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Welcome to Adas Israel Congregation Sisterhood 5781!

Executive Committee | Ongoing Programs | Sisterhood Calendar | Torah Fund | Special Events

2020-21 Executive Committee

President: Jill Jacob
Co-VP for Communications: Debby Joseph
Co-VP for Communications: Ronnie Kweller
Treasurer: Ellen Snyder
VP for Education/Programming: Rona Walters
VP for Membership: June Kress
Parliamentarian: Marian Fox
Corresponding Secretary: Leah Hadad
Recording Secretary: Helen Kramer
Gift Shop Co-Managers: Jean Bernard, Marian Fox, Susan Winberg
Torah Fund Chair: Rona Walters
Torah Fund Co-Chair: Cheryl Wasserman

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A Community of Sisterhood, the Bonds of Friendship:

The Adas Israel Congregation is a 2020 recipient of the Women's League for Conservative Judaism's Jewels in the Crown Award, presented to sisterhoods that have demonstrated excellence in education, cultural programming, and social action and exhibit a strong Women’s League identity.

Sisterhood operates the Ruth & Simon Albert Sisterhood Gift Shop.  As part of the Women's League for Conservative Judaism, Sisterhood raises dollars for Torah Fund, which supports five Conservative/Masorti seminaries across the globe. Sisterhood gifts each Adas b'nai mitzvah celebrant with a kiddush cup to use in their Shabbat observance. Your Sisterhood is here to help when you are in need, comfort you in a time of loss, celebrate simchas, or just be a listening ear.


Sisterhood will continue to offer quality events and programming focused on accomplished women and their career paths, arts and culture, Jewish life, women's health, social get-togethers, Weekday Torah with Sisterhood, culinary arts, social action/tzedakah issues and opportunities, and more.

OCTOBER - Opening Event: Women's Paths to the Pulpit – What inspires women to become rabbis and cantors? What is involved in becoming a rabbi or cantor? We ask the female clergy of Adas Israel in a moderated panel discussion.

NOVEMBER - Sunday Salon Featuring Judy Heumann – Sisterhood member Judy Heumann served two U.S. presidents and is a lifelong advocate for the rights of disabled people. Her book, Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist, was released in early 2020. She shares her story.

DECEMBER - Scholar, author, & American University Professor Pamela Nadell, Director of Jewish Studies – Dr. Pamela Nadell returns to speak with Sisterhood about her latest book, America's Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today.

SPRING - Closing Event: A very special event with documentarian extraordinaire Aviva Kempner, producer of such wonderful films as "Rosenwald" and "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg."

MORE, MORE, MORE - Weekday Torah with Sisterhood, "Get Happy" Hours, Coffee Klatches, Sewing, Knitting and Craft group, Taking Mental Health Breaks, and International Culinary Demonstration.

We are a Community of Sisterhood, the Bonds of Friendship. Join us!

For more information email VP of Membership, June Kress.


Upcoming Special Events

Coffee Klatch

January 18 at 10 am
Click Here to Register

Grab some coffee and join us for a morning chat! Our guest this morning is Hazzan Rachel Goldsmith. *A Zoom link will be sent with your registration confirmation.


When Home Isn’t Safe: COVID and Domestic Violence
Presented by the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA)

January 31 at 11 am
Click Here to Register

For some of us, sheltering at home could mean being with an abusive relative or partner, unable to get help. JCADA Executive Director Amanda Katz, along with a domestic violence survivor and advocate, will give us insight into this ongoing crisis. Learn what is happening in our community, how JCADA and other agencies are working during this time, and what you can do to help someone in trouble. *A Zoom link will be sent with your registration confirmation.


Ongoing Programs

Low Impact Workout From Home

Wednesdays at 11:30am
To register, email Pamela at

A weekly Exercise for All Program shared by our own Sisterhood member, Pamela Sislen, is offered on Wednesdays at 11:30 am for 30 minutes. Not only will you get stronger, burn calories, increase your metabolism and functional strength, you will be part of a great new community where we discuss recipes, restaurants, travel, etc., during these COVID times right after class.

The all-level dynamic cardio/weight class uses kettlebells, free weights, hand weights, water bottles, or bags of rice – or may be done using no weights. Modifications provided so all levels may participate. The class is recorded, so you can enjoy it during the week for a second or even a third workout!


Weekday Torah with Sisterhood

Monthly, Tuesdays at 10am, on Zoom
Next up: February 16 and March 16 *Note that January 19 Weekday Torah has been cancelled

Weekday Torah with Sisterhood is an engaging approach to traditional text study that offers participants the opportunity to study and discuss challenging texts and ideas. Students of all levels and backgrounds are welcome. Please contact Marilyn Cooper ( with questions. Join the Zoom Torah study class here.



Knit, Sew and Craft Group

Monthly, 1st Wednesday at 7:30 pm, on Zoom
Next Up: February 3, March 3

Please email Lesley Frost at if you would like to receive meeting notices and the Zoom link.

