My AIPAC Experience: Ellen Lewis Rice


I confess I decided to go to the 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference with some apprehension and a bit of reluctance. My husband Jay has attended the Conference for the past four years and always returned full of enthusiasm, energy and inspiration. While he continually encouraged me to go with him, I continually hesitated and put it off. You see, I view myself as a mainstream progressive liberal and my perception of AIPAC was that of an organization based on and fueled by hard right ideas.

Screenshot 2014 03 07 17 41 29

Jay and I are like souls in many ways. While most of the time our views on politics and social justice are very much in synch, occasionally we do, however, disagree on some issues about Israel. I kept my distance from AIPAC because, as I have so often told Jay, while I support Israel, I do not support everything Israel does. After spending two days with AIPAC in Washington, D.C., I feel the same about Israel in that I wholeheartedly support her, but not everything she does. On the other hand, my feeling about AIPAC has shifted dramatically.

The AIPAC Conference celebrated the State of Israel by showing the conferees Israel’s diversity, core humanitarianism, and innovative spirit. These essentials not only live within Israel herself, but also extend out from her borders to Africa, Asia, Europe, the U.S. and, indeed, the rest of the world. Here are some examples of how these attributes were brought to life at the Conference.

We heard from a young black refugee from Ethiopia, who, as a child, fled to Israel. She is now an Israeli citizen and a member of the Knesset;

We saw a film about a girls’ soccer league that brings together Israeli and Palestinian teens to play, learn, and hopefully gain a better understanding of one another. At the end of the film, two girls – two friends appeared on stage holding hands – a Palestinian Moslem and Israeli Jew;

We listened to the experiences of American doctors, nurses, and EMTs who volunteered and worked with Israeli medical personnel to treat and care for victims of disaster in the U.S., in Israel, in Haiti, in the Philipines, and other parts of the world;

We were moved by the stories from an Arab Christian physician who works at an Israeli hospital in the Galilee where Muslim and Christian refugees from the violence in Syria are welcomed and treated;

We marveled at the technological innovations Israel has developed and shares with the world – a drip irrigation system that conserves water and has helped to end Israel’s perpetual drought; a mobile device that reads text and identifies objects for blind individuals; a radar scan that can detect movement and objects through solid walls and under the rubble of earthquakes;

During the breakout sessions we attended, we also heard from panelists who talked about Israel’s unequivocal acceptance of the LGBT community as well as other instances in which Israel fosters diversity and inclusion.

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The Conference itself also promoted a strong current of diverse views and people. Political leaders from the right side of the aisle to the left side of the aisle addressed the participants. We heard from Senator Charles Schumer, Senator John McCain, Senator Robert Menendez, Representative Eric Cantor, Representative Stenny Hoyer, Senator Joseph Lieberman, Representative Chris Coons, Representative Gerald Nadel, Secretary of State John Kerry, Isaac Herzog, leader of Israel’s Labor Party, Tipi Livni, Israeli Minister of Justice, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The reception given to this wide array of luminaries and their viewpoints was usually enthusiastic and always respectful. During the breakout sessions, open discussion and questions were invited and encouraged.

It was abundantly clear that AIPAC has devoted enormous efforts and considerable resources to engage with communities outside the Jewish community.
We heard from African American students and leaders, from Latino leaders and professionals, and from persons of the Christian faith, all who expressed their deep support for Israel. What I found most compelling was that members of these disparate groups support Israel because of her importance in history and to all religious faiths, because the struggles of the Jewish People and Israel’s struggles mirror the struggles these groups have endured, and because they view Israel as a model of a democracy at work in the face of a region in constant turmoil.

The evident thrust of the Conference was to show to the participants and ultimately to the world, the positives of the State of Israel as a free, thriving country and a hopeful guidepost in a region beset by conflict, violence and even oppression. Part of that thrust included an examination of the BDS movement , which attempts to de-legitimize Israel by calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. In his speech on the last day of the Conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu described BDS proponents and those who side with them as perpetuating the age-old scourge of anti-semitism by dressing it in a new, but equally frightening cloak.

I do not doubt the problems facing Israel are extraordinarily complex and will be difficult to resolve. I do not doubt that there is and will continue to be strong debate and disagreements both inside and outside Israel on how to resolve those problems. But for now, I also have no doubt that AIPAC is playing a key role in fostering that debate by bringing it to a wider and wider audience on the world stage and in doing so, championing Israel as a democratic Jewish State.

Purim Extravaganza

SUNDAY, MARCH 16, 2014
PURIM EXTRAVAGANZA: 10:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M. 
(this is in lieu of religious school)
Fee for Purim Extravaganza is $5.00 per child
Proceeds go to supporting Youth Programming at TSTI
Please bring a box of pasta to use as your grogger, then afterwards, 
please drop it in the bin outside of the religious school office.  
We’ll donate the pasta to the Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges.

Religious School:March Newsletter

Dear Parents,

Purim is almost here and you know what that means! We are getting ready to cheer Esther, boo Haman and eat some Hamantaschen!  The senior staff have been busy preparing for the Purim Schpiel…..can’t give away any secrets but I can tell you a “cool” time will be had by all!  We hope you will come and cheer us on….and then join us for fun and games at our Amazing Purim Extravaganza.  Fun for kids of all ages….all of the proceeds support our Sr. Youth Group, who run all of our awesome games!

Please plan to join us on Sunday, March 16th from 9-11:30 to celebrate Purim!


