fluently, I would rather spend time meandering antiques markets and stores studying how the Europeans displayed their merchandise than hang out in cafes drinking cappuccino. My entrepreneurial spirit kicked into high gear 16 years ago when I started my own interior design business, and I have had the joy of doing what I love as a career. I relish working with smart, dynamic clients and managing their design projects. I feel like this business incorporates all of the things that are important to me, and brings together all of my previous work and life experiences into one package.        

My parents were married at Temple Emanuel 62 years ago. When Ben and I moved to Boston after our wedding in New York City in 1998, we wanted to join the local Jewish community, and becoming members of TE was the natural decision to continue this wonderful family history. It would be impossible to overstate the impact that the Temple clergy has had on each of our lives–from the moment our boys were born and had a brit milah to their bar mitzvah’s, the temple has been woven into the fabric of both of their lives. When my father passed away 14 years ago, the words shared by Rabbi Gardenswartz at his funeral helped shape our perspective of his life and the legacy he would leave behind on each of our own. We have shared, honored and celebrated every major life event at the Temple since we joined, and l sincerely cannot imagine our lives here without being part of this extraordinary community.”

Humans of TE: Bonnie and Larry Greenberg

Humans of TE: One Story at a Time – #TEGivesThanks #ComeHometoTE

This November, Temple Emanuel gives THANKS to YOU, our community. Join us each day as we highlight a fascinating member of our community.

Bonnie and Larry Greenberg

Bonnie: “I am 18, going on 19, still got the world to view.”

Larry:”I am 19, going on 20, I’ll take care of you”

I wrote home that night (and Mom saved the letter)

“I met the man I’m going to marry one day.” 

THAT was a very defining moment in my life. Larry and I have been taking care of each other for 55 years . 

We were very focused on attaining our dreams of becoming a physician and a speech-language pathologist from day one. Those are the careers we enjoyed both here and in Israel. We were blessed with two children, David and Julie and adore our two grandsons, Alan and Steven.

We often think of our lives as “before moving to Israel and after returning from Israel”. Those years formed incredible family relationships from world-wide Jewry and deepened our commitment to Israel’s growth and stability. 

One of our retirement joys is the pursuit of photography. We’re called “Blazing Cameras” and volunteer to photograph on the TE photo corps and other venues.


Humans of TE: Eugenia Gerstein

Humans of TE: One Story at a Time – #TEGivesThanks #ComeHometoTE

This November, Temple Emanuel gives THANKS to YOU, our community. Join us each day as we highlight a fascinating member of our community.

Eugenia Gerstein

“I have a son, Kirill who grew up from a child prodigy to a world renowned concert pianist. Kirill and I moved to Boston in 1994, because he got a full scholarship from Berklee College of Music at age 14. I moved with him as his mother and teacher, but my husband couldn’t move with us – only one parent was allowed to accompany Kirill. It took three and half years for my husband to join us in Boston. In 1994, I couldn’t know what would be ahead of me, what it takes to move to a new country, to a new culture, new language, and build a new life for myself and my family. I was lucky to meet many wonderful people, who understood what it takes to move from Russia to the United States.

In 1995, by pure accident I saw a Temple Emanuel ad about an accompanist position available at TE. I came to TE and found my community, my friends, and colleagues. It is very important to belong to a community, but for a new immigrant, it is essential. Working with the many choirs, ensembles, and teaching children has brought me close to many TE families over the past 25 years! The story of my family is a story of success in America.”

Humans of TE: Zoe Kritzer

Humans of TE: One Story at a Time – #TEGivesThanks #ComeHometoTE

This November, Temple Emanuel gives THANKS to YOU, our community. Join us each day as we highlight a fascinating member of our community.

Zoe Kritzer

“I asked my mom what the defining moment of her life was, and she said it was when she met my dad. I asked my dad what the defining moment of his life was, and he made a stupid joke. (I think that says a lot about their relationship.) It must have been when I learned to read. I’ve gained so much value from books in my life, it’s hard to quantify. Books give us this funky ability to actualize fictional worlds beyond our own, which is crucial to the development of perspective. Perspective (especially in 2020) is a gift I cannot take for granted, and for that I’m perpetually in debt to books.

My family loves the Israeli soap opera “Shtisel.” We get the whole family together, sit on the couch and yell at the TV while watching together. It’s honestly amazing. 

I don’t think anyone is truly “unique” in the way we are often told we have to be, but that aside, I am the only person I know who enjoys dipping black licorice in Arizona ice tea, so I’m at least a little weird.”

Humans of TE: Joel Sussman

Humans of TE: One Story at a Time – #TEGivesThanks #ComeHometoTE

This November, Temple Emanuel gives THANKS to YOU, our community. Join us each day as we highlight a fascinating member of our community.

Joel Sussman

“Our family has been associated with Temple Emanuel since 1955 when my wife’s parents (Joshua and Rose Hurwitz) became active members. My wife was Bat Mitzvahed here; we were married here; our eldest son Ari was president of the TE USY Chapter; our granddaughter Julie goes to TE Hebrew School.

I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and later met my wife Debbie while we were in Israel – I was working for Sherut La’am (Israeli Peace Corp) and she was studying abroad at the Hebrew University.”

Joel began playing professionally in rock bands at the age of 15 and is a member and songwriter of the Jewish American group, Safam. Safam audiences range in age from nine months to ninety years — a testament to the diversity of style and content Safam presents. Laughter and tears — singing and dancing — nostalgia and hope are among the whirlwind of emotional reactions that one experiences during a Safam concert. Often copied, never duplicated, they are originals — original music, original lyrics, original arrangements — their songs have become a fabric of our Jewish lives.