In addition to the monthly Zoom meetings, members are continuing to work at home on Comfort Shawls and caps for members of the Adas Israel family who are dealing with cancer and other health issues. Members also provide baby hats to welcome the newest members of the Adas community.

In November, knitting co-chair Rita Segerman packed up 118 beautiful, handmade hats and scarves for distribution by the Edlavitch DCJCC to those in need. Rita also manages a large supply of donated wool. Please contact Rita (; 301-654-2304) regarding wool or suggested yarns, patterns, and needle sizes for your group projects. 

For any other information, please contact Lesley (; 201-787-7941).

In photo: Anat Bar-Cohen, Arlette Jassel, and Lesley Frost working on the new High Holiday Torah mantles.


Sisterhood Cares

To mark simchas and milestones and for condolences, contact Leah Hadad (


Adas Israel Book Club

Rose Ruth Freudberg Memorial Sisterhood Library

Led by Adas Israel Librarian Robin Jacobson, the Adas Israel Book Club meets periodically to discuss a book of Jewish interest. For further information, please contact Robin Jacobson (

Upcoming Online Book Programs

Book Chat on The Tunnel by A.B. Yehoshua
Sunday, February 7, at 11 am | Register here

Join the discussion of this comic and thought-provoking Israeli novel by the celebrated A.B. Yehoshua. Retired engineer Zvi Luria hopes to stave off dementia by volunteering to help design a road near the Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert. We will be joined by Stuart Schoffman, who created the English translation of "The Tunnel" and will share his unique perspective. 

Meet Author David Biespiel (A Place of Exodus: Home, Memory and Texas)
Sunday, March 14, 11 am | Register here

Are we ever done leaving home? In A Place of Exodus: Home, Memory, and Texas, acclaimed poet and essayist David Biespiel tells the story of his Jewish boyhood in Texas and muses on the meaning of home, family, and identity.

If you would like to mark your calendar with this year’s full schedule of online book programs, please check the Rose Ruth Freudberg Memorial Sisterhood Library page.


Torah Fund


TORAH FUND 2020-21 Campaign Well on Its Way!

As part of the Women's League for Conservative Judaism, we raise dollars for Torah Fund which supports five Conservative seminaries across the globe, educating clergy and lay leaders. Your donation helps provide housing, tuition scholarships, and university infrastructure for the next generation of Jewish leaders.

Torah Fund strengthens Jewish education by supporting scholarships and programming at five Conservative/Masorti institutes of higher Jewish learning:

  • Jewish Theological Seminary (New York)
  • Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies (Los Angeles)
  • Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem)
  • Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano (Buenos Aires)
  • Zacharias Frankel College (Potsdam, Germany)

Women’s League and Torah Fund are proud to support the education of the future rabbis, cantors, educators, and scholars who will serve as the gifted leaders and innovators of the Conservative Movement. Torah Fund has raised more than $105 million since its inception as a grassroots fund-raising campaign.

Individual donors to Torah Fund at the Benefactor level or higher receive the distinctive Torah Fund pin in recognition of their gift. The new pin for the 2020-21 program year says “B’Yachad,” the Hebrew word for “together.”

You may make donations online at the button below, or send a check payable to:

"Torah Fund"
c/o Rona Walters, Torah Fund Chair
5117 Linnean Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008

Donations may not be charged to your Adas Israel account.


Past Special Events and Recordings

“America’s Jewish Women” With AU Professor Pamela Nadell

By Wendy Kates

On Sunday, December 6, we were treated to a very interesting presentation by Pamela Nadell, Professor and Director of Jewish Studies at American University. Dr. Nadell, whose most recent book is America's Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today, introduced us to several Jewish women throughout American history who used the freedoms inherent in America to become activists and, ultimately, to shape beliefs about what it meant to be Jewish.

Dr. Nadell described the remarkable diversity of American Jewish women, including 18th-century Abigail Levy Franks (who, in letters to her son, foresaw the growth of the Reform movement in Judaism), 19th-century Rose Sonneschein (who started the first English-language magazine focused on Jewish women and organized the first Jewish book group in America), and 20th-century activists and scholars Betty Friedan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Dr. Nadell shared her insights into the social and economic forces that enabled such vibrant Jewish women to emerge, including the shift toward smaller families, the increase in life expectancy, and the ever-present anti-Semitism they faced. Sisterhood thanks Dr. Nadell for her stimulating talk.


Sisterhood – and the World – Give Thanks to Judy Heumann!

“Presentation and Chat with Judy Heumann” Program Recording: Click here to watch.