It is not all masks and games for Purim here at TSTI… we always think of those less fortunate than we.  OurSeventh Graders have been examining the commandment to honor the elderly: Kibud Zekaynim.  Our Seventh Graders are going to have the honor of meeting with some of our “Vital Seniors” as part of this unit of study. Following our conversations with our conversations, we will be making comfort pillows to deliver to seniors at the Village Apartments in South Orange, a community of jewish seniors.   Our Second Graders have also studied this important commandment, and are making goodie bags to be sent along with the pillows.  Both of those groups learned a lot about some of the physical challenges people face as they age, and have become much more sensitive to the needs of our elders. They have also learned that seniors can and do lead active and engaging lives, learning, volunteering and continuing their involvement in our temple and surrounding communities.  We are thrilled that they will share their thoughts with our young people, they are great role models to us all.  


Morah Mindy 
Nathan Perlman and Banannagrams
4th grade student 
Nathan Perlman learns Hebrew by playing Bananagrams.
6th Grade students study Hebrew in Mansion
Three of our 6th grade
students study Hebrew on the steps of our
beautiful mansion.
Please Note
March 7th
5th Grade Awesome Oneg
March 9th

6th Grade Parent Meeting

March 16th
Purim Extravaganza
(in lieu of classes)
March 18th
6th Grade Yad Workshop
(in class)
March 30th
4th Grade Family Ed


star and dove

Please join us for a beautiful ceremony as you and your child are called up to the bima for your child to receive their prayerbooks and Torah portions.
9:00 am – 11:30 am
in the Ballroom 
Coffee & bagels will be served
Our clergy have created a special morning of blessings and learning for our 6th grade students and parents.  At this important meeting, students will receive their B’nai Mitzvah materials and Torah portions.  This beautiful morning promised to be a wonderful beginning to the B’nai Mitzvah journey.
We look forward to sharing this meaningful and important morning with your family.
Please RSVP to Debi Wolkoff
Bar and Bat Mitzvah sculpture2
Our B’nai Mitzvah
3/1 Ethan Gross
3/1 Lauren Rosenberg
3/8 Spencer Berkowitz
3/15 Andre Weinberger
3/15 Carly Orent
3/22 Lewis Busch-Vogel
3/29 Katya Silverman-Stoloff
3/29 Jenna Essner
5th Grade Families

Please join us 
for our
5th Grade 
Awesome Oneg

Friday, March 7th
7:30 pm service

Please RSVP to

SUNDAY, MARCH 16, 2014
PURIM EXTRAVAGANZA 10:00am-11:30am 
(This is in lieu of religious school)
Fee for Purim Extravaganza is $5.00
Proceeds go to support Youth Programming at TSTI
Please bring a box of pasta to use as your grogger, then afterwards,
please drop it in the bin outside of the religious school office.  
We’ll donate the pasta to the 
Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges.
4th Grade 
Family Ed Program
Family History
4th Grade Parents:
Please join your children for My Family StorySunday, 3/30/14
9:00 am-11:30 am

Bring your family project for our display.
Please RSVP to:
Food donation photo
Bring One

We are asking families
to bring one non perishable food item
to be donated to the 
Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges located just a few miles away in Orange. 

6th Grade Important Meeting With The Clergy

star and dove


Please join us for a beautiful ceremony as you and your child are called up to the bima for your child to receive their prayerbooks and Torah portions.  

    SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 2014

 9:00 am – 11:30 am

in the Ballroom

Coffee & bagels will be served  

 Our clergy have created a special morning of blessings and learning for our 6th grade students and parents. At this important meeting, students will receive their B’nai Mitzvah materials and Torah portions.  This beautiful morning promises to be a wonderful beginning to the B’nai Mitzvah journey.

We look forward to sharing this meaningful and important morning with your family.


Please RSVP to Debi Wolkoff:

We strongly encourage you to park on nearby streets or in the Marylawn lot (across the street).  If you decide to park in our lot, please use the spaces along the fence.  Please remember that you will not be able to exit the parking lot until the carpool lot until the carpool lines are dismissed.


5th Grade Awesome Oneg

5th Grade Families: Please join us for our  
5th Grade Awesome Oneg
Friday, March 7th
7:30 pm service
Students will participate in the 7:30 service by leading
us in worship and sharing creative prayer readings.
Following the service there will be a special
and fun oneg hosted by our teens and staff.
The oneg will end at around 9:30 pm.
Please RSVP to:
so we have enough food and supplies.

Our Rishon

Our rishon

We are so very lucky to have an Israeli Rishon- an amazing teen emissary named Omer Gavish, to help our Sixth Graders get a hands-on taste of Israel. Omer comes to us through the Metrowest’s Israel Program Center. He is one of five teens who were carefully selected to defer their army service for the year to live in our community and share their passion for Israel.

An Awesome Awesome Oneg

Awesome oneg

On Friday, January 31, 48 4th graders came together to participate in services, sharing music and creative readings. The service was followed by a special “Awesome Oneg” just for fourth graders. High School teens created and implemented a program about Jewish artifacts which directly relates to the 4th grade Religious School curriculum. Parents were encouraged to socialize at our main oneg. Siblings of our fourth graders had the opportunity to participate in social action projects run by our High School students. The evening truly helped build community. “Awesome Onegs” are held throughout the year for our 3rd for 5th graders.

Annual Confirmation Trip to Great Wolf Lodge

Confirmation trip 2014

On Saturday February 1-Sunday, February 2 Temple Sharey Tefilo Israel’s Confirmation Class held its annual trip to Great Wolf Lodge. Students had an opportunity to bond, study, pray and have a great time. Chaperoned by Rabbi Cohen, Rabbi Miller and Tracy Horwitz, the class spent time setting the foundation for their end of year creative service which will be led by the class on Friday, June 6, 2014.