By June Kress

On November 22, just days before Thanksgiving, Sisterhood members were treated to a superb hour with Judith Heumann, internationally recognized disability rights activist, policy advisor, and author, for an intimate and inspiring look at her personal and professional trajectory. Joining Judy was John Wodatch, a disability rights attorney with more than 50 years specializing in and recognized for the Americans with Disability Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Judy began by talking about the importance of telling all of our stories, exemplified in the 2020 film “Crip Camp” that chronicles the disability rights movement here and around the world starting at Camp Jened in the early 1970’s. The documentary, which won the 2020 Sundance Audience Award, can be found on Netflix; here’s the trailer:

The comments in the virtual “chat” said it all: from “Thank you, Judy, for always encouraging us to do more” and “Thank you for your inspiring leadership” to “I learn something new each time I hear Judy talk about her life and her work.” Sisterhood adds our thanks to Judy Heumann and John Wodatch for another exhilarating Sisterhood Sunday Salon program.

Stay tuned for artist Arlette Jassel on December 20, along with other Sunday Salons next spring. And get your copy of Judy’s book from Politics & Prose or Amazon.


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Click Here to Watch Passcode: *HaiLx43 

By Elissa Barpal

Sisterhood members recently had the pleasure of hearing about the impressive and important work of the 70-year-old Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, presented by Gabrielle Sherb, Vice President of Development, and Vanessa Gonzalez, Executive Vice President of Field and Member services. Some of the more than two dozen attendees asked thoughtful questions after the formal presentation, which included a number of the organization’s videos. We are proud to note that Gabrielle is a Sisterhood member and a new member of our Board of Directors.

With a mission to “build an America as good as its ideals,” the Leadership Conference is a coalition working to promote and protect the civil and human rights of everyone in the United States. Some of its very timely and relevant work, especially this year, has focused on the 2020 census and voting and immigration rights.

Among the coalition’s more than 200 national member organizations are prominent Jewish groups, including Bend the Arc, The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and The National Council of Jewish Women.

As the Leadership Conference looks to the future, it is focusing on bringing more organizations together as it seeks to grow a coalition in power to “promote and protect civil and human rights” of all Americans.


October 18 Virtual Sisterhood Opening Event

Click Here to Watch

Women's Paths to the Pulpit

Sisterhood’s Opening Event for the 2020-21 program year was a great success, drawing more than 80 viewers to the October 18 webinar. Titled” Women’s Paths to the Pulpit,” it featured three of Adas Israel’s accomplished and gifted women clergy, who engaged in a stimulating conversation moderated by Adas Israel member Rabbi Gilah Langner, who is rabbi at congregations Shirat HeNefesh and Kol Ami.

Cantor Arianne Brown, Hazzan and Ritual Director Rachel Goldsmith, and Rabbi Sarah Krinsky – all of whom were ordained at the Conservative Movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary in New York – shared the formative experiences that shaped their career choices against the background of the changing status of women in the Conservative Movement and shared what it’s like to be part of the Adas Israel’s robust clergy team.


June 3 Chat with Author Esther Safran Foer

Click Here to Watch (Password: 2a.Tp26?)

On Wednesday, June 3, longtime Sisterhood and Adas Israel member and Holocaust survivor Esther Safran Foer shared excerpts from her new memoir, I Want You to Know We’re Still Here. At least 55 participants joined the lively and engaging program. For those who missed the live event, here is a link to the recording.

For 10 years, Esther was Executive Director and CEO of the Sixth & I historic synagogue, where she led the creation of what the national media called “a new paradigm for Jewish life.” In 2008, Esther was recognized as one of the country’s “Forward’s 50” Jewish leaders. Esther spent most of her professional life in public relations, running her own firm representing Fortune 500 companies. She is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and one herself, the wife of Bert Foer (an attorney and public interest advocate), the mother of three sons (bestselling authors Frank, Jonathan, and Joshua Foer), and the grandmother of six.

For book clubs interested in reading and discussing Esther’s book, here is a link to the reader’s guide.


Sisterhood Calendar


The Ruth & Simon Albert Sisterhood Gift Shop

The Ruth and Simon Albert Sisterhood Gift Shop would like to thank Adas Israel’s congregants and many others in the local Jewish community for taking advantage of our first online sale. Now that Hanukkah is over, we can report that we did very well with our curbside pickups and home deliveries. We expect that we will continue this system for other major holidays until the synagogue reopens.

And, don’t forget, we are always available to fill your needs for Judaica and general gifts. Please DO NOT CALL us at the shop telephone number, because we are only here occasionally. Rather, please email us at We check our email often during the day, and are happy to set up special appointments to meet your needs.

The Gift Shop offers a variety of Judaica and other choices for homes and gift-giving, including decorative and ritual objects; tallit, presents for weddings, b’nai mitzvah, and other special occasions; toys and books for children; and jewelry.  Every purchase at the Ruth & Simon Albert Sisterhood Gift Shop benefits Adas Israel Congregation.

Again, thank you for your patronage, and we hope to see you again soon. Stay well!

Jean Bernard, Susan Winberg, and Marian Fox

Sat, January 23 2021 10 Shevat 5781